Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: The Bara Bara Band

South London folk collective The Bara Bara Band have not only received acclaim for their debut album and previous two EPs from the likes of Folk Radio UK and FATEA magazine, but also keep themselves busy running their own folk club in Tooting.

Having garnered a loyal fan-base over the last few years, the band are now set to release their new album next month. Taken from the album, latest single “Plimsoll” is inspired by a true story of the politician of the same name who, in the 1800s, canvassed for better safety on cargo ships where owners were sending sailors off to their deaths to cash in on insurance.

A rich musical arrangement filled with layers of sweeping strings and delicate vocal harmonies, it’s a truly uplifting folk ditty that perfectly fuses together traditional lyrical storytelling with the band’s fresh take on instrumentation.

With the distinctive vocals of Ruth Jacob and Rupert Browne flowing together perfectly in sync, alongside lilting, uptempo melodies, it’s impossible not to fall in love at first listen with The Bara Bara Band’s whimsical charm and innovative sound.

The Seeds Inside (The Grapes Upon The Vine), the new album from The Bara Bara Band, is in stores 15th September via Singaround Records.

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TVD Live Shots: Star Shaped Festival at the
O2 Kentish Town, 8/5

Oh, how I loved the ’90s, and especially the music that came out of it. While the US had is a fair share of breakthrough acts gracing the airwaves, the UK pretty much kicked everyone’s ass when it came to quality. The Brit-pop movement of the ’90s brought us some of the most revered records of all time and gave birth to legends such as Oasis, Blur, and The Verve. But some of the very best of that decade got lost in the mix and overtaken by the next wave of whatever.

Say hello to the Star Shaped Club which reminds us all why we loved this era and proves that these under celebrated artists still have quite a lot to say. The Star Shaped Club puts on monthly Brit Pop parties around the UK with the slogan “Come party like it’s 1995.” They shine a light on the best of ’90s Brit-pop both popular and obscure, brilliantly tapping into nostalgia and keeping the lights on in the house that NME and Melody Maker both built.

Headlining the half day indoor festival was The Bluetones, a band that I missed completely in the ’90s as they didn’t enjoy much success stateside but were massive here in the UK. These guys scored thirteen Top 40 singles and three Top 10 albums in the UK charts, and were the only band on the bill that has remained pretty much active since their heyday. Furthermore, frontman Mark Morris just released a new solo record via Pledge that seems to be doing quite well after achieving 250% of its goal. Having never heard these guys before I was impressed enough to pick up a T-shirt on the way out and added them to my Spotify playlist. How they never broke through in the States is a mystery to me.

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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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TVD Live Shots: GOAT and The Moonlandingz at O2 Brixton Academy, 7/29

Swedish experimental fusion group GOAT made a triumphant UK return to the legendary O2 Brixton Academy in London last week. It was everything you would expect from a mysterious, masked band with unknown identities and a knack for writing incredibly diverse soundscapes.

Currently based in Gothenburg, GOAT originally hails from Korpilombolo in Sweden which, according to the band, has a history of voodoo worship after a witch doctor arrived and lived there. Supposedly, when Christian crusaders came and destroyed the village, the surviving people fled and placed a curse on the town.

In a recent and rare interview with the Guardian, GOAT’s reclusive leader claimed that the “shamanic group go back two centuries.” He continued discussing the challenges of keeping anonymity in a social media connected world, and the groups dislike of photographers—which all makes sense to me now after doing my best to capture the live show under the most challenging lighting I think I’ve ever had to shoot. (I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.) The full interview is fascinating and can be found here. I imagine that KISS had similar challenges in the ’80s, before the rise of the camera phone.

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UK Artist of the Week: HVMM

Worcester’s raucous rockers HVMM will be letting their debut EP “Talk To Me Like I’m Dead” loose on the world on 1st September 2017 via US label ILA. They have been making some strong waves across the UK for the past few months now, which is why we’ve pegged them as our Artist of The Week.

Their latest single, AA-side “Going Postal / Beggars & Thieves,” are two incredibly ferocious tracks from start to finish, filled with blues rock grit and unapologetic power. “Going Postal” builds slowly with a distinctive swagger and lead singer Andy Teece’s signature vocal taking centre stage, sounding akin to Jack White or Brandon Flowers’ colloquial singing styles. “Beggars and Thieves” is equally as hardcore, oozing with thrashing riffs, relentless energy, and pure, unforgiving angst.

These guys mean business, that’s for sure. Having met in a country pub after causing somewhat of a local riot, Andy and Sam Jenkins (drums) formed the band back in 2015. Ebony Clay (lead guitar) and Jack Timmis (bass) followed shortly thereafter and the quartet have been asking for trouble wherever they’ve gone since. We’ve also heard they’re pretty mesmerizing live as well, and they’ll be playing their first headline show in London’s Sebright Arms on 22nd November 2017.

“Talk To Me Like I’m Dead” is out on 1st September 2017 via ILA.

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TVD Live Shots: Blink 182 at the O2 Arena, 7/20

I’m not sure I’ve ever taken Blink 182 seriously, and that’s probably what the band wants. The southern California trio has built an impressive career bringing their unique brand of pop punk to the masses, and it’s a success story built on a band who never take themselves too seriously and pushed the world out of a dark place when grunge had everyone muting their colors and drowning in a giant pool of self-inflicted sorrow. 

Fast forward 25 years—yes, I know you are feeling old right now, so am I—7 records and two-thirds of the “original” band are still going strong. So strong that they sold out two nights at London’s famed O2 Arena. Having not seen the band in 20 years or more, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially since founding member Tom DeLonge’s departure and Alkaline Trio’s frontman joining the group full-time.

Those feelings of uncertainty were laid to rest after the first few songs. Matt Skiba is an absolute rock star and an explosive addition to the band. This guy is half punk rock, half Pete Townsend and fits in so well you would have thought he’d been there since the beginning. He brings a certain edge to the band that had been absent over the years, but not necessarily missing. It’s the dawn of a new chapter for the band since the delivery of that first album with the “new guy”—and in this case they hit it out of the park.

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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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Tommy Victor of Prong on their new Zero Days: “It’s the consummate Prong record.”

The first time I heard Prong was back in 1990 on Headbanger’s Ball. The song was called “Beg to Differ,” and it was pretty much the coolest thing I had heard since discovering thrash metal.

But this was different; it was a new type of thrash. It was hardcore, but also very melodic. I was hooked and instantly became a fan that would hang on every release that followed. Prong would continue to evolve by experimenting with industrial sounds before finding success through MTV and relentless touring, only to be eventually caught up in major label bullshit and drowned out by the unstoppable grunge moment.

Prong founding member Tommy Victor would carry the metal torch forward and continues to deliver new Prong music for over a decade. The power trio is on tour now in advance of the release of the band’s 13th studio album Zero Days, in stores on July 28th. I joined Tommy on his bus in the States to ask him about the new record and a few other burning questions I’ve had as a long time fan.

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UK Artist of the Week: Tom Hale

Barnsley-based Tom Hale may be young, but he is no newcomer to the music scene. Having previously fronted indie-rockers ROOD, he has now made the move to go solo and has just released his cinematic debut EP.

The collection of tracks each contribute to the story of a man who falls in love with a woman in his dreams with each song building to the EP’s climax—title track and lead single “In The Night.” Oozing an elegant grandeur, the track flows with soaring strings and an endearing romanticism as Hale’s deep, rich vocals seduce with their smooth, subtle power.

An indie-rock ballad of epic proportions, “In The Night” may bring to mind the cinematic croonings of fellow Yorkshireman Richard Hawley. And, as with the Sheffield legend, it’s near impossible not to be swept off one’s feet by the swooning emotion and catchy, heartfelt melodies that Hale has to offer.

“In The Night,” the debut EP from Tom Hale, is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Greta Isaac

Now based in London, Welsh artist Greta Isaac has always had an affinity for her folk roots. However, innovative new single “Comfortable” signals a slight change in direction and a fresh new sound for her listeners.

Exploring the destructive human tendencies of apathy and selfishness, “Comfortable” whirrs with a glitchy pulse alongside twinkling melodies and Isaac’s seductive, honey-sweet vocals. With shades of Grimes, the track races with sweeping loops of unsettling beats and soaring electronic experimentation.

Crafting together complex layers of sound, Isaac has created an utterly infectious slice of rich electro pop, marking herself as a hugely promising young artist and a definite one to watch this year. With intrigue growing over her new musical project, Greta Isaac is set to debut “Comfortable” live at a secret show in London on 5th September, followed by an appearance at Festival No. 6.

“Comfortable” is in stores now.

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