Author Archives: Zara Hoffman

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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UK Artist of the Week: Circe’s Diner

This week’s Artist of the Week is Bristol-based duo Circe’s Diner. The pair’s captivating blend of alt-folk is both enchanting and powerful, and their new single “Who Dares” will easily find a place in your Summertime “chill” playlist.

Beginning completely a cappella, Rosina Buck’s sweet, husky tone and Bronte Shande’s warm, colourful vocal blends together effortlessly, immediately filling you with an undeniable sense of joy. Their minimalist style and mesmerizing harmonies are simply all you need for this soft, intricate hug of a song.

In tandem with the beautiful musicianship the song also pushes a strong message of being brave, despite all the sorrows that life can throw at you. This empowering message feels all the more moving combined with their twinkling alt-folk melodies and relatable lyrics such as “So drink wine with me, until it turns light and who knows, this time it might turn out alright.”

Having met whilst studying at BIMM Bristol in 2014, Circe’s Diner has gone from strength to strength. They have supported the likes of Let’s Eat Grandma and On Pop! as well as playing Glastonbury and Boomtown Festival previously. This year, they are on the road again, playing an array of UK festivals including Arctangent, Smoked and Uncut, and Boomtown to name but a few.

“Who Dares” is in stores now via Rough Kitchen Records.

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Needle Drop: DYVR, “Viridian”

Previously our Artist of the Week, London-based artist DYVR is back with another hauntingly captivating new single. “Viridian” is a spectacular piece of emotional electronica that deserves your attention.

Singer Adam Cleaver’s powerful falsetto grabs you immediately, and mixed with dissonant synths, subtle guitar, and repetitive drum beats, “Viridian” is a true musical delight. The song’s dark nature reflects upon the difficult subject matter of depression, rendering the track even more poignant and profound. Cleaver explains, “Emotional landscapes can feel impossible to navigate.”

“One of the most difficult things is finding the right way to speak about the issue, or whether to say anything at all. If there is a negative outcome, there is always a feeling that maybe you could have done more.”

Fans of SOHN and James Blake will certainly hear similarities, but there is something extra special in DYVR. Cleaver’s vocal definitely steals the show and the combination of producer Matt Harris (Hawk, Maria Kelly) and the soaring musicianship takes “Viridian” to the next level.

“Viridian” is in stores now via Veta Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: Milburn

There seems to be something in the air at the moment. Maybe it’s to do with the current struggles that are facing all corners of the world, but musicians seem to be giving everything they can to give something back. This certainly is the case for Northern indie-rockers Milburn who, as a result of overwhelming popular demand, have just played a 12,000 capacity show in their hometown of Sheffield with support from Reverend & the Makers and Cabbage. After ten years, these guys are back and better than ever, which is why they’re our Artist of The Week.

In addition to their most recent live show and selling out four huge anniversary shows, Milburn have also released a new single “Take Me Home.” The track feels refreshingly modern despite its noughties indie sound, falling somewhere between The Strokes (that guitar solo), We Are Scientists, and Blossoms.

For a band who have unfortunately been living in Arctic Monkeys’ shadow for the past decade, this comeback single means business—and clearly their fans are behind them all the way. Milburn will also be releasing their third studio album soon with a little bit of help from The Coral’s Bill Ryder-Jones, no less.

“Take Me Home” is in stores now via Red Essential.

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UK Artist of the Week: Stalagmites

Manchester has been known to deliver some incredible talent over the years and those talents have gone on to influence countless others. Our latest Artist of The Week has the potential to be one of these bands, and in all of the best ways possible. Falling somewhere between The Stones Roses and Interpol, Manchester’s Stalagmites are ready to introduce their alt-indie, dark-pop waves to the world.

Their debut single “Binary” has already received support from BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq and Radio X’s John Kennedy as well as having just signed to London’s Veta Records—all onto something good. The track is about “coming from a dark place and finding a way out, hoping it might be a simple switch but knowing it’s much more than that,” lead singer Bradley Lynch explains—something that feels even more poignant in the light of the recent events in their hometown. Combining elements of ’90s indie rock and dark electronic sounds, the single feels nostalgic and forward thinking all at the same time.

Having formed at school in Salford, Bradley and Alex Hardman (guitar) later found Nick Toft (drums) making the trio complete. “Binary” feels as though these guys are completely comfortable in their own skin, embracing snippets of their influencers whilst still their almighty selves.

“Binary” is in stores on 9th June 2017 via Veta Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: Emily Magpie

Having received praise from the likes of The Devil Has The Best Tuna and Gigslutz for her debut EP, and with a Sofar Sounds session under her belt, Bristol-based artist Emily Magpie has now returned with an utterly enchanting new offering.

“The Witching Hour” throbs with a bewitching energy as whirling effervescent melodies flow alongside Emily’s beautifully rich vocals. Written after reading a book about the witch trials and inspired by the power of femininity, Emily describes the track as a song “about claiming your own power deep from within you,” and it certainly is a powerful creation.

Teeming with delicately twinkling soundscapes, “The Witching Hour” soon builds to something more urgent, more intense. A pulsating fusion of delicate folk with ethereal electro beats, it’s an eerily poignant offering oozing a dark, majestic energy that’ll send chills down your spine without a doubt.

“The Witching Hour” is in stores 26th May, and Magpie is currently putting the finishing touches on an upcoming EP with the help of producer Anuj Robin.

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UK Artist of the Week: Coltana

Sitting comfortably somewhere between the raucous, rawness of Bikini Kill and Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner’s uncanny ability to make colloquial lyricism feel absolutely effortless, Coltana could very well be your next favourite UK rock group.

Their energetic new single “Break Her” tackles the subject of how women are seen within society and how they are often forced to compete with each other as a result of other people’s opinions. The single is oozing with racing riffs and infectious hooks that are a welcome comeback from the early ’00s. Lead singer Catherine Martindale’s London accent adds an extra lovely layer to this already addictive piece of alt-rock.

Having originally formed under the alias Poeticat, founding members Blake Kenrick (guitar) and Catherine decided to re-form under the new name Coltana alongside members Hugo Tevra (drums) and Gordon Duncan (bass) and the rest, as they say, is history.

“Break Her” by Coltana is out on 19th May 2017 via Poetical Presents.

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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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