Celebrating Independence with... Sub Pop Records

In honor of Independence Day, KEXP is saluting some of our favorite indie record labels who’s DIY-spirit helped revolutionize the music industry. As an independent radio station ourselves, KEXP is thrilled to give a 13-gun salute to these pioneers with a series of label spotlights through the Fourth of July.

Chances are that if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably heard of Sub Pop Records. Arguably the definitive Seattle record label, Sub Pop has been at the forefront of groundbreaking new music for over 25 years. The label’s roots lie in a fanzine called Subterranean Pop started by Bruce Pavitt in order to earn course credit while attending Evergreen State College. The ‘zine soon started picking up steam locally, and Pavitt began including cassette compilations of bands with the issues. By 1986, Sub Pop had warranted enough attention for Pavitt to release its first compilation LP, Sub Pop 100, and the very next year, Jonathan Poneman provided funding in order for the label to put out Soundgarden’s first 7″ and soon became a key member of Sub Pop. Across the next few years, Poneman and Pavitt released numerous records by Seattle bands, seeking to create a “Seattle sound” that would be associated with Sub Pop. Originally promoted through their mail-order Singles Club, many of the bands associated with the label - including Nirvana, Soundgarden, Screaming Trees, and Mudhoney among others - began to attract worldwide attention. The rest, they say, is history. However, unlike grunge music, Sub Pop carried on well into the 90s, and by the next decade, the label was well known for signing bands like The Shins, Pedro the Lion, Beach House, Band of Horses, Sleater-Kinney, The Postal Service, Fleet Foxes and many others. Although Poneman and Pavitt originally intended to make a unified sound that they would be associated with, Sub Pop has transcended any scene or trend that it’s been associated with. Twenty years after the explosion of grunge, Sub Pop is as contemporary as ever, and chances are that it will still be the definitive Seattle label in twenty more. Celebrate Sub Pop’s legacy by watching video of The Shins performing for KEXP earlier this year below, alongside videos from other Sub Pop artists.

Key Releases:
Various Artists - Sub Pop 100 (1986)
Green River - Dry as a Bone (1987)
Soundgarden - Screaming Life (1987)
Mudhoney - Touch Me I’m Sick/Sweet Young Thing 7″ (1988)
Nirvana - Bleach (1989)
The Afghan Whigs - Congregation (1992)
The Vaselines - The Way of the Vaselines: A Complete History (1992)
Sunny Day Real Estate - Diary (1994)
Iron & Wine - The Creek Drank the Cradle (2002)
The Postal Service - Give Up (2003)
Wolf Parade - Apologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
Band of Horses - Everything All The Time (2006)
Sleater-Kinney - The Woods (2005)
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (2008)
Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (2011)
Beach House - Bloom (2012)

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