Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week:
The Little Kicks

This week’s Artist of the Week are Scottish indie rockers The Little Kicks. The band released their latest album, Shake Off Your Troubles, earlier this year and they’re back with a fourth single from said release, “Bang The Drum Slowly.”

At first listen you’d be forgiven for thinking this is just another noughties indie rock remake, but we urge you to listen closer and enjoy. The Little Kicks definitely have an element of fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand about them, but they also incorporate glitchy electronic beats and fuzzy guitar that separate them from the masses.

“Bang The Drum Slowly” is brilliantly catchy from the offset with lead singer Steven Milne’s crisp, sharp vocal taking full control. Milne explains, “The themes of the record would be a feeling of happiness, gratitude, and to be thankful with what you have and not take things for granted. Furthermore, not to let others get you down or let anyone put you in your place.”

The Little Kicks have been core players in the Scottish music scene for some time and have already supported a number of huge bands including The Maccabees and Maximo Park. With “Bang The Drum Slowly,” The Little Kicks hope the rest of the UK (and beyond) will take note of their eclectic indie pop sound.

“Bang The Drum Slowly” is in stores now via Loosen Up Records.

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Needle Drop: Fuzzystar, “Superhero”

Having only released his debut album Telegraphing a mere six months ago, Fuzzystar has returned with another catchy slice of fizzy pop. His single “Superhero” brings back the nostalgic feels of the ’90s whilst incorporating a modern twist into his upbeat indie sound.

The track commences with an vibrant guitar line that exhales exuberance and delivers the buoyancy that makes the track so cheerful. However, when Andy’s vocals enter the song, a wave of contrasting emotions are revealed. His soft, effortless, yet articulate voice chimes in and brings the proceedings back down to earth. The track doesn’t expand much more from there, but it lifts you up and eventually floats the listener back down—a most chilled roller coaster ride.

“Superhero” was written during a tough time for Andy, not knowing what the future held. The songwriter explains, “It’s about trying to make the best of bad times and just getting through it, whilst being aware of your own flaws and failings. Making this into a superhero story added a bit of distance to be able to write about it, rather than trying to tell it directly. ”

“Superhero” and debut album Telegraphing are both in stores now via Satellite Sounds.

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UK Artist of the Week: Reema

Over the past year the UK has introduced us to some amazing new folk artists and singer-songwriter Reema is no exception. Her latest single “What The Whisper Said” is taken from her new vinyl release The LowSwing Sessions, which is a collaboration with composer and arranger Guy Sternberg.

“What The Whisper Said” is a stunning piece of traditional folk, filled with a gorgeous array of instruments that gradually creep in behind Reema’s distinctive vocal. Somewhat akin to Beth Orton or Lisa Hanningan, there’s no denying the folk influences. Reema combines these traditional elements to tell the story of an old man who kept a dark secret that has died with his former lover. It’s her ability to tell this story as an old folk tale while Sternberg’s avant-guarde, jazz influences intermingle that really make this track a stand out.

As mentioned earlier, the single is taken from Reema’s latest vinyl release which was recorded live and analog, reflecting Reema’s honest, brave, and utterly, utterly beautiful songcraft.

The LowSwing Sessions arrives in stores on 8th December 2017 via LowSwing Records—on vinyl.

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Needle Drop: HAWK, “Below” b/w “Can’t Explain”

Fast becoming known for their beguiling, ethereal creations, Berlin-based HAWK  follow the success of singles “Once Told,” “Take It Away,” “Mirror Maze,” and most recently “Sin,” with the release of a brand new AA side.

Steeped in the band’s trademark spellbinding grace, “Below” takes its inspiration from Irish history—the Catholic church and its mistreatment of women—a subject of which front-woman Julie Hawk feels passionately. Flowing with delicate, twinkling melodies and sweeping celestial vocals, gritty undertones start to surface as the track progresses, building to a sudden raging blast of fury. Of the track, Julie explains:

“… as an Irish woman, both looking back at how women were treated in the past and the desperate lack of progress today, I feel betrayed by my country. We’re still fighting for basic reproductive rights for women and seeing an embarrassing response from our government.”

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TVD Live Shots: My Vitriol at KOKO, 11/19

Every time I hear the name My Vitriol, it brings me back to the golden days of SXSW, a time when a sense of anticipation superseded the current state of immediate gratification. A time when you would hear about a new band and get so excited to see them live that you’d drop everything you’re doing for the night to line up early to make sure you’d get in. Given overwhelming circumstances, sometimes you would, sometimes you wouldn’t, but you could never Facebook and Tweet your way beyond the mystique. It was real, it was authentic, it was magical… and sadly it’s not ever coming back again.

One of these moments was the debut of My Vitriol in 2001. The record was called Finelines. The buzz was through the fucking roof. The mystique was there and it was real. If you could get in to see one of the band’s performances, you were among the elite of the music business, along with a few hardcore fans. When they hit the stage, the sound was both glorious and surreal.

This is the same feeling I get living in London every time I hear that My Vitriol is playing a show in the UK. It brings me back to that moment when exclusivity mattered more than reach. When you discover a new band for the first time and can’t wait to share it with your friends even though they might not understand, which is even cooler because then you have them all to yourself. Not great for record sales—but that’s not the point.

My Vitriol is one of the few bands today who retain this mystique while staying connected to their fans. 2016 saw the release of the long-awaited, direct to fans, Pledge Music campaign for The Secret Sessions. Was it worth waiting 15 years? Absolutely. I wrote a review earlier this year after their brilliant show at Scala which dives deeper into the significance and evolution of the band via that release which you can read here.

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TVD Live Shots: Airbourne at the Roundhouse, 11/15

I’ve seen some crazy rock ‘n’ roll shows in my life, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for what I witnessed recently in London. Hailing from Warrnambool, Austrailia, Airbourne are AC/DC on steroids. It’s what Danko Jones was trying to do but on another level. This is one of those bands that have flown under the radar for me for some time now, but after seeing a photo or two from the beer can spraying bastard son of Lemmy, Joel O’Keeffe, it was finally time for me to see this for myself.

The Roundhouse is a unique venue in London. It’s hailed as one of the best venues in the world. It’a built inside the skeleton of a former railway engineer shed in North London, and it’s not the place I expected to see some balls to the wall, rip your head off style of high energy rock ‘n’ roll, but it worked beautifully. Airbourne have of course had their fair share of success and continue to do so, but they find themselves between venue sizes in London. Too big for the Electric Ballroom and just shy of a sell out at the Roundhouse.

While the band has done OK with record sales, the live show is really what carries these guys. The fact that they are one of the few bands who can capture the energy from the live performance onto a record doesn’t hurt, but either way, it’s incredible to me to see the size of the fanbase these guys have. Not to mention that every single person in this venue was losing their mind and going bananas during their set. No time for a ballads with these guys, it’s just a high potency mix of piss and vinegar from start to finish.

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Needle Drop: Victoria Celestine, “Can You Hear The Echo?”

Not only an esteemed producer with her own recording studio, Texas-based Victoria Celestine is also quite accomplished at creating her own catchy pop delights. Following the success of her previous single “Carrying On,” she’s now released another truly uplifting offering.

“Can You Hear The Echo?” is a soaring, electro-pop soundscape flowing with catchy, honey-sweet refrains alongside twinkling hooks and joy-filled romanticism. Exploring how the echo of your past will always remain and affect the relationships in your present, this new single is a wonderfully empowering, beautifully effervescent creation with shades of Ellie Goulding.

Having already received acclaim from the likes of Clash and The Line Of Best Fit, Victoria Celestine now looks set to continue charming listeners worldwide with her latest slice of vibrant electro-pop.

“Can You Hear The Echo?” is in stores now via Yellow Brick Music.

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UK Artist of the Week: Kevin Pearce

Essex based singer-songwriter Kevin Pearce’s new single “Maria Come Home” has arrived just in time for winter, and it’s ready to warm you right up. As a result, we’ve aptly decided to make Kevin this week’s Artist of The Week.

The single is instantly atmospheric, filled with captivating strings, pretty piano notes, and Kevin’s heartbreakingly warm vocal taking centre stage. It could easily be mistaken for a Christmas song and despite its bittersweet sound in parts, it manages to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling throughout.

The single is an ode to the late, great soprano Maria Callas, an artist Kevin is personally touched by and the sadness of her story is clearly self-evident within Pearce’s widely emotive vocal. Kevin has already received support from a number of UK publications as well as BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2.

“Maria Come Home” is from Kevin’s new album So On, in stores on 8th December 2017 via Dharma Records.

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TVD Live Shots: Jake Shears at Heaven, 11/14

The first time I heard the Scissor Sisters was at SXSW in 2004. I remember watching the show and thinking that this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen at SXSW—glorious ’70s pop played with an incredible band and two flamboyant singers taking me back to the good old days of AM radio, but with a much slicker, modern production.

During the set, I ask the guy next to me who’s on stage, and he yells in my ear with a heavy British accent, “It’s the Caesar Sisters mate.” After that, I was on a mission to find out who the Caesar Sisters were and how I could get my hands on their record if they even had one. After researching further I, of course, figured out that the guy was yelling “Scissor Sisters” and I ran straight to Waterloo records and bought the album. I put the thing on, and I was hooked from the opening bouncing piano and distinctive vocals of the incredible Jake Shears.

Now the Scissor Sisters have been on hiatus since 2012, and both Shears and his counterpart, the equally brilliant Anamatronic, have been laying low with only a collaboration or two leaking out over the years. Then seemingly out of nowhere I see an ad that Jake Shears is playing two solo gigs, one in New York and the other in London. THIS is why I love living in London—you never know what or who’s going to announce a gig among the many different amazing venues that the city harbours. I immediately bought a ticket.

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UK Artist of the Week: Circumnavigate

PHOTO: KARL MYRVANG | Our Artist of The Week is yet another Nordic gem. Circumnavigate has been creating utterly majestic dream-folk for a few years now and their debut album, When Worlds Collide, lands in shops on 14th December 2017.

The latest single from the album, “Secret,” is absolutely stunning and captivating from the offset. Lead singer Sigrid Zeiner-Gundersen has a voice that could melt butter—it’s warm, soft, delicate and is joined by the rest of the band’s flawless harmonies. Having already been compared to The Cinematic Orchestra and Of Monsters and Men, it’s no surprise really. Circumnavigate’s vocal performance and musicianship is ridiculously tight, infectious, and mesmerizing.

Sigrid met Carl Frederik Kontny (piano/guitar/vocals) at school in Sandvika, Norway. She then moved to London where she was joined by Ross Craib (percussion/vocals) and Charlie Fowler (bass/vocals), and the rest, as the say, is history. They’re busy bees, that’s for sure, having collectively played alongside some of London’s biggest names including Gabrielle Aplin.

Catch Circumnavigate live at The Sebright Arms, London on 18th December. When Worlds Collide is in stores on 14th December 2017.

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Needle Drop: Emily Magpie, “The Witching Hour” EP

Drawing inspiration from a trip to South America last year, Bristol-based artist Emily Magpie’s latest collection of tracks is filled with all the ethereal majesty one could ever desire. Building a reputation across Bristol and with live crowds across the country, having played Green Man Festival and a number of Sofar Sounds sessions, Emily is now ready to unleash “The Witching Hour.”

Opening the EP, the title track does just what it says on the tin; as hauntingly magical as you’d expect, “The Witching Hour” oozes a whirring, glitchy wonder as Magpie’s rich vocals soar alongside interwoven electronic soundscapes and gentle folk-inspired melodies. Inspired by a book about the witch trials, it’s a captivating reflection on the magic of simply being alive.

More traditional in sound, “Leave It To Fate” is filled with the delicate beauty of finger-picked ukulele melodies as Emily’s sweeping, impassioned vocals create a twinkling splendour. Continuing in the same vein, “Angel Face” exudes sparkling ethereal vibes as deep beats resonate, creating a celestial grandeur that’s truly enchanting. Closing the EP is the honey-sweet, fragile allure of “When We Find It.” As sunny melodies float atop driving electronics and pounding beats, it’s a haunting fusion of sounds almost reminiscent of the eerie majesty of Bjork.

Having already received support from the likes of The Line Of Best Fit, DIY, and Clash, Emily Magpie looks set to continue charming listeners with the spellbinding power of this latest offering.

Co-produced by Anuj Robin, “The Witching Hour” is in stores on 24th November.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Magic Lantern

PHOTO: KASIA WOZNIAK | Our Artist of the Week this week is the The Magic Lantern, aka Jamie Doe. Jamie has been making delicate alt-folk for quite a while now and his single, “Holding Hands” is his latest masterpiece.

“Holding Hands” builds slowly with Doe’s soft, warm vocals opening the track. As the saxophones come into play, they compliment Doe’s voice effortlessly, creating something truly mesmerizing and incredibly unique. Jamie’s ability to combine jazz and folk into something ethereal and is undeniably spellbinding. Fans of Grizzly Bear and Chet Baker will feel at home here.

Jamie is originally from Australia but moved to the UK when he was 12. He decamped to London in 2007 where he expanded The Magic Lantern into a collective, and together they’ve pushed their music to new boundaries inspired by Jamie’s keen ability to pen beautiful lyrics with lilting melodies. Since then, The Magic Lantern has gone from strength to strength and Jamie now excites fans with the anticipated release of his third album, To The Islands, from which “Holding Hands” is taken.

“Holding Hands” is in stores now via Hectic Eclectic Records.

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TVD Live Shots: !!!
(Chk Chk Chk) at Festsaal Kreuzberg, Berlin, 11/6

Somehow I completely missed !!! (Chk Chk Chk) over the past twenty years. I remember seeing their record on the shelf at Waterloo Records in the mid-2000s during my time in Austin, but I wrote them off as the next big thing for hipsters, which I am not. They were one of those bands for the cool kids it seemed who celebrated Radiohead’s newfound approach to “freeform jazz explorations to festival crowds”—something I was not into at all. But holy hell was I wrong, and now two decades later I’m kicking myself in the ass for not seeing them sooner.

Being a metal guy at heart, I tend to lean towards the heavier stuff, specializing in hardcore and ’80s hair metal (yeah, I’m all over the place). I also have a special spot in that headbanging space for well-written pop with an edge. For example, the first time I saw Scissor Sisters I was blown away, and now they are one of my all-time favorite bands. I never thought I would have another musical awakening like that, but I did—and it was last week in Berlin. The band was called !!! (Chk Chk Chk), and they absolutely blew my mind.

What do they sound like? I’m not sure as I was dancing my ass off with the rest of the crowd (and I don’t even know how to dance) while trying to take some decent photos for TVD. I do remember every single song was a gem and the insane chemistry between Nic Offer and Lea Ratcliffe put the entire show over the top for me. It’s a rare thing to see a band pull off what is commonly referred to as dance-punk in a live environment, but !!! makes it look easy. If you see this show live and don’t immediately jump out of your seat and start celebrating life, then have someone check your pulse immediately.

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UK Artist of the Week: OAKLND

There’s been some great electro-pop artists to come out of the woodwork this year and OAKLND—aka Colin Mckillop—is no exception. His latest single “Hold On” is out now.

“Hold On” is a west coast-inspired piece of pop that combines chillwave, R&B, and electro-pop sensibilities akin to the likes of LANY and Astronomyy. It’s the perfect track to help you forget about the fact that winter is well and truly coming, and instead transports you back to summer and encourages living that Californian dream.

Colin, originally from Scotland, took a trip to LA and thus “Hold On” was born. He was immediately influenced by the city’s carefree vibes and breezy, dream-pop goodness which you can hear throughout his latest single. So, close your eyes, listen to “Hold On,” and feel you’re back on the beach with a pina colada.

“Hold On” is in stores now via AWAL.

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TVD Live Shots: Starsailor at KOKO,
10/26

When I watch James Walsh and Starsailor perform, I think to myself, how can any band in the world create such glorious music? The fact that they not only perform their studio albums perfectly in a live setting but also turn them up a notch is a feat that a lot of their peers can’t accomplish. I’ve seen the band six or seven times over the past two decades, and I would without a doubt say they sounded better than ever before in London.

When I heard that Starsailor would be releasing their long-awaited sixth studio album All This Life, without hesitation I pre-ordered the super deluxe package as James Walsh and Co. can do no wrong in my book. Since its September release, I’ve given this record a few spins hoping that it would bring back the feeling that I had when I first heard Silence is Easy or On the Outside. It didn’t immediately resonate, although the live show brought the record to life for me—as it should have.

The tried and true formula of a band releasing a new record and then immediately, and tirelessly, touring to support it works because it showcases the music as it was meant to be heard—performed live. Positioning this as a “Greatest Hits” tour was probably not the best idea as it makes the band sound like a nostalgia act who is either trying to get out of a long-term deal with a record label that treated them like shit, or a band living in the past. While the set did include some Starsailor “hits,” it should have centered around the new record. Combining both left several gaps in the “hits,” while exiling any rarities that could be mixed into the set.

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