Personal Highlights of 2017 (aka more musical ones…)

You’re probably sick to death of these ‘Highlights’ blogs, but I love making lists and reminiscing…so get on board, or get over it.

I spend 99% of my time listening to, looking for, and writing lovely things about women in new music, but – contrary to popular belief – I love writing about men in new music too. WHAT?! A FEMINIST WHO LOVES MEN?! SHOCKING! *keels over from this unexpected revelation*

2017 was a turbulent and frightening year (and I’m not just talking about my Glandular Fever diagnosis), but it would’ve been far worse if I hadn’t discovered these bands/artists. So, if you want a quick distraction before you wave goodbye to 2017 soaked in gin and your own bitter tears, take a look at the musical offerings that made my 2017 so bleedin’ good…

Everything Twitcher Records released this year melted my mind.

The independent label based in Brighton has a penchant for all things strung-out and unsatisfied, and I smiled like the Grinch who stole Christmas each time an email holding precious musical cargo appeared at the top of my inbox.

If you’re in to scratchy guitars, delightfully droning vocals, and introspective lyrics, you need to check out the bands on their roster. It was hard for me to pick a favourite, but I listened to Collapse Of An Easy Sunday, the debut EP from the weird and wonderful Honey Creeper multiple times when I was hungover/bored at work. Check out Ezeikel Doo, Slabtoe., and Die Mauer too.

Wolf Alice’s ‘Yuk Foo’ was one of the first pieces of new music I heard after my 21-day-Glandular-Fever headache finally subsided.

I’ll never forget the sheer sense of simultaneous joy and relief I felt hearing Ellie Rowsell shout the words “you bore me to death!” the first time I heard this song. It’s since become a personal anthem.

Don’t think I’ve mentioned a band called Ho99o9 before? (LOL JK. seen them 5 times this year)

My anticipation for their album United States of Horror was palpable, and it sparked what most people would deem a borderline inappropriate obsession with the rap-punk duo. Their political, aggressive, racially charged lyrics align perfectly with the manic drums and thrashing guitar samples.

Each time I’ve seen them live I’ve emerged with all sorts of physical damage – a black eye, swollen knees, bruised hips, ripped fingernails – and I left their Sebright Arms gig topless. What can I say? They bring out the be(a)st in me.

(Ho99o9 also led me to find Bob Vylan, who is 10/10)

I listened to Bjork’s divine new album Utopia, thus keeping my 2016 New Years Resolution to “listen to more Bjork“.

NO, YOU’RE CRYING AT THE BEAUTY OF ‘The Gate’. PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER. FFS.

We launched the Get In Her Ears website alongside our radio show and live night, and it might just be the best thing we’ve ever done.

On the eve of the launch of the Get In Her Ears site, there was a part of me that felt genuinely concerned. What if people didn’t read the blog? What if no-one shared the link? Have we made a mistake branching out on our own? Fortunately, I’m glad to report all of these anxieties subsided within 24 hours. We’ve received so much interest, love, and support from bands and fellow journalists, that it’s wiped away all the doubts I ever had.

I hope 2018 is just as prosperous and proactive for us.

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2016

DON’T PANIC: This isn’t a ‘2016 you bastard!’ rant or a ‘New Year New Me!’ type of blog. It’s just a list of albums I’ve treasured over the last 52 weeks and some small sentimental paragraphs.

Like most mildly anxious 26 year olds, I’m slowly realising it’s the things you don’t do that you end up regretting, not the things you do do. I comforted myself with this thought on Wednesday morning as I sat at my desk battling an aggressive hangover, doing my best impression of a responsible adult (and not a juvenile doink who’d been out drinking and dancing to 80s music until 1am).

I’ve spent many an hour feeling intensely sad and guilty about some of the things I’ve done, or things that have been done to me this year. Too many fucks have been given to all the wrong people, but generally, it’s been another blinding year filled with surprises, surfing, and even an appearance in a music video…

I just need to get my priorities right. 2017 is all about priorities. I mean, is it more important to a) mime Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds Of Love’ to the next clubbing generation, or b) get a full nights sleep so I can look mildly human the next day?

Lucky I had records like these to help me make these crucial decisions…

DAUGHTER – NOT TO DISAPPEAR

It’s hard to articulate how beautiful I think this record is, but I won’t shy away from trying to explain my obsession with it. Not many bands can write songs about dementia, loneliness, and apathy like Daughter. On Not To Disappear they seamlessly blend these themes to paint a desperately sad, but beautifully moving musical portrait of hidden lives and un-nurtured feelings.

I’ve returned to this record throughout the year, and it’s still a poignant emotional listen.

Favourite Track: ‘Numbers’

Favourite Lyric: “Fighting over the way something was said / Well, I’m still here like a cheap threat” – ‘No Care’

ISAAC GRACIE – SONGS IN BLACK & WHITE

I spent all of 2016 talking about this guy and I’ll probably spend all of 2017 doing the same, so you might as well get on board now.

I was swept away by his ‘Last Words’ when I scrolled across his name on The Great Escape Festival’s website earlier this year, and I’ve seen him live three times since then. Each time has been remarkable, but watching him sing to a packed Waiting Room in Stoke Newington with my sisters really was a goose-bump inducing experience. He recorded that session and released it on vinyl, so now my siblings and I can cry to his desolate, beautiful voice whenever we find it convenient.

Favourite Track: ‘All In My Mind’

Favourite Lyric: How reckless is the heart that bleeds for love / That knows the warmth / that knows the taste / And how blessed is the diamond in the rough / who would offer her embrace” – ‘Burn My Clothes, Bury My Crown’

SAVAGES – ADORE LIFE

Whatever your question is, Savages are ‘The Answer’. I’ve been bounding down London streets and across my bedroom floorboards to tracks from this incredible album. Equal parts aggressive and sentimental; Adore Life is an aural knockout. My attention is forever focused on Jehnny Beth’s cool vocals, Faye Milton’s intense drumming, Gemma Thompson’s abrasive guitar, and Ayse Hassan’s primal bass lines.

When I saw them at The Roundhouse this year, Beth told us that when it comes to uneasy feelings about love we should “fucking do it anyway”. I swiftly adopted that as a personal mantra, and have been trying to build up the nerve to copy her dress sense (bralet and bomber jacket) ever since.

Favourite Track: Torn between ‘The Answer’, ‘Sad Person’ and ‘Something New’.

Favourite Lyric: “I’m not gonna hurt you / ‘cos I’m flirting with you” – ‘Sad Person’

MOURN – HA, HA, HE.

My friend Mari (Gigslutz Editor and all round top human) introduced me to this Catalonian band in 2015, and their second album made an instant mark on my ear drums when I listened to it in June. It blurs chaos and calm in to punk-inspired, grunge-soaked tunes that turn head-thrashing and scowling in to highly enjoyable past-times.

Favourite Track: ‘Irrational Friend’

Favourite Lyric: “If you need someone to trust / You don’t have to involve / A body and a hole” – ‘Gertrudis, Get Through This’

RIHANNA – ANTI

I’m as surprised as you are to find Rihanna on this list. I gave up on her post-Good Girl Gone Bad because I was under the impression she was all out of bangers. With the aid of my friend Rachel, and a press ticket to see her live at V Festival, I soon realised my anti-Rihanna attitude needed some serious re-addressing. Anti was heavily criticised for being a bit ‘confused’, but I genuinely liked it (even if the second half of the record went a bit..soft)

I definitely prefer the angry, apathetic Rihanna who dominates the first half, and I hope her next record goes in the same direction.

Favourite Track: Torn between ‘Consideration’ and her Tame Impala cover ‘Same Ol’ Mistakes’

Favourite Lyrics: “I got to do things my own way darling / will you ever let me? / will you ever respect me? / No” – ‘Consideration’ Ft. SZA

KANGA – KANGA

My brother insisted I give this a listen a few weeks ago, and it’s an industrial pop GEM. Kanga’s deceptively sweet vocals give her lyrics about self control and sanity extra edge, and the crisp recording of the electronic elements and pounding drum beats make this album impossible to sit still to.

Favourite Track: ‘Going Red’

Favourite Lyric: “Part of me missing but what can I say? / I don’t need you anyway” – ‘Vital Signs’