GIHE: Tracks Of 2021

It’s safe to say 2021 has been a tough one… but if there’s one positive to take away from this year, it’s the immense amount of incredible new music that’s been released! We wanted to shed some light on some of the tunes that got us through the hard times, accompanied the good times, and generally saw us through 2021.

To start our annual round-ups, we’re sharing our ‘Tracks Of 2021’ ahead of features on our favourite albums and ‘highlights’ next week. There’s been a HUGE amount of music released throughout the year, so we haven’t held back with this list! Read about our whopping 43 favourite songs of the year and hit play on our mammoth, super eclectic playlist at the end of this post…

Little Simz – ‘Speed’
Little Simz has done it again, this year’s album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (in my case it’s always) is a total, immense masterpiece. ‘Speed’ is my favourite track on the album, in the same vein as previous faves ‘Boss’ and ‘Offence’, it’s propelled by a gritty, driving energy and Simz’s spot on lyricism, with a touch of orchestral grandeur. The perfect motivational anthem I’ve needed to get me through 2021.
(Mari Lane – Co-Founder)

Planningtorock – ‘Gay Dreams Do Come True’
I was lucky enough to see Planningtorock this year at Scala. It really was so powerful to watch an artist, and a human, express themselves through music, and even more powerful when they opened up about their historic struggles – you can hear their joy and freedom in the music they make today. This track encompasses just that.
(Natasha Walker – Co-Founder)

Halsey – ‘i am not a woman, i’m a god’ (Gazelle Twin Remix)
One of my favourite artists, Gazelle Twin, remixed one of my favourite tracks of the year from Halsey – and I’ve had it on a loop since it was released. Gazelle Twin brings her trademark shadowy energy to this powerful remix and I can’t get enough of it.
(Kate Crudgington – Co-Founder)

Denise Chaila – ‘061’
Another infectious offering from Irish artist Denise Chaila, ‘061’ is propelled by a swirling, gritty drive, showcasing her immense, immersive rap, combining a tongue-in-cheek wit with poignant cultural references. I just love Chaila’s empowering energy and the unashamed confidence of the lyrics: “History made, your children’s children’s children will learn about me…. I’m here to stay, if you hate it you should write to your local MP.”
(ML)

Maria Uzor – ‘Innocence
There is no denying how much we love Maria Uzor on Get In Her Ears – first meeting Maria as part of post-punk dance duo Sink Ya Teeth. I was lucky enough to catch Maria at a last minute gig at The Windmill supporting Black Midi and OH WHAT A NIGHT! The energy that Maria brings to the stage is enough to get anyone’s feet moving and shoulders shifting – this is one of my fave songs from her debut EP Innocence and Worldliness. So excited to see what 2022 has in store for Maria!
(TW)

Sans Soucis – ‘I’m On
An uplifting blend of lush vocals, warm synth textures and smooth beats, songwriter & producer Sans Soucis’ single ‘I’m On’ is a genre-bending reflection on her own experiences of recovering from an extended period of depression, and the joy she experienced when she was able to reconnect with herself again.
(KC)

Self Esteem – ‘I Do This All The Time’
It took me ages to realise that I loved this song. But that’s hardly surprising, is it? ‘I Do This All The Time’ has pretty much reinvented pop. Rebecca Lucy Taylor, also known as Self Esteem, broke every rule to create the most uplifting, empowering song of the year, maybe even the decade. Like a dance-floor pep talk from someone you really care about, the powerful lyrics explore self-love, self-loathing, and that tricky space in-between. I love how Taylor’s rich northern vocals speak so directly to the listener, and the way the verses unexpectedly build to a big, punchy pop chorus, like magic. ‘I Do This All The Time’ is an important song that shows the limitless possibilities of an artist at the height of their creative powers.
(Vic Conway – Contributor)

CIRCE – ‘Mess With Your Head
A glistening dark-pop tune that ruminates on the rush of emotions that come when you surrender yourself to love, I adore this track by London-based artist Circe. Co-produced by Emre Turkmen (formerly Years & Years), ‘Mess With Your Head’ is a dazzling blend of sultry vocals, Kate Bush inspired beats and jagged electronics, flowing in the same cinematic vein as Circe’s previous creations. I love everything she creates and I can’t wait to hear more from her in 2022. 
(KC)

HAVVK – ‘Halfway Out’
Taken from Irish band HAVVK’s epic latest album Levelling, stirring single ‘Halfway Out’ oozes an ethereal splendour as the haunting, celestial power of Julie’s vocals immerses the listener instantly. The whole album intertwines this captivating, twinkling majesty with a grunge-tinged grit throughout, and I’ve been listening to it on repeat this year. I had the pleasure of chatting to front person Julie about the album back in October – have a read of the interview here.
(ML)

Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra – ‘Empty Envelope’
Recommended to me by Fears, Dublin trio Pixie Cut Rhythm Orchestra stole my heart this year. This track ‘Empty Envelope’ is a disarming, brooding lament to the cyclical nature of bad decisions. Vocalist Sarah Deegan delivers cutting lines with a raw and rare type of grace, her lyric “I’m not that sweet” swirls around my skull all the time.
(KC)

Meggie Brown – ‘Dusty Smells’
Taken from their recent EP HOME, ‘Dusty Smells’ was my introduction to London based artist Meggie Brown, and I became a fan instantly. A nostalgia-inducing anthem for anyone struggling with their identity, I love the deadpan-yet-poetic reflections of this track and its scuzzy, lilting musicality. Of ‘Dusty Smells, Meggie Brown – who has recently come out as transgender – explains: “Coming to terms with one’s gender identity has been both beautiful and challenging during this lockdown. When I wrote and recorded ‘Dusty Smells’ I wanted it to match through sound how non-binary those emotions and realisations were.”
(ML)

Trouble Wanted – ‘Lonely Cowgirl’ 
‘Lonely Cowgirl’ comes from a band I had the total pleasure of seeing live at my first gig of 2021. I rocked up to The Shacklewell Arms and was delivered with this sexy, queer, western delight by Trouble Wanted, who are just brilliant live. The video directed by Lydia Garnett (who is also in the band) is such a delight. To set the scene for you all now, “IN A FANTASY ROADSIDE BAR A LONELY COWGIRL AND A DYKE TRUCKER SHARE MORE THAN JUST LUSTY LOOKS.” What a night.
(TW) 

VERO – ‘Beg!’
A seething guitar anthem fuelled by the anger that’s left behind by a flawed relationship, ‘Beg!’ is the debut single from Stockholm-based trio VERO. Released via PNKSLM and one half of an upcoming 7″ single that’s set for release on 14th January, the track is saturated with brooding bass lines, swirling riffs and stinging vocals. I LOVE it and can’t wait to hear more from the trio next year.
(KC)

Bad Waitress – ‘Strawberry Milkshake’
Taken from the Toronto based band’s debut album No Taste, ‘Strawberry Milkshake’ blasts into the ears with pulsating hooks and thrashing beats, as Kali-Ann Butala’s seething vocals soar with a riotous power. I have been obsessed with the album over the last few months, and I cannot wait to hear more from this exciting new band. 
(ML)

M(h)aol – ‘Asking For It’
A vital, lurching anthem that provided a moment for rage and reflection during an overwhelming International Women’s Month back in March, M(h)aol’s ‘Asking For It’ is a damning aural statement that makes listeners think twice before pointing the finger at victims of gender-based violence, instead of directly at their perpetrators.
(KC)

Grandmas House – ‘Always Happy’
A thumping post-punk anthem, ‘Always Happy’ by Bristol trio Grandmas House was a solid GIHE favourite this year. Released via Brace Yourself Records, the track is a raucous juxtaposition of the confident image we project externally to others, when internally we often feel the complete opposite.
(KC)

LibraLibra – ‘Candy Mountain’
This year’s single from total heroes LibraLibra, ‘Candy Mountain’ showcases their knack for creating immense, swirling soundscapes, propelled by the magnificent, angst-driven power and gritty splendour of front woman Beth Cannon’s impassioned vocals. Another wonderfully genre-defying cacophony from the band. Kate and I were lucky enough to catch LibraLibra live at their single launch in November – they really are one of the most exciting bands to see; fizzing with a captivating charisma and riotous energy.
(ML)

Wet Leg – ‘Chaise Longue
Like everyone else with ears, I am OBSESSED with Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg. We caught them at their debut London show at Omeara earlier this year, and it was a joy to listen to their infectious indie anthems. They also walked on stage to ‘Concerning Hobbits’ from The Lord Of The Rings soundtrack, which is an iconic move in itself.
(KC)

ARXX – ‘Deep’
Brighton duo Hanni and Clara – aka ARXX – have been long-term faves of us at GIHE, ever since first blowing us away with their debut EP Daughters Of Daughters back in 2018, and have put on epic live shows for us on numerous occasions. This March, they blasted back into our ears  with ‘Deep’ and it still packs a punch on each listen. An empowering ode to leaving behind all your anxieties and getting what you want, it instantly hits you with its raw, anthemic rush and gritty, sensual prowess. Consistently honing their sound with each offering, impossible to pigeonhole into one genre, ARXX continue to impress us with everything they do and remain one of the most exciting bands I’ve ever come across.
(ML)

Fräulein – ‘Belly’
London-based duo Joni Samuels and Karsten van der Tol – aka Fräulein – are fast becoming the band I’m most excited about. Building with a visceral power to a brooding, immersive cacophony, ‘Belly’ will take you on a fierce sonic journey; an evocative soundscape showcasing this innovative duo’s consistent ability to develop their exquisite musical prowess with each new release. And we’re crossing all our fingers and toes that we’re able to kick off 2022 with Fräulein playing for us on 21st January at The Victoria, along with Breakup Haircut and Naz & Ella – tickets on DICE now!
(ML)

BISHI, Darren Chetty – ‘Good Immigrant’
Multi-instrumentalist and GIHE fave BISHI released her third album Let My Country Awake earlier this year, which this track is taken from. The record explores dual identities and urges listeners to lean into compassion and empathy in a chaotic and disconnected world. BISHI is so supportive of the underground music scene and women in the arts and it was a joy to have her as a guest on our Soho Radio show earlier this year.
(KC)

Wendy Rae Fowler – ‘This Is Not A Love Song’
Taken from her Wendy Rae Fowler’s recently re-released and re-mastered album Warped: Resurrection, ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ offers a truly bewitching soundscape. Oozing a dark, psychedelic allure, it’s propelled by a gritty energy as Wendy’s soaring, bewitching vocals flow against whirring psychedelic hooks and tribal beats, creating a captivating escape from reality.
(ML)

Brimheim – ‘poison fizzing on a tongue’
Mari played this track from Danish artist Brimheim on one of our Soho Radio shows earlier this year and I have been OBSESSED with her music ever since. I cannot wait to hear her new album, the magnificently titled Can’t Hate Myself Into a Different Shape, when it’s released in January next year.
(KC)

Momma – ‘Medicine’
A melodic reflection on the intoxicating power of new romance, this single from New York City four-piece Momma is so, so, SO good! Released via Polyvinyl Record Co. & Lucky Number, the track is an aural headrush centred around the passionate emotions that come with an all-consuming crush, full of hazy vocals and infectious guitar riffs.
(KC)

Bleach Lab – ‘Real Thing’
This Bleach Lab track melts me every time I listen to it. I had a lovely chat with Jenna & Frank about this and their EP, A Calm Sense Of Surrounding, which also makes me a big ball of feelings too. Read here.
(KC)

Beckie Margaret – ‘FF’ 
Beckie Margaret’s ‘FF’ was Inspired by the Bob Marley quote “I don’t have that type of richness. My richness is life, forever.” Released via Cool Thing Records, her voice dissolves me every time I hear it, and this lush, atmospheric offering is no exception.
(KC)

Okay Kaya – ‘If I can Help Somebody’
Okay Kaya was the last person I saw before lockdown 2020 at SET in Dalston, so I was over the moon when I saw she had released some new music. ‘If I can Help Somebody’ is the lead single from her mixtape The Incompatible Okay Kaya (out now on Jagjaguwar). This cover strips back the song we normally hear performed with a gospel choir, and if you listen really closely, you can almost hear the emotion about to break in her voice. What a voice; what gentleness. 
(TW)

Elodie Gervaise – ‘Free Babe
Here is one of my fave discoveries of 2021: mixed beats, intricate synths and electronics… I think when I first played this song I described it as some kind of audible light show. From French-Australian artist, Elodie Gervaise, whose new EP, Syzygy (undoubtedly my word sound of the year), is great – so go listen if you haven’t heard it yet!
(TW)

KIN – ‘The Runaways’
Consisting of Grace, Adam and Ritu, GIHE faves KIN have previously played live for us and continue to charm our ears with their glistening alt-pop. Reflecting on the mixed feelings of leaving a settled life and starting afresh somewhere new, ‘The Runaways’ showcases the distinctive celestial allure of Grace’s vocals alongside chiming hooks and a shimmering energy. ‘The Runaways’ is accompanied by a really beautiful self-directed video which you can watch here.
(ML)

Duval Timothy ft. Lil Silva & Melanie Faye – ‘Fall Again
I am totally obsessed and in love with this song. Rhythmic piano to start, before it slowly layers and builds, with hazy gentle vocals sweeping over the top such a dreamy sonic soundscape that feels so good in my ears.
(TW)

Mai – ‘Control’
An evocative electronic gem that urges listeners to surrender to the inevitability of change, I love Essex-based musician & vocalist Mai’s  debut single ‘Control’. Released via Cool Thing Records, the track is a collaboration between Mai aka Rosie Gulliver of Petty Phase, and songwriter and producer Liam Watkins from A Cause In Distress.
(KC)

O Hell – ‘Down’
After years spent touring and recording music in alternative bands around the UK, Lucy Sheehan ventured into fresh sonic territory under new moniker O Hell earlier this year. Influenced by a love of eclectic, brooding soundscapes and aspirations for pure self-autonomy, their debut single ‘Down’ is an “exercise in refusing compromise” brimming with Sheehan’s distinctive vocals and jagged electronics.
(KC)

Tirzah – Tectonic
No surprises that Tirzah made it onto my 2021 list. Anyone who has asked what I’ve been listening to over the last couple of years, will have consistently had one answer – TIRZAH. Her album Colourgrade came out this autumn and I got to see her not once by twice – totally mesmerising. This song ‘Tectonic’ is one of my faves; totally hypnotic, discordant drones, rough vocals and mixed together with that intensity we all know and love from Tirzah. And don’t even get me started on the lyrics.
(TW)

Alex Loveless – ‘Phone Keys Wallet’
I had this lo-fi, sultry single on repeat when Hackney-based musician Alex Loveless shared it earlier this year. Recorded, mixed and produced entirely by Loveless, the track is lifted from their debut EP of the same name.
(KC)

F.R.U.I.T.Y – ‘U.P.S’
Taken from their eponymous debut EP which was released in August this year, ‘U.P.S. from Belfast-based queer artist Dan O’Rawe – aka F.R.U.I.T.Y – is propelled by off-kilter glitchy beats and offers a wonderfully quirky, futuristic soundscape whilst reflecting on themes of identity in O’Rawe’s trademark deadpan Northern Irish drawl. A perfect soundtrack to woozy summer evenings, which I’m missing a lot right now…
(ML)

FLOSSING – ‘SWITCH’
FLOSSING is the new project from Heather Elle, formerly of Bodega and The Wants. I love her candid, moody sound on ‘SWITCH’, which explores her own sexuality and “the deviant nature of men.” If you like what you hear, you should check out her EP, Queen Of The Mall, too.
(KC)

Evil House Party – ‘Head Held High’
I love this captivating synth-pop tune from Copenhagen-based duo Evil House Party. Taken from their debut EP Grand Theft Audio, the track is a heady reflection on personal uncertainty, lamenting the struggle of trying to survive in the real world whilst also trying to fulfil your dreams.
(KC)

DROWND – ‘Sinner’ (KANGA Remix)
I’m a big fan of KANGA’s industrial, pop-tinged sounds and I am obsessed with her remix of DROWND’s track ‘Sinner’. Full disclosure – DROWND is the new project of my older brother Joe – and I am thrilled that KANGA has remixed this track for him, as he is also a big fan of her work. You can check out the slick visuals for the original DROWND track here.
(KC)

SPIDER – ‘Water Sign’
A slow-burning, dark-pop tune that ripples with sultry power, I’m a big fan of this single from Irish-born, London-based musician and producer SPIDER. Filled with atmospheric synth textures and heady beats, ‘Water Sign’ is inspired by the Goddess Olokun of the Nigerian bini tribe, who presides over the darkest depths of the ocean.
(KC)

John Glacier – ‘Icing’  
This song comes in at just under two minutes and leaves me gaggin, gasping for more… It is by elusive East London vocalist John Glacier, taken from her 12-track project SHILOH: Lost For Words, released earlier this year. Be sure to pay attention because this track is over almost as soon as it starts. 
(TW)

Flowerkid – ‘I Met The Devil At 4 Years Old
This song comes from Sydney-based Flowerkid, and is taken from his much-anticipated debut EP, Everyone Has A Breaking Point. The EP covers many personal issues and topics, from gender dysphoria, to mental health a misogyny – seeking true self-expression beyond ever-restricting heteronormative constraints. Cannot argue with that. It’s also a tune.
(TW)

Fears – ‘fabric’
Irish musician Fears was fearless in her musical efforts this year, releasing her debut album Oiche via her own label TULLE Collective, drumming & touring with M(h)aol and still finding time to chat to us on our radio show. I love the cyclical, buoyant synth loops on this track ‘Fabric’, which mirror intrusive or recurring thought patterns, whilst her lyrics capture the mental push-and-pull of processing, accepting and learning to let things go.
(KC)

Shamir – ‘Cisgender’
​​I’ve been a fan of Shamir for years and really admire how they’re constantly developing their sound and not shying away from being their true self. And this year’s ‘Cisgender’ is a beautiful and moving reflection on their non binary identity. I don’t think anything I say about this track will do Shamir justice, so I’ll leave you with the lyrics: “I’m not cisgender / I’m not binary trans / I don’t wanna be a girl / I don’t wanna be a man / I’m just existing on this god forsaken land.” Solidarity and love to you Shamir, always.
(ML)

Massive thanks to all the artists and bands creating wonderful tunes this year! Keep an eye out for our Albums Of The Year, 2021 Highlights and Ones To Watch for next year, and listen to our Tracks Of 2021 playlist now:




GIHE: Tracks Of 2020

It feels strange to be celebrating anything in 2020, but the GIHE team want to shine a light on some of the brilliant music that’s been released against the odds during the last 12 months. If you or your band managed to release some music this year – congratulations! You should be super proud. If you didn’t manage to write anything new this year though, we fully understand and we’ll still be here to sing your praises when you feel ready to write again.

Following our album round-up yesterday, today we share our ‘top tracks’ of 2020. As you can tell, we haven’t held back, as there’s just been so much amazing music released this year that we felt deserved a mention. So, read about our forty two favourite songs of the year (told you we weren’t holding back!), and then hit play on our mammoth, and super eclectic, playlist at the end of this post….

HAWXX – ‘Deadlands’
Having previously blown us away with their immense live show, heavy rockers HAWXX this year released their epic four track debut Deadlands. And the immense title track has been on heavy rotation around my ears since first hearing it back in May. With an explosive frenzied energy propelling raging hooks and the seething vocals of front woman Anna Papadimitriou, it’s an utterly compelling whirlwind; a fantastically fierce accompaniment to the chaos of 2020.
(Mari Lane: Co-Founder/Managing Editor) 

Vulpynes – ‘Sister’
Having been majorly disappointed when we had to cancel our April gig at The Finsbury that Dublin duo Vulpynes were set to headline, it came as some consolation that they released a perfectly riotous EP Us Against Them later in the year. Taken from the EP, ‘Sister’ is a powerful ode to ‘pseudo sisterhood’. Propelled by Molly’s raw, impassioned vocals, it oozes an immense sense of urgency amid a seething eerie underlying force. With swirling, reverb-strewn hooks and pounding primal beats, it’s a fantastically fierce, empowered slice of ferocious rock magnificence.
(ML)

Guitar Gabby/The Txlips – ‘The Dead Pool’
With a mission to change the narrative in which the music industry showcases women, Atlanta based Guitar Gabby and The Txlips partner with Girls Rock Camps internationally and nationally to bring classes about home recording, equipment set up, copyright law and more to young girls. Taken from their explosive album Prison Of Life, ‘The Dead Pool’ is filled with scuzzed out riffs as Gabriella Logan’s seething growl soars. Oozing a gritty emotion, it’s a ferocious, empowering anthem; a completely necessary angst-driven offering for these strange times.
(ML)

Problem Patterns – ‘Sell By Date’
Taken from The Fight Is Not Over – a collaborative record with songs from Strange New Places, Gender Chores and Sister Ghost, in addition to Problem Patterns – ‘Sell By Date’ is a perfectly raging anthem rallying against societal gender norms and the pressures and expectations put on women of a certain age to have children (something I relate to HARD). Propelled by an empowering seething energy, it’s a frenzied fist-clencher that leaves me longing to witness it in all its live glory. The Fight Is Not Over addresses the need to continue pushing for more inclusive and diverse spaces and was recorded by Rocky O’Reilly to raise money for  The 343, an Artist-Focused, Feminist-led, Queer Arts Space in East Belfast. Read our interview with the four bands and find out more about the project here.
(ML)

New Pagans – ‘Yellow Room’
I love it when my feminist literature and new music worlds collide! Inspired by the semi-autobiographical short-story The Yellow Wallpaper by American author Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Belfast-based New Pagans’ penned ‘Yellow Room’ to highlight the need for a specialised parent-and-baby mental health unit in Northern Ireland. Through the medium of Gilmans’ text, the band explore the isolation faced by new mothers, with Lyndsey McDougall’s urgent vocals leading the way. I loved listening to the band’s EP Glacial Erratic earlier this year too and I can’t wait to hear more from them in 2021.
(Kate Crudgington: Co-Founder/Features Editor)

LIINES – ‘Sorry’
Having received acclaim from the likes of Sleaford Mods, John Kennedy and BBC 6Music’s Steve Lamacq, as well as blowing us away headlining for us at The Finsbury, Manchester trio LIINES consistently impress with their distinctive, raw post-punk. Oozing the band’s trademark dark, brooding power, ‘Sorry’ builds with deep, intense bass lines, the gritty, commanding growl of vocalist Zoe McVeigh and Leila O’Sullivan’s consistent pummelling beats. Propelled by a thrashing sense of urgency, it’ll captivate the ears with its punk-fuelled bewitching allure.
‘Sorry’ is out now (with B side ‘On and On’) via Reckless Yes.
(ML)

Tiger Mimic – ‘Where The Fire Used To Be’
Disappointed that we had to cancel what would have been their debut gig for us in April, we were glad to hear Tiger Mimic’s new releases this year. Propelled by a driving energy, ‘Where The Fire Used To Be’ blasts out racing riffs alongside the soaring splendour of front woman Jess’ striking vocals. Building to an immense climax, it offers a sense of hope in these seemingly hopeless times, reassuring us that “the whole world will start over in the spring”.
(ML)

Bitch Hunt – ‘Spaceman’
Since forming at First Timers Fest, London based all queer/non-binary band Bitch Hunt have been going from strength to strength; last October impressing us at GIHE us with their immense live set at The Finsbury. Taken from a split cassette that they released with fellow faves adults earlier this year, ‘Spaceman’ is an observational and relatable slice of punk-pop. With Bitch Hunt’s trademark impassioned energy and swirling harmonies, it’s a spot-on reflection on the sickening arrogance of all those cis male ‘splainers and ‘spreaders we so often have to endure in our day to day lives.
(ML)

Porridge Radio – ‘7 Seconds’
In a year where so much went wrong, watching the unstoppable rise of Porridge Radio felt so right. With ‘7 Seconds’ the band moved away from the guitar-heavy sound of their Mercury-nominated album, Every Bad, towards alternative ’80s synths. The result is reassuringly nostalgic, like it’s jumped from the soundtrack of a badass John Hughes film; melancholic, but still upbeat and unbelievably catchy.I’m in love with front-person and songwriter Dana Margolin’s voice. Bold and strong, but vulnerable too, they sing of wasting, waiting and rising above it all. Against the backdrop of a rather tedious few months, ‘7 Seconds’ feels hopeful and exciting. When it comes on the radio, as it frequently has, I feel a little jolt of electricity run through my veins. And it’s a jolt that’s wired straight to my heart, mind… and my feet. The song – and the band – are something very special, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
(Vic Conway: Contributor)

CMAT – ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!’
“Always the cowboy, never the cow / I hate the way my life turned out” might just be the lyric of 2020, provided by Irish pop sensation CMAT. “[The song is] based around a VINE that was really popular from a couple of years ago of a load of guys drinking cans outside in a playground saying “I wanna be a cowboy baby!,” CMAT explained when we spoke to her about the single in September. The popstar has a talent for taking obscure scenarios and molding them into intensely relatable, catchy pop tunes and ‘I Wanna Be a Cowboy, Baby!’ is a charming slice of  Americana-tinged pop that laments the struggles of urban isolation.
(KC)

Kynsy – ‘Cold Blue Light’
Based on her own experience of being at a New Years Eve party watching a man spout racist remarks, Dublin-based multi-instrumentalist Kynsy’s single ‘Cold Blue Light’ is a dark synth-pop gem that oozes with defiant attitude. I love her genre-blending sounds and I’m excited to hear more from her in 2021.
(KC)

Jessica Winter – ‘Sad Music’
This is the title track from Queen of sad bangers Jessica Winter’s debut EP, and it’s an electro-pop gem. Inspired by the need to relieve heartbreak through the medium of music, Winter effortlessly blends elements of electronica, pop, R&B and industrial music to create her intensely dance-able sounds. I pranced around my bedroom miming to ‘Sad Music’ for most of Lockdown 1.0.
(KC)

Husk – ‘Heal With Time’
One of our favourite discoveries of 2020, Manchester-based trans non-binary artist HUSK creates uptempo pop gems. Released in the summer, ‘Heal With Time’ oozes a celebratory sound juxtaposed with a poignant, reflective lyricism. Propelled by ’80s-inspired glistening hooks and synth-soaked uplifting summer vibes, it’s a vibrant, danceable anthem, shimmering with a sparkling empowering energy.
(ML)

Kadija Kamara – ‘Best Moves’
Even in uncertain times, London-based songwriter Kadija Kamara remains focused on her ‘Best Moves’. On this single, she calmly reminds listeners to own their “magic” and recognise the value of their own work, reassuring them with her warm beats, grooving bass lines and smooth vocals. With a sound best described as “alt-soul” which combines her love of ’60s and ’70s analogue sounds, Kadija’s passion for nostalgia permeates her musical output.
(KC)

Evil House Party – ‘Wicked’
An intoxicating blend of hazy vocals and sultry synths, Evil House Party’s debut single smoulders with the intensity of a hot summer night fuelled by Bonnie & Clyde-esque musings. ‘Wicked’ is a “bittersweet revenge pop anthem” that seduces listeners with its yearning vocals and heady beats.
(KC)

CIRCE – ‘Ten Girls’
London based dark-pop artist Circe is inspired by the films of David Lynch, the brutality of Margaret Atwood’s fiction, the soundtrack to Stranger Things and Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo & JulietThis single ‘Ten Girls’  takes its title from a quote from The Handmaid’s Tale. Of the track, Circe explains: “[Atwood’s novel] is a poetic but disturbing view of women living in a dystopian oppressive world. This chimes with my own fractured generation of cancel culture, swipes of sex, and revenge porn.” I’m obsessed with Circe’s debut EP She’s Made Of Saints, which is full of sweeping, cinematic gems.
(KC)

Notelle – ‘Bugs’
I love the industrial-tinged production and wispy vocals on Nashville-based “nightmare-pop” artist Notelle’s single ‘Bugs’. She wrote this song after a break-up when she felt like part of her ex was still invading her body and it’s an intoxicating, feverish effort to rid herself of this unwanted sensation.|
(KC)

Noga Erez – ‘You So Done’
A resilient, emotionally charged offering from an uncompromising artist, Noga Erez’s single ‘You So Done’ delves deep into the memories left behind by a toxic relationship. Far removed from the joviality of her lockdown inspired single ‘NO News On TV’, Erez channelled her fears, frustrations and un-nerving flashbacks into this track, which radiates with artistic confidence. Accompanied by a stunning set of visuals directed by Indy Hait, also featuring her musical partner Ori Rousso, the Tel Aviv-based artist continues to blow us away with her mesmerising musical accomplishments.
(KC)

Eilis Frawley – ‘Stats’
Taken from her incredible EP Adult Life, Eilis Frawley’s ‘Stats’ is one of the most stunning and necessary listens of 2020. Offering a completely unique soundscape from the classically trained percussionist, it combines arresting drum-beats with Krautrock-infused spoken word, as the lyrics see Frawley recite 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. A poignant protest song that you can dance to. Adult Life is out now via Reckless Yes.  
(ML)

Princess Nokia – ‘Sugar Honey Iced Tea (S.H.I.T)’
Openly queer rapper and all round inspiration, Destiny Nicole Frasqueri – aka Princess Nokia – writes powerful, feminist anthems promoting self love and raging against the patriarchy. Fusing together infectious beats and a powerful, angst-driven energy, along with her trademark tongue-in-cheek wit, with ‘S.H.I.T’ Princess Nokia once again offers an empowering and playful presence in these times when pushing for change is so important.
(ML)

Æ Mak feat. Seba Safe – ‘i dance in the kitchen’
Joyfully schooling listeners how to make uplifting kitsch-pop tunes under the strangest of circumstances, Irish artist Æ MAK’s single ‘i dance in the kitchen’ was made with “100% childsplay and solo belly laughs.” Featuring the vocals of fellow Irish artist Seba Safe, the track is lifted from her EP how to: make a kitsch pop song to show the world, which she produced from home during Lockdown 1.0. I loved bopping around my bedroom to this record and of course, dancing in the kitchen to it too.
(KC)

Lido Pimienta – ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’
No-one else makes electronic music sound as warm and meaningful as Colombian-born, Toronto-based artist Lido Pimienta does. This track ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’ (translated roughly as ‘That Thing You Do’) is one of many triumphant singles lifted from Pimienta’s Grammy-nominated album Miss Colombia, which is a vivid celebration and criticism of her Colombian heritage. I have spent many an hour marvelling at the artwork on this record and singing along to my baby pink vinyl, despite knowing only three words in Spanish.
(KC)

Eckoes – ‘The Light’
Having dazzled us playing live at The Finsbury a few years back, London-based Eckoes consistently creates beautiful, soothing soundscapes. Filled with strobing synths and shimmering guitars, ‘The Light’ showcases the truly spellbinding power of Eckoes’ soaring vocals, as it lulls the listener into a cathartic sense of hypnosis with its alluring grace. A truly captivating offering from an artist on the rise.
(ML) 

Serena Isioma – ‘King’
Chicago-based musician Serena Isioma’s single ‘King’ is full of seductive beats and brooding bass lines. It’s a shimmering reflection on the problematic friendships 20-year old Isioma has found themselves in. “’King’ is about remembering your worth,” the songwriter explains. Isioma’s latest EP The Leo Sun Sets is every bit as poignant and dreamy as this single.
(KC)

Despicable Zee – ‘We Won’t Stop’ (Tiiva Remix)
A captivating, left-field electronic exploration of dual heritage, motherhood and self-autonomy, Oxford-based drummer and producer Despicable Zee (aka Zahra Haji Fath Ali Tehrani) released her third EP Atigheh in 2019. This year, with the help of an eclectic mix of collaborators, Zee shared a remix of the recording titled Atigheh Reimagined, which opened with this track by Tiiva. Keeping the hypnotic qualities of the original, Tiiva’s treatment of  ‘We Won’t Stop’ fuses smooth, breathy vocals together with dense yet ambient beats. I can’t recommend listening to this EP enough, it also features collaborations with Tiece, Planningtorock and Young Knives.
(KC)

MJ Guider – ‘FM Secure’
Lifted from her album Sour Cherry Bell, MJ Guider’s shadowy single ‘FM Secure’ is permeated by murky industrial sounds and atmospheric, beguiling vocals. Based in New Orleans, MJ Guider (aka Melissa Guion) blends elements of shoegaze, gothic pop and industrial sounds to create her hypnotic music. On Sour Cherry Bell, Guider explored power dynamics and the notion of “lost and found” and these musings extended to ‘FM Secure’, its ominous glow intensifying with each listen.
(KC)

Two Tribes – ‘Cruel Sensuality’
Full of commanding beats, jagged synths and soaring vocals, Two Tribes‘ single ‘Cruel Sensuality’ is a cathartic oscillation between emotional resilience and the unexpected apathy that comes with the ending of a relationship. Taken from their upcoming EP, which is set for release in 2021, the London-based trio blend vivid electronic textures with jolting rhythms to create an anthemic new sound. This is a grade A BANGER.
(KC)

Kelly Lee Owens – ‘L.I.N.E’
I could have picked any track from Kelly Lee Owens’ second album, Inner Song, having listened to it on repeat so often that it’s become like listening to one continuous ambient epic.  ‘L.I.N.E.’ stands out, as the most deeply emotional song on the album, and because it gives some exposure to Owens’ vocals, also a central feature of  ‘Luminous Spaces’, her collaboration with Jon Hopkins, and one of my favourites from last year .  It’s also a reflection of how much more electronic music I’ve listened to lately (other notable acts from the last 18 months have included Peggy Gou, Bicep, and HAAi).  It could be that I’ve missed the old days of being out and about, at venues packed with bodies, light and sound – but I also think there’s something valuable in the (often) unspoken emotion of electronic music at a time when connections between us all have been strained.  Given the domestic nature of much of recent times, and paraphrasing a Jarvis Cocker single from 2020, I’ve been listening to House Music all year long.
(John McGovern: Contributor)

Grawl!x – ‘Epicene’
Having headlined the last gig we held at The Finsbury before the world changed forever, Grawl!x creates euphoric cinematic soundscapes filled with twinkling electronic hooks and spellbinding harmonies. Characterised by Maria’s distinctive impassioned vocals and a poignant stirring emotion, each offering from the Derby-based artist is utterly captivating.
‘Epicene’ is taken from Grawl!x’s album Peeps, out now via Reckless Yes.
(ML)

Penelope Trappes – ‘Eel Drip’
A goose bump inducing electronic soundscape, ‘Eel Drip’ is the title track from London-based, Australian-born artist Penelope Trappes’ most recent EP. It’s a dark, delicate rumination on accepting the inevitability that our lives will all be touched by death at some point. Through her arpeggiated electronics and beguiling vocals, Trappes extrapolates on these themes and invites her listeners to experience the comfort and the catharsis that comes with this acceptance.
(KC)

Mentrix – ‘Walk’
Born in Iran but now based in Berlin, Mentrix (aka Samar Rad) blends her experiences of eastern and western culture along with traditional Sufi instrumentation to create her beguiling, bold soundscapes. ‘Walk’ is full of captivating vocals, atmospheric electronics and commanding percussion. It’s taken from her debut album, My Enemy, My Love, which is a powerful exploration of female resilience, independence and what happens when women are caught between two cultures, each filled with their own flaws and freedoms. It’s a stunning record and this track is a definite highlight.
(KC)

Blonde Maze – ‘Not All Flowers Bloom’
Having been a huge fan of New York artist and previous guest on our radio show Blonde Maze for a long while now, it was wonderful to hear her new releases this year. Reflecting on the realisation that even though something is beautiful, it may not last forever, ‘Not All Flowers Bloom’ is a truly euphoric slice of electro-pop. A perfect example of Blonde Maze’s knack for creating exquisite soundscapes. I could listen to everything she creates on a loop forever; it’s just so completely calming and blissfully cathartic.
(ML)

CATBEAR – ‘Girl Crush’
A dreamy electro-pop rumination about wanting a friendship to develop into something more romantic, London-based queer duo CATBEAR’s single ‘Girl Crush’ was written during Lockdown 1.0. Recorded and produced in Zoe  Konez’s home studio in Brixton, the single is a completely DIY affair, with Sarah Smith laying down her vocals in her spare room wardrobe. The pair playfully ponder the “could-have-beens and what ifs” when it comes to thinking about that certain someone. Their charming pop creations were a welcome distraction for those caught up in a crush during unusual times.
(KC)

Ellis – ‘Fall Apart’
Released in early January, Canada’s alt-indie angel Ellis released this swirling single. Dawning at a time of blissful ignorance during a quiet moment before the storm to come, Ellis couldn’t have anticipated the level of comfort ‘Fall Apart’ would bring to her listeners in 2020. With dreamy, personal moments illustrated so softly, Ellis’ peaceful scenes of whispers under sheets served as a euphoric escape that also acknowledged hardship through self-awareness. Both humility and hesitation are felt through Ellis’ symbolism of what it means to accidentally fall apart. Her delicate depictions and flustered lyrics are realities felt by so many. Hushed vocals and warm guitar tones embody the closeness and tenderness that ‘Fall Apart’ illuminates. A nostalgic essence is met with a small amount of weariness that captivates the complexity and fear of being unconditionally seen by another, even on our worst days. In an uncertain time it has served as a utopian narrative of relatability and release. Ellis’ ‘Fall Apart’ is a therapeutic moment that exists in a cloudy sky, gloomy, but kissed by the sun.
(Jill Goyeau: Contributor)

Talking Violet – ‘Indigo’
Canadian band Talking Violet’s first single in two years,  ‘Indigo’ offers an ethereal dreamscape oozing a shimmering haze and immersive shoegaze-tinged hooks. Flowing with the Cocteau Twins-esque vocals of front woman Jill Goyeau, and swooping other-worldly melodies, it’s an utter sonic delight. A truly immersive listen that’ll leave you longing for more. (Jill also happens to be an excellent writer for us at GIHE!)
(ML)

ARXX – ‘Call Me Crazy’
Following the release of last year’s EP Wrong Girl Honey, and 2018’s debut Daughters Of Daughters, total faves ARXX this year returned to our ears with ‘Call Me Crazy’. Whilst it may be a bit of a change in tone for the Brighton duo, it loses none of the emotion-strewn power we’ve come to know and love. Showcasing Hanni and Clara’s more reflective side, it offers a heartfelt offering reflecting on mental health struggles, at a time when this topic is more resonant than ever before. Whilst dealing with an affecting subject, however, ARXX manage to create a truly uplifting and instantly catchy empowering anthem.
(ML)

Emma Kupa – ‘Nawlins’
Already a big fan of her band Mammoth Penguins, I’m no less in love with Emma Kupa’s solo material. Taken from this year’s beautiful album It Will Come Easier, ‘Nawlins’ flows with lilting, folk-strewn melodies and Kupa’s distinctive raw vocals. Filled with a heartfelt lyrical storytelling and euphoric uptempo musicality, it builds with glistening hooks to a stirring slice of perfect indie-pop. It Will Come Easier is out now via Fika Recordings.
(ML)

Captain Handsome – ‘Halloween’
Taken from Captain Handsome’s debut EP I Am Not An Animal, ‘Halloween’ flows with silky-smooth vocals and a twinkling, stripped-back musicality. With its delicate lo-fi scuzz and tongue-in-cheek relatable lyricism (“It was halloween, I was 24, I had a bad time on the bathroom floor”), it’s a sensitive, yet not sentimental, effervescent offering. Captain Handsome is the solo project of Lily from Fightmilk, and her EP I Am Not An Animal was released in January via Reckless Yes.
(ML)

Finish Flag – ‘Garden’
Having first fallen in love with Finish Flag when they played for us live at The Finsbury last summer, this year their album Swimming Pools has provided a lot of comfort. Taken from the album, ‘Garden’ flows with twinkling hooks and luscious harmonies, creating a dreamy slice of lo-fi indie-pop. Another band who I’ve sought soothing catharsis in throughout 2020, I bought Finish Flag’s beautiful pink vinyl on bandcamp day a couple of months ago, and I recommend you do the same.
(ML)

Gold Baby – ‘Versaille’
Having been following Gold Baby for some time now, last year front woman Siân Alex joined forces with Sara Kleppe and Scott Hislop to form the band as we know them today. And it’s been wonderful to see them go from strength to strength. Recent single ‘Versailles’ showcases all there is to love about them. With shimmering guitars and swooning melodies flowing alongside Siân’s luscious, crystalline vocals, it oozes a stirring heartfelt emotion. A beautifully rich slice of melancholy dream-pop.
(ML)

LibraLibra – Listerine
Brighton-based LibraLibra have been firm favourites of GIHE for a couple of years, never ceasing to impress. And this year they released their phenomenal debut EP Hail Mary. Taken from the EP, ‘Listerine’ is a step away from the usual high energy riotous cacophonies of previous releases. Showcasing the incredible soaring splendour and versatility of front woman Beth Cannon’s vocals with an almost operatic force, it builds to a magnificent, immense anthem of self-realisation.
Hail Mary is available on bandcamp now.
(ML)

Beckie Margaret – ‘God’
Essex-based songwriter Beckie Margaret has a flawless voice and a talent for writing beautifully bruising lyrics, something that her single ‘God’ showcases perfectly. I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear when I first listened to this track, which is a cinematic reflection on unreciprocated love. Margaret releases through Cool Thing Records, who are a collective of people who absolutely love the music they’re making and promoting. It’s always a good day when an email about one of their artists appears at the top of my GIHE inbox.
(KC)

Massive thanks to all the artists and bands creating wonderful tunes this year! Keep an eye out for our Ones To Watch for next year, and listen to our Tracks Of 2020 playlist now:

Tracks Of The Year 2017

As Time Magazine recently called it, 2017 is the year of The Silence Breakers, and us Get In Her Ears girls are here to support the women who are making all the right kinds of noise.

It has been increasingly difficult to absorb and process daily news stories about women and girls who have been sexually assaulted and raped by powerful men who (wrongly) assumed they would get away with it. Women from all walks of life started to use the #MeToo campaign to document their experiences of sexual harassment and assault earlier this year, and since then perpetrators have been called out, shamed, and fired – though few have apologised for their actions.

Whilst we can’t seem to stem the flow of pain caused by stories of inherent societal sexism, or the tories’ budget cuts to vital women’s services here in the UK, we can provide some respite in the form of some of our favourite immensely talented, informed, brilliant female musicians. These are the women who rocked our world in 2017 – we’d be lost without their precious anthems. Take a look at our top tracks below…

The Nyx – ‘Fire Breathing Lady’
Exuding their intense, raucous energy The Nyx deliver immense, electrifying offerings. Fuelled by a seething passion, ‘Fire Breathing Lady’ hits you with its fierce, empowering force like nothing you’ve heard before. I’ve had this track on repeat throughout the year – its thrashing power having seen me through the trials and tribulations of 2017, and marking these exceptional women out as a real force to be reckoned with. So, turn up the riotous sound of ‘Fire Breathing Lady’ and celebrate your womanly powers in all their glory. (Mari Lane)

Nova Twins – ‘Mood Swings’
Driven by devious and distorted basslines, Nova Twins (aka Amy & Georgia) have unmatchable attitude and instinct for writing anarchic anthems, and ‘Mood Swings’ is a warped reflection of swift emotional shifts that will be buzzing around your brain long after it’s stopped playing.
(Kate Crudgington)

Sink Ya Teeth – ‘If You See Me’
‘If You See Me’ was the debut single from Sink Ya Teeth who signed to James Endeacott’s 1965 Records this year. The track is drenched in addictive beats and nods to post-punk royalty ESG. A particular highlight for me was watching Sink Ya Teeth perform this live at one of our Finsbury nights; catch them if you can, these guys are worth seeing live. (Tash Walker)

Lizzo – ‘Water Me’
I’ve been in love with (queen) Lizzo for some time… I was completely obsessed with the uplifting wit of her 2014 track ‘Batches And Cookies’. And I’ve been equally head over heels with this year’s ‘Water Me’. A super empowering anthem, it’s filled with immense hooks and the completely infectious, invigorating chorus as Lizzo repeats “I am my inspiration”. Lizzo explains of the track: It’s about needing nourishment, it’s about being loved for who you are. We’re celebrating black beauty and the meaningful freedom of water.” So, nourish yourself, inspire yourself, and fall in love with Lizzo’s ‘Water Me’. (ML)

Smerz – ‘Because’
Low slung rhythms, crunching beats and those ever so distinctive vocals, Because in short is some of the best obscure techno-pop around. Copenhagen based duo delivering distorted electro tracks, a perfect mix of minimal futurism and experimental nostalgia. I’m so into this track, it makes me feel like I want to don a heavy orange bomber jacket, an East 17 style beanie and head down to some industrial rave in a warehouse and two-step the night. (TW)

Dream Wife – ‘Let’s Make Out’
It was difficult to choose a specific Dream Wife track this year, as both ‘Somebody’ and ‘Let’s Make Out’ were equally as catchy and important as each other. Whilst ‘Somebody’ addresses victim-blaming and the shame around sexual assault, ‘Let’s Make Out’ is a shamelessly confident anthem about acting on your own consensual desires. I was fortunate enough to be on set during the video shoot, and it was a real joy to watch the band and their friends dance around at fake prom, living their best lives. (KC)

Queen Zee – ‘Boy’
I’m hooked on Liverpool punk sass-perts Queen Zee. ‘Boy’ is the first track of theirs that reached my ears, and it’s an anthem for trans-gender rockers and their allies who refuse to be oppressed by transphobic or homophobic attitudes.(KC)

The Orielles – Sugar Tastes Like Salt
In case you haven’t noticed, The Orielles have had the title of my favourite band for a while now. I named them as Ones To Watch last year, and it seems they’ve lived up to that title – having wowed crowds at festivals this summer (including a wonderful set at Green Man), become a BBC 6 Music favourite and received acclaim from the likes of The Guardian , as well as many other esteemed publications.

Though I’m a fan of everything they have to offer, this year’s ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ is a truly epic creation. Racing with pounding beats, scuzzy hooks, jangly melodies and woozy vocals, Sid, Esmé and Henry show they’re capable of greatness with this dreamy offering. At just over eight minutes long, it truly is an anthem in every sense of the word. An anthem heralding the arrival of The Orielles into the ears of masses. The band’s first release on Heavenly Recordings, ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ is a magnificent, clattering cacophony; a frenzied fusion of sounds that takes you on a musical adventure into the minds of its creators. (ML)

Madame So – ‘Black Is Beautiful’
London-based promoters LOUD WOMEN released their first compilation CD this year (buy a copy here), and Madame So gifted them with this superb track. ‘Black Is Beautiful’ is a poignant song about race, identity, and doing things for yourself. Her lyrics and unique voice move me each time I listen (and I love her reference to The Cure). (KC)

Amparo – ‘Reset’
If I could…I would have chosen everything that Amparo has released this year, constantly creating such beautiful dreamy soundscapes but if forced (and I am being forced) I’d go with ‘Reset’. A firm favourite of mine taken from Amparo’s EP Isolated Islands which has a melodic-chill atmosphere created with the idea of being enjoyed whilst exploring the outdoors. Absolutely excellent listening. (TW)

 

Beckie Margaret – ‘At Home (Where I Write)’
Cool Thing Records introduced me to Beckie Margaret in late 2016, and I’ve been mesmerised by her ever since. She has such a pure, faultless voice and it was a pleasure to interview her before her debut London show at The Waiting Room in October of this year. This is her second single, following on from ‘Cars & Catacombs’ and it’s totally divine. (KC)

Noga Erez – ‘Dance While You Shoot’ 
A sheer force to be reckoned with, if ever there was one, Tel Aviv artist Noga Erez has blown me away with her immense arrival into our ears (and eyes at Visions Festival!) this year. An utterly compelling performer, she oozes an hypnotic elegance as she delivers the glitchy, sweeping cacophony of ‘Dance While You Shoot’. In this utterly infectious track, Erez combines a magnetising grace with with a fiery, frenzied power; cementing herself firmly as one of the most exciting artists around, and a simply stunning performer. (ML)