I'm not going to get all high and mighty and turn this piece into a rant on indie record labels vs. major labels. Obviously, you're reading Boise Weekly, so you know that products most vigorously force-fed to the masses are often the least interesting. We've got some amazing artists creating music right here in our own town who may never garner worldwide success—that's just the nature of the Beast—but Boise artists are still worth a whole hell of a lot. Herein lies the great importance of the small record labels operating in Boise.
As a whole, I see these small labels as performing two main functions that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Firstly, they serve to document the work of an artist/artists at a particular time, of whatever genre, for posterity's sake. To literally put that music on wax so that it can be enjoyed for generations. Secondly, they serve as a sort of stepping-off point for artists who intend (purposefully or not) to reach that next level. To "make it big time," as it were.
Here are some current labels based out of Boise, in no particular order:
UnCommon Records/AudioLab: Home base and label for the most prolific (and possibly best) recording studio in Boise. Run by Steve Fulton (formerly of House of Hoi Polloi fame), UnCommon Records will soon be releasing an album by Steve's solo project Chakra Mission, as well as a compilation CD of UnCommon Records artists. www.uncommonrecords.com, www.audiolab.org.
Fort Hazel Records: Also a label/studio, Fort Hazel is known for records ranging anywhere from experimental, to power pop, to more quiet acoustic stuff—like Lowbelly, the Hand, Jeremy from Boise—stuff you might see at the Sotano, well, because it's the same people. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the upcoming Monster Dudes tour, which should be really cool. •www.forthazel.com.
Emeritus Records: Brainchild of Levi Cecil, and home to his various bands. Recently Levi has left Boise for the city of Portland, as so many young Boiseans seem to be doing these days—I like to call it the Exodus of '04. The status of this label is unknown; hopefully someone has stepped in to keep the label going. Emeritus puts out records by Clock, You Might Die and the Wham Bam Thank You Band—all of which are now defunct—among others. www.emeritusrecords.com
Little House Record.ings: Local guitarist Ben Burdick runs this label with his wife Tena. If you don't know who folk-rock goddess Rebecca Scott is, then you're probably either not from Boise, or you need to get out more. This label is home to her most recent releases—she's truly a Boise music icon and very worth checking out. The Web site www.littlehouserecordings.com isn't quite ready yet, so check out www.benburdick.us or www.rebeccascott.us.
Dying is Deadly Records: Justin Carey started this label up a couple of years ago when he released a split 7-inch by a couple of bands from Israel. He then went on to release an EP by Boise Hardcore/Metal/capital-R Rock band the Knifeswitch. If you're into insane, loud stuff with cool guitar work, then check this release out. Dying is Deadly has also just started distributing for some other small labels; namely Level Plane, Temporary Residence, White Denim and The Electric Human Project. Look for Justin selling his wares at underground shows around town. www.dyingisdeadly.com.
Coming in Second Records: This label began way back when in 1997. They put out experimental/progressive/indie pop records from the likes of The Microphones, Central Boise Library and The Very Most. As of now, The Very Most and R Heroz are on their roster. And thumbs up to them for their work on the Idaho Greens CD comp that recently came out (see CD Review on page 29). www.cominginsecond.com.
Rambick Records: Home to the oft-buzzed about countrified rock band Exit 51. These guys are getting some great reviews. www.rambickrecords.com.
Boise music fans need to support these labels working hard to put out local music. If we can support and encourage musicians on a local level then it is only logical that our local cultural scene will get better and better. When artists have viable outlets to work with, the quality and quantity of music will increase, and there will be less incentive for bands to either move out of town or just give up altogether. So, here's to keeping good music in Boise!