Best Upstart Label

Cricket Cemetery
Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

Cricket Cemetery has no business being as interesting as it is. A drummer who plays crushingly abrasive hardcore as part of the group LTW, Ian Thompson started the record label at the end of 2010 as an outlet for D.C.’s most famous punk sound, as well as “anything loud.” The first few releases were all 7-inches. And Thompson laid down some limitations: “One pressing. Only DC artists. No cds. No myspace. No bullshit. Just fun cheap awesome records,” he wrote around the time. Luckily, Thompson’s chosen to break some of those rules. He’s expanded to 12-inch records. He’s looked outside the city, releasing deliriously juvenile power-pop from Baltimore’s The Bam Bams. And within the D.C. area, Cricket Cemetery has becoming intriguingly genre-agnostic: It’s pressed post-modern road-warrior rock from More Humans and self-aware, canon-combing garage rock from The Tender Thrill. Coming next? Releases from avant-garde classical duo Janel & Anthony and philosophical art-damage unit Washerwoman. Meanwhile, Cricket Cemetery has continued to unleash a steady barrage of spit-spewing, feedback-strewn hardcore and sounds more extreme still, from bands like Hubris and Bitter American. A great general-interest indie label with hardcore roots? Hey, it’s worked before.

Correction: The pick originally contained two reporting errors: It misidentified Cricket Cemetery's Twitter handle, which is @cricketcemetery, and incorrectly stated that the label pressed a recording by Hays Holladay.