Track Of The Day: BLAB – ‘Age Gracefully’

A playful guitar tune that tackles toxic modern day beauty standards, Southend based multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Frances Murray aka BLAB has shared her latest single, ‘Age Gracefully’. Released via independent label Cool Thing Records, the track is a lo-fi musing on the unachievable aesthetic ideals that young women are bombarded with via their phone screens, and a gentle reminder not to buy into the bullshit.

“’Age Gracefully’ is an anti-beauty standards anthem for a generation brought up with a distorted perception of reality through social media and insidious marketing,” BLAB explains about her latest release. Following on from her 2021 EP, Word Of Mouth, BLAB continues to reaffirm her anti-establishment, anti-ego message on her new track, sound-tracked by vintage drum machines and buoyant guitar twangs.

Lyrically, BLAB takes aim at everything from Love Island, to wasting your wages on expensive and facials, to the the self-loathing that comes from being relentlessly shown the “picture perfect fantasy” of the daily routines of TV stars and strangers on social media feeds. Rather than being sucked into the despair of it all, BLAB reclaims the natural joy of ageing on her own terms in the chorus, her heartfelt vocals soaring over her melodic riffs, before resolving that “all that I can be is me / and I’m only a human being” at the end of the track.

This single is the first of many releases that BLAB has planned for 2023, so keep an eye out for more tunes from the Essex-based musician.

Listen to ‘Age Gracefully’ below.

 

Follow BLAB on SpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Photo Credit: Cameron Russell

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: Beckie Margaret – ‘CIAGA Vol.1’

An unassuming, poetic collection of songs that ruminate on the shifting nature of love, Essex-based songwriter Beckie Margaret’s latest EP CIAGA Vol.1 is a carefully crafted and deeply affecting listen. Released via Cool Thing Records, the EP (the first of three which are set to be released over the next 9 months) beautifully showcases a young woman learning how to fully express her feelings, and not shying away from the pain or frustration that often accompanies this process.

Through her emotive lyrics, distinctive vocals and tender, melodic guitar sounds, Beckie gently exposes her most intimate and passionate thoughts across the record, learning to trust her instincts when it comes to romantic infatuation. “This EP is cut down to the bone of my writing roots,” she explains about CIAGA Vol.1. “I wanted to reintroduce myself to the world with songs that feel like diary entries to me.”

This reintroduction begins with ‘Untitled’, which explores the feeling of not knowing where you stand with someone. The track’s opening lines bring the rawness of this emotional imbalance to life: “I just wanna know where your head’s been running to all week / I wanna hear what you said to the boys about me.” She offsets these unsettling thoughts with her confessional chorus: “I don’t need someone to complete me / and I don’t need a hand to guide me / but your fingers tracing down my body / are all I’ve ever really wanted.” Despite a natural yearning for true intimacy, she gently nudges listeners towards accepting that it’s better to be happy in your own company, than spend time with someone who doesn’t reciprocate your affection.

Beckie’s effortless, intuitive vocal is the lifeblood of CIAGA Vol.1, and something which truly shines on ‘Woman’. This coming-of-age tale is laced with lilting, atmospheric guitar strokes that resonate long after repeated listens. ‘August Nights’ flows in a similar vein, with the added sound of rainfall gently evoking the lonely atmosphere that inspired the track’s conception. Both songs shimmer with a palpable sense of urgency.

Whilst Beckie cites Phoebe Bridgers, Big Thief and Lana Del Rey as musical inspirations, there’s something Jeff Buckley-like in the guitar tones of closing track ‘Come Down’. “My skin doesn’t fit me” she admits, musing about the lows that follow the overwhelming highs of infatuation. As with all of the songs on CIAGA Vol.1, there’s a hard won emotional resilience underpinning the sentiments in Beckie’s lyrics; ambiguous enough to appeal to everyone, but heartfelt enough to cut through to the right listener.

A gifted songwriter with an achingly pure sound, Beckie Margaret’s CIAGA Vol.1 is a return to form for the Essex-based musician. Nothing feels forced, and there’s an impressive emotional maturity permeating all of the songs on the record. We can’t wait to hear what Vol.2 sounds like.

Listen to CIAGA.Vol.1 here

Follow Beckie Margaret on SpotifyInstagramFacebook & Twitter

Photo Credit: Beckie Margaret

Kate Crudgington
@kcbobcut

GIHE: Personal Highlights Of 2021

2021 has been another strange year. Live music tentatively returned after multiple Covid-19 lockdowns, which meant the GIHE team were finally able to see some of our favourite bands in the flesh. The easing of restrictions also meant we were able to physically get into a studio to record our monthly Soho Radio show together! More than ever, we were grateful to feel connected – either through the internet or in real life – to our friends and followers, and that’s what our Personal Highlights of 2021 reflect.

Read below for a recap of some of our Personal Highlights of the year. Huge thanks to everyone who has supported GIHE. Love & solidarity. x

 

Team Highlight: Moving to Soho Radio

After six years of presenting our new music show on Hoxton Radio, the GIHE team were invited to move over to Soho Radio’s airwaves. They say a change is as good as a rest, and this change certainly helped to re-energise us to get back into doing what we love: fan-girling on air about our favourite music and talking to the bands and artists who create it. Noga Erez helped us launch our debut show in May, and since then we’ve spoken to BISHI, Bitch Hunt, Fears, BLAB, Maria Uzor, Grandmas House & The Log Books’ Shivani Dave. It’s a privilege to have this platform on Soho to promote women & non-binary artists, and we’re excited to bring you more radio shows with them problem pain 2022!

 

Mari Lane (Co-Founder & Managing Editor)

Interviewing Sleigh Bells

With the release of their sixth album Texis this year, genre-defying duo Sleigh Bells have been firm favourites of mine over the last decade, and have provided many personal musical memories. From dancing the night away to the immense energy of the likes of ‘Rill Rill’ or ‘Infinity Guitars’ throughout my 20s, to watching that scene of Jessica Jones on repeat, purely because of the incredible power that ‘Demons’ adds to the narrative. It was such an honour to speak to vocalist and songwriter Alexis Krauss in September about the album, her collaborative process with producer/guitarist Derek Miller, the formation of Sleigh Bells, being a woman in the industry, and her involvement with Young Women Who Crush – an amazing sounding organisation for young women and gender expansive youth from New York City public schools, inspiring them to discover the outdoors and develop their leadership skills. You can read the full interview here.

GIHE Live at The Shacklewell Arms with Problem Patterns, pink suits & GUTTS

Hosting our first gig at The Shacklewell Arms was such a joyous experience in every way. Not only was it an honour to be able to organise an event at such an esteemed venue at which I’ve spent many a night enjoying some of the best live music at, but everyone who works there was so lovely and helpful, that it made the whole experience completely stress-free. Massive shout-out to sound engineer Sofia, a total pro who is amazing at what she does!

And of course, what made the night particularly special was the bands. With GIHE having been mega fans of Northern Irish punks Problem Patterns for some time now, it was such a privilege to be able to host their first London gig. With each poignant, raging offering, the band filled the venue with their swirling, empowering energy and fierce, infectious passion, uniting the crowd with both their righteous anger and vibrant, joyous sense of fun. With the captivating, riotous force of queer Margate duo pink suits, and the angst-driven ‘sax punk’ of opening band GUTTS too, it really was a dream of a night and I’m so grateful it was able to go ahead. You can check out pics of the event here.

Talking to The Independent about Women’s Safety at Gigs & Festivals

Kate and I spoke to Elizabeth Aubrey for a feature in The Independent about the need to make music events safer spaces for women, girls and the LGBTQ+ community. A topic we feel extremely strongly about. We discussed our zero tolerance policy to sexual assault and harassment at our events, and measures we put in place at our gigs to try and ensure the safest possible environment for all. It was also the first time I’ve really properly talked about the experience of having my drink spiked whilst at university in Leeds – the issue of women and girls being spiked sadly being something that seems particularly prevalent at the moment.

I was really grateful to be given the opportunity to speak to Elizabeth about such an important issue and hope that, with an increased awareness in the public eye, more ‘active bystanders’ and with more women, girls and LGBTQIA+ folk feeling safe enough to speak out, more can start being done by the industry as a whole to put a stop to instances of abuse or harassment, and to provide the safest possible spaces. You can read the full feature here.

Interviewing Celeste Bell (Poly Styrene’s daughter)

With the release of the documentary Poly Styrene: I Am A Cliché this year, we were lucky enough to talk to Celeste Bell – Poly’s daughter and co-director of the film, along with Paul Sng – about the inspirations behind the film, her relationship with her mother and the sexism that still prevails in the music industry. Based around a wonderful book by Zoë Howe, Dayglo: The Poly Styrene Story, the film chronicles Poly’s remarkable and often troubled life, including never-seen-before footage of her, telling her moving story predominantly through the eyes of her daughter.

In addition to discussing the film, it was interesting to speak to Celeste about how far the industry and society’s attitudes towards women still have to go, and the urgent need to revive some of Poly’s punk spirit. To unite, overcome adversity and bring about change, we could all do with being a bit more like her, to start to undo the bondage that binds us into this patriarchal society. As Poly says: “Oh Bondage, Up Yours!”. Read the full interview with Celeste here.

Honourable Mention: Ezra Furman

I thought I’d also give an honourable mention to Ezra Furman, who came out as a Transgender woman earlier this year and shared beautiful images of herself with her child. 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.”

 

Kate Crudgington (Co-Founder & Features Editor)

Chatting to Cool Thing Records on Soho Radio about GIHE

I’ve been following Southend indie label Cool Thing Records since my Gigslutz days, so when Luke invited me on to their Soho Radio show (Cool Thing Presents) to chat about my experience as a DIY music journalist, I was genuinely chuffed. I loved reminiscing with him about landmark musical moments in my life and how we came to launch GIHE. I also managed to wedge in an impersonation of Eastenders’ Nick Cotton into our chat, which you can listen to in full here.

The Cool Thing team have supported GIHE in everything we do, and we naturally support them back. Their roster is bursting with talent – from BLAB, Mai and Beckie Margaret, to Asylums, Suspects, BAIT and The Horse Heads – I’m constantly impressed and excited to hear their new releases. There’s an immense amount of passion, commitment and empathy behind everything they do, and I look forward to working with them throughout 2022.

My first gig after Covid-19 & our first GIHE gig of 2021

When I walked in to Electrowerkz to see DROWND – aka my brother Joe – play his first gig of 2021 in August, I was tanked up on Gin & Tonic because I was nervous to be doing something “normal” for the first time in over a year. Despite my anxieties, within minutes of the gig starting, my mind blocked out any Covid-19 paraphernalia; it just let the intense, heavy sounds blasting out of the speakers spread through my cells. It was fucking brilliant. I didn’t want the night to end.

I had a similar sensation watching Schande and CURRLS perform at our first GIHE gig of 2021 at The Victoria a few months later in November. I watched from a distance as Mari worked the room, ensuring the bands and everyone who was attending felt safe and valued. 2022 is looking like another dodgy year for live music, but I hope we’ll get to attend and organise more gigs like this at some point soon.

Talking to NME about Women’s Safety at Gigs

With the return of live music, unfortunately, came the return of the all-to-familiar reports of sexual harassment and assault at gigs and festivals. It’s something we have experienced first hand at GIHE, and we know many of our friends and followers have also lived through these grim and debilitating experiences. That’s why we feel it’s important to push forward with our own policies at events to keep women & non-binary people safe, and to keep the conversations about women’s safety in the public eye.

Mari & I spoke to NME journalist Charlotte Krol about this and how we think things can be improved earlier this year. You can read the full feature here.

Favourite Interviews of 2021

One of the main things that’s kept me going this year are the conversations I’ve had with bands and artists about the music they make. It’s such a privilege to have access to someone’s creative processes, and I am humbled every time an artist shares their own thoughts and influences with me. I also love it when bands consistently crack jokes about how bored they are of hearing their own music, like Cork art-punks Pretty Happy did when I spoke to them back in September.

My conversations with Circe, Nadia Javed, Breakup Haircut, Sian O’Gorman (NYX Choir), Lilith AI, Softcult, Nova TwinsBleach Lab and Divide & Dissolve all left a lasting impression on me in 2021.

 

Victoria Conway (GIHE Contributor)

Helen Love @ Sheffield Pop Weekender Sidney and Matilda (first gig after lockdown)

I’m not sure if this was my first gig after lockdown, but, woah, it was the most memorable. After over 18 months without live music, Helen Love took me back, headfirst and in glorious technicolour. They fired up the drum machine and powered through a set of glitter-fuelled bubblegum punk pop with swagger and smiles. The legendary Ms. Love, still looking badass after fronting the band for almost 30 years, stood in front of a dizzying video collage and blasted out the hits to a crowd who roared their appreciation by shouting along to every word. ‘Does your heart go booooom?’ was a standout; it was the musical equivalent of someone shaking up a can of Monster Energy and letting it spray absolutely everywhere. I’m talking pure, giddy caffeinated joy! It was beautiful to reunite with a band I’ve loved for over half my life, and to do it on a dancefloor packed with much-missed gig buddies.

Thanks for everything folks. We’ll see you in 2022!

 

GIHE: Albums & EPs Of 2021

After sharing our Tracks of 2021 last week, the GIHE team want to shine a light on some of the brilliant Albums & EPs that have been released during the last 12 months. These records kept us dancing around our bedrooms/living rooms/home offices, miming underneath our face-masks and distracted us momentarily from the uncertain world we’re currently all living in.

So, in alphabetical order, here are our top Albums & EPs of 2021 (with some honorable mentions at the end…)

ALBUMS

Adult Mom – Driver
Consistently my most listened-to artist over the last couple of years, Adult Mom aka Stevie Knipe creates the most beautifully heartfelt music. Although I had thought it would be hard to follow the perfect relatable emotion of their debut Momentary Lapse Of Happily, and 2018’s Soft Spots, this year’s Driver does not disappoint. With the lilting musicality and raw emotive splendour of each track, the album has been in my ears on literally a daily basis since it came out in March; I have sought comfort in the luscious depth of Knipe’s vocals and found myself fully immersed in the album’s twinkling grace. I’m sending extra love to Stevie at the moment, as they were diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and are currently having to undergo treatment. I can’t wait to hear more gorgeous music from them when they’re ready. (Mari Lane – Co-Founder)

Blonde Maze – Something Familiar
I’m honestly not sure how I would have got through the last two years without the sound of Blonde Maze in my ears daily. Even before her debut album Something Familiar came out in Autumn, I had been completely addicted to her utterly dreamy creations – ever since she’d been a guest on our radio show about five years ago. To have a full LP filled with her exquisite soundscapes has been just what I’ve needed recently. Bathing the ears in shimmering ripples of dreamy reflection, each luscious track is a perfect cathartic tonic. My album of the year – it’s been the beautifully calming and delicately uplifting soundtrack I’ve so needed. (ML)

Divide & Dissolve – Gas Lit
Released via Invada Records in January, instrumental activists Divide and Dissolve’s second album Gas Lit continues their sonic mission to erode the foundations of colonialism and white supremacy. Produced by Ruban Nielson of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, the record is an aural purging of injustice, fuelled by the diversity of Takiaya Reed’s doom-ridden saxophone sounds and Sylvie Nehill’s phenomenal percussion. It flows with a unique gargantuan grace that unsettles and soothes my cells every time I hear it. I had the pleasure of interviewing Takiaya about the album earlier this year too, which you can read here.
(Kate Crudgington – Co-Founder)

Du Blonde – Homecoming
With Homecoming, Du Blonde gave us the DIY stadium rock record we didn’t know we needed. After becoming disillusioned with the music industry, they wrote, recorded and produced this album of swaggering, empowering anthems for outcasts. A bag of contradictions, it’s both silly and serious, wonderfully weird yet radio friendly. A powerful record, I love the way Homecoming embraces self-destruction and self-love. It has a proper punk energy and inspires you to get shit done on your own terms – after you’ve had a dance, of course.
(Victoria Conway – Contributor)

Fears – Oíche
An intuitive artist who has transformed her darkest moments into graceful electronic soundscapes, Fears aka Constance Keane shared her poignant debut album Oíche (meaning “night” in Irish) in May. Released via her own label TULLE, the Irish-born, London-based musician balances her intense ruminations on trauma alongside delicate synth loops and tentative beats to shine a light on a personal metamorphosis. Much like the coarse fabric she used to create her altruistic dress on the album’s artwork, Fears allows her lived experiences to take up space and permeate this record, which swells with unflinching honesty and elegance. Oíche is a collection of shadowy lullabies that span five years of emotional territory, and the result is a truly immersive and enlightening body of work. (KC)

Fightmilk – Contender
Following 2018’s Not With That Attitude, this year total faves Fightmilk released their second album Contender via Reckless Yes, and it was everything I could have hoped for. With new bassist Healey and a perhaps more ambitious musicality than previous releases, this year’s album marks a maturing in sound for the band, whilst maintaining their trademark anthemic power-pop energy. Filled with the perfect balance of jangling melodies, an endearing, refreshingly honest lyricism and shades of a raw tongue-in-cheek wit, the album covers themes from space travel and capitalism, to love, heartbreak and self-loathing, all the while oozing a raw emotion and the band’s distinctive, quirky charisma. With all the scuzzy musicality and shimmering energy we’ve come to know and love, Contender showcases a band that are continuously refining their sound and, in the process, consistently continuing to win my heart.
(ML)

Gazelle Twin & NYX – Deep England
Inspired by the tracks that formed Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz’s 2018 album Pastoral, Deep England is a dark fable that serves as a warning to listeners not to get swept up in national apathy. Whilst Bernholz’s unique vision of Britain’s past was brought vividly to life on her original record, with the support of the NYX drone choir her vitriol is able to take its fullest, most nerve-shredding form. Together, they present their altruistic vision of Britain in its “post-truth” sphere, embroidering a new tapestry of sound for these jarring and uncertain times. Deep England is a phenomenal artistic accomplishment; a shadowy, graceful collection of sounds that radiate with unease – truly unlike anything you’ve heard before. (KC)

LINGUA IGNOTA – SINNER GET READY
“And all that I’ve learned / is everything burns” laments Lingua Ignota aka Kristin Hayter on ‘Pennsylvania Furnace’, the fourth track on SINNER GET READY – an apt sentiment for a record that blazes with a unique orchestral agony. Released via Sargent House, Hayter’s fourth full length offering is an emotional exorcism inspired by the severe brand of Christianity in rural Pennsylvania where she currently lives. Its strictness permeates her vision to the core, with her sensational vocals remaining the lifeblood of SINNER GET READY. She uses her voice to devastating effect, harrowing up the soul with her effortless ability to switch from a soft, divine cry to a cord-ripping, desperate plea. A stunning record that I’ve returned to many times this year. (KC)

Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert
Sometimes I Might Be Introvert is an outstanding album, ambitious and sprawling while maintaining the punchy immediacy of expression synonymous with Little Simz’ earlier work. She confidently glides between styles, from epic Scott Walker-style arrangements to afrobeat grooves, which form mere backdrops to the artist’s lyrical acrobatics. Simz enumerates the anxieties, troubles and triumphs of her life and career throughout the album’s 19 tracks – this album already has an undeniably classic quality. It is a singular expansion of the possibilities of hip-hop, of pop music more generally, and an unrepentantly fantastic album of Baroque ambition and fabulous execution. (Lloyd Bolton – Contributor)

Lunar Vacation – Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp
The latest album from Atlanta-based Lunar Vacation, Inside Every Fig Is A Dead Wasp oozes a shimmering allure throughout. As each track treats the ears to whirring hooks and a sparkling musicality, I just fall more in love with Grace Repasky’s honey-sweet crystalline vocals on each listen. Floating seamlessly with an ethereal splendour, a stirring melancholy ripples on a seemingly serene surface, creating a perfectly dreamy collection. With shades of Alvvays or Best Coast, Lunar Vacation have fast become one of my most favourite bands of 2021. (ML)

New Pagans – The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All
An intuitive rumination on the personal and the political, New Pagans’ debut album The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All is a gritty, deeply poetic consideration of inequality and social injustice. Released via Big Scary Monsters, the Belfast band’s first full length record dives into the paraphernalia surrounding religion, romance and women’s pain, and resurfaces having transformed these tired archetypes into aural talismans of strength and defiance. I’m such a big fan of everything they’ve released so far and I’m hoping to hear these songs live at some point in 2022. (KC)

Noga Erez – KIDS
The GIHE team collectively adore Tel-Aviv producer & pop renegade Noga Erez’s second album, KIDS. It’s a stylish, swaggering collection of songs that explore personal growth, morality and what it means to disconnect and reconnect with the world around you. Erez has worked closely alongside her collaborative & life partner Ori Rousso to create a razor sharp, intensely catchy record that proves she’s got the musical mileage she sings of. Through her witty lyrics, slick production and commanding beats, she blazes a unique musical trail that pulses with authentic energy, spotlighting her talent as a producer, vocalist, MC and performer. What a star. (KC)

Nova Twins Presents: Voices For The Unheard
Driven by their desire to spotlight the work of underrepresented artists of colour in the heavy music scene, Nova Twins aka Amy Love and Georgia South put together this blistering collection of alternative anthems with the help of Dr Martens to showcase this eclectic range of talent. Featuring tracks by Big Joanie, Khx05, Loathe, Oxymorrons & LutSickPuppy, the record is a fun, furious blur of noise from a group of artists who have been galvanized by their individual experiences of discrimination, but who are now united in their attempts to create the music they wish they had heard growing up. A proper gem of a record that’s introduced me to some brilliant artists this year. (KC)

pink suits – political child
Having completely blown us away with their riotous, seething energy at our first gig at The Shacklewell Arms earlier this month, queer Margate duo pink suits released their debut album political child, in the Spring. With just drums, a guitar and the riotous force of their voices, Lennie and Ray offer an inclusive feminist rebellion to bring about radical change – with each powerful track on the collection, they deliver a seething, all-too-poignant social commentary on the increasingly terrifying state of the UK right now. Throughout political child, pink suits offer a perfect riotous catharsis; an immense formidable force, coated in a rousing cacophony. The duo have provided an utterly necessary soundtrack for these times; a rallying cry to make our voices heard and fight for an upheaval of a neoliberal society. (ML)

Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend
Each time I’ve tried to write about Wolf Alice’s third album, Blue Weekend, I’ve fallen short of the words to describe how profoundly comforting I find it. Emotional, but with a few grunge ragers thrown in there too – plus a lyric that everyone should adopt as a mantra “I am what I am and I’m good at it / and you don’t like me? Well that isn’t fucking relevant” – Ellie Rowsell’s magnificent, elastic vocals and poignant lyrics effortlessly stretch across the record. I listened to Blue Weekend twice a day for over a month, discovering something new every time I let its cinematic sounds wash over me. Pure musical escapism that’s rooted in real fucking feelings. Properly sublime stuff. (KC)

EPs

Ailsa Tully – Holy Isle
Long term favourite of GIHE, Welsh artist Ailsa Tully released her EP in Autumn this year. Offering four exquisite slices of stirring folk-strewn indie, Holy Isle showcases Tully’s ability to reflect on feelings of vulnerability and loss with a gently uplifting, sparkling grace. As the collection flows with a shimmering, stripped-back musicality, the juxtaposition of Tully’s crystalline, honey-sweet vocals and the gentle lilting melodies creates a delicate, captivating majesty. As the beautifully rippling instrumentation glistens with a heartfelt splendour, I can’t help but become utterly immersed in the raw emotion and poignant, resplendent charm of Holy Isle in its entirety. (ML)

Aisha Badru – The Way Back Home
Having previously charmed our ears with the soothing sounds of last year’s ‘Soil’s Daughter’ and 2018’s poignant debut album Pendulum, singer-songwriter Aisha Badru released her EP The Way Back Home earlier this month. Flowing with twinkling, folk-inspired hooks alongside Badru’s rich, soulful vocals, each track oozes an immersive, heartfelt emotion. With a gentle, lilting energy and shimmering grace, a sweeping majestic splendour soars throughout this beautifully stirring collection as it soothes the mind with its gently uplifting allure. (ML)

Bitch Hunt – Shapeshifter
Having formed at First Timers Fest in 2017, London based non-binary band Bitch Hunt have since played live for us and been lovely guests on our show on Soho Radio. This year they released their debut EP Shapeshifter, via Reckless Yes. A shimmering collection of five lo-fi, yet heartfelt, offerings, it reflects on themes ranging from nostalgia and relationships, to gender and identity, delivered with a wonderfully scuzzy musicality and twinkling energy. Treating us to their effervescent, stirring brand of unique punk-pop, Bitch Hunt have crafted a collection that is beautifully poignant, whilst offering a welcome glimmer of optimism and solidarity. (ML)

BLAB – Word of Mouth
Formed of three previously released singles and a brand new track, Southend-based BLAB‘s debut EP is the sound of a songwriter fully embracing their own choices and leaning into the raw power of each moment. Released via Cool Thing Records, BLAB aka Frances Murray combines direct lyrics with infectious guitar riffs to push past personal and political frustrations, providing her listeners with sharply observed judgements on both. (KC)

Deep Tan – Creeping Speedwells
With acclaim from the likes of NME, So Young and BBC 6Music, Hackney-based trio deep tan have been favourites here at GIHE for some time now, and we’ve been very much enjoying their debut EP Creeping Speedwells, which was released this summer. Propelled by glitchy beats and whirring, twinkling hooks, each track captivates the ears with the trio’s compelling seductive allure. Flowing with fuzzed-out shades of ’90s trip-hop, whilst maintaining a unique sparkling edge and gently haunting majesty, the whole collection offers a spellbinding, rousing splendour that’ll immerse you in its dark, psychedelic haze. (ML)

Hilary Woods – Feral Hymns
I saw the title of this EP, listened to 30 seconds of it and downloaded it IMMEDIATELY. Released via Sacred Bones, Feral Hymns by Irish multi-instrumentalist Hilary Woods captures a relatable sense of gloom across five instrumentals that she worked on with collaborator Lasse Marhaug. Woods describes her ambiguous sounds as “A collection of hymns set at dusk…Unspoken bonds, primal pain, cyclical patterns, unsent love letters.” I find her melancholy, fleshy sounds intensely moving and I can’t wait to hear the new full length record she’s currently working on. (KC)

Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business – He Earns Enough
Featuring members of Trash Kit, F*Choir and Bamboo, Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business are a six-piece choral punk ensemble who released their debut EP in October. A poignant collection covering themes such as the struggles of living in a patriarchal, capitalist society and the fears women and gender minority people face when walking home alone, He Earns Enough showcases the soaring, harmonious power of voices coming together in unity. With each track propelled by an anthemic, mystical energy, the collection offers a simple, yet stirring, message, oozing a sweeping, celestial splendour that’ll bewitch the listener instantly with its eerily enchanting allure. (ML)

M(h)aol – Gender Studies
I was blown away by the power of Irish post punks M(h)aol when I saw them perform their debut EP live at The Shacklewell Arms in November. The brooding, shadowy sounds on Gender Studies vehemently reject outdated attitudes and social constraints concerning gender, identity and equality. It’s a vital, much needed antidote to toxic patriarchal standards, providing listeners with a cathartic exhale of fury and freedom. (KC)

TOKKY HORROR – I Found The Answers And Now I Want More
GIHE writer Jay Mitra penned a great review of dance-punk trio TOKKY HORROR’s debut EP earlier this year, branding it “a cyber goth masterpiece that hits you as hard as MDMA” – and they’re not wrong. Packed full of manic electronics and pounding beats, I Found The Answers And Now I Want More is a whirlwind of EDM energy that’s impossible to sit still to. (KC)

Honourable Mentions

Alex Loveless – Phone Keys & Wallet (EP)
Arlo Parks – Collapsed In Sunbeams
BISHI –Let My Country Awake
CHERYM – Hey Tori (EP)
Elodie Gervaise – Syzergy (EP)
Elsa Hewitt – LUPA
Grace Petrie – Connectivity
Halsey –If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Maria Uzor – Innocence and Worldliness (EP)
Me Rex – Megabear
Naoko Sakata – Dancing Spirits
Nun Habit – Hedge Fun (EP)
Okay Kaya – The Incompatible
Penelope Trappes – Penelope Three
SPELLLING – The Turning Wheel
Tirzah – Colourgrade
YAY MARIA – OYEZ
WILLOW – Lately I Feel Everything