Sneaking up on us rapidly is one of the summer’s finest festivals, Indietracks. The annual extravaganza of indie-pop takes place at the Midland Railway, near Ripley in Derbyshire; a setting that combines the region’s rolling green hills with an industrial heritage marked by train carriages, steam-rollers and signal boxes.
Headlining this year’s event are Halifax’s up-and-comers, The Orielles, experimental, Anglo-Japanese popsters, Kero Kero Bonito, and a return for Camera Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell, with her new project Tracyanne & Danny. Perhaps more so than ever though, the festival’s strength is the depth of the line-up with firm festival favourites like, Peaness, Martha and The Spook School, joined by established names on the alternative scene such Stealing Sheep and Withered Hand.
Today we’ve scoured the line-up and picked out some of the other acts catching our ear, who we think will be making this year’s festival entirely unmissable.
Cheerbleederz (Outdoor Stage – Sat – 1:40pm)
Cheerbleederz are a London-based super-group, consisting of members of Fresh, Happy Accidents and Finish Flag. Formed of three friends, who after the shared experience of being the only woman in a band, in their own words, “decided to make a band that explores being women together”. The initial result was the band’s excellent debut EP, Faceplant, released by Alcopop Records back in 2018.
Taking influence from the likes of Charly Bliss and Snail Mail, Faceplant was a collection of songs about finding your voice, embracing your vulnerability and the mundanity of falling in love. Musically, they take elements of indie-pop and punk, and fuse them into melody-driven bangers, full of killer harmonies and just a hint of scuzzy ferocity. Although understandably busy with their other projects, the band have recently been in the studio tracking new material, so don’t miss a chance to hear where the band’s music is headed next.
Witching Waves (Outdoor Stage – Sat – 2:40pm)
Regular readers of this page will already know just how much we love Witching Waves. The band were formed by drummer Emma and guitarist Mark, back in 2013, before Estella (Big Joanie/Charmpit) completed the line-up in 2017. The noise-pop trio recently released Persistence, their third album, a collection of tracks about keeping going in the face of adversity and coming out the other side.
Musically, Persistence was as urgent, uncomplicated and unflinchingly honest as always; as rapid-fire rhythms, yelped vocals and searing guitar lines, cut straight to the point and hit you round the ears like a primal thrill. Live, the band bring all that energy and more, creating a thrilling, visceral experience, that can’t be missed.
Porridge Radio (Indoor Stage – Sat 3:00pm)
Although demos emerged earlier, it was with 2016’s bizarrely titled album, Rice, Pasta and Other Fillers, that Porridge Radio came to the world’s attention. It was a collection of off-kilter pop-songs the band suggested were, “equal parts Neil Young, Cat Power and Blink 182”. After three years out of the spotlight, the Brighton-based four-piece returned earlier this year with new single, Give/Take, which as well as being one of our favourite tracks of the year, seemed to draw near universal acclaim from everyone who heard it.
Give/Take, and its considerably more rambunctious follow-up, Don’t Ask Me Twice, showcased a band growing in both ambition and execution. Whether smoothing things out into David Bowie-esque expansive pop, or embracing riotous post-punk, Porridge Radio seem to just be nailing every style they put their minds to. This feels like an exciting time for the band, with the interest surrounding them growing rapidly and this might just be the last chance you’ll ever get to see them play this early in the day.
Kagoule (Church Stage – Sat – 7:20pm)
Nottingham’s Kagoule first emerged back in 2015, when the then very youthful trio released their debut album Urth, in their own words, “an ode to grunge”. After that early success the band took some time out to remove themselves from those 90’s influences, and embrace something more varied and intriguing. The result was their 2018 record, Strange Entertainment, an album that saw the band’s ambitions grow and their focus sharpen.
In many ways, Strange Entertainment is the sound of a band taking control of their own destiny, embracing their eclectic inspirations and making something that couldn’t be anyone else. There are elements of post-punk, and some of the guitars have a distinctly slacker-rock feel, yet citing the likes of Arthur Russell and Bert Jansch as influences, it’s a delightfully odd melting pot of creativity. While they have the misfortune of clashing with Martha’s main-stage performance, if it’s something deliciously different you’re after, Kagoule are well worth dragging yourself away for.
L I P S (Outdoor Stage – Sun – 3:40pm)
Hailing from the increasingly impressive Falmouth music-scene, L I P S first emerged back at the start of 2018 with a four-track EP, Never Make Sense. A rough diamond of a record; despite its lo-fi production it set the scene for what would come next with its merging of melancholy, melody and creativity. Break-out single, Apartment, upped the production values and caught the ear of many, before being quickly followed up by the band’s excellent self-titled EP.
L I P S combine elements of classic jangling-indie, with layers of fuzzy shoegaze and scintillating dreamy-vocals, recalling acts like Hazel English or Night Flowers. An early afternoon slot on the Outdoor Stage, might just be the moment of shimmering beauty needed to drag the audience back to their feet for one final Sunday hoorah.
Solution Hours (Church Stage – Sun – 5:20pm)
Solution Hours, the London-based duo of Charlotte and Andrew, feel like something of a departure from the DIY-punk and shimmering indie-pop on offer elsewhere at Indietracks. The pair first emerged in 2017 with the fuzzy angularity of Into The Sea, which combined a driving drum beat, with chunky guitars and spoken-word vocals; like the middle ground of Arab Strap and Sauna Youth. Since then they’ve gone on to release an excellent EP, Try Again, produced by Witching Waves’ Mark Jasper (see below!), and are currently in the process of writing their debut album.
Try Again’s four tracks introduced the world to the band’s varied sounds, from the snarling post-punk of Trichotomy, to the more expansive, soundscaping of the title track. Perhaps the band’s most intriguing statement to date came last month in the shape of new single, Kneading, an expansive and ambitious tribute to the passing of pets and loved ones. If it’s something completely different you’re after, Solution Hours’ set on the intimate Church Stage, might just be your festival highlight.
Tickets for Indietracks are still available. Click HERE for more information on the festival.