Category Archives: TVD UK

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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TVD Live Shots: Slayer, Lamb of God, Anthrax, and Obituary at the SSE Arena, 11/3

Has it really been 37 years? I remember discovering Slayer as a teenager based on the fact that they were the scariest band in the world and I was on a mission to piss off my parents. The satanic artwork that graced their album covers and t-shirts not only looked super cool, but was fascinating to a rebellious young kid looking for his place in the world.

Slayer’s music took you to another world at another time where excess was defined only by how extreme one could push contrary religious views and how heavy music could become.One could argue that Slayer has evolved into a brand, but one that was built around a relentless fan base and one that answered to no one. I spent a tremendous amount of time listening to Slayer in my youth and that time has undoubtedly influenced not only my taste in music but also who I am as an individual—rebellious, curious, questioning everything, and continuously pushing the envelope in everything I do.

So it’s bittersweet that I get to see Slayer live one last time. I’ve seen these guys numerous times over the years, and I guess that I took it for granted as I thought they would go the KISS route and tour for another decade, extracting every last ounce of value out of touring. But they decided to do something that few legacy artists do; bow out gracefully at the top of their game. That’s precisely what this show was about. How does a band wrap up a remarkable career spanning nearly four decades of chaos, ups, downs, tragedy, record label battles and mainstream media backlash? By going out with a bang, literally and figuratively.

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UK Artist of the
Week: All The Luck
In The World

Originally formed in 2011, Irish trio Neil Foot, Ben Connolly, and Kelvin Barr—aka All The Luck In The World—are now based in Berlin. Having previously sold out London venues Servant Jazz Quarters and The Islington and received acclaim from the likes of Clash and Rolling Stone, they have now shared their utterly charming new single.

Flowing with twinkling folk-strewn melodies and luscious harmonies, “Tested & Tried” is a beautifully soothing soundscape. Oozing a whimsical, delicate emotion and sparkling musicality, it soars with rich, honeyed vocals, the passion of which will send shivers down the spine.

Reminiscent of Bon Iver or Iron & Wine, this latest single is a slight step away from previous release A Blind Arcade, whilst maintaining the band’s reflective and poignant songwriting style, resulting in a truly dreamy slice of alt-folk that’ll tug at the heartstrings on first listen. Of the track, the band explain: “Having spent endless hours on our previous record, we want to let things flow a lot quicker from now on… ‘Tested & Tried’ was born out of an acoustic guitar loop, skateboard wheels, and a recurring a dream.”

“Tested & Tried,” the new single from All The Luck In The World, is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week:
Jo Marches

Having just released their incredible new EP “Day In Day Out,” we are extremely pleased to announce this week’s Artist of the Week is Utrecht outfit Jo Marches.

Led by front woman Johanneke Kranendonk, Jo Marches are a force to be reckoned with. Their latest EP, which was released last Friday, is an undeniably infectious slice of synth-laden, alternative pop that undoubtedly deserves all the support its received so far, and then some.

Not only is each track filled with dynamic synths, pulsating electronic beats, and Johanneke’s gorgeously hazy vocals, it also covers a number of relatable topics. These include feminism, politics, and mental health to name but a few. Unsurprisingly, Jo Marches have already been deemed a “feminist Tame Impala” of sorts, and we can easily see why. Kevin Parker better watch his back, that’s all we’ll say.

So what are you waiting for? Jo Marches’ mesmerising EP “Day In Day Out” is in stores now and if poignant psychedelia is your bag, you definitely won’t be disappointed.

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TVD Live Shots: Jeff Lynne’s ELO at the O2 Arena, 10/17

One of the most iconic songwriters of all time is about to turn 71 years old, but you would never guess that based on his touring schedule.

Jeff Lynne’s ELO took to the stage at the O2 Arena in front of a capacity crowd to play the first show of a four-night run at the legendary venue. It’s truly a show for the ages as fans both old and new turned up in droves to see the Birmingham native play the classics with his incredibly talented band. The cross-generational impact of ELO’s music is evident with the diversity of the crowd and even a bit surprising as I saw several millennial hipsters dressed up with fake wigs, beards, and sunglasses in honor of the signature look that has defined Lynne’s brand over the years.

Having seen Jeff Lynne’s ELO last year at Wembley, I was excited to see him in a more “intimate” venue. While the O2 holds a meager 20,000 vs. Wembley’s 90,000, it was a stadium show for an arena crowd, and it was magnificent. Opening the set with “Standing in the Rain” immediately began to warm up the eager audience before launching into “Evil Woman”—then it was game over as the crowd lept to their feet and sang along with every single word.

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UK Artist of the Week: JUNODEF

PHOTO: GIALUCA LA BRUNA | Formed in Sweden in 2015 and now London-based, JUNODEF have recently been receiving praise for their epic offerings from the likes of Louder and The Revue, as well as promoting the cause of women, non-binary, and trans people in music through their work with Girls Rock London. Now, with the release of their latest single “Heights,” the band look set to continue charming ears and spreading their empowering message.

Inspired by the realisation that something is coming to an end, “Heights” exudes the captivating, sweeping splendour of Karin Grönkvist’s vocals, which glide smoothly across glitchy beats and delicate, twinkling hooks. Sparkling with a majestic, soaring emotion, it soon builds to an intense, cinematic soundscape, flowing with a beautifully eerie aura.

Of the track, the band explain: “…‘Heights’ is the moment just before the inevitable happens, the place where everything is still fine and normal; where time has stopped and all your energy is directed towards enjoying important relationships and moments, but with the underlying knowledge that it will soon be gone.”

“Heights,” the new single from JUNODEF, is in stores now via AWAL.

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TVD Live Shots: Suede at the Eventim Apollo, 10/13

I was gutted to find out that Suede and Glasvegas were playing on the same night in London last week. Not that one is the equivalent to the other—although it could be argued that they shared similar stories regarding their debut records—but as an expat living in the UK and the fact that both bands do not tour as extensively as I would prefer, I put them on the same pedestal personally. Thanks to the Brit-pop gods above, Suede announced a second show at the legendary Eventim Apollo which solved the dilemma. I know, I know, first world problems…

If you are a regular reader of my reviews, then you know that I have a special place in my rock ‘n’ roll heart for all things Britpop, especially the standouts from the mid-90s. Suede is one of them. They stood out from the pack with a sound that is all their own. Their fourth album Head Music was supposed to be the one that “broke” them in the States (beyond the hipsters, that is). But it didn’t—and it’s become a cliché, the story of a band that is huge in the UK, yet unable to penetrate the US. The hype almost always outweighs the substance, or in this case, the US just wasn’t prepared for something of this magnitude. Suede is a different kind of beast. This wasn’t Oasis, it wasn’t Blur, it was more Bowie/ T-Rex/ Smiths-esque.

Having never seen Suede before I had no idea what to expect. Holy shit these guys were on fire out of the gates. One would never guess that frontman Brett Anderson just turned 50. The energy, charisma, the passionate crawls, the taunting of the audience, the fucking jump shots—Jesus Christ this guy had more energy than most punk rock singers. You can’t watch Brett and not see a bit of Bryan Ferry, and that’s okay because like all the great musicians in the world, he takes inspiration and makes it his own.

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Needle Drop: Emily Magpie, “Be Your Own Light” EP

Having received acclaim from Mahogany, The Line Of Best Fit, and Earmilk, and wowed crowds supporting bands such as Let’s Eat Grandma and This Is The Kit, Bristol-based artist Emily Spetch—aka Emily Magpie—has now shared a brand new EP. Completely self-produced at her parents’ house in Cornwall, “Be Your Own Light” is a wonderfully eclectic collection of ethereal sounds, all tied together by the smooth splendour of Emily’s rich vocals.

Opening the EP is the totally captivating “Last Train.” Rich with heart-wrenching and honest emotion, it exhibits a grittier edge than previous releases, whilst retaining those trademark shimmering melodies that we’ve come to know and love. Propelled by the raw, impassioned depth of Spetch’s vocals, it flows with an utterly engrossing angelic majesty.

“Stranger” fuses glitchy beats with delicate finger-picked ukulele and twinkling keys. Showcasing Spetch’s knack for unique, refined production—it’s a perfect amalgamation of sounds, resulting in something truly spellbinding. Using found natural sounds, the EP’s title track is a perfectly dreamy slice of downtempo electro pop, with shades of folk-inspired musicality. Complete with pulsating beats, Emily’s celestial vocal urges you to “be your own light.”

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TVD Live Shots: Glasvegas at Heaven, 10/12

I can’t believe it’s been a decade since the release of one of the most critically acclaimed debut albums of all time. Glasvegas released their eponymous debut record in September of 2008 and I saw them live the following year as they toured the States. I was working for their record label, Sony Music, at the time and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more significant buzz on a band from the UK Stateside since Franz Ferdinand or maybe Editors. The record was celebrated and praised by all the big media outlets in the UK, was nominated for the coveted Mercury Prize award, and topped virtually every best album year-end list. So was it overhyped? Absolutely fucking not.

Then again that could be said with 90% of the UK bands who find success in their home country but fail to get traction Stateside. I can tell you this, it’s not because the label didn’t push them, they did. Several folks at the record label were very passionate about this band and rightfully so. The problem I think was that radio (still a big factor for determining success at the time) had no idea what to do with them. I mean, what station would play a band that sounds like The Clash crossed with Elvis and produced by Phil Spector and the Ronettes? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Glasvegas is an important record because it made a statement in a sea of copycats looking for radio play. It was part throwback, part future-forward, and drenched in emotion. From the opening cut “Flowers and Football Tops” to the very end of “Ice Cream Van,” this record has something for everyone. Of course, the highlights were in the meaty center propped up with the brilliant “Geraldine” and “Daddy’s Gone,” but it felt like a single piece of work at a time when the album was under attack. I would even go as far to say that this was one of the last few true albums, or at least the last of the great debuts.

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UK Artist of the Week: Dustin Tebbutt

Bon Iver? Is that you? It’s not, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so. This week’s Artist of the Week is Australia’s Dustin Tebbutt. An indie-folk songwriter who is writing truly mesmerizing tales reminiscent of the aforementioned Bon Iver or Sufjan Stevens, but with his own unique stamp.

Gearing up for the release of his forthcoming EP “Chasing Gold”—out 26th October 2018—Dustin has already released a handful of hits off the EP. From the beautifully uplifting “Love Is Blind,” to the intricate finger pickings of “All Your Love,” to the minimalist electronic beats on “Satellite,” each track is filled with crisp musicality and haunting vocals.

The young songwriter has been making a splash in Australia for some time now, with “All Your Love” actually having been co-written by top Australian electronic duo Flight Facilities earlier this year. It was released as a dance track originally, and its safe to say it did pretty darn well. Now, preparing for the release of his upcoming EP, its seems nothing can stop this young Aussie from strumming his way to the top.

“Chasing Gold” is in stores on 26th October via Eleven: A Music Company.

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