Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: Amelia Rose

London-based newcomer Amelia Rose and Finnish producer cocabona collaborate for the release of celestial new single “Falling Down,” out now. As well as being a writer, vocalist, and producer, Amelia is now curating her slick new sounds through experimentation and collaborating with various producers, musicians, and artists.

Chill to the max with Amelia Rose and cocabona’s stunning new single “Falling Down”—a jazzy fusion of electronic splendour, soothing vocals, and vibrant beats. Talking about the single, Amelia says, “This track is about going back to your old ways even though you realise that something isn’t working out. I wanted to create a kind of sonic tapestry, with the production and the vocals, that would take the listener on a journey through that emotional space which cocabona really brought out and was a pleasure to work with.”

After the success of her first single “midnight” with New York-based artist Relyae, which was featured on BBC 1Xtra and several editorial playlists, Amelia will be releasing her debut EP “Phases” in February 2023.

“Falling Down” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Mandi Mapes

Nashville-based newcomer Mandi Mapes shines bright with the release of her touching new single “Daffodil Floors,” out now.

What an absolute delight to listen to. Folk-pop newcomer Mandi Mapes shares her breathtaking new single “Daffodil Floors” which is truly stunning from the offset as Mandi’s intimate vocals compliment the rich, piano-led musicality—and the string section at the end?! Amazing.

Talking about the single, Mandi explains, “This song is about healing from that hurt. It’s about taking off those heavy burdens, ignoring those voices of shame and running free like a child, knowing that we are loved, that we matter, and that we belong not because of what we do, but because of who we are.”

“Daffodil Floors” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Sleep Token at the Eventim Apollo, 1/22

Sleep Token is on a tear across the UK at the moment, selling out gigs left and right, playing their biggest headlining shows to date, and putting themselves on the map as the next big thing in metal—but is the hype real?

If you’ve been living under a proverbial heavy metal rock for the past year, it may seem that Sleep Token have seemingly come out of nowhere, but that’s not the case. They’ve been around since 2016 and have two critically acclaimed albums under their belt. You could say they’ve paid their dues and played the game exactly right, sticking to their guns, consistently releasing songs that one up the other, and patiently waiting for the moment when it all comes together. That moment is 2023.

Their music is often described as a blend of heavy metal and ethereal vocals, but that’s taking the easy way out. There’s much more to unpack here, starting with a vocalist who can hit some serious notes, taking his range in places that only a handful of other metal, or even pop, singers can go. Simply known as Vessel, his real identity is not publicly known. Of course, a ton of speculation and several Reddit threads go down this rabbit hole, which can be a fun read.

But the fact that he’s still “unknown” in this day and age may just be because the fans want and need that bit of mystery across a space where every single detail of everyday life is shared and amplified via social media. I would argue it also provides much more musical freedom in creativity and experimentation, as there is no face or excessive image for one to judge. (The band generally doesn’t do interviews or talk to the press.) That must be gratifying in itself.

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UK Artist of the Week: Skelly

Sibling duo Skelly brush off the January blues with the release of their deliciously jazzy new single “Connection,” out now.

Tom and Laura Misch better watch out cos there’s a new pair of talented siblings on the London jazz scene. Skelly are a brother and sister duo from North London who make neo-soul flavoured music with jazz and pop influences. Their latest single “Connection” is a brass-filled delight from start to finish with Emma’s soft subtle vocals soaring effortlessly over Ben’s brilliant musical arrangements.

Talking about the single, the band elaborate, “‘Stop lying to yourself, you cannot fake a connection, I do not need your protection…’ This line, repeated over and over in the outro, is the fundamental idea behind this tune. It’s about close friends headed for inevitable romance, yet while one side yearns for it, the other is reluctant to acknowledge their feelings.”

“Connection” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Melotone

This week we’re heading to the West of England to meet Melotone, a psych-jazz quartet who are creating wonderfully woozy tunes.

The band’s latest release “Entre Ondas” combines sixties psychedelia with jazz-infused Tropicalia and Bossa nova soundscapes creating something truly mesmerising. Lead singer Alec Madeley is half-Brazilian, which has clearly influenced the rest of the band’s musical motives. “Entre Ondas” allows us to travel away from these cold winter mornings to warm, sultry afternoons—and we can’t get enough.

Talking about the single, Alec explains, “’Entre Ondas’ is a landmark song for me because it is the first of ours that truly captures our love of sixties and seventies Brazilian music. During the pandemic, I was listening to a lot of Caetano Veloso, Os Novos Baianos, and Gal Costa, which I think inspired me to write something in Portuguese, almost as a homage to the greats I had been obsessing over.”

“Entre Ondas” is in stores now via Think Twice Records, an arm of Last Man Music Group.

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UK Artist of the Week: Hayleon

We’re kicking off 2023 with a brand new Irish discovery. Hayleon released her debut single “Warrior” in December we can’t wait to see what the New Year has in store for her.

“Warrior” infuses Scandi-pop and Irish folk music creating something that is truly unique. Hayleon’s soft, celestial vocal soars over the almost tribal-like musicality, whilst the fiddle and low whistle create an undeniably ethereal sound. “Warrior” is a song about the physiological and emotional elements of female relationships and the press that comes with it.

Hayleon—aka Hannah Ryan—was previously a member of ambient folk quartet Pine The Pilcrow. With “Warrior” she goes solo for the first time and we’re excited to hear what she gets up to next.

“Warrior” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Cure at Wembley Arena, 12/12

It’s my final show of the year, and it was an incredible one. Night two of three sold-out shows from post punk legends The Cure at the equally impressive Wembly Arena; it was epic. What was initially supposed to be a tour supporting the much anticipated new album became a celebration of the band’s entire catalogue. 

Songs Of a Lost World will be the band’s first batch of new songs since 2008’s 4:13 Dream, and from the three songs played live, it’s not only going to live up to the hype, but far surpass it. While I don’t think anyone expects the album to be released within the remainder of the year, who knows, maybe we’ll get an unexpected Christmas gift. I imagine is Robert ready to push the button at any given moment.

Until then, we’ll just have to replay the bootleg videos from YouTube and dive into the anticipation of the show coming back around next year. Long-serving members Simon Gallup, Roger O’Donnell, and Perry Bamonte, were joined by former Bowie guitarist extraordinaire Reeves Gabrels, and drummer Jason Cooper brought the wall of sound that is The Cure to life with exquisite attention to detail.

Robert Smith slowly walked the entire length of the stage, taking a moment to pause and gaze into the crowd of twelve thousand plus. He was certainly grateful, and it was a bit ceremonial before he got behind the mic and unleashed that signature voice. Opening with a new song is certainly bold, but Jesus, “Alone” was drenched in that brilliant, lush slow burn of a rhythm that reminds us all that these guys invented the genre.

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TVD Live Shots: Kula Shaker at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 12/8

I knew there was something special here the first time I heard Kula Shaker during the Brit-pop explosion in the mid-nineties. Their debut album, K, is not only one of the best-selling UK debut albums of all time, but it also pushed the genre into a new, unexpected direction that has yet to be matched.

Sure it had all the elements that made Brit-pop great; Stone Roses-type grooves and the attitude and snarl of Oasis, but frontman Crispian Mills added a spiritual element that elevated this sound to another level. It was rock, it was pop, it was psychedelic, but most of it, it was original—and really, really fucking good.

I never got to see Kula Shaker when I was living in the States, at least I don’t remember it, but they have always been a band that I go back to for those first two albums. I thought the follow-up, Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts which came out in 1999, was a more interesting record even though it didn’t have a string of “hits.” However, I saw the band back in 2016 at the Kentish Town Forum and thought they were excellent, but what I saw at Shepherds Bush Empire was different; it was next level.

There is a fire burning in Crispian that wasn’t there six years ago. This guy was electric, almost possessed with the music, and he made the guitar an extension of his body. At times I thought that he was in a guitar battle with Jimi Hendrix, and he made it look easy, like he was born to do this.

Maybe it was the excitement and energy from the slew of new music exploding from the band over the past year, including a stellar return to roots album called The First Congregational Church of Eternal Love and Free Hugs, or the two most recent singles, including a straight-ahead cracking version of the Lennon classic “Gimme Some Truth.”

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UK Artist of the Week: Badliana

Shake off those Christmas party hangovers with Bristol- based newcomer Badliana and her trippy new single “Mayday,” out now.

“Mayday” is oozing with sass and swag from the offset as Badliana’s smooth, sultry vocals compliment the dark, woozy electronics effortlessly. Fans of FKA Twigs and Little Dragon will feel at home here.

Talking about the single, Badliana explains, “‘Mayday’ is bossy, confident, and all about just doing what you want, when you want, manifesting it, and achieving it basically. It’s about taking control and just fully allowing yourself to be yourself and not giving a f**k about what anyone thinks.”

Having already previously supported the likes of Jelani Blackman and Etta Bond and made her debut appearance at Glastonbury 2022, we’re excited to see what this emerging electronic talent will get up to next.

“Mayday” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Thallo

Welsh newcomer Thallo captivates listeners with her unique blend of jazz-infused dream-pop. Her new EP “Crescent” is out now.

Thallo creates a wonderful cocktail of sounds throughout her EP, combining elements of jazz, pop, and folk creating a sound that is truly enchanting. Thallo’s hauntingly beautiful vocals compliment the subtle jazz textures effortlessly, whilst the personable lyricism adds further depth and importance to the musicality.

The three track EP chronicles the artist’s own story about an on-going condition causing chronic pain which began in 2020 and left her temporarily unable to walk or stand—locked in by her condition after the world had been released from lockdown—and forced to cancel her planned appearance at this year’s SXSW, which is now rescheduled for 2023.

Thallo is the work of singer-songwriter Elin Edwards, based between her homelands of Gwynedd, North Wales, and London.

“Crescent” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Placebo at the O2 Academy Brixton, 11/27

It’s fair to say that 2022 is a banner year for Placebo. Twenty-eight years into their career, you could argue that they have never sounded better in the studio and on stage.

Their eighth album, Never Let Me Go, was released earlier this year to critical acclaim, and a sold-out tour quickly followed. The core of Placebo, eclectic frontman Brian Molko and bassist Stefan Olsdal have evolved as a sonic force to be reckoned with, and I find it fascinating to watch the image of the band transform as well. While they’ve always been provocative with their look and lyrical content, the brand of Placebo—with its beautiful mix of dark shadows and gloriously beautiful bright colors—continues to build on the mystique, evoking that emotional response that is undeniably singular.

And that emotional response can be overwhelming, in a good way, during the live show. If you haven’t heard yet, the band has been very outspoken about using phones and mobile devices during their set. It’s pretty refreshing to see a gig without screens flailing in the air—it reminds me of when I first saw them back in the States on their first tour in the late ’90s. Yeah, I know it’s not fashionable to talk about the way things “used to be,” but previously it was a much better experience. Now, once more, you can get lost in the music without distraction, and they make this point while underscoring the message that’s plastered across the venue: “This exact moment will never happen again.”

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TVD Live Shots:
Jason Isbell and the
400 Unit at the Eventim Apollo, 11/17

Having lived in Texas for nearly ten years and working in the record business during that time, I saw a genre struck with an identity crisis. It was the early 2000s, and the “Nashville sound” started fusing into the newly revived Americana movement. A fresh wave of traditional county singer-songwriters blossomed across Texas.

Although its roots were inspired by Nashville, its heartbeat was strongest in Austin. The best singer-songwriters all seemed to be popping up quite quickly. Charlie Robinson, Bruce Robinson, Bob Schnieder, Pat Green, and several others were bringing a much-needed makeover to the bloated pop-style country being churned out and mass marketed. It was time for a reset, and all eyes were on Texas.

Meanwhile, just a few states away, an Athens-based “rock” band started making waves. The Drive-By Truckers were laying the foundation for a breakthrough in the scene, and the stage was set for the band’s defining moment when they signed with Austin-based New West records. It was also the first time that newish member Jason Isbell would significantly contribute to the songwriting. It was an exciting time when country music was being embraced by the hipsters of Austin.

With complete control of South by SouthWest and arguably the most prominent tastemakers at the time, they were waiting for the band that would bridge the two cities together. The Drive-By Truckers were on a tear and would answer that call. More importantly, in this story, you could see Isbell’s influence and songwriting chops come into play. He would continue to blossom, and it was inevitable that he would need to branch out and ultimately go solo.

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UK Artist of the Week: Jewelia

London-based emerging artist Jewelia shines bright with the release of her bittersweet new single “Second Best,” out now. Influenced by the likes of nineties pop star Natalie Imbruglia, there is definitely a nostalgic edge to Jewelia’s music, however it is brought into the 21st century with Jewelia’s butter-soft vocals and relatable lyricism at the forefront.

Talking about the single, Jewelia explains, “From a young age, we watch stories of success against all odds and are besotted with the chosen one, while getting accustomed to look down on the average people and their struggles—the irony being, of course, that we are them.

We are told that we can achieve anything, if only we try hard enough. As inspiring as this sounds, it also implies that we only have ourselves to blame (regardless of systemic disadvantages, biological limits, financial difficulty etc.) for having an average life, in a world where mediocrity is viewed as being worse than utter failure. Something is messed up here, and I thought it was worth exploring.”

“Second Best” is taken from Jewelia’s upcoming album Strong in My Own Way, due in stores in Spring of next year.

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UK Artist of the Week: Rodney Cromwell

London-based synth-pop artist Rodney Cromwell, aka Adam Cresswell, has had an eventful career. A founding member of notable electro duo Arthur & Martha, as well as head of independent label Happy Robots Records, Cresswell has spent the last few years creating a sound synonymous with his alter ego, culminating in the recent release of single, “The Winter Palace.”

The track is taken from album Memory Box, released this year to wide acclaim. Standout track, “The Winter Palace” perfectly illustrates Cromwell’s distinctive synth-pop sound. The single, with a nod to vintage electronic artists, combined with Cromwell’s own unique style, dances with synth strings, dreamy harmonies, and evocative lyricism, creating a perfect soundtrack to winter.

Accompanied by the krautrock-inspired b-side, “Rod Jane & Freddy,” the soon-to-be-released promo CD will feature remixes from Infra Violet and Gemma Cullingford.

Cromwell’s quirky style has attracted the attention of a range of tastemakers from NME to Paste magazine, as well as synth-pop legends Blancmange, who have invited him on tour supporting their UK dates. Even more reason for us here at TVDHQ to make Rodney our UK Artist of the Week.

“The Winter Palace” is taken from album Memory Box, both in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: The Hunna at the Electric Ballroom, 11/4

Hailing from Watford, Hertfordshire, alt-rock buzz band The Hunna made an explosive return to London last week to launch their much anticipated new self-titled album. The famed Electric Ballroom, one of my favorite venues in Camden, played host to a wall-to-wall, sold-out gig. I’ve never seen this many people jammed into the place. From the looks of the VIP section alone, it was the venue to be at Friday night, even with some stiff competition just up the road from Creeper at the Roundhouse.

But this was a different kind of show for The Hunna as they opted for a more intimate venue where they would play their new album. The band’s self-titled fourth LP was released just days before the gig. The fact that the crowd was singing along with every word says it all about the reception, and that they came out thrashing across the stage with one of the loudest shows I’ve heard all year sends yet another clear message—these guys are back with a vengeance.

The Hunna are embracing a new beginning that follows a whirlwind of touring and releases after their meteoric rise a few years back. It’s the classic band gets fucked over by a record label, questions their future, and ponders their next move situation. Still, in this case, the story has a happy ending so far. But it certainly wasn’t easy, and the band needed help and inspiration.

Making the rounds with mediocre reviews, the fans still embraced it and set the band up for what would be their pinnacle moment. Calling on the many friends they’ve made along the way, including Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, Twenty One Pilots, and super producer John Feldman, they took all that negative energy and blew it into a narrative that became 2020’s I’d Rather Die Than Let You.

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