Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Jackie Venson

A firm favourite here at TVD HQ, this week we are extremely proud to feature the hugely talented Jackie Venson as our latest Artist of the Week.

Jackie’s most recent single, “A Million Moments” is the first to be released alongside Big Indie Records, a label based in London and Austin who are also the masterminds behind Big Indie Big Nights, a recurring event that showcases their brightest talents completely free of charge. Jackie was proudly part of their US debut at Antone’s in Austin last month where she received rave reviews.

Alas, we digress, back to the single. “A Million Moments” is certainly poppier than Jackie’s previous singles, but it nevertheless showcases Jackie’s incredible guitar skills throughout. The guitar solo at the end in particular feeling instantly reminiscent of one of Jackie’s biggest influences, Gary Clark Jr., of course.

The single is an exciting introduction for what jackie has in store for us in 2019 and we cannot wait. Her ability to combine alt-pop sensibilities with elements of blues, rock and soul is undeniably impressive and will hopefully encourage more artists to blur the lines between genres going forward. Expect big things from this one.

“A Million Moments” is out now via Big Indie Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: Indigo Velvet

PHOTO: CAMERON BRISBANE | Having received acclaim from publications such as Clash magazine and The Skinny, as well as sharing stages with the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Marsicans, and Honeyblood, Scottish band Indigo Velvet have shared a vibrant new single.

An anthemic slice of infectious indie-pop, “Nineteen” is propelled by a buoyant, driving energy and swirling, spiraling hooks. Oozing a colourful charisma and funk-fused beats, punctuated by the luscious soaring harmonies of Darren Barclay and Jason Tucker, it’s an instantly catchy and immediately danceable offering, marking this young band as definite ones to watch.

With experience playing to no less than 13,000 adoring fans at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, and with over 1 million plays on Spotify already under their belts, it seems Indigo Velvet are headed for big things. And just one listen of the catchy, tropical allure of “Nineteen” and you’ll hear why.

“Nineteen” is in stores now via IV Records.

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Needle Drop: MeMe Detroit, “Life In The Now” EP

Returning to our ears following her 2016 debut album, Birmingham singer/multi-instrumentalist Maria Rodriguez—aka MeMe Detroit—has now released an energy-fuelled new offering in the form of an EP “Life In The Now.”

An ode to the power of positive thinking, “Life In The Now” is a pure sonic delight, fusing a classic rock musicality with a fresh, impassioned energy. Kicking things off, opener “Churchside Inn” oozes a scuzzy, raw grit as the gravelly power of Rodriguez’s vocals soars over infectious riffs. As eerie undertones build back up to a frenzied climax, shades of rock legends Foo Fighters blast into the ears, making for an immense start to the collection.

Continuing with just as much propulsive energy, “Soc Med Junkies” seethes with an uptempo spirit and catchy hooks, reflecting upon society’s unrelenting addiction to social media, whilst current single “De Moe” races with intense thrashing beats alongside soaring sultry vocals and fuzzy, ferocious riffs—an instant ear-worm, fueled by a fierce, yet understated, power.

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UK Artist of the Week: Bellhouse

Ethereal songstress Bellhouse is most certainly one to watch. Having already released a stream of acclaimed singles, we’re certain 2019 will bring the Swedish artist even more success, and we can’t wait to watch her glow.

Bellhouse’s latest single is the stunningly evocative “Coping.” The sparkling track feels instantly majestic, as gorgeous piano notes introduce the song, before Bellhouse—aka Emma-Lee Andersson’s—celestial vocals take over.

The single deals with the undeniably relatable subject of the hopelessness we can all feel sometimes, and the fact that, even if you can’t feel it right now, everything will work out in the end—something we all need to remember from time to time. These wise words from this young artist are yet another example of her mature musicality and poignancy. “Coping” is an absolute beauty to behold.

“Coping” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Richard Ashcroft at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, 12/22

One thing that I’ve learned after living in the UK for nearly three years is that the rock stars here are much different from those in the rest of the world. They’re more opinionated, more resilient, more passionate about their fans, and they don’t take shit from anyone.

Case in point, Richard Ashcroft. This guy has had one hell of a ride over the past number of decades—from being in one of the most influential and successful UK bands, to being sued by the Rolling Stones in a landmark case that stemmed from a sampling matter. So what does one do almost three decades into a career? You make yet another bold statement through your music and release arguably your best solo album to date.

Natural Rebel is the fifth solo record from the former Verve frontman. It’s 1970s symphony-infused rock, combining the best elements from George Harrison, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty—and a warning to the next generation (along with a dose of humor). It’s a brilliant record from start to finish, and the more I listen to it the more I become interested in who Richard is as a person at the moment. The media loves to tear this guy down for one reason or another, and if you watch any of his recent interviews, he isn’t having it.

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TVD Live Shots: Adam Ant at the Roundhouse, 12/20

It’s one of my favorite stories from the early punk scene here in London. The year is 1979. Adam Ant approaches the Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren and asks him to manage his band. McLaren steals the band, The Ants, away from him and introduces them to 14-year-old singer Annabella Lwin giving birth to Bow Wow Wow and ultimately a successful charting act. Malcolm would try to find a role for Adam in Bow Wow Wow, but it never worked out.

The legendary manager did provide Adam with some career changing advice however. According to Adam, Malcolm flat-out asked, “Look, what do you want?” Adam said, “I wanna sell millions of records,” to which McLaren replied, “Well, you’re going the wrong way about it. This [The Ant’s debut album Dirk Wears White Sox] is the kind of esoteric stuff you do when you’ve done eight albums, you’re living on a yacht, and you can do what you want.” That was a turning point which lead to 16 hit singles and sales of more than 15 million records in the 1980s.

Fast forward almost four decades and the importance of Adam Ant cannot be understated. Not only did he become a singular force pushing the limits of new wave, early punk, and crossover pop, he was a fashion icon as well with a specific interest in costumes from a bygone era which he donned proudly and still does. He ushered in the age of MTV and became their poster child—he was a visionary. Many artists are content with being one-dimensional but not Adam Ant. He forged new ground and paved the way for musicians to not only create something outlandish, but taught them how to package it for an unsuspecting audience.

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TVD Live Shots:
Def Leppard and Cheap Trick at the SSE Arena
at Wembley, 12/17

I was nine years old, and Def Leppard was the coolest band on the planet. The first record I ever bought with my own money was 1983’s classic rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut Pyromania. It was one of those rare albums where you could put it on from start to finish and never have to skip a song.

Back then you could expect a new record from your favorite band, like clockwork, every two years. But tragedy struck Def Leppard when, on New Year’s Eve 1984, drummer extraordinaire Rick Allen lost his arm in a horrific car accident. Many of the fans, including myself, thought the band might be done. There certainly wasn’t a new record coming anytime soon. That could have been the kiss of death for many groups, but the decade was in full glam metal phase so it would give them the extra time they needed to regroup and reload—which is precisely what they did.

Hysteria was released on August 3, 1987, almost four years after the monumental success of Pyromania. The lead single “Woman,” a favorite track of mine, seemed to bomb in the States and the band and their label were starting to question themselves. But it would only be a matter of time as they had seven hit singles in their back pocket and they were determined to make history. Hysteria hit No.1 on the Billboard 200 and remained on the US chart for over three years, during which time Def Leppard became one of the biggest bands on the planet.

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TVD Live Shots:
Hank Von Hell at
The Garage, 12/15

Somehow I completely missed Turbonegro in their prime. It was only during a six-hour setting with a tattoo artist in London where I heard their music for the first time. I thought, what is this pure rock ‘n’ roll explosion with the insane lyrics and undeniably catchy riffs? It was like a punk rock band had sex with an ’80s hair metal band while listening to Iggy Pop. It had humor, huge hooks, and gigantic riffs, but most importantly, it didn’t take itself too seriously.

While sitting in the chair at the tattoo shop having my arm devastated with multiple needles and black ink, the only saving grace was the loud music. I pulled out my phone and Shazammed the songs, and there were several from Turbonegro, and I was hooked. I would quickly learn that these guys have been on and off for over the past decade, but their most prominent member Hank Von Hell departed from the band back in 2011. Would I ever get to see these guys perform live? Probably not, but as luck would have it while searching through upcoming gigs in London, I saw that the former frontman would be playing a show at The Garage in north London to celebrate the release of his new solo record.

I had to see this show and I was not disappointed. The new record is called Egomania and it’s quickly becoming a late addition to many of the year-end best-of lists, including mine. Hank Von Hell has gone back to the basics. A stripped down glam rock spectacle perfectly balancing the visuals and the songs. A cornucopia of the best of glam and punk from the ’70s glossed over with wit and sonic superiorness. The set focused heavily on the new record and of course, Van Hell didn’t disappoint by leaving out any Turbonegro classics.

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UK Artist of the Week:
M. Rexen

Born in the United Arab Emirates and now based in Copenhagen, multi-instrumentalist M. Rexen has been fast building a reputation for his immense live performances, wowing audiences with his vivacious spirit, and a full 10-person band. Now, having received acclaim from the likes of Noisey, he’s shared another unconventional alt-pop gem.

Propelled by fast-paced funk-fused beats and uptempo blasts of brass, “Henrï” was written as an ode to his best friend, bandmate, and muse Henrï Gibbs (known for his work with Mellah). Flowing with Rexen’s soulful, impassioned vocals and a gritty edge, we’re treated to a colourful performance, building with a sweeping vibrant power to an anthemic, theatrical cacophony.

Fusing together a vast array of eclectic elements—self coined as “Wildstyle”—Rexen has created a truly uplifting sonic delight, unique in its quirky charm.

Watch the poignant new video for “Henrï” above and make sure you catch one of M. Rexen’s charismatic live shows as soon as possible!

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TVD Live Shots: Starsailor at the
O2 Shepherd’s Bush
Empire, 11/29

There are few albums in the world that are flawless from start to finish, and Silence is Easy is one of them.

Starsailor beat the sophomore slump and delivered a stunning album that should have made them one of the biggest bands on the planet. Instead they just never seemed to break out of the European market the way that their peers, and much less talented, Coldplay did. And that still doesn’t sit well with the fans. It resonated again and again with every conversation I had with the capacity crowd at Shepherd’s Bush Empire last week. Why are they not one of the biggest bands across the globe? No one seems to have an answer, and this night that didn’t matter—this night was all about the eleven songs that make up the juggernaut that is Silence is Easy. And did I mention that they had a string section with them?

As I was living in the States around the time of the album’s release, I never got to see them perform on that tour. I was fortunate enough to see them touring on the debut record, but this one is on a whole other level. “Fidelity,” “Some of Us,” “Telling Them,” “White Dove,” these are songs that represent the best songwriting of that decade.

Add to this the crazy story of Phil Spector sitting in the producer’s chair, the signature wall of sound interlaced and influencing the entire record. The album contains some of the last productions by Spector before his murder conviction and imprisonment in 2009 (“Silence Is Easy” and “White Dove”). While only the two cuts with Spector’s production are listed, I would imagine there are outtakes sitting around somewhere that would make for a fantastic deluxe edition. I tweeted this to the band along with a few other fans as well, and the question seems to have gone unnoticed.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Hope State

This week we’re getting emotional with The Hope State’s Taylor Johnson, aka our latest Artist of The Week. He’s just released his wonderfully reflective new album Skeletons, a collection of truly heartfelt songs that deserve your undivided attention.

Canadian artist Taylor Johnson developed the moniker The Hope State originally in Saskatoon. He later moved to Los Angeles before deciding to reside back in Canada, but changing up the pace a bit in Toronto. All the while Taylor has been honing his skills, preparing to release his poignant debut album which he can now share with the world. The latest single to be taken from the album is the incredibly powerful “Butterflies.”

The track combines earthy elements of folk-rock with impressively honest lyricism to create something incredibly immersive and compelling. “Butterflies,” along with the rest of the album, deals with an array of intensely honest subject matters including depression, addiction, and hope. Taylor deals with each of these subjects with dignity and grace, all the while wearing his heart on his sleeve to create something beautifully introspective. Fans of Death Cab For Cutie and Iron & Wine will feel at home here.

Skeletons is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week:

Having received acclaim for their debut single “Find A Way,” even being nominated for a UK Music Video Award for “Best Pop Newcomer,” South London duo James Lamb and Richard Craker—aka 11—have returned with an instantly catchy new offering.

With shades of Passion Pit or The 1975, “Best Of Me” is centered around an internal dialogue surrounding themes of personal insecurities. Racing with pulsating beats and an immense propulsive energy, it oozes an utterly infectious groove as the gritty impassioned vocals of James Lamb soar. Combining a compelling sense of determination and motivated power alongside whirring, indie-pop sensibilities, “Best Of Me” packs one ferocious punch; inspiring the listener to get up and face whatever challenges may lay in store.

Of the track, Lamb explains, “It’s about not allowing negative energy to take you off your path. It’s about mind-state, the internal battles that we all have… It’s a fight between success and failure, where success is landing all the punches.”

Showcasing not only this young duo’s flawless production skills, but their inspiring energy-fuelled drive to achieve, “Best Of Me” is an uplifting must-listen.

“Best Of Me” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: CHILDCARE

This week’s Artist of The Week are the hotly tipped softcore-psych group CHILDCARE. They’ve already released a number of critically acclaimed tracks and are ending the year on a high with the release of their hugely infectious latest single “Bamboo,” out now via Big Indie Records.

Now, this is where things get interesting; the band is usually fronted by the extremely capable Ed Cares, however, for “Bamboo” the quartet decided to spice things up a bit and instead, bassist Emma Topolski takes centre stage. It’s a gamble that has certainly paid off. Emma’s stunningly majestic voice floats effortlessly over the heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums, creating something that falls between the likes of Everything Everything and The Japanese Breakfast.

The band is also renowned for their utterly flawless harmonies and this is certainly maintained on “Bamboo.” The rich and perfectly executed “ahs” throughout the track deserve your attention, that’s for sure.

CHILDCARE have already supported Bastille and regularly sell out shows in their London hometown, so we’re sure that 2019 will no doubt be a big year for these guys. Not to mention their debut album is tipped for release in February 2019. Its all happening and we can’t wait to hear it.

“Bamboo” is in stores now via Big Indie Records.

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TVD Live Shots: Powerwolf and Amaranthe at Club
Live, Milan, 11/7

I love going to see metal shows in Europe because the crowds get so into the show from the first note of the first band to the very last spark of the encore. It’s a fist-pumping adrenaline rush and a celebration of all things metal that just doesn’t happen back in the States.

The lineups at metal shows are quite different as well. This night would have three very different bands representing three different genres, but they would all be equally embraced by the wall to wall crowd. Headlining the night was German power metal titans Powerwolf. These guys are somewhere between Ghost and Sabaton, and they put on one hell of a performance.

Their latest album The Sacrament of Sin was awarded best album by Metal Hammer and for good reason. This juggernaut of a record laid the foundation for a brutal set that spanned their seven studio albums. Standouts of the night included the blistering opening “Fire and Forgive” along with five other numbers from the new album. Another highlight was the last song of the night “Werewolves of Armenia.” There’s something undeniably awesome about power metal in general, but Powerwolf live and breathe this sound and not only make it look easy, but they also make you feel like you are walking into a battleground during the 16th century.

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UK Artist of the Week: Koto Kill

Today’s Artist of The Week is a raucous one-man show whose latest project is blisteringly spectacular. Koto Kill—aka DJ and producer Gabriel Ralls—creates full-throttle electronic rock that is packed with a punch. His upcoming mini-LP “Fight Us All” arrives in stores this week, and we’re extremely proud to introduce him as this week’s UK Artist of The Week.

Every track on “Fight Us All” features a different female vocalist, and each one is just as ferocious as the next. Koto Kill’s most recent release is the delicately industrial “Fire Down” featuring smooth sultry vocals from the extremely talented Judith Haustein. Compared to other tracks on the EP, this one feels slightly less industrial but it’s still undeniably mesmerizing nonetheless.

Haustein’s slick, haunting vocals ooze delicately over the twinkling sounds of the sitar, whilst distortion-heavy guitar riffs give the track the urgency it deserves. Think Nine Inch Nails meets Little Dragon and you’re almost there. Also featured on this magnificent EP are B3NDU, Beatrice Bonnano, Anelise Kunz, Emily Magpie, and Dolly Daggerz—each woman using their own authenticity to their advantage, creating fierce sounds over Ralls’ electrifying soundscapes.

“Fight Us All” is in stores on 16th November via Dystopian Disco.

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