Ever wish you had more outlets with which to find new music? Ever wish I'd just shut the hell up trying to tell you what bands you should go check out?
Well have I ever got a solution for you!
The four labels on this list have some of the most exciting, prolific and ever-expanding artist catalogues to ever grace independent music, and even the smallest act of following their Facebook pages/instagrams/whatever will open you up to a whole universe of great bands you might never have even heard of. Establish your musical independence, and go forth:
Paradise of Bachelors
For several years, this North Carolina indie had built their name on rootsy alt-country, with strong releases from artists like Hiss Golden Messenger and Promised Land Sound. But they've recently come into their own as a powerful purveyor of reissues. With artists like Lavender Country (who made the first openly gay country record) and Mike Cooper (British guitar virtuoso who turned down joining the Rolling Stones) finally seeing their albums reach wider distribution, Paradise of Bachelors is becoming a force of Americana to be reckoned with.
A two-headed beast of accessible experimentalism, this joint venture between Mexican Summer and Software has yielded some of the most unexpectedly awesome releases of the past few years. While Mexican Summer's catalogue includes everything from laid-back folk rock (Quilt) to lo-fi hard pop (Viet Cong), Software specializes in a special brand of brainy electronica. Founded by Oneohtrix Point Never, Software has become a constant source of innovative electronic releases, ranging from the ecstatic R&B of Autre Ne Veut to the minimal techno of Denver's own Thug Entrancer.
The Brooklyn-based Sacred Bones is at once impossible to categorize, and yet their sound is immediately recognizable. Obsessed with mysticism and anything that could reasonably be described as "dark," Sacred Bones' roster includes impossibly heavy garage punk (The Men, Destruction Unit), ghostly folk (Amen Dunes, Marissa Nadler), industrial psychedelia (Pharmakon, Pop. 1280) and even the ongoing musical projects of director David Lynch. It's all united by the search to channel the haunting into something human, and across the many albums the label has put out, they've certainly succeeded.
The oldest label on this list by far is also one of the strangest. Operating out of Chicago since the early '90s, Drag City has managed to churn out consistently brilliant records from artists who always seem content operating in the underbelly of independent music. Whether they're putting out collections of lost Andy Kaufman recordings, woeful country records from the likes of Bill Callahan, or garage rock opuses from newcomers like Ty Segall, Drag City is overflowing with good taste.
Sam Goldner is the music director at CU-Boulder's Radio 1190. Email him at email@example.com.