Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: tameBERSERK

Prepare to enter the odd-pop world of London-based multi-instrumentalist tameBERSERK who takes up the mantle of our UK Artist of the Week.

Initially started as solo project by James Pain with the aim of working with a multitude of singers and performers in the London music scene, tameBERSERK grew into a two-man operation with singer Dominic Rose taking up a more permanent role. The result of their collaboration is a debut album, Super Thinking, that ranges from psychedelia to the experimental as tameBERSERK play with sound, samples, and genre, taking an organic, unorthodox approach to songwriting in the process.

One of the album highlights is current single “Favourite Years.” A quirky, lo-fi indie-pop gem that is both challenging and playful, “Favourite Years” is a hallucinogenic, wistful piece of music transporting the listener into a sonic daydream. Accented by Pain’s cerebral, often bizarre, lyrics centered around a maniacal doctor experimenting on someone with supernatural powers, tameBERSERK enter a territory that favourably recalls artists such as Why? and Animal Collective.

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TVD Live Shots: My Vitriol at the Islington Assembly Hall, 11/1

Few bands in the world have a flawless catalogue and a reputation for consistently over-delivering, one of those being My Vitriol. Technically speaking, the band has only delivered two full-length records during their twenty-year run. Still, both of them are brilliant in every aspect of modern music, especially their juggernaut of a debut Finelines, which still holds up flawlessly. Add to that a certain mystique around the band and the fact that they single-handedly invented the genre of “nu gaze” (an evolution of the shoegaze but more accessible and forward-thinking).

This would be the third time I’ve seen My Vitriol since moving to the UK three years ago. They don’t tour very often these days, so when they do, it’s a pretty big deal and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Not only is it a spectacle for the eyes, but the sonic explosion that happens with My Vitriol live is unlike any show I’ve seen before. Touring as a three-piece Seth Taylor, Som Wardner, and Ravi Kesavaram (bassist Tatia Starkey remains on temporary leave) the trio wowed a near-capacity crowd for almost two hours and there was never a dull moment.

The setlist pulled heavily from Finelines with a dozen songs from their masterful debut and surprisingly only four tracks from 2016’s Secret Sessions. It was great to hear “It’s so Damn Easy” early on in the set as it sounds brilliant live. Other highlights were the staples, including “Losing Touch,” “Cemented Shoes,” “The Gentle Art of Choking,” “Alpha Waves,” and of course, “Always Your Way.” Between the lights and the sonic bombardment, this was a show that assaulted all of your senses in the nicest possible way. Parts of the show were so heavy that a decent sized mosh pit formed just in front of the stage. I’m not sure that was necessary as I’ve never seen one at a My Vitriol show, but the show was that intense.

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TVD Live Shots: The Cult at Eventim Apollo, 10/27

I’ve seen The Cult a dozen or so times over the years, but this would be my first time catching them in London. It’s quite a difference as they sold out the legendary Eventim Apollo (the old Hammersmith Ballroom), and the venue was packed to the gills. I’ve never seen a show there this full—you literally could not move. And for extra fun, I forgot my step stool, and the photographers had to shoot from the soundboard.

Now, this review may be slightly biased as The Cult are one of my all-time favorite bands—I celebrate their entire catalogue, even Ceremony, and the underrated self-titled record. If that wasn’t enough, they are touring in support of the 30th anniversary of Sonic Temple, the record that pretty much defined my teenage years.

Sonic Temple is a sonic masterpiece from start to finish. That’s what happened in the ’80s when Bob Rock produced your record. From the opening of “Sun King” to the epic “Fire Woman,” the power ballad for people who hate power ballads “Edie (Ciao Baby),” and of course the soaring chorus of “Sweet Soul Sister,” this record has it all. While early fans of the band would never recognize the transition from post-punk/ goth rock to heavy metal, the band was heading that way regardless. Did it even really matter what these guys did anyway? The songs from Love and Dreamtime fit perfectly into the evolution of the band’s setlist in a way that no one could have predicted. It just works.

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UK Artist of the Week: LUNIR

There’s a lot of forward-thinking electronica on the scene at the moment, thank goodness, and a prime example of this is German-Scottish duo LUNIR. They may have only released two singles officially, but its clear to see from both “Wadidi” and “Cubs” that they will be around for a while.

“Cubs” is a wonderfully addictive slice of alt-pop from the offset. Vibrant electronic beats are combined with melodic guitar twangs to create a sound that is entirely their own. Becky Sikasa’s soulful vocal tone is instantly reminiscent of the likes of Solange but with David’s flawless production expertise, the song takes on a life of its own. Get ready to have this song played on repeat because it’s a hugely infectious ear worm, mark our words.

Having recently played Scotland’s Tenement Trail festival and Cologne Music Week along with a whole bunch of other Summer festivals, its seems clear to us that 2020 could be an even bigger year for the elusive duo. Watch this space.

“Cubs” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
Gary Numan at the Roundhouse, 10/26

I’ve always been a casual fan of Gary Numan over the years, and then I moved to the UK. Not only is he the godfather of electronic music, a composer, producer, badass guitar player, and incredible frontman, he’s elevated himself to demi-god status in London.

While most of us know him for his groundbreaking ’80s staple “Cars,” there’s so much more to this guy than many of us give him credit. I mean, yeah, he pretty much single-handedly invented an entirely new genre with the release of the near-perfect synth juggernaut The Pleasure Principle in 1979, but he also puts on one of the most epic live shows I’ve ever seen.

This is one of those gigs where I go into it thinking I know Gary Numan, but then come out having gone down the rabbit hole of this guy’s insanely impressive career. Starting with the new wave band Tubeway Army before going solo after two UK chart-topping releases, it was time for Numan to introduce his genius to the world in the form of his debut. The Pleasure Principle gave the world a glimpse into the future and primed the world for synth music to take center stage in the ’80s. Its legacy would go on to influence not only Nine Inch Nails and pretty much the entire industrial and electronica movement, but hip hop too.

I attended the second night of two sold-out jam-packed gigs at London’s legendary Roundhouse in Camden. This was my first time seeing Numan live, and it was quite the spectacle. Numan is sixty-one years old but has the energy and stage presence of a young Trent Reznor and his finest, angriest moments. This works perfectly with the futuristic goth-punk wasteland theme of the lights and staging which push the songs and the atmosphere over the top.

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UK Artist of the Week: Eliza Shaddad

PHOTO: MEL TJOENG | Autumn is well and truly upon us and what better way to get us in the mood for fall than with a dark, brooding track from a very talented Brit. Eliza Shaddad has been making waves both here and across the pond for a while now and her latest single “Girls” looks sure to break boundaries even further.

Instantly reminiscent of the likes of Julia Jacklin or Daughter’s Elena Tonra, “Girls” soars with rich layers of musicality throughout. Starting slowly with Eliza’s smooth, sultry vocals taking centre stage, the chorus then kicks in with all its dream-pop goodness, creating an undeniably atmospheric sound that can’t help but draw you in. Known for her confessional songwriting, “Girls” is no exception as it tackles what its like to grow up at an all girls school and the relationships you can create—and break—while you’re there.

Having already supported Kate Tempest, Oh Wonder, Lucy Rose, and James Bay to name a few, it looks as though 2020 could very well be Eliza Shaddad’s year, so watch this space.

Catch Eliza live next at Pop Brixton, London on 6th November 2019 in association with TVD fave label Big Indie Records.

“Girls,” taken from Eliza’s new EP, due for release early next year, is in stores on 23rd October 2019 via Big Indie Records.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Very Lazy Sundays

Don’t let their name fool you, because for us, The Very Lazy Sundays are nothing but on point and ready to rumble if their debut single is anything to go by.

“Sometimes A Broken Heart” is a beautifully poignant indie-folk vignette that will give you all the feels from the offset. Combining rich harmonies with intricate twinkles on the piano and gentle strums of the guitar, this single is the feel-good break-up single we all needed. Lead singer Diyar Abdullah’s soft, colloquial vocal style feels instantly familiar, like an old friend you haven’t seen for a while. Perhaps because it also has inklings of the likes of Jack Johnson or Ryan Adams in it.

“Sometimes A Broken Heart” feels predominantly folk-esque for the most part, up until Diyar breaks out a simple but apt “rap” toward the end, giving the single an almost The Streets feel. We’re not sure if that’s what they’re going for, but its working.

“Sometimes A Broken Heart” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Alice Cooper, The Stranglers, and MC50 at the O2 Arena, 10/10

The godfather of shock rock, Alice Cooper is alive and well as he delivers one final masterclass in all things horror, rock ‘n’ roll, and stellar musicianship.

He’s 71, but you would never guess it. His band is full of incredible musicians, and the stage show is a theatrical masterpiece celebrating everything that society fears, both past and present. At times it’s undoubtedly comical with the giant inflatable babies and twenty-foot monsters in chains, but the message never gets lost, and it’s incredibly entertaining. On top of all that, you have one of the most celebrated catalogues in rock ‘n’ roll history to pull from as the centrepiece.

Cooper pulled out all of the stops for this one including the guillotine, Frankenstein, straitjackets, an insane mental ward nurse (played by his lovely wife), along with a cast of monsters and ghoulish tricks that ended with a shower of confetti and a full house of fans singing “Schools Out” at the top of their lungs. Joining Cooper on stage for the encore was none other than original Alice Cooper band bassist Dennis Dunaway who looked right at home jamming alongside the newbies.

The setlist that night pulled from Cooper’s incredible catalogue and didn’t discriminate between the ’70s, ’80s, or ’90s albums as there were gems drawn from each. “Roses on White Lace” from Raise Your Fist and Yell? Holy shit. I didn’t see that one coming. Not to mention, “He’s Back (The Man Behind the Mask),” the theme from Friday the 13th.

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UK Artist of the Week: The Frampton Sisters

First there were The Gallaghers, then The Jonas Brothers, and now? Well it’s The Frampton Sisters of course! This fabulous folk duo have just dropped their debut single and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

The Frampton Sisters—aka Freddie and Charlie Frampton—are certainly not new to the music scene, but it seems they’ve chosen to take their time with their first official release and it’s definitely paid off. “Birds Of A Feather” is a stunningly intricate piece of folk-pop that will give you all the feels.

Fans of the First Aid Kit and Lily and Madeleine will inevitably draw comparisons to the duo, but what these siblings have acquired so uniquely is an undeniable connection, making their harmonies 100% on point throughout. Utterly glorious. 2020 is looking like an extremely exciting year for this rising duo. Watch this space.

“Birds Of A Feather” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Dani Sylvia

We’re all guilty of self-sabotage sometimes, whether we want to admit it or not. Dani Sylvia gets it and her ethereal new single “Lithium” hits the nail on the head.

The young singer-songwriter has already gained quite the Spotify following and she’s sure to gain more if her latest cut is anything to go by. “Lithium” is a gorgeously celestial slice of electro-pop that soothes the soul. Dani’s soft, smooth vocals soar effortlessly over the ambient musicality, creating a sound akin to the likes of BANKS, or VÉRITÉ’s brooding melodies and atmospheric soundscapes.

As mentioned above “Lithium” goes deeper that a stunning shimmering melody, it also battles emotions we’ve all dealt with one way or another in the past and accepting the negative aspects of ourselves. “Lithium” reminds us we’re not alone, and above all, we’ll be fine.

“Lithium” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Keane and Marie White at Royal Albert Hall, 9/28

Keane made a triumphant return to London’s famed Royal Albert Hall for a two-night stint which sold out almost instantly—one week after the release of their new record Cause and Effect and six years since their last studio record. Strangeland came out to mixed reviews back in 2012, but I would argue it’s the crown jewel of the band’s catalogue, a clear indicator that the band was at its creative peak both musically and visually. I saw them twice in the States on that tour, and both shows were above and beyond anything I had seen that year.

A few years into Keane’s hiatus, Tom Chaplin answered the question on everyone’s mind—can he write the songs and go solo? The Wave was a swift and masterful response and a resounding yes; this guy can pretty much do it all, even when sober, when many musicians often lose their creative edge and fail. Throw in a Christmas album and a tour of the UK where Chaplin brilliantly performed the songs of Queen, and one would think that this would be a set up for Strangeland part two: bigger, bolder, braver. But was that even necessary?

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, Keane returned after seven years with the much-anticipated Cause and Effect. In true Keane fashion, it’s another curveball of a record for the hardcore fans. All the elements that make this band so great are here but they’re stripped down a bit—the experimentation and theatrics that made Strangeland so daring and perfect are missing. And that’s OK because the songs, the stories, and most importantly the voice are all there. It’s as if the band wanted to go back to basics. Make no mistake, this is a pop record, but with a level of substance that’s missing from the overproduced garbage dominating the radio today.

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UK Artist of the Week: IYEARA

Ready for something dark and ominous to get you going on this fine Tuesday? No? Are you sure? Because IYEARA are certainly a band you need to sit up and take note of, even if they are rather intimidating…

The trio have just released their debut EP “Consequences,” which includes the brooding single “Exhale,” a track that is swarming with haunting soundscapes and driving synths, along with vocalist Paul O’Keefe’s distinctive tone sending shivers down one’s spine instantly.

The single also comes with an equally disturbing video directed by Sam Dixon and featuring footage taken from the short film Old Mate. IYEARA combine dark wave and post-punk sensibilities throughout this dynamic debut, creating a sound that is both accomplished and forward-thinking.

The trio is composed of The Duke Spirit guitarist Toby Butler, as well as producer Malcolm Carson and not forgetting Paul O’Keeffe. Together they have created somewhat of a super group and right now it seems like the sky is the limit for IYEARA. Throughout the EP, the trio are joined by a select batch of guests including The Duke Spirit’s leading lady Liela Moss covering Tears For Fears’ hit single “Shout.” What more could you ask for?

“Consequences” is in stores now via TrES-2b Recordings / Ingrooves.

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TVD Live Shots: The Pixies at the O2 Academy Leeds, 9/17

They’ve influenced an entire generation, created an iconic signature sound, and nearly forty years later they still have plenty to say. The Pixies are seemingly more popular today than they were at their peak in the late ’80s early ’90s, especially here in the UK as it’s near impossible to land a ticket to one of their gigs across the country. I found myself on assignment for my day gig with an evening free in the Northern UK. The O2 Academy Leeds is one of the highest-rated venues in all of the UK so what better chance to check it out than to see the Pixies. 

 Touring in support of their seventh studio record, Beneath the Eyrie was recorded in an abandoned church near Woodstock, NY with producer Tom Dalgety. What in the hell is an eyrie? Yeah, I had to look that one up as well. According to Dictionary.com, it’s “a high or inaccessible place from which someone can observe what is below them.”

There’s no doubt that the atmosphere contributed to the darkness of this record. Some say it’s a return to form and that Black Frances finally caught lightning in a bottle once more after mediocre reviews for the past two records. I think the band is just pissed off and made a record fuelled with the current bad dream we all hope to wake up from. Either way, Eyrie is undoubtedly worthy of taking its place alongside the greatness and mystique of the first two albums.  

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UK Artist of the Week: Mipso

PHOTO: KENDALL BAILEY | Hailing from Chapel Hill, NC, Mipso are about to take the plunge and hop across the pond as they embark on a UK/EU tour in October. In the run up to the tour, Mipso have shared with the world their stunning animated video for single “People Change,” in stores now.

The single, taken from Mipso’s album Edges Run is a gorgeously rich and emotive ballad that tackles the difficult subject of loss and the impact of an absence in someone’s life. Its delicately weaved musicality is undeniably ethereal from the offset, reminiscent of the likes of Fleet Foxes or Bon Iver.

Frontman Jacop Sharp’s soft yet gritty Americana-esque vocals are just glorious, fitting the song perfectly. We could listen to it for days. The single’s video is equally mesmerising, with art and animation created by Jake McBride. Simple yet effective, the images reflect the song’s meaning perfectly and incredibly powerfully throughout.

We’ve not had the pleasure of catching these guys live yet, but if Edges Run is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat.

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UK Artist of the Week: Sun Bloom

Summer may be over but thankfully London trio Sun Bloom are here to give us another sprinkling of sunshine before the year is up.

Their latest single “Take It Away”—from their debut EP of the same name—is instantly warming, so warming in fact that its actually pretty surprising this sound has come straight out of London and not California.

Sun Bloom’s sizzling surf-rock sound feels instantly reminiscent of the likes of Alvvays or Best Coast—but British. Their surf-inspired dream-pop sound is undeniably addictive and clearly a strong start for this budding band.

If you happen to be in London on the 27th September you can catch Sun Bloom performing live—and free—at The Constitution, Camden.

“Take It Away” is in stores now.

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