From the Margins : August 2017 News Archive

  • Galw : The Lions and the WolvesGALW : THE LIONS AND THE WOLVES
    Anglesey duo Galw have released a very good second album of late night folk-noir; dark themes are tackled by subtle instrumentation underpinning two contrasting, emotionally articulate voices - all combined to often impressive effect. Read the review.

  • LATE SUMMER PATROBAS DATES
    There could be no better way to close the summer than with one of the two Patrobas gigs in mid-September: Friday 15th - Llanbedr Beer Festival or Saturday 16th - Tafarn y Fic, Llithfaen. A truly excellent live band, as noted volubly here before.
  • CoversBENJAMIN MASON : I ASKED MY FRIENDS TO COVER MY SONGS AND THIS IS WHAT THEY CAME UP WITH
    A charity album with real artistic merit inversely proportional to the length of its title - songwriter and musician Benjamin Mason asked his friends to cover his songs for a compilation to benefit the Thorne Mason Trust, which is a Pembrokeshire based charity aiming to help brain tumour sufferers in the area. The result ranges from the lo-fi to the ethereal, covering most stops between, and includes contributions from Pulco, Ryu, Undersound, Easy Buffalo, Todd Tuttle and Douglas Seidel, Yewdrops, Quiet Noise, Derren Heath, Jonski, Ian Thistlethwaite, Matthew Frederick and Jodie Marie - whose version of Skies are Falling is spellbinding. I Asked My Friends To Cover My Songs And This Is What They Came Up With is one of the most interesting things you will hear all year, and is a steal for £5 DL / £10 CD - listen & buy.
  • Serol SerolINTERSTELLAR POP OVERDRIVE : SEROL SEROL RELEASE AELWYD
    Serol Serol are a new space pop duo from Dyffryn Conwy, made up of cousins Mali Sion and Leusa Rhys, who have been collaborating closely on a forthcoming album with George Amor (Omaloma, Sen Segur) and Llyr Pari (Y Niwl, Palenco, Omaloma). Amor and Pari create genuine fascination whenever they work together, and that is part of the reason it is hard not to be excited by Serol Serol. The working relationships are clearly not makeshift - returning the interest, Leusa Rhys also sang on Omaloma's last single. As was the case with that song, and with the first Serol Serol single (Cadwyni), new release Aelwyd is sublime, gliding space pop - with a vocal that is as emphatic as it is complete. A first live date is scheduled soon - at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, on the 13th October.

  • Colorama : Baby Don't GoNEW COLORAMA SINGLE : BABY DON'T GO
    Colorama have a new album out on September 1st - Some Things Just Take Time - the second song from it, a delightful cover of Sonny & Cher's Baby Don't Go, is released today - read more.
  • Alexander's LiveAUGUST GIG OF THE MONTH PART III : KIDSMOKE / THE IMMEDIATE / CULL : THU 24 AUGUST
    So far in 2017 Mold's The Immediate have released an EP, a heady album of power pop and a live collection that demonstrates perfectly how to be raucous and melodic at the same time. Kidsmoke are a four piece from Wrexham who sit somewhere between Joy Division and The Byrds on the musical spectrum - making soaring, uplifting music on record and on stage. Cull make up the final element of a remarkable trio, another local band with a rapidly burgeoning reputation - you can listen to them here. The gig is at Alexander's, Chester on Thursday 24th August - starting at 8pm; the cost is £3 if you buy a ticket in advance. Honestly, that's absurd - although last time we went to see The Immediate (at a fundraiser) they were squeezed out by an over running raffle; there's always risk in rock. Details & tickets.
  • Ffracas : Pla cover artFFRACAS : OCHR 1 VIDEO
    There's more about Ffracas further down the page - but this recent video from Ochr 1 showcases the drifting, scuffed elegance of their sound to brilliant effect.

  • Festival No 6FESTIVAL No. 6 : 7-10 SEPTEMBER : LOST IN THE WOODS STAGE
    Outside of a few notables (including Gulp, Yucatan, Charlotte Church, and the irrepressible Band Pres Llareggub) much of the Welsh artist presence at Portmeirion's Festival No 6 is on the Lost in the Woods stage. This serves to demonstrate an impressive depth of curation; there is enough creativity and energy on this shaded platform to programme a standalone festival - with Candelas, Sweet Baboo, Yr Eira, Lastig Band, Climbing Trees, Alys Williams, Plu, the exceptional guitarist Toby Hay and Libertino Records' Adwaith and Argrph all definitely worth straying from the headline programme for. Unsigned North Wales talent can also be found on the Woodcutter / CEG stage - where Sera, Courteous Thief, and Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles deserve special attention. At the time of writing weekend and day tickets for the whole event are still available. The rest of the bill is here.

  • The Goat Roper Rodeo BandLIVE : THE GOAT ROPER RODEO BAND
    It might be that they have been touring festivals all summer honing their set, the imminent tour of Holland, the sleek, luxury vehicle they have travelled between the gigs in, or even that they already have half their third album recorded - but there is a new dash of confidence in Rhuddlan's The Goat Roper Rodeo Band. Their latest local show at the 3rd Space, Llandudno (18.08.17) was a devastatingly good hour of high octane musical exhilaration. The venue was full, with the audience witnessing country, blues and soul played with the sort of joie de vivre usually only seen in primary school children spilling out of the gates on the last day of summer term; a fusion of The Band, The Everly Brothers and Hank Williams musically directed by the early 90s spirit of Miles Hunt from The Wonderstuff. Support act Lee Southall (see below) was none too shabby either. There are more Goat Roper dates here - they are next in North Wales on October 12th, at Blue Sky, Bangor.
  • Lee SouthallLIVE REVIEW : LEE SOUTHALL
    Until they went on hiatus in 2012 Lee Southall played guitar in The Coral. He is now a fine contemporary singer songwriter - with a slow burning debut album, Iron in the Fire, released earlier this year; on stage his folk guitar influences come to the fore - and he is a compelling performer, as his recent appearance at the 3rd Space in Llandudno confirmed.
  • Sian Gwenllian POLITICS : DOES PLAID CYMRU HAVE THE ANSWER TO THE NORTH WALES HEALTHCARE CRISIS? : AN INTERVIEW WITH SIÂN GWENLLIAN, AM
    Recognised as a campaigner for Welsh language access rights in healthcare, Arfon AM Siân Gwenllian also has a much broader interest in North Wales' health services. She has proposed a new North Wales Medical School to solve the persistent NHS crisis in the region, training much needed doctors in the area where they will then build their careers, and is not backing down despite an initial rebuff from WAG Health Minister Vaughan Gething. Since this article was originally posted (08.08.17) local GP leader Dr Eamonn Jessup has written to all the region's AMs to outline his escalating concerns, and a report on the BBC website has confirmed that four more surgeries are due to terminate their contracts in coming months - Criccieth, Rysseldene in Colwyn Bay, and Wrexham's Borras and Forge Road practices. Read the interview with Siân Gwenllian.
  • Ffracas : Pla cover artINTRODUCING : FFRACAS
    Ffracas are a band from Pwllheli, comprising Jac Williams (bass and vocals), Ceiri Humphreys (guitar and synth), Owain Lloyd (drums) & Sion Adams (guitar). They have an EP out on I Ka Ching on Wednesday, 16th August, from which Pla has been released as a taster; and what a positive hint it is. Ffracas have already won Best New Band and Best EP at this year's Gwobrau Selar (Welsh language music magazine Y Selar's annual prize ceremony), the latter for a 2016 debut release. With influences that range eclectically over the last forty years of rock music they are all still only 16, but have been playing together regularly since primary school; those longstanding musical relationships are evident in Ffracas' sound - Pla is one of the best songs released so far in 2017.

  • Song of the WeekAUGUST PLAYLIST : PART II
    A new playlist that opens with four relatively recent releases: a brilliant first single from Carmarthen's The Tates, The Minerals' cinematic alt. country Road to Ruin, Yr Eira's power & purpose demonstrated in Gadael Am Yr Haf, and Pla, a small indie shoegazing masterpiece from Pwllheli's Ffracas. It closes with Cân am Gariad, a song from their February 2017 EP that showcases Bendith at their best and, looking back further to finish with a flourish, Dau Cefn's hypnotic electronic pop epic Moel Famau.

  • Welsh Language Album of the YearEISTEDDFOD : WELSH LANGUAGE ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2017 : WINNER : BENDITH
    As almost predicted, Bendith's beautifully composed and arranged debut has been chosen at the Eisteddfod as Welsh language album of the year. There's a review of the album, an interview about its making and another review of the more recent EP already on this site. It's a well deserved accolade - mixing folk, contemporary and orchestral music, transcending any language barrier, the album is an enchanting work of art. Go on, buy a copy.
  • Brython ShagBRYTHON SHAG : NEW SINGLE : POBOL GORLLEWINOL HAPUS
    Blaenau Ffestiniog band Brython Shag produced one of 2016's landmark albums - their guitarist, Gai Toms, has already released one of 2017's standouts. This new, freewheeling single, available as a download at no personal cost, continues a splendid (and sometimes splenetic) run of form.

  • Welsh Language Album of the YearEISTEDDFOD : WELSH LANGUAGE ALBUM OF THE YEAR 2017 : SHORTLIST
    This year sees a very strong field of runners for the Eisteddfod's annual Welsh language contemporary music prize. The shortlist of Bendith, Band Pres Llareggub, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, The Gentle Good, Calan, Castles, Mr Huw, Meinir Gwilym, Ryland Teifi and Yws Gwynedd will find out at 3pm tomorrow (11th) which of them has won. It'll be a hard pick, which must say something; our own choice of 2016 Welsh albums (which is when most of the works being considered this week were released) was Bendith's beautifully composed and arranged debut, so that is where our £1 has gone at the bookies.
  • The Minerals : Road to RuinTHE MINERALS : ROAD TO RUIN
    A South Wales duo, half of which is Climbing Trees' Colenso Jones, The Minerals' previous single B side, Lo-Fi, will be on the soundtrack for a new indie film, The Victorians, out later this summer. New release Road to Ruin itself is the theme tune to a great Netflix series that hasn't been thought of yet, but it will. Read more & listen.
  • Monico BlondeMONICO BLONDE : LOVE IS AN ONLY CHILD
    An excuse for a repost, but in case your tired phone-flicking fingers don't carry you down the page to the July archive, this taut, animated song is one of the best slices of indie / pop released so far this year. If that is not enough the video features, as lord of the dance, a long lost common relative of Eric Morecambe and Bill Gibbons from ZZ Top:

  • POLITICS : HOUSES, HOUSES EVERYWHERE BUT NOWHERE YET TO LIVE
    We will very shortly open our political coverage with a series of interviews, but housing is an issue where finding one voice to express the arguments with depth and clarity is difficult. In North Wales especially the heart of the matter is marked by a pattern of central dictat railroading local democracy, population projections that do not always stand the test of reality, and market / political failure to provide truly affordable homes for young people. The recent decision by Gwynedd and Ynys Môn to accept 8,000 new houses in their LDP (although these hard won consultative documents can prove fictional when tested by developers) has sparked some partisan but articulate responses online - the best two yet are well worth a read, as are the comments they have prompted:
  • The Goat Roper Rodeo BandAUGUST GIG OF THE MONTH PART II : GOAT ROPER RODEO BAND / LEE SOUTHALL : FRI 18 AUGUST
    This is the latest in a series of The Goat Roper Rodeo Band's residencies at the 3rd Space, Llandudno; the May edition was superb. This month's guest, ex-Coral guitarist Lee Southall, has left behind his diverse pop roots to develop into a fine contemporary singer songwriter with an impressive debut album, Iron in the Fire. Rhuddlan's The Goat Ropers provide the sort of unbridled energy live that his former band often exemplified; and if that is not enough, they also have a lot of soul - as the often show stopping Don't Believe in You proves.

  • Los Blancos Single CoverLOS BLANCOS : MAE'N ANODD DEFFRO UN
    Another new West Wales band, but with its sound rooted as much in the US as Carmarthen; Los Blancos first single is as raw as it is glorious - discordant guitar based music reminiscent of The Replacements and the early releases of the Pixies. Find out more.
  • Community Music WalesCOMMUNITY MUSIC WALES TUTOR TRAINING
    Community Music Wales train musicians to be tutors on a Community Music Tutor Training programme. If then taken on, they work on a paid, freelance basis. There are spaces on their forthcoming training course in Bangor in September. For more information click here or ring 02920 838060.

  • NamesNAMES : BACKS TURNED
    Other than that they are a Pembrokeshire duo signed to Libertino Records, little is yet known of Names - but their debut single, Backs Turned, is constructed artfully around piano, vocal and drums with sufficient grace and melancholy to indicate that they are extraordinary. Read more & listen.
  • Song of the WeekAUGUST PLAYLIST : PART I
    The first of a new playlist series features the magnificence of Beth Celyn and Climbing Trees, the irresistible power pop of The Immediate (who have a live EP just out), a post punk delight from Adwaith, more sharp indie energy than you can cope with sat in a chair from Monico Blonde and Los Blancos, a song of rare beauty from Sera, and finally a few moments of understated instrumental splendour from Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog's Aled Hughes.

  • 9BachAUGUST GIG OF THE MONTH PART I : LLECHI : 7 & 9 AUGUST
    Inspired by the theme of slate and the history of Bethesda, first written as part of the Pontio's opening season, this collaborative project features 9Bach, Lleuwen Steffan, Siân James, Caleb Rhys, Côr y Penrhyn, Vertical Dance Kate Lawrence, John Ogwen and poet Martin Daws. An enrapturing musical, visual and poetic mix - astounding and acclaimed when first performed, this second opportunity is not to be missed. Details & Tickets.