About BIG STIR RECORDS
Big Stir Records emerged as a natural progression of the monthly Big Stir Concert Series in Los Angeles, launched in 2016 by Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome of Burbank-based band The Armoires. Their initial goal was to nurture the local guitar pop community, but as that community coalesced and grew, the outlook became global, spawning sister series in the UK and elsewhere in California. The artists and bands of a reinvigorated live scene found themselves ready to create new records for a wider audience; Broome and Bulbenko responded by founding BSR. Currently boasting CD and LP releases from a roster of 12 artists from the US, UK, Sweden and Germany and supporting many more through their weekly Digital Singles Series, the label has been hailed by the likes of Don Valentine (I Don't Hear A Single) as “the best thing to happen to the pop rock scene in ages, and long overdue”.
It was Steven Wilson of Plasticsoul, one of that scene's leading lights, who first announced that he planned to release his band's long-awaited third album, Therapy, on Big Stir Records. “There was literally no such entity at the time”, says Rex, “but the record was terrific and it made perfect sense immediately.” Big Stir thus naturally progressed from booking and promoting live shows to releasing albums as a record label. Therapy became BSR's first release in 2017, received the expected rapturous reviews, and was followed by the first of the label's widely lauded compilations, The Big Stir Traveling International Roadshow. Fed by the unending parade of stellar artists on the concert series' live stage, the roster quickly expanded: LA's garage rock stars The Condors, Fresno's beloved Blake Jones & the Trike Shop, and Canterbury, England's brilliant Spygenius (who oversee the Big Stir Britannia live gigs) completed the core “family” with enthusiastically received releases in the first year of the imprint's existence.
Things moved quickly from there. BSR would expand to release CDs and vinyl LPs from Addison Love of Huntington Beach, CA and Kai Danzberg of Hanover, Germany – who together form the label's youth brigade – as well as San Francisco's much-admired Trip Wire, Britpop heroes Amoeba Teen (Stourbridge, UK) and the irresistible In Deed of Uppsala, Sweden, in its second year. Back home, Southern California pop rock luminaries Michael Simmons and Leslie Pereira & the Lazy Heroes joined the lineup with reissued LPs and the promise of new material in the wings.
Musical community remains the cornerstone of the Big Stir ethos, and you can see it in the whimsically collaborative Big Stir Magazine, designed by the brilliant Champniss of London and heading into its fourth print issue. It's also the spark behind the popular and ambitious weekly Digital Singles Series, presenting A- and B-sides from beyond the label's core roster and collecting them onto CDs (befitting BSR's commitment to physical media). An institution in its own right, the series has showcased new tracks from Karla Kane (The Corner Laughers), The Kariannes, Anton Barbeau, Joe Normal & the Anytown'rs, Paula Carino, The Ex Teens, The Brothers Steve (ex-Tsar) and many more. It has also encompassed co-releases with likeminded labels like SpyderPop Records from Texas (Lannie Flowers) and the Canadian imprint The Beautiful Music (Armstrong) alongside noted indie artists.
John Borack (of Goldmine magazine and the definitive Shake Some Action power pop guidebooks) sums up the central drive: “Community, my friends, is what Big Stir is all about. From the always-fun live gigs to their quirky, opinionated (a good thing!) magazine and from their burgeoning record label to the groundbreaking Digital Singles Series, Bulbenko and Broome have fashioned a real, honest-to-pop community. It’s a community where the tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free — a.k.a. musicians — share those common attitudes, interests, and goals (and music) with you.”
“It’s all evolved so very quickly, and yet completely organically,” explains Christina, “but Big Stir Records exists today purely as the result of unbelievably great music being made by incredibly wonderful people and our need to share it, and them, with the world… whether it’s through live performances, recordings, or distinctive musings in the magazine. Under the Big Stir umbrella, we all have a voice and we are all stronger together.” That in all its forms the modest enterprise has rapidly become a beloved institution in the pop rock world is a tribute not just to the dedication and and determination of its founders, but also to the vibrant scene from which it sprung and which it continues to nurture. That's why every missive from the BSR massive ends with the words of Alex Chilton, from whom they borrowed their monicker: “Thank you, friends!”
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