Do You Have A Favorite Record Label?
(Meddle by Pink Floyd, 1971)
(Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles, 1967)
(New Boots and Panties!! by Ian Dury, 1977)
(Inside Job by Roswell Rudd, 1976)
(Drop the Bomb by Trouble Funk, 1982)
(Folk Music of India by Various Artists, 1950)
(Fania All Stars Live by Fania All Stars, 1978)
(Rio Arriba by Chancha Via Circuito, 2010)
(Guitar El Chark by Omar Khorshid, 2010)
(Norman Granz Jam Session/The Charlie Parker Sides by Charlie Parker with Benny Cater, Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster & Oscar Peterson, 1976)
(Codona by Collin Walcott, Don Cherry and Nana Vasconcelos, 1980)
(Blues and the Soulful Truth by Leon Thomas, 1972)
(Gettin' Around by Dexter Gordon, 1965)
(Coltrane "Live" at the Village Vanguard by John Coltrane, 1962)
(performances by Pawel Lisizian)
("Disingenuity" b/w "Disingenuousness" by Keith Fullerton Whitman, 2010)
("Losing My Edge" b/w "Beat Connection" by LCD Soundsystem, 2002)
(Burial by Burial, 2007)
(Mother of All Saints by Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, 1992)
(Strand by The Spinanes, 1996)
(Funeral by Arcade Fire, 2005)
(Ys by Joanna Newsom, 2006)
("Baby's On Fire" by 3D's, 1992)
(Live at Goner Records by The Reigning Sound, 2005)
(Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, 2002)
(Tramp by Sharon Van Etten, 2012)
Do you have a favorite record label? These days, it can be hard to tell. Truthfully, I barely know what artists record for which label in the digital age. I love the new William Tyler guitar record, the new Baths album and Sonny and the Sunsets, but ask me to name the label ... and I'm blank. That information never comes up on my computer when I play a song on iTunes — or my phone — or on SoundCloud or Spotify. Back in the analog days, I'd put on a record and seeing those labels spinning at 33 1/3 rpm would forever seal an association between artists and their labels for me: The Beatles on Capitol, Pink Floyd on Harvest, Aretha Franklin on Atlantic.
It's unfortunate, too, because it used to be one of the great ways to discover music. Record labels telegraphed the sort of music you'd hear. They had a philosophy, an aesthetic and a standard (and still do, of course). As someone who bought a lot of records, I could walk into a store, see an unknown band (such as Triumvirat) on the Harvest label, buy it and know that it was probably going to be a good prog-rock group, most likely from Europe. (It turned out I loved that first Triumvirat record, by the way.)
All that said, despite the realities of the digital age, music geeks will be music geeks and there are plenty of you loyal to plenty of labels. If you've got a favorite, how did you find it and how do you keep up with its releases?
Or maybe you're not even aware of record labels. If you don't know what label your favorite bands record for, how do you find new music? Who do you trust and what is it about them that you've come to trust?
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