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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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Creators Monthly

Creators Monthly: December

And we’re back! Can you believe December has already come and gone? This year hasn’t been an easy one for musicians worldwide, but despite the tough times, we’ve heard some phenomenal tunes. DIY music has made a massive comeback and revived an era of the ‘bedroom musician’, an age in which some of the best songs throughout time have emerged.

So without further ado, for one last time this year, let’s dive into Creators Monthly – music submitted to us by YOU, our readers. WE LOVE YOU.

Oracle Sisters

Julia Johansen, originally from Finland, arrived in Paris with her guitar in hand ready to pursue a new adventure in music. Stepping off the plane, she met Lewis Lazar and Christopher Willatt, two other songwriters who had also just set foot in the country. Together, they became Oracle Sisters and by combining their ideas, built the extraordinary amalgamation of sounds you hear today. It’s been a big year for the band, who have just released their debut EP and gigged alongside the likes of Fontaines D.C.

Their first single ‘The Dandelion’ from their upcoming EP premiered this month, creating excitement for things to come amongst their growing number of fans. Their dreamy soundscape embodies a calling to new experiences, a love letter to the groups new found Parisian home and the beautifully unexpected events which transpired to bring this trio together.

Add to playlist (Spotify)

Kirsteen Harvey

Kirsteen Harvey’s early influences growing up in Glasgow were a broad mix of genres, all of which have helped shape her sound today. Kirsteen transitioned from the world of performing arts and branched out into the world of songwriting. Experimenting with her sound and creating this great blend of Jazz, Country and Folk music, her latest single ‘Dancefloor Treason’ is the third in a wave of new material with much more to come. Her singles ‘Dancefloor Treason’ and ‘Tongue Tied’ are woven together through a shared story told through two different perspectives.

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Gaylips

The year 2020 started with a bang for the band Gaylips after being played on Radio 6 music, but then as we all know, Covid hit the world of music big time, with upcoming artists significantly affected. This duo, however, decided not to sit around twiddling their thumbs and waiting for recording studios to reopen. They got down to business writing and recording over Zoom and performing online acoustic sets to their Facebook following. The resulting songs are something the band are incredibly proud. The unexpected twist at the start of their musical journey only preserves a particular DIY element, which from their songs to this awesome music video, makes us feel like we’ve travelled back to the 90’s MTV garage rock days.

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Frankie Raye

Frankie Raye takes a unique approach to songwriting. Her new single ‘Theodora’ is inspired not by her own life, but by a 6th-century Byzantine empress married to Emperor Justinian I. As one of the most powerful Women in Byzantine history, Theodora used her power to influence a positive change in women’s rights. Through these historical anecdotes, songwriter Frankie Raye echos her own message to the world, an influential songwriter with a voice to be listened to.

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Sofie Vein

Santa Monica is young songwriter Sofie Veins’ debut single, written and recorded from her bedroom at home. At only 17 years old, we can’t wait to see what this young talent writes next. The single is the first from her new EP currently in the works.

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GULZ

Gulz is a 22-year-old songwriter from Newcastle who’s latest single ‘Welcome Home’ is full of the very best elements of the UK’s Britpop era. In classic Britpop style, his songs speak about a generation’s frustration with their country, with things out of their control, with the ongoing pandemic and with awful political figures.

Gulz has been performing live for the last three years while living in London, where he studies as a medical student. In his spare time (something medical students don’t have much of yet somehow he manages it) Gulz fills every local open mic night and bar with the sound of his infectious guitar riffs and smooth, charming voice.

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Marlene Oak

The last artist on our list is often someone truly extraordinary, and Marlene Oak is no exception to that. The effortlessly cool singer from a tiny island off the coast of Stockholm, Sweden, is quickly taking her country by storm, and soon the rest of the world with it. Her fantastic-tune ‘Never Comes Easy’ from her 2016 EP Head Held High, is a brilliant blend of blues, rock, folk and soul. Marlene ties all this together again brilliantly in her brand new album ‘Northern Winds’. With an out-of-this-world voice, her new album has quickly built up significant interest, and it’s something the rest of the world needs to hear.

Add to playlist (Spotify)

Thanks to all the musicians who submitted their music this month, make sure to keep an eye out for more brilliant artists in the new year. We’ll see you there!

– The TWM Team x

Make music? In a band? We want to hear from you! Submit now for a chance to be featured in next month’s Creators Monthly.

Can’t wait for more? Read last months issue here.