PLAYLIST: February 2021

We’ve made it through the first two months of 2021! Despite the current lockdown here in the UK, the GIHE team have been busy unearthing more new music gems to help you get through these long and tedious days. We’ve put together an eclectic mix of alt-pop gems, atmospheric electronics and gritty guitar tunes on our February playlist.

Take some time to scroll through our track choices below and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of this post. Follow GIHE on Spotify to hear all of our previous playlists too.

 

Scrounge – ‘Leaking Drains’
The new single from South East London duo Lucy and Luke – aka Scrounge – ‘Leaking Drains’ offers a stark soundscape reflecting on the state of society at the moment. Propelled by Lucy’s raw, snarling vocals and slashing guitar alongside Luke’s immense, thrashing beats, it builds to a colossal cacophony before coming to a disconcerting, abrupt end – only adding to the stirring tension that has built up throughout. Oozing a ferocious power, the duo have created something that is striking both in its jarring potency and rage-driven force.
(Mari Lane)

HAVVK – ‘Home’
The first single to be shared from HAVVK’s upcoming new album, ‘Home’ is a stirring reflection on appreciating those closest to you. Propelled by a shimmering ethereal fuzz, the track showcases the soaring celestial majesty of front woman Julie’s vocals, as they float with an impassioned splendour over scuzzy hooks and a gritty, driving energy. Fusing together tinges of ’90s grunge-fuelled angst with twinkling shoegaze sensibilities and the band’s own unique poignant grace, it’s a truly captivating soundscape. (ML)

Softcult – ‘Another Bish’
Informed by their love of Bikini Kill and Smashing Pumpkins, alternative duo Softcult blend atmospheric guitars, energetic percussion and bittersweet vocals to create their hazy, antagonistic sounds. Formed of Ontario-based twin sisters Phoenix and Mercedes Arn Horn, this single ‘Another Bish’ was born from their desire to resist and relieve the pressures of existing in a patriarchal music industry. I had a lovely chat with the grrls over Zoom a few weeks ago which you can read here. (Kate Crudgington)

New Pagans – ‘Harbour’
A tenacious celebration of women’s strength and resilience throughout pregnancy and childbirth, New Pagans’ latest single ‘Harbour’ is based on the experiences of vocalist Lyndsey McDougall’s pregnancy with her own daughter. Full of the Belfast band’s trademark urgent riffs and catchy melodies, it’s an empowering examination of the fears and triumphs that accompany this unique time in a woman’s life. I can’t wait to hear New Pagans’ debut album, The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots and All, when it’s released on 19th March. (KC)

Grandmas House – ‘Always Happy’
A thumping post-punk anthem that seethes with sardonic wit, ‘Always Happy’ is the latest single from Bristol-based trio Grandmas House. 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)

Pretty Happy – ‘Salami’
A wise-cracking anthem about the complexities of processed meat, ‘Salami’ is the new single from Cork art-punk trio Pretty Happy. Full of sarcastic lyrics, gutsy vocals and crashing percussion, the track is a ridiculously good off-kilter banger that rambles through the band’s many absurd thoughts and feelings about the pork-based snack. (KC)

Hadda Be – ‘Another Life’
Complete with a refreshed line-up and new name, Hadda Be (formerly Foundlings) bring their shimmering joy to latest single ‘Another Life’. Despite the track’s somewhat melancholic sentiment – “it covers me in worry, now that’s all I ever know” – it’s buoyed by an infectious jangling energy as scuzzy hooks whirr alongside frenetic beats and Amber’s rich vocals. An uplifting slice of indie-fuzz-pop that’ll leave you longing to dance along to its sparkling sounds live. (ML)

Lauren Auder – ‘Heathen’
“I think this may be my favourite song I’ve ever worked on,” explains London-based songwriter Lauren Auder about this track, and I can see why. ‘Heathen’ is actually my first introduction to her sound, but what an intro it is! It mixes everything I love about electronic music – yearning vocals, urgent beats, rapturous synths and guitar noises – it’s all here and it gives me goose bumps every time I listen. Definitely check out Auder’s new EP, 5 Songs For The Dysphoric, if you’re into this. (KC)

Tyler Holmes – ‘Nothing’
I’ve only recently become acquainted with Tyler Holmes, but I have fast fallen in love with their poignant, affecting and utterly unique sweeping electronic soundscapes. Holmes has spent a lifetime crafting their own Black, Queer narrative by pushing the limits of their imagination and their innovative ability to fuse together genres to create truly stirring, instantly immersive sonic trips is showcased perfectly on ‘Nothing’. Holmes is set to release their new album next month via Ratskin Records. Watch the video for ‘Nothing’ here. (ML)

SPIDER – ‘Water Sign’
Born in Nigeria but raised in Dublin, London-based twenty-one year old SPIDER blends jagged electronics and brooding guitar riffs alongside her distinctive vocals to create her evocative sounds. Her focus is on how a track makes you feel – whether that’s a feeling of power, fluidity or chaos – and on ‘Water Sign’ she weaves these emotions into a cohesive, stirring electronic soundscape. (KC)

Roma – ‘Stay Like This’ (Tiiva Remix)
I’ve been following queer artist & producer Tiiva since I heard their re-working of Despicable Zee’s ‘We Won’t Stop’ last year, and I’m continuously impressed by their instinct for choosing talented and interesting artists to collaborate with. Tiiva reached out to songwriter Roma during lockdown after hearing her track ‘Stay Like This’ and the pair have worked together to create this lush, dreamy electronic tune. Roma originally wrote this song from the perspective of her daughter, exploring what it means to grow up in a modern world and Tiiva overcame their own adult cynicism to create this woozy new remix. (KC)

Show Boy – ‘Turn It On’
Following 2019’s Surreal, London artist and producer Show Boy has today released his much awaited brand new EP Ishtar Lion. A wonderfully eclectic collection, the EP showcases Show Boy’s knack for blurring genre boundaries, combining influences from across the musical spectrum to create perfectly catchy offerings oozing an uplifting, vibrant energy and heartfelt emotion. Driven by the soaring power of his unique vocals, ‘Turn It On’ interweaves an intricate musicality with a sparkling soulful splendour, resulting in a euphoric ode to new beginnings. (ML)

Callaz – ‘Queima Essa Ideia’
Recorded in Berlin and produced by the brilliant Ah! Kosmos, the title of this latest single from songwriter Callaz translates roughly as ‘Burn That Idea’. Based between Lisbon and Berlin, Callaz has recently released her second album, the brilliantly titled Dead Flowers & Cat Piss, and it’s full of her soft vocals, candid lyrics and alt-pop soundscapes. (KC)

Grove – ‘Ur Boyfriend’s Wack’
Bristol-based hyper-pop artist Grove blends chaotic synths, warped beats and wicked rap verses on this high octane track ‘Ur Boyfriend’s Wack’. Taken from their debut EP, QUEER + BLACK, this song forms part of Grove’s aural journey through their experiences of being young, black and queer. (KC)

Ci Majr – ‘Summer Drug’
Ci Majr is an emerging non-binary artist from Atlanta and this new single ‘Summer Drug’ is a flirty, joyful dose of dancing beats and smooth vocals. Of the track, Ci explains: “I think a lot of us have been in a place where we’ve been hurt from a relationship and have a hard time opening up again…so this song is saying ‘yes, you can absolutely satisfy my physical needs but we’re not taking it further than that’; likening ‘using’ someone for their body just like you’d use a drug of some sort.” (KC)

Desire – ‘Zeros’
The latest single from Desire, ‘Zeros’ will capture the ears with its sweeping celestial aura. As a majestic, electro-driven soundscape provides the backdrop for Megan Louise’s honey-sweet soaring vocals, glitchy beats and twinkling hooks create a truly moreish offering, oozing an ethereal, effervescent grace. Of the track, Desire explain: “As the calendar pages fly by, we are all reaching for a new normal on what sometimes feels like an endless loop. The cyclical music echoes flashback sequences of a recurring dream.” (ML)

Blonde Maze – ‘Fade Into You’
An exquisite rendition of a Mazzy Star classic, Blonde Maze’s ‘Fade Into You’ oozes all the poignant, rich emotion of the original, whilst adding her own unique blend of soaring electronics and uplifting chiming beats to create something truly euphoric steeped in its own ethereal splendour. Another blissfully cathartic creation from Blonde Maze, showcasing her ability to take an already beautiful track and transform it into something that is completely, undeniably, and majestically, her own. (ML)

Kalbells ft. Miss Eaves – ‘Pickles’
A dreamy tune about escaping a romantic pickle, ‘Pickles’ is a delightful new offering from cosmic-pop collective Kalbells, featuring rapper Miss Eaves. Kalbell’s will be releasing their new album Max Heart on 26th March, which they describe as a “portrait of badass women harnessing their improvisational magic.” (KC)

pecq – ‘Stranger’
‘Stranger’ is the debut single from Oxford psych-pop duo pecq, aka Nikò O’Brien and Hannah Jacobs. It’s a delicate, lush soundscape which the pair wrote, produced and self-released through their own label, Upcycled Sounds Records, earlier this year. pecq are set to release their debut EP, also called Stranger, this summer. (KC)

Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business – ‘Woman Is A Word’
A cover of Empress Of’s ‘Woman Is A Word’, this latest offering from the six-piece choral punk ensemble highlights the power of voices coming together in unity. Oozing a sweeping, celestial splendour, the many vocals flow together in harmony, propelled by an upbeat, jazz-infused musicality. Adding their own unique euphoric energy to the poignant sentiment and soulful passion of the original, Jenny Moore’s Mystic Business have created an emotive and empowering rendition. (ML)

BAXTR – ‘Grace On Fire’
The latest single from London-based trio BAXTR, ‘Grace On Fire’ reflects on the feelings of helplessness that come with seeing someone you love suffer. A sweeping, uplifting slice of alt-pop it oozes nostalgic tinges harking back to the anthemic indie classics of the early noughties, whilst maintaining its own unique shimmering power. As Floss’ honey-sweet vocals flow with a celestial majesty throughout, the track builds with explosive, soaring riffs and a swirling heartfelt emotion to create something truly stirring. (ML)

Samantha Crain – ‘Bloomsday’
Taken from her upcoming new EP, I Guess We Live Here Now, Samantha Crain’s latest single ‘Bloomsday’ is a poignant slice of Americana combining beautifully strummed melodies and a stirring warmth. As the impassioned subtle power of Crain’s rich vocals ooze shades of the raw emotion of Sharon Van Etten, twinkling hooks flow with a rustic charm to gently grace the heartstrings. I Guess We Live Here Now, the upcoming new EP from Samantha Crain, is out 9th April via Real Kind Records/Communion Records. Watch the video for ‘Bloomsday’ here. (ML)

Ex:Re – ‘Where the Time Went’ (with 12 Ensemble)
This song stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it. The title, Elena Tonra’s vocals and lyrics, composer Josephine Stephenson’s cinematic string arrangements – they all resonate so much deeper during this extended period of lockdown. ‘Where The Time’ went is one of ten beautiful tracks on Tonra’s new collaborative album, Ex:Re with 12 Ensemble, and it’s accompanied by a wonderful music video that she directed too. Watch it here. (KC)

Hannah Peel – ‘Ecovocative’
I’m very late to the Hannah Peel party, but I’m in love with her ambient electronic soundscapes. This single ‘Ecovocative’ is lifted from her upcoming album Fir Wave, which is set for release on 26th March via Peel’s own label My Own Pleasure. (KC)

 

Five Favourites: Tyler Holmes

I’ve only recently become acquainted with innovative artist Tyler Holmes, but I have fast fallen in love with their poignant, affecting and utterly unique sweeping electronic soundscapes. Holmes (They/Them) is a singer-songwriter, visual and performance artist who uses music as a therapeutic device. Coming from a turbulent and traumatic ‘cult-like’ early life, they have spent a lifetime crafting their own Black, Queer narrative by pushing the limits of their imagination, Holmes envisions themselves as the imaginary child of Björk and Tricky, using a surrealist lens on a wide variety of genres, often blending diaristic narratives with dark, dream-like whimsy. Autobiographical and absurd, their writing is alluring and uncomfortable. Both brutal and beautiful, bringing the audience into a shared space of healing and catharsis. They perform with a constantly changing electro-acoustic arrangement, always finding new ways to showcase an intimate horror.

Ahead of the release of their upcoming new album ‘Nightmare In Paradise’ via Ratskin Records next month, we spoke to Tyler about the five albums that mean the most to them. Check out their choices below, and watch their latest video for single ‘Nothing’ at the end of this article. You can also listen to their recent rendition of SOPHIE’s ‘BIPP’ over on bandcamp now.

Mariah Carey – Butterfly
Butterfly was a departure for Mariah. A record that embraced Hip Hop and Mariah as a sexual and sorrowful entity, which I have always related to. I have always been obsessed with Mariah and I’ve been singing her songs for as long as I can remember. This was the first album that I would listen to all the way through, over and over and over. There is a real variety to the record and I can now see this as the first in a series of emotional breakdown albums (this one even has a song called ‘Breakdown’ which is unbelievably beautiful and rich and has the amazing Bone Thugs N Harmony guesting). The through-line through this quite varied record is sadness, longing and identity struggle; all running themes in my life and music as well. My favourite track is ‘Outside’ – about being a weirdo, just singing the melody makes me cry.

The Knife – Silent Shout: An Audiovisual Experience – Live In Gothenburg
Reinvention is something that always turns me on. This album was the electronic equivalent to dying your hair black and doing acoustic renditions of your record. The Knife was this mysterious band back in the early internet days and Gothenburg showcased them reborn in a syrupy goth trance inducing void that was even more mysterious than they had been. It was as if they had this colourful image and they thought “let’s give them even less information and appear in a black abyss as ghostly floating lights…” The songs are darker, gothic, stark and beautiful. Dance music made for crying and being a freak to maybe more so than dancing. I love a singer who can be different characters and Karin plays a whole cast on this record and a cast of ghouls, sea monsters, aliens and demons. She is so otherworldly, possessed and perfect. My favourite track is ‘Kino’, which I covered a long time ago. They took an old track and brought it back through the Pet Cemetery. The mourning in that song will haunt me forever.

Tricky – Pre Millenium Tension
A theme of coming back darker, and more vulnerable emerges. While Tricky’s first record was murky and muddy,Pre Millennium is obsidian. A dark smoke filled room. I love how Tricky always has two singers of varying genders singing the same lyrics at the same time creating one genderless or many gendered being. The opening song ‘Vent’ talking about someone hiding their lover’s medicine to watch them suffer and need them speaks volumes about the album in front of the listener. Very much about codependency, dark urges, self destruction. The gnarling, repeating loops grind nightmares into your head like noogies. The reimagining of ‘Bad Dreams’ by Chill Rob G gives the song a chilling, fever dream realness that is necessary and sadly timeless.

Astrud Gilberto & Walter Wanderley –  A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness
I listened to this album on repeat while writing my new record. It’s vintage goth. Astrud Gilberto, best known for the timeless hit ‘The Girl From Ipanema’, is practically motionless. Her stoic and serious performance even over more dance oriented tracks like ‘Nega do Cabelo Duro’ really sets the tone without beating the listener over the head. There is a bittersweet breeze blowing through every song on an album that has some rather peppy tempos and almost chipper organ lines. The theme of the album is dark, not quite hopeless but almost. The opener ‘A Certain Smile’ sets the tone that, like love, peace of mind and temperament are cyclical. “That certain smile to haunt your heart again.” OUCH. ‘Smile’ is followed by ‘A Certain Sadness’ (JOKES!!!) that lays the cards on the table and directly discusses unrequited love, longing and depression. To me it is so interesting and inspiring to hear these jazz chords that have over time become associated with elevator music here set to such depressive and moody themes. Even the fast songs contain some really ‘ugly’ chords and organ solos that hint at a jazzy, almost punk antagonism that alongside the subject matter and vocal delivery make me really see Bossa Nova as a precursor to New Wave music (Bossa Nova means ‘New Trend’ or ‘New Wave’ after all.) ‘Tristeza’ and ‘So Nice’ are absolutely brilliant, tongue in cheek songs that in a heavy-lidded tone hint at a sunny life in a bitchy way that seem to me as sarcastic as they are dreamy.

Björk – Post
Choosing a Björk album to discuss is really difficult but this is probably the singular record that has influenced me the most. Eleven songs that are all different genres and on different planets. This record has such anger, such venom, such sadness and such spacious, calm, quietness. It is truly a rollercoaster masterpiece. It calls to mind Goldie Hawn’s famous line (from First Wives Club) about emotions “I’m an actress! I have all of them!” That’s what Björk showcases here; every emotion, texture, and sound in her body at the time and it is resplendent. ‘I Miss You’ is one of the best and most original takes on the standard longing pop song, with horn freak-outs, screaming, and a panic attack about “cuddles” for a bridge. The song sounds like a cartoon zoo where the animals train the humans just like the surrealist nightmare of a music video that is as amazing as the song. The album features one of my favourite songs ever; ‘Enjoy’, where mother weaves a bizarre love triangle over a beat made by one of her boyfriends at the time and one of my biggest inspirations: Tricky. The intimate tabloid lyrics are leaked over a beat that sounds like a jungle full of haunted wildlife that know your secrets and want to punish you with electrical torture. It’s one of the most titillating experiences you can have as a listener. An album that is full of so much motion and noise ends with the purely ambient ‘Headphones’. It’s built on barely there electronic bass notes and Miss Björk whispering about falling asleep to a transformative tape! I had this on cassette as a kid and it was a meta experience, this is one goal I have definitely taken from Mother. Her goal was to give others the same transcendental experience that music gave her, passing on the gift. Post is one of her greatest gifts.

Massive thanks to Tyler for sharing such beautiful words about their favourite albums!

Nightmare In Paradise, the upcoming album from Tyler Holmes, is set for release 26th March via Ratskin Records. Pre-order here. And watch the poignant video for ‘Nothing’ below: