LOUD WOMEN’s 2018 HERcury prize shortlist is a bakers’ dozen (whittled down from 30) of albums released between July 2017 and July 2018 by British-based, (self-identified) female, female-fronted and female-driven bands. Votes cast by Team LOUD WOMEN. Not much crossover here, you’ll notice, with lesser, so-called music prizes.
Winner to be announced 15 September live at LOUD WOMEN Fest!

Without further ado, our shortlist, in alphabetical order:

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1) Argonaut – Argonaut Forever (November 2017)

“Raw and fragile and urgent in all the best ways,” to quote Loud Women’s review; Argonaut’s third album presented last year’s new material and revisited key tracks from their first two albums, serving as a liminal release before the unveiling of their revamped band line-up for 2018.

2) Bratakus – Target Grrrl (August 2017)

Probably the best Scottish sibling bass ‘n’ drum grunge album since, well, The Twistettes’ LP the year before, Bratakus are just one of many Caledonian bands rocking Loud Women’s world right now. Short sharp punk soundbites and catchy-as-hell chant-a-longs on this well-received debut, like a charmingly-gnarly hybrid of The Exploited and The Distillers.

3) Chvrches – Love is Dead (May 2018)

No inverse snobbery around these parts: Chvrches’ third Top 10 album has one firm foot in 21st Century stadium pop and the other in 80s electro, and Loud Women love it like we love our Taylor Swift and Yazoo albums. Lyrics like ‘Graves’ hint at political bite beneath the glossy perfect-pop sheen.

4) Crumbs – Mind Yr Manners (July 2017)

Debut album from this Leeds-based ‘funk post-punk disco pop party pack’ fourpiece. They’ve got the stripped-down, melodic tunes, they’ve got the best song titles (‘Stockport Syndrome’, ‘Ciggy Stardust’) and they’ve got a place in the 2018 Loud Women Fest line-up!

Surely in itself reason enough to get tickets.

5) Dream Wife – Dream Wife (January 2018)

Much-loved, tune-packed debut from this Brighton-based pop-punk trio. Unmistakably Icelandic vocals atop an irresistible noughties-new wave sound that recalls the likes of CSS and New Young Pony Club.

6) Goat Girl – Goat Girl (April 2018)

A deserved Top 30 chart placing rewarded Goat Girl’s eponymous debut, an unexpected delight of an album from a young, all-female group sounding wise beyond their years and uncategorisable to the genre-fixated. The band traverses a range of moods across 19 song-sketches held together by a deceptively lazy-hazy vocal. Did that song really recommend several methods for literally executing the Tory government? Yes. Yes it did.

7) ILL – We Are ILL (May 2018)

“A perfect storm of enigma, whimsy and controlled violence,” according to our reviewer, ILL’s debut album has only been blowing minds for two months, yet already feels somehow like it’s always existed. A genre-straddling state-of-the-nation address, with added bear growls.

8) LIINES – Stop-Start (May 2018)

‘Long-awaited’ might be a cliche, but in the case of LIINES‘ debut album, it’s a fitting description for a band that’s evolved steadily from fin-de-siecle Manc post-riot grrrl stalwarts Hooker. The tightest, heaviest rhythm section in DIY supports Zoe McVeigh’s emotional vocals and haiku-like songwriting, together conjuring an atmosphere of taut, claustrophobic menace like a UK postpunk time capsule.

9) Nervous Twitch – I Won’t Hide (November 2017)

“Catchy lo-fi garage pop” says our reviewer, and it’s the third album in only as many years from this DIY Leeds trio. One of three albums in the shortlist from Cardiff’s Odd Box Records, Nervous Twitch present 14 tracks of surfy guitar and Headcoatees-esque vocals, with a 60s girl group influence.

10) Rainbow Reservoir – Channel Hanna (February 2018)

Perfect indie-punk-power-pop with clear riot grrrl influences from this Oxford trio, fronted by Connecticut native Angela Space. The title track tells you everything you need to know, but there’s not a bad song on Rainbow Reservoir’s varied and entertaining debut.

11) Shopping – The Official Body (January 2018)

DIY queercore supergroup-success-story Shopping show no signs of running out of credit (yeah we went there) on their third album in five years. With Edwyn Collins back in the producers’ chair, the pace is faster, the bass is heavier, Rachel Aggs’ vocals have a newly-won confidence and their ability to paint propulsive-yet-plaintive pictures (ref. ‘Asking for a Friend’) is in full effect.

12) Sink Ya Teeth – Sink Ya Teeth (June 2018)

A perfect ten tracks of no wave-disco electropop on the brilliant debut album from this Norwich duo. And omg that *is* Gemma from KaitO!

13) Suggested Friends – Suggested Friends (November 2017)

Soundbites like “instantly catchy guitar work”, “strong singalong chorus” and “lush harmonies” litter our review of this self-titled debut from Suggested Friends. Something of a supergroup featuring members of Standard Fare, Chorusgirl and Wolf Girl, the band brings some of the sensibilities of those groups to this record, mixed with 80s/90s influences and an epic quality unusual for the DIY indiepop scene.

Runners-Up

Brix & the Extricated – Part 2
Charismatic Megafauna – Semi-Regular
Colour Me Wednesday – Counting Pennies in the Afterlife
Days Fade, Nights Grow – Amelioration
The Duke Spirit – Sky is Mine
DuckFaceache
Gwenno – Le Kov
Kate Nash – Yesterday is Forever
The Kut – Valley of Thorns
Ramonas – First World Problems
REWSPyro
Runt – Positions of Power
The Selecter – Daylight
Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination
Table Scraps – Autonomy
Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life
You Want Fox – Reverse the Curse

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