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

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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

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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.

March, April & May: 2016 year-end roundup

This is not a best-of list. This is not a top-10 list. 

Lately, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with year-end “best-of” lists. I love to read them and, usually, hate the results. Boiling down a year’s worth of music into ten (or 25 or 50 or 100) ranked bands or songs or albums just doesn’t really do the trick anymore. And let’s not even talk about number ratings. 

Below, is a mostly-random, un-ranked, un-quantified list of LPs, EPs, tracks and live shows that I enjoyed this year. Some of these 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 comprehensive. There’s a lot I left out and a lot I didn’t get a chance to hear. I also included February Records releases because, let’s face it, I like them and I listened to them a lot.

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[LP] Flowers – “Everybody’s Dying to Meet You” (Kanine) — I love this band. Flowers’ first LP was my favorite album of 2014 and “Everybody’s Dying to Meet You” might be my favorite album of 2016, though I won’t commit to that. Check out track 4, “All At Once.”

[EP] Strange Passage – “Shine and Scatter” (self-released) — This Boston quartet channels late-’80s/early-’90s UK post punk. The four-track EP is the kind of thing you’ll listen to over and over. Check out track 3, “Shine and Scatter.”

[live] Miracle Legion (with Winterpills) at The Outer Space, Hamden, CT – July 16 — I’m so glad this band got back together. This show was great. It was also nice to get back down to the New Haven area for a show.

[live] Allo Darlin’ (with Simon Love, Chorusgirl and The Spook School) at Baby’s All Right, Brooklyn – NYC Popfest May 20 — I didn’t know at the time that this would be my last chance to see Allo Darlin’ (and possibly the last NYC popfest as it goes on hiatus). It was definitely worth the five-hour bus ride to New York for their set alone.

[track] Peaness – “Oh George” (House Plants Records) — A smart garage-pop anti-love song to George Osborne.

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[live] Teenage Fanclub (with Skylar Gudasz ) at the Sinclair, Cambridge, MA – Oct. 17 — First time seeing Teenage Fanclub. Did not disappoint.

[LP] Bent Shapes – “Wolves of Want” (Slumberland) — Literate indiepop with a touch of college-rock. From Boston. Check out track 5, “Realization Hits.”

[EP] half sour – “Charm School” (Disposable America/Too Far Gone) — Bratty, punchy “slacker-pop” from Boston. Check out track 1, “Ten Year Tenure.”

[LP] The Very Most – “Syntherely Yours” (February Records) — OK, just a little bit of bias here, but not much. This is a great record. We’d been talking with Jeremy for a long time about teaming up for a TVM release on February and we finally got around to it this year. Jeremy reworked nine TVM tunes into synth-pop songs with guest vocalists. Adriano do Couto of Postal Blue, Colin Clary of the The Smittens, Charles Bert of Math and Physics Club, Lisle Mitnik of Tiny Fireflies and more were featured. The album is still available to download. Check out track 1, “Good Fight Fighting” (featuring Adriano do Couto).

[track] The Monkees – “Me and Magdalena” (Rhino) — That Monkees album (“Good Times!”) that came out this year is actually pretty good. This song is pretty great even if it is written by Ben Gibbard. Gibbard should forget about Deathcab for Cutie and just write songs for Mike Nesmith and Mickey Dolenz to sing.

[EP] The Beths – “Warm Blood” (self-released) — Fun, upbeat New Zealand guitar pop. Check out track 3, “Idea/Intent.”

[LP] Fear of Men – “Fall Forever” (Kanine) — Atmospheric. Ominous. Beautiful. Check out track 6, “Island.”

[LP] The Tuts – “Update Your Brain” (Dovetown) — This album is infectious. Check out track 2, “Tut Tut Tut.”

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[live] Elvis Costello and The Imposters at the Orpheum Theatre, Boston – Oct. 25 — This is the third time I’ve seen EC and the first time I’ve seen him with a full band. Great show.

[LP] Math & Physics Club – “In This Together” (Fika Recordings) — Get some of the band’s best EP tracks, B-sides, rarities and unreleased songs all in one place. Check out track 16, “Weekends Away.”

[track] Dexys – “Both Sides Now” (100% Records / Rhino) — This cover from the album “Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul” has been a constant on my YouTube playlist. I want to live inside this video.

[live] The Go-Go’s (with Best Coast and Kaya Stewart) at House of Blues, Boston – Aug. 8 — This show was so much fun. Lots of dancing. Lots of singing along. Lots of beer.

[track] The Pretenders – “Holy Commotion” (BMG/Clouds Hill) — I don’t even want to hear the rest of the album that this track is on — the Chrissie Hynde/Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) team-up that is “Alone.” I enjoy this song, though.

[live] The Cure (with the Twilight Sad) at Agganis Arena, Boston – June 16 — I’m not usually one for arena shows, but I can’t be blamed for sitting in the nosebleeds to see The Cure. Playing a lengthy set and then four encores, I got to hear everything I wanted to.

[LP] V/A – “Constant and True: A Tribute to the Songs of Rose Melberg” (February Records) — Here’s another little bit of horn-tooting. Jeremy Jensen of The Very Most curated this amazing tribute compilation to Rose Melberg and we got the honor of getting to promote it. In all honesty, this album has been consistently playing in my car or in my headphones since it came out. Every one of these 21 tracks is a winner, with covers by The Hermit Crabs, Rocketship, Boyracer, Emma Kupa, Marc Elston, John Girgus, Seapony and more. Copies are still available. Check out track 21, “My Broken Heart,” covered by Rocketship.

— Danny

FEB043: “Constant and True — A Tribute to the Songs of Rose Melberg”

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Order “Constant and True — A Tribute to the Songs of Rose Melberg”

“Constant and True” is available to purchase as a CD and digital download. Any surplus from the sale of this album will be donated to the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, a charity that is near and dear to Rose Melberg’s heart.

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February Records is proud to announce its latest release: “Constant and True — A Tribute to the Songs of Rose Melberg.” This extremely ambitious project was conceived of and brought to fruition by Jeremy Jensen — leader of the Boise, Idaho, pop group The Very Most — out of his appreciation of Melberg’s prolific output.

Rose Melberg is indiepop royalty. As primary songwriter for one of the very first American indiepop bands, Tiger Trap, she played an indispensable part in furthering
the indiepop movement in the U.S. She went on to release music both as a solo artist and as a member of the bands Go Sailor, The Softies, Gaze, Brave Irene, Tally Ho!, PUPS, Imaginary Pants and Knife Pleats, with sounds ranging from fragile, wistful folk to giddy, fizzy cuddlecore to sophisticated, almost jazzy, pop. Her music as been released on such labels as K Records, Double Agent, Kingfisher Bluez, Kill Rock Stars, Slumberland Records, Where It’s At Is Where You Are and Lost Sounds Tapes, just to name a few.

Bands and artists from the United States, Scotland, England, Spain, Norway, France, Australia and Dominican Republic have provided tracks for this compilation. Two bands (Boyracer and Transmittens) even came out of retirement just to contribute a track! Their interpretations of Rose’s music run the gamut from pop-punk to epic, symphonic walls of sound. The album has 21 tracks in total and features The Hermit Crabs, The Prams, Featherfin, Bodyheat, Emma Kupa, Saturday Looks Good To Me, Marc Elston, Ashley and Eli of LAKE, Fireflies, The Smittens, John Girgus and The Legendary House Cats, The Royal Landscaping Society, Gabardine, Boyracer, Band á Part, Seapony, The Very Most, Tomiji, Tangible Excitement, Transmittens and Rocketship.

“Constant and True — A Tribute to the Songs of Rose Melberg” will be released as a CD and a digital download, with artwork by Marta Tortajada.

Tracklist

The Hermit Crabs – Wonderful
The Prams – No Fun
Featherfin (feat. Deerful) – Old Days
Bodyheat – Moon Singer
Emma Kupa – You And Only You
Saturday Looks Good To Me – Winter Pageant
Marc Elston – The Best Days
LAKE – Tracks And Tunnels
Fireflies – Selfish
The Smittens – Together Forever in Love
John Girgus and The Legendary House Cats – Hello Rain
The Royal Landscaping Society – I Love You More
Gabardine – It’s Love
Boyracer – Alaska
Band á Part – Long Distance
Seapony – He’ll Never Have to Know
The Very Most (feat. Sarah Robostein) – C.K.M.
Tomiji – Fine Day For Sailing
Tangible Excitement – Puzzle Pieces
Transmittens – Words And Smiles
Rocketship – My Broken Heart

‘March, April & May’ No. 2

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The second issue of the February Records zine, “March, April & May,” is now officially available to order through our Bandcamp page. Inside are band interviews, essays and even a little bit of humor. Interviews include: Duglas T Stewart of BMX Bandits, The Arctic Flow, Tiny Fireflies, Jigsaw Records, Lost Tapes, Big Quiet, The Very Most and Cozy Catastrophes.

The zine is limited to 50 copies and is only $2. Order here.

FEB042: “Syntherely Yours” by The Very Most

 

February Records is very proud to offer the latest album from Boise, Idaho, indiepop band The Very Most. This is a very special digital-only release with nine of your favorite songs by The Very Most re-recorded as synth-pop songs featuring guest vocalists for each track. Guests include Lisle from Tiny Fireflies, Adriano from Postal Blue, Colin from The Smittens, Charles from Math and Physics Club, Thomas from Pale Spectres, Sam from Boise band Central City Music Company, Adam from California band Adam and Darcie, Laz from Bubblegum Lemonade/Strawberry Whiplash, and Geoff Crestwell from Boise City, Oklahoma, shoegaze band Pellow.

  1. Good Fight Fighting (Featuring Adriano do Couto of Postal Blue)
  2. Things Too Obvious to Sing (Featuring Geoff Crestwell of Pellow)
  3. This is Where I Should Be (Featuring Sam Counsil of Central City Music Company)
  4. Jonathan Richman (Featuring Colin Clary of The Smittens and Colin and the Clarys)
  5. Polygraph (Featuring Charles Bert of Math and Physics Club)
  6. Today it is Even Better (Featuring Laz McCluskey Strawberry Whiplash and Bubblegum Lemonade)
  7. Sweater (Featuring Thomas Guilcher of Tomiji and Pale Spectres)
  8. You’re in Love With the Sun (Featuring Lisle Mitnik of Fireflies and Tiny Fireflies)
  9. Multnomah Now! (Featuring Adam Sanders of Adam and Darcie)

Pre-order the album from Feb. 15-Feb. 22 and immediately receive two tracks for download, “Sweater” featuring Thomas Guilcher, and “Multnomah Now!” featuring Adam Sanders. “Syntherely Yours” will be available for purchase on Feb. 23.

The Very Most was started in Boise, Idaho, by Jeremy Jensen in either 2002 or 2003 (he honestly can’t remember). Since that time, the band has released three full-length albums, seven EPs, and a bunch of miscellaneous tracks. Recorded entirely in Jeremy’s backyard studio (made from a converted shed), the music exists in a pretty little spot on the Venn diagram where The Beach Boys, Camera Obscura, New Order, Teenage Fanclub, and The Wedding Present meet. It makes heavy use of male/female harmony, vocal call-and-answer, and lushly layered instruments, both conventional and not-so-conventional. It’s all pop, and it’s all melodic, but it finds a lot of different ways of being melodic pop.

Jeremy Jensen and co … are just perfecting their craftsmanship, each new song seems to be more enduring and rich. Can’t wait for the rest!Bloodbuzzed