TMB List Week ’18: Indie Label Picks

We love independent record labels. We also trust them when it comes to music. So, with TMB list-week in full swing, we decided to go to them for their highlights of 2018 and hot tips for 2019.

Speaking with a bunch of friends across our favourite independent record labels (big and small), we asked them to share with us their favourite albums on different labels and recommendations from their own. Pay very close attention!


Katherine Cantwell – Heavenly Recordings

Favourite album from another label:

A top release in 2018 for me has to be Rolling Coastal Black Out Fever’s Hope Downs. Following their two killer EPs it was hard to imagine their debut matching their brilliance, but it does with bells on!

Last summer a good friend of mine & I decided that our perfect album length was 32mins…exactly the length of The Strokes Is This It. Hope Downs clocks in at under 35 mins and I believe it’s just as exciting, expressive & anchored to city life as the New Yorkers’ debut was back in 2001. It’s a concise LP that questions the chaos around us, the frustrations of urban life; whilst still transporting the listener to a wide open space of layered sounds & lush harmonious… Hope Downs is a way out with big skies & open roads.

Heavenly Recommendation:

From the opening chords of Mattiel’s classic ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ debut, to the magical sound of Halo Maud’s Je Suis Une Île & Hatchie’s summery dream pop, 2018 saw Heavenly introduce a whole host of amazing ladies to our roster. Our first long player release of 2018 was from Detroit’s Anna Burch, with her terrific breakthrough debut record Quit The Curse. A truly brilliant songwriter, her clever word play & guitar action lies somewhere in-between Courtney Barnett & Cate Le Bon, two artists I really cherish.


Tallulah Webb – Sad Club Records & Rough Trade

Favourite album from another label:

Oh god, this is a tricky one. There’ve probably been about 15 albums this year which at some point I’ve thought “oh geez this is going to be my No.1”. However, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided it is Stockholm’s Les Big Byrd’s second album Iran Iraq IKEA, released on PNKSLM Recordings. I was lucky enough to see them play twice in one day, with the lunch time set at Rough Trade, and it was the best in-store we’ve had all year.

Sad Club Recommendation:

One of my favourite new artists is John Myrtle, whose song ‘Foggy’ was on our recent compilation The Music Will Save Us Vol. 2. He’s a London based musician with who has been playing a multitude of the venues around East London, supporting musicians such as Wesley Gonzales and and Mr. Ben and the Bens. You can’t help but love his music – it’s catchy, dreamlike, but with a strong state of melancholy which is both beautiful and unnerving.

Another one of my new favourite artists is Alice and the Bugs, who also appeared on our recent compilation with a track called ‘Butthurt’. They’re a five piece from South London, with catchy songs, lush harmonies and incredible lyrics. You’ve gotta catch them live.


Ellie Rumbold – Partisan

Favourite album from another label:

One album I found myself returning to a lot after its release in May 2018 is Skee Mask‘s second and latest record Compro. It’s a beautiful mixture of serene ambient parts, which combined with the more dynamic rhythmic sections, make for stunning piece of work from producer Bryan Müller. Bigly tracks. Big fan. Make sure you give this one a spin if you haven’t done so already.

Partisan Recommendation:

Fontaines D.C. are set for massive things in 2019. With four hotly received double A-side singles out, and sold out shows across Ireland, the UK and Europe… these guys are in great stead for a killer year next year. Check out the latest release ‘Too Real’, and watch this space for a debut album, which may or may not have been recorded by the legendary Dan Carey (Kate Tempest, Hot Chip, Bloc Party, Bat For Lashes, Black Midi). Fontaines D.C. are more than ready to take on the world.


Jason Ngimbi – Polarface Records

Favourite album from another label:

Pusha T’s Daytona was an instant classic! Everything about it was amazing. The lyrics, the concept, the 7-track listing and even the artwork. It was all on point. Pusha has always been one of Hip-Hop’s finest rappers but this album confirmed him as a legendary artist.

Polarface Recommendation:

Clive Mercury has just dropped his exciting new Grapes EP and [ K S R ] will be creating special moments in 2019 with a new release coming out soon too.


Anika Mottershaw – Bella Union

Favourite album from another label:

For my favourite record I’m going to pick 0для FOR by Kate NV. The album was recorded in her apartment, an ode to the great city of Moscow. To me, it’s a mercurial treasure ready to metamorphose into the soundtrack to a plane, train, bus ride; a walk through a gallery or a park, a morning breakfast partner or dinner date, and it would probably make a great companion for a trip into the fifth dimension, too.

Bella Union Recommendation:

For the Bella Union act, I will chose Doomsquad. Doomsquad are back with a new record due next May. Stay tuned for the elusive exclusive elemental egg party 2019 in honour of George Bataille. More may – or may not – become clear in the near future. The truth is out there!


Jack Clothier – Alcopop Records

Favourite album from another label:

Hmmm. It’s a tricky one this because it’s been (without meaning to sound too clichéd) a wonderful new year for records – and my answer for this would be completely different if you asked me in January, or indeed last week. That said, I think I’ll go for the new one Future Me Hates Me by The Beths on Carpark Records. It’s bloody brilliant. I first heard of them when they had album of the week on Radio 6 and we were driving around Exmoor in a hired convertible (it was cheap – I’m not usually that flashy ;-)) in the blazing heat with nothing to do other than hang out at beaches and country pubs. It was wonderful.

Alcopop Recommendation:

We’ve had a super fun year in 2018, and put out (if I do say so myself) some epic albums from the likes of The Spook School, Happy Accidents, DZ Deathrays, Kississippi, Hellogoodbye, Art Brut and Kagoule – but it’s been especially pleasing to see how significantly itoldyouiwouldeatyou have been snaring hearts and minds. They truly are one of the most exciting bands out there right now, and their debut album Oh Dearism (we released with Failure by Design) is packed with ideas, experimentation and a whole world of different styles… It’s about as far from a ‘rock record by numbers’ as you can get. Please listen to it. It’s phenomenal.


Mike Harounoff – Transgressive

Favourite album from another label:

As is always the way, it was near impossible to try and pick an album of the year. I could easily have chosen Novelist’s Novelist Guy, any of the Kanye West collaboration records, Kali UchisIsolation or Earl Sweatshirt’s last minute entry with the mad but perfect Some Rap Songs. Instead, I think the winner is John Coltrane’s Both Directions At Once – it almost definitely isn’t as good of a record as those I previously mentioned, but the story is so special, and the fact it was even possible to choose a ‘new’ Coltrane album when trying to work out my favourite record on 2018 is reason enough I think.

Artist Recommendation:

We’re lucky to work with so many brilliant breakthrough acts at Transgressive, and watching the likes of Calpurnia, Benny Mails, Boniface, Odetta Hartman and KOKOKO! make moves this year has been very special. That in mind, it wouldn’t feel too good to pick a favourite. Instead, I’d like to highlight an artist called Greentea Peng, whose music has caught me ever since I came across a YouTube video of her singing and smoking in the back of a car late last year. Since then, she’s created a whole world for herself ‘Sensi’ and every song, live set, music video, interview – everything, has been a dream to see, hear, watch and read. Choosing Greentea also let’s me highlight her incredible producer Earbuds, whose beats and sensibilities are always the perfect match for the artists that find themselves in his studio down in Forest Gate.


Dave Owen – Big Scary Monsters Records

Favourite album from another label:

Personally, I absolutely loved that Rolo Tomassi record – Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It, from our friends at Holy Roar. There are only a few bands who get better and better with age, but they absolutely smashed this with a criminally underrated and beautifully crafted, intelligently heavy record. The other guys in the office loved Retirement PartySomewhat Literate (shout out – Counter Intuitive Records), The BethsFuture Me Hates Me and GhostPrequelle. Little something for everyone there!

Big Scary Monsters Recommendation:

Just how many bands can I actually mention here? A lot to love! Been a great year for our fave alt-popsters Orchards… if you’ve slept on that Losers/Lovers EP, get it in your ears and catch them on their first headline tour in March before they become huge. Gender Roles have released their Lazer Rush EP and had fans (literally at Big Day Out) bouncing off the walls at their live shows – ones to watch out for in 2019. When not playing in 100 million other bands, Nervus continued to grow into everyone’s fave punk band releasing the killer Everything Dies, while Delta Sleep have been off conquering the US with their incredible new album Ghost City and plotting world domination next year. Finally, Doe’s record Grow into It deserves all the plaudits too – get on that and see them tour in Feb!


Suzy Moosa – Secretly Group

Favourite album from another label:

I can’t fault Bodega’s Endless Scroll – it’s one of those albums I would listen to from start to finish and then repeat. The album is such an eclectic mix of little gems.

Secretly Recommendation:

One of my absolute favourite artists on our roster is Dead Ocean’s Durand Jones & The Indication. Their soul infused music is the epitome of ‘feel good’ and their recently released single ‘Don’t You Know’ is easily my favourite track of the year. I have a feeling that 2019 is going to be very kind to the guys.


Martin Colclough – Heist or Hit Records

Favourite album from another label:

I found myself listening to MGMT’s new record on loop at the start of the year! There’s a very satisfying blend of warm fuzzy Ariel Pink-esque psych-pop, with haunting 80s analogue synths which pay homage to the likes of Gary Numan or Pet Shop Boys. And after the band’s early mainstream success, I also really admire their ability to re-invent themselves on this album. Honourable mentions go to Let’s Eat GrandmaPart Time and Boy Azooga, who also made some cracking albums in 2018!

Heist or Hit Recommendation:

We’re soon revealing some exciting new additions to the Heist or Hit roster, but one you should keep an eye on for the time being is London jangle-pop four-piece, Honey Moon. We released their latest EP, Four More From… in September, a minor doo-wop masterpiece featuring shimmering guitars, skittish drums and Jack Slater Chandler’s unmistakable crooning falsetto. I’ve heard new demos this week, and can say with some degree of certainty that big things await them in 2019!


Amy Spencer – Mute Records

Favourite album from another label:

My favourite record of 2018 is From When I Wake The Want Is by Kathryn Joseph, released on Rock Action Records. It is such a beautiful album and her vocals are very special. It’s quite a dark record, but the songwriting is just so simple and raw. I saw her play at Rough Trade this year and she was brilliant – definitely my favourite artist from this year. Her debut album is also amazing!

Mute Recommendation:

I’m very excited about a lot of Mute 2019 releases, but really looking forward to working on K Á R Y Y N – THE QUANTA SERIES. My favourite track ‘PURGATORY’ is already out on the double single QUANTA 11. Check her out!


Alex Neely – Domino Records

Favourite album from another label:

Daniel BlumbergMinus. The first solo album from the former Yuck and Cajun Dance Party frontman sees him dip into the fields of free-form jazz and experimental country-tinged balladry to release one of 2018’s most heavy-hitting, and surprising, debuts.

Domino Recommendation:

Having toured the world with Cherry GlazerrSASAMI will spend 2019 focusing on her debut solo record, which oozes melody, honesty and charm. Additionally, Georgia has made waves with her comeback single, ‘Started Out’, which hints at the funky house-driven direction of the follow-up to her 2015 self-titled debut. Finally, having spent the last few years perfecting their off-kilter indie by touring extensively and releasing a series of 7” singles, we are expecting 2019 to very much belong to Sorry, with a whole host of exciting plans on the horizon.


Hugh Worskett – Young Poet Records

Favourite album from another label:

It’s a cop out but there’s no way to choose only one. Some of the albums we’ve had on repeat this year though are Superorganism, Young Fathers, Tom Misch, 1975, Father John Misty and Kamasi Washington.

Young Poet Recommendation:

We’re so excited by WOOZE and can’t wait to release their new music. They’re going to have an incredibly exciting 2019, as is purpl whose next single is a real statement. Carmody is always a brilliantly exciting artist and she has some stunning new music in the works too. There are a few new names on our roster that we can’t announce yet, but we’re really excited to introduce them to the world.


Pierre Hall – Speedy Wunderground

Favourite album from another label:

I worked on the last Fat White Family album and we’ve done stuff with Saul and Ben on Speedy before (Warmduscher/Childhood) – but I think I like Insecure Men‘s Karaoke for One: Vol 1 the best. This is a low-key follow up to their debut album proper – a load of amazingly-selected covers recorded more in the vein of their early demos. I love it. There’s something so minimal about it. It’s like lift music. Kinda reminds me of Silicon Teens a bit – Daniel Miller from MUTE’s early ‘band’. There’s something warped + beautiful about it – like early Daniel Johnston.  Also their version of Peter Andre’s ‘Mysterious Girl’ is better than the original, which I wouldn’t have thought was ever possible.

Speedy Wunderground Recommendation:

black midi – bmbmbm. Obvious, but such a vital release for us. Such an exciting band – and so young. This is the only time we’ve ever re-pressed anything as the first 250 sold out in an hour. Live they’re a monster – equal parts Slint, MilesDavis, TheFall and fuck knows what else. Dan (Carey) has just done the album and I heard a few unmixed tracks on his phone after a Fontaines gig last week – and honestly, I’m still reeling from it. Unbelievable. It is literally going to melt people’s minds.