The go-to Mecca for the best in indie-pop for over a decade, in 2018 Indietracks expanded its remit into different realms of the pop universe without losing any of its charms.
Nestled in the Derbyshire hills and set amongst the billowing steam train smoke and vintage charm of the Midland Railway in Butterley, it remains one of the UK’s most underrated festivals.
2019’s line-up again stretches the definition of “indie-pop” bringing in surging electro-pop, punk rebellion and alt-rock angst to supplement the staple of twee, guitar jangles.
If you’re joining us on the trains, we’ve scoured the line-up to uncover the bands you need in your life:
A rare hype-band that actually deliver the goods, The Orielles seem so perfect for Indietracks. Live their tunes from 2018’s exceptional album Silver Dollar Moment find a new lease of life. Energetic, jangly indie-pop infused with a subtle funk edge. Expect extended jams on tunes like ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ as the band display their undeniable live prowess.
Ahhh, Bis! So misunderstood, so unique, so brilliant. What’s not to love about the Glasgow outsiders frenetic, cartoon indie-synth-pop. It’s not just the fact they have bangers like ‘Kandy Pop’ and ‘Euro Disco’ to pull out the bag, their album from this year Slight Disconnects sees them as good as ever. Try not to dance to ‘Sound of my Heartbreak’ – just try it! If you don’t, you might be dead.
Their third album Big Wows is a strong contender for 2019’s best pop album! While it is weirder, heavier and bolder than previous efforts it also basks in perfect pop melodies and big hooks.
Neon electronic-pop banger ‘Jokin’ Me’ would have topped the charts in an alternative universe. As multi-disciplinary artists they have gained a reputation for brilliantly inventive live performances including on projects like Wow Machine – a mechanical light up stage with dancers and live music – and last summer’s 15 strong all-female procession to celebrate the centenary of Suffrage. Whether we get some of that or just a straight musical performance, this is one not to be missed.
Making radio DJs blush every time they get played, this three-piece bang out likeable, summery DIY indie-pop ditties. Their wonderfully ramshackle approach find structure with multi-vocal harmonies and a sense of pop melody.
James Machin aka Grawl!x should be one of the biggest artists in the UK. Last year’s Appendix is a work of art, a heart-breaking creation of orchestral dream-pop. In a new guise, he is challenging gender norms and working with Umbilica. New single ‘Epicene’ marks a new electronic-pop direction. What to expect at Indietracks as this new persona takes shape. One thing is for sure, Grawl!x on stage is always beautiful.
The Spook School
After their farewell tour in August and September, we’ll never get to see The Spook School’s revolutionary indie-punk ever again. Their performances are pure celebrations of being who you are and challenging social norms. Just join in.
Londoners Big Joanie are the real deal. Their “black feminist punk” filters wall of sound 60s girl pop through 80s hardcore and a riot grrl aesthetic for blistering results. Their live sets are visceral, meaningful and challenging. What more could you want?
One of the freshest new voices on the London DIY scene Best Praxis channel the best of early 80s post-punk (ESG, The Fall, Au Pairs, Young Marble Giants) to push their hot takes on life as women and non-binary people of colour.
Featuring the female members of Happy Accidents, Fresh and Finish Flag, this DIY “supergroup” of sorts released their debut EP Faceplant in September 2018. If Peaness are on your must-see list for the weekend, add Cheerbleederz, they could be your new favourite band.
Fancy some razor-sharp post-punk from members of Sauna Youth, Nekra, Sarcasm and Woolf? Like your pop with a punk edge and a deeply lo-fi bite, mirroring Slampt Underground’s output? But still love a bit of polish to the melodies and some funk in the rhythms? Just watch Child’s Pose with a beer, it will be perfect.
There’s never enough shoegaze on at Indietracks. Not for me anyway. But if you’re going to have just a few reverb-drenched bands one of them might as well be as good as Hong Kong’s Thud. They blend My Bloody Valentine swathes of sound to distinct pop melodies with dreamy vocals and reproduce this it perfectly on stage.
Starting as a “sadcore” bedroom project and now a post-punk four-piece, there’s a ferocious, emotional outpouring in their restrained sound. Wallow in their angst and dance to their sedated rhythms.
She’s Got Spies
For six years, She’s Got Spies has been weaving trippy folk-infused, Welsh language odes to life. Wonderfully simple, tunes that express the complexities of the world. Not that I can understand Welsh, but that’s not the point! They recently performed on board a ship in Antarctica. Sit and dive into this beguiling music.
This is not a band. It is a cult dedicated to tackling mental health. It is Niall from The Spook School. What does this mean? I don’t know! But we should all go and find out. Right?
Criminally underrated Nottingham trio Kagoule are one of the best live rock bands in the country. Seriously. Their recorded stuff never does their live performances justice. They are great, see them.
There’s something spacious about Solution Hours’ sound that recalls the likes of Slint and other downbeat post rock, but it sits firmly in the indie-pop arena. Spoken-word vocals, out of step drums, strange guitar tunings and ambient beds combine to create something special. Fans of slowcore and Life Without Buildings need this band in their lives.
Is Martha the best punk-pop band in the UK? Probably! Will you leave with a massive smile on your face and be sweaty from dancing? Almost definitely. Watch them.
Of course, this isn’t all worth watching at Indietracks. It’s Indietracks. We’re just days away from the steam train ride to our favourite indie festival on the planet.
Find out more about Indietracks 2019 at their website: www.indietracks.co.uk
Get tunes from many of the acts mentioned above and loads of others (43 in total) on this year’s Indietracks compilation. Get your instant indie-pop collection and support the Midland Railway Trust, which supports the festival. All proceeds go to the charity.