Ynys – ‘Caneuon’

Ynys (pronounced ‘un-iss’) is a new project from Welsh artist Dylan Hughes, ex Race Horses and Radio Luxembourg.

Ynys’ sound combines an ear for melody and playful approach to song craft, fashioned to form delicate songs that an emit an irresistible warmth amid the beautifully melancholic harmonies and off-kilter psychedelic. For his debut under the Ynys moniker Hughes has teamed up with the wonderful Libertino Records to release ‘Caneuon’, a bona fide treasure. It is an instantly lovable, mildly dizzying and waltzing psych pop song. Pairing a gentle strum and chimes with a big heart-swelling melody and big chorus that envelopes the listener into his world as Hughes’ lilting warm Welsh vocals soaring above. It’s infectious, charming and adorable, with easy-going psychedelic flourishes and classic pop twist, it is an utter joy to behold.

‘Caneuon’ was recorded in Tŷ Drwg with renowned Cardiff producer Frank Naughton and mixed and mastered by Iwan Morgan (Gruff Rhys, Euros Childs, H Hawkline, Cate Le Bon, Meilyr Jones) in Liverpool.

Listen to ‘Caneuon’ below now:

ALFFA – ‘PLA’

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Alffa are Dion Wyn Jones & Sion Eifion Land, a two-man riff machine from Llanrug, Wales.

Performing in their native Welsh, this pair have a massive sound and craft explosive tunes echoing the likes of The White Stripes, The Black Keys & Royal Blood et al. The self-dubbed “punk-blues” two piece introduced themselves with powerhouse singles ‘Creadur’ and ‘Tomos Rhys’ late last year, and Alffa are back with new single ‘PLA’ – provoing once again they are a force to be reckoned with. ‘PLA’ is every bit as muscular as it predecessors announcing it’s presence with a deafening combination of ferocious, serrated guitar riff, thunderous and propulsive drums and searing, biting vocals. It is a thundering three-minutes of gritty rock ‘n roll abandon as mammoth riffs crash into pulverising percussion for a dazzling and mighty whirl of noise.

You can listen to ‘PLA’ below – and if that is to your liking, there is plenty more where that came from here too.

 

Kidsmoke – ‘Passenger’

Kidsmoke are Welsh indie-pop foursome – Lance, James, Sophie & Ash – who’s shimmering brand of dreamy indie-pop whisks us far away from their native North Wales haven of Wrexham.

Following on from late 2018 single ‘Rising Sun’, ‘Passenger’ is the latest single lifted from Kidsmoke’s forthcoming debut album, due for release Summer 2019. ‘Passenger’ is an elegant, breezy and evocative slice of indie pop. A super melodic jangle propelled by a chiming, buoyant and off-kilter guitar riff juxtaposed with wistful, reflective lyrics. ‘Passenger’ is a shimmering, uplifting and addictive three-minute masterclass in indie-pop, and one that certainly whets the appetite for their debut album. A little slice of indie-pop heaven.

‘Passenger’ is the band’s second single lifted from their forthcoming album, due out this summer.

Zefur Wolves – ‘Flying High’

Welsh fuzzed-up alt-rockers Zefur Wolves have returned with sublime new single ‘Flying High’ following a two year absence.

Not only marking an end to two years radio silence, ‘Flying High’ is also the lead single from the Cardiff-based outfit’s forthcoming album Truth is in the Stars, out on Strangetown Records on 29 March. Produced by Super Furry Animals’ Cian Ciaran, ‘Flying High’ is a beautifully melodic slice of sun-kissed and fuzzy alt-rock. Simultaneously darkly moody and exuding positivity, the delightful juxtaposition between jarring distorted guitars and the breezy carefree melodies and Estelle Ios’ (also of Baby Queens) honeyed vocals is seductive and ultimately hypnotic. ‘Flying High’ is a spellbinding and beautiful track and an absolute joy to behold – and one that certainly bodes well for the follow up to their wonderful self-titled debut in 2015

Check out the wonderful ‘Flying High’ below & Truth is in the Stars is out 29 March via Strangetown Records.

Los Blancos – ‘Ti Di Newid / Cadw Fi Lan’

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Last year was a rather good one for Welsh foursome Los Blancos, establishing themselves as one of Wales’ most exciting prospects.

A band bonded in friendship – Gwyn, Dewi, Emyr and Osian have known each other since school days – Los Blancos have proven a reliable source of irresistible slacker/garage-rock, a fact that isn’t about to change anytime soon as they waste no time in opening their account for 2019 with a new double A side single ‘Ti Di Newid / Cadw Fi Lan’ via Libertino Records.

Sung in their native Welsh, Los Blancos’ scuzzy, fuzz-filled sound mutates somewhat between each release – something that can be seen with the contrasting nature of both new singles. ‘Ti Di Newid’ is a gritty and dynamic feast of melodic fuzz and distortion, smouldering with emotion and packed with blazing riffs, crunchy guitars and soaring choruses. While it is rough, ragged and raw musically and emotionally, there is a beauty and brittleness to the genuine heartfelt emotion as it chugs along with a surging vitality and screeching riffs. ‘Cadw Fi Lan’ is the calmer of the two tracks, providing a hazy meander sojourn to warm and swooning sliding guitar-led alt-country meets lo-fi indie filled with a melancholic end of summer youthful sweetness. Aside from their native tongue and dash of garage fuzz, the other constant is Gwyn Rosser’s voice, his drawl consistently delivering that added emotional punch with aplomb.

Listen to ‘Ti Di Newid’ and ‘Cadw Fi Lan’ below; the double a-side is out now via Libertino Records.

Introducing: Stella Donnelly

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Wales-born, Australian singer-songwriter Stella Donnelly built a much warranted reputation on the back of her 2018 debut EP Thrush Metal – a stunning collection of deceptively simple, sparse but compelling acoustic tracks filled with witty, stark, honest and frustrated musings tackling subjects like sexual assault, victim blaming and misogyny.

Following on from last year’s EP, Donnelly has announced her debut album, Beware of the Dogs will be released on March 8 via esteemed indie label Secretly Canadian, and the 13-track LP is led by the single ‘Old Man’. Joined by a full band, on the surface ‘Old Man’ is a breezy, easygoing and sparkling piece of indie-pop but amid all the warm melodies, it’s a song that finds a perfect balance between dreamy and acerbic, with a sharp message aimed at taking exploitative men to task. Once again, Donnelly has proven herself to be a masterful voice of rage, wit, humour and compassion.

Check out ‘Old Man’ and the Fiona Jane Burgess directed video below and the debut LP, Beware of the Dogs is out on March 8 via Secretly Canadian. You can listen to debut EP Thrush Metal here too – it’s very, very good indeed.

Stella Donnelly plays The Grand Social, Dublin on April 29 – Tickets €15.

Introducing: Los Blancos

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Los Blancos are slacker/garage-rock foursome from Carmarthenshire, South West Wales.

A band bonded in friendship, Gwyn, Dewi, Emyr and Osian have known each other since school days, there is a quiet, understated confidence underpinning Los Blancos’s ’90s inspired garage sound. Drawing inspiration from the slanted sounds of Pavement, Brian Jonestown Massacre and the playfulness of Mac Demarco their songs are simultaneously gloomy yet hopeful and sun-kissed.

Sung in their native Welsh, Los Blancos’ scuzzy, fuzz-filled sound mutates somewhat between each release. ‘Cadi‘ is a ragged hook-filled rattle revolving around frenetic riffing and insistent percussion that combine in a languid, very Velvet Underground kind of way. With ‘Chwarter I Dri’ the melodic meanderings and ramblings are punctuated by soaring riffs, melodies and towering vocals while ‘Cadw Fi Lan’ offers a hazy meander sojourn to warm and swooning sliding guitar-led alt-country meets lo-fi indie. Aside from their native tongue and dash of garage fuzz, the other constant is Gwyn Rosser’s voice, his drawl consistently delivering that added emotional punch with aplomb.

These are songs that cheerily worm their way into your heart through perfect songcraft and you can check out some choices cut below.

Ilu – ‘Jaanus’

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Dividing their time recording between Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, Ilu are a Welsh Psych/Krautrock outfit crafting epic, spacey, interstellar hymns.

They introduced themselves (and found a sizeable place in my heart) with the spectacular ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’ last year, and follow that with ‘Jaanus’; an equally intoxicating proposition. ‘Jaanus’ is elegant yet bold, delicately drifting off in the chillest of vibes as synths chime and shimmer, gently winding electronics orbit and sparkle like stars to a place of wonder and tranquillity in the cosmos. It’s jubilant yet melancholic; busy yet laid-back – a paradoxical sound but one of awe and beauty that climaxes in a haze of heavenly choral repetitions cascade upon stuttering drums. An immaculate palate of sonics, sounds and textures that intoxicates with airiness and beauty.

As with ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’, the recording was began in Tallinn, Estonia and was completed by Tim Lewis (Spiritualized, Julian Cope, Coil) in Aerial Studios in Carmarthenshire.

There is talk of album later in the year which is great news but for now listen to ‘Jaanus’ below:

Ten Tracks of 2018

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Whittling down your favourite tracks of any year is an arduous task and this year, a particularly good one musically, has proven equally if not more difficult.

That said, in the interest of posterity, I condensed it down to ten and there is a nice extended 30-track playlist below too.

So, in no particular order, here are my favourite ten (then 30 below) tracks of 2018. Enjoy!

Omaloma – ‘Bubblegum’

Welsh artist Omaloma aka George Amor (Serol Serol & Sen Segur) has carved out special space on the musical landscape with a series of blissful, spacey psych-pop singles; ‘Ha Ha Haf’, ‘Aros O Gwmpas’ and ‘Eniwe’ in recent years.

This year, Omaloma added ‘Bubblegum’ to this burgeoning list of stellar singles. A first on vinyl, released as a 7″ single, ‘Bubblegum’ is utterly divine and marks the pinnacle of the project thus far. Sung in English and Welsh, ‘Bubblegum’ is a four-minute sojourn to a spellbinding interstellar paradise. It coolly swaggers as it moves on by, leaving us in a dream-like state, with an alluring blend of slinky, synth-pop with psych brush strokes, woozy synth lines and Amor’s soft, soothing bilingual vocals. Instantly lovable, it breezes gracefully by with a seductive soulful underbelly and charm to woo you.

ilu – ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’

Dividing their time recording between Tallinn, Estonia and rural Wales, Ilu are a Welsh Psych/Krautrock outfit crafting epic, spacey, interstellar hymns – of Spiritualized proportions. Backing up these lofty claims is stunning debut single ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’. Propelled along Krautrock, motoric grooves ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’, spacey synths and heavenly harmonies envelop spiky post-punk guitars and bass rumbles which coalesces into one coherent, unstoppable sound. Sizzling danceable grooves are woven tightly into their mammoth tones and grinding churn, which is all punctuated with a beautiful yet melancholic sense of longing. As far as debut singles go, they don’t come much bigger or better than ‘Graffiti Hen Ewrop’; an immaculate palate of sonics, sounds and textures.

Accü – ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’

Accü is the multifaceted, genre blending solo project of Cardiff-based musician and producer Angharad Van Rijswijk. Accü’s debut album Echo The Red is one of 2018’s very best and lead single ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is quite something. An offbeat exploration of imaginative experimentation and colourful, kaleidoscopic sounds, ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is a spellbinding cosmic sojourn to psychedelic space. Fusing elements of frayed electronics, squelchy synths, soft-edged psych-pop it tips along a tidy drum beat with reverb-laced vocals swaying through a cascading sequence of crackling, frazzled electronics. Moving with a dreamlike, otherworldly aura; ‘Did You Count Your Eyes?’ is colourful, imaginative and fearlessly exploratory off-kilter pop.

Silverbacks – ‘Dunkirk’

Dublin-based outfit Silverbacks have delighted and excited at every turn thus far and none more so than with ‘Dunkirk’. A sprawling three-minutes of post-punk underpinned by an insistent, nagging bassline and increasingly manic, winding guitar lines, metronomic drumbeat and Gang of Four calibre bass lines. It is the ideal backdrop for Daniel O’Kelly’s stream of conscious musings of a dystopian future where Dunkirk, despite its history, has become a built-up holiday destination for young families. ‘Dunkirk’ is Silverbacks at their finest and signals strongest their evolution beyond their early Pavement-esque beginnings, to a coveted plain where parts Talking Heads, Television, LCD Soundsystem and Gang of Four can all coexist and flourish.

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Albums of the Year 2018

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Yes, it’s that time of year again, lists, lists and well, more lists – and from every angle possible. That said, drawing up a list of my favourite records from throughout the year is one of the most enjoyable aspects to the blog.

There was lots of great music in 2018 (as is the case every year) but here are 18 of my favourite records from the year – 18 for 18 if you will.

Without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2018. Enjoy!

18: Conor Mason – ‘On The Surface’

Conceived, developed and rendered into life over eighteen months in his hometown of Derry, Conor Mason’s fourth album is a treasure trove of musicianship and songwriting craft and is very assured in his musical landscape, conjuring the wistful wonderment of Elliott Smith, Grandaddy, Villagers and Matthew Jay. In essence, it is an exploration living life with uncertainty; the highs and lows, curiosity and change, and significance, or insignificance, of humans in the universe. Flowing gently by, amid a sea of hushed lilting vocals, whispering lyrical poeticisms and subtle instrumentation, Mason reveals himself master of hook, harmony and heart. At times fragile, tender and touching, his songs are paradoxically permeated by an air of richness and comforting warmth, yet shrouded in melancholy, and draped in Mason’s intuitive song writing and storytelling abilities. A beautiful record.

Listen in full here.

17: The Coral – ‘Move Through The Dawn’

The Coral returned with their ninth studio album in 2018 and their prolific work rate and flair for psychedelic folk and classy pop songs shows no signs of abating. Move Through The Dawn glides along serenely, laden with seductive, sweet melodies and lush string arrangements, with the likes of ‘Reaching Out For a Friend’ and ‘Sweet Release’ bouncing around your head all day. While ‘Outside My Window’ and ‘Stormbreaker’ remind us on The Coral’s other side (and the closest relations to 2016’s Distance Inbetween); heavier riffs, jagged guitars and general air of menace. It is another wonderful and solid record from one of Britain’s most enduring and lovable bands.

Listen in full here.

16: Kneecap – ‘3CAG’

Comprised of Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Provaí, Kneecap are a satirical hip-hop trio from Belfast who perform in Irish. The trio combine a fluency in Irish with an amazing delivery and a wry sense of humour to produce one of the most unique homegrown records of 2018. Over eight tracks, their mixtape 3CAG offers a satirical take on life for young people, with a particular west Belfast slant. If like me, your command of Irish leaves a lot to be desired, it doesn’t matter a jot. The beats are superb and so infectious, and the flow and lyrical skill on show is second to none, with plenty of laughs thrown in for good measure – anyone who might be sceptical to begin with will be easily won over, just press play.

Listen in full here.

15: Gwenno – ‘Le Kov’

Gwenno’s debut, 2015’s Y Dydd Olaf, was almost all in Welsh; Le Kov, sung in Cornish is just as stunning and serene a sonic dream. The music continues in a retro-futuristic psych-pop vein, but Le Kov is even more expansive sounding than Y Dydd Olaf. Gwenno’s calm, precise and often reverbed vocals navigate a whirlwind of electronic noise, intricately weaved mixture of moods, textures and pulsations, and soaring strings.The record feels alive, vital and organic, like a luminous dream, it is a place playfulness, shimmering beauty, mythology and modernity that are all interwoven with freeflowing ideas, synth-lines and electronic blips, and an undercurrent of poetical dissent. A stunning record – inviting and bubbling with creative ideas, energy and possibilities – from a unique talent.

Listen in full here.

14: Half Man Half Biscuit – ‘No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut’

Album number 14 from Half Man Half Biscuit sees Nigel Blackwell and company in top form with a collection of great, cheerful, upbeat tunes combined with witty, sardonic lyrics. Musically it picks up where Urge for Offal left off, a rocky, brash and pretty loud post-punk indie backdrop for sardonic but never cynical takes on everyday life. In short, it’s got what a HMHB LP always has; the irresistible wordplay, varying cultural references, surreal and improbable surreal tales, and the most quotable lyrics in the world. A real treasure.

Listen in full here.

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