Monday 5 December 2011, 14:46
This is a shortlist of the artists and releases I'm most looking forward to in 2012. It's a very personal list. My only consideration is the music I already know I'm most excited about getting my ears around in the next 12 months.
In Treehouse, Gwynedd's Ifan Dafydd provided me with one of my absolute favourite pieces of music this year, a brilliantly musical extension of the kind of cut 'n' paste vocal, heavy subsonic embroidery his former flatmate James Blake has been lauded for.
That original demo I heard back in January has been reworked for a full release in February 2012. It's more strident than the demo, but the fascinating chromatic hues - almost Innervisions-esque - still glisten wonderfully in the background. Top, subtle work.
Shy And The Fight
Llangollen's Shy And The Fight release their debut EP (also in February). Big-hearted, intimate and beautiful songs that'll intrigue the ears of the cooler than thou fashionistas, whilst also bewitching normal folk. If the man in the street can whistle your tunes; the girl on the school bus has a crush on your doe-eyed singer, and the blogger in Shoreditch hears a new synthesis of folk and electronica in your more experimental moments (see the brilliant Breaks), then you're going to make lots of friends. And friends is what it's all about.
Llanelli's Cut Ribbons create anthemic guitar pop with more edge and life than the vast majority. The male/female dual vocals give them a mountain stream freshness. And their apparently copious ability to write big choruses that you want to hug close to your heart won't harm them, either.
They've got great rock songs but with a post punk credibility. Don't be surprised if they end up in the States doing a Joy Formidable. America will love their big guitars and unashamed heart on sleeve.
Georgia Ruth. Photo: Mission Photographic
Aberystwyth's Georgia Ruth will release her début EP on Gwymon in January. It's taken time; but our patience will be amply rewarded, because if there isn't a place in this world for a beautiful romantic, whose spell-like songs glow in the lineage of Dylan, Baez, King and Mitchell, what kind of world have we created for ourselves? She makes the old sound new and the new sound timeless. You can't dance to Georgia, or soundtrack a revolution with her début EP, but you can fall in and out of love to it, and many will.
Bastions. Photo: Chris Marti Stockings
Holyhead's Bastions are one of the UK's busiest and most highly regarded bands at the moment. But they will have passed under your radar (over it may be more appropriate) if you're not subscribed to the kind of blogs or magazines that laud the best in post hardcore. If that terminology turns you off, but you have a love for leftfield rock that burns with an evangelical, experimental zeal, then you will adore Bastions.
Their début album, Hospital Corners, came out last month - but will pick up momentum in 2012. It'll be one of the most listened-to Welsh albums of the year, but it's possible you may never hear any of it. Which is more a comment on the conservatism of the UK media than on the band or the album.
West Wales' drmcnt, wielding a name as uncompromising as his sound, smashes James Blake's coffee table up, and then some. A brilliantly messed-up musical mind shredding the manual and showing up the automatic. His début EP drops in February. Literally drops. It'll make the ground shudder. I'm not trying to use street language at my advanced age.
Finally, there is a host of excellent Welsh DIY bands who should enjoy deserved attention in 2012. People are going to become disaffected by pop music's sheen and manipulations in 2012. Music seekers will move increasingly to the periphery to hear things that are more exciting and less sanitised. Wales' finest young DIY bands Saturdays Kids/Sex Hands/Joanna Gruesome and Mowbird could all remind people why filthy guitars can be great, thrilling and unpredictable this year.
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Monday 5 December 2011, 14:31
Tuesday 6 December 2011, 10:00