Blake Hickman (yours truly) and Mo Troper founded Good Cheer Records in late 2014 after meeting through the magic of radio. Our aim has always been to document the thriving DIY scene here in Portland without artifice or mercenary ambitions. The preceding sentence was part of our first mission statement and while I think we may have lost sight of those ideals in a couple instances, it remains our primary focus to this day. Our record label has an institutional commitment to charitable giving (either 5% of revenue or 20% of profits annual), community involvement (quarterly benefit shows and regular volunteer work with our friends in the Portland Label Coalition), and artist-oriented business practices.
There are certain things we do differently than many other labels. We will always give bands half of each product run we have manufactured upfront to help them be successful on tour or help fund their future projects. We will always resist corporate music distribution. We will always work with bands based in or out of the pacific northwest, particularly in Oregon where we spend the vast majority of our operating budget working with local vendors and suppliers whenever possible. As a native Portlander I firmly believe that the artists we work with (even the ones who have moved here recently) are part of a great lineage of Portland Rock History that goes back to when "DIY" was not just a corporate music buzzword. This sort of stuff might not matter much on Music Twitter when a band's shelf life often lasts as long as their album campaign, but it means a great deal to us.
In that spirit, here's a bit about our release history:
In 2015 we put out three of the best releases of our entire catalog: the self-titled EP from Saboinis, the Sancho EP What If, and the Our First Brains album What You Were. 2016 began with us releasing the debut album from Little Star, Being Close which is still one of our most popular releases and a fan favorite. Months later we released Mo's freshman album Beloved which was a breakthrough moment for us in several ways (our first album to get press on "big" national sites, our first act to tour the US, our first vinyl record). As the year continued we released freshman albums from some of our signature bands including Cool American that July with You Can Win A Few, Turtlenecked (Mo's true masterstroke as A&R President) that August with Pure Plush Bone Cage, and Floating Room that November with Sunless. Mo decided to leave Good Cheer as a business partner that fall and I asked Maya Stoner (Sabonis, Floating Room) to take over his institutional role as President and head of our A&R.
2017 was a very busy year that saw us release 13 projects in 12 months. We released an underrated solo LP Lime Green from Portland sideman de jour Mayhaw Hoons, an amazing EP Strings from the late-great Two Moons, a haunting mini ep from the supremely talented Seattle artist Whitney Ballen (who Mo and I had talked about working with since the label's inception), the incredible self-titled sophomore album from Willamette Week 2016 Best New Band finalists Little Star, and an instant classic of an album from one of our most promising 2017 signees in Boreen titled Friends (very much the next logical step in a Heatmiser - Point Juncture, WA - trajectory). After that we released two of the best albums of the decade in Vulture from Turtlenecked (our first artist to sign with a national booking agent), and Infinite Hiatus from Cool American (our first co-release with a national label in Topshelf Records), both released in June just weeks apart from each other. Working on those two albums at the same time was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but it also became the most stressful (and costly, in a myriad of ways) period of our label's history and helped me realize how we could better serve our community of artists by embracing our initial role as a scene-based label with a grassroots mentality.
Later that summer we finally got to release music from some of the talent that Maya discovered. Hand Mirror, the debut effort from Taylor Malsey's Being Awone/Wilt was a stellar set of tunes that offered something a bit more inventive sonically from our usual fare. That July, Portland fell in love with everyone's favorite new band Surfer Rosie (we hope to hear more from them soon), we followed that up in August with the indelible Black Belt Eagle Scout album Mother Of My Children which continues to find new admirers. We ended the year by circling back with Mo Troper and releasing his ambitious sophomore album Exposure & Response in November. In contrast to the top-down way we promoted his first solo release we set up most of the press for this album in house--working with sites we love like GoldFlakePaint and Bandcamp, and writers we knew personally. It's that sort of organic approach that we want to continue taking with our releases going into 2018.
So far this year we've released two EP's, Even In Dreams and Better Luck Next Year Vol 3 that are essentially solo projects from Little Star and Cool American respectively. We finally incorporated as an LLC this month and have filed for benefit corporation status based on our commitment to community involvement and charitable giving (we passed our assessment but certification is pending). For the remainder of 2018 we hope to bring you new music from old favorites, and continue our tradition of putting out freshman releases from new bands.
Thanks for reading