Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Sun Bloom

Summer may be over but thankfully London trio Sun Bloom are here to give us another sprinkling of sunshine before the year is up.

Their latest single “Take It Away”—from their debut EP of the same name—is instantly warming, so warming in fact that its actually pretty surprising this sound has come straight out of London and not California.

Sun Bloom’s sizzling surf-rock sound feels instantly reminiscent of the likes of Alvvays or Best Coast—but British. Their surf-inspired dream-pop sound is undeniably addictive and clearly a strong start for this budding band.

If you happen to be in London on the 27th September you can catch Sun Bloom performing live—and free—at The Constitution, Camden.

“Take It Away” is in stores now.

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Needle Drop: Dudley Benson, “We Could’ve Been Gods”

New Zealand avant-pop artist Dudley Benson weaves beautiful electronic soundscapes, effortlessly marrying challenging yet uplifting sonics, with deeply personal lyrical themes.

Exploring concepts of nationhood, decolonisation, and our relationship with nature, “We Could’ve Been Gods” is the latest cut from his ambitious new album Zealandia. Featuring a full symphony orchestra, 50-person choir, and beats made from samples of rocks and minerals, Dudley defies genre by combining alt-pop, choral, classical, and electronica, producing a record that is as unique as it is captivating.

Shot by Miranda Bellamy and Solomon Mortimer, “We Could’ve Been Gods” is a semi-improvised pulse of love, sex, and earth that reflects and bounces off the song, and the three filming locations around Auckland, New Zealand.

Collaborating with respected avant-garde dance artists val smith and Tru Paraha, “We Could’ve Been Gods” is the centrepiece of a an album that tackles hard-hitting themes surrounding New Zealand culture, history, and identities.

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TVD Live Shots: Pete Doherty and Carl Barat at Hackney Empire, 9/6

My quest to see The Libertines live in the UK since I moved here three years ago got a bit closer to completion. Earlier this year I saw a spectacular show from Pete Doherty and the Putra Madres, and now I can check Pete and Libertines frontman Carl Barât off the list.

It was billed as an acoustic gig, so I accepted the invite thinking two dudes, two guitars, one stripped-down acoustic set. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As part of an event series called SOMEWHERE, which is known for hosting a series of unusual shows around the world, somehow figured out how to light 1001 candles to illuminate the stage in one of the most beautiful venues in London, Hackney Empire.

Let me start by saying that I was there for the second night of two sold-out performances in what one would consider an “intimate” venue for the primary two Libertines. It’s also worth noting that you have to live in London to appreciate how much this town loves Mr. Doherty. From the infamous breakfast photo in Margate which would later become a full-on work of art as a mural, to just last week when the tabloids reported Pete on a Boris bike riding through central London with two huskies. There was one Tweet that captured this fascination with the musician perfectly, “It’s Pete Doherty’s world, we just live in it.”

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TVD Premiere: Chloé Caroline, “Forgive Me”

2019 may have been a bit of a nightmare year for us so far, but one great thing to come out of it is the rise in mental health awareness, especially within music. So many artists have been incredibly open in their songwriting, encouraging people from all walks us life to open up. Californian native Chloé Caroline is one of these artists and we’re incredibly pleased to be premiering her new single “Forgive Me” on The Vinyl District today.

It’s happened to all of us, some days you just wake up feeling rubbish and you can’t shake that feeling of anxiety. It’s completely normal to feel this way and talking about it is incredibly important, not just for yourself, but for loved ones around you to understand and accept. Chloé evokes this beautifully in her latest ballad “Forgive Me,” a song that shines the light on mental health struggles, perfectionism, and societal expectations.

Not only is the narrative incredibly imperative, it’s also stunningly written. Chloé’s powerfully distinctive vocals, reminiscent of Taylor Swift and Sheryl Crow, ooze emotion as they soar over the warm, piano-led melodies. If you’re looking for a pick-me-up, or even a bit of a cry, “Forgive Me” is the song for you. Chloé has hit the nail on the head here in so many ways and we can’t wait to see what she gets up to next.

“Forgive Me” arrives in stores on 13th September 2019 via AWAL.

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UK Artist of the Week: Living Hour

PHOTO: ALLY GONZALO | We’ve got something extra special for you today, so get ready to be all kinds of mesmerized. Canadian five-piece Living Hour are about to embark on a European tour and to celebrate, they’ve shared the stunning visuals for their brooding album track “Most,” in stores now on Kanine Records.

The video mirrors the hypnotic stylings of the song perfectly as textured, static-like images fill the screen, cinematic soundscapes also soar. “Most” feels instantly reminiscent of Beach House or Slowdive’s ability to create wonderful sonic vignettes with minimal fuss and yet, at the same time, are also undeniably complex. Front woman Sam Sarty’s ethereal vocal sits subtly in the background as she allows the enchanting musicality to take centre stage and whisk her into the ambient abyss. It really is a breathtaking piece of artistry from all angles.

As mentioned earlier, “Most” is taken from Living Hour’s poignant latest album Softer Faces. The five-piece are also due to start their European tour imminently, so be sure to catch them if you’re in the area. It’s guaranteed to be a truly majestic experience.

A full list of live dates can be found here.

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TVD Live Shots:
Laura Jane Grace and
the Devouring Mothers at Liquid Rooms, 8/27

It’s like the time that I was at SXSW years ago before it became a bloated corporate mess. You could see a band play a set to an unassuming crowd and you just had a feeling that this was something special—music with a fucking purpose that’s going to make a difference. It’s remarkably well written and story-driven with the perfect balance of wit, angst, and emotion.

This is how I felt during and after watching Laura Jane Grace with her latest project The Devouring Mothers in Scotland last week at the Liquid Club. Touring in support of my new favourite record of 2019 Bought to Rot, she had the audacity and sheer confidence to play the record in its entirety and then say goodbye. No encore, just a simple thank you. And that was enough.

This isn’t Laura Jane’s usual forte in terms of musical genres. She’s trading in her punk rock roots for a mix of Springsteen, The Old 97’s, and The Sex Pistols for Bought to Rot and it works remarkably well for a live club gig. “Amsterdam Hotel Room,” “The Hotel Song,” “The Apology Song,” and the climax of the album in the form of “Valeria Golino” and the masterpiece closer “Manic Depression.” It plays like a concept album even though it’s a bit schizophrenic at times. The storytelling, the crescendos, the highs and lows—all take the listener on a journey.

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UK Artist of the Week: Kaiit

We’ve been obsessed with Kaiit ever since we caught her at The Great Escape earlier this year, so we felt it was high time we express our love for the neo-soul songstress right here at TVD.

Kaiit’s latest cut “Miss Shiney” is yet another example of this Australian artist’s ability to pen bright, colourful tracks with a serious groove. Taking inspiration from her time away in her homeland of Papua New Guinea, “Miss Shiney” radiates the sweet sound of soul and empowerment through unreserved vocal charm. If Amy Winehouse were still around today, we’re certain she’d be singing this girl’s praises from the rooftops. It’s jazz for the modern age and we just bloody love it!

Talking about the track, Kaiit explains “‘Miss Shiney’ is about going through writer’s block due to self-doubt and not trusting myself and the process. This track is more of a reminder for me, something I listen to when I’m trippin’ and need something to remind me that I got this! You that girl, and people heal from my words!”

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UK Artist of the Week: Mexican Radio

If you’re a fan of Berlin-based synth punk (and who isn’t?), then you’re in for an almighty treat. The formidable trio Mexican Radio will be releasing their undeniably determined sophomore album Deconstruction / Reconstruction on 20th September and to give you a little taster, they’ve just shared their brilliant new single “Night of Nihilist” with the world.

“Night of The Nihilist” is a wonderfully sharp and meaningful introductory track that showcases Mexican Radio’s potential perfectly. The production is undoubtedly impressive—they’ve recorded everything live to tape in an analogue studio with no overdubs—pretty serious stuff. Fans of The Fall and Atari Teenage Riot will certainly feel at home here.

Talking about the track, the band elaborate, “The song was inspired by the Russian nihilist movement from the 1860s and makes reference to their assassination of Tsar Alexander II. The narrator of the song also takes influence from the nihilist character Bazarov from Ivan Turgenev’s novel Fathers and Sons.

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TVD Live Shots: Skunk Anansie at the O2 Brixton Academy, 8/17

Skunk Anansie live at the legendary Brixton Academy in London—something that not many Americans can claim that they’ve witnessed.

One of the UK’s most successful and exciting bands of the Britrock movement of the early ’90s, Skunk Anansie are celebrating 25 years and touring in support of their latest release [email protected] which features 25 tracks taken from across their six studio albums, all captured live from various performances on their 2017 tour. Even if you are somehow not familiar with the band, you will undoubtedly have heard of their incredibly talented frontwoman Skin. Skin is one of Britain’s more acclaimed rock singers, as well as a fashion icon, a renowned DJ, an actress, and an activist.

The first time I heard Skunk Anansie, I was living in St. Louis and working at a record store in college. The rep from Epic records sent a copy of the advance CD with a note that said, “this is going to be huge.” Epic had one hell of a track record at the time for breaking new artists including Korn, Rage, and Prong just to name a few. So they were definitely on the right label at the right time, so why didn’t they break?

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TVD Live Shots: Queensryche at the Islington Assembly
Hall, 8/14

The mighty Queensryche made their triumphant return to London last week, stopping by the Islington Assembly Hall for an intimate gig between a slew of European metal festivals.

Touring in support of The Verdict, their third studio record with bonafide rock god Todd La Torre on vocals, the band finds themselves with a functional problem: too many great songs for one set. How does one select songs from such an incredible legacy and catalog to fit into a 90-minute set? I would love to be a fly on the wall in that conversation as the band painstakingly chooses between pre-Mindcrime and post which represent two incredibly different styles for the band. Which one is better? The answer is neither, as they are equally epic in their own right.

The new album is an absolute beast of a metal album from start to finish. I won’t go as far to say that The Verdict is a return to form, because that happened on 2015’s breakthrough Condition Human. Oh, and did I happen to mention that La Torre played the drums on this record filling in for the recently departed Scott Rockenfield? Take a moment to let that soak in—this guy hits the notes on the classics without breaking a sweat, takes it up a notch or two on the new material, and now he’s taking over drum duties from one of the all-time greats? This guy is a fucking juggernaut of all things metal.

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TVD Video Premiere: CAFOLLA, “1985”

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again, there must be something in the air up in Scotland because the talent coming out that tiny country right now is palpable! Our latest discovery is indie-electro artist CAFOLLA and we’re pleased to announce we’re premiering the brand new single and video for “1985” right here at TVD.

If you didn’t guess by the name, “1985” is brimming in all things ’80s—from the synth-infused soundscapes, to the political lyricism, right through to the VHS-inspired visuals in the video, “1985” is a powerful time machine that deserves your attention. The distinctively soulful vocals remind us of a cross between Jamiroquai, Prince, and even Michael Jackson in parts—and we can’t get enough.

It’s an undeniably addictive debut with an important message that we should all take note of. Talking about the single and video, CAFOLLA elaborates, ““1985” is a blaring commentary on consumerism, greed, and a reminder of what it has led to. It asks the question, “Have we truly grown from this over indulgence or is it as rife as ever?” Some serious food for thought there folks.

Check out the vintage-inspired visuals above, created by videographer Danny McCormick and produced by McCormick, Gordon Beveridge, and CAFOLLA.

“1985” arrives in stores on 22nd August 2019 via Dusty Reel Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: Glossii

Get ready to rock as emerging quartet Glossii take over as UK Artist of The Week, and they’re taking no prisoners in the process.

Their latest single “Watching Me” is a raucous slice of alternative rock that is snarling with attitude from the offset. Hard to pin down to one genre, Glossii combine post-punk, grunge, and feedback-laden indie-rock to create their unashamedly thunderous sound.

Frontwoman Sofia Zanghirella’s powerfully distinctive vocal is instantly reminiscent of Garbage’s Shirley Manson as she emits dark femme fatale verve by the bucket load. Talking about the single, the band elaborate, “‘Watching Me’ is about growing up and going against the rules that parents tell you and want you to abide by.”

Having recently performed as part of NME’s newly appointed Girls To the Front programme, it’s clear that Glossii are going from strength to strength. Also proud members of the LGBTQ+ scene, it seems Glossii are exactly what we need right now in a world of political turmoil.

“Watching Me” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Dead Kennedys at the Electric Ballroom, 8/9

Dead Kennedys remain a force to be reckoned with, four decades on, with yet another triumphant return to London.

This time instead of two shows in a smaller venue the band opted for one night only at the legendary Electric Ballroom. The excitement around the recent release of the three-CD set, simply titled DK 40, and the jam-packed venue makes a clear statement about the sign of the times—impending doom for the climate and the political landscape—but also offers up a lesson in longevity. East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride, D.H. Peligro, and Ron “Skip” Greer were once again in top form tearing through a blistering 75-minute set that celebrated one of punk rock’s most excellent catalogs.

It’s way, way, way past time to stop with the lazy comments, “It’s not DK without Jello,” because it is. Go see this fucking show and tell me you didn’t think it was spectacular. Skip does a brilliant job keeping the original angst of the songs while also adding a jolt of his own explosive style. I think it’s time to see the band record a new album with him as the chemistry is 100% there and the fans are ready. It’s clear that the band is open for a reunion and the ball’s in Jello’s court. While he says he’s just too busy to make it work, but we can all bet that it will happen in time, DK 40 certainly lays the groundwork while provoking the question of a new record.

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UK Artist of the Week: Canary Gold

Glasgow’s been on a pretty decent roll recently when it comes to producing great new music, and today is no exception. Canary Gold are the latest pair of Scots to impress us with their undeniably spellbinding blend of indie-electronica.

Canary Gold are brothers Spencer and JP O’Grady and they are indeed worth your attention, so listen up. Their latest single “Hummingbird” is a celestial slice of indie rock that combines twinkling piano notes with a driving, tribal-like beat to create a sound that is truly unique. Fans of the likes of Alt J and Local Natives will feel at home here.

Talking about the single, the duo explain, “in our heads Hummingbird is about a made-up apocalypse but it’s quite open to interpretation. We thought innocent image of a hummingbird against the back drop of some of those dark lyrics brings out a really interesting contrast.”

“Hummingbird” is in stores now via Master Closet Records.

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TVD Live Shots: The Descendents, CJ Ramone, and Pears at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 8/2

Punk rock royalty came to London recently via Rebellion—the world’s largest punk rock festival—in the form of The Descendents, CJ Ramone, and Pears. Having been a longtime fan of The Descendents, this would be the first time for me seeing them live. These pop-punk pioneers are one of the most significant bands of the ’80s hardcore punk movement. The band’s brand is a staple in the punk community and lead by the instantly recognizable caricature of singer Milo Aukerman which continues to be the mascot for the band since the early 1980s.

Aukerman has been called a champion of the nerds because he would land the unlikely punk rock role of a plant molecular biologist at DuPont. Or does that make it even more punk? (Remember when Johnny Rotten did the butter commercial and claimed that was the most punk thing he could do?) Although he quit his job after being relocated to Siberia for work (you really can’t make this shit up) Aukerman decided to go at it alone. There’s a spectacular interview with him where he talks about breaking free from the corporate world (“the man”) and setting out to do his own thing. I think he quickly had the realization that he could have done this much earlier on, then again as the great James Altucher says, “it’s never too late to reinvent yourself,” and that certainly applies to punk rock.

The show was packed to the fucking gills with old and new school punks alike. Hell, there were all types of people in the crowd that night which is a common sight lately with the London punk scene. (It’s always full of surprises.) The band came out guns a-blazing, blasting through their signature pop-punk setlist—and the first three songs were over before you knew it. Thank the punk gods that security let the photogs stay in for a few more minutes.

Milo and company fully evoked the spirit and energy of punk and kept it going for 90 minutes plus. How many other bands can fit 35 songs including two encores into a standard set before curfew? Not many. Pulling heavily from 2016’s Hypercaffium Spazzinate as well as the classic albums Milo Goes to College and Everything Sucks, The Descendents were in top form and never missed a beat.

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