To steal a phrase from their local vernacular that Southerners can’t really get away with saying, No Ditching are class. Face Ache is a great first effort from the five-piece, and arguably one of the more promising demos of the year.

It was probably to be expected all along, actually. Durham, of all places, seems to have one of the strongest scenes in the UK at the moment, and No Ditching features members of two of the city’s finest, past and present – Fashanu’s former drummer on drums, and Martha’s bass player on lead guitar and vocals. And while they do have a few things in common with those bands – namely that they play poppy indie punk with songs that have feminist themes and are about veganism, and sing in Durham accents – there’s a bit more to them than that.
Yeah, it would be unfair to label No Ditching as just another Durham band. Their roots lay much more with similarly-minded girl gangs nationwide, like The Tuts, Bloomer, Colour Me Wednesday and PINS – all- (or at least mostly-) female bands playing honest and raw D.I.Y. Punk, carving out a footing in a male-dominated community. No Ditching have actually done the best job of writing an anthem for the whole scene: ‘Meat In Your Teeth’ is mostly about not wanting to make out with meat-eaters, but also features the rallying cry of “my girls and me, we make a pretty good team!” It’s not so much about making a political statement about how there’s not enough women in the scene as it is about just fuckin’ getting on with it and having an awesome time.

Elsewhere, the lyrics are shamelessly, almost painfully honest– the first song is literally about hugs, with the opening line of “sitting in my bedroom, chatting shit and drinking tea”, and there’s at least one song about Gossip Girl on here. If you’re not charmed by it then you are possibly soulless. The biggest selling point though, the thing that makes their sound stand out, is all down to the percussion – alongside the drums, one of their members just plays an extra tom, slung on a strap round her neck. That’s literally all she does. And it’s rad. Whereas it’s usually the symbol of folk rock excess, being pounded on slowly in a very over-the-top fashion, the extra drummer in No Ditching just batters the hell out of the thing. It’s kinda weird – it really drags the percussion to the forefront and adds this distinct weight to the songs that trades off against the jangly indie-punk guitars brilliantly.

Face Ache is only four songs, clocking in at about seven minutes, but it’s catchy as hell and instantly replayable. Solid enough to establish their much-deserved place in a thriving scene, unique enough to stand out, and just short enough to let a craving for more set in. As first demos go, you can’t ask for much more.