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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SUNDAY #72 – Bestival?

I’ll be honest with you guys, whilst my Bestival review made it sound like I had a top notch time last weekend, I actually spent a lot of time wandering around on my own (sometimes in the pissing rain) feeling a bit low.

I spent a lot of time watching some of my favourite bands wondering why I still haven’t learned to play an instrument, and consequently why I’m still not in a fucking band.

I also spent a lot of time lying in my tent with some serious ulcerative colitis gut aches, wondering why I didn’t ask my doctor for a dose of steroids when I was at my routine hospital appointment last week.

I didn’t really tell my friends about any of this, but I’m pretty sure they figured it out. They’re a perceptive bunch who would probably just try to help me if I actually gave them the slightest chance.

I suppose I could’ve brought the steroids bit up. Festivals are the most appropriate place to talk about drugs so I could’ve indulged in some banter with the chemical loving Geordies who camped next to us, but alas, another opportunity missed.

I also didn’t want to be a bloody miser, so it was safer for me to wander off and see all my favourite bands whilst they did the same. It was easy to meet up after and chat, so I don’t think anyone got too offended by my absence (if you did, soz mate).

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I also wasted a lot of time wondering what other people thought of me as I trudged about with no eyeliner on, and last night’s glitter smeared across my face. When I was standing alone in my dungarees and sunglasses rocking my shabby chic blonde bob watching Wolf Alice for the sixth time, people probably made the mistake of thinking I was at best ‘cool’ and at worst ‘brave’ for standing on my own.

I am optimistic in my low moments though. I had a bit of a Mark Corrigan Peep Show moment when a nice man spoke to me in the crowd waiting for Wolf Alice. Don’t panic, I didn’t tell him he was “the one” or ask him to marry me, I just told him how much I loved Wolf Alice and I thought his job as a festival technician sounded cool. Then Ellie Rowsell came on stage and I lost all interest in conversation.

The optimism is there though because a) it’s genetic, my Mum is a chronic optimist, and b) music always makes me feel better. The right song rarely fails to help me out of whatever self-indulgent hole I’ve crawled in to. I am a creature of habit, and hearing my favourite songs again and again rarely bores me.

I love music (and most musicians) with an adolescent intensity. I’m waaaaay past my teens, but I still feel the same urgency when I hear a new band that I originally felt when I first discovered there was an alternative music chart (which was embarrassingly late, but I’ll save that for another blog).

Bestival 2016 had a lot of flaws (I heard a rumour Prince was supposed to headline Sunday, which is why the line-up/organisation was screwed) but it reminded me that it’s okay to feel low, even if everyone else is feeling high. What makes it alright is the comfort I took from Robert Smith’s voice, Wolf Alice’s lyrics, and VANT’s topless frontman.

I am having the time of my life, but I’m also having a hard time trying to do it when my faulty body constantly keeps trying to stop me from having one.

ANYWAY. The Cure reaffirmed my ability to fall madly in love with music again, so below is a song about the undying nature of that love…

Side note: Turns out, if I’d just checked my emails one last time before I left…I could’ve met up with at least two people at the same stages across the weekend. It’s like I bring it on myself, honestly…

SUNDAY #46 – 2015

Wild, weird, wonderful – that was my 2015.

I’ve decided to list my five favourite albums of the year, because I’ve discussed the highs and lows of the last 12 months regularly on this blog, so you can always scroll back through and laugh at my life if you have a spare ten minutes.

Someone recently said they liked my ‘don’t give a f**k’ attitude when it came to dancing under a strobe light in public on a Saturday night. The following five albums have 100% contributed to this behaviour in 2015.

Foals – What Went Down

I am part of a friendship group which finds the release of a new Foals album more exciting than Christmas; we share every teaser, every scrap of information up until the release date. We collectively decided we were in love with Foals’ fourth record, What Went Down, and we all got the chance to see them at their exclusive Village Underground gig in August. On that beautiful night, I realised I had a stellar set of friends, that Foals are one of my all-time favourite bands, and I’ll do almost anything to get to the front as Yannis sings the final part of ‘What Went Down’.

Favourite tracks: ‘Night Swimmers’, ‘Snake Oil’ & ‘What Went Down’

Favourite Lyric: “I fell for a girl with a port white stain, I knew her initials but never her name, I tried and I tried and I was never the same” (What Went Down)

Grimes – Art Angels

I’ve made no attempt to confine my feelings about Grimes this year. I wrote an ‘Open Letter’ about her for Gigslutz, and I even dyed my hair [unevenly] purple, because I was convinced I was an Art Angel. I’ve bleached the dye out, but my head remains full of Grimes’ manic pop sounds. Art Angels is delightfully fizzy and furious, and I’ll be spinning in circles to it for most of 2016.

Favourite tracks: ‘Flesh Without Blood’, ‘Scream’, ‘Kill Vs Maim’, ‘Pin’ & ‘California’

Favourite lyric: “You hate, you bite, you lose, after all – I just don’t like you. It’s nice that you say you like me, but only conditionally. (Flesh Without Blood)

Slaves – Are You Satisfied?

Condensing the greatness of Slaves in to one paragraph will be difficult, but when I heard Are You Satisfied? in May, shortly before my 25th birthday; I was on the punk equivalent of cloud nine. Laurie & Isaac have a no-nonsense, honest, humorous outlook on the mundane things in life. Whether it’s noisy neighbours (Feed The Mantaray), 9-5 employment (Cheer Up London), or failed romance (White Knuckle Ride) – Slaves are the cure to frustration and disappointment. I played the album on repeat for a month, and still listen to it at my local watering hole most weekends. I’m going to learn how to play the drums purely so I can be the female equivalent of Isaac (laugh all you like, I will find a way to combine a love of punk and Downton Abbey).

Favourite tracks: ‘The Hunter’, ‘Sockets’, ‘Feed The Mantaray’ & ‘Sugar Coated Bitter Truth’

Favourite Lyric: “Are you quite done?” (Cheer Up London)

FKA Twigs – M3LL155X **

From January to July, I danced to FKA Twig’s debut album LP1 at least twice a week. The wisdom in her lyrics and her mind-bending choreography offered me an escape route on a bad day; and when she released M3LL155X in August, that escape route widened further. What a sound. What a woman. When I saw her at Bestival I nearly cried – I was captivated by her movements, her control, her ability to hold the crowd’s attention. I fan-girled to the max about her for Gigslutz, and I’ll talk to anyone who has time for her sound.

Favourite tracks: ‘In Time’ & ‘Figure 8’

Favourite Lyric: “The way you dismiss me will turn into missing me like I am yours”(In Time)

**I’m fully aware that this is an EP, not an LP; but it was far too important a listen to leave off the list.

Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool

I am telling the sturdiest of truths when I say I listened to My Love Is Cool in its entirety, twice a day, for approximately a month. The mix of quiet and loud songs made it the perfect album to escape to on the commute to work, a walk home in the rain, and a vodka-loaded bedroom rave before a night out. Seeing Wolf Alice live at Brixton this year with my sisters was also a golden experience. We were in our own little circle, dancing away to ‘Bros’ before I threw myself in to the mosh for ‘You’re a Germ’ and pogo-ed my way through ‘Storms’. I’ll be following their every move in 2016.

Favourite tracks: ‘Bros’, ‘Your Love’s Whore’, ‘Lisbon’, ‘Silk’, & ‘Giant Peach’ (so basically, the whole album)

Favourite Lyric: “If fear is in the mind, then my mind lives in fear; as deep and as vast as the dirty British sea” (Turn To Dust)

SUNDAY #34 – Wolf Alice Live @ Brixton

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(Picture courtesy of: https://instagram.com/hollycrudge/)

I know I’ve name-dropped Wolf Alice several times on this blog, but I saw them live for the second time last night and it was so golden and grunge-ridden, I feel I need to dedicate another post to them.

I went with my ‘Bros’ – Holly & Sarah, my younger sisters – and we sweated it out in the mosh together (despite Holly being run-down by a cold, and Sarah’s necklace snapping off).

I’ve been playing their debut album My Love Is Cool, and their EPs Blush and Creature Songs to the point of destruction, and last night I got to squirm to ‘You’re a Germ’ and ‘Blush’ like a hormone-fuelled teenager. It topped every night I’ve spent in my bedroom listening to them, tearing down the walls, pretending to be in a band (whilst being respectful of the neighbours, of course).

The crowd were showered in gold at the end of the set, and I left Brixton Academy soaked in sweat and joy. They opened with one of my favourite songs too, have a listen below:

SUNDAY #31 – 365(ish) Days

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Approximately 365 days ago, my heart was freshly bruised from a break-up and I was concerned about what I was going to do next (understatement of the century).

My reaction to the end of a 3.5 year relationship was extremely delayed, but the grief caught up with me and I realised running from, and raging against the heartbreak wasn’t working. Sometimes, it really is best to burst like a sad little water balloon and drench your Mum in snot and tears.

Time has been both a friend and a foe, but ultimately, a year later, I can comfortably say ‘I’m good’. I’ve been saying that for 365 days – but today I really mean it. I could blush about how happy I am, but as always, Wolf Alice are here to do my ‘goodness’ justice.

I am hung-over though…so there’s still room for improvement.

(Image courtesy of: http://giphy.com/search/so-good)

SUNDAY #24 – Work & Wolf Alice

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I no longer work in retail! I’ve binned my atrocious uniform and I’ll make a point of eating my membership card at some point today. I’ve quit the job I’ve held for 6 years, and tomorrow I begin a 6 week placement in London.

In the last 2 minutes of my final shift, an elderly gentleman (who wasn’t that elderly, or a gentleman) decided to tell me how ‘terrible’ the store’s customer service was. I haven’t got the time or energy to tell you just how wrong this man was/is/will always be.

I wanted to laugh, but I settled for the professional, polite, patronising response: ‘You are well within your rights to complain Sir’.  I then left the store ready to vandalise his vehicle in the car park as a final act of defiance.

Obviously, I didn’t (I am unable to break any kind of rule without my insides shrivelling with guilt) but my word – the relief I feel from leaving behind that job is palpable. I’ll miss the team I’ve worked with, but I will not miss being an emotional doormat for people who are having a bad day. It’s so cathartic to finally reduce my retail career down to a few scathing, passive aggressive paragraphs.

I’ve spent the weekend celebrating with friends, drinking , bursting with laughter, and listening to live music. I want to write excessively about how grand it’s all been, but Wolf Alice’sBros’ is far more powerful and poetic – so I’ll let it speak for me:

(Image Courtesy of: https://www.pinterest.com/ajohnston2000/snl/)

SUNDAY #11 – WOLF ALICE

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Unusually, this week’s post is all about appearance. My friend Hollie helped me give this blog a facelift, then my hairdresser put blonde highlights in my hair. The last time I changed my hair colour, I was 17. I tried to dye it blonde but the colour came out wrong and turned my hair to straw. I vowed to remain natural, but this week I took a risk and let the bleach do its thing once again.

As I was driving to work with my newly blonde bob, Wolf Alice came on the radio. I turned up the volume, and forgot to care about anything for three whole minutes. Their single ‘Giant Peach’ is released on the 13th of this month, and their debut album My Love is Cool will hit our ear holes on 22nd of June.

Below is my favourite video for the song Moaning Lisa Smile. The dance competition is held on the 25th of May, which is my birthday. I can’t help but ascribe an immense amount of significance to this.

(Image courtesy of: https://33.media.tumblr.com/1a4691cab41de19a6644ca4d63681c28/tumblr_n6ch1v8N7N1r4vcrro1_500.gif)