America's 10 Best Indie Record Labels, Past and Present


Roster highlights: Sonic Youth, Hüsker Dü, Minutemen, Dinosaur Jr.

One of the most influential labels of the 1980s, SST was founded by Black Flag’s Greg Ginn and was originally an outlet for him to sell electronic equipment. Happily, he soon started signing bands as well, first in the California hardcore scene that gave rise to his own band, and then pretty much anyone who caught their attention -– they were responsible for early releases from Dinosaur Jr. and Descendents, among others. At its peak in the mid- to late 1980s, the label enjoyed great respect from musicians and fans alike. When Sonic Youth signed in 1986 prior to the release of EVOL, Lee Ranaldo said that “[SST] was the first record company we were on that we really would have given anything to be on.” (Unfortunately, the relationship went sour and ended with band suing label for unpaid royalties. So it goes.)