Category Archives: TVD UK

UK Artist of the Week: HALO DUST

London-based faceless quartet HALO DUST kick-start our week the right way with the release of their high-octane debit single “HEROES,” out now.

Combining indie and electronic sensibilities, “HEROES” is oozing with atmosphere from the offset. Comparisons have been made to the likes of The Prodigy and Daft Punk and we can see why, however “HEROES” perhaps feels as though it’s leaning slightly further towards psychedelic rock with its distinctive vocals and twisted guitar twangs at the forefront. “HEROES” is a song that has one foot in the past and one foot very much in the future.

Having previously worked as a live production team, brushing shoulders with various musicians from around the UK and North America, the trio of Scott, Trumpet Andy, and Stef became disillusioned with the industry. However, a chance late night, Jager-fulled meeting with Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno at the infamous Shepherd’s Bush haunt Bagel Bites changed everything.

“HEROES” is taken from the band’s debut album SINISTER ELECTRIC, out in 2023.

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TVD Live Shots: The Black Crowes at the O2 Brixton Academy, 9/26

The Black Crowes are on another level at the moment. They’re the best rock ‘n’ roll band on tour right now—my generation’s Led Zeppelin. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band that makes it look so easy; it’s as if the only reason they are here on the planet to remind us what good old-school rock ‘n’ roll is and can be. (Yeah, I get it, that’s a heap of praise to throw at a band in the first paragraph of a gig review, but you had to see it to believe it.) People were in fucking awe. In the words of Liam Gallagher, “it was biblical.”

There’s something to be said about the company they keep as well. There was an all-star list of London rock ‘n’ rollers in attendance. Spike from the Quireboys and the man who invented heavy metal, Tony Iommi, were just a few that I saw on night one. The show had been postponed several times, but unlike many others, it didn’t affect the anticipation or turnout. Was it sold out? There was one seat open, and I grabbed it, so yeah, essentially, it was.

I watched two brothers with a very public turbulent past jamming together in perfect harmony. Hell, they even smiled at each other more than once. This is the power of music, the power of great fucking songs, the power of connection with the audience, personified and amplified. You could feel this show in your heart; it warmed you up.

I’ve always been a fan of the Crowes, but I lost touch after By Your Side. They started to drift into a sort of jam-band space that I wasn’t really into. But that doesn’t change the fact that their debut masterpiece, Shake Your Money Maker, is still one of my favourite records of all time.

I would argue that The Southern Harmony and Musician Companion is the superior record, only because it took everything I loved from the debut and turned it up to eleven, but hearing “Twice as Hard” as the opening song brought me back to the glory days of MTV and the first time I heard this band. Fucking hell, I forgot how brilliant that song is as an opener. I was transported automatically back to 1992 when Riki Rachtman first said, “I’ve got a new band for you that I think you are going to like,” and the rest is history.

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UK Artist of the Week: Yellow Bellies

Brighton-based alt-rockers Yellow Bellies prove they’re ones to watch with the release of their scuzz-filled new single “Frankie,” out now.

Channeling the likes of Weezer and Pixies, Yellow Bellies put a modern spin on ’90s-infused rock, creating a sound that is full of fun and fierceness. Talking about the single the band elaborate, “I think we’ve all been in a relationship where either you or your partner over dramatically play the role of self-sabotaging heretic, heralding oneself as a martyr for love. And in this track she goes by ‘Frankie.’ So the songs really about that side of oneself that you hate to admit you either still have, or have experienced in the past.”

Having already made a name for themselves in their adopted home of Brighton, Yellow Bellies are now setting their sights on the wider world. Their eclectic sound journeys through many a genre, but at its core, Yellow Bellies provide a brutally honest expressionist appeal for the modern day craze.

“Frankie” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
Three Days Grace at
the O2 Forum Kentish Town, 9/15

It’s easy to write off Three Days Grace as just another alt-metal band from the early 2000s, but that would be the cliched thing to do and the easy way out.

The fact that they have a record 17 number-one singles is a testament to how they stand out by a long shot among their peers and the long line of copycats being snatched up by major labels after they hit it big with their self-titled debut. Even I was a bit hesitant when I heard “I Hate Everything About You.” But I was quickly sold on “Home” as I thought this was one of the best rock songs from that entire decade. Great lyrics, chunky riffs, and even a bit of passion and soul in the chorus. It sounded like this guy was singing from the actual experience of this story happening to him, right there.

I have to admit I lost track of the band after original frontman Adam Gontier left, but I was intrigued when I saw that they were coming to London. I hadn’t seen these guys since I lived in Austin, Texas, more than thirty years ago. Now fronted by former My Darkest Days singer Matt Walst, the band is still going strong, having just released their latest album, Explosions. They don’t seem to tour very often in the UK, so I was interested to see what the crowd would look like. American alt-metal bands from that era were a bit hit and miss when they hit London, but this show was sold out. 

The O2 Forum in Kentish Town was jammed to the gills. The crowd was a mix of new and old fans alike. One younger guy I ran into said he’d never heard of Three Days Grace and that he was more of an Ed Sheeran fan, but his girlfriend dragged him to the gig as she was a massive fan. I saw them on the way out, and it looked like he had converted.

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UK Artist of the Week: Queen Colobus

Following possibly the UK’s biggest moment in history to date, aptly named jazz-soul quartet Queen Colobus have shared their wonderfully woozy new single “5/9,” out now.

Taken from their upcoming EP “Think Fast,” due for release on 30th September, “5/9” perfectly encapsulates the heart and soul of Queen Colobus. Channelling the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote and Arlo Parks, the band combine all the best elements of jazz, soul, and indie-rock creating something that is truly mesmerising. The single was written as an ode to front woman Beth Hopkins’ father, who sadly passed away after an aggressive battle with cancer.

“The phrase ‘five out of nine’ was sort of like a response to ‘how do you feel out of ten?’ He’d always say fine, onwards and upwards! He kept this up all the way until the end.” Beth explains, “the phrase ‘5/9’ felt strange and warped, exactly how the nights felt throughout his treatment.”

Queen Colobus have already made a name for themselves within the London jazz scene and with the release of their upcoming EP, we hope to see them make it further afield and even across the pond very soon.

“5/9” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Starsailor at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 9/8

This is the tenth time I’ve seen Starsailor. I’ve seen them live more than any other band, with Cheap Trick and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult a close second. (Yeah, how’s that for a mix?)

I am very aware that I throw around the phrase best show I’ve seen, best band etc., quite a bit, but I see ALOT of live music, and the majority of it is pretty epic. But Starsailor is on another level. I don’t think they’ve ever written a bad song. They’re one of the few bands left that consistently deliver brilliant albums from start to finish. They also continue to evolve their sound but never go off the deep end.

This time around, it is to celebrate their debut album which came out 20 years ago. Love is Here was the album that kickstarted the post-Brit-Pop movement in the early 2000s. It seemed to be a competition between Coldplay, Travis, Feeder, Keane, and more. It’s a masterpiece in terms of a marriage between glorified acoustics and a one-of-a-kind voice. The hits just kept coming in the form of “Lullaby,” “Alcoholic,” “Fever,” “Poor Misguided Fool,” and of course, the career-defining “Good Souls.” To hear this album from start to finish isn’t a fucking gimmick; it’s a privilege.

Even though the gig was rescheduled three times due to the pandemic, it was worth the wait. Yet again, the timing wasn’t perfect. With the announcement earlier that day that Queen Elizabeth II had passed, it was impossible not to acknowledge it. “I’m not a big fan of the monarch, but she played by the rules just like us, and that I have to respect,” said Walsh just after the first few songs.

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UK Artist of the Week: Thea

This week’s artist of the week comes from singer-songwriter Thea. Her woozy new single “D0 My Thing” is a neo-soul-infused delight and only her second ever to be released.

Channeling the likes of Solange and Mahalia, Berlin-based Thea serves neo-soul naughtiness on new single “D0 My Thing” and we can’t get enough of it. Talking about the single, Thea says, “I did not think I would end up rapping, but I totally fell in love with the first lyric fragments and just naturally kept going on from there.”

“‘D0 My Thing’ is primarily about female empowerment and liberation from constraints. Defying prescribed, conflicting ideas about how to behave as a woman. Not to be belittled, but to believe that you are worth it. Sticking to your own path and owning the right to be yourself. No matter what.”

“D0 My Thing” is just the beginning for this talented songstress and we’re excited to see what she gets up to next.

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UK Artist of the Week: TITUS BANK

It may be September but we’re not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet. TITUS BANK’s shimmering new single “Radio” will no doubt put a smile on your face. Oozing with euphoric charm and celestial soundscapes, “Radio” secures TITUS BANK’s place as one to watch for 2023.

Talking about the single, TITUS explains, “I wrote this song with the amazing and talented Jack Newsome while I was away on my first writing trip in LA. We sat there and explored and talked and eventually came up with the concept that the love that can rival my wife and mine is only possible in the ideals of songs and artists on the radio. It’s a song about growing up being an awkward kid and how the early stages of my relationship with my now wife were so clammy and classically cringey.

I would love to be like the great swooners and songwriters of our time, but in reality our love still rivals anything that actually exists in this world and the only love that can come close to our cute little awkward love would be the stuff you hear on the radio. The sound is definitely a new exploration for me as it has a lot of ’80s elements and this sort of age-old four on the floor upbeat feel in the chorus.”

TITUS BANK’s debut debut EP “Hopeless & Romantic” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Fiza

Emerging indie-soul singer Fiza proves she’s one to watch with the release of her sun-soaked debut single “Pieces,” out now.

With a voice like velvet and a melody that could melt butter, what’s not to love about Fiza’s fabulous debut single. Fans of the likes of Amy Winehouse and Corrine Bailey Rae will feel at home here.

Talking about the single, Fiza explains, “‘Pieces’ is about the difficulties in trying to piece yourself and your life back together whilst going through the trials and tribulations of life and what it throws at you. It is about reminding yourself you are stronger than you give yourself credit for and you can help guide yourself into a future you are comfortable with.”

Fiza is from North West London but currently living in Edinburgh and already a regular fixture on the Scottish live scene.

“Pieces” is in stores now via Intarsia Records.

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Needle Drop:
Luke De-Sciscio,
The Banquet

We featured Luke De-Sciscio as our UK Artist of the Week a while ago and now we’re pleased to say he’s back and with a rather impressive album to boot. Luke’s eclectic release, The Banquet is out now via AntiFragile Music, and to celebrate we decided to take a little look through the album whilst also finding out Luke’s thoughts in regard to his love of vinyl.

The album itself is oozing with colour and life from the offset. Opening with “The Banquet (in GX),” there’s an almost medieval feel to this song. Luke’s distinctive vocal and songwriting style is undeniably impressive and the wonderful introduction to this rather interesting LP.

Talking about his introduction to vinyl, Luke explains, “I was at university when vinyl really got its claws into me. At that time, I was staying in an attic room. We would have vinyl strewn everywhere, haze the room into a thick delirious blur, mumble our way through whatever philosophical revelation we were at the facing forward edge of, and just spin record after record. My staples at that point were basically anything Joni Mitchell, anything Van Morrison. And two moments from across their discographies were pretty pivotal life moments that, to this day, I regard as a pivotal experience music can offer someone.”

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TVD Live Shots: Bauhaus at the O2 Academy Brixton, 8/19

It may be cliched to call them the Godfathers of Goth, but it’s also challenging to explain one band’s impact over such a short time.

Bauhaus are to post-punk and goth what the Sex Pistols were to punk in terms of impact, and The Clash in the melding of musical styles. They defined a genre, crafted two perfect albums that ignited a movement, and set the stage for a number of new artists to carry the torch. Interestingly, one could view Bauhaus as an all-star band, but the process for each member coming into their own is reversed. The sum of the offshoots returns to a place where each band member is known by their reputation, not necessarily their early legacy. I mean, how many bands are there from four decades ago where every fan knows each of their individual names?

I don’t think anyone expected them to return quickly for a London show after a magnum opus Halloween show less than a year ago at Alexandra Palace. Still, it was a welcomed return to the iconic Brixton Academy. There’s a certain mystique around the band and their live performances—and in addition a new song conjured out of lockdown. “Drink The New Wine” marks their first new single since 2008’s Go Away White, and the story of how it was created proves that the band have not lost their edge for experimentation.

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UK Artist of the Week: Hohnen Ford

Immerse yourselves in British newcomer Hohnen Ford and her exquisite debut single “Infinity,” out now via Young Poet (Conor Albert, WOOZE, Carmody).

Get ready for goosebumps because Hohnen Ford’s new single is hauntingly brilliant. Combining elegant piano tones with warm, intricate vocals, “Infinity” is a beautifully bittersweet slice of ambience that will no doubt send shivers down your spine. It is produced by Hohnen Ford herself and mixed by Tom Carmichael (Matt Maltese, Porridge Radio).

Talking about the single, Hohnen explains, “a stream of consciousness in a quiet moment when the world felt overwhelming. A note to myself as I was reflecting on what was bubbling around in my brain at a time of crossroads in my life.”

Hohnen Ford is the solo project of singer-songwriter Ella Hohnen-Ford who counts the likes of Ethel Waters, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday some of her biggest influences.

“Infinity” is in stores now via Young Poet.

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TVD Live Shots: Rebellion Festival
2022, 8/4–8/7

I’m not a massive fan of festivals as I generally prefer the smaller club shows and theaters. But there’s one festival I’ve had my eye on for the past few years, and it finally happened after a series of pandemic-induced delays. The Rebellion Festival lineup continued to get more and more stacked as each postponed year rolled into the next. So much so that they added an extra outdoor stage and a slew of additional acts outside of the original announcement more than two years ago. This was gearing up to be the biggest and best Rebellion yet, and I was on my way.

The festival is held in Blackpool, just north of Manchester. Having never been to Blackpool, I was told this was sort of the Vegas of the UK, or at least it used to be many years ago. Today it’s a bit of a forgotten seaside town, which seemed perfect as the host for a punk rock festival; the underdog with the potential to be great.

Over 200 bands were playing, and there was no way I would be able to see half of them, so some careful planning and research was underway. There were several hidden gems, one-off performances, reunions, new bands, legendary bands, and of course, once-in-lifetime opportunities to see punk legends sharing the stage with other punk legends. There’s no telling who will show up where and with whom. It reminded me a bit of the Monsters of Rock cruise, which I’ve covered several times.

Still, instead of a mishmash of ’80s hair metal legends and the new breed of rock ‘n’ roll, it was a history lesson in all things UK punk, mod, and new wave, along with a stage dedicated to the best up and comers, the ones who will define the future of the genre, and to be honest, that’s where I found myself spending the majority of my time.

I ended up seeing more than forty bands over three days (I couldn’t stay for the fourth day as I had to get back to London). It’s certainly not easy to choose a top ten, but here’s my attempt at pulling together the best of the best over the weekend. I couldn’t narrow it down to ten, so here’s my top twelve and why they made the list:

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UK Artist of the Week: New York Pavements

Mental health is an important subject—and thankfully it’s one where a stigma seems to be slowly deteriorating. New York Pavements are a duo who hope to raise awareness, specifically around middle-aged men’s mental health, and their new single “Slam The Door” feels powerfully important.

New York Pavements are Paul Brooking (producer) and Matt Bond (lead vocals). Their latest single “Slam The Door” is taken from their upcoming debut album Outside The Glasshouse, due for release next year. Talking about the inspiration of the album, Paul explains, “writing and recording the album became a cathartic process, making me happier and more confident. I researched the often ridiculed male ‘mid-life crisis,’ and found that this under-researched mental health condition had links to middle aged men taking their own lives. I spoke to as many men as I could and wrote the album around the stories they told me, creating the character of Jack and his struggles, his suicidal condition, and his eventual recovery.

The aim of the album is to bring an awareness to this hugely important condition of men’s mental health in their 40s and 50s. I hope to bring it to as many people as possible. Ideally, I hope it will give some individuals a reference point, an ally and a guide to help them navigate the dark days that can afflict so many.”

The song itself is reminiscent of early Brit-pop bands such as The Stone Roses and Primal Scream and we’re sure it will resonate with many people of all ages who may be struggling with their mental health.

“Slam The Door” is in stores now.

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UK Artist of the Week: Keelan X

Keelan X—AKA Keelan Cunningham—is an Irish synth-pop artist who splits his time between London and Dublin. His unique take combining retro soundscapes with contemporary production has captured the attention of tastemakers in the UK and Europe. Latest single “Fever” is another synth-infused banger, and we love it so much we’ve decided to crown Keelan our UK Artist of The Week.

Taking cues from ’80s acts ranging from Tears For Fears to Erasure and combing this sound with present-day movers and shakers such as The Weeknd and Wolfclub, Keelan X creates a sound befitting of a John Hughes-era movie soundtrack.

“Fever” is Keelan’s follow up to the equally ’80s-inspired “These Days” and finds Keelan moving into more nuanced territory. “Fever” is bristling with a wistful, dreamy atmosphere accented by toe-tapping beats and an addictive chorus that will consume you for days on end. The track is one of a series of tracks Keelan aims to release over the coming months with the aim of unveiling his debut album in 2023.

“Fever” is available to stream on all platforms now.

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