Albums Of The Year 2018

Despite being a pretty scary year in the grand scheme of things, 2018 has actually been exceptionally great for new music. Our ears have been filled with sonic delights of all genres, providing necessary catharsis and enjoyment. 

So, it was pretty hard to pick our favourite albums of 2018. But, from luscious indie-pop to thumping electro-punk and eerily dystopian soundscapes, here they are… 

Fightmilk – Not With That Attitude
Following utterly infectious singles such as ‘Pity Party’ and ‘Bank Of Mum And Dad’, this year GIHE faves Fightmilk signed to Reckless Yes and released their truly fantastic debut album Not With That Attitude. Delving deep into subject matter such as the end of relationships, summer crushes and the general feelings of anxiety that come with everyday living, each and every offering on Not With That Attitude is an angst-driven gem; a perfect antidote to life, with a nostalgic nod to the emotions of our younger selves.

I can safely say, although the album was only released last month, it’s been one of my most listened-to of 2018; I just can’t get enough of its luscious, punk-infused indie-pop gems. From the scuzzy tongue in cheek wit of anti-love song ‘4 Star Hotel’, and the jangly riffs and immensely catchy, silky smooth refrains of pop anthem ‘Dream Phone’, to the twinkling heartfelt splendour of personal favourite ‘Solving Crimes In Sweden’, there isn’t a dull moment to be found.

An utterly life-affirming, and completely addictive, collection, Not With That Attitude is not only one of my favourites of 2018, but will hold a special place in my heart for years to come.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor/Co-Founder)

Gazelle Twin – Pastoral
A unique artist with razor sharp vision and uncompromising creativity; Gazelle Twin (aka Elizabeth Bernholz) combined glitchy beats, menacing samples and an uncanny new costume on her new album, Pastoral. Released via her own label Anti-Ghost Moon Ray, the record marked another transformation for the performer; this time she exhumed England’s “rotten past” and questioned its uncertain future.

I’ve been following Bernholz since the release of her sophomore record Unflesh in 2014, and between Motherhood and curating another two atmospheric records (2016’s Out Of Body & 2017’s audio/visual project Kingdom Come), she eventually released Pastoral – and it was totally worth the wait. Her altruistic style is one that can’t be mimicked – even though she herself is a master at adopting the traits of others, and transforming in to a new species of performer who offers brutality and intrigue in equal measure.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor/Co-Founder)

Anna Calvi – Hunter
Along with already being a massive fan of Anna Calvi’s music and eager to hear the follow up to One Breath, I wasn’t prepared for just how much I would love the new record. I’d like to say it’s just a personal thing. Mostly because I’m a writer and there’s a branch of us who only speak about how things make us feel (of which I’m one) but also because Hunter was, at its core, a queer and feminist record.

Hunter is the kind of album I would have given into l’appel du vide for as a teenager: a queer album by a queer artist I love, full of tracks bathed in the queer beauty of art. Of course, queerness is far from all the record is, but every track drips in it and its adjacence to the power of love and of sex and of raw, integral passion untouched by any hand and only feelings.

Because of that and the magnificence of tracks like “Wish” and “As a Man”, Hunter is undoubtedly my record of the year.
(Em Burfitt – Contributor)

Sink Ya Teeth – Sink Ya Teeth
Having marked them out as ‘Ones To Watch’ last year, it certainly seems that Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullinford – aka Sink Ya Teeth – have proved us right throughout 2018; this year has seen the Norwich duo receive acclaim from BBC 6 Music’s Steve LaMacq and The Guardian, support big names such as Chk Chk Chk and Eton Crop, and release their banger-filled debut album.

Filled with addictive, pulsating beats and ‘80s-inspired dance-pop hooks throughout, the album is an epic sonic journey from start to finish. From the pounding energy and funk-fused bass hooks of singles such as ‘Pushin’ and ‘If You See Me’, to the swirling, whirring soundscapes of ‘Glass’ and ‘Complicated’, each track is an utterly infectious slice of thumping electro-punk. And add Uzor’s smooth, soaring vocals to the mix, and what you have is something completely unique and truly exquisite.
(ML)

Haiku Salut – There Is No Elsewhere
For many it will be hard to imagine how an instrumental album can so clearly communicate a message, not just a feeling evoked by sound but a clarion call. On their third album Haiku Salut manage just this though – their most cohesive work to date There Is No Elsewhere is beautiful in sound and theme, as it reflects the dramatic landscape of their Derbyshire home and combats the societal narrative of division with a love-letter to togetherness.

The album moves their intricate and fascinating music on. Here we get a more deliberate and incredibly thoughtful play between analogue and electronic, a blurring of the line between musician and instrument as organic and digital interlock. Community is roused through the clever use of brass bands, while rhythms incite and encircle swells of feeling.

There Is No Elsewhere is a remarkable work from a band who should be considered a national treasure.
(Sarah Lay – Contributor)

TAYNE – Breathe
With a sound as distracting as the shade of pink that creator Matthew Sutton paints his lips with for their live shows; TAYNE’s debut album is a vital, abrasive, cathartic listen fuelled by abrasive synths and explosive pay-offs. TAYNE’s music is some of the most interesting and altruistic I’ve heard all year; blurring the lines between industrial, synth-pop, shoe-gaze and alternative; a visceral cacophony of synth textures and drum patterns, alongside Sutton’s hair-raising screams. It’s an emotional exorcism with a pop sheen, and I’m very glad it dropped in to my inbox at the beginning of this year.
(KC)

First Aid Kit – Ruins
It’s easy to dismiss ‘break-up albums’ as being forty minutes of wallowing in self-pity, however Ruins deals with the whole spectrum of emotions which comes with grieving a relationship without any of the bitterness – demonstrating a gentle strength which we can all relate to. Personal favourite ‘Rebel Heart’ introduces us to the darkness, before the uplifting harmonies of ‘It’s A Shame’ show the empowerment which comes with self-reflection, whilst the twinkling melodies of ‘Fireworks’ convey that common nostalgic, rose-tinted outlook with a chorus worthy of belting out in the shower.

If music reflects the journeys we all embark on in life then Ruins beautifully encapsulates the complexities of relationships. It reassures us that it is normal to feel a wide-range of emotions all at once – that it is okay to be vulnerable.
(Nicky Lee-Delisle – Contributor)

Hilary Woods – Colt
A contemplative, carefully crafted record which schools listeners in how to come undone: Hilary Woods’ debut album is an exquisitely painful exploration of grief, separation, and abandonment. The Dublin-based artist signed to altruistic label Sacred Bones to release her first full-length record, and the partnership is one I wholly approve of. Comfortably overlapping both acoustic and electronic genres, underneath all of Woods’ melancholy sounds there lurks a quiet power: a power that comes from being honest about genuine pain. When I saw her perform live at St. Pancras Old Church earlier this year, I was overwhelmed with emotion and felt too shy to approach her after the gig at the merch stand, where I bought a copy of her album. If I had, I definitely would’ve thanked her for making such a beautiful, rewarding record.
(KC)

Dream Wife – Dream Wife
It’s hard to find a band who have been as consistently brilliant in 2018 as Dream Wife, and their self-titled debut is a case in point. From Fall meets ESG psycho-drama ‘FUU’, high-school Stooges ‘Let’s Make Out’ and Toni Basil gone garage ‘Hey Heartbreaker’, you might think it’s all a blast. But the group can emote too – ‘Love Without Reason’, ‘Somebody’ and ‘Fire’ showing off their pop qualities. It’s all kept simple, and that’s Dream Wife’s genius.
(John McGovern – Contributor)

The Lovely Eggs – This Is Eggland
Ever since being completely blown away by The Lovely Eggs at Indietracks Festival this summer, I’ve been more or less obsessed with the Lancaster duo. Lucky enough to catch their utterly immersive set for a second time at The Scala this Autumn, I’ve had their This Is Eggland album pretty much on loop throughout 2018.

From the swirling, psychedelic cacophony of tracks such as ‘I Shouldn’t Have Said That’, to the uplifting lo-fi fuzz and anthemically catchy spirit of ‘Hello I Am Your Sun’ and ‘Wiggy Giggy’, the album oozes a frenzied, riotous energy and spiralling sense of urgency throughout. With Holly Ross’ blunt realism and scathing retorts to all the dickheads out there, The Lovely Eggs stand out as one of the most relevant bands around – echoing the feelings of the many, with their subtle social commentary and refreshing cynicism providing an apt accompaniment to the eccentric musicality of This Is Eggland.
(ML)

The Soft Moon – Criminal
The second Sacred Bones album to make my list this year is The Soft Moon’s Criminal. It’s a gripping, teeth-grinding, ultra-cathartic affair; and when heard live it’s a different beast entirely. I have all the time in the world for men who explore their mental states through the medium of music, and listening to Criminal feels like an exploration of this kind. The Soft Moon (aka Luis Vasquez) takes memories of childhood trauma, misplaced guilt and self-hatred, and allows himself to “cross the line” and produce a truly breath-taking collection of industrial, electronic soundscapes here. I’ve had ‘Burn’ on repeat all year long.
(KC)

Chorusgirl – Shimmer and Spin
Following 2015’s wonderful self-titled debut, this year GIHE faves Chorusgirl released their long-awaited new album Shimmer And Spin, and we couldn’t be happier for them. Chronicling a tense year, created during a period of crippling anxiety and a relentless string of bad luck and bad news, the new album is the result of immense hard work and dedication from Silvi, Faith, Udo and Michael. Of the writing process, Silvi explains: “There was barely a month without bad news on a personal and wider level, and at the end of that year, my anxiety started to spike badly. The album became a very important anchor. Every note and lyric were raked over and looked at twice; we were hacking and honing away at the songs for months, trying to craft some sort of sculpture of our state of mind.”

Despite oozing a darker undercurrent than previous offerings, Shimmer And Spin showcases Silvi’s distinctive, lush vocals throughout, as effervescent harmonies and impressive driving riffs flow, creating Chorusgirl’s utterly unique, shimmering sounds. From the sparkling garage-pop of tracks such as ‘No Goodbye’ and ‘In Dreams’ to the simply spine-tingling soaring emotion of personal highlight ‘Stuck’, this album – and the determination that went into creating it – showcases exactly why Chorusgirl are one of my favourite bands of the last few years.
(ML)

LIVE: The Lovely Eggs @ The Scala, 28.10.18

Ever since being completely blown away by Lancaster duo The Lovely Eggs at Indietracks Festival this summer, I’ve been absolutely desperate to see them again. And so it was with excitement that I headed to The Scala to do just that last Sunday.

Following an energy-fuelled set from Mush and the spot-on wit and social commentary of Rob Auton (a refreshing first time I think I’ve seen a spoken word artist/stand up supporting a band at a gig), Holly Ross and David Blackwell take to the stage. Kicking off with the scuzzy, racing force of This Is Eggland’s ‘I’m With You’, the duo’s immense punk-infused spirit and explosive sonic fusions continue throughout.

As Ross informs us that this is day ten of a ten day tour with a five year old son in tow, she blows her nose, takes a swig of Strongbow and confirms that she’s not standing for any of “this arm-folding shit” at the front, encouraging us all to dance and let loose – it is a Sunday night after all. Becoming my ‘new hero’ at Indietracks in the summer, tonight – with this refreshing honesty and no-fucks-given attitude – the title remains firmly hers, with all her brash, inspiring charisma and no-frills-yet-empowering presence.

Continuing with whirring hooks, and immense, thrashing beats, a swirling, psychedelic cacophony is created as tracks such as ‘I Shouldn’t Have Said That’ and ‘Magic Onion’ ooze a wonderfully eccentric, relentless energy. And, as the uplifting lo-fi fuzz and anthemically catchy spirit of ‘Hello I Am Your Sun’ and ‘Wiggy Giggy’ fill the venue with a mass of bouncing, singing fans, an infectious sense of joy spreads throughout as David and Holly play the two sides of the room off against each other.

With their blunt realism and scathing retorts to all the dickheads out there, The Lovely Eggs stand out as one of the most relevant bands around (and one of the most exciting to see live), echoing the feelings of the many, with the subtle social commentary and refreshing cynicism of the likes of ‘Fuck It’ and ‘People Are Twats’. Without being explicitly political, the message and poignant relatability behind each offering creates a tremendous feeling of unity amongst the crowd; the duo appearing to be able to word what’s in our heads in a perfectly concise and witty way.

There is a moment of explicit political realness and urgency, however, when Holly talks about The Lancaster Music Co-op’s pending eviction – a non-profit making community organisation that has been providing music rehearsal rooms, equipment hire and recording facilities to the people of Lancaster and surrounding areas for the past 33 years, the co-op recently received an eviction notice from Lancaster City Council. So, Holly and David are amongst many names in the industry currently fighting to save it and raise awareness to help fight the eviction – sign the petition here.

Closing the set with the frenzied, riotous energy and spiralling (seasonal) magic of ‘Witchcraft’, The Lovely Eggs have once again delivered a truly impressive and utterly immersive set, leaving me eager to make it a hat-trick and catch their glorious offerings and honest charm live again very soon.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

 

LIVE: Indietracks Festival, 27/07/18 – 29/07/18 (PART 1)

With our ongoing disappointment at the lack of diversity on the majority of mainstream festival line-ups this year, I was particularly excited to have found out about Indietracks Festival (thanks to a number of bands I know who all highly recommended it) – one that refreshingly, consistently, champions DIY bands and artists of all genders and genres. And, I wasn’t to be disappointed; the weekend – set in the idyllic Midland Railway Centre near Ripley in Derbyshire – exceeded all expectations.

After one of the hottest, and longest, drives of our lives, we finally arrived. Hurriedly setting up our tent at the best campsite we’ve ever been to (Golden Valley Camping and Caravan Park), I was relieved to make it to the site just in time to catch first band of the weekend, the ever lovely Worst Place. Having previously charmed us at one of our events at The Finsbury (a little bit of theme throughout the weekend…), they soon spread their contagious, effervescent joy with their truly dreamy, sparkling brand of infectious indie pop, with shades of the sunny energy of Best Coast or Alvvays. And, with their youthful charisma and witty rapport with the crowd (“Don’t swear in front of the kids… Actually, it’s ok, they’re cool festival kids!”), they’re simply impossible not to love.

Following a tasty – and reasonably priced – pint of local beer, next up are another band who never fail to make me smile: Sacred Paws. Treating us to one delectable, danceable delight after another, front woman Rachel Aggs bounces across the stage with a whirring energy as their vibrant melodies flow seamlessly alongside lush harmonies and thrilling, racing beats. As the whole front field fills with smiling faces and buoyant bodies, I’m left grinning cheek to cheek at the utterly uplifting experience of seeing one of my favourite bands live on a sun-filled evening, surrounded by like-minded people and good vibes a plenty.

One of the few bands of the weekend that I haven’t seen live before, Friday’s headliners The Lovely Eggs blow me away with their immense, raucous offerings. Slightly more cynical, yet no less great, than the evening’s previous acts, vocalist/guitarist Holly Ross fast becomes my new hero. With a refreshing honesty and spot-on wit, her between-song banter (and necking of bottles of water) is matched only by the wonderfully eccentric energy and vibrant riotous delivery of each and every track. Leaving me desperate to make seeing them live a regular occurance, the duo’s insightful and charismatic lo-fi psych sounds are the perfect end to the perfect start of this perfect festival.

After a little boogie to some bangers, thanks to Des Was A David Bowie Fan DJs in the indoor stage (I literally ran inside to the sound of Le Tigre being played), we head back to the tent to prepare ourselves for another day of blissful sounds.

Being one of the first to arrive on site on Saturday, we have some time to spend with the owls and parrots (yes, there are owls and parrots at this festival!), before heading to the indoor stage to check out Belfast-based Strange New Places. With their luscious, folk-tinged punk pop offerings, reflecting on mental health and queerness (and Conor Oberst lyrics), they’re a truly gorgeous way to start a Saturday, and a band I’ll definitely be hoping to hear a lot more of in the future.

Another band who’ve graced our Finsbury stage and wowed me with their immersive live performances numerous times, GIHE faves Ghum kick things off on the outdoor stage with a bit of their unique gothic energy. Simply captivating as always, they treat us to a set of songs old and new, drawing in an attentive and intrigued crowd as their sweeping splendour oozes from the stage. As a wave of pride comes over me, it really is wonderful to see these women take on a festival for the first time and absolutely nail it! As front woman Laura’s magnetising charisma draws you in, and the band’s sweeping atmospheric dark-pop floats into the ears with a majestic grace, Ghum prove they’re a band who deserve to be heard – and have most certainly made some new fans with this stunning performance.

Although I was actually meant to be heading to the church next, we end up back in the indoor stage (it’s where the beer is), and happen upon Happy Accidents – a happy accident, if you will! And I couldn’t be more glad we did. With their instantly uplifting pop-punk offerings and delicious harmonies, they’re a true delight to have accidentally come across. Having waited four years to play the festival, they encourage us to “keep the head-nodding going” throughout, and how could we not? They’re just so buoyantly head-nod inducing with their shimmering creations. And, when asked to boo for the camera for a video they’re making, I find it quite impossible – sorry guys, if there’s someone in the crowd with a big stupid grin on their face, it’s probably me, it’s just the effect you have!

After a short break to enjoy some of the fantastic vegetarian food on offer at the festival, Colour Me Wednesday treat our ears to their luscious honey-sweet harmonies, sunny, twinkling energy and instantly catchy jangly melodies. Priding themselves on their DIY feminist ethos, they succeed in brightening up a drizzly afternoon with their truly enlivening offerings and empowering spirit.

I pull myself away from Colour Me Wednesday to catch some of the dreamy sounds of Nightflowers. Over the last few weeks I’ve been totally addicted to their infectious latest album Wild Notion, and so it’s a delight to be able to sing along to it live. Fronted by the dazzling sparkle of Sophia Pettit, the band deliver a set filled with a vibrant energy and perfect, shimmering indie-pop.
 

Although there’s only a certain number of adjectives to describe just how wonderful all the bands at Indietracks were, I’m going to continuing using them more in part two of my review of the weekend (featuring Dream Wife, Dream Nails, Sink Ya Teeth, Girl Ray and more…) Coming very soon!

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Top Ten To Watch At Long Division 2018

Wakefield’s largest festival of music and culture, taking place across multiple venues in the city, Long Division returns this weekend 1st – 3rd June, after a break in 2017, with its largest and most diverse lineup yet.

One of the partners of the festival this year is Leeds organisation, Girls That Gig, who have taken over and will be curating a stage at the festival. Dedicated to promoting women in music, they’re an organisation after our own hearts, so we asked events manager Jenny Bunn to give her top ten recommendations for the weekend…

The Bleeding Obvious:
As a self confessed “queerdo”, Jessica Rowbottom’s The Bleeding Obvious is an LGBT+ driven musical trinket box of genres, collaborations and “whatever she found in her parents’ music collection.” Interspersed with comedy and stories of her real life experiences, the blend of orchestral, electro and spoken word amongst many others brings a unique take on a contemporary musical project.

The Bleeding Obvious is playing at Long Division on June 2nd at The Red Shed at 1.45pm.

Kermes:
If the weather is as overcast as you’d typically expect in Britain, you’ll want to get down to see Kermes to cheer yourself up. If the weather has decided to treat us to a rare moment of sunshine, you’ll want to get down to see Kermes to dance and have fun. Poppy with a dash of sad punky roots, the eight-legged pop monster that is Kermes will light up your afternoon up and maybe make you forget that it isn’t all doom and gloom.

Kermes is playing at Long Division on June 2nd at The Red Shed at 6.45pm.

Charlotte Hatherley:
If you were into alt-rock in the late ’90s and early 2000s, there’s no doubt you’ve at the very least heard of Ash. Guitarist Charlotte Hatherley’s latest project is a world away from her alt-rock roots with Ash; her most recent release ‘Hook You Up’ is melodic vocals and electro escapism at its finest.

Charlotte Hatherley is playing at Long Division on June 2nd at Wakefield Cathedral at 7pm.

Chloe Juliette Beswick:
Dreamy hypnotic whimsical melodies from Wakefield, the home of Long Division itself, Chloe Juliette Beswick ever so delicately manages to catch a little bit of ’90s grunge in her DIY dream pop.

Chloe Juliette Beswick is playing at Long Division at the Beer Exchange. Time TBC.


Genevieve Walsh:

One of the best parts of Long Division is the sheer diversity of the acts, and Genevieve Walsh is no exception to this. Bringing with her a wealth of spoken word and poetry experience garnered through running Halifax’s longest running poetry night, she tours and workshops poetry in the North of England. Her own unique brand of punk poetry (not to mention fabulous blue hair) is a refreshing interlude that embraces weirdness, rhythm and honesty.

Genevieve Walsh is playing at Long Division on June 2nd at Neon Workshops at 3.40pm.

Fig By Four:
It’s always good to have a chilled out solo project when you’ve been involved in some of the Leeds scene’s most well known local bands over the past few years. You may know of Sarah Statham through Esper Scout, Crake and Living Body or for what she’s done for the Leeds DIY music community, but Fig By Four stands up fantastically on its own with captivating earthy reverb-y vocals and acoustic folksy guitar lines. Definitely one to check out.

Fig By Four is playing at Long Division on June 2nd at Wakefield Beer Exchange at 6.15pm.


Galaxians:
It’s hard to believe that Galaxians came into being in 2012 and not in the mid ’80s. Mixing synths with live drums and vocals, you’ll be back in the age of charismatic energetic synth-pop with a hint of disco as soon as they start playing. Get the Duffer Brothers on the phone, we’ve found the latest addition to the soundtrack of Stranger Things season three.

Galaxians are playing at Long Division on June 2nd at Warehouse 23 at 6.30pm.


The Lovely Eggs:
Wonderful and weird, The Lovely Eggs are an egg-cellent eggs-ample of the fusion of modern day riot grrrl with neon bright psychedelic weirdness, and are bringing their fifth album This Is Eggland to Long Divison. Oh, and maybe check out their website – there’s a petition up there to stop ‘fake encores’ from happening in the modern music scene and an entire page dedicated to reminding us all that people are tw*ts. Cracking.

The Lovely Eggs are playing at Long Division on June 2nd at Warehouse 23 at 10.15pm.

Peaness:
With a name that’s toeing the line between cutesy and inappropriate, Peaness are a harmony laden indie pop trio or “pea pop” as they like to call themselves. Spreading “peas and love” through their sunshiney happy-go-lucky vibes, they’ve already played alongside the likes of The Cribs, Muncie Girls and PINS and are definitely on the rise – keep your eyes on these ladies, 2018 could very well be the year they explode onto the UK Music scene.

Peaness are playing at Long Division on June 2nd at The Red Shed at 7.45pm.

Wiyaala:
Ghana’s finest Wiyaala cites Madonna and Tina Turner as two of her biggest influences alongside afro-pop and tribal folk music. Combining songs written in her native Sissala and Waale dialects with English, she has used her voice to speak out against child marriage, poverty and sanitation issues in parts of Africa. Oh and I should probably mention that, as a member of the international all female band GRRRL, she’ll be performing at the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Australia this year. Impressive.

Wiyaala is playing at Long Division on June 2nd at The Red Shed at 8.45pm.

Huge thanks to Jenny at Girls That Gig for her recommendations!

Long Division Festival takes place in Wakefield this weekend, 1st – 3rd June, more info and tickets here.