by Kris Smith
It’s that time of year again, time for the only prize that really matters: the LOUD WOMEN Hercury Music Award.
After taut, masked-up, socially-distanced deliberations amongst the LOUD WOMEN team (not just mouths under our masks, but full noses and everything), we have whittled this year’s crop of Hercury contenders down from nearly fifty albums to a dashing dozen nominations. Many are played, few are chosen.
You know the criteria by now: LPs (sorry, EP fans) released by self-identified female or non-binary artists in the twelve months from mid July 2019. Any format, any distribution.
After pretty much the only election guaranteed to produce a good result, the democratically-decided winner of the 2020 Hercury Music Award will be announced in September. Without further ado, here are those tiptop twelve:
Bugeye – Ready Steady Bang (July 2020)
The Hercury-nominee with the longest gestation period, an early incarnation of Bugeye having been active in the late 90s before the band reformed five years ago. Ten indie-disco-punk nuggets with a post-Britpop feel on this Reckless Yes debut.
Charmpit – Cause a Stir (April 2020)
Debut album on Specialist Subject from the partly California-raised ‘anarcuties’. Quietly subversive cultural politics with a barrelful of musical sugar to ease the medicine down. File under femme, not twee (then burn the filing system; they’re anarchists).
deux furieuses – My War Is Your War (Oct 2019)
Formidable follow-up political statement to first record ‘Tracks of Wire’ from the Furieuses, once more produced by Rob Ellis (PJ Harvey, Anna Calvi). An alternative rock LP about “reaching out to find common cause” against regressive populism, patriarchy and despair. Righteousness done right.
Dream Wife – So When You Gonna… (July 2020)
Recorded with an all-female production team, a measured second album from this politically-engaged art school trio, presenting a mixture of moods amidst nagging hooks and irresistible vocals. To cherry-pick an interview quote: “It’s not our job to satisfy men; we’re here to rock out.”
Gaptooth – Sharp Minds, Raised Fists (Oct 2019)
A second DIY album from Hannah Lucy’s ‘riot grrrl-influenced electro-pop’ solo project. An immediate album of sharp lyrics and big choruses but also one that reveals new layers of emotional depth with repeated listening. (Full LW review here)
Hurtling – Future From Here (Oct 2019)
Broodingly-powerful debut album from Hurtling, the latest alt rock project from Jen Macro (Something Beginning With L, My Bloody Valentine, Charlotte Hatherley). Elements of Boston indie and English shoegaze with grunge-pop hooks. (Full LW review here)
The Lovely Eggs – I Am Moron (April 2020)
A sixth album of wry, quirky, psychedelic indie from the unstoppable Eggs, just two years since their last release. A topical focus lends an angrier edge to the band’s typically sardonic guitar pop.
Nova Twins – Who Are The Girls? (Feb 2020)
A relentless big beat/rapcore noise monster of a debut album from the Twins, that fulfils all the promise of their EP/singles and more. Bolstered by a strong visual style all their own, and supported by a series of Harry Lindley/Wanderland Films-produced promo videos.
Salad – The Salad Way (Aug 2019)
Third album proper and a well-received return after a twenty-year break from this underrated Britpop band, their near-complete original line up of Marijne van der Vlugt, Paul Kennedy and Pete Brown now augmented with Charley Stone on guitar/vocals. Tuneful, idiosyncratic indie rock.
Shopping – All or Nothing (Feb 2020)
The fourth long player from Rachel, Andrew and Billy, with their adept lo-fi take on that mutant disco/no wave dance-punk sound. Shopping pull the neat trick of getting better with every album, leaving you restless to hear what they do next.
Sink Ya Teeth – Two (Feb 2020)
Second album of postpunked-up electro funk from Maria and Gemma. Bass-driven retrofuturist ennui, ideal for dancing to in your room while the world collapses.
Slum of Legs – Slum of Legs (March 2020)
Long-awaited eponymous ‘queer feminist noise pop’ debut album from the Brighton-based Slum of Legs, a self-described ‘giant pop-psych, punk monster with twelve legs’. In their own words, “a manifesto for compassion and defiance in a confusing, unrestful world.” (Full LW review and interview here)
There were some excellent runners up this year as always, including the swansong second album from the already-missed Suggested Friends and the debut from Jemma Freeman & the Cosmic Something as well as Es, BLÓM, Porridge Radio, Brix & the Extricated, Harkin, Pet Crow, Nadine Shah, FKA Twigs, No Home, False Advertising, Lauren Tate, Piney Gir, Cultdreams, Marika Hackman, Foxcunt, Slagheap, Killdren and more.