Most Important Label 2001 Year in Review

Bedrock

John Digweed's label was easily the most influential dance label of the year. After a fitful start two years ago they managed a release a month or more this year. Each one was quality, and provides an excellent snapshot of the "progressive" scene that dominated England this year. –Philip Downey


Brobdingangian

Their ever-expanding roster is making it cool to come from the East Coast again. –Michael Edwards


Darla

Not only are they an excellent and efficient distributor of top-notch pop music of all shapes and sizes, they play home to their own artists, as well as other in-house labels for which they act as manufacturer, such as Le Grand Magistery, Bliss Out, pulCec and others. As a general rule of thumb, if Darla's name is associated with a release — whether it's just passing through their mail order system or coming right from them directly — it's likely to great. –Rob Bolton


Epitaph

They keep branching out into new musical styles and have the size to promote them out there in a world dominated by the Big 5. –Dan Cohen


Hellcat

They're still putting out the very best in trashy street punk and traditional ska, just the way I like it. –Sam Thompson


Hydra Head

With the highest ratio of cool bands to crappy ones. Blind buyers can never, ever go wrong. –Chris Ayers


The internet

Being able to download a concert someone recorded with their MiniDisc recorder within days after it took place. –Roman Sokal


Matador

All these years later and they've widened their focus from just (great) indie rock into once incompatible areas as hip-hop, minimalist and experimental electronic, and none of it sucks, and they still put out some of the best rock records, too. –Eric Hill


Mean Street

Expanding from a music magazine into a hip-hop label was the right move for Mean Street. They have given big push to a number of superb underground West Coast MCs including Awol One (Shapeshifters), Mikah 9 (Freestyle Fellowship), 2Mex (OMD) and lesser-knowns like the Mystics. And rumour has it they may be releasing the long-awaited Speakerface album from Awol One that has seen many delays from Celestial Recordings. –Thomas Quinlan


Mego

Purveyor of Fennesz. –I. Khider


Mint

Continuing to show the folks how it's done, from music to promotion to being all-round nice people. –Jon Bartlett


Relapse

Even though their allegiance to the stagnating death and grind scenes can at best be trying, any label that has Neurosis, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, Soilent Green, Burnt By The Sun and Today is the Day are truly the leaders of the underground. –Chris Gramlich

Consistently releasing state of the art metal, with quality packaging and production to boot. –Greg Pratt


Six Degrees

Mixing in consistently quality music from such sublimely avant-garde artists such as Spearhead, Sylk 130 and DJ Spooky while simultaneously taking electronica around the globe (or is it the other way around?) with its travel series including such ethnic beat fusions as Bossocucanova, Banco de Gaia, Bebel Gilberto, DJ Cheb I Sabah and their always-welcome annual Traveler compilations. This what the world sounds like. –Joshua Ostroff


Sub Pop

No, I didn't get the year wrong. After braving major-label hazing rituals and falling well off the cool radar, Seattle's once mighty Sub Pop label seems to have gotten back into the quality control business while rekindling its old devil-may-care attitude towards sales figures. Cases in point include recent new releases from the formidable likes of the Shins, Beachwood Sparks and the Rapture, not to mention a stellar reissue of Radio Birdman material. –Chuck Molgat


Three Gut

The fact that they have the Constantines is reason enough, but I can't think of many other labels that did as much good work this year. -Jason Schneider


Tigerbeat

A label dedicated to putting out the most deranged and creative electronic music available, all from Kid 606's basement. –Cam Lindsay


Ubiquity

This California label took the roof off this year, with top-notch releases by P'taah, Beatless, Kirk Degiorgio/As One, Interfearance and many others. Let's hope in 2002 they keep the momentum and add more North American artists to the mix. –Denise Benson