Whether you know Portland as Seattle’s PNW cousin, or the setting of your favorite Portlandia sketch, or the hometown of Aminé (personal favorite here at Four Over Four), or the place with the highest number of strip clubs per capita in the country, it’s impossible to deny everyone knows Portland: the city that keeps it weird, the city that keeps it authentic.
With its reputation as such a crunchy, fun city, it should be no surprise that Portland is home to a plethora of independent, funky, and downright exciting independent record labels. Here’s some you need to know.
7 Portland record labels you need to get to know
Tender Loving Empire
Tender Loving Empire is one of Portland’s largest independent labels. Known as TLE locally, this label is making a huge impact on the indie rock culture of the Pacific Northwest, partnering with Warner Music Distributor ADA to launch their local artists onto a national platform. A number of well-known bands are signed, including Typhoon, The Family Crest, Radiation City, and more.
Banana Stand Media
Banana Stand Media is a big part of what makes Portland’s music scene so distinct. All releases on Banana Stand Media are recorded in front of live audiences at the secret house venue known as the Banana Stand. Their records are available as pay-as-you-wish downloads, they don’t charge bands or audience members, and they’re keeping Portland authentic. Records released under the label feature The Domestics, Tango Alpha Tango, Modern Kin, 1939 Ensemble, The Woolen Men, and more.
Looking for a story of passion and perseverance? Kenny Fresh, the founder of Fresh Selects label, kickstarted this Portland record label’s journey with a music blog that evolved into so much more. The label features independent, modern soul artists, as well as your everyday R&B.
Cavity Search Records
Cavity Search Records is one of the oldest on this list of Portland record labels, founded in 1992. Releases on the label dabble in everything from alt-rock to experimental, featuring records by Hazel, The Helio Sequence, King Black Acid, and more. In 2012, Cavity Search Records joined the Frenchkiss label group, which focuses on expanding visibility for indie labels.
What’s Party Damage all about? Co-founders Ben Hubbird and Casey Jarman say the label was founded to release music curated by “two dudes who sometimes agree on what music is good.” Artists include a range from Dragging An OX Through Water, to And And And, to Wild Ones.
Good Cheer Records
Good Cheer Records is the one of the foremost champions of the DIY music scene for Portland record labels. Founders Mo Troper and Blake Hickman originally created the label to release their friends’ music and to promote local bands, but have grown to be household names within the Portland music scene. They self-describe as “mostly Portland bands, playing mostly pop songs.”
Fluff & Gravy
I don’t know if you’ve ever thought to look for psychedelic Americana, but that’s what’s on offer from this label. If that seems like a bit much, Fluff & Gravy’s also got indie pop, garage rock, and much more. Founded on the ideal of “trust your label,” this record label is trying to bring us back to the time when people would explore new artists simply because they trusted the production value of the record labels. They’re looking to bring that status back to Portland record labels one mixtape at a time.