By James Ammirato for Boston Compass (#131)
January 23, 2021
For indie labels, the more output the better. In the endless sea of Bandcamp releases, an increase in material means more chance for exposure, or for Boston-based label Denizen Records, it’s just because you want to put out everything you’ve ever made. Made up of co-founders Brad Barker, Sean Burke, Gavin Caine and Seth Loomis, the label hosts over 25 unique artist names, though most of the releases consist merely of some combination of the four of them. I spoke with Brad about Denizen’s prolific nature, and some of his favorite releases they’ve put out.
Most recently, “American Dream 2020” is a true rock record from local artist Black Shelton. Released in November, the record is a wild ride from start to finish, featuring blistering punk guitars, thoughtful spoken word, rap guest spots, and an air of general misanthropy.
Since May, the label has put out five split records, each containing 10-25 tracks by different bands from all over the country. Brad said he enjoys making splits, especially during the pandemic, because it works as a way to connect to people and establish partnerships. “I’m not gonna go so far as to say it’s a blessing in disguise, but I’ve definitely been in contact with more musicians than ever,” he commented.
One of the more popular splits, “Coalition,” is made up of artists from Boston and New York City including Plastic Teeth, Queen Crony, and Alex Walton.
“Legends Split” is a comp featuring Death Snail (one of Brad’s projects), Dew Myron, and noise-punk legends Blue Ray. Though Blue Ray’s future is uncertain, the split contains some of the original lineup’s final tracks, due to last year’s departure of their drummer, Aidan Breen.
Denizen’s most recent split, “Denizen Records Has Ruined Music for an Entire Generation,” is no less than 27 tracks, a massive project that rocks from front to back. “I spent a lot of time sequencing that one, I think it paints a really good picture of the local scene,” Brad commented.
Denizen’s strength lies in their ability to find artists by turning over every rock, scouring every nook and cranny of the scene, and inviting them to be on a split. A listen through their Bandcamp discography is quite comprehensive of the local scene, given there are only four members, and they show no signs of slowing down, with several releases planned for this month and next.