Grubs – It Must Be Grubs

Grubs are a three-piece with a bit of a DIY pedigree. They feature Roxy Brennan (ex-Trust Fund, Two White Cranes and Joanna Gruesome), Owen Williams (Joanna Gruesome) and Jake May. Their debut record ‘It Must Be Grubs’ sees the light of day on joint release on Tuff Enuff and Reeks Of Effort. More good pedigree – both these labels are doing really good things and tapping into a very vibrant DIY scene in the UK.

The record is a swift and brief. But don’t let the brevity count against it. Sometimes knowing when enough is enough is a tricky thing to get right and  with 9 of the 11 songs coming in under two minutes it’s something Grubs do with aplomb. This is a blink and you miss it exercise in delivering exquisite pop songs – each song is a potential ear worm.

Early online song ‘Dec 15th’ is present and it’s still one of the catchiest things I’ve heard in many moons. The layered off-kilter vocals lift the song higher than should be feasible. Elsewhere Roxy takes lead singing duties. Her voice is always emotive and the off-kilter back up singing from Owen somehow works. I feel like it shouldn’t but his deadpan delivery is the perfect fit. Grubs dish out short bursts of full throttle DIY pop and you could do a lot worse than investing some time and cash in this record.

Indietracks

After an extended break following this year’s Indietracks festival has led to a lull in new music listening as I’ve been devouring a sackful of second hand LPs. They’re not for this post, though, that will have to wait for another day. This post is going to take a little time to reflect on Indietracks and the good things I saw.

Friday was a bit of wash out for me as I was standing behind the Odd Box merch stand for the evening. But I did catch a little Fever Dream drifting on the breeze. I just wish I could’ve got closer.

Saturday was the day I was most looking forward to and it kicked off in fine style with a confident performance from Chorusgirl. Their ‘No Moon’ single on the Odd Box 100 Club Series sold out moments after their set. The band really nailed their performance and it was a delight to see a band I have championed since their first stirrings some 18 months ago get such a great reception as first on. They ended with ‘Oh To Be A Defector’ with a huge contingent of guests on dancing and occasional ‘oooooohs’.

Next stop was the main outdoor stage for Evans The Death and I’ve seen their set get a mixed response from other reviewers. Yes they were a bit sullen but I thought they did a great job of bringing their savy noise pop to the ‘tracks. Their LP from earlier this year ‘Expect Delays’ is still one of the best released this year. The band are obviously spending more time in rehearsals compared to earlier in their life – making sure they can really do their songs justice live and it is paying off. They were still a bit shambolic and hadn’t really thought about how their set could hang together (I guess most bands don’t get to play for more than 30 minutes usually) so they were stretching it out towards the end. But I was happy to see them up on that big stage and they looked right at home.

Bunnygrunt were my next pit stop. Back in the engine shed. Fired up bouncy garage pop. Having seen the band twice before (Spiral Scratch show at Monkey Chews many many moons ago and at New York Popfest back in 2010) I was looking forward to this set – but they were sans Karen (she couldn’t make the trip) and this reconfigured band were a different proposition. I enjoyed their set without ever really falling hard for it.

Next up was a chance to experience the Church stage for the first time this year for the double header of Flemmings and The Ethical Debating Society. Yes I am biased. Both these bands have released ‘stuff’ on my label Odd Box. Flemmings were having a crappy day (their tour van got smashed up by vandals) and they were a whirlwind of fire and force. At times they were the closest indietracks has ever got to having an old school ‘hardcore’ band grace the festival. Flemmings obviously bring their considerable pop chops (other bands they are or have been in include Bloomer, Ace Bushy Striptease and Sock Puppets) to the fore too on songs like ‘Wizards’ and ‘Get Away From Me Right Now’. Broken guitar strings couldn’t stop this being one of the sets of the entire weekend for me. Magical.

The Ethical Debating Society were up next. Tegan, Kris and Eli. Another three piece. I’d over beered and was already busting for the loo before their set. A mistake. But I wasn’t giving up my pew for a nature break. Their debut record ‘New Sense’ is a splendid thing. And I have obviously seen TEDS a fair few times already this year having put them on and put out their record. It was still a thrill to see a packed Church at Indietracks warm to their riot POP. Jagged guitars, Tegan’s vocal delivery and Eli keeping it all together at the back. And it was LOUD too. Not the loudest ever. But yes, LOUD. A triumph, I’d call it. As soon as the final guitar string had been slashed I was off at great speed to find myself a loo. Which meant I also lost my place and didn’t get to see Emma Kupa. Drats.

Somehow that was the last music action I saw on Saturday. I got engrossed in discussions and beer and food and the merch tent. So much so I’d forgotten to get my arse into the church to see Steven James Adams. A crying shame as I have it from a reliable source that it was one of highlights of the whole weekend. Drats again.

Sunday. Always the best of days at Indietracks. Even non stop rain couldn’t ruin it. right? Well, possibly. There was less I wanted to see on paper at least. But I did manage to get myself to the front for the jangle-tastic Violet Woods who got the day off to a good start. Big 12 string guitars are meant to sound like this. Looking back on it I didn’t actually see many bands this year and so many I wanted to see on Sunday were missed due to forgetfulness or rain or a combination of both. I was really looking forward to JUNK – and I got into the church and was sad to hear they were temporarily reduced to a two piece (one of their members was ill). But they soldier on and they gave a performance of enough promise to make me want to see them when they are at full throttle.

Straight after JUNK came GRUBS (or Butterflies if you could follow the stage banter). Roxy (Two White Cranes), Owen (Joanna Gruesome) and Jake (y’know that Jake May) are a shambolic propostion but gosh do they have the songs to get away with it. Roxy has a terrific singing voice and this trio are mesmerising. Not as in your face as Owen’s other band, more understated, but beautifully so.  I also caught Roxy in her Two White Cranes guise do a fully acoustic set in the merch tent on Sunday. The rain outside meant the merch tent was full of people chatting and generally having a good time – which meant listening to Roxy sing her delicate folky pop was a bit of challenge. I’m glad I stuck with it though, as she was brilliant.

The rain was playing havoc with my desire to lie down on the grass so I think I spent most of the rest of the day milling around train carriages and the merch tent. I did manage to catch 20 minutes of the stunning Martha performance. But I was soggy and not at 100% so I slinked back to the merch tent for more odd box selling.

All in all – a top weekend. Even if I saw a lot less than I planned too. Apologies to those I really wanted to see but didn’t (I’m looking at you Euros Childs, Fire Island Pines, Rodney Cromwell, Feature, Jen Schande, Mammoth Penguins and Colleen Green).