ALBUM: HAVVK – ‘Cause & Effect’ (Pt.1)

From the moment Cause & Effect begins, until the last riff of latest single ‘Shifting Shape’ ends, HAVVK have your complete attention… And this is only the first chapter! Never wanting to be conventional, HAVVK have chosen to release their debut album in two halves; with the latter set for release on 22nd November. 

Beginning life in London, HAVVK now consists of Julie, Matt and Sam, who – over the years – have developed their own style of feedback-laden, ethereal alt-rock, resulting in two incredible extended plays: the self-titled HAVVK (2016) and She Knows EP (2017).

Alternating between London, Dublin, and Berlin (the latter where Cause & Effect was recorded with producer Rocky O’Reilly), the trio approach Part 1 unrestrained with a take no prisoners/punk rock attitude. Opening with ‘If I Don’t Tell You’ – a biting social commentary on social media discord – you are instantly captivated by the shimmering guitar riffs, pulsating drum beats and brooding basslines, before being transported seamlessly into ‘Birds on a Wire’.

‘Birds on a Wire’ introspectively analyses a destructive relationship through Julie’s raw, honest vocals and an expansive, melancholic sound – “When I’m trying to speak, are you listening? Do you want to hear me scream?” This is followed by ‘Always the Same’, which confronts female objectivity and toxic masculinity, as we hear Julie challenge men who make women feel unsafe as a result of their gender.

On ‘The Factory’, Julie’s vocals soar as the track ascends into a crescendo of meticulous noise, before transitioning into the post-punk x shoegazing of ‘Tunnels’.

Throughout the album, the contrasting narrative of each song is structured into a cohesive whole with each seamless transition. HAVVK have always explored lighter and louder soundscapes through political and social songwriting, and Cause & Effect is the perfect example of their euphonic activism.

HAVVK continue to agitate societal bullshit with their final track, ‘Shifting Shape’. Armed with an abrasive edge, and a quiet/loud dynamic, HAVVK waste no time in getting straight to the point: Fuck constraints, fuck traditional assumptions surrounding gender, and fuck the unwarranted, unnecessary pressure it causes.

HAVVK craft music to make a statement, and with the first six songs from Cause & Effect the band have covered a lot of ground; from inequality to gender-preconceptions. It can be exhausting, but change is happening, so let’s keep this momentum going. Bands like HAVVK are needed now more than ever.

Cause & Effect (Pt.1) is out now via Veta Records.

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

ALBUM: Shitkid – ‘Detention’

Starting off as a solo project from Åsa Söderqvist in 2015, ShitKid has blossomed into a pop-punk revival as of late. Söderqvist and new bandmate Lina Molarin Ericcson have returned to their school days to unearth material for their new album Detention. The album, an eight-track EP, takes inspiration from the likes of old-school punk bands like Weezer, The Offspring and Simple Plan which is evident from the moment the title track ‘Detention’ hits. 

On deciding that the album should follow the pop-punk genre, Söderqvist says, “It’s a genre that’s quite embarrassing to go back to, and i knew that would make it really fun. I used to be emo in 2008, and no nobody plays that music anymore!

The genre is definitely not what it used to be, and for those that used to listen to it who may be stuck in a rut, repeating the same artists and albums that they always have, Detention gives way to a new artist to the scene. As a fellow former emo-kid, I can relate.

While listening to title track ‘Detention’ my mind immediately floats to The Runaways, a comparison I’m sure they’ve gotten before. Other inspirations in the form of bands like Green Day or Sum 41 are apparent throughout other tracks like ‘Last Mistake’ and ‘Summer18’, which bring with them a heavy dose of nostalgia.

‘Home Wondering (I Don’t Wanna Go To Prom)’ holds stoic guitar riffs alongside the vocals that give the track personality, especially with the lyrics coinciding with the old-school throwback, whilst ‘Lost In A Dreamworld’ is a lightweight and heartfelt anthem to round off the EP, tying the rest of the tracks together perfectly.

If you’re tired of listening to American Idiot and Conspiracy of One since release and want a new band to jump around your flat to whilst head-banging and reliving memories of your teenage years, ShitKid is the artist for you. They are leading the way for a new era of pop-punk with emotions we only saw 20 years ago, and it’s certainly good to have a dose of nostalgia in 2019.

Söderqvist also promises that they’ll “definitely do a pop album next, and we want to make a screamo record too!”. So, I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see where the band decide to walk with their next release.

 

Detention is out via PNKSLM Recordings on May 10th. Pre-order here.

Bekky Smart
@bekkymays

ALBUM: Heather Woods Broderick – ‘Invitation’

Oregon-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Heather Woods Broderick releases her third album Invitation this month. Having toured with Sharon Van Etten, Efterklang, and Lisa Hannigan, her new album is laden with dreamy Baroque pop sounds, built around piano and vocal melodies, with poetic lyrics inspired by her move to a quiet corner of the Pacific North West.

Opener ‘Stilling Wind’, with its gentle electronics and slow dreamy guitar, deals with memories invoked by once familiar landscapes – “how did you slow the tide and disappear so quickly… Have I changed yet, or do my habits still remain?” The lush atmosphere leads into the beautifully poetic ‘I Try’, whilst imagery of the natural surroundings intertwines with the music in the country-sounding ‘Nightcrawler’, and in ‘Where I Lay’ producing a haunting effect.

The piano opens out into an elegiac chorus, like the powerful, crashing waves of the landscape in ‘Slow Dazzle’, and ‘A Daydream’ provide moments of pleasure in solitude, before the pace picks up again on ‘White Tail’ with its nocturnal forest sounds and ethereal vocal exploring Heather’s experiences with depression and finding a transcendence.

The beautifully personal piano ballads ‘Quicksand’ and ‘My Sunny One’ deal with alcoholism and failed relationships respectively, whilst closing track ‘Invitation’ completes the journey of self-acceptance: “I left that candle burning… I dreamt it took me last night into the darker side of life.”

I too accept the invitation this delicately-crafted album offers for introspection and the beauty found in stillness. The sentiment, that it is not the fear of falling, but getting back up again, recurs throughout each captivating song, offering hope and light.

Invitation is out 19th April via Western Vinyl.

Fi Ni Aicead
@gotnomoniker

ALBUM: Mally Harpaz – ‘Zoom In, Zoom Out’

There are some compositions that were created to inspire, and Mally Harpaz’s self-released album, Zoom In, Zoom Out, is fuelled by them. On 5th April, Mally Harpaz released an album that has been almost two years in the making. For anyone that has been lucky enough to attend one of the primarily North London-based Blind Dog Studio gigs, you’ll at least have a sense of the material contained within.

Trite though it is for me to say (again) but wholly true, Mally Harpaz is a musician. She is an artist, a composer, a percussionist, and a beautiful soul. Mally is a musician’s musician and the musical landscape that she’s created on Zoom In, Zoom Out is every bit as artful as the stunningly poignant video art by Clara Aparicio Yoldi projected behind each live show.

While the live show visuals aid the music in reaching epic heights, one listen to the record and you’ll see your own. Recorded between Harpaz’s own Blind Dog Studio – a studio on her property named after her dog – and Hackney Road Studios with sound engineer, Shuta Shinoda, listening to Zoom In, Zoom Out is every bit the spiritual experience it should be.

All too many times people have uttered the phrase that they need words to music, but all I can think is that they don’t quite appreciate the atmosphere of a score. Zoom In, Zoom Out is a score; tracks like ‘Voices’ and ‘Not Without Pain’ say everything that has to be said: to anyone, wherever they are when listening. For me, a dark room through studio headphones with an aching soul.

Any vocal accompaniments are from Blind Dog Studio regulars Hazel Iris, James Marples, Eran Karniel, and Anna Calvi. And of course, the heartbreakingly sound ‘Not Without Pain’ mixing somber spoken word from Harpaz with Calvi’s haunting vocals washing in like a tidal wave alongside the great swell of instrumentation composed from the stunning depths of Harpaz’s mind.

Words don’t do justice to a record built on feeling, but then again, without the pursuit, music would be far duller a landscape. Thanks to artists like Mally Harpaz, however, that’s never gonna happen.

Zoom In, Zoom Out is available now via Bandcamp.

Em Burfitt
@fenderqueer

Photo Credit: Stéphane Guilley

ALBUM: Tacocat – ‘This Mess Is A Place’

It’s probably best to lay my cards out early: I think Tacocat are the best band in the United States and they’ve rarely been off my headphones since their 2016 album Lost Time. But, whereas Lost Time and 2014’s NVM dealt with the minutiae of life, celebrating cult figures and taking off-kilter looks at some of life’s difficulties, recent events have forced the band to take a wider view. This Mess is a Place is Tacocat’s response to darker times, and its tunes come plastered with rainbow-coloured glitter.

Opener ‘Hologram’ is an ideal case-in-point. How else to respond to the current US President than by remembering “Power is a hologram” and leaning back to think of the Milky Way? It’s a spaced-out political statement that doesn’t name names, with a chorus that you can’t forget and an ending that’s hopeful if uncertain. ‘New World’ is a Bangles style garage-lite exploration of wanting to escape from the day-to-day, not dissimilar to ‘I Hate The Weekend’ from Lost Time.  

Lead single ‘Grains of Salt’ takes Tacocat in a synth-led, pop-rock direction with lyrics that move from the imageist – “Feeling so other / Like too many sunsets” – to the pinpoint – “Dont forget to remember who the fuck you are!”. It’s a curiously introspective track, particularly for a Tacocat single, with a chorus whose “tears in the oven” line appears to be an Adventure Time! reference, and whose lyrics in general show a bruised self-consciousness.

‘Grains Of Salt’ appears to set up a central plank of the album; ‘The Joke of Life’ with its surf-style and prominent vocal harmonies at odds with its lyrical negativity; ‘Little Friend’ a blast of pop-punk, forming an ode to (what else?) pets. Naturally, for a song about small animals, this track is the heaviest on This Mess is a Place.

‘Rose Colored Sky’, meanwhile, is a rumination of those born into success and their distance from the rest of society – “I wonder what it feels like not to even have to try” sings Emily Nokes, in a voice that’s unusually frank and direct, whilst recognising “If I wasn’t on the battleground/ I bet I could’ve gone to space by now”. Even for a band with a tendency to punch up, this is a pretty straightforward piece of criticism – a comment on the inadequacies of silver-spoon-in-mouth types.’The Problem’ takes a similar tack to Lost Time‘s ‘You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit’, albeit in a simpler form and with spikier guitars.  

The album’s closing tracks are near-ballads: “What a time to be barely alive” laments ‘Crystal Ball’ – a reflection on the news cycle and our constant state of semi-engagement. ‘Meet Me At La Palma’ verges on AOR with some tropic-cool guitar licks courtesy of Eric Randall. Its lyrics detail drinking and dancing in inappropriately themed bars festooned with “pictures of palm trees where no palm trees ever grew”, all for the excuse of re-uniting with an old flame. If that’s an unusually romantic side to the group, then ‘Miles and Miles’ is like a shonky take on country (at least initially) before it settles into the more familiar Tacocat trademark pop-punk anthem chorus.

Not as easily approachable as NVM or Lost Time, This Mess is a Place is a bold direction for Tacocat’s first album on Sub Pop, having previously been on the label’s Hardly Art subsidiary. But it’s also a grower, and one that should solidly cement the band’s place as outsiders with a knack for crafting hooky choruses. Particularly impressive are Emily Nokes’ vocals, with producer Erik Blood always knowing when to double, to echo or to let them ring more naturally.

Of the album, Nokes has commented: “We can examine some hard stuff, feel some rage feelings, sift through memories, feel wavy-existential, and still go get a banana daiquiri at the end”. In other words: no matter how hard times are, Tacocat always appeal.

This Mess Is A Place is out 3rd May via Sub Pop.

John McGovern
@etinsuburbiaego

Interview: Dream Nails – ‘Take Up Space’

As if putting on immense, riotous live performances wasn’t enough, in September last year GIHE’s favourite Feminist Punk Witches Dream Nails decided to blow our minds in a slightly different way – by putting on their first ever acoustic set at infamous independent and anti-fascist bookshop Housmans. A much smaller space than the band have played in the past, the gig was a wonderfully intimate experience, and – whilst perhaps quieter in volume – no less powerful and empowering than your usual raucous Dream Nails gig.

And if you weren’t able to make the gig, fear not! Dream Nails have now made the full recording of the set into a new acoustic album, appropriately entitled Take Up Space. And it’s most certainly worth a listen. Showcasing their luscious harmonies and poignant songwriting in a way we’ve not yet heard, it proves that plugged in or acoustic, Dream Nails are a sparkling, formidable force. Combining impassioned activism and infectious tunes, they consistently inspire and motivate us to get up, make our voices heard and fight fascism with all our might.

We caught up with Mimi, Janey, Lucy and Anya to find out more…

Hi Dream Nails, welcome back to Get In Her Ears! How are you doing today?
Mimi: Thank you! I’m refreshed and ready for 2019.
Janey: I’m rested too!
Lucy: Ran 4 miles on the treadmill this morning like a little excited hamster so I’m bathing in the endorphins right now.
Anya: Me and Janey just did a songwriting session and I’m gassed about our latest ideas, including one about feminism and the future of technology. I can’t say what it’s about but it’s completely ridiculous and hilarious.

We’re super excited to hear about the release of your new acoustic album Take Up Space! What was it that inspired you to record this – something perhaps so different from what fans might expect?
Mimi: We really feel there’s magic in our live shows. In the past we’ve tried to record some shows, but it’s always really difficult because of the sound in the venues, and it’s never come out that great. We thought this was a perfect opportunity to try again, in a less noisy setting.
Janey: We put so much thought into our song lyrics and vocal harmonies, and much of that gets lost in the fuzz of a punk PA system. This gig was a chance to finally let our songs breathe and the lyrics be heard.
Lucy: We were excited to listen to the recordings but didn’t know how good they would turn out and certainly didn’t expect to release them! We only had one acoustic rehearsal before the show and were very pleased with the new dimension the songs have taken on!
Anya: We also wanted to try more of an intimate show, more of ‘an evening with Dream Nails’ sort of thing where the crowd were very much part of the show and we could be really spontaneous with our interactions.

The album was recorded at your intimate gig at Housman’s Bookshop (which was a pretty wonderful evening!) in September last year – how was this experience for you? And how did it differ from your usual gig set ups?
Mimi: For me, I had no distortion pedals and no big amps, I was playing my semi-acoustic bass guitar. My bass was very à la Violent Femmes. It was a much more intimate setting with no stage, and it was a lot of fun to be in with the crowd and hear everyone’s laughs during all of the funny bits.
Janey: That gig was so much fun, and a challenge for us because the audience were sitting right in front of us in pretty good lighting – we could see everyone! That completely changed the dynamic and made it special.
Lucy: Yeah it was exposing at first and I was more than a little nervous! I’m usually hiding at the back on my all-seeing drum throne, so this was my chance to get my jokes and chat in too. I got pretty over-excited tbh. Fun fact: the tom and snare drums I was using were propped up on old Delia Smith cookery books and I think you can definitely hear this in the music!
Anya: I actually play an acoustic guitar borrowed from Dave McManus who runs Everything Sucks Music, one of the labels we work with! It was weird playing an acoustic and I had to change a few things in the songs to make it work, but it was a fun challenge. My hands were like frozen claws by the end – an acoustic is a lot harder work, strangely!

Do you feel that putting on a gig in such a different setting opened up your music to some people who may not normally be able to attend gigs in late night bars/music venues?
Mimi: Yes definitely! We really want to play more bookshops. Because most gigs are in bars, it’s almost impossible to hold all ages shows, and we would love to play to younger people.
Janey: Almost all punk shows are held in squats, basements or alcohol-based venues, which excludes a lot of people from experiencing our live music, and we wanted to change that. At this show, we had more under-18, muslim and disabled fans than usual, many of whom mentioned they hadn’t managed to get to a show before. This show was our most inclusive by far, and I want to do more gigs where we transform a community space into a gig space.
Lucy: Our shows are accessible as we can make them, but I feel like the audience were so relaxed at this show and that contributed to a very special atmosphere. It was early in the evening and the fact that no one felt they had negotiate beer being chucked around, creepy dudes at the bar, dark and sometimes intimidating spaces and pushing created a calmness that was palpable.
Anya: We also live streamed it via Facebook with the help of Get in Her Ears, which we’ll probably do more of in the future so our fans in other countries can see the bookshop gigs we do.

Has having had the experience of performing acoustically changed the way you approach writing songs now?
Lucy: You know what, it’s made me itching to get more into the composition side of our music. Hearing everything so stripped back, and being mindful of how our songs sound in the state will surely translate when we start writing again (imminently!).
Anya: It’s definitely reinforced my feeling that our songs need to work on an acoustic guitar or they won’t work at all!

The album includes a couple of new songs… including ‘Jillian’ and ‘Chirpse Degree Burns (Text Me Back)’ – can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind these tracks?
Mimi: ‘Jillian’ is about Jillian Michaels, a fitness personality who has a workout DVD called ‘The 30 Day Shred’. It was permanently in my DVD player growing up, she is seriously strong and fierce, and I definitely memorised her chat throughout the entire workout. Her message is that you can push yourself and literally be strong!
Janey: Mimi and I really bonded over our shared love of Jillian. To be honest, the 30 Day Shred was my first experience of exercise and recognising how good it was for my mental health. I have Jillian to thank for that. Plus she’s one of my queer idols.
Lucy: ‘Chirpse Degree Burns’ (fyi chirpse is London slang for flirt and can be a noun, verb or adjective) is tragically close to the hearts of me and another anonymous band member. It was written in an emotional outburst during the comedown of Glastonbury 2017 when Anya (oops) and I were thwarted by our short-lived festival loves. I don’t get it?! We are a catch and also 1000000% chill as the song we wrote will attest to!
Anya: There’s also a new track ‘Time Ain’t No Healer’ which is about how much work it is to get over the troubles in your life and recover from trauma. The idea is you can’t just wait for time to do it for you, it takes a conscious effort. And probably a therapist, lol.

The album’s appropriately entitled Take Up Space, which very much ties in with your mantra of “Girls To The Front” at gigs. How important do you think it is for girls/non binary/female-identifying people to take up space in the music industry? And what do you think people can be doing to encourage this more?
Mimi: It’s hard to encourage women and non binary people to get into the music industry because you just know they’re going to meet so many obstacles, which are only there because of deep set misogyny. It just needs to be challenged by everyone. I can’t bear to think of how many women and non binary bands have quit doing music because of people being shit to them at every turn. Even little things – like I can’t even count how many times a sound guy has told me where to plug my bass in.
Janey: Bookers need to change their policies, and introduce diversity quotas. The musicians are out there. Look harder. There’s no excuse for all-male tour line-ups anymore. The issues within the music industry are structural, and need to be met with structural changes.
Lucy: Obviously the need is vital and I’d like to quote an iconic Anya statement here relating to all-male bands: “men, ask yourselves, does the world need any more of your dry music?” We try to hammer home the idea that skill level and technical know-how does not take precedence when it comes to music, no matter what intimidating sound people, music shop assistants, or band boys would like you to think. YOUR music and experiences are valid and vital and you’re the only person in this world who can make it. Until these structural changes manifest, we endeavour to create these spaces and opportunities ourselves.
Anya: For women to Take Up Space, men need to Make Up Space. Make way, not today, man bands, go away!

As ‘Feminist Punk Witches, what does ‘punk’ mean to you?
Mimi: Punk means challenging everything, even the definition of ‘punk’. It’s about being a good ally, standing up for what’s right, being an activist, taking our lives into our own hands. It bothers me that people like Donald Trump and Doug Ford (Canadian Premier of Ontario, where I’m from, who literally fucked Ontario) are seen as punks, only because they’re kind of rogue outsiders from the political world?? They’re the farthest thing from punks, their only intention is to fuck the little guy and they only benefit the rich.
Janey: For me, punk is about shared creation. Not just tearing the world apart, but challenging the status quo by building a new one. I think the punkest thing we do isn’t even our music, but the bands we support behind the scenes, or making sure promoters have gender-neutral toilets.
Lucy: Punk is about utilising a rebellious spirit in a way that DOES NOT resemble a teenager with a “my mum and dad aren’t home, no one can tell me what to do” attitude. For me, the rebelliousness of punk is about radical collectivity, thoughtfulness, inquisitiveness, joy, rage and action that both strengthens you and provides relief in a world and city that seeks to crush you.
Anya: Some of our dearest female idols like Viv Albertine and Patti Smith interrogated the world as they saw it, threw stale, patriarchal convention out of the window, and filled their world with new meaning. Punk is about being thoughtful and honest. It’s interesting that they both taught themselves to play guitars as young women. Being self taught makes you approach music differently, I think.

So, after the experience of playing acoustically in Housman’s, do Dream Nails have plans to play any more acoustic shows in 2019?
Mimi:
This is something we are seriously talking about and would love to do a radical bookshop tour!
Janey: 100%!
Lucy: Yes! It feels so pure!
Anya: I’ll only play in places where they have the entire back catalogue of Simone De Beauvoir now. It’s my rider.

And what else do you have up your sparkly sleeves for the rest of the year??
Mimi: We are going to be spending a lot of the first part of this year writing and recording for our debut album release (not acoustic), and then playing many festivals over the summer.
Janey: We’re headed to Switzerland in the first week of February, and are playing four shows there! Follow us on Instagram for our tour stories, they never fail to delight.
Anya: We are curating a stage at one of our favourite festivals this year. We can’t say which one, but it involves a zine making workshop for young people and I’m so excited.
Lucy: Aside from this, my personal dream is to sell our critically acclaimed ‘Chipadvisor’ chip reviewing YouTube series to Netflix. We would use the proceeds from this to buy ourselves more chips.

Massive thanks to Dream Nails for answering our questions!

Take Up Space is available exclusively on Bandcamp, where you can also get hold of an awesome accompanying t-shirt designed by illustrator Sumena Owen.

 

Photo Credit: Poppy Marriot

ALBUM: The Joy Formidable – ‘AAARTH’

As guitarist and vocalist Ritzy Bryan explains: AAARTH is what happens when you stop “giving a fuck about things that don’t matter”. The Joy Formidable‘s fourth album is an aural plunge in to freedom and self-exploration, and brims with the trio’s trademark alternative sounds. The record is set to be released via Hassle Records on 28th September.

AAARTH bursts in to life with the sound of ‘Y Bluen Eira’. Sung entirely in Welsh, it’s a powerful, all-encompassing track; permeated by waves of Ritzy’s buzzing guitar, Rhydian’s brooding bass and Matt’s heart-thumping percussion. ‘The Wrong Side’ follows, pushing through with steady grace before the thunderous ‘Go Loving’ breaks in. It’s a solid example of the band’s ongoing ability to pause and punch in all the right places.

Acoustic guitar and distorted bass lines sit perfectly next to each other on ‘Cicada (Land on Your Back)’, whilst Ritzy’s hushed vocals on ‘All In All’ provide a moment for quiet, ambiguous reflection about the “something missing”. The track’s pay off hits at the three minute mark in the form of swirling, atmospheric riffs and crashing drum beats. ‘What For’ bleeds in afterwards, leaving no room for respite. The same can be said for ‘The Better Me’, which rips and roars for just shy of four minutes, and hosts an incredible outro that will be the highlight of future live sets. It’s a song about “self-acceptance, living with your mistakes and appreciating how we all make up the whole and have something different to offer” Ritzy extrapolates.

The melancholy ‘Absence’ follows, acting as a calm interlude before the raucous ‘Dance of the Lotus’ kicks in. It’s easily one of the strongest songs on the record, with its immense drop-ins and wonderful guitar wails. Penultimate track ‘You Can’t Give Me’ rings out with orchestral elements and buzzing guitar for a full five minutes, before ‘Caught On a Breeze’ closes the album with more belting percussion, rumbling bass lines, and filthy guitar riffs.

AAARTH is a fierce new collection of songs that reinforces The Joy Formidable’s seamless ability to keep the momentum going with (what feels like) minimal effort. A decade after the release of their debut EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, the trio are still releasing sharply produced, thunderous sounds that are best appreciated at full volume, or in the flesh on a live platform. Don’t miss out on their in-store gigs at Rough Trade (dates below).

AAARTH is released on September 28th on CD, LP, limited boxset, Indie retail exclusive vinyl & Rough Trade exclusive vinyl. Pre-order here.

The Joy Formidable Live Dates 2018
Sept 29 – Rough Trade in-store, Nottingham
Sept 30 – Rough Trade in-store, Bristol
Oct 01 – Rough Trade in-store, London East

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut