Horizons Acts for 2018 Announced & Playlist

Horizons-2018

As regular patrons of the site will be acutely aware I have a great fondness for Wales, and more specifically Welsh music (not to mention the footballing powerhouse that is Wrexham AFC).

For a relatively small place, Wales does rather well for itself musically and for somewhere of its size, it is surely unmatched in both quality and quantity. From the towns and cities, mountains and valleys, Wales proves itself time and time again, to be an ever reliable source of creative, superbly inventive and experimental sounds across a myriad of genres.

While I am entirely grateful for the seemingly never ending stream of wondrous sounds, something apparent from a casual listen to Adam Walton’s excellent BBC Radio Wales Programme (see also Bethan Elfyn also of BBC Radio Wales & Lisa Gwilym’s C2 on BBC Radio Cymru) or cursory glance at the Focus Wales lineup or the Horizons showcase.

It is the latter that draws our attention today – a collaboration between BBC Wales and Arts Council of Wales – Horizons aims to showcase exciting new, independent contemporary music in Wales, providing promotional and performance opportunities, incl. festival slots throughout the year.

Just this week, the twelve acts selected from across Wales for Horizons 2018 were announced. There are some familiar names in there; Adwaith, Campfire Social, CHROMA and Nia Wyn, and some new; Himalayas, I See Rivers, Aleighcia Scott, Alffa, Eadyth, Marged, No Good Boyo and The Pitchforks. Either way, new acquaintances or old, it is an incredibly diverse array of artists.

You can, like me, delve in below:

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Introducing: Irascible Fuck Brigade

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Formed earlier in 2017 by one angry Englishman and his machines, Irascible Fuck Brigade are hard to forget; partially due to their rather tasty handle but also because of the ferocity and caustic nature of their electro-punk sound.

While lyrics rage at societies increasing structural inequality and seething anger is never far away from exploding, the music differs in texture and intensity, sliding between punk, rock and electronic. Irascible Fuck Brigade don’t create music which is easy on the ear, rather it reflects a genuine anger and frustration (and a backlash against), proclaiming a defiant message of protest that takes no shit. Take recent singles ‘Slash The Fucking Seats’ & ‘Chocolate Box’, both feisty, ferocious and angry, they chop and change between styles but the instrumentation is intense, releasing the pent up energy like a coiled up spring, whilst the impassioned and flurried lyrics implore the listener to smash the chains. Blistering, righteous and caustic; Irascible Fuck Brigade leave a hell of an impression.

Listen to ‘Slash The Fucking Seats’, ‘Chocolate Box’ & ‘Conservative Dad’ below:

Introducing: Heck Nugget

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Heck Nugget is an indie/garage/punk rock trio – Michael Bartkowiak (Bass), Henry Merschat (Drums) and Connor McBride (Guitar/Vocals) – from Houston, TX who’ve got a flair for a tune, and a DIY ethos.

Heck Nugget’s debut album, Sleeping With The Forcefield On, was recorded in 2016 as a total DIY effort with the trio looking after all recording and mixing duties themselves.

Their latest – equally great in the DIY stakes – singles ‘Never Feel Bad’ and ‘Rookie, Judgement’ demonstrate the dexterity of their sound. The latter is a deeply lo-fi, winding Pavement inspired mix of sullen, vexed vocals, slanted, meaty guitars and percussion. Amid the gloom, melancholy and mournfulness of ‘Never Feel Bad’ there is beauty, defiance and chinks of light shining through. ‘Rookie, Judgement’ is just as anger-filled and takes equally meaty guitars and percussion but throws them through a short, sharp blast of fast paced punk-rock energy. Two rather tasty introductory pieces proving that Heck Nugget are more than skilled in the crunchy indie-rock or scintillating punk-rock stakes.

Both ‘Never Feel Bad’ and ‘Rookie, Judgement’ will be released as part of a 7″ split with an Austin outfit The Red Heroes. Listen to them below, now:

Introducing: Loyal Lobos

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Colombia-born singer/songwriter Andrea Silva, otherwise known as Loyal Lobos, is preparing to release a new EP later this year.

Ahead of her debut EP as Loyal Lobos, now based in Los Angeles, Silva is drip feeding some decidedly delicious tasters of what to expect.

‘The Fall’ introduces a sweet, Americana infused indie vibe, opening at a cantering pace. Amid all the compelling sweetness however, the momentum shifts through the gears, picking up pace and intensity of krautrock proportions. Silva too, drives the track onward as her honeyed soft vocals grows in tandem with the charge, until it swells and consumes you, and everything else for miles around. Latest single ‘Dirt’ retains the touch of Americana and preferring exquisite pop finesse to spiraling krautrock. Beautifully infectious, it shuffles along a groovy drum beat stabs of guitar and impressive pop melodies, which are all secondary to Silva’s stunning voice, which remains at the fore. Silva’s vocals are utterly captivating, while soaring, scale-shifting moments elevate the song to new euphoric heights or the richly melodic purr that makes you privy to every iota of emotion. You can never really have too much of these kinds of stellar sounds in your life.

Listen to ‘The Fall’ & ‘Dirt’ below. The EP is expected to follow soon…

Introducing: Maintain Mainframe

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“In the year 3046 a robot searches for the Alpha Key to unlock a cryptic sequence of code” – as far as back stories go, Maintain Mainframe’s is pretty different.

Unusual as it may be, it is pretty apt as this peculiar music outfit treat us to an unusual retro-futuristic fusion of classic rock, synth & psych pop and indie/alt-rock, strewn with science fiction influences. And aside from the imaginative sci-fi backstory, that’s the tale of their self-titled debut record.

Most recent single ‘The Mirror’ opens with a pastoral sounding strum and hushed vocals, before making way for a series of gritty riffs as it swaggers along a danceable groove., that sounds wonderfully gritty, dark and edgy. Similarly danceable is ‘Dreamphase’. Engulfed in layers of fuzz and eerie and menacing tones, muscular guitars and buzzing riffs up the intensity and ferocity, while propelled along an irresistible rhythmic groove and some sparkling retro-futuristic synth work. Meanwhile, ‘I Am A Robot’ channels the sound of The Flaming Lips for a colorful, melody filled and spaced-out spectacle.

This is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the colourful and imaginative creations for sometime. Combining everything from psych-pop, rock, electronica, krautrock and more, they do so with a supreme potency and in full Technicolor.

You can check out some choice cuts below, I assure you I’m not spoofing and you can listen to their debut album here.

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Introducing: Aircraft of Tomorrow

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Aircraft of Tomorrow is a creative collaboration between musician Paul Woodfull and visual designer Alastair Keady.

Paul composes electronic musical landscapes, exploring themes of melody and mood. Alastair independently responds to these musical compositions with visual interpretations.

What’s created is a gorgeous confection of ambient instrumental music that ebbs and flows through lush, atmospheric, cinematic drifts of retro futurism – of which the pair’s debut album entitled Alas Euphoric, boasts with stunning finesse. ‘Metro to Marco’ harnesses a deep, warm, winding synth, hypnotic chiming of keys and floaty atmospheric sounds to create a gripping, transportive and transfixing track, that will consume you. ‘Hundreds Of Eggs’ hypnotises as it pulses slowly and delicately through a gorgeous soft-focus of tick-tock percussion, ethereal synth and steady release of cloudy atmospherics. While ‘Pre & Post Redemption’ sounds like a cinematic soundtrack to a ‘70s BBC sci-fi drama. A gently building, moody and deeply atmospheric blend of ambient, cinematic retro futurism, Aircraft of Tomorrow’s debut record comes highly recommended.

Alas Euphoric is out now & you can stream it here; to get you in the mood, there are a few choice cuts below:

Introducing: Simen Mitlid

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Simen Mitlid is a precociously talented singer-songwriter hailing from the woodlands of Os, Norway, crafting lush, Nordic indie-folk a la contemporaries like Sufjan Stevens, Broken Social Scene and Patrick Watson.

Recorded in vivid locales including his hometown cabin, Oslo and Vancouver, his debut LP, Everything is the Same is a charming record, imbued with a warm inviting glow, optimism and playful wonder. Most recently lifted from the record is ‘This Time’; a magical, soothing, and endearingly optimistic gem. Opening slowly with a delicate acoustic guitar and rich emotive vocal, before being ushered gently forward with a swell of twinkling keys, chimes, percussion and gentle hand claps as pure and really beautiful female vocals come to the fore. Title track, ‘Everything is the Same’ sounds much more world-weary and melancholic, yet marked by an understated optimism. Again a gentle strum leads the way, giving space for tender, touching emotion to surge and swell. There is a real strength in the songwriting and in the vocals too, which offer a real delicacy in their delivery. These are charming, beautiful and warm folk songs with intricate and sharp arrangements – and the album is a delight.

Simen Mitlid’s debut album Everything is the Same is out now, and you can listen to it here.

As a taster, ‘This Time’ & ‘Everything is the Same’ are below for your aural pleasure.