- NEW GOAT ROPER VIDEO & DATES
North Wales' most whole-hearted and animated live band has taken a short pause in a hectic summer schedule to release a new 'on-the-road' video of their stage favourite, The Rhythm of Love (below). If the film is not enough (and it shouldn't be), you can experience The Goat Roper Rodeo Band's cosmic country blues in person at Lligwy Beach Cafe (Saturday, August 4th) and at Heaven's Gate Presents @81 Renshaw Street on Friday, August 10th. Around those dates the band are touring extensively, ricocheting across Britain during the festival season. To aid cultural decision making there's an ecstatic review of a past show here, and another one here.
- MARY MILLER I I Found Heaven
Mid afternoon, on a small stage above a town centre bar, Liverpool-based Mary Miller gave an enchanting performance for FOCUS Wales 2018. Her striking take on dream pop is showcased in a new single, I Found Heaven, released on 22nd June, to herald what should be a much anticipated EP later in the year - read more.
- NICK ELLIS I Heartbreak City
Liverpool's Nick Ellis' urban folk-hymns offer kitchen-sink-dramatic stories tightly bound by melodies that follow you round for days after one listen. To find out more start with Hearbreak City (below), then try a touch of Clock Watching before advancing to a copy of his superb second album, Adult Fiction, released last December - read more.
- GLASLYN I Out Of My Control
Cardiff based singer-songwriter Al Lewis' last collaborative release - the startlingly good Ghost, recorded with Alva Leigh - was articulate, aching Americana. From that reference point this new single, Out Of My Control, is an unexpected tangent and a spellbinding revelation.
Working with Kayla Painter as 'Glaslyn', Lewis has matched his blues-edged vocal to brilliant electronic pop and Painter's pure singing voice, creating an energised track that builds to a chorus with the musical feel of tumbling weightless in clouds. The song has been picked up by the Channel 4 series Humans - where its mix of the organic and the synthesised is a perfect fit. More music is promised as Glaslyn build their creative partnership, but this is a remarkable enough beginning. [ Links : Glaslyn Twitter ]
- IWAN HUWS I Pan Fydda Ni'n Symud
Four hugely successful albums with his band, Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, are both a solid foundation and a heritage to live up to for Iwan Huws. His first solo LP, Pan Fydda Ni'n Symud, is one of contrasting moods built around his distinct vocals and keyboard, and it is an unqualified, resonant success - read the full review and listen.
- TOBY HAY I The Longest Day
Undoubtedly his finest recording yet, guitarist Toby Hay's new release, The Longest Day, sparkles, shimmies and shimmers just like its lauded predecessor, The Gathering, but with an evident new jazz influence that allows even richer textures than before. A detailed review featuring binoculars and a hidden Simple Minds reference can be read here.
- BETH CELYN I Troi EP
Beth Celyn is a singer-songwriter from Denbigh, and Troi is her six track debut EP. From her live performances she is clearly influenced by folk and more contemporary indie music; for this first set of recordings understated arrangements frame her emotive vocals and beat into shape something quite unique. Troi serves as a captivating statement of musical intent. Read the review and listen.
- EVE GOODMAN I Low Sun EP
Low Sun is one of the most subtly alluring EPs that has crossed our desk since the site started; with a quiet soul-stirring depth to her music, Caernarfon singer-songwriter Eve Goodman has released a debut with four self-penned songs and a beautiful version of the Welsh folk song Dacw 'Nghariad - review.
- BENJAMIN MASON I Oi! Rapscallion!
Pembrokeshire based Ben Mason's head must teem with ideas, his new album - Oi! Rapscallion! - is as eclectic as it is delightful. The clear product of a restless and relentless musical imagination, the recordings range and experiment across genres, from acoustic folk through post-rock to electronica - read more & listen.
- PREVIEW : LLANGOLLEN FRINGE : JOSH DOUGHTY & TIM TYSON : 21.07.2018
This year's Llangollen Fringe will see Welsh kora player Josh Doughty and guitar cohort Tim Tyson bring a blend of West African sounds and Western influence to the reverential venue of St Collen's Church. Josh's music is award winning and distinct - the concert offers a chance to hear his mesmerising instrumental abilities in a resonant setting. Details & interview.
- RED OR DEAD I Live at The Shiloh I 09.06.2018
Formed at a spontaneous busk outside a UKIP conference, Red or Dead's raucous folk punk with a clear political message works best on a live stage - where their energised songs of protest and hope can't help but hit home. Two years on from their unplanned, inaugural gig (which made the six o'clock BBC News), they are a fearsome live act - recently confirmed by a set at The Shiloh, Cwm Penmachno - read the review.
- REVIEW : CRAFT OF COMEDY FRINGE
The first year of a new comedy festival can be fraught, as attracting the right acts is difficult without some sort of compelling hook. Llandudno's Craft of Comedy is an established industry event - and adding a 'fringe' to it meant there was already access to top class comedians. The result was a brilliant set of gigs - this review covers the Saturday, with Marcus Brigstocke, Al Murray and rising Welsh star Kiri Pritchard-Mclean taking the Tabernacl stage.
- LIVE COMEDY REVIEW : JONNY WILLIAMS
In front of a full house (or in this specific case, Wrexham's only tepee) at FOCUS Wales 2018 Jonny Williams took comedic flight. The Guardian's Owen Jones has previously noted the Bangor comedian is, ''A very funny man… my new life aim is to let the world know it.'' and this set confirmed the observation and the validity of the mission. If that is not enough, Williams was also at the event to scout for bands for his successful new music podcast - read more about both here.
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Libertino Records has taken just twelve months to establish a reputation as Wales' most creative and exciting record label; if it disappeared tomorrow it would already warrant a place in Welsh cultural legend like Postcard has in that of 1980's Scotland. As albums start to follow the glorious set of singles issued so far (starting with the UK issue of Alex Dingley's lauded Beat the Babble), Los Blancos and Accü are two names on its roster that will soon be reverberating far beyond its West Wales base.
- LOS BLANCOS I Cadi
West Wales' lo fi slacker-rock band Los Blancos have been featured and raved about here before, and with good reason. Their distressed and abrasive sound draws valid comparison with The Dream Syndicate and The Replacements, and a new AA single (including the ebullient Cadi, below) confirms their status as raw, magnificent and inevitably destined for greatness when (or before) their debut LP is released.
A studio flood recently forced the band to re-record their album during one adrenaline filled session with producer Kris Jenkins (who has worked with Super Furry Animals, Gruff Rhys, Cate Le Bon, H Hawkline & Gulp). For many that time constraint would be a handicap - for Los Blancos it just means the rough edged emotion of their music is captured exactly as it should be, and the magic of that is fully declared by Cadi and its companion track, Clarach. [ Links : SoundCloud I Twitter ]
- ACCU I Did You Count Your Eyes?
Accü is the new recording name (she was previously found in Welsh folk/electronica duo Trwbador) of half Dutch / half Welsh singer-songwriter Angharad Van Rijswijk. Did You Count Your Eyes? is the first single from her debut album, Echo The Red, due for release later in the year.
The song is thrilling - Accü's otherworldly vocal incants over darkly psychedelic synth sounds, driven and enlivened by Andy Fung's gyrating drum rhythms. Did You Count Your Eyes? has real electronic and percussive vitality; an undeniably unique and promising release. [ Links : Facebook I Twitter ]
Aled Rheon's recorded output is limited to two EPs - Sêr yn Disgyn (2013) and A Gorgeous Charge (2016). Although not prolific, there is exceptional quality in the recordings. The first EP showcased 'quietly and softly exhilarating' Welsh folk, a set of songs that beguiled their way round any potential language barrier for non-Welsh speakers, whilst the second had the balance of its lyrics sung in English, and included, as first among equals, our 2016 'Song of the Year' Wrap up Warm (above). As we edge towards two years since A Gorgeous Charge you'd hope for a third release soon; until then his existing EPs are essential listening. [ Links : Website I Live Dates ]
- Daoiri Farrell / Elidyr Glyn : Galeri : 15.05.18
Award winning Irish folk musician Daoirí Farrell and support, singer-songwriter Elidyr Glyn, offered remarkable performances at Caernarfon's Galeri
- Jonathan Williams : Live @ FOCUS Wales 2018
Bangor's Jonny Williams took comedic flight at FOCUS Wales 2018. He also was at the event to scout for bands for his successful new music podcast.
- Mountainface : Dead Lake EP
Mountainface's first EP, Let's Play, was startling for its pure verve - alt. folk played with the intensity and fire of raw bluegrass. Two years on the Chester trio have recorded a follow up at Penylan Studios, Meifod that keeps the fervour of their debut and adds more emotional texture and soul to their sound.
- 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 lists.
- Alden, Patterson & Dashwood : By The Night
Alden, Patterson & Dashwood's 2016 debut drew huge plaudits, including from Mark Radcliffe, for its gentle blend of English folk with American / Appalachian influences - this new one picks up where that left off and offers ten further songs of radiance and delight.
- Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage : Awake
English folk duo Hannah Sanders & Ben Savage, who released their acclaimed debut album Before the Sun in 2016 now have a follow up collection, Awake. Awake is stunning in its grace and flawlessness - with a brilliant, plaintive cover of Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key as a keystone.
- Live : Matthew Frederick @ 3rd Space
Performing solo in Llandudno, Climbing Trees' frontman Matthew Frederick used keyboard, guitar, kazoo and vocal to conjure up a minor-key delight of a show.
- Benjamin Mason : Dogs N Yaaa
A re-release of Pembrokeshire experimental singer-songwriter Benjamin Mason's 2013 collection in very limited physical form should prompt a small stampede to Recordiau Prin's online till. Read the review to find out why.
- Aviator : Omni
Pete Wilkinson was in Shack, Cast and Echo & the Bunnymen. Omni, his fourth album with his current project Aviator, is a slow rolling, elating experience you would not want to miss.
- Casgliad Cae Gwyn
Cae Gwyn's third compilation album, released to mark Welsh Language Music Day and the label's tenth birthday, matches the enchantment and musical heft of the first two (Cynefin Cae Gwyn and Swooshed). It ranges from psychedelic space pop and alt-folk to classical guitar and grunge - and is available free as long as you are in the right place at the right time.
- 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 full justice - it is a hypnotic triumph.
- 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 compelling, creative step further forward.
- 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. Some Things Just Take Time is a burst of superb, elegant retro-pop. Like the collaborative Bendith project he spent some of 2016 so fruitfully on, the recording of this set of songs seemingly brought together extraordinary talent, and then delivered something more than the sum of the parts.
- Gai Toms : Gwalia
Blaenau Ffestiniog's Gai Toms plays guitar in Brython Shag, which makes him worthy of note even before six previous solo albums and his contribution to Anweledig are taken into account. A new CD, Gwalia, is due for release on 21st 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.
- Patrobas : Lle awn ni nesa'?
Two years after their notable debut EP, Dwyn y Dail, contemporary folk band Patrobas have released an album that fully delivers on their early promise
- Oblong : Briliant ... Gwd
Oblong have 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.
- Sera : RCA, Conwy : 17.12.2016
Caernarfon singer songwriter Sera delivered a spellbinding solo Christmas performance at the RCA, Conwy
- Bendith : Bendith
A collaborative project between Carwyn Ellis of Colorama and Snowdonia's Plu has produced a beautiful collection of songs.
- Band Pres Llareggub : Kurn
Band Pres Llareggub fuse hip hop and New Orleans brass with the influences from their North West Wales roots in a new release that it is impossible not to love - second album Kurn is quite superb: exuberant, joyful, inventive and full of life.
- Climbing Trees : Borders
Climbing Trees new album is a Cymrucana masterpiece
- 9Bach : Anian
'... challenging, experimental and a graceful triumph'.
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