Celebrating Independence with… Barsuk

In honor of Independence Day, KEXP is saluting some of our favorite indie record labels who’s DIY-spirit helped revolutionize the music industry. As an independent radio station ourselves, KEXP is thrilled to give a 13-gun salute to these pioneers with a series of label spotlights through the Fourth of July.

Named after label founders Josh Rosenfield and Christopher Possanza’s black lab/bull terrier mix, Barsuk Records has grown slow and steady, always staying grounded despite its success and focused on what matters most: great artists releasing great records. Initially founded in 1994 with the purpose of releasing the records of This Busy Monster, Rosenfield and Possanza’s grunge band, the duo soon expanded their roster to include a quartet of students at Western Washington University, now commonly known as Death Cab For Cutie. The success of Death Cab for Cutie, along with critically acclaimed releases from John Vanderslice and Rilo Kiley, brought the label to the forefront of the national music scene. Although these artists have since left Barsuk, the label continues to sign exciting modern artists like Phantogram, Yellow Ostrich and Laura Gibson. In addition to handling the releases of their current roster, Barsuk also specializes in issuing vinyl releases, including The Dismemberment Plan’s Emergency and I and the entire catalog of Death Cab for Cutie. Although Barsuk’s roster may no longer feature some of its high profile alumni, it remains as solid and steady as ever with a rush of new blood, and like Barsuk the dog, it seems that Rosenfield and Possanza remain eager to go fetch new artists and bring them to listeners. Watch video of Yellow Ostrich’s 2011 visit to KEXP’s studios below, alongside videos from other Barsuk artists. For more samples of Barsuk’s catalog, visit the media section of their website, where you can find a plethora of videos, streams, and free MP3s.

Key releases:

Death Cab for Cutie – Something About Airplanes (1998)
John Vanderslice – Mass Suicide Occult Figurines (2000)
Rilo Kiley – Take Offs and Landings (2001)
Death Cab For Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003)
Mates of State – Bring it Back (2006)
Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter – Like Love, Lust and the Open Halls of the Soul (2007)
Menomena – Friend and Foe (2007)
Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line (2008)
David Bazan – Curse Your Branches (2009)
Phantogram – Eyelid Moves (2010)
Yellow Ostrich – Strange Land (2012)
Laura Gibson – La Grande (2012)

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