So anyhoos, these comps are a time capsule of an era where there was unprecedented freedom and creativity in music. Anyone could form a band, no problem if you couldn’t play properly or if you only had a cheap keyboard from a jumble sale, or if you were a bit funny looking. It didn’t matter, you got together with some people as weird as you and mucked about, and for just over a hundred GB pounds, old money, you released a 7” single or a cassette, and even if only five people bought it, it was there, an artefact, to be picked over and discussed 30 years later by hipsters in Tokyo. That’s what the old geezers and geezettes tell me anyway. I don’t know what it was really like because I wasn’t there (and I’m jealous). But, but, but … on paper it’s even better now! Because we have cheap home recording equipment and computers and the internet. You can record your song yourself, upload it, and there’s your artefact in the space of a few hours. And there’s no need to worry about being cool or popular because you’re very unlikely to get paid for anything you produce. There’s no money in music these days, everyone knows that, the bright side of that is, you don’t have to compromise.
So where are the modern day versions of the Messthetics musicians? Oh there’s scores upon scores of them, something like this perhaps? DIY for NOW.
And it just so happened I had some other records to review which neatly fit the lo-fi bracket so I’m going to meanly shoehorn them into this article, in the spirit of the wonder-cabinet.
For starters there’s Throwing Up, a ferocious trio who I can’t wait to see live. They’ve released two 7”s on What’s Your Rupture? (‘Mother Knows Best’ and ‘When I Touch You’/’Toothache’), complete with Xeroxed covers and hand-written labels. They are nothing original, just straight-ahead boobs-to-the-wall femme-punk thrashers with good tunes. Not being original doesn’t make them not ace, they have the energy and conviction to make up for it. ‘Toothache’ features exemplary use of my two favourite chords and finishes with one of the best garage-punk screams I’ve heard in ages.
I like them. But, here’s the thing – actually they’re probably quite cool. And remember what I said about DIY bands being anything but? They’re from That London. And apparently the drummer is a renowned fashion photographer. And they’ve been featured in Vice magazine which is a dreadful, dreary SUGARape of a fashion rag aligned to corporate conglomerates like American Apparel. Yes I like them, but if you’re looking for something that is in the true spirit of DIY rather than a good (edgily Xeroxed) facsimile, you’re better off looking in the direction of Hug Party.
Hug Party are a queer girl ‘hip-hop’ duo from Manchester who rap in Northern accents about school yard name-calling, fancying fat girls and not being twee. Their rhymes don’t scan and their beats are disinterested. The keyboard sounds like it’s being played by my cat. They rhyme “Netto” with “little ho” and “ugly” with “I still love thee”. They are shit. And they are also tremendous.
There are no youtube links for them, but you can hear them here.
And you can buy their album, ‘Life Is Good’ for the bargain price of £6 here.
Of course there’s plenty of echoes of other stuff in their music, the obvious comparison is the Yeastie Girlz crossed with Frank Sidebottom. And oh of course, I’ve just realised it! This!
But the thing is, they also sound completely like themselves. There is not another band that sounds like this. Their songs (and actually underneath the shambling amateurism, there are a few catchy ones there, especially ‘Why Won’t You Let Me Go Party?’) feature un-selfconscious creeds to live by; “Sticks and stones may break my game/But I’ll be damned if you can make me ashamed”). They, like all of the bands on the Messthetics compilations, if they existed now, are unlikely ever to be featured in Vice magazine or the Vice magazine equivalents. They don’t care. That’s what makes them DIY. That’s what makes them cool.