Category Archives: TVD UK

Needle Drop: Lessons, “Tempest” EP

Finland’s Lessons have released their debut EP “Tempest,” out now via Sinnbus. The EP touches upon near death experiences, addiction, and oppressive regimes via the eyes of an imagined, fictional character.

The trio have created their own electro-gloomgaze sound, channeling the synth pop of Devo and Suicide with a hint of ’90s shoegaze akin to the Cocteau Twins. They join an array of darker electro artists like SOHN and James Blake who have added an intimacy and reflective shade to the genre. However, Lessons display their own intensity that’s both seductive and intriguing.

The “Tempest” EP kicks off with the title-track, setting the standard with stunning synth tones, a delicate vocal, and a bass line that just won’t quit. “Laughter in the Dark” and “Double or Nothing” are strong pop songs, whilst “Glory” and “Secret Knowledge” are more emotive, displaying Lessons’ signature sounds.

Lessons’ “Tempest” EP is in stores now via Sinnbus.

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UK Artist of the Week: Tetish

Today’s popular music takes many different forms and shapes, and the free flowing melodies and apt song structures from Tel-Aviv indie power-pop band Tetish are nothing short of commercial brilliance. With their self titled debut album set to be released, the only way is up for the pop duo.

Tetish—Etan Salomon and Itai Shitrit—have been active members of the local Tel-Aviv indie music scene for a number years, both having released material while working in different projects. It wasn’t until the long-time friends started to play around with a few ideas toward the end of 2014 when they discovered they were able to take each other’s music to the next level.

It’s been a great start for the band as their demos made heir way to some of the biggest local radio stations as well as being picked up for CMW in Toronto, CMJ in New York, as well as gaining support from the likes of Clash, The Revue, and Little Indie Blogs. This week, Tetish release their debut self-titled album.

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Needle Drop: Maria Kelly, “Black & Blue”

Singer-songwriters are finding it harder and harder to locate their voice in today’s market with the amount of talent being thrust upon listeners by major labels. However, Ireland born Maria Kelly could potentially break into the world of the Ed Sheerans and James Bays if she keeps producing flavourful tracks like new single “Black & Blue.”

“Black & Blue” captures Maria’s talent for bittersweet storytelling. Remaining vulnerable throughout, she still manages to convey almost foolish optimism with undertones of heartbreak as presented in the video for the single where she acts out with a dramatically joyful performance. The track begins with a quaint vocal harmony creating a delicate atmosphere that breaks off into a fantasy driven verse, taking the song in a whole new direction filled with whimsical melodies.

“‘Black and Blue’ is about foolish optimism; waiting around for something that’s never going to come,” Maria explains. “I wrote it as a kind of ‘see ya later!’ to a certain time in my teenage years. I spent so long waiting for something that was clearly not on the way and this song attempts to look at that situation, accept it, laugh at it, and move on.”

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Needle Drop: Jack Ellis, “The Storm”

Welsh singer-songwriter Jack Ellis has released his heartrending single “The Storm” and it certainly doesn’t lack any lustre as Ellis seems to wear his heart on his sleeve at all times.

After playing in bands for several years, Jack took the decision to go solo in 2014 in order to focus on his songwriting and develop his own distinctive sound. The opportunity to play bass, guitar, piano, and sing has allowed Jack to stretch his creative muscles and, with the success of previous singles “Pocket of Lint” and “Stepping Stones,” it is clear that Jack’s music is making an impact.

Held together beautifully by Jack’s wonderful guitar playing and emotive vocals, “The Storm” tackles themes of love and loss as snapshots of our life strip us bare and afraid to love again. Jack was influenced by Jeff Buckley and REM and has absorbed their unerring ability to write and produce relatable yet emotional music.

“The Storm” is out now via District South Records.

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TVD Live Shots: The Last Shadow Puppets, Gaz Coombes, and Yak at the Alexandra Palace, 7/16

Photographed by Jason Miller-26

Ok, so I’ve been in London for exactly six weeks and I’ve just seen the best show of 2016 and quite possibly a top ten show of my life. English supergroup The Last Shadow Puppets made a triumphant return home to London with a two night stint at the glorious Alexandra Palace. As if that wasn’t enough to sell out two nights at the Ally Pally, add up-and-coming London buzz band Yak and Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes and you have one of the best lineups on the planet at the moment.

For those not familiar, The Last Shadow Puppets are an English supergroup consisting of Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys), Miles Kane (The Rascals, solo artist), James Ford (Simian, Simian Mobile Disco, producer), and Zach Dawes (Mini Mansions). The band released their debut album The Age Of The Understatement in 2008. Following a lengthy hiatus, they returned with their sophomore effort Everything You’ve Come To Expect earlier this year.

Photographed by Jason Miller-21

This was my first time seeing these guys live and it was quite a spectacle. The headliners of the evening opened up with a whirlwind of pink confetti blasting from the stage that continued to rain down on the audience for almost the entire first song which came in the form of the Smiths’ classic “Last Night I Dreamt that Somebody Love Me.” Joined on stage by Smiths guitar man Johnny Marr, it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise that lit up the packed hall. TLSP wasted no time all keeping the party going as they blasted right into the high energy pep of “Standing Next to Me” from their 2008 debut.

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UK Artist of the Week: Law Holt

We’ve reached a period in time when music is changing consumers’ perceptions, and it’s due not just to the messages behind the music, but often the audio itself is quite unlike anything we’ve heard before. Law Holt’s own distinctive sound delivered via her new track “Spit” is but one of the many reasons she’s our Artist of The Week.

Holt’s music transcends genres, eras, and sounds—there’s no music quite as beautifully twisted at this very moment. With a sequence of gritty synths and continuous beats accompanying her vibrato and culminating with a sudden and unexpected halt, Holt seems to have created her own new sub-genre. She describes her music as “Law themed” and she’s spot on—you can look, but there’s no one quite like Law.

As word of Law began to spread back in 2013, the world began to take notice—the Guardian, Time Out, Clash, The Line of Best Fit, and The Skinny amongst others singing her praises. Unfortunately Law suffered an attack that forced her to take time out and whilst in hospital she underwent several operations that managed to save her sight. Now she’s back, determined, and stronger than ever—and Law is starting to impress the press once again with her relentless vocal style.

Law Holt’s debut album City is out on 26th August 2016 via Soulpunk.

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Needle Drop: Newtimers, “EP One”

Alternative R&B infused pop is a genre that’s become a little bloated as of late and it’s hard to see where Newtimers fit in to all the noise.

The EP itself is a bit of a mixed bag, there’s a confusion of sounds from the upbeat summer hit feel of “Best Of Me” to the downtempo, comedown vibe of “Flower on the Moon.” This blend of different sounds isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s where the Swedish duo may find themselves a little stuck in terms of a focussed direction.

“Flower on the Moon” is a really strong track, drawing its sound from a retro core, but “Perfect Ten” swings back around to the slow, smooth R&B vocals of the ’90s before we’re treated to two remixes of single “Best of Me.”

There are glimmers of promise in each track but at times the release feels a little confused and lost. Newtimers are undoubtedly an interesting proposition but their next moves will have to be a little more focussed if we’re to feel the full force of what these guys are truly capable.

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TVD Live Shots: The
Glen Matlock Band 40th Anniversary of Punk Celebration at the Brooklyn Bowl, 9/7

Photographed by Jason Miller

It’s a fantastic time to be living in London as the birthplace of punk is currently in the midst of celebrating 40 years of the industry’s most outlandish musical heritage. As an expat who’s been living here for only five weeks I was lucky enough to catch one of the biggest names in punk rock pay tribute in his own unique way. Original Sex Pistol Glen Matlock played a punk-infused rockabilly set at the Brooklyn Bowl in London and it was absolutely brilliant.

Matlock’s all-star lineup included Chris Spedding (British session ace and producer of the early Pistols demos), Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats), and Mark Halligan (Furious). The setlist was as diverse as the band itself but there was never a dull moment.  Matlock,of course, included a couple of Pistols classics, including “God Save the Queen” and “Pretty Vacant,” and gave them a sort of raw twang treatment that sounded quite refreshing.

Photographed by Jason Miller-2

Another highlight of the set was a stellar version of the Pharrell Williams hit “Happy” which now I can’t get out of my head for a second time, but that’s a good thing in this case. Other remarkable moments were the two Stray Cats classics, “Rock This Town” and “Stray Cat Strut,” “(I’m not your) Steppin’ Stone” all along with a song or two from the Rich Kids, Faces, and Matlock’s Philistines.

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UK Artist of the Week: Twin Heart

Over the past 20 years emo’s been trying to find its voice while evolving into a vast array of sub genres that could easily appear on the same compilation album. Emotional punk, post hardcore, and metal music still thrive in today’s alternative market and Scottish trio Twin Heart bring their own unique creativity to the mix.

Twin Heart’s debut EP, “Progress: Decline” focuses closely on the band’s setbacks and successes in the time they’ve been performing together. Taking influences from artists such as Brand New, Alexisonfire, and Saves The Day while incorporating the raw power of Marmozets with the expressive sensibilities of Paramore at their very best, the threesome have created subtle and emotional lyrical content set against high octane alt-rock producing a hybrid they can call their own.

“Suffocating,” the official single due to be released from the EP, captures Twin Heart’s energy and passion in four strong minutes. Dawn Baxter’s voice is powerful yet fragilile, conveying the song’s message of being smothered by the weight of the world. Opening tracks “Ghosts” and “Young Eyes” create a relentless first half of the EP. “Progress,” an instrumental, breaks up the intensity brilliantly allowing the band to showcase a deftness of touch while illustrating a command of their respective instruments before the calm is blown away via epic closer “Speak To Me,” the music fading until the vocals are affectively isolated.

“Progress: Decline” is out now via Rip It Up Records.

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Needle Drop: POLSKY, My Own Company

“Pop-rock” is a much maligned genre. Personally, I think it’s due to the common tendency to use the term as a label for bands who we’re uncertain about. Something catchy played with distortion—pop-rock. Shiny harmonies and they dress like rockstars—pop-rock. A rock band with a keyboard player—pop-rock. Well, POLSKY are all of those things and this is exactly the space they own.

Drawing from bands like Maximo Park, The Cure, Duran Duran, and Orange Juice, POLSKY has carved out a space where they marry some skronking guitar riffs and witty lyrics to some beautifully delicate moments and soaring pop choruses. Their new album My Own Company, which seems to have had its release delayed more times than Chinese Democracy, ranges from the barnstorming indie-single “Switchboard Operator,” to borderline disco track “Halcyon Daze,” to the unashamed ballad “Song for The Silver Surfer,” and all the way back again.

Chris Warren, Ben Warn, Alex Robertson, and Chris Norman display a certain musical maturity on the album. While perhaps not as edgy as Maximo Park’s A Certain Trigger or early material from The Cure, there is a great deal of confidence displayed from POLSKY as the climax of the Pink Floyd influenced “Nimbus Cumulus” builds to a euphoric release, the music rising to a tipping point before washing over the listener with its warm harmonies and reverb guitar.

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