The Rise of Lame-O Records in the Philadelphia Music Scene

The holiday season doesn’t see many album drops, but towards the end of 2012, a very special album was released: Sports by Modern Baseball. What no one knew at the time was just how much of an impact the band would go on to have. However, Eric Osman knew there was something special about this band and just wanted to get the release out.

There were no immediate plans other than to get that record out, since I was serving as manager of Modern Baseball and had no clue how to get any other labels to put out a record for the band so I did it myself.

The band produced and engineered the album themselves in the student-run studios available at Drexel University. While they moved on to Run For Cover Records, they’re forever going to be the band that put Lame-O Records on the map, especially in Philadelphia’s music scene. Seeing Modern Baseball go from playing house shows to playing venues like The Observatory in Orange County, CA was quite the experience. From sharing classes with Ian [Farmer] and Jake [Ewald] to seeing less and less of them around on campus, they were able to take something they had started just for fun and turn it into something much bigger than themselves. The same happened with Lame-O Records. Now, the label has become a staple in the Philly music scene, and was still able to occasionally work with Modern Baseball on smaller releases.

Steady Hands and Slaughter Beach, Dog are both projects from members of Modern Baseball. Steady Hands consists of Sean Huber and Jake, but it wasn’t always that way. The project was initially just solo work from Sean, and he kept adding members until it turned into a seven-piece band. Slaughter Beach, Dog is Jake’s own solo project, which is garnering more attention in the absence of Modern Baseball.

 

Emily Hakes wasn’t officially part of the label when Eric was working on that first Modern Baseball release, but she was helping out here and there. The two decided to make it official, and Emily thought it was a “no brainer” to work with the label. As things got going for the label, Emily mentions that the two started to focus more on what they were good at.

Our roles are definitely a lot more defined now than they were in the beginning. Eric and I have done a lot of work figuring out our strengths and weaknesses as individuals and letting the other person pick up the slack where it makes sense. We still make decisions collectively like we did in the beginning, but now we kind of know who’s going to handle what in terms of executing those ideas.

Lame-O Records has an innate ability to bring the Philly music scene together. You can find quite a few of their bands playing shows together in the area at venues like Everybody Hits, The First Unitarian Church and Union Transfer. When talking with Emily, she mentioned what it’s like to be so ingrained in the Philly music scene.

I think being in Philly has been everything for this label. There’s a huge, beautiful community of musicians around Philly. We’ve found so many bands that we love there and we almost always find them through friends or friends of friends. It’s very interconnected and it makes it easy to find great music. And we’d be nothing without the great music.

The label goes about finding bands by reaching out to them in-person, via email, or checking out submissions. When the label first started, it was a fairly Drexel-centric affair. Most of the Modern Baseball guys went there, as did Eric and Emily. A lot of the label’s early releases were just records that their friends did. Despite the large amount of music available, their focus on the Philly scene means they don’t have too much trouble easily finding music they enjoy.

Going back to Steady Hands, The Libertines was the label’s second release. Steady Hands stuck with the label for subsequent releases and continue to put out quality music. It wasn’t until 2016, that things really started to ramp up for Lame-O. They’ve put out 26 releases since then, which is about half of their entire discography. Birdie by Slaughter Beach, Dog, came out on October 27, 2017 and was their final release for the year.

Slaughter Beach, Dog - Birdie

When I asked Emily about the label ramping up the releases, she noted that she and Eric were both out of school for the past two years, which that allowed them to focus on the label more. Despite having a job with Brixton Agency, she’s able to devote a little more time than before, and she does PR for the label through her day job. The two truly go hand-in-hand. However, there’s still the day job and label balance to be had.

Since college I’ve pretty much always had a couple of jobs as well as the label. So I actually feel the least busy I ever have just working the one haha. But largely I think it’s just putting in a little extra work, making sure I finish my responsibilities of my paid job first and then working on the label after. It helps that I’m not regulated to any specific set of hours doing PR, and it helps that Eric’s focusing on the label primarily right now so he’s able to lead the charge so to speak.

Emily and Eric both put their full effort into the label when they work on releases. Even if it’s not a full-time gig for both of them (yet), it feels like they’re constantly gracing us with new gems from the Philly music scene. As 2017 closed out, Lame-O Records focused on the Slaughter Beach, Dog album and bands that were touring. In November, they celebrated five years of the label with a church show.

Even with the amazing roster that the label has, there are still some bands they’d love to work with. The label had a residency at Boot and Saddle in January, which went well. They got a lot of bands on board for it and raised money and awareness for local charities and community organizations. The label loves giving back and they’ve always been supportive of the local community.

Lame-O Records is already in action with the new 2018 releases. Hurry just released Every Little Thought on Feb. 23. Three Man Cannon and No Thank You have albums coming out soon, too. Not only does Lame-O continue to release great music, but they’re also dedicated to making the world a better place. They’ve fostered an outstanding community of artists and fans who know how to make an impact. It feels like the label has yet to hit their peak and I, for one, am eager to see what they plan next.