Category Archives: TVD UK

Needle Drop: Adam Cleaver, “Narrow Spines”

Adam Cleaver is no stranger to us, but we must say we’ve not heard him quite like this before.

His latest single, “Narrow Spines” retains the powerful vocals per previous singles “Man or Beast” and “The Salt Mine,” however this latest cut also feels darker and edgier. He’s moved away from the indie folk niche he’s honed previously toward a heavier, post-rock sound which is a welcomed change. Fans of Dry the River and Frightened Rabbit will feel at home here.

The video for “Narrow Spines” is a masterpiece as well. Fantastically directed by James Byrne, this captivating and haunting short film adds another level to the track altogether. Talking about the single, Adam says “’Narrow Spines’ is about weakness. When someone is so trapped in their own grief they aren’t able to comprehend the people around them.”

“Narrow Spines” is in stores now via Veta Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: Vienna Ditto

Duo Vienna Ditto are fantastically weird. Their music takes inspiration from all over the shop with bits of indie, blues, gospel, surf-rock, and whole host of other areas. Rap and hip-hop excluded, you could make the case for almost any style appearing in the mix somewhere.

But it doesn’t stop there—the band’s approach to their videos, their look and general persona, portray them keen to be as creatively experimental as their imaginations will allow.

Their press release describes their latest EP “Ticks” as “a collection of seven sonically-alluring sci-fi blues tracks that slip somewhere between a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack, a charity shop Bacharach-on-the-Moog-Synthesizer album, and a bad night on the brown acid.” Which simultaneously makes complete sense and is entirely confusing. To help clear things up, take a listen to the title track of the EP as a perfect introduction to Hatty Taylor (vocals, synth) and Nigel Firth (guitar).

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Needle Drop: AmatrArt, “Mirror/Soft Skin”

AmatrArt (pronounced “amateur art”) are a 5-piece band out of Glasgow, Scotland who produce music which is anything but amateurish. (I’m so sorry for that.) Their double a-side single “Mirror/Soft Skin” is an incredibly mature (sorry, I’ll stop) couple of tracks which show of display beautiful intertwining melodies and killer choruses.

“Mirror,” which premiered on Vic Galloway’s New Music Show on BBC Scotland, opens with a low throbbing synth sound sweeping in and out around a palm muted guitar line, before vocalist Jonathan Mullen enters, his voice almost lazily sliding between notes creating a really nice meandering effect.

A great build toward the chorus with the repeated line “Where did I go wrong?” ups the ante before everything drops and a fantastic guitar riff from Josh McGeechan cuts through, driving the chorus forward while some falsetto “ooohs” float over the top. However the real highlight of the song, again coming from McGeechan’s guitar, is a raucous guitar solo which writhes and thrashes almost chaotically around (very Johnny Greenwood) before seamlessly dropping back into a final chorus. The whole song is over 5 minutes but it races by before you’ve even realised.

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Needle Drop: La Boum Fatale, Holygram

La Boum Fatale’s debut album Holygram takes you on an electronic journey for all moods, be it a Friday night rave or a 5am come down.

The record is an alternative take on modern electro house. Fusing trance with deep house and elements of indie electronica, Berlin based producer Antonio de Spirt is a master manipulator of beats and melodies.

Lead album track “Nille” is a captivating start setting the scene with ambient soundscapes, whilst “Johnny Blitz” is energetic and dark, brimming with pumping beats and hooks that wouldn’t go amiss in a festival setting.

The aforementioned “Ghost” and tracks “No Tongue In Cheek” and “He Just Might” showcase Antonio’s “pop” side. “No Tongue In Cheek” features Danish pop kid Asbjørn and is one of the album’s stand out tracks, evident from the recent EP release featuring an array of strong remixes via collaborators like Liam Back and NGHT DRPS.

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Needle Drop: Outblinker, “Farrokh Bulsara”

When a PR company works with a band they will generally send out a press release to announce the forthcoming single/ album/ whatever. Most of these are fairly standard… Band A is releasing Song A, Song A sounds a bit like Band B and Band C, Band A have been supported by Major Blog A, Major Blog B, and Website C, etc. This is fine, I’m not complaining, these releases are about getting information out clearly, entertainment is secondary. The press release for Outblinker’s new release, “The Remains of Walter Peck,” is not like that.

Instead, it reads like a stream of consciousness about art, its place in modern society, and a rejection of fame and all its trappings (done, I would hope, with all the intended irony one would expect from writing this as a press release).

It was an incredibly entertaining read, and while it told me very little about the release or band themselves, it did I suppose do its job and get me to go listen to the EP. So with all of this in mind, here’s what I thought of the band’s latest free track “Farrokh Bulsara.”

Right from the get go there is a building intensity to the music. An ominous drone backdrops guitars (or maybe they’re synths) which teeter just on the edge of exploding into feedback. The remains of a vocal line flickers, drenched in echo, like something from a movie dream sequence.

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UK Artist of the Week: POLSKY

Running your band like a corporation sounds like the dreadful wet dream of some major label executive. Songs are not art—they’re products, gigs are not a collective musical experience—they’re a marketing opportunity, and festivals aren’t a social and cultural event—they’re a trade convention. If this sarcastic comparison hits a little too close to the bone, then you’re tapping into the emotion POLSKY are conveying.

With their tongue stuck firmly in their cheek they announce themselves as “…a musical corporate entity for the modern-day.” Their band members aren’t bassists, keyboardists, or drummers, but “Low Frequency Systems Analyst” Chris Norman, “Senior Synth Architect” Ben Warren, and a “Rhythm Logistics Engineer” Alex Robertson. But underneath the humorous overtones there is a rejection of—through the cynical over-egging of—the blurred lines between art and business.

Playing a lively style of indie-pop which takes influences from post-punk and electro along the way, their first offering “Switchboard Operator” reminds me strongly of early Maximo Park, especially in regard to the vocals of “CEO” Chris Warren which sound very Paul Smith-esque in their delivery.

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Needle Drop: Fable, “Human Pretending”

Alternative, post-goth pop queen Fable is back with her new single “Human Pretending,” a track written with Paul Hartnoll of Orbital. Fable’s writing is energetic, dark and ever-changing—she’s a modern-day musical chameleon and refuses to walk, sing, or dance to anyone’s beat.

“Human Pretending” is about “the human condition,” explains Fable. “We are all flesh and bone, but we’ve convinced ourselves that intellectually we are part of something far greater, both individually and as a society. There’s a constant battle between our actual being and the personas we’ve created, to the extent we’re losing touch with who and what we really are.”

Fable’s music has a message, she’s more than just an avant-garde artiste, unlike her peers, Fable has something to say. “Human Pretending” is a transcendent experience, delivered with Fable’s signature alt pop flamboyance and a window into her twisted, pop soul.

“Human Pretending” is in stores now via 74 Music.
PHOTO: ©DAVID LEVINE

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Needle Drop: HAWK,
“HAWK” EP

HAWK’s latest self-titled EP is one of their most exciting releases to date. The EP is the sound of a band who have grown—inspired by their collective experiences, politics, environment, and change.

HAWK’s last EP, “Clock Hands” was only a glimpse into the band’s world as they experimented with noir folk and post-rock. Their latest EP however reveals two distinct sides to HAWK—the first two tracks, singles “Once Told” and “The Hunt”—are epic, sweeping, and cerebral indie rock at its finest.” Once Told” addresses Ireland’s archaic abortion laws and attitudes towards women’s rights, while “Rattle” and “Sleep” take on a more celestial air.

On “Sleep,” Julie Hawk’s voice glides and soars over the music as if being steered by supernatural forces as the band convey the difference between our waking life and our dreams.

The band collaborated with producer Dimitri Tikovoi (The Horrors, Placebo, Marianne Faithful) on “Once Told” and “The Hunt,” with both tracks having been mixed by Catherine Marks, best known for her previous work with Wolf Alice and Howling Bells.

HAWK’s selt-titled EP “HAWK” is out on 15th April 2016 via Veta Records.

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Needle Drop: Tryptamines, “Metropolis” EP

“Metropolis,” the reissued EP from Tryptamines is wonderfully weird. The Aberdeen-based experimental band doesn’t stick to any one musical style on the record, instead veering between Caribou and Beck-influenced dream-pop and the true experimentalism of CAN and Captain Beefheart.

You’d think a wild range of styles might struggle to coalesce, and I suppose there is a bit of truth to it—between one track and another you could be listening to two different sounding bands. While this might make it difficult to draw an audience to their sound, the EP taken at face value is four rather well accomplished pieces of music.

The opening title track is true dream pop. Dancing keys skip over a lively drum beat, while the vocals—very reminiscent of a In Rainbows-era Tom Yorke—bleed into each other as they’re delivered in almost a constant stream. The increasing tension this creates is broken by a chorus which feels distinctly like coming up for air and has a mildly euphoric feeling as a result.

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UK Artist of the Week:
La Boum Fatale

German producer and musician Antonio de Spirt, aka La Boum Fatale, will release his debut album Holygram on 8th April 2016, and as a taster of what’s to come he presents his second single, “No Tongue In Cheek,” featuring Asbjorn’s mesmerising vocal performance.

The single will also be accompanied by a remix EP where de Spirt brings together collaborators and friends, old and new, such as 9b0, Matvrak, and Kirrin Island, plus illustrious names like NGHT DRPS, Liam Back, and Austin Edward.

Rather than following the usual release routine, de Spirt—having now moved to Berlin—allowed himself the luxury of experimentation. With an open mind and a willingness to grow, he concentrated on his live shows working with many different set-ups, and challenging his music with a graphic design-like mindset. Partnering with producers like Glenn Astro and Sieren, he created unconventional remixes for bands like Me And My Drummer, Hundreds, and Sizarr.

La Boum Fatale’s “No Tongue In Cheek” is out on 11th March 2016 with debut album Holygram to follow on 8th April 2016, both released via Sinnbus.

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