Category Archives: TVD UK

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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UK Artist of the Week: Molly Burman

London-based singer-songwriter Molly Burman shows her vulnerable side on her charming new single “Pretty Girl,” out now.  

We can all struggle with loving ourselves and it’s easy to compare ourselves to others, but Molly Burman reminds us self-admiration comes from within on her powerful new single “Pretty Girl.” The release is a celestial slice of bedroom-pop that is delicately weaved and perfectly encapsulates the narrative of the song.

Talking about the single, Molly elaborates, “I wrote ‘Pretty Girl’ a few years ago desperately trying to become what I thought was ‘perfect.’ I wanted to be the girl that I heard being spoken about in songs and books, so I would dress myself in things that made me feel uncomfortable and would spend hours looking in the mirror imagining my body to look a different way, but that just made me feel further and further away from the ‘pretty girls.’

Over time I started to realise that I could only truly be pretty when I felt it; when I was doing things that I loved, wearing colourful clothes and not trying to be someone else. This song is about being completely yourself and feeling absolutely beautiful while doing it.”

“Pretty Girl” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
Neck Deep, Wargasm, Higher Power, and Happydaze at the O2 Brixton Academy, 2/23

Pop punk is alive and well here in the UK, and the clear front-runner and driving force is undoubtedly Neck Deep. The Welsh five-piece has been going strong for nearly a decade, having constantly been on the verge of breaking wide open with the release of each album, becoming fast friends with Blink 182, and being one of those few bands that share almost equal success across the UK and the US. Then the pandemic hit. While most bands took a break during Covid putting nearly all their plans on hold, these guys went the opposite direction and dove in headfirst.

Neck Deep seemed to take advantage of the downtime and turn up the heat. 2020 saw the release of their highly anticipated new album, All Distortions are Intentional, a concept album that critics have praised as the band’s best work. The album produced an unprecedented five singles (That’s entering Def Leppard Hysteria territory!) and took the lockdown world by storm. With tours and face-to-face interviews out the door, they would have to rewrite the playbook by creating music videos from their homes and streaming live on Twitch to talk to and meet fans and promote the album. This is an excellent example of a hungry band that found a creative way to stay connected during “unprecedented times.”

So what would it be like once the world opened back up and live music returned to the UK? What I saw at Brixton was a band at the top of their game. Maybe it was the pent-up energy and frustration of several postponements, perhaps it was the lifting of the pandemic restrictions, or maybe it was the fans finally connecting with something they truly missed for two years.

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UK Artist of the Week: Kid Cupid

Indie-electro outfit Kid Cupid return with the release of their euphoric new single “Out of The Sun,” and it’s quite the comeback if you ask us. The single is the first to be taken from their upcoming sophomore EP “Heartlands,” due for release on 1st April 2022.

The single is oozing with jangling guitar twangs and celestial synths, creating a sound that is undeniably impressive as the collective merge indie and electronic sensibilities effortlessly. Front woman Laura Shaw’s beautifully hushed vocals channel the legendary Stevie Nicks, whilst musically their sound is more akin to that of London Grammar or The xx.

Kid Cupid originally formed in London in 2017 as a four-piece and have since reformed as a collective with Laura (vocals) and James Hogan (production, percussion) at its core. “Out of The Sun” is a prime example of the sonically alluring vignettes that are to come from the group and I, for one, can’t wait to hear more.

“Out of The Sun” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
The Kooks with The Snuts at the O2 Brixton Academy, 2/19

The mid-2000s was easily the best and most exciting time to be a fan of Britpop. You had veterans like Oasis and Starsailor delivering their best work (just before self-destructing) and new artists like Kasabian, Franz Ferdinand, and The Editors being passed the torch to push the genre forward.

The Kooks found themselves smack dab in the middle of a movement while progressing toward a more hard-edged approach with much slicker production values. They flipped the formula on its head, going against the grain and bringing back the ’60s vibe, and it worked brilliantly.

The Kooks were the new kids on the block, but that ’60s influence brought with it an element of old school troubadour coolness that the new crop was missing. A throwback to The Kinks’ finest moments combined with the hipster factor of The Libertines and a focus on songwriting and storytelling would be the differentiator.

The band was apparently signed to a record deal by Virgin after only three months of being formed. Inside In/ Inside Out would become their awe-inspiring debut album in 2005 and would go on to sell over two million copies. It just goes to show that sometimes the major label engine works flawlessly, but it’s also a testament to the talent and attitude that define The Kooks. They’re interesting, relatable, and really fun to watch live.

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UK Artist of the Week: iamkyami

British newcomer iamkyami charms with the release of her infectious, bubbly new single “Internet Friends,” out now. The track is getting us nicely excited for the warmer months and we think you’ll feel the same.

Combining bedroom-pop, R&B, and fun-loving electronica, iamkyami’s “Internet Friends” is an infectious and adorable delight from start to finish. Recently supporting the likes of Yazmin Lacey, Georgia, Pizzagirl, Zuzu, and Roy Ayers, iamkyami’s music is raw, honest, and executed with ninja-like emotional literacy, pulling influences from her Japanese and Black American heritage.

Talking about the single, iamkyami, born Kyla Ami Mitsui Russell, explains, “Waking up everyday, seeing the cloudy, grey skies in Manchester and wondering if things will ever return to ‘normal’ was and is still weighing heavily on my mind. I’ve never been very good at maintaining friendships because of my busy schedule but I try to keep up with friends online. Especially with how things are now, that’s all we can do most of the time.

“Internet Friends” is about trying to make more meaningful relationships with people while trying to break down the barriers that the internet creates. There’s people I speak to a lot online, but the relationships seem like they can be very surface level. They probably don’t know my birthday or my favourite food or simple things like that. Because of this feeling, I tend to feel like I’m living life and doing things by myself like in the video. The song is also about getting older I suppose. Friends aren’t as free as they used to be and that takes getting used to.”

“Internet Friends” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Glasvegas at the
Garage, 2/9

Seeing Glasvegas live is like a religious experience. It’s mesmerizing, it’s haunting, it’s a surreal wall of sound that proves there is a god of noise pop.

They are one of the few bands to emerge over the past decade who have a sound that is all their own. The best way to describe them is that they fall somewhere between The Clash, Elvis, and The Ronettes with an over-the-top, modernized Phil Spector-type production. It’s a new level of sonic achievement, and it gave birth to one of the best debut albums of all time, in my opinion. 2008’s self-titled debut Glasvegas catapulted the Scottish indie rock band into the limelight where they dominated the UK scene, going platinum and winning the coveted Mercury Prize.

They have it all, the look, the name, the critics’ praise, and most importantly, the songs to back it all up. The media called them “too good to be true,” “the quintessential noise-pop set of the modern age,” and my favorite quote, “a gut-punch of a debut, and one that makes you believe Glasvegas is one of those rare, rare bands who might just have that perfect record in them.” Another critic his called it “their Definitely Maybe.”

While global domination didn’t happen as planned, it wasn’t due to a lack of trying. Columbia Records put their muscle behind the band in the US. Still, it quickly became apparent that the US audience wasn’t quite ready to embrace Glasvegas at a sustainable level. Another casualty of the “why the fuck doesn’t the rest of the world get it?” scenario. 

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UK Artist of the Week: Steven Young

It’s been a little while since we’ve ventured to Scotland for an Artist of The Week, but fear not because the Scots have done it again. The Imagineers’ Steven Young goes it alone with his eclectic new single “Delirious World,” out now.

Channeling the likes of Alex Turner in the Last Shadow Puppets, Steven’s distinctively colloquial vocal is at the forefront throughout. Musically, the song blends elements if indie, blues, and psychedelia creating a sound that is full of sonically alluring twists and turns.

Already known for his creation of cinematic soundscape from his previous outfits, Steven is no stranger to the Scottish circuit and it looks like international support could easily be on the cards if “Delirious World” is anything to go by.

“Delirious World” is in stores now.

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