The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Label Lookout – Fall ’23

Welcome to a new reoccurring segment here at KRUI, Label Lookout! Here we will shout out a few labels that are bringing sounds and scenes to the board that we are excited about. This is a series to encourage new musical discovery. Each respective label and release listed has their Bandcamp page linked, or in lieu of that their YouTube channels.

Image via deadAir

1. deadAir Records

By Evan Raefield

Boasting a small but elite roster, including the likes of Jane Remover, Quinn, Quannnic, Dazegxd, and Quadeca, deadAir has built up a lineup of some of the most promising artists from the digital underground of the past few years, and helped propel them to immediate success. Each artist brings creative sounds to the table, whether it be Jane’s terminally online pop, Quinn’s cloud trap-soul fusion, Dazegxd’s redefinition of drum ‘n bass in the modern meta, Quannnic’s bit-crushed guitars, or Quadeca with one of the most creative electroacoustic albums of the recent past, everyone on this label has something to offer, and I cannot recommend exploring through its catalogue enough.

Starter pack: kenopsia by Quannnic, Frailty by Jane Remover, Girls Love Jungle by gum.mp3 and Dazegxd, Self-Titled by Quinn, and I Didn’t Mean to Haunt You by Quadeca

Image via Saddle Creek

2. Saddle Creek

By Evan Raefield

Established in 1993 as a largely regional record label to the indie rock scene in Nebraska lead by the band Bright Eyes, the following decades saw a slow but steady expansion both geographically and sonically. The label today hosts multiple heavy hitters both in and outside the current indie music scene, including Big Thief, Hop Along, and Land of Talk, as well as staying true to its roots with several homegrown Nebraskan acts from the label’s inception like The Faint, and Cursive. Most excitingly, they have a strong roster of young artists they’ve picked up in recent years who keep the record’s roster healthy and robust. They are always diversifying their sound, and keeping the label as a whole on the cutting edge of the modern indie rock scene.

Starter pack: Girl with Fish by Feeble Little Horse, All of This Will End by Indigo de Souza, Nicks and Grazes by Palm, The Land, the Sea, the Sky by Black Belt Eagle Scout

Image via Numero Group

3. Numero Group

By Evan Raefield

Unlike the others on this list, Numero is different in that they solely focused on reissues and archival releases. They find forgotten gems of the past that are rendered inaccessible due to a lack of attention or distribution in their time, and reissue them and allowing them to be given the listens and love they so much deserve. Recently, they are probably best known for the archival work they did with Duster in reissuing their debut album Stratosphere, which was high in demand as Duster’s discography and the slowcore sound were rediscovered and thrust into the current music sphere. Their selection is quite eclectic, featuring everything from lost discographies of emo acts to the musical stylings of regional soul artists. Dive in and you’re bound to find something to your liking.

Starter pack: The Lane of Time and the Plane of Now by Shira Small, Giving Birth to Thunder by Indian Summer, The Black Moon by Vallium Aggelain, Magnetic Eyes by Jeff Phelps

Image via Backwoodz Studioz

4. Backwoodz Studioz

By Evan Raefield

Founded in earnest by Billy Woods as an independent means to release his debut album, Backwoodz has transformed from a one-man show to a powerhouse in the field of underground abstract hip hop. If you are even remotely tuned in to the left field of hip hop, chances are you’ve heard something from Woods and the incredible slew of albums he’s put out over the past few years. If not, please look into it! While Billy remains the label’s founder and main namesake, save for ELUCID, the other half of their duo Armand Hammer, Backwoodz has quietly amassed a platoon of equally forward-thinking artists.

Starter pack: Maps by billy woods and Kenny Segal, True Sky by AKAI SOLO and Navy Blue, Go Climb a Tree by Hajino and Duncecap, I Told Bessie by ELUCID, Metal Lung by ShrapKnel

Image via Dismiss Yourself

5. Dismiss Yourself

By Evan Raefield

First and foremost an internet-based label established in 2020, Dismiss Yourself’s roster is incredibly diverse in its array of artists, from their home countries, to their sounds. The only uniting characteristic of music under this label tends to be the electronic composition, otherwise, it has huge variety. What started as a niche label for largely cloud rap and hex-d has expanded dramatically to house gems from all manner of genres. From hardstyle, to drum ‘n bass, to house, one can only hope that Dismiss Yourself and labels like it continue to thrive, as the population of artists online only increases and the demand for their distribution grows.

Starter pack: bootleg(+) by Isyti, Miracle in Transit by Naked Flames, Self-Titled by Your Arms Are My Cocoon, Hope Left Me by Astrophysics

Image via Geometric Lullaby

6. Geometric Lullaby

By Evan Raefield

Another largely online label, Geometric Lullaby has played an enormous role in championing the vaporwave scene in modern music. Beginning in 2017, the label has amassed a truly astounding catalog of artists and releases, showcasing some of the best that the vaporwave and dark ambient scenes have to offer from all over the world.

Starter pack: 夢の砂漠 by desert sand feels warm at night, (life cycle) – 生命週期 by b e g o t t e n 自杀, TOWERS by Towers, CLASSROOM SEXXTAPE by death’s dynamic shroud, and 星間性交 by t e l e p a t h テレパシー能力者

Image via Longinus Recordings

7. Longinus Recordings

By Evan Raefield

Another new label bursting onto the scene with Parannoul’s breakout album To See the Next Part of the Dream, Longinus boasts one of the most exciting lineups of new artists you will find today. Sonically the label is focused more or less around the fifth-wave emo movement, especially with respect to the more shoegaze like elements found throughout the discographies of acts like Parannoul, Asian Glow, Brokenteeth, and sonhos tomam conta. However, more recent additions to the label have broadened the sound and introduced fans to new facets of the emo movement as it burgeons. With Della Zyr taking a more dream pop approach to crafting her sonic monoliths, to Xinlisupreme crafting harsh yet incredibly sugary noise rock tunes.

Starter pack: I Am Not Shinzo Abe by Xinlisupreme, Nebulous You by Della Zyr, Cull Ficle by Asian Glow, Hypnagogia by sonhos tomam conta

Image via Hausu Mountain Records

8. Hausu Mountain Records

By Anika Maculangan

The record label Hausu Mountain takes referential homage to Obayashi’s “House” (1977) and Jodorowsky’s “The Holy Mountain” (1973). Co-nurtured in the locus of Chicago, Illinois in 2012 by Northwestern University sprung Doug Kaplan and Max Allison, Hausu Mountain simultaneously pays tribute to the two fundamentally eccentric cult-classic films which beckons the label’s esoteric feel for mood and tonality. A sundry of innovatively avant-garde artists, the label features the likes of Eartheater, Fire-Toolz, Prolaps, Pulse Emitter, Nonlocal Forecast, and RXM Reality.

A main range that highlights electronically sourced experimental rock and metal music, actively pushing for the proliferation of alternatively off-the-wall and recondite music. Not only does the label emphasize and embrace abstruse and cryptic audio sound, but it also accepts aspects of what is orphic and occult. It surrounds such phenomena, like weird-core and dream-core, and its adjacent surrealism and absurdism. As one comes to consider Hausu Mountain, one cannot deny them for their prismatic, kitsch, and camp cosmos of futuristically bohemian artists.

Starter Pack: Perpetual Morphosis by Dustin Wong, Additional Kids by Wobbly, 192 by Erica Eso, BLACK BROWN GREY GREEN by Norman W. Long, Modern Drummer by Tiger Village