Somewhere along the line in the last month or two, news of a few indie signings seemed to somehow slip through the cracks. Most particularly Vagrant Records, who has been busy adding much buzzed about LA combo Active Child to their ever expanding and diversifying roster, along with inking one bona fide legend, Polly Jean Harvey, for her new album – quite a coup. The LA label has done an excellent job of branching out beyond the emo niche it was once known for, and have developed an ‘A Class’ stable of indie rock acts that includes Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Hold Steady, STARS, School of Seven Bells, and of course Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. PJ Harvey’s new album Let England Shake hits stores February 15, while Active Child’s debut should look for a release in the spring.
Meanwhile, what seems like ages ago (and probably was!), blog favorites DOM from Massachusetts signed on with EMI-offshoot, Astralwerks, with a re-issue of the band’s Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP slated as their first release in early 2011. And now split from EMI and back in the ranks of indie, Mute Records announced that the first artists to sign to the new version of the label include Yeasayer, Londoners S.C.U.M., and Texan singer songwriter Josh T Pearson. Meanwhile in the past week, Sub Pop announced what seems be the 50th new signing for the year, indie-rock supergroup (with members of Man Man, Modest Mouse & Islands/Unicorns) Mister Heavenly… And what of the free agents out there? Rumors are looming of an announcement about The Head and the Heart signing to a certain Northwest indie (which seems public knowledge but still hasn’t officially been announced)… Will Odd Future sign with XL Recordings, who appear to have been laying out the red carpet for the controversial LA hip hop collective (including reportedly flying their entire posse to the UK)… What will become of Bright Eyes? This past week details of their forthcoming album The People’s Key (due February 15) were announced. Following the record, which is their last for Saddle Creek, will the project be done, or will Conor Oberst follow the path of his solo projects by bringing Bright Eyes to Merge? Or will it be another indie (such as was the case with Monsters of Folk)? And slowly emerging (and pricking up people’s ears) is the fact that critically acclaimed Seattle singer-songwriter Jesse Sykes (and the Sweet Hereafter) is in the market for a new label home, after a number of much beloved releases on Seattle’s Barsuk. Sykes supposedly has avid fans at both small and large labels, indie and major, and a with a new record in the can, chances are she won’t remain unsigned for long.
Of course, since we are now in the waning days of 2010, most of the news in the music media concerns the ubiquitous year-end lists – one of the first being NME‘s top 75 albums. There is no disputing the UK rag’s choice for their album of the year – These New Puritans Hidden – was baffling, and has had more than one pundit scratching their heads (possibly even the band’s label), but hats off to Domino Records for nabbing that top spot… Subsequent lists from Spin and Rolling Stone (and surely many others) have been released, and as to this column’s picks for the year’s favorites? Well, that will just have to wait until next time…
- Cool Hand Luke