Category Archives: TVD UK

TVD Live Shots:
Starset at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 2/13

Starset is one of the more interesting rock bands of the past decade. One that not only has a knack for writing huge, hook-laden rock anthems, but also crafting an incredibly interesting backstory. The story is one that few bands could bring to life without looking silly, but frontman Dustin Bates has the credibility to not only back it up, but move the ideas forward in a unique way. He’s an engineer by trade and is into science, movies, politics, and history. Quite frankly, he knows his shit when it comes to crafting the band’s genre-bending concept albums and and meditations on complex sci-fi themes and theatrics.

I don’t mind rock or metal with a side of sci-fi if it’s done right. I thought Megadeth’s Dystopia was a great effort, and Starset’s message of caution to the world against “the perils of the future at the hands of manipulated technology” takes this idea to another level. The fictional Starset Society was formed as part of a public outreach initiative to alert the masses to the contents of “the Message,” a mysterious signal from space. There’s much more to unpack around the overarching concept of the band, so go to their website and YouTube channel for a better explanation than I could ever provide here.

The fact that these guys bring such a big show to an intimate theater speaks volumes to their commitment. Most bands struggle to have decent lighting and move beyond a meter or two from their designated spot, but not Starset. They bring everything and the kitchen sink, including their signature spacesuits from the tour around their first album which plays nicely into the evolution of not only the band’s look, but the sound too.

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UK Artist of the Week:
I am HER

Feeling a bit angsty? Well, so are I am HER and they’re definitely not about to apologise for it. Get ready for some ferocious female-fronted alt-rock at its finest for this week’s Artist of The Week.

I am HER’s latest single “Big Monster” kicks off simply enough with just lead singer Julie Riley and an acoustic guitar aggressively strumming at the forefront. As the chorus kicks in however, so does the electric guitar and it means business. This is the first time I am HER have added an electric guitar to their post-punk sound, in the process creating something electrifying and fresh. Fans of PJ Harvey or The Kills will feel at home here.

Julie is no stranger to the music industry, having previously fronted ’90s cult band Rosa Mota and is now breaking away into something vibrant and new, bringing drummer Jeff Townsin along with her. Together the are creating fierce post-punk soundscapes that mean business—and we can’t get enough.

“Big Monster” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Brendon

This week’s Artist of the Week is an oldie but a goodie. Brendon Dunning aka Brendon returns to his first love of folk-rock with his infectious new single “The Hats” leading the way.

Taken from his upcoming album Hold My Hand, “The Hats” perfectly introduces us to Brendon’s full-bodied, folk-rock sound. Brendon’s warm, vibrant lead vocal soars effortlessly over the twinkling guitar strums and pulsating drum beats to create a sound that feels both nostalgic and refreshing at the same time. Think Cat Stevens with a hint of Tom Petty.

You’d be forgiven for thinking this is a debut of a relatively unknown singer-songwriter, but Brendon has actually been in the music industry for many moons. Brendon worked alongside UK Records producer Jonathan King throughout the ’70s, making a huge impact with his hit single “Gimme Some” in 1977. This success came at a cost however, and forced Brendon into the “disco” genre, which was never his true calling. “At the time of this release, which I had been unaware of, I was in talks with CBS about recording a new folk rock album but in the circumstances it never happened. I never was the pop/glam rock singer as described in Wikipedia,” Brendon explains.

Thankfully, Brendon has found his footing again and if “The Hats” is anything to go by, 2020 in looking like an exciting year for the ’70s star.

“The Hats” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Backyard Babies and
The Wildhearts at the
O2 Forum, 2/1

The Backyard Babies and The Wildhearts on the same stage both with headlining sets. Who would have thought it would have come to this? I mean that in the best possible way—two legendary bands from Europe who are the last great warriors of unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll, carrying the torch and pushing their beloved genre forward.

Let’s start with the Backyard Babies. Frontman Nicke Borg and guitar sensation Dergen lead the charge by taking the crowd back to the glory days when sleaze rock ruled the world. These guys make rock ‘n’ roll look easy, and the fact that they sound this good live is a testament to the legacy that they share both collectively and individually. From past projects, side projects, previous bands, it’s all led up to this moment and, most importantly, their brilliant eighth studio record, 2019’s Sliver and Gold.

The setlist came in fast and furious. “Shovin’ Rocks,” “44 Undead” are the new classics, “Th1rte3n” or “Nothing,” and “Minus Celsius” are the timeless songs and fan favorites. The best thing about their set, though, is that it all flows together perfectly. Add to that the antics and aerobatics of these road warriors, and you have the perfect co-headliner with the rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut that is The Wildhearts.

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UK Artist of the Week: CHERITON

Counting down the minutes until summer? Well fear not because with CHERITON’s “Parallel” you’ll feel instantly transported into a shimmeringly sunny universe that is guaranteed to warm you up.

The emerging artist—known to his friends as Nick and hailing from the not-so sunny Kent—has made his official debut with the hugely infectious single “Parallel” and its bloomin’ marvelous. Swarming with jangly guitars, twinkling synths, and Nick’s gorgeously uplifting lead vocal, “Parallel” is an instantly infectious ear worm that is bound to get you in the mood for summertime.

Unsurprisingly this indie-pop gem sparks resemblances to a number of fellow feel-good musicians including Fickle Friends and Bastille, who the song’s producer Andy Hall Hall has also coincidentally worked with in the past. Bravo. Keep your ears peeled for more new music from CHERITON as he plans to release his debut EP later this year.

“Parallel” is in stores now via So Good So Good.

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TVD Live Shots:
Monster Magnet at
the O2 Forum, 1/24

The first time I saw Monster Magnet was in 1999 in my home town of St. Louis, Missouri. The band was touring in support of their breakout masterpiece Powertrip and Kid Rock was opening the show. I remember thinking that Kid Rock was going to be the next big thing. He was touring in support of this debut for Atlantic Records, and he was brilliant (something I would never end up saying again). I would have never guessed that the opener would surpass the headliner in popularity in this situation as Monster Magnet were at their peak, both commercially and creatively.

The band had finally crafted the perfect, universally appealing single with “Space Lord,” and it dominated rock radio and MTV. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing this song. And it was quite a departure from the band’s earlier work, such as the record that introduced me to the group, 1993’s Superjudge. It was about damn time the world took notice of Monster Magnet, and that success was enough to keep the band rolling for another two decades.

Fast forward thirty years and Monster Magnet is on tour celebrating the legacy of Powertrip with a dedicated tour across the UK. It’s hard to believe that main man Dave Wyndorf is 63 years old. He looks great and can still rock with the best of them.

Unlike most bands who play their celebrated album in its entirety, Monster Magnet is taking a slightly different approach. I was told by a friend of the band that playing the songs as they appear in order on the original record doesn’t work for a live show. So ten of the thirteen songs from Powertrip mark a celebration of the album instead of playing it from start to finish—and it worked beautifully. An extended version of “Space Lord” closed out the set in epic fashion, and the crowd responded accordingly.

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TVD Live Shots: Dimmu Borgir and Amorphis at the O2 Forum, 1/22

Two metal giants on one stage at the legendary O2 Forum in London; Dimmu Borgir and Amorphis are both celebrating 20 plus years of incredible dark metal. They are both still touring with strong support from an incredibly loyal fanbase which happens to overlap perfectly.

2018 saw both metal giants releasing arguably their strongest albums ever, leading to a resurgence of a very crowded metal subgenre that continues to push what was formerly known as death metal into new territory. While the heaviness and satanic overtones still exist, you would never guess that you were watching two bands who basically invented the genre across their respective regions of Norway and Finland. The evolution and addition of symphonic overtones begs the question—is this really just an extreme version of progressive metal?

Either way, the fans are still coming in droves to see these two metal legends. Both bands did headline sets with Amorphis’ set being just a tad bit more accessible for my metal leanings. Their Queen of Time record, which was released in 2018, has been hailed as a modern prog-metal masterpiece. When they mix in the older material, for example, a song like “Sign From the North Side” (classic textbook thrash/ death metal from their early days) and then go straight into a song like “House of Sleep” (mid 2000s), it shows how these guys have matured and learned how to write a magnum metal opus. Queen of Time takes it up a notch by finding a balance of old and new while pushing the production level to something rarely heard in the world of metal. It’s awe-inspiring on the record, but even more of a spectacle to see them pull it off live.

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UK Artist of the Week: Approachable Members of Your Local Community

Our hearts and thoughts have, of course, been going out to Australia recently whilst they continue to deal with the catastrophic bushfires that are eating away at their homes. It’s times like these that we all need to put aside our differences and come together, which is exactly what Approachable Members of Your Local Community are asking for in their vibrant new single “Small Change.”

Taken from their upcoming debut EP “Love Thy Neighbour,” “Small Change” is a feel-good slice of colourful indie-pop, filled with anthemic hooks and insatiably addictive melodies. Fans of Vampire Weekend and Ra Ra Riot will feel at home here.

The story behind the track itself however, has a much more poignant meaning, especially in the light of Australia’s ongoing bush fire tragedies. “‘Small Change’ is ultimately about empathy—for places, for each other, and for our environment. It’s about our generation’s hope and optimism to create a better future. This summer has been challenging for so many we know and love, and especially for many whose experiences have been unimaginably traumatic and devastating,” bassist Micky Fisher tells us. “In the face of a national crisis, the country has galvanised to take back tomorrow. With an outpouring of support for our firefighters and affected communities, it’s clear that small change can have a big impact.”

Approachable Members will be raising funds for the bushfire relief efforts at all shows. “Love Thy Neighbour” is out on 14th February 2020 via AntiFragile.

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UK Artist of the Week: Chloe Foy

We’ve got the perfect winter warmer for you this week so sit back, grab a blanket, perhaps mug of hot chocolate and get comfortable. Singer-songwriter Chloe Foy has just shared her poignant new single “Callous Copper” and its bloomin’ gorgeous.

Taken from her upcoming EP of the same name, “Callous Copper” is a mesmerisingly impressive slice of indie-folk from the offset. Swirling with a continuous beauty, the single also features a stunning string quartet that is undeniably breathtaking. Paired with Chloe’s soft, warm, velvet-like vocal, “Callous Copper” feels like the perfect ballad to get us through these cold winter months.

Talking about the single, Chloe elaborates, “‘Callous Copper’ is an unabashed love song. It’s not common for me to be quite so open in my imagery, so I surprised myself with how I laid myself out quite so openly. It has imagery of love in all its seasons. Taken from simple acoustic guitar beginnings and composed with Joni’s Both Sides Now orchestral version in mind, it’s the softer side of me.”

Chloe’s EP “Callous Copper” is in stores on 21st February 2020 via AntiFragile and if this single is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat. Fans of Julia Jacklin and Laura Marling, take note.

Chloe Foy’s single “Callous Copper” is out now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Redolent

We’re back in Scotland for this week’s AOTW and if you’re a fan of brooding, experimental soundscapes then you’re in for a treat. Redolent’s latest single “I Thought They Were Just Fireworks” is out now, so go listen!

Since the release of their brilliant debut Dantercepies, Redolent have gone from strength to strength. Their combination of experimental alt-rock and aggressive electronica is second to none. These guys are making sounds that continuously push boundaries and break the mould—something more bands really ought to sit up and take note of, just FYI.

Their latest single “I Thought They Were Just Fireworks” is a prime example of their magnificent songwriting and performance abilities. Robin Herbert’s Thom Yorke-esque vocal steals the show in the song’s second half, but the dark, brooding build up from the rest of the band before that is also hugely impressive.

Talking about the single, Robin elaborates, “I think sonically the song is influenced by the heavier bands we like—Glassjaw in particular. “Lyrically it’s inspired by nightmares about non-fiction horror from the news. Specifically American mass murdering ghouls with guns. I used to have a really vivid one when I was younger, in which my sleeping brain gave the faces of the perpetrators I’d seen on TV bodies, which broke into my house, cackling and marauding, and shot me. It recurred for a while. I felt like they were as close to ‘ghosts’ as you could maybe really find, and I was a wee bit haunted by these dead guys from across the world.”

“I Thought They Were Just Fireworks” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Libertines at the
O2 Brixton Academy, 12/18

My last show for 2019 was one that I’ve waited more than three years to cover. Arguably one of the greatest live bands ever to rise from the UK, The Libertines returned to the legendary Brixton Academy for two sold-out nights of rock ‘n’ roll bliss.

The songwriting partnership of Barât and Doherty is something extraordinary and translates from studio to live show in epic fashion, although sometimes the antics of Doherty overshadow the music. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for rock ‘n’ roll, in fact many times it adds to a mystique and a legacy. I’m not celebrating or encouraging addiction here however, but Doherty’s very public struggles and honest, sometimes outrageous comments, display a vulnerability rarely seen in the music industry today.

Addiction also makes it personal for the fans. We rally around Doherty because we want him to succeed and come out on top as we all love the underdog story. I’m sure there are signs of recovery here and there, but goddamn does the media love it when they catch him doing something silly like eating a breakfast that could feed a small village or riding a Boris bike pulled by his beloved huskies at 4 in the morning. It also begs the question, how far can this relationship be pushed before breaking once again? Have they learned their lessons? For now, it seems that both Barât and Doherty have matured a bit and rediscovered the love they have for one another—and it shows big time.

It’s also hard to believe that a band that makes this much noise on stage—as well as with the critics among the music press—have only released three studio albums. Yet, ninety plus minutes of post-punk, garage rock revivalism (or whatever you want to call it) came across like a masterclass in all things rock ‘n’ roll.

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TVD Live Shots: Sinead O’Connor at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 12/16

No one can argue that Sinead O’Connor is a once in a lifetime talent. When she’s at her best, she has one of the most remarkable voices on the planet and a knack for writing brilliant songs. I received an email from the O2 Academy that O’Connor was playing a one-off gig at the legendary Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London, and I immediately jumped on this. A chance to see a living legend play an intimate venue? Count me in. The show quickly sold out, and the wait was on. Being her first UK show in more than four years, what could we expect? After years of O’Connor sharing her personal challenges in the public forum, one wonders if this was indeed a true comeback.

I’m happy to report that this gig greatly surpassed every expectation with a genius musician finding her groove again and truly rediscovering her love for performing. Any question of her emotional state or ability to mesmerize an audience and share the absolute perfection in her voice was immediately quashed within the first song, a stellar cover of John Grant’s “Queen of Denmark.” From then on it was a celebration and a reawakening of sorts as O’Connor proved that she not only still has plenty to say, but that her music is timeless and ready to be introduced to the next generation.

O’Connor now goes by the name Shuhada Sadaqat (Shuhada is an Arabic girl’s name; sadaqat refers to a voluntary sign of faith), but she still performs under Sinead O’Connor. She’s got a new lease on life and career with new management, a memoir in the works, and rumblings of two new albums. The 53-year-old O’Connor dresses in a traditional hijab and takes the stage barefoot, and she still looks as beautiful as ever. There was even a quick moment where she smiled, posed, and gave a wave to the row of photographers in the front—and the moment that I knew this was going to be a show of epic proportions during her only UK date of 2019.

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UK Artist of the Week: Kendama

It’s a new year, a new decade, and what better way to kick-start 2020 than with some undeniably infectious electro-pop to warm ourselves up with. This week’s Artist of The Week—Kendama—hail from not-so sunny Scotland and they’re about to shake your January up, so get ready.

The duo’s latest single “Closure” is a fully flourished blast of energy from the offset, filled with shimmering synth soundscapes, pulsating drum beats, and gorgeously infectious melodies—complete with a cheeky bit of autotune, Kendama prove they are no stranger to creating perfectly polished pop music.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that these lads were from the States though, as lead singer Stuart Edgar certainly has a bit of an American twang to his voice, which matches wonderfully with the flamboyant and fun nature of the single in our opinion. If AWOLNATION and Passion Pit had a baby, it might sound something like this corker, and if that doesn’t convince you, nothing will.

Having just embarked on a Scottish tour last November, here’s hoping they’ll hop over to the USA in the not-so distant future to share their undeniably catchy blend of sparkling alt-pop.

“Closure” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
Temples at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush
Empire, 12/8

I’ve always been intrigued by British rock band Temples. They have that perfect mix of nostalgia, mystique, and psychedelia, not only with their late ’60s inspired look but most importantly, with their music. They’ve been on my radar for years, but we’ve never been in the same city at the same time, that is until last Sunday at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Having spent quite a bit of time with their latest album Hot Motion, I was thrilled to finally see the live show up close and personal in one of London’s best venues.

After photographing the standard first three songs in some very challenging light, I grabbed a beer and went up to the balcony to watch the show. I quickly found myself thinking, “holy shit, these guys are good.” Each song was getting better than the first. The only other time I’ve seen this was watching Father John Misty for the first time years ago in San Francisco. The setlist was perfect and flowed beautifully to the end—not a dud in sight.

The same thing happened with Temples. New songs such as “Hot Motion” set up the more familiar classics such as “Shelter Song.” It just worked, and the crowd responded accordingly. At one point, there was even a bit of a mosh pit, which makes zero sense to me. Then again, I saw a vicious mosh pit at the My Vitriol show a few weeks back.

In the mess that is the music industry today, talent no longer seems to be the leading indicator of future success. It’s much more about luck, consistency, and building a strong relationship with your fans and advocates. So the question becomes, what the hell do you do with a band like Temples? It’s not like they are going to have a breakthrough “hit” anytime soon, nor should that be the focus, but I think it would be interesting to pair them in 2020 on some interesting tours.

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TVD Premiere: Generation Dude,
“Radio Pills”

The great thing about rock and roll is that it never goes out of style—it’s absolutely timeless. Artists may come and go, but rock music will always remain one way or another. The newest band on the block are Generation Dude and we are proudly premiering their debut single “Radio Pills” right here at TVD today.

“Radio Pills” is a fun-filled, vibrant classic rock track that will get your toes tapping instantly. Band members Terence Schoshinski (lead vocals and guitars) and Steve Refling’s (drums, guitars, and backing vocals) effortless harmonies are flawless throughout—instantly reminiscent of The Who or The Hollies, but with added blues-infused goodness for extra bite.

“‘Radio Pills’ is a song about reaching a turning point in life where a bonifide personal declaration of independence is made,” Schoshinski explains. “In the tune, the hero wakes up and begins breaking free from the spiderweb of cookie-cutter corporate jive which, up to that point, he’s been participating in and profiting from. Graced with enough clarity and humility to be able to get honest, he is then empowered with the real business of identifying and stomping out the evasive wizard arachnids.”

Generation Dude’s debut EP “Crimes Against Yourself” arrives in stores on 21st February 2019.

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