Sweet Baboo Announces New Album ‘Wild Imagination’, Shares ‘Badminton’


Two years on from The Boombox Ballads, North Wales native Stephen Black, better known as Sweet Baboo, is gearing up to release his brand new LP.

Due out on 2nd June Wild Imagination was penned as something of an antidote to our turbulent, worrying developments of 2016. In addition, Black has shared the sweet new single ‘Badminton’. Black is songwriter who has a clear vision, coupled with an unquestionable understanding of the melodies and rhythms that hits the sweet spot time after time. The outcome of which, is a some of the most wonderful, curious and eminently listenable music in recent recent years. These aforementioned qualities are found in abundance on ‘Badminton’. It is a gentle, bright and airy ditty with lilting electronics as Black’s peaceful vocals floating gracefully between gentle tones and the breezy, warbling synth. Just beautiful.

Wild Imagination is out 2 June via Moshi Moshi. Check ‘Badminton’ out below.

Sweet Baboo – ‘Blowing Up My Mind’


With his UK tour kicking off this week, Sweet Baboo (aka Stephen Black) has shared the new video for ‘Blowing Up My Mind’, taken from his forthcoming Dennis EP.

The 6-track Dennis EP will be released on Feb 26th 2016 through Moshi Moshi. It includes a Christmas song, 3 covers (Daniel Johnston, The Exciters, The Beach Boys) and 2 previously unreleased tracks from his The Boombox Ballads album sessions. So, back to ‘Blowing Up My Mind’. Originally by The Exciters and a northern soul classic, it was recorded it as a B-side for ‘Got To Hang On To You’ (which name-checks The Exciters and the song too). Retaining the upbeat, bright and soulful nature of the original, he leaves his own unique and compelling mark on this one. Somehow carving out a space between indie pop and soul, what we’re left with is an utterly sweet, charming and breathtaking rendition of truly fabulous song.

Sweet Baboo’s 6-track Dennis EP will be released on February 26th 2016 through Moshi Moshi. You can order it here and treat your ears to ‘Blowing Up My Mind’ below.

UK live dates:

29th Jan – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
2nd Feb – The Musician, Leicester
3rd Feb – Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate
4th Feb – Moth Club, London
5th Feb – Night and Day Café, Manchester
6th Feb – Picture House Special, Sheffield
7th Feb – The Fulford Arms, York
12th Feb – Neuadd Ogwen, Bethesda
13th Feb – Moles Club, Bath

2015 According to Mathew Mayes AKA Channel Swimmer


One of my proudest achievements on the blog this year, or any year for that matter, is the release of GruffWuff; a 19 track compilation of new, previously unreleased and exclusive recordings from some of my very favourite acts over the past 5 years of blogging.

It was a truly fantastic way to mark 5 years of BarryGruff and I am incredibly grateful to everyone involved and the overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic response. As 2015 draws to a close, I have enlisted help from people who made the compilation what it was, to chat about their favourite moments and sounds from year, and up next is Channel Swimmer.

Channel Swimmer is the alias of London based Welsh beatsmith Mathew Mayes. A master of manipulation, sound manipulation that is, his is a world of lavish exploration through genres, styles and eras. Meticulously crafted, you will be lost in a sea of breathtakingly lush layers, choice samples and snappy beats, maintaining a shimmering warm glow of sheer joy happiness . An exemplary talent, always.

Before we take a look at his 2015 sound selections, you should check out Channel Swimmer’s stunning 2013 album, Alphabet, and his GruffWuff inclusion, ‘Racket’ – of which you can download here for FREE.

Continue reading

BarryGruff Albums of the Year (2015)

BGs Albums of the year 2015So it is that time of year again, lists, lists and more lists. Well, not be out done, here are my 41 (yes 41, and yes it’s a weird number) albums of 2015.

It has been such a good year for new albums, probably the best since I started the blog back in 2010. So much so that there is very little difference between the top 5, top 10, top 15 and so on. So without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2015:

There is also a Spotify playlist of the Top 20 albums, to save you time and hassle (it’s here).

41. Only Real – Jerk At The End of the Line’

40. Rozi Plain – ‘Friend’

39. Wildling – ‘Molecules To Moon’

38. The School – ‘Wasting Away And Wondering’

37. Sweet Baboo – ‘Boombox Ballads’

36. The Stammer – ‘Days In Between’

35. SexWitch – Sex Witch’

34. Faith Healer – ‘Cosmic Troubles’

33. Girl Band – ‘Holding Hands With Jamie’

32. Joanna Gruesome – ‘Peanut Butter’

31. Fort Romeau – ‘Insides

30. Soft Serve – ‘S/t’

29. Applescal – ‘For’

28. Zefur Wolves – ‘Zefur Wolves’

27. Hot Chip – ‘Why Make Sense?’

26. Drenge – ‘Undertow’

25. The Charlatans – ‘Modern Nature’

24. Gaz Coombes – ‘Matador’

23. Bill Ryder-Jones – ‘West Kirby County Primary’

22. Drinks – ‘Hermits on Holiday’

21. The Expert – Dynamic Drift

20. Boxed In – ‘Boxed In’

Continue reading

Sweet Baboo – ‘Don’t Be Alone (This Christmas)’

Sweet Baboo cont

After releasing his third album The Boombox Ballads earlier this year, Sweet Baboo will release new EP Dennis, alongside a UK tour for 2016.

Out on February 26th, it shall feature three covers – of Daniel Johnston, The Exciters, The Beach Boys – and two previously unreleased tracks from his The Boombox Ballads’ album sessions, and a newly recorded Christmas song, ‘Don’t Be Alone (This Christmas)’. The latter is out now, which is only appropriate give the time of year, no? This new festive fayre is an absolute gem, and classic Sweet Baboo (aka Stephen Black). It’s a charming, easy on the ear,  mid paced, piano led, festive ditty. Blissfully melodic, it is adorned with some marvelous sleigh bells, saxophones, and an anti austerity message. Yes, you read the last piece correctly. Written in the height of summer, like all good Christmas songs, according to Black, the song was conceived around the time of the Labour leadership debate, and he imagined with Jeremy Corbyn as Father Christmas, so it has a vaguely political message. ‘Don’t Be Alone (This Christmas)’ is a joy-filled little beauty and caps off a very good year for all things Sweet Baboo, with one foot firmly forward into the next. Everyone needs someone to love.

You can check out ‘Don’t Be Alone (This Christmas)’ below, or, for a limited time, download the track for free from Bandcamp.

Live Dates:

2nd Feb – The Musician, Leicester
3rd Feb – Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate
4th Feb – Moth Club, London
5th Feb – Night and Day Café, Manchester
6th Feb – Picture House Special, Sheffield
7th Feb – The Fulford Arms, York
12th Feb – Neuadd Ogwen, Bethesda
13th Feb – Moles Club, Bath


Sweet Baboo – ‘Got To Hang On To You’

Sweet Baboo’s fifth album The Boombox Ballads is penned for release on 14th August via Moshi Moshi.

Sweet Baboo, ake Stephen Black, has brightened and enlivened proceedings by sharing new single ‘Got To Hang On To You’, also out on August 14th. ‘Got To Hang On To You’ is of the usual high standard that we have come to expect from him, super catchy it demonstrates his flair for beautiful melodies, lovely harmonies and just general all round brilliance. It is beautiful and touching love song about hanging on to that someone special, and sharing all the music you love with them, a sweet sentiment and one you can’t argue with surely? Of the song, Black says “That was my attempt to write a song like The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy”, even though the song’s lyrics, “All I want to do is play you Northern Soul records, while you’re lying next to me until late in the night”, suggest a different inspiration, you can definitely here it in there (you can listen to his cover below too). The video is a nice touch too, directed by Ewan Jones Morris, it sees Sweet Baboo ‘s reflection pop up everywhere, from gardens, trees and sunglasses to toilet doors.

Both The Boombox Ballads and ‘Got To Hang On To You’ will be released on August 14th. Check the latter out below.





BarryGruff’s May 2015 Playlist


A regular monthly feature to the blog; a nice, neat and handy playlist of tracks featured during the month.

May was another fine month for new music. We had an exclusive premier of The Expert’s new tune, ‘Da Wha?’, the lead single from his forthcoming LP. There were new tunes from Sleaford Mods, Girlpool, Applescal & Tame Impala, ahead of their respective, forthcoming albums. There were excellent new singles from Tomorrows, Telegram, SertOne, Roots Manuva, Foreign/National, The Adventures of Bert & Henry and PANKHABILLI.

Also featuring on the playlist are: GEM_DOS, The North Sea, Disconcerting P, Sweet Baboo, Heaters & Faith Healer. Yeah, so, May was pretty damn good.

Listen to BarryGruff’s May 2015 playlist below.

Sweet Baboo – ‘Black Domino Box’ (H. Hawkline Cover)


North Wales’ Stephen Black, AKA Sweet Baboo is gearing up to release his new record, The Boombox Ballads, the follow up to 2013’s marvellous LP Ships.

The new record is out on August 14th through Moshi Moshi, with a special launch show for The Boombox Ballads happening at London Fields Brewery (London) on May 21st. Joining Sweet Baboo on the night is fellow countryman and exceptional talent, H. Hawkline. To mark the occasion, Sweet Baboo has covered H. Hawkline’s classic ‘Black Domino Box’. Retaining the upbeat and bright nature of the original, he leaves a compelling mark in his own unique whimsical way – an utterly beautiful, sweet and charming rendition of truly fabulous song. The cover version will be available on a strictly limited cassette single version of the new single, ‘Sometimes’ and only available at London Fields Brewery show.

The cassette single is limited to 50 copies and available on a first come first served basis, but you can check both tracks below. Oh, you can download Sweet Baboo’s cover of ‘Black Domino Box’ from here too, ssshhh!

Sweet Baboo Unveils ‘Sometimes’ & Announces New Album ‘The Boombox Ballads’


North Wales’ Stephen Black, AKA Sweet Baboo, has announced details of his new album The Boombox Ballads, and shared lead single ‘Sometimes’ to celebrate. Very good news indeed.

The Boombox Ballads will be his fifth LP and follows 2013’s much-lauded and wonderful LP, Ships, which will be with us on August 14th through Moshi Moshi. Fittingly enough, the first glimpse offered to us of the forthcoming record, ‘Sometimes’, was the first song to be recorded for the album. A sweet and touching song, handling the woes of absent heartedness and being away from your loved one, ‘Sometimes’ demonstrates his glorious gift for melody and hooks. Opening with Black’s recognizably sweet and evocative vocals, that drift by sleepily amid a backdrop of a gentle pick and strum before being intermittently being swept aside with glorious bursts of brass (among other instrumentation). Sweet Baboo remains one of the finest performers around.

Don’t just take my word for it – you can check out the video for ‘Sometimes’ below (directed by Eilir Pierce).

Mowbird – ‘Lady Lion’ ft. Sweet Baboo


It’s been a good year for Welsh lo-fi-fuzz pop wizards Mowbird. It is a year that saw the release of their dedut LP Islander, one of 2014’s finest, it is littered with blasts of sub three minute scuzzy, charming, soul-consuming guitar jams.

Not content with that, the Wrexham quartet have teamed up with the wonderful Sweet Baboo for a re-recorded version of ‘Lady Lion’ from their 2011 Ilk EP. Out now via Shape Records, ‘Lady Lion’, thankfully doesn’t deviate from what Mowbird do best, that is to say they continue to blend their collective predilection for fuzz pop, parts surf-rock, slacker indie and some garage/punk. Centred around Sweet Baboo’s vocals and guitar, some scorching riffage and simply stunning (and now signature I guess) organ work, they blast out a magnificently scuzzy and proper sing-a-long tune. A cracking way to see out the year in my book. And in other Mowbird related news, they shall be heading back into the studio in the spring to record the follow up to their debut record, and if this is indication of their mood, it should be a belter. Delightful!

You can check out ‘Lady Lion’ ft. Sweet Baboo below and it is available along with b-side ‘Teen Drama’ from here.