But here's one thing that ties them together: curation. That word was inescapable in 2015, whether you were running a record label, organising a festival or selling craft beer in a pub. When it comes to record labels, though, the level of thought and care that goes into making something "curated" remain as crucial as ever.
- Honest Jon's Records doesn't use Facebook. They have a go on Twitter, but you can tell it's not really their thing. And there's certainly no PR machine pushing the records they release. So in 2015 it was easy to overlook the West London label's output. But consider this: in addition to a superb run of electronic records from DJ Sotofett, Ricardo Villalobos and Insanlar, Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Simone White and Kassem Mosse, Tapes, Dresvn and Laurel Halo, Honest Jon's also oversaw the first ever Western release for cult Japanese jazz artist Maki Asakawa, issued an album's worth of US gospel music and compiled early 20th-century vocal recordings from the eastern Mediterranean. Quite something, right?
And of course, Honest Jon's is much more than a label. It's a record shop, a distribution outlet and, according to current co-owner Mark Ainley, "an idea"—a countercultural vision that's outlasted most businesses on the stretch of Portobello Road it calls home. This year Ainley's partner Alan Scholefield told us that the thing he loves about the Honest Jon's shop is that it remains a neighborhood concern, one where "people come in with their bags of shopping." The beautiful thing about their record label is that it allows the sound of Honest Jon's to reach the world.