EP: Deap Vally – ‘American Cockroach’

Self-described as “songs for the underdog”, Deap Vally’s latest EP American Cockroach is a musical metamorphosis for the LA rock duo. With songs that shed their garage rock shell, Deap Vally have grown wings that weave through bluesy ballads, satire and sincerity on this four-track phenomenon, which is sonically kissed by the soft lips of collaboration, featuring the likes of bassist Jennie Vee (Eagles of Death Metal) and Ayse Hassan (ESYA/Savages).

Imagine a trashy bar with a single spotlight shining down on a beautiful, bluesy singer in a thigh-split dress. You’re downing a beer and watching her half-sprawled across a grand piano, serenading a crowd with songs saturated with sadness. That’s what listening to the opening track ‘Give Me A Sign’ feels like. With slow staccato beats, vocals that emulate the same sultriness of Lana Del Rey and Mazzy Star, ‘Give Me A Sign’ is a truly tender ballad. As vocalist Lindsey Troy says of the track, “[This] is a deeply personal song. It will always mark a very specific time in my life.”

‘I Like Crime’ is (as one YouTube commenter perfectly puts) a “cunnilingus bop,” with Jennie Vee shredding on the bass, Troy’s rasping vocals and Julie Edwards’ unwavering drumbeat giving the serial killer storyline of the lyrics some serious swagger. The titular ‘American Cockroach’ is a return to Deap Vally’s garage rock roots. It’s a sexy invitation for class war that would make even Karl Marx wet. Finishing strongly with ‘Better Off With Nothing’, Deep Vally’s collaboration with the talented Ayse Hassan is haunting yet radiant; the post-punk track is a perfect end to this brilliant EP.

Photo Credit: Ericka Clevenger

Jay Mitra
@punkofcolour

Track Of The Day: Half Waif – ‘Sodium & Cigarettes’

Sodium & Cigarettes’ is the latest single from Half Waif’s forthcoming album Mythopoetics, set for release next month.

Half Waif is the creation of New York based artist Nandi Rose whose ethereal vocals sail somewhere in the gap between Phoebe Bridgers, Kate Bush, and Sinead O’Connor. Producer Zubin Hensler makes the most of her unique talent, stripping the production right back to its bare bones and allowing Rose’s voice to be the star of the show. Rose has commented that Mythopoetics is the album she has been trying to make for ten years: “My voice is changing, and my confidence has reached a point where I feel that I can sing however I want; I’ve finally come to a place where I don’t have to conform to what I think other people want it to sound like”. ‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is an incredible showcase for her newfound confidence.

A simple solo piano accompanies Rose’s tenuous vocal through the opening verse as the lyrics ponder “Do I deserve what’s coming to me?”, but this is ultimately a song of hope. The vocal gathers in strength and resilience throughout as Rose declares in the chorus “okay, give it another day”, giving a sense of needing to take a breath before re-entering the fray – a sentiment which will no doubt be familiar to listeners exhausted by Trump-era politics, the pandemic, and an endlessly grim 24 hour news cycle. Rose implores the listener to keep looking to the future.

As the song progresses, gentle reverb-laden backing vocals swell in the background as if powering up to meet the challenge, sparse staccato synths pepper the final verses as if waking up, and the resonance of a church organ fills the delicate space beneath Rose’s vocal. The track ends with Rose challenging the listener – “Is it too late now to start running?” – her tenuous vocal taking on ever more strength and depth as she uses a vocal effect reminiscent of The Japanese House. 

‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is a song of hope, a challenge to us all to re-energise and take up the fight, a subtle and gentle awakening in the face of exhaustion and malaise.

‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is taken from Half Waif’s fourth album Mythopoetics, set for release on 9th July via ANTI-.

Kate Sullivan
@katesullo

Photo Credit:  Ali Cherkis

PLAYLIST: Pride 2021

As many of our regular readers will know, at Get In Her Ears we strive to support LGBTQIA+ artists all year round via our website, radio show and (pre-covid) our live music nights. This Pride Month, we continue to celebrate and share the work of these artists and take some time to reflect on the history & impact of LGBTQIA+ artists in music and in wider creative spheres too.

Our co-founder Tash Walker, who is also the Co-Chair of the charity Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline & co-producer of the award-winning The Log Books podcast, wrote this powerful intro to our Pride Playlist last year. We’re sharing her words again to let our LGBTQIA+ readers and allies know: we see you, we support you and we love you – this month, and every month. If you need support during Pride Month or at any time, you can always reach out to Switchboard LGBT+ via their website or by calling 0330 330 0630.

Tash: “It’s more important than ever to remember why Pride started. Remember the lengths the LGBTQIA+ communities have come, but more importantly, how far we still have to go. The LGBTQIA+ communities and their allies need to stand strong and united with each other, but especially the black and transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

Covid-19 and its multiple lockdowns have had an unimaginable impact on all of us, especially folks from marginalised communities – magnifying any existing situation people may be in from domestic violence to transphobia, biphobia, homophobia but especially loneliness and isolation. Something members of the LGBTQIA+ communities have been battling heavily against for a while now.

What Pride means to everyone within the LGBTQIA+ communities will be different, but as a queer person I stand and I protest for every single one of those people’s rights. For LGBTQIA+ rights, for anti-racism, for black people, for people of colour, for transgender and gender non-conforming people and every intersectionality in-between. We have to learn from our history and we have to work together where we support the human rights of each and every one of us. People should be free to live without fear of judgement or discrimination. People should not have to fear for their lives because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, socio-economic class, disability or religion.

If your pride flag doesn’t include black and brown stripes, it’s outdated. If your pride flag doesn’t include the transgender flag, it’s outdated. So wherever you are, at whatever Pride you are supporting, spread the word and make it known – equality is for everyone, but most importantly, black lives matter, trans lives matter, black trans lives matter.”

Read about our track choices for our Pride 2021 playlist below and scroll down to the end of the post to listen to it on Spotify.

Ma Rainey – ‘Prove It On Me Blues’
This 1928 song by Ma Rainey, who is unarguably the mother of blues, is possibly one of the first references to queer lesbian culture. Ma Rainey, a queer woman sings, “Went out last night with a crowd of my friends. They must’ve been women, ’cause I don’t like no men.” An essential to any LGBT+ playlist. (Tash Walker)

Jackie Shane – ‘Any Other Way’
We’ve played Canadian soul-singer Jackie Shane multiple times on our GIHE radio show, included her on many a playlist and we’re certainly not stopping now. Jackie was a pioneer for transgender rights in the 60s & 70s, a time when being your true self was not always welcomed, or accepted. (TW)

Big Freedia – ‘Judas’ (Lady Gaga Cover)
Absolutely loving Big Freedia’s cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Judas’, which features on Gaga’s Born This Way Reimagined album, celebrating the 10th anniversary of her second record. Gaga has also enlisted the help of Kylie Minogue and Orville Peck to embellish her evergreen sentiments about self love, having the freedom to love anyone you want, and to express that love however you want to as well. (Kate Crudgington)

Lido Pimienta – ‘Declare Independence’ (Björk Cover)
This is such a beautiful cover by Colombian-Canadian artist Lido Pimienta, released as part of Spotify’s Pride campaign. I was lucky enough to interview her last year about her amazing album Miss Colombia, and on this new offering her defiant spirit and powerful voice shine through just as brightly. Pimienta released this track as a statement of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ communities, and also for Colombian and Palestinian people struggling for freedom and dignity in their homelands. (KC)

Catherine Moan – ‘Fools’ (Depeche Mode Cover)
This is a fun, polished cover of a Depeche Mode b-side from Philadelphia-based electro-pop artist Catherine Moan. Her buoyant electronics and infectious rhythms give this slice of 80s alternative music nostalgia a welcome sultry twist. (KC)

Robyn – ‘Dancing On My Own’
Robyn is an outspoken ally for LGBTQ+ rights. I think it’s important to recognise the role that allies play within LGBTQ+ history and the movement’s continued fight for equality. Being an ally is about educating yourself, it’s about listening, being visible, challenging inequality and helping to educate others. Being an ally isn’t just about LGBTQ+, it applies to any under-represented, marginalised section of society worldwide. As Stonewall says “If we want to live in a world where people are accepted without exception, we all need to be part of the solution.” (TW)

Hercules & Love Affair – ‘Blind’
Taken from their self-titled album released in 2008, the same year I attended London Pride for the first time, this is without a doubt the theme tune to me fully embracing my sexuality, feeling proud of who I was and strong enough to come out happily in all aspects of my life. (TW)

SOPHIE – ‘Immaterial’
This track is taken from SOPHIE’s debut album and I love it. A pioneer of experimental music, often the producer behind so many other amazing tracks, remixes and artists. Described as disorientating latex pop which I think sums up my first experience of seeing SOPHIE live – intense at its best. (TW)

Mykki Blanco – ‘Free Ride’
This is a song from an artist who I feel needs no introduction, a queer pioneer who is doing amazing things for LGBTQ+ rights as well as being open about their positive HIV status. Mykki Blanco is also such an incredible artist and their music is just oh so gooooood. (TW)

Desire Marea – ‘Tavern Kween’
This amazing track by Durban, South Africa-based artist Desire Marea was inspired by Desire’s aunts who went against social norms to find their own forms of freedom in the usually male-occupied taverns in their hometown of Amandawe. Desire explains: “It’s an ode to them, an ode for defiance and feminine manifestations everywhere, an ode to people who come alive at night, to people who enjoy being free and also an ode to people who are fierce about claiming their freedom.” The accompanying video is also sublime. (KC)

Witch Prophet – ‘Makda’
I have Tash to thank for introducing me to the majestic sounds of Ethio queer hip-hop fusion artist Witch Prophet. ‘Makda’ is a celebration of the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba and, as Witch Prophet explains, “the power of Black women and mothers” which she highlights in the track’s beautiful accompanying video. (KC)

Planningtorock – ‘Non Binary Femme’
This track is take from one of my favourite albums of all time, Planningtorock’s Powerhouse. Unarguably paving the way for not only a better understanding of what those words mean, but also leading in acceptance for transgender and gender non-conforming people, Planningtorock and their music has unquestionably helped me on my own gender identity journey and I’m sure many others. (TW)

Ragdoll, Husk – ‘Throwback’
A collaboration between trans, non-binary artist and GIHE fave Husk and non-binary drag queen Ragdoll, ‘Throwback’ offers a wittily nostalgic dance anthem, sparking many fond memories for us millennials. A massively uplifting, fun-filled banger, complete with Husk’s smooth, soulful vocals and a wonderfully infectious groove, it’s a perfect accompaniment to any Pride party. (Mari Lane)

Crisp&Classy X Rookes – ‘Basic’
Electro-pop duo CRISP&CLASSY (aka producer Kat Knix and singer-songwriter Plushy) pride themselves on bringing sexual liberation and self-acceptance to the UK pop scene. Collaborating with GIHE fave, London-based artist and promoter of queer female identity, Rookes, ‘Basic’ is a vibrant, uplifting dance-floor anthem. Blasting into the ears with an explosive fizzing energy, it’s an effervescent ode to being yourself and silencing anyone who chooses to get in your way. (ML)

ARXX – ‘DEEP’
The latest single from GIHE faves Brighton duo ARXX, ‘DEEP’ is an empowering ode to leaving behind all your anxieties and getting what you want. Interweaving a more electro-infused, glitchy sound than previous releases with their signature ferocious grunge-fuelled drive, it instantly hits you with its raw, anthemic rush and gritty, sensual prowess. ARXX have now also released a number of remixes of ‘DEEP’ – including one by Dream Wife’s Alice Go. (ML)

Ci Majr – ‘Ultraviolet’
Non-binary Atlanta artist Ci Majr creates uplifting, emotion-filled pop anthems with a twinkling sensitivity. Taken from their latest EP Side Effects, ‘Ultraviolet’ sparkles with a heartfelt sense of hope alongside a scintillating energy and instantly catchy, shimmering hooks. (ML)

Alex Loveless – ‘Meet Me Tonight’
There’s something about Hackney-based DIY electronic artist Alex Loveless’ music that’s just effortless and chill. ‘Meet Me Tonight’ is their latest single, but I would also recommend checking out their recent EP Phone Keys Wallet too. (KC)

Amaroun – ‘Perish’
Amaroun talks about the themes she evokes in her music which consistently touch on her journey of being a black queer woman, overcoming struggles with sexuality and the importance of emotional honesty in music. In Amaroun’s words, “this track is an autobiographical reintroduction of myself”. It’s one of my faves. (TW)

BISHI – ‘Who Has Seen the Wind’
As part of Southbank Centre’s 2019 Meltdown Festival, Kate and I had the privilege of meeting Bishi. She’s an incredibly talented singer, electronic rock-sitarist, producer and performer born in London of Bengali heritage. She is also the co-founder of WITCiH: The Women in Technology Creative Industries Hub, a platform elevating Women & Non-Binary in tech through commissions, performances & panels. (TW)

STRAIGHT GIRL – ‘Limón’
Describing themselves as “fiercely and fearlessly queer,” Leeds-based electronic artist STRAIGHT GIRL is a master at exorcising their demons and developing them into their own brand of “grave rave” sounds. I love this track ‘Limón’, which is a vibrant, jagged soundscape inspired by disjointed and self-critical thoughts. (KC)

Gordian Stimm – ‘Though My Love Is Always Still’
I am such a huge fan of everything Gordian Stimm aka Maeve Westall of itoldyouiwouldeatyou releases. They’ve crafted so many experimental gems in the last year, from their debut album Your Body In On Itselfto this single for Amateur Pop Inc.’s compilation record, their offerings are intensely eclectic & so well produced. (KC)

Twin Pixie – ‘Firestarter’
Philadelphia-based hyper-pop duo TJ Cole and Aiv Rubino aka Twin Pixie are inspired by the likes of SOPHIE and Grimes and explore themes of queerness and the supernatural in their majestic, ethereal soundscapes. Propelled by glitchy beats, ‘Firestarter’ races with a sweeping cinematic allure as poignant spoken-word vocals soar, tearing into the sexist norms of society. (ML)

Khx05 – ‘Trouble’
I have Nova Twins to thank for introducing me to North Carolina-based artist Khx05. They feature on the duo’s compilation album Voices For The Unheard, a blistering collection of alternative anthems that showcase the eclectic, tenacious range of talent from artists of colour in the heavy & alternative music scenes. (KC)

Ms Mohammed – ‘Pandora’
‘Pandora’ and its rolling, rumbling drums – such a tune by Ms Mohammed who we had a total blast with in the Get In Her Ears studio a few years ago. As well as being an artist in her own right, Ms Mohammed founded the Clit Rock movement in 2013 as a way of speaking out against female genital mutilation. As a champion of cross-cultural tolerance and an out queer artist who advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights and visibility, Ms Mohammed is challenging prejudice through her music and we stand by her every step of the way! (TW)

pink suits – ‘pink suits everyone’
Margate based queer punk-rock duo pink suits incorporate politically driven rage, dance and even theatre into their work, exploring issues of sexuality, mental health and a resistance of binary gender. Taken from their recently released album, political child, ‘Pink Suits Everyone’ oozes a rousing, stirring intent. Offering a vibrant message of inclusivity and hope, here the duo urge us to come together and unite against the powers that seek to contain us. Watch the new video for ‘Pink Suits Everyone’ here. (ML)

Ezra Furman – ‘Suck The Blood From My Wound’
Having recently come out as a Transgender woman, and shared beautiful images of herself with her child, Ezra Furman has long been a favourite of mine, since I first fell in love with her 2018 album Transangelic Exodus. This Pride, I think it’s particularly important to celebrate the Transgender community whilst drawing attention to how society’s acceptance of trans and gender non-conforming people still has a long way to go. As Furman poignantly states in her coming out message: “I’m telling you I’m a mom now for a specific reason. Because one problem with being trans is that we have so few visions of what it can look like to have an adult life, to grow up and be happy and not die young. When our baby was born I had approximately zero examples that I had seen of trans women raising children. So here’s one for anyone who wants to see one. I’m a trans woman and a mom. This is possible.” (ML)

Chuck SJ – ‘Sink Your Teeth In’
This single is taken from DIY multi-instrumentalist Chuck SJ’s upcoming debut album Resist.Recharge.Revolt, which is set for release later this year. Full of atmospheric guitar riffs, sparse beats and glitchy electronics, it’s an industrial-tinged rumination on the forces that construct, influence and sometimes dismantle our ways of thinking. Chuck is also one half of punk duo Byenary who you can check out here. (KC)

Bitch Hunt – ‘Shapeshifter’
Non-binary band Bitch Hunt originally formed at the amazing First Timers fest, and have just released their debut EP via Reckless Yes. The title track of the EP, ‘Shapeshifter’ is a stirring slice of effervescent punk-pop, reflecting on themes of transition and gender identity, and how we are consistently ‘shape-shifting’ depending on our circumstances. A resonant yet ultimately uplifting offering, oozing a sparkling sense of optimism. (ML)

Grace Petrie – ‘Pride’
Taken from 2018’s album Queer As Folk, Grace Petrie’s ‘Pride’ offers a reflection on the strides that have been made for the LGBTQIA+ movement over the years, whilst also drawing attention to how far we still have to go to end all forms of discrimination. With her poignant, heartfelt lyricism oozing both a stirring sense of solidarity and hope, as well as frustration and rage (“I know you don’t want to face the fact / that each and every day we’re still being attacked…”), it’s a perfectly resonant anthem drawing attention to why we still need Pride, over 50 years on from the Stonewall Rebellion. (ML)

Naz and Ella – ‘Internalised’
Having been guests on our radio show back in 2019, alt-folk duo Naz & Ella recently released their new EP, De-Humanize. Taken from the EP, ‘Internalised’ is a deeply poignant offering about overcoming internalised queerphobia. Oozing a gritty edge and sweeping, stirring majesty, it’s an empowering ode reflecting the heartfelt message running throughout the EP as a whole, as the band explained in a recent interview with us: “… you don’t have to participate in your own dehumanisation to comply with social norms.” (ML)

Arlo Parks – ‘Black Dog’
I cannot get enough of Arlo Parks and her mesmerising music, so full of emotion I get lost in every second. ‘Black Dog’ is no different, a frank, heart-breaking insight into the the darkness of depression. Mental health awareness within the LGTBQIA+ communities is so important, especially with rising levels of isolation and loneliness. From talking, to supporting, to asking and reaching out for help is so important and totally OK to do. The more we can look out for each other, the more we can encourage and show people that asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness. (TW)

Kele – ‘Smalltown Boy’ (Bronski Beat Cover) 
I was lucky enough to speak to Kele Orekeke about his new album The Waves Pt. 1 earlier this month for The Line Of Best Fit, and he was incredibly generous with his time. I regret that I was too shy to tell him how much of my late teens & early twenties I spent dancing to Bloc Party and his first album The Boxer, so I thought I’d mention it here instead. His cover of Bronski Beat’s iconic LGBTQ+ anthem ‘Smalltown Boy’ is really beautiful, fore-fronting the track’s unique melancholy in an understated and moving way. (KC)

LISTEN: Venus Grrrls – ‘Hate Me’

After much critical acclaim from the likes of BBC Radio 1, BBC Introducing, and Radio X for their previous releases including ‘Goth Girl‘, Leeds band Venus Grrrls are back with another angry bop that’ll help you release some pent-up rage. 

The song explores the consequences of unvoiced emotions and lack of communication, delving into “the internal complexities this can cause, and explores the desire to have clarity and closure.” A very relatable situation which makes the question demanded in the chorus “Why do you hate me honey?” very cathartic to scream along to.

‘Hate Me’ is a danceable, angry song that makes you want to sway in the verses and pogo during the chorus. These two ends are held together by the consistency of lead singer Grace Kelly’s powerful, smooth vocals. The drums and rhythm section bring a frenzied energy when needed and the transitions between this and the more swayable verses are seamless. The gorgeous creeping bassline, perfectly matched with the vocals, grips listeners from the get-go and manages to be both punchy and melodious. The synths bring the song to another level sonically without being distracting or gimmicky. Perfect for this riot grrrl-inspired number.

So, do yourself a favour and listen to ‘Hate Me’ by Venus Grrrls. In fact, put it on repeat.

‘Hate Me’ is out now via Monomyth Records.

Red
@redthewarrior86