Key Acts: Le Loup, the Duchess & the Duke
Hardly Art is the recently-minted 'sister label' of Seattle's legendary Sub Pop Records. Founded by longtime Sub Pop bossman Jonathan Poneman, the label is Poneman's attempt to adapt to the changing times of the online era. Where releases on the flagship label have 'turnarounds' —the time between the finishing of an album and its actual release— of over three months, Hardly Art, operating on a smaller level, can dispatch records much more quickly.
Taking the label's name from a song by wordy Portland lo-fi racket The Thermals ("No Culture Icons" from 2003's More Parts Per Million), Poneman has only signed a handful of acts to Hardly Art thus far, almost all coming from the Seattle region. Their most notable signee hails from DC, though; avant-folk collective Le Loup making a charming, rollicking pop-music that manages to seem both hopeful and dystopian.
Though still a fledgling enterprise, Hardly Art is one that bears watching; history suggests that, soon enough, the label will uncover an artist whose unexpected popularity will dwarf plenty of those big boys on the big label.