TAPE LABEL REPORT The Tape Label Report, August/September 2023 By Bandcamp Daily Staff · October 16, 2023

Welcome to The Tape Label Report, where we introduce you to five cassette-focused labels you should know about, and highlight key releases from each.

Just Because

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Founded by Joe Vecchio in 2015, Just Because Records has carved out a bright niche in the Cleveland music scene, putting out some of the area’s best pop-rock, power pop, and garage. Vecchio had been involved in Cuyahoga County music since the early 2000s, but it wasn’t until later that he sensed an opening: “There were a lot of good bands [around the mid-2010s] putting out their own record in Cleveland. A lot of labels that had been working with bands moved to New York, or moved elsewhere, or stopped. I kind of thought, ‘Hey, there’s kind of a need for this.’”

The Movie by Shitbox Jimmy, the label’s first ever release, is the platonic ideal of a Just Because project: garage rock that doesn’t take itself too seriously, wonderful hooks that recall The Whiffs or The Toms, and Joey Nix’s distorted, yelping vocals. But some of the strongest records on Just Because are the surprises. Not to be missed is last year’s The Multiverse Waltz by Nick Cross, which has a crisp and comforting singer-songwriter feel. Another example is the label’s best-selling tape, Suitor’s Communion, a breathless and thrilling post-punk record that recalls great Chicago bands like Deeper or Dehd. “Suitor is the only band that sounds like that on the label,” said Vecchio. “That one’s a little bit out of left-field.”

Since tapes can be made more easily and at smaller volumes than CDs and vinyl records, those types of unexpected releases have a home at Just Because. “The idea of, you make this record with your friends, you burn 20 CDs, you take them to your shows, you sell for $3—it’s kind of along that same line,” said Vecchio. “If it gets really popular, you could go put it on vinyl, or make 100 copies, but the convenience of tapes is really great.”

Release to Start With

Marty Brass
Painted Glass

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Every music scene has a person like Marty Brass. “He’s another guy who does a lot…has played guitar and drums in a lot of bands, works at [local venue] The Happy Dog, and helps book shows,” said Vecchio. “He kind of does everything.” His drumming has anchored all kinds of bands, from the “country-power pop” of Red Devil Ryders and Fascinating’s disaffected slacker rock. That prolificness resulted in last year’s Painted Grass, a record of fuzzed-out oddities including a surprising cover of the Rolling Stones’s “Dead Flowers” with vocals that recall an angstier Robert Pollard.

– Ethan Beck


Paisley Shirt Records

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Paisley Shirt Records began over a decade ago as a modest endeavor put together by a few friends during their early post-grad days in San Francisco. The goal was to release and distribute the music they recorded on four-track cassette machines without having to worry about whether it appealed to anyone else. “We thought people wouldn’t like the music,” says co-founder Kevin Linn. “So we decided to release it ourselves.” Despite attracting international acclaim for some of its releases in the years since then, the label’s ethos remains guided by whatever music happens to catch Linn’s ears.

Paisley Shirt’s first releases were by the recording projects of co-founders Kevin Linn, Nate Rogers, and Alex Machock. The following year they released Paisley Overground, a compilation featuring original songs by the trio’s various projects and some from friends, ultimately leading to releases from bands including Wight Lhite and Babewatch.

In 2019, Linn started attending more local shows in San Francisco, stepping into a burgeoning scene of like-minded DIY artists. “At some point, I started going to shows and meeting Peter [Hurley of April Magazine], Mike [Ramos of Tony Jay and Flowertown], and Karina [Gill of Cindy and Flowertown] in a short amount of time and Max Nordile, because I love Preening,” says Linn.

Bridging the more punk-adjacent music scene of the East Bay with the lo-fi pop of San Francisco bands like April Magazine, Linn adds that the label’s name is “a reflection of what paisley shirts meant in both the context of 1960’s counterculture and 1980’s resistance to the pervasive punk culture, by embracing the punk sound but twisting it in its own way”. ,

“If you look at the course of the Paisley Underground and the whole transition of 80’s hardcore to alternative music— the skate punk band JFA started throwing paisleys around and bands like Hüsker Dü were also wearing paisley shirts,” says Linn. “It’s this movement of, ‘You might be into the loud stuff but you might also be into some other things too.’”

Release to Start With

Whitney’s Playland
Sunset Sea Breeze 

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While “Mercy,” the second track from Whitney’s Playland’s 2022 release on Paisley Shirt, Sunset Sea Breeze, boasts fuzzed-out guitars over four-on-the-floor toms, the following track, “Garbage in a Can”, features gently strummed acoustic guitars beneath a lilting vocal melody backed by sparse percussion. This juxtaposition of noise and melody encapsulates the collage of pop and abstract music across the prolific label’s catalog. The album’s infectiousness is tempered with vulnerability, reminiscent of San Francisco pop elders such as The Aislers Set or Rollercoaster-era Red House Painters. Inna Showalter’s distinct vocal melodies are complemented by George Tarlson’s idiosyncratic arrangements, rounded out by contributions from Paul Demartini and Evan Showalter.

– Zach Vito


7th Heaven Recordings

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 In just over a year, Los Angeles-based 7th Heaven Recordings has become one of the more unique labels in the indie music landscape, with a roster that neatly reflects the interests of an extremely online 17-29 year-old that spends nights sifting through the new releases under the “indie rock” tag on Bandcamp and has an extensive wishlist of long out-of-print  LP’s from obscure shoegaze acts.

Located at the intersection of the Numero Group and Orchid Tapes, the label’s discography includes new releases from waveform* and Melaina Kol, reissues from cult favorite 90’s and 00’s artists like Kittycraft and Pasteboard, and stacked compilations that span generations.

Label founder Brock Pierce (whose pseudonym block perce might ring bells for some of you) describes the label as a “one-stop” for indie acts. Not only does he design merch such as tees, tapes, and posters for each release, he also produces music videos. This is in addition to an extensive line of 7th Heaven Recordings merch, including stickers, keychains, and even a custom lunch box that was raffled off as a part of their one-year anniversary celebration.

Despite still being in college, Pierce says balancing the demands of the label with school work hasn’t been too much of an issue. “I guess it’s kind of hard to manage sometimes, but I feel like I’m a creative person, so I like to kind of make my plate really full,” he says.

And why tapes? “They’re small and they look really funny, too…I don’t know…I just love tapes.”


Release to Start With

Sugar Plant

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A sense of cosmic perfection comes about when cover art flawlessly encapsulates music found within, and this reissue of the 1998 EP from Japanese dream pop duo Sugar Plant may be the ideal specimen. Brimming with warmth and color, the essence of the release is equally as well defined by its title as it is by its Hilma-Af-Klint-esque cover art.

Nearly every song here is broadened to epic proportions, resulting in a uniquely spiritual indie rock experience akin to a sound bath. While the band fuses the downtempo sounds of Warp Records with the gentle shoegazing of Shibuya-Kei acts like 800 Cherries, Chinatsu Shoyama’s hazy, blissful vocals beckon the listener to venture deeper and come out on the other side in a daze of serenity—or, put more simply, Happy.

– Caleb Peck



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What happens when someone obsessed with netlabels starts their own? The result is TAKENINAKE, a love letter to internet music. The label was founded by Vincent Rouault, aka Dr. Nichon, a Frenchman enamored by 2000s American and British indie, which morphed into an ongoing interest in increasingly experimental music inspired by legendary labels like Beer on the Rug and Hausu Mountain.

For Rouault, the idea behind TAKENINAKE was to “give physical form to some digital-only favorites that had accompanied me this last decade, which really symbolized my growth and my own internet musical adventures.” Those artists included This Deep Well, Yasumiyasumi (both of whom worked with Zoom Lens, another Rouault favorite), HGHWND, and Vince Dolphin. After Rouault graduated from art school in 2019, it seemed time for TAKENINAKE to take flight, and the most obvious choice for physical distribution was cassettes.

Cassettes are “cheap to produce, cheap to sell, fun to collect, and simply looked ultra cool,” says Rouault, who is remarkably transparent in his operations and refreshingly forthright with the artists he wants to release. “Twitter has had the second biggest role in our operations. When I know what I wanna release, I simply DM the artist there or send an email and pray for a response—it’s that simple. If the artist is interested, I offer to pay for outsourced production (all our tapes were made in the UK by Bandcds) and/or give a batch to them so they can sell at shows or simply redistribute to friends.” It’s clear that for Rouault, this is a labor of love, unconcerned with profit or recompense.

Release to Start With


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Baile funk has been a genre du jour for the past year or so, and DJ DIBALE’S ZANALIBRE 500MG takes the sound in wild new directions. The two-sided mix brings constant heat, splicing aquatic rhythms and bars from MCs with breakbeats, kuduro, dub, and a woozy sensibility. DIBALE seems like someone who DJs without favoring any one genre or convention, and on ZANALIBRE 500MG, the unknown artist creates a joyous romp that is like few mixes out there.

– Eli Schoop



weeding began as (and remains) a station for outré electronic deep cuts on Dublin Digital Radio (DDR)–an online nexus for underground artists and communities across Ireland since 2016. Longtime friends and label co-founders Ralph Sheridan and Andrew Kelly credit their shared background in Dublin punk and hardcore for shaping the DIY ethos that informs their DJ-ing and music-making; they explain that, when DDR started, weeding arose as a way to “connect all these dots we had found between various things we loved” and reach “an audience that was interested in what we had to share. Nothing like DDR really existed in Dublin before; it was completely instrumental in cultivating what we do.”

weeding’s first releases were tapes of their radio show (as has been most of their output to date), featuring complementary mixes by Sheridan and Kelly on one side and by a guest artist on the other. “At the start we really just wanted to create an artifact for us and whoever else might be interested. Mostly tapes are really nice as long-format stuff to get lost in, and there’s a certain warmth to them. We always wanted to feature guest mixes from artists who typically wouldn’t be making mixes for radio–generally recording artists or visual artists, not DJs,” Sheridan and Kelly say. “We would try to put together music that we thought would complement their mix, usually without hearing it; this became a loose structure for the show.”

This structure has facilitated connections both local and international: in weeding’s back catalog, one can find experimental electronic heavyweights (composer Stephan Mathieu, 12k-resident Shuttle358); other Dublin-area synth ‘n’ tape tinkerers, like fellow DDR DJ Icebear; and notables from across the Isles, such as Bristol-based avant-pop group Tara Clerkin Trio. Releasing original music grew organically from these connections. But even as weeding have put out albums by the likes of sound artist Angela Wai Nok Hui and psych-synth wizards Nuke Watch, they’re not beholden to a fixed modus operandi: they still DJ, and “when inviting people to guest on the show, we always mention that they can send us anything; it never specifically has to be a guest mix. We don’t really see weeding as a label–it’s more of an ongoing art project.”

Release to Start With

Shun Nakaseko
Secret of Sound

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While the Weeding w/ Alexi Baris tape represents the label’s first original material, with Baris’ side comprising an original improvisation for the radio show, Secret of Sound is weeding’s first “album” proper. Shun Nakaseko has a background in entomology–most of his music to date derives from insect recordings, and his ear for sonority in nature is just as evident in this pair of field recordings as in his composed work. Both recordings are driven by a strong sense of rhythm that emerges from the given soundscape; side A documents the call-and-response of car horns at a busy intersection in Kathmandu, Nepal, while side B captures the intermittent chirps of a lone cricket aboard a ship–communicating, perhaps, to absent companions.

– Jinhyung Kim



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