Tracks 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 20 favourite tunes. But, from poignant punk to captivating pop-noir, here they are… 

Alice Bag – ’77’
Taken from this year’s poignant album Blueprint, punk legend Alice Bag brought together a dream team for her single ’77’. Featuring Riot Grrrl queens Kathleen Hanna and Allison Wolfe, plus an appearance in the video from Shirley Manson, it draws inspiration from Dolly Parton’s 1980 proto-feminist workplace comedy ‘9 to 5′, commenting on the gender pay gap that still plagues society. Filled with seething, punk-driven riffs, the women not only rage that “I make 77 cents and it’s not right / It’s bad for women!”, but make the point that “it’s worse if you’re not white”. As Bag poignantly sneers “… don’t pretend that we’re paid equal… You wrote the script / But I’m writing the sequel”, ’77’ is an empowering, inspiring call to arms to unite against the patriarchy and make the changes needed for equality, in the workplace and beyond.
(Mari Lane – Managing Editor/Co-Founder)

Nova Twins – ‘Lose Your Head’
A lesson in cutting loose and walking on the wild side, South East London duo Nova Twins provided us with this mind-melter of a track earlier in the year. We were lucky enough to have Amy & Georgia come into the Hoxton Radio studio for a chat, and they blew us away playing live for Loud Women at The Lexington too. Their raw, abrasive, genre-defying tunes are consistent favourites here at Get In Her Ears, and I’m sure they’ll bring the noise again in 2019.
(Kate Crudgington – Features Editor/Co-Founder)

Skating Polly – ‘Camelot’
Blasting into the eardrums with intense, pulsating basslines and the impassioned screech of Kelli Mayo, ‘Camelot’ is a seething, grunge-fuelled anthem. Oozing a thrashing power, it perfectly tears apart the misogynistic nature of American frat-boy culture with an empowering energy. This year Skating Polly released new album The Make It All Show, blew us away once again with their immense live show (with faves The Menstrual Cramps supporting), and generally proved themselves to be one of the most exciting young bands around.
(ML)

Brix And The Extricated – ‘Sleazebag’
Taken from their epic, genre-defying latest album, Brix And The Extricated’s ‘Sleazebag’ revives a classic punk energy and seething passion whilst marking Smith-Start out as an artist willing to move with the times and develop her sound. Confronting all those sleazebags in the industry that we’re unfortunately so familiar with, this track instantly grabs you with its immense, ferocious power. With swirling guitars and spiky bass, alongside Smith-Start’s distinctive soaring drawl, it’s a refreshing and riotous offering proving that Brix & The Extricated are well and truly back, and cannot be missed.
(ML)

Bad Sidekick – ‘I Ain’t Sick’
A fistful of brooding indie noise: London trio Bad Sidekick released their debut self-titled EP this year, and the snarling ‘I Ain’t Sick’ is my favourite track on the record. Vocalist Cooper (who also plays guitar in The Menstrual Cramps) is a powerhouse with her enviably cool lyrical intonation, and she’s supported by a cacophony of guitar noises and heart-thumping beats on this track.
(KC)

The Menstrual Cramps – ‘The Smash’
The Menstrual Cramps have pretty much summed up 2018 with each of their topical, tongue-in-cheek offerings and provided the perfect antidote to all that’s gone on with their empowering, feel good vibes. Taken from their incredible album Free Bleedin’, ‘The Smash’ in particular couldn’t have come at a better time. With the all-too-relatable refrain of “It’s time we took back the floor, kick the Tories out the door – we want a revolution”, it oozes an immense, politically-charged force as vocalist Emilia’s genuine, seething passion shines through. Combining activism with musical prowess, The Menstrual Cramps continue to reminds us all why we need bands like this now more than ever.
(ML)

Pink Kink – ‘You’
Although it wasn’t released as a single, this live recording from Liverpool’s Parr Street Studios showcases Pink Kink at their absolute best. A stunning mix of Warpaint style lo-fi indie, Sonic Youth switch-ups in tempo, ‘You’ is drenched in emotion, full of fired passions and stunning musicality. A band whose career was cut far, far too short for the kind of ridiculous reasons that have been an increasingly common occurrence in 2018’s dark days
(John McGovern – Contributor)

Soccer Mommy – ‘Your Dog’
I adore this song from Nashville’s Soccer Mommy, taken from her debut album Clean. Her trademark “soft anger” is executed so wonderfully, you barely notice you’re dropping expletives left, right and centre throughout the track. Written as an antidote to the feeling of being “paralyzed in a relationship to the point where you feel like you are a pawn in someone else’s world”, ‘Your Dog’ is a brilliant bite back from this talented artist.
(KC)

Snail Mail – ‘Pristine’
Laconic, bruised, wistful and sparkling – all while dealing with pop’s most frequent fixation: unrequited love – ‘Pristine’ is a brilliant introduction to the indie-pop stylings of Lindsay Jordan. If there’s been a better lyric than “It just feels like the same party every weekend, doesn’t it?” this year, then I haven’t heard it.
(JM)

Dott – ‘Like A Girl’
Activism and garage-pop collided in anthemic style on Dott’s single ‘Like A Girl’. The Galway-based band released the song ahead of Ireland’s vote to Repeal the 8th Amendment on May 25th – which resulted in the historic outcome of giving Irish women legal access to full reproductive health services, including abortion. The song features a guest appearance from Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz on guitar, and the accompanying video features members from Galway Pro Choice, Galway Parents for Choice, and Galway Roller Derby, as well as footage of recent marches for Women’s Rights in Galway.
(KC)

Wolf Girl – ‘Toast For Dinner’
Having captivated us with their sunny charm live at Indietracks Festival this year, Wolf Girl are fast becoming a firm favourite. Flowing with an infectious jangly scuzz and twinkling uplifting harmonies, ‘Toast for Dinner’ is an exquisite slice of perfect indie-pop. Propelled by a driving, vibrant energy and Healey’s luscious vocals – and with thoroughly relatable lyrics like “toast for dinner again, I’m trying to tie up loose ends” – it’s a total delight for the ears, as is the band’s latest album Every Now And Then.
(ML)

Pip Blom – ‘Come Home’
Unusually glum, but no less lively, this track marked the peak of a fantastic run of singles from the Dutch post-punk fourpiece. Its repetitive riff makes it unforgettable, rhythms make it sound like something that belongs more at a club than a gig, whilst Blom’s voice is just the right side of deadpan. Now signed to Heavenly, 2019 promises great things for PB.
(JM)

Suggested Friends – ‘Motherfucking Tree’
Although I think technically their self-titled album came out officially last year, throughout the entirety of 2018, I can safely say that Suggested Friends have been one of my most-listened to, and most thoroughly loved, bands. This track in particular showcases their perfect, immensely infectious ‘tweemo’ punk-pop to a tee. Filled with racing, catchy hooks and luscious harmonies, Faith Taylor’s witty charm and exquisite vocals (as well as spot on lyrics like “thought you had a halo, but it was just the glare from the backlight of your iPhone”) fill me with pure joy on each listen.

(ML)

Ah! Kosmos – ‘Wide'(feat. Özgür Yılmaz)
Atmospheric guitar, captivating percussion and hypnotic vocals melt together on this track from Ah! Kosmos. It’s taken from her second album Beautiful Swamp, and it sweeps me up in to a rapture every time I hear it. Her live performance supporting Zola Jesus at Omeara this year was an absolute knockout, and I can’t wait to see what she gets up to in 2019.
(KC)

Kill J – ‘Strange Fruits Of The Water’
This stunning single from Kill J tackles issues of immigration and racism, with a subtle nod to Billie Holiday’s  iconic track ‘Strange Fruit’ (1939). Taken from her album Superposition, Kill J explains: “’Strange Fruits Of The Water’ is a protest song about boarders, walls, barbed wire fences, and people trying to survive on small boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea. While some people dream of just surviving their journey across the boarders, others dream of wealth and power at the expense of others”.
(KC)

Black Gold Buffalo – ‘Lay It Down’
I’ve been hooked on Black Gold Buffalo’s mesmerising, pop-noir sounds all year, so I was thrilled to have them headline our first GIHEs night at Notting Hill Arts Club in August. ‘Lay It Down’ is taken from the band’s debut self-titled album (which I recommend you listen to) and it’s a well-crafted, smoldering gem that revolves around confronting feelings of anxiety.
(KC)

LIINES – ‘Shallow’
Having been labelled one of our ‘Ones To Watch 2018‘, Manchester trio LIINES certainly proved us right. Throughout the year, they’ve gone from strength to strength – releasing their debut album Stop-Start in May, receiving acclaim from the likes of John Kennedy and Steve Lamacq and just now announcing a support slot with Sleaford Mods for 2019. Oozing an immense, thrashing energy and the raw, commanding vocals of Zoe McVeigh, single ‘Shallow’ is filled with the band’s trademark dark, brooding power – an intense blast of perfect post-punk with shades of the likes of Savages of Sleater Kinney.
(ML)

Zola Jesus – ‘Bound’
Intriguing electro-industrial artist Zola Jesus had me spellbound from the moment I heard the hypnotic, off-kilter, heavy bouncing synths on ‘Bound’. Her penetrating vocals ring out across a demanding soundscape, and her blending of industrial and classical elements makes this track sound like a tortured but tentative hymn. Seeing her perform it live at Omeara was truly breath-taking too.
(KC)

Noga Erez – ‘Bad Habits’
Noga Erez had 2018’s shortcomings in her interrogative spotlight this year after releasing her incredible track ‘Bad Habits’. It’s a snarling tirade of anger spoken through gritted teeth, written from “a place where one feels they’ve lost all direction and meaning”. Gritty, defiant, and viciously executed – I love this track and can’t wait to hear more from the Tel Aviv renegade in 2019.
(KC)

Miss Eaves – ‘Push For The Bush’
Having previously fallen in love with Miss Eaves‘ fun-filled, empowering anthems ‘Thunder Thighs’ and ‘Hump Day’, ‘Bush For The Push’ offered another vibrant celebration of self love from Miss Eaves. With her trademark disco-punk energy, reminiscent of queen Peaches, it’s a liberating and wonderfully entertaining call to be free to have the bush you want – “It’s your body, so have a little fun…”
(ML)

Listen to our ‘Tracks Of 2018’ playlist here, and stay tuned for more of our 2018 highlights, and Ones To Watch for next year…

LIVE: Zola Jesus – Omeara, London 05.11.18

Zola Jesus stunned her sold out crowd at Omeara on Tuesday night as she appeared shrouded in red, delivering her flawless operatic vocals. Her performance embodied the promise she made during second song ‘Soak’ – “You should know I would never let you down” – and her rendition of the track made our gothic hearts bleed.

She took to the stage after Ah! Kosmos, who performed a stunning one-woman-show in an equally stunning sequin blazer. The Istanbul-born artist gave a masterclass in how to perform electronic music solo, and was the perfect warm up for Zola Jesus’ eager crowd.

Whilst on stage, the Sacred Bones signee said she was “chuffed” to be in “Blighty” and was happy to talk between songs about TV show Nathan Barley and the shortcomings of British Airways (who had lost her guitarist’s luggage earlier that day). Her set was laced with penetrating vocals that rang out across her hypnotised audience, and included an emotive dedication to her Uncle who recently survived a suicide attempt.

The blend of industrial and classical elements in Zola Jesus’ music translated well live, and she was accompanied by a violinist and guitarist for the duration of her set. Her tortured but tentative lyrics on ‘Skin’ and ‘Exhumed’ as well as the hypnotic, off-kilter, bouncing synths on ‘Bound’ provided fans with an eclectic mix of old and new material, and an opportunity for the performer to remove her red cloak, and break the fourth wall towards the close of her set.

Her lyrical lamentations about disconnection are made all the more powerful by her altruistic voice. Recorded, her vocals are striking enough – but to hear them live is confirmation that Zola Jesus truly has a divine set of lungs. If you weren’t there to hear her at Omeara, you missed out on a mesmerising performance from this warped and wonderful artist. A definite live highlight of 2018.

Follow Zola Jesus on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

INTERVIEW: Hilary Woods

When news reached our ears that Dublin-based artist Hilary Woods had signed to Sacred Bones – a label which hosts our favourites Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval and The Soft Moon – our excitement for her debut album, Colt, gave us palpitations. Both Woods (a former member of JJ72) and Sacred Bones have a reputation for releasing altruistic sounds, so the pairing felt like a divine meeting of musical talent and opportunity.

Hyperbole aside, it’s clear from singles ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Prodigal Dog’ that Hilary Woods’ debut LP is going to be an exquisitely painful listen. Soaked in stark, minimalist, ambient electronic sounds that explore feelings surrounding grief and abandonment, her melancholic music is the perfect fit for venues like St. Pancras Old Church, which she headlines on 11th June (tickets available here).

We caught up with Woods to talk about her anticipations for this show, her multi-disciplinary creativity and what went into the making of her debut album…

Can you tell us a little bit about your recent single ‘Prodigal Dog’? What went into the making of this track, and why you chose to release it as a single?

I made the album without thinking of singles, pretty naïve really! But I think when ‘Prodigal Dog’ was suggested as a single it made sense. This was the first track I recorded in the record making process, bringing it to James we spent a lot of time on drum sounds and enjoyed layering vocals.

Your debut album has been described as “an intensely personal journey through grief, abandonment and mutating love”. How did you manage to translate these emotions into lyrics and music? Do you have a particular process when it comes to song-writing that you follow, or is it a more improvisational?

I’d say both, usually songs either arise after a lot of playing around and experimenting, or they just appear like a bolt. I think emotions and feeling are translated in any given process whether subconsciously or consciously.

You recently signed to Sacred Bones, who we love. What is it about the record label that drew you in? They’re on the ball when it comes to modern electronic music. Zola Jesus, Jenny Hval & The Soft Moon in particular are our favourites (and you of course)…

Thank you! I love their aesthetic, integrity and taste, that’s what drew me in, I’m a fan of many of my label mates.

You were a film, literature and fine-art student back in Dublin. Your music is intensely cinematic and your visuals are highly ornate: did studying a variety of subjects help you to develop your own sound and style easier than if you’d simply chosen to study one specific thing? Would you recommend a multi-disciplinary approach to other creatives?

I don’t know if I’d recommend anything! Everyone is on their own trajectory. In my case I was curious. I liked getting my hands dirty and the physicality of painting. Re studies: I went to college to get out of the house, literally. I needed some structure at that point in my life and I was lucky enough to be awarded some funding to go. It was all a bonus then to be super excited by what I encountered and be inspired by the material I was reading and seeing.

You described Colt as a way to “explore aloneness”, which is particularly poignant as many people use music to escape this feeling. What artists or bands do you listen to when you want to feel less alone?

Gosh, I think a good definition of a good film is one which makes you feel less alone, Music wise: I genuinely don’t have one specific answer to that, anything from Sybille Baier to Jlin to Father John Misty and beyond.

You have two upcoming London shows, St Pancras Old Church on June 11th and Southbank’s Meltdown Festival with Moon Duo on 20th June. What are you anticipating from these gigs?

I’m looking forward to them, they’ll be intimate and atmospheric.

Finally, you’ll be playing at The Sugar Club in Dublin on 14th September. It’s a hometown show, so are you anticipating something extra special from the night?

It’s always different playing at home, feels more vulnerable if anything. It’s a beautiful space with the best of promoters and a great PA and some good friends helping out. I have some plans for it, it’ll definitely be a special one for me.

Huge thanks to Hilary for answering our questions.
Colt is released via Sacred Bones on 8th June. Pre-order your copy here.

Photo Credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: New Haunts – ‘Worlds Left Behind’

A soundtrack for the witching hour, New Haunts‘ debut album Worlds Left Behind is a veiled, intriguing exploration of independence. Fusing elements of coldwave, goth, early industrial and synthpop, she’s crafted a collection of distinctive, ominous sounds.

As the album’s title suggests, New Haunts is caught between the world she inhabits and the world she once knew. She explores this on opening track ‘Ingrained’ through urgent vocal harmonies that rise and fall against a backdrop of slow, scratchy drum sounds. It bleeds into lead single ‘Reactions’, a cold but magnetic offering which laments the simultaneous beauty and horror of having emotional connections. It’s connections like these that make the tortured howls on following track ‘Left Me Cold’ feel so sharp. They contrast well with her tentative and pained vocals during the verses, as foreboding synths underscore another moment of painful clarity.

‘Hymns’ and ‘New Haunts’ take listeners on a gentler electronic turn, with some Kate Bush-style wavering vocals, whilst ‘Waves’ breaks through this ambient interlude with jagged synths and more of New Haunts fluttering, urgent vocals. Its dark, glittering defiance flows into the subdued ‘Same Medicine’, followed by ‘Safe Out Here’ which is full of more brooding synths and wavering vocals.

Whispers of insecurity permeate closing track ‘Ice’ – “and I give it my all / as far as I know / as far as I can” – before abrasive synths push through a “concrete truth.” New Haunts may be at the beginning of her solo journey, but her debut record shows she is well equipped for these intriguing sonic ventures. Fans of Zola Jesus and Kate Bush will approve of her gothic noise on Worlds Left Behind.

Listen to Worlds Left Behind on Spotify & follow New Haunts on Facebook for more updates.

Purchase the album from bandcamp here.

Photo Credit: Katie Murt

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut