March, April & May: 2018 year-end roundup

It’s that time again! Below is my un-ranked, un-quantified list of music stuff I liked in 2018. As usual, this barely scratches the surface of amazing music released in 2018 — it very well could have also included Alpaca Sports, Spook School, Colour Me Wednesday, The Smittens, Cut Worms, Featherfin, Lilith and a whole lot more. These were just some of the tunes I kept going back to.

LPs/EPs

» Young Scum – Young Scum (Citrus City/Pretty Olivia): This is probably, unofficially, my favorite release of 2018. I put off listening to them for a little while because of the band name (sorry), but once I finally heard it, I kept going back for more.

» Tracyanne & Danny – Tracyanne & Danny (Merge Records): I am so glad that this band exists. Their voices are the perfect combination.

» Night Flowers – Wild Notion (Dirty Bingo Records): Positive, uplifting and mesmerizing tunes. Check out the interview we did with Sophia in the latest issue of “March, April & May.”

» Simon Love – Sincerely, S. Love x (Tapete Records): Just really, really fun, catchy pop music.

» Mikey Collins – Hoick (Fika Recordings): I feel like this album should have gotten more love than it did. It’s really good and has some great earworms on it. I mean, you’ll be humming “Anchor in the Sea” for days.

» Free Cake for Every Creature – The Bluest Star (Double Double Whammy): I heard FCFEC play at the last NYC Popfest (RIP), but I was at the bar and then at the photo booth in the back of Le Poisson Rouge and I wasn’t really paying attention, and now I feel bad about it because this album is great.

» Soft Science – Maps (Test Pattern Records): Dreamy third full-length from this Sacramento band.

» Snail Mail – Lush (Matador Records): Lindsey Jordan is a boss.

» Say Sue Me – Where We Were Together (Damnably): Wonderful South Korean indiepop.

» Famous Problems – Hey! It’s Raining! (Where It’s At Is Where You Are): Wonderful mini-album released by former members of Butterflies of Love with a veritable who’s-who of indiepop legends as guests. Check out the interview we did with Jeff Greene in the latest issue of “March, April & May.”


SONGS

» Tallies – Beat the Heart (from forthcoming Tallies on Kanine): Tallies would have been up there in the LPs/EPs list, but their album doesn’t come out until January. I’ve pre-ordered it and you can bet it’ll be on next year’s list.

» Anna Burch – Tea-Soaked Letter (from Quit The Curse on Polyvinyl): The video for this song will make you fall in love with Anna Burch. You’ve been warned.

» Push Flowers – Wish U Would:  Really looking forward to this Boston band’s first EP (coming soon!).

» EZTV – Daytime (single on Captured Tracks/Secretly Publishing): I saw EZTV open for Ex Hex earlier this year and I think they stole the show (sorry, Mary Timony).

» Fortuna Pop! All-Stars – You Can Hide Your Love Forever: RIP Fortuna Pop! If you can name a band or artist that was on the Fortuna Pop! roster, they’re probably represented in some way on this farewell track.

» The Beths – Future Me Hates Me (from Future Me Hates Me on Carpark Records): I had a chance to see this band play in Boston this year and for some reason I didn’t go and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

» The Proctors – Crystaline Part 2: I’m so glad this band is making new music.

» Kevin Hairs – Kevin Wants a Dog (from Freak in the Streets on GP Stripes): Kevin Alvir just makes good music, whether it’s as Lil Hospital, The Hairs or now, as Kevin Hairs (or any of his other projects), it’s all good. This song appeared earlier this year on the mix EP accompanying the latest issue of our “March, April & May” zine.

» The Natvral – Know Me More (from Know Me More on Kanine): I saw Kip play as The Natvral (opening for Tallies) in a mostly empty record store basement in Jamaica Plain. At first, I felt awkward because there were literally 4 people there that weren’t in a band, but it ended up being a really enjoyable, intimate experience. These songs are really great and showcase another side of the artist that fronts POBPAH. This track reminds me a lot of Donovan.

» Jeanines – Hits the Bone: OK, we get it, these demos are amazing. It’s time for a proper release now. Thanks.


LIVE

» Johnny Marr at Paradise Rock Club
» (Boston, MA) — 21 October

» Ex Hex w/ EZTV at Great Scott
» 
(Boston, MA) — 8 September

» Tracyanne & Danny at The Sinclair
» 
(Cambridge, MA) — 21 June

» Lloyd Cole at City Winery
» 
(Boston, MA) — 18 January

» Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at House of Blues
» 
(Boston, MA) — 9 March

» Elvis Costello & The Imposters at Boch Center Wang Theater
» 
(Boston, MA) — 10 November

» Tallies w/ The Natvral at Deep Thoughts JP
» 
(Boston, MA) — 14 October

» Paul Simon at TD Garden
» 
(Boston, MA) — 15 June

» Wildhoney w/ Mini Dresses and Strange Passage at Great Scott
» 
(Boston, MA) — 13 January

» Japanese Breakfast w/ Radiator Hospital at The Sinclair
» 
(Cambridge, MA) — 2 June

FEB049: “morning phase” by yumenoma

 

February Records is proud to release “morning phase,” the latest digital e.p. from yumenoma (ユメノマ).

yumenoma is the solo project of Japanese pop musician Shinya Nakashima, who writes the music and arrangements, does all the electronic programming and plays bass guitar.
 He is also involved in working as a support musician doing sound manufacturing and playing live performances. He calls his brand of music “Trip pop” — creating space via music.

On the “morning phase” e.p., vocals are provided by Matsumoto Naoko.

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Nakashima has also played in the bands aio and warsaw and is part of the songwriting team misuto. He has multiple releases on Japan’s Tanukineiri Records and most recently released the single “a piece of sunshine” earlier this year.

The “morning phase” e.p. is available exclusively as a digital download.

Zine: March, April & May #5

 

The fifth issue of the February Records zine, “March, April & May,” is now available to order. 

This issue is 80 pages and includes essays and interviews with Tracyanne & Danny, Night Flowers, Famous Problems, Sushi Backpack, Odd Box Records, Mini Dresses, Math & Physics Club, Gabardine and The Courtneys.

Purchase also includes a download of the March, April & May Mix #3 digital EP with tracks from Famous Problems, Gabardine, Mini Dresses, Sushi Backpack and Kevin Hairs.

The zine is limited to 75 copies and is only $4 (plus shipping). Order here.

There are also a few copies of March, April & May #4 left. Order those here (while they last).

FEB047: “Sour” by Sushi Backpack

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February Records is proud to announce the digital release of “Sour,” the latest EP from Sushi Backpack. 

The Chicago-based bedroom-pop outfit is fronted by songwriter and guitarist Ben Austin. After playing in post-rock and garage bands, he was inspired to start playing indiepop and to start Sushi Backpack when he was living in Cleveland, Ohio, in the mid- to late-2000’s and listening to local bands like Afternoon Naps, Bears and Trouble Books.

On “Sour,” Ben is joined by Gooey Fame on drums, Nikki Geslani on bass and vocals and Jen Lee on keyboards, for recording and playing live, with additional long-distance vocal support from Leanne Butkovic.

Sushi Backpack plays fun, upbeat indiepop that draws inspiration from bands such as Rocketship, Die Fünf Freunde and Citrus, but the first band you might think of when you hear them is Tullycraft. 

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Sushi Backpack came to our attention after being included on the wonderful “Secret Gardens” compilation released in 2017 by Fallen Love Records. Before that, they self-released an EP of demos — appropriately called “One Day You Have to Face Your Demos” — on cassette, which has since sold out.

 The five-song EP “Sour” by Sushi Backpack is available exclusively as a digital download.

March, April & May: 2017 year-end roundup

It’s that time again, right? 

Below are three un-ranked, un-quantified lists of ten LPs/EPs, songs and live performances that I enjoyed this year. Some of the recordings I listened to almost non-stop for long periods of time. Some of them I only listened to a few times, but they seriously made an impression. The list is not at all comprehensive. There were lots of notable releases this year, including music from A Certain Smile, Lisa Bouvier, The Primitives, The Darling Buds, Makthaverskan, Peaness, Star Tropics, The Luxembourg Signal and Panda Riot, just to name a few. Check out my top picks below.

LPs/EPs

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» Lilith – Apology Plant (Disposable America)

» Alvvays – Antisocialites (Polyvinyl Record Co.)

» Guggi Data – Pop/Rock (Luxury Records)

» The Courtneys – II (Flying Nun)

» Fazerdaze – Morningside (Flying Nun)

» Mini Dresses – Mini Dresses (Joy Void)

» Sunny Summer Day – Traveled Backwards (Lidia Records)

» The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Echo of Pleasure (Painbow)

» The Just Joans – You Might Be Smiling Now (Fika Recordings)

» Pale Spectres – Pale Spectres (Cloudberry Records)



SONGS

» Mammoth Penguins – The Child (from John Doe on WIAIWYA)

» Brad San Martin – Song about “Soul Finger” (from Shoot Tomorrow/Learn Tonight on Jigsaw Records)

» Laura K – Apologise (from Art is Hard Records’ Postcard Club series)

» Jens Lekman – Wedding in Finistère (from Life Will See You Now on Secretly Canadian)

» Diet Cig – Maid of the Mist (from Swear I’m Good At This on Frenchkiss Records)

» Frankie Rose – Love in Rockets (from Cage Tropical on Slumberland)

» The Fireworks – Better Without You Now (from Dream About You on Shelflife)

» Last Leaves – The Hinterland (from Other Towns Than Ours on Lost and Lonesome)

» My Teenage Stride – Christopher Come (from Living in the Straight World on Unblinking Ear)

» Girl Ray – Don’t Go Back at Ten (from Earl Grey on Moshi Moshi)



LIVE PERFORMANCES

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» Psychedelic Furs at Paradise Rock Club (Boston) – October 14

» Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds at The Hanover Theatre (Worcester, MA) – April 30

» Alvvays at Paradise Rock Club (Boston) – October 3

» Belle & Sebastian at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion (Boston) – August 2

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» Jens Lekman at Brighton Music Hall (Boston) – March 15

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» The Pains of Being Pure at Heart at The Sinclair (Cambridge, MA) – June 14

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» Pants Yell (reunion benefit show) at Atwood’s Tavern (Cambridge, MA) – March 26

» The New Pornographers at House of Blues (Boston) – April 25

» Frankie Rose (opening for The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) at The Sinclair (Cambridge, MA) – June 14

» Colleen Green (opening for The Wedding Present) at Great Scott (Boston) – April 16

Coming soon: New release from Sushi Backpack

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We’re excited to announce we will be digitally releasing the upcoming EP from Chicago band Sushi Backpack. The bedroom project is fronted by songwriter and guitarist Ben Austin who is joined by Gooey Fame on drums, Nikki Geslani on bass and vocals and Jen Lee on keyboards, for recording and playing live, with additional long-distance vocal support from Leanne Butkovic. Sushi Backpack draws inspiration from bands such as Rocketship, Die Fünf Freunde and Citrus, but the first band you might think of when you hear them is Tullycraft. 

A version of Sushi Backpack’s song “Saku” was featured last year on the Fallen Love Records compilation “Secret Gardens” and will also be on the upcoming EP. In an interview with Fallen Love, Ben talks about the song:

For a few years I had an office job that allowed me to listen to music the whole day and, through extensive YouTube sleuthing and recommendations from the Indiepop Digest, I discovered a lot of great music from Japan. Last spring, after finding some cheap plane tickets and using all my paid time off, I booked a trip to Tokyo and planned to see a show every night! I met a girl over there (we hung out at a Kiichibiru show) and we stayed in touch after I returned home. So this song is sort of about that trip and that girl and whether or not we would feel the same way about each other the next time we met. She didn’t but I left that out of the song… 

Check out “Saku” below and stay tuned for more information about Sushi Backpack.

Zine: March, April & May #4

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The fourth issue of the February Records zine, “March, April & May,” is now available to order. Shipping will begin on October 16.

This issue is 76 pages and includes interviews with Panda Riot, Chickfactor zine, The Fireworks, Sodastream, Brad San Martin, Lisa Bouvier, Rocketship, Lilith, and A Certain Smile. Plus: Show reviews and interviews with indie radio DJs.

Purchase also includes a download of the March, April & May Mix #2 digital EP with tracks from Lilith, Lisa Bouvier, Panda Riot, The Fireworks, A Certain Smile and Rocketship. Tracks are all previously unreleased — either new songs or live or acoustic versions.

The zine is limited to 75 copies and is only $4 (plus shipping). Order here.

Zine: March, April & May #3

zine_covers


The third issue of the February Records zine, “March, April & May,” is now available to order.

The zine is 68 pages and includes interviews with Phil Wilson, Elizabeth Morris, Young Romance, Peaness, Knut from Eardrums Pop and Featherfin, Strange Passage, Kevin Alvir, Postal Blue, Emma Kupa and Ray Neal of Miracle Legion.

The zine also includes a download of the March, April & May Mix #1 digital EP with tracks from Postal Blue, Jason Bourgeois, Strange Passage, The June Brides, The Hairs, Emma Kupa and Featherfin. Tracks are all previously unreleased — either new songs, covers or live or acoustic versions.

The zine is limited to 75 copies and is only $4 (plus shipping). Order here.

FEB044: “Clever” by Punctuation Club

February Records is proud to announce its latest release: The “Clever” EP, the debut release from Punctuation Club.

Brooklynite Liam Joseph Carroll is the sole continual member of the band and he says Punctuation Club is your creepy sister’s new favorite indiepop group. We think he’s probably right. He’s been sitting on these five tunes about art school, revenge, relationships and lapsed Catholicism for years, letting them stew in his psyche until they finally spilled out into the “Clever” EP.

Liam has been writing songs and playing guitar and drums in bands since his teenage years. He has released music under the name Volcano Divers and was active in the Philadelphia underground experimental/noise community, fronting a drone act called Dead Pines, and briefly playing in the noise-rock group Clothes.

Now, as Punctuation Club, Liam gets to the heart of independent pop music, presenting five stripped-down, tongue-in-cheek tunes inspired by the likes of Yo La Tengo, Pants Yell!, Beat Happening, Black Tambourine and My Teenage Stride.

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The five-song download includes a PDF booklet with an exclusive interview with Liam.

Upcoming for early 2017

February Records has a couple projects in the works that will be coming out very, very soon. Keep your eyes peeled.


Clever
 by Punctuation Club 
— Punctuation Club is Brooklynite Liam Joseph Carroll. Liam says Punctuation Club is your creepy sister’s new favorite indiepop group and we think he’s probably right. He’s been sitting on these five tunes about art school, revenge, relationships and lapsed Catholicism for years, letting them stew in his psyche until they finally spilled out into the Clever EP. Clever will be available as a digital download on Friday, Jan. 27. Check out the single, Art School Confidential, on the Punctuation Club bandcamp.

March, April & May No. 3 — In late winter or very early spring, we will be releasing the third issue of our zine. We have some great contributors lined up and interviews with Phil Wilson, Peaness, Mercury Girls, Knut Eardrums, Young Romance, The Hairs and more. This issue will also come with a digital download with unreleased tracks from some of the bands featured in the zine. More information coming soon.

Also! — Copies of Constant and True — A Tribute to the Songs of Rose Melberg are still available. We are very close to breaking even, which will then allow us to donate any and all proceeds to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, a charity that is near and dear to Rose Melberg’s heart.