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.
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.
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.
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.
A.A. Williams – Forever Blue
Ailbhe Reddy – Personal History
Byenary – Byenary
The Crystal Furs – Beautiful and True
Diet Cig – Do You Wonder About Me?
Dream Nails – Dream Nails
Lido Pimienta – Miss Colombia
MOURN – Self Worth
Nadine Shah – Kitchen Sink
No Home – Fucking Hell
Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher
REWS – Warriors
Waxahatchee – Saint Cloud
The Fight Is Not Over (Live album feat. Problem Patterns, Sister Ghost, Strange New Places, Gender Chores)