Tag Archives: zine

2020 Year-End Roundup

I wasn’t going to do a list this year. It’s not really a year I want to memorialize or look back on. Can’t we all just pretend that all the great music that came out this year actually got released in 2019 or 2021 and just forget 2020 ever happened? No? I guess not. It wouldn’t be fair to the bands that put all that hard work into their art just to have it drop in the crappiest of years. And there was some really exciting stuff released in 2020. Little bits of light shining out through the darkness.

I turned 40 this year … during quarantine, on furlough from my job, struggling with some really heavy existing anxiety that the global pandemic kicked into high-gear. I spent most of the year listening to — and filling out my record collection with — old favorites and comfortable, comforting, familiar albums. I’ve been buying a record a week beginning in April (on my birthday). And, because I can’t resist a good list, I even decided to document it, calling it “40 Years, 40 Records.” The project has given me something to look forward to each week, something to take my mind off of everything going on around me. In some ways, music has become even more important to me this year, than it already was. You can check out what I’ve bought so far this year on my Instagram (www.instagram.com/lionsdenlions) if that’s something you’re interested in. 

That being said, I did buy some 2020 releases and listened to some others and even managed to get to one show this year before everything completely went to shit. So … below is my un-ranked, un-quantified list of 2020 music stuff I liked in 2020.

[album] Sweeping Promises – “Hunger For A Way Out” (Feel It Records): Another year, another year-end roundup appearance from Lira and Caufield. Last year, their band Mini Dresses made the list with the stellar “Heaven Sent.” In 2018, they made the list as one of my favorite live shows of the year opening up for Wildhoney. Sweeping Promises deliver brilliant pop-tinged post-punk that brings to mind that early Rough Trade sound. 

[TRACK] Corvair – “Sunday Runner” (Paper Walls/Bon Mots Music) Rocking indiepop with boy/girl vocals from members of Eux Autres (who I have sorely missed). The first two tracks off their upcoming record have been aces. I’ve already pre-ordered the album. You should too.

[album] The Very Most – “Needs Help” (Lost Sound Tapes/Kocliko): TVM’s best yet? Quite possibly. It took Jeremy Jensen 5 years to make this album happen and the result is worth every second. Jeremy is joined by at least 10 guest vocalist, including Melanie Whittle (The Hermit Crabs),  Kristine Capua (Tiny Fireflies), and Cristina Quesada (Elefant Records). The songs have all the dream-pop goodness, boy/girl vocals, lush harmonies you’ve come to expect from TVM. It’s a winner.

[track] Jeanines – “Been in the Dark” (WIAIWYA): This track on the band’s EP on WIAIWYA clocks in at just under 2 minutes (1:59), so you might as well listen to it two or three times. Alicia Jeanine’s voice channels shimmering ’60s pop vocals to a T. I’m hearing equal parts The Seekers and Dolly Mixture, which is a winning combination. 

[track] Gary Olson – “Giovanna Please” (Tapete): The first single off of Gary Olson’s (Ladybug Transistor) debut solo album, which was released this year. This track, with sweeping strings, soft vocals and harmonies, was recorded in Norway, and brings to mind Scandinavian artists like Acid House Kings or Sambassadeur. It reminds me a great deal of Jens Lekman and is danceable in the same way. I’m a big fan. 

[album] Boyracer – “On A Promise” (Emotional Response): The indiepop legends are back with their 13th(!) full-length. Stewart Anderson is joined by Christina Riley (Artsick, Burnt Palms) and a veritable who’s-who from the pop world — previous band members Simon Guild and Laura Bridge, Mary Wyer and Anita Rayner (Even As We Speak), Penny McBride (Cannanes), longtime Boyracer members Matty Green, Jen Turrell, Ged McGurn and Ara Hacopian, and more. On A Promise offers 16 passionate pop-punk gems.

[track] Archers of Loaf – “Raleigh Days” (Merge): Raleigh Days opens with a few quick guitar strums and keyboard plinks before bursting forth with some much-missed rock-and-roll fervor. Driving guitar and earnest vocals propel the song forward, not letting up for the entirety of the track’s short 2:20 play time. Really glad The Loaf is back.

[track] Seablite – “High-Rise Mannequins” (Emotional Response): Bouncing bass and jangle give way to shoegazey guitars and dreamy vocals on the title track of Seablite’s latest EP. This is everything you want from a fuzzy, Sarah-inspired indiepop song.

[album] Peel Dream Magazine – “Agitprop Alterna” (Slumberland): This is pure fuzzy goodness. With buzzing guitars and vocals that sound more like an instrument than words. Just close your eyes, surrender to the drone and let PDM carry you away on a dreamy little field trip.

[album] Close Lobsters – “Post Neo Anti” (Shelflife): Probably my favorite band on the C86 tape, Close Lobsters are back with their first album 31 years — and they have not missed a beat. They’re as jangly, fuzzy and shimmery as ever. This is wonderful.

[track] The Flatmates – “Shut Up and Kiss Me” (Old Bad Habits): Indiepop royals The Flatmates released a new album this year. With shimmering lead vocals from Lisa Bouvier and driving pop-punk guitar, this track wastes no time — starting strong and not letting up, save for a brief organ bit about halfway through. The Flatmates continue to crank out fuzzy pop gems, just like they did in 1988.

[track] Peaness – “Kaizen” (Wipe Out Publishing): In Japanese, the word “kaizen” means “change for the good” and that’s what Peaness is clamoring for with this song. Pushing the listener to take a stand and “be a voice and not an echo” as “the living fabric of our tiny world / is slipping right through our fingers.” The song follows that upbeat, bouncy, punky pop that Peaness has basically perfected. 

[album] The Beths – “Jump Rope Gazers” (Carpark Records): The Beths offer a sleeker, but no-less exhilarating, follow-up to “Future Me Hates Me.” The band mixes in some power balladeering and some softer seriousness, but this collection of songs is still a whole bunch of fun.

[track] European Sun – “The Future’s Female” (WIAIWYA): European Sun is Steve Miles, who writes and sings the tunes, joined by Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey. This track also features guest backing vocals from Sarah Corrie (Velocette, Comet Gain). “The Future’s Female” is “a rallying cry for progressive people to have hope in a decade that threatens to be dark.” The song mixes poignant and personal storytelling with humor and playfulness, slagging off Brexit, macho men, and hyper-sexual male rockers without being preachy or political. The simple, hummable melody will be kicking around in your head for days.

[track] Fortitude Valley – “Wreck” (Fika): I love this song so much. Laura K’s voice perfectly channels ’90s alternative a la Juliana Hatfield. And Daniel Ellis’ (Martha) guitar playing reminds me of all the guilty pleasure alterna-pop I listened to in high school (and still do sometimes … I can admit it). The harmonies behind Laura as she sings “I’m a wreckkkkk” push this track into play-this-song-on-repeat-all-day territory. Can’t wait for the album. (Was this actually released in December 2019? Doesn’t matter, I loved it in 2020.)

[live] John Lodge of The Moody Blues at Cary Memorial Hall, Lexington, MA – 8 March: The only show I was able to attend this year was part of a belated Christmas gift for my father-in-law. COVID was just beginning to become serious, but events were still going on as planned. We probably shouldn’t have gone, but we did. John Lodge was the bassist for The Moody Blues, and also wrote a bunch of their songs. They played a bunch of well-known Moody Blues songs, some deep cuts, and some of Lodge’s solo work. I’m not a huge Moody Blues fan, but this show was fun. The sheer enthusiasm of Lodge and his band made it good. 

2019 Year-End Roundup

Here we go again! Below is my un-ranked, un-quantified list of music stuff I liked in 2019. As usual, this barely scratches the surface of amazing music released in 2019. I feel like I really dropped the ball on listening to new stuff this year. I haven’t even gotten around to listening to new music from Mammoth Penguins, Lost Tapes, Night Flowers, Patience, Strange Passage, or Ex Hex, which I’m sure would have made this list. These were just some of the tunes I kept going back to.



» Tallies – Tallies (Kanine): This was definitely my favorite album of 2019 … and it came out in January. I’ve been waiting all year to put this at the top of my list. Dreamy, jangly, Canadian.

» Jeanines – Jeanines (Slumberland): If you haven’t bought this album yet, what are you waiting for? Classic indie-pop jangle … in the same vein as all those other Slumberland bands you love, but Jeanines make their own mark on the sound.

» Pushflowers – Close For Comfort (Forged Artifacts): Debut full-length from this Boston band channeling the 1990s.

» The Ballet – Matchy Matchy (Fika): I’m so glad this band is back.

» Mini Dresses – Heaven Sent (Joy Void): Boston-based dream pop (but it’s not really dream pop … don’t pigeon-hole them like that, OK?). Lira and Caufield can do no wrong … they also released great music as Dee-Parts this year and they have about 25 other musical projects which are continually pumping out new music (I think it must be up to 25 by now).

» Elva – Winter Sun (Tapete): Like if Allo Darlin’ and Making Marks got together and had a baby … oh wait, that’s exactly what this is. Wonderful, wonderful stuff.

» Tullycraft – The Railway Prince Hotel (HHBTM): I mean, Tullycraft had to be on this list, right? Of course.



» Robert Forster at City Winery
(Boston, MA) — 14 November

» Blondie at Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion
(Boston, MA) — 23 July

» Psychedelic Furs at House of Blues
(Boston, MA) — 9 July


» The Beths w/ Bad Bad Hats, Bad Moves at Brighton Music Hall
(Boston, MA) — 28 February

» The Chills at The Middle East Downstairs
(Cambridge, MA) — 20 February

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.


» 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.”


» 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.


» 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

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.



» 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)


» 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)


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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

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.


[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.


[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.”


[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

… March, April & May: (Not a) Popfest Preview: Going Up The Country


As we have now come full circle and we’ve reached out to just about every alldayer, weekender, or Popfest that we possibly could think of, this will be our last in the Popfest Previews series. We’re very happy to be able to include Going Up The Country!

If you’ve been at any major Popfest or festival in the UK in the last year, you’ve likely met Christie the Bear and her compassionate companions, Kevin and Linda. Christie accompanies Kev and Linda to various events, indiepop or otherwise, to help raise awareness and donations for Macmillan Cancer Support. Kev and Linda also happen to be the organizers behind Going Up The Country.

GUTC is what Kev and Linda call a “charity indiepop mini weekender.” Taking place each year at The Church in Congleton, this year’s charity pop weekender is being held on the 13th and 14th of June with bands such as The Swapsies, The Mersey Belles, Bodyheat, and many more!

Can you give us a history of Going Up The Country (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
The inspiration came from Bentley Cooke of Manchester-based band Help Stamp Out Loneliness back in 2011. At a gig he made a throw-away comment about wanting to play somewhere in the countryside. That weekend we were guest DJs at a Charity Scooter event at The Church House, our local pub. They had bands playing on a truck outside and we thought ‘Could we put something on here?’ Bentley loved the idea so, in memory of his mum, he chose Christies, the world famous Cancer Hospital, as the Charity and Going Up The Country was born. This year will be our 4th. Previously, it’s just been one day but we’ve added a totally acoustic Sunday this year. We aspired to give it a mini-Indietracks feel, our favourite festival in all the world … I hope we’ve succeeded!

What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
Having never done anything like this before, the process was a bit scary! Kev approached bands that we’d seen and enjoyed, so pretty soon we had our first great line up. Disaster struck when Help Stamp Out Loneliness split up (please get back together!). Luckily, The School stepped in as a replacement so our first stab at promoting an event was a great success. As GUTC has become more known, bands now approach us to play too, so if we have space and they have the right Indiepop feel, then they’ll be considered.

What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing the event?
Don’t have flyers printed too soon. It pays to have someone calm and laid back on the team (Kev) to counteract the one who panics and worries (Linda). Help from friends like Jamie Harrison and Pete & Jo Dale have been invaluable.

When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
At the end of the very long day you think do we want to do this all over again? Then you wake up and remember just how much fun it was, add in the wonderful feedback and the answer is a resounding YES. Planning is mainly booking the bands so it’s pretty much straight after. If we see any and think ‘WOW we’d love them to play Going Up The Country,’ we usually ask them there and then.

Do you have any inside tips for attendees?
Congleton is pretty sleepy in comparison to Manchester but it is accessible by train and a fair amount goes on musically and artistically. Cheshire is a beautiful part of the world, so come along and have a pint or two of our real ale Pristine Christine, see some excellent musicians, dance your socks off and, to quote one of the best tweets we ever had, have “the most fun ever in a pub car park.” We finish off with an Indiepop Disco in the pub … the locals just love watching everyone bouncing around and think Pristine Christine is made of cherries ….

What are some of the best and worst GUTC moments you can remember?
Nothing catastrophic has happened yet so fingers crossed for 2015, but there have been a few hairy moments. Rain and cold temperatures in our English Summer is always a worry, although we do have adequate shelter! Bands who forget their instruments … yes they do! Highlights are too numerous to mention just so many talented, friendly and extremely generous people from all over the country — even Spain & Germany — having a really great time … can’t wait …

As always, all profits from the weekend festivities will be donated to Macmillan Cancer Support, so why not feel good about watching some of your favorite pop bands? Tickets for the weekender are now on sale. Visit the GUTC Facebook group for more info on the lineup and where to purchase your ticket.

… March, April & May: (Not a) Popfest Preview: Pop! South Weekender


As you’re probably already well aware, the Pop!South 2015 weekender is already behind us and we are entirely at fault for failing to post this in a timely manner! We can only hope that our lovely Scottish friends can forgive us.

Pop!South has been booking pop gigs in the south side of Glasgow for a few years now. Their first weekender, more aptly known as the “All Day-and-a-half-er”, occurred in 2014 and they have kept up the tradition this year, adding an extra night to the festivities. The event, which took place at The Glad Café, included two nights of all-out pop and an afternoon of acoustic sets. February Records band The Swapsies as well as our friends The Mini Skips played alongside bands such as The Just Joans, Withered Hand, Shambles Miller, and many more. From all accounts, the weekend was everything you’d expect: friendly, welcoming, and full of top-notch pop.

Before the weekender, Chris Gillies, one of the many organizers involved with Pop!South, was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.

1. Can you give us a history of Pop!South Weekender (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
We started Pop!South around May 2013 and enjoyed the gigs we were putting on so much that we thought it would be nice to try something bigger. The first event in 2014 consisted of one full day of music on the Saturday and a slightly shorter acoustic day on the Sunday – this year we’re going even bigger by adding a Friday night gig too.

2. What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
Basically the main group of us in Pop!South get together in the pub and decide on the bands we’d like to play – simple as that! Obviously you have to have a certain number of acts that are going to guarantee you get people in and you have to make sure you’re not going to bankrupt yourself, but otherwise it’s pretty much all personal choice. Occassionally bands contact us anyway and sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

3. What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing these events?
That if people have too good a night on the Saturday then they may not be physically able to turn up on the Sunday even if they have a ticket for it! That’s what we learned last year!

4. When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the event ends do you begin to plan the next one?
We were pretty late in getting going last year and it’s amazing to find how quickly bands can get booked up in advance. With the level of bands we’re dealing with that might be that they have another gig or simply that they have to work or go to a wedding that day! We had planned on getting started much earlier this year but it was a busy Summer for everyone and it was September before the first band was asked. Seems to have worked out ok though and we’re very nearly there already. We’re never going to have the venue booked a year in advance like the Nottingham alldayer though!

5. Do you have any inside tips for attendees?
Buy your tickets now – we had to turn people away last year!! If you’re coming from outside Glasgow then have a wee jaunt round the Southside. Most tourists won’t make it this far and they’re missing out. Actually some Glaswegians never make it this far!

6. What are some of the best and worst Pop!South moments you can remember?
Selling out our first show was pretty special. Only 14 people may have turned up for our second show, but at least we already had that memory to look back on! I thought the Haiku Salut show was pretty magical too and pulling off the weekender last year with so many people having a great time was pretty rewarding. Any time you find yourself wondering why you’re putting in all this time and effort for nobody to turn up at your shows though, you can almost be guaranteed that someone will come up and say to you that they appreciate what you do or put on a show that blows you away. We meet the nicest folk from all around the world and it’s great!

Just because the 2015 Weekender has passed doesn’t mean there won’t be any Pop!South gigs for you to attend in the future. Keep an eye out on the Pop!South website for more info on upcoming events!

FEB041: 5: A February Records Anniversary Compilation

February Records turned 5 in 2014 and to celebrate, we are releasing a CD compilation featuring 14 bands spanning the length of our catalog. Most of the songs have never been released and are exclusive to this comp. We wanted to make this project special. We think we have.

Bands featured on the compilation are: The Swapsies, Brilliant at Breakfast, Ry Smith, Onward Chariots, Summer Library, Boy Genius, Lunchbox, Finnmark!, Ghost of Chance, Secret Charisma, The Halamays, Cozy Catastrophes, The Month of June and The Pretty Greens.

In addition to the compilation, we’ve produced the first physical edition of our zine, “…March, April & May.” The 60-page zine includes interviews with 14 bands plus articles on DIY culture in New England and some February Records history.

There are three ways to order — all through our Bandcamp page:
1. The compilation and zine combo is limited to 100 copies and includes a digital download.
2. Download the digital version of the compilation from our bandcamp page.
3. Order the “March, April & May” zine on its own.

Orders of the CD/zine combo received before midnight (U.S. Eastern Time) Wednesday, February 4, will be entered for a chance to win a February Records feltie keychain made by Lynn Chan, The Quirky Girl Crafter.

Click here to order.


… March, April & May: (Not a) Popfest Preview: Big Pink Cake Christmas Party All-Dayer


‘Tis the Season! It’s nearly that time of the year: holiday gatherings, mulled wine, festive sweaters and, of course, the Big Pink Cake Christmas party.

London’s pop outlet Big Pink Cake has been organizing a Christmas-themed all-dayer for the past several years and 2014 is no exception. This year’s lineup is chock full of incredible pop acts, including February Record’s own Finnmark. The intimate gathering, happening this Saturday (13 December), is not to be missed if you’re in London. A little last minute, we asked one of the organizers, Matthew Rimell, a few questions concerning the event.

Can you give us a history of the Big Pink Cake Christmas Party (dates, previous organizers involved, etc.)? How and why did you come to be involved?
Well we’d been putting on gigs for a while in both London and Bristol, but decided that we kind of needed to scale back a bit because of how busy we all are … A Christmas party seemed like a nice idea, to get friends together and bands that we liked. Heather and I had put on indie pop weekenders before, in Bristol and although we love doing them they left us physically exhausted, an all-dayer seemed like a better burst of activity and then having the next day to recover … Or not.

What is the process of choosing bands like? Do you contact them or do they have to apply to play? Are there any rules as to who can or cannot play?
Well it’s sort of floating around in my head for a little while, leading up to summer … It’s a combination of asking and being asked … Bands that we really like, have put on before or bands that have grabbed us by going to gigs throughout the year. A lot of bands though have become friends over the years, so we love them and the bands their in — what better excuse to have a party.

What has experience taught you when it comes to organizing the Christmas Party?
Try to sort out most of it during the summer when you’ve got a bit more time … Otherwise it can get a bit panicky when September happens and people are too bogged down with stuff … I think it’s to give stuff plenty of time because things change, new things might have to be thought about … I think time is a key issue.

When does organization start? Is there a timeline you follow? How soon after the festival ends do you begin to plan the next one?
During the summer time when my job is much less of a strain … I love August! I wish it was August all the time … But I’d get bored wouldn’t I? Maybe not … I think organisation is a bit too grand really … It’s a bit of a thought, a bit of passion, then an action with hopefully a yes as the desired response … We aren’t that organised and I don’t think we’d want to be. Fun has to be the main element, or forget it.

Do you have any inside tips for attendees?
Not really, just enjoy yourself and have a lovely time … You’re amongst kindred spirits, who are there for the specialness of the quieter afternoon session upstairs by the Christmas tree and chandelier … Come and join us all for a curry during the break if you like and then jump up and down to the full on electric session in the cellar for the evening. We love both sessions, they present something different and special … But mostly its friends coming together … it really is a great feeling to be around people coming from all over the world for our small little event.

What are some of the best and worst Christmas Party moments you can remember?
Not really any worst ones (yet) … Although Heather and I did get a bit ‘silly’ when we couldn’t have the Christmas tree last year … Heather and I are old and best friends from school … Sometimes we can get a bit daft — you know, in the way best friends can get. The best bits are too many … Seriously, we love seeing everyone having a lovely time, making friendships and smiling. The bands also, every single one that we’ve had has been totally special and have made it for us and everyone else. There are literally too many bands that stick out for me … But mostly it’s the atmosphere created by everyone … That’s the reason why we do it.

For more information, check the event page here.

5-Year Anniversary Compilation and Zine

I know we’ve been a little quiet over here lately. We still have a few interviews to finish up for our Popfest Previews series and another EP release in the works for early next year, but we’ve also been working on something a bit bigger. Something we’re now ready to reveal to you.

February Records turned 5 this year and, to celebrate, we are releasing a CD compilation featuring 14 bands spanning the length of our catalog. Most of the songs have never been released before and are exclusive to this comp. We wanted to make this project special. I think we have.

The CD will feature bands from our current roster, including Finnmark, The Swapsies, The Halamays, Cozy Catastrophes, Ry Smith, and The Pretty Greens. However, we wanted this compilation to celebrate everything the label has accomplished over the years, so we reached out to bands we have worked with in the past, such as Lunchbox, Onward Chariots, Ghost of Chance, Brilliant at Breakfast, Summer Library, The Month of June, and Secret Charisma. There is even a track from NYC’s Boy Genius who has played more than a few gigs that February put on in the early years though they never officially released on the label.

In addition to the compilation, we’ve decided to produce the first physical edition of our zine, …March, April, & May. The zine will include interviews with each of the bands represented on the compilation plus much more.

Though a physical release date has yet to be set, we are aiming to have everything printed, pressed, stamped, and sewn together by the middle of December. We’ll be updating you of our progress along the way because, let’s face it, this is the first time we’ve done anything like this and we’re excited to share it all with you.

Kristin & Danny

Compilation contributors:
Boy Genius
Brilliant at Breakfast
Cozy Catastrophes
Ghost of Chance
The Halamays
The Month of June
Onward Chariots
The Pretty Greens
Ry Smith
Secret Charisma
Summer Library
The Swapsies