The post-music conference landscape has always been a game of snakes and ladders – who is getting signed, who bombed out, whose star is on the ascent, and whose isn’t – and this year is no exception in the weeks after CMJ. Though in fact the last six months or so has been a busy one for the independent label sector.
CMJ or not, possibly top of the heap in terms of allure for indies, is New Jersey band Real Estate. Coming off the back of a highly rated 7″ single via everyone’s favorite hipster label, True Panther Sounds, the band has a veritable who’s who of top shelf indies in the hunt. You name it, they’re probably there. And also garnering a lot of buzz is JEFF the Brotherhood. The Nashville combo of course feature former members of buzz band Be Your Own Pet, which only heightens the interest. There may even be some major labels sniffing around.
Much beloved Scottish noisemongers Mogwai recently announced a switch from one premiere indie to another – departing their long-time home at Matador Records for Sub Pop, oddly enough, a full twelve years or so after the Seattle label first approached the band about signing them. But Mogwai are another in the list of what seems like 320 new bands that Sub Pop has signed recently, which also includes Northwest hip hop crew Shabazz Palaces – a baffling move considering the label’s lack of success when it comes to anything outside their traditional indie rock fare. And supposedly, after remaining aloof for a long period of time, word on the street is that Sub Pop may have entered the fray surrounding buzzy Seattle six piece The Head and the Heart. And even their sub-label Hardly Art seems to be busy, signing San Francisco’s Hunx and his Punx and possibly sniffing around Australia’s Circle Pit.
Though pundits will be aghast if hilariously awful LA group Teen, Inc sign with XL, as has been rumored, the list of bands newly inked to indies continues… LA’s Pepper Rabbit joined the roster at Kanine Records (of course original home of Surfer Blood and Chairlift), with the band releasing its debut album Beauregard in October. Meanwhile old skool punk rockers OFF! (with a line-up including Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks, Steve McDonald of Redd Kross and Dimitri Coats of the Burning Brides) inked with Vice, Pittsburgh’s 1,2,3 made French Kiss Records their home after doing a 45 for UK’s tastemaker Chess Club label and husband and wife duo Tennis joined the ever expanding (and diversifying) list of bands on Fat Possum. And totally flying under the radar, balladeer Sean Rowe reportedly signed with Epitaph‘s Anti imprint.
One free agent though, who should be on the top of everyone’s shopping list, is LA combo White Sea (featuring sometime M83 member Morgan Kibby). If the debut EP (which can be found for free here) is any indication, maybe it wont be too long before they become another addition to the ‘newly inked’ column.
- Cool Hand Luke