Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Scott Swain

Our Artist of the Week this week is none other than the truly mesmerizing singer-songwriter Scott Swain.

Scott’s latest single “It’s Too Late,” taken from his forthcoming debut EP, “Goodbye Country, Goodbye Home,” clearly reflects Swain’s love for major influence The National, as his powerful lead vocal takes centre stage. The single is also inspired by Swain’s other passion in life—film—and is based on the French movie Irreversible.

Each song on the EP is about a certain film that has inspired Swain’s life, however the main aspect of the EP is about that dreaded word: Brexit. To keep things light, Swain decided to add an alternative dimension to the EP, and quite rightly so! “It’s Too Late” feels beautifully anthemic from the offset, combining indie rock with cinematic soundscapes to create something immensely captivating.

“Goodbye Country, Goodbye Home” is in stores on 20th May 2018 via Resonating Wood Recordings.

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TVD Live Shots: Trivium at the O2 Academy Brixton, 4/21

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a great metal show and the Trivium bill looked too good to pass up. How many other metal bands can maintain a twenty year plus career while keeping with the same label for more than half of that? Eight studio albums, one million records sold worldwide, and a massive international fanbase is the result of consistency, decent marketing, and a frontman who masterfully leverages the world of social media.

Touring in support of what is arguably their strongest record to date, The Sin and the Sentence, the Orlando quartet have been blazing a trail of sold-out gigs across the UK. Critics love the latest album and praise continues to pour in by the leading metal mags including Wall of Sound which has given the album a perfect 10/10 stating “a fantastic album …..you are in for a treat as they’ve taken everything they’ve learned over the years and just thrown it together strategically to please any (if not all) of their heavier music loving fans.” AllMusic also came in with a strong review stating that “the band has never sounded more confident, delivering a positively lethal 11-song set that strikes the perfect balance between unhinged and meticulously crafted.”

So how was the show? Trivium celebrate all of the core foundational properties of heavy metal plain and simple. Dual guitar harmonies, screaming vocals, epic choruses, and riffs the size of mountains brought to life through a mashup of styles including classic thrash, melodic metal, and a bit of hardcore.

I’m digging the trend of band’s opening up their sets with their latest single which in the case of Trivium is “The Sin and The Sentence.” Not only does this allow the band to come out all guns blazing, but it also gives the fans something new that they’ve not heard live before. Why the hell doesn’t every band do this? While the set weighed heavily on the latest record as it should, it left plenty of room for the classics including “Like Light to Flies” and “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr” which sounded better than ever.

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TVD Live Shots: Hooverphonic at the Islington Assembly
Hall, 4/18

Hooverphonic continues to be one of the most eclectic and versatile groups on the planet. Hailing from Belgium, the core duo of the group, Alex Callier and Raymond Geerts, are the essence of cool as they blend elements of electropop, jazz, rock, and of course trip-hop.

When I heard that the group would be playing only one UK show in London at the Islington Assembly Hall, I jumped at the chance to see them. The last time I saw a Hooverphonic show was in support of the band’s 2000 masterpiece The Magnificent Tree. Geike Arnaert was the vocalist on this record as well as on the previous record, the critically acclaimed Blue Wonder Powder Milk, and she complimented the sonic landscapes of Callier and Geerts perfectly. I would argue that she had one of the best voices in the electronica scene at this time and it was incredible to watch the band evolve and explore new territory.

Fast forward to 2018 and Hooverphonic returns with new music and a new vocalist, Luka Cruysberghs. Cruysberghs was the winner of Belgium’s The Voice contest, which she won in 2017 alongside coach Alex Callier. While it might sound like a leap of faith to trust a reality TV show winner as the frontwoman and voice of the band with such large shoes to fill, she’s off to a great start. This would be a trial by fire in front of a sold-out London crowd.

Her voice is stellar, and she nailed Hooverphonic classics such as “2 Wicky,” “Inhaler,” and the crossover smash “Mad About You,” but there was an element of maturity that might have been missing based on the experience and confidence of the previous singers. That said, I do like the mystique she brings to the group, and it will be interesting to see how she grows and makes the role her own.

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UK Artist of the Week: Leisure Tank

If catchy, nostalgic alt-rock is what you’re after, then look no further: power duo Leisure Tank have just what you need. Since forming in 2014, their debut album Wetsuit has received widespread acclaim and they’ve charmed crowds at of Camp Bestival, Mellow Festival, and London’s Borderline.

Now, back with new single “Higher.” they’re set to continue their success. Inspired by “the twisted feeling one gets when someone tells a one-sided, self-pitying break up story,” it’s filled with catchy hooks and front woman K C McKanzie’s impassioned, soaring vocals, with shades of nineties legends Elastica.

Propelled by drummer Budi’s racing beats and an infectious groove, it’s a track that’ll pack a punch on first listen, leaving you hungry for more of Leisure Tank’s dynamic alt-rock offerings.

Be prepared to hit repeat and be taken higher by the seductive sounds of Leisure Tank; aka your new favourite band. And be sure to feast your eyes on their sparkling new video.

“Higher” is in stores now via Goddamn Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: Ivan Moult

Today’s Artist of the Week is confessional lyricist Ivan Moult. His music is beautifully simple and poignant from start to finish, easily making him a worthy contender for this week’s top spot.

Ivan’s latest single “Carried Over Water,” taken from his upcoming album Longest Shadow, is a gorgeous folk ballad where Moult uses his smooth, velvet like vocal to soar over his intricate guitar picking, creating something both captivating and moving. Like the rest of the album, “Carried Over Water” was written as the result of a break up.

This song in particular focuses on the difficulties of a long distance relationship. Throughout the album, it’s Moult’s effortless ability to express his deepest emotions that really catches you off guard. It takes a very brave person to be this honest and expressive on wax, and you can clearly hear Moult channelling his inner Nick Drake or Jeff Buckley.

Now based in Cardiff, Moult has been making waves on the Welsh music scene for some time now. He has also supported artists such as Willy Mason and This Is The Kit and has a number of UK live dates in the pipeline over the summer. Watch this space, Ivan Moult is ready for you.

Longest Shadow arrives in stores on 20th April 2018 via Bubblewrap Collective.

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TVD Live Shots: Macklemore at the O2 Brixton Academy, 4/7

This review should be titled “A metal guy goes to a Macklemore show,” as it’s something that is completely out of the norm for me. Then again, I am someone who can honestly say that I listen to a bit of everything (at one point or another in my life).

The fact is that Macklemore is so huge in the States that I really wanted to see how the world of hip-hop-pop translates to the UK, and it does big time. Two sold out shows at the legendary O2 Brixton Academy turned out to be one of the biggest crowds I’ve ever seen crammed into the venue. The show was like a giant party—the songs were hook-laden anthems primed for audience sing-alongs, and Macklemore himself strutted across the stage as if he were royalty.

Not being too familiar with Macklemore’s catalog or new album for that matter, I did prep myself a bit by watching video clips from the previous gigs (which is essential for a photographer to get a sense of what to expect). The surprise for me was the second song of the night called “Firebreather,” which is a full on, hard rock explosion. The multi-instrumental genius that is Macklemore guitarist Cinque Kemp was on fire. Man, this guy can shred on guitar, and he makes it look epic at the same time. The energy in the room fueled by the blaring red lights and multiple pyrotechnics looked like a full tilt rock ‘n’ roll party from hell—in a good way, that is.

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Needle Drop: The Magic Lantern, “Lydia”

Having previously received acclaim from The Guardian, BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne, BBC Radio 2’s Jamie Cullum and Bob Harris, and BBC Radio 3, Jamie Doe—aka The Magic Lantern—has returned with a spellbinding new single.

The second single taken from his upcoming album To The Islands, “Lydia” is a truly stirring creation. Written during a tumultuous return to his childhood home of Australia, it flows with intricate finger-picking and Doe’s beautiful sweeping vocals, oozing a delicate emotive power.

Filled with a folk-inspired musicality and intimate grace, it’s an exquisite offering showcasing The Magic Lantern’s talent for writing truly heartfelt, musically rich songs.

“Lydia” is in stores now via Hectic Eclectic Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: BARQ

Following 2016’s “Gentle Kind Of Lies” and last year’s “Optimus Prime,” Dublin band BARQ, who have previously received acclaim from The Irish Times and Hot Press, and are continuing to build a name for themselves with the release of attention-grabbing double A-side “Sassy Mouth” / “Earthquakes.”

Whilst each track is distinctive in its sound and subject matter, what remains consistent is the immense, overwhelming power of front woman Jess Kav’s vocals. Whereas “Earthquakes” is a thoughtful reflection on an explosive breakdown of a friendship and the sense of acceptance and renewal that follows, “Sassy Mouth” is a politically-influenced anthem, inspired by the courage and resilience of Ireland’s “Repeal The 8th” movement.

Flowing with funk-fused beats and booming bass lines, “Earthquakes” showcases BARQ’s self proclaimed “Agrosoul.” Oozing the soulful allure of Kav’s vocals alongside an infectious groove akin to Hiatus Kiayote or Erykah Badu, it’s a silky-smooth treat for the ears.

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TVD Video Premiere: Nonpareils, “Press Play”

Based in Berlin since 2015, ex-Liars member Aaron Hemphill, operating under Nonpareils, started working on his solo debut Scented Pictures by recording stacks of acoustic instruments while, in his words, “doing the silliest things.”

He played the drums without click tracks, encouraged his engineer to distract him, and played the piano while allowing poorly set-up microphones to fall away from the body of the instrument.

Ultimately the sound palette grew out further, taking in a vast array of virtual instrumentation too, all glitched and processed into off-kilter music. Having sought out new sources of inspiration following a long period of focusing solely on instrumental music, Scented Pictures sees Hemphill’s songwriting take on yet another new form, mutating into something woozier and increasingly abstract—without sacrificing the hooks in the process.

Scented Pictures arrives in stores today via Mute Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Violet Kind

For some, it’s more important than ever to create music with poignancy, and Scottish rockers The Violet Kind do just that. Their debut EP “OXTR” tackles sexual violence head-on, and is yet another example of the current generation standing up for themselves and making noise.

The Violet Kind are a trio from Glasgow who create truly moving and emotional indie rock sounds, akin to that of Paramore and Foals. Lead singer Katya Mansell’s haunting voice mirrors that of Hayley Williams all the while giving her own unique spin on things. Each song on their concept EP “OXTR” battles sexual violence, acting as a reminder of the reality of rape culture that is unfortunately still so prominent in the world we’re living in. The trio tackle the difficult subject with dignity and grace—and their musicality is second to none.

Despite the current line up having only been together for over a year, they have already received critical acclaim in Glasgow, and 2018 is looking brighter than bright for the young trio.

“OXTR” is in stores now via Kindness Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: Rebecca Lou

Having only begun writing songs in 2015, Danish artist Rebecca Lou has already been garnering a reputation for her energy-fuelled live shows across her homeland and has supported rising rockers Velvet Volume on tour. Now, she’s beginning to make her mark in the UK with her two latest singles “Bitch U Look Good” and “Under The Moon.”

A tribute to self-love and celebrating your own worth, “Bitch U Look Good” is a riotous offering, fuelled by a thrashing energy and force. With shades of Joan Jett or Riot Grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill, it’s an instantly infectious and undeniably raucous slice of stimulating rock ‘n’ roll.

“Under The Moon,” on the other hand, veers into a more indie-pop sound. Inspired by poems she wrote when she was just 16 years old, it showcases the sweeping power of Rebecca’s vocals beautifully, as whirring hooks flow with an emotion-strewn splendour and twinkling musicality.

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UK Artist of the Week: Alberteen

Experimental alt-rockers Alberteen have put down the guitars that they’re known for and instead have embraced analogue synths, flutes, clarinets, and samples for their latest release. Its their utterly unique sound and ability to create something very much “out there,” which makes them our Artist of The Week this week.

Their latest single, “The Son’s Room” is a truly quirky yet mesmerizing song from start to finish. Its multiple layers of electronica are matched perfectly with the band’s choral singing to create something not far from Metronomy’s early eccentric sound. The single is inspired by lead singer Phil Shaw’s relationship with his father, a bittersweet reflection on memory and loss.

Having already released two critically acclaimed albums, Alberteen are no strangers to hard work. They have performed with artists such as Primal Scream and Field Music to name but a few and show no sign of slowly down as they make their 2018 debut with “The Son’s Room.”

“The Son’s Room” is in stores now via Rhythm and Noir Recordings.

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TVD Live Shots: At The Drive-In and Death From Above at the Brixton Academy, 3/9

At The Drive-In and Death From Above sharing the same stage? Is this reality?

That’s the first question that popped into my mind when I saw the show announcement for the legendary Brixton Academy in London. Two bands that paved their way through a crowded clusterfuck of terrible early to mid-2000s alt-rock radio staples—one of them redefined the post-punk genre, and the other stripping rock ‘n’ roll down to its absolute core. Both have influenced many over the years—one could argue that their legacy is locked in place with neither have anything left to prove—yet none of that mattered this particular evening.

First up was Death From Above. Having dropped the unnecessary 1979 identifier from their name, the duo of Jesse F. Keeler and Sebastian Granger are currently touring in support of their first new record in three years Outrage! Is Now. It’s a bit of a different sound for the band as this time they’ve enlisted hitmaker Eric Valentine (Queens of the Stone Age, Good Charlotte, Ride) to produce the record. The result is exactly what you would expect—slick production, big hooks, tight grooves, a bit of funk, and several options for keeping the band relevant for their core audience while introducing them to an entirely new one.

When most bands go this route, their live show tends to mimic their polished sound on record. I’m happy to report that this is not the case with Death From Above. In fact, they might have gone the opposite direction just to point out that they are a fucking heavy, heavy band live.

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TVD Live Shots: Insecure Men, Raf Rundell, and Pregoblin at Scala 3/8

Whoever is behind the marketing for Insecure Men deserves a prize.

I had never heard of these guys, but I’m a massive fan of The Moonlandinz and Fat White Family. In fact, The Moonlandinz 2017 release Interplanetary Class Classics was my favorite album of last year. Based on my love of that band I was targeted with Fat White Family and Moonlandingz guitarist Saul Adamczewski’s new project, Insecure Men. It was a beautiful campaign that not only turned me on to the band but also got me to pre-order the record, and finally get a ticket to the show. This is exactly how digital marketing is supposed to work, and thankfully someone in Saul’s camp gets it, or otherwise this would have slipped by me.

Insecure Men is a supergroup of sorts formed by Saul Adamczewski and Childhood’s frontman Ben Romans-Hopcraft. The record is all sorts of lo-fi brilliance rolled up in ’70s AM rock production. Remember what MGMT tried to do on their second and third records and failed miserably? Well, Saul and Ben fucking nail it. Even taking it up a notch. It’s the perfect soundtrack for mellowing out while taking a break from the world as it seems to be destroying itself.

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UK Artist of the Week: Monks In The Wood

Since forming back in 2015, South London band Monks In The Wood have received acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing and When The Horn Blows, and have now released a stirring new single.

“No Love” offers an emotion-strewn grandeur as impassioned vocals are perfectly interwoven with soaring guitar hooks and sweeping layers of instrumentation.

Reflecting on the contrasting feelings that can emerge within relationships, it’s a cinematic slice of indie-pop showcasing not only the admirable musicianship, but the thought-provoking lyrical storytelling of this upcoming band. With shades of Broken Bells, it’ll tug at the heartstrings whilst uplifting one’s spirits with its unique and infectious groove.

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