Author Archives: Zara Hoffman

UK Artist of the Week: Liv Austen

This week’s Artist of The Week is country-pop princess Liv Austen. Her new single “Don’t Regret A Single One” is guaranteed to shake away those January blues.

Liv has been making waves in the UK country scene for quite some time now. Her previous single “The Next Time” was picked up by both country and pop fans, including the acclaimed UK radio station Chris Country who popped her on the A list in excess of 12 weeks, with Liv the only UK artist to make the cut.

With “Don’t Regret A Single One,” Liv continues to blur the lines between the two genres, however her latest cut is possibly straying closer toward the country world, sounding akin to an early Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. Liv’s latest single is a feel-good anthem about learning from your romantic mistakes in a more positive way. Its undeniably catchy from start to finish and is guaranteed to stay in your head for days (sorry!).

“Don’t Regret A Single One” is in stores now via NUA.

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UK Artist of the Week: Dream Estate

2018 looks like its going to be a promising year for indie-pop newcomers Dream Estate. Their latest single “You” was re-released at the end of last year and its ethereal beauty is second to none.

“You” opens with lead singer William Tse’s celestial vocals carrying the song effortlessly as the rest of the stylistic musicianship comes into play. From start to finish, this single is swarming with sultry electronics, dazzling harmonies, and twinkling guitar strums. Dream Estate are following in the footsteps of The Japanese House who have been paving the way for a fresh, new ambient pop sound.

William formed Dream Estate in Leeds in 2015 as a solo project but he was later joined by Dan Hvorostovsky (bass, backing vocals), Dan Noble (lead guitar, backings vocals), and Joe Dawson (drums). With a debut EP already under their belt, we can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for the lads.

“You” is in stores now.

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Needle Drop: East of My Youth, “Go Home”

We’ve previously featured East of My Youth as our Artist of the Week and it’ll be no surprise why after you hear their latest corker of a tune. “Go Home” is another stunning slice of electro-pop underscoring that the Nordics really do do it best.

East of My Youth’s “Go Home” opens slowly with Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir’s smooth, sultry vocals leading the way. Underneath are Herdís Stefánsdóttir’s percolating MicroKorg synth sounds, a funky bass line, and mellow electronic beats that carry the track. This may be a bit of a slow burner but trust us, roll with it. As the layers within the track reveal themselves, the listener is transported into another world where only these pulsating, mesmerizing beats matter.

Thelma and Herdís are without a doubt, a force to be reckoned with. Not only do these Icelandic talents have unique style, their music feels extremely personal, yet completely current and relatable at once. 2018 may well be a big year for them, so watch this space…

“Go Home” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week:
The Little Kicks

This week’s Artist of the Week are Scottish indie rockers The Little Kicks. The band released their latest album, Shake Off Your Troubles, earlier this year and they’re back with a fourth single from said release, “Bang The Drum Slowly.”

At first listen you’d be forgiven for thinking this is just another noughties indie rock remake, but we urge you to listen closer and enjoy. The Little Kicks definitely have an element of fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand about them, but they also incorporate glitchy electronic beats and fuzzy guitar that separate them from the masses.

“Bang The Drum Slowly” is brilliantly catchy from the offset with lead singer Steven Milne’s crisp, sharp vocal taking full control. Milne explains, “The themes of the record would be a feeling of happiness, gratitude, and to be thankful with what you have and not take things for granted. Furthermore, not to let others get you down or let anyone put you in your place.”

The Little Kicks have been core players in the Scottish music scene for some time and have already supported a number of huge bands including The Maccabees and Maximo Park. With “Bang The Drum Slowly,” The Little Kicks hope the rest of the UK (and beyond) will take note of their eclectic indie pop sound.

“Bang The Drum Slowly” is in stores now via Loosen Up Records.

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Needle Drop: Fuzzystar, “Superhero”

Having only released his debut album Telegraphing a mere six months ago, Fuzzystar has returned with another catchy slice of fizzy pop. His single “Superhero” brings back the nostalgic feels of the ’90s whilst incorporating a modern twist into his upbeat indie sound.

The track commences with an vibrant guitar line that exhales exuberance and delivers the buoyancy that makes the track so cheerful. However, when Andy’s vocals enter the song, a wave of contrasting emotions are revealed. His soft, effortless, yet articulate voice chimes in and brings the proceedings back down to earth. The track doesn’t expand much more from there, but it lifts you up and eventually floats the listener back down—a most chilled roller coaster ride.

“Superhero” was written during a tough time for Andy, not knowing what the future held. The songwriter explains, “It’s about trying to make the best of bad times and just getting through it, whilst being aware of your own flaws and failings. Making this into a superhero story added a bit of distance to be able to write about it, rather than trying to tell it directly. ”

“Superhero” and debut album Telegraphing are both in stores now via Satellite Sounds.

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UK Artist of the Week: Reema

Over the past year the UK has introduced us to some amazing new folk artists and singer-songwriter Reema is no exception. Her latest single “What The Whisper Said” is taken from her new vinyl release The LowSwing Sessions, which is a collaboration with composer and arranger Guy Sternberg.

“What The Whisper Said” is a stunning piece of traditional folk, filled with a gorgeous array of instruments that gradually creep in behind Reema’s distinctive vocal. Somewhat akin to Beth Orton or Lisa Hanningan, there’s no denying the folk influences. Reema combines these traditional elements to tell the story of an old man who kept a dark secret that has died with his former lover. It’s her ability to tell this story as an old folk tale while Sternberg’s avant-guarde, jazz influences intermingle that really make this track a stand out.

As mentioned earlier, the single is taken from Reema’s latest vinyl release which was recorded live and analog, reflecting Reema’s honest, brave, and utterly, utterly beautiful songcraft.

The LowSwing Sessions arrives in stores on 8th December 2017 via LowSwing Records—on vinyl.

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UK Artist of the Week: Kevin Pearce

Essex based singer-songwriter Kevin Pearce’s new single “Maria Come Home” has arrived just in time for winter, and it’s ready to warm you right up. As a result, we’ve aptly decided to make Kevin this week’s Artist of The Week.

The single is instantly atmospheric, filled with captivating strings, pretty piano notes, and Kevin’s heartbreakingly warm vocal taking centre stage. It could easily be mistaken for a Christmas song and despite its bittersweet sound in parts, it manages to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling throughout.

The single is an ode to the late, great soprano Maria Callas, an artist Kevin is personally touched by and the sadness of her story is clearly self-evident within Pearce’s widely emotive vocal. Kevin has already received support from a number of UK publications as well as BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2.

“Maria Come Home” is from Kevin’s new album So On, in stores on 8th December 2017 via Dharma Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: OAKLND

There’s been some great electro-pop artists to come out of the woodwork this year and OAKLND—aka Colin Mckillop—is no exception. His latest single “Hold On” is out now.

“Hold On” is a west coast-inspired piece of pop that combines chillwave, R&B, and electro-pop sensibilities akin to the likes of LANY and Astronomyy. It’s the perfect track to help you forget about the fact that winter is well and truly coming, and instead transports you back to summer and encourages living that Californian dream.

Colin, originally from Scotland, took a trip to LA and thus “Hold On” was born. He was immediately influenced by the city’s carefree vibes and breezy, dream-pop goodness which you can hear throughout his latest single. So, close your eyes, listen to “Hold On,” and feel you’re back on the beach with a pina colada.

“Hold On” is in stores now via AWAL.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Deportees

Once again those pesky Scots have produced another musical gem. This time it’s new finds The Deportees who take our Artist of The Week crown.

The band’s latest single “I Lost Her To The Sea” is a catchy piece of melodic folk from the offset and throughout. Hints of Mumford & Sons are certainly there via the band’s feel-good harmonies, but there’s also elements of Idlewild and The Waterboys for those who appreciate that age-old Scottish twang. This is the second single to be released from The Deportees’ debut album The Birth of Industry, out this Friday.

The band formed in rural Aberdeenshire in 2010 after having played in separate bands previously. The five-piece take influence from their Celtic roots as well as Americana and folk-rock, however we feel it’s their ability to write highly addictive melodies and flawless four-part harmonies that will set them apart. If you’re a fan of upbeat, catchy folk, then these guys are certainly for you.

The Birth of Industry is in stores 3rd November 2017.

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Needle Drop: The Anatomy Of Frank,
South America

PHOTO: CAMERON SMITH | The Anatomy Of Frank are an astonishing breath of fresh air within today’s global folk and indie scene. Described as “art-folk,” the band are so dedicated to their craft that they plan to record an album on every continent. With their debut album North America in stores, the band now share the second chapter of their conquest, South America.

South America was recorded with Stephen Cope in a private farmhouse in the Ecuadorian mountains in 5 short weeks as the band tackled anxieties and loss head on. With a drip-feed of family and friends providing a source of inspiration during the recording sessions, the trio would take trips to the Amazon or spend time in the mountains to rejuvenate their spirit.

The album begins with “Ecuador (A New Year),” an eerie whistle into an acoustic intro that, when listening in headphones, captivates and instantly evolves into a cinematic soundtrack. As the album kicks into “The Girl From Ipanema,” the magnificent songwriting and storytelling of vocalist Kyle Woolard charms, hypnotises, and grasps you emotively.

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UK Artist of the Week: East of My Youth

Those pesky Nordics have been serving up some amazing acts recently and East Of My Youth is the latest. Their current twinkling delight is new the single “Broken Glass,” out now via West Of My Future Ltd.

Kicking off with silky smooth vocals and a truly hypnotic electro-pop beat, you’ll have your toes tapping from the offset and throughout. As the track builds, we are introduced to a celestial cocktail of synth-infused sounds and soaring, ethereal vocals, creating a wonderfully majestic sound. Fans of Anna Of the North and Lykke Li will feel at home here.

East Of My Youth—aka Herdís Stefánsdóttir and Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir—formed in May 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland. In that small space of time, these extremely talented women have already started making a name for themselves both in their home country, the UK, and across the pond. Having already dazzled fans at SXSW and Iceland Air, we can’t wait to see what they get up to next. Watch this space…

“Broken Glass” is in stores now via West Of My Future Ltd.

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UK Artist of the Week: Happy Abandon

Having formed back in 2015 and played shows across the east coast of the US and Canada including an appearance at SXSW, Happy Abandon have now released their stirring new album, Facepaint.

A collection of emotion-strewn creations that muse upon the feelings of loss and loneliness that run throughout relationships of all kinds, the album oozes a rich orchestral grandeur alongside catchy indie pop inclinations.

Opening track “Ivory Bound” is the perfect introduction to Facepaint. Filled with twinkling melodies and sweeping strings, it’s a beautifully heartfelt ballad, reminiscent of the likes of Fleet Foxes. Continuing in the same vein but with an added gritty sense of urgency, “Beneath Our Feet” showcases the impassioned power of Peter Vance’s vocals in a soaring slice of cinematic pop.

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UK Artist of the Week: Laura Elvin

Today we offer someone quite unique for our Artist of The Week; London-based Laura Elvin creates idiosyncratic alt-pop like nothing we’ve heard in a long time, and her latest single “Wonder” will leave you empowered—as well as perhaps slightly bewildered.

“Wonder” is performed on a custom-built music box, enabling Laura to create her own distinctive sound from the off-set. The twinkling notes playing in the background combined with Elvin’s powerful lead vocal somehow fit together wonderfully despite the obvious contrast. Fans of Kate Bush or Regina Spektor’s charismatic vocal styles will find similarities certainly, however Laura is definitely her own entity and we’re excited to see and hear what she’ll do next.

Laura is a fully autonomous artist and producer. Born in Camden and introduced to classical music by her family, Laura then went on to fully develop her love of jazz, classical pop, and rock music. After spending a number of years living on a sustainable farm, Elvin is now back in London ready to tackle the live circuit once again.

“Wonder” arrives in stores on 15th September 2017.

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UK Artist of the Week: Hvmmingbyrd

This week we have something truly mesmerizing for you. Meet Hvmmingbyrd, an electro-pop duo from Dublin who, having already made a name for themselves in their home country, are now ready to take their blissful soundscapes across the pond.

Their new single “Gozo” feels instantly euphoric, filled with twinkling melodies, intricate harmonies, and a gorgeous dream-pop production. “Gozo” was inspired by a trip to an island of the same name in Malta, and considering this is possibly the most pop leaning release from the duo so far, the story behind the song could explain its sunny production.

Deborah Byrne and Suzette Das met in early 2016 through mutual friends and they haven’t looked back since. Having already supported the likes of Jaguar Ma and having their music featured in H&M stores worldwide, the girls are now preparing to set out on a national tour across Ireland. Here’s hoping a world tour isn’t too far off the mark!

“Gozo” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Stephen McLaren

The world is a pretty weird place right now—both the US and UK are dealing with some difficult challenges, and no matter your opinion one thing is for certain, there’s some great music emerging as a result. One example of this is Scotland’s Stephen McLaren and his new single “No More (Say Yes),” which is why he’s our UK Artist of The Week.

“No More (Say Yes)” is a politically charged song written in support of the ongoing campaign for Scottish independence. Stephen combines these tough subject matters with new wave inspired electro-rock to create something truly anthemic and thought-provoking. The rest of McLaren’s forthcoming album We Used To Go Raving, in stores 29th September 2017, follows in a similar vein filled with ’80s nostalgia and silent nods toward Ian Curtis’ genius.

Stephen McLaren is no stranger to the music industry having already received critical acclaim as part of the Edinburgh-based band Collar Up. Now, McLaren is preparing to go it alone and mesmerize listeners with his own unique blend of electronica and rock.

We Used To Go Raving is out 29th September 2017 via Errant Media.

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