ALBUM: Queen Zee – ‘Queen Zee’

Making weirdness in to wonderful, inclusive, explosive new tunes; GIHEs favourites Queen Zee have shared their debut self-titled album and it’s every bit as glorious as we’d hoped. Released via their own label Sasstone Records, the group have created ten tracks that gleefully cut down any of the forces that attempt to stand in the way of equality.

The tongue-in-cheek ‘Loner’ opens the record, and it’s an in-your-face anthem taking the piss out of being a solitary, socially inept loser. Zee’s vocals dominate the track as swirling guitar and non-stop percussion keep the riot going. It’s followed by the equally punchy ‘Lucy Fur’ and ‘Sissy Fists’, which are belting fusions of grunge & punk. The latter smashes apart any associations of weakness and is a proper hardcore two minutes of pure adrenaline.

‘Idle Crown’ is a riotously executed piece of Marilyn Manson-esque pop sleaze. The narrative centers around two LGBTQ+ characters trapped in a toxic heteronormative relationship, who are unable to live as their true selves. It’s hard to resist screaming along to the chorus of ‘Porno’ and ‘Victim Age’, both of which will have you kicking and screeching around a dance floor.

The album’s standout track is undoubtedly ‘Boy’. It’s an anthem for trans-gender rockers and their allies who refuse to be ignored, or oppressed by transphobic or homophobic attitudes. “You can try and bury my head in the sand, but that won’t make the body at the surface a man’s” sings Zee, as manic guitar and heart-pounding drums smash out for just shy of five minutes. ‘Hunger Pains’ follows with Zee’s ravenous screeching and more trademark corkscrew guitar riffs, whereas the brief interlude ‘Anxiety’ is a mellow yet candid admission to not feeling well.

Whether you admit to it or not, we can all relate to closing track ‘I Hate Your New Boyfriend’. It’s a hilariously vicious take-down of a misogynistic partner who drains your friend and by default drains you too. Turn it up extra loud anytime you know said antagonist is in the vicinity. With their punk attitude and ability to write abrasive and infectious tracks, there’s no danger of Queen Zee being melted in to a “masculine mould” – and we’re rejoicing in support of this “whipping girl born into a big man’s world”. What a debut, invest immediately.

Photo Credit: Jon Mo Photography

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Emma Lohan – ‘Black Atlantic’

Galway songwriter Emma Lohan crafts intricate, gentle melodies based around her travels on debut album Black Atlantic. After exploring the Atlantic coast from her homeland in Ireland to West Africa and South America, Lohan has created eight tracks that explore her reactions to the landscapes, to the people, and to her own emotions along the way. She’s set to self-release the record (in association with CITOG RECORDS) on October 25th in digital format, as well as on recycled CD (with a download code included).

On opening track ‘Wander Free’, Lohan extrapolates about places she’s never been. Accompanied by gentle guitar, steady percussion and twinkling strings, her lamentations have a captivating day-dream-like quality. Following track ‘1957’ flows in the same vein, as she explores the universe through calm chords and tender vocals. Her journey continues with ‘Snails Trail’, on which she states “I’m not lost, nor am I found” – which feels like an apt explanatory lyric for each of her songs on the record. Her careful story-telling makes the image in the song’s title glisten with gentle intensity.

‘Three Sparrows’ is a nod to her “lyrical hero” Shane MacGowan of the Pogues, and is accompanied by a beautiful stop-motion video directed by Marta Barcikowska. Filled with double entendre, it’s “an escape encapsulating a dangerous love affair” along the stormy Salthill Promenade of Lohan’s hometown in Galway. Her fusion of folk and romance combine beautifully here, making ‘Three Sparrows’ a charming listen. ‘Gut’ follows with its disarming string arrangements and more of Emma’s instinctive lyrics: “there’s beauty in flaws” – and the upbeat, atmospheric sounds of ‘Serekunda’ break through shortly after.

On the penultimate ‘Wild Days’ Lohan yearns for times gone by; times of freedom and reckless abandon, before title track ‘Black Atlantic’ closes the record. Lohan paints images of childhood isolation and loneliness with her lyrics, but the song feels anything but sad – it has a transient quality that makes these painful moments feel less melancholy. Her upbeat rhythms and casual delivery make this a triumphant closing song.

Black Atlantic is clearly a personal album for Emma Lohan, but with her smooth delivery and the record’s buoyant undercurrent of joyful exploration – its a personal experience that can be shared and enjoyed by others too.

Order your copy of Black Atlantic here. Follow Emma Lohan on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Hilary Woods – ‘Colt’

A contemplative, carefully crafted record which schools listeners in how to come undone: Hilary Woods‘ debut album Colt is an exquisitely painful exploration of grief, separation, and abandonment. The Dublin-based artist signed to altruistic label Sacred Bones to release her first full-length record, and the partnership is one we wholly approve of.

Written and recorded at her home in Dublin, Colt was later mixed by and co-produced with James Kelly (WIFE, Altar of Plagues) in Berlin in the winter of 2017. The dynamics of the production and Woods’ layering of multiple elements – including piano, synth, tape machine, field recordings, vocals, and old string instruments – has culminated in a record which comfortably overlaps both the acoustic and electronic genres.

Opening track ‘Inhaler’ is a delicate example of this. It’s a pensive, melancholy song born from Woods’ struggle with homesickness. She explores her grief through tentative electronics and orchestral sounds, with her mysterious vocals floating calmly above. Following track ‘Prodigal Dog’ is a mesmeric examination of emotional claustrophobia: a disarming fusion of strings, understated synths, and hushed vocals.

There is a gentle urgency that permeates each of the eight tracks on Colt, and on ‘Take Him In’ Woods’ reflective lyrics and cautious keys instill this delicate unease further. Poetic track ‘Kith’ bleeds in after, with it’s divine, yet somber themes of “running on empty” in what feels like emotional purgatory. The persistent, steady beats and fluttering keys on the remarkable ‘Jesus Said’ mark a brief change in tempo on the record, as Woods laments a sincere disconnection and a search for absolution for almost six minutes. ‘Sever’ is equally as affecting with its heartbeat-like percussion, and more of Woods’ measured, poignant vocals.

Penultimate track ‘Black Rainbow’ though bleakly named, is an enchanting listen, and closing track ‘Limbs’ is a captivating collection of distant, alluring keys. Under all of the melancholy lurks a quiet power: a power that comes from being open and honest about genuine pain and how to deal with it.

To call Hilary Woods’ work on Colt siren-like is to do her a disservice; her music has a far wider, more disarming reach. Her emotional articulation and manipulation of sounds makes the record a dizzying but rewarding lesson, and we are grateful to have been allowed to endure this aural exploration of grief with her.

Colt is released via Sacred Bones on 8th June. Pre-order your copy here.
Hilary Woods headlines St Pancras Old Church on 11th June. Grab a ticket here.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crugington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Fenne Lily – ‘On Hold’

Tentative, pensive and poetic; Fenne Lily has the ability to bruise, burn, and heal all within the space of a single track. Raised in Dorset and now based in Bristol, her debut album On Hold is a breath-taking collection of soft yet seething guitar ballads that strike the heartstrings in brutal and beautiful fashion.

Wary of being “pigeon-holed” after her over-night Spotify success with self-released single ‘Top To Toe’ (which also features on the album) a few years ago, it’s clear from opening track ‘Car Park’ that Fenne is self-aware when it comes to her songwriting style. Speaking about the track, she says:

“I’ll be the first to admit that my songs are far from uplifting, but while ‘Car Park’ chronicles yet another period of false hope and turmoil, it was written following the realisation that damaging patterns are enabled and suffered by the passive. I cannot and will not blame my heartache on anyone but myself, so this isn’t a song about pain, it’s a song about power”

It’s this quiet “power” that permeates her record, so even in moments of genuine sadness there’s a sense of relief accompanying many of her tracks. ‘Three Oh Nine’ may ache with desperation, but her brave revelations of fear of abandonment make it a therapeutic listen: “it’s a first for me, it’s a pain I need”.

The urgent and quietly consuming ‘What’s Good’ extends a somber but beautiful invitation for connection, and it flows wonderfully in to the heavy grace of ‘The Hand You Deal’. The gentle nod to learned experience from others on ‘More Than You Know’ is pure and compassionate, and this is mirrored in her simple acoustic guitar sounds.

Title-track ‘On Hold’ is a grateful ode to small acts of kindness, whilst ‘Top To Toe’ documents the seemingly inevitable changes you start to make when mixed feelings start to appear: “So I’m changing all my days to make your nights, it’s just not right…” The light, refreshing honesty of ‘Bud’ follows, with the charming ‘Brother’ behind it, before the penultimate ‘For A While’ opens more tender romantic wounds. ‘Car Park Overflow’ bookends this melancholy but hopeful record.

With the aid of producers Tamu Massif, James Thorpe, PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, and the mixing skills of Ali Chant; Fenne Lily’s debut album is set of delicate but passionate laments about the pain and the clarity that comes with falling in and out of love with others, and trying to be kind to yourself. Don’t put it On Hold, invest in her music ASAP.

On Hold is available online and in stores now. Order your copy here.

Catch Fenne Lily live at London’s Moth Club on April 10th (tickets here).

Follow Fenne Lily on Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Hollie Fernando

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Black Gold Buffalo – ‘Black Gold Buffalo’

A precious body of work that’s well worth the wait; Black Gold Buffalo‘s self-titled debut album is a shimmering example of the East London band’s patience and dedication to creating well-crafted, atmospheric, dark-pop sounds.

Line-up changes and relocations have altered the band’s output since their conception in 2014, but their new record (released via their own label Buff Rekkids) is a sharp, switched-on exploration of personal experiences, frustrations, and disillusionment with the capital.

Hypnotic opener ‘Lay It Down’ is a sublime musical tonic for nagging thoughts and unresolved anxieties, with vocalist Keziah Stillwell’s rhetorical line “How do you feel?” echoing out over Joy Joseph’s steady beats with poignant resonance. It flows straight in to ‘Pearls Deep’ – a precious blend of atmospheric bass lines from Hannah Holland, melodic guitar riffs from Marc Hayward, and that consistent percussion which makes all of Black Gold Buffalo’s tracks ripple with intensity.

The rolling rhythms on ‘Weightless’ are the perfect catalyst to ‘Start A Fire’ – a haze of smoldering vocals, fiery guitar, and bass lines that cut through the smoke. The funky ‘Penkenna’ keeps the heat rising with it’s atmospheric beats which promise to “take you away”, before ‘Anntropix’ breaks the spell, playing out in soothing, understated, yet anthemic fashion.

Keziah’s vocals blaze in full glory on the mesmerising ‘Magnets’, which is a swirling fusion of bass, guitar & electronics, and exquisite penultimate track ‘Body Of Verity’ breaks through shortly afterwards. Brooding bass and guitar melt together alongside more driving rhythms and bittersweet vocals here, before the slow-burning ‘Amillion’ closes the collection in true Black Gold Buffalo style.

Combining emotion with integrity, DIY ethics with big ambitions, and blurring generic lines with ease; Black Gold Buffalo’s debut continues to strengthen after every listen. Help them celebrate their success at the album launch at The Shacklewell Arms on April 10th. RSVP here.

Order your Limited Edition USB version of the album here.

Follow Black Gold Buffalo on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Dream Wife – ‘Dream Wife’

Fearless on stage and now on record; Dream Wife‘s debut self-titled album is a joyful declaration of defiance and self-autonomy, designed to motivate listeners in to embracing life, love, and the fires that spark when you overcome adversity.

Released via Lucky Number on 26th January, the album bursts open with ‘Let’s Make Out’, a confident display of catchy riffs and Rakel’s trademark sweet & shouty vocals. It’s a shameless celebration of consensual lip-action that will have you eyeing up your crush’s cupid’s bow, and their rose-petal-lip that sits below. We were on set for the video shoot at Dream Wife’s ‘Fake Prom’ last year, so hearing this track makes us gush with happiness.

The liberating ‘Somebody’ is a poignant anthem about reclaiming your body after sexual assault, with a chorus that all women should adopt as a mantra: “I am not my body, I am somebody”. Despite the traumatic context, it’s a steady, life-affirming listen that resonates long after Alice’s guitar stops ringing out. It leads in to the riotous ‘Fire’, which blazes with glorious energy. Bella’s bass smoulders throughout the verses, as Rakel sings of a flickering, fleeting, heated romance.

The theme of love permeates the record, and the Wives explore its spectrum in numerous ways. ‘Hey Heartbreaker’ will have you staring down any troublemaker who tries to be reckless with your heart, whilst the soft, sultry sounding ‘Love Without Reason’ explores the free, unjustified adoration we bestow on our partners. The trio know how to pull on the heartstrings, and how to indulge in infatuation via luxurious riffs and buoyant bass lines. Previous single ‘Kids’ plays out with care-free attitude and up-tempo style, as does the intoxicating ‘Taste’.

In the blink of an eye, the trio effortlessly switch to antagonistic and self-aware, as Rakel’s mockingly sweet vocals on ‘Act My Age’ perfectly demonstrate. She confronts listeners in the chorus with the line “Do I amuse you? Do I confuse you?” with her sharp, yet casual delivery, making this a standout track on the record. The brief, youthful urgency of ‘Right Now’ flows in to an invitation you can’t refuse on penultimate track, ‘Spend The Night’.

Live gig highlight ‘F.U.U.’ is the perfect way to end this exploration of relentless passion in all its forms, from the trio who “worship at the twin altars of David Bowie and Madonna”. There’s a reason these self-proclaimed “Bad Bitches” are doing so well; it’s because their dedication to their music, their fans, and each other is more intense than any forces that seek to undermine them. #DreamWife4Lyf.

Pre-order your copy of Dream Wife’s debut album on CD/Vinyl here.

Follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: The Orielles – ‘Let Your Dogtooth Grow’

Following a year wowing crowds at festivals such as Green Man and Truck, and selling out venues including The Lexington, Get In Her Ears favourites The Orielles have now announced the release of their debut album, and we couldn’t be more excited!

The album will be entitled Silver Dollar Moment. Guitarist Henry explains of the name:

“It’s anything that’s unexpectedly brilliant… We played in Toronto, at this bar called the Silver Dollar Room. We’d been in Canada for 36 hours, no sleep, we’d already played at 10, then we played a show at the Silver Dollar at 2am and it was one of the best shows we’ve played. So a silver dollar moment became anything that’s good, but unexpectedly.”

To accompany the fantastic news, the band have shared a new video for their latest single. ‘Let Your Dogtooth Grow’ flows seamlessly with clattering percussion, jangly melodies and Esmé’s trademark woozy vocals. Including some perhaps more conventionally catchy hooks than previous creations, the track builds in intensity with an anthemic majesty as Henry’s whirring guitars and Sid’s impeccable time-keeping succeed in keeping to the band’s own distinctive, unique fusion of sounds.

Watch the wonderfully surreal new video for ‘Let Your Dogtooth Grow’ here:

Silver Dollar Moment, the upcoming debut album from The Orielles, is out on 16th February 2018 on Heavenly Recordings. And make sure you catch them live:

December 2017
1st – ABC, Glasgow (with Saint Etienne)
8th – Deaf Institute, Manchester

April 2018 
12th – The Garage, London
13th – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

Mari Lane
@marimindles