GIHE: Albums Of 2020

It feels strange to be celebrating anything in 2020, but the GIHE team want to shine a light on some of the brilliant music that’s been released against the odds during the last 12 months. If you, or your band managed to release a full length record, Congratulations! You should be super proud. If you didn’t manage to write anything new this year though, we fully understand and we’ll still be here to sing your praises when you feel ready to write again.

In the absence of live shows where we’d normally celebrate the release of an album, we’ve coped by dancing around our living rooms, miming underneath our face-masks and telling as many people as we can on our Zoom calls to listen to these records. So, in alphabetical order, here are ten albums that helped us get through 2020 (with some honorable mentions at the end because we’re a little bit fed up of restrictions this year…)

Bitch Falcon – Staring At Clocks
Released via Small Pond Records in November, Staring At Clocks is a blistering cacophony of grunge, post-punk and shoegaze inspired sounds from Dublin trio Bitch Falcon. Effortlessly switching from a savage scream to a sublime extended yearning, front woman Lizzie Fitzpatrick’s elastic vocal ability never fails to impress and my admiration for her natural talent swells with each listen. Her intuition is matched by Nigel Kenny’s razor sharp cymbal strikes and Barry O’Sullivan’s brooding bass hooks. Equal parts gritty and graceful, I’m properly in love with Bitch Falcon’s debut album and no, I will not stop talking about it. Listen to Staring At Clocks via bandcamp or Spotify.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor)

Bugeye – Ready Steady Bang
A long-standing fave of GIHE, Bugeye have previously wowed us with their vibrant live shows, including performing for us at The Finsbury and at Cro Cro Land, a festival put together by front person Angela Martin in my hometown of Croydon. They’ve also received plenty of acclaim from the likes of Radio X’s John Kennedy and BBC Introducing, and rightly so. Ready Steady Bang is like nothing you’ve heard before; a vibrant fusion of disco, punk and everything in-between, all fused together with magnificent energy into a relentlessly riotous and utterly uplifting collection. This explosive debut fizzles with a wonderfully unique colourful pizazz as the band reflect on the state of the world today. Raging with Angela’s gritty, snarling vocals and whirring electro hooks, alongside crunching riffs and poppy harmonies, each track is a total earworm. Reminiscent of nineties indie legends Elastica, with shades of the retro energy of Blondie, it’s an album oozing a sparkling majesty that’ll charge you up and leave you ready to face whatever 2021 has in store.
Ready Steady Bang is out via Reckless Yes Records, listen on bandcamp or Spotify.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor)

Dream Wife – So When You Gonna… 
To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about the release of this year’s sophomore Dream Wife album. I had been so completely enamoured by their 2018 eponymous debut that it seemed impossible not to be disappointed, but how wrong I was. So When You Gonna… is both uplifting and poignant in equal measure. From the heartfelt and relatable stirring emotion of album closer and pro-choice anthem ‘After The Rain’ to the immersive inspirational power of ‘Validation’ and fun-filled playful energy and trademark charisma of ‘Hasta La Vista’ and the album’s title track, it proves that Dream Wife are here to stay. With this latest collection, they’ve come back more empowering, passionate and truly joyous than ever.
Listen to So When You Gonna… via bandcamp or Spotify.
(ML)

Gordian Stimm – Your Body In On Itself
I remember thinking “yessss this is a bit of me!” when Gordian Stimm’s (aka Maeve Westall of itoldyouiwouldeatyou) experimental gem of a record first dropped into my GIHE inbox in April. Released via independent Leicester-based label Amateur Pop, Stimm’s debut album is a vivid exploration of bodily autonomy. There’s an enjoyable violence underscoring their vision; a gleeful, sometimes painful dissecting of the self and the social cues that either help construct or dismantle it. At times reminiscent of early Passion Pit or Crystal Castles, Your Body In On Itself is a wonderful collection of distorted, dance-able beats that I continue to enjoy even after multiple listens. The cassette tape is cute af too.
Listen to Your Body In On Itself via bandcamp or Spotify. (KC)

Happy Accidents – Sprawling
Probably my most listened-to full album of 2020, Happy Accidents’ Sprawling follows 2018’s equally addictive Everything But The Here And Now. Since first falling in love with the band back at Indietracks of the same year, I’ve been continually seeking comfort in their sparkling creations. Now a duo made up of Phoebe Cross and Rich Mandell, Happy Accidents have showcased all there is to love about them in this latest collection. An album about “getting out of your head and allowing yourself to connect with others on a fundamental level”, it offers a perfect juxtaposition of honey-sweet vocals, swirling jangling melodies and luscious harmonies, all delivered alongside the heartfelt emotion of the reflective, relatable lyricism, making it impossible not to get utterly immersed in. With Rich and Phoebe taking turns with the lead, each track maintains the glistening warmth and twinkling uplifting charm that first drew me to the band. And now I can’t seem to stop listening; forever seeking soothing catharsis in Happy Accidents’ shimmering, Sprawling indie-pop.
Listen to Sprawling via bandcamp or Spotify.
(ML)

Hilary Woods – Birthmarks
Inspired by field recordings, images from post-war Japanese & wet-plate photography and the secret life of trees, Hilary Woods’ second album Birthmarks is a cohesive set of shadowy soundscapes that smolder with quiet intensity. Released in March via Sacred Bones, the Irish multi-instrumentalist collaborated with Norwegian experimental noise producer Lasse Marhaugher to create a record that was “of the body…a more physical record” than her previous work. She crafted eight fleshy, twisted, charged lullabies that are laced with a mix of hushed vocals, melancholy strings, saxophone sounds, distorted drone noises and Okkyung’s exquisite cello playing. Recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks feels like her most personal and powerful record to date and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to it this year.
Listen to Birthmarks via bandcamp or Spotify. (KC)

Indian Queens – God Is A Woman
Described by lead vocalist & guitarist Jennifer O’Neill as “a late night record”, London trio Indian Queens’ debut album is a sublime offering, designed to dissolve uncertainty and soothe anxious minds. Released via Cool Thing Records in April, the band have written thirteen dizzying tracks that are as driving as they are delicate, providing a welcome rush of blood to the head every time they’re listened to. I love everything about this band and I’m so glad I got to hear them live again in March before the rest of 2020 got cancelled.
Listen to God Is A Woman via bandcamp or Spotify. (KC)

Nova Twins – Who Are The Girls?
Us GIHE grrrls collectively agreed that this is a stunning debut album. Nova Twins’ battle cry for equality and diversity on Who Are The Girls? resonates long after the record stops spinning. Amy Love & Georgia South are a force for fun, for fury and – most importantly – for change in an industry that still “struggles” to book women as headliners at major festivals. This album, released via 333 Wreckords in February, is a collection of thundering bass lines, uncompromising rhythms and wicked riffs. It’s an aural uppercut that proves the London-based duos talent and instinct for writing anarchic anthems. Nova Twins always have us riled, re-energised, and ready to ask for more.
Listen to Who Are The Girls? on Spotify. (KC)

Screaming Toenail – Growth
Having blown us away with the impassioned magnificence of their live show at The Finsbury last December, anti-colonial queer punks Screaming Toenail have become firm favourites here at GIHE, and their message is more resonant now than ever before. Opening with a jarring recording of reports of trafficking migrants and “swarms” of refugees coming across the Mediterranean seeking a better life, Growth starts as it means to go on: honest, politically charged and utterly necessary. Combining shades of ‘80s post-punk with the band’s raw magnetism and angst driven drive, the album covers poignant subject matter, ranging from institutionalised racism and damaging hetero-patriarchal norms, to “little old ladies shoplifting from Boots” and other inspiring female figures such as Diane Abbott and Reni Eddo-Lodge. Growth is truly a soundtrack to our times. Fuelled by a motivational cathartic rage, it starkly reminds us that on returning to “normality”, we need to create a new normal. One in which voices like Screaming Toenail’s can be amplified to the max; one in which we prioritise creating safe, queer, inter-sectional communities and spaces for people to share their art together.
Listen to Growth via bandcamp or Spotify.
(ML)

Sink Ya Teeth – Two
Long time GIHE faves who first completely took our breath away playing for us live at The Finsbury a few years back, Norwich duo Sink Ya Teeth brought some groove-laden joy to this nightmare year with their second album, appropriately titled Two. Having been booked to play our very first Get In Her Ears festival that would have taken place this summer, being able to listen to all the unique dance-punk soundscapes throughout this album offered a bit of consolation. Blowing us away with the soaring, sparkling majesty of each track, they continue to mark themselves out as truly innovative in their craft. From the synth driven glitchy hooks of ‘Somewhere Else’ to the immense funk-fuelled groove of ‘The Hot House’, everything the duo create oozes an infectious shimmering energy, showcasing Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford as the ultimate dream team in both songwriting and performing.
Listen to Two via bandcamp or Spotify.
(ML)

Honorable mentions:
A.A. Williams Forever Blue
Ailbhe ReddyPersonal History
ByenaryByenary
The Crystal FursBeautiful and True
Diet CigDo You Wonder About Me?
Dream NailsDream Nails
Lido PimientaMiss Colombia
MOURN – Self Worth
Nadine ShahKitchen Sink
No HomeFucking Hell
Phoebe BridgersPunisher
REWSWarriors
WaxahatcheeSaint Cloud
The Fight Is Not Over (Live album feat. Problem Patterns, Sister Ghost, Strange New Places, Gender Chores)

LISTEN: A.A. Williams – ‘Lovesong’ (The Cure cover)

A tentative, beautifully stripped back version of an 80s alternative classic, London-based artist A.A. Williams has shared her cover of The Cure’s ‘Lovesong’. It’s another exquisite offering from the songwriter’s ‘Songs From Isolation’ series, which she’ll be releasing as a 9 track LP via Bella Union on 12th February 2021.

Williams spoke to us about her ‘Songs From Isolation’ series earlier this year ahead of the release of her debut album, Forever Blue (read the full interview here). Having received such high praise for both recording projects, she’s now taking the covers that fans originally suggested to her and releasing her home recordings on vinyl. The Songs From Isolation album will feature Williams’ covers of tracks by The Cure, Pixies, Deftones, Nick Cave, Gordon Lightfoot, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and more.

“’Lovesong’ was one of the first songs suggested by fans for the Songs From Isolation series, and was one of my favourites to rework,” Williams explains about her new release. “The original conjures up such nostalgic feelings, I really wanted to honour as many of elements of it as possible. The lyrics are so beautiful and tender and I wanted to shine a light on them in this version, so I’ve tried to create a delicate backdrop for them out of the melodic elements of The Cure’s original.”

With this latest release, Williams continues to impress fans and critic alike with her sensitive balancing of staying true to the original track she’s covering, whilst also shining a new light on how it can be experienced and enjoyed.

Listen to ‘Lovesong’ below.

Follow A.A. Williams on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: A.A. Williams

Due to an admin error, I’m running twenty minutes late when I get through to A. A. Williams to chat about her new album, Forever Blue, on Skype. I apologise and self-flagellate saying I hate to keep people waiting, but she’s genuinely not bothered by the tardiness but much like me, she also can’t deal with being late herself. I feel instantly at ease.

“Is it alright to do this off camera?” she asks. “I did an online interview the other day where I spent about 15 minutes watching this lovely Dutch man waiting for me to un-mute my microphone, because I couldn’t do it for love nor money at the time. I just watched his face for 15 minutes thinking ‘this guy must hate me'”. It’s reassuring to hear someone else is fatigued by the “new normal” of interviewing via video conferencing software. “I’d rather just go for a cup of tea to be honest.” I nod enthusiastically even though she can’t see me. I laugh and say I feel like a budgie pecking at its own reflection in a toy mirror when I’m sat on a video call, so I’m happy to chat off camera.

For those who don’t know, A. A. Williams is a classically trained, multi-talented musician whose blending of post-rock and post-classical elements makes for exquisitely raw listening. She released her self-titled EP in 2019 via Holy Roar and is set to release her debut album, Forever Blue via Bella Union on 3rd July. Before the UK went in to lockdown in March, she gave her debut performance at Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room. “We were like Indiana Jones sliding under the door coming down, we only just got that gig done” she jokes. “It felt like an unwritten cut off point. It seemed to be a lot of people’s last show and I’m glad I got that in before it all went a bit wrong.”

Williams recalls feeling “nervous as hell” on the night, despite the show nearly selling out. “I’m not that great at remembering gigs to be honest, I remember going on stage and going off stage. The stuff that happens in the middle is a slightly out of body situation. But having the cellists with me for the whole show was beautiful. It was a dream come true, if I could do that for every gig, I would.”

We talk about how a venue like Southbank Centre is built for classical music and a perfect way to experience her sublimely dark sounds. “It’s a bit of a luxury to play somewhere like that to be honest. People spend millions of pounds acoustically designing these rooms, so they’re fabulous. They’re a joy to watch music in to. You can take your drink, sit down, relax. It’s a nice change from squished sweaty venues. A little bit of the high life.”

Unfortunately, for both musicians and their fans this “high life” has been abruptly put on hold due to the current pandemic. Southbank Centre’s doors are shut, as are the squished smaller venues across the UK during lockdown. To keep herself busy during this gig-less period, Williams has worked on her “Songs From Isolation” series. She shared monochrome videos of her covering tracks by Radiohead, Deftones, Nick Cave, and Nine Inch Nails.

“I put up a message on my Instagram saying I would like to do some piano-based songs to try and use my time and be productive” she explains. “I thought people would be like ‘Hey, can you play ‘Belong’?’ but instead they were like ‘Hey, can you play Nick Cave?’ It wasn’t what I had planned, but it was actually a really nice surprise. Lots of people suggested the same artists, so it was a nice challenge to try and choose a song that would be right for my voice, and that I felt I could do some justice to. I didn’t want to choose something super obscure.”

I ask about her process for deconstructing each song and wedge in that my personal favourite is her cover of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Everyday Is Exactly The Same’, which she says took her the longest to work out. “First, I’ll figure out the chords, lyrics, and structure on the original. Then I figure out if I need to change the key to accommodate my voice, which I didn’t need to do on NIN, which was great! I listen out for any motifs rhythmically or melodically. With these covers, I didn’t want to risk it ending up like karaoke. I was trying to keep as far enough away from the original so that we wouldn’t end up in that place. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it takes forever, but I think it’s worth it either way.”

I ask if Trent Reznor reached out to her after she shared the cover, even though he maintains a relatively elusive presence online (and is obviously incredibly busy). “No, but I wish he had! I mean, there’s only so many times you can tweet ‘@trentreznor here’s my cover’, you know? I like to think that maybe he stumbled across it. I figured if he hated it, maybe he’d have got in touch? So it’s good that he didn’t I suppose.”

Williams’ appreciation of Reznor’s silence interests me. It suggests a natural patience and intuition for things. Her music is a beautiful balance between loud and quiet, heavy and soft, captivating and alarming. Her sensitivity to volume is what makes the drop-ins on tracks like ‘Melt’ feel so powerful. She recorded most of Forever Blue from her home studio in her North London flat, something which again requires patience and intuition.

“What’s nice is that you can do it any time you want. During the summertime I wake up early because the sun comes into the flat, and I pop in to the other room and start noodling away on demos at 5am, much to the disdain of my neighbours. I’ll record it – albeit not very well – and use that as a base to start to layer a few things in and get some ideas for some secondary melodic parts. In the process of doing that, I end up recording things that often end up being on the album. So, even though they’re part of the demo process, through the process of exploring what works for a song, some of those demo parts end up staying, which is nice.”

This freedom extends into Williams’ recording of vocals too. “I find recording vocals probably the most high pressure. Sometimes, if you’re recording them in a studio and you’ve got lots of people around you, and you’ve got to get however many songs recorded in a day, it’s nicer to be able to take your time at home. I can take as long over that as I want. Having said that, I do live with the bleed of delivery drivers, motorbikes, screaming kids and all sorts of other average London sounds. There’s a hospital just down my street, so there’s probably an ambulance recorded somewhere on the album, along with my dog who has a habit of barking during vocal takes. Have you ever heard a dog bark down your headphones? Oh my god, it is painful. It’s so loud with all the delay and the reverb – if he heard it he’d probably think it was the best thing ever.”

I can’t resist asking what kind of dog she owns.

“He’s a long-haired dachshund. He’s just had his hair cut, he’s very happy with himself. He’s the only person I know in lockdown who’s managed to get a haircut.” As a fellow dachshund owner, it takes all my will power not to turn the interview into an extended piece on why dachshunds are the greatest dogs in the world.

“But yeah, there’s a lot of pros about working from home, but the negatives are always going to be that you’re going to have sound bleeding and you’ll have to spend more time on eliminating that.”

I ask Williams if she has a favourite track on Forever Blue. “That’s hard! That’s not fair, that’s like asking which is your favourite child” she laughs. “I’m not sure. I think in a way, one of my favourites is ‘I’m Fine’ which is the last song. I don’t really know why, it found this accidental place at the end of the album. You land in a hopeful place, it’s not all doom and gloom. It’s a small simple song, but I find songs like that quite cathartic to listen to.

Having said that, I find songs like ‘Love and Pain’ and ‘Melt’ very enjoyable to listen to, partly because I associate them as songs to perform live. The joy of just making lots of noise, let’s be honest, is just great. There is something very cathartic about sticking all the pedals on and making a racket, it’s a very therapeutic experience. I love playing ‘Melt’ live. When we were playing earlier in the year, we’d play it in the middle of the set, and finish with ‘Control’ because I figured if the crowd were going to know any of my songs, it’d probably be that one. But now because of the album, I have the excuse to finish with ‘Melt’ and have all the crazy drums at the end. I’m very excited about eventually being able to get out and play it again. Show it off a bit.”

I ask Williams to reflect on a sentiment she expressed in an interview with Metal Hammer in 2019. She’s quoted as saying “you have to take risks if you want people to take it seriously and be interested” when talking about her EP. I ask about what “risks” she took on Forever Blue.

“There are always going to be people who are doubtful of their output, and people who are going to be confident, and I am the typically doubtful kind. This stuff being out in the world is kind of a risk, to a point. I can’t imagine anyone would make an album and not care if anyone liked it. They want people to embrace it and find a place for it in their own listening.

Including guest vocalists on this album has been an element of risk I suppose. I want people to think it’s an added texture that I couldn’t provide myself.” Forever Blue features guest vocals from Johannes Persson (Cult Of Luna) on ‘Fearless’, Fredrik Kihlberg (Cult Of Luna) on ‘Glimmer’ and Tom Fleming (ex-Wild Beasts) on ‘Dirt’. “As long as you just trust your gut, hopefully that will pay off. I think that’s the only way to do it” Williams explains. “Otherwise I’d never do anything. I’d be worried too much, and I’d just stay at home, staring out the window, being scared of things.”

This fearlessness is something that extends in to Williams’ music and lyricism. Her ambiguous words and fluctuating volume levels are what make Forever Blue such a captivating listen. “Let’s be honest, sometimes volume is great, but you do need a break”, she explains. “In terms of the lyrics, I think my base level of misery is lower than your average person, so I don’t look at those lyrics and go ‘wow, that person’s miserable’, but I can see how some people might. I think everyone’s on a scale with this stuff, but ultimately, it’s just the human condition. Finding someone who’s permanently happy – apart from my dog – is not possible.

People will read into the lyrics in different ways, and that’s what I want them to do. I remember when I first played my Mum my EP, she said, ‘are you worried about coming across as vulnerable?’ and I wasn’t really. I don’t mind being open and honest. These songs are how I feel, and that’s fine. I can’t write from someone else’s perspective. Hopefully people can kind of make it their own a little bit. It becomes a little bit more personal.”

Another interesting fact about Williams in the Metal Hammer interview is that she found a guitar on the street one day with a note saying, “please take me, just needs work”. After a friend performed guitar surgery on the abandoned squire telecaster, Williams – who’s originally a trained cellist – began teaching herself to play it by “mucking around” writing songs. I ask if she has any advice for any musicians who are thinking of learning a new instrument, or anyone who’s learning to play for the first time.

“Even if you’re starting something completely from scratch, it’s so worth it. It’s easy to be frustrated if it doesn’t sound incredible immediately. The amount of times I’ve picked up something and gone ‘I’m gonna learn to do this! Oh look, I’m awful, goodbye…’ Learning instruments takes years, and years and years, but some instruments are much more approachable than others. Guitar, piano, even if you buy a new Mac laptop, it comes with garage band. You can immediately start making little loops and beats, you don’t have to have a clue what’s going on. It’s all there. Just start mucking around with it, just to get your head around the basic elements of what makes a song. You don’t have to be a whizz instrumentalist. You’re not going to get good at it over night, but if you’re doing it for you, that’s cool. If you want to write songs and you’ve got something to say, just do it. Who cares if the chords sound a bit weird? It’s just practice and becoming confident, and thinking that it matters to you.”

Williams’ passion for artistic expression extends beyond music too. “All art is worth it. Whether you doodle, write poems, make little videos – whatever it is – it doesn’t matter. It’s so important to try to give yourself time to do this. Even if it’s just for fun, and you don’t plan on ever showing it to anyone. It’s a really great experience to just sit down, just you and your brain and a piece of art that you’re making. I have no idea what I’d do if I wasn’t a musician. I’m so glad that I operate in an artistic field. I don’t know what I’d do without it.”

I ask Williams what music (aside from her own) she’s been listening to during the lockdown period. She listens to Perturbator when trying to motivate herself to “get on with things”, but her enthusiasm for Run The Jewels’ new album RTJ4 is palpable. “I’ve been known to rap along to Run The Jewels on the bus, out loud, on my own. I think RTJ2 is my favourite album of theirs, but with RTJ4 I feel engaged and emotional about what they’re saying. It’s weird when music hits you that hard sometimes when you’re not expecting it. I have to say, on the first listen, I had a little cry. It’s so powerful.”

RTJ4 was released shortly after the murder of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota, who died after a white police officer used excessive force to restrain him during an arrest. The footage of the officer’s knee on Floyd’s neck as he repeated the line “I can’t breathe” sparked worldwide protests by Black Lives Matter activists and their allies, calling for an end to police brutality against black people.

“It’s amazing the number of tweets I’ve seen about the song ‘Walking In The Snow’ which has the line ‘I can’t breathe’ in” says Williams. “People were asking if they’d recently gone back in to the studio to record this track because of what happened to George Floyd, and the band were like ‘No, this was recorded in November 2019’, so the fact that this is still happening is insane. The track with Mavis Staples on is also absolutely beautiful.”

2020 has certainly been a tumultuous and frightening year so far, but it seems that Williams is engaged with everything that’s happening, and grateful to have music as her outlet. Forever Blue feels like a state of mind right now, and her careful treatment of the noisy and the quiet on her debut album is ultimately a soothing experience.

I guess it also helps that she has a cute dachshund to distract her too, something which I bring up again. “He has his own Instagram. It’s @geezerthepup. He’s named after Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath, obviously. You can find him on there being cute and fabulous. I don’t do his Instagram, my husband does it. It’s just a bit of fun.” That’s certainly something we could all do with a bit more of these days.

You can pre-order A. A. Williams’ album Forever Blue here.

PLAYLIST: June 2020

At Get In Her Ears, we’re still sharing all the new music we can to help distract you from the day-to-day reality of lockdown life. Our June playlist is filled with some pop gems, alternative electronic sounds, and a healthy dose of indie guitar tunes too. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below, and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of the page.

 

Foxgluvv – ‘Don’t Text Back’
“Whether you’re waiting for a response to a text-argument, flirty messages or receiving news, we can all relate to that feeling in the pit of our stomachs when we’re not quite sure how somebody is going to reply” explains Foxgluvv about her latest single. She’s transformed that feeling in to another funky, bittersweet “hungover pop” tune. The single is also accompanied by a colourful video directed, filmed and edited by Foxgluvv during self-isolation. (Kate Crudgington)

Chinwe – ‘Sin’
East London’s Chinwe’s latest single showcases her rich vocals over gently rolling beat, that leave you mesmerised and wanting more. Speaking on the track, Chinwe states: “Sin is about how one mistake can lead to everything falling apart in a relationship. You both want it to work and would do anything for each another, but no matter how hard you try you still can’t make it right.” (Tash Walker)

Amaroun – ‘Rise’
The fifth in a string of new singles that Amaroun is releasing each month this year, ‘Rise’ flows with shimmering hooks and glitchy beats alongside her rich, emotion-strewn vocals. Continuing the theme of being a queer woman, which has run throughout each of the tracks she’s released this year, it oozes a stirring, effervescent power, juxtaposed with a gritty energy; a truly poignant reflection on rising up against oppression. (Mari Lane)

feeo – ‘Yeti’
“’Yeti’ is an exploration of the multiplicity of the human ‘self’ and its relationship with our concepts of ‘other'”, explains Oxford producer and songwriter feeo. Reared on a combination of Jazz, Folk, Reggae, and the 2002 Ibiza soundtrack, feeo blends elements of each to create her captviating sounds. (KC)

Fears – ‘two_’
A poignant meditation on some of her darkest hours; experimental pop artist Constance Keane – aka Fears – has transformed her struggles with self harm into a gently cathartic offering, specially commissioned for the Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts Festival. Fears’ determination and honesty in the face of adversity makes listening to ‘two_’ all the more poignant and necessary. If you’ve been affected by any of the issues explored in the song, please reach out to Mind or other mental health charities. (KC)

Jessica Winter – ‘Chasing Nightmares’
We’ve featured a Jessica Winter track on our last two monthly playlists, and I’m not going to apologise for the repetition. I’ve been playing her debut EP Sad Music on repeat since she released it in May, and this track is definitely one of my favourites. (KC)

A. A. Williams – ‘Melt’
I missed A. A. Williams performance at Southbank Centre just before we went in to lockdown, but I’ve been atoning for it by religiously listening to ‘Melt’ ever since. I was lucky enough to have a Skype chat with her about her upcoming album Forever Blue (soon to be published on GIHE) and her long-haired dachshund Geezer (who you should all immediately follow on Instagram.) (KC)

Bugeye – ‘Blue Fire’
Following their last uplifting single, ‘When The Lights Go Out’, GIHE faves Bugeye have now shared another offering from their upcoming debut album. Raging with Angela Martin’s gritty, sultry vocals and whirring electro hooks, ‘Blue Fire’ is perhaps more disco and less punk than previous releases, but maintains all the colourful pizzazz and magnificent vibrant energy that we’ve come to know and love from the band. A perfect uptempo blast of life that we all need right now. When The Lights Go Out, the debut album from Bugeye is out 10th July via Reckless Yes. (ML)

Madame So – ‘Generation Y’
Bathing in a discordant sea of scuzzy riffs, ‘Generation Y’ builds the tension with a raging sense of urgency. As her Madame So’ vocals ooze a gritty power with a blazing raw emotion, she reflects on how millenials’ youth culture is perceived by older generations, and how this cycle of judgement is snowballing into generations to come. With shades of the frenzied cacophonies of Kim Gordon’s solo material, it’s a soaring slice of immense punk-pop; an impassioned and compelling listen. (ML)

Janelle Monae & Wondaland Records – ‘Hell You Talmbout’
With lyrics consisting of the names of black Americans who have been killed by the police/state, this deeply poignant offering from Janelle Monae with the Wondaland Records collective really needs no introduction. (ML)

Emma Kupa – ‘Nothing At All’
Taken from Emma Kupa’s upcoming debut solo album, lead single ‘Nothing At All’ flows with her distinctive luscious vocals, oozing a subtle gritty raw emotion, alongside twinkling folk-strewn melodies. Filled with a reflective, heartfelt lyrical storytelling, it’s impossible not to become utterly immersed in the song’s subtle passion that shines through amongst its effervescent uptempo musicality. As it builds with shimmering harmonies, the beauty of multiple voices coming together, uniting, creates a truly heartwarming slice of stirring indie-pop. (ML)

Happy Accidents – ‘Grow’
Taken from Happy Accidents’ brand new album Sprawling, ‘Grow’ is lead by Phoebe Cross’ honey-sweet vocals alongside Rich Mandell’s swirling jangling melodies and a heartfelt, gentle emotion. Building with luscious harmonies and the reflective, relatable honesty of the lyricism, it’s perhaps a more mellow, but equally more-ish, offering than some of the band’s uptempo previous releases. (ML)

Seraphina Simone – ‘Cherry’
I don’t think I’ve heard a track of Seraphina Simone’s that I’ve not loved. This is her latest single, dismantling the American dream with her mesmerising vocals and subtle lyrics. Of the track Seraphina says: “‘Cherry’ is the voice in our heads telling us we don’t have enough, telling us to want more, buy more, be richer, be thinner, be prettier, be better than everyone else. It’s that sarky bitch who’s really mean to you and you hate her, but you also kind of want to be her best friend because she’s perfect and you’re a mess. It’s the voice fueled by consumer culture and jealousy and insecurity and myths like the American Dream. It seems harmless enough even though it fucks up the planet and makes us miserable no matter how much we have. Maybe in a weird way, Covid-19 will make us realise we don’t need so much shit to be happy.” (TW)

PELA – ‘South Of’
Electronica always has a solid place on any playlist I contribute to, and South London duo PELA’s latest single is my addition to this one. Reminiscent of early LAMB records, this track with it’s textured beats and piano keys is a new favourite of mine. All the revenue from Bandcamp sales for ‘South Of’ will be split between the Black Lives Matter UK fund and the Justice for Breonna Taylor fund. (TW)

Cafe Spice – ‘She Loves and Leaves’
Manchester based Café Spice return with their first single of 2020 ‘She Loves and Leaves’ via Snide Records. Having crafted a reputation among the country’s key folk tastemakers, the trio hailing from England, Scotland and Ireland now push the boat out into the mellow waters of indie-pop. Starting with a beautifully harmonised acapella introduction, ‘She Loves and Leaves’ is as a gentle as it is heartbreaking. (TW)

GIRLHOOD – ‘The Love I Need’
London duo Girlhood return with banging new single ‘The Love I Need’, out via Team Talk Records. The first taster from their debut album, the first song to be written and the last to be finished, the result is a gospel and blues-tinged explosion of cut and paste joy which Tessa describes as being about how “we’re rooted in our need to communicate, understand and be understood.” I have played this track consistently on repeat since first hearing it, samples mixed with Tessa’s lyrics, nods to 90s neo-soul and a song that just fills you with so much joy – exactly what we all need right now. (TW)

Nijuu – ‘Blue’
Korean DIY dream-pop artist Nijuu has released ‘Blue’ the opener to her upcoming debut EP nijuu in the sea, out independently on June 25th via State51 Conspiracy. This track has all the sounds of a deep sea dream; reverb heavy vocals, electric pianos and sparse drums make for quite the musical bath. Looking forward to hearing more of this water themed ethereal dream pop. (TW)

Nayana Iz – ‘TNT’
‘TNT’ is the latest single from Nayana Iz whose track ‘How We Do’ hit the ground with a force in 2019. Self-proclaimed born in London but made in India, Nayana Iz’s music and spirit is described as an amalgamation of those two cultures. As soon as she could start creating her own music, Nayana knew she wanted to mix the spirit of Indian language and dance (she is currently learning Hindi as well as classical Indian dance) in with the different music she had been raised on, and empower young girls (particularly from her native land) to find their own authentic voice and too express themselves. I am becoming nothing short of obsessed with this artist and cannot wait for the release of her debut EP Smoke + Fly, due on June 26th. (TW)

Sit Down – ‘Told U So’
Taken from their new EP Nice OneSit Down’s ‘Told U So’ is a perfect example of the Brighton duo’s ability to create magnificent other worlds through their unique and imaginative lyrical prowess. Based around the idea of an opening night at an ornate ballroom, the story of ‘Told U So’ is told from the perspectives of two women, who lure in rich predatory men and proceed to lock them in, trapping them in a show of revenge. As Katie Oldham’s swirling gritty vocals are accompanied by a driving, scuzz-filled energy, a magnificent raging cacophony is created. Read about the meaning behind each track on Nice One, from Katie herself, here. (ML)

Coolgirl – ‘Gaussian Blur’
Coolgirl is the solo project of Bitch Falcon’s guitarist & vocalist Lizzie Fitzpatrick. Self-described as “music and weird shit” she’s experimenting with electronics, and ‘Gaussian Blur’ is an instrumental that twists and turns in ultra cool style. (KC)