Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: NGAIO

Acclaimed vocalist, DJ, and activist NGAIO is on a journey to spread powerful messages that resonate with the soul, and her new single “Goddess” is no exception. The single is taken from her highly-anticipated, self-produced debut EP “Four Quarters,” which blends jazz, dub, and trip-hop creating a sound that is truly innovative.

Of “Goddess” NGAIO says, “‘Goddess’ is about understanding that we are connected to more than the physical space of here and now. It’s about knowing that we can find that connection in nature and ourselves.” “Four Quarters” sees NGAIO embarking on a deeply personal and introspective journey, delving into the exploration of identity, cultural heritage, and the challenges of authentic self-expression in a world often resistant to alternative perspectives. As a genre-fluid shapeshifter, NGAIO effortlessly blends sounds and shatters expectations.

As well as performing solo, NGAIO founded Booty Bass as a space for women and non-binary folk to come together and play big, bad, unapologetic bangers. Since its conception in 2018 it’s become a space that promotes an appreciation for different cultures and sounds worldwide where dancing and laughing is key. NGAIO was also recently a part of the Censored campaign highlighting female nipples being sexualized, which was part of a city-wide exhibition addressing the hypocrisy of it and the consistent policing of women’s bodies.

With her commitment to making the world a better through music, “Goddess” and “Four Quarters” are only the start for this formidable artist.

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TVD Live Shots: Thirty Seconds to Mars at the O2 Arena, 6/4

Ever found yourself wondering if you’ve been missing out on something epic? Well, seeing Thirty Seconds to Mars live for the first time made me realize I’ve been obliviously orbiting outside a musical cosmos that’s nothing short of extraordinary. Jared Leto, whom I’ve always revered for his Oscar-winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club (among other outstanding roles), showed that his rock star chops are not just good—they’re stratospheric.

Originally delayed due to the SAG strikes impacting Leto’s filming schedule, the rescheduled The Seasons Tour celebrated their sixth studio album, It’s The End Of The World But It’s A Beautiful Day, with interstellar flair. And let’s talk about their penchant for the extraordinary: Thirty Seconds to Mars don’t just release albums—they release experiences.

How about the first commercial album launched into space? Check. Debuting a song from the Space Station? Check. With thousands of fans contributing variations of cover art, backing vocals, and percussion to their recordings over the years, and holding the record for the number of shows during a release cycle (literally in the Guinness Book of World Records), it’s clear that Leto wants to bring his fans as close as possible to the experience and the music. The show at the O2 Arena was a testament to their innovation.

From the moment the band launched into the thunderous opening of “Up in the Air” with a massive explosion of confetti, it was clear that this would be a huge show. Ripping straight into “Kings and Queens” and “Walk on Water” kept the momentum soaring, proving that Leto’s knack for massive hooks is undeniable. But it’s not just the music that’s out of this world—Leto brings a level of creativity that’s light years ahead. Picture this: lasers, fire, neon lights, dramatic leaps, and costumes so elaborate they’d make a Broadway wardrobe jealous and have Pink Floyd fans reminiscing.

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UK Artist of the Week: Honeyglaze

London-based alt-rock trio Honeyglaze announce the release of their sophomore album Real Deal with the release of their empowering new single “Don’t,” out now.

Anouska Sokolow of the band says, “Based on my favourite Destiny’s Child song ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ (which is also a song about being done with waste men), ‘Don’t’ was written after the end of a particularly bad relationship and I had this anger at every man I felt had ever wronged me or spoken down to me. It’s really fun to be aggressive and direct sometimes, especially when it’s unexpected.”

The single is undeniably powerful from the offset, with Sokolow’s cutting edge vocals at the forefront throughout. “Don’t” is a striking calling card for Real Deal; the album which follows their 2022 self-titled debut.

Honeyglaze are a South London based, haiku-loving trio comprised of vocalist and guitarist Anouska Sokolow, bassist Tim Curtis, and Yuri Shibuichi on drums.

“Don’t” is in stores now via Fat Possum Records.

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Needle Drop: J. Bernardt, Contigo

J. Bernardt—aka Jinte Deprez—may be best known as one half of Belgian favourites Balthazar, but his latest album Contigo proves he can certainly hold a tune on his own as well. The album hits a mark between sophisticated and loose, emphatic and subtle, and steely and warm. Combining influences of orchestral pop, soul, and funk, the album oozes with a rainbow of flavours for the listener to indulge in.

Opening with “Rio,” which was written on a trip to Brazil, we are immediately welcomed by majestic strings showcasing Deprez’s vulnerable side. The track then fades into “Taxi,” a literal trip as Deprez needs to escape so he can process the bad news. Throughout the album a backdrop of streamlined funk, with thick bass and guitar twangs, adds to the contrast of strings, creating something undeniably slick and suave.

“Don’t Get Me Wrong” once again showcases Bernardt’s unique ability to combine orchestral pop with funk-infused flavours, creating something truly mesmerizing. Talking about the release, Deprez elaborates, “’Don’t Get Me Wrong’ takes a walk-through on communication skills that are not on point, even fed by a sabotaging desire of two people that choose projection rather than self-reflection. It’s an old habit of most of us use to fuel the fire, until it burns the house down.”

Next up is “Last Waltz,” slowing the pace down but by no means the power in Deprez’ stunningly unique baritone. Tracks “Contigo” and “Matter of Time” fall into a similar vein, sounding akin to The Last Shadow Puppets and Jungle.

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Needle Drop: EEVAH, “Simplify Life” EP

EEVAH’s EP “Simplify Life” is a captivating blend of catchy hooks, haunting melodies, and electrifying guitar riffs, alongside personal and relatable lyrics that delve into profound themes. The four track EP explores different topics like relationships and people pleasing, and has revealed a new, raw ferocity that is propelling this emerging duo.

Of the EP, the band say “We’ve always been a singles band because in some ways I think we were exploring what we were about and what we wanted to sound like. That’s probably the reason behind our ever eclectic back catalogue. But with this EP we wanted to nail down the EEVAH sound once and for all. It’s called ‘Simplify Life’ but the journey to the finish line has been anything but. It’s taken the addition of live drums for us to realise what’s important. Dynamics, storytelling, truth, soul, everything that we love about music thrown into the melting pot and served up in sonic slices under three minutes long.”

The opening track “Say It’s Just Us” begins gently before erupting into a vibrant indie pop anthem, with the catchy synths providing a perfect backdrop for the poignant vocal delivery. The lyrics and theme of the song are about putting pressure on relationships to fit into a certain box, when really we should “say it’s just US.”

“Notice You” takes a darker, more melancholic turn on the EP. The deep piano notes and distorted guitar, paired with sorrowful vocals, make this track a true heartbreaker. Lyrics like “Can you see me, cause I’m holding on” are deeply relatable, navigating a path of sadness rarely explored by the band.

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UK Artist of the Week: Martyrs

Post-disco Welsh duo Martyrs recently released their vibrant single “Where Did You Go?.” The pair are influenced by an eclectic blend of artists ranging from Afghan Whigs and Billy Joel to Deerhunter and Cyndi Lauper, ultimately creating a sound that sounds like Bruce Springsteen dusting with Chic.

The track is taken from their sophomore album Luminism, showcasing the diversity of sound and influences Martyrs held dear to their heat. “Where Did You Go?” is a perfect jumping off point for first time listeners. Opening with a stylish narration, the track bursts into life through effervescent brass instrumentation before strutting into a sparkling beat. The vocals juxtapose with the sonics, creating an introspective, evocative landscape in what the band describe as a horror story set to a disco beat.

“Where Did You Go?” follows the successful release of “Sunset Thinking,” picking up support from UK taste makers such as God Is In The TV and Amazing Radio. Martyrs are using the release as way of giving back to their community, with profits from sales of both “Where Did You Go?” and Luminism to Trussell Trust: Stop UK Hunger.

“Where Did You Go?” is taken from album Luminism, in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
Jane’s Addiction at
Bush Hall, 5/23

Last night, Jane’s Addiction kicked off their tour with an intimate, electrifying performance at London’s iconic Bush Hall, marking the first time in over 14 years that the classic lineup played together. With a capacity of just 400, the venue was packed to the rafters, creating a sense of exclusivity and anticipation that filled the air. Tickets were nearly impossible to get, making this an extraordinary event for those fortunate enough to shuffle through the door of this more than one-hundred-year-old dance hall. 

The classic lineup of Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro, Eric Avery, and Stephen Perkins brought undeniable star power to the stage. Each member showcased their talents while melding together seamlessly to deliver a nostalgic and forward-thinking performance. It was a night that evoked the spirit of the ’90s, a decade where Jane’s Addiction helped shape the alternative rock landscape with their raw and eclectic sound.

Jane’s Addiction’s early days were marked by explosive energy and boundary-pushing performances that helped define the alternative rock movement. Their shows were chaotic, vibrant, and unpredictable, with each member contributing to the wild, rebellious spirit that set them apart from their contemporaries. Last night, that spirit was very much alive, but it was clear that the band had evolved. Their performances are now polished yet powerful, seamlessly blending their classic hits with a matured, sophisticated sound that continues to captivate.

Perry Farrell embodied the essence of sophistication, juxtaposing his early days of psychedelic flair and rebellious energy with a more refined, eclectic style. His stage presence remains magnetic, effortlessly commanding the audience’s attention. Still distinctive and assertive, Farrell’s voice highlighted his growth as a multifaceted artist. He is a master showman, weaving the old with the new and entrancing the audience throughout the set.

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UK Artist of the Week:
O.

PHOTO: HOLLY WHITAKER | Experimental duo O.—yes that’s it, that’s their name—are back with another wonderfully woozy delight for you to sink your teeth into. Their latest cut “Micro” is taken from their upcoming debut album WeirdOs, out via Speedy Wunderground on 21st June 2024.

Saxophonist Joe Henwood plays with an impressive amount of distortion, creating something that sounds like a synth or a guitar as a result, whilst drummer Tash Keary plays skitter-splat breakbeats, creating a feast for the ears that is certainly not for the fainted hearted! Get ready for your walls to shake…

Talking about their upcoming album release, the duo explain, “WeirdOs is a dark, heavy album based around our love of riffy basslines, blast beats, dub, noise, and all the weird sounds in between. It was recorded live across two weeks in the studio with Dan Carey and aims to replicate the feeling of being at one of our gigs.”

“Micro” is in stores now. Catch them at a festival near you this summer.

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TVD Live Shots: Keane
at the O2 Arena, 5/11

Twenty years on, Hopes and Fears remains a masterpiece, untouched by time. Few bands will have a moment like this, and even fewer will stick around to celebrate it at this magnitude. I saw this original tour in Houston, Texas in 2005 and now nearly two decades later, I’m amid 20,000 fans at a sold-out night two at the famed O2 Arena in London. The energy is electric, the music transcendent, and Keane’s timeless sound isn’t just enduring—it’s thriving, with the crowd’s roaring approval as proof.

Tim Rice-Oxley hammers on the keyboards like a heavy metal guitarist shreds during a face-melting guitar solo. You really can’t take your eyes off this guy as he’s clearly having the time of his life, pouring his heart and soul into every smash of the ivories. Tom Chaplin’s voice was the best I’ve ever heard it. Maybe it was made for arenas? It was just next level, and I’ve seen him perform Queen songs where I thought he was peaking. Add to that his signature charismatic leaps, swirls, and fist pumps, and you’ve got that 2004 magic refined and elevated.

The rhythm section of Richard Hughes and Jesse Quin keep it simple but elegant while locking in that signature Keane groove that lays the foundation for their biggest hits. It’s easy to forget that there’s no guitar in this band, something that was a bit of a talk trigger twenty years ago but Keane proved that it’s just not needed for what they do best. The songs, it’s all about the songs. And on this night it was hard to argue with the setlist.

The star of the night was of course Hopes and Fears played in its entirety, and let me tell you, this record still holds up like it was released yesterday. It’s not only one of the all-time best-selling albums in the UK, clocking up more than 3.5 million sales in the UK alone, but it’s a damn near perfect album. You could call it the Hysteria of brit pop with five singles dominating the chart as the hits just kept coming.

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UK Artist of the Week: Kynsy

Having recently signed to Nice Swan Records alongside the likes of English Teacher and SPRINTS, Dublin’s latest rising star Kynsy is looking to make a splash with new single “Money,” out now.

Talking about the release on Instagram, Kynsy said, “This song dives deep into the complexities of love, nostalgia, and longing, offering a raw exploration of the heart’s journey. Produced in my bedroom with the help of Caesar Edmunds on mixing duty, this project pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I’m proud to say I took the leap.” “Money” is a scuzzy indie-pop delight from the offset. Fans of the likes of Soccer Mommy and Alvvays will feel at home here.

The Dublin based artist has developed her own songwriting rules that have given her the ability to experiment, push her own boundaries, and avoid being pigeonholed into any one genre. Kynsy is definitely one to watch…

“Money” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Luke Fraser

Singer songwriter Luke Fraser has returned with his theatrical new single, “The Curse.” Following on from Fraser’s debut album, Moth Eaten Romeo in 2022, the troubadour will unveil several singles as he builds towards EP “So Below” later this year.

Having spent many years performing on the London live circuit, both as a solo artist and with a band, Fraser has built a loyal fan base through his emotive style of music. Dramatic, literate, and heartfelt, Fraser’s sound sits neatly between the likes of John Grant and Andrew Bird.

“The Curse” is a perfect encapsulation of Fraser’s stunning sonics. Graceful piano, atmospheric percussion, and confessional lyricism play out, as Fraser’s reflective vocal takes centre stage. A mature, bittersweet piece of music from start to finish.

It’s easy to see why Fraser’s approach to songwriting has garnered support from tastemaker far and wide with the likes of Radio X, Absolute Radio, BBC Introducing, Clout Magazine and many more supporting the artist.

‘The Curse’ is available to stream now.

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UK Artist of the Week: PostLast

This week we have a debut release from Irish alt-pop duo PostLast! You may recognize the duo from their respective bands HAVVK and BARQ, both of whom we’ve previously championed here at TVD.

PostLast’s debut single “Connect 4” is an upbeat escape into the joy and fragility of making friends as a grown-up. “The song is about rediscovering your inner child through connection with others, and remembering how to switch off, play and dance with reckless abandon,” the band elaborate. Fans of the likes of St. Vincent, AE MAK, and Sorcha Richardson will feel at home here.

Julie Hough and Stephen McHale first connected while completing a joint headline tour of Ireland and the UK in 2017. Over the past year they have been writing in secret, preparing each element of their collaboration to be ready for public release in spring 2024.

“Connect 4” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Self Help

Oxford’s Self Help have released their propellant, post-rock single, “Enrage Engage.” The five-piece create an expansive sound in the realms of Squid, KEG, and Idles, all packaged in their own unique style.

“Enrage Engage” is the lead single from the band’s debut album of the same name. Following on from previous single “Spaceman,” Self Help have ramped up the eccentricity a couple of notches as they direct their ire at the ills of the world.

Self Help wear their heart on their sleeve, sarcastically voicing their displeasure at the state of the modern world. “Enrage Engage” is packed full of fuzzy melodies, distinctive vocals and a maelstrom of in-your-face guitars.

Following a short, self-imposed, break from the playing music, Self Help returned in 2022. Their uncompromising sound led to a number of festival appearances and airplay on BBC 6 Music as well as support slots with the likes of Squid, Goat Girl, The Murder Capital, and Animal House.

Having recently supported Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard, and with further singles due for release, we here at The Vinyl District can’t wait to hear the record in its full, sardonic glory.

Debut album Enrage Engage is due in stores on 7th June 2024.

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TVD Live Shots:
Mika at the Eventim Apollo, 4/9

Entering the Eventim Apollo on a brisk Tuesday evening in London felt like stepping into a chapter of my personal soundtrack.

My first encounter with Mika’s music was a chance stumble upon “Grace Kelly” while living in San Francisco. As someone deeply appreciative of bands like Jellyfish, Queen, and Badfinger, Mika’s sound struck a chord with me—bold, inventive, and refreshingly unique. That track alone was a game-changer, and diving into his album was akin to discovering a pop music gem, brimming with disco, funk, and those falsettos and harmonies that instantly pull you in. It was as if the energy of the Scissor Sisters’ debut had been reborn.

Mika’s 2024 tour kicks off on the heels of a spectacular year. His French-language album not only snagged the “French-language Album of the Year” at the Pure Charts Awards, but he’s also made waves on television, earning critical acclaim for his roles on The Voice in France and The Piano in the UK—the latter winning Best Original Programme at the 2024 Broadcast Awards. His venture into film scoring also earned him a nomination for Breakthrough Composer of the Year by the International Film Music Critics Association, showcasing his remarkable versatility as an artist. To say he’s at the peak of his powers would be an understatement.

Seeing Mika live again was like reuniting with an old friend. His Apocalypse Calypso Tour might have featured just one song from his latest album Que ta tête fleurisse toujours, but it didn’t matter—the energy was through the roof. The crowd was pumped, eager for a night packed with Mika’s greatest hits. He delivered big time, diving into the songs that first hooked us, making sure the evening was filled with those signature Mika moments we all came for.

To fully grasp Mika’s unique artistry, you really had to be there. The show kicked off with an unforgettable spectacle—Mika, decked out in massive red wings and enclosed in a symbolic cage, delivering “Bougez.” His performance swung from beautiful to intense, capturing the full spectrum of human emotion. From that first song, it was full steam ahead. Mika was on a mission to energize every person in the crowd, keeping us grinning from ear to ear for the next two hours.

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Needle Drop: HAVVK,
To Fall Asleep

Ever evolving alt-rock outfit HAVVK’s raucous new album To Fall Asleep is a grunge-filled musical endeavour, packing a powerful punch that leaves you pining for more. The highly anticipated album was released on the 15th March via Veta Records.

Made up of Julie Hawk (bass, vocals), Matthew Harris (guitar), and former Bitch Falcon drummer Nigel Kenny, HAVVK’s emphasis is on social issues in their art—from bodily autonomy to “filthy landlords.” These upcoming tracks were primarily recorded in Belfast’s Start Together Studio with producer Rocky O’Reilly (Wheatus, And So I Watch You From Afar).

This is an album about sleep, and the things that keep us awake at night. Talking about the album, Hawk says, “We started talking about sleep a lot as a band a few years ago when I was experiencing insomnia. I was waking up with an unshakable feeling of urgency, like I was forgetting something and then letting my thoughts spiral for hours. Sleep was something I had always taken for granted, so at first this felt like a huge betrayal from my body. But it wasn’t really. Actually, it was my body trying to tell me something. I had to really listen to it, and examine how honestly I was living my life, and how much energy I was giving to things that I didn’t have the capacity for.”

Single “You Say You Won’t” is all about toxic and self-sabotaging habits, and starts with the slow thrum of the bass guitar, building up to heavy drops made for headbanging. The chorus takes the song into a more hopeful sound, contrasted with the lyrics saying “you say you won’t, but you do it again,” which is all too relatable for us all.

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