Five Favourites: Beth Cassidy (Sea Fever)

Set to release their debut album next month, Manchester band Sea Fever is a collective of musicians who are no strangers to the music scene. Fronted by Beth Cassidy (Section 25) and Ivan Gronow (Johnny Marr, Haven), the band also consists of New Order’s Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham, as well as Elliot Barlow. Talking about the formation of their latest project, the band explain: “We’d wanted to work with each other for ages, so when we finally sat down in the studio, the band just seemed to come together naturally. It felt like we were really free to explore the kinds of music that have always inspired us, we dug right through the record crates of our minds to shape the sound of Sea Fever.

Ahead of the release their debut album, Sea Fever have recently shared a stirring new single, ‘Under Duress‘. Flowing with a sweeping otherworldly allure, it showcases the collective’s ability to create captivating multi-layered soundscapes; feeling both futuristic and nostalgic in its cinematic sonic majesty.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them. So, to celebrate the upcoming album, we caught up with Beth from the band to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that she loves the most. Check out her choices below and scroll down to listen to the spellbinding ‘Under Duress’.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever To Tell
This band were the soundtrack to my college years. I went to see them live at Manchester Academy 3 when they’d just released their debut EP, and they’ve been a staple of my record collection ever since. I remember seeing Karen O on stage and she wore a piece of neon netted fabric over her face the entire gig – like a veil. She seemed mental. Fever To Tell has so much energy and chaos mixed with this sweetness that comes through with the softer vocals. This band are a true force of nature.

Booka Shade – 2006 Pete Tong Essential Mix Session
I stumbled across this session after getting hooked on Booka Shade’s melancholic ‘In White Rooms’ track, and after that I was searching through their whole back catalogue. Their sound is percussive, dark, but also surreal and really kind of imaginative, and from there I discovered minimal techno. I don’t really listen to them anymore, but they paved the way for my love of dance music. I moved out to Berlin soon after, on some kind of pilgrimage to German techno! In this particular essential mix, they DJ for half and play live for the other half, so you can really hear how their own influences play out in their music, it’s so interesting. And the tracks they mix, man! Laurie Anderson, Aphex Twin, Yello… It’s sublime.

Ghostpoet – Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam
I played this record on repeat for months, listening through headphones while I was moving around Manchester on public transport. I was juggling a lot in my life at that time and felt a bit mixed up with what I was doing – studying for an MA, working in a job I hated, my Dad had died a few months earlier – and this album definitely helped me escape into my own head. The lyrics are so easy and playful, colloquial but profound at the same time, and he describes those really small moments in life that we all experience; the little things that make us human, and he puts them on a pedestal. It’s very clever.

Bjork – Post
‘Hyperballad’ was the first cassette tape I ever bought. I was nine so it must have come on recommendation from my older brother, and it probably went over my head at the time but I loved the electronic sounds. Bjork’s vocal melodies and the way she moves through the music at her own pace, it feels so confident, like she’s carving out a space for the vocals. I come back to Bjork a lot, she just seems to empower me and make my own work more purposeful.

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
Every track on this album is an absolute banger, and when you listen from start to finish it takes you on a really expansive trip through different moods. The layering of different beats and loops is so intricate, and James Murphy’s vocals drive the whole sound. I just hang off his every word. Even though they are hugely popular, I still feel like LCD Soundsystem are a cult band, in that, you’ve either never heard of them, or you fucking love them! There’s no in-between!

Massive thanks to Beth for sharing her five favourites with us!

Folding Lines, the debut album from Sea Fever, is set for release on 22nd October (CD/DL) and 29th October (vinyl). Pre-order here. And you can catch Sea Fever live at Rough Trade East in store to celebrate on 29th October – tickets here.

Photo Credit: Anthony Harrison

STILL SPINNING: Gazelle Twin – ‘The Entire City’

Our Still Spinning feature focuses on records that we consider to be iconic – whether that’s for popular, or personal reasons – and celebrates our enduring love for them. Get In Her Ears Co-Founder & Features Editor Kate Crudgington talks us through why electronic artist Gazelle Twin’s debut album, The Entire City, released in July 2011, is still one of her most influential listens to date.

Named after a painting by German surrealist artist Max Ernst, Gazelle Twin’s debut album The Entire City was released via her own imprint Anti-Ghost Moon Ray on 11th July 2011. Independently composed, recorded and produced, her ambiguous lyrics and altruistic sounds invited her listeners into a world that offered both shimmering intrigue and heavy shadow in equal measure.

It was my older brother Joe who originally introduced me to Gazelle Twin aka Elizabeth Bernholz in 2014, citing her second album Unflesh as one of the best things he’d ever heard. I used to lay in the dark, headphones on, listening to it and feeling an odd sense of calm, as waves of nervous energy rippled through me. That record changed my idea of what electronic music could sound like and I was captivated by the persona printed on the album’s cover. Blue hoodie, long brown hair, a partially covered face and an open mouth revealing a snarling pair of teeth. Menacing yet enticing, terrifying yet familiar. Gazelle Twin was an enigma – communicating with listeners through harrowing imagery and nerve-shredding synths.

Back then, I had no idea she had released her debut album three years earlier, or that it would sound so different. Having encountered Unflesh first, listening to The Entire City felt like an ambient fairy-tale in comparison. But, as with all of her obscure creations, what Gazelle Twin excels at is contrasting the darkness with the light, so even if that darkness sometimes feels all consuming – like it often does on Unflesh and on her stunning third record Pastoral – the sublime still manages to shine through too. The Entire City is a sonic landscape littered with dense concrete, intimidating obelisks and unknown relics, but it’s also teeming with life.

Filled with twitchy drum samples, cinematic synths and her uniquely operatic vocals, The Entire City received flattering comparisons to Fever Ray when it was originally released, but I think Bernholz’s sound is often grittier and more detached. There’s an underlying feeling of voyeurism as you wander through her musical landscapes, something I feel she captures perfectly on the eponymous opening track, with her extended high pitch vocals guiding the way, like a thrilling race through deserted streets. It bleeds into the breathy stillness of ‘Concrete Mother’ and the hypnotic ‘Men Like Gods’, two of my favourite tracks on the record.

It feels odd to pick apart and review The Entire City on a track-by-track basis, because it has such a cohesive sound. Each time I listen I feel like I’m being shrouded in Bernholz’s graceful, unsettling sonic paraphernalia; her cryptic lyrics and eerie electronics lulling me into a false sense of security. The subtle power of her voice on ‘I Am Shell I Am Bone’ and ‘Changelings’ is intoxicating, whilst on ‘Obelisk’ – another favourite of mine – her blend of dense beats and crystalline synths evolves into an exquisite electronic hymn. Punctuated by briefer tracks like ‘Far From Home’, ‘Bell Tower’ and ‘Fight-or-Flight’ – on which she flexes her operatic voice sensationally – she ensnares the senses and gently pushes listeners into unchartered territories across the album. In retrospect, ‘View Of A Mountain’ feels like a hint at what was to come, it’s the kind of instrumental that would sit comfortably on Unflesh.

Steeped in shadow and mystery, The Entire City is a fascinating introduction to a truly progressive artist who has evolved into a new species of performer since 2011. Not known for revisiting her previous albums or personas, Gazelle Twin’s sights remain fixed on her future projects and I can’t wait to immerse myself in more of her visceral sounds.

 

Follow Gazelle Twin on bandcampSpotifyInstagramTwitter & Facebook

Album Artwork: Suzanne Moxhay

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Aerial East

Described as a deeply personal coming-of-age record, New York-based musician Aerial East is preparing to release her poetic new album, Try Harder, on 12th February. Set to be released via Partisan Records, the LP tentatively explores East’s experiences of disconnection, loneliness, suicide, friendships, gender roles and breakups, whilst also embracing the simple beauty that life can unexpectedly bestow upon us.

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 Aerial East to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five albums that have inspired her song-writing techniques. Check out her choices below and scroll down to watch Aerial East’s latest video for ‘Try Harder’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me
This album just keeps giving. When I first heard it in 2010 I had a really negative reaction to it. I was already a big fan having binged The Milk Eyed Mender and Ys after high school. A friend of mine made a comment about her during this time that was something like “I would marry her without even meeting her” and I followed an immature impulse to prove that she wasn’t that amazing by rejecting the overwhelming 3 disc record. By 2011 though I was feeling heartbroken and I found myself uncontrollably humming and singing ‘On a Good Day’, the most digestible song on the epic breakup record. The more heartbroken I felt the more I threw myself into the record. I must have listened to this album thousands of times – probably more than any other. It is so familiar to me and feels like home. It still makes me cry. My friend Kelly once said that she feels like herself when she hears it. I feel that way too. I still don’t always know what is going to happen next when I listen though. I haven’t yet memorized the lyrics, melodies and structures of the songs and that makes for stimulating repeated listens. I saw her perform again in 2019 and it sent me into a satisfying spiral of obsessively analyzing her lyrics and reading about her that really helped me think and write about my own songs.

2. Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
The Kick Inside gives this one a run for its money but Hounds of Love is the record I put on to cheer myself up when I’m feeling depressed. I actually first heard the song ‘Hounds of Love’ in high school when the Futureheads covered it and didn’t discover Bush until years later when I moved to New York. I was immediately drawn in when I first saw her dancing in the red dress video for ‘Wuthering Heights’. I remember thinking I had heard the song as a child but I later realized I was remembering ‘Come to My Window’ by Melissa Etheridge. Anyway, Bush’s videos are all amazing. I wanted to study mime for a long time because of her. I still kind of do. Hounds of Love is one of the best records ever made.

3. Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou – Ethiopiques, vol. 21: Emahoy (Piano Solo)
This record centers me. It was all I could listen to in 2016 and I don’t play piano but I wanted my record Try Harder to feel like this. I first heard it when I was working at Dimes, a restaurant I have worked at since 2013. I used to listen to it often while setting up for my night shift that the closing daytime server would put it on when they saw me arrive. Emahoy, homemade pizza, and David Attenborough got me through 2016. A good remedy for anxiety.

4. Joni Mitchell – Blue
I mean, come on. It’s so good! I actually didn’t get into Joni Mitchell until Teeny Leiberson and Rachel Pazdan invited me to perform in their HUM Joni Mitchell tribute show. There was a lot to dig into and I said yes obviously, but then I had a deadline to familiarize myself with her work – she is pretty prolific – and choose a song I wanted to sing. I ended up doing ‘My Old Man’ because I don’t really write love songs even though I’m very romantic and ‘Hana’ from 2007’s Shine, because I wanted to acknowledge her as a contemporary artist. This is one of those records that just makes me feel good when it comes on. It came out the same year as Carole King’s Tapestry and I like thinking about the two different song-writing styles. Tapestry has so many crazy big hit songs that you are like “wait, she wrote that song too?!” They are such perfectly written pop songs but Blue is full of weird idiosyncratic songs that only really make sense if Joni is singing them. I love both albums so much and I imagine Carole made more money off of Tapestry because those songs are so widely covered and licensed, but if I could choose I would rather have made Blue.

5. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
Beautiful melodies, beautiful harmonies, dizzying layered vocals, heart-breaking lyrics produced joyfully. I’m not sure if it was the first time I heard this record but I remember listening to these songs upstate and crying and everyone in the room politely pretending not to see. Pet Sounds was a big reference when I was producing my first record Rooms.

Thanks to Aerial for sharing her favourites with us!

Watch Aerial East’s video for ‘Try Harder’ below.

You can pre-order Aerial East’s new album Try Harder here.

Follow Aerial East on Spotify, bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook 

STILL SPINNING: The Joy Formidable – ‘The Big Roar’

Our Still Spinning feature focuses on records that we consider to be iconic – whether that’s for popular, or personal reasons – and celebrates our enduring love for them. Get In Her Ears Co-Founder & Features Editor Kate Crudgington talks us through why Welsh alternative trio The Joy Formidable’s debut album, The Big Roar, released in January 2011, is still one of her most influential listens today.

 

At the tender age of nineteen, I discovered The Joy Formidable through a crush I was trying to impress, and my ears were introduced to a new world of music outside of the charts. It’s this priceless personal affiliation with the songs on their debut album The Big Roar that’s kept me listening to the record for the last decade.

Formed of Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd & Matt Thomas, The Joy Formidable dropped The Big Roar in January 2011, two years after their debut EP A Balloon Called Moaning, and twenty year old me fell head over heels in love with it. I bought the limited edition boxset which included the album, a pin badge, a CD of live recordings and a piece of Ritzy’s smashed guitar. I worked part-time in retail earning minimum wage back then, so it took a hefty chunk out of my pay-check – but I felt like I’d struck gold.

The record was already littered with singles I knew – ‘Whirring’, ‘Austere’, ‘Cradle’ & ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’ – so listening for the first time flooded me with familiarity and excitement. As the title suggests, The Big Roar rips and roars with vital, visceral urgency, plunging listeners into overwhelming waves of sound before allowing them to resurface and breathe again. At the time, I thought it was a bold move to open an album with a 40 second cacophony of indiscernible clacking noises, but it laid the foundation for the spiralling opener ‘The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie,’ which rushes the ears with swelling riffs and urgent vocals. This track, along with ‘I Don’t Want To See You Like This’ brim with cathartic guitar wails and commanding beats, encouraging listeners to be “courage’s child” and break away from the past.

I remembered the stomping rhythms of ‘Cradle’, Austere’, ‘The Magnifying Glass’, ‘Chapter 2’ and ‘A Heavy Abacus’ because I’d already heard them live. I remember turning up to The Garage in Islington in 2009 to see the band headline and afterwards having an overwhelming feeling that I’d seen something that was going to change my life. Dramatic as that might sound, watching Ritzy Bryan shredding her guitar, singing lead vocals and thrashing her white-blonde hair around the stage with her bandmates galvanized my idea of what a guitar band should be, and quite frankly, who I wanted to be. I wanted to be just like her.

When I used to frequent the dancefloor at The Pink Toothbrush on a Saturday night – one of the only alternative clubs in my home county of Essex – DJ Darren B would play ‘Whirring’ in its entirety so my friends and I could thrash about to on it at the beginning of the night. The thudding drum beats and punchy lyrics kept me stomping on those floorboards for hours. Even now, I can remember pushing open to the double doors to enter the club, hearing a Joy Formidable song playing and feeling like I’d truly arrived at a place of happiness.

My ribs still remember the thrill of being hit by the ear-swelling sounds of ‘Buoy’ when I heard it live for the first time at Kentish Town Forum. From the subtle allure of Ritzy’s opening guitar riffs, to Rhydian’s dense buzzing bass lines; it’s an all-consuming aural blur. I love the way they spit the last lines “And you should have talked / and you should talk too / ’cause in twenty years / you’ll be a fucking mute” – their urgency complimented by dizzying riffs and Matt’s relentless percussion. Bassist Rhydian takes the vocal lead on ‘Llaw=Wall’, which like ‘Buoy’ has a colossal drop in. I’ve been miming “spit on the window is what you are” into the mirror since 2011, but a quick Google search just informed me it’s “spilt” – which brings me on to another TJF song I’d been singing incorrect lyrics to.

The opening track on A Balloon Called Moaning, but the closing one for The Big Roar, ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’ still sounds as shadowy and hypnotic today to me now as it did back in 2009 when I first heard it. I thought the chorus opened with the line “Destroy this…” but it’s actually “This dream is…” but who cares about technicalities like that when you’re swept up in the layers of frenzied guitar and Ritzy’s tender vocals. It’s a song that I’ve turned to at so many different points in my life that my heart overflows with nostalgia when I hear it. I cherish this Joy Formidable track above all others.

After penning such a passionate essay about The Big Roar, it might surprise you to know that I didn’t review the album when it was first released. When I looked up some reviews by respected music publications, one labelled it as a “brit-pop” revival record. The only nineties influences I can hear are grunge and shoegaze, but these comparisons are all tiresome rhetoric, distracting us from the most important thing – The Joy Formidable just sound really fucking good on this album.

Listen to The Big Roar on bandcamp or Spotify.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut