Category Archives: TVD UK

Needle Drop: Pip Blom, “Are We There Yet?” EP

Set to release her debut EP on 28th September, Amsterdam-based singer-songwriter Pip Blom writes, records, and releases all her own material, and has already received acclaim from 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq and BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens. “Are We There Yet?” is a short but sweet collection of three powerful tracks. Combining driving riffs with sweet, catchy melodies—it’s a true treat.

First track “Taxi Driver” immediately hits you with its uptempo indie-pop goodness. Undeniably catchy, its infectious lo-fi fuzz and jangly melodies will no doubt stick in your head upon first listen. Flowing with Blom’s honey-sweet vocals, it’s a track wonderful in its simplicity.

“Honey” is grittier than its predecessor; filled with grunge-inspired, languid riffs, it oozes a raw power showcasing this young songwriter’s skill for creating her own impressive indie sound. Reminiscent of some pioneering ‘90s female Brit Pop bands such as Sleeper or Elastica, “Alone” closes the EP in a gentler, more reflective tone. With acoustic twangs of guitar and Blom’s stripped-back vocals, it exudes a refreshing, honest vulnerability and emotion-strewn openness. A contemplative and delicately beautiful end to an inspired debut.

Although Pip Blom’s influences are clear on “Are We There Yet?”—most notably Aussie songwriter Courtney Barnett—that’s no bad thing in my book. I can’t get enough of these scuzzy, raw indie anthems.

“Are We There Yet?” is out 28th September via Toaster Records.

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Needle Drop: John Alcabean, “Real Time Fiction” EP

Post-punk rockers John Alcabean have released their excellent debut EP, “Real Time Fiction,” which is laced with stunning melodies and electrifying guitars that carry a certain melancholic twist creating depth within the wall of noise.

John Alcabean are still a relatively new band (in the vein of Drenge, Wolf Alice, and Royal Blood) with brand new songs, an unfinished line up, and have yet to break out of Europe to play shows. This being said, their potential is through the roof. While the band is still relatively unknown, they’ve recently had their second single “Fire” premiered by Clash, who stated that track is a “taut, energised piece of noise rock bluster…”

The song that introduces the “Real Time Fiction” EP is also the band’s first single “Need Comfort,” its initial riff swelling in anticipation of the drums and bass taking complete control. “I’ll close my eyes when you’re fine,” is the line that resonates, producing much-needed depth within the wall of guitars. “Fire” is introduced with “Slow” and is an stellar choice for a single that showcases a mix of ’90s guitar drenched effects with melodies that linger.

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UK Artist of the Week: Federal Unicorn

Denmark has seen its underground alternative music scene thrive over the past few years, with bands such as Captain Casanova and John Alcabean emerging and making statements with their even mix of post punk and ’90s influenced grunge, thrashing guitars, and melancholic vocals. Federal Unicorn is another band to make Denmark’s alternative scene proud—and this one is a beauty.

Early this year Federal Unicorn released their EP “Substances” via Tapetown Records and are well renowned for touring all over Europe, the UK, and Canada. The three-piece—Robert Jancewicz (guitar, vocals), Kuba Sypniewski (bass), and Kristian Nielsen (drums, backing vocals)—have been making music together since 2010. Their 2014 album Come Again, featured a broader sound which they’ve now honed into the edgier, modern grunge heard on “Substances.”

The EP is about “facing your demons, telling good from bad, finding beauty in ugly, and trusting your own mind and flesh,” say the band. “A lot of it is a product of taking really long walks in search of unidentified treasures. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t, sometimes you end up with poison on your tongue and your mind in an abyss and all the while you observe and contemplate.”

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Needle Drop: Tanners Pool, “Out of Line” EP

Tanners Pool are bringing back classic rock ‘n’ roll with their debut EP “Out of Line” out now via Alt/Logic.

The EP kicks off with the punchy, guitar driven “Bad Advice’” where lead guitarist Jess Ashdale immediately makes a name for herself with her insane guitar solo taking center stage. Funk-rock number “I’m Long Gone” feels more akin to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and shifts my initial thoughts on the EP quite drastically in the process. The track feels completely different to “Bad Advice”—it has a distinct edge that’s quite memorable.

Given latter tracks “Nothing and Nobody” and “Plastic Wings” I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that their funk-rock edge seems to have disappeared into the abyss and we’re back to the more generic classic rock sound. Are they missing a trick here?

Regardless, this debut EP from the Oxford quartet is definitely worth a listen and this band could be something very special. In a world filled with fresh new indie bands, it would be nice to see something a bit unique come out of the woodwork, and with a bit of tweaking, perhaps these guys could be it.

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Needle Drop: SHVLLOWS, “Zurich”

Having received acclaim from Amazing Radio’s Jim Gellatly, BBC Radio Scotland, and Clash, Edinburgh four-piece SHVLLOWS are currently enjoying the rise in attention and seek to continue the streak with their latest offering.

New single “Zurich” is an anthemic slice of indie-pop with catchy synth-laden melodies and subtle cinematic power. Oozing uptempo ‘80s vibes, it’s an infectious track that explores themes of anxiety and self-doubt.

Juxtaposing insightful, lyrical storytelling and melodies, “Zurich” is an atmospheric offering strewn with sweeping emotion and positive energy—a real treat for fans of light-hearted electro-pop. (You can certainly hear why Made In Chelsea featured the track in one of their undoubtedly dramatic and emotion-filled episodes.)

“Zurich,” the new single from SHVLLOWS is in stores 16th September via Choose Rude Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Empty Page

Having formed just last year, Manchester trio The Empty Page—Kel, Giz, and Jim—are already stunning listeners across the country with their raucous, grunge-inspired sound, and the band is set to release their debut album, Unfolding next month.

Previously released track “Deeply Unlovable” is the perfect example of the band’s anthemic, raw, riot grrrl-inspired sound. Accompanied by a video featuring women of all shapes, sizes, and ages, it highlights the need for a balanced and realistic representation of women in media, as well as simply being a fantastic song.

The latest taste of the forthcoming album comes in the form of “Big Wheel”—a ‘90s-inspired slice of indie-rock, filled with raw, fuzzy hooks alongside infectious melodies. The Empty Page are a must-listen for anyone craving some gritty, refreshing rock anthems with welcome shades of nostalgia.

Produced by Garth Richardson (Biffy Clyro, RATM, L7), Unfolding, the debut album from The Empty Page, is in stores 21st October via Vociferous Records.

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TVD Live Shots: Queensryche at the O2 Academy Islington, 8/28

Queensryche made a triumphant return to London with an epic headlining performance at the O2 Academy Islington over the weekend. This is the fourth time I’ve seen the band live over the past couple of years, and I think this was their best performance. Then again, I would guess it’s a cold day in hell when these guys have a bad show. Singer Todd La Torre continues to be in top form and gel effortlessly with the rest of the band. The question of whether or not he could front the band moving forward while respecting their legacy has been answered yet again with a resounding yes.

Opening the set with “Guardian,” from the brilliant 2015 release Condition Human, Queensryche hit the stage all guns blazing. I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Condition Human and it’s a solid record from start to finish. I would even go so far to say it’s the best record the band has made in the past decade.

The rest of the set was a stellar selection of Ryche favorites old and new. “Operation Mindcrime,” “Best I Can,” “Empire,” “The Mission”—you get the idea (see the entire setlist below). They even slipped in “Damaged” from the terribly under celebrated Promised Land record which was a true highlight for me.

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UK Artist of the Week: Beauty

Singer, songwriter, and dancer, the multi-talented Beauty (aka Mark Thompson) creates his own unique style of electro-pop and is set to release his brand new single next month.

“Grown Up” is filled with twinkling synthy melodies alongside pulsating electro beats and Thompson’s distinctive impassioned vocals. Influenced by the likes of Sia, Robyn, and Sam Smith, Thompson describes “Grown Up” as being inspired by a much-needed conversation with an old friend.

Hankering back to simpler times, the track is an ode to childhood and the importance of holding onto what’s close to you when the responsibilities of adulthood become overwhelming. Oozing uptempo, poptastic vibes, “Grown Up” is a gritty slice of mature electro-pop.

“Grown Up” is out 16th September 2016 via BeautysMusic.

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Fiona Soe Paing,
The TVD First Date

“I have some very, very vivid vinyl-based memories from my childhood. I remember being about six of seven I think, and I remember Sundays being so boring with nothing to do—pre-internet era. To alleviate the tedium I used to spend the afternoons in the posh front room where the guests usually came when they visited.”

“There was a collection of ancient Arthur Mee’s children’s encyclopedias, a glass cabinet with my costume dolls from around the world, a three-quarter sized piano that looked like a sideboard, and a big box of my mum’s records.

My mum was then a student and had pretty eclectic taste, and I remember kneeling down, spreading out a pile of singles flat on the floor, staring at the labels, and being obsessed with the pictures on there wondering what was the meaning of these magical symbols and can remember them really vividly. There was a yacht on an ocean for the RAK label, a palm tree for Island, a bright green apple for Apple, and most mysterious looking of all, a black semicircle enclosing a black dot for Polydor.

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UK Artist of the Week: Tanners Pool

“Alternative rock” music is an incredibly broad description for hundreds of musical sub-genres. Tanners Pool are set to broaden the horizons of this tag however with the release of their debut EP, “Out of Line,” by adding certain dimensions to their sound that others may shy away from.

In keeping with the EP’s title, the record explores themes of pushing against the grain rather than following mainstream trends we are force-fed. Opening track “Bad Advice” kicks off with Jess Ashdale’s thrashing, distorted guitar which mirrors the Arctic Monkeys’ punchy, electric sound. While on “I’m Long Gone,” the band click into a funk rock groove akin to the Red Hot Chili Peppers with an expertly delivered wah-wah laden guitar solo.

The band revert back to their rock ’n’ roll roots in “Nothing and Nobody” and “Plastic Wings,” both songs filled with fuzzy guitar riffs and pounding drums. Each track on “Out of Line” offers something different as you work through the EP as Tanners Pool impressively traverse the lines between indie rock, funk, and classic rock.

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