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)

INTERVIEW: Beckie Margaret

Since the release of her debut single ‘Cars & Catacombs’ via Cool Thing Records in 2017, Essex songwriter Beckie Margaret has been working hard crafting cinematic, reflective soundscapes about her experiences as a young woman. With her latest single ‘Divine Feminine’ she’s reaching new heights in terms of artistic confidence, and strengthening our belief that she’s one of the most naturally gifted songwriters we’ve had the pleasure of listening to. We had a quick catch up with Beckie to talk about her latest single, her upcoming debut album, her memories of the Sofar Sounds & GIHE gig she played just before the first lockdown in March, and whether there might be a seasonal single on the horizon…

Hello Beckie, how have you been coping and staying creative during the on-going Covid-19 pandemic?
It’s definitely been difficult to stay creative during Covid. I’ve really had to remind myself to unlock that child-like mind set so I can then sit down and write or create. I definitely have to work in short, quick bursts now though, otherwise the stresses of the world seep into my work.

You’ve just released your new single ‘Divine Feminine’. Talk us through what inspired you to write it.
The main thing that inspired ‘Divine Feminine’ was the observation of people that drain your energy and keep you from reaching your highest self. I think in your 20’s you realise that not everyone has your best interests at heart, so it’s a semi diss track I suppose. I like to think it reflects the aggression of this year in many ways.

You’ve been busy recording your debut album this year. Talk us through some of the highlights of the process, and what your anticipations are for the record once it’s complete.
I’m very much a studio girl so making an album was very special, especially at SS2 with Rees Broomfield who is absolutely incredible and completely understood my creative vision. Having Rees as well as my band to help with hybrid tracking on some of the more organic tunes really made the whole experience perfect. I already can’t wait to record another, everyday was a highlight to be honest.

You played live for GIHE & Sofar Sounds in March about a week before the first lockdown was put into place. What are your main memories from this night?
That was my first Sofar Sounds, so for it to be a GIHE event too was lovely. A really tender night full of honest acts and a respectful audience. As well as the hosting being amazing by Kate and Tash/ I’m glad it was the last gig I played before lockdown, it for sure kept me going thinking about how wholesome the evening was.

Any artists or bands you can recommend we listen to at the moment?
Arlo Parks’ writing is amazing, I’ve been listening to her a lot. I have had slowthai on repeat as well.

Finally, Christmas is coming up…have you ever been tempted to work your magic on a festive classic?
I literally say this every year, I WILL write a Christmas song! I’m so up for it. I would so channel a Coldplay Christmas song vibe, on my list of things to do…

Thanks to Beckie for chatting to us!
Follow her on Spotify, Instagram, Facebook & Twitter for more updates.

Photo Credit: Antonio Milevcic

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

VIDEO PREMIERE: BLAB – ‘R.I.P’

A savage combination of wicked guitar riffs, sardonic vocals and witty lyrics, Essex-based artist BLAB has shared her debut single ‘R.I.P’. Released today (3rd July) via Cool Thing Records, the track is a cathartic expression of personal frustration designed to help listeners move past their lingering resentments.

“Being able to express anger in an unfiltered way can be super super healthy, as long as you’re not hurting others” explains Frances Murray – aka BLAB. ON ‘R.I.P’ she playfully rips through her unresolved anguish, turning it into an indie-pop, punk-infused anthem. “To me, it feels like a reclamation of power to be able to freely express my anger from that time in my life. It’s such a bold statement that it had to be the first single; it’s like opening a can of worms and a firework coming at you instead!”

The accompanying video for ‘R.I.P’ was shot by Murray during isolation and playfully reflects both the frustrations explored in the track, and the restrictions the lockdown has imposed on artists. BLAB won’t be held back by these things though, and ‘R.I.P’ is a hectic debut from this emerging new talent.

Follow BLAB on Facebook and for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: May 2020

At Get In Her Ears, we’re still sharing all the new music we can in order to distract you from the day-to-day reality of lockdown life. Our May playlist is filled with some electronic stunners, a couple of grunge-infused ragers, and the occasional tentative jazzy tune. 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.

Jessica Winter – ‘Sad Music’ 
This latest single from Jessica Winter hits your ears with its full force of pop beats, electronica and snappy synths. At a time like this, I’m loving the unifying lyrics and pulsing vibes of this track, which tells you upfront to lean into the expression music gives you, as Winter explains: “This song was born out of a particularly bad day and how music was a saviour at that time”. Jessica Winters’ debut EP will be released on 22nd May. (Tash Walker)

Beckie Margaret – ‘God’
Released via Cool Thing Records, Beckie Margaret’s latest single is a truly beautiful reflection on what it feels like to be caught in the grasp of a love that’s not reciprocated. I reviewed the track for The Line Of Best Fit, so if you want to read 200 words on how emotional she makes me, you can click here. (Kate Crudgington)

Temples Of Youth – ‘Suburbia’
The new single from GIHE faves, Temples Of Youth, ‘Suburbia’ is another truly majestic offering from the Winchester duo. An utterly dreamy soundscape oozing a twinkling emotion and mystical allure, as heaving synths are interwoven with fuzzed out hooks, whilst the beautifully rich vocals of Jo Carson soar. (Mari Lane)

Tora – ‘Call Your Name’
This is the second release from new R&B artist Tora. ‘Call Your Name’ focuses on confronting the conflicting unbalanced power dynamics that she sees in the world, a truly empowering call to arms that will get you moving whilst raging. Love it. (TW)

Allegra Krieger – ‘Rot’ 
‘Rot’ is the latest release from Brooklyn based Allegra Krieger, aptly named for a song about toxic apathy, originally inspired by the climate crisis. Kriege says it’s a tale of “someone who has assimilated into a culture of wanting and taking without reparation,” which mirrors the human arrogances exposed by the COVID-19 crisis. I love the grunge rock tone to this single. (TW)

Tired Lion – ‘Waterbed’
When I grow up, I want to be a guitar-wielding, chain-smoking Nun – just like Tired Lion’s front-woman Sophie Hopes in the accompanying video to this track. ‘Waterbed’ is a grunge-infused goodbye to the past, and a bold leap into the band’s future sound. (KC)

Diet Cig – ‘Who Are You?’
Flowing with Alex Luciano’s luscious honey-sweet vocals, infectious jangly melodies and all the twinkling energy you could ever need, ‘Who Are You?’ is a delectably catchy slice of dreamy indie-pop from Diet Cig. Juxtaposing an emotion-strewn lilting charm and subtle gritty angst, it’s a shimmering, sunny delight; perfectly uplifting isolation listening. Diet Cig’s new album, Do You Wonder About Me? is out now. (ML)

MOURN – ‘Call You Back’
An edgy, relatable exploration of the anxieties around answering the phone; MOURN’s latest single is an instantly gratifying, cathartic guitar tune. Released via Captured Tracks, the Catalan-based trio are adept at tapping into universal insecurities, providing a personal angle, and deconstructing them through indie guitar hooks and direct vocals. (KC)

Ganser – ‘Lucky’
Ganser’s music has garnered comparisons to 90s noise-makers Fugazi, Shellac, and Sonic Youth. Their jolting rhythms, confrontational vocals, and manic riffs fuse together to create defiant, jarring tunes; and new single ‘Lucky’ is a sturdy example of this. (KC)

Scrounge – ‘Etch’ 
Not a new song, but a darn good one. ‘Etch’ by Scrounge got me through one of my lowest moments during this lockdown. The infectious drums, catchy chorus and memories of seeing them live dragged me out of my cloud and reminded me of the importance of music in dealing with life’s challenges. Thank you Scrounge – I owe you. x (TW)

Alice Bag – ‘Spark’
The new single from prolific punk legend Alice Bag, ‘Spark’ is propelled by gritty hooks and a punk-fuelled frenzied energy, as the raw power of Bag’s vocals rage with a passion, asserting “Hell no, I’m not dimming my spark!” An uplifting burst of empowering strength in the face of adversity; a wonderfully vibrant and super catchy celebration of queer culture and the joy that comes with being able to express your true self. (ML)

Stef Fi – ‘Nowhere’
Lifted from her debut EP, Girlhood, Stef Fi’S single ‘Nowhere’ is a lo-fi dose of grunge-infused punk. The quiet, uncertain lyrics of the verses contrast well with the distorted riffs and defiant words in the chorus. Best known as the vocalist & guitarist of black feminist punk band Big Joanie, Stef Fi’s (aka Stephanie Phillips) debut shows “sketches of a girl” resisting hate, and trying to find hope in the harshest of realities. (KC)

Gulls – ‘Shame Shame Shame’
Propelled by thrashing beats and a driving, riotous force, ‘Shame Shame Shame’ could not have come to our ears at a better time. A spot on social commentary, rallying against fascists and the insidious alt-right, it oozes a frenzied impassioned energy that we need now more than ever, asserting that we will not tolerate intolerance. A perfect slice of angst-driven punk; a truly necessary listen right now. Gulls were also due to be playing for us tonight at The Finsbury – we really hope to be able to book in the Brighton band again in the future. (ML)

Peaness – ‘Kaizen’
Another band I was supposed to be seeing live this week, at The Lexington on Wednesday, I had been super excited about catching the sunny, jangly melodies and sparkling uptempo energy of Manchester/Chester trio Peaness. Oozing their trademark ‘Pea-positivity’, ‘Kaizen’ is the perfect antidote to these strange and scary times. If you’d like to help venues like The Lexington keep afloat while so many events are being cancelled right now, find out more about The Music Trust’s #SaveOurVenues campaign here.  (ML)

Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something – ‘Keytar’ (I Was Busy)
Jemma Freeman and the Cosmic Something were due to be headlining for us tonight (Fri 8th May)at The Finsbury, and – as with all the gigs we’ve had to cancel recently – we’re super gutted that it’s had to be postponed. They have wowed us with their magnificent charisma and immense psych-infused offerings live before, and it would have been such an honour to have them return, this time at the top of the bill. (ML)

CLT DRP – ‘Like Father’ (Sit Down Remix)
Having previously completely blown us away with their live set at The Finsbury, Brighton trio  CLT DRP have now returned to blast into our ears with a seething new offering. A magnificent, whirring electro-punk cacophony that addresses the complexities of family ties, ‘Like Father’ is driven by a swirling, impassioned energy, oozing a poignant breathtaking force, showcased perfectly in this immense frenetic remix by fellow Brighton faves Sit Down.(ML)

Notelle – ‘Alive’
Self-described as “nightmare pop”, Nashville-based Notelle blends hushed vocals, warped beats, and seething synth textures to create her claustrophobic sounds. Based on her own experiences of toxic relationships and gas-lighting, ‘Alive’ is Notelle’s most personal release to date. (KC)

Stainwasher – ‘Chems’
Swedish artist Stainwasher is not one to shy away from darker states of emotion. With ‘Chems’, she’s crafted another dark, alluring lullaby that broods with bittersweet anxiety. (KC)

Lorana – ‘Am I’ 
‘Am I?’ is the latest single from self-produced artist Lorana, who sings about her love for music and questions if this love is too big. Her upcoming EP, Here In Between, was written after leaving her small Belgian hometown of Alken for the big London city. In order to reflect this lyrical narrative into her sonic identity, she recorded samples both at home and in London, which are woven throughout all the songs. ‘Am I?’ is a truly touching and beautiful offering, which is a pleasure to listen to as the vocals and samples pour in and out of your ears. (TW)

GEISTE – ‘Moonchild’ 
‘Moonchild’ is the fourth single leading up to GEISTE’s debut EP, Utopia, released on 22nd May. This is a track that hits you with its fullest force. It’s such a an empowering listen, building and building with the tribal drums and feverish samples before colliding into the chorus. ‘Moonchild’ is about not feeling like you fit with people and finding your crowd of misfits, stronger and wilder people that are not defeated by life – which is certainly relatable right now. (TW)

Anna Leone – ‘Wondering’ (TW)
‘Wondering’ is the first release from Anna Leone in two years, and it was definitely worth the wait. Slow and intense, she draws you into her world with such raw emotion, that you’re left feeling as though you’ve had a personal invitation into her thoughts.

Speaking about the new track, Anna says: “I’ve been going back and forth recently trying to decide whether I should start releasing new songs. My music is very much about isolation and being disconnected, and I’ve been kind of questioning if that‘s the energy I should put out into the world right now. I think ultimately though, the songs are also about healing, and I can only hope that that’s what people take away from them. I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety for a long time and this album is sort of the culmination of all those feelings. I still can’t listen to it all the way through without crying, which is painful but also a good thing, I think. It feels cathartic.” It’s so important that we hear music like this right now, remembering it’s ok to not be ok, but more importantly that we are not alone.

Listen to, and follow, the full playlist here: