2017's Eight Essential Albums
Following on from last year's list - these are the releases that have inspired us this year, and also those we have listened to most. They are in alphabetical order and almost all have a strong link to North Wales, with the exception of Toby Hay and Oblong, who sharp-elbow their way in from further south on inarguable merit.
- BAND PRES LLAREGGUB : LLAREGGUB
A magnificent third album for an exciting hip hop influenced brass band. However good their past work, Band Pres Llareggub have now definitively captured their live magic on record - Llareggub swings, rocks and rejoices, with a stunning performance from Alys Williams at its heart. [ Review I Listen & buy ]
- COLORAMA : SOME THINGS JUST TAKE TIME
Worth the wait, this latest Colorama album shows Carwyn Ellis' vital force as a songwriter, arranger and performer is undimmed. Representing ten years of slow creative gestation, Some Things Just Take Time is a burst of superb, elegant retro-pop. [ Review I Listen & buy ]
- BOB DELYN A'R EBILLION : DAL I 'REDIG DIPYN BACH
Fourteen years after Dore, Bob Delyn a'r Ebillion have released a new album, Dal i 'Redig Dipyn Bach (Still Ploughing on a Little Bit). From a band credited with putting fire into the 90's Welsh folk revival, the new album does their heritage justice - it is an absorbing triumph. [ Review I Listen I Buy ]
- TOBY HAY : THE GATHERING
Released in March 2017, guitarist Toby Hay's debut album (after a series of evocative EPs) confirms he is emerging as a significant figure, taking the heritage line that runs from Davey Graham and Bert Jansch a creative step further forward. [ Review I Listen & buy ]
- OBLONG : BRILIANT ... GWD
This is an album that fizzes out of the speakers with rare energy and animation. Oblong have the right the elements in place to be a great band, and this debut - with its melodic songs and wired, urban rock sound - is their first step to a full post-punk fuelled musical insurrection. [ Review. I Listen & buy ]
- KELLY LEE OWENS : KELLY LEE OWENS
Raised in North East Wales, and rightfully shortlisted for this year's Welsh Music Prize, Kelly Lee Owens' debut album set aside her indie past and offered instead an intoxicating mix of dream pop and ambient music - soundscapes that make driving the length of the A55 a cinematic experience. [ Listen & buy ]
- PATROBAS : LLE AWN NI NESA'?
One of the first names added to our 2017 Watchlist - two years after their notable debut EP, Dwyn y Dail, contemporary Llŷn peninsula folk band Patrobas have released an album that fully delivers on their early promise.
[ Review I Buy ]
- GAI TOMS : GWALIA
Blaenau Ffestiniog's Gai Toms released a new CD, Gwalia, in July - he has been inspired by everything from the haunting, hymnal O Gymru by Eleri Llwyd to a searing book on the history of Latin America; the result is an inventive, eclectic and brilliant collection of songs. Toms also provided a musical moment of the year when he brought Eleri Llwyd on stage at Sesiwn Fawr to sing the vocal part that had been sampled for the album's title track. [ Review I Buy ]