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)

FIVE FAVOURITES: anrimeal

“I never gave gender much thought before this album,” Porto-born, London-based artist anrimeal explains about her new release, Could Divine. Described as a “computer folk” record exploring the use of texture, limitation and repetition, anrimeal’s new record is inspired by the work of Eva Hesse and other women artists who pioneered the post-minimalism movement.

“I’d always felt alienated by concepts of womanhood, especially the notion that women exist under nature’s control,” anrimeal continues. “[But] seeing women use nature at the forefront of their work, not afraid to create art that could be seen as messy or dirty helped me reconcile those feelings, and motivated me to explore the less conventionally beautiful side of things.” Written, performed, mixed and mastered by anrimeal from home, Could Divine is a beautiful insight into the mind of a flourishing new artist.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with anrimeal to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Speaking about her choices, anrimeal explains: “These are far from deep cuts, but really albums that not only do I know front to back, but also signposted some or other pivotal moments in my life.”

Check out her favourite albums below and scroll down to listen to anrimeal’s latest single ‘Encaustic Witches’ at the end of this post. You can also catch anrimeal and her musical collaborator Freda D’Souza performing a live improv session from home on Youtube at 6pm tonight. (Link here)

 

1. James Blake – James Blake
I remember buying this album on CD when i was 17 and spending entire days during Easter break lying down in my bedroom, looking at the ceiling and just listening. I think it was my first proper introduction to ambience in music, to a sound landscape that was as rich as the actual songwriting. And one of those things I just couldn’t unlisten. From then on, texture became the most important thing to me in music, a language of its own. There was something so personal about the sonic world James built in this album. I don’t think I’d been exposed to a truly DIY record before this one, and it really changed my perception of music as a medium, and ended up informing the way I like to create music today.

2. Grouper – The Man Who Died In His Boat
Liz Harris, I mean – her music changed my life. Listening to The Man Who Died In His Boat for the first time was like being shown the inside of my brain. The album was sent to me along with Animal Collective’s Sung Tongs with a message of this sort “if you like delay, then you might like these”. This was an even deeper dive into ambient music, and maybe the first time I felt like I could fully relate to what an artist was trying to put out. There’s a dark gentleness in her records, that I’ve only ever felt with music made by women. A kind of understated submerged darkness that is constant and calm. Not depressing nor effusive, just constant.

3. Animal Collective – Sung Tongs
Animal Collective!!!! Field recordings, adaptations of the aesthetics and energy of traditional music, beautifully poetic but slightly absurd lyrics, moments of chaos and of quiet introspection. Seriously, what does this album not have? I can’t say Sung Tongs reflects me exactly, but I think it showed me a side of life that I wasn’t very familiar with before. Having been educated in a strict classical music setting, I needed Animal Collective to show me that there was a fun side to music after all. The clouds opened to the sun like eyelids, and I owe it to this album. I’ve since become a devoted fan of Avey Tare’s catalogue, and I carry this upbeat and earthy world very dearly with me, as a kind of companion.

4. Kanye West – Yeezus
I was so arrested by this album, the first time I listened to it I was petrified and started sweating. It was completely different from anything I’d ever listened to before, it was so bold and genre-bending. I think I use this record a lot to remind me that I can do anything I want with my music. I very much appreciate Kanye’s commitment to art and unhindered self-expression.

5. Sufjan Stevens – Age Of Adz
Even though I was a fan of Sufjan for a long time, Age Of Adz was definitely an acquired taste, an album that sunk in really slowly with time. Again, it’s such a bold piece of work, so well crafted that its existence almost seems impossible to me. There are almost no words to describe this album, maybe just to say that it is a testament to true passion for the art of songwriting. If anything, Sufjan’s music makes me want to experience life with more care, so that I can find his detail in my own reality.

Thanks to anrimeal for sharing her favourites with us.
Listen to her new single ‘Encaustic Witches’ below.

Follow anrimeal on bandcamp, Spotify, Twitter, Facebook & Instagram for more updates.

Five Favourites: RAHH

Having previously provided backing vocals for Liam Gallagher and shared stages with the likes of Nile Rogers, Emili Sande and Beverley Knight, Manchester born London-based artist RAHH has now shared a euphoric new single.

A blissful slice of soul-strewn alt-pop, ‘Overkill’ showcases the impassioned soaring splendour of Rahh’s vocals alongside a house-inspired enraptured groove.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with RAHH to ask about her ‘Five Favourites’– five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch the video for her latest single ‘Overkill at the end of this post.

TLC – Crazy Sexy Cool
This was my first album, bought for me by my big brother. I think it just opened up my eyes to what was possible as a music artist. I was a little mixed-race girl in a white area and the media and charts reflected that massively. All of a sudden I was introduced to TLC, the coolest girls I’d ever seen in my life and they kinda looked like me. It was massive! Plus I adored the music, I loved that Lisa Left-Eye Lopez rapped and that T-Boz sang so incredibly low – it was totally unusual. I remember learning every word of the rap from ‘Waterfalls’, playing it on repeat in my room and having to turn the volume down when she said “my only bleeding hope..” because I thought my Dad would go mad at me for swearing!

Michael Jackson – History
A different big brother moved out to go travelling in Australia and left me with this album and the VHS to go with it. It was pretty life changing for me. I fell head over heels in love with Michael Jackson’s genius, I was completely captivated. I think his influence can be heard in most music that came after him. The way he created a feel, a groove, and the infectious need to dance is magic. It’s something I think we all aspire towards as songwriters.  

Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends
I think before I’d heard this album I was big on RnB and soul, I was focused on the sound and technique of the vocal and hadn’t opened up to the possibility of liking artists that didn’t champion the voice in that way. After this album, all of that went out of the window and I fell in love with the lyrics and poetry of artists like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan. Track 2, ‘America’, remains one of my favourite songs of all time. I’ve had incredible bonding experiences with other people who adore the song and who know about that one lyric where he addresses his wife who’s sleeping next to him to tell her he’s empty and aching and doesn’t know why.  It is my favourite lyric ever and the way its placed in this song will forever inspire me as a writer. 

Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Every song and every note just seems like effortless genius. I can’t remember when I first heard this album but it is timeless. It inspired me to be a better musician and to care less about perfecting vocals and more about the depth of the song. ‘Ex-factor’ makes me melt!

Solange – A Seat at the Table
As a huge Destiny Child and Beyonce fan growing up, I think I just never imagined I could possibly get into Beyonce’s sisters music more than Beyonce’s herself until this album. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I listened to it over and over, I love the whole concept of it, the fashion and contemporary dance of the videos and artwork. The interludes, the interviews. The running theme of race and Black beauty. I really think it’s a piece of artwork from start to finish. The depth of the music in its content and musicality is inspiring and I strive to instil that in my own writing.

Massive thanks to RAHH for sharing her Five Favourites with us!

Watch the new video for ‘Overkill’ here and listen on Spotify now:

FIVE FAVOURITES: Sarah Walk

Celebrating both the joys and the struggles of being a queer woman, LA songwriter Sarah Walk is preparing to release her second album, Another Me, on 28th August via One Little Independent Records. “The songs on my first album were a means to survive the immediate, and my songs on this album have been a journey in learning how to take up space and thrive in the long term”, Walk explains. It sounds like a learning curve both she and her listeners will benefit from, as she tackles everything from patriarchal entitlement to letting go of damaging tropes about being a queer woman.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Sarah to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to listen to Sarah’s latest single ‘nobody knows’ at the end of this post.

1. Wolfgang Amadeus – Phoenix 
I just think this is a brilliantly executed record, start to finish. I still try to wrap my head around the arrangement of this album. Each part fits together like this weaving patchwork of ideas that lock into each other like a puzzle. When I try to isolate the vocal or an instrumental part it feels like such a scattered and disjointed idea, but as a whole it’s completely full. I often wonder how they recorded this because it’s so hard for me to hear a backbone that was built around.

2. Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters
What a powerful comeback album from Fiona. I grew up listening to her and felt so empowered hearing a woman sing and play the piano that wasn’t afraid to be angry. This album totally goes there, and I’m so happy it does. There’s anger and regret, and through that, this incredible reclamation of self. She’s one of the best there is and has paved the way for so many women in the music industry, whether we all know it or not.

3. Radiohead – In Rainbows
It wouldn’t be a favorites list without a Radiohead album. This band totally expanded my ears to what music could be, and were my unwavering companion during some of the toughest and loneliest years of my adolescence. I remember waking up early before school the day this album came out and downloading it (this was the “pay what you want” record pre-spotify which was brilliant) and I sat in my car in the high school parking lot that gloomy October morning and was crying by the time ‘Faust Arp’ came around. I was late for school that day, and I’m glad I was.sarah

4. Everything Everything – A Fever Dream
Love this band so much. They combine certain sonic elements of Radiohead that I love – that ethereal soundscape of guitars that don’t sound like guitars – with heavy grooves and pop sensibility. This album is so good, and they’re incredible live as well.

5. Madison Cunningham – Who Are You Now?
A more up and coming LA artist, Madison is an incredible force of talent. The first time I saw her play live I was completely floored. I’m not a religious person, but after first seeing her play I went home and completely broke down because it felt like such a spiritual experience. She absolutely destroys the guitar and her voice and songwriting are other worldly. Definitely give this one a listen and check out some live videos online.

Thanks to Sarah for sharing her favourites with us.
Listen to her track ‘nobody knows’ below.

Follow Sarah Walk on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.