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)

Five Favourites (Drummers): Eilis Frawley

We’ve been big fans of Berlin-based classically trained percussionist Eilis Frawley for some time now, especially since she took our breath away playing live for us at Notting Hill Arts Club last year. With recent single ‘Stats’, she offered arresting beats set against bold, Krautrock-infused spoken word, as the lyrics addressed hard-hitting stats, highlighting the everyday injustices facing women today. Tackling issues such as period poverty, FGM, domestic violence and other vital issues, it’s a beautifully striking and necessary listen. As is the entirety of her just released EP Adult Life

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspires them or influences their writing. So, we caught up with Eilis to discuss the five (well, six, actually!) drummers that inspire her the most.

Here are 6 of my favourite drummers/percussionists, all from different scenes with totally different playing styles but all 100% owning what they do.

Fleur Green
Fleur Green was my first percussion teacher, when I was 16. She was tough, in the best way. I spent just one year learning from her before she moved abroad, but I’ll never forget her discipline, especially to her own artistic practice. She led by example and was highly committed with a no bullshit attitude. From the very beginning she instilled in me a diligence towards music I’ve carried through the years. She’s such an inspiration. She’s back in Adelaide now and performs under Fleur Green.

Chi Fukami Taylor
Chi Fukami Taylor was the first female drummer I saw perform on a big stage – and she completely nailed it. It was 2007 and she played with The Go! Team at Falls festival in Victoria. She had so much groove, and it was the first time I witnessed someone playing drums and singing. I’m still shocked people can sing in tune and play drums, that’s alot of brain power.

Seol Kim
Seol Kim – Known as Snow is one half of Oh Chill (57) from Seoul. I had the pleasure of sharing the bill with her multiple times in Seoul and also in Berlin. Snow does not mess around. Another singing drummer, she’s a hard hitter, her timing is impeccable and her grooves always leaving you wanting more. She’ll keep you on your toes.

Sara Neidorf
Sara is a Berlin drummer. We share the same practice space, and no-one sounds like her. You always know when she’s in the building. Her fills are outta control. She’s fast, dynamic and playful. She’s involved in scenes I’m not too familiar with but hearing her play alone is already a treat! Aptera is one of her projects I’ve seen live, and wow the skill! Highly recommend looking into what she’s doing, especially if you’re into heavier music.

Valentina Magaletti
Valentina Magaletti is the only person on this list who I haven’t met, or seen play live, BUT I’m so impressed by her playing, she crosses over so perfectly from pop drummer to experimental percussion wizard. She’s behind so many great projects but I recently discovered Tomaga and it’s a total stand out! Go listen to them.

Mindy Abovitz
Mindy Abovitz has to be on this list as well, for not only pursuing drums as a self taught drummer, but for creating TomTom Mag, connecting female* drummers all over the world and changing the media representation of drummers. She’s outstanding.

Massive thanks to Eilis for sharing her choices with us!

Adult Life, the new EP from Eilis Frawley, is out now via Reckless Yes. Listen now. And watch the recent video for the poignant ‘Stats’ here:

Photo Credit: Janina Gallert

PLAYLIST: March 2018

England’s finally defrosting after the visit from ‘The Beast From The East’, and us Get In Her Ears girls are ready to embrace the springtime. To get us in the mood, we’ve compiled our favourite new March tunes in to one fresh playlist. Check out why we’re loving what we’re loving below, and click on the playlist at the bottom to hear it for yourself…

Soccer Mommy – ‘Your Dog’
Soccer Mommy has a gift for exploring frustration and insecurity through laid-back vocals and melodic guitar, and ‘Your Dog’ is a sublime example of this. Her frank admission of “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog” is a cathartic, emotional uprising against neglect, that seethes and soothes in equal measure. I’ve been singing it obnoxiously loud since she released her debut album Clean earlier this month. (Kate Crudgington)

Skating Polly – ‘Queen For A Day’
Taken from their upcoming album The Make It All Show, and featuring guest vocals from Exene Cervenka (from seminal punk band X), Skating Polly’s new single interweaves scathing vocals with lush harmonies, exuding the sibling trio’s trademark seething energy and understated subtle power. Once again marking themselves out as going against the grain, with ‘Queen For A Day’ Skating Polly deliver an empowering sentiment, uniting anyone who doesn’t want to coincide with the confines of society’s limitations. (Mari Lane)

Pillow Queens – ‘Favourite’
The brilliantly named Pillow Queens released a new video to accompany their track ‘Favourite’ last week, and it features some dodgy goings on at a dog show. I’m excited to catch the Dublin band at The Irish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith on the 16th, alongside Delorentos, Video Blue and Tayne. Check out the Facebook event for more details. (KC)

Alex Rushfirth – ‘I Live It’
Infections and frenzied, ‘I Live It’ has to be my most played track from the last couple of weeks. Of the track, Rushfirth explains “I made the whole thing in my bedroom in a trance.” Warping the vocals to sound like they’re “being sung by an excitable small child” and that’s exactly how this song makes me feel…so heady, so feverish, so goddamn catchy. (Tash Walker)

ARXX – ‘Stuck On You’ 
New favourite band ARXX have previously completely blown us away with their immense, seething energy when playing for us live at The Finsbury a couple of months back. And now they’ve just released their fantastic, and totally addictive new EP. Entitled Daughters Of Daughters, as it’s been put together as a tribute to the music that Hannah Pidduck was brought up on by her Mother, it draws on an eclectic range of influences, and a variety of subject matter.

Taking a break from the riotous, punk-infused power of tracks such as ‘Moments At A Time’ and ‘Intervention’, ‘Stuck On You’ oozes a lush, country-pop romanticism as the soaring passion of Pidduck’s vocals flow, creating an instantly infectious, heartbreakingly catchy love song. (ML) 

Heka – ‘Did You See The Sunrise’
Heka was our guest on our first Get In Her Ears radio show of March, and we were lucky enough to have her perform this track live in the studio. ‘Did You See The Sunrise’ is so intimate and beautiful, with such strong searching vocals…described as “thoughts whispered to friends in dim lit rooms”. Mesmerising. (TW)

Amber Mark – ‘S P A C E’
This track is taken from Amber Mark’s 2017 EP 3.33am, which is about losing her Mother in 2013 and the stages of grief. ‘S P A C E’, the song that got her noticed, is just so enjoyable, rhythmic and about something we can all relate to but often find it so hard to articulate in this over connected, communication driven world. (TW)

Alice Bag – ’77’ 
If you need something inspiring to motivate you during these ridiculously cold, and depressingly dark times, then look no further. Punk legend Alice Bag has brought together a dream team if ever there was one – Riot Grrrl queens Kathleen Hanna and Allison Wolfe, plus an appearance from Shirley Manson – to bring us the perfect angst-driven anthem. Raging against the gender pay gap, it’s filled with seething, punk-driven riffs and is an empowering, inspiring call to arms to unite against the patriarchy and make the changes needed for equality, in the workplace and beyond. As Bag poignantly sneers “… don’t pretend that we’re paid equal… You wrote the script / But I’m writing the sequel.” (ML)

The Go! Team – ‘Huddle Formation’ 
Though the last couple of months have been largely filled with cold, dark days and a distinct desire to hibernate, seeing The Go! Team live a couple of weeks back breathed a new lease of life into me; their sunny charisma and vibrant energy brightening the mood like nothing else.

Although the band’s whole set at Camden’s Electric Ballroom was an utter joy to behold, and I was completely immersed in their infectious, jubilant sound throughout, the highlight of the night came in the form of Thunder, Lightning, Strike’s ‘Huddle Formation’. Splitting the huge crowd into two sides, magnificent front-woman Ninja lead the way as we all sung our hearts out to the chorus, and a wave of sparkling euphoria filled the venue. (ML) 

Big Thief – ‘Shark Smile’
Released back in 2017, ‘Shark Smile’ by Brooklyn’s Big Thief has only just popped up on my radar with its cruising, slow story telling indie lilts. A song about two lovers driving down a highway where only one survives a crash, ‘Shark Smile’ sways from intense descriptions of oxygen kisses to the welcome predictability of the steady drum, guitar laden chorus. I’m loving this tragic tale which feels somewhat strangely comforting. (TW)

Mesadorm – ‘Yours And Not Yours’
Taken from Mesadorm’s forthcoming album Heterogaster, ‘Yours And Not Yours’ explores an intense sense of doubt, both internally and externally – ricocheting between security and unease with the help of a dirty synth line and urgent, rich vocals. I’m totally hooked on it. (KC)

Divide & Dissolve – ‘Abomination’
Divide & Dissolve’s second album Abomination is a sonic force to be reckoned with. The Melbourne-based duo curate heavy-instrumentals designed to “decolonize, dismantle white supremacy, and empower people of color & Indigenous people”. This is the opening track on the record, and it’s an intense five minutes and fifty seconds of unnerving riffs and ceaseless cymbals, crashing together to form a desolate but powerful soundscape. It’s instrumentalist activism that seeks to disrupt the norm – and I love it. (KC)

Track Of The Day: Skating Polly (feat. Exene Cervenka) – ‘Queen For A Day’

Following 2013’s  Lost Wonderfuls, 2016’s The Big Fit, and last year’s New Trick EP, sibling punk-rock trio Skating Polly are now ready to release a brand new album. Marking themselves out as favourites when we caught them a couple of years back, putting on an immense live set at The Lock Tavern, Kelli and Peyton have since recruited Curtis on drums, to create an even bigger, high-octane sound.

Taken from the upcoming album, and featuring guest vocals from Exene Cervenka (from seminal punk band X), ‘Queen For A Day’ builds as honey-sweet melodies develop into a gritty climax of whirring, raging hooks and raw emotion. As scathing vocals are interweaved with lush harmonies, the trio exude their trademark seething energy and understated subtle power. Once again marking themselves out as going against the grain, with ‘Queen For A Day’ Skating Polly deliver an empowering sentiment, uniting anyone who doesn’t want to coincide with the confines of society’s limitations.

Accompanying ‘Queen For A Day’ is a tongue-in-cheek new video, Kelli Mayo explains:

“The lyrics for this song came from a conversation we had backstage with Exene about the old game show ‘Queen For A Day’.. The premise of the show was that women with tragic stories (sick children, dead husbands, poverty, etc) would compete against each other for applause from the audience… Months after this conversation Exene sent me lyrics in a text and we wrote the song around them. She’s singing on the second and third choruses too. We wanted the video to emulate the old show but also look like it was directed by John Waters.

The Make It All Show, the new album from Skating Polly,, is out 11th May via El Camino Media. And Skating Polly will be supporting The Go! Team on a number of US tour dates (what a line up!).

Mari Lane
@marimindles