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 over 30 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”.
Four years after its foundation, BSR is living up to its name, having survived and expanded during the pandemic. the label is now exclusively distributed by The Orchard and has just announced a partnership with the venerable Texas power pop imprint SpyderPop Records. There's a real feeling that the community vibe Bulbenko and Broome have always fostered has turned out to mean just as much to artists worldwide as it does to the Big Stir founders.
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. By the time of the 2020 pandemic, BSR was prepared to forge ahead offering new music to the strange new world: albums from psych legend Anton Barbeau, Chicago's Dolph Chaney, and Northern California luminaries The Corner Laughers greeted the quarantine era as Bulbenko and Broome saw their beloved live series go on enforced hiatus. Widely appreciated for responding the changing times with a mixture of creativity and reliability, the label would go on to offer and support albums from newcomers Librarians With Hickeys (Ohio), The Brothers Steve (LA, ex-Tsar) and the UK's Nick Frater, with new records from Leslie Pereira & The Lazy Heroes (LA) and mylittlebrother (Cumbria, UK) on deck for Autumn 2020.
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 Rick Hromadka, Vegas With Randolph, The Kariannes, Irene Peña, Joe Normal & the Anytown'rs, The Forty Nineteens, 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. BSR is also engaged in a collaborative partnership with the venerable FUTUREMAN RECORDS (Detroit, MI) allowing the two Sister Labels to mutually distribute and promote a number of emerging and established bands (The Vapour Trails, The Hangabouts) from the global pop scene -- another sign of BSR's commitment to "unity in the community".
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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