Documenting all of Melbourne’s independent labels would be an impossible mission, so here’s a look at some of the key imprints at work today.
Fans of lo-fi, punk and pop eagerly anticipate each release from the onomatopoetic Aarght! Records. The roster of artists reads like a shortlist of key garage rock groups to emerge in the past five years, including Eddy Current, UV Race, Super Wild Horses, Ooga Boogas and Total Control.
Since beginning life in 2006, Mistletone, the brainchild of Sophie Best and Ash Miles, has released international artists such as Panda Bear, Ariel Pink and El Guincho, and represented local world-class acts including My Disco, the Orbweavers and Beaches.
Chapter Music has spanned two decades. Seventeen-year-old songsmith and journalist Guy Blackman started the label and transported it from Perth to Melbourne when he relocated. The label unearths both forgotten gems and important emerging artists, including Pikelet, Laura Jean, the Twerps, Dick Diver and Geoffrey O’Connor.
Offering up experimental R’n’B, polyrhythmic pop and subtly complex acoustic arrangements, Two Bright Lakes releases discs from Otouto, Nick Huggins, Oscar & Martin and Dream Kit.
Sensory Projects has an equally pluralist approach. For over ten years the label has been expanding horizons with exceptional releases. Faux Pas, Rat vs Possum, No Zu and Love Collection are some latest exports.
A collective with a lot of love and soul to give is Hope Street. Inspired by global rhythms, the Brunswick-based label is home to the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Bombay Royale and the Cactus Channel.
Established in 1999 by producer Loki Lockwood of Atlantis Sound, Spooky Records boasts the “seamy” roster of horror-country pioneers Graveyard Train and rock behemoths such as SixFtHick, Digger & the Pussycats and Spencer P Jones.
Finally Wax Museum and Obese are both hip hop specialist shops-cum-labels with loyal followings. New kid on the block This Thing has begun to release tapes, vinyl and mp3s from local beatmakers and electronic producers of the Melbourne underground.