Chances are good, if you're interested in local music even in the most casual of ways, you know Secretly Canadian. The Bloomington label, founded by a group of young dudes obsessed by the local music in their college town, grew from '90s upstart to indie music behemoth. Now a conglomeration of four labels, plus distribution and manufacturing arms, the Secretly Label Group helped develop Bloomington's long-flourishing music scene into a full-fledged indie music capital.
And we bet you know Joyful Noise Recordings – after all, founder Karl Hofstetter possesses some sort of magic touch. He convinced Sebadoh and Half Japanese to release new albums after years of silence and made flexi-discs cool again, while maintaining a steady release schedule of essentially perfect local albums.
But Central Indiana is filled with all manner of record labels carving out their niches in interesting ways. Auris Apothecary, a secretive nonprofit label, released a Mike IX Williams cassette coated in glass shards a few years back. Stephen Craig's Eonian Records quietly puts out an eclectic mix of long-lost '80s hard rock from the genre's heyday for eager, archive-hungry collectors. Plan-It-X Records will mark 20 years of DIY punk releases with a 20-band comp this year. And there are so many more.
Some of these labels were created purely as a means for locals to release their own music, growing from there. Others, like Drink or Die and GloryHole, were born out of tight-knit scenes. All of them are advocates for good music; they're cheerleaders for bands they believe in; they're organizers and relentless promoters; they're the people getting music into hands. These labels, from the micro-iest of the micro, to, well, Secretly Canadian, are a vital part of our local music ecosystem. If you ask a local label why they released a particular record, and the answer is almost always, "Because I really, really liked it."
So, in the grand tradition of NUVO listings, we rounded them up. We called every label we knew had records on the horizon and asked: What's next? The answers were so extensive, we had to narrow our list down to 44 labels and an average of six releases each – three from this year and three from next. We hope you use this guide to plan your record purchases for the upcoming year (and start saving now because we guarantee you'll want a bunch).
The local labels on this list run the gamut of genres and formats. Some of them are more than 40 years old; some were founded last month. A few release records on vinyl only; others are purely digital. Almost all share one commonality: They release music by Hoosier artists.
A few extra details: This guide is focused on our distribution areas of Indianapolis and Bloomington (Hey, we distribute in Bloomington now! Cool, right?), plus we threw in a few other notable Central Indiana labels. Questions are omitted when they don't apply; labels that are currently inactive are not included. And yes, we're aware there are even more Central Indiana labels than the hefty 43 listed here, so we'll continue updating this list. Keep your eyes out for our Nov. 5 issue of NUVO, when we'll release a major story on an exciting new label launching this month in Indianapolis.
Founded: 1999, by Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams. Officially based in Lander, Wyoming, but has a very active presence and office in Indy.
Formats: Digital, CD, vinyl, cassette
Highlights from 2014, according to John Beeler: "I can't choose! This year has been a banner year for AKR. There is not a single thing we've released that I haven't listened to dozens of times and enjoyed every minute."
Upcoming releases: Lily & Madeleine – Fumes, new album from Liz Janes
In brief: "Sufjan and Lowell started the label as a familial experiment in do-it-yourself (before DIY was a widely used acronym). The label still embodies that spirit. All of our artists do a lot of the work themselves. And everyone is connected to someone on the label. It's one big family, with everything that entails! For us, it's more about finding hard-working, creative people than their particular genre."
Next year: "It'll be a slightly slower year. 2014 was our busiest ever. But I think people will be surprised by the quality of what's arriving next year. Many of our artists, who've been developing their sound for years, have 'unlocked' the code and are figuring out who they are as people and what they sound like as musicians. It'll be an exciting year."
Hoosier artists include: Liz Janes, Lily & Madeleine, DM Stith, Jookabox
Founded: 2009, by Dante Augustus Scarlatti, Pendra Gon and Ancient Pine
Formats: Cassette, lathe cut records, floppy disc, ¼" tape reels, VHS, CD, tape loops, 8–track
Highlights from 2014: Dante Augustus Scarlatti – Ameritheism, Book of Sand – The Bees and the Butterflies, Deserter – Sister Cities
Upcoming releases, according to Scarlatti: "Our 100th release, which is the physical/metaphorical culmination of our first 5.5 years in existence, is coming in the next few weeks, and we couldn't be more excited."
In brief: "Auris Apothecary is a micro-label that releases limited editions of audio/visual art on a multitude of formats, with packaging that attempts to push creative innovation. We seek a physical interaction between consumer and artists, and strive to create unique sensory experiences that are tangible. There are zero boundaries to the genres we support, and our ever-growing roster of artists are located throughout the region and world."
Next year: "New website, new logo, new storefront, new formats, new shirts, more frequent release schedule; our entire infrastructure is being tweaked for the beginning of a brand new chapter."
Hoosier artists: 65 percent
Chapel of Crimes
Through a beam of light, the Chapel of Crimes is a space between two others that no biological man or woman of Earth may occupy. It is a temple one may access through mind and spirit only. It is a place for those who have seen and known evil; for those whose mind is ridden with all of the filth and rot let loose throughout your world. Over the last four years, while caught in this curious state of your dimension's expression and perspective; a man began, along with the help of Major Cooper and Corporal Clegg, to make a record of sounds that their meager dwelling would produce. Meager sounds from the feeble minded manufactured onto a cassette tape and you should have one, at great cost. LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH.
Crossroads of America
Founded: 2006 by husband&wife members Will Rose, Tim Felton, Bryant Fox and Mike Adams
Formats: CD, LP, cassettes, 7"s, card decks
Highlights from 2014: husband&wife – I Know You Know What I Know, Bro Stephen – The Shape
Upcoming releases: I Saw It All Unfold – The Complete Recordings of Annabel Lee, Possible husband&wife live album/DVD, new stuff from Frank Schweikhardt
In brief, according to Mike Adams: "Primarily created as an outlet for husband&wife to release their own music, XRA quickly grew into a collective of like–minded bands and artists. Up to now we've released music by some of our absolute favorites; Mount Eerie, Starflyer 59, Rodeo Ruby Love, husband&wife, Metavari, Frank Schweikhardt ... just to name a few."
Next year: "We've scaled back considerably in the last year, so probably not much will change, though we do hope to have a few new records out next year!"
Hoosier artists: almost 100 percent
Founded: 2013, by Ethan Marosz with help from John Small
Formats: Vinyl, cassette, CD, digital
Highlights from 2014: The Delay In The Universal Loop – Disarmonia, Echo Island – Hivernal, John Davey – Living Is Trying
Upcoming releases: New music from Echo Island, Haptiq
In brief, according to Marosz: "Dilated Time is an independent record label intending to help and support the artists and music that we care about while opening the hearts, tastes and minds of us all to new possibilities. There are two divisions, Organic and Synthetic. Not to cause confusion, but to appreciate differences and attempt to understand different opinions, tastes and styles. We want to put out inspiring music by incredible individuals, no matter the style. The divisions are only intended to guide those who like one artist to [other artists] more similar first."
Drink or Die Records
Founded: 2013 by Patrick Mitchell, Nick Selm and James Lyter
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Upcoming releases: New music from The Icks, Love Moon
In brief, according to Lyter: "Nick once described us as 'two-bit show promoters and a one-bit label.' We are not the most expansive operation and we are not super professional about everything, or anything really. Our release for Trophy Lungs last year was arranged via text messaging with their bassist Kelly, and most of that was just jokes. We like doing this, it's fun for us, so we just keep doing it. Some people spend money on Magic cards or Colts games, we put out records."
Next year: "In the next year, we are hoping to work with mostly local artists. One of our biggest concerns is encouraging local bands to get out on the road and tour!"
Hoosier artists: 60 percent
Founded: 2013 by Jeff and Mary Kinney
Formats: digital, CD
Highlights from 2014: Berzerker Mode – Bum Poetry
Upcoming releases: new releases from Magnum Opus, Berzerker Mode
In brief, according to the Kinneys: "DurtiMyndz Entertainment loves hosting local hip–hop showcases and bringing national artists to the Indianapolis area. Over the past year we have brought some amazing artists and have had some really awesome shows. Upcoming shows include more national artists such as: Caskey, Lil Debbie, Stitches, Boondox, Big Hoodoo, Primer 55, Lil Flip, !Mayday!, Ces Cru and Murs to name a few."
Next year: "We plan to continue to host local and national showcases as well as get our artists out of state performances and get their music heard around the surrounding area. We're currently building a studio for recording as well."
Hoosier artists: 100 percent
Founded: 2008 by Stephen Craig
Formats: CD, digital
Highlights from 2014: Shake City – Self-titled, Charlotte – Medusa Groove, Murder Bay – Never Was An Angel
Upcoming releases: Cold Shot – Self-titled, Rock 'n Roll Rebels and The Sunset Strip – Volumes I & II
In brief, according to Craig: "Eonian Records is an American archive record label specializing in extremely rare and often never released hard rock and metal from the 1980s and early 1990s, with a keen attention to detail, high-quality re-mastering and kick-ass packaging."
Next year: "We get lots and lots of inquiries from collectors and audiophiles about vinyl albums, so we have listened."
Hoosier artists: 20 percent
Founded: 1999 by Eric Weddle
Formats: vinyl, CD, DVD
Highlights from 2014: Kid Millions & Jim Sauter – Fountain
Upcoming releases: Dow Jones and the Industrials – Can't Stand the Midwest 1979–1981, Akira Sakata & Jim O'Rourke with Chikamorachi & Merzbow – Flying Basket, Loren Connors – Blues: The 'Dark Paintings of Mark Rothko reissue of 1990 LP
In brief, according to Weddle: "Family Vineyard is an artist-centric label based in Indianapolis. It was established in 1999 to release uncompromising and iconoclast visions from all corners of the globe. Our motto is 'Newfangled and archival sounds aged to perfection.' But I always thought John Darnielle nailed it when he wrote: '... Family Vineyard occupy a particular corner of the music universe, serving up equal parts talent, ambition and pretension from people who don't shrink from the word 'artist' and who make honest, blood–leaking efforts to be worthy of the name.'"
Next year: "This year was a very quiet for Family Vineyard with only one album coming out. The (visible) inactivity was mostly due to extreme vinyl manufacturing catastrophes (three planned released have been now been bumped in 2015...). Next year will be the start of Family Vineyard's 15th year and I plan to not only release a slew of new music and reissues, but bump up local visibility and involvement."
Hoosier artists include: Apache Dropout, Mad Monk, Dow Jones and The Industrials, Hoi Polloi, Sitar Outreach Ministry
Founded: 2009 by Jared Cheek
Formats: vinyl, cassette, CD, digital
Highlights from 2014: Mike Adams At His Honest Weight – Best of Boiler Room Classics, Scharpling & Wurster – Rock, Rot & Rule, Yuuki Matthews – Funny Morning
Upcoming releases: Unreleased Don Muro album of love songs from 1969 to 1974, Mike Adams At His Honest Weight LP, top secret tribute album
In brief, according to Cheek: "We're trying to do our best with the time and resources that we have to share worthwhile music with the world in a fun and honest way. Our releases have been all over the place but I think some common themes are Christmas, Starflyer 59, professional wrestling, comedy and a proud enjoyment of life here in Indiana. Our catalog is all over the place — from novelty releases like the 1993 answering machine tapes of a movie theater in Wisconsin (which everyone MUST HEAR!) to songwriters like Mike Adams, who is cranking out some of the best records of all time right before our very eyes. I plan on doing Flannelgraph forever, so, to quote 'Nature Boy' Ric Flair, 'Whether you like it or you don't like it, learn to love it, because it's the best thing going today!' "
Next year: "Hopefully we'll come up with some new ways to get the word out about the label. We have a small group of supporters who are very awesome, but I feel like there are still lots of people out there who would enjoy our releases if we could just do a better job of letting them know they exist."
Hoosier artists: 50 percent
Galt House Records
Founded: 2011 by Jake Amrhein
Formats: vinyl, cassettes, CD
Highlights from 2014: My Endless Minutes – Compilation Vol. I-III, Dessa Sons – 7", Wounded Knee/Monoliths Split 7''
Upcoming releases: – Three way 7" with GRYSCL, Canyons, Wounded Knee, Three way 10" with Gillian Carter, Citycop, Wounded Knee, Ghost Town Collective collaboration
In brief, according to Amrhein: "Mostly I'm broke; it's financial suicide at first, especially if you just dive in by yourself with no experience like an idiot. I get to say cool things like "I run a record label"...but by far the most useful and important part of this 'label' has been making the connections and friendships across the country and internationally that I've made in the past four years. That sounds really corny and lame to print I guess, but it's true."
Next year: "Hopefully the amount of money that I can put into it; eventually I definitely plan on running a DIY punk venue/bar of my own with a handful of some close associates (and maybe another local label or two) – but a venue of my own could still be three or five years away."
Hoosier artists include: Wounded Knee, Coma Regalia, Brighter Arrows, Air Hockey, Crescent Ulmer, Sirius Blvck, Grxzz
Founded: 2010 by Jimmy Peoni
Formats: vinyl, digital, cassette
Highlights from 2014: No Coast – 7'', Ampersand Blues Band – Self-titled, FSDC Volume 3
Upcoming releases: New releases from Last IV, Raw McCartney, Bloody Mess, Pnature Walk.
In brief, according to Peoni: "GloryHole Records is a small, mom and pop, boutique label documenting a period of music from the Midwest Indiana region."
Next year: "GloryHole Records will be changing vinyl record provider to Gotta Groove Records. We will also be opening a music bar."
Hoosier artists: 80 percent
Founded: 1976 by Bob Richert
Formats: vinyl, CD, digital
Highlights from 2014: No releases yet this year; Gulcher is transitioning back to vinyl.
Upcoming releases: Various Artists – Different Drum (Soundtrack album for a movie by Evansville filmmaker Kevin Chenault/Blackstrap Pictures) Various Artists – Gizmo Nation (Covers of the 15 tracks on the three original Gizmos EPs), Hypocrite In A Hippy Crypt – Lost In Better Days
In brief, according to Richert: "Back in the mid-'70s, Gulcher was born in Bloomington, Indiana, as one of the earliest small independent labels and fanzines. Propelled to legendary status by the release of the first Gizmos EP, Gulcher championed the low-fi DIY revolution before it was even born. Most of the Gulcher releases were of the raw basic punk variety. The band was learning to play before your very eyes ... mistakes and all! Inspired mistakes! Later releases were a bit varied stylistically, yet all stayed true to the DIY ethic that would begin to spread around the US in the early-80s. Part 1 of the Gulcher Story faded as the music moved away from the punk ethic that had started it. Flash forward nearly 20 years, and Gulcher re-emerged, reactivated and re-energized. A few Gizmos songs had been bootlegged on punk compilations, and this was just the inspiration Gulcher needed to reissue the legendary Gizmos EPs. Then more Gizmos, MX-80 Sound, Afrika Korps, Thundertrain, Panics, O. Rex, Dancing Cigarettes, Angel Corpus Christi, Screamin' Mee-Mees. And before anyone knew it, Gulcher was back, with new young (and young at heart) artists: Kurt Vile, Home Blitz, Magik Markers, Crawlspace, Tim Carroll, Meercaz, Mykal Xul, Hypocrite In A Hippy Crypt.
Next year: Gulcher will be returning to its vinyl roots.
Hoosier artists: 100 percent
Founded: 2013 by Dimitri Morris with assistance from Bradley Lee and Joey McGuire
Formats: digital, cassette
Highlights from 2014: HDR Mixtape Vol.1., Chives – Self-titled, Mystery Flavor Mixtapes
Upcoming releases: New releases from The Icks, The Constants, Love Moon
In brief, according to Morris: "We're an independent music label dedicated to both the export and import of new music, art and tapes in the Midwest. We work with independent artists and musicians in hope of fostering their creative growth. Our hope is to continue to add to our in house collective of friends and artists by extending our network as far as we can."
Next year: "The big change we're pumped about adding vinyl to our list of formats of releasing music. Expect to see Headdress music in record stores across the US."
Hoosier artists: 90 percent
Holy Infinite Freedom Revival
Founded: 2009 by Jon Rogers
Highlights from 2014: Digital Dots – Greatest Hits, Golden Moses – Face Boot, The Day Offs – Self-titled
Upcoming releases: Creeping Pink – Holy Black Acid Family, State Park – OCDC, David Barajas – Red Minutes
In brief, according to Rogers: "It's a small–run cassette label of mostly Indiana artists, usually pretty weird ones, but we have more pop–leaning releases sometimes too. I want artists to have complete control over what they do. The label exists to support them and show the outside world some of the music I think deserves more listeners. I guess it would also be considered a 'bandcamp' label, since that's our main internet presence."
Next year: "I haven't planned on many changes, just doing as many releases as I can, and getting help when I can. I definitely don't make money from this. I always give the artists half the copies of their tape to sell or give away as they please, and I want it to stay that way."
Hoosier artists: 100 percent
Founded: 2008 by Jeff Grant and Erin Tobey
Formats: vinyl, cassette
Highlights from 2014: The Sands – Hotel & Casino (co–released with Let's Pretend Records), Technicolor Teeth – Teenage Pagans
Upcoming releases: Early work of Future Virgins (co–released with Let's Pretend Records) .
In brief, according to Grant: "Houseplant started as a way to release our own music, since Erin and I are both musicians. At some point we realized we'd be making music forever, so we might as well create a platform that would exist alongside of us, for better or for worse. We very quickly came across friends who were in similar positions, that is to say they were making records and didn't have anyone to release them. Maybe they were too unknown or too landlocked to get picked up [by] the larger punk labels, but still had the drive to tour and push the music on their own. We take a lot of pride in each release and make sure that the look and sound are high-quality."
Next year: "It's hard to say. We've been making it up as we go along for seven years now. Every year I say we're gonna do more than the previous year, but at some point I don't think it's up to us. It's just whatever happens, happens. Rather than have a goal to release 20 records a year, I'd rather strive to to still be releasing records in 20 years."
Hoosier artists: 80 percent
Founded: 1999 by Brian J. Hogan, Eric Klee Johnson, Marc Johnson, Terry L. Monday and Kevin Spellman.
Formats: CD, digital
Upcoming releases: New digital capsules from Monofiction, The Fuglees, Carbellion, The Roundups and Chad Harvey
In brief, according to the label: "Terry, Brian, and Kevin were the management team for the Indianapolis band Wonderdrug. The debut record from Wonderdrug, Hi!, was the first release [from] Indie 500 Records. The label was founded on the principles of allowing artists creative control and releasing music that partners were passionate about. Indie 500 Records is also not bound to any specific genre of music. We have released product on virtually all formats. We have released records by Shelby County Sinners, Kaleidostars, Wonderdrug, Jane Jensen, The Fuglees, Stereo Deluxe, Chevy Downs, Push Down & Turn, Mars or the Moon, Carbellion and Chad Harvey, to name of few."
Next year: "We plan on presenting a series of live showcases throughout the year featuring our artists. The first showcase will take place at Barrio, the night before Thanksgiving, featuring Monofiction."
Hoosier artists: 85 percent
Joyful Noise Recordings
Founded: 2003by Karl Hofstetter
Formats: vinyl, lathe cuts, flexi-discs, digital, cassettes, CD
Highlights from 2014: Kishi Bashi – Lighght, Son Lux – Alternate Worlds, Half Japanese – Overjoyed
Upcoming releases: Serengeti – Kenny Dennis III, Deerhoof – Deerhoof La Isla Bonita Flexi–Book
In brief, according to Hofstetter: "We are purveyors of interesting media for a variety of artistically honest, exploratory and often haphazard musicians. We're not your standard noise or experimental label; nor are we interested in typical indie rock. We do however love when these two sides of the spectrum intersect in interesting ways. And we gravitate towards artists who, in one way or another, bridge this gap between pop and noise."
Next year: "We are expanding our VIP Membership and subscriptions to offer more unique and limited releases for the super fans. We like creating a special experience for fans, and bridging the gap between them and the artists they love."
Hoosier artists: 10 percent
Jurassic Pop Records
Founded: 2012 by Jeff Mather and Dylan Schwab
Formats: vinyl, cassette
Highlights from 2014, according to Mather and Schwab: "We love all of our releases as if they were our little babies! Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they cry, but we still love them no matter what, even when they wake us up at 3 a.m."
Upcoming releases: New releases from Cooked Books, State Champs, Jade TV, Dave Segedy
In brief: "We're the soundtrack to that time you were on your couch in your living room and really wanted some cheese puffs, but they were in the kitchen and you didn't want to get up and get them. We release music to coincide with situations like that. Hopefully it gives them some motivation to get up and get some cheese puffs, cause cheese puffs rule so much. Our objective with Jurassic Pop is to showcase as much new and interesting Midwestern music as we can. Right up until we bankrupt ourselves."
Next year: "We've got a lot of new bands, and hopefully we'll be able reach out to a bigger base of people than ever before."
Hoosier artists: 71.4 percent
Let's Pretend Records
Founded: 2005 by Peter Shaw
Formats: vinyl, cassette, CD
Highlights from 2014: Rad Payoff – The Good, The Rad, The Ugly, Pretty Pretty – Leather Weather. Memory Map discography double tape
Upcoming releases: Full Sun – Itch, Chud – Self-titled, Drilling for Blasting – How to Play Guitar
In brief, according to Shaw: "Let's Pretend Records is a label that releases records based off of friendships and inspiring interactions with people in the artistic community. My goal is to put out a consistent quality of rock 'n roll on an only analogue format with like-minded people that also hold a strong DIY moral to what they do."
Next year: "I get to put [out] one of my favorite bands, Future Virgins from Chattanooga, Tennessee."
Hoosier artists: 50 percent