The Best Record Labels In Los Angeles
If Los Angeles is the unrivaled Entertainment Capital of the World, why does its music scene get such a short shrift? Along with dozens of music venues across town (big and small) and plenty of great record stores, it also has the requisite stable of independent and small record labels to capture the sound and diversity of such a massive and creative metropolis. Here's a list of our favorite record labels in Los Angeles, and as always, let us know your favorites in the comments.
No label out of Los Angeles is more exciting right now than Brainfeeder. Founded in 2008 by electro/hip-hop producer and musician Flying Lotus, Brainfeeder's roster uses the groundwork laid by decades of soul, electronic music, jazz and hip-hop to create a sound that can only be described as a psychedelic vision of the future. Aside from just Flying Lotus' own excellent albums, Brainfeeder's stout slate of releases also includes records from Thundercat, TOKiMONSTA, and Mr. Oizo. This year they managed to make waves with Kamasi Washington's monstrous album, appropriately titled The Epic, a triple-disc cosmic tribute to the jazz of the past.
STONES THROW RECORDS
Aside from New York, fewer cities can claim to be a mecca for hip-hop like Los Angeles. Many local emcees have gone on to become international stars, but there will always be a place for indie-minded rappers and DJs. Although Stones Throw Records was founded in the Bay Area the mid-90s, Peanut Butter Wolf later moved the operation down south to be close to Madlib and hone their throwback hip-hop and neo-soul sound. Since then, their roster has grown to include Aloe Blacc, Mayer Hawthorne, and MF Doom. Some of their biggest hits have already earned the label of modern classics, including J Dilla's (R.I.P.) Donuts and Madvillain's Madvillainy.
While it's almost always sunny in Los Angeles, there's certainly a dark side—particularly a dreary, gloomy one. Southern Lord specializes in sludgy genres of metal and punk, with sounds so extreme you would never expect them to grace the airwaves. Aside from the founder Greg Anderson's own band, the critically acclaimed doom metal outfit Sunn O))), Southern Lord has also overseen the releases of Wolves In The Throne Room, Earth, High On Fire, Om, Martyrdöd, and Krömosom. Those names alone send a chill down your spine.
Although based out of Fullerton, cassette label Burger Records has been one of the biggest and best forces in the sound of Southern California's D.I.Y. garage pop. Aside from boasting a lineup that features the sugary sweet hooks of Cherry Glazerr, White Fang, and Thee Makeout Party!, Burger does it all with their brick-and-mortar record store in Fullerton and also organizing kickass concert festivals such as Bugerama and last month's Burger-A-Go-Go, which boasted a lineup of all female-fronted acts.
Founded by Daddy Kev, Alpha Pup releases serve as a ledger of what goes down at Low End Theory—a weekly club night that is the vanguard of electronic and hip-hop in Los Angeles—every week. Nothing but love for the EDM scene, but Alpha Pup's releases from the likes of Jincallo, Nosaj Thing, and Mystery Cave expand the world of electronic music beyond the festival circuit.
IN THE RED
As the name implies, In The Red's (ITR) songs are best played ear-blisteringly loud. Though L.A.-based, their roster covers a wide swath of American indie garage rock, including Vivian Girls, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall Band, and The Strange Boys. Their most recent release is the second record from Ty Segall's appropriately named power trio, Fuzz. Larry Hardy runs ITR out of, appropriately enough, a garage at his home in Eagle Rock and his label will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year. Here's to many many more anniversaries.