FtM : 2017 Watchlist ...The 13 Welsh connected bands (in alphabetical order) we think might make exactly the right noise in the next twelve months
- Adwaith : A flickering, mesmeric post-folk first single, Pwysau, showed that Carmarthen band Adwaith's summer working with Patricia Morgan of Datblygu to hone their sound had paid off spectacularly.
Their 'striking and flawless debut' inevitably stoked anticipation of what might come next - reinforced when BBC Radio DJ Huw Stephens recently stated: "I think they are really special".
They very obviously are.
- Alffa : Seeing Alffa for the first time was like being woken up from a nap by an airhorn; startled awake by their elemental punk edged blues, played raw with just drums, guitar & voice. Live and recorded Alffa present a keen sense of melody with an edgy, taut energy that is reminiscent of a decelerated Hüsker Dü. They have released a debut EP - from that the track Tomos Rhys embodies what they are about.
- Argrph : Just a single so far - but Buzz Magazine already has Emyr Sion Taylor's project Argrph in its short list of breakthrough acts. The release, Tywod, was an evocative, melancholy but dazzling debut - recorded with Llŷr Pari and written "out of a sense of isolation ... with the stirring tide of Aberystwyth beach as a canvas for inspiration"; it suggests that Argrph is a project to
mark out as having huge potential.
- Hotel Del Salto : J. Francis' first single as Hotel Del Salto Bigger than Elvis took a swipe at narcissism whilst being a "first rate piece of knowing, slinky funk pop". A sound with foundations in the music of Prince and Talking Heads, it has the two key characteristics of superb alt. pop at its core - it is a clever and articulate song, and it has a star bright hook that will follow you round for days after a couple of listens.
[Bigger than Elvis Review]
- In the Goodship : When In the Goodship released their debut EP in January it'd be fair to say the world was not fully distracted from its day to day business. But the leftfield folk of Libra ' ... unfurls with easy going grace, and has a charisma all of its own', juxtaposing folk, jazz and Spanish influences to make something seemingly fragile but compelling. The album due in 2017 should end any
- Kidsmoke : Formed in 2013, Wrexham band Kidsmoke offer gliding indie, with a sound that places them equidistant between the evident influences of The Byrds and Joy Division, meaning they are quite fittingly named after a Wilco song. Three singles in 2016 demonstrated they have mutated into
something exceptional; Cut Yourself Loose, Heartache and See the World are all driven, sophisticated and joyous.
- Monico Blonde : The most important regeneration since Dr Who saw Christopher Eccleston morph into David Tennant; Monico Blonde have all the melodic indie pop soul they possessed in their former life, and a rejuvenated rock edge. Nowhere near a maybe - the first two songs released under their new moniker show they are a ready made, energised phenomena; it now just needs the world to catch on, which it will very soon.
- Omaloma : Omaloma is the solo vehicle of George Amor, who can also be found in Sen Segur and Palenco, and recently on Argrph's debut (see above). A 2016 single, Ha Ha Haf, showcased what Omaloma is about, it's an uplifting song - music dense with invoked summer imagery - shimmering psychedelic tinted pop. The project earns its place on this list due to the itch to hear what comes next; not long to wait - 2017 will see a new single, then an album.
[Ha Ha Haf Review]
- Patrobas : The Llŷn Peninsula's Patrobas released a very good EP in 2015, Dwyn y Dail, that gave insight into how established influences have shaped the band's folk / country rock sound - including Old Crow Medicine Show, Mumford & Sons, and locally Gai Toms and Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog. A 2016 demo, Castell Aber, shows maturing songwriting - binding place and poetry (of Dafydd ap Gwilym) with an upbeat, catchy melody and chorus; the sort of song that quietly revitalises folk.
- Tendons : For this Cardiff band 2016 saw an elegant debut EP and a superb whisper of a single - music built on emotive harmonies and strong songwriting; songs that would have graced the soundtrack of the film Once (which is praise here). Their live reputation is equally strong; peers and labelmates of Climbing Trees, an album is due in 2017.
[Debut EP Review] [Schizophrene (single) Review]
- Tusk : Tusk is the recording name of Bethel's Arron Hughes; his debut EP late in the year, Alligator, was crammed with intriguing music - from ambient electronica to funk - that comes at you from the same direction as Alun Gaffey's solo album. The track Tymhorau from the EP is a mesmerising wall of electro pop and indicates where Tusk might gouge a unique niche in the coming year; a song that seems more monumental with each high volume listen.
[Alligator EP Review]
- We Were Strangers : in essence Manchester based singer songwriter Stefan Melbourne, abetted by North Wales' Chloe Leavers - the first single offered in 2016, Unforgiving War, was an exquisite, passionate and beautifully wrought song - one of our favourites of the whole year. If this song, and the standard of We Were Strangers' live performance, offer a true indication then 2017 will see an equally fine debut album.
[Unforgiving War + Live Review]
- Yr Oria : a new band from Blaenau Ffestiniog, featuring Garry Hughes and Gareth Ellis, both formerly found in Jambyls, whose debut gathered praise here for the songwriting and delivery, and Gerwyn Murray from Sŵnami, whose own debut was shortlisted for the Welsh Music Prize having won awards from Y Selar and the National Eisteddfod. Two songs so far - the soaring alt. rock of Gelynion and the poppier Cyfoeth Budur suggest more success for this trio.
This list comprises new bands and singer songwriters who have not yet released a debut album (in their current guise) - they all have a strong connection to Wales; the vast majority are entirely based here, but for one exceptional case we have accepted a looser link. Other bands are available - but these are resolutely our picks for 2017.