Tracks Of The Year 2018

Despite being a pretty scary year in the grand scheme of things, 2018 has actually been exceptionally great for new music. Our ears have been filled with sonic delights of all genres, providing necessary catharsis and enjoyment. 

So, it was pretty hard to pick our 20 favourite tunes. But, from poignant punk to captivating pop-noir, here they are… 

Alice Bag – ’77’
Taken from this year’s poignant album Blueprint, punk legend Alice Bag brought together a dream team for her single ’77’. Featuring Riot Grrrl queens Kathleen Hanna and Allison Wolfe, plus an appearance in the video from Shirley Manson, it draws inspiration from Dolly Parton’s 1980 proto-feminist workplace comedy ‘9 to 5′, commenting on the gender pay gap that still plagues society. Filled with seething, punk-driven riffs, the women not only rage that “I make 77 cents and it’s not right / It’s bad for women!”, but make the point that “it’s worse if you’re not white”. As Bag poignantly sneers “… don’t pretend that we’re paid equal… You wrote the script / But I’m writing the sequel”, ’77’ is an empowering, inspiring call to arms to unite against the patriarchy and make the changes needed for equality, in the workplace and beyond.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor/Co-Founder)

Nova Twins – ‘Lose Your Head’
A lesson in cutting loose and walking on the wild side, South East London duo Nova Twins provided us with this mind-melter of a track earlier in the year. We were lucky enough to have Amy & Georgia come into the Hoxton Radio studio for a chat, and they blew us away playing live for Loud Women at The Lexington too. Their raw, abrasive, genre-defying tunes are consistent favourites here at Get In Her Ears, and I’m sure they’ll bring the noise again in 2019.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor/Co-Founder)

Skating Polly – ‘Camelot’
Blasting into the eardrums with intense, pulsating basslines and the impassioned screech of Kelli Mayo, ‘Camelot’ is a seething, grunge-fuelled anthem. Oozing a thrashing power, it perfectly tears apart the misogynistic nature of American frat-boy culture with an empowering energy. This year Skating Polly released new album The Make It All Show, blew us away once again with their immense live show (with faves The Menstrual Cramps supporting), and generally proved themselves to be one of the most exciting young bands around.
(ML)

Brix And The Extricated – ‘Sleazebag’
Taken from their epic, genre-defying latest album, Brix And The Extricated’s ‘Sleazebag’ revives a classic punk energy and seething passion whilst marking Smith-Start out as an artist willing to move with the times and develop her sound. Confronting all those sleazebags in the industry that we’re unfortunately so familiar with, this track instantly grabs you with its immense, ferocious power. With swirling guitars and spiky bass, alongside Smith-Start’s distinctive soaring drawl, it’s a refreshing and riotous offering proving that Brix & The Extricated are well and truly back, and cannot be missed.
(ML)

Bad Sidekick – ‘I Ain’t Sick’
A fistful of brooding indie noise: London trio Bad Sidekick released their debut self-titled EP this year, and the snarling ‘I Ain’t Sick’ is my favourite track on the record. Vocalist Cooper (who also plays guitar in The Menstrual Cramps) is a powerhouse with her enviably cool lyrical intonation, and she’s supported by a cacophony of guitar noises and heart-thumping beats on this track.
(KC)

The Menstrual Cramps – ‘The Smash’
The Menstrual Cramps have pretty much summed up 2018 with each of their topical, tongue-in-cheek offerings and provided the perfect antidote to all that’s gone on with their empowering, feel good vibes. Taken from their incredible album Free Bleedin’, ‘The Smash’ in particular couldn’t have come at a better time. With the all-too-relatable refrain of “It’s time we took back the floor, kick the Tories out the door – we want a revolution”, it oozes an immense, politically-charged force as vocalist Emilia’s genuine, seething passion shines through. Combining activism with musical prowess, The Menstrual Cramps continue to reminds us all why we need bands like this now more than ever.
(ML)

Pink Kink – ‘You’
Although it wasn’t released as a single, this live recording from Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios showcases Pink Kink at their absolute best. A stunning mix of Warpaint style lo-fi indie, Sonic Youth switch-ups in tempo, ‘You’ is drenched in emotion, full of fired passions and stunning musicality. A band whose career was cut far, far too short for the kind of ridiculous reasons that have been an increasingly common occurrence in 2018’s dark days
(John McGovern – Contributor)

Soccer Mommy – ‘Your Dog’
I adore this song from Nashville’s Soccer Mommy, taken from her debut album Clean. Her trademark “soft anger” is executed so wonderfully, you barely notice you’re dropping expletives left, right and centre throughout the track. Written as an antidote to the feeling of being “paralyzed in a relationship to the point where you feel like you are a pawn in someone else’s world”, ‘Your Dog’ is a brilliant bite back from this talented artist.
(KC)

Snail Mail – ‘Pristine’
Laconic, bruised, wistful and sparkling – all while dealing with pop’s most frequent fixation: unrequited love – ‘Pristine’ is a brilliant introduction to the indie-pop stylings of Lindsay Jordan. If there’s been a better lyric than “It just feels like the same party every weekend, doesn’t it?” this year, then I haven’t heard it.
(JM)

Dott – ‘Like A Girl’
Activism and garage-pop collided in anthemic style on Dott’s single ‘Like A Girl’. The Galway-based band released the song ahead of Ireland’s vote to Repeal the 8th Amendment on May 25th – which resulted in the historic outcome of giving Irish women legal access to full reproductive health services, including abortion. The song features a guest appearance from Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz on guitar, and the accompanying video features members from Galway Pro Choice, Galway Parents for Choice, and Galway Roller Derby, as well as footage of recent marches for Women’s Rights in Galway.
(KC)

Wolf Girl – ‘Toast For Dinner’
Having captivated us with their sunny charm live at Indietracks Festival this year, Wolf Girl are fast becoming a firm favourite. Flowing with an infectious jangly scuzz and twinkling uplifting harmonies, ‘Toast for Dinner’ is an exquisite slice of perfect indie-pop. Propelled by a driving, vibrant energy and Healey’s luscious vocals – and with thoroughly relatable lyrics like “toast for dinner again, I’m trying to tie up loose ends” – it’s a total delight for the ears, as is the band’s latest album Every Now And Then.
(ML)

Pip Blom – ‘Come Home’
Unusually glum, but no less lively, this track marked the peak of a fantastic run of singles from the Dutch post-punk fourpiece. Its repetitive riff makes it unforgettable, rhythms make it sound like something that belongs more at a club than a gig, whilst Blom’s voice is just the right side of deadpan. Now signed to Heavenly, 2019 promises great things for PB.
(JM)

Suggested Friends – ‘Motherfucking Tree’
Although I think technically their self-titled album came out officially last year, throughout the entirety of 2018, I can safely say that Suggested Friends have been one of my most-listened to, and most thoroughly loved, bands. This track in particular showcases their perfect, immensely infectious ‘tweemo’ punk-pop to a tee. Filled with racing, catchy hooks and luscious harmonies, Faith Taylor’s witty charm and exquisite vocals (as well as spot on lyrics like “thought you had a halo, but it was just the glare from the backlight of your iPhone”) fill me with pure joy on each listen.

(ML)

Ah! Kosmos – ‘Wide'(feat. Özgür Yılmaz)
Atmospheric guitar, captivating percussion and hypnotic vocals melt together on this track from Ah! Kosmos. It’s taken from her second album Beautiful Swamp, and it sweeps me up in to a rapture every time I hear it. Her live performance supporting Zola Jesus at Omeara this year was an absolute knockout, and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to in 2019.
(KC)

Kill J – ‘Strange Fruits Of The Water’
This stunning single from Kill J tackles issues of immigration and racism, with a subtle nod to Billie Holiday’s  iconic track ‘Strange Fruit’ (1939). Taken from her album Superposition, Kill J explains: “’Strange Fruits Of The Water’ is a protest song about boarders, walls, barbed wire fences, and people trying to survive on small boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea. While some people dream of just surviving their journey across the boarders, others dream of wealth and power at the expense of others”.
(KC)

Black Gold Buffalo – ‘Lay It Down’
I’ve been hooked on Black Gold Buffalo’s mesmerising, pop-noir sounds all year, so I was thrilled to have them headline our first GIHEs night at Notting Hill Arts Club in August. ‘Lay It Down’ is taken from the band’s debut self-titled album (which I recommend you listen to) and it’s a well-crafted, smoldering gem that revolves around confronting feelings of anxiety.
(KC)

LIINES – ‘Shallow’
Having been labelled one of our ‘Ones To Watch 2018’, Manchester trio LIINES certainly proved us right. Throughout the year, they’ve gone from strength to strength – releasing their debut album Stop-Start in May, receiving acclaim from the likes of John Kennedy and Steve Lamacq and just now announcing a support slot with Sleaford Mods for 2019. Oozing an immense, thrashing energy and the raw, commanding vocals of Zoe McVeigh, single ‘Shallow’ is filled with the band’s trademark dark, brooding power – an intense blast of perfect post-punk with shades of the likes of Savages of Sleater Kinney.
(ML)

Zola Jesus – ‘Bound’
Intriguing electro-industrial artist Zola Jesus had me spellbound from the moment I heard the hypnotic, off-kilter, heavy bouncing synths on ‘Bound’. Her penetrating vocals ring out across a demanding soundscape, and her blending of industrial and classical elements makes this track sound like a tortured but tentative hymn. Seeing her perform it live at Omeara was truly breath-taking too.
(KC)

Noga Erez – ‘Bad Habits’
Noga Erez had 2018’s shortcomings in her interrogative spotlight this year after releasing her incredible track ‘Bad Habits’. It’s a snarling tirade of anger spoken through gritted teeth, written from “a place where one feels they’ve lost all direction and meaning”. Gritty, defiant, and viciously executed – I love this track and can’t wait to hear more from the Tel Aviv renegade in 2019.
(KC)

Miss Eaves – ‘Push For The Bush’
Having previously fallen in love with Miss Eaves‘ fun-filled, empowering anthems ‘Thunder Thighs’ and ‘Hump Day’, ‘Bush For The Push’ offered another vibrant celebration of self love from Miss Eaves. With her trademark disco-punk energy, reminiscent of queen Peaches, it’s a liberating and wonderfully entertaining call to be free to have the bush you want – “It’s your body, so have a little fun…”
(ML)

Listen to our ‘Tracks Of 2018’ playlist here, and stay tuned for more of our 2018 highlights, and Ones To Watch for next year…

Track Of The Day: Panic Pocket – ‘Mr Big’

Having stolen our hearts playing live for us at The Five Bells last month, London duo Sophie Peacock and Natalie Healey – aka Panic Pocket – have now shared a totally infectious new single.

Inspired by too many formative Sex And The City marathons, ‘Mr Big’ is an uplifting ditty about desperately wanting your close friend to stop defining herself by her relationship status and focus instead on friendship. Flowing with a twinkling charm and the duo’s impeccable tongue-in-cheek wit, the track oozes honey-sweet harmonies alongside shimmering melodies and a gritty synth-driven energy. Strewn with memorable SATC quotes, highlighting the importance of friendship – “Don’t laugh at me but maybe we could be each other’s soulmates” – it’s another luscious (and super relatable!) slice of indie-pop from the duo, showcasing all there is to love about them.

Of the track, Natalie elaborates:

“Sophie and I probably spend too much time watching TV. But whatever your thoughts on SATC (and OK, it hasn’t dated well!), you can probably relate to having someone close to you who spends all their time distracted, wondering where they stand with a potential – and probably unworthy – partner. This song is our Miranda moment; getting real about how toxic the subject of your best friend’s obsession really is.”

Released as a pay-what-you-want Bandcamp release, alongside sparkling feminist festive number ‘Mrs Santa’, ‘Mr Big’ is out now.

 

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Carl Farrugia

WATCH: HAVVK – ‘Always The Same’

Ahead of their single launch show tomorrow at Servant Jazz Quarters, GIHE faves HAVVK have shared a striking new video for their latest single ‘Always The Same’.

Addressing society’s gender norms and the everyday worries of safety women face because of their gender, ‘Always The Same’ asks men to question their sense of entitlement and imagine what it’s like to walk down the same street in a woman’s shoes. Perhaps more explicitly gritty than previous offerings, it flows with frontwoman Julie’s trademark celestial vocals, but with a raw, emotion-strewn edge, creating an immense sense of urgency within its soaring soundscape. Building to a stirring, punchy climax, it’s an utterly gripping creation from a band continually combining activism with their unique musical prowess. Of the track, Julie expands:

It’s only in recent years that it’s occurred to me how many of my daily decisions are made with this unconscious effort of weighing up safety and I’ve started to imagine what daily life would be like without a constant sense of caution ready to bubble to the surface.

Featuring original footage from psychology and relationship videos from the ’50s, with Julie explicitly dismissing these outdated gender roles by scribbling over the projections, the new video for ‘Always The Same’ is a visually exquisite offering with an intensely poignant message. Watch it here:

And don’t miss HAVVK live at Servant Jazz Quarters tomorrow night, along with other beauties After London and Rookes. Doors at 8pm. Tickets and info here.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

EP: Maria Kelly – ‘Notes To Self’

Notes to Self is the new EP from Maria Kelly, an Irish alt–folk artist now based in Berlin. It features four songs dealing with themes of holding on, hiding behind, letting go and how we must do all three in order to move on. All were inspired by a diary Maria kept documenting her feelings on relocating to a new country.

Opener, ‘Prelude’, sets the mood with Maria’s soft, melodic vocals, acoustic guitar and a lovely production which blends delicate synth sounds, enhancing the song and opening it up. It sums up the feelings of holding onto memories, as the song builds up and ends on the words “replay it”. ‘june’ is an intimate communication poignantly capturing feelings of restlessness – “does the city feel this crowded to you?” 

‘july’ is confessional, conveying the idea that we are ultimately in control of how we feel, and must take responsibility for what we choose to dwell on. Building to a lovely lyrical chorus – “… don’t fight it, hold on tight” – the pace and pitch of the music and voice blend perfectly into the powerful emotional ending. 


Closing track, ‘a
ugust’, is my favourite, showing Maria coming out the other side, and taking a new direction. More uptempo than the previous songs (“the taste of something new, something I can hold on to, something that isn’t you”), the electric guitar brings it to life juxtaposed with Maria’s gracefully soaring and cooing vocals; the sound of falling in love.

I don’t want a lot for Christmas, but I do want this EP. Overall, the production is superb, never interfering with the delicate beauty of Maria’s song craft. If ever you have felt isolated and vulnerable, these songs capture the mood beautifully, bringing you heartwarming introspection and the feeling that everything will be all right in the end.

notes to self is out on 7th December 2018 via Veta Records.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

Track Of The Day: Hussy – ‘Forever’

Following previous singles ‘Slayer’ and ‘Playtime’, South East London based Sophie Nicole Ellison – aka Hussy – has now shared a bewitching new single, ‘Forever’

Playing, recording and layering all the music herself, Hussy showcases her innovative songwriting abilities. Starting off with a somewhat eerie tone, twinkling chimes cascade into scuzzy hooks with a gritty energy before being interspersed with a luscious, dreamy haze. Flowing with the celestial power of Ellison’s vocals, a soaring, textured soundscape is created, whirring with a haunting intensity. With ‘Forever’, Hussy offers a perfect, shimmering slice of psych-filled, shoegaze-heavy Dream Pop, complete with immersive layers and captivating majestic allure.

Of the track, Hussy explains:

“’Forever’ talks about my tendency to delve into escapism. I went through an intense period of lucid dreaming where I would meet people through these dreams; people I had met briefly or had admired, been interested with or even not met at all. I would become friends with these people very intensely and feel like I’d get to know them super well, better than in real life. Then when I would encounter them in real life there was a sense of loss, like something that could/ could’ve been. I guess it harps at longing for connections.”

 

Featuring Leisha Thomas and Becca Carter on drums and additional guitar, ‘Forever’ is out now.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit:
Poppy Marriott

Track Of The Day: Arlo Parks – ‘Cola’

Newcomer Arlo Parks has shared her debut single ‘Cola’ and it’s a slow-burning, soulful track with lyrical bite. The eighteen year old poet, singer, producer & rapper demonstrates her confessional writing style beautifully here, with beats as steady as her calm, stylish vocals.

On ‘Cola’, The London-based singer tackles the relatable theme of “bad love”. Arlo explains: “‘Cola’ is a reminder that betrayal is inevitable when it comes to pretty people that think flowers fix everything”. Her sharp observations are delivered in tender, care-free style, making it easy to leave the track on repeat. Flowers may not be able to fix everything, but if ‘Cola’ is anything to go by – Arlo’s vocals certainly can.

Listen to the track below or stream it here. Follow Arlo Parks on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Charlie Cummings

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: Hanya – ‘I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t’

Demonic and dangerous, sorrowful and tormented; such are said to be the properties of the Japanese mask after which Hanya name themselves. It too, makes a pretty good description of this first EP from the Brighton two-piece.

The mix of sounds created by the pair – originally the solo project of Heather Sheret before being joined by drummer Jack Watkins – has grown over time and through the course of I Used To Love You, Now I Dont mixes together a range of 90s influences from shoegaze to Britpop, while remaining fresh.

Opening with the simple, if awkward, strum and percussive shimmer of Old/Newover four minutes the track builds through layers of reverb-laden vocal, and guitar riffs that begin as Britpop chimes and twist into shoegaze distortion.

Radiois a glowing ember of a track, drifting upwards into the endless dark, turning slowly and filling you with ominous gloom. Sherets vocals are a honey laced with vinegar as the soft drawl becomes sharp yowl. Of the track Sheret has explained: ‘Radio’ was written at a time of big stomach churning foreboding for me. It reflects thinking that something external can help at a time like that, like moving somewhere new, meeting someone, stupid vices, anything that we reach out for to give us some feeling that shitty times can be fixed.

 

In this track are the real echoes of shoegaze as spiralling riffs conjure forth Mazzy Star and Slowdive. You spiral with it, sinking into its depths, but it lacks the awe of those influences – something made up for on Honey.

This starts off the same way, the gloop and gloom pulls you in but rather than cycling this way throughout, Watkins drumming picks up part way through; a percussive foil for that soft-echoing vocal, pinning down the bolshier guitar.

Closer Trust Fund Babysteps away in tone being a far more upbeat number, closer to Salad and Sounds From The City era PJ Harvey. It rattles along with more jangle than distortion, with a bite in the lyric as much as a shimmer to the percussion.

Hanya build a sound which belies their two-piece set up and as a debut I Used To Love You, Now I Dont is full of promise; an understated addition to established genres.

I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t is out now via Leisure Records. Listen here. And make sure you catch Hanya live for us at The Finsbury on 14th December, along with Fightmilk, Handsome Eric and Candy Cane!

Sarah Lay
@sarahlay