Tuesday 4 January 2011, 10:18
I've been scouring blogs, websites and some of Wales' busiest bands for a comprehensive guide to what 2011 has in store for us music fans.
Here are some new bands to look out for.
Releasing an EP in the foolish week of 21 December, erm, when everyone's in Christmas meltdown, seems like release suicide, but it stuck in my mind, and I thought I'd go back to this release from Monmouth/Cardiff band Vvolves. They've got a couple of South Wales gigs lined up, including an EP party on 29 January at Buffalo Bar, Cardiff, supported by Peski label mates Land of Bingo and Plyci. A couple of tracks are available online for download, but the artwork is worth the purchase alone.
Truckers of Husk/Jarcrew
Truckers Of Husk announced via Twitter over the Christmas Holidays that the new year would include "a new Truckers Of Husk Record and a Jarcrew gig, possibly". Having been featured in the NME just before Christmas as one of the great lost albums, I wonder if these recordings will finally see light of day, and the band finally get back into their stride with former Future Of The Left man Kelson Matthias on board.
It felt like he came from nowhere at the end of 2010, having played in various South Wales bands, but never really pushing his own material. A happy pairing with the close-knit Shape Records and a tour with Gruff Rhys, H Hawkline managed to consolidate ideas and confidence and the latter few performances we saw were skilled, tight, and melodically sublime. In an interview, he said there will be new recordings out soon as possible too.
Strange News From Another Star
With 3D vinyl artwork and thundering basslines, the new The Deathbyugg EP from Cardiff's Strange News will be a welcome injection of fun to the Welsh music calandar. Listen to new tracks, Bullets and I Am Weatherproof from it on their Myspace.
Here's what Jimmy said about the EP on their Myspace: "We recorded it down at Musicbox in Cardiff. (We only go there, because there's somewhere to lock our bikes outside.) Mr Charlie Francis was in control of the sound again. He said: 'Boys, it's time you cleaned up your act. Your last EP was too dirty. Pure filth.' He introduced us to Julie and Rachel. Two girls he'd found busking in Sheffield, outside the 24 hour Greggs. "These two lovely ladies will be joining you. They'll sing and make everything better."
With new material at the ready having been selected to take part in the BBC Introducing masterclass weekend in Febuary, it seems Dan, Calvin and Tal might be a band where word of mouth and the support of Barely Regal record label is starting to take affect for the Cardiff trio.
Starting the year with an Album of the Week from The Sunday Times, is certainly a good way to make a mark. Support from a range of radio DJs is coming in too from Marc Riley, John Kennedy, and Huw Stephens and the fanbase will keep growing thanks to a New Year tour playing for and with Gruff Rhys will cement their introduction to the world.
Euros Childs and Norman Blake pair up for a project they've been quietly working on for years. This month and next we'll finally see them hit the road. I saw them play a one-off gig at the Laugharne festival a few years ago and their combination of melody, charming anecdotes, playful banter and heart warming songs will make this a must see tour, yes, go to more than one night. A vinyl release comes out at the end of this month.
I'm really looking forward to the new album from Tiger Please which has been inspired from real people's stories. I'm sure they will be sometimes hard to hear, but also uplifting as Tiger Please bring new levels of emotion to the heart of their epic sound.
I first met Avan Rijs as a solo artist, experimenting with soulful drum'n'bass. Since teaming up with Owain's folk guitar to make Trwbador there's definitely a mellower sound emanating from their combined talents, but utterly beguiling too. Setting up their own label - Owlet Music - and releasing a charming Christmas song, the wonderful folky beats and wonky songs of Trwbador will be charming its way into the new year. Download it for free at their website.
Cate Le Bon and Meilyr from Race Horses came together to record an exclusive session for one of my last Radio One Wales' broadcasts before Christmas, and what a thrilling result came from the multi layered keyboard only session. The multi talented musical pair spent a day together building songs that previously were beermat doodles from years of knowing each other, yet musical pen had never before been put to paper. What an honour it was for me to broadcast these sessions. Both promise that Yoke isn't just a one off, and we'll see gigs and a release before the year is out.
Hitting the ground running after a Christmas Number One with Cerdyn Dolig in the Welsh language charts, Colorama enter 2011 with a new UK tour and a 6music session for Marc Riley's radio show. Head to See Monkey or the band's website to get yourselves a copy of the November album release, Box.
Man without Country
Since finding themselves part of an unholy A&R scrum last year, the healthy recipients of a publishing deal, and playing Glastonbury and Maida Vale for various Introducing shows, Man Without Country have been quietly getting the album ready to release to the world this year. Here's an update from their website: "For the past few months we have locked ourselves away to write and produce our first studio album. We are happy to announce that the album is now written, produced, and recorded. We will be working with legendary British producer Ken Thomas in December/January who will be mixing the album. Ken has engineered, produced and mixed albums by artists such as Sigur Ros, Moby, Cocteau Twins, M83, and many others. We are very excited to collaborate with him. More details will follow."
Looking ahead to March and South By South West, the big Texan shindig is always a good place to launch your career either to the UK press/radio, to the business side of the industry or even a US market, as it's the biggest showcase of new bands on the planet.
This year playing and repping for Wales will be singer songwriter Jonathan Powell, The Last Republic and The Joy Formidable who also release their officially debut album The Big Roar at the end of this month.
There's also a New Project from Los Campesinos! in the offing. Eschewing the traditional music industry ways of tour, album, tour, record, album, tour, the Cardiff octet are back with an exciting project for 2011. Fans of the band have been subscribing for a unique quarterly band magazine Heat Rash that delivers so much more, including exclusive music from the band. Sign up at www.loscampesinos.com/heatrash/.
Lastly, if you've already got itchy feet and dying to find a new favourite band to champion for the year, the live area will be the best place to start. This gig by Lesson No 1 and The Joy Collective will be a stomper. I'm definitely gonna ditch the detox for this. At Cardiff's Buffalo Bar, on 21 January, Drum Eyes featuring DJ Scotch Egg will be supported by Drum Eyes, H Hawkline and Bear-Man (who feature current- and ex-members of Martini Henry Rifles and Brown Wings).