Twelve of the Best Colorado Underground Record Labels

Petite Garcon of Tender Moments performs at Absolute Vinyl for Local Label Day.
Petite Garcon of Tender Moments performs at Absolute Vinyl for Local Label Day. Tom Murphy
Since at least the early ’80s, Colorado has seen no shortage of indie labels, from Wax Trax to We Never Sleep, Doughnut Krew, Elephant 6, Suburban Home, Gestalt, Soda Jerk, W.A.R., Gift and many more. Typically, these imprints are started by someone with the initiative and the resources to put out music that had no chance for release on a more commercial record label.

On April 22, this year's Record Store Day, Doug Gaddy and Absolute Vinyl are putting a new twist on the vinyl collectors' holiday: Local Label Day, with a focus on homegrown releases. The day's events will include live performances from bands on the various labels at both Absolute Vinyl and Madelife in Boulder. A schedule of events can be found on the Local Label Day Facebook event page.

We've profiled a few of the recent indie labels in Westword, including Always Human Tapes, Greater Than Collective, Sailor Records and Chain Reaction Records, which is behind the Casket Collective imprint. In advance of Local Label Day and Record Store Day, we've compiled a list of twelve more independent labels that are helping to launch Colorado and non-Colorado music out into the world.

click to enlarge Cover of Sacred Spring by Animal / object. - BANGSNAP RECORDS.
Cover of Sacred Spring by Animal / object.
Bangsnap Records.
1. Bangsnap Records
Run by Kurt Bauer of Animal / object, Bangsnap releases avant-garde, improvisational and spontaneous compositions, mostly by musicians from the Denver area. The output is prolific, and the label has both digital and physical releases from, among others, Animal / object, Dreaming Machines, Pin Rose and Mark McCoin.
click to enlarge BLEAK ENVIRONMENT
Bleak Environment
2. Bleak Environment
Just as the name suggests, this imprint releases mostly experimental and what some might consider challenging music. Noisy post-punk band Tollund Men, death-grind outfit Stillborn Fawn and Kali Malone's dark ambient music have all found a home at Bleak Environment.
click to enlarge COASTAL BEND MUSIC
Coastal Bend Music
3. Coastal Bend Music
Based in both Denver and Corpus Christi, Texas, Coast Bend Music is owned and operated by John Macy, who runs Macy Sound Studios in Denver. The Grammy Award-winning engineer and accomplished pedal-steel player is currently releasing mostly country music on Coastal Bend.
click to enlarge CLOISTER RECORDINGS
Cloister Recordings
4. Cloister Recordings
Marcus Labonte reopened Cloister Recordings in 2014 to continue the legacy of releasing experimental metal, drone and avant-garde music established by his friend Justin Rodriguez, who died in 2013. Labonte relocated to Colorado in 2015 and has kept the imprint active with a string of new releases and reissues of classic albums in genres within its bailiwick.
Differential Productions
5. Differential Productions
Founded in Boulder by Michael Zucker, Differential Productions is home to several artists from Colorado and the East Coast, including singer-songwriters like Emily Shreve, math rock bands like Eat the Sun, psychedelic jazz band Dark Matter and weirdo hip-hop project Headfridge. Differential Productions also offers digital audio and video editing and mastering services as well as CD and vinyl duplication.

Read on for more of the best independent record labels in Colorado.
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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.