What a year.
We know 2020 has been God-awful, and I said as much in my Introducing ShinGig post, so I refuse to delve further into that doom and gloom. I didn't, however, mention any of the actual artists who are no longer with us (in the career sense, not the other one) at the end of this disastrous year.
There are countless musicians who have decided that this is the year to give it all in and get an office job, because at least you get a steady income in an office, right? But I've chosen these three as the ones I'm most upset/distraught/heartbroken about. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments.
Don't see this as the end. See it as a celebration of these bands' lives.
I want to preface this first entry by saying that yes, I know they technically broke up in 2019., but 2020 has been a long year and they split at the very end of 2019. Plus, I had this great jab at Boomers., so sue me.
With a name that would, if he bothered to Google the definition, have your Boomer uncle foaming at the mouth (although the word seems to have dropped out of the zeitgeist now, or maybe I've been away from Tumblr too long?), Otherkin first started making waves in 2015 with their four track EPs The 201 and The New Vice. The latter contained the debut of Yeah I Know, which scored spots on some top Spotify playlists and remains their most listened to to-date.
With a slew of strong EPs in their wake, Otherkin followed up with debut album 'OK' in 2017, which was well reviewed all round. Also in 2017, they gained some positive exposure with a viral tweet calling out and (quite rightly) condemning a recent sexual assault allegation at one of their gigs, telling the perpetrator to 'fuck back off to the basement you came from'. And off he fucked, hopefully never to return to a live gig ever again.
It was following their debut album that Otherkin really started to find their sound and come into their own. I had, admittedly (and wrongly), all but written them off as yet another Catfish clone, but with the release of singles Tombstone and On & On I started paying attention again. I'd go on to look forward to their sophomore album, but will instead have to make the most of mini-album Electric Dream.
In December 2019, Otherkin announced they were no more. The farewell tour concluded in their hometown of Dublin on 20th December 2019 and they've since released recordings of the set, which you can find here
NO HOT ASHES
I'm always fairly proud of myself when I discover a new band before they get a Flying Vinyl pressing. Skint Kids Disco and Easy Peeler had been staples in my 'On Repeat' playlist for a few months before a copy of Extra Terrestrial arrived through the letterbox.
One of Stockport's most promising new quartets, No Hot Ashes brought a string of EPs and a debut album, Hardship Starship. Even with an impressive release backlog, they'll be remembered for their energetic live performances, where they often brought similarly high-powered performers along including Indoor Pets, Ratboy and Only Sun.
The band took to their social channels just before the first lockdown to announce they were 'ending our journey', citing the pressures of balancing 'real life' and the band.
No Hot Ashes' farewell shows in London and Manchester have already been delayed twice, for obvious reasons, and they're now due to take place in March 2021. You can still get tickets here if you're quick.
I'll leave you with their 'Rider Review' of Jimmy's in Liverpool.
What to say about Stereo Honey? A favourite new discovery of recent years, they announced their discontinuation all the way back in March- and I'm still not over it.
Stereo Honey were full of promise- excellent live vocals, support slots with Amber Run and a gig at awesome London venue Bermondsey Social Club, to name a few endearing factors. They never got around to releasing an album, but the EPs they leave behind, in particular the beautiful and thought-provoking What Makes a Man, will leave a mark on the indiescape for a long time, helped in part by some top spots on guitar-focused Spotify playlists, I'm sure.
We have been robbed of a farewell show (thanks, covid!), but the lads have released a 'final goodbye' in the form of Ladders to the Sun - another belter of an EP laden with goose-pimple falsetto and crisp guitar riffs. I'll keep telling everyone I saw them in Bermondsey- maybe one day I'll believe myself.
Here's their stunning acapella (with Amber Run), filmed down an alleyway in Oxford.