From the Margins : March 2018 News Archive

  • Fel i FodVIDEO : ADWAITH : FEL I FOD (HOW TO BE)
    One of the finest songs released so far this year, Fel i Fod proves that Adwaith are one of the most exciting bands from Wales at the moment. Hearing this track on the radio or in a busy venue foyer is an arresting moment; it is 'a sparkling song', written about uncertainty and fear at the threshold of a new beginning. A debut album is due at some point - if the standard of this single is replicated then it will be no less than breathtaking. Fel i Fod is our April song of the month.

  • 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.


  • 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 GwylltionBLODAU 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.

  • Breichiau Hir BREICHIAU HIR : 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.


  • Chris Jones Album CoverFROM 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.

  • Y CledrauMARCH 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.

    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.
  • Crawia 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 a few questions to map out how Crawia came about, and where it might go next. Read the interview.


  • I Fight Lions I FIGHT LIONS : CALON DAN GLO
    The new single from Bangor's I Fight Lions opens and closes with a few slow, expansive guitar chords that suggest contemplation; moments to anticipate and then reflect on the four and a half minutes of freewheeling, upbeat pop-rock in between. A shift perhaps from their sharper indie roots, the song should lodge a claim on radio station playlists across Wales. Calon Dan Glo is out soon, until then there is Silver Tongued City Slickers from their 2013 debut to pass the time.

  • ColossousCOLOSSOUS : SEEDS
    Following the project's last acclaimed (here at the very least) EP, Vanarchy in the UK, suddenly from Snowdonia there's a free Colossous track to download from a new Bandcamp page. The song, Seeds, might seem throwaway in its subject matter, but that belies a proper old-time rock kick. There's a lot more to come from Colossous in 2018.


  • Matthew FrederickMATTHEW FREDERICK LIVE DATES
    Penygraig's polymorphic musician Matthew Frederick has just announced a set of solo gig and festival dates, including an appearance at 3rd Space, Llandudno on Saturday, 24th March as part of a mini-festival. The rest are:

    Tue April 3rd | Le Pub | Newport
    Sat May 5th | Big Love Festival | Hay-on-Wye
    Sat May 19th | Devauden Festival | Monmouth
    Sun May 27th | The Big Retreat | Lawrenny
    Sat June 2nd | Live On The Wye | Redbrook 
    Sat June 16th | Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival | Cheltenham
    August 2nd - August 5th | The Green Gathering | Chepstow
    August 31st - September 2nd | Between The Trees | Bridgend

    The dates come highly recommended; on stage alone, without the imposing wall of sound that his bandmates in Climbing Trees can conjure, Frederick offers a mellow yet enthralling performance. Slightly more detail here.
  • Swooshed CoverMARCH GIG OF THE MONTH I : GOAT ROPER RODEO BAND / LEE SOUTHALL : BLUE SKY, BANGOR : 15.03.2018
    The finest culturally significant phenomena to come out of Rhyl since Nerys Hughes, The Goat Roper Rodeo Band are booked to cook up an acoustic storm at the Blue Sky Café, Bangor on the 15th, as part of a double-header UK tour with ex-of-The Coral's Lee Southall. The Goat Ropers have been described as 'like the Everlys fronted by Gram Parsons' in Fatea - that should be enough to get you up the venue's stairs on a Thursday night; if not then know that live Lee Southall delivers a mix of folk revival guitar and Americana exactly as it should be done. Details & tickets here.

  • John MOuseJOHN MOUSE : REPLICA FIGURES
    The first track of Replica Figures - The End of Mankind - is a bleak tale juxtaposed with a dancing keyboard melody, arresting in poetic effect. It's not alone here. Listen to the entire album and you might quickly flip through Pulp, Jonathan Richman or Talking Heads looking for inventive comparisons, but Replica Figures is a quite unique mix of beguiling DIY pop and intelligent black humour. Sweet Baboo collaborates throughout - restoring a partnership last productive fifteen years ago. The result is a low-key, quirky masterpiece. Find it here.


  • AlffaSONG OF THE MONTH (March) : ALFFA : TOMOS RHYS
    Llanrug's Alffa have a Radio Cymru session newly posted to their SoundCloud page - three songs, the highlight of which is the slow-paced blues of Tomos Rhys. Built from drums / vocal and often squalling guitar - Alffa are rudimentary by design, hard-edged and brilliant. They appear at FOCUS Wales 2018 (Saith Seren, 12.05.18) with Oblong; a gig worth walking barefoot over nettles to see.

  • Mahogany Fire SurroundMAHOGANY FIRE SURROUND : HOODED STRANGER
    Hooded Stranger is presented very clearly as being 'Welsh Psychedelia', a genre with a huge heritage still protected, like Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, by stringent EU regulation.

    Psychedelic music, like other aspects of the hallucinogenic culture it grew from, is meant to distort and warp your perception of time, self and reality; on the sliding cheese scale usually used to rate it this song is mild cheddar not camembert - it is more elegantly drifting, pastoral and evocative than mind-bending.

    The band, Mahogany Fire Surround, are as currently unknowable as the farms Tesco uses to brand its fruit and veg produce are unvisitable. But their music, on the evidence of this song at least, has a quiet magnificence you could scientifically replicate by giving Climbing Trees a minimal ration of magic mushrooms. Which means, wherever it has come from, it's very good indeed.

  • Moon Goose Live EPMOON GOOSE : LIVE AT THE GLOBE EP
    Moon Goose make heavy-duty instrumental psychedelic space grooves. If we rightly enthused about their first release, then this live follow up deserves equal praise; recorded at The Globe, Hay on Wye, there are four tracks, two of which are new - give it a listen and read the review.