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Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock

Indie Idols: Crywank

The 1980s were a wild time, to say the least. Teenagers were rebelling – as per usual – and creating their own kind of lifestyle, diverting the general expectations of growing up and maturing that had dominated previous decades. Fashion was outrageous, attitudes were eccentric and controversial, and all of this was reflected in the music. Punk emerged from the underground and, in a symbiotic relationship with the youth, the face of music was forever scarred for the better. Bands like Sex Pistols and the Ramones exploded onto the scene expressing anarchy and distrust in the establishment, loudly displaying their political agenda and providing a voice for like-minded young people. Throughout the decade, punk influenced countless subgenres and subcultures, encouraging political freedom and rebirth of the most riotous kind, while also merging with others to create completely unexpected, but lyrically brilliant, hybrid genres.

This month’s Indie Idol embodies the spirit of punk while exhibiting its versatility within other genres by displaying elements of anti-folk – a musical movement established in the 1980’s to “mock the perceived seriousness” of the decade’s popular music, serving as a protest through clever lyricism. Crywank, a band spontaneously conceived by Jay Clayton in Manchester in 2009 upon receiving their first guitar, expresses a more personal kind of anarchy, announcing displeasure with mundane realism we have all probably felt from time to time, as well as dealing with more serious issues like mental health. I Am Shit from the band’s 2013 Tomorrow is Nearly Yesterday and Everyday is Stupid album, for instance, serves as a criticism of one’s self, overthinking everything you have said or done, and being stuck in a loop of self-doubt and inadequacy. The lyrics are hard-hitting and emotional, with a characteristic DIY-nature that adds to the charm and meaning of the song.

Arguably, Crywank takes a more comedic stance in some of their productions, helping to lighten the typically downbeat mood of their work while fitting to the anti-folk genre, still providing that dramatic social commentary the band and sub-punk genres are known for. Songs like An Academics Lament on Barbie, which comments on the irony surrounding the suggestion that Barbie is a feminist icon for young girls, having had over a hundred different jobs, many in typically male industries, while also being subject to strict and traditional female beauty standards that fail to represent the vast majority of women. Or Tin Foil Hat Crew at the Student House, which discusses constantly being monitored by companies online and other politics while also featuring the highly intellectual lyric, “Slap my thigh call me messy sweaty petty silly sausage,” from the duo’s 2017 Egg on Face. Foot in Mouth. Wriggling Wriggling Wriggling. album, for example. Both of these songs also demonstrate Crywank’s musical diversity by embracing a sound vaguely similar to that of Parklife by Blur, with more melodic speech rather than general singing, while still harking back to their punk-inspired roots – which are especially evident in the final few lyrics of Tin Foil Hat…, “Don’t Be Evil, Ooglie-booglie-googlie-booglie.”

(Check out Story of the Lizard and the Sock for another dark comedy-esque song)

The group’s most recent and final album, Fist Me ‘Til Your Hand Comes out My Mouth, a name that most definitely reflects the outrageous and uncensored nature of the 1980’s punk movement, features an eight-part story about friendship and its effects on the band. And, as the title I Love You but I’ve Chosen Me… suggests, the importance of loving oneself before attempting to love someone else. The album is, overall, fairly different from Crywank’s previous seven albums due to a larger focus on instrumentalism, such as in The Best, poetry, similar to Jamie T’s use of Sir John Betjeman’s The Cockney Amorist poem in his debut single Sheila, and a more upbeat sound – the existentialist lyrics are still going strong, though. 

The band seems to have steered clear of music videos in the traditional sense, preferring to upload live versions or random rehearsal sessions onto their Youtube channel. However, the few music videos that have been created for their most recent album all exude a sense of incomplete chaoticism that perfectly reflects the sentiment of their whole musical catalogue. The videos tend to be stylised in a low budget arts-and-crafts-type manner using watercolour (Egg and Spoon) and torn paper (Ego is a Phoenix) to depict the narrative while making the meanings of the songs feel more tangible to the audience and, once again, hinting at the homemade elements of punk style. Album art for the band is definitely something to behold, ranging from a simple photo of a shelf adorned with wooden cat sculptures to a fluorescent drawing of a two-headed monster with the iconic World War II “Kilroy was Here” doodle looming above. However, I feel as if the variation in album art reflects the large range of topics and emotions discussed and felt through the band’s work and does show progression in the bands freedom of expression over time.

Unfortunately for all who love them, Crywank’s musical career is coming to a voluntary end after their next North American tour, which has been postponed to 2022. However, their music and merchandise will continue to be available on dogknightsproductions.com until it is all sold out. In the meantime, check out Memento Mori and Hikikomori, my two favourites by the band. 

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Indie/Indie Rock Punk/Rock Why We Love

Why We Love: Airways

Five years ago, upon being gutted on missing out on a ticket to see Muse and then Nothing But Thieves, I decided to check out who’d be supporting the latter on their tour and check out the band that I’d now be missing out on. I found myself one gloomy morning on my way to college checking out that very band, Airways, and from the moment that first chorus dropped I was hooked. The song in question was One Foot, a track that blends sounds from such indie rock icons such as Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and Gorillaz, but in a very modern way a’la YUNGBLUD or RAT BOY, taking indie and punk right into the heart of the 21st century. Discovering this band as the support act of the support act of my favourite band at the time, it can’t be said anymore but, man never skip out on the opening band.

Later I managed to encourage my mates to listen to Airways because they just so happened to release a smash hit that made it onto Spotify’s ‘Walk Like A Badass’ playlist, Reckless Tongue. A song that combines the classic style of 2007 Arctic Monkeys with the indie and hip hop modernity of 2017. Just a menacing tune that makes you want to headbang in the middle of the street, shop or wherever you may be when you find yourself listening to their EP Starting To Spin. Alongside One Foot and Reckless Tongue, this EP boasted White Noise Boys a track that sparks some lowkey ska vibes, not the most conventional vibes but enough that you can hear a band like Madness or The Specials perform it. But the classic indie rock sound wasn’t all they had to offer, scratching the surface of some electronic sounds with the title track.

So fast forward a year and the Airway boys settle for Nothing But Thieves‘ guitarist Dominic Craik to do some producing work for them, which splashed a cavern of depth so visceral in the form of Blue Gasoline. God you can just taste the talent Airways have to offer here on out, it’s a dick tease the fact they’ve not released an album at this point. Combining synths to reverb-drenched guitars in a dreamy journey that makes you want the clouds to just swallow you up.

Fast forward a year yet again and we’re gifted the double single Trampoline / The End. The latter gets overshadowed by Trampoline a bit so I want to gloss over The End which is a beast of a track. What do you do when you’ve done the whole indie rock thing and the ethereal soundscape? Combine them in the most monstrous way possible. Fans of Twenty One Pilots seem to take a liking to this track in particular, so if that stuff is up your alley, make it a point to check out this one.

But then switching stuff up once again, going back to a more indie realm, Airways dropped their latest single, Out Of Luck in 2019. Which is a little while ago so I am praying this means we’re all the more closer to a debut album. Back to a faster pace upbeat style, but taking guitar inspiration from the likes of Johnny Marr but perhaps with a more disciplined surrounding, but then kicking off into another classic headbanger in the chorus.

Imma leave you guys with Alien. A song about the bands rejected US Visa’s leaving them unable to play at SXSW. Lyrically it’s actually more of a funny story, I mean I’m sure not for them the amount of money they probably lost in that application was probably no joke, but hey it made for a good song and hopefully, in a few years time they’ll be playing it to huge crowds on a headline tour through the very country that said “nah mate, not today”. I’m paraphrasing here but you get me bro.

Listen to Airways on Spotify before they blow up so you can tell your mates “I told you so”.