Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Hannah Epperson

Following 2016’s Upsweep, Canadian artist Hannah Epperson has now released the album’s eagerly awaited second half, Slowdown.

Armed with just her violin and a loop pedal, Epperson has created an innovative collection, with two distinct versions of each track, the “Amelia” and the “Iris.” Derived from the idea of two opposing worlds coming together to form a fictional character of a narcissistic and alienated young man, the versions of each song stand in stark contrast with each other.

Combining folk-inspired, sweeping strings alongside pulsating beats and Epperson’s twinkling crystal-clear vocals, the “Amelia” version of album opener “20-20” is a haunting slice of electro, folk-tinged pop. The “Iris,” however, is more stripped back, a gentler offering, relying simply on the power of Epperson’s impressive vocal range and delicate instrumentation for effect.

The album continues in this vein, the two opposing versions of each track contrasting and clashing, in the most effective way. As the throbbing beats and eerie, ethereal layers of sound of the Amelias are juxtaposed with the stripped-back melancholy and delicate emotion of the Iris, Epperson has created a surreal and cinematic soundscape.

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TVD Live Shots:
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes at O2 Brixton Academy, 12/9

My final, final show of 2017 is one that I’ve been waiting all year for. Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes at the legendary O2 Brixton Academy in London.

Frank made a record called Blossom a couple of years ago that is a post-hardcore top ten for me. Falling somewhere between Quicksand, Fugazi, and Refused, this record is solid from start to finish. It’s the kind of album that defines an artist’s career and one that we will all look back on twenty years later as not only a game changer, but as an iconic source of inspiration for those who chose to follow.

I had never heard of Frank Carter until I moved to the UK. The song “Juggernaut” popped up on a Spotify playlist (the predictive algorithms are getting very good) and I was hooked. This track is one of the heaviest things I’ve ever heard, and combined with its message, it makes you feel like you can take on the world and kick its ass twice over. It’s the song you put on at the gym and listen to ten times in a row. Then I heard it live and it was even better.

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TVD Live Shots:
Liam Gallagher at the Alexandra Palace, 12/7

What a way to end the year, Liam Fucking Gallagher at the legendary Alexandra Palace in London. I’ve seen Oasis twice, Noel’s High Flying Birds, and even Beady Eye, but holy hell has Liam found his post-Oasis sweet spot.

Touring in support of his brilliant new record, the critically acclaimed As You Were, Liam came out of the gates swinging with two Oasis classics in a row. I don’t think anyone saw it coming, but “Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” and “Morning Glory” were delivered via a wall of sound that would have even Phil Spector contemplating retirement. It was loud, it was brash, it was bloody brilliant—and set the stage for the absolute best show I’ve seen in 2017.

If you’re like me, the first time you heard Oasis you got a chill down your spine. It was a sign of something special. The second Liam started singing the verse of the third song in the set “Greedy Soul,” that long-lost feeling had returned in full force. The big question is why the hell did it take so long for a Liam solo record? We all knew he had it in him, but we also know he’s a “band” guy. Whatever the hell you want to call it now, he’s certainly firing on all cylinders and has a record to back up his ego and the tagline for the release “As Good As He Said it Would Be” which has been plastered across train and tube stations in the UK.

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Needle Drop: East of My Youth, “Go Home”

We’ve previously featured East of My Youth as our Artist of the Week and it’ll be no surprise why after you hear their latest corker of a tune. “Go Home” is another stunning slice of electro-pop underscoring that the Nordics really do do it best.

East of My Youth’s “Go Home” opens slowly with Thelma Marín Jónsdóttir’s smooth, sultry vocals leading the way. Underneath are Herdís Stefánsdóttir’s percolating MicroKorg synth sounds, a funky bass line, and mellow electronic beats that carry the track. This may be a bit of a slow burner but trust us, roll with it. As the layers within the track reveal themselves, the listener is transported into another world where only these pulsating, mesmerizing beats matter.

Thelma and Herdís are without a doubt, a force to be reckoned with. Not only do these Icelandic talents have unique style, their music feels extremely personal, yet completely current and relatable at once. 2018 may well be a big year for them, so watch this space…

“Go Home” is in stores now.

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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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