Category Archives: TVD UK

TVD Live Shots:
MGMT at the Electric Brixton, 2/6

The fact that it’s been a decade since MGMT’s debut album Oracular Spectacular was released is mind-blowing to me. I remember getting an advance copy of this album back when I was working at Sony Music and playing it for everyone I knew. The reception was the same universally; this record was an instant classic. It was one of the most unusual records I had ever come across during my time in the music business, but it was brilliant, and the label was incredibly excited to release this one as was I.

I saw MGMT about a dozen times that year. From SXSW to the relentless touring, it was really exciting to witness a band go from completely unknown to one of the biggest buzz bands on the planet. I had met the band numerous times through a couple of tours, various retail promotions, and a slew of SXSW events. Both Andrew and Ben were pretty quiet, Andrew seemingly more of an introvert than Ben, but they were really cool guys. I don’t think they ever expected to be thrust into the limelight so quickly, then again they did sign to one of the biggest records labels on the planet.

It’s interesting to me how an artist responds to the pressure of following up a hit debut record with their sophomore effort. When Congratulations was released, it was pretty much a giant middle finger to the entire music business. MGMT had abandoned the hooks and synth-pop from their debut and went total Syd Barrett. I had heard rumblings that the label was pretty baffled as to how to promote this one, but they couldn’t say no to their new crossover darlings of the hipster music scene. But then it got even more confusing with the release of 2012’s self-titled record which the band admitted to fans that they would be “laughing with them.”

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UK Artist of the Week: Vive La Rose

So, January is officially over and February seems to be whizzing by faster than the speed of light, which means… we can finally start getting excited for Spring! And what better way to kick things off than to treat your ears with some uplifting new music from Vive La Rose.

Vive La Rose, aka David Lexicon-Herbert, is originally from Edinburgh but now resides in London where he has played under his own name and in different bands for a number of years. His latest single “Rio Grande” instantly draws you in with its cinematic soundscapes and mesmerizing string sections throughout. David’s vocal itself adds a layer of grit to the track as his husky tone soars over the sun-soaked musicality to create something indisputably delightful.

Co-produced by The Duke Spirit’s Oliver Betts, “Rio Grande” is taken from David’s forthcoming album For She Who Hangs The Moon. The album also features guest appearances from the likes of Colin Elliot (Richard Hawley/Slow Club), The Up North Orchestra, and Nicky Francis (Mono Club).

“Rio Grande” is in stores now via Gestation Records.

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TVD Live Shots: Arch Enemy, Wintersun, Tribulation, and Jinjer at Rockefeller Music Hall, Olso, 2/1

Is there a better way to see a Scandinavian melodic death metal band live than on their own turf? I think not. Last week I was in Oslo for a keynote speech on digital marketing (my day job), and after the gig, I ran over to the Rockefeller Music Hall. Oslo’s a beautiful place, and you can pretty much walk to anywhere in the city, but holy shit it was cold. I’m talking minus 16 cold. The entire city was like one giant block of ice, and I was wearing clothes for “London cold,” which as you can imagine put me in a tight spot.

Either way, I made it in time for the opening bands as I like to do. The venue was sold out, and it was jammed inside. (For the record, security and personnel at the Rockefeller were super helpful for a first-time photog at the venue, which is pretty killer all around.) I love the metal crowds—these are my people! I grew up with metal, and as I’ve mentioned before, there’s a certain camaraderie between metal fans, and as I’ve traveled around the world to see different metal shows, I’ve confirmed that it’s universal.

First up was Ukrania metalcore band Jinjer. This was my introduction to the band as I’ve never seen or heard of them before. They reminded me a bit of old school Lamb of God mixed with a bit of thrash and nu metal (yes, I hate that word as much as you do). Jinjer bassist Eugene Kostyuk recently told Metal Horizons that his band doesn’t like being compared to other female-fronted groups. He explained, “Firstly, we don’t see the point in differentiating a band by the gender of a front person.” I would agree—frontwoman Tatiana Shmailyuk is a force to be reckoned with and is a clear stand out among many of the current metal bands on the scene.

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UK Artist of the Week: Hoshino

Having received praise from BBC Introducing and BBC Radio 1, Essex band Hoshino, who formed back in 2015, have now graced our ears with a brand new slice of luscious electro-pop.

Defined by the distinctive, rich vocals of Elloise Rosemond, “Stars (In The Night Sky)” flows with a soulful groove alongside whirring beats and delicate, sparkling refrains. Made up of many eclectic layers of sound and oozing alluring, dreamy vibes, it’s a truly innovative sonic delight.

For fans of the impassioned RnB by the likes of Erykah Badu, with this latest offering Hoshino have proved themselves capable of creating their own utterly unique, and hugely catchy, resplendent fusion of sounds.

With support for Fickle Friends, and a slot at Secret Garden Party festival already under their belts, Hoshino are set to charm listeners with their elegant, effervescent creations.

“Stars (In The Night Sky),” the new single from Hoshino, is currently in stores.

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TVD Live Shots: Asking Alexandria at the O2 Brixton Academy, 1/27

It blows my mind to see the differences in popularity for a band from the UK and the US. How can one audience be so different? How can a record label not figure out the right strategy or differentiate one? Why is the band on one label in the states but another overseas? I don’t get it and probably never will, but I will tell you as a global marketer myself I don’t see that big of a difference in the crowds at the shows in the UK versus the US, and vice versa. Asking Alexandria is one of these bands, but maybe their latest record will finally bridge the gap between two all-important metal nations.

I was a bit late to the Asking Alexandria party as the first time I came across these guys was while I was photographing the red carpet at the 2016 Metal Hammer Golden God awards. They walked in and played the rock star part better than any of their counterparts, even seasoned vets such as Anthrax and Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine. But there were only three of them that night to accept the award for Best UK Band. I would later figure out (I had moved to the UK the week before) that the band had recently parted ways with their original singer and were on a path to reinventing themselves with a new singer and new album that had just been released to stellar reviews across the board.

I’ve come to dig these guys over the past couple of years as they seem to have something that the other bands in their class didn’t: substance. Asking Alexandria might have started off in the metalcore/emo whatever category but they continue to evolve. I loved their last album The Black. I thought it was brilliant. It reminded me of the time when Eighteen Visions released their self-titled record back in 2006 on Epic Records where I worked at the time. One of the promo reps from Epic called it a “heavy modern-day Def Leppard Hysteria” and I agreed. Too bad the entire rest of the world disagreed, but who fucking cares. I loved that record and still do. The Black was Asking Alexandria evolving. New singer, new(ish) sound, new direction, and all things looked to be on the way up.

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TVD Live Shots: Cults
at The Garage, 1/25

I was first introduced to Cults back in 2011 when I was working at Sony Music. The band had a HUGE buzz about them, and Columbia Records was THE label to be on at the time. I was excited to have an opportunity to work this record to my accounts at the time, but alas they were given to the independent arm of the label and released through RED Distribution.

This was a play for credibility which didn’t make sense to me at the time. I mean, was the band on a major label? Yes. But they didn’t use the distribution? And who could work on this record? Would the band graduate to Sony Music proper? This happened all the time, and I’m not sure if anyone benefitted from the thought process here, but at least I got a copy of the debut record on vinyl.

There was a lot of mystery around Cults then too. I thought that was pretty cool at a time when social media was taking off that a band would forego all of the attention and retain their mystique. This was pre-Sia, so it certainly wasn’t the cool thing to do. The record was fantastic and had a ’60s California AM radio pop feel to it. The critics loved it, Pitchfork was all over it, and it looked like there was no stopping Cults from dominating the indie rock scene for years to come.

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UK Artist of the Week: Liv Austen

This week’s Artist of The Week is country-pop princess Liv Austen. Her new single “Don’t Regret A Single One” is guaranteed to shake away those January blues.

Liv has been making waves in the UK country scene for quite some time now. Her previous single “The Next Time” was picked up by both country and pop fans, including the acclaimed UK radio station Chris Country who popped her on the A list in excess of 12 weeks, with Liv the only UK artist to make the cut.

With “Don’t Regret A Single One,” Liv continues to blur the lines between the two genres, however her latest cut is possibly straying closer toward the country world, sounding akin to an early Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood. Liv’s latest single is a feel-good anthem about learning from your romantic mistakes in a more positive way. Its undeniably catchy from start to finish and is guaranteed to stay in your head for days (sorry!).

“Don’t Regret A Single One” is in stores now via NUA.

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UK Artist of the Week: Dream Estate

2018 looks like its going to be a promising year for indie-pop newcomers Dream Estate. Their latest single “You” was re-released at the end of last year and its ethereal beauty is second to none.

“You” opens with lead singer William Tse’s celestial vocals carrying the song effortlessly as the rest of the stylistic musicianship comes into play. From start to finish, this single is swarming with sultry electronics, dazzling harmonies, and twinkling guitar strums. Dream Estate are following in the footsteps of The Japanese House who have been paving the way for a fresh, new ambient pop sound.

William formed Dream Estate in Leeds in 2015 as a solo project but he was later joined by Dan Hvorostovsky (bass, backing vocals), Dan Noble (lead guitar, backings vocals), and Joe Dawson (drums). With a debut EP already under their belt, we can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for the lads.

“You” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
Geoff Tate’s Operation: Mindcrime at the
Garage, 1/16

I’ve seen Queensryche about a dozen times over the years. They’re a band I grew up with and continue to celebrate. When they were fractured in two, I was devastated and confused. Always leaning toward wherever Geoff Tate took them, I followed him out of respect for his incredible work and his brilliant solo releases. But whatever happened, I still loved the band and wanted as much music from any incarnation moving forward.

The results were two very different things. Queensryche with a new singer went back to their roots and delivered a brilliant, crushing couple of records. Geoff Tate’s Queensryche focused more on pushing into new territories. The results were two releases that polarized the fan base and to be honest, probably cast a shadow of doubt on the future of both versions of Queensryche.

All that drama and bullshit was cast aside in London at The Garage on Monday night as Geoff Tate brought his band Operation: Mindcrime to perform the remarkable album with the same name in its entirety. Operation: Mindcrime (the album) isn’t just one of the best concept records of all time, it sets the bar for all others to be measured by—and continues to do so. I was a bit skeptical about seeing Geoff perform one of my all-time favorite records without the backing of his original bandmates, but holy shit was I happy that I went to this show. It was flawless, brilliant, sonically stunning—I can’t say enough good things about this show.

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UK Artist of the Week: Bad Mannequins

Channelling the late ‘70s CBGB’s era of New York City’s punk rock scene, Glaswegian duo Bad Mannequins continue to win the hearts (and ears) of a new generation through the release of their single “Double Denim,” and we are delighted to name them this week’s UK Artist of The Week.

Having released their debut EP, and first of a three-part trilogy “Deny ’Til U Die Part 1” in the summer of 2017, Bad Mannequins have continued to impress listeners with their high-octane brand of garage rock. Despite the simplicity and raw energy of the drum/guitar set-up, Bad Mannequins have managed to create a sound that packs a punch for just over three blistering minutes.

With tongue in cheek, lyrics such as “You wouldn’t even be here if your momma didn’t rock that double denim!” combined with hook-laden, fuzz-filled riffs, Bad Mannequins’ sound is uniquely infectious. Garnering support from the likes of BBC Radio, as well as being featured on hit US TV show Limitless, Bad Mannequins appear to be gearing up for huge year.

“Double Denim” is in stores now via Triple Denim.

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