Best Record Label: Artificial Head Records
In 2018, Artificial Head Records released albums by The COPS, Jody Seabody & The Whirls, Darwin’s Finches and its flagship band, Funeral Horse. Those acts command attention in Houston for their sonic bombast, manic live shows and veteran know-how. The label made sure audiences had every chance to be at each album’s release show with impressive grassroots campaigns that started by word of mouth among fellow musicians and ended with a rush of album reviews and show advances before each celebratory concert. These are the things a record label does with regularity, but the people who run this label can't fathom or settle for regularity. The work is taken to a higher level, particularly when it comes to the physical record itself. The packaged product at Artificial Head is the consummate labor of love.
These are the folks whose grade school science projects never considered the blandness of a poster board. They’re the kids who picked various fruits at the produce department for their solar system displays or packed their papier-mâché volcanos full of Black Cats. As adults running a label, that’s all manifest in weirdly signature things like hiring Dead Kennedys’ artist Winston Smith for the Jody Seabody record or pressing albums with Jack White’s Third Man Records or packaging The COPS album to resemble police case files. Every album is meticulously designed and often includes assists from Houston bands who aren't even label mates. No part of the creation of an Artificial Head album is a happy coincidence. Every detail is according to a painstaking plan the label’s owners and artists devise.