Amelia’s Magazine | Truck Festival


No two festivals are the same. Which is lucky since we would be stringing our genitals up by the linings of our straw hats if they were. Truck Festival, however, seems to hold a beautiful sense of naivety about it, pretty impressive considering its 11 year jog since its first outing in 1998. What seems to set it apart is its strong sense of community spirit. Throughout the weekend many of the acts expressed their respect and admiration towards Truck organisers, Robin and Joe Bennett. And with ice cream supplied by the vicar and food from the snowy members of the local rotary club, you can’t help feeling you’re a part of it.


Following an early morning sprint from the more fresh faced end of the car queue, I managed to make it to the heavily odoured cowshed for Oxford’s pop darlings, Alphabet Backwards. Headed by the eccentric James Hitchman with his merry entourage, from appearances you may be excused for thinking you’re in for another melancholy strangling of your sanity with tales of first loves and heartbreaks. Thankfully not. Alphabet Backwards’s brand of energetic lo-fi poptro found the entire cowshed transfixed as we were taken into the rather alternative musings of Hitchman’s brain box. ‘Disco Classic’ was a particular favourite with its synth heavy, building intro. ’80’s Pop Video’ was one of the most involving tracks of the entire festival with the crowd taking over, to ad lib a bizarrely synchronised clapping solo, halfway through. Looking around found many a laughing face or tapping foot whilst the 5-piece bounced around the stage. In the words of Alphabet Backwards themselves, “pop’s not a dirty word”. Thank god for that.

After aimless wandering, I found myself back in the cowshed for the highly anticipated, Youthmovies. It’s hard to argue that they don’t know what they’re doing but amidst the thrashing guitars, flashing lights and smoke machines, it’s also hard to see much else beyond that. The proclamation that we were watching the best band in the world found me wondering whether the farm fumes had projected me to a mediocre parallel planet. If you’re into turned backs and guitar noise you’ll get on well with it but I couldn’t help feeling it was a bit like watching other people eating food when you’re hungry. Strong cheekboned lead singer, Andrew Mears, who was once involved with ‘math rock’ tyrants, Foals, is clearly a talented soul, confirmed after I later heard him deliver a rather intricate poetry reading possibly to an audience that didn’t understand. But there certainly wasn’t enough water around Youthmovies to go floating any boats. Or trucks for that matter.

These New Puritans, with skinny-framed Jack Barnett emerging in a shimmering gold roman-esque shirt, which seemed rather fitting considering the thumping drums which at times, sounded like a call to arms. As Barnett delivered his rap-esque vocals I couldn’t help think this is what Linkin Park would sound like if they were from the UK and just a bit more cool. Don’t let that put you off though. In fact don’t even use it as a comparison. ‘Numbers’ played on our human desire for repetition, perfectly wrapped up in a stupidly named parcel of electronic nu gaze. Whatever you call it though, I dare you not to be stirred at least a little.

Truck isn’t exactly spacious but preceding Noah and the Whale, it was chlaustrophobic madness. Crowd control had to make a forceful announcement that if people didn’t move, they were out. Fun fun fun indeed. After a 25 minute wait they finally arrived. Following the onslaught of skinny kids with 80’s haircuts, the cutesy summer strawberry pop was hideously refreshing. Exactly what you’d want to listen to before taking off all your clothes and dancing in long grass with a childhood friend. Naturally, ‘5 years time’ was a favourite, sending limbs all over the place although it’s a good idea to not write them off as some kind of one hit wonder hippy outfit. A lot more lies beyond the band than just a youth celebratory summer anthem. Frontman, Charlie Fink, holds faint similarities to the early Johnny Cash with his collected swagger, well groomed hair and waistcoat/tie combination. This mixed with the love heavy vibe and modern mish mash of jazz and folk rock made me wonder why I’d want to be anywhere else.

I was starkly unimpressed by all the bands named as headline acts. Lemonheads were uninspiring and I would of been equally entertained had someone just stuck a CD player containing their album, centrestage and pressed play. After seeing ‘It’s a Shame about Ray’, I had to go and flog a dead horse for a while. Camera Obscura delivered gentle sugary pop melodies to a laxidasically sprawled audience. Coming across as completely inoffensive in the good sense. But it was within the smaller acts that the most exciting, raw and breaking performances came.


Pivot delivered the most lip biting, mind blowing set of the weekend. Not an attack you’d usually experience at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon. Seemingly gentle chaps turned into thrashing electronic noise warriors, pulling at the very bottom of the hairs in my neck before tearing them out. Comparisons could be made to a heavier Metronomy or a more broken Soulwax but it would be a weak attempt at pigeonholing something than shouldn’t be. Richard Pike tribally howled his way through a few sections whilst brother and drummer Laurence pounded at the quaking drum kit with such force that I thought a heart attack was only a matter of time. Definite highlight. Their album ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’ comes out August 20th although it’s hard to portray the passion and power that they play at, through a disc or music file.

Young hearts, Orphan Boy, a 3-piece from Manchester were one of the most exciting and promising of the weekend, only stumbled upon whilst I tried to find the person who had my plastic cup of warm cider, which rapidly paled into insignificance. There were few bands at Truck you could claim had any relationship with progressive post punk, but Orphan Boy more than made up for the lack of it. Thrashing their guitars into their vigorous yet half polished anthemic delights, they had the controlled arrogance of musical greats, creating a sound similar to The Fall if you stuck them in a pan and mixed them with a pinch of Arctic Monkeys. I couldn’t help feeling they weren’t getting the reaction they deserved but the few that were there shared my appreciation.


It was then time to put away my dog eared notebook and effeminate pen and get involved in a good ol’ game of wallet fishing before jumping in a skip, picking up paralytic drum and bass kids and then passing out in someone elses shirt. Holy truck. Ouch.


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Amelia’s Magazine | Best Christmas Indie Songs for 2014

Smoke Fairies
I’ve been too busy to do any recommended Christmas present blogs this year but I couldn’t forgo my annual Christmas music round up. Here’s what I recommend listening to for the 2014 festive period.

The Smoke Fairies release Wild Winter – an antidote to the usual jingly affair that encapsulates the sometimes sorrowful aspects of Christmas. Scuzzy guitars, off kilter chords and ponderous drums ground the sweet vocals on a subtlely betwitching album that could easily be enjoyed throughout the year. The Smoke Fairies say ‘Sometimes winter provides us with a sense of togetherness and love and sometimes it leaves us feeling alienated, cold and playing a glockenspiel alone in a darkened room. It’s part of the year that will always be bittersweet and wild.’ The video for the jaunty Three Kings features a succulent, an embroidered star and toilet roll kings: what’s not to like?

The Singer and The Songwriter is Rachel Garcia and Thu Tran: combining multicultural influences with lush jazz inflected vocals in the softly beautiful Those Old Christmas Songs.

Another Messy Christmas by Dan Michaelson adopts an unusual viewpoint – that of Mrs Christmas, ever tolerant as Santa spends yet another festive season at work.

The brilliant A Yodelling Christmas Song by Lynne Butler came out in 2013, but I heard it for the first time on 6 Music this year, and instantly fell in love. Just check out the totally lo-fi video with the little boy jingling away in the back ground.

Hand of Glory records present the Christmas compilation album Christmas Joy in Full Measure, featuring the likes of Mary Epworth (label co-founder) and Young Knives. Each artist has been commissioned to create an original Christmas song and the result features diverse influences and experiences, from the dark synth pop of Mary Epworth’s The Wolf and the Woods to the bouncy new arrangement of ancient wassail Awake Awake by the legendary Paul Hawkins and the wintry ballad Old Year’s Night by Richard Holley. Mary says ‘We didn’t know what to expect, and we certainly couldn’t have predicted that it would be quite so weird. Personally, as each song arrived I was thrilled to hear how no two artists had approached this from the same angle, or had gone for similar atmosphere. Christmas, Yule, or whatever you call it means many things to many people.

In a curious case of synchronicity Ontario based singer songwriter Carly Thomas releases Hold You (On Christmas Eve) – another song that takes a light-hearted look at the longest night of Santa’s year through the eyes of Mrs. Claus, left home alone.

Hannah Peel releases the synth-tastic Find Peace as part of the Snowflake Christmas Singles Club, a small Netherlands-based festive label set up for the love of making limited vinyl just for Christmas. The song is a haunting offering with a distinctly contemporary feel.

Bethany Weimers presents Winter Heart: it’s not entirely Christmas focused but I love the animated video that accompanies this lilting tune.

Song Four | Black Christmas by High Contrast from Occupation on Vimeo.

Lastly, High Contrast’s new Christmas-themed protest song, Black Christmas is worth a mention as I am sympathetic to the theme of over consumption, and the video is great.

Ah, and here’s a late addition from Dublin based Monster Monster: with Christmas in Liverpool.

Have you heard any fabulous new Christmas songs this year? I love discovering what indie artists have to offer, so do let me know about your discoveries. Here’s to a fabulous holidays one and all, see you in 2015 xxx

Categories ,6 Music, ,A Yodelling Christmas Song, ,Another Messy Christmas, ,Awake Awake, ,Bethany Weimers, ,Black Christmas, ,Carly Thomas, ,Christmas in Liverpool, ,Christmas Joy in Full Measure, ,Dan Michaelson, ,Find Peace, ,Hand of Glory, ,Hannah Peel, ,High Contrast, ,Hold You (On Christmas Eve), ,Lynne Butler, ,Mary Epworth, ,Monster Monster, ,Old Year’s Night, ,Paul Hawkins, ,Rachel Garcia, ,Richard Holley, ,smoke fairies, ,Snowflake Christmas Singles Club, ,The Singer and The Songwriter, ,The Wolf and the Woods, ,Those Old Christmas Songs, ,Three Kings, ,Thu Tran, ,Wild Winter, ,Winter Heart, ,Young Knives

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