Archives for March 2011

Feeder's Side By Side raises money for Japan

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 11:35 UK time, Thursday, 31 March 2011

We've all been shaken and affected by the events in Japan of late, and the situation is still grave for so many who have either lost their homes in the tsunami, or still evacuated from the Fukushima area.

Having visited the country on a couple of occasions and had nothing but the warmest welcome from the people, and nothing but the highest regard and affection for their wonderful world, I was thrilled to see that Feeder were releasing a charity single for Britain's Red Cross Japan appeal. Sometimes it's hard to know what you can do in this situation to help, but every little counts.

Side By Side

Side By Side

Feeder have obvious connections to Japan, since Taka Hirose joined the group many moons ago, and have played many tours over there. I called Taka in the middle of their current crop of dates in Europe, to find out more about the single Side By Side and how it will help to raise money for the Red Cross.

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The response online to the single has been really great too, so let's hope it raises lots of money for a great cause.

Side By Side is released this week and is available on many download sites.

Kylie Minogue, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff - Friday 25 March 2011

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 09:13 UK time, Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I've only been to see a few big pop tours in my time. As you can imagine, my speciality is the beer-stained, dark venues that are usually appropriately named part of the 'toilet circuit'.

However, now and again it's nice to lift yourself in life, and a walloping great big pop show is definitely the best place to put a silly smile on your face. So this is an unapologetic review of one of biggest and best pop stars in the world: Kylie Minogue and her £15 million Aphrodite: Les Folies two-night stint in Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena. And boy oh boy, what a show!

The stage set is lit with row upon row of Roman pillars and grandiose stairways jutting out right into the audience. There are the visual screens of floating Grecian bodies in water tanks, the live band, the incredible costumes and large troupe of athletic and super-hot male and female dancers. Yes, having seen her before on the Kylie Fever 2002 show, it's game-on for another full blown show

Kylie Minogue by Laura Nicklin

Kylie Minogue by Laura Nicklin

Designed by Dolce & Gabbana - and taking influences from Broadway, sci-fi, films and so on - it's a pop show like no other. It never ceases to amaze me how this pint-sized pop star manages to ensure that she is the centre of the attention throughout, and never eclipsed by the theatrics of the surrounding circus.

The first half of the set we are led (quite physically at times) around the heavily themed Aphrodite album, so there are more unfamiliar tracks to the majority of the audience, but big grand dance gestures keep us distracted. From the new album she sings Aphrodite, Cupid Boy, Get Outta My Way, Everything is Beautiful, There Must Be An Angel, All The Lovers and Put Your hands up (If You Feel Love).

Kylie Minogue by Laura Nicklin

Kylie Minogue by Laura Nicklin

The cover of Eurythmics' Angel... (with full-on gospel choir backing vocals, and winged dancers) is probably the first moment of apoplexy from the audience. Then some of the old hits creep into the set including Spinning Around, Can't Get You Out Of My Head, Confide in Me, and even a very touching (musical, not neurological) breakdown before Better The Devil You Know and Locomotion acapella; this alongside a little cwtch with a young girl, Jessica, who is at her first ever concert, and is called up to meet Kylie - aw!

Kylie Minogue by Laura Nicklin

Kylie Minogue by Laura Nicklin

There are so many visually incredible moments, and musically touching acapellas with tender emphasis of her stunning (and definitely live!) voice, that it's hard to pin point one thing from the whole experience. However, twist my arm, and I'll have to mention the human fountain of flesh-coloured bodies that rise in a circle around Kylie, as she is dressed in 1950s screen goddess retro swim cap and cape, with the dancers hanging from the trapeze ropes around the fountain, and scattering the water as they spin around. Like nothing I've ever seen before, and ever likely to see again. The waterworks generally are a highlight.

Kylie Minogue by Matthew Andrews

Kylie Minogue by Matthew Andrews

I also asked some BBC colleagues, and huge Kylie fans, to send me their thoughts. Here are some of their highlights.

Matthew Andrews
"One of my highlights was hearing her sing Confide In Me live which I've always wanted to see and she hit all the high notes at the end! Also who else could pull off riding an angel over the crowd? The show was one of the most camp, crazy and coolest things I've seen!"

Georgina Lee
"The dancers' bodies were a definite highlight. Kylie flying over the crowd on the back of a winged dancer was pretty impressive too."

Laura Nicklin
"I thought the costumes were amazing and she is a true showgirl. And to still look so fabulous after 20 years in the business is a real achievement. Musically it was a good mix of old and new and my god are her dancers hot."

Leanne Edwards
"The show was a delight to watch. Such a celebration. I have many highlights but I think the moment that touched me most was when Kylie asked a young girl to go up on stage with her, she made a little girl's dreams come true - very touching a truly inspirational lady."

Ed Cross
"I'd definitely have to say being able to get so close to the stage and seeing Kylie up close was the highlight of the night. I'm going again in London but the O2 is such a big arena, she'll just be a dot on the stage. It was a shame that there were so few people there but on the other hand it's great that there was plenty of room to move about and have such a great view.

"My favourite song of the night was her cover of Prefab Sprout's If you Don't Love Me, It's the B-side of Confide In Me but has always been one of my favourite songs. Kylie live is always such good fun, I danced all night!"

Jamie Lynch
"I liked the jazzy version of Slow (Body Language). I think this was when she was stood with dancers lying on the floor around her and the stage lifted up at an angle. All The Lovers' climax with the waterworks was an awesome ending with Kylie dressed in a kind of '50s glam swim suit and dancers in next to nothing!

"The campest moment for me, and all of us I think, was the rendition of Closer (Aphrodite) whilst riding the angel across the stage. I also loved the cover of There Must Be An Angel by Eurythmics which she wore the big feathered black dress."

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 27 March 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:40 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

This week we celebrate some of the highlights from our Radio Wales Music Day gig at Clwyd Theatr Cymru in Mold. You can hear a song each from Colorama (magical), Masters in France (pumping), Houdini Dax (exuberant) and Courteous Thief (rollicking). It was quite a night. You can live the whole evening vicariously on the iPlayer - but only after you've listened to *my* show, of course!

I'll be writing a full and exhaustive account of events at Clwyd Theatr Cymru as soon as my body and mind have recovered from the rigours of Radio Wales Music Day... admittedly not comparable to a solo trek to the North Pole, or a marathon in Death Valley. Still in the aftermath, amazing as the day was, I have felt flatter than a pancake squeezed through a nuclear-powered mangle by Posh Spice's pre-Autotuned backing vocals. THAT flat.

On Sunday night I arrived in Bangor, in an unfamiliar studio, in a rather discombobulated state of mind. So when my headphones started feeding back and echoing like a group flashback at an Ozric Tentacles gig at the very beginning of the show you can almost hear the sound of my sanity flapping its way out of the studio. Fortunately I just about keep it together and get to bring you first-time plays for EVM (Evermean), White Arrows, Kim De Bills, Tall Ships, Miacca, Y Cyfoes, Audiofreeq, Injured Ninja, Rush Keepers and Deaf Club.

Many of these artists feature on the Tasukete (Help) Japan Tsunami Relief compilation that has been compiled by Paul from Wrexham's Gallops. It's a brilliant compilation of mostly Welsh artists... well worth the paltry fiver they're asking for in exchange for the 36 tracks. I'll write about this more expansively in the next couple of days.

Elsewhere Lara Catrin translates something haunting and moustachioed from Tecwyn Ifan and Huw "Pooh Stick" Williams treats us to a blast of The Mekons.

Please send new releases/demos/gig info etc to themysterytour@gmail.com

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

Please get back to me with any feedback you have about Radio Wales Music Day. We're intrigued to know what you thought of the day.

Have an excellent music filled week,

Adam

LOOSE CAPACITOR - 'Theme From Robin's Nest'
Ruthin

GALLOPS - 'Joust'
Wrexham

HOUDINI DAX - 'Robin You Lie'
Cardiff

BASTIONS - 'Island Living'
Angelsey

EVM (EVERMEAN) - 'U Want More (featuring Amy Wilson)'
Mold

MESSNER - 'Taflaist Olwg [crash Disco Remix]'
Bangor/Manchester

MURRY THE HUMP - 'Cracking Up'
Aberystwyth

KEYS, THE - 'I Tried To Find It In Books'
Resolven/Cardiff

COLORAMA - 'Do The Pump ( Live From Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold For Radio Wales Music Day )'
Benllech

READS, THE - 'Broken Backs'
Penyffordd

RICO SUAVE - 'Voice Of The Youth'
Newport

NEDRY - 'Dusk Til Dawn'
London

WHITE ARROWS - 'City Boy (kks Mix)'
Los Angeles/Cardiff Label

KIM DE BILLS - 'Lavinder Lane'
Porthmadog/Caernarfon

TALL SHIPS - 'Chemistry'
Brighton/Flamouth

FALLS - 'Death In Disco Shoes'
Deeside

IFAN DAFYDD - 'Chop In Out'
Llanrug

HOUDINI DAX - 'O. L. L. ( Live At Clwyd Theatr Cymru For Radio Wales Music Day )'
Cardiff

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor/Cardiff

TECWYN IFAN - 'Gwaed Ar Yr Eira Gwyn'
Glanamman/Login

MIACCA - 'I've Got A Boyfriend Now'
Swansea

VOLUNTARY BUTLER SCHEME, THE - 'At The Height Of A Frisbee (featuring Sweet Baboo)'
Midlands/Cardiff

COMMANDER SHORT SHORTS - 'Looking Like A Fairytale'
Wrexham

JKLMNO - 'Subtle Changes'
Wrexham

CYFOES, Y - 'Mae'r Cyfoes Yn'
Camarthen

CHUGGIN' PETROL - 'Clap Clap'
Cardiff

SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'I Am A Runner'
Cardiff

AUDIOFREEQ - 'E.v.p.'
Llysfaen

YTU13 - 'Stardust'
Newport

MARY HOPKIN - 'Y Deryn Pur'
Pontardawe

AL LEWIS - 'The Arsonist'
Abersoch

HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'
Swansea

MEKONS, THE - 'Abernant 1984/1985'
Croesyceiliog

INJURED NINJA - 'Fallopian Tube Screamer'
Perth/Australia

MASTERS IN FRANCE - 'Greyhounds ( Live From Clwyd Theatr Cymru Mold As Part Of Radio Wales Music Day )'
Caernarfon

CLOCKWORK RADIO - 'Please You'
Caernarfon/Manchester

WOLF CURSE - 'Heathens Beneath Our Feet'
Newport

CY TUKAY - 'Network'
Wrexham

GALLOPS - 'Eukodol'
Wrexham

SOPHIE BALLAMY - 'My Friend, The Moon'
Llangollen

COURTEOUS THIEF - 'Ten Times ( Live From Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Mold For Radio Wales Music Day)'
Llandudno

RUSH KEEPERS - 'Violing4'
Wrexham

DEAF CLUB - 'Lull'
?

GOLAU GLAU - 'This Is Yesterday/Northern Lites'
?

MESSNER - 'Taflaist Olwg [plyci Remix]'
Bangor/Manchester

Claire Jones on Radio Wales Music Day

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:17 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

Claire Jones, the royal harpist, came into Radio Wales last Friday to speak to Roy Noble and Bethan Elfyn for Radio Wales Music Day.

She spoke about performing at Buckingham Palace on the occasion of the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

You can listen again to the interview here:

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Pete Lawrie interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:52 UK time, Monday, 28 March 2011

Penarth's singer-songwriter Pete Lawrie's début album, A Little Brighter, is out on Island records on 2 May. In the past year he's had singles playlisted on national radio stations, performed at Cardiff's Big Weekend, and generally come to the fore in Welsh music.

Pete Lawrie's A Little Brighter

Pete Lawrie's A Little Brighter

With the album imminent, I caught up with Pete last week for a short chat via email. Find out what he thinks about his own work, what he's been up to and listen to a few short clips of tunes on the album.

How has the last year been?

It's difficult to know where to start. The year started with a move to the bright lights of London. I felt I had to be close to the hub of what is going on, where the streets are paved with gold. The streets are in fact paved with stone and the shuffle of feet looking for the gold beneath the crisp packets. As the festival season began and the sun broke through, I don't think we spent more than a few hours indoors.

We made the most of a long term loan of my stepfather's camper van and saw more of Britain than the sun that we were chasing. From the Isle of Wight to Glastonbury to the Highlands and back, we went our merry way, playing our songs to whoever was kind enough to listen. The few days in between I spent washing a suitcase-full of shirts and recording songs.

As the summer ended we jumped on a few tours. Corinne Bailey Rae, Amy Macdonald and Rumer were all kind enough to let us share their stage. I try and keep a track of the cities we have yet to come through on this isle. There are not many left. We released a few EPs, met a lot of folk and had a blast. Now firmly into 2011, we aim to repeat much of the same. Roll on the summer!

Listen to Fell Into The River:

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What kind of reception have you got from press and the public so far?

I think people understand and connect with songs when you stand in front of them and sing them into their faces. When we play live, I get a real sense of connection, a sense that that's where we get people on our side. The press have been typically mixed in opinion, but that is to be expected and embraced. You can't please all of the people all of the time.

I feel like we are building a fanbase that will stay with us. It may be slow, but it is sure. The feeling that people know the songs and sing them back to you is incredibly moving. To know that a song that started as a chord and few words in my bedroom can move, in some way, a complete stranger is what keeps me going when its raining and I haven't slept and I am somewhere I cant pronounce.

Listen to How Could I Complain?:

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What can people expect from A Little Brighter?

I would like people to take from it that it is honest. In its slightly ramshackle, jukebox approach, is a common thread. Songs about childhood, nostalgia, friends and love through my eyes. Things that my friends and I have experienced over the years. I have moved around a lot: travelled and experienced the same highs and lows that everybody does. When I listen to the record I am always surprised at how upbeat it sounds, how positive it is and that is what makes me most proud. It is a summer record, a little melancholy in places, but in the right way, I hope.

With the record industry in turmoil at the moment, what expectations do you have for your début album?

I just want to be able to continue to play in front of people and to continue to make music. I would be lying if I said I didn't want it to sell a billion copies, but I'm happy to finally let it go into the world. Hopefully it will just continue to grow. I would like to think it is a record people will come back to.

I have tried to make a whole album, rather than a few singles and some songs to fill the gaps between. Its not all doom and gloom. The 'record industry' is in transition. The old model needs to adapt and it will. People will always love music. There will always be a way to get it to people.

Listen to Paperthin:

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Do you feel any pressure, being on a large label?

I have been lucky in the freedom I have been allowed at Island. I feel pressure on myself to deliver something I believe in. There is always a compromise, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Less of a case of 'too many cooks spoil the broth' and more that differing opinions are often valid and help to shape a record that hopefully appeals to a broad range of people. It's an interesting debate, when you consider who it is you are making music (or any art) for. I think it needs to be accessible but retain integrity and that is what I feel pressure about. I want to ensure that I tow that line.

How do you characterise your lyrics? Are there any themes which are common to your songs?

I love to write lyrics. I often write in the shower and then struggle to remember the lines. Time to invest in a waterproof pen maybe. A common theme is childhood. The memory of it through rose tinted glasses. Nostolgia is a big theme. That bittersweet feeling of looking back. It is a mood I have also tried to reflect in the music, but overall, I think writing the words is what I enjoy most.

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James Dean Bradfield Radio Wales Music Day interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 16:42 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Manic Street Preachers frontman James dean Bradfield came into Radio Wales this afternoon to speak to Roy Noble and Bethan Elfyn for Radio Wales Music Day.

James Dean Bradfield

James Dean Bradfield

Listen again to James talking about his love of John Cale and why the band covered the ex-Velvet Underground man's The Endless Plain of Fortune

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Gareth Bonello Radio Wales Music Day interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 16:04 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Gareth Bonello aka The Gentle Good, came into Radio Wales this afternoon to speak to Roy Noble and Bethan Elfyn for Radio Wales Music Day.

Listen again to the interview here:

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Frank Hennessy on Radio Wales Music Day

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:15 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Frank Hennessy came onto Radio Wales this afternoon for Radio Wales Music Day 2011.

Frank Hennessy

Frank Hennessy

He talked about the new breed of Welsh folk musicians who are getting him excited. You can listen again here:

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Emmy's Unicorn Radio Wales Music Day interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:03 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Emmy's Unicorn, the duo made up of Adam Lewis and Emmy-Lou Kay, came into Radio Wales this afternoon to speak to Roy Noble and Bethan Elfyn for Radio Wales Music Day.

Listen again to the interview here:

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Huw Williams Radio Wales Music Day interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:35 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Huw Williams, frontman with Swansea's The Pooh Sticks, was interviewed this morning as part of Radio Wales Music Day.

Huw Williams

Huw Williams

He talked about the attempt to regenerate the city's High Street area, the role of music and the creative industries, and the reformation of his band.

Listen to the interview here:

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Deke Leonard Radio Wales Music Day interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:03 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Deke Leonard, guitarist with the classic line-up of Swansea's Man, was interviewed this morning as part of Radio Wales Music Day.

Deke Leonard with Jamie and Louise

Deke Leonard with Jamie and Louise

Leonard talked about his rock 'n' roll career to Jamie and Louise.

Listen again to the interview here:

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Friends Electric Radio Wales Music Day interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:45 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Friends Electric, Neath's alterna-pop fourpiece, were interviewed this morning as part of Radio Wales Music Day.

They talked about their Radio 1 playlisted first single, Golden Blood, and the effect that BBC Introducing has had on their career so far.

Listen again to the interview here:

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Shaheen Jafargholi Radio Wales Music Day interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:14 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Shaheen Jafargholi, the Swansea teenager who shot to fame performing at Michael Jackson's memorial concert, was interviewed this morning as part of Radio Wales Music Day.

Jafargholi talked about his astonishing rise to prominence, and the effect that his voice breaking is now having on his material.

Listen again to the interview here:

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Karl Morgan Radio Wales Music Day interview

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:22 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

The first guest on today's Radio Wales Music Day was Karl Morgan.

He played four session tracks, including a Badfinger's Come And Get It.

Listen again to his interview with Jamie And Louise:

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Radio Wales Music Day is here

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:08 UK time, Friday, 25 March 2011

Good morning and welcome to a very special day for us here at BBC Wales; Radio Wales Music Day 2011 kicks off at 9am with Jamie and Louise and continues until Chris Needs wraps the day up at 10pm.

Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers

During the day, make sure you listen live to Radio Wales (or you can listen in many areas on FM: 93-96 & 104 FM, on medium wave on 657 & 882 AM, channel 0117 on Sky digital satellite, channel 714 on Freesat, channel 719 on Freeview (Digital terrestrial), and via channel 931 on Digital cable).

Also, I'll be blogging throughout the day, catching up with some of the best bits, putting up audio clips to listen again, uploading photos and flagging up what's coming soon.

Schedule of the day:

Jamie and Louise - 9am to 12pm
Live from The Monkey Café in Swansea, Jamie and Louise will be kicking off the day celebrating the best in New Welsh Music. Four bands will be performing live in the intimate setting of one of the premier acoustic venues in Wales: Karl Morgan, Toy Horses, Swansea's own powerpop group The Direction and Neath's fourpiece Friends Electric. Also joining Jamie and Louise will be guests championing the legacy of Swansea and west Wales in the history of Welsh music.

Roy Noble and Bethan Elfyn - 2pm to 5pm
With live performances from The Gentle Good, lauded by Mojo and BBC 6Music, Jonathan Powell, fresh from appearing at South By South West Music Festival in Austin, Texas plus a world exclusive - a track recorded by the Manic Street Preachers specially for Radio Wales Music Day. Also appearing are Emmy's Unicorn, a collaboration between soundtrack composer Adam Lewis and singer/songwriter Emmy-Lou Kay.

TJ's: The John Sicolo Story 7pm to 8pm
A special documentary showing how a nightclub in Newport became the epicentre for the 'Cool Cymru' explosion and earned legendary status.

Adam Walton and Alan Thompson: The Evening Show - 8pm to 10pm
Live from Clwyd Theatr Cymru - the climax to the day's celebration of the best new Welsh music comes with Colorama, Courteous Thief, Masters In France and Houdini Dax playing full-blown electric sets and yet more Welsh surprise music collaborations. Also included is a specially-recorded interview with The Joy Formidable.

Chris Needs - 10pm to 1am
The regular monthly Welsh Night, where all the music played on the show is by Welsh artists. Chris will be taking your requests throughout the show, so if there's any Welsh music you would like to hear, get in touch with the show.

"I want Bieber-mania" - The Blackout answer fans' questions

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:24 UK time, Thursday, 24 March 2011

Yesterday afternoon I met up with James, Gavin and Sean of The Blackout to put your questions to them. Many thanks to the hundreds of you who submitted questions to the Merthyr band; sorry we could only use a handful, but all were gratefully received.

The trio were happy to answer everything honestly, openly and humorously - so listen to these seven clips as they work through a range of topics, including, of course, their upcoming third album, Hope, released in April on Cooking Vinyl.

James, Gavin and Sean of The Blackout

James, Gavin and Sean of The Blackout

In this first clip, we kicked off with some silly questions, from Thoselungs, Cheshirecat and Blondiewonder. Icky tour experiences, loss of hair and making it big were covered:

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In part two, Vickyonmars and Scarletvenom asked about the PledgeMusic scheme and Twitter rudeness respectively:

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Staceylee, Charlxluv and Taylorsariot asked about touring with dream bands, regrets and opportunities:

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In part four, Sampan24 asked about the message fans can take from Hope, what happened when drummer Snoz 'bust his shoulder' and their least favourite song on the album. Meanwhile, Riotsquadamal asked how Hope is different from their previous two. Oh, and I get a kicking for picking the questions:

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Lilychan and Emma's questions for the band covered nerves before shows and the weirdest gifts that they get given:

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In part six, I lost the name of a fan who asked about bad fan reactions to their music (it was DannisARiot), asked about criticisms they've had for their PledgeMusic involvement and how they feel responsibility for their fans' welfare.

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In the last part, the boys talked about the mixed emotions when they release a record, the changing musical environment and its effect on their expectations of their lives in music:

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Interview with 2009 Cardiff Singer winner Ekaterina Scherbachenko

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 16:51 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Russian soprano Ekaterina Scherbachenko was the winner of the 2009 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. As this year's event gets into gear, she looks back at her 2009 win.

What did you gain from winning BBC Cardiff Singer of the World in 2009?

The exposure gained from competing in Cardiff Singer was priceless. My career only properly got under way following the competition. It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the advice I would give to this year's competitors is to choose the right repertoire. I now have a great agent, with offers from opera houses around Europe, and to be honest the competition was the turning point in my career.

Were you nervous before your performances?

In the first round I wasn't nervous. I was just happy and proud to be there, to sing in the great hall and in front of so many people. When the final night came, my nerves very much kicked in. When John Fisher announced me as winner, it was an unbelievable feeling.

What do you remember most about the competition?

The people who supported me during the competition were incredible, from the conductors, pianists, organisers to the backstage staff. I also received one-to-one advice from members of the jury afterwards.

The main advice was to think about every step in my career and to choose my repertoire very carefully. For me, being in Cardiff was the most valuable experience I've had; all aspects of my visit were memorable.

Ekaterina Scherbachenko

Ekaterina Scherbachenko backstage at the Semperoper, Dresden after her appearance in the title role of Iolanta in a concert performance with the Bolshoi in June 2010 (photo: Viv Goldberg)

What advice would you give to this year's competitors?

Before performing, it's important to rest your voice and your whole body. I exercise the voice, but not too much.

I always need to be comfortable in what I wear. When I perform in a recital or concert I always wear high heels and concert dress as I want to feel like a performer, but if I'm on stage in the theatre I must always engage with my character.

We understand that you're booked to sing all over the world.

This season, I've already sung Tatyana at the Monte Carlo Opera. I will make my debut as Liù in a new production of Turandot at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich under the direction of Zubin Mehta in April.

I will also début at the Metropolitan Opera (Micaela), the Glyndebourne Festival (Mimì) and the Teatro alla Scala (Liù). I would not have had these opportunities without BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

Radio Wales Music Day sneak previews

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:47 UK time, Wednesday, 23 March 2011

With just two days to go before Radio Wales Music Day 2011, we've got two sneak previews of interviews you'll be able to hear during the day.

Firstly, James Dean Bradfield talks to Bethan Elfyn about John Cale. Manic Street Preachers have recorded a very special Cale cover version of The Endless Plain Of Fortune from his Paris 1919 album.

You can hear the song and the full interview on the Roy Noble programme from 2-5pm on Friday.

Listen to a preview here:

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Later in the day, on a special Evening Show presented by Adam Walton and Alan Thompson (8-10pm), you can hear an interview with Mold indie stars The Joy Formidable.

Listen to a preview here, with Rhydian talking about coming from the town:

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Welsh music at Texas' SXSW festival 2011

Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 10:00 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Remotely reporting from South By South West (SXSW) festival in Texas is no fun at all, but having been for the past few years, I can't really complain (mumble, grumble) and I've loved seeing the continued support for the Welsh bands heading out to the cowboy state this year.

SXSW is one of the biggest showcases of new music in the world. It started as one long street of music venues pumped out live music all day and night, and has since spread to the whole city, with free microcosm festivals taking over empty parking lots and any space available in the Texan city of Austin, Texas, the self proclaimed 'live music capitol' of the world.

Despite not being there, it has been fun following the bands from Wales as they report on crazy parties, hot barbecues, free booze and their first impressions of the maddest festival in the annual calendar.

This year there was a particularly strong Welsh contingent of bands out at the festival at the official Welsh music showcase and at various other events, and I've tried to track down as many as possible, to ask them how things went for them at SXSW.

The Last Republic

Gallops, Bright Light Bright Light and We Are Animal. It was a cracking show. It was lovely to play with loads of other Welshies! The crowd was great, reaction was fantastic, venue was lovely! We also had free beer and food, as did the audience, which was nice! You don't get that back home!

"We Are Animal are an amazing band. We've never seen them before. Their show was cracking. Tons of energy going on. Bright Light Bright Light were awesome too. Nothing like a bit of pop to get you going before a gig!

"The rest of the week has also been amazing. Played some wicked shows to some amazing crowds. It's been lovely to have had such a welcoming and to have gone down so well. Here's to next year!

Jonathan Powell told me via Facebook about his mad time:

Jonathan Powell

Jonathan Powell

"Between encountering, respectively, Sufjan Stevens' ex-roommate, Michael Stipe and a checked-shirted Texan booze-hound who seemed really quite keen on 'getting down', I happened upon some of the best gigs I have ever seen, mostly from artists I have never heard of. Whilst names like Boy And Bear (Australia), Mieka Pauley (Boston), and Kill It Kid (Bath) are now searingly emblazoned upon my tequila-sodden mind, there were some pretty star-studded moments too.

"We accidentally got backstage at The Strokes gig, accidentally found our way to seeing Ellie Goulding (who entirely changed my opinion of her, Your Song or no), and quite by chance saw John Grant perform a song called JC Hates Faggots in a Presbyterian chapel. But everything in SXSW happens to you by chance (or fortune).

"You can try a schedule, but once 6th Street envelopes you, good luck getting to see that all-female Cajun dubstep troupe you read about. And why bother scheduling? I didn't see anything that wasn't brilliant. As an artist it is the most worthwhile gig I've done so far. Playing SXSW has opened up so many avenues for me on both sides of the Atlantic, including US college radio deals, supports all over the shop, potential publishing deals and a multitude of new listeners. I only wish I'd played more shows. Get thee to SXSW. Or more fool you."

Bright Light Bright Light's Rod Thomas sent me this report from the Welsh Showcase:

"SXSW 2011 has been an absolute blast. I was lucky enough to have three great shows in really good venues - two at Latitude 30, the British Assembly, and one at Ghost Room. It's such an amazing opportunity for new bands, to play somewhere were people from all over the world can see you before you're big enough to tour internationally, and to see bands who aren't big enough to come to where you live. It's a bit pot luck whether your showcase is any good so it's always a good idea to have more than one show - luckily all mine were well organised and busy!/p>

"The Welsh showcase was so much fun at Latitude 30, and the guys from Welsh Music Foundation were so fun to hang out with. It's VERY odd hearing Welsh being spoken in the middle of Texas! Aside from bands I played with, I saw some really amazing bands - old favourites like James Yuill, Casio Kids, and Owen Pallett, and first time views like Twin Shadow (who were incredible), Wise Blood, Baths, Chateau Marmont and of course the bands who you watch but have no idea who they are. Even if all you get out of SXSW is watching a few new bands, or meeting some people you've been emailing about shows but never met, it's just the best week full of sunshine, free food, free beer, (largely) good music and terrible dancing.

From Cerdd Cymru: Music Wales, and Welsh Music Foundation, Lisa Matthews sent this report on the Welsh contingent at SXSW this year:

"The showcased opened with We Are Animal in a flurry of bass guitar and cowbell to a packed crowd. They sound a lot more savage and boisterous live than on record and that had an affect, drawing delegates to gather outside the windows of the busy venue to hear more.

"From animal noise to the sophisticated pop sound of Bright Light Bright Light. Rod had played SXSW before but this new incarnation really is making a name for him in the US with his new single coming out there in a week or so. And he deserves all the plaudits. Gorgeous pop songs with huge hooks sounding both retro to the audience that grew up with Pet Shop Boys and fresh as a daisy to the Popjustice generation.

"The Last Republic had just rushed over from the SXSW conference centre where they had pitched their new AiR Guitar app to a team of industry professionals and now awaited their fate. TLR are just a huge sounding. stadium sized band with all-encompassing hooks and a stage-perfect showman. The people queuing to request contacts for BLBL were replaced by an equally long line for TLR info.

"Also showcasing at SXSW was Jonathan Powell and his band. Jonathan has made a really big impression at another of the big music industry events - Midem in Cannes - in January and as a result had been selected by Tony Moore, the promoter of the Bedford venue in London, for the Bedford Acoustic Showcase at SXSW, a far more sedate and respectful affair than most of the rough around the edges shows at SXSW, it gave Johnny's crafted songs the chance to be heard and appreciated properly.

"JP is a seriously gifted songwriter and performer, the former demonstrated again when he was joined by backing singer and secret headliner Charlotte Church for a short set. What a voice."

Also out in Texas for the first time, featuring Welsh members, were the electronic band Nedry, who played for Clash magazine among other official showcases. Matt from the band emailed me this feedback from their time in the Wild West:

"SXSW was a great experience for Nedry. It's everything you've read and heard about. As a small indie band, you really can't be prepared for the overwhelming experience and bedlam of the festival. We really enjoyed going to seminars during the day, learning about the particulars of the industry. Most of the panels we went to had UK representatives as well as US which really helped build a bigger picture for the industry at large."

"Without the PRS Foundation and UKTI providing funding for our journey and without the tireless work of Monotreme Records in supporting us with getting onto the right billings, SXSW would have never been possible and we would like to thank all of those who helped us get here including Clash Magazine for inviting us to perform at their party at the British Embassy Showcase. We rode around in the back of a pick up truck drinking beers, met some wonderful people and played our 100th show at a house party that stocked 3,000 beers. We really hope we can make the trip back to SXSW again in the future."

If you are in a new band and are looking to head out to Texas in the future, perhaps the first port of call would be the Welsh Music Foundation website, and the official SXSW website, where you can register your interest. Here's to 2012 - good luck!

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 20 March 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 08:29 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

This week's show is now available via the iPlayer. Please visit the link below any time between now and the start of the next programme.

The show features more information about the imminent Radio Wales Music Day.

"What's that?" I hear you splutter into a variety of caffeinated drinks (it's too early for me as I type this. Tea you could stand Cleopatra's Needle in is all that's keeping me going).

Well, BBC Radio Wales Music Day is a day-long, station-wide celebration of Welsh music on Friday 25 March. Up to date information about the line-up can be found on the BBC Wales music pages.

I will be co-hosting Radio Wales' Evening Show that night at Clwyd Theatre Cymru, Mold (my hometown). (FREE) Tickets are still available. For more information see this blog entry.

This week's show is also the last we will be broadcasting from our current studios in Wrexham. We've been in this converted dance studio since 1998. I'm trying to work myself into an emotional lather about the move, but I can't. It's just a building. What made this place for me over the last 14 years was the great Welsh music that has arrived here since Mark Hughes (MBE) came in and terrified me during a live programme (he was there opening the studios - but no one had warned me.).

Our new premises are, however, very spick. We'll be able to invite bands in and everything. Very exciting times ahead!

Still, I'm sure I'll shed a tear into our outdated desk's analogue innards before the end of this week's show.

Before that, Alan Holmes reminds us of the rollicking aceness of Handmade Noise; Lara Catrin translates something foamy from Bando and Ben 'Soundhog' Hayes brings in a rather fitting choice.

There is a fascinating detour to the Legendary TJ's in the company of Kurt and Courtney.

And there is a high density of ace music, including debut plays for Sophie Ballamy, Little Arrow, Golden Fables, the R-Kives and Autophase. And - finally - I play what I consider to be the greatest piece of music it's been my pleasure to hurl onto the airwaves from this soundproofed, hessian shoebox that has been the show's home these last 13 years.

Please send demos/new releases/messages of sympathy for the show's bright new future to themysterytour@gmail.com.

or (the old address will be fine for a few weeks yet):

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

Thanks/diolch/bye/hwyl,
Adam

GRAHAM THOMPSON - 'The Owl And The Haemorrage'
Croydon/London

SOPHIE BALLAMY - 'My Friend, The Moon'
Llangollen

KORELESS - 'Mti'
Bangor

MUDMOWTH & METABEATS - 'Life's Never Enough ( Radio Edit )'
Cardiff

REVOKER - 'Time To Die'
Rhymney Valley

CUBA CUBA - 'Hong Kong'
Cardiff

HOUDINI DAX - 'Robin You Lie'
Cardiff

SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Empty Spaces'
Cardiff

LITTLE ARROW - 'Aeroplane'
Cardiff

ANNI ROSSI - 'Texan Planes'
Chicago/New York (cardiff Label)

GALLOPS - 'Miami Spider'
Wrexham

MR PHORMULA - 'I Thought You Knew'
Llanfrothen

HOLE - 'Teenage Whore'
Los Angeles

NIRVANA - 'Blew'
Seattle

60FT DOLLS - 'Ponyride'
Newport

STAGGA FEATURING SKAMMA & JOE BLOW - 'Genik Riddim'
Barry

DIDZ - 'Hot Gal'
Cardiff

GOLDEN FABLES - 'The Chill Pt. Ii'
Ewloe

Wŷ/EILIR PIERCE - 'A.d.a.v.'
Ruthin/Bethesda

ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor

HAND MADE NOISE - 'Rememberland'
Bangor

PULCO - 'Place Lid On Me'
Bangor

ROBERT WYATT - 'A Sunday In Madrid'
Bristol

CATE LE BON - 'Disappear'
Penboyr

STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR - 'Last Night I Happened Twice ( Radio Edit )'
Cardiff

Y-CHROME - 'Hidden'
Cardiff

ATOMçK - 'Finite Crisis'
Newport

LAND OF BINGO - 'Bottle It In'
Mold/Manchester

PAPER AEROPLANES - 'Save It'
Milford Haven

GINTIS - 'The Bakery Song'
Rhyl

VIOLAS - 'Sea Shells'
Cardiff

MILK RACE, THE - 'Star City'
Cardiff

RKIVES, THE - 'Diazepam Days'
Newport

CLOUD4MATIONS - 'Dropout'
Llanberis

HOUDINI DAX - 'Whatever You Feel'
Cardiff

SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'The Old Comedians'
Cardiff

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

EDGAR BROUGHTON BAND - 'Apache Dropout'
Warwick

KORELESS - '4d'
Bangor

GRUFF RHYS - 'Christopher Columbus'
Bethesda

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor/Cardiff

BANDO - 'Shampw'
Prestatyn

MEILIR - 'Shifting Time'
Brynford

AUTOPHASE - 'Just Don't Stop (dom Kane Remix)'
Richmond/Cardiff

TOY HORSES - 'Interrupt (radio Edit)'
Cardiff

MCLUSKY - 'To Hell With Good Intentions'
Cardiff

GRAHAM THOMPSON - 'Peter's Cellar'
Croydon/London

Radio Wales Music Day 2011 - Jonathan Powell, Emmy's Unicorn and The Gentle Good

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:23 UK time, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Yesterday, Roy Noble was joined on his Radio Wales show by Bethan Elfyn and a few of the stars of the upcoming Radio Wales Music Day.

Gareth Bonello - aka The Gentle Good - talked to Roy and Beth, as did Jonathan Powell and Emma Lou Kay of Emmy's Unicorn.

Listen to a clip from the programme:

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 13 March 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

This week's show is dedicated to the memory of the late, great John Sicolo who died a year ago this week.

John co-founded The Legendary TJ's in Newport, Gwent - a venue that had a profound and positive impact on Welsh music. When I started doing my first 'proper' radio show in October 1993, the majority of the Welsh music we got most excited about had been nurtured or supported in that venue. It was those bands - Dub War, Novocaine, 5 Darrens, 60ft Dolls, Rollerco - that made me realise, very early on, the potential for truly great bands lurking relatively unknown in Welsh towns not unlike the one I had grown up in. It was an important lesson to learn. And it was TJ's - and John - that taught me that lesson.

We're moving premises in Wrexham at the end of the month, so there has been a major sorting out operation going on. I've been sorting through thousands of CDs/records/MiniDiscs/DATs/tapes & music papers looking for the most precious items to take with us on the move. After John's sad death last year, I scoured the building looking for an interview I'd conducted with him back in 1998. We didn't archive anything back then. I couldn't find a copy anywhere and sadly resigned myself to it being lost forever.

However, when I started clearing the shelves, the very first item I put my hand on was a dusty MiniDisc with the word 'John' written on it in my handwriting. I didn't dare believe it was a copy of the interview, but (obviously) it was. I've no idea how it got there and no idea how it was missed last year. Producer Jeremy has edited some of the highlights from the interview together for us to broadcast in this week's show in tribute to John's memory. What a man. Still sadly missed.

There is an hour long documentary, TJ's - The John Sicolo Story, being broadcast from 7-8pm on BBC Radio Wales as part of Radio Wales Music Day (Friday 25 March). Elsewhere in the show I play a selection of tracks from the bands involved and detail some of the ways we're going to be celebrating Welsh music on the day.

Tickets are available now for our gig in Clwyd Theatr Cymru (Mold) featuring Colorama, Masters In France, Houdini Dax, Courteous Thief and DJ Fuzzyfelt. Claim your free tickets (it's an 18+ event) by calling the BBC National Orchestra of Wales Audience Line on 03700 10 10 51, Monday to Friday 9am-7pm. Tickets are allocated on a first come, first served basis and will be posted to the recipients.

You can keep up with latest developments for Radio Wales Music Day on the BBC Wales Music blogs and via Twitter. The hash tag for the day is #rwmd.

Elsewhere in the show, Huw Williams takes time off from the Pooh Sticks' reunion gigs to remind us of Cindy Williams 60's singles for Parlophone. Lara Catrin translates some Geraint Jarman, and Ben Hayes treats out ears to some classic baroque pop from The Turtles.

Oh, and there is plenty of fascinating, Welsh music to get your earholes around. This week we have debut plays for My Pet Monster, Kat Jonband, Barefoot Dance of the Sea and Mars to Stay.

Please send demos/new releases/gig info/recommendations to themysterytour@gmail.com

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

Have an excellent music filled week,

Adam

60FT DOLLS - 'Piss Funk'
Newport

JOY FORMIDABLE, THE - 'Whirring (album Version)'
Mold

GENTLE GOOD, THE - 'Aubade'
Cardiff

LLEUWEN - 'Cawell Fach Y Galon'
Bangor

WOLF CURSE - 'Heathens Beneath Our Feet'
Newport

SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Pillow'
Cardiff

ROLLERCO - 'Rollercoaster'
Newport/Falmouth

JOHN SICOLO - 'Interview Part 01'
Newport/Falmouth

MANIC STREET PREACHERS - 'Motown Junk'
Blackwood

MY PET MONSTER - 'Whatdafughbug'
Cardiff

DERRERO - 'Radar Intruder'
Newport/Falmouth

NO THEE NO ESS - 'All Replaceable Parts'
Swansea/Cardiff

PAMELA WYN SHANNON - 'The Bee Boy's Song'
Wrexham

COLORAMA - 'Turnham Green'
Benllech

MASTERS IN FRANCE - 'Little Girl'
Caernarfon

HOUDINI DAX - 'O.l.l.'
Cardiff

FRIENDS ELECTRIC - 'Something You Should Know'
Neath

EMMY'S UNICORN - 'Call Out [live Version]'
Swansea

ESOTERRA - 'Montage Of Fat'
Cardiff

SOLUTIONS - 'Sons Of Daughters'
Cardiff

KAT JONBAND - 'Do You'
Chicago/Newport/Netherlands

HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'
Swansea

CINDY WILLIAMS - 'Eyes Of A Man'
Swansea

JAMIE ANDERSON & OWAIN K - 'Airwalk'
Cardiff

CATATONIA - 'Bleed'
Cardiff

JOHN SICOLO - 'Interview Part 02'
Newport/Falmouth

SMALL FACES, THE - 'All Or Nothing'
London

MILK RACE, THE - 'Attention Please'
Cardiff

DANCERS - 'Stay A While?'
St Asaph/Denbigh

MODERNAIRS, - 'Loss'
Bangor/Manchester

VIOLAS - 'Sea Shells'
Cardiff

FFRANCONSTEIN - 'A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Lab'
Bethesda

NODZZZ - 'Highway Memorial Shrine'
San Francisco

SAMOANS - 'Vladimir'
Cardiff/Aberdare

JOSHUA CAOLE - 'One Of You Again'
Cardiff

BAREFOOT DANCE OF THE SEA - '531 Miles From Aberdeen To Cardiff'
Cardiff

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor/Cardiff

GERAINT JARMAN A'R CYNGANEDDWYR - 'Gwesty Cymru'
Denbigh

MARS TO STAY - 'Staywell'
Cardiff

D. GRITTY - 'Real Talk (radio Edit)'
Cardiff

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

TURTLES, THE - 'Outside Chance'
Los Angeles

CHRISTOPHER REES - 'Heart On Fire'
Cardiff

SEAHAWKS - 'Into Night'
Pacific

RENé GRIFFITHS - 'Heno, Mae'n Bwrw Cwrw'
Patagonia

Associated Minds - Cardiff hip hop label

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:11 UK time, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

With the new Mudmowth And Metabeats album, Sledgehammer Kisses out now, we caught up with Associated Minds' head honcho Mayor for a chat about the label, his thoughts on journalism and his international focus.

Please be aware, some of the websites linked to in this interview will have adult lyrics and themes.

Mudmowth and Metabeats

Mudmowth and Metabeats

Explain the origins of Associated Minds and how you've developed over the years.

Associated Minds started after a meeting of minds at a De La Soul gig at Lakota in Bristol. Myself and Ruffstylz bumped heads. We clicked as two hip-hop obsessives with similar standards and approach to what the music and the culture offers and an idea was born from that moment on. We set about working on a label to release artists that we felt truly had some personality and creativity to offer the music. No clones. Hip-hop for the connoisseurs.

Ruffstylz

Ruffstylz

Who's on the roster at the moment, and how do you think they're doing?

Metabeats and Mudmowth; they're doing incredibly well right now. As well as the success of their current joint release they both have a tonne of new music in the tank which is due to drop, and we're just finishing off the second Metabeats LP which has not only improved musically from his critically acclaimed début album Metaphysical but also has an even heavier line up of world renowned artists. If heads don't love that album when it drops I honestly believe they don't love hip-hop. That simple.

P.L.O.

P.L.O.

P.L.O. is an acclaimed mix engineer, who's been the hidden guiding hand behind a lot of the music we've put out to date. He works on projects for companies like Native Instruments and Solid State Logic, and he's gonna start to emerge more this year as a solo artist in his own right. He's probably the most talented person I've had the honour of working with. And musically he's gonna show that.

Ruffstylz: he's smashing it right now. As co-founder he's done a lot of sitting back and letting people get their shine first and just dropped the occasional piece to show himself, but he's now got a monster of a track to come, Horserider. It's produced by P.L.O. and features the legendary Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, as well as the new shining light of hip-hop Homeboy Sandman. It really is a new school monster with three emcees who love the art of rhyming, riding the beat.

Willo Wispa

Willo Wispa

Willo Wispa - My favourite emcee from these shores, and our very own O.D.B. He's insanely inventive and people seem to love his charisma. He's one in a million. The Metabeats produced Lollipop Ladies Favourite track was a success for him last year and his LP should hopefully see the light this year. His LP will hopefully emerge like the elusive Bigfoot from the forest this year.

Ralph Rip Sh*t - Ralph has relocated to Holland but has been back here recording regularly. We have a bunch of new stuff from him coming out in 2011 - hold tight for the Hold That single and video from him and P.L.O. - some next styles. We're also looking at some joint releases with some Dutch labels with him so that could be good hold some interesting potential for us too.

What kind of reaction has Associated Minds got from the hip hop (and wider) press over the years?

It's been incredible. It surpasses my hopes for the music pretty much every time. It's still a huge pleasure when we make something, send it out to the wider world, and find fans, DJs and journalists who you respect appreciating and writing about your music in the way you'd hoped and intended.

Our latest release Sledgehammer Kisses by Mudmowth and Metabeats is getting radio play globally from Australia to Germany, has supposed 'super' DJ's like Laurent Garnier supporting it, and being critically acclaimed and track-listed alongside artists we never thought we'd be shoulder to shoulder with when we first started the label. That's extra special because we're making music with the purest of intentions and doing it from a spot that people don't even expect music like that to come from.

How does an independent hip hop label operate with all the current challenges in the music industry?

I think that for both artists and labels, it's currently a struggle given the current climate. For all the benefits that the internet has brought about - the demise of the industry and media 'gate keepers', and the creation of a more level and open playing field for independent artists - it's also led to a certain lack of quality control.

It's a double edged sword. It's not that amazing stuff isn't still being made, it definitely is - it's just there is so much out there now, that any listener has to navigate their way through a whole heap of crap to find it. The internet's being led by bloggers right now and a lot of them tend to go for a quantity over quality approach. Dare I say it - I don't wanna alienate people - but a lot of them weren't really cut out for journalism and just copy and paste the label's press release onto their site, as opposed to offering genuine informed opinion on the music. If that old-fashioned constructive critique could increase, i think all music across all genres would benefit.

The way we cope with that is to do the only thing we can - we focus on making good music and good creative products that help us stand out from the crowd, and then focus on pushing that out to the listener. So far people seem to appreciate that we try and bring that little bit extra to the table.

How do you think the Welsh hip hop scene stacks up at the moment?

There is a whole heap of good stuff going on here, seriously there is, but in honesty we're not focused on a 'Welsh scene' as a lot of our artists are actually from all over. Right now Ralph Rip Sh*t is based in Holland. Mudmowth's in Indonesia. Sam Rockwell lives in Australia. Willo's in London. Ruff and P.L.O. are both from London and constantly move back and forth between here and there.

If you ask me it's the localisation of music that holds it back. We're trying to look at hip-hop as a global scene with global standards and do our best to contribute to that. It's that approach that will make any music that happens to be made around here better.

Wales on the web

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 11:17 UK time, Monday, 14 March 2011

A friend sent a tweet this week saying, "Someone should hire me as a researcher, I'm dead good on Google!" It made me laugh because he's right. These days, for our music and our news, we depend so much on the internet to tell us what's going on. When I first started at the BBC, you couldn't do anything without a big fat phone directory. How times have changed - isn't that right, Day V Lately?

We all have some faithful websites and blogs that we like to visit, so here's a handful of mine. Some are glaringly obvious, and hopefully some will be a revelation.

It's always good to have a fresh list of websites that are worth checking out for up to date Welsh news, whether cultural or music related. I've even had some help from friends on Twitter for some of the following websites and blogs that we should visit on a regular basis. Feel free to add links to the comments if you think we've missed something vital.

Here's the best of the Welsh Web Bible:

Babylon Wales
With the most hilarious, sometimes dodgy, retro and modern finds to do with Welsh music ever. This is a museum between the walls of the internet. Amazing site!

Spillers Records
Good mailing list each week with some attractive offers and a really great nose for the best new releases.

Diverse Vinyl
Specialist vinyl mail order, great suggestions, vast Americana and psych sections, plus Diverse Records' blog for everything on the label, and vinyl reissues of some pretty big names. Clever boys!

Wrexham Music
Really great guide to all gigs and events in north Wales, at the heart of all things Wrexham and beyond.

Clwb Ifor Bach
Regularly updated, a great gallery, and some of the best gigs around.

Link 2 Wales
Music website from Neil Crud, an insight into the gigs, music and events in north Wales. The blog is a good ranty read.

The Quietus
A great webzine, even greater now I've noticed Cardiff journo Noel Gardner has a column on punk and hardcore! Score.

Datblygu
A website set up by fans of the band, but they've collected lots of the videos and interviews with Dave and the band over the years, and a list of every gig ever is promised. The music still sounds as vital today, and I'm glad to see such an important Welsh band having their dues with a good website for fans around the world.

Plastik Magazine
Articles, features, reviews, columnists, free downloads, and all beautifully presented. This is a lovely website, add to your daily reading.

Cardiff Arts Institute
Tunes, mixes, galleries, and up to date guide to what's going on with the hip and happening of the Cardiff scene.

Amped Wales
Magazine and blog run by south Wales rock enthusiast Jarrad Owens. Comprehensive and enthusiastic, especially the Manics material.

Chrome Kids
Kaptin is a DJ and promoter here in Cardiff, and this is his blog on some sounds of the underground dance scene. Particularly good at flagging up some downloads, mixes and events, and the latest in the dubstep and hip hop genres.

Cob Records
North Wales' finest record shop, based in Bangor and Porthmadog.

Catapult Records
Wales' best dance music specialists. Sign up for their weekly bulletins from Catapult as to the best new releases too, in every sub genre of music possible.

South Wales Massive
A forum for those into the south Wales punk, metal and hardcore music scene.

'It's not necessarily music but I like it' sites:

The National Theatre Wales
With three projects on the go right now including a circus in Milford Haven, a pub night out in Aber and Charlie Sheen in Port Talbot.

Ark
Creative project, inspiring pop up events around the city of Cardiff and south Wales.

Do Lectures
Spend some time with the lectures; it's the best university course ever.

Cardiff Terrifies Me
The best collection of newspaper headlines anywhere!

We Are Cardiff
Meet the neighbours.

Pete Fowler: Mosterism
For a multi-coloured world of wonder, and a parallel universe of genuine glee, check this out.

Welsh activities in the States:

Americymru Blog
Our friends on the Americymru blog have even organised their own Welsh festival in LA which is happening this September.

Chicago Taffia
For all Welsh based activities in Chicago, including a thorough gig guide, and sporting get togethers and fixtures.

Some Welsh language Links (but still something for everyone!):

Golwg
A comprehensive news website based on Welsh language cultural events.

Y Twll
Videos, mp3s, interviews, blog posts, cartoons all in Welsh but the content isn't exclusively Welsh. Find some amazing archive videos by cult band Datblygu, for example.

Fideo Bob Dydd (Video Every Day)
Does what it says on the tin. I've laughed a lot at some of these videos, from amateur acting pilots to tongue-in-cheek spoofs, and Lego animation of Welsh legends, these videos have an unbelievable variety.

Pop Cymru
Gig calendar, and news blog on the Welsh language pop music scene. This website is new to me, but easy to look around and good interaction between general twitter hash tags and the news they post.

Amrwd
Nicely designed download label website with Soundcloud chunks of tracks from Welsh language bands that are available free, plus a monthly podcast - bonus.

Spending so much time on the web, it's always going to be a work in progress but hope you enjoy the links. Thanks for all the suggestions that came in online. Keep telling us about good new blogs and websites, as it's exciting that the world of Welsh music is constantly expanding.

The Blackout interview - Wednesday 23 March

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:12 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Are you a fan of The Blackout? We are very pleased to announce that singers Gavin Butler and Sean Smith of the band will be here in the BBC Wales Music offices for an interview on Wednesday 23 March at 5pm.

Gavin and Sean will be taking questions from fans - and you can get involved!

Sean Smith of The Blackout

Sean Smith of The Blackout

If you'd like to submit a question, you can add it to the comments section below, or if you're on Twitter, use the hashtag #blackoutbbc. Don't forget to follow BBC Wales Music on Twitter.

Gavin Butler of The Blackout

Gavin Butler of The Blackout

We will collate the questions, pick some of the best and put them to Gavin and Sean. So get your thinking caps on!

Radio Wales Music Day in Mold

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 10:29 UK time, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Mold is a small town in north east Wales renowned for novelist Daniel Owen, its farmers market, a prehistoric gold cape and for fine schools that prepared for the world the multiple talents of Rhys Ifans, Jonny Buckland, acclaimed children's author/illustrator Jonathan Duddle and The Joy Formidable. Jack and Vera from Coronation Street were rude about Mold once, much to the consternation of its residents. Personally, the views of a man who spent most of his time fondling pigeons in Elastoplast-repaired specs had little effect on me. I did my first radio show in Mold in 1991. I did my first everything in Mold. It's my hometown.

So I'm very excited indeed at the prospect of hosting an event there for BBC Radio Wales Music Day on Friday 25 March 2011. And whack me hard with an irony mallet if the room we're using isn't the self-same room in which I saw my first ever gig, back in '86 or '87.

The bill that evening featured local new wave romantics, Disciples Of Spess. I wore a purple satin shirt and brothel creepers. My friend Paul (who looked 40 even when he was 14) illicitly bought us bottles of Newcastle Brown. The band sounded like Then Jericho trying to play Killing Joke with all the Killing taken out. As an aside, they're still going and they're very, very good. They now sound like Wire trying to play Killing Joke with all the Joke taken out. Obviously a massive improvement.

Radio Wales Music Day's raison d'être is to celebrate melodic and accessible Welsh music - and particularly new Welsh music - across the station. The bill I've assembled for our event in Mold fulfils those criteria excellently.

Colorama

Colorama

Firstly, Colorama (the most naturally musical and melodically endowed band in Welsh Christendom at the moment) will hang their '60s tinged, folkish rainbows over our stage. They're re-releasing their three critically lauded albums on Cardiff's See Monkey Do Monkey Records, albums that have earned support from Radio 1, 6 Music and Radio 2.

Singer, songwriter and musical arranger for the band, Carwyn Ellis, learnt his chops in the rarefied environs of the Royal Academy. Although that peerless schooling refined his musicianship and broadened his palette for arrangement and composition, Carwyn joked that what he had learnt during his time there were "hang ups". Suffice to say the warm-hearted, organic music that flows out of his band's soul is far removed from the prescriptivism that can stiffen the halls of academia.

Colorama have never played in Mold. This will be a magical first.

Masters In France

Masters In France

Secondly, we are joined by Caernarfon's Masters In France; not a historical play or a sad tale of Lassie being deserted by Private Ryan, but one of the Welsh bands most likely to break through in 2011. Their guitar-propelled songs don't reinvent the wheel, but neither do they resort to musical or lyrical cliché. Singles such as Mad Hatter (released on the legendary Too Pure record label) slam riffs like fiendish harpoons into their prey.

Pushed into a corner I'd say that they were maybe reminiscent of a humble Kasabian with a sense of fun and mystery, rather than a sense of the vastness of their own egos. So, actually not like Kasabian at all, but such is the paucity of interesting, radio-friendly guitar-based music, I'm somewhat clutching at straws to offer you a contemporary reference point. They're clever, insistent and excellent live. Their new single Little Girl has been playlisted by daytime Radio 1 for the week commencing the 4 April. That's an incredible achievement.

This is the first time Masters In France have played in Mold, too. Spiffing.

Our third artist (although this isn't necessarily the running order for the night) will be Llandudno's Courteous Thief. Thankfully (for the audience) Radio Wales Music Day is about much more than the strange noises I play to drugged family members, music obsessives and insomniacs on Sunday nights. Radio Wales Music Day is about getting Welsh music to as broad an audience as possible via all of the different shows on the network.

The station's weekday Evening Show hosted by Alan Thompson has been a steadfast supporter of Welsh music over the years. Courteous Thief have benefited greatly from the Evening Show's patronage. Their rollicking, anthemic folk is guaranteed to get a few glasses raised on the night. Big strums, big hearts. Probably the first time they've played Mold. But, in all honesty, I have no idea.

Houdini Dax

Finally I've invited one of Wales' most talented new, young bands, Houdini Dax, to join the bill. Radio Wales Music Day is also about getting artists to play in front of new audiences. It's a great opportunity for Houdini Dax to enlighten unfamiliar ears to their sharp, energetic invention. They're a concentration, a fuzzy refinement, of all the best bits from the Nuggets compilations, particularly the one that compiles the best psych garage Artyfacts From The British Empire And Beyond.

And young minds that aren't hung up on authenticity and slavish re-enactment bring a great freshness to yesterday's sounds, especially when they're young minds sparked along by Houdini Dax's imaginations. Suffice to say it's the first time they have played Mold and it will be wizard. In fact, given the amount of wonders we'll be offering, I may have to join the Magic Circle.

Tickets are FREE and can be obtained by calling the BBC National Orchestra of Wales Audience Line on 03700 10 10 51, Monday to Friday 9am - 7pm. It is an 18+ event due to bar licensing restrictions. Tickets are allocated on a first come, first served basis and will be posted to the recipients.

I'd strongly advise you to reserve your tickets as soon as you can to prevent disappointment. There are only 200 available. Please only request tickets that you know you will be able to use. These excellent artists deserve to play in front of a packed room. Come along and enjoy some of best musical talent in the country on Radio Wales Music Day.

For those of you who cannot attend, the show will be broadcast live on BBC Radio Wales' Evening Show on Friday 25 March between 8 and 10pm.

Gruff Rhys' Design For Life

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:03 UK time, Tuesday, 8 March 2011

In a very special Saturday Session for Radio 2, Gruff Rhys performed a cover version of Manic Street Preachers' classic A Design For Life.

Zoe Ball was standing in on the Dermot O'Leary's show on 26 February when she was joined by Gruff. He talked about the threat to public libraries in the current environment of cuts to services, and performed the Manics song which begins with the line 'Libraries gave us power'.

Listen to the track here:

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What do you think of the cover version? 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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Funeral For A Friend: what the papers say

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:32 UK time, Tuesday, 8 March 2011

With the release next week of Funeral For Friend's fifth studio album, Welcome Home Armageddon, we take a look at the critical reception the record has been getting.

Funeral For A Friend

Funeral For A Friend

Rock Sound (9/10)
"Welcome Home Armageddon is an extremely satisfying album, for fans old and new. Ferocious and beautiful - Funeral For A Friend sound more like themselves than they have done in years."

Punktastic (4.5/5)
"If there are favourites to pick, Old Hymns, Broken Foundation and Owls (Are Watching) are early frontrunners - but overall Welcome Home Armageddon is a beautifully structured joy to listen to and a reminder of everything Funeral For A Friend do so well.

Mass Movement
"This album is not a return to 'old Funeral for a Friend'. Yes, it has the aggression of some of their earlier material, but this aggression is backed by some huge melodies, intricate instrumentals and great vocals. This is not a band looking back. This is a band looking and moving forward. This is a band in the best form of its existence who have written their best album thus far."

MusicOMH (3/5)
"Armageddon is a sop to the disaffected fans of FFAF's pomp, and in seeking to recapture their ardour it tries too hard to pander to their needs. And from the few tracks that evidence what could have been, that's a shame."

Daily Dischord
"It'd be easy to say 'here is Casually Dressed Part 2' but that would be horrifically short sighted. Welcome Home Armageddon places Funeral for a Friend's back catalogue in the Large Hadron Collider and atomizes it, leaving its imprint writ large in their legacy for all to see.

ILikeMusic
"Welcome Home Armageddon is the sound of Funeral For A Friend re-exploring the raucous spirit of their earliest work, but investing it with the melodic lessons that they've learnt in the intervening period. Their riffs are as furious and intricate as they have ever been and their choruses as catchy. Whether the end result fits into the landscape of metal music as it lies today is debatable, but it should leave the vast majority of Funeral For A Friend's fans very happy indeed."

Bring The Noise (8/10)
"...although there are heavy elements on this, the Welsh favourites' fifth album, the real theme running throughout the record is that of a pop-punk masterpiece."

Red Hot Velvet (5/5)
"After deserting their roots with 2007's Tales Don't Tell Themselves and then offering glimpses of excellence with its follow-up, Memory and Humanity, Funeral For A Friend have completely revitalised their sound with this phenomenal record."

Rocksins (4.5/5)
"Welcome Home Armageddon' has more than enough balls and bravado to satisfy old and new fans alike. And for those of you sitting on the fence, prepare to be knocked off it. For a band that could quite easily have called it a day, this is an album seeped in euphoria, passion and optimism. It embodies the spirit of a band who are truly back at the top of their game. Welcome back, indeed."

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Funeral For A Friend - Welcome Home Armageddon

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James McLaren James McLaren | 07:55 UK time, Tuesday, 8 March 2011

I've been in a privileged position over the years to follow closely the fortunes of the 21st century Welsh rock generation as they blew away preconceived notions of what characterised Welsh music and created a new shorthand for the country's louder acts.

It's a scary thought sometimes that it's 11 years since Lostprophets' first album, Thefakesoundofprogress (although not in itself a ground-breaking album) provided the impetus for bands with a sense of melody and a volume from Wales to come to the fore. There are kids now - fans of The Blackout, Attack! Attack!, Bullet For My Valentine and Funeral For A Friend who were barely out of nappies when Thefakesound... came out.

So nowadays Welsh rock is not the same joke it used to be, it's just there, taking up pages in the specialist press and making teenagers giddy. However, bands like FFAF and BFMV aren't the brand new young chargers they were; the pressure's always on to deliver, to find new things to say, and new ways of saying them.

Welcome Home Armageddon achieves that aim, and puts Funeral back in the category of bands who matter artistically.

Welcome Home Armageddon

Welcome Home Armageddon

I might be oversimplifying things here, but here's a band who now sound as if they're totally happy with the work they're producing. It's been funded through PledgeMusic, it's self-released and it was recorded with their friend Romesh Dodangoda. Ironically, only when freed of the pressure that comes with working with large labels have they delivered something that would have met that pressure.

It's light, heavy, dark and dexterous. There are some tracks here that hit with a force not seen since their début record, Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation. Broken Foundation sounds like Eddie Van Halen has joined the band - but no, it's Kris Coombs-Roberts stepping up to provide a solo of some panache. Previous single Front Row Seats To The End Of The World is the song most closely linked to the glass hammer of their early work as Matt Davies-Kreye's melodic vocals scrap with Ryan Richards' bellows.

Aftertaste is a fast-paced anthem while Spinning Over The Island reminds me Pennsylvania hardcore legends Boysetsfire. So many of the tracks here have an intent and a hunger. That they have achieved this on their fifth album is impressive. Instead of ennui and barely-concealed boredom Funeral deliver the most vital album of their career.

They marry the melodic skills evinced in Casually Dressed... with a maturity that avoids the saccharine or the downright tedious. Owls is the distillation of this: as epic as they come but with no descent into bedwetting indie. There's a wide palette of colours employed on this album, and as it comes to a close with the introspective title track, it's clear that it really couldn't be by anyone who hasn't been through the mill, learning the lessons and honing their craft.

It sounds clean but not clinical, forthright but not blunt, simple but not dumb. Funeral have delivered the album of their career.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 6 March 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:28 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

This week's show is now available via the BBC iPlayer, and will be available to listen to any time between now and the start of the next programme:

Check out Mr Healan's Soundcloud page for more examples of his electronic mastery, and the Chrome Kids blog for multifold insights into the fascinating sounds of Cardiff's urban underground.

Back when I went to Liverpool University in 1873 (BC) I remember getting very very excited to discover that The Boo Radleys lived just round the corner from one of my lecture-avoiding buddies. Their second and third albums, Everything's Alright Forever and Giant Steps, opened up whole new territories for my naive, but curious, ears. I bought all of the following albums thanks to the Boo Radleys: Love's Forever Changes, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me, King Tubby's Dub From the Roots... their peripatetic and untribal love for MUSIC completely inspired me. Still does.

Martin Carr, that band's musical compass, is just as restless, pacing the highways and byways of his imagination as he ever was. He's currently mixing the Black Serpent Choir's second album... the début explored the more cinematic side of electronic music. On this week's show we have an exclusive play of a demo from the forthcoming album. It's a sonic travelogue encompassing a multitude of sounds and a lifetime of music listening. I love the way it marries computer generated sounds with acoustic plucks, atmospheric field recordings and fuzzy ooze. It's brilliant.

Alan Holmes, godfather of the Welsh underground, reminds us of something that came out of Bangor in the mid 80's. It's sung in Latin and sounds like Sergio Leone operating in the medium of plainchant. Is amazing and comes to you courtesy (partly) of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David's Classics Department in Lampeter. Producer Jeremy sent the track there, you see, to have it translated just in case those naughty Romans were imprecating you to inject cannabis into your earlids, or some such.

Ben Hayes - tweed-wearer and encyclopedia of fascinating sounds - oscillates wildly to the circuit warping prowess of Add N To (X).

And we have amazing music for you. There are début plays for Anni Rossi (amazing!), Y-Chrome (also amazing!), I Am Hope (you'll be getting the picture by now, I suspect) and D. Gritty (better than amazing).

I need a whole new lexicon.

Please send superlatives/demos/new releases with a short biography to themysterytour@gmail.com.

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

Have an excellent music filled week!

FERNHILL - Glyn Cynon
Swansea / Pembrokeshire

DAEDELUS - Tailor-made (with Milosh)
Los Angeles

MR HEALAN - Crazy Girls
Cardiff

MR HEALAN - Tell Him Right
Cardiff

MR HEALAN - Young Star
Cardiff

MR HEALAN - Bang Those Drums
Cardiff

MR HEALAN - The King
Cardiff

MR HEALAN - Baby Love
Cardiff

MR HEALAN - The Magician
Cardiff

MESSNER - Taflaist Olwg [James Kelly Remix]
Bangor / Manchester

MARY HOPKIN - There's Got To Be More
Pontardawe

ANNI ROSSI - Candyland
Chicago / New York (cardiff Label)

LLEUWEN - War Varc'h Da'r Mor
Bangor

FFLAPS - Pethau Piws
Bangor

BLOW BY BLOW - Natiamus
Bangor / Manchester

JOY FORMIDABLE, THE - Austere (oh Matt Thomas Bamalama Remix)
Mold

MASTERS IN FRANCE - Little Girl
Caernarfon

D. GRITTY - Real Talk (radio Edit)
Cardiff

Y-CHROME - Sad To See The Back Of The 90's
Cardiff

TRWBADOR - Shapes (la La La)
Camarthen / Cardiff

IFAN DAFYDD - No Good
Llanrug

FFA COFFI PAWB - Breichiau Hir
Bethesda

DATBLYGU - Gwlad Ar Fy Nghefn
Cardigan

DOGBONES, THE - Mae Dy Ffrindiau (gyd Am Dy Ladd Di)
Holyhead / London

AKA OSTRICH - Gobble
Bangor

STILLETOES, THE - I Need To Roam
Pwllheli

BLACK SERPENT CHOIR - 'Drowning Of The Daisies'
Cardiff / Wallasey

MILK RACE, THE - Reduction
Cardiff

MO-HO-BISH-O-PI - Hear The Air
Cardiff

HELEN LOVE - She's Atomic
Swansea

DARLING BUDS, THE - Hit The Ground
Newport

KITTY COWELL - Take It Back (ollypop Remix)
Newport

PAPER AEROPLANES - Days We Made
Milford Haven

SCHOOL, THE - Hoping And Praying
Cardiff

PRETTY PLACES - 'The Fool'
Llanfair P.g.

GORKY'S ZYGOTIC MYNCI - Mae Merched Yn Neud Gwallt Eu Gilydd
Camarthen

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS - Lliwiau Llachar
Wales

VVOLVES - Sailing From Youth
Monmouth / Cardiff

I AM HOPE - On Top Of The World
Cardiff / Bridgend

YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS - Eating Noddemix
Cardiff

SAMOANS - Vladimir
Cardiff / Aberdare

STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR - I Am Weatherproof
Cardiff

ADD N TO (X) - Is That Alright Fyuz
London

CAJITA - Drop
Cardiff / Caerphilly

International Women's Day

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:09 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

Tomorrow (Tuesday 8 March) is International Women's Day and we're celebrating on BBC Wales Music with a dip into the history of inspirational women from Welsh music.

Here are some videos of our picks, and suggestions from our followers on Twitter. As ever, feel free to comment, criticise, praise and add your own suggestions at the bottom.

Datblygu's Pat Morgan
Joining David R Edwards and T Wyn Davies in Wales' art/dub/punk threepiece was Pat Morgan. Here's Syffredu by the band - with Pat doing some sublimely aloof post-punk cool:


The School's Liz Hunt
Exuding an effortless, 60s-inflected cool is Liz Hunt. She fronts The School these days, but made a name in nostalgiafest The Loves a few years back. Here she is with Let It Slip:


The Darling Buds' Andrea Lewis
Poppy indie was the order of the day for The Darling Buds, and Andrea provided the focal point, all effervescent energy and popstar chic. Here they are performing Hit The Ground on Going Live:


9Bach's Lisa Jen
Many people in the know asked us to include 9Bach's Lisa Jen, whose sultry vocals adds some soulful vigour to the band's trip hoppy vibes. Here's the band's video for Bwthyn Fy Nain:


Catatonia's Cerys Matthews
No list of inspirational Welsh women in music would be complete without the strident tones of Cerys. Their first album Way Beyond Blue brought her idiosyncratic vocal styles to the indie crowd, but it was the second LP, International Velvet, that made her a household name. Here she is performing Mulder And Scully on Top Of The Pops:

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Young Marble Giants' Alison Statton
Often cited as an influence on the young Kurt Cobain, YMG were post-punks in the classic John Peel mould: all spiky angles and disaffected cool. Alison Statton was the pin-up of, ooh, dozens of indie kids in the 1980s. Here's YMG performing a live version of the title track from Colossal Youth:


Shirley Bassey
Dame Shirl wasn't always about diamante wellyboots at Glastonbury. She was the first Welsh artist to have a Number One and she's had a six decade chart career. Beat that. Here she is performing There's A Place For Us:

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Mary Hopkin
These days something of a recluse, Mary Hopkin was a massive chart-topping star in the late 1960s, signed to The Beatles' Apple label and being a household name courtesy of her turn on Opportunity Knocks. Here's her signature tune, Those Were The Days:


Gwyneth Jones
Inspirational women aren't only from the indie/pop side of things of course. Dame Gwyneth Jones is a towering talent in the world of opera. Here she is in 1964 singing an aria from Verdi's Il Trovatore:


The Joy Formidable's Ritzy Bryan
Let's go out in the modern day, with a great frontwoman in the form of Ritzy Bryan. The wall of sound she coaxes from her guitar and the psychedelic-but-tuneful melodies of her band have put them on the lips of the record industry around the world this year. Here's an acoustic version of the single Austere, recorded for Radio Wales:

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Who do you think is an inspirational woman in Welsh music? 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.

Competitors for Cardiff Singer 2011 announced

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 15:07 UK time, Thursday, 3 March 2011

Today sees the long-awaited details of which of the 600 singers who auditioned in 45 cities in 36 countries across five continents will be coming to Cardiff in June for the 2011 Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

The singers

The Cardiff 20 come from Armenia, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Moldova, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA and Wales. Find out their names and read about them.

The jury

Also revealed are all the members of the jury. Appearing for the first time is new patron Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, plus conductor Alexander Polianichko, director Lorenzo Mariani and pianist Bengt Forsberg. Cardiff welcomes back baritone Håkan Hagegård, tenor Dennis O'Neill, Adam Gatehouse from BBC Radio 3 and mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, who makes her fifth visit to Cardiff Singer.

Once again, both BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and the Song Prize juries will be chaired by John Fisher, who commented on his jury mates:

"I'm delighted that we have such a distinguished and expert jury for the 2011 competition. They are esteemed around the world, but also hugely dedicated to the nurturing of young talent - one couldn't ask for a more perfect team."

The Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize

The death last year of the competition's first patron, Dame Joan Sutherland, is commemorated by the renaming of the Audience Prize in her honour. Now known as the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize, the winner will also win a trophy as well as £2,000.

Bryn Terfel, who was finalist and Song Prize winner in 1989, said of her: "She was a favourite with Cardiff Singer audiences, mainly because of her down-to-earth attitude. With her death came a great loss to the operatic world and to young singers coming through BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, but hers was a talent that will always be cherished." Read the full details of all the prizes.

Who sings when

Find out which singers are performing in each of the four concerts and four recitals.

Tickets

Some season tickets are still available and individual concerts and recitals have also gone on sale. Full details can be found on the venues and tickets page.

Georgia Ruth on Radio Wales Music Day

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:19 UK time, Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Yesterday Georgia Ruth joined Roy Noble to chat to him and Bethan Elfyn about Radio Wales Music Day 2011 and to play a new song.

Listen to the interview and the song, Seville, here:

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St David's Day

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:31 UK time, Tuesday, 1 March 2011

This morning we put out a call on BBC Wales Music's Twitter for suggestions for some of the very best songs by Welsh artists. We had loads of replies, and some nice, unusual suggestions.

Thanks to everyone who responded.

We've had a dig about and here's a selection of the obvious and the odd. I hope you get in the St David's Day mood with these beauties:

From 1996, one of the great singles from Super Furry Animals' Fuzzy Logic, here's God! Show Me Magic on YouTube.

We had a lot of suggestions for various Manic Street Preachers songs, but Motorcycle Emptiness is hard to beat:

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From a couple of decades earlier, here are Badfinger with one of the all-time classics:

One for the rock fans, here's the amazing Breadfan by Budgie (YouTube link).

Quite a few of our respondents plumped for an early Stereophonics' track, A Thousand Trees:

Another fondly-remembered track, among a few from Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, is this gem, Poodle Rockin' (Muzu.tv link).

Funeral For A Friend have almost 10 years of tracks to choose from, but we've gone for an early She Drove Me To Daytime Television (Last.fm link).

Remember 60ft Dolls? Their crowing glory was Happy Shopper (YouTube link) - mid-90s indie that wasn't Britpop boringness. Great stuff.

An lastly, just for the fun of it, here's Her Royal Welshness, Bonnie Tyler, with Total Eclipse Of The Heart:

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What are your suggestions for Welsh songs to celebrate St David's Day? 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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Radio Wales Music Day 2011

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:00 UK time, Tuesday, 1 March 2011

This morning BBC Radio Wales launched Radio Wales Music Day 2011. Adam Walton and Colorama's Carwyn Ellis joined Jamie and Louise to talk about what we can expect from the event, being held on Friday 25 March.

Listen to the interview, and an acoustic version of Colorama's Box by Carwyn:

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We'll be keeping you up to date with developments and announcements as they happen, but you can see all the initial details on the Radio Wales Music Day page.

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.

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