Tag Archives: best of 2013

Best of 2013: Kristin Gill



I’m typically a pessimist, but what a year this has been.

I know that it’s hardly been a year since the label became active again, but this year has been a pop-filled adventure nonetheless. At least for me, personally.

I’m not typically one to write “best of” lists at the year’s end. I always find it impossible to narrow down my list to a manageable number and this year has certainly been no exception. There have been countless releases that I’ve fallen in love with – some hold personal significance in my life while I simply love others for the jangly, frenzied pop songs that they are. My own personal list, without explanation or detail, would be as long as this page. My list for the first half of the year was more than 20 releases long if that’s any indication. But, if you really want to know what my favorite albums or singles of the year were, they’re listed on my personal blog. It was a struggle!

So, instead of focusing on those loved songs or albums that were released this year, I wanted to concentrate on songs that impacted or shaped 2013, regardless of their release date. I don’t know anyone who strictly listens to new releases, anyway.

I have moments in time that encompass my favorite memories of 2013 and many of them involve, or coincide with, particular songs or albums. The songs that made their way to my speakers through hand-written letters or mixtapes, during sing-a-longs on long car rides or listening parties in Swedish living rooms, flipping through LPs in record stores or curled up on snowy mornings. These are those songs that, for myriad different reasons, made this year the tremendous twelve months that they were.

“No One Goes for the Most Clever Girl in Class” – Florian
A good portion of my year concerned my adventure to Sweden. It was spent with one of my favorite people, record shopping around Stockholm and exploring a city I’ve grown to really love and, in a month’s time, will be moving to. One of many favorite memories from my recent trip to Stockholm was sitting around the living room and going through boxes and boxes full of 7-inch EPs, comical record store finds, and old rare indiepop LPs. I was able to listen to (and subsequently sent home with) a good portion of the Fabulous Friends discography, most of which I’d never heard. Florian, Funday Mornings, The Tidy Ups, and Danny Says have all been constant staples on my turntable since my return home.

“Let It Slip” – The School
There isn’t much of a pop scene in New England, but I feel lucky enough to be a little part of it. Cozy basement live recording sessions, video shoots, and long drives to see bands and friends I admire and support. I was lucky enough to see The School twice during their US tour. Danny and I did a lot of driving around this year – sitting in rush hour traffic while attempting to get into Boston for gigs, up the Maine coast where I’d inherit hats found on the beach, or to simply find milkshakes somewhere. As Danny already noted, it also included venturing three hours in a torrential downpour to simply watch The School play in some weird Northampton, Mass., bar. We missed all the other bands, but we didn’t care. This song was a constant staple during our sing-a-long drives. Who could blame us?

“Just a Pup” – The Very Most
NYC Popfest was easily one of the highlights of this year, pop-related or otherwise. I met some incredible people, some of whom I can now call friends. Being around so many people who share an obsessive love of this music just as I do is energizing. The little moments between bands or after each gig were the moments I remember the most. It was picking Danny up at Penn Station because he can’t navigate the subway system, grabbing a bite to eat with Howard and Liam, dancing with Mark, Matthew, and Michael, whiskey with Olive, Lagunitas with Tobias, discovering Sockerbit with Adam. The performances I saw were fantastic, too, of course, but I think that goes without saying. I had the privilege of hanging out with Jeremy (and making sure he wasn’t getting too lost) during the course of the weekend. And, since this summer, Jeremy has become a good friend of mine. He’s an incredibly talented musician and, quite possibly, the nicest person you may ever meet. I’ve been a fan of The Very Most for several years now but I think that the title track of their most recent EP, on the now-defunct Manic Pop! Records, is among my top five favorite TVM tracks.

“Perfect World” – The Proctors
I still remember where I was when I first really heard this song. Actually paying attention, hit full force with those jangly guitar chords. I was standing outside of the Zinkensdamm T-bana station in Södermalm, just two days before my scheduled departure from Sweden. I had two bottles of Loka in my bag, purchased at the same shop I frequented nearly every day for the past two weeks, giving the cashier the same terrible, heavily accented Swedish. He was a real sport about it. One of those bottles of water was probably chocolate milkshake flavored. Very rarely am I actually moved by a song, but this was one of those moments. Blame it on perfect timing, my surroundings, a lot of personal things. Now it just evokes this overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Sometimes I think I am too sentimental for my own good.

In all honesty, though, these moments are so memorable and positive in my mind due to the people I was surrounded by.

It was getting involved, kind of on a whim, with Candy Twist. Granted, Dennis does most of the work, but being able to get to know him, interview some of my favorite bands, and be a part of something I genuinely admire has been a wonderful experience.

It was reviving this label with Danny and interacting with some of the sweetest people I’ve ever encountered – Edward, Huw, Andy, Elaine, Sean, Katie, Patrick, Jason, Elyse, Lisa, Jason, Carly, Evgeniy, Ekaterina, Dylan, and Nathan.

In the same token, the year has been a success because of all of you, the listeners. Without your support or enthusiasm for our releases, it would be unlikely that February Records would carry on after my departure from New England. But that’s not the case. There have been so many nice things said about the songs we’re released and we couldn’t be happier or more thankful for all of you.

So, to everyone who has made 2013 the incredible year it has been, I thank you. I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store.

Kristin x

Best of 2013: Brad San Martin


Brad San Martin is a Boston-based musician, most well known in indiepop circles as a member of One Happy Island. Brad also released an EP on February as Secret Charisma. He admits that he doesn’t listen to much new music these days, yet he does find himself digging through crates of old LPs at record stores and buying whatever he thinks looks promising. Brad created a list of his favorite record store finds of 2013.

Ten Best Flea Market or Yard Sale Finds of 2013

The older I get, the less desire I have to keep up with the current Pitchfork graduated class and the more time I want to spend flipping through discarded LPs in junk shops, flea markets, yard sales and the like. Risk is minimal ($2-4 tops), reward is maximal. And, as is often the case, the journey becomes the destination … here are a few cherished records unearthed during this past year’s travels – in no particular order.

cottonpickersThe Cotton Pickers
(Artisan Sound Recorders, 1969)

Terrifying. Not quite sure what this is, but I think it’s a rather large collegiate folk group from the now-nonexistent Sullins College in Virginia. They sing loud and proud, accompanying themselves on ukuleles, bongos, washboards, banjos, spoons, and other household ephemera. Sounds wholesome enough, but add in a ton of reverb, beats of metronomic simplicity, and mostly unison non-harmony, and the result is rather Manson Family-esque. I think their take on the risqué old novelty “The Virgin Sturgeon” is supposed to be sexy in a wink-wink kinda way, but it just sounds like a gaggle of home-schooled psychopaths trying to entice weary longshoremen.

beegeesBee Gees
(Atco, 1969)

Does a grown man need three copies of the Bee Gees’ harmony pop masterpiece Odessa? No. A grown man needs two copies: Rhino’s massive stereo/mono/outtakes boxed set and one of these — an original pressing in comforting bright red velvet. Unearthed in the loft of a New Hampshire junk shop, it’s in near-perfect shape, and, more importantly, boasts some tremendously great songs. Probably not the best of the Bee Gees’ early orchestral period, but certainly worth a buck or two…

stankyStanky and the Coalminers
Polka’s Good to the Last Drop
(Stan-Dotm 1978)

Jimmy Sturr, the multi-Grammy-winning polka impresario and bandleader, once told me (and everyone else – the man speaks in soundbites) that polka is an “underground music,” and damn, he’s right. It’s kind of a punk-rock genre: DIY records, non-traditional venues (like the outdoor pavilion at Palaski Park, which is where we got the title for the second One Happy Island EP), and a die-hard fan base that refuses to cave to mainstream tastes. One could make a very entertaining book of small-press/self-released polka LPs. Maybe there already is one.

I couldn’t resist the title, the band name, the artwork, everything. Turns out Stanky (aka singing accordionist John Stankovic) is something of a legend, and is now celebrating over 65 years in the business. The music is no frills, propulsive, and fun. He utilizes fiddle as a front-line instrument, which folks say was unusual in polka bands. Amazing that no hipster types have tried to give this genre an alt-country-style makeover. Good. It’s fine the way it is.

riniRini and Meredith Willson
… and then I wrote The Music Man
(Capitol, 1958ish)

So, I have a weakness for hearing golden-era Broadway composers and lyricists (who are rarely trained vocalists) sing their own compositions (which are written for trained vocalists). Hearing the complex poetry of the Great American Songbook rendered with an almost casually knowing, offhand avuncular charm is totally fascinating – and often shines a new light on the tune at hand.

That said, The Music Man isn’t one of my favorites…but this disk, again, uncovered in New Hampshire, is a trip. Basically the composer and his opera-aspiring wife (with an unplaceable accent) recount the plot of the musical, and render its songs (with just Willson’s piano as accompaniment) at a manic, breakneck pace. Clearly they’re trying to fit it all on two sides of an LP. It’s like they are pitching the musical right in your living room. Put it on, pretend you’re a big Broadway producer, and refuse to put on their show.

squirrelyShirley, Squirrely & Melvin
(Excelsior, 1981)

I was familiar with Shirley & Squirrely, and was wondering what the addition of Melvin would bring to the mix.

After doing absolutely no research, I’ve concluded that the Chipmunks (of the Alvin/Simon/Theodore persuasion) had three eras of popularity: Their original ’50s heyday, their ’80s Saturday-morning resurgence, and the current David Cross-abetted CGI movie thing. This little wonder is an attempt to cash in on that second phase, with lots of helium-voiced covers (“Soul Man,” “Get Back,” “Mercedes Benz,” even Jackson’ Browne’s “Boulevard” for Christ’s sake!) and retch-inducing originals such as “I Like Reggae, Too.” The title promises awful things, and the song delivers. The version of “The Gambler,” delivered absolutely straight as a duet with guest vocalist Denny Richards, is spine-spasm hilarious. Hear it for yourself here:

changesDavid Robert Jones
(Grace, 1983)

Ah, the most elusive of flea market/yard sale treasures: An actual good record that is exceedingly rare. This bootleg LP, augmented by the Spirograph-inspired doodles of a previous owner’s child (I assume), gathers up a bunch of choice David Bowie outtakes – many of which were eventually officially released on the expanded Rykodisc CD editions of Bowie’s classic catalog. It’s cleverly disguised as an official release (the label graphic is a play on RCA), in line with RCA’s Changes series of Bowie compilations. This was actually at the SAME flea market for several weeks in a row, giving this digger the hopeful impression that no one flips through LPs anymore. Otherwise it would have been gone.

Hold Your Fire
(Vertigo, 1971)

I’d read about these guys for ages in various zines (like the fantastic Ugly Things), and heard guitar geeks whisper Olly Halsall’s name in hushed reverence…but I never quite got it, based on the little that I heard. But this…despite it’s atrocious cover (“Let’s just put our faces in an alien’s head, ok?”), is a fascinating spin on late-60s/early-70s blues-rock. I’m not sure if I like it, but Halsall’s guitar playing is remarkable: fleeter, more fluid, faster, and jazzier than anyone else on the scene at the time. He blows through notes – clearly articulated, mind you – with the speed of a bop sax player. It doesn’t always fit the music, but here is definitely a unique voice that never really got his due…although, yes, he did sing and play on The Rutles LP.

hulabluesHula Blues
(Rounder, 1971)

You wouldn’t know it by their current release schedule, but Rounder Records (now absorbed into the vast Concord Music Group family of labels) was once the go-to outlet for eccentric, expertly annotated releases spanning a variety of roots music genres. This examination of the intersection of pop music and Hawaiian instrumentation, which thrived in the ’30s and ’40s, is a delight, right down to the adorably pre-computer artwork. There’s a CD of this stuff, but what fun is that?

motorheadchuckChuck Higgins
Motor Head Chuck
(Rollin’ Rock, 1974)

Rollin’ Rock was a west coast label that seemed to be Italian-born “Rockin'” Ronnie Weiser’s one-man campaign to return record making to the ramshackle energy and minimalist production values of early rockabilly and R&B. This title, like many a Rollin’ Rock platter, sports type-written sleeve notes and DIY cut’n’paste graphics.

The idea here is certainly intriguing: Take an aging, honking’ R&B sax player and vocalist (who had some regional hits long before these sessions) and have him sing and blow over a program of new and old tunes, accompanied by…one guy: Rockabilly revivalist Ray Campi, who provides upright bass, guitar, steel, and beats out the rhythm on a trash can lid. A totally beguiling mix of two distinct old school genres, made all the more urgent and otherworldly by the one-man-band overdubbed backing.

rayparkerRay Parker Jr.
(Arista, 1984)

Fifty cents bought me this limited edition UK-pressing of Ray Parker Jr.’s mega-hit single. There just aren’t enough pop-up record sleeves. Also, “The Blockbusting Theme from the Ghostbusting Movie” is just a terrible, terrible slogan.


Opening photo by Amber Duntley. Album photos by Brad.

Best of 2013: Малыш Камю


Малыш Камю is Evgeniy and Ekatarina, a duo from the southern Russian town of Taganrog. Their beautiful pop songs will win you over, despite the language difference. You can expect a joint release between February and one of our favorite labels sometime before the end of the year! Evgeniy and Ekatarina decided to compile a list of Russian (and one Ukranian) song that they enjoyed throughout 2013.

Subjective playlist of Russian little known indie 2013 (by Малыш Камю)
We know that all Russian music is unknown for USA listeners 🙂 But we decide to make our playlist not with mainstream artists, only with the unknown, just because we love these songs more than the famous ones. We don’t know how all of these tracks sound to foreigners, but we hope it will be nice! 🙂

1. Пёс и группа – Не убирай волосы
We really love this band, because they are so strange 🙂 But in their songs we find something similar with our feelings every time.

2. Andrey Zeberti – Я и твой кот
Song about gentleness and love, memories and dreams from a Russian singer-songwriter.

3. unoworse – An Avatar
This band plays post-punk in the best traditions of this genre. We love to visit their performances, they are very cool!

4. The Retuses – Ara (Astra)
This band plays very poetic songs, we believe that you’ll feel the message of this song despite language barriers.

5. Melan! – Better, Than I
A song from the last album by the folk-singer Melan. We love this song’s simpleness and elegance.

6. jerk & листья – Harmonic Wind
This is a duet of two young songwriters from another Russian city. Two voices and the atmospheric sound of instruments make us feel romantic all the time.

7. Даша Шульц – Весна
Sweet and gentle song about spring and love by a young singer-songwriter girl.

8. Lucidvox – Мечта
Song about ways to dream of an ordinary man in big world.

9. Leafs on the wind – Bird
Atmospheric song with “bedroom” sound. When we listen to it, we imagine that we dancing the waltz in a small house deep in the woods.

10. Мутафория Лили – Идиотвесна
This project is from the Ukraine, not from Russia, but we put it here because it’s fantastic. This guy records so much avant-garde music and has crazy performances. You should watch it someday! 🙂

Best of 2013: Finnmark!


Finnmark released two great singles on February this year. As a matter of fact, “Everyone’s Dying,” was the first release February had since coming back from hiatus. Finnmark still has EPs available for purchase, too, if you haven’t managed to get yourself a copy yet. Finnmark’s own Edward Forth put together a lovely in-depth list of his favorite albums of 2013. I think we all feel the same way about that Garlands LP, too.

When it came to thinking about my top ten albums of the year 2013, I instantly thought “Right, The Garlands album at the top,” but then I realised that it was actually released at the end of 2012! A good start!

I was also going to put Just Handshakes’ “Say It” in too, but I have had to discount it from the list as I played bass on it, so I’m not allowed to include it on the principle of self promotion!

I always find these lists quite difficult, but this year, I found it especially hard as I have been listening to a lot of older stuff, but I finally came up with it, and enjoyed listening back over the year. When looking over the list, I realised that all of the albums are in fact European, so well done Europe!

In no particular order, here it is:

Fear of Men – Early Fragments
When I first heard “Mosiac” at the end of 2012, I thought it was brilliant, and this was one of my hotly anticipated releases when 2013 came round. More a singles collection than an album, it still sits together perfectly. I got to see them at Indietracks in the summer, and again in Leeds recently, and they were great both times. Interesting drumming, shimmery guitar and great vocals. Fantastic.
Listen to: “Mosaic”

Yast – Yast
Yast are a band that I discovered through the studio they recorded in. I really like this album; jangly, woozy, summery, lovely. I had really enjoyed the singles before it was released, but was really pleased to find an album full of great tracks. And brilliantly recorded at Studio Möllan in Malmo.
Listen to: “Stupid”

Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen
This was an easy choice! I loved the first album, and this one is similar, just replacing the gothier side with more pop! “Buried Alive” is my favourite track from it, but there are plenty to choose from!
Listen to: “Buried Alive”

Dutch Barn – Lighter Later
I first heard of Dutch Barn through the brilliant Eardrums Pop who posted up the lead single from this album. I liked it so much I bought the album straight away. Brilliant singing, brilliant melodies, brilliant guitar, brilliant songs. I like this a LOT!
Listen to: “Lighter later”

Spook School – Dress Up
I first saw the Spook School at last year’s Indietracks, and I liked them, but it wasn’t until they were on a Cloudberry Fanzine compilation that I really stopped and took notice. A fantastic live band, the album shows that there are some really great songs, above all the nakedness and jokes of the live show. Some brilliant slower quieter songs too, showing a different side to the band. See them live, buy the record and fall in love!
Listen to: “Are You Who You Think You Are”

Shout Out Louds – Optica
I have always been a huge fan of the Shout Out Louds, so when they released this piece of ’80s-sounding pop brilliance, it was to inevitably end up in my top ten! Sadly, this is the first of their albums that I haven’t seen them play live, as they haven’t played any Northern shows in the UK, but I am looking forward to it when they do.
Listen to: “Sugar”

British Sea Power – Machineries of Joy
Another band I have been a fan of for years. This album is somewhat of a return to the less experimental/more pop side of the first three albums, and I love it. Classic BSP.
Listen to: “Machineries of Joy”

When Nalda Became Punk – Farewell to Youth
When Nalda Became Punk are one of my big discoveries of the year. A brilliant band from Spain with an album absolutely full of great pop songs. I won’t go into much explanation, just buy the record and you won’t be disappointed! What made it even better was meeting them at Indietracks and seeing them play my favourites live. A great band and absolutely lovely people!
Listen to: “Before5”

Makthaverskan – Makthaverskan II
There is so much good pop music coming out of Gothenburg at the moment, and a lot of it is on the Luxury label (Alpaca Sports, Westkust, The Sun Days, School). The first Makthaverskan album was quite brilliant, and the second one certainly doesn’t disappoint! Expanding on the themes of the first album, it adds a little more jangle and chorus, and sounds great! Both albums you can stream on their bandcamp, and I would recommend that you do.
Listen to: “Asleep”

Ice Cream Cathedral – The Drowsy Kingdom
This Danish band should be far bigger than they are, as they are quite brilliant! “The Drowsy Kingdom” is quite an apt name for the album, as they make the dreamiest of dreampop! With stunning vocals, beautiful synth sounds and relaxed electronic drum beats, they tick so many boxes! Released as a 500 copy 12″ by a Copenhagen collective, this album is beautifully obscure and underground, but has been on solid rotation on my record player. They also have a pay-what-you-want EP on their bandcamp, which is just as good and I would very much recommend having a listen.
Listen to: “The Ranger”

Roll on 2014!

Best of 2013: The Halamays

Halamays Baloons

The Halamays are Katie and Patrick, a married duo currently residing in Columbus, Ohio. They released a wonderful 4-song EP, “Overkill,” with February just a few months ago. Both Katie and Patrick put together their personal top-10 lists for you. We’re not surprised to see Rilo Kiley on there.

Katie’s Top 10
1. Sky Ferreira: 24 Hours
2. Haim: Don’t Save Me
3. Rilo Kiley: So Emotional
4. Vampire Weekend: Everlasting Arms
5. Au Revoir Simone: Crazy
6. Lorde: Royals
7. Tegan & Sara: Closer
8. Young Galaxy: New Summer
9. High Highs: Open Season
10. Icona Pop: I Love It

Patrick’s Top 10
1. Disclosure: Latch
2. Arcade Fire: Afterlife
3. Vampire Weekend: Step
4. Youth Lagoon: Mute
5. Factory Floor: Fall Back
6. Telekinesis: Power Lines
7. Toro Y Moi: Say That
8. Yo La Tengo: Ohm
9. Deerhunter: The Missing
10. Daft Punk: Doing it Right

Best of 2013: The Swapsies



The Swapsies are Sean, Elaine, Huw, and Andy. They hail from Liverpool in the UK. They released two EPs this year – one through February Records and the other was self-released (and is still available!). Their year was full of birds – from February Records and the bird logo, to the title of their new EP, “Sparrows.” So, the band decided to compile a list of bird-related songs.

The Swapsies Favourite Songs About Birds
(In honour of our song “Sparrows” and the February Records logo!)

“And Your Bird Can Sing” – The Beatles
If there’s a finer guitar riff in pop music I’ve never heard it. And those harmonies! (Andy)

“As the Dawn Breaks” – Richard Hawley
If you want to find meaning in certainties and constants, the dawn-chorus sure beats death and taxes. (Sean)

“Blackbird On The Wire” – The Beautiful South
The first CD single I ever bought. With beautifully simple cover artwork. The song’s not bad either! (Andy)

“Byrds Turn to Stone” – Shack
Although admittedly more about Michael Head and his brother John learning to play guitar and sing together by copying their favourite Arthur Lee and Byrds records, I’ve always loved that image of them from the chorus out-singing the birds ‘night after night’. AND there’s a birds/Byrds pun. (Sean)

“Chicken With Its Head Cut Off” – The Magnetic Fields
An ace metaphor for love in an album stuffed full of ace metaphors for love. (Andy)

“The Cuckoo” – John Renbourn
At the risk of being superficial, I’ve never thought deeply about the meaning of this song. It sounds boss though, and that’ll do for now. (Sean)

“I’m A Cuckoo” – Belle and Sebastian
Oi! Andy! What about the riff in this! All together now – “duh dud duh duh-ruh/ duh duh duh duh-ruh/ duh duh duh duh-ruh/ duh duh duh duh-ruh” etcetera etcetera (Huw)

“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” – Hank Williams
Starts with a suicidal Whippoorwill and gets progressively more depressing from there. Still ace though. (Huw)

“Little Bird” – Annie Lennox/Utah Saints Dance Remix 1992
The very first time I went to The State nightclub in Liverpool was in ’93 and I recall not being very impressed by the dance tracks that kicked the night off … but when this version of Annie’s song came on, it changed everything! (Elaine)

“Rockin’ Robin” – The Jackson 5
Flippin’ brilliant song that is a must for bird-fancying rockers. All about a Robin “hoppin’ and a boppin’”, as they do. (Huw)

“When The Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along)” – Doris Day
I had to learn/sing this song in one of our junior school plays about the war, back in primary school in the early ’80s — still remember every word to everyone of those war time classics. (Elaine)

“Three Little Birds” – Bob Marley
The first song I attempted to play using barre chords on my guitar tutors vintage Gibson Les Paul. (Elaine)

Photo by Rachel Ravey

Best of 2013: Nathan Clarke



Nathan Clarke is a musician from the greater London area. He’s self-released several EPs on bandcamp over the last several years and will be releasing with February in the beginning of 2014. Curious as to what he’s enjoyed this year?

My album of the year is by a guy called Bill Ryder Jones titled “A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart.” It’s genuinely one of the most beautiful albums I’ve heard and it’s the first album since “Is This It” where I played it through again as soon as it finished. Bill Ryder Jones was lead guitarist with The Coral until a few years back and since then he has done a lot of soundtrack work. You can hear the influence on this album. Every song is pretty heartbreaking on and it just caught me completely.

Another album that I’ve enjoyed this year is the new Smith Westerns one “Varsity”. I got to play with them in 2012 and was really looking forward to this release. It sounds like a major step forward for them. I can’t believe they aren’t massive.

I’ve been following Anton Newcombe on Twitter and the demos to the new Brian Jonestown Massacre album sound immense. That’s gonna be a great 2014 album.

Best of 2013: Jason Bourgeois


Jason is a member of Bourgeois Heroes, Beach Honey and the February Records supergroup, Quiz Kids. Follow him on twitter @junglejasonjr. He made a list of songs that he was into in 2013.

1. Liam Hayes– Fokus. A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III is a movie I really enjoyed. Roman Coppola can do no wrong. Liam Hayes’ score is stellar, too.

2. The Stepkids – The Lottery. Kind of a badass, funky, Steely Dan tune.

3. Hot Chocolate – Every1’s a Winnner. From a very cool Frances Ha scene. Can’t stop listening to this one. The song isn’t from 2013… in fact, a number of the songs on here aren’t!

4. Beachwood Sparks – Sparks Fly Again. “This one goes out to my good friends” is a great way to begin a song.

5. The Monkees – Good Clean Fun. I was lucky enough to see a solo Michael Nesmith show and have amazing seats/a backstage pass to a Monkees reunion gig. My friend Sarah introduced me to Andrew Sandavol, the man who put together the amazing reissue of The Monkees Present and the beautiful Nilsson box.

6. Nilsson – Kojak Columbo. See #5.

7. Henning Ohlenbusch – Maybe I’m Not Meant To Do Anything Remarkable After All. My pal Henning wrote a classic song. I was lucky enough to get asked to make a video (or four)

8. Paul McCartney – New. What can I say, I love those Beatles! Hearing this for the first time made me really happy.

9. King Tuff – Connection. A nice Burger reissue from an album from the recent past. I am converted.

10. Mark Mulcahy – The Rabbit. Dear Mark J. Mulcahy I Love You may be the record of the year.

11. Jeff Lynne – Mercy, Mercy. There’s this music channel that shows all kinds of concerts and roc docs called Palladia. Mr. Blue Sky: The Story of Jeff Lynne & ELO was on heavy rotation and I probably watched it every time it was on. This Don Covay cover closes the film.

12. Sonny & the Sunsets – I See The Void. My friend’s band once opened for these guys and I sat in on guitar. We kinda tanked due to tequila and things, but Sonny & The Sunsets were brilliant.

13. The Upsetters & Friends – To Love Somebody. My friend Brian has a brilliant music podcast called Where’s That Sound Coming From? and the “To Love Somebody” episode was one of many triumphs.

14. The Pastels – Check My Heart. The Pastels release music so infrequently, but they’re worth the wait!

15. The Beach Boys – California Feelin’. Another wonderful box set, Made In Calfornia. I had a legendary “California Feelin'” hammock listening this summer.

Best of 2013: Caténine



Caténine, the recording project of Dylan Connor, is a band you’ll be hearing from very soon. The Massachusetts-based band draws influence from The Field Mice, The Cure, and Joy Division. Dylan’s personal taste is even more varied.

ooooookay after careful deliberation here is my list of records i really enjoyed this year

15. minks – tides end
14. chance the rapper – acid rap
13. disclosure – settle
12. mutual benefit – love’s crushing diamond
11. daft punk – random access memories
10. justin timberlake – the 20/20 experience
9. savages – silence yourself
8. blood orange – cupid deluxe
7. drake – nothing was the same
6. speedy ortiz – major arcana
5. beach fossils – clash the truth
4. my bloody valentine – m b v
3. vampire weekend – modern vampires of the city
2. the national – trouble will find me
1. kanye west – yeezus

// dylan

Photo by DG.

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.