Once a year a quiet corner of the Derbyshire countryside reverberates simultaneously to 40-odd indie-pop bands and steam trains. This can only mean one thing: Indietracks is nearly upon us again.
Now in its fifth year, the festival continues to build on the positive reputation it’s been getting of late as one of the friendliest and most open music events in the UK.
As with last year, the festival is now spread over three days with weekend ticket holders being afforded a Friday evening’s entertainment, with the festival starting properly come Saturday. Whereas previous festivals have seen an element of crossover appeal in artist choices (via the likes of Art Brut, Camera Obscura, Teenage Fanclub, Slow Club and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart), this year the organisers have appeared to adopted a more niche approach than in the past, with arguably only Edwyn Collins resonating with those not actively involved/interested with the contemporary indie-pop scene. It will be interesting to see the reaction compared to previous years.
Friday headliners Suburban Kids With Bilical Names will close the first night of the festival with their own brand of infectious Swedish DIY pop which combines the melodicism and darkly humorous lyrics that Scandinavian acts seem to meld so seamlessly.
The stage will open with a set from Indietracks returnees Pocketbooks, featuring boy/girl vocal harmonies, with bits of ’60s soul thrown in for good measure. Jonny – the collaboration between Euros Childs (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci) and Norman Blake (Teenage Fan Club) – will meanwhile be playing tracks off this year’s self-titled album in what is potentially their natural habitat – a sunny festival stage.
Come Saturday, and headliner Edwyn Collins needs no introduction. The former Orange Juice frontman will no doubt be putting his health-related troubles of the last decade behind him and will direct his focus on the success of last year’s Losing Sleep instead. On the indoor stage, perennial favourites Milky Wimpshake will close the day with an armoury of short sharp songs off this year’s My funny Social Crime.
For those whose hangover cures include songs about horror movies and video games, help is at hand in the form of Moustache Of Insanity celebrating the release of their dbut LP at the festival by playing the church stage to start the day, with the energetic musings of Just Handshakes We’re British following on not long after over on the main stage. Manchester’s Help Stamp Out Loneliness return on the main stage in the early evening for the first time since their album release, before the hotly tipped The History Of Apple Pie and jangly college rock sounds of Math & Physics Club (indoor stage), and the theatrical pop of The Hidden Cameras should ensure the crowds are well served before the headliners.
The success and acclaim bestowed upon new album Strange Moosic will doubtless mean that Sunday headliner Herman Dune will be aiming to close the festival with a dose of sunny, life affirming pop not dissimilar to that of Jonathan Richman. The indoor stage meanwhile culminates in the atmospheric sounds of Crystal Stilts; ideal for fans of early 1980s guitar pop.
Elsewhere, Sloppy Joe prove that geography is no barrier by bringing over a Orange Juice-esque songs from Japan. Sheffield’s The Sweet Nothings meld the personal and the political (this isn’t as Billy Bragg as it sounds, honest) to create an emotional rollercoaster of a set on the indoor stage. Over on the main stage there’s the heartbreaking ’60s girl group harmonies of Very Truly Yours, while anti-folk hero to many Jeffrey Lewis should provide a healthy dose of lyrical cynicism to provide an antidote for those who’ve found the positive lyrical themes of the acts all a bit much. Lo-fi duo (and originators of indie-pop catchphrase Popkids Of The World Unite) Horowitz can be found playing the church stage.
Those who want to dance after a day of watching bands will be well served by DJs from across the country. These include: Twisted By Design (Cardiff), Unpop (Edinburgh), Underachievers Please Try Harder and Pull Yourself Together (Manchester), Big Pink Cake (Bristol), Half My Heart Beats and Unpop (Glasgow) and Pop-O-Matic (Sheffield). Craft workshops will also be run throughout the weekend, and a special mention has to be given (purely for the name) to Knit Cave & The Bad Tweeds.