Here at Music Without Labels we do our best at providing you with some of the top independent music worldwide, which is why I’ve decide to show some love and promote the main industry that helps manage these artists’ insanely busy music schedules; Independent Record Labels! Now this list is in no particular order so their is no hierarchy of which label is better than the next. This is an independent community so it’s our job as indie people to promote quality independent music equally together. We will continue to promote the Independent Record Labels in this new series. Hope this comes as a great reference, and please stay tuned for more:
Label Genre(s): Dance (HOUSE)
Description: Being started by one of the United Kingdoms’ largest dance DJs in Mark Knight, it was certain to be a hit immediately following their release to the world in 2003. After 8 years the label has continuously gained international recognition for it’s unprecedented release of non-stop quality, throughout the entire dance spectrum. Their focus on originality and funk influenced HOUSE has really brought them to the level they are today having taken a stronghold on their niche from the beginning.
Artist Count: 46 active
Beat-Play Feature(s): Having had one of Music Without Labels favorite HOUSE DJs in the game made it a bit of an easier decision when trying to figure which labels should be on the list. We all know Mark Knight is a genius (the guy started toolroom! duh) but Toronto, Canada native progressive-house DJ DeadMau5 has set a whole new standard for the work ethic of a modern day House DJ, which was sure to have helped propel Toolroom Records down their long road to success. It was bit tough to pick a track here since we’ve posted DeadMau5 about 8 times on here, but it was decided that everyone enjoys some “HR 8938 Cephei”
Label Genre(s): Metal | Hardcore | Rock
Description: Coming from both sides of the United States in LA and DC, co-founders Ash Avildsen and Shawn Keith have managed to open the independent heavy metal market not only domestically but internationally as well with their first non-US band, Fellsilent, signing back in 2008. Sumerian was created ‘by artists, for artists’ which has continued to help ship their music to the top of the metal genre, representing 25 bands with endless potential. The labels’ ability to expand their demographic early has surely given them the edge they’ve needed in the grueling music industry of today. More recently Sumerian has worked with the video game series Rock Band to provide music to their network. Songs by Asking Alexandria have made it into the mix already in the past and you can expect to hear more in the latest production with groups Veil of Maya and After the Burial.
Artist Count: 25 current
Beat-Play Feature(s): A bit earlier this year we were halted by a follower on our Facebook page by the fact that we hadn’t posted metal music in awhile. After digging into some newer metal tracks I was more than pleased to come across Sumerians own Chicago, IL band Born Of Osiris with their latest single release entitled “Follow The Signs”. Since the release of the song in February the band has completed their full-length album “The Discovery” which dropped in the later days of March. Here is “Follow The Signs” by Born of Osiris:
Label Genre(s): Mostly Hip-Hop Description: Stones Throw was created in 1996 by San Jose, CA native Chris Manak, aka DJ Peanut Butter Wolf, to originally produce and distribute music he had recorded with his best friend and fellow artist Charizma, who had been killed 3 years earlier. With that being said this label is very personal to Chris and has gained countless recognition and the overwhelming addition of 44 more artists than day one of Stones Throw Records back in ‘96. The success of the label has come primarily from the approval of Chris Manak in all music represented. As the executive producer, he picks what he likes, and that’s the final decision, and main key to their ongoing success. It’s that old school vibe that keeps them alive, with artists like Mayer Hawthorne and Aloe Blacc who so smoothly bring old into the new with everything they do, from music, to merch, to design, and videos, this is a cool class of music with a lot to offer.
Artist Count: 44 all-time
Beat-Play Feature(s): So I had to add the “(s)” on the end there specifically for these guys because we have posted many tracks from Stones Throw and would like to share 2 with you right here. Mayer Hawthorne and Aloe Blacc are just non-stop turning heads all across America, each having albums released by Stones Throw early this year, they’ve seen much hype with their videos and multiple hit singles. With two tracks to play let’s jump right into it:
Label Genre(s): Indie Rock | Alternative | Punk Rock
Description: Created by Bruce Pavitt in the early 80s as a fanzine (non-official fan magazine of independent musicians) called Subterranean Pop this label has undergone some pretty influential transitions throughout their long journey to the top of the independent label scene. Today Sub Pop Records is one of the leading producers and distributors for independent rock, with 2 Platinum and Gold Records from past artists such as Nirvana, The Postal Service, The Shins, and Flight Of The Conchords, it comes without question why such high interest has been carried out throughout the years. Some of today’s biggest names in indie rock still call Sub Pop their home as the fans continue to hear hit after hit.
Artist Count: 71 active
Beat-Play Feature(s): With 71 active artists it’s really tough to try and pick one out and go with it as your best choice, so this is not my best choice, just a damn good song like the long list of others Sub Pop has to offer. Fleet Foxes bring a great deal of originality to the modern music scene, and sometimes their old soul makes it difficult to appreciate at first, but with the release of their latest album “Helplessness Blues” we’ve seen a great deal of excitement stir up about the group. Here is the title track off their new album:
Label Genre(s): Reggae | DUB
Description: These guys are an absolutely unstoppable force in the reggae scene today with an incredible talent pool in their list of artists. Music Without Labels has had the pleasure of working with a number of these artists, including Cas Haley, Easy Star All Stars, John Brown’s Body, and The Black Seeds, writing reviews and capturing live concert photos for them in our select cities. The earlier in-house productions of Easy Star All Stars brought 3 best-selling reggae albums of the decade, giving Easy Star Records the glory moment they needed to transition into that next step as an independent label. After capturing an impressive sound they knew people loved, it was at that time where they began focusing on other artists as well as themselves. Having that re-inventive reggae niche on hold in the Easy Star All Stars, bringing in progressive, classic, and modern reggae proved to be an essential decision for where they’ve come to be.
Artist Count: 13 active
Beat-Play Feature(s): As mentioned in the ‘Description’ above, we have done many types of promotions for Easy Star Records’ artists, from album and song reviews to live concert photography. The Easy Star All Stars brought a whole new world to the reggae scene with the release of their Beatles and Pink Floyd classic full-album reggae/dub remixes in “DUB Side Of The Moon” and “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts DUB Band”. Since it is Easy Star All Stars show here, I’m going to go ahead and choose a track by them along with a link to their concert photos. Here is one of my personal favorites by Pink Floyd and now Easy Star All Stars, “Money” (The Alchemist Remix).
Label Genre(s): Folk | Alternative | Country | Experimental
Description: Being one of the younger independent labels in our list of longtime forces, this Brooklyn, NY label has quickly made a name for itself within it’s short 4 year life-span. Partisan Records brings a different style to the record label business, encouraging their artist to create and share their own sound and stories, indicative in the labels’ wide-range of genres. This sense of originality is the key to their fast growth in such a competitive market, harnessing some of the great indie artists of today in, Deer Tick, Dolorean, Holy Sons, Paleo, Middle Brother, and Mountain Man. Expect to see much more from this label in the near future including new artists, videos, music, merchandise, etc…
Beat-Play Feature(s): It was just the early part of March when we were blessed with the joyous ring of Middle Brother and their self-titled hit track “Middle Brother”. A driven group of musicians in search of their next great sound, the band consists of John J. McCauley of Deer Tick, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit. The fun-filled tone they bring with their first release was a sure hit, joining that classic oldies vibe with the popular folk sounds of today.
Label Genre(s): Experimental | Creative | Adventurous
Description: This isn’t your normal independent label. Or should I say labels? Alpha Pup Records has made it’s mark in the music industry by perfecting the art of collaboration, not only bringing artists together but harnessing 40 independent labels under one outstanding network. This is the sort of collaboration you expect from a label pumping out tracks for artists such as P-Funk All Stars, Hello Morning, dak, Busdriver and many more.
Artist Count: 160 active
Beat-Play Feature(s): With such a long list of artists it’s kind of hard to miss an Alpha Pup client when promoting the independent world. We’ve featured a number of theirs including Abstract Rude, Nosaj Thing, and Shlohmo. Being big fans of electronic music, Shlohmo had caught our attention earlier this year with the release of “Places”.
Shlohmo - “Places”
Labels Genre(s): Alternative | Punk | Pop | Rock | Metal
Description: Spending a majority of their focus on the independent punk scene Hopeless Records has owned this sound, claiming the top spot of the punk record labels since their early 90s start. Some of the greatest artists in punk rock and metal during the mid 2000 era were represented by Hopeless. Aritsts including Avenged Sevenfold, Thrice, Yellowcard, All Time Low, and Silverstein were putting in some serious work to help take the new label to it’s forefront of being one of the great independent labels. With the recent addition of Yellowcard, it is expected to see them reach another milestone in the near future with this incredible collaboration.
Artist Count: 15 active
Beat-Play Feature(s): After leaving the spot-light they had earned through Capital Records in 2008, Yellowcard decided to rejoice with the indie world and post up with none-other than Los Angeles, California’s Hopeless Records. They followed up their longtime run of major label success with the amazing production of their latest independent album release, “When You Are Finished, Say Yes”. Here is their hit featured on The Beat-Play Experiment:
Label Genre(s): Experimental | New Age | Everything
Description: With 12 years in the game this Ann Arbor, Michigan label has managed to capture an entire style through the many different forms of expression art has to offer. Ghostly International isn’t just about music but the art within music and everything that comes with that art including their roles in design, clothing, technology, innovation, and publishing. They represent a plethora of genres that all seem to fit a similar expression or feeling within the overall tone or message of their art.
Artist Count: 15 active
Beat-Play Feature(s): I am unfortunately unable to provide any tracks from the Beat-Play Experiment archive, but you can guarantee a few tracks throughout the year. One of my personal favorites, being Com Truise, has been on the fence for an artist review for a couple months now and it’s probably about time to pull the trigger on that. To show some love to the electronic expertise of Com Truise here is his track “Pyragony”.
10. Vicious Recordings
Genre Label(s): Dance | Electronic | HOUSE
Description: With over 18 years of experience in the dance music game, this Melbourne, Australia label has perfected the industry, producing some of the top HOUSE DJs of the world in Avicii, Mind Electric, and butterBOX. Founders and Producer/DJs Andy Van and John Course have an energy that is unprecedented in the electronic dance scene, helping them gain the attention of many up and coming house DJs from all over the world including, the US, Sweden, Australia, Indonesia, and many other countries.
Artist Count: 15 active
Beat-Play Feature(s): Being a huge fan of the growing HOUSE scene from Europe, Avicii has continued to capture our ears here on The Beat-Play Experiment with hit after hit. So we’ve probably featured 3 tracks so far on the blog by Avicii and it’s pretty hard to determine which one is the best, but judging by the stats, the people love to hear “ID + Vocal”. In this new dance era the progressive sound of Avicii has proven to be the best joining an eclectic group of DJs such as DeadMau5 and Benny Bennasi.
Written By: Mark G. Valente | @MarkwithMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC