Sheiks of Industry

Austin record labels, part 1

 Jennie and Eric Zappa of Glurp
Jennie and Eric Zappa of Glurp (Photo By Todd V. Wolfson)

Other Imprints: Out of the Cellar

Beyond the 11 labels we've chosen to profile this week and next, many more Austin musicians are making records bearing an imprint of their own design. Most of these labels begin and end as merely an outlet for a musician and his or her friends, but every so often one takes on a larger role. Today's vanity label could be tomorrow's Sub Pop. Here are some of the other labels in town making waves.


Founder Eric Zappa has his foundations down, having worked for Austin's former country roots powerhouse Watermelon Records before serving a stint at local file-sharing vigilante Audiogalaxy. In 2002, he and his wife, Glurp co-owner Jennie Zappa, took on an Elvis Costello tribute project, Almost You, that found them working with many notable Texas artists. The result was fruitful partnerships with a pair of up-and-comers, Austin barroom heroes Grand Champeen and Dallas garage popsters the Deathray Davies. On the Zappas' plate for 2004: the new Li'l Cap'n Travis album.


Along with the Texas Music Group, which is essentially the remains of Watermelon merged with Antone's Records, Freedom Records is a focal point for the and roots acts that help make Austin what it is. Founded by Mojo Nixon sideman Matt Eskey in the mid-Nineties, Freedom made its name on the Derailers' debut and Jon Dee Graham's career-busting Escape From Monster Island and has since unleashed many admirable efforts from the likes of Beaver Nelson, Libbi Bosworth, Prescott Curlywolf, and the El Orbits. The Resentments' self-titled second album is the label's brand new minting.


The resemblance between "India" and "indie" is no coincidence. Kitty Gordon's Mark Addison and Nina Singh established this label three years ago, building up a sound roster that includes Lowery 66, Dewato, and Will Sexton.


Chicago meets Austin on Sixgunlover, run by drummer Jason Butler, who has a fondness for blazing rock with odd time signatures. In addition to providing a home for local angular rockers Rhythm of Black Lines and Adolfo's Reversal, Butler is busy putting out records by Chicago virtuosos that slipped through the cracks, notably Ghosts and Vodka and the Leo Kottke-inspired Bosco & Jorge.

Has Anyone Ever Told You?

This is the brainchild of Chris Boehk, bassist for We Talked About Murder, which plays an explosive brand of early-Nineties Chapel Hill rock. In addition to Boehk's projects, Has Anyone Ever Told You? has also put out records by San Diego's Dewey Defeats Truman and El Paso's Egon.

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