When folksy Indie duo The Sheds (currently inactive) released its You’ve Got A Light album a few years ago, fans and even the most passive curiosity seekers were able to wrap their ears around the record (one of the best locally-spawned efforts of the ’00s) without even having to reach for their credit card. (Streaming is great, but those pesky connection issues limit flexibility and accessibility.) Light and the band’s EP releases were offered for absolutely free via downloads from the band’s Web site. Sheds co-singer/songwriter Cameron Cochran pulled the same thing when his new band (also a duo), Pop Empire, had new material to showcase last year. And all you had to do to experience it was to go their Web site, click a button and it was yours to do with as you please. Now, Cochran is taking the concept even further with the launch of The Recording Label, a download-only label that offers all of its product for free (in MP3 or 16-bit form).
In the climate of today’s music industry (and operating as a sort of artists co-op, with several different artists allowing The Recording Label to disseminate its material), it isn’t the money pit it might sound like on paper. Overhead is low. And for artists just trying to find an audience and/or just have their music heard, it’s a great wait to draw attention using a single label hub to distribute the music. Offering the music — which, if past releases by The Sheds and Pop Empire, plus the label’s first offering from atmospheric, adventurous Indie Pop crew Sacred Spirits, are any indication, is going to be some top-shelf stuff — for free practically insures more people will check it out. (Nickel beer night does well, but at the end of free beer night, there won’t be a drop left.) The Label even encourages downloaders to spread the word about the releases by sharing them any way they can.
Sacred Spirits’ debut release, Some Stay (recorded in Cincinnati’s Monastery studio, as well as in Brooklyn and Nashville), is a great place to start for both potential interested listeners and the label itself. The band creates the kind of gravelly ambiance The Walkmen do so well, but they spike it with a spooky sparkle of reverb and ethereality. Some Stay is a stunning debut from start to finish, the kind of album that draws you in with its hypnotic sonic gaze, one laced with passionate melodies and lyrics and with an imaginative Art Pop current crackling through the core of the narcotic flow. Some Stay is an instant “Best of 2011” contender — see how the year goes and it might just be at or near the top of a lot of people’s lists. Go here to download it now.
It might not be your cup of tea, but it could just be your new favorite album. What do you have to lose? (The site also offers a cool remix of SS’s song “Coma” by Future Trends.)
Cochran’s good taste in music and track record suggest The Recording Label could well become the sort of label you trust will always release something worthwhile. It’s the kind of music that deserves to be heard and, when it is, it’s sure to spread like cyberfire.
The label’s next release will be Pop Empire’s The Devil’s Party, due up on the site in a week or so. A release/label launch party is scheduled for Feb. 4 in the Southgate House Ballroom. Tickets are just $5. Joining Pop Empire and Sacred Spirits on the bill will be Indy’s We Are Hex and really impressive local newcomers The Kickaways.