ALBUM: Tamar Aphek – ‘All Bets Are Off’

Israeli artist Tamar Aphek arrives on the legendary Kill Rock Stars with an indie rock pedigree to rival some of the label’s most celebrated acts. After close to a decade playing wild guitar licks and fronting some of Tel Aviv’s most prominent rock bands, Aphek got a taste for the solo life and promptly moved to Paris to focus on her song-craft.

Stepping into her new role in style, she teamed up with fellow Israeli Yonatan Gat (ex-Monotonix) to record her first Tamar Aphek EP, Collision, released in the summer of 2014. She turned down the guitars, dipped back into the classical piano training of her youth, and started to explore the full range of her voice. Until that point she had considered herself to be more of a guitarist than a singer, though it’s hard to reconcile that fact with the confidently deadpan and sophisticated voice we encounter on All Bets Are Off. People will inevitably make comparisons with Nico but Aphek’s vocal style is less scorched and droning, though still dry enough to cut through even the knottiest of her tightly wound, jazz inflected songs.

Much of the recording for All Bets Are Off was completed some years ago with her original touring band, but Aphek has been in no hurry to release it. Instead, she has taken an intuitive yet purposeful approach to producing the album herself, re-sculpting and layering the instrumentation where necessary to best suit her stories of jealousy, injustice, anger and revenge. Take a moment to compare the Bandcamp demo of ‘Russian Winter’ (aka ‘The Second I Am Gone’, from 2013) with its stonking final form on the record to see how Aphek’s vision has paid off. Powering in on scuzzy guitars and precision drums and exiting with an out-of-nowhere farfisa final eighth, ‘Russian Winter’ sets the tone for an album that’s packed with sudden diversions and unruly intermissions.

Aphek is at her most aggressive on ‘Crossbow’, last year’s pummeling first single, boosting her villainous tale with motorik propulsion and a flashy guitar line that brings it all together. Her production skills come to the fore again on the strung-out funhouse-mirror funk of ‘Too Much Information’, turning a potential clown car of a song into a woozy mid-album set-piece of beautifully controlled chaos. Elsewhere, ‘Show Me Your Pretty Side’ is a discomfiting, sax-strewn, stalkerish track that goes heavier on the twang, recalling a more cynical Holly Golightly or early Eleni Mandell.

Aphek never wavers in her commitment to the rollercoaster approach she has adopted, though her tricks can start to wear a little thin on longer songs like ‘Beautiful Confusion’ and ‘Nothing Can Surprise Me’. For the most part, though, All Bets Are Off is a thrillingly cohesive ride that’s not afraid of ambiguities or of going to extremes. There’s a lifetime of musical experience at work here, more fully revealed with each repeated listen, confirming Tamar Aphek as one to keep a close ear on.

Listen to Tamar Aphek’s new album All Bets Are Off on bandcamp or Spotify

Follow Tamar Aphek on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook for more updates.

Alan Pedder
@_neverdoneing

#ThrowbackThursday: GIHE w/ REWS (27.10.17)

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown in the UK, we’re unable to make it into the Hoxton Radio studio to broadcast our weekly live new music show from 7-9pm. Instead, we’re sharing previous GIHE radio show recordings as #ThrowbackThursday sessions, so you can still enjoy 2 hours of new music tunes & chats with some of our favourite artists each week.

Today, we’ve picked our October 2017 show with the wonderful Shauna from REWS. Mari & Kate spoke to her about the band’s debut album Pyro, the video shoot for ‘Your Tears’, growing up in a musical family, and performing on the John Peel stage at Glastonbury. Shauna also played acoustic renditions of ‘Your Tears’ and ‘Miss You In The Dark’ live on air too.

Listen back to the show below.

(You can listen back to our May 2016 show with Shauna here afterwards too, if you’re a big REWS fan. This was also Kate’s first ever GIHE radio show!)

Tracklist
Wolf Alice – Yuk Foo
Witch Fever – Carpet Asphyxiation
Placebo – Without You I’m Nothing
Adria – Gold Water
The Magnettes – Sad Girls
French For Rabbits – It Will Be Okay
Fever Ray – To The Moon and Back
I Am Harlequin – Minimal
PILLARS – Honest People
Halina Rice – Atoms
VERO – Out Of My Head
**REWS Interview & Live Session**
VUKOVI – Animal
Fever High – Good Advice
Miya Folick – Give It To Me
Cindy Wilson – Mystic
Just Because – Everything
Sextile – Ripped
Suzie Stapleton – Yesterday’s Town
David Bowie – Heroes

PLAYLIST: January 2021

2021 hasn’t got off to the best of starts, but while we’ve been in another version of Lockdown here in the UK, the GIHE team have been busy unearthing some new music gems to help you get through the cold winter days. We’ve put together a stellar mix of alt-pop gems, atmospheric electronics, imaginative cover songs and gritty guitar tunes on our January playlist. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of this post.

Follow Get In Her Ears on Spotify to hear all of our previous playlists too.

 

Noga Erez – ‘End of the Road’
Noga Erez is single-handedly saving 2021 with this new track & her upcoming second album KIDS, which is set for release on 26th March via City Slang. Exploring the thrill of the unknown through commanding beats and defiant lyrics, the Tel-Aviv based musician shrugs off the tight grip of mortality on this catchy, slickly produced new offering. I cannot wait to hear the record in full. Watch the fab accompanying video for ‘End of the Road’ here.
(Kate Crudgington)

Nilufer Yanya – ‘Same Damn Luck’
I’m loving Nilufer Yanya’s latest three-song EP, Feeling Lucky?, which is basically about losing and finding good luck. This particular track ‘Same Damn Luck’ deals with resentment and anger, all swept up in 80s guitar vibes. (Tash Walker)

NewDad – ‘Blue’
Another find courtesy of The Irish Jam radio show and recommended to me by Lizzie from Dublin trio Bitch Falcon, Galway-based dream-poppers NewDad create lucid guitar tunes that will melt the ears right off the side of your head. (KC)

Miss Grit – ‘Impostor’
‘Impostor’ is the title track from Miss Grit’s new EP, which is set for release on 5th Feb. The multi-instrumentalist is a genre-defying artist who has spent much of her life feeling out of place in rooms full of people, and this EP helped her overcome unwanted feelings of self doubt. The Korean-American musician has a sound that ricochets between atmospheric, angular and anthemic and I’m a big fan of her turbulent sounds. Read our interview with her here. (KC)

all cats are beautiful – ‘lucky cloud’
Not only do they have the best band name, but indie-pop duo all cats are beautiful create some really exquisite musical offerings. Latest single ‘lucky cloud’ pays homage to songwriter, cellist and queer icon Arthur Russell. Flowing with dreamy, twinkling hooks and serene harmonies, it maintains all the psychedelic grace of the original, whilst adding a unique uplifting charm and shimmering musicality. A ray of glistening sunshine (or indeed a ‘lucky cloud’) at a time when the rest of the horizon may be looking a little grey. ‘lucky cloud’ is available on bandcamp, with all proceeds split equally between Act Up New York and the Terrence Higgins Trust – supporting people living with HIV/AIDS. (Mari Lane)

Fears – ‘tonnta’
A delicate rumination on her relationship with her late Grandmother who suffered with dementia, ‘tonnta’ – meaning ‘waves’ in Irish – is one of fears’ most poignant singles to date. The Dublin based multi-instrumentalist released the track to celebrate the launch of her new label TULLE, which you can read more about here. (KC)

SLUGS – ‘Super Sane’
LA alt-rockers SLUGS have released this intensely relatable, bittersweet guitar tune that navigates life’s many contradictions. It’s a welcome tonic for the ears in these weird and confusing times we’re living through. (KC)

Lauren Lakis – ‘Sail Away’
I love this hazy, heavy offering from dark dream-rock artist Lauren Lakis. The track explores the idea of running away with your inner child, protecting and nurturing it into a capable adult. Moody reverb and Lakis’ clear, emotive vocals make this a captivating listen. (KC)

Maya Lakhani – ‘The Line’
The driving new single from Maya Lakhani, ‘The Line’ is a soaring alt-rock anthem. Oozing a fierce energy as grunge-fuelled hooks blast out alongside Lakhani’s impassioned, soaring vocals, it’s a compelling offering with shades of the likes of noughties rockers Evanescence. (ML)

The Nova Hawks – ‘Redemption’
Black country band The Nova Hawks are set to release their debut album next month and have now shared a taste of what’s to come with its title track. An immense slice of rock ‘n’ roll, ‘Redemption’ blasts into the ears with soaring, gritty vocals and fuzzed out bluesy hooks, all delivered with a raging, soulful energy. Redemption, the debut album from The Nova Hawks, is out 12th February via Frontiers Records. (ML)

Table Scraps – ‘Doom Generation’
The latest single from Birmingham trio Table Scraps, ‘Doom Generation’ and its post-apocalyptic theme couldn’t be more resonant right now. Immediately hitting the ears with a disconcerting sound of an air-raid siren, the track builds with immense thrashing riffs and a searing sense of urgency. As the seething, angst-driven power of the vocals rage, ‘Doom Generation’ provides a fierce, riotous commentary on the state of society at the moment. ‘Doom Generation’ is taken from Table Scraps’ upcoming album Coffin Face. Watch the animated video for the single here. (ML)

Kermes – ‘Peeling Off The The Rind’
The latest raucous single from Leicester queercore outfit Kermes, ‘Peeling Off The Rind’ forms part of a double A-side, found exclusively on bandcamp. Propelled by scuzzy, swirling hooks and a shimmering, angst-driven energy, front-person Emily’s raw, seething vocals provide a much needed slice of uplifting catharsis. ‘Peeling Off The Rind’ and accompanying track ‘Terms’ are available digitally and on limited edition cassette via Amateur Pop Incorporated on Kermes’ bandcamp page now. Another recent single from the band ‘Like A Sister (Again)’ is available on Spotify, which is what we’ve put on our playlist!
(ML)

 

BLAB – ‘Casual Sex’
Described as an “ode to the dilemmas of single life,” Southend-based musician BLAB has shared her latest single ‘Casual Sex’ via indie label Cool Thing Records. Full of angsty guitar licks and savage lyrics, the track riotously takes down those who only want your company for a disappointing twenty minutes. (KC)

Graywave – ‘Like Heaven’
An atmospheric guitar tune that tackles the urge to self-sabotage, Graywave’s anthemic single is inspired by the sounds of Men I Trust and Slowdive. ‘Like Heaven’ is taken from Graywave’s upcoming EP Planetary Shift, set for release later this year. You can also listen to their new single ‘Before’ here. (KC)

Okay Kaya – ‘You’re Still The One’
I’m vibing the covers this month, and have been listening to this one a lot. ‘You’re Still The One’ by Okay Kaya, who was the last person I saw live in February 2020 at SET in Dalston, London. I’ve thought about that show so much throughout this last year, the tenderness, the raw goosebump nature of hearing their voice live. God I miss gigs. (TW)

Mary Lou Lord & Mikaela Davis – ‘Some Song’ (Elliott Smith Cover)
Iconic riot grrrl label Kill Rock Stars turns 30 this year! To celebrate, they’re releasing a string of cover singles under the title Stars Rock Kill (Rock Stars), where several artists from around the world will cover tracks from the label’s expansive back catalogue. This is the first single from the series – a dreamy cover of Elliott Smith’s ‘Some Song’ by Mary Lou Lord and Mikaela Davis. (KC)

Maria BC – ‘Adelaide’
An ambient reflection on finding your way back to the world after feeling disconnected from it, Brooklyn-based musician Maria BC’s debut single ‘Adelaide’ is a blissful lo-fi gem. The track is taken from their upcoming EP Devil’s Rain, which is set for release on 5th February via Fear of Missing Out Records. (KC)

Vagabon feat. Courtney Barnett – ‘Reason To Believe’
A perfect combination of two of my favourites, Vagabon and Courtney Barnett, covering ‘Reason to Believe’. Of the track Vagabon says: “The decision to have Courtney sing it with me came after we performed it together live at the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles on Valentine’s Day 2020, a month before lockdown. It was fresh in our brains then, so not long after the show, Courtney came over and we recorded her parts.” Barnett added: “I’m a huge fan of Vagabon and Karen Dalton so this was a dream. They both have a voice that absolutely knocks the wind out of me. I really admire Lætitia and am constantly inspired by her songwriting, production, and our sporadic FaceTime chats.” (TW)

Laura Guarch – ‘Náufrags (Castaways)’
Following previous single ‘Fleeting Light’, Spanish born, London-based artist Laura Guarch has now has now shared her latest single ‘Nàufrags (Castaways)’. It flows with an anthemic, emotion-strewn musicality, propelled by Guarch’s rich crystalline vocals in her native language of Catalan. A truly captivating, ethereal soundscape with shades of the other-wordly majesty of Björk. (ML)

Catgod – ‘Sometimes I Care For You’
The first of three singles to be taken from Oxford band Catgod’s upcoming album, ‘Sometimes I Care For You’ is an ode to the isolation we feel when we cannot express ourselves. Flowing with a stirring, heartfelt emotion, it’s propelled by the rich power of Cat’s soaring vocals alongside Robin’s twinkling harmonies, creating a truly captivating soundscape. ‘Sometimes I Care For You’ is out now, and Born Again, the upcoming album from Catgod, is set for release in Spring. (ML)

Chuck SJ – ‘Sink Your Teeth In’
Taken from their upcoming debut album Resist.Recharge.Revolt, this is the latest single from DIY musician & multi-instrumentalist Chuck SJ. Full of atmospheric guitar riffs, sparse beats and glitchy electronics, the track is an industrial-tinged rumination on the forces that construct, influence and sometimes dismantle our ways of thinking. (KC)

Little Dragon & Moses Sumney – ‘The Other Lover’
Another perfect collaboration, this time coming from Little Dragon and Moses Summer, who have recreated an old Little Dragon song in the form of ‘The Other Lover’. Speaking about the partnership Little Dragon said: “When we reached out to Moses we didn’t know what to expect. What we received was very stripped down, with his beautiful voice. We jammed along and sent it back. It bounced back from his end with added horns and sounded beautiful to our ears. We are very proud of this.” (TW)

Alex Loveless – ‘Phone Keys Wallet’
Hackney-based independent musician Alex Loveless has shared this sultry new single and I’m 100% into it. Recorded, mixed and produced by Loveless themselves, the track is lifted from their upcoming debut EP which is set for release on 14th February. (KC)

Nuha Ruby Ra – ‘Sparky’
One of our ‘Ones To Watch’ for this year, Nuha Ruby Ra shared ‘Sparky’ at the end of 2020, and it’s a gritty slice of electro-tinged alt-pop. With her raw, no-frills spoken word vocals, alongside catchy hooks and a scuzzed-out playful groove, it’s an honest, majestic offering luring us into the unique world of Sparky and Nuha Ruby Ra’s bewitchingly unique sound. (ML)

S.A.A.R.A – ‘Grace Jones’
London-based musician S.A.A.R.A has one ambition – to make people dance – and with her funky beats and catchy refrains on ‘Grace Jones’ she achieves just that. I love her retro-infused sounds and look forward to hearing more from her this year. (KC)

Black Gold Buffalo – ‘Lay It Down’
Throwing it back to 2018 with this atmospheric alt-pop gem from Black Gold Buffalo. I’ve been busy diving into the GIHE radio archives recently for our #ThrowbackThursday sessions, as we’ve been unable to get into the Hoxton Radio studio to broadcast our weekly live show due to Lockdown 3.0/Covid-19. I rediscovered this show we recorded with Black Gold Buffalo back in March 2018, and I’ve been listening to their debut self-titled album ever since. ‘Lay It Down’ reminds me of being 28, living in London, falling in love and making the most of my evenings by going to gigs or being on air with Tash and Mari. I took it all for granted at the time, but I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and doing it all again once it’s safe. (KC)

WATCH: Tamar Aphek – ‘Russian Winter’

A brooding mix of distorted bass lines, cutting vocals and thumping beats, Israeli rocker Tamar Aphek‘s latest single ‘Russian Winter’ is a sonic force to be reckoned with. Taken from her upcoming album All Bets Are Off, set for release via Kill Rock Stars on 29th January, Aphek has shared a new video to accompany the beautiful, yet desolate track.

“‘Russian Winter’ is my first concept music video,” Aphek explains. “It was developed in a few stages. First, a visual translation of my personal feelings in light of the collapse of the frameworks and creative endeavours in which I was involved with before the coronavirus, hours of brainstorming with the director Amir Buxbaum on how to transform the ideas into a music video, and finally diving with the animator in a symbolic ocean of images. We are facing huge changes in our old familiar world – I wanted to include images like the cycle of the four seasons – hoping that by sticking to the common place it will help us move forward into the unknown world.”

Hailed as “Israel’s guitar goddess” by Timeout in Tel-Aviv, Aphek’s contemporary rock sounds mark her out as an exciting talent in the world of guitar music. The experienced instrumentalist produced her new record by herself, working alongside the mastering talents of Daniel Schlett (War on Drugs, DIIV) and Greg Calbi (John Lennon, Bob Dylan, David Bowie) to finalise her sound. ‘Russian Winter’ is the third single to be released from the album, showcasing Aphek’s ability to dismantle the world around her through commanding vocals and a cacophony of guitar noise.

Watch the video for ‘Russian Winter’ below.

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

Photo Credit: Guy Nahum Lëvy

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut