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Some Cool Record Labels

Modern music proliferates. These days the kids just get their music direct from source. MySpace means that you have access 24/7 to any band you want to be with. The hoary old traditionalist in me wonders if there is any need anymore for the concept of the dynamite ice-cold music label. You know, the type you would have worn a t-shirt in honour of. The type you would buy a record from a band on the label because you just knew it would be good. We at ELM miss that, as we do a lot of things, because we are getting old. But because we are getting old, we are getting fat on our sense of nostalgia, so without further ado, let’s revel in what was great. I couldn’t possibly list all the great labels, so feel free to wire in on the comments section!

Creation – A label who evolved in stages. 80’s none-more-indie and launched the careers of My Bloody Valentine, The Loft, The House of Love and best of all, The Jesus and Mary Chain. Indeed, the debut single from East Kilbride’s finest ‘Upside Down’ is the greatest 45 ever released for ELM’s money. Into the 90’s they released some of the era’s most astonishing albums – ‘Bandwagonesque’, ‘Loveless’ and ‘Screamadelica’ all came out in the same year – before their Starbucks age was heralded by Oasis and the incredible success they had. However, label boss Alan McGhee instincts were always towards the indiest of indies. Shite like Heavy Stereo and The Gyres were signed and the nation lost interest. Eventually, they were swallowed up by Sony. But any label who could release albums by Sugar, Ride and Velvet Crush in the same month are all right by me.

Sub Pop – Synonymous with grunge, the Seattle indie launched Nirvana and Mudhoney amongst others to great success. Now slightly pigeonholed by this success, their current roster includes Iron & Wine, Arlo and Hot Hot Heat. Still viable, still great. And still a great logo.

SST – Punk as fuck, man. Hardcore before it was hardcore. So many great bands from the American underground, including the mighty Húsker Dú. Melody as noise and songs as power. Whisper it, they were American but almost socialist in what they strived to do.

Lost Highway – Country and oddities label, with so many stunning acts. led into battle by Bright Eyes and Ryan Adams, the name is as wonderful as their ethos; getting out as many great records as possible. Cool t-shirts too, but really hard to get a hold of.

Sarah Records – The twee-est label ever. Ever. Made Belle & Sebastian look like Iron Maiden. Roster included the Field Mice and the brilliant Tallulah Gosh. Personal faves were Even As We Speak, a great lost Aussie group. This was music which was based on the notion that they liked it, if you did, great! It wasn’t trendy and it didn’t care. Lovely little records which would actually kill chavs if you made them listen to it. Said at the start they would release 100 singles and then stop. And they did! How cool is that?

I’ve missed Mute, Factory, 4AD, Rough Trade, blanco Y negro and countless others, I know. I would point you in the direction of any band who are on Arts & Crafts (Stars, broken Social Scene, Feist.) But God bless the cool labels and the independent mavericks. They have made our lives so much richer.

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18 Responses

  1. Sub Pop is excellent and never fails to have some great groups! The have an excellent website as well and a great ethos to boot.

    Another one for your list is Beggars Banquet- some good groups on both the UK and US sites.

  2. I would have maybe given a nod to Stiff Records…..that is until I noticed that their merchandise has A WHOLE FUCKIN PAGE in the Next Directory. That is just wrong. They’ve also changed the slogan “If It Aint Stiff it Aint Worth A Fuck” to “….aint worth much”.

  3. Beggars Banquet is a good shout. Stiff….great for what it was and it gace the world Jona Lewie. Respect.

  4. Dischord!

    probably slightly more punk than SST, and the apotheosis of the whole DIY/indie thing. Also maintain a surprisingly personal touch for their mailorder…

  5. Always had a soft spot for Sub Pop and I quite like a lot of the artists on !K7, other than that I have nothing insightful to add as I pay little heed to who’s on what label at the best of times.

  6. If you want a laugh, check out Panzerfaust Records, white power/nazi scumbags………there’s lyrics, manifesto the lot. And you can send them abusive emails.

  7. I bet the kindly racists Panzefaust agree with the idiotic assertion that there’s ‘no good rap music’.

  8. Capricorn records , home of the Allman Brothers( who are most high and exalted above all, peace be upon them),among many other great southern rock artists on its – admittedly seventies orientated – roster.
    Def American also has some olympic standard rock music.
    However, my personal favourite has to be Reprise.

    Or K-tel.

  9. K-Tel rocked. Richard Clayderman, anybody?

  10. I CAN’T FUCKING BELIEVE I MISSED ROUGH TRADE!

    The Hold Steady have just signed to them in the UK too.

  11. swineshead, you are a self-righteous knob. I thought the whole point of elm was for small-minded, mean-spirited, poorly-informed, reactionary and downright stupid people like me to take the piss. You are a closet Pastels fan who lives with his mum. You just dont get it, do you, you blinkered, boring PC twat.
    Irony, mate. Try it, its fun. You’ve just came across (again) like the small-minded indie fan that you no doubt are.

  12. Is it o.k to say there is no good elevator music ?

    Or is that also verbotten by the facist who does not allow facism?
    Pig-headed,I get it now.

    I am fundamentally against fundamentalism,does that make me a fundamentalist?

  13. I am a cunt. I find it’s quicker. 😉

  14. Ah, doing things quicker, speed is the new religion.

    Personally, I believe in the old adage ” slow and steady wins the race” .

    No, No ,No, not that kind of race…ahhhhh ,Ive done it again.

  15. howlinwhippet, on May 29th, 2008 at 1:40 pm Said:
    swineshead, you are a self-righteous knob. I thought the whole point of elm was for small-minded, mean-spirited, poorly-informed, reactionary and downright stupid people like me to take the piss. You are a closet Pastels fan who lives with his mum. You just dont get it, do you, you blinkered, boring PC twat.
    Irony, mate. Try it, its fun. You’ve just came across (again) like the small-minded indie fan that you no doubt are.

    Ho ho ho…. this is a lovely comment – filled with charm, intelligence and measured writing. What was it that so enraged you, Mr Whippet?

    I don’t like the Pastels and I live with my wife.

    Wanker.

  16. Right, this contest is ruled a draw!

  17. *bumps into a wall due to PC blinkers*

  18. I would argue that it is a score draw.
    An entertaining 2-2.

    🙂

    You gotta love them Blog Fights

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