February Records’ Best of 2013

This year was quite an eventful one for February Records. Not only have we jumped back into releasing and promoting music, but we’ve also started something of a webzine and met some amazing new bands and friends along the way.

So far, the webzine series has been us reaching out to February alumni. As the year quickly comes to an end, we wanted to reach out to the people we have worked with in 2013 or will in release music from in the beginning of the near year. We asked some of the new additions to the February Records roster to come up with some “best-of-2013” lists. We gave the bands complete control over their lists — it didn’t have to be a top-10 list of albums or tracks released this year. It could be a personal playlist, a theme list, a list of music-related events, or anything at all. Creative control was theirs.

We received a lot of diverse and varying responses from the bands. You’ll recognize some of the names of contributors: Edward Forth of Finnmark, The Swapsies, both Katie and Patrick of The Halamays, and Jason Bourgeois of Bourgeois Heroes and Quiz Kids. There will also be some new names you’ll be hearing more of soon: Evgeniy and Ekatarina from Malish Kamu, Nathan Clarke, and Dylan Connor of Caténine.

We’ll be posting their lists throughout the remainder of the December. Of course, we wanted to share our own best-of lists with you, too.

I didn’t listen to nearly enough music this year to do a best-albums list, but I had some really fun pop-related moments, from my first NYC PopFest in three years, to video shoots to post-show milkshakes. In no particular order, here they are:

Belle & Sebastian at Bank of America Pavilion, Boston
I waited a long time to see Belle & Sebastian. Somehow I missed them any other time they were in the northeast. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought maybe the show would be mostly recent songs — I was wrong. B&S put on an amazing show with songs from the band’s entire career. They also played almost all of my favorites, which was great. Aside from the $13 beers, Bank of America Pavilion is also a pretty cool place to see a show. It’s an outdoor venue, right on Boston Harbor, that really doesn’t have a bad seat.

New York City PopFest Saturday shows
I hadn’t been to NYCPF since 2010. I wasn’t really planning on going this year, either, until Kristin talked me into going down for the Saturday shows (thanks Kristin!). So I got on a bus in Boston at 6 a.m. Saturday morning and met Kristin at Penn Station in New York at about 10:30. We headed to the Brooklyn Flea, ate some lunch and some popsicles, and then headed over to Spike Hill to see Silkies, Making Marks, The Smittens and The Ballet (side note: I saw Making Marks and The Smittens earlier in the week in Somerville, Mass., with One Happy Island and Tigercats, and it was great). After that, we made our way to The Bell House for Azure Blue, The Proctors, The Hobbes Fanclub, Tigercats and The Bats. I met some fun people — Jeremy, Howard, Adam, Olive, Tobias, Liam — and heard some amazing music. On Sunday morning, I was back on a bus to Boston. I don’t plan on waiting another three years for my next NYCPF experience.

The School at Sierra Grille, Northampton, Mass.
Having only gone to the Saturday shows at New York City Popfest, I missed The School’s set. Lucky for me, they played a show in Massachusetts the week after the festival. Kristin drove down from New Hampshire and we drove the hour and a half from Marlborough to Northampton in the pouring rain. When we finally arrived at the venue, which was a restaurant with tables pushed aside to make room for the band and an audience, we’d already missed most of the opening band. Despite the cramped quarters and Liz having a sore throat, The School didn’t disappoint. They played a great set that actually had me dancing. We didn’t stay for the last band, so, effectively, we drove 3 hours round-trip for one set. It was so worth it though. On the way back to Marlborough, we stopped at a highway rest stop for McDonald’s milkshakes. Post-show milkshakes became a February Records tradition after that. A night out at a show just isn’t complete without a late-night milkshake.

February Records summer “board meetings”
This year February Records officially returned from self-imposed hiatus. With the help and encouragement of Kristin, we revived the label and started reaching out to new bands. Before releasing any music, however, we had a lot of summer “board meetings.” Board meetings usually consisted of about 10 minutes of label talk and then lots of beer, and usually, seafood. I usually went up to New Hampshire to hangout with Kristin and we’d end up driving up the New Hampshire/Maine coast somewhat drunkenly (I was drunk … Kristin wasn’t — she was driving) singing pop songs — one night it was Finnmark’s “Everyone’s Dying,” another night it was “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys. It was always a good time and it made me excited about getting involved in pop music again.

Quiz Kids video shoot, Northampton, Mass.
Jason and Lisa made the trek up from Brooklyn to meet up with Jason Bourgeois, and his girlfriend Emily, to shoot some scenes for the Quiz Kids video. Kristin and I drove out to meet them and hangout in Northampton. We got some drinks, ate some food, listened to some music, and I got roped into making a cameo in the video. It was a lot of fun to see Jason and Lisa again and get to know Jason B and Emily a little better.

Elvis Costello at Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, University of Connecticut
I had seen Elvis Costello once before. He opened for Bob Dylan at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. That show was just Elvis and an acoustic guitar. He rattled off a bunch of hits and it was amazing. The UConn show was all Elvis — two hours and three encores of mostly ballads and deep cuts with a handful of hits and rockers.

One Happy Island live recording session, Somerville Armory, Somerville, Mass.
I was pretty honored to be invited to be in the audience for the recording of One Happy Island’s upcoming live album. It was fun to be among those that OHI considered close friends and family and be a part of what will most likely be their last album.

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