Category Archives: TVD UK

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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TVD Live Shots: You Me at Six, Tonight Alive,
and Black Foxxes at the Alexandra Palace, 4/15

English rockers You Me at Six are one of those bands that has been on my radar for several years, but I’ve somehow managed to miss them every time they toured the States (back when I lived there). So when I saw that the band was playing at London’s famed Alexandra Palace and the buzz seemed to be at an all-time high, it was the perfect storm for me to grab my gear and check this one out. Throw in the opening band Black Foxxes who’ve just released one of my favorite records of the year so far and things could get very interesting.

To say that You Me at Six are huge in the UK is an understatement—numerous Kerrang awards and several gold records all-leading up to a new album called Night People that just debuted at number 3 on the UK charts. Having lived in London for less than a year as an expat from San Francisco, it continues to blow my mind how different the levels of popularity there are between bands in the US versus the UK. You Me at Six have a respectable fan base in the US, but in the UK they are bona fide superstars.

With a sound falling somewhere between Taking Back Sunday and Royal Blood, these guys continue to make solid records. It’s a step above the cookie cutter bands of the current movement and these guys have the songs in place on the new record to break them worldwide. It will be interesting to see how the States embrace the upcoming tour along with radio and all the other essential elements to break a band these days. I’d say they have the UK conquered at the moment.

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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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TVD Live Shots: My Vitriol at Scala, 4/12

Photographed by Jason Miller-2

The doors are opening at London’s famed Scala for one of the most anticipated shows of the year, but it’s a show that almost didn’t happen.

My Vitriol has launched into full backup mode due to an unforeseen issue that has left the band’s touring van in Wales from the previous show. Frontman Som Wardner is racing to program the lights for tonight’s sold out show and he’s finished just as the doors open. As if all of this wasn’t enough pressure, the band is one lady down as Tatia Starkey is still away on maternity leave. She’s disappointed to be missing out on all the shows, but family comes first and the band couldn’t postpone touring any longer. She gave them her blessing to carry on without her.

To say that I was excited is an understatement. Finelines is one of my favorite records of all time and to be honest, I never thought that I would have the chance to see the band again live, especially in their hometown. Having never been to Scala before this was a new adventure for me as both a photographer and a fan. The venue is sort of a choose your own adventure for watching a show. Several different levels accompany several different stairwells in which some lead to what seem to be secret bar locations.

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TVD Live Shots: Sting at the Eventim Apollo, 4/10

Sting is a living legend. He’s got nothing left to prove to the world of rock ‘n’ roll as he’s seemingly done it all. He’s in the Rock an Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Police, he was nominated again for induction as a solo artist in 2015, he’s ventured into acting, and even Broadway. Add to this having sold more than 40 million records worldwide and numerous top lists from Rolling Stone to VH-1—and one wonders what’s next? How about going back to his roots and releasing his first rock album in 13 years?

That record is 57th and 9th which has laid the foundation for a full-blown tour.  The album’s title is a reference to the New York intersection Sting crossed every day to get to Avatar Studios in Hell’s Kitchen where much of the album was recorded. The record is a return to form for Sting and it’s really interesting to see the band of musicians he’s put together for the record and the tour.

Photographed by Jason Miller-3

Sting’s backing band is a your sort of alt-country act from San Antonio called the Last Bandoleros. They sounded a bit like the soundtrack to From Dusk Til Dawn crossed with Crosby Stills and Nash with a touch of Wilco. And holy shit can these guys sing—I’m talking four part harmonies for days here.

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UK Artist of the Week: Matt and The Beanstalk

Set to release his new single later this month, Nottingham-based multi-instrumentalist Matt and The Beanstalk cites influences ranging from Darwin Deez to the legendary Kate Bush in creating his catchy indie-pop offerings.

A musically rich track, “Symphony” flows with gentle uptempo melodies, intricate finger-picking, and an admirable reflective lyricism, highlighting Matt and The Beanstalk’s skill as a songwriter.

Apparently telling the tale of an angel struggling to believe in herself and the power of love in driving her to success, “Symphony” oozes sparkling, sweeping emotion and uplifting, euphoric vibes.

Produced by Newcastle-based Bramwell Bronte, ‘Symphony’ is out 14th April via Beanstalk Records.

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TVD Live Shots: Ghost
at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, 3/26

Photographed by Jason Miller-4

Swedish metal lords Ghost are at the top of their satanic doom and gloom game in 2017. Lead singer and founder Tobias Forge—who performs as Papa Emeritus and is the driving force behind the band—continues to evolve the group’s sound and lineup. Rumor has it that the evil priest did some demon cleaning earlier this year by firing and replacing the entire band. While no one really seems to know the truth as the “nameless ghouls” go to great lengths to hide their identities, what I saw was apparently the third show with the new lineup and these ghouls didn’t miss a beat.

This was my first time seeing Ghost live and I have to say that this is a very special band. If you see a photo of Ghost before you hear their music, their image alone would make you think that they are burn the priest style, hard core death metal. But they are not, actually nothing of the sort. They are more of an early Black Sabbath or Pentagram from the ’70s, but with a much bigger sound. Think Phil Spector producing Sabbath with a hint of Type O Negative and Clutch. It’s a truly unique sound—and that’s the best I can do to convey this in words.

I love a band that has the balls to open up their set with their current “hit” in the form of the brilliant “Square Hammer.” There’s a sense of confidence in that they needn’t save this one for the encore like countless other bands do just to ensure that the crowd sticks around for the entire show. That’s not the case with a Ghost show as they have several stellar records to choose from which fill a nearly two-hour set. Highlights included the Grammy Award winning “Cirice” which has one of the greatest riffs in doom metal history, “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” and the hauntingly gorgeous “He Is.”

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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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TVD Live Shots: LA Guns at the O2 Islington, 3/25

When it comes to Sunset Strip metal in the ’80s, Appetite For Destruction is always hailed as the crown jewel of the genre. While that record was, of course, a brilliant piece of work that was ahead of its time, there was another—the self-titled debut masterpiece from LA Guns.

Released in January of ’88 and clocking in a just over 30 minutes it was the “Never Mind the Bullocks” of hair metal. It had a sound that was distinct given the killer vocals of Phil Lewis, and monster riff after riff from arguably one of the best guitarists on the planet, Tracii Guns. Rough around the edges, every song led perfectly into the next, giving birth to instant classics in the form of  “Sex Action,” “Electric Gypsy,” and “No Mercy.”

LA Guns Photographed by Jason Miller-13

LA Guns took it up a notch on their second record with Cocked and Loaded and continued successfully until Nirvana arrived and single handily murdered the genre. It was a shame that LA Guns got looped into that mess of hair metal at the time because they had the substance that many of the others lacked. Either way, many years later the band would later dissolve into two versions, one led by Phil Lewis and the other by Tracii Guns. 2016 found the two back together again and I absolutely had to see this for myself.

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UK Artist of the Week: Pip Blom

Having received airplay from Huw Stephens on BBC Radio 1, as well as plenty of acclaim from both Steve Lamacq and Marc Riley at BBC 6 Music, Amsterdam-based artist Pip Blom first caught our attention last year with her EP “Are We There Yet?” Now, along with her band—Tender Blom (guitar and backing vocals), Berend Kok (bass), and Bowie Thörig (drums)—she is busy touring the UK with Surfer Blood, off the back of releasing her latest single.

“I Think I’m In Love” is filled with infectious, racing hooks and Blom’s distinctive youthful vocals reflecting on the complications of love and relationships. An uplifting, energy-fuelled offering reminiscent of Aussie rocker Courtney Barnett, “I Think I’m In Love” has all the twinkling melodies and rich harmonies you could ever dream of, complete with an addictive, sing-along chorus.

With her quirky charisma, raw vocal power, and ability to create such incredibly catchy offerings, it seems a sure thing that Pip Blom will be winning over the ears of many this year with her own distinct brand of charming, fuzzy indie-rock.

“I Think I’m In Love” is in stores now via Toaster Records.

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