eMusic will still rock you if you let it.
The surprisingly unceremonious loss of Merge, which had been one of the most promoted labels on the site even a decade ago when there was more indie rock than there now is of all genres (except house music) combined, I fully expect a monkey-pile on Polyvinyl and declarations that it is the last legit label standing, yet wavering on new releases and just as vulnerable as once-sacred Merge was. To the too-trained eye, there’s a hole in the center of eMusic where the rock used to be. Can a hardened rock enthusiast unlearn what he has learned? What substitute labels remain in early Oct. 2019?
Extremely glibly, eMusic (maybe pop music itself, also, to pile on) has changed like the U.S. economy in the 1990s and the 21st century, and we were its blue-collar industrial workers, finding good-paying jobs and good rock albums without a ton of effort. The economy changed, and maybe those jobs/labels aren’t coming back. Maybe rock will never be pop music again either. I wouldn’t expect many auto-assembly line workers to transition smoothly to a service/knowledge economy any more than I’d expect the average subscriber who only wanted to rock out to be satisfied with eMusic as it is today. One might not even consider a computer programmer, let alone an online “influencer” to be a real job, just like many will dismiss the labels below without sampling them. I believe, with the help of forums like these, that such transitions are possible, and the site’s offerings can still be appreciated, with effort to “retrain” how we find what’s worth downloading. You may well disagree or find all that terribly offensive. But anyway, here’s a first genre-specific list that I hope will be a series, accompanied by numbered album suggestions when possible.
These are my favorite rock options left, excluding a lot from other lists and mixing labels and bands (and making no claims of updated—let alone complete—catalogs or likelihood of staying on the site). Larger catalogs are first by geographic region and smaller or more focused and specialized ones are in the second section, by style:
By Region and of general rocking interest:
All-purpose American holdouts - Memphis Industries; Carpark; Shelflife; Velocette; Young God;
UK survivors - Song, by Toad; Static Caravan; All the Madmen; Lost Map; Love Thy Neighbour; Olive Grove; Recordiau Cae Gwyn; Recordiau JigCal; Copa; Sink & Stove; Wonderfulsound; Raygun Records; Trashmouth; One Little Indian;
En español or Portuguese - CVRA LVDORVM; Sello Recolector; Elefant; Red Poncho Producciones; Elemess; Merca; Lanzallamas; Monqui Albino; Santo Grial Producciones; Sello Trigal; Beast Discos; Discos Walden; Oveja Negra; Sagitta
France, Italy, Germany - Because Music; Trocadero; Zeitstrafe
Other Europe - MARS Records; Ionoff Music; Treesare;
Asia- StreetVoice, Magic StrawBerry Sound; Sunset Road; Six Thirty Recordings; Black Editions;
Other - Microscopi, MonoMyth,
Progressive, Krautrock, Post-Rock, Psychedelic - Feeding Tube, El Templo ReKords, Superstar Destroyer, serpent; Shinkoyo; Bartosz Leśniewski; Mascarpone; Swim; Salvation; Camera Obscura; MonseArt;
Noise Rock/Industrial: Eye for an Eye Recordings; Za! (on Gandula); Italian Beach Babes; Little Room Labs; Dischetti; Tenrealms (on StreetVoice International Limited); Shove Records (home of Pussy Galore); Industrial Records Ltd. (Throbbing Gristle); Potomak (Einsturzende Neubauten);
Vintage - Groovie; Concert Live Ltd.; Enterprise Music and Distribution; Jur/Starwood Media Gmbh; Majestic Rock; OHR; Setco; Witchwood; Inbetweens; Mega Czad/SPMB; Wiz Music Srl;
Garage & Blues Rock - The Parrots (on Ground Control); Damaged Goods; Martin Music; Sello Misisipi; Sound Art; Crimson Shadows, Ad Vanderveen (on Inbetweens);
Hard rock but not metal - VRS; wiaiwya; Áureo Rex; SELF Music Publishing; Red Red Meat (on Jealous Butcher); El Dromedario; Monstro; Rocksector; Rootsound; RidingEasy; Loner Noise;
Metal - Earache; Dusktone; Vanagandr; Visionaire; Art Gates; Sludgelord; Egoistic (on Plexus of Infinity). I’ll be doing a separate post on metal later, asking for help from those who actually listen to it.
Punk, Emo - The state51 Conspiracy; No Sleep; Lou & Rocked Boys; Discos Humeantes; Eccentric Pop; Enclaves; no label; Wiz Music Srl; Armatoste Brazo Discográfico;
Post-Punk, Shoegaze - Shinkansen; Свет и Тени; Chavalote; Stroll On; Menlo Park; Dirty Bingo; Mount Seldom;
Alt. Rock - Light Organ; Stolen Body; Hero Rhymes with Zero; Overground; AED; Bad Elephant; Bleeding Heart; Deltasonic Records; Lux; Future Farmer; Records Records Records Records; Rock Indiana; 604; Sports Day; Subroutine; Cool Thing; Deaf Ambitions; Desert Mine Music; Cigar City Management LLC;
Folk Rock, Outsiders - Small Pond; Jealous Butcher; Catapulte; Fika; DOTWAV; Jam in the Van LLC; FAK; O Genesis; Sotones;
Rock w/ Synths or Strings - Thin Man; Discos de Kirlian; Videatape & Fixme (on Recordzman); Domestica; Demony; Rock It!; Swoon; Something in Construction;
Rockabilly - Western Star; Raucous; Trunk; Fury; Rockstar;
If only this were rocket science! I’m no authority on these subgenres, so please dispute! Lots that I’ve yet to sample thoroughly has been left out. Again, I excluded 75% of the rock labels that aren’t up to standard here. If you’d like to help before what’s left disappears, search for “rock” on my label list: http://www.omnifoo.info/pages/eMusic%20Labels.html#TIER5
My top five in terms of what I’ve downloaded and what’s on my wishlist are, excluding famous ones like Polyvinyl, Carpark, and Feeding Tube…The state51 Conspiracy; StreetVoice; Elefant; Because Music; Свет и Тени.
In lieu of listing titles individually, see a side post on ten great but terribly obscure rock albums.
In short, even if your standards are considerably higher than mine, it’s just not accurate to say there’s no rock left on the site. As with any genre, making today’s eMusic work requires a willingness to sample stuff you’ve never heard of. A forum like this should be able to help make educated guesses more educated for those with limited time.
The nation’s youth roll their eyes at anyone who’s read this far. We need Homer to teach rock appreciation to such skeptics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evqi18yDe2A
To those continuing to rock on eMusic, I salute you! And no judgment of those who’ve taken Bruce McCulloch’s trajectory either: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnyCJDYONSU&list=PL839687FDB5C46290
There’s a lot left and a long way to go before I give up!