PLAYLIST: Christmas 2020

Whether you’re a Christmas music fanatic or a misanthropic seasonal Scrooge, there’s no doubt your approach to Christmas is going to be different in 2020. We can’t wait to get off the Government’s ever-changing carousel of chaos, with its flimsy guidelines and confusing restrictions, but while we’re on it, at least we have a decent festive soundtrack to play us out of this insane fairground ride called 2020.

To the bands, artists and labels we’ve worked alongside – you’re all diamonds and we look forward to working with you again in 2021. Let’s raise a glass to those who managed to release something in 2020, and another for those who had to sit this one out. We love you all, Merry Christmas from the GIHE team. xxx

Take some time to read through our Christmas track choices and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of this post. We’ve also included a few festive gems that are only available on bandcamp/YouTube, so make sure you listen to them too!

Poly Styrene – ‘Black Christmas’
This buoyant sounding festive tune from the one and only Poly Styrene comes with a much needed dose of lyrical realism. Featuring vocals from Poly’s daughter Celeste Bell, ‘Black Christmas’ is an anthem for those who feel uncomfortable celebrating at this time of year, a sentiment that feels more poignant than ever in 2020. (Kate Crudgington)

The Crystal Furs – ‘Drinking Alone At Christmas’
A festive offering from Oregon queer indie-pop band The Crystal Furs, ‘Drinking Alone On Christmas’ sparkles with uplifting shimmering synths, honey-sweet vocals and scuzzy hooks, providing the perfect juxtaposition of twinkling festive cheer with refreshingly honest lyricism. Reflecting on the all-too relatable scenario of “drinking alone on Christmas”, it’s a must for all those ‘Christmas parties’ we’ll be having alone in front of our laptops this season. The band describe the track as a “non-traditional holiday pop tune of drinking, catgirls, and holiday ennui”. (Mari Lane)

Basic Bitches – ‘I Hope Your Holidays Are Fine’
A relatable and cautiously optimistic tune from Brooklyn-based riot grrrls Basic Bitches. The band say this song is about “the general sense of dread and disappointment that accompanies the holiday season once you reach adulthood, when the most you can hope for are big leftovers and small hangovers.” (KC)

The Go! Team – ‘Look Outside (A New Year’s Coming!)’
Taken from Memphis Industries’ Christmas compilation album Lost Christmas, The Go! Team’s ‘Look Outside (A New Year’s Coming)’ flows with the collective’s trademark jangling energy. Fizzing with a twinkling optimism and vibrant, catchy musicality, it’s an instant festive earworm. Of the track, the band explain: “It started life as a loose anti Brexit metaphor – an appeal against small mindedness – to ‘look outside your window’. But the last year has totally changed the meaning. I guess it’s about trying to stay positive when it’s the hardest it’s ever been.” Other artists featuried on Lost Christmas include Rozi Plain, Field Music and The Cornshed Sisters. Buy Lost Christmas here. In aid of Crisis’ Home for All Campaign, £2 from every LP purchase goes to help their work. (ML)

No Doubt – ‘Oi! To The World’
I couldn’t really have a Christmas playlist without this festive punk-pop belter from Gwen and co. (ML)

Dream Nails – ‘Lonely Star’
The gift that keeps on giving, feminist punks Dream Nails and their joyful Christmas single ‘Lonely Star’. The track is dedicated to those who may be feeling isolated or alone at this time of year – especially their LGBTQ fans – and all the money raised from track sales will be donated to The Outside Project, the UK’s first LGBTIQ+ Homeless Shelter. You can buy their track bandcamp now. (KC)

Problem Patterns – ‘Christmas Number One’
The new festive banger from Belfast feminist punks Problem Patterns who we’ve championed many times on GIHE this year. Mari and I are big fans of these grrrls and we’re looking forward to hearing more from them in 2021. (KC)

Charley Stone – ‘Merry Christmas Actually’
A familiar face on the London music scene, featuring in many bands including Salad, Charley Stone has now shared her own Christmas offering. Inspired by “the worst scene from the worst film ever”, ‘Merry Christmas Actually’ flows with jangling hooks and a twinkling sense of romanticism, oozing Stone’s sugar-sweet vocals and a delicate, swirling indie-pop charm. ‘Merry Christmas Actually’ was recorded with Donald Ross Skinner. (ML)

Eurythmics – ‘Winter Wonderland’
Eurythmics’ vocalist Annie Lennox was born on Christmas Day, but she is the musical gift that keeps on giving whatever time of year it is. It’s also the tenth anniversary of her solo Christmas album A Christmas Cornucopia, which is a delightful soundtrack to wrap your presents to. (KC)

The Big Moon – ‘Carol Of The Bells’
London four-piece The Big Moon deliver a splendid version of this classic made famous by the ultimate Christmas film, Home Alone. It makes me wish I had a microwave mac & cheese dinner in front of me, just like Macaulay Culkin does before he smashes Marv’s face in with an iron. (KC)

Rachael Dadd, Rozi Plain, This Is The Kit – ‘We Build Our Houses Well’
Another one taken from Memphis Industries’ Christmas compilation album Lost Christmas, ‘We Build Our Houses Well’ features Rachael Dadd alongside both Rozi Plain and This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables. Flowing with luscious folk-strewn melodies and sweeping glistening harmonies, it’s a beautifully uplifting slice of winter sparkle. Of the song, Dadd explains: “After the isolation of lockdown, it felt natural to write a Christmas song that was basically like a big sonic party, inviting all my friends and collaborators over my whole life to join together. Feeling blessed to have made so many good friends through music and to have most of them all in one place here on this song, representing connection at a time where so many of us feel isolated.” Buy Lost Christmas here. In aid of Crisis’ Home for All Campaign, £2 from every LP purchase goes to help their work. (ML)

Alanis Morissette – ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’
I was supposed to see Alanis Morissette live for the first time this year, but alas, I’ll make do with her cute cover of John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s single instead. (KC)

PINS – ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’
A festive cover by Manchester trio PINS and a perfect musical accompaniment to drink your festive tipple to. (KC)

Grace Petrie – ‘Fairytale Of New York’
Grace and her band’s take on the Pogues’ classic, this rendition of ‘Fairytale Of New York’ flows with folk-laden strings, soaring harmonies and an up-tempo sense of festive cheer, culminating in the perfect re-writing of that lyric – replacing it with “You scumbag, you maggot, WE LOVE DIANE ABBOTT”. It’s simply impossible not to sing along at the top of your lungs and feel a little bit of hope for what 2021 might bring. (ML)

Girl Ray – ‘I Wish I Were Giving You A Gift This Christmas’
A classic from my faves Girl Ray from back in 2017, ‘I Wish I Were Giving You A Gift This Christmas’ is the perfect smattering of joy we all need right now. With just the right balance of Christmassy sparkle and the band’s trademark shimmering, sunny charm, it’s a song about longing and loneliness at this time of year. Complete with a children’s choir, sleigh bells and even a whinny of a kidnapped reindeer (!), the track is a delightful slice of twinkling garage-pop to get you in the mood for this time of year, when some of us may be struggling to do that right now. (ML)

Gold Baby –Looks Like a Cold, Cold Winter’
A Bing Crosby classic reimagined by indie darlings Gold Baby. All proceeds from this single will be donated to the campaign to end loneliness, so head over the Gold Baby’s bandcamp now and give what you can. (KC)

CMAT, Junior Brother – ‘Uncomfortable Christmas’
Irish pop sensation CMAT is the queen of relatable pop tunes and this Christmas tune is no exception. A beautiful duet with Junior Brother, ‘Uncomfortable Christmas’ is the perfect dose of festive melancholy. (KC)

Self Esteem – ‘All I Want For Christmas Is A Work Email’
A soulful festive anthem from experimental pop artist (and Slow Club member) Rebecca Taylor, aka Self Esteem, ‘All I Want For Christmas Is A Work Email’ is an alternative Christmas bop for any of us who may not look forward to Christmas as much as most. Dedicated to those who may cope with these times of “celebration” by immersing themselves in work as a distraction, Taylor says of the track: “I wanted to write a song for fellow people who cope with life by working and creating and moving forwards – the enforced stillness of Christmas can be so triggering… ” (ML)

Piney Gir / Roxys – ‘White Winter Hymnal’
Piney Gir’s cover of the Fleet Foxes classic contains all the soothing festive sparkle you need right now. Oozing sparkling crystalline vocals and a gentle celestial grace, it’s a truly beautiful rendition of one of my favourite winter soundtracks. Recorded originally for the Joyzine Advent Calendar, ‘White Winter Hymnal’ provides a taste of what’s to come from Piney Gir and Roxys, as they’re currently working on an upcoming new EP, set for release in 2021. (ML)

TLC – ‘Sleigh Ride’
Who doesn’t need a bit of TLC-shaped joy at this time of year?! (ML)

The Pretenders – ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’
Originally performed by Judy Garland in the 1944 film Meet Me In St. Louis, I love The Pretenders’ festive version of this classic. Praise be for Chrissie Hynde. (KC)

Dolly Parton – ‘Coming Home For Christmas’
This one’s for Tash! Dolly is the star in the winter sky and we all love her un-shakeable optimism. (KC)

 

These tracks aren’t on Spotify, but they’re too good not to include!

Fightmilk – ‘Healey’s Only Wish (This Christmas)’
Taken from their new festive album, the wonderfully titled Fightmilk & Cookies – a collection of Christmas covers from each of the band members, as well as a couple of seasonal originals – ‘Healey’s Only Wish (This Year)’ provides just the right amount of twinkling cheer along with the band’s trademark tongue-in-cheek wit. Combining scuzzy hooks, Healey’s distinctive vocals and traditional sparkling melodies, it’s an instantly uplifting festive earworm. (ML)

 

Potpourri – ‘Modern Girls’ (not on Spotify)
A festive offering from Sheffield band Potpourri, ‘Modern Girls’ ponders the idealism of a perfect Christmas amid the bounty of priceless love. Propelled by a swirling, sparkling majesty, it oozes a blissful euphoric aura, whilst maintaining a refreshing sense of realism. A perfect and relatable Christmas accompaniment for any of us ‘Modern Girls’. Of the track, songwriter Lauren Dowling reflects: “I guess I was thinking about the modern phenomenon of gift-giving as a language of love, but also as a point of contention. Whilst we’re more inclined to be charitable at this time of year, we also can’t escape our own expectations for grandeur and luxury, but for ‘Modern Girls’, it’s the former that tends to bring the most joy and warmth.” The band will be donating all proceeds from the track to Burngreave Foodbank and SAYiT charities. (ML)

 

Charlotte Carpenter – ‘A Light Christmas’
A festive cover by Charlotte Carpenter who is a previous guest on our GIHE radio show and the founder of Babywoman Records. All proceeds from this single will be donated to homeless charity Crisis UK, so do head over the her bandcamp and download it if you can. (KC)

 

The Joy Formidable – ‘My Beerdrunk Soul Is Sadder Than A Hundred Dead Christmas Trees’
This genuinely is one of my favourite Christmas songs whether it’s been a year like 2020, or the best year of my life. I love busting out this misanthropic anthem and mainlining a bottle of Baileys* to it. (Aldi’s Ballycastle*) (KC)

Get In Her Ears Live @ The Finsbury w/ Grawl!x, 14.02.20

Following a host of amazing bands playing for us throughout 2019, including Screaming Toenail, Salad, GENN, Chorusgirl and Witching Waves, and Personal Best kicking off 2020 in empowering style, we were back at The Finsbury on Friday for our second gig of the year, with a rather dreamy line-up for Valentine’s Day.

Kicking off the night are post-punk duo I Am HER. Captivating the crowd with the soaring majesty of her gritty vocals, front woman Julie Riley delivers their dark, stirring anthems with a raw emotion.

Second band of the night, Captain Handsome, treat us to their twinkling indie-folk gems with a refreshing wit and sparky charm. With an infectious lo-fi scuzz alongside shimmering violin melodies and Lily’s perfectly relatable lyricism, their effervescent, catchy offerings tug at the heartstrings in all the right ways – providing the perfect Valentine’s/Anti-Valentine’s soundtrack.

Having initially been set to headline, but swapping set times due to travel issues, Piney Gir take to the stage with all their colour-coordinated sparkling charm. Oozing an infectious joy, Piney and her band deliver their fitting honey-sweet romanticism and shimmering catchy melodies. As an endearing, vibrant energy flows throughout, they treat us to a truly uplifting half hour of the most dreamy tunes.

New headliners, Derby-based Grawl!x, bring the night to a captivating close with their euphoric cinematic soundscapes. With a brand new album out today, they deliver their twinkling electronic hooks and spellbinding harmonies as Maria’s distinctive impassioned vocals soar. A truly enchanting set oozing a poignant stirring emotion.

Massive thanks to the four wonderful bands who played for us on Friday! Make sure you catch our next night at The Finsbury on 13th March when we’ll be hosting super exciting headliners Ghost Car, with support from The Other Ones, Gaptooth and Minimals.

 

Words: Mari Lane / @marimindles
Photos: Jon Mo / @jonmophoto

 

 

PLAYLIST: February 2020

We made it through January everyone! That achievement alone deserves a shiny new playlist. We’ve put together a list of brand new music to help you celebrate. As February is also LGBT History month, we’ve included a few tracks from some of our favourite LGBT artists in the list too. Take some time to scroll through our choices below, and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of the page.

 

Wilsen – ‘Feeling Fancy’
I cannot get this song from Brooklyn-based trio Wilsen out of my head! It’s a shimmering guitar ode to the softly spoken, celebrating introversion and inherent shyness. It’s taken from their upcoming album Ruiner, which is set for release on 21st February via Dalliance Recordings. (Kate Crudgington)

Bronski Beat – ‘Smalltown Boy’
British synth-pop band Bronski Beat released this classic single in 1984. Whilst on the surface, ‘Smalltown Boy’ is a catchy anthem that easily fills a dance floor, lyrically it tells the story of a young gay man struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity, and his place in the world. (GIHE)

Piney Gir – ‘Puppy Love’
The latest single from the Kansas-born London-based artist, ‘Puppy Love’ reflects on the bittersweet nature of love; both the simple, overpowering desire of first love, and then the ‘black dog’ – a common metaphor for depression and its all consuming nature. Glistening with twinkling hooks and sweeping harmonies, it’s a poignant and infectious offering. Of the track, Piney explains: Everyone feels the darkness sometimes, so I’m singing about it. It’s a thin line between Puppy Love and The Black Dog; both can be all consuming and agonising and at times euphoric, manic even.We cannot wait to catch Piney Gir headline for us on 14th February, at The Finsbury (event info here). She’ll be playing along with Grawlix, Captain Handsome and I Am Her – and all for free! (Mari Lane)

Cold Beat – ‘Prism’
San Francisco band Cold Beat, fronted by Hannah Lew from Grass Widow, have announced details of their forthcoming album Mother, out 28th February via DFA Records, and this is their first single lifted from it. It’s the sort of music I could plug into my ears whilst staring at the fast moving world outside of a train carriage. The world slowly speeding by. (Tash Walker)

Ghum – ‘California’
The new one from total faves Ghum, ‘California’ oozes an eerie, reverb-strewn atmosphere as the distinctive sultry power of Laura Gue Lo’s vocals flow. A grunge-inspired anthem for our times showcasing the unique beguiling allure of this band who just keep getting better. Of the track, Laura explains: “The song talks about a love story that was condemned to end badly. The hope and love that both had at the beginning is represented by the idea of running away to California”. (ML)

Indian Queens – ‘Bubblewrap’ 
A beguiling lament about the state of the planet, London three-piece Indian Queens have shared their latest single, ‘Bubble Wrap’. The track is lifted from their upcoming debut album God Is A Woman, which is set to be released via Cool Thing Records later this year. (KC)

Amaroun – ‘Perish’ 
‘Perish’ is the latest track from previous guest on our radio show Amaroun, and I completely love it. The beats, the vocals, the stripped back simplicity – sublime. Amaroun talks about the themes she evokes in her music which consistently touch on her journey of being a black queer woman, overcoming struggles with sexuality, and the importance of emotional honesty in music. In Amaroun’s words, “this track is an autobiographical reintroduction of myself”. I can’t and don’t want to stop listening. All the latest music from Amaroun will be showcased at the listening party at the CLF cafe Peckham Rye, on 13th Feb. (TW)

ALA.NI – ‘Papa’
I love this latest track from ALA.NI. ‘Papa’ is taken from her recently released self-produced album, ACCA. The whole thing is almost entirely acapella and just beautiful. ALA.NI originally trained as a dancer, but was told that as a person of colour she would never make it as a professional ballerina. Her latest album is a powerful vision of modern womanhood. It’s an unflinching account of pain, anger, sadness, and growth. Check it out now. (TW)

AyOwA – ‘First Frost’
The new single from the Danish duo, ‘First Frost’ is told from the perspective of a couple who have spent their whole life together and are now setting out into the winter to disappear as one. With its swirling synths and the beguiling haunting power of Hannah Schneider’s vocals, it’s a beautiful, shimmering cinematic soundscape. Amoeba, the upcoming debut album from AyOwA, is set for release in September this year. (ML)

JFDR – ‘Shimmer’
This beautiful new track from Icelandic multi-instrumentalist JFDR is about “loving someone who is a bit broken”. It’s lifted from her second album New Dreams, which is set for release on 13th March via White Sun Recording. (KC)

Girl In Red – ‘Kate’s Not Here’
I have no shame admitting I was drawn to Norwegian artist Girl In Red’s new track because a) it has my first name in it, and b) I wear a red coat. It’s lifted from the official film soundtrack for The Turning, directed by Floria Sigismondi (The Runaways, Handmaid’s Tale), which is in UK cinemas now. (KC)

Nuala Honan – ‘Slow Down’
‘Slow Down’ is the first single of 2020 for Bristol-based Nuala Honan and it’s a cracker. Driven by post-punk rawness but with delicate vocals and pounding drums when needed most. It’s a taste of what’s to come from her upcoming second LP, which follows a spell of personal recuperation and sonic evolutions. Loving it. (TW)

Otta – ‘Near Enough A Woman’
I can’t get enough of Otta right now. Their new music is just seeping so perfectly into my ears, it’s what I’ve been craving for so long, but I just didn’t realise. This is one of their latest singles taken from the freshly released debut EP, After It All Blew Over, which is sublime. the perfect combination and concoction of electronic, UK jazz, new soul and RnB. (TW)

Clare Kelly – ‘Less Alone’ 
The tone in Clare Kelly’s voice totally blew me away, so rich and full of emotion, it really sings so beautifully on this song ‘Less Alone’. Describing her sound as “alt-folk mermaid music”, Kelly can firmly consider herself having a new firm fan. Really looking forward to hearing more of where this came from. (TW)

Jackie Shane – ‘Any Other Way’
We’ve played Canadian soul-singer Jackie Shane multiple times on the GIHE radio show, and we’re including her again here because of LGBT History month. Jackie was a pioneer for transgender rights in the 60s & 70s, a time when being your true self was not always welcomed, or accepted. (GIHE)

Pom Pom Squad – ‘Cellophane’ (FKA Twigs cover) 
A stirring, grunge-inspired take on one of 2019’s most popular tracks, this is Brooklyn indie-punks’ Pom Pom Squad’s cover of FKA Twigs’ single ‘Cellophane’. The band have treated Twigs’ material graciously, and frontwoman Mia Berrin’s vocals are as poignant as those on the original recording. (KC)

Half Waif – ‘Ordinary Talk’
The new single from Hudson Valley-based Nandi Rose, aka Half Waif, ‘Ordinary Talk’ is a reflection on coming to accept and find the beauty in being like everyone else. A truly spellbinding slice of poignant alt-pop, it’s filled with captivating glitchy hooks and the raw emotion of Rose’s rich soulful vocals, reminding me of later Radiohead, which is no bad thing. The Caretaker, the new album from Half Waif, is out 27th March via ANTI records. (ML)

Hilary Woods – ‘Tongues Of Wild Boar’ 
A shadowy, captivating exploration of intense discomfort; Sacred Bones signee Hilary Woods has shared this track, lifted from her upcoming album Birthmarks, due on 13th March. Though quiet in terms of volume, Woods’ new single is a fleshy, charged offering that allows her the space to navigate “emotionally charged states” at a pace suited to her. (KC)

Planningtorock – ‘Beulah Loves Dancing’
Planningtorock is one of GIHE’s fave artists, and they’re one of our fave LGBT artists too. LGBT History month feels like the perfect time to give them a spin again. This track is all about their sister, Beulah, and her love of house music. (GIHE)

Video Premiere: Piney Gir – ‘Puppy Love’

Having shared a stage with the likes of Gaz Coombes and Noel Gallagher, Kansas-born London-based artist Piney Gir has been charming our ears for some time. Now, following last year’s dreamily eclectic album You Are Here, Piney has shared an effervescent new video for album track ‘Puppy Love’.

Oozing a honey-sweet romanticism, ‘Puppy Love’ glistens with twinkling hooks and sweeping harmonies as an endearing, scuzzy energy flows throughout. On the one hand, nostalgically harking back to the simpler times of crushes and the pain of first (‘Puppy’) love, the track also reflects on the common metaphor for depression – the ‘Black Dog’ – its all-consuming nature, and the struggles of mental health. A poignant and infectious offering, it could just be the perfect, bitter-sweet, accompaniment to the mixed feelings that go hand in hand with the love-filled celebrations of the upcoming month.

Of the track, Piney explains:

Everyone feels the darkness sometimes, so I’m singing about it… It’s a thin line between Puppy Love and The Black Dog; both can be all consuming and agonising and at times euphoric, manic even.

Watch the colourful, uplifting new video for ‘Puppy Love’ now:

‘Puppy Love’ is out on 14th February and will be available as a special Valentine download from Bandcamp. You can catch Piney Gir live, headlining for us on that night at The Finsbury, where you’ll also be able to get your hands on a special download code.

Mari Lane
@marimindles