EP: Stef Fi – ‘Girlhood’

A poignant reflection on grief, growth, and grappling with the repercussions of a racist world; Stef Fi has shared her debut EP, Girlhood, via Sistah Punk Records. Best known as the vocalist & guitarist of black feminist punk band Big Joanie, Stef Fi (aka Stephanie Phillips) has shared four alt-punk tracks that provide “sketches of a girl” resisting hate, and trying to find hope in the harshest of realities.

Mellow opener ‘What Remains’ broods with quiet intensity, setting the pensive, yet resistant tone of the EP. “Open wide and swallow divine” Stef directs, over steady beats and ominous guitar riffs. Her punk attitude breaks through on following track ‘Nowhere’. The quiet, uncertain lyrics of the verses contrast well with the distorted riffs and defiant words in the chorus.

“This town will be the death of me”, muses Stef on the eponymous ‘Girlhood’. The song was inspired by the footage of police attacking a young black girl at a Texas pool party in 2015. Extrapolating on what the victim may have felt, Stef delivers the line “I had spoken then I saw, I knew it was my time to fall” with calm resignation and maturity, powerfully contrasting with the violence the young girl experienced. It’s a jarring listen, but one that’s delivered with care and gentility.

‘The Garden’ closes the EP, with its rolling riffs, rumbling percussion, and more of Stef’s yearning vocals. Despite being rooted in inequality, Stef Fi’s Girlhood is a considerate, tender offering that showcases her talent as a songwriter, and as a woman who is dedicated to spotlighting the struggles of others.

Order your copy of Stef Fi’s debut EP on bandcamp. Follow her on Twitter for more updates.

Photo Credit: Nick Paulsen

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Gordian Stimm – ‘Your Body In On Itself’

A raw, experimental new offering; Gordian Stimm‘s debut album, Your Body In On Itself, is a vivid electronic exploration of bodily autonomy. Released via independent Leicester-based label Amateur Pop, Stimm (aka Maeve Westall of itoldyouiwouldeatyou) has crafted six unpredictable, intriguing soundscapes that range from uplifting and melodic, to sparse and unusual.

At times reminiscent of early Passion Pit or Crystal Castles, Stimm’s record is a visceral collection of distorted, yet dance-able beats. Opener ‘Bleeding Out In a Septic Tank’ hosts six dense minutes of erratic synth textures, and a blend of both mangled and clear vocals, that will either alienate, or invite listeners in to their obscure vision. The edgy, disjointed beats and scratchy, soaring electronics of ‘Pia Mater (Sorry Mate)’ see Stimm extrapolating on the “retail price of emotional labour” and the fear of failure with an unexpected buoyancy.

The ominous, yet oddly uplifting ‘Miscellaneous Body Parts’ shows Stimm at their best; mixing the foreboding and the freeing together in one track. The dark, yet humourous images of tapeworms burrowing into spines on ‘The Very Best Of Friends’ provides a strange distraction, before the crashing beats and overlapping vocals of penultimate track ‘Song For Self Help’ disorientates listeners further. The atmospheric, kaleidoscopic sounds of ‘Synthetic Retinas’ close the record, stimulating the senses right until the last beat.

There’s an enjoyable violence underscoring Stimm’s vision; a gleeful, sometimes painful dissecting of the self, and the social cues that either help construct or dismantle it. Your Body In On Itself is a bold, surreal listen from a bold, surreal artist; and one we highly recommend.

Follow Gordian Stimm on Spotify and Bandcamp.

Photo Credit:@trashjinni

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

EP: Something Leather – ‘Midnight Reverie’

Like stumbling through a distorted, pleasant daydream; Brighton trio Something Leather‘s debut EP, Midnight Reverie, is a cinematic blend of old and new sounds. Released via We Can Do It Records on 17th April, the band have created four tracks showcasing their talent for crafting psych-infused music, that explores the dark and the light within us all.

Formed of Phillie Etta Jane (vocals/organ), Greg Pass (guitar) and Mike Nussbaum (drums), Something Leather have been cutting their teeth on the London & Brighton live circuits for a few years now. The vintage 70’s Philips organ that Phillie plays is fixed up with old parts of her grandmother’s first colour TV, and combines perfectly with Greg’s distorted guitar, and Mike’s rhythmic drum beats. Engineered, mixed and produced by guitarist Greg, and mastered by Tim Rowkins at Hell Yeah! Mastering; Midnight Reverie is the product of the band’s hard work so far.

A smouldering, existential exploration of where we are, vs where we want to be; opener ‘Trip To The Sun’ is loosely inspired by the character of Icarus from Greek mythology. The band articulately describe the context of the track as “a sarcastic take on the ‘Fall of Icarus'”. It deals with our constant desire to escape from a deadly routine, and the fear that pushing too far might consume you. It has a frenetic pace, western B-movie shootout feel and layers of post-punk and Psychedelia on top.”

A dark, swirling mix of distorted guitar riffs and eerie organ noises, ‘Farewell Fareworse’ was born from the anxious thoughts surrounding co-dependent relationships, and the need for self autonomy. “It’s a bitter ode to personal traps and never-ending dilemmas” explains Phillie. The trio navigate this bitterness with impressive energy, over crashing beats and hypnotic vocals.

The solitary, strung out sounds of ‘Midnight Dive’ bring a change in pace, as Phillie muses about “going to the beach without my baby”. It’s a cinematic, moody lullaby; reminiscent of early Wolf Alice tracks like ’90 Mile Beach’. The dysfunctional, disorientating ‘Down Another One’ closes the EP with a blur of whispers, startling organ noises, and whirling guitar riffs.

Midnight Reverie is an impressive, polished debut from this exciting Brighton band. Drawing from the past, but rooted in the present; Something Leather’s EP is a frantic carousel of noise that will have you circling back for multiple listens.

Follow Something Leather on Spotify and Facebook for more updates.

Photo Credit: Jessie Morgan

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: CIEL – ‘Same Old Times With U’

Full of lush guitars, soft vocals, and dreamy synths; Brighton-based CIEL‘s new offering ‘Same Old Times With U’ is tinged with romantic melancholy. The track is lifted from the band’s debut EP, Movement, released today (April 10th) on all digital platforms.

Formed of Dutch musician Michelle Hindriks, Jorge Bela Jimenez (guitar, synths), Kieran Mansfield (bass) & Lawrie Miller (drums), CIEL enlisted the help of Producer Jack Wolter (Penelope Isles) to create the atmospheric sounds on their new EP. ‘Same Old Times With U’ is an emotive track that tentatively explores personal struggle over hazy guitars, Hindriks’ pensive lyrics, and swelling percussion.

Speaking about the band’s debut EP, Hindriks explains: “It’s about moving away from a more introspective period in which I felt quite distant from other people and moving into a new phase of my life in which I was able to open up. We’re now releasing [it] in a time in which we are forced to distance ourselves from one another; but I feel more connected to the people around me now that I did before”.

CIEL have supported the likes of Hatchie, Sasami and Penelope Isles, and are set to play more of their exhilarating live shows once we’re all out of lockdown. Listen to ‘Same Old Times With U’ below, and follow the band on Facebook and Spotify for more updates.

Photo Credit: Jantina Talsma

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut