Released 7th July 2023, an old-style garage band compilation album that doesn’t care what you think
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Ordinary women of all ages start playing music for the first time, write sparky songs, make an album in about a year. It’s a new seam of art-rock.
INFORMATION ABOUT UNGLAMOROUS SAMPLER
A strange and wonderful music scene has grown in Leicester, UK recently, based on the idea that women of all ages can learn to play punk-style, create their own songs and go on stage to genuine cheers and rapturous applause. And it’s not some kind of joke scene, these all-women Unglamorous bands are actually great songwriters contributing to a whole new seam of art-rock. The Unglamorous Sampler album is released in the spirit of ’70s and ’80s local punk compilations, with a luxury gatefold vinyl, CD and digital release on 7th July.
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Behind the project is Ruth Miller, a ‘failed 1990s DIY indie-pop creator’ who found a new enthusiasm for making music as she approached 60 by going back to her punk roots. First she formed The Verinos, writing songs with just a few chords and playing about with concepts of humour, anger and wisdom to make the band something that others could relate to – and they did. From the very first Verinos gig in November 2021, the Unglamorous idea of ordinary women starting bands has attracted media interest from all over the world, and a following of women of all ages who want to get started in bands.
A series of music workshops for women in January 2022 led to more bands forming and Miller decided that the songs needed to be recorded. Alongside organising gigs for Dada Women, The Wonky Portraits, Velvet Crisis, The Verinos, Glitch Magnet, Virginia’s Wolves and Venus Attax, the bands got ready to record with PHP Wong at International Arts Centre. Sure, the music is raw and simple but the tunes, the ideas and the spirit of this album are quite an unusual experience in these days of perfectly programmed drums and flawless musicianship.
The story of how thirty-two women reinvented themselves as garage rock band members has already made news on all kinds of media channels. The next part is to reveal the songs and the album made while everything’s still urgent and raw. The gatefold LP sleeve in particular is a super journalistic artefact in itself, with photos, information about each band, radical mission statements and a 2-year timeline showing how the Unglamorous scene grew. It’s bound to become a record collector’s item because of the story behind the release, but the music is strangely very good and a wake-up to those people spending years learning to play lonely instruments.
We’re used to listening to well-produced albums by musically talented young people these days, but the kind of art-rock and post-punk sound that Unglamorous bands produce is disconcerting. Sure, the playing is just like 1960s obscure college bands, or The Raincoats or The Ramones, but the wisdom, wit, life-experience, and sense of purpose is just what you’d expect from sparky women in 2023. The songs range from straightforward feminist anthems, through more subtle emotive songs, going out partying songs as well as surreal and psychedelic songs about drunk insects or Jurassic Party Planning. An unusual release indeed.
The driving force behind Unglamorous is Ruth Miller of 1990s bands Po! and Ruth’s Refrigerator. Now aged 61, Ruth decided that teaching non-musician women to play was the easiest way to form an all-women band. The first Unglam band The Verinos has attracted huge interest from mainstream media as well as creating the workshops which have generated about 15 new all-women bands in Leicester. The album contains two songs by Dada Women, Velvet Crisis, The Wonky Portraits and Virginia’s Wolves. And there’s one song each from The Verinos, Glitch Magnet, Ruby Psyclone and Venus Attax. Ruth launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to part-fund the album, which was mastered by Katie Tavini, designed by Maren Landnes and manufactured by Karen Emanuel’s Key Production, aiming to involve as many women as possible in the project.
Ruth and all the bands are available for interview; more information, audio and video can be provided, as well as a Bandcamp download code, gatefold album sleeve, CD etc.
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Two tracks on the album – Scratch That Itch and Lions – Clockwise from left Cathy, Dani, Sophie, Janet, Steph – read interview in The Guardian with Cathy here
The five women in Velvet Crisis came to Ruth’s first music workshop in January 2022. Two months later, they played their first gig specialising in thoughtfully sweary songs
Two tracks on the album – Out Out and Handsy – Clockwise from left Helen, Gab, Slam, Abi, Tracy, Sally – Watch them play at a live gig on YouTube
The Wonky Portraits have amazing guitar-playing, energy, a trombonist. Their songs are about skateboarding, clubbing and keeping your hands to yourself.
More bands to be added soon!
Links to Recent Media Coverage of Unglamorous Bands
November 2022 Punktuation Mag article about The Verinos band
Jan 2023 – Positive News article about Unglamorous
January 2023 Loud Women article about Unglamorous
Feb 2023 – The Guardian article about Unglamorous
February 2023 Kill Your Stereo article about Unglamorous
February 2023 Loud Women Radio Show with Ruth Miller
February 2023 Open Culture article about Unglamorous
February 2023 Punktuation mag article about Unglamorous
February 2023 – New Zealand Radio interview with Ruth Miller
February 2023 Boing Boing – article about Unglamorous
March 2023 – Interview with Bayern Radio, Germany
March 2023 – Radio Leicester Interview with Unglamorous bands
March 2023 – Kickstarter successful
March 2023 Soho Radio Doc n Roll – Ruth Miller interview
March 2023 – Music in Leicester – Review of International Women’s Day gig with 12 all-women bands
Cool as Leicester interview with Unglamorous
May 2023 ARTE documentary film made about Unglamorous in 3 language versions
May 2023 The Verinos on Steph’s Packed Lunch – Channel 4 (not available)
June 2023 – Article about Ruth Miller in Best Magazine