Archives for November 2010

Manic Street Preachers to appear on Strictly Come Dancing

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:31 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

They might have just pulled out of this week's gigs (including the special homecoming Blackwood Radio 2 gig) but Manic Street Preachers have announced they're appearing on this weekend's Strictly Come Dancing.

Speaking on Twitter Nicky Wire said: "Unbelievable-we have got 'strictly come dancing' on sunday - mass communication indeed xx what to wear??"

Simon Price, The Independent's music critic and author of Everything: A Book About Manic Street Preachers, reacted to the news: "If a... Tory minister who supported Section 28 can appear on the same show as Bruno Tonioli, all bets are off.

"And if [she] can somehow become a 'national treasure', then maybe some of that strange magic can rub off on the Manics too. In this season of goodwill, personally I'm hoping that one of Nicky Wire's long legs will accidentally trip [Ann] Widdecombe down the stairs. Merry Christmas!"

Dan Martin of the NME told us: "It's undoubtably one of the stranger bookings we've seen in a while, but the Manics have been veering in and out of the mainstream from day one.

"If this was last year and they were performing Virginia State Epileptic Colony on the show then that would be more of a cause for comment. But there's always been two versions of the Manics, and right now we've got the shiny pop version. Some Kind Of Nothingness will no doubt fit into the show rather well, and you already know that Wire will dress for the occasion far more suitably than most of the acts they have on. It can't be stranger than Wagner doing Creep on X Factor last week."

The band's new single, Some Kind Of Nothingness (featuring Ian McCulloch) is out on Monday. On the day of Strictly Come Dancing they are also releasing a digital EP of the single backed with alternative versions of classic tracks Masses Against The Classes, Sleepflower and Yes.

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Quo tribute band's Christmas single raises money for Tŷ Hafan

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:39 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cardiff area Status Quo tribute band A Taste Of Quo are "bringing back the classic Christmas single" with a new track raising money for the Tŷ Hafan children's hospice.

A Taste Of Quo

A Taste Of Quo

I Can't Wait For Christmas Day is out on 13 December.

Jonathan Walker of the band said: "A lot of people have hailed the song as a bit of throw-back to the much loved Christmas releases of the '70s in the style of Slade and Wizzard, which is quite the compliment as that's what we were going for!

"The main purpose of the song is to raise money for Tŷ Hafan; it would be great though if the song sold enough copies for us to somehow sneak into the Christmas charts.

"Having tried to comprehend the impact that Tŷ Hafan must have on the lives of life limited children and their families, we really wanted to raise money to help support them. The idea of a Christmas song seemed like a fun and novel way of doing so and is something that everybody can get involved in.

"Hopefully people will like and decide to purchase the song and who knows, perhaps we could sneak into the charts, if we could it would be fantastic, as it would mean that we will have been successful in raising a fairly sizeable donation."

The song is available to pre-order from tomorrow (1 December).

In other Quo-related news, their drummer Matt Letley has recently completed his 100th time scaling Snowdon. He told the North Wales Daily Post: "A few weeks into the Quid Quo Pro UK tour I grabbed the chance to make my 100th ascent of Snowdon.

"The only problem was my total climbs to date stood at only 98. The solution seemed obvious - climb it twice in one day. I have to admit my legs were a tad sore the next day but the show in Warrington that evening was most definitely rocking. Playing drums wasn't a problem but getting on and off the drum riser was."

Manic Street Preachers gig cancelled

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:25 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Unfortunately due to an illness the Manic Street Preachers' show on Thursday 2 December at Blackwood Miners Institute is cancelled.

Radio 2 is hoping to reinstate this show in January and will contact ticket winners for first refusal when we have the new date.

The BBC apologises for the inconvenience and are currently negotiating a new date with the band.

Your call: Welsh albums of 2010

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:13 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

This time last year we were putting together our Top 10 Welsh albums of the Noughties. This year we're not going to come up with yet another critics' list - there many others to choose from - but instead we're going to hand the reins to you.

What has been your favourite Welsh album of 2010? Comment below or email wales.music@bbc.co.uk and in the run-up to Christmas we'll round them all up.

Whether you've loved the unusual pop of Marina And The Diamonds or you thought Bullet For My Valentine's Fever was your album of the year, be sure to let us know.

Let us know! Feel free to leave a comment. If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 28 November 2010

Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:33 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

This week's show features three hours of the most interesting (mostly) new Welsh music, collected by a crack team of music-hungry polar bears from the multitudinous, fractal corners of Wales. Special ursine attention is paid to The Gentle Good's delicate, heart-rending and hiraeth-fuelled Album of the Week Tethered For The Storm (Gwymon).

Alan Holmes treats us to something splendidly off-kilter from Stephen Davies.

Ben Hayes comes in clutching a love letter to his Commodore 64's music chip. I kid you not.

There are also archive tracks of Welsh ace from Rheinallt H. Rowlands, Manic Street Preachers, Mo-Ho-Bish-O-Pi, 60ft Dolls, Mum & Dad et al (well, the full list is just below!).

Welsh demos should be mailed (as hq .mp3s or download links) to: themysterytour@gmail.com or posted to:

Adam Walton,
BBC Radio Wales,
Library & Arts Centre,
Rhosddu Road,
Wrexham,
LL11 1AU

Thanks for listening/diolch am wrando.

Have an excellent music-filled week

Adam

THE GENTLE GOOD (Cardiff)
Aubade

CODEX LEICESTER (Mold)
Strong Like Bull

JONNY (Pembrokeshire)
Candyfloss

CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN (Llandudno)
Bodies

RUBY LUX (Bangor / Llanelli)
Westminster

CERI FROST (Cardiff)
The Static Ecstatic

TARAN (Barry)
Versek

RHEINALLT H. ROWLANDS (Bethesda)
Never Thought I'd Feel This Way

MANIC STREET PREACHERS
(Blackwood) Stay Beautiful

THE MILK RACE (Cardiff)
Miso Miso

MO-HO-BISH-O-PI (Cardiff)
Don't Rip My Face

GIRLS (Cardiff label)
Alright

MUM & DAD (Flint)
Dawn Rider

BAGPIPE WHISKEY
(Pembrokeshire) Jip In The Hip

FLYING BALLROOM (Wrexham)
Piss Crystals

URBAN LEGENDS (Cardiff)
Myth

MR HUW (Caernarfon)
Everything We Do (radio Sucks Edit)

60FT DOLLS (Newport)
Yellow Candles

THE GENTLE GOOD (Cardiff)
Old Window Song

JUG (Bangor / Camarthen)
Everybody Knows

CHRISTOPHER REES (Swansea)
How Did You Sleep Last Night?

THE SADIES (Toronto)
North Humberland West

Y NIWL (Gwynedd)
Wyth

STEPHEN DAVIES (Bangor)
Getting Up

MIDASUNO (Merthyr Tydfil)
Decent Assult

JO BARTLETT (Brecon Beacons)
Head And The Heart

DIDZ (Cardiff)
Suplex

TELEFAIR (Rhyl)
Until The Chains Come Off

MELYS (Betws Y Coed)
Ni Ddisgynna'r Aderyn

FERNHILL (Pembrokeshire)
Adar

AUDIODROID (Pontypool)
Vandalfrog

VVOLVES (Aberystwyth / Monmouth / Cardiff)
Vogue

ALEX MOUNTAINEER (Wrexham)
Something Better

THE MOUNTAINEERS (Wrexham)
Red Thong

CAN
Mushroom

THROBBING GRISTLE
Hot On The Heels Of Love

OOKAMI (Pontypool)
Luminata

LUCKY DELUCCI (Cardiff)
Winter On The Moon

THINK PRETTY (Cardiff)
Son Of A Gun

JOSHUA CAOLE (Cardiff)
Wish You Were Where

KAMIL WOLNIKOWSKI (JAMMER)
Mr Marvellous

FERNANDO REY (Swansea)
Embellishing The Absence Of Some Other Absolute

AMONG BROTHERS (Cardiff / Swansea)
Sam, Isaiah And The Wolf

THE GENTLE GOOD (Cardiff)
Pamela

Midasuno

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:01 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

In September 2001 I was in Manchester for In The City, an annual music conference and new bands festival, checking out the Welsh talent for the magazine I was editing at the time. One of the bands I'd not heard before, but this teenage foursome crammed onto a triangular stage in a tiny venue down a grotty Mancunian side street blew me away.

They were called Midasuno, they came from Merthyr Tydfil and were 18 or 19. They played with a chaotic passion that was very different from the other bands coming through at that time. I liked them enough to ask them to be the first band on the record label two friends and I wanted to put together.

Midasuno in 2002

Midasuno in 2002

Despite some great reviews in all the national music magazines and an exhaustive touring schedule, they didn't exactly set the world on fire and split up a few years later, after three record labels, a couple of line-up changes and an on-the-road rockumentary book written by Welsh author Rachel Trezise.

However, they're getting back together in their original line-up for a one-off show in Cardiff on 4 December. You might expect general ambivalence, but they've had to move the show to a bigger venue after significant interest.

Midasuno in 2010

Midasuno in 2010

It had struck me during the preparation work for Bethan Elfyn's Start Something Radio 1 documentary that Midasuno were cropping up in quite a few bands' reasons and inspirations for starting their own bands. Influence is something that trickles down the years, cropping up in unexpected places and in unexpected ways.

I bumped into Scott (now frontman of Cardiff noiseniks Exit International) a few days ago and we had a quick chat as to why suddenly a lot more people wanted to come and see them now than ever they did a few years back.

He gave the classic example of Swedish punks Refused, who split before it became clear that their canon of work (most notably their 1998 final LP The Shape Of Punk To Come) was influencing musicians across the world. You could also give examples such as Fugazi or Quicksand, whose sales have always been massively outweighed by their influence.

It seems to me that no matter how hard a band may feel they're banging their heads against brick walls at the time, it may be that their importance - locally, regionally, nationally or internationally - can't yet be fathomed. That's no succour in the face of poverty and public apathy, I know, but it's something.

What this means is that some years down the line, people who have been influenced by the band, or who look back at seeing them with a great deal of affection, are willing to part with their cash to see them one more time. If it can work with Shed Seven, it can work with anyone.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Midasuno again as it's going to be a bit nostalgic, highly exciting and - if I know the band - ridiculous. They're being supported by fellow locals S.K.W.A.D. (of a similar vintage) and youthful newcomers Reaper In Sicily.

It's amazing that the simple passage of time means that instead of Midasuno playing to a couple of dozen misguided fanatics, they're playing in an 800-capacity venue. And that's encouragement to all musicians.

Do you agree? Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Great Choral Study

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:10 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

Numbers of people becoming involved in British choirs have been falling for some years; a new study of the state of the choral scene will assess just how drastic that decline has been.

Researchers from the Great Choral Study will aim to "investigate the current and future trends, opportunities and challenges facing British choirs".

"Major questions are being asked throughout the choral community on the future of choral singing - is the television-driven popularity of choral singing the first signs of a rebirth of our choral tradition or simply a blip in the ongoing decline of a great tradition?"

Leading Welsh choral conductor, John Hywel Williams MBE, a recognised authority in choral singing, is an expert advisor for the British Research Team and whose long and established choral career makes him no stranger to the evolving trends in choral singing.

"While choral singing was a pillar of community life years ago, this has faced great competition in terms of competing social activities, changing work habits and the redefinition of community and home life dynamics.

"All this has had a profound impact on the positioning and popularity of choral singing within the community and across the land. With choral singing and 'the Land of Song' a key component of the image of Wales, to understand the trends and challenges for choirs and the future of choral singing is of great interest to Wales as a country."

We caught up with The Great Choral Study's Jeremy Williams to ask a few questions.

Do you think that the likes of Only Men Aloud are genuinely fomenting interest in lower age groups?

"Yes. Without a doubt, the likes of Only Men Aloud have brought choral singing to popular media and to a wider and lower age demographic. They have reached the wider demographic audience through popular media and brought much needed movement, visual engagement and glamour to the traditional static and aural approach to choral singing, whose lack of visual dynamism and glamour is not well suited to the popular media and commercial channels."

What do you say to those who think that musical genres come and go and it's natural for certain types of music to wane and disappear?

"I look at any music or performing art as an evolution. Some new genres or approaches may enjoy longevity, others quickly shine and disappear but most add some footprint or impact, however small or brief, in the general progress and evolution of the art. Current new choral phenomenon may last, may not but one thing is sure, they have been a catalyst in progressing the dynamic, visual approach of choral singing."

Are themed, amateur choral releases such as The Priests and The Soldiers taking potential sales away from traditional choirs?

"They may be doing so to a degree but such releases are reaching a far broader and wider mass audience market which traditional choirs were not attempting or succeeding to reach. I see a synergy here in that any new or varied approach to choral releases by alternative groups or commercially driven groups only drive greater public affinity and interest in choral singing - which is a good thing for the world of choral singing."

Prior to the study's research and conclusions, what are your thoughts about how choirs and choral societies feel about their current predicament?

"Many traditional choirs do feel they are losing the battle against declining and ageing membership. However, there are some who, through drive and innovation, are bucking such trends. The laws of Darwinism apply just as much to choirs as they do to the animal world. The choral organisation which will survive is the one that is most adaptable to change and meets the evolving needs of its environment and society."

What ways are traditional choirs investigating in order to publicise themselves and perhaps garner greater success, now that they're not one of the cornerstones of local life?

"Many choirs - but not all - attempt to break away from their traditional approaches. Performances are becoming far more visually dynamic and varied to drive greater entertainment and attraction with its audiences. Greater efforts are being placed on recruitment and publicity not only in the hope to attract new members but in many cases to maintain membership levels. Choirs are embracing the web and social media to drive awareness and following."

We'll be keeping a close eye on the Great Choral Study's conclusions and will bring them to you as soon as we can.

Pimp your horn this winter

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:10 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

Does your trumpet go off-key in cold weather? It's a common problem, but one Welsh designer has come up with a solution to keep those jazz notes from warping in the harsh winter chill.

Cardiff's Ali Kedge had the idea for the Warmahorn when her jazz-singing daughter Ruby Samba was playing an outdoor gig, accompanied by trumpeter Jonny Bruce, whose instrument appeared to be going out of tune.

"Jonny told me how difficult it is for brass players to keep their instruments good when it's cold," said Ali.

"Ruby jokingly said, 'why don't you make a little coat for it?'"

The Warmahorn is now getting orders from all over the UK and even from Europe, and Kedge is testing out a range of cornet, trombone and flügelhorn sleeves with the Tongwynlais Brass Band in Cardiff.

Our jazz-loving BBC South East Wales producer Andy Roberts has the full story.

The shape of (Welsh) punk to come

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:48 UK time, Friday, 26 November 2010

The Welsh rock scene, as evinced by Bethan Elfyn's Start Something documentary at the start of this year, is all very healthy and a regular presence in the UK's rock music press. That is, if they're melodic, poppy and full of hooks.

Nothing wrong with that, of course, but there is - as always - a harder, punkier, less polished underground of exciting bands ploughing their furrow. Here's a short round-up of those acts we think are worth checking out. The first three bands in the list are written about by Wales-based journalist and Lesson Number One promoter Noel Gardner.

(Please note: external links to bands' own websites may contain strong language or themes.)

33
Originating in Swansea, this band go back five years or so but never released anything first time round; having lain dormant for a while, they have a new line-up featuring Tony Sylvester (formerly of Fabric and Dukes Of Nothing) and an imminent 7" single of pounding, negative hardcore indebted to early '80s NYC.

Harbour

Harbour

Harbour
A south Walian quintet who all played their part in the area's DIY hardcore scene around the middle of last decade, Harbour already have a split LP to their name - with Facel Vega, an excellent Leeds-via-Porthcawl ensemble who recall mid-'80s Dischord Records stylings (see below) - and are about to have their melodic hardcore laid down again, on a single released by the Carry The Weight label.

Crossbreaker
Crossbreaker have so far released two demo cassettes (circa 2010, new hardcore bands are likely as not to 'do' tape releases) and the Thirty Days Of Night label are about to release a split 7" with No Reality. They play sludgy, downtuned hardcore which nods to veteran US heavies like Integrity.

The Saturday's Kids
Less hardcore than alt-rock, The Saturday's Kids are influenced as much by new wave and American post-hardcore as by the Minor Threat / Black Flag dynamic. They do very interesting, intelligent noise. The Art For Blind label has recently released the band's début 7" single.

Goodtime Boys

Goodtime Boys. Photo: Kayla Budd

Goodtime Boys
Here's a Cardiff five-piece featuring one-time Automatic man Alex Pennie. His collection of band t-shirts give some clue as to what to expect from Goodtime Boys: fast-paced, intelligent hardcore with tunes. They've had a track released on Barely Regal's recent compilation of Welsh artists.

Elsid
Cardiff's grinding, riff-heavy doom-sludge-punk merchants have a strong social/political commentary thing going on. They're currently unsigned but are touring with Warpath next year.

Ironclad
Sounding like they've come straight from the New York scene of the late 1980s, Ironclad are a screamy, passionate 'proper' hardcore. They're signed to Dead And Gone records (whose aesthetic is very recognisable to fans of American hardcore), they have a limited edition 7" EP out now.

Brutality Will Prevail
It does exactly what it says on the tin. Great chunky riffs and a metalcore vocal style from Cardiff here. Holy Roar Records have released BWP's Root Of All Evil mini-album recently.

A Thousand Arrows

A Thousand Arrows

A Thousand Arrows
In the Venn diagram of a band's own declared influences and 'stuff what I love listening to', this unsigned Cardiff band has the biggest crossover: "Helmet, Fugazi, Harkonen, Jawbox, Snapcase, Cave In, At The Drive-in, Quicksand, Handsome, Far, Stanford Prison Experiment and These Arms Are Snakes" they say. Yes, this is post-hardcore, and it's done very well.

Smiler
A "punk rock crust band" - whatever that may be - Smiler deal in frenetic, pounding punk rock. They feature members from local outfits such as The Cull and Spider Kitten. This is carnage rock and very fun.

Facel Vega
I'm informed they're jolly good, but their MySpace page keeps crashing my computer, so you can do your own research into this Porthcawl/Ton Pentre outfit.

If you want to find out more about the scene concentrated around Cardiff, check out CCHC MMX on MySpace or Alex on Twitter.

Do you have your own suggestions or comments? If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 21 November 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:33 UK time, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

This week's show features an excellent session from Cardiff's Bedford Falls. Huw 'Pooh Stick' Williams takes us back in time to Shirley Bassey's first single, the session for which had a tape operator whose fame was destined to increase exponentially. Lara Catrin translates Teflon Monkey and Ben Hayes reminds us of when it was okay for rock to have a groove, via the medium of Deep Purple.

Elsewhere mostly new Welsh music from all over our musically fecund land, and a sprinkling of ace from Welsh music's past.

Demos to themysterytour@gmail.com or posted to:
Adam Walton,
BBC Radio Wales,
Library & Arts Centre,
Rhosddu Rd.,
Wrexham,
LL11 1AU/p>

Have an excellent music-filled week!

Adam

FRIENDS ELECTRIC (Neath)
Opposites Attract

GRUFF RHYS (Bethesda)
Totally Understand

H. HAWKLINE (Cardiff)
A Cup Of Salt

SWEET BABOO (Bangor)
I Want To Write You A Song As Good As I Can

STEREOLAB
Two Finger Symphony

BEDFORD FALLS (Cardiff)
St. Swithin's Day (session Track)

HUSKER DU
Something I Learned Today

DYNAMO DRESDEN (Cardiff)
See The Way

STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR (Cardiff)
I Am Weatherproof

THE DIRECTION (Swansea)
Underrated

BADFINGER (Swansea)
I'd Die Babe

YSGOL SYR HUGH OWEN & MR HUW (Caernarfon)
Sosej, Sbrowts A Phwdin

BYZANITE (Swansea)
Ultimatum

WARRIOR CHARGE FEATURING BEA BROWN (Caernarfon label)
Closer To My Dreams

RICO SUAVE FEATURING SUPA DARKAS (Newport)
Closer To My Dreams

BAD SAM (Newport)
Newport Hotel

ROLLERCO (Newport)
Girona

DIDZ AND CHICO (Cardiff / Swansea)
Something New

CULPRIT 1 (Newport)
Screamer

Y NIWL (Gwynedd)
Pedwar

GIRLS (Cardiff label)
Oh So Protective One

THE SCHOOL (Cardiff)
Valentine

VVOLVES (Aberystwyth / Cardiff)
Wolves

MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS (Abergavenney)
I Am Not A Robot (doorly Remix)

GORKY'S ZYGOTIC MYNCI (Pembrokeshire)
The Game Of Eyes

JONNY (Pembrokeshire)
Candyfloss

TEENAGE FANCLUB
I'll Make It Clear

BEDFORD FALLS (Cardiff)
Wilmington (session Track)

SHIRLEY BASSEY (Cardiff)
Burn My Candle (at Both Ends)

SATURDAY'S KIDS (Cardiff)
Three Days

COLAK (Wrexham)
Sertraline

TOM WALTON FEATURING TRAXX (Penarth)
Trend Setters

WOWZER (Bangor)
When I Drop

TOPPER (Penygroes)
Wake Up Time / Amser Deffro

TOPPER (Penygroes)
Something To Tell Her

YR ANGEN (Swansea)
Gad Dy Wallt I Lawr

9BACH (Bangor)
Gwydr Glas

BART ALEVSEN (Cardiff label)
Strange Hypnosis

HOWL GRIFF (Aberystwyth)
Jean's Therapy

TEFLON MONKEY (Cardiff)
Y Mudiad

BEDFORD FALLS (Cardiff)
Summer Dress (session Track)

BASTIONS (Anglesey)
Warmth Of The World

MANSUN (Flint)
Being A Girl

DEEP PURPLE
Never Before

ADAM POTTS (Rhyl)
Drinking Song

CALEXICO
El Picador

DAVID COOPER ORTON (Penarth)
Harold's Parting

Duffy - Endlessly review round-up

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:39 UK time, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Duffy releases her second album this coming Monday and we've been scouring the interweb for the critics' appraisals so far.

Endlessly

Endlessly

BBC Music
"Though not without its charms, Endlessly is too slight and uneven to impress unconditionally."

The Independent
4/5
"...it's the classic 1960s songcraft of ballads like Breath Away and Endlessly itself which best showcases the developing depth of Duffy's delivery."

Daily Telegraph
2/5
"But although Duffy's voice ticks lots of boxes, there's a big blank space where her soul should be. And when she sings of heartache, I don't believe it's anything that couldn't be fixed by a chocolate milkshake and something twinkly from the high street."

Spin
7/10
"Endlessly becomes more convincing the sassier and more playful it gets ("It's a physical thing we got and I'm in paradise," she purrs on the spoken intro to Lovestruck). And Duffy sounds happier and happier the further behind she leaves that over-sprayed beehive 'do."

North Wales Daily Post
"The result is a radio friendly, well-produced pop record. Really, you would not expect anything less."

Direct Current Music
"Hammond brings a pop focus to the album and a dramatic shift from Rockferry's multiple producer and co-writer strategy."

Mydadrocks
"On paper, it makes sense to align Duffy with a craftsman of Hammond's calibre: after all, she is fundamentally a purveyor of commercial pop. But their collaboration reaps only minor rewards."
(NB. this is the same review as BBC Music's)

Entertainment-focus
Each track is a real gem with not a dud in sight. Duffy's made a second album that defies the usual curse for an artist making it look effortless and easy.

As more reviews come in, we'll be adding them to this blog.

Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

Need some assistance? Read about BBC iD, or get some help with registering.

Mike Peters charity concert

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:18 UK time, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Mike Peters is headlining a charity concert in Colwyn Bay next month.

Mike Peters

The Light of Day Wales concert is in aid Light and Day (Parkinson's research) and Peters' own Love Hope And Strength foundation for cancer patients and will feature the Alarm frontman, Willie Nile, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe D'Urso and Richard Barone.

The concert happens on 10 December at The Interchange, Abergele Road, Colwyn Bay. Ticket details are available on 01492 513216 or simon@bagoffrogs.co.uk.

My soundtrack to 2010 (part one)

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 09:07 UK time, Wednesday, 24 November 2010

As December approaches and Christmas songs start to take over the playlists, I've spent today screwing up my face in intense concentration and trawling the recesses of my mind to break down the first of my lists of the year.

Thankfully the playlist for BBC Introducing is online, so from the 40-odd radio shows we've done this year my mission was to find the gems, the pearls, the glistening tracks of wonder from a year which has had so much fun, excitement, and a myriad of 'favourite' new bands.

These are pieces of music have made me smile, and sadly produced spontaneous bouts of singalongs at the top of my lungs in studio. From a brilliant 11 months of music, here are my painstakingly edited highlights.

Top 10 Welsh tracks of 2010

Wickes - Binary Code (unsigned - Sweet Baboo and Voluntary Butler scheme colaboration)
Gruff Rhys - Shark Ridden Waters (Ovni/Turnstile)
Jonny - Gloria (Turnstile)
Islet - Ringerz (Shape Records)
Truckers of Husk - Awesome Tapes from Africa (Unsigned)
Among Brothers - Sam, Isaiah And The Wolf (Unsigned)
Cate Le Bon - Hollow Trees House Hounds (Irony Bored)
The Joy Formidable - Whirring (Black Bell Records)
Y Niwl - Undegpump
Gallops - Miami Spider (Holy Roar Records)

Top 10 non-Welsh Tracks 2010

Warpaint - Undertow (Rough Trade)
Avi Buffalo - What's It Good For? (Sub Pop)
Foals - Spanish Sahara (Transgressive Records)
Caribou - Sun (City Slang)
Zola Jesus - Sea Talk (Sacred Bones Records)
Spectrals - Peppermint (Moshi Moshi)
Dutch Uncles - Fragrant (Memphis Industries)
Hudson Mohawk - Joy Fantastic (Warp Records)
Darwin Deez - Constellations (Lucky Number)
Sleepy Sun - Marina (ATP Recordings)

Top 10 Unsigned Tracks of 2010

Vanguard - Femme Fatale
Kutosis - The Man Is A Ghost
Ivan Moult - Wasn't With me
Crash.Disco! - Something Like This
Lucky Delucci - Dec 1986
Sweet Baboo - I'm A Dancer
Houdini Dax - Robin You Lie
John Mouse - Last Great Rhondda Romance
Bastions - Island Living
Town - Eighteen

Feel free to comment. I've got a few lists left to write (best festivals, best experiences, top 10 albums) but there's only so much my little brain could cope with today!

Katherine Jenkins pic from Doctor Who Christmas special released

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:04 UK time, Tuesday, 23 November 2010

An image featuring Matt Smith, Katherine Jenkins and Michael Gambon from the forthcoming Doctor Who Christmas special has been released.

Michael Gambon, Matt Smith and Katherine Jenkins in the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special

Michael Gambon, Matt Smith and Katherine Jenkins in the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special

In the hour-long show, titled A Christmas Carol, Jenkins plays the part of Abigail Pettigrew. It will be the singer's first acting role.

Michael Gambon plays Kazran Sardick, a miserly old man whom The Doctor needs to save in order to free Amy and Rory from a doomed space liner. Read more on the Doctor Who website.

WNO's Max Project brings arts to North Wales

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:35 UK time, Monday, 22 November 2010

Welsh National Opera (WNO) is unveiling a three year, £120,000 arts project for north Wales.

The Max Project is "the first time WNO has offered up such a focused plan of activity in North Wales," according to Rhian Hutchings, director of the project, who was speaking to the North Wales Daily Post.

"Everyone from primary school children to regulars at the local community centre will be involved. There will be singing days, recitals and the chance to join a community choir that will take part in the world première of Gair Ar Gnawd, a new work."

The project will be based in Wrexham, which is celebrating a year of culture in 2011, and will feature a new opera inspired by Bishop William Morgan, the Welsh Bible translator, an opera pops concert, brass concerts and recitals by WNO musicians.

"Opera is a great vehicle for telling stories to a new audience, drawing on experiences that help shape their lives," says Hutchings. "We're interested in hearing those stories told in both Welsh and English, so Gair A Gnawd will put centre stage a key event in Welsh history that still resonates today."

Manics knock split rumours on the head

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:42 UK time, Monday, 22 November 2010

Manic Street Preachers have scotched rumours of an impending, indefinite hiatus an interview with the NME.

Nicky Wire has revealed that the trio are working on their 11th studio album, tentatively entitled 70 Songs Of Hatred And Failure.

"The next album will be pure indulgence," he said. "There's only so much melody stored in your body that you can physically get onto one record. It was just so utterly commercial and melodic."

Referring to the much-reported 'mass communication' of their last album, Postcards From A Young Man, Wire said: "In terms of mass communication we achieved our relevance and did it on our own terms. [Postcards...] is our equivalent of Abbey Road. From now on in, it's just The White Album all the way."

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RWCMD appeal gets stars' support

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:32 UK time, Friday, 19 November 2010

A £1 million fundraising drive by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) has kicked off and has been given a boost by a couple of Welsh stars.

Sir Tom Jones and Sir Anthony Hopkins have apparently donated to RWCMD's fund, which is raising money to complete the £22.5 million improvements to the facility.

These improvements to Wales' flagship arts educational establishment include a 420-seat concert hall, the 160-seat Richard Burton theatre and four new rehearsal spaces.

The RWCMD is asking the general public to become involved through 'The Big Give'. On 6-8 December, each pound donated will be matched, therefore doubling money going to the project.

Tickets released for BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 11:27 UK time, Friday, 19 November 2010

Postal application forms are now available for the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

This is the first opportunity for opera lovers across the globe to secure their season tickets for one of the most prestigious singing competitions in the world. Booking forms should be returned to St David's Hall by Friday 4 February 2011.

All eyes will be on Cardiff from Sunday 12 June - Sunday 19 June 2011 for the biennial competition which will be shown on television, heard on radio and online, and has become known throughout the classical music world as the premier showcase for opera and concert singers at the start of their careers.

Nineteen singers from around the world are currently being selected to join the Welsh representative, the tenor, John Pierce, for a place in BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011.

Every competitor will perform their choice of opera and concert repertoire in front of a distinguished jury and enthusiastic audience at St David's Hall, Cardiff. They will also have the option of entering the Song Prize competition in recitals of Lieder and Art Song.

Season tickets are for all the events taking place at St David's Hall and comprise four concerts and the Final for BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and also the Song Prize Final, priced from £50-190. In addition, you can apply for Song Prize season tickets for the four recitals at the New Theatre for £24.

Tickets to join the audience for the very popular Master Classes, led by members of the world-famous jury on the Saturday between the two Finals, are £8. Master Classes will be held on Saturday 18 June at the New Theatre Cardiff and at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Season tickets are available by post only. Brochures with booking forms are available from St David's Hall, Cardiff CF10 1AH, and should be returned to the venue by Friday 4 February 2011.

A booking form to download and details about BBC Cardiff Singer of the World can be found on the 2011 venues and tickets page.

Ticket booking for individual concerts will open on 1 March, but all available tickets for the Final on 19 June are likely to have been allocated to season ticket holders.

Duffy 'thought about walking away'

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:16 UK time, Friday, 19 November 2010

In an interview published in The Western Mail today, Nefyn singer Duffy says she nearly quit the music business as her career went stratospheric.

Duffy

Duffy

"I missed the simple things in life. Life had got so complicated. I needed time to step back and relax," she says.

"I occasionally longed for the finer things I used to experience which is being on an empty beach in north Wales, walking with only myself and my thoughts for miles around, but that being said, I never have any regrets.

"I forgot for a while what my job was, what my role was. I'm not a model. I'm not a celebrity. So who am I?"

Existential crises were eventually put aside by Duffy as she started work on her second album with American songwriter Albert Hammond. Endlessly is out the week after next.

Eartha Kitt singing in Welsh

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:58 UK time, Friday, 19 November 2010

The BBC archive is a mine of fantastic audio and video, and our colleagues at BBC Cymru's Welsh-language Cerddoriaeth music site have unearthed a real gem: Eartha Kitt singing in Welsh.

Legendary American songstress Eartha Kitt spoke four languages - and famously sang in seven. But did you know she also once lent that distinctive voice of hers to the Welsh language?

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She had apparently been practising singing the traditional Welsh folk song Mae Nghariad I'n Fenws for days before her performance on the BBC Wales programme Late Call, presented by comedian Ronnie Williams.

The programme was broadcast on 10 March 1971.

Green Man wins major festival award

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:03 UK time, Friday, 19 November 2010

After some years of growth and critical praise, the Green Man festival has won a major prize at the UK Festival Awards 2010.

Jarvis Cocker at Green Man

Jarvis Cocker at Green Man

The Crickhowell-based festival picked up the gong for 'Best Medium Festival' at the award ceremony last night.

Read the BBC Mid Wales news story

Jo Bartlett, of It's Jo And Danny, started the festival when she and her partner Danny moved to mid Wales. She told us: "We are so chuffed to win this prestigious award. It's obviously the culmination of many years hard work and the result of a great team effort.

"It's always especially pleasing to win such an award when it's voted for by the people that come to Green Man.Thanks to everyone who voted. It's already making us look forward so much to 2011!"

The award is a vindication of years of hard graft, astute booking and a non-commercial atmosphere which has made the festival a favourite of indie, folk and left-field music fans, leading to a growth in capacity seemingly not to the detriment of its carefully-crafted ambience. It's really nice to see a Welsh event succeed on its own terms and gain recognition in this way.

What do you think of the Green Man festival? If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Just face the music and dance

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Roy Noble Roy Noble | 15:55 UK time, Thursday, 18 November 2010

I was told once that I've got natural movement. The beat of the music could be matched by the beat of my heart. "You play it... and I'll sway it."

This came home to me this week when I chatted, on air in my programme, to Gavin Henson about his progress in Strictly Come Dancing. My word, he's getting better. His quickstep was a vast improvement on his previous displays. His problem, up to then, according to the judges, was his inability to let himself go: he couldn't unleash his personality. For years I had this problem - my natural movement was caged in a body beset with too many shy genes.

My grammar school days did not unleash my potential on the dance floor. They did try: in the sixth form, from September to December in preparation for the Christmas party, there were compulsory ballroom dancing lessons. We were frogmarched to the gymnasium, twice a week, for lessons in the waltz, the foxtrot, the cha cha cha, the tango and even the gay Gordon's.

I quite liked the latter, for it was quite structured and easy and you changed partners without too many mishaps. The rest was a maelstrom of arms, legs and a back so stiff it would have doubled as a gravestone.

Being allocated a partner was also a lottery. Boys would be lined against one set of wall-bars and the girls would be lined along the opposite bars. You could easily see which number in the row you were and, as you counted the girls to find who was opposite you, there was many a whispered groan of "Oh God, look who I've got," followed by a plea of "Go on, I'll give you half a crown if you change places with me".

Actually, I had a load of luck, I was allocated Delia, an attractive girl from the upper sixth, so I was a toy-boy. She was great, but the downer was that I was only comfortable with her and at the sixth form Christmas party I was hopeless in dancing with others.

The great things about those dancing lessons were the actual dancing teachers, who were the heads of PE for boys and girls. Mr Adams, for the boys, was in the autumn of his teaching career. He was 56. Miss Norman, head of PE for girls, was in the early spring of her teaching career. She was 24 and out of some glossy magazine.

She was lovely and the great joy was that if, as a young lad of 16, 17 or 18, you couldn't do a dance, she'd come and help you and hold you close. I have to tell you, one dip and turn in the tango with Miss Norman could advance a boy's education by a leap of years.

Roy and Elaine Noble dancing on their honeymoon

Roy and Elaine Noble dancing on their honeymoon

Over the years I've had lots of lessons and, to be fair, I have loosened up. My wife Elaine and I attended lessons together and it did help, up the point that the tutors in the class suddenly took a contract on a P&O liner to South Africa and left us mid-cha cha cha.

I can waltz, though, and I do like a jive, even though Elaine always says that the past landlord of the Gloucester Arms in Aberdare was the king of jive. He was better than me, even if he had to wear daps because of his bad feet.

My last musical lunge at dancing was my New Year's resolution, a few years ago. I wanted to learn the Argentinean Tango. I was given lessons, in a hall in Tumble, filmed by Heno for S4C, by a very lithe lady from Llanelli.

She was too good for me too powerful. Whenever she wrapped her leg tightly around my upper thigh it stopped all the blood getting to my ankles. I always ended up with nasty pins and needles. No, my body's beat being in tune with the beat of the music it may be, but only in the waltz I think. So, altogether now: "One two three, one two three..."

Roy

Roy Noble is bringing his famous storytelling skills to a computer near you as part of the BBC First Click Campaign - aimed at encouraging people to take their first steps to getting online. If you know somebody who needs help to get online, call the free BBC First Click advice line on 08000 150950.

Rhydian signs new record deal

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:14 UK time, Thursday, 18 November 2010

Classical crossover star Rhydian Roberts has signed a new record deal with new UK independent label Conehead UK.

Rhydian

Rhydian

Conehead has already had a platinum sales success with Peter Andre's Revelation album.

We spoke to Graham Stokes of Conehead. He said: "Signing Rhydian is a major coup for Conehead; plenty of bigger and better-placed labels were trying to get his signature but we were able to convince him of the commitment that a new and exciting label like ourselves could offer and more importantly the complete freedom we would allow him to make the kind of record he wants to make".

Recording will begin this month for an early 2011 release.

Tom Jones offers to sing for royal couple

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James McLaren James McLaren | 07:58 UK time, Thursday, 18 November 2010

Speaking at a Princes Trust event last night, Sir Tom Jones offered to sing at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, were he to be invited.

"People all over the world are excited about the royal wedding and I'm one of those people," he said. "I've always been a royalist and I always will be.

"If they invite me along to the wedding I'd happily come and sing a few songs."

Marina and The School get Rough Trade nods

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:20 UK time, Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Earlier this week, the influential - nay, prestigious - Rough Trade 100 albums of the year was published, and The School and Marina And The Diamonds were the Welsh entrants in the list.

Marina And The Diamonds

Marina And The Diamonds

A strike rate of two per cent probably isn't what we'd be hoping for, to be sure. However, my fellow blogging colleague Adam Walton points out that the number one record here, Caribou's Swim, was recorded in Bethesda by none other than demi-legendary Welsh pop maestro David Wrench.

(If you're not aware of David Wrench, obtain a copy of his second solo album The Atomic World Of Tomorrow on Storm Music. A superb, amazing set of arch pop and irony.)

Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 14 November 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 10:10 UK time, Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Here, in its full three-hour glory, is this week's celebration of Welsh music in many of its most interesting shapes and forms.

It contains a bloody-hearted acoustic session from The Doublecross, Alan Holmes reminding us of 21 Chimneys, Lara Catrin translating something beautiful from Cerys Matthews and Ben Hayes enthusing about 10cc. But the blood in its veins is the music. Over 40 pieces of it. All ace in their own right.

I shan't harp on, or dress it up, or evangelise to the point of annoyance: but there is some great music in there. I swear.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Please share the link with whoever you see fit. Brownie points earned by doing so are transferable at most points of ultimate religious judgement, or your local Spar if you prefer.

New Welsh demos and gig info/announcements/catcalls should be sent to: themysterytour@gmail.com.

To pretty much (seemingly) universal indifference, I am still maintaining the Welsh Music Calendar. It's my folly. I'll enter the furnace still typing See Monkey Do Monkey release dates.

Next Sunday night, Bedford Falls in session.

Have an excellent, music-filled week (comma optional).

Thank you/diolch yn fawr,

Adam

GRUFF RHYS (Bethesda/Cardiff)
Shark Ridden Waters

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS (All over Wales!)
Do Or Die

THE GENTLE GOOD (Cardiff)
Aubade

HARBOUR (Cardiff)
Mercurial

THE DOUBLECROSS (Cardiff)
This World Was Meant For Us (session Recording)

GINDRINKER (Cardiff)
Y Chromosome

FUTURE OF THE LEFT (Cardiff)
Fingers Become Thumbs

DIDZ AND CHICO (Swansea)
Something New

C.R.S.T. (Cardiff/Barry)
Bbc Radio 1 United Nations Theme

Y NIWL (Gwynedd)
Undegun

VVOLVES (Cardiff/Monmouth)
Wolves

MR HUW (Caernarfon)
Creuaduriaid Byw

MASTERS IN FRANCE (Caernarfon)
Little Girl

KLAUS KINSKI (Llanfairfechan)
Skellington Horse

HELEN LOVE (Swansea)
We Love You

THE LOVES (Cardiff)
Bubblegum

MR HEALAN (Cardiff)
Thrashed

TARAN (Barry)
Ap Huw

PARKING NON-STOP (Bangor)
Deutsches Medley

21 CHIMNEYS (Bangor)
Yellow Blue

ATTACK + DEFEND (Cardiff)
Clincar

COLORAMA (Benllech)
Box

PAPER AEROPLANES (Milford Haven)
Safe Hands

THE SNAKES (Cardiff label/Newport)
Wasting Time

THE DOUBLECROSS (Cardiff)
This Is Rain (session Recording)

LYN DROID FEATURING BEATBOX TANGENT (Bangor)
Llyn Droid

LEWS TEWNS (Swansea)
Nobsta Space Walk

ATTACK! ATTACK! (Valleys)
My Shoes (live In Wrexham For BBC Introducing's Bethan Elfyn)

KORELESS (Bangor)
Up And Down

PHIL DAVIES & THE NINJASMOKEBOMBS (Llangefni)
Morning Flight To Stocklholm

CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN (Llandudno)
Bodies

MC MABON (Caernarfon)
Get It Out Yo System

BASTIONS (Anglesey)
The Great Unwashed

JJ SNEED (Pontypridd)
Gobaith/Hope

JOHN MOUSE Got You Shaking Your Head (like David Gray)

HARK! A SHARK! (Cardiff)
Smile You Son Of A Bitch

PETE LAWRIE (Penarth)
Brakelights

SWITCH FUSION (Llanberis)
Mindlapse

CERYS MATTHEWS (Pembrokeshire)
Y Corryn Ar Pry

SEN SEGUR (Penmachno)
Pen Rhydd

THE DOUBLECROSS (Cardiff)
October Skies (session Version)

10CC
The Worst Band In The World

JONNY (Pembrokeshire)
Beach Party

GORKY'S ZYGOTIC MYNCI (Pembrokeshire)
Kevin Ayers

CHAILO SIM (Pembrokeshire)
Latch

Philip Glass writes opera for Music Theatre Wales

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:16 UK time, Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Famed American composer Philip Glass is taking his involvement with Music Theatre Wales (MTW) to new heights with a specially-written opera based on a Franz Kafka short story.

Philip Glass

Philip Glass

The Trial is a chamber opera based on the story by the Czech novelist and written expressly for the Cardiff-based opera company.

Music Theatre Wales' relationship with Glass goes back 21 years. The Trial will première in 2013 as part of the company's 25th anniversary celebrations.

Speaking to Radio 3 recently, Glass said: "I've enjoyed working with Music Theatre Wales. They are wonderful to work with and they seem to like these 'odd' pieces for mine, and they do them very well. I think of my pocket operas as neutron bombs - small, but packing a terrific punch."

The Trial follows MTW's forthcoming recording of another Glass opera, In The Penal Colony, which is coming out on Glass' own record label.

BBC Introducing in Wales tour review

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 13:53 UK time, Monday, 15 November 2010

Last week BBC Introducing in Wales hit the road. Three shows were recorded with some brand new talent from around the Welsh towns and cities of Bangor, Wrexham and Swansea. I've already given you a bit of info on each of the bands, but here are a few thoughts after the gigs.

Masters In France

Masters In France

Wednesday in Bangor was more of a radio show than a normal gig concert, but it was great to catch up with a whole host of friends, musicians and bands from the Bangor area, especially after all the activities of Radio One's Big Weekend in Bangor earlier in the year. I Am Austin, Crash.Disco!, Y Cer, Catfish And the Bottlemen and The Stereotypicals were just some of the bands in the audience who'd come to see Through Colour, Masters In France and Attack! Attack! play a small selection of acoustic tracks. You can still hear the live show from Rascals in Bangor on the iPlayer online.

All three bands adapted their songs beautifully to the acoustic set up, and all three bands displayed incredible vocal gentleness and skill with such a stripped down set. Great night, great show and Bangor's ever-dramatic setting - sandwiched between mountain and sea - will always be an inspiration. I even learn how to do some beatboxing with the MC, Mr Phormula - that was an experience!

On Thursday at Central Station we had an opening set from AMFX which was lively, funny, daft and glorified nonsense in the vein of the best pop punk bands from the States. Next up, No Lights At Lockdown had the melodies and song structures of bands such as Lostprophets and Kids In Glass Houses, with perhaps a little fewer antics on stage, and a strange choice of cover from The Cranberries, but a strong set all the same.

They were followed by a very young band, Ocean City, who are pretty fresh-faced and to be honest need a little work polishing their act. They were playing a little prematurely as the penultimate band on a bill, but gave an enthusiastic performance all the same, followed by Attack! Attack! with full band line-up and playing whole host of songs from The Latest Fashion, which are already sounding like classic songs. It's surprising how quickly you pick up on their catchy choruses and undeniable adrenaline-fuelled rifts.

Highlights from Wrexham's gig will be on the Radio One show this Wednesday.

On Friday night we were down in Sin City, Swansea. It was my first visit to the venue right bang in the centre of the city, and just yards from clubbing central on the Kingsway.

Attack! Attack!'s Ryan and Neil with Beth in Derricks Records

Attack! Attack!'s Ryan and Neil with Beth in Derricks Records

Round the corner was Derrick's Music; the stories from owner Chris Stylianou about the shop's origins from 1956 and the famous people who have shopped there over the years were highly enjoyable. Sin City's big room was possibly a bit big for our Introducing tour, but we had a great show all the same. Swansea band The Effect, with their Muse-inspired crescendo of guitars, was an exciting start to the night, swiftly followed by the big ballsy sound of Tiger Please. Again there was a storming set from Attack! Attack! to close.

Attack! Attack! live at Sin City

Attack! Attack! live at Sin City

There were only three dates, but our tour around Wales has been incredible. It's been good getting out of the office and out of the studios and meeting so many new bands, being handed loads of demos, and getting a chance to see some bands live that we've been playing on the show. Thanks to all the venues, sound crew, bands and anyone and everyone who came along, and now I'm off for post-tour meltdown!

S4C's songwriting competition opens

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:15 UK time, Monday, 15 November 2010

S4C's songwriting competition, Cân I Gymru, has opened for entries.

If you write and make music in the medium of Welsh, and are over the age of 16, you could be in with a chance of winning a cash prize and a place at the Pan Celtic Festival.

Entries can be submitted on CD, mp3 or cassette tape (all competition details and rules are on the Cân I Gymru website) and the closing date is 7 January 2011.

See Manic Street Preachers' homecoming show

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:13 UK time, Friday, 12 November 2010

BBC Radio 2 have 180 pairs of tickets to give away to a very special Manic Street Preachers homecoming gig.

Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers

The band will be performing an exclusive show for Radio 2 on Thursday 2 December at Blackwood Miners Institute, featuring classic hits and songs from their new album Postcards From A Young Man.

Find out more about the gig on the Radio 2 site. All ticket details and terms and conditions are to be found on that page.

The gig will be broadcast live from the historic venue, and 75% of tickets are being reserved for people from the south east Wales area.

The ticket giveaway closes at 5.20pm on Thursday 18 November.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 7 November 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:43 UK time, Thursday, 11 November 2010

This week's three-hour celebration of fascinating new Welsh music slaloms from Bethesda to Cardiff, from Wrexham to Pembrokeshire, and beyond - like the most badly planned tour ever. Fortunately you can enjoy it without moving much more than a breathing or an itching muscle via the iPlayer.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vkjh8/Adam_Walton_07_11_2010/

New demos high in inspiration and imaginative excellence should be sent to: themysterytour@gmail.com

or posted to Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales, Library & Arts Centre, Rhosddu Road, Wrexham LL11 1AU

If you have any gig or release info for the show/Welsh Music Calendar, please send that to the same e-mail address.

I'm on a word fast before Christmas. I had a Damascene revelation (well, it was in Denbigh) and I've decided to let the music speak for itself.

What I played is detailed below.

Have an excellent, music-filled week,

Adam

GERAINT FFRANCON (Bethesda)
What Would You See If You Sat On A Beam Of Light?

STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR (Cardiff)
Deathbyugg

POLLY MACKEY AND THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE (Wrexham)
Higher

BOY CRIED WOLF (Cardiff)
No Comfort From Your Skin

UNDEROATH (Cardiff)
Illuminator (ollypop Remix)

MASTERS IN FRANCE (Caernarfon)
Little Girl

VANGUARD (Pembrokeshire)
Femme Fatale (live For Radio 1 United Nations)

STRAWBERRY BLONDES (Newport)
Revolution Radio

BELLIES (Cardiff)
The Singing Brain

BRANDYMAN (Cardiff)
Cockpit (session Track)

SWATHES (Wrexham)
The Weekly Respects

LUNGWAH (Bangor)
Morf

SPENCER MCGARRY SEASON (Cardiff)
Great Enemies

GALLOPS (Wrexham)
Oh, The Manatee

RETRAC (Llanfairfechan)
Lost Myself

WE ARE ANIMAL (Caernarfon)
Clean Up And Run

CODEX LEICESTER (Mold)
Hey Hey Hot Legs

PETE LAWRIE (Penarth)
Souvenir

HARBOUR (Cardiff)
Trepanation

PLYCI (Rhyl)
Flump

WHITE NOISE SOUND (Swansea)
Is It There For You?

HOWL GRIFF (Aberystwyth)
Jean's Therapy

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT
Depressed Beyond Tablets

LORNE LESLEY (Cardiff)
I Don't Know

STRIBLO (Newport)
Never Seen

LANDSLIDE (Camarthern / Cwmbran)
Dig A Little Deeper (trwbador Remix)

KLAUS KINSKI (Llanfairfechan)
Caesar

CASKADE (Cardiff)
So What

AKIRA THE DON (Bangor)
All Now, Or Never

DANCERS (Denbigh / St Asaph)
Excuses? Excuses!

THE HYSTERICAL INJURY (Llandeilo)
Snow

SENSEGUR (Penmachno)
Cyfoeth Gwlyb

CHANNEL SWIMMER (Cardiff)
Raiti

SECOND COMING (Bridgend)
The Night Will Absolve Me

THE DAMN BLAGS (Wrexham)
Oil Change

LIARS BEWARE (Aberystwyth)
Stay Invisible

GARDENING (Llanfairfechan)
Resting On A Planet

STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR (Cardiff)
Last Night I Happened Twice

MARY HOPKIN (Pontardawe)
How Come The Sun

ADRAN D (Ebbw Vale)
The Ascent

MANK (Bangor)
Butterfly Perception

Bohemian Rhapsody

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:14 UK time, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

This week, 35 years ago, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody reached Number One in the UK singles chart.

Queen

Queen

So what? I hear you ask. Well, it has a very special place in the history of music in Wales as it was famously recorded, in part, at the Rockfield studio complex near Monmouth.

Listen to a discussion of the single on Radio Wales' Jamie and Louise show:

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Recording began at Rockfield on 24 August 1975, after Freddie Mercury had constructed the whole of the near-six minute opus in his head, writing in his Kensington flat that spring and summer.

The track was so grandiose, so uniquely complex for that time in history, that Rockfield was just one of four studios used. It was the most expensive single ever made and necessitated so many overdubs that the tape ran clear from over-use.

Quoted in Jeff Collins' Rock Legends At Rockfield (UWP, 2007), Queen's producer Roy Thomas Baker said: "I remember Freddie playing me Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time on his piano at his place in London. Then later at Rockfield, with the basics mapped out, he focused on pinning down what was right. He played me the beginning part and said, 'Right, now this is where the opera section comes in' and he'd leave a gap and I'd have to imagine this dramatic opera style segment.

"And it just kept changing all the time at Rockfield. It took three weeks to record on a 16-track tape machine and we used 180 overdubs, which was very, very unusual for back then."

While not much of the song was actually recorded at Rockfield, it was largely honed and polished there. And a lot of its parent album, A Night At The Opera, was put to tape at the Monmouthshire facility.

It's hard to believe now, but it wasn't a sure thing that Bohemian Rhapsody would ever be released as a single. Its sheer length and its unusual structure simply didn't fit with the three-minute glam pop songs of the era.

But when Queen's friend and radio DJ Kenny Everett played it 14 times in two days, its success was assured. It got to Number One in November 1975 and stayed there for nine weeks. It topped the charts in eight countries and went top 10 in the USA.

Sixteen years later, after Freddie's death, it was re-released and again hit Number One, this time remaining there for five weeks. (It was the first single I bought, on shiny seven inch vinyl)

In 1992 it maintained its momentum with an appearance in the cult comedy Wayne's World, with its most metallic section providing the soundtrack to some superb synchronised headbanging.

Bohemian Rhapsody's legacy at Rockfield has provided inspiration to other bands down the years. Tigertailz insisted when recording there in the 1990s on recording on the same desk, and The Darkness actually recorded there with Roy Thomas Baker, in an ecstasy of classic rock history.

There are joined in a constellation of top rock acts who recorded at Rockfield after Queen's success there by the likes of Rush, Motorhead, Echo And The Bunnymen, Simple Minds, Black Sabbath, The Boo Radleys, The Charlatans, Coldplay, Manic Street Preachers, Oasis and The Stone Roses.

Rockfield's place in rock music history is unarguable, but it was largely down to the legend that grew up after the success of Bohemian Rhapsody three and a half decades ago.

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Friends Electric - Golden Blood

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:27 UK time, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

It's easy at the moment to think all the new bands coming out of Wales are of the rockular persuasion, but of course that's not the whole story. Neath's Friends Electric are one band who have ditched six-strings for the beauty of synths.

Friends Electric

Friends Electric

They release a new single, Golden Blood, on 29 November and it's been picked up by radio stations across the country, including Radio 2, Xfm and here on Radio Wales. Also, they've appeared on the Best of MySpace playlist and the Daily Download on NME.com.

It's easy to see why. It's a light, airy indie-dance track with a big, insistent melody that stands alone as a radio track but could easily have its beats steroid-pumped for a club smash. Work with me here, but it puts me in mind of The Klaxons (in a good way).

Watch the video for Golden Blood on their YouTube channel.

Friends Electric are ones to watch for sure, given their tours with the likes of Frankmusik and remixes for top-drawer talent like Kelis, Ellie Goulding and The Noisettes.

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Introducing on tour

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 09:31 UK time, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

This week I'm hitting the road with some ace new bands and heading to Wales' finest musical hubbubs in the furthest reaches of the country. Starting in Bangor today, it's Wrexham tomorrow and ending this whirlwind week in Swansea on Friday night.

Attack! Attack!

Attack! Attack!

We kick off the tour in Bangor and have the fine, Introducing-supported Attack! Attack! headlining all three nights, but also on the bill some exciting new names from each area. Here's my quick guide to the tour talent.

Bangor (Rascals venue)

Masters In France
Ed Ellis Jones, Mathew Ellis Sayer, Sion Morgan Edwards, Owain Dafydd Ginsberg and Owain Jones are Masters In France.

Masters In France

Masters In France

They are a beast of a live band with anthemic tunes, a hardy work ethic, and maybe an element of the swagger and croak of Kings Of Leon. Big, ballsy, lad rock with distinctive north Walian swagger.

Through Colour
Steve, Sharkey, Mike, Lee, and Jazzy are Through Colour from Anglesey, who have a definite affinity with the big pop rock anthems of the south Walian breed of rock. Engaging and energetic live performance.

Wrexham (Central Station)

Ocean City
Ross Bevan, Fraser Cripps, Will Saunton, Jack Weigh, and Ashley Wallace make up the latest promising, young, energetic rock band from Wrexham. Playing and composing since 2009, they've recently recorded their first EP with the songs Waves, Live Or Die, Scream Your Name, Rewind and Kitty Got Claws.

No Lights At Lockdown
Five guys with considerable passion for music got together late in 2008 and said, 'we're gonna be a band, no, we're gonna be a great band'.

No Lights At Lockdown

No Lights At Lockdown

Last summer they hit the UK with a headline tour that became a 'must see' act, playing 45 shows in three months, quickly following with a début EP Marks, Set, Go, which is a great display of their unique, powerful blend of hard rock and pop. The EP was released in September.

AMFX
AMFX is the vision of Graeme Kynaston who, their website tells me, recently went over to Ventura in the USA to record a five track EP with members of the band Army Of Freshmen. Graeme is back with friends Oli Williams (rhythm guitar), Darren Jones (lead guitar) and Lauren James (drums) to form the pop-punk sound of AMFX with a debut EP The Third Strike already in the bag.

Swansea (Sin City)

Tiger Please
South Wales' Tiger Please are members Leon Stanford Luc Morris, Tyla Campbell, Jimmi Kendall and Lewis Rowsell, and have been together since 2007.

Tiger Please

Tiger Please

They're no strangers to the Introducing show and are quickly becoming one of the next generation of bands in Wales who are moving on up.

The Radio One show will be recorded live from Bangor tonight, and broadcast at midnight, so if you miss it have a listen again from tomorrow at bbc.co.uk/radio1/bethanelfyn and we'll have some videos to share with you on this blog soon enough also. Keep checking back!

Siarad Cymraeg?

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:57 UK time, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Do you speak Welsh? If so (or indeed if you're learning the language), you might want to check out what musical material our colleagues at BBC Cymru have.

There are quite a few Welsh-language artists we cover here on BBC Wales Music, and we've put links to the BBC Cymru content on their pages.

Here's a list of those artists:

Nia Davies, the producer of the site, says: "Here's your chance to gen up on some of the most notable Welsh language artists from across the decades.

"As well as biographies and reviews the site also includes video sessions, audio clips, gig information and all the latest news from the Welsh language music scene.

"From here, you can also launch the C24 Player which gives you access to an entire archive of Radio Cymru sessions dating back to 2003."

Rhys Ifans to narrate first Welsh-language version of Peter And The Wolf

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:53 UK time, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A north Wales orchestra is hoping to record the first Welsh-language version of Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf, narrated by actor Rhys Ifans.

North Wales' Ensemble Cymru Chamber Orchestra aims to raise £30,000 to fund the recording and its release. Ifans has offered to donate his time free of charge and waive future royalties for the project. The orchestra, which has charitable status, hopes to release it next autumn or early in 2012.

"As someone who has had such a lot from growing up in Wales it's really nice to be able to put something back," Ifans said. "Peter And The Wolf is such a great piece and I'm looking forward to being a part of the first Welsh language recording and help get kids excited about this great music."

Rhys Ifans

Ensemble Cymru has been taking live classical music to schools and rural communities in north Wales for 10 years. It is the only full-time professional chamber orchestra in north Wales, and five years ago it successfully toured a Welsh language adaptation of Peter And The Wolf to 3,000 children.

Peter And The Wolf was written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev in just four days in 1936. The piece uses instruments to represent different animals, and is widely used to educate children on the various sounds of the orchestra.

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Gruff Rhys' Hotel Shampoo

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:13 UK time, Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Gruff Rhys has announced the tracklisting for his forthcoming third solo album. Hotel Shampoo will be released on 14 February 2011 on Ovni (Turnstile) and will contain 13 tracks.

Hotel Shampoo cover

Hotel Shampoo cover

The songs will be:

  • Shark Ridden Waters
  • Honey All Over
  • Sensations In The Dark
  • Vitamin K
  • Take A Sentence
  • Conservation Conversation
  • Sophie Softly
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Space Dust
  • At The Heart Of Love
  • Patterns Of Power
  • If We Were Words (We Would Rhyme)
  • Rubble Rubble

Hotel Shampoo is the follow-up to 2007's Candylion. Rhys recently told BBC 6 Music that the new album was planned as a collection of piano ballads.

"There's no dominant concept I'm happy to say. It's just a straight-up album of confessional piano ballads. I thought I was getting on a bit - the time had come to get a suit and record an album of piano ballads - except it always goes wrong.

"So that was the plan, and then I went to the studio and things turned out slightly different. So you've got songs like Shark Ridden Waters, which has some piano in there, but it's not really a piano ballad - but there's still some left on the record.

"Before you knew it, I was trying to write a song inspired by Jaws 3. It's a bit tenuous, but the word shark does appear in the title, so there is some kind of link.

"It's built up out of hundreds of noises and other people's records. There's bells, and chimes and the main sample band called The Cyrkle, a late-'60s West Coast pop band."

Rhys created a physical manifestation of Hotel Shampoo at Cardiff's Chapter Arts Centre last week, using hundreds of bottles of hotel shampoo he has been hoarding since starting his touring life with Super Furry Animals in 1995.

Watch Gruff create his art installation on his YouTube channel.

He says: "A gleaming new cosmos of hotel accommodation opened up for me. In an instant I was seduced by the free product available in the rooms. I hoarded these items in a rush of mild kleptomania.

"As fatigue set in and my collection grew, I note how much waste and environmental damage was involved in producing all this fancily-packaged chemical goo. I thought about creating a lake of soap as a statement of my anguish.

"In the meantime, as my insatiable need for more shower caps, gels and shampoo snowballed, every room in my house began to amass not only these plastic bottles but also their service industry cousins: the shoe horns, miniature sewing kits and slippers, emblazoned with the logos of random establishments from every continent on earth.

"Having never kept a journal of my travels, these items became like diary entries, triggering memories of some distant city as I slipped on a discarded bottle of conditioner from a Vilnius guesthouse on the stairs, or found a used Dutch matchbook inside the CD booklet for an album by Solex.

"We discussed as an act of revenge against the colonisation of our house by these soap-filled receptacles, I should build a hotel out of shampoo bottles. The hotel would serve to catalogue my transient existence and remind me of all those buildings and random people I've met."

Gruff built the hotel in three days and slept in it on the final night of construction. During his time on the road, he claims to have amassed a total of 555 bottles of shampoo or shower gel, 28 sewing kits, 22 razors, 26 packets of shoe polish, 36 toothbrushes or paste, 121 shower caps and eight sanitary bags, 27 combs or brushes, five pairs of slippers, 13 nail files, one badge, one bottle of olive oil and two keys.

Gwych Sounds: November 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:26 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

SEN SEGUR - Cyfoeth Gwlyb

Things have been deathly quiet with regards songs sung in Welsh this year. There are notable exceptions: Jen Jeniro, Y Niwl (instrumentals, I know - but made by minds that think yn Cymraeg), Race Horses, 9bach, Yucatan... maybe there are more exceptions than I thought! Still, the general feeling is that it has been a quiet 2010. Penmachno's Sen Segur arrive, then, to find an audience of famished ears. Lucky, then, that the miracles within their music can transform the bread and fish of Cyfoeth Gwlyb into something to feed them all.

This track, excellently produced by John Lawrence, starts off like a hibernating bear dreaming Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets, double-tracked, misty eBows rolling into fuzzy earholes. The hammond and twangy bass tumble in through a time tunnel straight from the mid '60s. It's craggy psychedelia, not two thousand light years from Jen Jeniro, with all the compulsive mystery of silhouetted other worlds just out of reach and a similar twilight charm to Cate Le Bon's best work. The lyrics are sung like a nursery rhyme obscuring a terrible truth, but they're all the more compelling for that.

Then massive guitars fall unexpectedly from the sky like napalm on Nant Ffrancon. It's one of the best musical moments of the year.

Sen Segur are a pagan Mercury Rev, maybe more somnambulist, certainly less maniacal than that band's early recordings. But this is spaciously claustrophobic and delightfully unsettling. Ace work.

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LIARS BEWARE - Stay Invisible

Dafydd Spink is originally from Aberystwyth. He's been in Sheffield for a few years now, collaborating with former Long Blondes and other denizens of that city's music underworld. Liars Beware aren't nodding their head to the beat of the Zeitgeist. This is an irony-free zone. There are resolutely no synth pads, no Buggles spectacles, no reverb units masking half-inched half-baked tunes. I suspect Dafydd likes The Fall and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I suspect that the hyperventilating fuzz that swathes this barracking recording is a deliberate attempt to remove Liars Beware from a world of artifice that'd otherwise suffocate them. It works. They stand far apart, lepers ringing a bell plugged into a SuperMuff BigFuzz. Brilliant.

This track is from their second EP, Endless Adolescence, available on cassette only through Kicking Against The Pricks.

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CHANNEL SWIMMER - Raiti

Every piece of Mathew Mayes' work that I have heard is an amusement park of dizzying ideas that demonstrate a profound sense of infinite sonic possibilities. If you were ever in thrall to the patchwork samples and scrapbook wonder of the Avalanches' début album, or you're at all drawn to the beguiling weave and weft of Air France, you're going to love Channel Swimmer's music.

Raiti is an organic swell of sampled voices, house breaks, grainy organs and crystalline plinks and plonks that bring to mind a reanimated 70's soundtrack. I get completely lost in this. Good lost.

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SECOND COMING - The Night Will Absolve Me

Dean Scott is originally from Bridgend and currently studying at Aberystwyth University. This is a piece of wonderfully minimal drum 'n' bass that's thankfully free of the clichés that have weighed that particular movement down. The haunting, cut 'n' paste use of the female vocal here is brilliant. You can trace a lineage back all the way to A Guy Called Gerald's massively influential Voodoo Ray, through some of the more esoteric and ambient house tracks of the late 90's, right up to this. I love the production, too. The slight distortion as the organ resonates gives the track a burred edge that reaches beyond the sterilised norm. Any club, any dancefloor, would reach some kind of apogee with this shaking the early morning sound system. And like all of the Gwych Sounds this month, bar Liars Beware, it transports you elsewhere. Maybe you'll be thinking of sultry beach parties in Ibiza or Thailand, but I'm freezing my nethers off on the pebbles at Aberystwyth and loving every second of it.

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THE DAMN BLAGS - Oil Change

I could write an essay on this. It's an incredible piece of music. But I'll have to be brief due to an imminent deadline and out of respect for 1) the band and 2) your valuable time. Consider this, though, while you're listening to this track from The Damn Blag's eponymous début album: when was the last time you heard a piece of music from a Welsh band that managed to so effortlessly absorb a love for so many disparate influences? I can hear The Fall, The Meters, Captain Beefheart, Beck, the Art of Noise, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Chic, Parliament... Many of these are unashamedly funky influences for a bunch of white Welsh guys from Wrexham. And why not? It's about time someone reclaimed 'the funk' from those who have made it funkless. The album is available, now. This track is so good I haven't explored the rest of it much. I fear that anything else I hear this year will pale wanly in comparison. Are you listening to it, yet?

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GARDENING - Resting On A Planet (no website)

No website? What kind of luddite makes music in 2010 without a website from which to inflict it on people? Well, the kind who couldn't give a stuff whether people like it or not. Gardening is Joss Mcmenemy from Llanfairfechan. Normally he makes the kind of hairpin bend, nosebleed techno that'd unhinge Venetian Snares and have him running for shelter in a soundproof cave. This piece, however, is probably the glowing ember of a brain burnt out by all that hyperactivity. It's Boards of Canada reduced to a constituent part and some barely functioning technology. It's so world weary and beautiful I want to inject it into me, or me into it. I don't like needles, so I don't know where that thought came from or where it's going. Resting On A Planet is a little bit Eno if Eno had been more heart than brain. Gardening shares a house with Klaus Kinski. Which probably explains everything.

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Please send your demos/self releases to: themysterytour@gmail.com

New band: The Last Republic

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 12:46 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

From west Wales an exciting new band has arisen called The Last Republic. I met them a while ago in a session they recorded for BBC Radio Wales, and their stories and adventures were captivating, their songs are epic, and their new album Parade was recently released. So let's meet The Last Republic.

Can you give me the story so far?

Since winning Road to V in 2009 we decided to record our debut album at Monnow Valley studios. It seemed to be the natural thing to do as winning the competition gave us a platform to build from. We had over 20,000 votes and a healthy amount of national press from it. After completing the album we were asked by our good friends the Levellers to go on tour with them (the band was my greatest inspiration growing up) around the UK. The icing on the cake then followed when we were chosen by Kerrang! Radio to play at the O2 Arena to 24,000 people a month before our début single was released. The timing couldn't have been better.

Are there interesting past stories or previous bands. I heard something about some musical family connections.

Our drummer Aron's dad played bass for Welsh language punks Y Trwynau Coch who I believe were the first Welsh language band to be aired on national radio by John Peel. The Trwynau Coch (the red noses) recently had a re-union and in true Trwynau Coch fashion drunkenly interrupted one of our pre-tour rehearsals and played a load of their classics. So the Last Republic equipment is now blessed with Welsh rock 'n' roll royalty.

It's not music-related but I'm apparently related to Howard Marks. My mum met him at Beautiful Days festival in the summer and our family paths cross.

The Last Republic

The Last Republic

Up till now, what have been band highlights - the tour with the Levellers perhaps?

For me personally playing with the Levellers was an amazing experience. I lost my father when I was 10, a really difficult time in life as starting comprehensive school was around the corner. I was searching for release, and I found that in the Levellers when my brother accidentally taped them off the telly. Their lyrics and messages, packed with a punch of folk punk really spoke to me and still do. My family and friends can't believe this personal achievement, especially when I take them to meet the Levs who I'm now very good friends with. They're great supporters of the band and such a good laugh.

Tell me about recording the album. Would you say this is your lifetime on record?

Hmm, I suppose it is a compressed journal of my life. The songs are most certainly snippets from my early memories as a kid to present. So much has happened in the last few decades that I've found it difficult to ignore certain events. (C'mon) Flood the gates, discusses my early memories of my parents and their friends struggling during the miners' strike period and how it still affects the community that I live in. There's a certain look on the old mine workers' faces that suggests their pessimism has had the better of them and that they'll never recover from their defeat to Thatcher's reign.

Other songs discuss the constant taking away from our privacy and human rights, paranoia and mass media manipulation. Let's Make Bombs is the first war protest song I have ever written. The title is inspired by a newspaper article written about Sigmund Freud in the 19th Century, the quote read: "The bourgeoisie making bombs in his living room," which ridiculed one of his papers which due to its sexual content relating to mental illness stood against the cultural norms of the period. Sigmund Freud is the most studied and famous psychoanalyst that we know. In relation to Let's Make Bombs, a million people marched through our capital among endless world protests yet our government still went to war with Iraq and murdered many innocent civilians along with many deaths due to friendly fire.

The Road to V was an early achievement. It must've been hard work.

It was a lot of hard work but well worth it as the results gave us an immense platform to work from. We gigged constantly, got the local press on our side and even went back to our old comprehensive schools which was a lot of fun. It was a four-month slog but if you asked if I'd do it again, I'd certainly say yes. We got to play to approx 15,000 people over two days and played on big stages. The weather was great, the crowds were fab and the lager was cold and constantly flowing, a great weekend and well worth the work. Oh and we got to see some of our favourite bands too, Elbow, Biffy Clyro, British Sea Power. Can't fault it.

So you've played the O2 arena with Bon Jovi. It's hard playing these big venues; how did you prepare for it?

I don't think you can actually prepare for it apart from all the rehearsals. We rehearse intensely as a band before any big gig or tour. There's obviously a lot of pressure because of the scale of the gig alone. It was most certainly an alien environment for us.

To put in perspective we played to a packed Bull & Gate gig the week before to approximately 120 people, and then the following week we got the call and was told we had a few days to prepare to play to 24,000 people. It was incredible and the audience were fantastic and got behind us from the start. We even had a proper stadium gig moment when we got the crowd to sing along to one of our sections of the song. I swear the force of 24,000 people singing my lyrics back at me not only blew my hair back like an 80s rock video but sent the greatest shivers down my spine. It was incredible.

Kerrang Magazine has just given you a great review, chuffed with that then?

The album is already having some very positive press and KKKK from Kerrang has made us all so so happy at TLR HQ. We had a lot of drinks when that came out. We are on tour at the moment and we woke up in Manchester and rushed to the shops to get the magazine, then spent most of the day in the pub until sound check. We were so pleased to have such support from a highly acclaimed magazine so early in our careers. In fact the overall support has been overwhelming in the last 12 months.

Tell me more about the ingenius idea for the Augmented Reality band t-shirt. Will the idea catch on as a business model?

The Augmented Reality t-shirt - or AiR Guitar as we've nicknamed it - came from a brainstorming session with the band & the guys who were making our website. The idea is that the t-shirt, which is printed with a guitar, is recognised through a webcam by a computer running the AiR Guitar application. When you pass your hand over the guitar, you interrupt the webcam's view of it and the application plays a note. This basically becomes the 'strum' that simulates the playing action.

Within the app there are two separate mp3 tracks, one which is the backing track and the other we recorded separately as the lead guitar. This guitar track is sliced into sections and locked to a graphic timeline that tells you the points when you should make the strumming gesture. If you get the timing right the corresponding guitar chord is played, if you get it wrong, a bum note sounds and they are locked out until the next chord. You can also record your performance which then shows up on our video wall and link it to Facebook etcetera.

When we first came up with the idea we thought it would be something fun for our website, but as we've worked on it and become more involved we're hoping that we can develop it into something we can roll out to other bands. These days, you can't just be a musician, you have to know about the business side of things and at the moment, as we've opted to put this album out ourselves, we're learning all the time.

Fingers crossed, it will catch on - it makes our fans feel a part of the band and gives them more than just a bog standard t-shirt. We've been running demonstrations at gigs and people have been queuing up to beat their mates' scores - it all got very competitive at one point! We've been having a laugh watching some of the performances back on the video wall too - maybe we'll compile a video featuring everyone's best bits.

What are the plans for the next few months?

We are on tour at the moment until 20 November. We have some Christmas shows too. Now that the record is out all we want to do is tour it as much as possible, we have always been about the gigging, it's where we feel at home. We have also been one of the first bands to be chosen for SXSW in Austin Texas next March so that is very exciting. We have just taken American management on and they have already started the ball rolling for us out there so to be chosen for SXSW is a great place to start with introducing TLR to the US.

We are already in discussions with US tours and European tours so there's a lot of busy scheduling work for our management, press and booking team to work out. Tour, tour, tour, tour, tour. See you on the road.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 31 October 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 12:08 UK time, Thursday, 4 November 2010

This week's show fought many-headed mythical monsters, braved bilious waters, clawed its way to the top of dizzying crags, all to find you three hours worth of Welsh musical golden fleeces.

And it was worth every death-defying moment!

OK.

All I did was trawl through the .mp3's in my inbox, diligently listen through the jiffy bags that had dropped onto my doormat, and go out to see a few bands. But that last bit brought me face to face with something far more terrible than the Gorgon. I saw a band in Wrexham who wanted to be Brother Beyond! In 2010! When will the baggy t-shirted nightmares END?

Centre stage on tonight's show are The Victorian English Gentlemens Club. They're as close as Wales has to a Wire infused Talking Heads. I don't know a band who are as restless as they are, both in the sense that they're frequently on tour (currently in Europe) and ceaseless in their creativity. We have the majority of their live set from this year's Swn Festival (minus the songs we'd already broadcast). It's a fascinating and brilliant set quite unlike anything else I saw that weekend. I can't wait for their recently completed third album. But this fills that yearning nicely for the time being.

I preview this weekend's Absurd Festival (Saturday 6 November - https://www.theabsurd.co.uk/festival/ ) - the most essential and fascinating live music event to happen in Northeast Wales in my lifetime. No word of exaggeration.

Ben Hayes comes in to talk about inspirational blues.

And there is amazing music from all over Wales covering the whole sonic spectrum.

Welsh demos/releases should be sent as a high quality .mp3 to: themysterytour@gmail.com

Or posted to: Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales, Library & Arts Centre, Rhosddu Rd., WREXHAM LL11 1AU

Due to post Swn comedown (a recognised medical affliction), I've rather let the Welsh Music Calendar slip out of date. If you have any releases/key events coming up, please mail me at themysterytour@gmail.com and I'll get it up to date ASAP. I know it's being used, but I'm only a poor excuse for diligence at the best of time so I NEED YOUR HELP to maintain it.

Any help would be much appreciated.

And if you have any thoughts/suggestions/creative insults etc., please send to: themysterytour@gmail.com

Have an excellent, music-filled week!

Thank you/diolch,

Adam T. Walton

COLORAMA (Benllech) Royal Victoria Arcade Pt 1

COLORAMA (Benllech) Box

HARBOUR (Cardiff) Catastrophising

GRUFF RHYS (Pembrokeshire) Shark-ridden Waters

CHANNEL SWIMMER (Cardiff) Raiti

JAYCE LEWIS (Bridgend) Solitaire

FRIENDS ELECTRIC (Neath) Golden Blood

ATOMCK (Newport) Finite Crisis

ATOMCK Dark Prism

SWITCH FUSION (Llanberis) Mindlapse

BONNIE PILGRIM (Snowdonia) Dawn Sun

JONNY (Pembrokeshire) Gloria

GIRLS (Cardiff label) Heartbreaker

VVOLVES (Aberystwyth/Cardiff) Wolves

THE SPENCER MCGARRY SEASON (Cardiff) The Girl From Milwaukee Immortalised In A Talkie

GALLOPS (Wrexham) Defbox

THE MICE ON THE MOUSE ORGAN (Mold) Heights

PARKING NON STOP (Bangor) Crystalline

BENSH (Cardiff) Doubt

DUBBLEDGE AND METABEATS (Cardiff) Making Of A Slave Aka Willie Lynch

THE DAMN BLAGS (Wrexham) Oil Change

DRAINS (Cardiff) Xang

ALUN TAN LAN (Llanrwst) Deud Wrtha Fi Am Yr Awyr Las

Y NIWL (Llanrwst/Bangor) Wyth

SENSEGUR (Penmachno) Cyfoeth Gwlyb

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB (Cardiff) Vegc #1

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB Vegc #2

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB Pistol Whipped

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB Vegc #4

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB Vegc #5

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB Vegc #6

THE VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB Vegc #7

ROOTS ORACLE (Aberystwyth) Enough For All

DARKHOUSE FAMILY (Cardiff) Red Leather

POLLY MACKEY & THE PLEASURE PRINCIPLE (Wrexham) Higher (jeuce Rework)

KLAUS KINSKI (Llanfairfechan) Black Bile

CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN (Llandudno) Bodies

COLOUR OF SOUND (Newport) Can I Follow You?

9BACH (Bethesda) Cariad Cyntaf

STD (Cardiff) Eldridge

QUIET NOISE (Pembrokeshire) Wood N Bass

LIARS BEWARE (Aberystwyth) Stay Invisible

SAVOY BROWN BLUES BAND Don't Turn Me From Your Door

THE LOVES (Cardiff) December Boy (radio edit)

6 DAY RIOT (London) Out To Sea

Sir Tom Jones honoured at charity event

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BBC Wales Music BBC Wales Music | 16:02 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Sir Tom Jones has received the prestigious annual Music Industry Trust Award for his outstanding contribution to music.

The singer, 70, was presented with the award by film director Tim Burton, in front of an audience of 1,100 which included Sir George Martin, Michael Ball and Rob Brydon. Video tributes by Priscilla Presley, Paul Anka, Don Black and Ethan Jones were also screened at the charity dinner, now in its 19th year, at London's Grosvenor House Hotel.

Tim Burton said of Sir Tom: "He's great. He's just the kind of person you like being around and he's just got that energy that is, like I said, there's not many people I've met in my life who are, you just feel that way, you know and so he's really a special person...I tried to learn something from it that way but I'm not as cool as he is."

Following a brief speech, Sir Tom took to the stage to perform hits including What's New Pussycat and It's Not Unusual, accompanied by fellow Welsh musicians Cerys Matthews and Kelly Jones.

Previous recipients of the Music Industry Trust Award include Sir Elton John, Peter Gabriel, Kylie Minogue and John Barry. The award has raised £4m to date for its two charities, Nordoff Robbins and the Brit Trust.

Welsh comedian Rob Brydon was among those paying tribute to Sir Tom, saying: "In Wales he's like a deity you know. I think everybody in Wales is just very proud of him, you know, for the way he has put the country on the map and I think a lot of Welsh men live vicariously through him. They kind of read about him and they see him here and there in the world living this kind of Austin Powers life and they go: 'Oh yeah, go on Tom.'"

Super Furry Animals lend costumes and memorabilia to Bangor University

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BBC Wales Music BBC Wales Music | 15:32 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Yeti costumes worn by Super Furry Animals are among items donated to Bangor University's Pop Archive.

The costumes were worn in the group's video for Golden Retriever, and in a number of onstage appearances, and on the cover of the 2004 live single The Man Don't Give A F**k. Other items loaned by SFA to the university's archive include stage costumes and posters.

Still from Super Furry Animals' 2003 video for Golden Retriever

Still from Super Furry Animals' 2003 video for Golden Retriever

Dr Craig Owen Jones from the university's School of Music said: "The pop archive was established two years ago as a collection of all sorts of items relating to Welsh pop music from the 1940s to the present day.

"We now have thousands of items, including posters from bands such as Y Blew and Y Trwynau Coch, magazines such as Asbri, Sgrech a Sothach and varied contributions from artists and labels such as Brigyn, Ectogram, Ankst, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci and others.

"We're very pleased that Gruff and the band decided o contribute their memorabilia to the collection. The archive includes many items from the 1960s and 70s, but it's important that we preserve every part of our musical heritage, which also includes what's going on in today's Welsh rock scene.

"We are currently filming video interviews with musicians and people involved with Welsh pop, which we aim to store in the archive to create a unique collection for any future researchers."

Men in SFA's yeti costumes outside a Cardiff record shop, 2003

Men in SFA's yeti costumes outside a Cardiff record shop, 2003

Thoughts on leaving Radio 1

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 10:44 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

After 11-and-something years at the helm of Radio 1's exclusive music show for Wales, I'm sad to say I'll be leaving the post this Christmas, but happy to see that Radio One have exciting plans for the show and a continued commitment to music from Wales.

Indeed, best of luck to my successor Jen Long who's been working with me on the show for some time and has a wonderful energy and passion for music. See the Radio 1 announcement from earlier today.

Jen Long, Darwin Deez and Bethan Elfyn at the 2010 Green Man festival

With Jen Long and Darwin Deez at this year's Green Man festival

This show has been my world for the past decade. It was an incredible honour and privilege to be the first female Welsh presenter on Radio 1 co-hosting the Session In Wales with Huw Stephens, and moving on to hosting BBC Introducing.

It's been an extrodinarily exciting time to be the champion of so many musicians and bands from Wales. The roll call of bands we've seen come through the studios include Lostprophets, Bullet for My Valentine, Funeral For A Friend, The Blackout, Kids In Glass Houses, Los Campesinos!, High Contrast and perhaps most surprisingly, Duffy.

More recently Race Horses, Cate Le Bon, and Islet are all quickly becoming the most talked about acts in Wales. Sessions, interviews, demo digging, DJing, festival hosting, a visit to Buckingham Palace, to pub sessions with Chris Moyles - time flies when you're having fun and the last decade has certainly flown by.

I've met some amazing people, I've worked with a great team, and the music and musicians have been friends as much as interviewees, all from bedroom producers, to travelling troubadours - its been the best, most varied, most incredible job in the world.

Particular thanks to the listeners of the show, all the bands and dance producers, to my wonderful co-host Huw Stephens who I presented with for seven years; my producer for 10 years Ed Richmond aka 'Radio Ed'; to inspirational DJs such as John Peel, Steve Lamacq, and Mary Anne Hobbs; and to Spillers Records in Cardiff where I first found my passion for music!

I look forward to the new challenges next year will bring and I'll be continuing to host the rock show for BBC Radio Wales, Saturday night 6.30pm.

BBC Radio 1 announces new names and times for nations shows

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BBC Wales Music BBC Wales Music | 10:35 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

BBC Radio 1 today announced a revamp of its Nations shows which will see the arrival of exciting new talent and a new time slot for the programmes.

From 9 January 2011, the current two-hour Nations shows that support the best new unsigned, underground and under the radar music from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland will move from Wednesday (into Thursday, 12am-2am) to Sunday (into Monday) from 12am-2am.

In addition, for the first time BBC Radio 1 will simulcast one in three of the shows across a nation and England. This will happen on a rotational basis with each of the three DJs (from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) being given the opportunity to boost their show's profile to a wider audience.

Alongside Rory McConnell (Northern Ireland), two new presenters are set to host the programmes in Scotland and Wales. Ally McCrae, 23, joins Radio 1 to present the show in Scotland and Jen Long, 25, will front the Wales show.

Jen Long

Jen Long

Jen is the broadcast assistant on the current Wales show and this is her first presenting role. She says: "I'm incredibly honoured to be taking over the show in Wales and really excited about all the amazing new music I'll get to inflict on people's ears. It's gonna be awesome."

Ben Cooper, Deputy Controller, BBC Radio 1, says: "The BBC Trust asked us to appeal to the next generation of young audiences, and within that to look for the next generation of new talent - and Ally and Jen are just that.

"Ally's enthusiasm and local knowledge is extremely impressive so we look forward to him bringing this to Radio 1 and Jen's passion for music and experience will ensure the show continues to champion the best in new music coming out of Wales.

"I'd like to thank Vic and Bethan for their passion and commitment to unearthing new music in Scotland and Wales respectively. They've made a great contribution to the station and we wish them well for the future."

As a result of the changes, Radio 1 will bid farewell to Scotland's Vic Galloway and Wales' Bethan Elfyn who, over the past eleven years, have played a pivotal role in shaping the station's commitment to new music. Both presenters remain in the BBC family with Vic on Radio Scotland and Bethan on Radio Wales.

Bethan Elfyn says: "After over 11 years at the helm, I'm sad to say I'll be leaving the post, but happy to see that there are exciting plans for the show and a continued commitment to music from Wales, indeed best of luck to my successor Jen Long whose has a wonderful energy and passion for music.

"I'm proud of the roll call of bands we've seen come through the studios including Lostprophets, Bullet for My Valentine, Funeral For A Friend, The Blackout, Kids In Glass Houses, Los Campesinos!, High Contrast and most surprisingly probably, Duffy. More recently Race Horses, Cate Le Bon and Islet are all quickly becoming the most talked about acts in Wales."

The Nations shows on Thursday 30 December will be a broadcast of each of the presenters' favourite ever show and on Thursday 6 January there'll be a 'United Nations' special featuring all the presenters together from a live gig.

The new Nations show replaces the two-hour catch-up zone in the Radio 1 weekend schedule; and Huw Stephens will present the Wednesday night (into Thursday) 12am-2am slot.

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