It’s time for another ‘essential guide’, and this time we’ve picked out a few of our favourite record labels, both old and new, that we feel will bring the heat this year. The scene is in rude health, with styles and sounds cross-pollinating at a greater rate than at any time in recent memory. With that in mind, we want to show some love for the labels that pique our interest every time a reminder from Bandcamp or Juno lands in our inbox. Keeping up with labels, and finding sounds you love is a key tenet of being a good DJ. Learn about this and more on any of our DJ courses.
Home to well-respected artists like Deadboy and DJ Q, the last couple of releases found on London-based imprint Local Action have both represented and pushed at the boundaries of electronic music in and out of the club. At the tail end of last year, Manchester producer Finn unleashed his devastatingly euphoric ‘Sometimes The Going Gets A Little Tough’ EP to widespread thanks and praise, while this year has already seen the release of Orlando’s excellent debut LP: a fascinating mix of sweet dancehall, breezy club sounds and feather-light soundscapes. If releases continue in this vein, it’ll be a stellar year.
Midland’s new label championing up-and-coming artists is just one release old, but it’s already introduced us to two new producers to keep an eye on in Peach and Jay, who each produce very strong debuts. Peach’s track is a dreamy slice of high-energy house whereas Jay’s is pure restrained toughness. Graded will continue to release Midland’s own tracks, and Regraded will stick to weirder climes – stay tuned to Intergraded for more quality club tracks from the fringes.
Central Processing Unit
The self-styled spiritual successor to Warp Records has been on a hot streak recently, with two outstanding releases already in 2018, and a third slated for release next month. For many, 2017 was the year electro returned to centre stage in the world of dance music, with Helena Hauff and DJ Stingray the biggest names flying the flag and legions of others following suit. With their tireless release schedule over the past few years, there can’t be many institutions that have done more to champion these sounds than CPU, and in 2018, with electro here to stay, they stand to reap the benefits.
Run by Red Axes, Garzen Records is a respected champion of the grubby, punky sounds that seep through their own brand of sleazy rollers. The latest release on Garzen encapsulates this perfect, with three straight punk tracks by Deaf Chonky given machine-makeovers by the Axes themselves and label affiliate Manfredas. If any more of their particular brand of hot-weather heaters come tumbling this way again this year, we will be most pleased.
By now Príncipe Discos should be a firm part of your lexicon, home as it is to the giants of likely the most exciting style of club music to emerge in the last decade or so. Batida is the Lisbon-centric sound indebted to the Angolan roots of kuduro and tarraxinha and you can trace the scene’s past, present and future through these releases from the likes of Nervoso, Marfox and Lycox. The first release of this year sees Adrix splicing in sounds from further afield like jungle & grime, taking Príncipe’s output to bold new places. In our opinion, the label at the very top of the pile shows no sign of slowing down yet.
‘Take your broken heart, make art!’ says the brief message on Dublin label Patrúin’s Bandcamp page. So impressive are the tracks on their two releases to date, all from new and hitherto unknown artists from Ireland, it’s easy to believe they are spurred on by some seismic heartbrake. They guested on Charlie Bones’ Do! You!! breakfast show on NTS Radio in January too, carrying an armful of forthcoming cuts on the label which make the prospect of 2018 very exciting. ‘Tóg do chroí briste, a dhéanamh ealaín!’
Another label that’s well established by this point, it also seems Firecracker are incapable of putting out any bad records. Last summer they gave a platform for DJ Sports’ superb debut LP, Modern Species, a warm slice of drum and bass both fresh and dripping in umami nostalgia. Their first release of 2018, ‘Pattern Transform’ by Other Lands, is truer to the Moodymann-indebdted roots of the Edinburgh imprint, but is no less instantly joyous.
South London record shop, bar and moody basement dancefloor Rye Wax began dropping records around this time last year. Shop favourites and close pals Medlar, Ishmael, FYI Chris and Tom Blip all dropped sublime dancefloor fuel in time for summer last year, while their first compilation record, called ‘Simply The West’ of course, kicked off 2018 for them. Exclusive dubplates are lined up for Rye Wax’s record store day event ‘The Run Out’ and there’s plenty more in the pipeline from West Friends old and new. Watch this space.
Peach Discs burst into existence with the same assurance and self-confidence as honcho Shanti Celeste shows when she steps behind the turntables. The first release, her own, matched triumphant bursts of light, irresistible breaks and an innate understanding of what makes the best house music special, and the standard remained at the same place thereafter. After Toronto’s Ciel supplied the latest infectious and joyous Peach Disc, we await the next with bated breath.
Hopefully, there’s plenty here to keep you busy exploring for a short while, whether you’re looking for new sounds to play out or inspiration when it comes to making your own tracks. If so, we can give you the tools needed to express yourselves on our music production courses. Starting and maintaining a label can be one of the most rewarding experiences in music, and we can help with that too – why not take a look at our courses in the Music Industry. Any questions? Just give us a call on +44 20 7729 4884.
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