WATCH: Softcult – ‘Spit It Out’

A lush, swirling guitar tune that gently encourages listeners to face their unconscious bias, Canadian duo Softcult have shared their latest single ‘Spit It Out’. Since the release of their debut EP Year Of The Rat earlier this year, the pair have been busy working on new material, with this new offering building on their existing manifesto to resist and relieve the pressures that come with existing in a patriarchal world.

Formed of Ontario-based twins Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn, Softcult cut their teeth playing live shows in their local town of Kitchener, before moving on to bigger audiences on the North American tour circuit. Their experiences of playing and working within a male-dominated industry formed the foundation for their current sound, which is born from the desire to reject toxic standards of femininity and embrace a more equal world.

‘Spit It Out’ embodies this outlook, as the band explain in more detail: “The song is about rejecting harmful ideologies that we’ve come to accept as normal, even though they perpetuate our own oppression. Most people understand that misogyny, sexism, racism, etc are wrong, but don’t often notice when it occurs in our every day lives, in the media, or how we’ve been conditioned to perceive the world. We can even unknowingly become part of the problem because we’ve internalized these ways of thinking. We wrote the song about resisting societal standards which only serve to benefit those that hold power over others. By simply refusing to accept these ideologies, we can weaken the pillars in our society that allow oppression and injustice. It all starts with questioning them in the first place, and then deciding that we aren’t going to continue to contribute to them.”

Watch the video for ‘Spit It Out’ below.

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Photo credit: Judith Priest

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Anika – ‘Change’

Moving beyond the punishing sounds and default to doom-saying that’s often defined her previous work, Berlin-based musician Anika‘s new album Change is a more positive cut, possessing some of her most accessible work yet. Set for release via Sacred Bones & Invada Records on 23rd July, the album is not without its jagged, angsty moments, but on the whole it’s certainly a cleaner offering.

Fans of the musician’s existing output – a 2010 solo debut performed alongside Beak> and a string of releases with Exploded View – will recognise the blueprint of locked drum & bass grooves, noisy synths and Anika’s haunting voice floating above it with a cracked serenity that feels as though it could collapse into tears or hysterical laughter at any moment. The key sonic difference with Change is its polished quality, which lends a new refinement and approachability to Anika’s work. At times it feels a little too neat, lacking that terrifying, paint-stripping howl that makes for the best Exploded View tracks. Having said that, it opens up a new side to Anika, one that many will want to hear more from.

Anika reports that the words on Change were written largely “on the spot”, going some way to explaining the recourse to simple yet enigmatic refrains, felt most urgently on tracks like the thunderous opener ‘Finger Pies’ and the disquieting ‘Rights’. Her willingness to employ a smoother set of sounds allows for some unexpectedly great pop moments. ‘Critical’ is lead by a neat synth line that could have come straight from Jane Weaver’s Modern Cosmology, wonderfully plucking the song from the murk of a driving rhythm section.

‘Change’ is an excellent track, epitomising the huge shift Anika makes as an artist on this record. It offers a guarded optimism in its hedged refrain “I think we can change” and tempers the album’s concerns about the destructive nature of man, articulated on tracks like ‘Never Coming Back’ (inspired by Rachael Carson’s book Silent Spring and our destruction of the natural world), enabling us to find consolation in our agency as individuals to avert future consequences of human activity. It is telling that ‘Change’ is the eponymous track and that its central idea was chosen to be the defining theme of the album, creating room for a more sanguine outlook.

The album closes with ‘Wait for Something’, which, like ‘Change’, plays a crucial role in forging the overall mood of the piece. Emerging out of the claustrophobic terror of ‘Freedom’, we are encouraged to find solace in its vagueness, in the belief that some salvation will come, even if we cannot conceptualise the form it might take. People often draw the obvious and not entirely helpful comparison between Anika and Nico, but as the drums kick in here it feels more like we’re listening to the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, pushing us into the realm of unadulterated pop rock. Sitting on those flying keys and cymbal crashes, listeners can really feel the joyous optimism Anika seeks to leave them with.

Sonically drifting away from brutal electro-terror and thematically more positive than earlier efforts, Anika’s Change is an interesting transitional album in sound and spirit, not entirely comfortable in its optimism, but telling for its willingness to seek it out.

Follow Anika on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook

Photo Credit: Sven Gutjahr

Lloyd Bolton
@lloyd_bolton

Track Of The Day: Pretty Happy – ‘Sudocrem’

A frantic, witty, cathartic burst of art punk noise, Cork trio Pretty Happy have shared their latest single ‘Sudocrem’. Taken from their recent EP Sluggers Bridge, released via Art For Blind Records, the track ricochets between manic vocals, spoken word verses and whirlwind guitar cacophonies to reflect the irritation of the characters the song is based around.

Formed of Abbey Blake (guitar), Arann Blake (vocals, bass) and Andy Killian (drums), Pretty Happy have been busy cutting their teeth on the DIY Irish music and arts scene over the last few years. Abbey is a founder of Angry Mom Collective, a movement set up to challenge the gender imbalance in Irish arts, whilst Arann and Andy are keenly involved in the local drama and film scenes. Together, the trio combine their talents to create their distinctive sounds and ‘Sudocrem’ is another of their riotous, tongue-in-cheek offerings.

Centered around the Cork-centric story of a girl who is suffering from alcohol poisoning in the Mercy Hospital whilst her partner sits across the road in the Franciscan Well pub, ‘Sudocrem’ kicks and screams with the kind of frustration, panic and anxiety that can’t be soothed by the childhood medicinal staple it’s named after. Speaking about their new EP which the track is lifted from, the band explain: “With Sluggers Bridge we have attempted to capture our live theatre-influenced, art-punk sound. We wanted to make this EP as interdisciplinary as possible, taking as much inspiration from the Irish stage as we do the Irish music scene. This EP is uniquely Cork, influenced greatly by the people and humour of the city.”

Listen to ‘Sudocrem’ below.

Follow Pretty Happy on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Photo Credit: Nicholas O’Donnell

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: GIHE on Soho Radio with Bitch Hunt 30.06.21

Tash, Kate & Mari were back on the NYC & Culture channel on Soho Radio for their third GIHE new music show! They played a mix of golden oldies and new tunes from some of their favourite women, non-binary and LGBTQ+ artists.

London-based non-binary band Bitch Hunt joined them to talk about First Timers Fest, their recent EP Shapeshifter, working with their ultra supportive label Reckless Yes and their enduring love for Dave Grohl…

Listen below:

 

Tracklist
Kelis – Good Stuff
Lolawolf – Whole House
Täpp – Aquaria
Witch Prophet – Makda
HAVVK – Automatic
Lingua Ignota – PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE
WheelUP ft. Tiawa – Take Me Higher
Desire Marea – Tavern Kween
Sharon Van Etten & Angel Olsen – Like I Used To
Wet Leg – Chaise Longue
Varley – The Pressure
Girl Ray – Give Me Your Love
CMAT – 2 Wrecked 2 Care
Bitch Hunt – Eau Claire
**Interview with Bitch Hunt**
Th’Sheridans – I Don’t Wanna Be Dismembered
The Linda Lindas – Racist, Sexist Boy
BLAB – Eton Mess
Trouble Wanted – Lonely Cowgirl
All Day Breakfast Cafe – Old School Struggling
Cherym – Listening To My Head
Alice Hubble – Power Play
Blonde Maze x Attom – I Think About
HARD FEELINGS – Holding On Too Long
Seinabo Sey – Younger (Kygo Remix)
Joni Mitchell – All I Want