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Friday, June 15, 2018

Independent Record Labels You Should Know


From independent icons like XL Recordings and Sub Pop to newer teams like 88 Rising and Mind of a Genius, here are some of the essential labels you should know. As always, we encourage you to do your own digging and share your own favorites with us, but as long as you discovered just one new label, artist, or piece of music that you love from this list, then we did our job.

From legendary indies to internet-based upstarts, these labels are all doing something special.


R&S
Year founded: 1984
Notable artists: James Blake, Nicolas Jaar, Paul White
R&S may be one of the oldest indie labels on this list, but it hasn't yet lost its sense for groundbreaking experimental music. Founded in 1984 in Belgium by Renaat Vandepapeliere and Sabine Maes, R&S was a response to the then lackluster music scene in the country. Vandepapeliere would feel the same boredom in 2000 (having released music from Aphex Twin, Ken Ishii, and more) and put the label on hiatus, before reviving R&S six years later.
When asked about why the label went on hiatus in a 2009 interview, Renaat Vandepapeliere explained that he felt as if "the whole dance music scene was repeating." Since the label's revival, R&S has brought on new artists such as James Blake, Vondelpark, Paul White, and Nicolas Jaar. Electronic music is experiencing another surge of inspiration.

Fat Possum
Year founded: 1992
Notable artists: Soccer Mommy, Hoops, The Black Keys
Originally conceived as a project to record aging blues musicians, Fat Possum has evolved over 25 years to become a foremost purveyor of rock music. Their quest to focus on rural talent expanded to include a wide range of indie-folk, and Fat Possum has found success with artists like Andrew Bird, The Black Keys, The Walkmen, and Soccer Mommy.
XL Recordings
Year founded: 1989
Notable artists: Radiohead, Adele, King Krule, Kaytranada
Originally an offshoot of Beggars Banquet Records, XL Recordings was first launched to focus on rave and dance music in 1989. By the early 2000s, the label would expand its horizons and release music from a wider range of genres, including the White Stripes' White Blood Cells, Dizzee Rascal's monumental Boy in da Corner, and later, Radiohead's In Rainbows.
Despite working with such big players-Adele, for example-XL has maintained a keen interest in discovering new artists, signing some of the best new artists of the past five years, including Wiki, Ibeyi, Kaytranada, Arca, Låpsley, and Jungle. Bringing decades of experience but also retaining an affinity for the underground, XL Recordings has become one of the most influential indie labels in the game.
Brainfeeder
Year founded: 2007
Notable artists: Thundercat, Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus
Flying Lotus' label Brainfeeder has become a Los Angeles institution, and earned a reputation as one of the most exciting indie labels since its inception in 2007. The label's roster has only been getting stronger since Brainfeeder's inception, with the likes of George Clinton, Kamasi Washington, and Thundercat joining its rainks. Focusing on eccentric soundscapes and strong (often bizarre) visuals that constantly push the envelope, Brainfeeder has honed a very singular aesthetic.
DEATHBOMB ARC
Year founded: 1998
Notable artists: JPEGMAFIA, clipping.
Since 1998 Deathbomb Arc has served represent genreless music that is ever changing. The lack of uniformity in its roster fosters that vision, from Death Grips to clipping. and JPEGMAFIA. They've consistently made room for any challenging, dynamic artist with a vision, and their continued success is proof that the formula works.
Ghostly International
Year founded: 1998
Notable artists: Matthew Dear, Tycho, Tobacco
Since 1998, Ann Arbor, Michigan label Ghostly International has been responsible for some of the best electronic music North America has to offer. Built off the back of Detroit techno, the label has been expanding its sound ever since. They've put out a number of genre-spanning albums from Matthew Dear, Gold Panda, and Phantogram. In recent years they've only gotten more adventurous, too, with releases from ZGTO and Psymun among others.
Good Years
Image via Good Years
Year founded: 2011
Notable artists: Yellow Days, Banks, Francis & The Lights
Good Years have had the vision from the beginning, helping launch the career of Banks and releasing Francis & The Lights music in 2013 far before the Chance The Rapper and Bon Iver cosigns. From pop to rap to R&B, the label isn't limited by genre, and their latest masterstroke was introducing the world to the timeless sound of Yellow Days.

WEDIDIT
Year founded: 2008
Notable artists: Shlohmo, Ryan Hemsworth, RL Grime
Founded in 2008, WEDIDIT shines a light on intriguing and experimental electronic music. With a release catalog that boasts Shlohmo, RL Grime, Ryan Hemsworth, Groundislava, Tory Lanez, and even Jeremih's collaborative EP No More, the collective has perfected a smart and sometimes tongue-in-cheek approach.
In 2015, WEDIDIT launched Tombstone Recordings, which aims to "release free music to the people from the people [they] like the most." WEDIDIT may be a small label, but you wouldn't be able to tell based on the number of projects they crank out on a yearly basis. They've quickly developed a reputation as a label to be reckoned with, especially if you're interested in music that pushes boundaries.
Innovative Leisure
Year founded: 2010
Notable artists: BADBADNOTGOOD, Nosaj Thing, Rhye
Founded by Nate Nelson, Jamie Strong, and Hanni El Khatib (who also releases his music on Innovative Leisure), the label focuses on place more than genre. "We're an L.A.-based label, and a lot of what we're releasing is contemporary Los Angeles music or things from our scene," Nelson told Forbes in 2015. That can be experimental electronics, jazz, or rock'n'roll, but at the end of the day their approach is about releasing good music with is tastefully curated. Innovative Leisure succeed on all counts.
Ninja Tune
Year founded: 1990
Notable artists: Bonobo, Actress, FaltyDL, The Bug
Ninja Tune was founded in 1990 with the desire to release underground, experimental music. They've stuck to that ethos ever since, putting out some of the best British electronic music in recent history. With Actress and Bonobo among those on the label, Ninja Tune has built up a fantastic track record and an incredible roster over the years, and has also branched out into vocal driven music by artists like Kelis as well.
With sister label Big Dada putting out killer hip-hop and grime, too, Ninja Tune has built an empire during their 25-plus years in the game.
Warp
Year founded: 1989
Notable artists: Hudson Mohawke, Danny Brown, Aphex Twin, Kelela
When it comes to electronic music, most conversations should start with Warp Records. The label has been home to some of the most experimental acts in the game, including Aphex Twin, Brian Eno, Death Grips, Hudson Mohawke, and many others,.
Warp Records' influence also extends well beyond its label's independent status. In addition to setting up a number of subsidiaries, including Lex Records, Warp also launched a film company in 2004.
These days they've partnered with artists like Danny Brown and Mount Kimbie for a wide range of sounds. But whatever the genre, Warp has built a reputation that guarantees quality.
Secretly Canadian
Year founded: 1996
Notable artists: Whitney, ANOHNI, serpentwithfeet, War On Drugs
This Indiana-based outfit is an institution. Secretly Canadian has over 20 years of experience, fostering rock acts like War On Drugs and Whitney alongside Major Lazer and, more recently, finding success with the live comedy albums of Tig Notaro. Since joining forces with Jagjaguwar, Secretly Canadian has further cemented its place amidst the indie label elite.
YEAR0001
Year founded: 2015
Notable artists: Yung Lean, Bladee, Thaiboy Digital
While YEAR0001 was initially only putting out releases by Yung Lean and his associates in Gravity Boys, the label has since expanded to put out some excellent debuts and oddities. From the austere work of Viagra Boys to the audacious debut from Nadia Tehran, the label is quickly making a name for itself as one of the most daring Swedish labels around.
Mind of a Genius
Year founded: 2013
Notable artists: THEY., Gallant, ZHU
Los Angeles-based label Mind of a Genius is built for the modern age of music, but they're not catering to the fast-food approach of quantity over quality. Founded in 2013 by David Dann, the label has picked up only five artists: ZHU, Gallant, THEY., Klangstoff, and Kwaye. With each act, they're thoughtful and deliberate with the strategy and focused more on long-term development than quick hits.
Instead of capitalizing off viral success or a single moment, MOAG has worked to identify artists they feel can make a meaningful impact and a powerful connection with their audience. In the words of Vice President of the company, Azad Naficy, "It's more about impact and giving the youth the same experience that we had. I want that 13-year-old kid to feel the same way the first time I heard Nas, or Sade, or Pac. They deserve that."
EYRST
Year founded: 2014
Notable artists: Neil Von Tally, The Last Artful, Dodgr, Myke Bogan
We became familiar with Portland, OR label EYRST through The Last Artful, Dodgr's collaborations with founder and in-house producer Neil Von Tally. Their Bone Music project was an impressive introduction, but the rest of the roster goes deep, with releases that span the spectrum from traditional hip-hop (Myke Bogan) to more experimental (Maze Koroma), and soul/R&B too (Blossom).
Mixpak
Year founded: 2009
Notable artists: Popcaan, Palmistry, Murlo
With a focus on dancehall of both the vocal and the instrumental variety, Mixpak is one of the key forces behind the genre's growing popularity in America. One of their crowning achievements is Popcaan's formidable debut album Where We Come From, but there's a lot more going on, too. A few recent highlights have been the stunning Club Coil EP from Murlo and Jubilee's debut album, while another Popcaan album is on the way too. They might not be the most prolific indie label, but they're undoubtedly one of the best.
Jagjaguwar
Year founded: 1996
Notable artists: Bon Iver, Angel Olsen, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Founder Darius Van Arman started Jagjaguwar in 1996 to release an album by his band The Curious Digit, and from those humble beginnings, an indie rock powerhouse was born. By 1999, Chris Swanson, one of the owners of the label Secretly Canadian, became a partner in Jagjaguwar, and the two labels remain closely connected to this day, working out of the same offices in Bloomington, Indiana. Jagjaguwar has an outstanding back catalog, including Daniel Johnston, Okkervil River, all three of Bon Iver's albums. They've stayed current with new signings like Cut Worms, Moses Sumney, and Jamila Woods.
Closed Sessions
Year founded: 2008
Notable artists: Jamila Woods, Kweku Collins, Webster X
A more recent powerhouse coming out of the Midwest, Closed Sessions has carved out a niche of exciting, modern music in its 10 years of existence. Its core roster has built up a solid following, and the label has been patient, only signing a few acts they really believe in. The result has been a tight, nimble operation with an artist-friendly outlook: typically, the musicians on Closed Sessions own 100% of their masters.
4AD
Year founded: 1980
Notable artists: Grimes, Bon Iver, The National
Another Beggars Group (originally Beggars Banquet) affiliate, 4AD has been a staple for underground rock, first in the UK and eventually North America. With former acts such as Pixies, Bon Iver, Twin Shadow, and TV on the Radio, and Grimes, Future Islands, The National, and SOHN on their current roster, it's clear that the label has an appreciation for innovative yet timeless sounds.
Fun fact: the label was originally named Axis Records, but once founders Io Watts-Russell and Peter Kent realized that Axis had already been taken, they had to scramble for a new name. Using a promotional flyer they had recently printed featuring a design that played on the idea of the year 1980 and the idea of progress (1980 FORWARD > 1980 FWD > 1984 AD > 4AD), 4AD was born.
Downtown Records
Year founded: 2006
Notable artists: Smino, Mura Masa, Tei Shi
Downtown Records bought itself back from funders in 2013, and has lived up to its independent label with a string of exciting new releases ever since. From Electric Guest to Smino, Downtown has placed an emphasis on full bodies of work and signed artists with long-term sustainability.
Domino Records
Year founded: 1993
Notable artists: Blood Orange, Arctic Monkeys, Animal Collective
Since its humble beginnings-Jacqui Rice and Laurence Bell launched Domino Records in a South London bedroom-Domino has cemented itself as a staple of indie rock. It took some work to get there, evolving from a home for UK releases for US artists to an international powerhouse. Past releases include Neutral Milk Hotel, Elliott Smith, and Franz Ferdinand, and recent years have seen music from Blood Orange, Dirty Projectors, Hot Chip, and many more.
When it comes to indie rock, Domino is one of the most influential labels out there.
Terrible Records
Year founded: 2009
Notable artists: Solange, Empress Of, Blood Orange
Founded by Ethan Silverman and Grizzly Bear's Chris Taylor, Terrible Records have an incredible track record of early releases from important artists like Twin Shadow, Solange, and Blood Orange. The music released through Terrible often has pop potential but packs an experimental or forward thinking edge. That approach continues today with artists like Empress Of and Toulouse.
Kranky
Year founded: 1993
Notable artists: Stars of the Lid, Grouper, Tim Hecker
Everyone into ambient music has heard of Kranky, and those with even a passing interest in the genre have certainly heard some of the music they've put out. It's definitely not the only thing they focus on, with a scattering of experimental rock releases from the likes of Deerhunter and Low, but there's a reason they're known for their ambient releases. Tim Hecker, Stars of the Lid, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor have all graced the label. Kranky have not only released some brilliant curiosities, but also some modern classics.
Mexican Summer
Year founded: 2009
Notable artists: Ariel Pink, Weyes Blood, Dungen
Brooklyn has no shortage of artists-or record labels, for that matter. So it takes a special kind of outfit to rise above the noise, and Mexican Summer makes sure each release counts. They walk a line somewhere between folk and experimental, with releases from Connan Mockasin, Ariel Pink, and Dungen leading the way. Weyes Blood's 2016 album Front Row Seat to Earth was another moment, and the label has flourished by enrolling artists from two very different musical origins.
Local Action
Year founded: 2010
Notable artists: Deadboy, Jammz, D∆WN
There's a bit of a theme emerging on this list when it comes to the U.K. and cutting-edge electronic music. Local Action might not be as big as indie juggernauts like Warp, but with the quality of their releases, they definitely deserve to be right up there with the best.
There's a mix of ambient, outsider pop and exhilarating dance music on the label, and everything they put out deserves attention. There's some very obtuse stuff like Yamaneko's brilliant keygen-inspired release Project Nautilus, but also very immediate and accessible music, too. There's something for every type of electronic music fan in their discography.
Asthmatic Kitty
Year founded: 1999
Notable artists: Sufjan Stevens, Julianna Barwick
Founded by Sufjan Stevens and his stepfather Lowell Brams, Asthmatic Kitty has grown beyond its origins to become more than just a home for Sufjan's releases. While Sufjan's awesome discography would be more than enough to warrant Asthmatic Kitty's place on this list, the label goes above and beyond by releasing some stellar indie and folk music from the likes of Julianna Barwick and Angelo De Augustine.
88rising
Year founded: 2015
Notable artists: Joji, Rich Brian, AUGUST 08
Part label, part media platform, part management company, 88 Rising refuses to be boxed in, but the core of their mission is providing a platform for Asian artists and buulding a bridge between Eastern and Western youth culture. After blowing up in 2016 with a series of hilarious videos that tapped into contemporary rap and internet humor in equal measure, 88 Rising started releasing music from Rich Brian, Keith Ape, Joji, Higher Brothers, and more. They haven't looked back since.
Young Turks
Year founded: 2006
Notable artists: FKA Twigs, The xx, SBTRKT, Sampha
Young Turks doesn't have the largest roster in the world, but they definitely have some huge artists. With FKA Twigs, The xx, SBTRKT, Sampha, and more calling the label home, the London-based label has set a high standard for itself. With their releases a little more spread-out, each project they put out feels like a big event. From lesser-known talents like Koreless and NOLIFE to their heavy-hitters, the Young Turks name exudes quality.
Fade To Mind
Year founded: 2011
Notable artists: Kingdom, Kelela, Nguzunguzu
Describing themselves as "the next generation of American club music," Fade to Mind set out to deliver some of the most innovative club music around, and they've done so for over seven years now. On Kelela's 2015 Cut For Me mixtape and Dawn Richard's Infrared EP, Fade To Mind showed how well their sound can work with contemporary R&B and pop too.
In 2017, label founder Kingdom released his immensely enjoyable debut album Tears in the Club-Fade to Mind shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Stones Throw
Year founded: 1996
Notable artists: J Dilla, Dam-Funk, NxWorries
As one of the most genre-varied independent labels on this list, Stones Throw is, as LA Weekly called it in 2016, an "eternally evolving experiment." In addition to having acts like Dam-Funk, Madlib, and NxWorries on its roster, Stones Throw is most famously known for having released J Dilla's legendary sophomore album Donuts. If you're looking to understand just how influential the label is be sure to check out the 2014 documentary Our Vinyl Weighs a Ton, which looks at Stones Throw's lasting impact on mainstream hip-hop.
Milk!
Year founded: 2012
Notable artists: Courtney Barnett
Milk! Records is the brainchild of Courtney Barnett, who has seen the label bloom in her native Melbourne. It's an indie-rock oasis for bands like Loose Tooth and East Brunswick All Girls Choir. The gritty, frank honesty that Barnett brought to the world is spreading, and it sounds great.
Sacred Bones
Year founded: 2007
Notable artists: Amen Dunes, Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval
Born about a decade ago, Sacred Bones has grown to be one of those labels that's easy to obsess over. With releases from Pharmakon, Lust for Youth, and even three directing legends with albums from John Carpenter, Jim Jarmusch, and David Lynch, Sacred Bones has an undeniable pedigree. A lot of their music tends to be experimental or on the more extreme side of things, but there's no shortage of pop influences, either. Whatever it is they put it out, it's guaranteed to be interesting.
Glassnote Records
Year founded: 2007
Notable artists: CHVRCHES, Jade Bird, Phoenix, snny
Glassnote has become a powerhouse in the world of indie labels. They work with an eclectic roster ranging from electronic pop to folk-leaning rock, and what separates Glassnote from so many other indies is their ability to compete with majors. With massively successful releases from Phoenix, Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, and CHVRCHES, Glassnote Records has proven to be a home for artists who want to stay independent while still reaching for charts, radio, and ambitious goals.
Communion Records
Year founded: 2006
Notable artists: Michael Kiwanuka, Gotye, Tennis
Communion started as a live music night in Notting Hill, and started releasing records as a way to help artists navigate the business behind them usic. They expanded beyond their London roots to open a U.S. office in 2012, where they've continued their mission of creating an artist-first oasis. Tennis, Michael Kiwanuka, and Shakey Graves are among the label's stars-and they still have monthly showcases all over the world.
Soulection
Year founded: 2011
Notable artists: GoldLink, Sango, Ta-ku
The special thing about Soulection is its emphasis on being a collective. In a 2014 interview with i-D, Soulection founder Andre Power emphasized how this closeness plays to their benefit. People, according to Power, are "really drawn to how [they] maneuver and work together as a family." This cool, family business-feel hasn't only attracted fans, but also some outstanding signees, like Ta-ku and Sango.
What sets Soulection apart most from other indie labels, though, is its radio and playlist. Just as the label features an eclectic mix of artists, so too do the mixes Soulection Radio shares.

Third Man Records
Year founded: 2001
Notable artists: Jack White, The Dead Weather, Black Milk
Originally founded in 2001 by Jack White, Third Man Records started releasing music by other artists in 2009 and established a physical location in Nashville the same year which combines a record store, performance space, and label offices. It's all about the vinyl for Third Man, and they've retained a playful approach to the medium, putting out unique pressings including glow-in-the-dark, scented, and triple decker records. The release schedule is packed, and includes music from White and his contemporaries as well as repressings of classics and rarities.
Erased Tapes
Year founded: 2007
Notable artists: Nils Frahm, Masayoshi Fujita, Penguin Cafe Orchestra
Erased Tapes occupies a singular space in the musical landscape-they cultivate avant garde and post-rock artists, finding success everywhere from post-rock to electronica to contemporary classical music. Based in the U.K., the label has spent the last 10 years searching the world to find and promote the best electronica maestros, orchestras, and vibraphonists.

Sub Pop
Year founded: 1986
Notable artists: Shabazz Palaces, Beach House, Nirvana
The legendary Sub Pop Records doesn't need all that much of an introduction, considering its history with some of the most influential bands in music (Nirvana, for example). What started as a fanzine called Subterranean Pop and compilation tapes in the early 1980s would quickly gain traction in the Washington music scene and develop a reputation as a purveyor of good underground rock, thanks in no small part to founder Bruce Pavitt.
In an attempt to seek out and cultivate a "Seattle sound," Sub Pop helped support and promote unknown bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana, putting the label-and the grunge genre-on the map. Sub Pop is now home to such acts as Yuno, Beach House, and Shabazz Palaces, and continues to focus on unearthing some of the best underground music.

Rough Trade
Year founded: 1976
Notable artists: Princess Nokia, jennylee, Parquet Courts
The story of Rough Trade doesn't begin with a record label. Instead, it was the name Geoff Travis' record store in West London, which opened in 1976 and specialized in garage rock and reggae. The shop would later begin to record music after French punk band Métal Urbain asked Rough Trade to help promote their music, and the rest fell into place.
After the collapse of the Rough Trade distribution arm and its ultimate resurrection, the label would go on to release notable albums by The Strokes, Arcade Fire, and many more. Despite being over 40 years old, Rough Trade is still a go-to for innovative and quality independent music.
Mello Music Group
Year founded: 2007
Notable artists: Oddisee, Open Mike Eagle, Apollo Brown
The continued future of hip-hop isn't in pop music. It's in outfits like Mello Music Group, an Arizona-based label dedicated to what is now called a classic style of rap. From beat tapes to mixtapes, MMG has worked with experts like Ghostface Killah, Pete Rock, Apollo Brown, Open Mike Eagle, and Jean Grae.

True Panther Sounds
Year founded: 2004
Notable artists: Tobias Jesso Jr., London O'Connor
Founded in 2004 and now working as an imprint of Matador Records, New York-based label True Panther Sounds is responsible for some of the most unique sounds in the industry. The now-defunct San Francisco band Girls was True Panther's first signing, and their debut album would go on to become one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2009.
Since then, True Panther Sounds has only grown stronger, and though Matador bought out TPS in 2009, the label hasn't lost its drive to support indie acts. Now, True Panther Sounds boasts the likes of Archy Marshall/King Krule, London O'Connor, ABRA, and Lil Silva as some of the artists on its impressive roster.

300 Entertainment
Year founded: 2013
Notable artists: Young Thug, Shy Glizzy, Famous Dex, Anna of the North
300 laid its foundation by signing Young Thug and Migos before its expansion into genres like pop, country, and rock. It is the creation of label executives Todd Moscowitz, Lyor Cohen, and Kevin Liles, and while the Migos, Moscowitz, and Cohen have moved on, 300 has continued to thrive. Fetty Wap, Anna of the North, Famous Dex, and Meg Myers are just some of the talents helping the data-driven label make its mark.
Boy Better Know
Year founded: 2005
Notable artists: Skepta, JME, Wiley
In many ways, Boy Better Know encompasses the idea of an indie label the most. After the dissolution of Meridian Crew-of which Skepta and JME were a part-and legal issues, the Adenuga brothers decided to launch their very own label. Thus was born Boy Better Know, which, since its founding in 2005, has established a signature aesthetic and developed an impressive roster, operating more as a crew or collective than a traditional label.
Beyond the short-lived Boy Better Know Mobile 3G network, the label has infiltrated the North American market thanks to its focus on putting out some of the best grime music from BBK's two founders, as well as Wiley, Jammer, Frisco, Solo 45, and Shorty.

Black Acre
Year founded: 2007
Notable artists: Blue Daisy, Connie Constance, Rocks FOE
Established in 2007, Black Acre is devoted to discovering and curating new music. Consistently releasing compelling work by fascinating artists, it's label founder Ian Merchant's commitment to not compromising that sets the label apart.
"What I'm looking for is a feeling of discomfort," Merchant says in a 2014 interview. "I hear so much great music that I can't put out because there's no risk in it. I'm looking for people that are 100% committed to their message, no compromise." If you're looking for avant-garde sounds that push the envelope, keep your eyes on Black Acre.

Rhymesayers
Image via Rhymsayers
Year founded: 1995
Notable artists: Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, MF DOOM
Since the '90s, Rhymesayers has been a staple in independent hip-hop. Based in Minneapolis and founded by Sean Daley (Slug), Anthony Davis (Ant), Musab Saad (Sab the Artist), and Brent Sayers (Siddiq), the label has been a home to underground icons and left-of-center new rappers who aspire to do things on their own terms. While many labels shift their focus to expand, Rhymesayers has stayed true to their core and grown their roster with like-minded artists who define success outside the bounds of mainstream hits and radio play. Because of their unwavering sense of self, Rhymesayers is one of the few labels who has fans and followers the way an artist does. If you like one Rhymesayers artist, chances are you'll appreciate the whole movement.
Fresh Selects
Year founded: 2008
Notable artists: The Last Artful, Dodgr, SiR, Mndsgn
Fresh Selects started as a blog in 2008, but evolved into a label in 2013 with the release of Mndsgn's Breatharian. Throughout its life, the label has consistently shared music with real soul and a human touch, spanning genres like hip-hop, R&B, soul, jazz, or a mix of all of the above. With artists like SiR and Mndsgn going on to work with heavy hitters like Top Dawg Entertainment and Stones Throw, you know the right people are paying attention to Fresh Selects. You should do the same.

Lit City Trax
Year founded: 2011
Notable artists: DJ Rashad, Visionist, J-Cush
Working on the experimental edges of electronic music, Lit City Trax has released music from Chicago footwork pioneers like DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn and taken a global approach to the music on the label. From Portugal to America to England, if you're looking to discover new artists pushing boundaries, keep an eye on the Lit City Trax roster.

Future Classic
Year founded: 2004
Notable artists: SOPHIE, G Flip, Flume
Australian label Future Classic is over 10 years deep in the game, and they're going from strength to strength. Introducing acts from Australia like Flume and Chet Faker as well as releasing music from the likes of SOPHIE and Ta-ku, the label's acts often mix electronic influences with a pop sensibility.

Carpark Records
Year founded: 1999
Notable artists Toro y Moi, Skylar Spence, Cloud Nothings
Washington D.C.'s Carpark Records has been a indie mainstay for a while now, responsible for launching the careers of Toro Y Moi, Dan Deacon, and Cloud Nothings. They support a very eclectic mix of artists, and have earned a reputation for high-quality music. From the obscure to the indie darlings, Carpark have a roster that would make some of the larger labels on this list catch their breath. There's always something on the horizon to look forward to when it comes to Carpark.

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