It’s that time of year again when we look back at some of our musical highlights. And what a year for new music it’s been – from empowering guitar-driven anthems and gritty electro beats, to dreamy indie-pop, our ears have been pretty lucky!
Over the next week, we’ll be sharing our favourite gigs, albums, events and Ones To Watch for 2020, but for now, here are our top tracks of 2019. Have a read, and a listen!
Clt Drp – ‘Speak To My’
Having completely blown us away live at The Finsbury in June, Brighton trio Clt Drp are one of the most exciting bands I’ve come across this year. With the immense, thrashing beats, fuzz-filled whirring hooks and soaring, gritty vocals of ‘Speak To My’, the empowered energy of their unique electro-punk sound is showcased perfectly. (Mari Lane – Co-Founder/Managing Editor)
Scrounge – ‘Badoom’
Savage guitar riffs and driving beats form the basis for South London duo Scrounge’s single ‘Badoom’. Taken from their debut EP Ideal, released via Fierce Panda, the track showcases the band’s ability to take relatable concepts such as feeling burned out, and turn them in to punchy, cathartic sounds. Check out the karaoke inspired visuals that accompany the track here. (Kate Crudgington – Co-Founder/Features Editor)
ILL – ‘Kick Him Out The Disco’
We’re all in agreement at GIHE that ILL’s track ‘Kick Him Out The Disco’ is a BANGER! These grrrls blend the best bits of punk, noise, and keys to create cathartic anthems about standing up for yourself, and not letting the bastards grind you down. ‘Kick Him Out The Disco’ is a “glittered middle finger” to anyone who’s tried to manipulate you, or who made you question your self-worth. (KC)
Lizzo – ‘Juice’
Bam! As soon as this piece of pure pop magic hit the radio, it got my attention. ‘Juice’ is perfectly constructed; its opening bars draw you in, and before you know it, you’re shouting along and belting out the ‘ya-ya’ chorus. I defy you to listen to this song and stay still. If you’re not running to – or already on – a packed dancefloor, you’ll be shimmying in your seat. It’s sunny, fun and so empowering. ‘Juice’ was my introduction to Lizzo and my love affair with her has blossomed throughout 2019. Her beautiful album artwork, fabulous statement outfits (two words: finger handbag!), and that Glasto performance sealed the deal. My four-year-old sometimes likes to sing along to ‘Juice’ in the car, thankfully neglecting the naughty words. When he does, it reminds me how lucky we are to have a popstar like Lizzo. Body positive, funny, filthy. She’s an inspiration.
(Vic Conway – Contributor)
God Colony (feat. Samirah Raheem) – ‘Girls’
You might recognise Samira Raheem from her 2 minute interview at Amber Rose’s Slutwalk in 2018. This video caught the attention of UK Producers God Colony, who approached Raheem to collaborate. The result of that collaboration is ‘Girls’ – an encouraging call-to-arms laced with fierce lyrics, and indutrial-tinged, progressive beats. Always remember: “Every dog has his day / and bad bitches too”. (KC)
Pallas Athene – ‘Through Hell’
One of my absolute favourite songs of the year, ‘Through Hell’ is taken from Pallas Athene’s debut self-titled EP. Exploring themes of man vs machine and the dissolution of self, this is the latest single from the EP which I’m so into – I just love its spaced out vocals and calming chords. Keep up the great work! Looking forward to the future of Pallas Athene.
(Tash Walker – Co-Founder/Digital Editor)
Grizzly Coast – ‘High Functioning’
A GIHE team favourite, ‘High Functioning’ by Grizzly Coast is a track that has got firmly into my head. It’s all about holding your life together in every place, but your own head. Of the track, Grizzly Coast explains: “I was going through a difficult time with my OCD choosing to power forward and work towards my goals”, but she found the purpose and drive to stay confident through it all, and we are very thankful for that. ‘High Functioning’ is a total tune, keep up the great work Grizzly Coast, we’re behind you 100%! (TW)
Amahla – ‘Dorothy’s Verses’
Having played legendary venues such as The Jazz Cafe and The Roundhouse, and garnered support from the likes of BBC Radio 1 Extra and 6Music’s Tom Robinson, Hackney native Amahla this year released the poignant ‘Dorothy’s Verses’. Exploring what truth is through the story of her grandmother, and reflecting on the power of female voices, ‘Dorothy’s Verses’ flow with rich, impassioned vocals alongside luscious sweeping hooks, creating a truly spellbinding – and deeply stirring – offering. (ML)
Grimes – ‘Violence’
It’s funny, looking back at 2019, I could swear this song has been out longer than a mere three months. Grimes has always been a bit beyond me up to now: too saccharine for my artsy side, too much of an art angel for my pop tastes, but ‘Violence’ hits the sweet spot. Haunting beats, an insistent hook and candied vocals that bitterly talk of a romance that’s damaging, controlling but satisfying. With 2019’s batshit political and cultural wars veering between poles, ‘Violence’ pins it all to the floor.
(John McGovern – Contributor)
Catbear – ‘Unrequited Love’
‘Unrequited Love’ is the second single from Catbear, and what a tune! Fully home-recorded, self-produced, and with a heavy helping of synths. In their own words Catbear say: “We make music for the enjoyment of it. We are two good friends that love each other and we love making music together. There is no other agenda. And with that attitude we want to inspire young women and LGBTQ people like us to not only go form a band, but to take control over every aspect of their music. You can be a guitarist, you can be a drummer. You can make beats, you can record and produce your own music. You can be anything.” (TW)
BEA1991 – ‘Loser Wins’
Amsterdam-based artist and musical polymath BEA1991 swept me away with this track, taken from her debut album Brand New Adult. I love her subtle, soaring vocals and there’s a beautiful accompanying video to this track that I recommend you check out too. (KC)
Sui Zhen – ‘Perfect Place’
Despite having now released three albums, I only heard Sui Zhen for the first time this year. And it was love at first listen. Inspired by how we exist in the digital age, ‘Perfect Place’ flows with glitchy beats and twinkling, ‘80s-inspired hooks alongside Sui Zhen’s quirky, honey-sweet vocals. An instantly infectious slice of sparkling alt-pop that I haven’t been able to stop listening to. The whole album, Losing, Linda, is pretty magical. (ML)
Despicable Zee – ‘Counting Cars’
Despicable Zee is an Oxford based musician, composer and performer. I am so very into this track of hers, ‘Counting Cars’. I cannot get enough of the samples and composition – so so good! Despicable Zee aka Zahra is also the director of the Young Women’s Music Project working alongside and guiding young female musicians. Her third EP, Atigheh, is self-produced and independently released, check it out now. (TW)
The Big Moon – ‘Your Light’
The Big Moon proved they’re as talented on two wheels as they are on two feet in the accompanying video to their superb single ‘Your Light’. With its catchy chorus, buoyant melodies and feel-good lyrics, it’s the perfect boost for anyone who’s feeling blue about the current state of affairs. The song is lifted from their upcoming sophomore album Walking Like We Do, which is set for release on 10th January 2020 via Fiction Records. (KC)
Captain Handsome – ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’
Having been a pretty massive fan of indie-pop superstars Fightmilk for a couple of years now, I was excited when Lily from the band shared the first single from her new solo project, Captain Handsome. A poignant exploration of every-day anxieties, ‘I Wish I Had A Dog’ showcases Lily’s distinctive silky-smooth-yet-gritty vocals whilst oozing a touching raw emotion. With a twinkling lo-fi scuzz alongside the sensitivity of Lily’s refreshingly honest and consistently relatable lyricism, it’s a slice of effervescent indie-pop that tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways. I can’t wait to hear more from Captain Handsome in 2020. (ML)
You can listen to all our favourite tracks now, in this handy playlist! We’ll be adding to the playlist as we share our other end of year features – keep your eyes/ears peeled!
Mari Lane / @marimindles
Kate Crudgington / @kcbobcut
Tash Walker / @maudeandtrevor
John McGovern / @etinsuburbiaego