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