Album Review: Various Artists — Big Stir Singles: The Tenth Wave

And the hits just keep comin’, as they say. It’s too easy to label Big Stir as a power pop label. And in fact doing so is (a) too limiting and (b) unfair to the range and eclecticism that characterizes the label’s music. This ongoing (never-ending?) series of releases showcases an impressive stylistic variety. This latest entry follows the template established some time back: a clutch of A-sides followed by B-sides. Ten or so artists are represented by two tracks each. Some names will be familiar to Big Stir devotees: Nick Frater, Popdudes, Allyson Seconds among them. Others are lesser-known, and a few might be one-off aggregations in the mold of the Armoires’ recent Incognito album.

The A-sides are almost all great, but the B-sides occasionally feel like, well, B-sides. This collection is perhaps the most left-field yet, with odd reinventions of songs by Captain and Tennille and Dead Kennedys coexisting somewhat uneasily. Both are examples of the “well, it sounded better on paper” philosophy. Other covers (“Share the Land”) offer little new but remain enjoyable nonetheless. Verdict: not the best in the series, but solid and worth a listen.