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Existential Dread and Clever Lyrical Content: The Underground Indie Scene

By carysmegansound

This may seem a rather odd topic but it's one close to my heart. My musical taste largely consists of music in the Math Rock and (underground) Indie Rock genres, and bands in this scene often have funny song names: I haven't had a lunch break since window's vista came out - Alpha Male Tea Party, lyrical content that can only be written by a 20-something year old having an existential crisis: I need to sort my life out / I need to sort my hair / but the barber's got no answers only stories i don't care about - Don't Worry, and an aesthetic and relatability for so many of my generation.

Don't Worry's recent release Who Cares Anyway?

Don't Worry's recent release Who Cares Anyway?

Can guitars sound sad? Absolutely. I don't believe any other genre makes guitars sound as sad as underground emo/indie/math rock does, and I know 'sad' definitely isn't a technical term but as soon as you listen you'll understand what I mean.

This blog was inspired by a band I discovered by accident at Tooting Tram and Social a couple of years ago. They were playing alongside an underground Math Rock band called The Yacht Club (who incidentally have a really exciting album in the works - and I cannot wait for it to come out and tell you all about it).

Anyway, I was totally drawn to Don't Worry because line after line was relatable and so cleverly crafted. Why am I so Unorganised is the first and main lyric of the chorus to Three Nil. The bridge of the song consists of the singer talking in a matter-of-fact way, and it's one of my favourite parts of any song I've ever heard (see below)

I walked out of the tube station and waited for the bus driver to finish his cigarette so that we could all get on board and he could start the engine.
I sat facing backwards looking only at where I’d been and not where I was going and a sense of non-interest and disappointment flooded my brain.
I couldn’t wait to get home to carry on feeling this way. But once I was at home I would be alone and more comfortable, and my eyes wouldn’t be bouncing around in my head like the numbers on the national lottery.
— Three Nil - Don't Worry

Something else that I've always loved about going to underground gigs is how intimate they are. The bands are usually fans of each other anyway so when they're not on stage, they're right next to you in the crowd. Also, you get little personal touches when you buy things from them - my Don't Worry cap came in shiny paper with a handwritten note. Even though these bands I listen to sing about the relatively sad things in life, they're happy as lary doing what they do and I massively respect that.

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What I really want you to take away from reading this is to go to local and underground gigs. They're cheap so it's no worry if you don't particularly enjoy the band you took a gamble in seeing. The venues are usually unusual and a bit interesting so you get a decent night out either way, and you might even come away with a love for a new band you wouldn't have otherwise come across. 

A recent example of this for me was Leo Nappier in The Ram Jam. Him with his band were relatively new in playing together back in March and ended up blowing everyone away, and they're back again on 28th July!


A great way of discovering underground artists is to look for indie record labels and look at their artists. A great one to check out for the sort of 'sad' / math rock I'm in to is Big Scary Monsters. They released a fantastic Math Rock record titled Animals by This Town Needs Guns, and some of their current artists include Gnarwolves, Alpha Male Tea Party, and Nervus (who very recently played in Kingston). Another indie record label I'm a big fan of is Failure by Design records. Alternatively, find some venues in your local area and look to see who plays there regularly or is playing there soon!


Open Mic Night in the Ram Jam Club - 21st Feb '18

By carysmegansound

If you’re looking for music in Kingston, there’s pretty much always something going on. Whether you want to buy some music from Banquet Records or watch some at The Fighting Cocks, The Hippodrome or The Grey Horse, there’ll be something for you. This week’s Open Mic Night in the Ram Jam at The Grey Horse showcased a vast and eclectic mix of performers, making it one of RJ’s busiest Open Mic events to date!

There were a few particularly stand-out acts, including BBC Introducing performer Jack Grace who had just popped in after a University of Kingston Alumni gig at The Rose Theatre. 

Jack Grace performing in The Ram Jam

Jack Grace performing in The Ram Jam

Bournemouth-born and raised, I overheard Jack explaining to an audience member that he grew up in Folk clubs in the South-West and it’s clear to see this Folk and Soul influence in his songwriting and singing style. What really turned my head was the power in his voice. When he sang out, his voice was completely controlled and filled every crevice in the room, which was a beautiful contrast to the quieter parts of the songs. Jack managed to completely silence the venue with this technique. His songs were largely melancholy but more than that, they had an almost cathartic feel to them. It was a pleasant surprise to have Jack and I know for a fact that he left a lasting impression on many people.


Below is one of the songs he played on the night and one of my personal favourites, Clocks.

Another Folk and Soul influenced act from the night was the acoustic duo ‘The Beare Sisters’. 

The Beare Sisters performing in The Ram Jam

The Beare Sisters performing in The Ram Jam

The girls had a similar vibe to them as Swedish act First Aid Kit, utilising similar harmonies, but were more R’n’B than Country. They describe themselves as “Bringing soft, sweet, acoustic R'n'B tunes to you all” and that perfectly sums up their act. They began with a beautiful and unique rendition of Rock With You by Michael Jackson and ended on a few originals. What particularly intrigued me about their music was their use of space; they used both the guitar and their voices sparingly, leaving the listener to take in the sound for that little bit longer and reflect on it. This technique leaves the girls very open and vulnerable, which I felt enhanced the emotions of the audience.



Below is one of the songs played on the night, titled Girls.

The night ended with Surrey-based band HydroCell. Early-2000s Indie bands such as The Strokes heavily influence the group’s music, and they particularly reminded me of The Libertines. However they also had a strong rock influence, particularly in parts without the distinct indie-sounding Stratocaster.

Hydrocele on stage in The Ram Jam

Hydrocele on stage in The Ram Jam

Hydrocele commanded the stage and the music was well-crafted and fun, something people of all ages would be able to enjoy. At one point I had to pop out and just by the door swinging open, many intrigued customers in other parts of the pub pulled me aside to ask what was going on! The guys really looked like they were having fun and their playing reflected that. The confident group ended the night on a high and left the crowd buzzing!

Have a listen to their song Content With Concise below!

If you’d like to check out any music by the acts mentioned, or follow them on social media, here are some links for you:

Jack Grace - Facebook

The Beare Sisters - Facebook

The Beare Sisters - Soundcloud

Hydrocele - Facebook

Hydrocele - Website