Track Of The Day: Varley – ‘Married With Bruises’

Having charmed us live at Notting Hill Arts Club a couple of years back, Berlin based Varley have now shared a courageous and vivid reveal – ‘Married With Bruises’ – taken from their 2021 album, Smalltalk and DMCs. With an impactful track title suggestive of Varley’s tender subject dive, the three-piece have found a divine formula for exposing poignant subject matter with compassion. 

As a testament to Two Thousand Years, ‘Married With Bruises’ is a raw look into generational patterns of patriarchy and misogyny. As a highlight from Smalltalk and DMCs, it is an indie-pop venture that lyrically pays testament to its delicate narrative while musically encouraging liberation with a communal, orchestral disposition. Smooth, reverberated guitar cast a stormy spell for Irish front woman Claire-Ann’s voice to dance upon as her effortless vocal authority draws listeners into the world of Varley. 

As vocal layers are intricately woven during the track’s chorus, ‘Married With Bruises’ shimmers as Claire-Ann’s frustration festers over the repeated mistreatments thrusted upon women, her “mother’s mother” and later, onto herself. The discomfort of being shoved around and controlled is felt by just listening to the honesty in her vocal delivery as it cuts through the lilting instrumentation for our undivided attention. Of the meaning behind the track, Claire-Ann expands:

“It weighs heavy on me sometimes when I see that I am being treated differently to my band mates. Is it because they have willies and I don’t? Or do I allow myself to be spoken to in a way that they would never accept? The one thing I am so grateful for is that my band mates see it too and they always have my back when they see it happening. I never really confront it but you can be sure I’m gonna write a song about it and that’s why ‘Married with Bruises’ is so special to me. It was my place to vent when I felt I was being treated differently or unfairly or being spoken to in a creepy way just because I am a woman.” 

Cinematic bass expands the universe of ‘Married With Bruises’ as the track’s bridge becomes a cathartic outro, ultimately spiralling into a thunderous soundscape filled with haunting nuances reminiscent of Angel Olson. Captured with such grace and vulnerability, it offers a captivating insight that is both singer-songwriter genuine and art-pop captivating.

Watch the stirring new video for ‘Married With Bruises’ here:

Smalltalk and DMCS, the latest album from Varley, is out now.

Jillian Goyeau
@jillybxxn

GIHE: Ones To Watch 2022

It’s safe to say 2021 has been a tough one… But if there’s one positive to take away from this year, it’s the immense amount of incredible new music that’s been released, and the hope of even more sublime offerings from some wonderful new bands in 2022.

For our final annual end of year round-up, we’re sharing our ‘Ones To Watch’ for 2022… Just a few of the amazing bands and artists who have impressed us throughout 2021, and that we predict will be reaching ears far and wide next year… Have a read of our choices, and make sure you give them all a follow to keep track of their unmissable achievements over the next 12 months.

Cherym
Derry trio Cherym are one of my favourite discoveries of the year. Having had their EP Hey Tori pretty much on repeat over the last few months, seeing their gig at Paper Dress Vintage in October left me buzzing with a joyous sense of nostalgic euphoria – not only because it was my first gig since Covid, but because of the band’s unmatched exuberant energy and fiery spirit. Each of their songs is a perfect ​​master class in pure, perfect punk-pop – instant singalong anthems. I just can’t get enough of their empowering energy and bubbling, sugar-coated scuzz. And, having now been featured in Kerrang!, and with plans to play at SXSW this Spring, it seems they’re definitely ones to keep your eyes and ears out for in 2022! 
(Mari Lane – Co-Founder)


Pretty Happy 
I still crack up when I think of Pretty Happy guitarist Abbey Blake commenting “you’re the first person to say we have genuine talent” when I told them how great I thought their music was back in September. Together, Pretty Happy – aka art-punk trio Abbey, Arann Blake and Andy Killian – create riotous, tongue-in-cheek offerings often centred around their observations and experiences of living in their home county of Cork, Ireland. I had their EP Sluggers Bridge on heavy rotation during 2021, chanting along to ‘Sea Sea Sea’ and ‘Sudocrem’ as loudly and obnoxious-ly as possible. The band should hopefully be supporting Gilla Band on NYE if restrictions in Ireland allow, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll make it over to the UK in 2022 so I can see them live for the first time.
(Kate Crudgington – Co-Founder)


BAXTR
Blasting out the pink, fuzzy energy we’ve so needed this year, and having received acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing, London trio Floss, Bash and Keiko – aka BAXTR – have fast become one of my favourite bands of 2021. With sunny, uplifting singles such as ‘In Pop We Trust’ and ‘Grace On Fire’, the band showcase their knack for combining a kitsch, honey-sweet pop allure with a fierce, frenzied rock spirit, consistently delivering an effervescent, euphoric power with each frenzied, fun-filled floor-filler. A band on the rise for sure, I can’t wait to host BAXTR playing live for us at The Shacklewell Arms on 24th February, along with headliners Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business and Sheffield band Potpourri. Get your tickets on DICE now. 
(ML)


Grandmas House
Since I heard the opening riff of ‘Always Happy’ by Bristol trio Grandmas House, I have been hooked on their sardonic, thumping post-punk sounds. Formed of Yasmin Berndt, Poppy Dodgson and Zoë Zinsmeister, the band combine gritty guitars, powerhouse percussion and visceral vocals to create intensely relatable anthems. Watching them live at The WIndmill in Brixton was a real joy this year and I look forward to insisting Mari buy their last tote bag at the merch stand at more of their gigs in the future.
(KC)


Queen Cult
Following acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing for their debut single ‘Shindigger‘, and support for explosive recent offerings ‘Show & Tell’ and ‘A Song About Consent’ from big names such as Bang Bang Romeo, Cheshire band Queen Cult have been fast making a name for themselves this year. Consisting of front person Maisie Johnson and bassist Leila Jacklin, as well as Brodie Carson on drums and Piers Jarvis on guitar, the band pride themselves on their LGBTQ+ identity and sharing their queer, politically-charged messages with the masses, and I cannot get enough of their seething, gritty energy and riotous, angst-driven power. And, with a tour with GIHE faves LibraLibra set for January, it seems as though many more people will be being lured to the band’s fierce colossal spirit and instantly catchy musicality very soon. 
(ML)


Brimheim
I have Mari to thank for bringing Danish artist Brimheim to my attention this year, after she played her shadowy, sublime single ‘poison fizzing on a tongue’ on our radio show. Brimheim’s buoyant second single ‘hey amanda’ is a gentler, but equally as emotive track that showcases her talent for capturing a moment in its purest form. I’m so excited to hear her new album, the magnificently titled can’t hate myself into a different shape, when it’s released in January 2022.
(KC)


45ACIDBABIES
Dutch garage-pop punks 45ACIDBABIES have been providing a welcome quirky, fizzing soundtrack throughout 2021. Having previously shared stages with the likes of Sleigh Bells and Blood Red Shoes, with singles such as ‘Mommy’s Favourite 1’ and ‘Only Class6 From Now On’, they have showcased their ability to create perfectly catchy, danceable anthems. With each single offering a wonderfully obscure cacophony propelled by a swirling energy and vibrant honey-sweet allure, the band have already gathered a huge fan-base in their native Holland (with over 685k streams of their music on Spotify this year), but I predict that 2022 sees them headed for world domination… Watch this space! 
(ML)

Lilith Ai
Self-described as “a singer-songwriter who performs poignant tales of modern city life,” Lilith Ai writes relatable guitar tunes exploring turbulent emotions in a humble and engaging way. She was modest, self-deprecating but incredibly warm and open to talking about all aspects of her life and art when I spoke to her about her album, Folk You Hard, earlier in the year. Loud Women also awarded her their prestigious Hercury Prize Award for the record, which is further proof she’s definitely one to watch in 2022.
(KC)


The Menstrual Cramps
Having been massive fans of raging queer punks The Menstrual Cramps since 2017’s debut album We’re Not Ovaryacting, and had the honour of hosting an epic night of them playing live for us at The Finsbury back in 2018 as well as having them as guests on our radio show, we have been wallowing in a Menstrual Cramps-less void for the last couple of years as the band were on a little hiatus. But, at the beginning of this week, just when we thought all was lost and we’d given up any hope of 2022 being better than the last two years… The Menstrual Cramps announced their return! Joining front person Emilia and drummer AJ, the band introduced two new members, Abi and Zam, and have promised new music for us. I cannot wait for more of their politically-charged, immensely empowering anthems! 
(ML)

Check out our Tracks Of 2021, Albums & EPs of 2021 and Personal Highlights now. Massive thanks to all who’ve supported GIHE this year, it really means the world. And huge thanks too to all the amazing bands and artists who’ve soundtracked it, and who will continue to soundtrack 2022!

Introducing Interview: Sister Ghost

With accolades such as winning ‘Best Live Act’ at Northern Ireland’s Music Prize in 2019 and airplay from the likes of BBC 6Music and BBC Radio 1, Derry based Shannon Delores O’Neill and Maeve Mulholland – aka Sister Ghost – have just released their brilliantly entitled new EP Stay Spooky. Taken from the EP, latest single ‘Buried Alive’ oozes the duo’s distinctive swirling, gritty power as soaring impassioned vocals and catchy hooks rage with a seething energy. A perfect slice of sparkling rock ‘n’ roll, exuding a much-needed empowering raucous spirit.

We caught up with Shannon to find out more about the new single, what inspires Sister Ghost’s sound, her thoughts on the industry at the moment and more… Have a read and listen to new single ‘Buried Alive‘ now!

Hi Sister Ghost, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
I started Sister Ghost while I was in uni at Belfast. It’s brought so many cool moments to my life, such as supporting LeButcherettes, Pussy Riot and Shellac (meeting Steve Albini and getting his plectrum was amazing!). One of the greatest moments was winning Best Live Act at the 2019 NI Music Awards – getting to stand on the famous Ulster Hall stage where Zeppelin played Stairway for the first time was cool. That award meant a lot too because we were two women, playing loud rock music, with no big team around us – totally a win for grassroots rockers. Sister Ghost started off as a means for me to make the music I always wanted to make, and it’s evolved into a band that is all about a great and energetic live performance where the audience should have as much fun as we do.

Are you able to tell us a bit about how you initially started creating music together? 
I’d been writing and performing as Sister Ghost for a few years but met Maeve at Girls Rock School NI in 2017 (I was directing and she was learning bass) and we got on well, so I asked her to join in 2019 and it’s been going great. During the pandemic I was able to have the time to write an album’s worth of material and I sent those demos to Maeve who then wrote her bass lines – she’s always on hand to help with any technical side of things when I need a hand. The same process led us to writing the new EP Stay Spooky that came out earlier this month.

I love the gritty, seething energy of your sound, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
Thank you – I like that description, it reminds me of the song Seether by Veruca Salt, who are a huge influence on Sister Ghost for sure! The songs on the new EP are the best example I feel of a mash-up of two particular eras of music for me: lots of ’90s stuff like L7, Soundgarden & Radiohead and then ’60s folk/psych infused rock like CSNY, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Mamas and Papas, The Doors, The Byrds etc. Kate Bush and her iconic level of artistry and not bowing down to anyone, has always been something I look to as well.

You’ve just shared your immense new single ‘Buried Alive’, which is super exciting! Are you able to tell us a bit about this? Are there any particular themes running throughout the song?
I wanted to write about the experience of feeling smothered under the weight of responsibilities as well as when you feel that pressure to question yourself and where you’re at in life. Equally, I also wanted to acknowledge the realisation that everything that’s happened before has led you to where you are now – with purpose, and the gratitude and comfort you can feel in knowing that.

How have you found recording and promoting music during these strange times?
It’s actually been my most fruitful time for writing, literally just because the pandemic meant that moving back home to the countryside with not much else to do meant I could just be with my guitar, laptop and notebooks. It’s been shitty not being able to play many shows and live-streams are kind of a buzzkill too (even though they were necessary at a time). But the sooner we get back out on a series of gigs the better – I’m trying to manifest a busy 2022 for Sister Ghost!

You’ve recently played an exclusive, limited-capacity in-store show in Starr Records, Belfast – how was that experience for you? 
It was really great – the room was perfect, filled with candles and plants and it was the first time I got to play my new 12 string guitar as well (I’m a guitar nerd for sure). It was just so much fun to get to perform in a full band set-up for the first time since Friday 13th March 2020, which was also in that same record shop! It was so nice to see friends we hadn’t seen in a long time as well.

And how is the live music scene in Northern Ireland at the moment – has it ‘recovered’ after the limitations of the last couple of years?
Not really in all honesty – our government only just allowed a return for standing gigs on October 31st so we’re way behind.

How do you feel the industry is for new artists at the moment? Do you feel much has changed over the last few years in its treatment of female and non binary artists? 
Someone recently told me they felt it was an easier time for the brand new, just out-of-school artists right now because they had all that time during the pandemic to try out stuff without having the pressure to be out gigging straight away etc. I think it’s probably a bit of this and that really, I think the internet is helping a lot of people gain a following these days, more so than just being out gigging in the real world – cutting your teeth like I did as a teen in bands etc. In terms of your second question, I just think people who hold power need to keep making sure their venues and spaces are free from toxicity. I also think that work needs to continue on calling out the patriarchal systems and ways of thinking we experience on the daily, so that people of all gender identities feel validated and safe in every walk of life.

And, as we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands you’re loving right now that you’d recommend we check out?
Yes! Heart Shaped – Kendall is originally from Houston but has been based in Belfast for a few years now – we met through Girls Rock School NI. Mom Friend – Emily is based in Georgia, USA and we met at Girls Rock Santa Barbara.

Finally, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for Sister Ghost?
Preparations for the debut Sister Ghost album… Woohoo!

Massive thanks to Shannon for answering our questions!

Stay Spooky, the new EP from Sister Ghost, is out now. Buy on bandcamp now.

INTERVIEW: M(h)aol

Currently based between Dublin, London and Bristol, M(h)aol (pronounced “male”) are formed of Róisín Nic Ghearailt, Constance Keane, Jamie Hyland, Zoe Greenway and Sean Nolan. Together, the band aim to rattle the male dominated post-punk scene with their urgent, gritty sounds, with previous singles ‘Laundries’, ‘Asking For It’ & ‘Gender Studies’ being the perfect instigators for this pursuit. They’re set to release their debut EP Gender Studies tomorrow (29th October) via TULLE, which further cements their statement against toxic patriarchal standards.

Ahead of their gig with Club The Mammoth at The Shacklewell Arms next week on 4th November (tickets here) which GIHE will also be DJ’ing at, we caught up with Róisín, Jamie & Sean for a quick chat about the band’s new EP, the history & themes that informed it, and their anticipations for their London headline show…

Can you remember who, or what first inspired you to start making music? And can you tell me how you all met & become M(h)aol?

Jamie: I grew up with the radio always on, it would be a very odd moment to not have music playing in the background at home throughout my childhood. I would have heard everything between Bach madrigals, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas, early blues records, Duran Duran albums in passing. I’ve a very vivid memory of watching MTV as a child and hearing Shanks & Bigfoot and that music video, that really sparked something.

I’d been learning piano on my grandad’s very old, very out of tune piano for a while before I got bored of it and my older brother got a guitar and showed me the Pixies and how to play a few guitar lines from those tunes. The simplicity of how to actually play them, but then the musical complexity/impact of them in context was amazing. I first met Connie after a soundcheck eating almonds and playing cards in the back of the Twisted Pepper in Dublin. It took a few years but now she can’t get rid of me and she’s subjected the rest of the band to me as well.

Róisín: Myself and Connie were obsessed with The Punk Singer when we were 21 and she ended up shaving my head and that was the catalyst for M(h)aol. It was a total shock to me that I was in a band. For the first year we just practiced in her gorgeous rehearsal space in Rathmines. For an entire year we just tried to figure out what we were saying and why.

Sean: I was shanghaied by Connie while at work, and joined the band under protest.

It sounds like Connie is the mastermind behind M(h)aol, fantastic. You’re set to release your debut EP, Gender Studies, on 29th October which you recorded in just 3 days. What are you most proud of about this record?

Sean: I’m still impressed that we got as much crammed into those 3 days as we did.

Jamie: It was all written in those three days too.

Róisín: That’s not 100% true, I’d written the track ‘Gender Studies’ almost a year before in a fury on my way home from work at 2am. It started as more of a poem than anything. I only write the lyrics, I don’t have any kind of input to the music, so for the EP it was important for me to have some kind of overarching narrative. That narrative being how gender influences how one moves through the world and how it doesn’t just impact your physical landscape but your emotional one too.

Do you have a favourite track, and if so, why? Also, please tell me how ‘Kinder Bueno’ came to life. It’s 52 seconds of savage wit…

Róisín: Against all odds my favourite is ‘Desperation’ which was almost an after thought. It makes me laugh, its also based on my favourite book of 2021, Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan.

Jamie: Some people need to be called out for being jerks. I don’t think that always needs to be prolonged into numerous verses and I feel like Róisín did a great job of condensing the sentiment into just a few lines on ‘Kinder Bueno’.

Sean: From what I remember, Róisín wrote that one kind of off-the-cuff and we had the take that’s on the EP pretty quickly.

Róisín: I always knew I wanted a super petty song about this really bad hook up I’d had and like Jamie and Sean said, it really just came together really quickly.

There are universal themes within your music (reflections on misogyny and gender-based violence) but there are also strong connections to Irish history too (your band is named after Grainne Mhaol, the context of your track ‘Laundries’), so talk us through the significance of these histories how they’ve informed your song-writing…

Jamie: Irish history is fascinating, at every turn there is something incredible, be that incredibly painful, interesting, or empowering.

Róisín: Growing up in Ireland has shaped us so much for better or worse. There’s so much intergenerational trauma in the country, stemming from clerical abuse etc, but also intergenerational pleasure stemming from our rich history of rebellion and literature.

What are your anticipations for your headline show at The Shacklewell Arms?

Jamie: We are all very aware that our demographic lines up far too closely with Pillow Queens, who have a London gig the same night. Not that I want to start a beef with them but I think they are intentionally sabotaging us.

Róisín: Jamie is OBVIOUSLY joking. The Shacklewell was where we were supposed to have our first proper return gig in March 2020 so I’m hoping that it will feel suitably triumphant.

Sean: We’ll have played 3 shows over the previous 3 days so we’ll either be at our most polished or most exhausted, hopefully the former.

Thanks to Róisín, Jamie & Sean for answering our questions!

M(h)aol UK Tour Dates
1st November – Rough Trade, Bristol
2nd November – The Hug And Pint, Glasgow
3rd November – The Talleyrand, Manchester
4th November – The Shacklewell Arms, London

Follow M(h)aol on SpotifybandcampFacebookTwitter & Instagram

 

Photo Credit: Susan Appleby

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut