Author Archives: Zara Hoffman

UK Artist of the Week: The Nickajack Men

Mainstream alt-country artists such as Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and even Alabama Shakes have been paving the way for a new generation of musicians to embrace the genre with open arms. Scottish four-piece The Nickajack Men are some of these said musicians—and they’re our Artist of The Week.

These four young lads are pushing all the boundaries with their debut EP “Wasting Away,” a record filled with sonically alluring twists and turns from the outset. The first single from the EP, “Running” is a feel-good blend of good old-fashioned indie rock tinged with appropriately placed snippets of Americana. Lead singer Lewis White’s vocal carries the song effortlessly, sounding quite akin to The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.

The Nickajack Men have also recently shared free download song “Marilyn,” an infectiously catchy track which offers insight into what Oasis might have sounded like were they to go country. Needless to say, these guys are ones to watch—they’ve become regulars on the Scottish live circuit and are now ready to take their sound down south and beyond.

“Wasting Away” by The Nickajack Men is out on May 26th, 2017.

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UK Artist of the Week: Maria Kelly

Irish singer-songwriter Maria Kelly has been a favourite at The Vinyl District HQ for quite some time, and as a result we felt it was high time she was featured as our UK Artist of the Week.

Maria’s latest single “Far Below” is yet another delicately weaved piece of indie-folk—a style quickly becoming Kelly’s signature. The track tackles Maria’s battle with self-expression whist still managing to anchor itself with strength and wisdom. Stunningly performed from start to finish, “Far Below” spotlights Maria’s fragile and honest vocals perfectly. Fans of Lucy Rose and Billie Marten will certainly not be disappointed, that’s for sure.

Maria has been writing music since the age of 10 and is currently a student at the well-known music college BIMM in Dublin. Since the release of her previous singles “Before It Has Begun,” “Black & Blue,” and “Stitches,” Maria has gone from strength to strength. Having previously supported James Vincent Mcmorrow and Orla Gartland and set to perform at the prestigious Great Escape Festival in May, it’s safe to say Maria is definitely one to watch.

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Needle Drop: Rebel Westerns, “Envy”

Following a successful 2016, on the back of their banging single “Atomic Blonde,” Rebel Westerns have returned with a brand new track. “Envy” is the latest offering from the Edinburgh based five-piece as they make a play for a burgeoning corner of the music scene, already filled with uber successful indie-poppers The 1975 and renowned electro-pop band Passion Pit.

One thing that cannot be denied about Rebel Westerns is that they expertly compile hook-laden, catchy songs, earworms if you like, that wouldn’t sound out of place on mainstream radio the world over. There is a catch though. Where Rebel Westerns succeed in producing memorable pop music, they lack in finding their own voice, their own definitive sound; something that would mark them from an already bustling crowd.

“Envy” could be an unreleased b-side taken from The 1975’s most recent album. It’s just a little too similar. It’s just a little too derivative. That’s not to say Rebel Westerns aren’t destined for bigger things. Their potential is huge and lies in their ability to produce danceable anthems, indie disco classics prompting swathes of clubbers to jump to their feet hot stepping around the dance floor. The direction they choose is entirely in their own hands. I for one, will be interested to discover how their sound develops over the next few releases.

“Envy” by Rebel Westerns is in stores now via Get Strange.

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UK Artist of the Week: Victoria Celestine

Just in time for summer, our latest Artist of The Week is Victoria Celestine; a 20 year old electro-pop artist from both Texas and France respectively.

Victoria’s latest single “Carrying On” is filled with vibrant, glittering pop from the very start, inspiring thoughts of driving along coastal roads without a care in the world. Some may feel the track has a somewhat bubblegum pop feel to it but, upon further investigation, you’ll find elements of electronica akin to Chvrches and Electric Youth creeping through, as well as ethereal vocals similar to Ellie Goulding. Essentially, there’s something for everyone.

Despite her tender years Victoria has been releasing music since she was 13 and was originally discovered by producer Gordon Raphael (The Strokes, Regina Spektor). Since then, Victoria has continued develop her own unique blend of electro pop and she’s now ready to continue on her journey of self-discovery with her latest release.

“Carrying On” arrives in stores on 21st April 2017.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Phantoms

The indie sounds of the noughties have been making a comeback recently and Scottish four-piece The Phantoms are the latest band to bring back our favourite anthemic rumbles and driving beats of the decade.

Their latest single “Shadows” kicks off in full force, reminiscent of stadium rockers Kasabian and U2 to name but a few. Lead singer Colin Simpson’s reverb-heavy vocal drives the band whilst Euan Crowe’s infectious guitar hooks intertwine effortlessly underneath. Having already supported the likes of Catfish And The Bottlemen and We Were Promised Jetpacks, these guys put on one hell of a live show to say the least.

Formed in 2012, Colin, Euan, Blair Cullen (drums), and Zach Tarimo Goodhur (bass) having been making noise up in Scotland for quite some time now. With the release of “Shadows,” the boys hope to introduce the UK and the rest of the world to their cathartic blend of good old-fashioned indie rock.

“Shadows” is in stores on 21st April 2017.

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UK Artist of the Week:
EMILIE

Electro pop songstress Emily Atkinson, or EMILIE as she’s more commonly known, is certainly one to watch. With a critically acclaimed single already under her belt, EMILIE’s latest release “Never Enough” is set to get tongues wagging yet again—which is why she’s our Artist of the Week.

Emily has been regularly playing the Scottish live circuit for a number of years now making a name for herself locally as well as across the UK. She’s already supported SG Lewis and Be Charlotte to name but a few, and she’s also successfully sold out her debut EP launch last year for “I See You In The Darkness.”

EMILIE’s latest single “Never Enough” is a stunning electro pop track from start to finish that compliments Emily’s soft, ethereal vocals perfectly. Fans of Låpsley and BANKS will immediately draw comparisons and quite rightly so. This latest cut sits EMILIE in good stead to compete with these equally talented ladies.

“Never Enough” is in stores now via Depot Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: Mt. Doubt

Mt. Doubt, or as he’s commonly known, Leo Bargery, is no stranger to the Scottish live circuit. Beginning as a solo artist in 2015, Leo quickly realised he needed a few helping hands, and as a result Mt. Doubt was born. With his latest single “Tourists” in stores later this month, here’s why he’s our Artist of the Week this week.

“Tourists” is an instantly catchy indie-rock track from the Scottish native relating Bargery’s fear of flying and how getting bitten by the travel bug just isn’t for everyone. This theme caught our eye in particular as it’s not the usual drivel you hear from an “indie” band, but actually a rather honest account of Bargery’s trepidations. Fans of The National and The Twilight Sad will immediately hear similarities of course, but Leo still seems to be able to make this number his own with his incredibly impressive warm baritone vocal taking centre stage.

“Tourists” is one half of a AA-side Mt. Doubt will be releasing alongside fellow rockers Foreignfox who met after playing a show together in Inverness last year, and the rest as they say, is history. With this release both bands hope to expand their fan base, and we wish them both the very best of luck.

“Tourists” is arrives in stores on 31st March 2017 via Scottish Fiction.

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UK Artist of the Week:
The Nyx

PHOTO: KEIRA ANEE | London four-piece The Nyx are a band full of bite and raucous energy. Their debut self-titled EP is out on 21st April 2017 and they’ve already teased us with two undeniably powerful cuts to get you in the mood for their ferocious female rock.

Both “Home” and “Hideaway” feature front woman Simone Picknett’s authentic lead vocals which carry the song effortlessly. However, she is not the only band member graced with an undeniable ability to command a mic—The Nyx are blessed with not one but two front women, and Becky Wixon’s equally fierce vocals take centre stage in the second half of the EP with “Fire Breathing Lady” and “Myself.” These two vocalists merge brilliantly while also having their own completely different personalities.

Completing the quartet are Ruby Rose Lee (bass) and Collette Williams (drums) and we can’t help but notice that these ladies put on one hell of a live show. Fans of Hole and The Julie Ruin will be relieved to hear that riot grrrl rock is back—and thriving.

“The Nyx” is out on 21st April 2017 via Rumours Music.

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UK Artist of the Week: Fuzzystar

Our Artist of The Week is Edinburgh’s own Fuzzystar, aka Andy Thomson. Andy started out as a solo artist under the same pseudonym before he recruited a team of revolving musicians to assist him on his way.

Fuzzystar’s forthcoming album Telegraphing arrives in stores on 28th April and he’s already shared two stunning cuts from the LP. The first of which, “High Friends” is a slow building, feel good track that compliments Thomson’s soft, colloquial vocals perfectly. As the full force of the song comes into play, you can feel elements from The Cribs and Sun Kil Moon heavily influencing Fuzzystar’s infectiously charming indie pop vibe.

Next up is the immediately upbeat “Angel Transported,” filled with some undeniably catchy guitar hooks. This song may be a bit too generic indie for some, but we urge you to dig a little deeper and enjoy the mesmerizing storytelling charm that Andy seems to easily evoke.

Telegraphing is on store shelves 28th April, 2017 via Satellite Sounds and “Angel Transported” is released on 24th February, 2017.

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UK Artist of the Week: Rainbrother

Danish songwriter Bjarke Bentsen has been making a splash across the globe for a while now—although you may not know it. Having previously released music under the name The Migrant, Bjarke is back with a new collective of musicians as psychedelic folk outfit Rainbrother.

Having supported well-established acts like Kurt Vile, Villagers, and Sharon Van Etton, Rainbrother have been receiving huge amounts of praise for their debut album Tales From The Drought. The first track taken from the album “Riverside” was premiered by the highly regarded UK label Fat Cat Records and the band have been flying higher and higher ever since. Their latest single “Blue” is a feel-good banger that will whisk those winter cobwebs away, feeling reminiscent of early Fleet Foxes as well as indie newcomers Whitney.

Bjarke formed Rainbrother after returning to Copenhagen and meeting up with a group of fellow Danish musicians who had previously performed with Bjarke while touring as The Migrant. The rest, as they say, is history and the band have been going from strength to strength ever since.

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UK Artist of the Week: DYVE

When we first heard Adam Cleaver here at TVD we were pretty impressed. He’s previously released two rather successful solo EPs that fall somewhere between Ben Howard’s chilled acoustic folk melodies and Thom Yorke’s flawless falsetto vibes. Well, fast forward to the present day and Cleaver has teamed up with a host of new musicians to create minimalist, electronic outfit DYVE.

Their debut single “Half Awake” is a real treat for the ears; filled with stunning electronic twists and turns, and of course Adam’s soaring vocal centre stage. It perhaps isn’t all that new to us in a world of James Blakes and RY Xs, but there is definitely some amazing talent here and it’s an exciting first release from the London collective.

Adam formed DYVE after travelling around Europe on his own and some might say “finding himself.” Well, whatever he found, it’s working—we say keep it up!

“Half Awake” is out on 20th January 2017 via Veta Records.

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Needle Drop: Melissa Bel, In the Light

Canadian born, ’50s inspired singer Melissa Bel recently released her latest album In the Light—a collection of flirtatious, feel-good pop songs filled with sass and emotion. Melissa now resides in the UK after she went to friend’s wedding in Las Vegas and met the love of her life, and In the Light was born.

Opening track “Real Tonight” is about that night in Vegas. It has an upbeat, fresh feeling, preparing you perfectly for what’s to come from the album, although title track “In the Light” almost flips this on its head and reveals Melissa’s more emotional side. Her soothing voice transcends the speakers creating a tranquil atmosphere.”In the Light” is followed by the effervescent “Stay Gone” which is a true ear-worm.

The album changes course again with “Dirty Word” which has an amusing, lively feel that seems anything but serious, barring the lyrics, “You say love, like it’s a dirty word…” “Big Boys Don’t Cry” follows in the same suit with melodies that are akin to some of Cee Lo’s wax.

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UK Artist of the Week: Vigo Thieves

Vigo Thieves have been making waves in the UK for a number of years now. Having previously released a string of singles and two EPs, the Scottish five-piece have just released their first full length album Heartbeats, and it’s a real treat for the ears.

Despite the band being away for a while, Heartbeats feels completely timeless. Each track blends in effortlessly to the next with feel good vibes oozing from all directions. Title track “Heartbeats” is infectiously catchy with frontman Stevie Jukes’ soaring vocals taking centre stage and reminding us of Coldplay’s Chris Martin but with a Scottish twang.

Vigo Thieves met in Wishaw in 2008 and they’ve been busy bees ever since. They’ve played Scotland’s T In The Park numerous times and have also supported huge acts such as The Courteeners. The guys are now ready to unleash their dynamic, anthemic sound on to the world and we’ll be chanting along behind them the whole way.

Heartbeats is out now via HiJacked Records.

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Needle Drop: Vienna Ditto, “Busted Flush” EP

Vienna Ditto is band who are hard to define. With their previous EP “Ticks,” one felt you could potentially put them in the box with new wave artists such as The B-52s. They are a band who defy genre and they continue to do so with their latest EP “Busted Flush.”

Title track “Busted Flush” has a fantastic tango-like feel, almost as if its been composed especially for the Moulin Rouge. Moving swiftly to “Barracuda”—about guitarist Nigel Firth living in his barracuda bungalow boat (obviously)—this one’s more upbeat and oozing with wonderful ’80s inspired synths and sci-fi infused goodness. The final track on this multi-coloured, vibrant EP is “Boy Meets Wolf,” a blues tune that wouldn’t feel out-of-place in some sort of new-age Western.

Throughout the EP, lead singer Hatty Taylor’s voice is focused—her smoky, soft tone breathing life into each track. “Busted Flush” may not be everyone but there’s certainly a huge amount of intrigue and more than enough to dig your teeth into—mark our words.

“Busted Flush” is out now via Ubiquity Project Recordings.

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UK Artist of the Week: When Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday

When Tomorrow Becomes Yesterday is a brand new project put together by singer-songwriter Jo Mango and an array of academic researchers, songwriters, and sustainability organisations. The aim of the project is to bring together all forms of academic, musical, artistic, and practical knowledge to create a world where our climate is supported and not diminished.

The project will be releasing three free download tracks along with a video documentary to help spread the word about this fantastically good cause. Jo has managed to compile a brilliant lineup of artists to work with including Adem, Louis Abbott of Admiral Fallow, and Craig Beaton of The Unwinding Hours.

Between them, these songwriters have written three stunning folk ditties that will hit you right in the feels. “Better Lands” and “If I Could Choose” are available now and “The Ceasing” will be released later this month.

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