WATCH: New Pagans – ‘Yellow Room’

Following on from the release of their single Yellow Room in August, Belfast’s New Pagans have shared a captivating set of visuals to accompany their racing, urgent track. Directed by bassist Claire Miskimmin, the video reflects the often overwhelming feelings of darkness that women face in patriarchal society.

Inspired by the semi-autobiographical short-story The Yellow Wallpaper, which was written by American feminist author Charlotte Perkins Gilman, New Pagans originally penned the track to highlight the need for a specialised parent-and-baby mental health unit in Northern Ireland. “’Yellow Room’ is the fourth instalment in a series of self-made folk horror themed short films produced to accompany our music,” explains vocalist Lyndsey McDougall. “Set in the stunning local surroundings of Northern Ireland, we tried to evoke a sense of dread and isolation in the expanse of nature. In stifling a woman’s mind we take away her liberty, as in the novel the song is based on. It’s about the facade and the masks we wear, but break the surface and we find our protagonist’s strength. She cuts herself free and is set adrift.”

Watch the video for ‘Yellow Room’ below and follow New Pagans on bandcampFacebook & Spotify for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Screaming Toenail – ‘Growth’

Having blown us away with the impassioned magnificence of their live show at The Finsbury last December, and with performances for the likes of Decolonise Festival and Afropunk Battle Of The Bands under their belts, anti-colonial queer punks Screaming Toenail have become firm favourites here at GIHE and their message is more resonant now than ever before. With singles such as ‘I.O.U’ and ‘Sever’ already out in the world, they have now shared their new album Growth

Opening with a jarring recording of reports of trafficking migrants and “swarms” of refugees coming across the Mediterranean seeking a better life, the album starts as it means to go on: honest, politically charged and utterly necessary. As the swirling, whirring soundscape of ‘Swarm’ builds the tension against the raw, impassioned drive of front person Jacob Joyce’s vocals and poignant lyricism, Screaming Toenail hold no punches in immediately deconstructing ideas of colonialism and empire. 

Continuing these themes, ‘White Saviour’ is a glaring commentary on the way in which white supremacy and institutionalised racism can so often be overlooked in society, particularly when assigning the roles of ‘celebrity’ or people that are revered within our communities. With a tongue-in-cheek sense of pride, Joyce denounces individualistic colonial mentalities with a distinctive seething energy.

With shades of ‘80s post-punk, ‘Define and Conquer’ speaks for itself; with striking imagery and an angst-driven drive, Joyce reflects on the damage of Britain’s “conquest and expedition”, whilst ‘I.O.U’ asserts with a fierce intensity that we are so much more than our wages and that we don’t owe our bosses, landlords, or this racist government, anything. Propelled by an impassioned cathartic rage and swirling magnetism, its raw, riotous power immerses the listener in its striking, empowering message. 

Propelled by a dark, visceral drive, ‘Sever’ envelops the ears with a stirring resonance. With shades of the anthemic, emotive energy of The Cure, it showcases Screaming Toenail’s ability to create truly compelling offerings with exquisite musicality. Of the meaning behind the track, the band explain: 

‘Sever’ is written in response to the never ending saga of getting your hair cut as a gender non conforming person. Or is it our response to the displacement so many of us feel as black and brown people in the diaspora? Or maybe building queer community and resisting shame...”

With an empowering energy, ‘Crystal Queer’ celebrates the growth of black, queer resistance with a racing force and uplifting, vibrant power. With its colourful spirit, it’ll leave you feeling hopeful – fists clenched – ready to come together and rise up against the forces seeking to oppress. 

Continuing the uplifting vibes, and with a beautifully witty lyricism, ‘Get Cute’ is guaranteed to make you smile. With spot on ‘cute’ imagery (including personal highlight “You’re like a little old lady shoplifting from Boots”), it’s the perfect invigorating and cheer-inducing anthem to sing along to, know that you’re worth it and soothe any insecurities you may be feeling. And anyone who was at our gig at The Finsbury in December will have glorious memories of Screaming Toenail performing this live, and the comforting sense of unity and cathartic joy that filled the venue, as like-minded people came together to dance and sing in solidarity. 

‘Giant Woman’ closes the collection with all the empowering, patriarchy-smashing energy you’d expect; naming a number of visionary “giant’ women such as Diane Abbott and Reni Eddo-Lodge, it encourages you to take inspiration from others, as well as yourself, when facing the world and overcoming its challenges. A perfect motivational end to Growth’s stirring call to arms.

Despite my focus on the album’s words, it’s not simply Growth’s subject matter that demands to be heard: it showcases the eclectic and innovative musicality of the band. From immense, reverb-strewn riffs and racing punk beats, to fizzing electro-driven soundscapes and a swirling dark mysticism, it provides a perfectly danceable soundtrack to its resonant content. 

As a sort of ‘P.S’, I just wanted to add that I really have struggled to put into words just how completely important and strikingly poignant Screaming Toenail are, and I think really the album needs no explanation. You need to listen to the lyrics, the commentary on what is happening in this country right now, the raw angst and emotion that shines through every track, the magnificent cathartic energy that the band put into everything they create, to understand. I was, in fact, almost reluctant to write about it, as I don’t want any of my words to take away from the raw and necessary power of the band’s.

Growth is truly a soundtrack to our times; starkly reminding us that on returning to ‘normality’, we need to create a new normal. One in which voices like Screaming Toenail’s can be amplified to the max; one in which we prioritise creating safe, queer, intersectional communities and spaces for people to share their art together. One in which we are all continually fighting for change and feel able to grow bigger and louder in the face of challenges, and feel excited for the future. 

 

Growth is out now via Hell Hath No Fury Records. Buy it on Bandcamp.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Get In Her Ears x Summer Sounds 06.08.20

Tash & Kate were in the Hoxton Radio studio spinning some of their favourite summer sounds. Highlights include tracks by Kynsy, heka, Scuti, Evil House Party, Babehaven, Circe and bestfriend. They kicked off the show with Kate Bush and finished with Whitney. Enough said.

Listen back here:

Tracklist
Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
Circe – Ten Girls
Ailbhe Reddy – Between Your Teeth
Cehryl – moon eyes
Bestfriend – last bus in the a.m.
Babeheaven – Cassette Beat
The Crayon Set – Summer Song
Mandi (m&i) – into my mind
Bethany Thomas – I’m Not Sorry and I’m Not Scared
Girlhood – sister
Julia Sophie – I Left You
Kynsy – Cold Blue Light
Deaf Surf – Strangers
Izzy Bizu – Tough Pill
Robin Kester – Cigarette Song
Fenne Lily – Three Oh Nine
Dream Nails – Vagina Police
ALYSS – CLUSTERFCK (MONO/POLY REMIX)
Scuti – Weekend
Evil House Party – Wicked
Heka – redwoods
Byenary – Princess Give A Fuck
The Muffin Heads – Snow White
Hannah Moule & The Moulettes – Idiolect Pt.1
Laura Guarch – Fleeting Light
HAAI – Head Above The Parakeets
Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay

ganser

FIVE FAVOURITES: Ganser

Formed of Nadia Garofalo (keyboards/vocals), Alicia Gaines (bass/vocals), Charlie Landsman (guitar) and Brian Cundiff (drums), Chicago-based Ganser have garnered comparisons to the likes of 90s noise-makers Fugazi, Shellac, and Sonic Youth. The band have recently shared their new album, Just Look at That Sky, via Felte Records and it’s a defiant fusion of jolting rhythms, confrontational vocals and manic riffs.

We think one of the best ways to get to know a band is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with bassist & vocalist Alicia Gaines to ask about her “Five Favourites” – five songs that she believes have inspired Ganser’s song-writing techniques on their latest record. Check out her choices below, and scroll down to watch Ganser’s video for ‘Projector’ at the end of this post.

 

1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Date With a Night’
There is a songwriting mode we’ve utilized at times which I’ve jokingly called “Doom Hoedown” or “Doom Shuffle.” Before really getting into The Birthday Party and their ilk, my first concert back home with my high school friends was Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I remember being blown away by their raw delivery and Karen O’s command of her particular vocal style. It took us a while to tease out what songs lean into Nadia and my strengths as vocalists, but man the music’s like a glove for O’s voice here. Listening to this really makes me miss the chaos of playing live.

2. Ultravox – ‘Distant Smile’
For Ganser, it’s about contrast. The violence and serenity in this track really compliment each other. Red looks more red against green, and so on. In a way the form of this one is a backwards version of our track ‘Emergency Equipment and Exits’. I love how the back half of this song sounds like its running away from itself.

3. Talking Heads – ‘Life During Wartime’ (Live in Los Angeles 1983)
This live version has an inevitability that’s hard to escape. The faster tempo and incredible work by the band’s support vocalists adds to the urgency on this classic. Tina Weymouth is just a monster. I have a strained and complicated relationship to the history of particularly Black women backup singers for white bands, but my affinity for this song and album (Stop Making Sense) remains.

4. These Immortal Souls – ‘The King of Kalifornia’
When there isn’t really a template for voice or perspective, it’s a journey to find what feels natural or what you need to try on to see how it fits. I think this album (I’m Never Gonna Die Again) is the first time we’ve really waded into “cockiness” as an attitude, which isn’t something women are encouraged to do. It felt really good to really absorb the energy of Rowland and some of the 90’s British bands we love. Bravado feels like a lounge lizard to me. We free associated in that direction and that attitude crept into several songs on our new record.

5. Liars – ‘No.1 Against the Rush’
I’m so amazed every time I look at Liars’ range. I have a soft spot for ambivalent tone bands like Liars and Radiohead have. There’s always a sinister edge, a wistfulness to their music throughout their discography that’s extremely admirable. Our album Just Look at That Sky is really comfortable for ambivalence, but that takes time and living in the grey. We’re just here to eavesdrop.

Thanks to Alicia for sharing her favourite songs with us.
Watch the video for Ganser’s latest single ‘Projector’ below.

Order your copy of Ganser’s new album here.

Photo Credit: Kirsten Miccoli