If you’re reading XLR8R you probably already own ’nuff albums on XL or Domino, Def Jux and Lex artists have repeatedly rocked your headphones, and you know what’s coming out on Minus or Stones Throw before we do. So this year–our seventh time loving on labels–we focus on labels we’ve (mostly) never quizzed before. For the final installment of this series, we look at ten labels we'll be keeping an ear on in the year to come. Vivian Host and Ken Taylor
The name’s not shy, and the music’s not either. Catchy dance rock from Walter Meego and Does It Offend You, Yeah?, revisionist Brit pop from Black Kids, and the summer-fun stylings of Peter Bjorn and John.
Drum & bass dudes turned minimal techno heads Ezekiel Honig and Morgan Packard head up this thoughtful label, where ambient and electro-acoustic experimentation from the likes of Klimek, Sawako, and Nicola Ratti is paired with equally cerebral and pretty packaging.
Since 1999, this eclectic indie has been exploring the outer edges of guitar rock, from My Brightest Diamond’s and Sufjan Stevens’ conceptual folk to the showtunes-inspired noise of Cryptacize.
Lausanne, Switzerland’s experimental outpost has been around since 2004, but started to make serious noise late last year with challenging weirdo-pop from Starting Teeth, Larytta, and Mochipet.
An independent with distro from Warner, Downtown is quickly proving former Virgin A&R man Josh Deutsch’s keen eye for future pop–the roster includes Santogold, Gnarls Barkley, Spank Rock, and Justice.
There’s some corny crap on this huge indie-label conglomerate, but Koch’s distribution allows indie hip-hop labels (Babygrande, No Limit, D-Block) and artists (Keak Da Sneak, C-Murder) to get their shine.
Made To Play
Jesse Rose’s love song to stripped ‘n’ bumpy house is growing by leaps and bounds, with fidgety, cheeky, and loopy 4/4 coming from artists Trevor Loveys, Oliver $, and Elon.
The head-twisting sounds of Berlin’s Panoramabar/Berghain club can be found here, as residents MyMy, Ben Klock, Cassy, and Marcel Dettmann show the world how tweaky, up-all-night tech is done.
Not the Aerosmith album, but a new-ish label from Munich! Space divas Sally Shapiro and Kathy Diamond and S.F. trio 40 Thieves are receiving rave reviews from scene stalwarts Tim Sweeney and Todd Terje.
This Charm City family remains at the forefront of the raw, bouncy, break-driven B-more club genre, with classic artists (Rod Lee, KW Griff) and future stars like King Tutt and Say Wut?.