Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Spelks

This week’s Artist of The Week comes from Newcastle and they certainly are packed with a scuzzy punch. Spelks’ debut single “The Happy Places” is out now.

Combining noise-pop and lo-fi alt-rock sensibilities, Spelks has created a sound that’s both heavy and infectious. Distorted guitars buzz in the background as Spelks’ frontman Jonathan Sabiston’s distinctively rich vocal tone is able to soar effortlessly, whilst flawless harmonies chime in underneath. Fans of the likes of Weezer and Surfer Blood will feel at home here.

The lyrics themselves discuss what it’s like to live with agoraphobia and anxiety, making the track all the more relatable and emotive. With another single due to be released later this year, we’re excited to see what Spelks get up to next (even if they are stuck at home).

“The Happy Places” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Bengal Lancers

Fancy a bit of infectious indie-pop to get you through the week? Well look no further than London’s Bengal Lancers. The quartet have just released their new single “I’m Still Here,” a thrilling track with a poignant message.

Instantly reminiscent of Frightened Rabbit or The National, Bengal Lancers’ latest single is a classic take on British indie-rock. Some may say the genre is outdated and oversaturated, but we say it’s nostalgic and more popular than ever. Frontman Harry Sullivan’s deep, distinctive vocal soars over the pulsating drums and jangling guitars, conjuring a sound that’s both full of life and lyrically powerful.

“I’m Still Here” is a song about the struggles and the inability everyone can have in seeing the brighter side of life and coming to terms with our own place in the world—something that feels even more important in these trying times, and something we can all learn from.

“I’m Still Here” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Carmody

We’ve been keeping our eye on electronic soulstress Carmody for a while now. She first came to our attention after releasing her debut EP “Out To Sea,” which also featured the equally talented artist Tom Misch. Since then, she has gone from strength to strength and quite rightly, she is this week’s Artist of The Week.

Now back with her ethereal new single “More Than I Miss You,” Carmody proves she’s going nowhere and is certainly one to watch. Carmody’s sound harks back to the lyrical magic of songstresses from the ’70s, blending dreamy folk with the zeitgeist electronica of today. The new single reflects just this, as the sweeping musicality soars over Carmody’s effervescent vocal tone perfectly.

Talking about the single, Carmody elaborates, “’More than I Miss You’ is about how words are incapable of expressing the weight of absence. It’s about the distance that comes between you and someone you love. It’s about how to hold to that love and retain that relationship no matter the borders that threaten to divide you.” A message that feels extremely relatable, now more than ever.

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UK Artist of the Week: Carl Street

Johnny Cash, is that you? Unfortunately not, but you’d be forgiven for thinking so if Carl Street’s “Bunking The Midnight Train” is anything to go by. His latest country-tinged single transports you back in time for all the right reasons—and we can’t get enough.

Mental health has been a topic on many people’s minds recently. In the current circumstances, whilst many of us are in lockdown and away from our families and friends, it can be difficult to stay positive, but it’s the strength from our loved ones that allows us to persevere.

Despite having not been written in the light of the current climate, “Bunking The Midnight Train” feels poignantly appropriate for this moment. Inspired by his partner Mandy, it may be sonically upbeat, but lyrically it tackles themes of everyday struggle—something we can all relate to right now. Carl’s deep, rich vocals are at the forefront throughout, clearly influenced by Johnny Cash with hints of John Prine and Mike Plume as well.

“Bunking The Midnight Train” is taken from Carl Street’s debut album of the same name, which is in stores now.

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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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