Category Archives: TVD UK

TVD Live Shots:
Mayhem at O2 Academy Islington, 5/22

Being a lifelong metal fan, I’ve always been intrigued by bands’ stories and legacies as much as the music. Sometimes the story overshadows the music, and other times they seem to match up just perfectly. That’s the case with Norwegian Black Metal legends Mayhem. Formed in Langhus in 1984, they pretty much invented the genre and pushed the limits of extreme metal to become one of the most notorious bands of all time. If you don’t know the story, watch the epic movie Lords of Chaos to get you up to speed.

The craziest part of it centers around the death of the band’s lead singer, simply named Dead, who committed suicide. Guitarist Euronymous found him with a shotgun blast to the head, took a polaroid, and made it into an album cover. Rumor has it that he took pieces of Dead’s skull and made necklaces for the rest of the band. I’m not doing the story justice here, so watch the film.

Original bassist Necrobutcher remains the only founding member of the band, but there are some heavy hitters who’ve been in place since the band basically relaunched after the chaos. Drummer Hellhammer (these guys have the coolest names) is the second longest-running member going back to 1987, and Attila Csihar took over on vocals in 1992. Attila is a significant force in the community and also fronts Sun O))) by the way, so the metal street cred remains.

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UK Artist of the Week: WYSE

WYSE is a producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who hails from the South Coast of England. Her dynamic, layered alt-rock sound is perfectly illustrated on latest single, “Run Away,” and we are delighted to make her our UK Artist of the Week.

“Run Away” combines angular guitar and pumping percussion as the track undulates throughout. Accented by WYSE’s aggressive lyricism and unique vocal, “Run Away” is a fiercely driven alternative modern rock song.

WYSE received a well of press support for her debut EP “Anomolies” from BBC Radio to Atwood magazine in the States. “Run Away” is one of a number of singles to be released as the talented artist prepares to unveil sophomore EP, “Allusions.”

“Run Away” is in stores now and is taken from the “Allusions” EP, out 29th July.

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UK Artist of the Week: Steve Young

Steve Young is a Scottish singer-songwriter who’s eclectic taste in music, allied to his ability to play a multitude of instruments, marks him out as an artist to keep an eye on. Following from his debut single “Endlessly Changing” last year, the musician has dropped his latest single “Last Supper” and he is deservedly named this week’s UK Artist of The Week.

Taking cues from the classic songwriters of the past, ranging from the rock leanings of Tom Petty to the pop sensibilities of The Beatles, Steve has combined these influences with music closer to home to the likes of Del Amitri.

The result is a sound that Steve can rightly call his own and one that will transcend his own borders and appeal to music lovers far and wide. Earthy, earnest and heartfelt, “Last Supper” is dripping with melodic hooks, a memorable chorus, and the soothing tones of Steve’s vocals.

With two singles under his belt, Steve is aiming to continue the momentum created with further single release throughout 2022. It’s certainly something we at TVDHQ are looking forward to hearing.

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UK Artist of the Week: Lena Hessels

This week’s Artist of The Week comes all the way from the Netherlands and we must admit, we’re impressed. Dutch newcomer Lena Hessels recently released her new single “my baby’s belly”; a woozy indie-electro delight that feels both innovative and evocative.

Channelling the likes of Sylvan Esso and Julia Holter, “my baby’s belly” combines intricate electronics with intimate vocals and a captivating musicality creating a sound that is undeniably stunning. This is Lena’s first “intentional love song,” which perhaps suggests her previous releases have been unintentional? Who knows, but we’re invested.

“my baby’s belly” is the first single to be taken from Lena’s upcoming sophomore EP, which will be out later this year so keep your ears peeled!

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TVD Live Shots: Tom Meighan at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 5/4

Who doesn’t love a good comeback? Former Kasabian lead singer Tom Meighan returned to London for a night of new music and celebrated Brit-rock classics. Having parted ways after more than two decades with one of the most successful British rock bands, he’s back with new music, a new band, a new attitude, and the same swagger and flamboyance that made him one of the most exciting frontmen of our time. With two new singles under his belt and a massive groundswell of support from his incredibly dedicated fanbase, Meighan is about to make a statement to the industry with a new album that’s shaping up to be an absolute banger. 

The legendary Shepherds Bush Empire is a proper stage and gorgeous venue for this over-the-top production. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a glorious light show in an “intimate” venue of this size. Tom and company blasted through seventeen songs that leaned heavily into the Kasabian catalog while gracefully mixing in the new solo material. Interestingly enough, the new songs sound more like Kasabian than the new Kasabian songs do. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a different approach. Tom’s songs feel much more organic and more familiar to longtime fans while his ex-bandmate Serge seems to be taking Kasabian in a completely new direction. They’ve always been known to experiment, but the new stuff is a significant departure.

The standout of the evening was the stellar delivery of the latest single “Let it Ride,” which is one of the best rock songs I’ve heard in years and could easily fit into the Kasabian classics. It’s remarkable to me that Meighan has a knack for writing verses and pre-choruses that are catchier than the chorus itself. There are not too many songwriters on the planet that are capable of that. It’s an interesting twist in many cases and a clear differentiator for him as he embarks on his solo career. Other new songs including “Movin On,” “Out of the World,” and “Sunshine” sounded fresh and vibrant while “Would You Mind” gave the crowd a breather as Meighan shared his story of self-reflection through the incredibly personal song.

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UK Artist of the Week: Josie Beth

British newcomer Josie Beth won’t leave a dry eye in the house with the release of her stunningly intimate new single “Wish I Could Too,” out now.

Josie sends shivers down our spines with the release if her stunningly captivating new single “Wish I Could Too.” Combining indie-folk and Americana-infused sensibilities, Josie creates a sound that feels both retro and refreshing. Fans of the likes of Phoebe Bridgers and Maisie Peters will certainly feel at home here.

Currently based in Essex, Josie Beth is just beginning her musical career but we have no doubt we’ll be hearing plenty more from the young songstress.

“Wish I Could Too” is out now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Bay Bryan

This week’s Artist of the Week is Bay Bryan, an emerging singer-songwriter who is equally comfortable as their drag persona, Queen Bayard. They recently released their enchanting new single “Sweet Joan” and it’s a rather delightful listen if you ask us.

Combining alt-folk with baroque-pop sensibilities,”Sweet Joan” is a charming little ditty that instantly soothes the soul. Bay’s soft, emotive vocal is at the forefront, accented beautifully by undulating viola and clarinet. The song follows the story of a sorceress who risks her own life to save her mortal lover Joan from a mysterious and magical illness.

The track is taken from Bay’s upcoming debut concept album, The Meadow, due for release in 2023.

“Sweet Joan” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Reef at the O2 Forum, 4/16

It was twenty-five years ago when I was first introduced to the band Reef. I was working in a record store, and their label had sent a promo for their second album, Glow. I popped this one over the speakers and heard “Place Your Hands” for the first time and was immediately blown away. It was like hearing Led Zeppelin II for the first time, but with Brian Johnson on vocals instead of Robert Plant. The next song, “I Would Have Left You” was even better. It was heavy, no-frills, groove rock with a bit of soul. It was the Black Crowes with a giant set of balls. And they were British? How in the hell could anyone nail this sound so perfectly? I was obsessed.

This record became a staple in my collection, and I followed the band religiously for the next several years. This was a bit of a challenge as the band was massive in the UK but never really broke out in the states. I finally got to see them live a few years back at the legendary Hammersmith Apollo on the Brit Rock Must Be Destroyed tour, where they headlined alongside the Wildhearts (for some reason, these two bands seem to have some beef between them, but I never got the entire story). It was an absolute banger of a show and spawned an incredible live record which I highly recommend.

Fast forward to 2022 and post-pandemic, and Reef is back with a new album. A band at this stage in their career has lots of options as to what direction to take with their music as they have no one to answer to and nothing to prove. With that being said, someone must have challenged Reef frontman Gary Stringer to make the best album of the band’s career and then turn it up to eleven. I’ve only heard three songs from the upcoming release, but holy shit, they are easily the band’s best work in over two decades. It’s the classic Reef sound, but it’s somehow become bigger, louder, and seemingly more pissed off.

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UK Artist of the Week: Annie Elise

Electronic producer Annie Elise is changing the game of electronic music and we’re so here for it. This newcomer is inspired by her synesthesia—she sees sounds and hears colours—and her debut EP “Breathe In, Breathe Out” is the perfect introduction to what we hope is just the beginning for this impressive young producer.

Taken from the EP is her latest single “Too Scared To Ask,” an R&B-infused, celestial slice of seductively smooth electro-pop that is perfect listening for the warmer summer months. Throughout the EP, Annie creates wonderfully ambient tones akin to the likes of Robyn and Shura, as well as fellow producers such as Kaytranada.

Unfortunately, it’s no secret that women in production seem like a rare occurrence. Currently, only 2% of chart topping songs are being produced by women, and Annie is here to change that. She’s ready to be the role model that she unfortunately didn’t receive growing up, and we’re ready to support her in any way we can.

“Breathe In, Breathe Out” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: The Hara at the Garage, 4/7

I digitally stumbled upon this band through a random new rock Spotify playlist. I rarely dive into these as I pride myself on discovering new music on my own, but sometimes a little prod from an algorithm can be helpful.

The song “Until it Comes” came on, and I was immediately taken back to the ’90s alt-rock movement in the States, which had a touch of industrial rock wrapped up with massive hooks and big choruses. This song was immediately added to my custom playlist and dropped into heavy rotation. I’d never heard the band The Hara, and didn’t think twice about where they were from or what was next. Fast forward a couple of months, and I see the Manchester trio is coming to London to celebrate the release of a new EP at one of my favorite venues, the Garage.

The most interesting thing about The Hara is figuring out their style. The earlier songs are arena rock anthems that evolve into that ’90s alt-rock industrial style I mentioned above. But the new stuff is moving into Yungblud/ Machine Gun Kelly territory. Not really my thing, but the way these guys market themselves and the slick songwriting to boot should make this a major label’s dream band. It’s all packaged and ready for the label machine to do its thing. I’d certainly bet on these guys if I were in that seat.

So what’s the live show like as a trio tries to pull off this massive sound? These guys smashed it. They played the tiny stage at the Garage as if they owned the O2 Arena. That song that I love, “Until it Comes,” was number three in the set, so I was stuck in a very tight photo pit trying to capture a shot or two while embracing the live sonic blast that I’ve had on repeat since the beginning of the pandemic. The crowd was going bonkers with moments of a pretty intense pit, followed by arms waving in the air, singing along with every lyric.

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UK Artist of the Week: Luke De-Sciscio

Previously known for his traditionally folky soundscapes, British artist Luke De-Sciscio is now back with an excitingly eclectic new sound.

Luke’s latest single “Happy to be Here (I might die tomorrow)” is quite distinctive as it feels like you’ve travelled back in time to some sort of Medieval era. Baroque-pop stylings are met with Luke’s more known-for folk-rock elements, creating something truly unique. This is the second single to be taken from Luke’s upcoming album The Banquet, due for release on 24th June 2022.

Those who may be more familiar with Luke’s previous releases may struggle to come to grips with his new direction initially, but we’re sure as more releases come out of the woodwork, he’ll continue to charm with his poetic lyricism and imaginative musicality.

“Happy to be Here (I might die tomorrow)” is in stores now via AntiFragile Music.

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TVD Live Shots: Wayward Sons at the O2 Islington Academy, 3/29

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better straight-up rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet right now other than Wayward Sons. I love that classic rock has seen a resurgence of sorts with Rival Sons and Greta Van Fleet, but they throw it back and tend to stick in the ’70s while there’s so much more to explore. Wayward Sons take a bit from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s and bring it together in fine form with some exceptional songwriting. Add to that the very capable band, hand-picked by the group’s mastermind Toby Jepson, and you have something extraordinary.

Phil Martini, who’s played with everyone from Joe Elliot to Jim Jones, is a no-frills drummer who hits hard in a style that recalls the great Bun E .Carlos. Guitarist Sam Wood is a tremendous player who makes it look easy to be a virtuoso as the Les Paul seems to be a natural extension of his body. (This guy can fucking shred, but it’s incredibly soulful.) Bassist Nick Wastell holds down the bottom end effortlessly with a massive bass sound delivered via a classic Thunderbird. This guy’s got a style all his own with his signature bass to the sky move as if he’s drawing power from the gods above.

And who doesn’t love a great comeback story to boot? Lead singer and songwriter Toby Jepson was in a “hair metal” band back in the ’80s and early ’90s called Little Angels that had a string of hits here in the UK. It’s not really fair to label them anything other than a straight-up rock band, but they were swept up in that late ’80s wave. I stumbled upon them by accident when someone back in the States gave me a copy of the classic Don’t Prey for Me, which I wore out on repeat. So maybe I’m a bit biased with my love for this band, but I’m not the only one, as was apparent to the packed house at the O2 Islington last week.

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UK Artist of the Week: heddlu

Welsh artist heddlu—aka Rhodri Daniel—has dropped his impressive debut single “Daw Etu Haul,” in stores now. It is the first release to be taken from his promising debut EP, which will be out later this year and we’re already feeling rather invested to be honest.

TVD readers may be aware of Rhodri’s already impressive musical repertoire as one half of renowned Welsh band Estrons. Since finishing the band, it seems Rhodri isn’t quite ready to give up on his musical dreams, but heddlu’s sound is pretty far removed from the raucous alt-rock soundscapes that fans mainly know him for. “Daw Etu Haul” is performed completely in the Welsh language, with electrifying synths taking centre stage amongst euphoric strings, creating a sound akin to the likes of Chemical Brothers.

As a result of years of touring on the live circuit, Rhodri’s hearing ended top taking a bit of a hit and got severely damaged. He ended up being diagnosed with hearing loss, tinnitus, and severe sensitivity to noise. After a chance encounter with a local recording engineer, Rhodri was inspired anew, and heddlu was born. “Daw Eto Haul” translates to “the sun will rise again,” a mantra that offers Rhodri a great deal of comfort and hope.

“Daw Etu Haul” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Skunk Anansie at the O2 Brixton Academy, 3/25

Another anniversary tour finally gets underway after a massive delay due to the pandemic, and it’s an absolute banger. Skunk Anansie, one of the UK’s most important bands celebrating 25 years (actually 27 at this point) showed up in fine form at the legendary Brixton Academy.

They were Brit-rock’s answer to Brit-pop back in the ’90s, and while they were influenced by a slew of American bands such as Rage and Nirvana, the States just weren’t ready for them. And they were undoubtedly ahead of their time with their messages and songs about race, gender, and sexuality. The fact that they are still a force to be reckoned with is a testament to the timelessness of the music and how the band has evolved. Add the incredibly forward-thinking clash of art and fashion, and you have the makings for one of the best live shows in Europe.

There truly is something for everyone here, and lead singer Skin has an unrivaled voice in the space. From the massive riffs, the heavy electronic-infused grooves, to the over-the-top arena-sized ballads, Skin’s voice soars and slices through the music with the rare element of inducing chills upon hearing her.

Skunk Anansie wasted no time getting the party started by opening the set with two classics, “Yes It’s Fucking Political” and “Here I Stand,” proving that the early songs hold up incredibly well, especially in a live setting. Highlights for me were both “Love Someone Else” and “Without You” from 2016’s Anarchytecture.

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UK Artist of the Week: Dekker

Dekker—aka Brookln Dekker—is an American indie-folk artist now based in the UK and he definitely deserves your attention. Having just dropped his new single “Supposed To Be A Friend” and with a new album on the horizon, now seems like a better time than any to feature this fine fellow as our next Artist of The Week right here on The Vinyl District.

Reminiscent of the likes of Bon Iver or Nick Mulvey, there’s a warm sense of familiarity oozing from Dekker’s music instantly. His honey-like vocals fit in perfectly with the rich indie-folk sensibilities, whilst the hypnotic drums beats and celestial harmonies integrate the single into more contemporary soundscapes akin to the likes of RY X.

“Supposed To Be A Friend’” is taken from Dekker’s upcoming sophomore album I Won’t Be Your Foe, due for release on 20th May 2022 via Useful Fictions / Wagram Music. Dekker’s next single “Let’s Pretend” is in stores on 7th April 2022, so watch this space…

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