From the Margins ...A Haphazard Scrapbook of North Wales Music, Comedy & Politics
- FOCUS WALES IS LOOKING FOR THE BEST EMERGING WELSH STAND-UP TALENT FOR A BRAND NEW COMEDY SHOWCASE
FOCUS Wales is now well established as a vibrant contemporary music and arts event, both a festival and an effective industry showcase. Nearly 10,000 people are expected to attend the 2018 edition in May, gathering in Wrexham to witness a host of Welsh and international creative talent, including more than 200 bands on 20 stages.
As well as the depth of its core programme, this year will see FOCUS Wales' latest evolutionary step, as it extends its remit to new comedy - with a first outing for Tudur Owen's Comedy Marathon.
The bilingual bill for this inaugural new comedy evening (7.00pm, Friday 11th May) is headed by award winning Tudur Owen himself ("clever, articulate and very, very funny" as we have said), Bangor's superb Jonathan Williams and Hywel Pitts; two new Welsh comedians are sought to complete it. To be considered for one of these open slots all you need to do is apply - the details and application form are here : Cymraeg I English. Those chosen, judged by Tudur, FOCUS Wales and From the Margins, will be announced on Friday 13th April.Joining the audience for a certain glorious evening of comedy is even more straight forward - tickets for the show are £8, or a festival weekend wristband is just £40.
[Pinned : 23.03.2018]
- RECOMMENDED : PLU / COLORAMA / BENDITH LIVE DATES : 13/14 APRIL - CARDIFF/BANGOR
When Carwyn Ellis of Colorama approached North West Wales alt-folk band Plu to collaborate on a musical project based around memories of childhood visits to his grandparents' home, he must have had a clear idea of what he was looking for - as Plu's trademark sound is unmistakably built from the beatific vocals of Marged and Elan Rhys, and the instrumental inventiveness of their brother Gwilym Bowen Rhys.
The resultant album extended even beyond the sum of its considerable parts; with the same name as the new, composite band, Bendith is a beautiful work, fusing folk and orchestral elements to refulgent effect. It won the Welsh Album of the Year award at the National Eisteddfod in 2017 and was shortlisted for the Welsh Music Prize in the same year. A subsequent EP was equally affecting.These two dates feature performances from both the constituent groups, Plu and Colorama (whose own album late last year was an understated masterpiece), with a finale from Bendith itself. If you only step out once this year to a live music event, in our view one of these gigs should be it.
Details : The National Museum [Cardiff] / Friday 13th April (Tickets £16.50) & Pontio [Bangor] / Saturday 14 April (Tickets £12-14)
- PLAYLIST : 2018 SO FAR ...
These are ten songs that have seeped or beaten their way into our collective consciousness since the start of the year, and then refused to leave. A sliver of the magic currently found in Welsh music.
- BLODAU GWYLLTION : LLIFO FEL OED
An exquisite, muted mix of folk and country influences, this debut album from duo Manon Steffan Ros and Elwyn Williams will be one of the first chiselled into 2018 end of year 'best of' lists. Read why.
[Reposted : 16.03.2018]
: MEWN DARNAU
/ HALEN AA SINGLE
Out on April the 6th, this AA single is most ferocious aural assault released by Libertino Records yet. The band, Breichiau Hir, are a Cardiff 'post-hardcore / post-rock' six piece, with three energised guitars at the centre of their sound. Of the two songs Mewn Darnau is the more immediately aggressive, rolling out of the speakers with all the slow-motion momentum and mechanical grandeur of a piece of industrial mining equipment, whose metal cutting teeth then engage with rock for the chorus; it's loud and brilliant. Not that Halen is far behind - it confirms Breichiau Hir have the crashing dynamism and power of Bob Mould's Sugar with an added slow, slate-heavy Welsh heft. [ More : Facebook I Twitter I SoundCloud ]
- FROM THE ARCHIVE : CHRIS JONES : DACW'R TANNAU
Music review sites are always subtly corrupted by the pressure to respond quickly to what is submitted - when in truth it can take an age to form a real view of an album. Once an understanding of a work has fully developed the initial impression that was written-up can seem shallow and tentative. This is partly the case with Dacw'r Tannau - although very positive, the original review published on this site now looks a few crucial degrees understated.
It is how the music is put together, and the connection to its roots, that is the key to Dacw'r Tannau's success. The brutal and blazing 2016 film The Levelling explores family relationships on an isolated, desolate Somerset farm in the wake of a suicide. The setting, in which the memory of recent devastating flooding is ever present in unsettling dreamlike sequences, means the family's deep conflict is naturally and starkly portrayed. Just as the film's director, Hope Dickson Leach, found the right context to tell a story with emotional honesty, Chris Jones strips backs folksongs to their elemental heart and then finds an instrumental frame for them that means their truth shines.The essential recipe for a good folk album is in place here - the arrangements are simple (but the playing has drawn comparison to Jansch and Renbourn) and showcase Jones' deep, resonant voice - but it is how the songs are earthed to their real original sensibility that creates the wonder. Dacw'r Tannau is one of the finest British folk albums released in the last decade; four years after its release and not as celebrated as it should be, it is already almost a lost classic. [ More on Chris Jones : FtM Interview I Web I Facebook I Twitter ]
- MARCH GIG OF THE MONTH II : Y CLEDRAU / I FIGHT LIONS : LLANBERIS SOCIAL CLUB : 23.03.18
Having raved about Y Cledrau's recent album ("such elemental new wave dynamism, immediacy and energy that it sounds like much of it was written over a stolen afternoon spent on the best rides at a theme park") this gig would already warrant attention. Adding I Fight Lions to the double header bill means it should be an irresistible draw.
Described as "a Franz Ferdinand with attitude band, full of convolutions, quirks, highs and lows" by Link2Wales, I Fight Lions' bilingual and exuberant back catalogue demonstrates uncommon verve, intelligence and spark. To validate the praise there's a full debut album playlist on SoundCloud that would be able to inject life into the most dismal of winter days. [ More on I Fight Lions : Web I SoundCloud I Facebook I Twitter ]With the line-up it's a given most of the songs will be sung in Welsh; whether you understand fully every word or not this will be a great night - language is not a limit for the excitement these two bands create, nor should it ever be. I am not even certain exactly who is behind this new series of Llanberis gigs, but frankly they are spoiling us. Go and see this one : details & tickets. [ More on Y Cledrau : SoundCloud I Facebook I Twitter ]
- FIVE QUESTIONS : AN INTRODUCTION TO CRAWIA
Crawia [the name means 'slate fence'] is a new recording project for Sling's Siôn Richards - and provided our February 'Songs of the Month'. As the first of a new series of short profiles Siôn has answered five questions to map out how Crawia came about, and where it might go next. Read the interview.