Check out the Small Label Showcase!

Something that has made punk rock stand out among the other genres of music, aside from the music and sub-culture, is the fans caring about where their music comes from. I can’t think of another genre where the fans care so deeply about whether their favorite bands are putting out their music themselves, have signed to a small or independent label or have signed with one of the majors. It’s like some extreme form of being a conscientious consumer. Not only that, but (what I call) being “label conscious” makes the search for new music more fun, more interesting and a lot easier — assuming you don’t trust the algorithms. If a band you like is signed to some independent label, then chances are you will find one or several others on that label that you will enjoy as well.

With all that said, welcome to the first Punknews Small Label Showcase. For this feature a few of us on the staff got together to highlight some of the smaller punk labels that we think are putting out great music, but should have more name recognition within the scene. Hopefully you'll discover some new bands to listen to and labels to keep an eye on. Do you have a label in mind that you think should have made the list? Feel free to name it in the comments below. Otherwise, here are our picks in alphabetical order.

Artwork by: Andrew Frankel

Back From The Dead Records

Back From The Dead Records is a label started by one of the guitarists from UK act Second In Line (see Dirty Sushi Records). Like its brethren label, BFTD also releases Second In Line albums, as well as other bands, but with more of a lean towards skatepunk and hardcore. Like the crop of small, DIY labels which have appeared in the UK over the past few years, BFTD focuses on providing exposure to many of the up-and-coming acts from the bourgeoning UK scene and abroad, which are making great music and deserve to be heard. -Jeff Sorley

Burger Records

Burger Records is the Fullerton, CA label run by two crazy cats named Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard. They kind of jumpstarted the modern cassette craze and God bless them for that. Their strange (but economical!) gambit has enabled them to release over 1000s different titles, including weirder/risky ones that would not be tenable for the pricey vinyl format: The Garden, the off-the-wall art-punk band, comes to mind, as does the dream-pop of Soko, rarities comps by bubblegum punk hero Nobunny, the synth punk destruction on Vnlvx, a Psycotic Pineapple live album, the twangy Dad-daughter duo ExBats, a Cassie Ramone Xmas album, the Mean Jeans-goes-80s pop of Hound of Love, and even an album about rapping wizards. AND, that's not even to mention the amazing reissue series they've for the Dwarves and the unearthing the re-release of extremely rare, but extremely excellent power pop albums by The Toms, MnMs, and Milk n Cookies, and their current series of releases focusing on different countries- the latest issue- Burger goes to Germany! But, don't take my word for it… the label is approved by none other than Iggy himself. -John Gentile

Dirty Sushi Records

Dirty Sushi is a bit of a vanity label for UK act Second In Line, but still puts out albums by other bands. With a small but impressive roster mostly comprised of UK acts, DSR has begun to pick up bands from Europe as well as the USA. Dirty Sushi is on the smaller end and may not be the most productive label out there, but each release is worth checking out as they tend to put out some excellent albums by up-and-coming acts. DSR is definitely one of those band-friendly labels that are working on boosting and improving the scene. -Jeff Sorley  

Dodgeball Records

Dodgeball Records is a fairly young label. It was founded in 2017 by Chris Messer of the band Showoff and his wife Dani Messer. Not too long after Mike Felumlee of Smoking Popes, Alkaline Trio and Live! From The Rock Room joined the team. Dodgeball Records really caught my eye when it was announced that the label would be releasing Decent Criminal’s second album Bloom last year. Since then Dodgeball Records has been building its catalogue with releases from bands like Amuse, The Holy Dark and Danaher. Plus, the label was responsible for the For Santa Rosa compilation. It featured not only the label’s bands, but also songs from Direct Hit!, Off With Their Heads, Sciatic Nerve and literally thirty-six more. -Ricky Frankel

Failure Records and Tapes

Failure Records and Tapes is somehow thriving among the cornfields of the Hoosier State. Inconveniently located in rural Indiana, the label has somehow managed an impressive list of artists and releases. Along with a handful of full lengths and EPs on vinyl, cassette and CD, FR&T has found a winner with its Split Hits the Fans series. These assorted color seven inches have featured The Queers, Sloppy Seconds and The Dwarves paired up with lesser known Midwest bands. The same guys also own a small but well curated record store in Logansport, IN. Check it out if you’re ever passing through. -Tom Trauma

Indecision Records/Programme Skate & Sound

Indecision Records has been putting out records in the SoCal punk since 1992. Since then the label has built up quite the catalogue that contains releases from bands such as Death By Stereo, Death March and If It Kills. Fullerton, CA’s Programme Skate & Sound is not primarily a record label. In fact it is a very cool skateboard and record shop that puts on some pretty great DIY shows. So why did I put these two together? Lately, both entities have teamed up to release some of the more noteworthy hardcore EP’s to come out in 2018 — Warbound by Rats In The Wall and Meet Is Murder by Ursula. Hopefully both Indecision Records and Programme Skate & Sound will have a long and successful relationship because they are killing it together! -Ricky Frankel

Little Rocket Records

Run by Grame Philliskirk, formerly of Leatherface and Medictation, this punk rock veteran’s experience is distilled into a label that knows what it wants to do, and does it right. Primarily serving the UK, Little Rocket Records has also spread its wings to release or co-release bands from abroad,  including Europe, Canada, and the USA. The experience behind this label and the dedication to the music and artists results in a level of involvement and professionalism rarely seen amongst new labels. LRR doesn’t have a lot of bands and albums under its belt, and is a bit editorial in what/who they release. But all that means is that when they do release an album, its definitely worth giving it a chance.-Jeff Sorley

Make-That-A-Take Records

Scottish label Make-That-A-Take Records, centered around the eastern city of Dundee, has been going for twelve years. A staple in the UK punk scene, MTAT is more than just a label- it is an institution. Run by perennial contender for “greatest guy award" Derrick Johnston (according to my own experience and that of many musicians I have spoken to), MTAT has put out a ton of albums, many of which have only impacted the northern UK scene, and some of which have enjoyed exposure further afield. Notable for its multi-genre roster, MTAT doesn’t focus on punk, just good music. The label also puts on the long-running Book Yer Ane Fest, which just held their 11th iteration in December, and is a multi-venue event which features new acts, up-and-comers , and larger acts in the UK scene and abroad. -Jeff Sorley

Put Out Your Own Records

Put Out Your Own Records started out as a joke. Grand Rapids, MI based musician Rob Bruce (AKA Tommy Gun) had grown accustomed to releasing his own music. At some point he decided to have Put Out Your Own Records printed on the back cover. It was meant to be an encouragement to fellow artists, not the beginning of a fledgling label. Here we are only a couple of years later, and they have a handful of releases under their belt, including a couple of regional compilations. POYOR is a small label doing the big work of chronicling a local, DIY punk scene. -Tom Trauma

Rad Girlfriend Records

A lot of us have had a hole in our heart since the untimely demise of Lookout! Records. A newer label that’s almost guaranteed to help fill that emptiness is Rad Girlfriend Records out of Dayton, Ohio. With a roster that includes The Raging Nathans, The Dopamines, The Spears, Nobodys, The Slow Death and many more, RGF will give you the pop punk sugarfix you really need. Reissues by legacy bands like The Queers and Pink Lincolns are an added bonus. Rad Girlfriend has a pretty extensive list of 7 and 12 inch vinyl. Check it out. You’re almost sure to find something you like. -Tom Trauma

Reconsider Records

Reconsider Records is a Long Island-based label started with the purpose to “document my friends and peers..and help get their music out” says Chris Albin, the label’s co-founder. The label, whose name is an homage to an Indecision song, is about fostering growth in the Long Island hardcore punk underground. In just three short years, Reconsider has released music by LIHC bands Sanction, Jukai, Rule Them All, and Bottom Out. The label has become a haven for DIY-minded LIHC bands of all sounds, and even varies their release formats from records to tapes to flexi 7-inches. While they recently put out a 12” from California’s Dead Heat, Albin maintains that “Reconsider is first and foremost a Long Island-centric label.” True to form, Reconsider’s next release is a 12” EP from Long Island’s The Fight which up for pre-order now. -Mike Musilli


Stonewalled has barely expanded beyond the projects of its founder, but that’s hardly a complaint when these projects are of such high quality. Andy Slania (of now defunct acts, Galactic Cannibal and Tension Generation, both of which predate Stonewalled) has used the label primarily to put out his work in Bad Mechanics and The Eradicator. However, Bong Mountain’s seminal 2016 debut, You’re Doing Great (for the record), saw the expanse of Stonewalled past a personal project. While the current Stonewalled roster is limited to just three studio full lengths, their consistent quality shows quite a bit of promise for its future. -Sean Crawford

Thousand Islands Records

Montreal's Thousand Islands Records has racked up an impressive resume since its inception in 2016. The label which, understandably, started with a roster of Canadian bands, has quickly ventured abroad- picking up international acts from Europe and co-releasing albums from around the world. Focusing heavily on melodic, skate, and hardcore punk TIR has an ear for good music and typically knocks it out of the park on each release. They also tirelessly support their acts with promotion and a lot of the back-end stuff, letting the musicians be musicians. The label has also announced their second annual Thousand Islands Records Fest for later this month, put on in conjunction with Pouzza. -Jeff Sorley

Umlaut Records

Formed a few years ago by London band Müg (hence the name), Umlaut Records has quickly made a name for themselves in the UK and abroad. While grounded in the UK punk scene, Umlaut has also spread their fingers internationally, releasing or co-releasing albums from great bands in Europe and beyond. The label has also become a driving force in the London gig scene, focused around the New Cross Inn venue, promoting or co-promoting national and international touring acts, as well as celebrating their own 2nd annual Dügstock and the recent first annual Polite Riot Fest. -Jeff Sorley

Wiretap Records

Whittier, California’s Wiretap Records has been supplying the scene with new indie punk and pop punk releases since 2014. The label was the first to invest in bands like Spanish Love Songs and Kamikaze Girls. So far the Wiretap has been going pretty strong this year with the release of Eager Hearty by Lost In Society, Stringer by Ghosts and Living Room, Get Married’s upcoming album (to be co-released with Asian Man Records). It seems like the label is always putting out some kind of compilation as well. The funds from the Attention compilation series go towards worthy causes and the label’s samplers are always a solid representation as to what it has been up to recently. -Ricky Frankel