The corner of West and Noble is a quiet, industrial area of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. On a Saturday afternoon, I hear nothing save for light rain and the hum of a guy skateboarding a few paces behind me, holding a case of records. As I walk north, past the barbed-wire fences and 16-wheeler trucks, between the brown brick warehouses I can peek at the river separating Brooklyn from Manhattan, and a postcard view of the skyline.
Sixty-seven West is unassuming. Up a dusty steel staircase, on the second floor, suite 221 is marked by an 8 1/2-by-11-inch sheet of white copy paper printed with logos of four of the most vital young record labels of the past few years: Sacred Bones, RVNG Int'l, Software, and Captured Tracks.
Inside, the labels are having their first-ever warehouse sale, set up right in the middle of the office space they all share. Half a dozen twentysomethings are poring through brown cardboard boxes set up on a table; inside each box is a snapshot of one label's back catalog of vinyl LPs and 7-inches. A magnetic force pulls me towards the Captured Tracks bin; I pick up a copy of the first 7-inch released by DIIV (from when they still spelled their name Dive — maybe this could soon be a #rarity) and the 2010 LP by Aias, an all-girl noise-pop band from Barcelona.
"Pelly," shouts Mike Sniper, the founder of Captured Tracks, from the other side of the room. "You can have that Aias record."
"Cool, thanks, I love it." It's a record I've played on my radio show pretty much since it came out.
"Yeah, it's great," Sniper says. "Too bad they never put out another one and then broke up before they ever played America."
I'm not too surprised. "That sucks."
"It'll be the kind of record people love in 20 years," says Sniper.
I continue perusing the label's sale bin, flipping through earlier releases, mostly 7-inches and 12-inch EPs of scuzzy garage pop with names like Christmas Island, and the Bitters, and the Beets.
These were only released two or three years ago, but glancing at the label's first releases reminds me of how much the label has grown in just that amount of time. I think back to 2009's Captured Tracks Festival, held in a gritty empty lot in Bushwick, only a few months after the label seemed to spontaneously erupt from the energy of the DIY community in Brooklyn at the time. It was the fourth of July, my 20th birthday, and a band called the Dum Dum Girls played their first show, backed by Sniper on bass and Frankie Rose on drums. Woods played songs from my favorite record at the time, Songs of Shame. Later, as the JMZ train rolled by overhead and the sun set, the Vivian Girls played backed by fireworks. Those were the days when Sniper still ran Captured Tracks out of the basement of Academy Records on North 6th in Williamsburg, hand-assembling tapes. The drummer of Crystal Stilts helped with silk-screening.