Hi, my name is Zach Roddis, I love the attitude and ideas presented in the diy scene/s across the UK (and beyond). This is a blog about the bands, gigs, and labels that are doing interesting things that you won’t find elsewhere.
Johnny Foreigner and Playlounge Co-Headline Show in Manchester
Johnny Foreigner and Playlounge, who both feature on this delightful Alcopop vs Dog Knights split, play a festive show at Aatma (formerly Kraak) on Friday (11th Dec). JF are currently recording their fifth album, whilst this is the first Manchester Playlounge gig in quite some time – the duo previously releasing a split with Nai Harvest, and their debut record (both with DK). We also get to see local support in the form of Claw the Thin Ice (whose latest EP is an arresting solo effort and precursor to a third studio album from the emo post rock 4-piece). The night continues with the Turn It Out clubnight where Super Smash Hit Records will DJ.
Advance Tickets still available here SEE TICKETS
Lake Michigan + Commonplace Tour Dates
In the fifteenth post on this blog I introduced Lake Michigan with their new LP being put out by Lunar Lander. Teaming together with Manchester’s Commonplace they hit the road for the first days of December. LM have another track from ‘Further’ over on soundcloud (it’s another early morning emo delve), whilst Commonplace have an abundance of rad post punk slow jamz on bandcamp.
Catch all of this in Nottingham on Weds (2nd Dec), at ex fruit and veg warehouse and DIY staple JT Soar, and then Glasgow’s finest bar and pizza establishment Bar Bloc on Thurs (3rd) ahead of a Leeds house show on Friday (4th). Here is the tour poster featuring Jeremy Corbyn drinking Irn Bru.
Witching Waves + Rattle Tour and Split Tape
Pressing on into the murky depths of winter. There’s loads of bands on tour at the moment, so I’m going to do a couple of posts here on the Narratives page.
For their ten date marathon of the UK, Witching Waves and Rattle have released a split cassette (/100, only 20 of which available online), you can hear the first track off it on the Seeing Double bandcamp. I’ve mentioned Witching Waves on this blog a couple of times, the indie punks are joined on the road by Nottingham duo Rattle – made up of members of Fists and Kogumaza (the drummers to be precise, hence the band name). They’ve previously put out an EP with the fantastic Gringo Records, at the heart of the Notts scene. Here in Manchester they take to Fuel Cafe on December 5th where they share a bill with Montreal post punk surf three piece Moss Lime, who are mid- Euro tour themselves at the minute… again check out a track from forthcoming mini-LP on bandcamp. Rad line-up yeah!
Cardiff lo-fi pop from Oh Peas! – with their second album ‘Difficult Second Chair‘, an interesting take on what I thought was going to be a predictable title on first read. Known by the ‘Oh Peas!’ moniker Rosie Smith (also of Totem Terrors, and Trust Fund), is putting out this eleven track record via time of asking records. Lead single ‘Learning to Love You Less‘ takes the form of a spoken word vocal alongside guitar that is pretty much an indie-pop Trash Kit. The lyrics discern fears and anxieties, coming from an intensely interpersonal viewpoint. The harmonies at the end of the song match the guitar, providing a lighter close, expelling some negative energy from it. Smith says that the album is about “boys, snacks, public transport, confusion, severe (mostly) self-inflicted heartache, frustration and how turmeric may or may not act as an alternative to Prozac.”
‘Difficult Second Chair’ will be released on 23rd October, and can be pre-ordered now.
The Spook School
‘Binary’ is an incredibly important song, for a number of reasons. Edinburgh indie pop four-piece The Spook School put out a music video for it last week. The track is taken from new album ‘Try To Be Hopeful’. Having the video filmed by Nathan (from Martha) at the Queer Fest event at JT Soar (Nottingham) means there are plenty of familiar faces. ‘Binary’ is about gender – escaping gender binary perceptions imposed in society, finding freedoms away from these ideas (literally ditching the tin-foil robot outfits masking the band in the video). Gender identity is often discussed, not only in the music, but in this interview with Laura Jane Grace (lead vocals for Florida punk band Against Me!) which is worth watching if you haven’t already. Also; if you get a chance to attend a Spook School gig, then definitely do – their brand of catchy hooks and upbeat pop is totally cool.
‘Try To Be Hopeful’ is out on 9th October via Fortuna POP
Queer noise pop stormers from Actual Crimes, times by five. New EP, 5 Songs gets a cassette release via Tunnel Visions on 19th October, whilst the whole thing can be be purchased digitally on their bandcamp right now. Recorded by Mark Jasper at Sound Savers, the songs are about the points in which different identities meet at intersections. Actual Crimes make music that is immediate, fast paced and unapologetic in delivery. Following the departure of their bassist, the [now] duo have a launch party (20th Oct) and a show either side of that. I know they are also planning a December weekender with Leeds indie dream pop four piece Exit Earth, and shiny new queer punx Camp Shy (members of all the other bands you know). So, that’s winter sorted then.
16th October – The Packhorse, Leeds with David Leach and others
20th October – Power Lunches, London – EP launch party with Big Joanie, The Ethical Debating Society and Black Fungus
4th November – The Lexington, London supporting Trust Fund and Alimony Hustle
Sad Girls Clubbing
As another weekend rolls in, and freshers week ends for yet another year – now is an appropriate time to share this lofi bedroom chart covers compilation. When I went to uni the nostalgia clubnight was focused on the 90’s – it’s when the equivalent now starts to become a 00’s clubnight when you start to worry. Sad Girls Club – a London based female-fronted arts collective – have put together this comp of 90’s, and 00’s (eek!), hits covered by your fave lofi and DIY artists from across the country. There’s some names you’ll be familiar with from previous DIY narratives posts; Yr Friends, Two White Cranes, King of Cats.
Described as “Now 44 for emos”, expect the (only) hits of Everything But The Girl, Eiffel ’65, and Alice Deejay covered without any of the synth or vocal effects present from the originals. Mumbled lyrics and strong hooks are captured on 8-tracks and drum machines. ‘Sad Girls Clubbing’ is available to buy in a limited run of gold cassettes, and as a digital download. The artwork is by Dean Smitten.
Joanna Gruesome Are About To Tour
Here’s everything you need to know:
They have a line-up change; as I’ve mentioned in my fifth post on this blog (below) expect the loud / quiet vocals from Kate (Pennycress) and Roxy (Two White Cranes, Grubs, Towel), both prominent voices in the DIY scene across the UK. This is the first set of shows the band have done in this formation, and also the first since the release of ‘Peanut Butter’ back in May – so expect a lot of stuff from that.
The support: for most of the dates (excluding the Manchester and Newcastle shows) Oxford lofi singer-songwriter King of Cats is the support act. His albums ‘Working Out‘ and ‘Microwave Oven‘ are both released via Art Reeks – the Art is Hard and Reeks of Effort collab label – the vocal is probably quite divisive, but for me it adds to joy of it all. Other support acts vary from place to place – in Edinburgh and Newcastle Jo Gru are joined by Fortuna Pop label mates The Spook School (who are poised to release their new record).
The tour starts here in Manchester… well Salford to be precise – it’s a Now Wave gig at Islington Mill (a hub for the experimental creative arts) with support from the excellent Beta Blocker and The Body Clock.
Joanna Gruesome and King of Cats will also tour in America and Canada next month.
Seasick is the newest offering of London based musician Christopher Marks – under his Lake Michigan moniker. This is the first track from ‘Further’ (the full record due for release in December via Wolf Town DIY, Ruined Smile Recs, and Lunar Lander). The music video was posted on youtube over the bank holiday weekend. On bandcamp Lake Michigan uses “late night music” as a tag; this is echoed in the video, filmed in letterbox in a series of both over-exposed and dimly lit scenes. The lyrical content of Seasick is an interesting mix of emotive statements like being tiny specks on something far more vast, contrasted with the more achingly weary; ie this is the last time I let it go this far / shit gets real. If you’re a fan of this deep voiced folk, the other bandcamp releases are all ‘name your price’.
Minimal screamo duo Algae Bloom are distinctive and emotive. They have played alongside the likes Norwich peers Maths, the ever influential Healing Powers, and mathy emo stalwarts Bluebird. The latest AB recording was spilled on bandcamp over the bank holiday via Berlin label (We built the world) and miss the stars. The first track on the third Miss the Stars sampler is ‘Thorns’ – a demo of a track Algae Bloom have been playing during live sets for the past few months. The rest of the twenty seven track comp is made up of ace emo and skramz, highlights for me are; You’ll Live (with a track taken from their upcoming record ‘Moving Past This’), and Lost Limbs (whose aptly titled ‘Misery in Repetition’ was put out digitally by the band last month).
Radiator Hospital + Martha UK Tour
One of the most notable tour announcements this week is from Martha (Durham) and Radiator Hospital (Philadelphia) – the DIY pop bands are due to tour the UK later this year (full listings below). The former have been making waves, their work being recognised by BBC 6 Music as they won the Rebel Playlist. The latter being an influence on a plethora on UK DIY bands, returning for their first shows here since January. In addition to the tour, the two bands are releasing a split 7″, which is being put together with Specialist Subject Records (full details below). The Coronation Street-inspired tour poster is by Jack Fallows.
Pressing Information: 150 – Mint Green / 350 – Black
Tracks: Radiator Hospital – Night Out, Will You Find Me, Dark Sound. Martha – Chekhov’s Hangnail, Six Men Getting Sick Six Times (Mendable)
…and here’s the dates in full;
Fri 30th Oct – DIY SPACE, LONDON
Sat 31st Oct – WEST HILL HALL, BRIGHTON
Sun 1st Nov – FIGHTING COCKS, KINGSTON
Mon 2nd Nov – JT SOAR, NOTTINGHAM
Tue 3rd Nov – WHARF CHAMBER, LEEDS
Wed 4th Nov – LUGHOLE, SHEFFIELD
Thu 5th Nov – BANSHEE LABRYNTH, EDINBURGH
Fri 6th Nov – 13TH NOTE, GLASGOW
Sat 7th Nov – STAR AND GARTER, MANCHESTER
Sun 8th Nov – EMPTY SHOP, DURHAM
Mon 9th Nov – HARE AND HOUNDS, BIRMINGHAM
Tue 10th Nov – MOON CLUB, CARDIFF
Wed 11th Nov – ROLL FOR THE SOUL, BRISTOL
Thu 12th Nov – THE CAVERN, EXETER
Fri 13th Nov – JOINERS, SOUTHAMPTON
With the DIY Space for London due to open very soon, now is an appropriate time to blog about DIY spaces across the country. Currently there are several spaces for DIY music, and I should say that DIY shows also happen in rooms above pubs and venues – this isn’t about an exclusivity thing, quite the opposite actually.
In Leeds there’s the Wharf Chambers co-operative space, hosting a variety of events. I was last there for Queer Fest Leeds. The community of people that organise the venue, and promote shows, are open minded and allow for an inclusive safe space in which to enjoy music, art and film.
Safe spaces policy is important to DIY shows and the future of a vibrant scene – one place with a prominent set of guidelines is Nerd Hutch, in Newcastle. As highlighted by Jack Fallows (a member of the collective that run the space) Nerd Hutch exists to be free – with no cost to the promoter/artist, and no door charges to attendees, all shows run on donations. The lack of funds exchanged means that the environment for gigs can be made safe, this promotes a positive attitude.
Further south – in Nottingham, JT Soar is hub of creativity – with a gig space and recording studio, it’s renowned. Phil Booth takes care of the indie punk gigs, whilst Joe Caithness (who has mastered for loads of bands including Football Etc, and Human Hands) looks after the heavier side of gig promotion. They are both involved in Nottingham new music – a strong scene at the moment.
The DIY Space for London is due to open real soon, I’m looking forward to seeing their output, the clues being in the name I’m thinking…
‘It must be grubs, grubs, grubs / nothing more, nothing less’
Ahem, anyway – I bring you the news that Bristol indie pop trio Grubs are set to release an album. It’s the first we’ve heard from them since the 2014 release of ‘Dec 15 / Gym Shame’ via Cool Your Jets. That was a 7″ flexi disc (like those you used to get in music magazines years ago). Both of those tracks are on their debut album due for release in September with Reeks of Effort and Tuff Enuff. New track ‘Windwaker’ can be streamed on the bandcamp page, and pre-orders on records, and t-shirt bundles can be made.
With other songs named ‘There’s Something About Grubs’ and ‘Good Timez’, I’m expecting a tongue-in-cheek, yet valuable, LP sticking to a sturdy emotional indie pop sound. Oh, and the album artwork (by Grace Denton), is pretty damn good.
It turns out when planning a tour gaps might occur mid-week, or in between major cities. Most bands do a house show in-between these bookings. Boasting an intimate atmosphere and a BYOB policy, all of the house shows I’ve ever been to have had some more personal and memorable qualities to them. Tonight I’m going to see The Middle Ones and T-Shirt Weather in a garden in Whalley Range! Not too far away in Chorlton for several years (but sadly no longer) there were regular gigs in a basement on Albany Road, I saw the likes of The Hipshakes and Good Grief there.
More recently I was a part of a house show in Selly Oak (in the outskirts of Birmingham). The acts included Yr Friends (Alexei of Johnny Foreigner fame, offering an honest critique of the latest Placebo record), George Gadd (rad solo artist from Notts), Wax Futures (who I had known from their Wolf Town release), and Holy Pinto (Kent based two piece, indie punk jams). I loved that show, not least because of the mixed bill, but also because people had traveled from all over the midlands to watch bands in a living room. The whole ethos behind the show is DIY; ie everyone respects the space/s, every performer brings their own personal vibe to the show, and it’s all accessible regardless of boundaries (regular venues having door policy, age policy, curfew, etc).
I must also do a shout to the promoter of that Birmingham show, Sarah – who does all of the ‘Not Cool DIY‘ shows over in the West Mids.
If you’re on the commute to Sheffield this weekend for the independent music festival, here are some tips for you. There’s a strong MCR representation on Sunday (26th) at The Great Gatsby – Gorgeous Bully, Fruit Bomb and The Hipshakes all playing that venue. Gorgeous Bully do lots of Manchester gigs, their bandcamp being full of lofi pop gems. Fruit Bomb are a garage rock four piece featuring Ben of Nai Harvest fame, listen to ‘Normcore Girlfriend’ here. The Hipshakes; well what can I say? The band released not one, but two full-length LPs this year (both with SMF) – expect high energy fast paced punk from their live performance.
The day before sees Girl Gang Sheffield host a glitter party with DJs and a zine making workshop. That’s 1pm-7pm on Saturday and also at the same venue, The Great Gatsby on Division Street – a hot spot for DIY stuff this year!
Stateside – Diet Cig
Summer vibes now, from Diet Cig – a New York duo whose 7″ is due for release in September via Art is Hard in the UK and Father/Daughter in the states. ‘Sleep Talk’ is available for streaming now, the B side ‘Dinner Date’ to follow next month. The former has a fuzzy melancholy aesthetic with dreamy guitar structured around the percussion.
AIH are putting out the lush frosted clear vinyl, in addition to a t-shirt with download code. The Father/Daughter label is also really rad; check out their indie pop output from NY friends Pupppy, and San Francisco queer punks PWR BTTM.
Also hailing from New York, Quarterbacks are in the UK later this year – the twee pop band are opening for Girlpool for a string of shows and festivals including End of The Road Festival, before a date at Deaf Institute here in Manchester. Their full length album from February highlights their upbeat guitar sound, whilst being lyrically crushing.
Released next week (pre-orders now), Nudes have a new EP via Reeks of Effort. Aptly, it’s called ‘5 songs’. The first track ‘Crush’ was first released for the Art is Hard Pizza Club – Saam from Playlounge providing 90’s-emo-revival vocals, contrasting Sion’s shouty verse. The EP was recorded at Dalston DIY venue Power Lunches. ROE (who have other tapes from the likes of Trust Fund and King of Cats) are putting out the cassette on the 22nd ahead of their debut album. The three piece are also doing a weekender, including a gig in Salford next Friday (alongside Carson Wells, Pjaro, and Common Place) here are the tour dates in full:
JULY – 23rd: Bristol – Roll for the Soul / 24th: Salford – The Crescent / 25th: Cardiff – The Abacus / 26th: London – Montague Arms
The eleventh ‘i hate my records’ release is of their own material, Werk being the project of Edwin and George (who founded the label with others), and Adam (also of Elk Blood notability). Wk1 (cassette / CD / digital) is, in terms of approach and sensibility, not dissimilar to MCR stalwarts Groves (interviewed here), and the ever experimental Locean.
The first thing I notice after I remove the cassette tape from its minimal red sleeve & clear case and shove it in my tape deck, is that the cassette sound is perhaps more full compared to the the digital video for ‘Beed to Dip’ I had watched prior to this. Each dirgey wave of delay kept in some form by eager biting percussive elements and bouncy analogue synth. All of this is recorded and mastered in-house at the IHMR studio in Ancoats. The b-side is one longer improvised track, testing the limits of the iphone mic, but still providing a pulse of industrial drone as evident in the first three tracks. Look out for Werk live shows too; each instrument and sample is reproduced with everything built into a final fulminated sound.
This release (Wk 1) is 1 of 3 releases announced by the band, I look forward to the next two later this year.
IHMR also promote shows, and put out other tapes, they’re a true cornerstone of Manchester DIY.
Swapping Bands and Instruments
After my last blog post about bands made up of members of other bands, I thought about a couple of things really. First of all there’s Caramel – based in Cardiff, Caramel are a three piece consisting of Sion from Saturday’s Kids, and Max and Owen from Joanna Gruesome. Their post punk sound can be heard on this demo, the band having supported the likes of Pity Sex and Iceage. Incidentally, guitarist Owen is also in Grubs – an indie pop trio often gigging in Bristol… so that’s three projects he’s currently involved in.
Getting a train across to London, another couple of bands that spring to mind are Sauna Youth (who have a gig at Gullivers this weekend) with their brilliant album ‘Distractions’ (via Upset The Rhythm last month), and Monotony (hear Sauna Youth/Monotony on the Silent Radio Show here) – a band with the same members of Sauna Youth trading new wave in exchange for harsh shouty punk, and swapping instruments between band mates. ‘Luxury Flats‘ leading with chorus “Penthouse! Shithouse!” – the drumming insistent, sounding like a military snare in each verse.
The Monotony / Sauna Youth split, SY full length, and the Grubs flexi all recorded by Mark Jasper at Sound Savers. Mark is one half of Witching Waves; similar in style to the acts in this post, ‘Better Run’ is my recommended track for its sense of urgency. They also have a handful of tour dates last on the list being Carefully Planned in October
Glasgow New Music Scene
Leading the way in DIY punk, Glasgow has shows with decent lineups on a weekly basis. With many of the musicians being in several bands or projects at the same time, and promoters encouraging mixed bill shows – it is the epitome of the ‘get involved’ nature of DIY.
Breakfast Muff formed before a show out of members of other bands; Simone and Eilidh (ex-Froth), and Cal (Youngstrr Joey, Spinning Coin). They play fast punk, picking up different instruments for each song – when performing live they change from drums to guitar, guitar to bass, bass to drums… Their album is released on cassette via Number 4 Door, an ace tape label who also put out a lot of new music.
This year Number 4 Door released a new tape from three piece Pennycress (whose lead singer Kate is one of two new vocalists in Joanna Gruesome), and most recently Noun / Verb / Adjective – fuzzy lofi indie from the States.
In Glasgow there are plenty more exciting acts at the moment, Chrissy Barnacle is a singer songwriter whose alt folk vocals are used to express lyrics about identity and relationships. Passion Pusher is the moniker of James Gage, an Edinburgh based musician – often collaborating with Glaswegian DIY stalwarts (mostly from the bands I already mentioned in this post). Passion Pusher has a 90’s drone lofi aesthetic and makes use of the ever popular Bandcamp tags “cheap wine” and “crying in my room”.
Most of these bands tour, so if you ever get a chance to see them, take it.
Stateside – Elvis Depressedly
Last month saw the return of Elvis Depressedly, lofi pop artist from North Carolina. The new album ‘New Alhambra’ starts off in much the same sound as its predecessor; the 2013 EP ‘Holo Pleasures’, which I know is a massive influence on a lot of different genres and styles in DIY scenes here in the UK; ‘Thou Shall Not Murder’ keeping a low dirge sound with distorted vocal. After this the album progresses with a much lighter sound against the dark subject matter in tracks like ‘Bruises (Amethyst)’.
Elvis Depressedly is just one project of Mathew Lee Cothran, whose other Bandcamp page most recently put out some covers – he presents his own take on artists as eclectic as Alice Deejay and Jordaan Mason (who will play in Manchester as part of a UK tour in July. Details here).
Other lofi pop from the states I’d recommend includes Princess Reason (whose new EP ‘Stark City’ is fantastic, and much a representation of their previous works), and then notable Orchid Tapes releases from the likes of Foxes in Fiction and Ricky Eat Acid. Although the latter seems pretty obvious, Orchid Tapes back catalogue is also worth listening to, bringing up the recordings of Happy Trendy – the moniker of Dylan from Kumon Plaza; both of these in a similar electronic style – although of its’ time, still relevant to current trends).
Something I’m looking forward to this weekend is the return of Well Wisher; the band (who “called it a day” some fourteen months ago) perform at Gullivers in Manchester as a part of the first ever ‘Fragment Festival‘ this Saturday (20th). I distinctly remember going to a Well Wisher gig in Fuel a few years ago when I first started to get involved in diy things, it was a Reeks of Effort show with Nai Harvest, Doctrines, and Best Friends – a line up and a half, i’m sure you’ll agree. Then, and indeed on all of the occasions I’ve seen them since, Well Wisher put everything into their performance – some things which I’ve committed to memory are all of the crowd surfing and human pyramids, plus the (obligatory?) Weezer cover.
I think here in Manchester before the split they were part of the furniture; their “emo pop” sounds and party vibes making them a must-see. Their other bands (Claw the Thin Ice, Patty Hearst, Gut Model) all gigging over the past few months, they are still directly a part of the scene respectively.
It’s gonna be fun to see them back together again. Fragment is an all-dayer across The Castle and Gullivers with bands including Fawn Spots, Super Luxury, Groves, Papayer and Hot Shorts. Advance tickets are £10.
(RIP) ‘cross your heart and hope to d.i.y’
It’s true, the Edinburgh label/distro ‘cross your heart and hope to d.i.y’, well, died. The news comes in the form of a Facebook post on 13th June stating;
“I’m throwing the towel in on record label stuff, life has got in the way of it… I’m putting up loads of stuff for sale so if you wanna check out anything for cheap go ahead”
The label helped release the self titled Human Hands lp, one of the most influential hardcore punk albums of 2014, the Birmingham band pouring every ounce of emotion into each haunting melody. It’s probably my favourite record of its’ kind.
‘cross your heart’ put out vinyl and cassette releases for Charlotte Light & Dark, Sky:Lark and Without Maps (naming only three). The label specialised in intense screamo / hc punk, and will be missed by many.
The online store has the last of their stock priced down to as little as £2 for some 7”s and other formats as cheap.