Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Kev Sherry

We’re back in Scotland for this week’s Artist of the Week in the hope we’ll put a bit of a smile on your face amongst all this madness. Kev Sherry’s “Wasted Days” is an indie-pop delight from start to finish, with poignant lyricism included to make you think, just a little bit.

“Wasted Days” is instantly infectious from the offset. Reminiscent of fellow uplifting indie-pop artists such as Alvvays, gentle guitar twangs and pulsating drum beats soar on the single like a warm, Spring breeze. Kev’s authentic Scottish accent is clear throughout reminding us slightly of Paolo Nutini—and is it just us, or do they kind of look alike as well?

Talking about “Wasted Days,” Kev elaborates, “The song deals with ideas of regret, reflection, and personal forgiveness. After the death of a parent you come to question if you really knew them as a person, as a friend, or merely as a parent. Did they know you loved them? Did they understand you far more than you realised at the time?” Deep stuff.

Kev Sherry is no stranger to the music making world, having previously released music as one quarter of critically acclaimed group Attic Lights and also having collaborated with international artist such as Bjorn Yttling, Cerys Matthews, and La Casa Azul. His songs have also been remixed by Mogwai, Camera Obscura, The Fratellis, Jim Noir and The Vaselines. Phew!

“Wasted Days” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Morrissey at
Wembley Arena, 3/14

“Hello London, thank you for coming… cough, cough,Morrissey joked as he played what is the last show for a while at the legendary Wembley Arena and likely one of the final live music performances in all of London for the time being.

The Coronavirus has quickly stomped out every major tour, and now it’s shut down virtually every single venue across the UK. But what better way to go out on an extended break than to see the master post-modern crooner, Morrissey. While the crowd was a bit lighter than expected as many choose to stay home due to the warnings, Morrissey was stellar—majestic even—and a show for the ages, if you will.

With no opening act, there was time for Morrissey to show videos from artists who have inspired him over the years. There’s a YouTube video that pulls all of these together if you are interested. Apparently, the fans don’t mind as he has a history of unusual opening acts that don’t always go over as well as they should. Either way, Morrissey took to the stage and set off on a journey through his impressive catalog along with a few gems from The Smiths.

Opening the set with the classic Smiths song “London,” played for the first time in over a decade, the crowd immediately started to swoon. Then we got a taste of the new record with the equally impressive “Jim Jim Falls,” which opens up his new album. Hearing Morrissey sing, “If you’re gonna kill yourself. Then to save face. Get on with it. If you’re gonna sing then sing. Don’t think about it. If you’re gonna live then live. Don’t go on about it,” is a return to form for Morrissey. The critics are in agreement as I am Not a Dog on a Chain continues to get solid reviews across the media. 

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UK Artist of the Week: Frans Bak

Given the current climate—what with all the Coronavirus craziness going on—it’s more important than ever to make sure you are supporting musicians by listening to their music. Live music everywhere has drawn to a halt, so what better time than to sit back, relax and enjoy some stunning neo-classical music at home. Danish composer Frans Bak has returned with his latest single “Parting” and it’s absolutely mesmerizing from start to finish.

Taken from his upcoming album Piano, “Parting” is a glorious slice of instrumental music that will absorb you instantly. Combining bittersweet ambience with a truly poignant piano melodies and undeniably captivating string quartet, “Parting” conjures a sound that is both majestic and melancholic. Fans of Nils Frahm and Ludovico Einaudi will feel at home here.

No stranger to the sync music world, Frans Bak is known for his work on Nordic, French, American, and British TV series’ including Disparue, Doctor Foster, Lilyhammer and The Killing to name but a few. He has also scored three Oscar nominated shorts: Ernst & Lyset, Helmer & Son, andSkal vi være kærester?. Pretty impressive, hey?

With both “Parting” and Piano, Frans Bak will once again showcase his incredible ability to create transcendent soundscapes that are minimalistically powerful and unique.

Piano is in stores on 17th April 2020 via Dharma Records.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Hoosiers at the
O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, 3/6

Back in 2007, I was working at Sony Music and living in Austin, Texas. Sony was signing UK bands left and right looking to cash in on the continued Britpop movement riding high in the US.

The problem was that many of the A&R folks at Sony thought that just because a band was huge in the UK, they would undoubtedly share similar success in the US. That was the farthest from the truth. Many of the UK bands didn’t get a proper promotional push in the US from their labels, and I can attest to that when a brilliant little record called The Trick to Life showed up in my promo allotment. I’d never heard of the band before, and I thought the name was terrible, but none of that mattered once I gave this disc a spin.

The debut record from the UK by way of Indiana band The Hoosiers was a stellar piece of work, and it was chock full of big hooks, slick production, and potential hits. The only problem was, what’s the genre? How do you sell this one? Hell, how do you even describe it?  It was somewhere between the genius of ELO and Supertramp, mixed with a bit of Jellyfish and Hot Hot Heat.

This genre-bending mashup would become both a blessing and a curse and ultimately leave the band without a label but with an increasingly dedicated fanbase even after being voted by the NME as the worst band of the year. How in the fuck that happens is beyond me, then again it’s just another example of how clueless critics can shift a band’s perception by making it a cool thing to hate an incredibly talented band.

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UK Artist of the Week: Lloyd James Fay

We’re back up in Scotland for this week’s Artist of The Week, so get those winter warmers at the ready! Lloyd James Fay returns with a shimmering new single and EP, due for release in May.

Taken from the upcoming EP “Fake Depth” is Fay’s latest single, “Idiocracy.” It’s a wonderful piece of ambient rock music that soothes the soul stunningly. Fay’s rich, raspy vocal soars instantly over the powerful musicality, creating a sound akin to the likes of Teenage Fanclub or Sun Kil Moon.

You may recognise Fay’s voice if you’re a fan of Scottish rock music in general because he was also the frontman of alt-rock quartet Thula Borah. After the band broke up, Fay decided to concentrate more on his solo work and then, voila, Lloyd James Fay was born. If “Idiocracy” is anything to go by, we’re in for a real treat when “Fake Depth” drops.

“Fake Depth” arrives in stores on 8th May 2020.

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TVD Live Shots: Editors at Wembley Arena, 2/28

It was 2005 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. I was living there and working for Sony Music at the time. Each year there is one band that everyone is talking about, and it ends up being the must-see band of that year. In 2004 it was Franz Ferdinand, and rightfully so. In 2005 it was Editors, and the reputation for SXSW hipsters predicting the next big thing was well intact.

I remember the band playing six or seven shows, maybe even more across that week in Texas. From the private parties to the showcases and the label specific events and interviews, these guys were about to be run into the ground while taking advantage of the music industry elite all in the same place at the same time, while also laying the foundation for a strong US launch.

For a UK band, this was becoming increasingly difficult and still is today. Travis, The Hoosiers, Toploader, My Vitriol, Mew—these are some of the incredible bands that were supposed to be breakout artists in the US. Most of them were hyped up and could deliver on the hype, but you had major labels signing up British bands left and right in an attempt to mimic their European success in the US.

What they would learn very quickly—and at a high cost—is that these audiences are vastly different and what one embraces, the others many times ignore. The trick is to stick to your guns and be consistent with making great music through all the ups and downs. And that’s something that Editors have done incredibly well, and some would say they’ve written the playbook for success down this avenue.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Peach Fuzz

This week’s Artist of the Week comes all the way from the birth place of The Beatles no less. That’s right—Liverpool. Indie-electro quartet The Peach Fuzz have just released their latest single “Softie” and its pretty darn addictive if you ask us.

“Softie” combines vintage synths, flawless harmonies, jangly guitar twang, and pulsating drum beats to create a sound that is undeniably compelling and infectious. Fans of The 1975 and Pale Waves will feel at home here. Despite its uptempo melodies, “Softie” actually tackles a rather difficult subject, kicking back at conformity and stereotypes whilst also having the ability to get those toes tapping instantly.

The Peach Fuzz will be embarking on their first ever headline tour this week, starting in Leeds and finishing up in their hometown of Liverpool. So you’d better hurry up and grab tickets while you can, it’s bound to be one electrifying show.

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TVD Live Shots: Dropkick Murphys at the Alexandra Palace, 2/21

After twenty plus years of American Celtic punk rock, the Dropkick Murphys are more prominent than ever. Somehow I’ve managed to miss their live show during these two decades but all of that changed last week in London. The Boston punk icons took to the glorious stage at London’s famed Alexandra Palace (aka Ally Pally) for their annual trip to the UK—and it was epic. This isn’t just a rock ‘n’ roll show, this is more of a movement or even a lifestyle. The UK punks came out in droves, both young and old, to celebrate one of the most impressive catalogs of the genre.

The magnitude of this show cannot be understated. It’s one of the most impressive setups I’ve ever seen. You have two insanely energetic frontmen backed by a band that effortlessly combines bagpipes, banjos, acoustic guitars, huge electric guitar riffs, alongside a double dose of punk angst and storytelling that would make Bruce Springsteen proud. These guys are a band for the people—the working class—and even though they are based in the States, the message resonates globally. Not too many bands can pull this off with the style and grace of the Dropkick Murphys while also maintaining their street punk cred.

The setlist never let up, and even though there were 26 songs, it seemed to fly by rather quickly. 2013’s Signed and Sealed in Blood along with the 2007 classic The Meanest of Times being the most represented with five songs each along with the usual suspects and a few surprises including several covers. The standout was “The Bonny” by Glasgow’s Gerry Cinnamon, which is the b-side to their latest single “Smash Shit Up,” which will be available on colored vinyl in the coming weeks during the tour and through the band’s webstore.

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TVD Live Shots: HMLTD at the Garage, 2/20

When I first moved to the UK several years ago, I had a friend visiting from the States, and we wanted to see some live music. He was staying in SoHo, so the first thing that popped into my head was the legendary 100 Club. Let’s just show up, buy a ticket, and see what happens. After all, this place is always known to have a good lineup. The band that was playing that night was HMLTD (aka Happy Meal Limited). Neither one of us had ever heard of them before, but the room was packed, and I never pass up a chance to go to this place. What happened next changed my entire perception of the London music scene.

It was one of the coolest shows that I’ve ever seen before. It was as if Adam Ant, The Clash, and Bowie had a number of glam, punk, rock ‘n’ roll bastard children who decided to form a band. They had it all—the theatrics, the elaborate stage wear, and the attitude, but most importantly, the songs. The songs were there, and they were over the fucking top, full of glammed up piss and adrenaline, and they were remarkably catchy. As it would turn out, they were far more creative than anyone on the scene, had a massive buzz about them, and could do no wrong at the time. Then they made a deal with the devil, and all hell broke loose.

Having worked in the music industry for more than a decade myself, I’ve seen it a million times. Sign hot new band, promise them the world, tell them that they have full creative direction, then beat them down by trying to fit them into a money-making machine while sacrificing the band’s true potential and magic, if you will. Then finally, when the band is reaching its breaking point fighting for what’s right, the label leaves them high and dry. This type of situation happens more than anyone would like to admit, and it’s the curse of the gamble of signing to a major label. Sometimes it works, but the majority of the time it ends careers.

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UK Artist of the Week: Kenichi & The Sun

We’re feeling a little bit quirky at TVD HQ this week and what better way to celebrate that quirkiness than with an undeniably unique Artist of the Week. Kenichi & The Sun—aka Katrin Hahner—returns with her most dazzling offering yet.

Taken from her upcoming album WHITE FIRE, due for release on 3rd April 2020, Kenichi & The Sun’s latest single “Splendour” is everything that you could expect and more from the introspective art-pop artist. Combining immersive soundscapes with swirling synths and haunting vocals, “Splendour” is an effervescent beauty to behold from the offset.

To coincide with this dreamy single, Katrin has also provided a stunning video, directed by Adrian Künzel, that perfectly encapsulates Kenichi & The Sun witchy vibe. Think Björk meets Fever Ray. Talking about the video, Katrin explains, “The video for ‘Splendour’ depicts the devotion, love, sacredness and struggle between human beings and the forces that drive us apart or towards each other. It’s a look inside a person’s soul; profanity and sacredness, chaos and harmony, success and failure, human and divine, feminine and masculine. In the end, it’s all one. I wanted create an entity that does not exist alone, but only in togetherness, that reflects the light of feminist movements, of pop culture and art history, of theatre, of literature, poetry, and magical practices, but also the futuristic light of new, awakened society.”

If “Splendour” is anything to go by, we’re in for a real treat when WHITE FIRE drops—so watch this space!

“Splendour” is in stores now.

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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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