Archives for April 2011

The Gentle Good's anti-royal wedding song

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BBC Wales Music BBC Wales Music | 17:22 UK time, Thursday, 28 April 2011

A musician from Cardiff has gone against the grain of Royal Wedding fever by recording a song in opposition to the event.

Singer-songwriter Gareth Bonello, who performs as The Gentle Good, wrote The 29th Of April for the recent Laugharne Festival where he was performing with Richard James, co-founder of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.

He said the festival this year had taken the theme of weddings, and Richard invited him to write something appropriate.

Gareth Bonello, The Gentle Good

Gareth Bonello, The Gentle Good

The country-style acoustic waltz - available online - tells the story of a man whose own wedding on 29 April has been overshadowed by that of Prince William and Kate Middleton, whose nuptials his friends and family would rather watch.

"I've not been to many weddings myself so I thought it would be a good idea to write about the royal wedding," he said. "The reaction has been pretty positive - I was expecting more negative comments.

"I think a lot of people are mainly indifferent to the wedding. I've always had an anti-monarchist streak and believe we'd be better off as an elected republic.

"I kept it subtle until the last couple of lines where I felt I had to be blunt."

You can listen to the recording on SoundCloud (warning: the last two lines contain strong language).

Welsh composer's music to be used in royal wedding

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BBC Wales Music BBC Wales Music | 17:16 UK time, Thursday, 28 April 2011

A Welsh composer has been chosen by Prince William and Kate Middleton to provide some of the music to be heard during tomorrow's royal wedding at Westminster Abbey in London.

The original work, Ubi caritas, written by 35-year-old composer Paul Mealor, was premièred last October at St Andrew's University. The request to use it at the wedding came as a total surprise to Mealor, who was born on Anglesey.

"I was thrilled to hear that HRH Prince William of Wales had chosen my music for his wedding. How humbling it is for me to know that Prince William and Catherine will celebrate the beginning of their lives together with my music. The ceremony is going to be, without a doubt, the most emotionally intense and exhilarating hour of my life!"

Mealor has had to keep his extraordinary news a secret, even from his family. Only when the choral work is actually performed at the service will it be revealed to the world. The performance will be by the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Choir of Her Majesty's Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, conducted by James O'Donnell.

The entire wedding ceremony, including Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est (Where charity and love are, God is there), will be recorded and made available digitally the same day, with physical copies going on sale from 4 May.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 24 April 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:16 UK time, Thursday, 28 April 2011

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

Sorry for the lateness of this information. I got swallowed up in a tide of sickly milk chocolate, an 18th birthday party, and a Science Café trip to the National Botanic Garden of Wales (fantastic!).

So, better late than never, here's all the info on this week's piranha-filled paddling pool of Welsh music. And there are piranha, for this week's show takes time out to celebrate Welsh music with teeth. That is, some of the finest loud and frenetic Welsh music as chosen by (some of) you via Twitter. Thank you for the excellent suggestions (Bastions, Super Furry Animals, Mclusky, Fflaps, Budgie, Anhrefn, Howl Griff & Demented Are Go).

Elsewhere within the three hours, Huw Williams treats us to something truly amazing and mostly unknown from Sunshine Theatre. All we know is that the searing piece of garage psych we play was released in 1971. And that's about it. Please help fill the considerable gaps in our knowledge.

Our resident tweed-wearer, Ben Hayes, paints some typically idiosyncratic Soft Machine all over the airwaves.

And we have oodles of great new Welsh sounds (please see playlist below). Including début plays for: O Femi, Joanna Gruesome, Winter Villains, Raithism, Jauge, Zinc Bukowski, Steff Adams and Hallock Hill.

Please send demos/new releases/recommendations/creative insults to, or post to:

BBC Wales
Canolfan y Diwydiannau Creadigol/The Centre for the Creative Industries
Prifysgol Glyndŵr/Glyndwr University
LL11 2AW

Enjoy the bank holiday!


BASTIONS - 'Warmth Of The World (Demo)'

SKINDRED - 'Warning'

THE KEYS - 'I Tried To Find It In Books'

PAPER AEROPLANES - 'Same Mistakes (Ersatz Future Energy Remix)'
Milford Haven


GRUFF RHYS - 'Xenodocheinology'


PETE LAWRIE - 'Just Dust'

O FEMI - 'Oluwafemi (God Loves Me)'

IFAN DAFYDD - 'Treehouse'

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


KONG - 'Count Too Nine (Featuring Matt Caughtran From The Bronx)'

MCLUSKY - 'Whoyouknow'

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Sorry Dad, I Was Late For The Riots'


RAITHISM - 'In To The Light'

FFLAPS - 'Malltod'

HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'


SHY AND THE FIGHT - 'Specks Of Blue'

JAUGE - 'Hospital'

COWBOIS RHOS BOTWNNOG - 'Celwydd Golau Ydi Cariad'
Llyn Peninsula

ZINC BUKOWSKI - 'Dr Kervorkian'

KITTY COWELL - 'Take It Back'

GALLOPS - 'Eukodol'

RACE HORSES - 'Captain Penelope Smith'

WE ARE ANIMAL - 'Luminous Lights'


THE BLACKOUT - 'Higher & Higher (Radio Edit)'
Merthyr Tydfil

BUDGIE - 'Breadfan'



AVAN RIJS - 'Fine Games'

ANHREFN - 'Rhedeg I Paris'

HOWL GRIFF - 'Jean's Therapy'

OSIAN RHYS - 'Young Love'

SKINDRED - 'Cut Dem'

DEMENTED ARE GO - 'Holy Hack Jack'

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'

SOFT MACHINE - 'As Long As He Lies Perfectly Still'

STEFF ADAMS - 'Misunderstood'

Aberystwyth Label/New York


The Passion: Michael Sheen and Owen Sheers' new vision of the Easter story

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 16:44 UK time, Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I'd made the probably rather foolish decision to head to Brighton for a few days prior to the Easter bank holiday. Yes, it was packed, hot, fun and yet the open spaces of the Welsh beaches were definitely on my mind as I set off on the five-hour train journey back on a particularly hot Saturday afternoon.

I was desperate to get back by this point as I'd got some last minute tickets to The Supper - a very special part of The Passion's 72-hour dramatisation in Port Talbot, directed by Michael Sheen, written by Owen Sheers, and including a cast of 1,000 local people.

Michael Sheen in The Passion. Photo: Luned Aaron

Michael Sheen in The Passion. Photo: Luned Aaron

Thanks to Twitter, I'd been following the action since the beginning and the fervour was intense. Seeing the crowds turning up on the beach on the Friday afternoon to see the Christ-like Sheen as The Teacher appear from the sea, to kick off the action, had whetted the appetite and sparked the imagination.

The atmosphere in Port Talbot was electric, the word of mouth intensified as people guessed where to go next, and Sheen over the weekend became more and more a Pied Piper figure, with crowd of people following him wherever he went.

I arrived at the Seaside Social and Labour Club on Saturday night, and landed in the middle of the buzz. Paul Potts, the local classical singer who did good via a talent show a few years back, was walking into the venue. The paparazzi were lurking, the security of the club chattered excitedly, and the local boys drove around in their cars looking very curious.

Michael Sheen in The Passion. Photo: Luned Aaron

Michael Sheen in The Passion. Photo: Luned Aaron

The Supper

For the lucky ones inside there was an ample buffet of pasties, chicken drumsticks, various battered nibbles, and French fancies. Thousands, meanwhile, were outside watching the action on the big screen. The compère was a loud, confident and old skool guy with an ease of manner, big jokes, and general joshing with the audience; he brought on Iwan Rheon, a young actor from Cardiff who rose to fame in the TV series Misfits. Iwan sang two original songs and has a soaring vocal, fairly reminiscent of Radiohead's Thom York in style.

The short musical sets were interspersed with dramatic action. The Teacher heard more from his mother about his missing memories; he warmly greeted his gathering of friends; and we were reminded that the evil ICU is trying to shut down the town to build another 'passover'. It looked, too, like The Teacher and one of his friends had an altercation, evoking the Judas/Jesus situation of betrayal.

Back to the music and Paul Potts sang two poignant songs. His voice is incredible, soft, beautiful, and so elegant. I had shivers down my back.

Next on were the Manics Street Preachers. It's strange seeing them in such a small venue, but they also fit in well with the kitsch stage, especially with Nicky's feather boa-decorated mic stand. During the day they were been playing on the streets wearing balaclavas, but here in the club The House Band - as they were called - pogoed their way through a three-song greatest hits set including Motorcycle Emptiness, If You Tolerate This, and a special reworking of A Design For Life.

The ICU company men came storming in, in their black army uniforms, and started by arresting the Manics. Nicky Wire was laughing his head off, but James put up a bit of a fight.

There was one more band: local guys Weird Naked Indian played their own track followed by Lord Help, a Tom Jones cover from the last album, to which Sheen, his co-actors and his girlfriend Rachel McAdams all line danced in the club, with most of the guests joining in.

The action dissolved and continued outside and Sheen was on the makeshift garden, on top of a skip, with his Father above on scaffolding, and they debated the 'sacrifice' ahead. One slate must sometimes save a whole house! The slate analogy was a poignant moment - each slate is an individual, you have to go with the grain, and together they are strong.

Michael Sheen in The Passion. Photo: Luned Aaron

Michael Sheen in The Passion. Photo: Luned Aaron

The evening ended with The Teacher's arrest and he was driven off in police vans, apparently to spend the night in the cells, before the final day's mock trial.

Back at the seafront I caught the final act of the weekend, the crucifixion, and I was so glad to have caught some if not all of the weekend. It was a pretty special event for Welsh drama, for Port Talbot town, and to show a world class event of this kind can be produced here in Wales.

Performers in The Passion. Photo: Luned Aaron

Performers in The Passion. Photo: Luned Aaron

See videos of the whole weekend and The Supper.

Cardiff Singer 2011: Master Classes news

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 12:11 UK time, Tuesday, 26 April 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

All the performers on the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World jury will share their wisdom and experience with competitors not selected for the final, in sessions taking place at the New Theatre, Cardiff and the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama on Saturday 18 June. The sessions at the College may also include students.

The schedule is:

New Theatre, Cardiff

  • 11am: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Håkan Hagegård
  • 3pm: Marilyn Horne and Dennis O'Neill

Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama

  • 12.30pm: Bengt Forsberg
  • 4pm: John Fisher

All the 'masters' have a passion for teaching and bringing what they have learned from their distinguished careers to a new generation of artists.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa gives master classes all over the world, and is Honorary Artistic Patron and principal guest teacher of the Solti Te Kanawa Accademia di Bel Canto, a summer opera course based in Italy.

Marilyn Horne is Vocal Programme Director at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and has master class residencies at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Lyric Opera of Chicago and the University of Maryland at College Park.

Dennis O'Neill was founder and director of the Cardiff International Academy of Voice based in the University of Cardiff. In September, he will become director of the new Wales International Academy of Voice at the University of Wales.

Håkan Hagegård is professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music, has taught at the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and runs Singers Studio Sweden, a forum for artistic development in Stockholm.

Bengt Forsberg's long experience of working with singers equips him with a unique insight into the aspects vital to a successful artistic partnership between singer and pianist in the Lieder and art song repertoire.

John Fisher has continued his work coaching singers throughout his career, from his early days on the music staff at De Nederlandse Operastichting, Amsterdam through to combining this work with his senior positions at the Metropolitan Opera, New York and Welsh National Opera.

The master classes are a very popular part of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World and offer a fascinating and often entertaining experience to the audience of some of what goes on behind the scenes in a singer's career. Details of tickets are available on the Cardiff Singer website.

Sheen, sea and fine rock'n'roll books: it's the Laugharne Weekend!

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 13:22 UK time, Thursday, 21 April 2011

It's Monday morning as I start writing this, and I'm sleeping through my alarm - always a sign of a good weekend! I'm just back from Laugharne, a small town on the other side of Carmarthen, just off the end of the M4, and what a glorious time it was.

Bethan Elfyn and Michael Sheen

Bethan Elfyn and Michael Sheen

Listen back to my show from now until Saturday 23 April.

The Laugharne Weekend is in its fourth year and has boasted the most incredible line up of guests over the years: Patti Smith, Ray Davies from The Kinks, Mick Jones from The Clash and many more. How surreal that these kinds of rock n roll idols have graced this small corner of Wales, but the Weekend is another boutique festival making a name for itself on the UK circuit, and it's a wonderful mix of music and literature throughout.

When I arrive on Friday afternoon the sun is out and Laugharne town is kicking into life. Around Market Square artists, writers and buskers mingle, Stuart Maconie is broadcasting live from the back of a restaurant, and John Cooper Clarke is nursing a large wine.

I grab quick interviews with a few notable guests, including Stephen Morris of Joy Division and rock photographer Kevin Cummins. They'll be talking about Joy Division later - and discussing whether indeed there are any iconic images of today's stars in the age of digital and the proliferation of images. The lasting shots maybe don't happen. Cummins describes how he had 200 shots in his £10 film, and had to make do - and had to get it right. There was no wasting the shot!

Saturday is a busy day preparing for the live Radio Wales broadcast from the estuary car park. It's such a beautiful setting to set up camp, at the foot of Laugharne's Norman castle and walkway through to Dylan Thomas' famous boatshed writing home. The first talk of the day was Dom Joly talking about his new book, The Dark Tourist, where he's gone to the most unlikely spots around the world including skiing in Iran and bus tour around North Korea.

He was followed by Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, chatting about the life of an international pop star through the 80s.

Back to the estuary and the live broadcast is about to begin. I've managed to persuade Richard James, H.Hawkline, Gentle Good, Sweet Baboo, and Alex Dingley to play live on the show, and with the whistling atmosphere of bustling street life, rocking boats and lovely sunset - it's a campfire session on the radio.

There's one more surprise in store, as I see Michael Sheen strolling towards our camp. We quickly catch up about The Passion and all the surrounding events in Port Talbot (which is happening this weekend). It's a pleasure to meet such a huge Hollywood star - and what a gent.

Laugharne antics continue into the night, and it's easy to see how it's fast growing into one of my favourite events in the Welsh calendar. Look out for details online and book your campsite pitch early next year!

Gruff Rhys confirmed as Gwyl Gardd Goll headliner

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:34 UK time, Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Gruff Rhys, Echo And The Bunnymen and Badly Drawn Boy are to perform at this year's Gwyl Gardd Goll (Secret Garden Festival), held on 22-24 July at the Faenol estate naer Felinheli, Bangor.

The event, now in its fifth year, has been expanded to a three-day festival, and a range of ticket types - including children's concessions, camping passes and family tickets - have gone on sale. The headliners are the first acts to be confirmed, with more to follow.

A Gwyl Gardd Goll spokesperson told the Daily Post newspaper: "Around 1,000 people attended last year's afternoon event, hosten in its new setting at Y Faenol estate, near Felinheli, Bangor.

"Gwyl Gardd Goll will impress those seeking an affordable cultural weekend event for people of all ages to enjoy, as well as alternative music lovers. The festival has organised a glittering weekend lineup, and is over the moon to annouce this year's headliners."

Read Adam Walton's report from the 2010 festival.

Ivor Novello award nominations

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:46 UK time, Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The annual Ivor Novello awards nominations have been announced. Commemorating the Cardiff songwriter, playwright, composer and actor Ivor Novello, the awards are some of the most highly-respected in the recording industry.

The nominations in the music categories:

Best song musically and lyrically

  • Becoming A Jackal by Villagers
  • My KZ, UR BF by Everything Everything
  • Spanish Sahara by Foals

Best contemporary song:

  • Islands by The XX
  • katy On A Mission by Katy B
  • Pass Out by Tinie Tempah

Album award

  • Flaws by Bombay Bicycle Club
  • Man Alive by Everything Everything
  • The Defamation Of Strickland Banks by Plan B

PRS For Music most performed work

  • All The Lovers by Kylie Minogue
  • She Said by Plan B
  • This Ain't A Love Song by Scouting For Girls

The following Gift of the Academy awards will be presented on the day: International achievement, Outstanding song collection, PRS For Music outstanding contributon to British music, PRS For Music special international award, Songwriter(s) of the year, The Ivors classical music award and The Ivors inspiration award.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 17 April 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 10:09 UK time, Tuesday, 19 April 2011

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

The show ties a knotted hanky around its head, strips down to a very fetching string vest, and revels in a selection of some of the finest, summery Welsh songs EVER, as chosen by (some of) you. So I get an excuse to play a bit of vintage Gorky's, MC Mabon, Crashland and Topper./p>

Next week the Twitter jukebox chooses a playlist of the greatest, loud and frantic Welsh songs. Already we have requests in for: Demented Are Go, Budgie, Flyscreen, Mclusky, Midasuno, Anhrefn, Exit International... tweet your choices to or leave a comment here. Make them loud, of course. I want to shake the airwaves until they crumble into a cloud of foul-smelling dust.

But the lifeblood of this show is the new music we get to unearth, and this week we have début plays for Poppy Jones, The Tapestry, Chloe Leavers, Mortalpsycle and Jewellers. It's like Kenny Dalglish's youth policy at Liverpool manifested in sound. And with better gender representation.

Pretend I'm a hungry seal and that your new releases & demos are juicy fish. Throw them into my hungry, barking mouth via (mp3s/download links) or in the post:

Adam Walton
BBC Wales,
Canolfan y Diwydiannau Creadigol/The Centre for the Creative Industries, Prifysgol Glyndwr/Glyndwr University,
LL11 2AW

We also have very exciting plays for new genius from Future Of The Left, Georgia Ruth, D. Gritty, Underpass... the playlist is below. It sounds 1,000% better than it reads. Not one for exaggeration, me.

Elsewhere the godfather of the Welsh underground, Alan Holmes, reminds us of the (excellent) TGT; Ben Hayes treats us to the first ever single boasting a dedicated fuzz circuit, and Lara Catrin translates Y Trwynau Coch.

Enjoy the sun! Have an excellent Bank Holiday.

Thank you/diolch yn fawr,

Y NIWL - 'Un Deg Saith'

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

POLARSETS - 'Sunshine Eyes ( Channel Swimmer Remix )'
Newcastle-upon-tyne/Cardiff (remix)

EUROS CHILDS - 'I Will Not Mind'


MC MABON - 'Tymheredd Yn Y Gwres'

CRASHLAND - 'Lemonade'

TOPPER - 'Just Don't Understand'

VANGUARD - 'Morning Light'

POPPY JONES - 'Walking Around'

TAPESTRY, THE - 'Rode Your Luck'

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

METHOD, THE - 'The Gatekeeper Ii'

TOY HORSES - 'Interrupt (radio Edit)'

C.R.S.T. - 'Redeye'

GALLOPS - 'Joust'

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Failed Olympic Bid'

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT - 'Bottleneck At Capel Curig'

GRUFF RHYS - 'Honey All Over'


ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'



JONNY - 'You Was Me'

UNDERPASS - 'Floating'

LOOSE CAPACITOR - 'Theme From Robin's Nest'

CHLOE LEAVERS - 'All These Things'
Colwyn Bay

ILL BOOGS - 'On The Rocks'

D. GRITTY - 'Just For A Day'

PETE LAWRIE - 'All That We Keep ( Don Diablo Remix )'

Llandrindod Wells

KUTOSIS - 'Shadows'

ESG - 'Moody'
New York

JOY DIVISION - 'Disorder'

MANIC STREET PREACHERS - 'She Is Suffering ( Us Mix )'

PLYCI - 'Capriccio'

TARAN - 'Hotel Rex'

PRETTY PLACES - 'Dyn, Dynes A Cerddoriaeth'
Llanfair P.g.

KEYS, THE - 'When You're Young'

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'

Y TRWYNAU COCH - 'Wastod Ar Y Tu Fas'

CONEK4 - 'Memories Gones'

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'

VENTURES, THE - 'The 2000 Pound Bee Part 2'
Tacoma, Usa


JOHN LAWRENCE - 'Take Me Back (To Cuzco)'

National Eisteddfod concert line-up announced

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:30 UK time, Monday, 18 April 2011

The National Eisteddfod's evening concert programme has been announced, The event, held from 29 July to 6 August at Lower Berse Farm, off Ruthin Road, Wrexham, will open with the Three Welsh Tenors: Rhys Meirion, Aled Hall and Alun Rhys-Jenkins, joined by Fflur Wyn and male voice choirs.

Eisteddfod Organiser, Hywel Wyn Edwards, said: "There's a number of well known names and faces from the entertainment business joining us in Wrexham, and I hope that the programme we have will appeal to our regular visitors and to those who live within the Eisteddfod catchment area this year.

"We'll have plenty of singing, dancing and world class performances on the Pavilion stage during the week. This is an important year for the National Eisteddfod as we celebrate 150 years in our current form. There'll be elements of our celebrations running throughout the week, and we very much hope that everyone attending our concerts will enjoy themselves."

Sunday evening will feature congregational hymn singing, led by experienced conductor, Geraint Roberts, originally from Wrexham, with Robert Parry on the organ.

On Monday evening Caryl Parry Jones, Huw Chiswell, Elin Fflur and Al Lewis Band perform all-time pop classics, and the best Welsh pop songs ever written.

Wynne Evans, star of the Go Compare adverts, Shân Cothi and Llyr Williams are celebrating both the Eisteddfod's visit to the Wrexham area and its 150th anniversary on the Tuesday with a number of Eisteddfod-related well-known pieces on the Pavilion stage, with Alwyn Humphreys conducting the Chamber Orchestra of Wales.

The Eisteddfod Choir ends the week on the Saturday evening, joined by world-renowned conductor, Owain Arwel Hughes and soloists, Anne Williams-King, Ann Atkinson, Geraint Dodd and David Kempster, accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of Wales.

Vinyl Worship - Record Store Day

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:40 UK time, Thursday, 14 April 2011

It's ironic that I should be here, of all places, writing about a renaissance in vinyl. 'Here' is a cafe on the river in Chester. I used to come here years ago drawn, not by the food, but by the jukebox. It was an original Wurlitzer crammed with old rock n roll, Motown and beat-era 7"s. Now, unfortunately, the jukebox has been 'upgraded'. It plays CD's. A pretend 7" spins on a platter while the innards effortlessly cough out pristine ones and zeroes.

Vinyl records

Vinyl records

It's sacrilege, is what it is. But why do I feel that way? Why, after years of not giving a stuff what my music is delivered on, does it all of a sudden matter? Why are the most interesting Welsh bands increasingly turning to a format that was receiving the Last Rites when their parents were becoming their parents?

I'll begin my story about the renaissance in vinyl with my part in its upturn, minuscule as that may have been. This is the story of one man's volte face. A story told to coincide with this weekend's Record Store Day. Because now that vinyl is my new religion, the likes of Spillers, Cob and Diverse are my churches. With much better hymns and a better class of mustiness.

Most of what has been written so far about Record Store Day has been about the undoubted importance of these great, knowledgeable temples to music. But Record Store Day is also a titular celebration of the record. Let's, then, talk vinyl.

The very first music I bought was on vinyl: the Wombling album, Sgt Pepper, the Brotherhood Of Man. But I quickly progressed to CDs, from Back Alley Music and Crocodile Records in Mold.

The first CD I bought was the Cure's Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. My initial copy jumped like a pneumatic drill with a knackered off switch. When I got a copy that played, I couldn't believe the clarity: the damped, Chic-like guitar on Why Can't I Be You? sounded like it was in the room with me; I could hear Fat Bob's fingers strangling the frets on The Scream, and the cello on Catch sounded broad and complex, like a simultaneous equation of yearn.

In the same space that my dad had stacked a couple of hundred slabs of Dylan, Beatles, Sandy Denny and Bread, I could amass three times more. It seemed like a big deal at the time. The argument loses substance when you realise what it was that I was stacking. One of those CDs was Candy Flip's vile assassination of Strawberry Fields. Some of the others had Bongo (pretty sure my dad still calls him that) emoting his conscience all over them, like a man for whom irony was just something that got attracted to magnets


I loved my CDs. Must have done. I bought thousands of them. It didn't bother me that I had to squint at the artwork. Back then my eyes worked fine. For me, the definitive artwork for Doolittle, The Stone Roses and Screamadelica was five-ish inches square. I bought a second hand, vinyl copy of Screamadelica the other day and it just looked wrong. Too big.

I got my first PC in '98, realising quickly that I could store music more 'efficiently' on the PC and that I could 'burn' my own compilation CDs. My work, both as a DJ and a radio presenter, was changed irrevocably. As a DJ, I was sick of numpties nicking my CDs whenever I went to the loo or fell into a rage of distraction due to someone with no ear/brain/heart connections asking for The Killers. Who cared if my CDRs got thieved? And I could take more tunes out with me. Some of the them - 13 on a good night - were pretty good.

And there's something to be said for (relative) monogamy in a musical relationship. 74,826 items in my iTunes library means an initial thrill of hot excitement, a few minutes of feral passion, but then on to the next track. On a computer they're items, files or tracks, business-like language, devoid of any love for what's contained therein. Like calling something by Matisse or Van Gogh a 'picture'.

So, a decade-ish after converting to digital music, I've got all those items on my RAID protected hard drive array, 225(.4) days' worth of listening. Too damn much, is what it is. I may as well be trying to find excitement and uniqueness in grains of sand. The download/digital file has turned music into little more than dandelion seeds.

My brain folds in on itself when it comes to choosing something to listen to 'for pleasure'. I used to stick the computer onto random play, eager to be surprised by hidden or forgotten gems, but where's the joy in spending four hours clicking skip every time a Mclusky b-side comes on and terrifies the cat, or in getting your ears choked by one of the many 'ironic' selections I'd picked to amuse a late-night, sozzled, Friday night crowd. There are only a handful of times you can stumble across S Club 7's Reach - especially when it careers headfirst into Desecration's black metal.

So I had already started to fall out of love with digital convenience. And my DJ mates, the properly musically-astute ones, would be ever so slightly sneery when I'd turn up for a set clutching home-burned Woolies CDRs.

"Can't understand why'd you lug all that scratchy wax around, to be honest. It's not like you've even got the Stone Roses or Arctic Monkeys when people ask for 'em," I'd say.

"Exactly," they'd say. And I still didn't get it.

They'd talk in awed whispers about mint copies of Marsha Hunt's Oh No, Not The Beast Day found at a car boot sale on a Sunday morning in Chirk for a pound, or something early and in Mono by The Shadows in a box behind the counter at Cob Records.

"It's only 79p on iTunes!"

It's a wonder my body wasn't discovered under a hedge, with 387 jumpy Woolies CDRs inserted in my bum as if I was a multi-plattered CD player.

Ashli Todd at the old Spillers Records

Ashli Todd at the old Spillers Records

These DJ mates got attached, obsessive, elitist about a format that is difficult to store, a back-breaker to carry, likely to sound less than pristine, be hard to find and - generally - expensive to accumulate. Who in their right mind wants a second hand copy of a Stones single in a sleeve that looks like a chromatograph of every communicable disease of the last 50 years? Something that sounds like it has been gilded with a white noise crackle, as if it's being beamed in from the Dark Side Of The Moon.

But these are all the things I value, now. 'Difficult to store' means I don't buy rubbish like a kneejerk Elton John. 'Back breaker to carry' means I (occasionally) consider what I'm going to play in my DJ sets before I get there. 'Less than pristine' means suffused with warmth and humanity, not the gloss of numbers trying to emulate the impossible mathematics of the human soul. 'Hard to find' means you actually value something when you stumble across it: in Cob, at a car boot sale, in a charity shop, tucked behind Tubular Bells at your mum and dad's. And those stains on the sleeve are a history of mucky, musical love. Rock burns on Floyd albums, pre-adolescent names carefully ballpointed onto inner sleeves, dried Newcy Brown discolouring Black Is Black. These are all parts of the story vinyl can tell.

So, the packages that started turning up in office containing vinyl began to have a real allure. They weren't dimensionless. They weren't retro. And - over the last couple of years - many more of them have been arriving. The vinyl pressing of Future Of The Left's Travels With Myself And Another had a profound effect on me. On vinyl I'd give it the time and space to play itself out. Vinyl challenges the peripatetic rush of our times. It nobbles knee-jerk skipping, inviting you to listen all the way through something, rather than just consume what you immediately like, moving on the moment you get challenged.

In the last twelve months we've had wonderful Welsh releases on vinyl from Saturday's Kids, Islet, Jonny, Gruff Rhys, Strange News From Another Star, Didz and Chico, Y Niwl, Harbour, Vvolves, H.Hawkline... it's become a real gauge of quality. Home recording and the digital distribution opportunities offered by the likes of bandcamp and iTunes are wonderfully democratic - but a high proportion of the mp3s I receive aren't good enough to play. On the other hand, almost every piece of vinyl that turns up merits airplay.

I wonder how much of this apparent throwback to an old format is about offering an alternative to an easily-pirated file, about giving the customer something tangible that feels much more like a valuable artefact. Plus, vinyl sounds amazing. The Didz And Chico track I allude to above, Something New, has an added, multicoloured dimension to it when I play it through an 8K rig - far more 'there' than its digital equivalent, and that's a fact.

Vinyl's greatest satellite joy, whether it's newly pressed or second-hand, is that it gives you good reason to patronise Wales' fine independent record stores. The ones that are sticking more vinyl on their shelves - from local artists - in counterpoint to the high street stores that are - more and more - marginalising the floorspace they give over to music.

I've never once walked into HMV and had one of the staff recommend something inspirational to me. Every time I walk into Spillers, Ashli Todd will point something (and generally many things!) out to me that she thinks I will treasure. She's never been wrong. Neither have Owen or Alan at Cob in Bangor. Or Matt in Diverse.

Check this theory out on Saturday - heck, any day of the week! And let me know what you discover. And if you find a copy of Gorky's Barafundle or Mclusky Do Dallas on vinyl, give me a nudge. Thanks!

Proms In The Park for Caerphilly

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:39 UK time, Thursday, 14 April 2011

After some years in Swansea, BBC Proms In The Park is taking place in Caerphilly this year.

Left to right: Arlene MacFarlance (trombone), Gwenllian Haf Richards (violin), Amy Harman (bassoon), Tim Thorpe (principal horn).

Left to right: Arlene MacFarlance (trombone), Gwenllian Haf Richards (violin), Amy Harman (bassoon), Tim Thorpe (principal horn).

On Saturday 10 September, BBC Cymru Wales, in collaboration with Caerphilly County Borough Council, will host the event on Owain Glyndwr Playing Fields, with a 'Magic and Wizardry' themed Prom.

Joining the UK-wide revelry of the Last Night of the Proms, the evening will include the BBC National Orchestra of Wales adding their sound to the celebrations. Similar events will take place in London, Northern Ireland and Scotland (venues to be confirmed).

Gwenllian Haf Richards, violinist with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and one of four members of the orchestra who visited the new venue recently, explained why she is looking forward to perform at this outdoor event: "Being part of a national orchestra is such an incredible experience, as we perform across Wales and beyond.

"It will be fantastic to take classical music to the heart of the town. With the spectacular backdrop of Caerphilly Castle, the atmosphere will be incredible. Watching it on television, listening on radio or experiencing the evening at the field, followers will feel a part of a truly Welsh event.

"With a blend of orchestral playing, vocal singing, celebrity presenters and sing-a-long numbers, without a doubt, it will be a live musical night not to be missed."

Bringing the summer festivities to a close, with classical music and fireworks, families and music lovers are invited to bring picnics and flags and to join in with the theme.

Anthony O'Sullivan, Caerphilly County BC Chief Executive welcomed the news: "We are delighted to get the chance to host this prestigious concert in our area. The event promises to be a very special occasion performed in the shadow of Caerphilly's magnificent medieval castle.

"As well as enjoying the musical entertainment, we hope visitors to the area will also get the chance to see the wealth of attractions we have to offer."

More details of the line-up of other artists and presenters will be announced over the next few months. Keep an eye on the Proms In The Park website for the latest information.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 10 April 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:20 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

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

The show has allowed the sun to bake its head. My world record attempt at earliest sunburn ever (very unwise behaviour, of course) leads us along a path of tweets towards the best summery Welsh song (EVER). Judging by the response during the show, it's Gorky's Zygotic Mynci's Patio Song.

I can't argue with that. Honourable mentions to Super Furry Animals' Atomik Lust and Hello Sunshine, Armstrong's Bank Holiday Monday, Catatonia's Dead From The Waist Down, a multitude of GZM's other works of spangled genius, Crashland's Lemonade, MC Mabon's Tymheredd Yn Y Gwres, Sibrydion's Shangri La LP and Akira the Don's Oh, What A Glorious Thing.

If you can think of any more, add a comment. I'll play a selection of the best on this coming Sunday night's programme. It will be probably be blowing a hurricane outside. How's that for tempting fate?

Our Album of the Week is Owlet Music Vol. 1, an excellent compilation of minty fresh, bedroom aceness threaded together by Owain and Angharad from Trwbador.

Huw Williams reminds us of the bright, super pop vibes of Hobby Horse (featuring the peerless Mary Hopkin).

Ben Hayes brings in a wonderful and whimsical b-side from Pink Floyd.

And there is much ace Welsh music. Including début plays for Shinobi's Last Vendetta, We Steal Thieves, MeiMei, Francesca's Word Salad and Will Kevan.

Please send your demos/new releases as .mp3s/download links to

I've written a programme to handle much of the logistical faff that is part and parcel of putting this show together. It tells me the following:

I have played 624 tracks/543 unique songs from 353 Artists in 14 shows since 9 January 2011 (songs per show: 45; unique artists per show: 25).

And that my top five artists played since 9 January 2011 are Saturday's Kids (17), Gruff Rhys (15), Jonny (11), Joy Formidable (nine), Mr Healan (eight).

Fascinating, no? No? Ah, that was a wasted afternoon, then.

Have an excellent, music-filled week!


The Afternoons - 'Rocket Summer'
Tenby / Cardiff

Pen-Ta-Gram - 'Sun Is Shinin' / North Wales Wreckers'

Gruff Rhys - 'Honey All Over'

P.L.O. - 'The Heat ( Featuring Sonnyjim & Mudmowth )'

Y Niwl - 'Un Deg Saith'

Meimei - 'Remember'

Super Cute Voices - 'Camera Shop ビグ-カメラ'

The Crocketts - 'Flower Girl'

Son Capson - 'Air Raid Siren'

Two Inch Punch - 'Love You Up'

Jen Jeniro - 'Dolphin Pinc A Melyn'

Barefoot Dance Of The Sea - 'When You Look At Me'

The Hot Puppies - 'How To Choose A Wife ( Session Version )'

Alex Dingley - 'Lovely Day'

Audiofreeq - 'Green'

Audiodroid - 'Audiophile (i Love This Beat)'

Saturday's Kids - 'Pillow'

Shinobi's Last Vendetta - 'Adrienne-lynn'

We Are Animal - 'Luminous Lights'
Bethel / Caernarfon

We Steal Thieves - 'Awakening'

Hobby Horse - 'Summertime, Summertime'

Telegram From the Queen - 'Dethroned'
Cardiff / Newport / Bristol

Crash Disco - 'Two Bad'

Paper Aeroplanes - 'Orange Lights'
Milford Haven

Lustmord - 'Haze'
Bangor / Los Angeles

Land Of Bingo - 'Company Hymn'
Mold / Manchester

Under Alien Skies - 'Takewon'

YTU13 - 'Get Away'

The Darkhouse Family - 'Stab Wound'
Cardiff / Barry

Didz & Chico - 'My Freedom'

Hehfu - 'Fame And Fortune And Cups Of Tea'

Ivan Moult - 'What's In A Word'

Telefair - 'Birds & Trees'

Francesca's Word Salad - 'Something's Missing'

Tacsi - 'Reggae Funeral'

Miacca - 'Liberties ( Are A Luxury You Can't Have )'

Gallops - 'Joust'

Pink Floyd - 'Paintbox'

Will Kevan - 'Dialling Tone'

Messner - 'Paid A Gofyn'
Bangor / Manchester

The Gentle Good - 'Old Window Song'

Billy Phono - 'Weirdo At Work Ep 1.0'
Ammanford / Newport

More acts added to Green Man

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:59 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

More acts have been added to this year's Green Man Festival (19-21 August). Latest addition Gruff Rhys will be playing a solo show while James Blake and Noah And The Whale have also been recently added.

Line-up is as follows:

Laugharne Festival music finalised

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:33 UK time, Wednesday, 13 April 2011

This weekend's Laugharne festival has finalised its line-up of music acts appearing alongside the usual gamut of literary guests.

The line-up is as follows:

My love letter to Welsh record shops

Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 13:03 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

I've just read a strange article by Rick Martin, an NME hack, essentially berating Record Store Day and our sentimentality for our local independent record store.

Here's the first section of his argument: "If physical singles are finally dying out for good, then don't expect me to send any flowers to the funeral. I don't care about Record Store Day. I don't even care if I never own a physical CD or vinyl record ever again. I got rid of 90 per cent of my CD-based record collection last year, leaving behind only the records I'd paid for before becoming a music hack. I don't miss them.

"And here's why: if you're seriously bothered about the way your tunes are delivered to you, you're focusing on totally the wrong aspect of what makes music great.

"You don't need to own music to enjoy it. I don't sniff records. Buying a CD or 7" doesn't make me like a tune any more than if I'd hear it streamed on a blog - great music is great music however you hear it."

He goes on sadly to bemoan the experience at the independent record store and how it leaves you feeling a little sour.

With so many working together to support Record Store Day, and champion these shops which are struggling with the recession on top of the changing taste in music-buying public, I wanted to write my own love letter to the record shop, and what it represents to me: the community of passion, the silent club you belong to. This is my relationship with the record shops in Wales.

My first experience of buying records in mid Wales was the local Woolworths (RIP), mainly buying chart fodder (Bros, A-ha, Curiosity Killed The Cat, Kylie, Michael Jackson... ahem), and especially those bargain bin surprise purchases (lots of Shakin' Stevens and Grease soundtracks as I remember).

As a teenager I discovered a small corner shop, across the road from the hardware store, Rainbow Records, which is still there! I remember buying Primal Scream's Screamadelica and Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque on LP here, and they still hold up as some of my favourite albums of all time, probably because I listened to them to death.

At Rainbow Records I bought special poster limited editions of Manics 12"s, and coloured vinyl of random seven inches of bands long-forgotten. It was an exciting awakening, and a Saturday morning adventure.

This hunt for records and bands continued and on a visit to Cardiff I stumbled across Spillers Records, and had my heart set on working there. I sent them countless letters and CVs, and as I started life in uni in Cardiff I also began a Saturday job at Spillers. It was actually quite a scary experience; I was stepping into one large extended Cardiff family, where everyone knew everyone, and to me, there was quite a few freakish people involved in that equation! I say that with the warmest fondness for the memories of those times - some of the happiest days of my life.

My wonderful job was photocopying the record and CD sleeves, and serving behind the counter. Some regulars would try and test your knowledge by asking certain questions, for example, the name of the record as you should 'know' who 'that' is by! Then you'd have to try and find everything, filed, not alphabetically, oh no, filed according to record company, and catalogue number!

Luckily, I had a manager with a photographic memory, who could reel off the catalogue numbers soon as you asked. Incredible talent.

My Saturdays at uni spread to other days of the week, study afternoons and so forth, and I probably spent more time at the shop than studying.

As well as the regulars, the shop certainly had a healthy number of occasional customers, who would come in and sing a song they'd heard on the telly the night before. The staff would certainly enjoy these little challenges.

My favourite Spillers Records moment ever was in the middle of serving some industrial goth metal, when my Nan walked in. She was in Cardiff with the Women's Institute bus trip. She was peering over the counter, and asked for some Dafydd Iwan: her little joke! Bless. She was laughing at having braved the doors of Spillers.

From Spillers, my first job with the BBC was in Bangor, north Wales, and as well as the Black Cat in Caernarfon (sadly gone). Owen at Bangor's Cob Records would always be an amazing person to speak to about records, and pick things out for me, as well as order anything in. I was going through a bit of a hip hop phase at the time, buying Missy Elliot, Bahamadia, and Foxy Brown.

So it saddens me the comments about record shops being unfriendly and inhospitable places to go, because my experience of them is the exact opposite. Wales has some of the best in the world, and from Diverse, Tangled Parrot, Andy's, D'Vinyl, and Kellys, I'm proud that these shops are still going and wish them every success for the future generations of music buyers and communities.

Welsh record shops, thanks for being lovely, and for loving records and music as much as I do.

Welsh stars release charity single for substance recovery centre

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:55 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

Various Welsh-language artists have come together to release a fund-raising single in aid of a Cardiff alcohol and drug recovery centre.

Cân Yr Ystafell Fyw/The Living Room Song is released in both English- and Welsh-language versions and is performed by some of the leading lights of the scene, including Bryn Fôn, Elin Fflur and Brigyn.

Elin Fflur

Elin Fflur

Released in aid of The Living Room Cardiff, which looks after recovering alcohol and drug addicts, Cân Yr Ystafell Fyw will be available as a commercial release from conventional digital outlets, plus

Writer Alun Huws told The North Wales Daily Post: "The Living Room Cardiff is a great cause; I've personally had the experience of battling with alcohol addiction and have been in recovery for 25 years. I know how difficult it can be to find advice and support. I'm proud to be able to help in some way."

Record Store Day 2011 in Wales

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:54 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

This Saturday (16 April) sees Wales join countries around the world marking Record Store Day with events, gigs and general celebration of the independent spirit in record retailing.

Gone are the days when every town had a vinyl-selling emporium staffed by people with obscene levels of knowledge of Belle And Sebastian b-sides and the catalogue numbers of Rough Trade records. These days just a few independent retailers attempt to weather the storms in the trade, and Wales have several that this weekend will be drawing public attention to their work.

Spillers, Cardiff
Customer DJ sets, performances, badge-making and sleeve design activities are the order of the day, plus goodie and a headline performance from Y Niwl. Later in the evening, Future Of The Left play a Record Store Day gig at Clwb Ifor Bach in the city.

Cob Records, Bangor
Customers at this north Wales shop can catch Y Niwl before they head south, plus other live sets from Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog and Heldinki.

Catapult 100% Vinyl, Cardiff
In-store DJ sets from Hospital Records' Nu:Tone and Logistics run alongside local talent DJing in the basement. The shop is launching its own label, Catapult Records, on the day too.

Diverse, Newport
Limited edition releases are given special prominence for Record Store Day in Diverse, and customers can enjoy the amazing voice of Sarah Howells of Paper Aeroplanes and an acoustic set from The Redlands Palomino Company. Goody bags and a raffle are also in the offing.

Tangled Parrot, Carmarthen
This shop in south west Wales hosts the talents of Alex Dingley, Trwbador and H.Hawkline. There's swap shop in the evening, of stories and recommendations.

Simon Thomas, manager of Catapult said: "Record Store Day gets better every year; it's something we and our customers have started to look forward to celebrating", while Welsh Music Foundation's Lisa Matthews said: "The importance of independent record stores and the role they play in the music scene can not be overstated. There are a number of long-serving stores in Wales, at a time when closures are reported across the UK and other countries."

Record Store Day 2011 comes at a time in which the sole non-independent chain, HMV, is battling to survive, with news that suppliers are in negotiations to help the troubled retailer.

Tune in to Radio Wales this Friday at 9.30am for a feature on Record Store Day.

The 30-day song challenge

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 13:18 UK time, Friday, 8 April 2011

Have you seen this feature on blogs and Facebook, where everyone's trying to pick a song every day under the following categories? Day one, for me, my all-time favourite song: argh, I'm already stuck. It might be Joni Mitchell All I Want, or Johnny Cash's version of Hurt, or Super Furry Animals' Ohio Heat. Too many to choose from!

From May, I have a new longer show on BBC Radio Wales, and I'd like to play some absolutely corking songs within the walls of the show. I'm looking for classics! So I thought I'd pick your brains, ladies and gentlemen.

For the longer show I'd like as much input from you lot as possible. Fancy sending me an email with three of your favourite songs, based on any of the 30 song a day challenge songs. Anything from this list - email me at

  • Day 01 - Your favourite song
  • Day 02 - Your least favourite song
  • Day 03 - A song that makes you happy
  • Day 04 - A song that makes you sad
  • Day 05 - A song that reminds you of someone
  • Day 06 - A song that reminds of you of somewhere
  • Day 07 - A song that reminds you of a certain event
  • Day 08 - A song that you know all the words to
  • Day 09 - A song that you can dance to
  • Day 10 - A song that makes you fall asleep
  • Day 11 - A song from your favourite band
  • Day 12 - A song from a band you hate
  • Day 13 - A song that is a guilty pleasure
  • Day 14 - A song that no one would expect you to love
  • Day 15 - A song that describes you
  • Day 16 - A song that you used to love but now hate
  • Day 17 - A song that you hear often on the radio
  • Day 18 - A song that you wish you heard on the radio
  • Day 19 - A song from your favourite album
  • Day 20 - A song that you listen to when you're angry
  • Day 21 - A song that you listen to when you're happy
  • Day 22 - A song that you listen to when you're sad
  • Day 23 - A song that you want to play at your wedding
  • Day 24 - A song that you want to play at your funeral
  • Day 25 - A song that makes you laugh
  • Day 26 - A song that you can play on an instrument
  • Day 27 - A song that you wish you could play
  • Day 28 - A song that makes you feel guilty
  • Day 29 - A song from your childhood
  • Day 30 - Your favourite song at this time last year

And I'll let you know when we play them. It's a big list, but just choose three, and email me (please leave your details on the email too - so we can contact you).

I'd really like to have your input, so please take five mins to do this.

Good luck!

Radio Cymru RAP awards round-up

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:07 UK time, Friday, 8 April 2011

BBC Radio Cymru's Roc A Phop (RAP) awards came to a close yesterday with all the winners being announced, live sessions and interviews.

Yr Ods

Best Band 2010 was won by Yr Ods, while these were the other winners:

Aled Jones against protégée in Classic Brit Awards

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:29 UK time, Friday, 8 April 2011

Welsh singer and presenter Aled Jones is nominated in this year's Classic Brit Awards, but will come up against a young chorister he manages.

Aled Jones' Christmas Gift

Aled Jones' Christmas Gift

His album Aled's Christmas Gift is nominated for album of the year, but a young chorister he manages, Isabel Suckling, is also nominated for her record The Choirgirl Isabel. The York-based teenager is signed to Decca. Jones said to BBC North Yorkshire: "I've always been interested in soprano voices and I heard that there was a pretty special girl in York so I went and investigated it further."

The event takes place on 12 May.

The Blackout - Hope reviews and Radio 5 Live appearance

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:22 UK time, Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Following our interview with Gav Butler and Sean Smith of The Blackout, we've brought together some of the reviews of their third album Hope.

Be sure to let us know if there are other reviews you've seen. You can leave comments at the bottom of this blog entry.

Also, Gav and Sean appeared on Victoria Derbyshire's Radio 5 Live show on 28 March as part of the regular Monday music panel. Listen to their verdicts on Britney Spears and Katy B, plus a 40-year old Blackout fan who thinks they're the "best live band since The Clash".

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

And here are the review excerpts:

Rock Sound 8/10
"The 11 songs are built with intention and purpose, designed to bring out the best in a large crowd or field and as such, they deliver. In spades. 'Hope' is the soundtrack to the summer you've not yet had, and from here it sounds like it might be the best one yet." 4/5
"You could say The Blackout have progressed away from the heavier sound they had on 'We Are The Dynamite' (2007) and have written a somewhat softer album, but Hope is noticeably still The Blackout with their energetic songs full of fantastic guitar riffs, instrumental breakdowns and signature interchanging vocals from Sean Smith's screaming to Gavin Butler's singing."

BBC Music
"They're clearly trying to make music that soars as much as it is uplifting, but too much of it is too familiar, too often. Never By Your Side loses its spark and bite when it goes for broke with a chorus that never quite ignites, while the title-track leaves them stranded in the middle of the road. Partly, they're hamstrung by the production: everything sounds compressed, especially the gang vocals, and this unintentionally creates the impression of a hard sell."

Punktastic 4/5
"In short, if you didn't like The Blackout before, chances are this isn't going to do a huge amount to rectify that. There is no dramatic change of direction here (aside from Hyro Da Hero's verse in 'Higher & Higher', this is all instantly recognisable as The Blackout) and they aren't redefining a genre. What 'Hope' is, however, is a solid and accomplished record that will sit well with the casual fans as much as it will with the die-hards."

Ultimate Guitar
"The Storm ends the album beautifully and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard it. I don't hate anything of this album. It's brilliantly put together, with great album artwork. And If it were stolen I'd DEFINITELY buy a new one."

Scratching The Surface
"Hope is an ambitious and well executed record, coming from a band who now seem to have found their feet in the world of music. It is with this album that we will see The Blackout departing from the region of small, up and coming bands, and moving on to conquer far bigger things."

"Overall, 'Hope' has its brilliant moments and disappointing lulls. The influence of peers such as Lostprophets is far more evident in this LP than it has been in previous works - not that that constitutes a negative, it'd just be refreshing to hear more of a growth and expansion on The Blackout's sound rather than their inspiration... But for casual or first-time listeners, 'Hope' doesn't offer an entire patented thrill-ride The Blackout experience that it could."

Leeds Music Scene 5/5
"As the album chords close, and no zombie reference in sight, it's a relief to know the Merthyr boys never gave up on this, when the going got tough last year. It's clear to hear the South Wales' sextet have grown up from their previous albums, which is an excellent progression."

Missy 5/5
"This. Album. Blew. Our. MINDS!"

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Steve Eaves wins at RAP awards

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:18 UK time, Tuesday, 5 April 2011

BBC Radio Cymu's Gwobrau Roc a Phop (RAP) awards have honoured musician Steve Eaves with its outstanding contribution to Welsh language music award.

Steve Eaves

Steve Eaves

Speaking to the North Wales Daily Post, Radio Cymru producer Gareth Iwan Jones said: "Steve Eaves has over the years thrilled audiences and listeners and inspired fellow Welsh musicians along the way.

"What strikes me the most about Steve's music is its integrity and sincerity. There's gentleness and loyalty in the man, his words and his music. But behind all that there's strength and purpose in his words and his art.

"Steve is a poet who discusses the personal and the political but plays it all in a gentle and modest way; [he's] a likeable person and a talented musician."

Eaves said: "I am honoured and privileged to have been given this award for the music I've been creating up to now. But I would like to think that I've been warming up and that the best work is ahead of me.

"I've been very fortunate over the years to have good musicians and good producers working with me and I'm thinking in particular about Elwyn Williams, the band's guitarist, and Les Morrison of Bethesda. Both of them have created so much of the stuff I've recorded over the years. And now I'm enjoying singing more than ever with special thanks to the band that's currently with me: Gwyn Maffia on the drums, Pete Walton on bass and Elwyn on guitar."

More of the Gwobrau RAP award winners will be announced on Radio Cymru this Thursday.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 3 April 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:10 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

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

Yes, I do bang on a bit. And given the parameters of this 'role' (is that too poncey a word?) an occasional lack of perspective is understandable, isn't it? There are probably football scout equivalents of me scattered throughout the country. Men (probably) who brave damp Sunday mornings to seek out rare sparks of talent on windswept, municipal football pitches.

OK, a rather romanticised self image. Point being, when you're looking for sparks sometimes it's easy to mistake the brightest ones for supernovae. How many next Ryan Giggs/Gareth Bales/Aaron Ramsays get discovered every week by enthusiastic, amateur coaches in padded anoraks? All 'cause a kid shows a bit of aptitude with both feet, or looks up rather than thundering on blindly like Forrest Gump every time they have the ball.

So objectivity is important. Not allowing the dizzying rush of potential to befuddle your judgement is vital. Because being measured might mean that when you pick up the phone to A*ex F**guson or Arse** Wenger and say: "put the drink down, Alec - this kid really is the business," they listen, a kid's life gets transformed, that spark of potential gets the opportunity to go supernova.

I wish I could be that measured. I do. I'll make it my April Resolution.

Bearing that in mind. Saturday's Kids are just about the best young band in Wales at the moment. They're Gareth Bale splintering the osteoporotic Milanese - but with guitars and fearless imaginations that mean they take the sum part of their hardcore influences and weave them into something new. Their noise is full of deft touches and there are no unnecessary step-overs.

Their greatest ability is the telepathic alchemy that exists between them. It's Dalglish/Rush levels of innate, intuitive understanding (praise comes no higher). Noise created in a state of grace.

You can find this out for yourself by investing in their latest vinyl release, a 10" on Art For Blind/Bombed Out and Time As A Color Records. It's released on Thursday at Undertone in Cardiff, and to coincide, this week's show features the vast seething session they recorded for us back in January. make your mind up whether it's worthy of a call to one of the Big Four. My mind - clearly - is already decided.

Alan Holmes comes in to perplex and delight us with some Alphane Moon and Ben Hayes brings in the finest psychedelic single ever.

And sounds from all over Wales will spread forth from your speakers, including debut plays for Landslide, David Neale, Rachel Lloyd, Y Bwgan, Hit Or Miss and Max Six.

Please send demos / new releases etc to (download links or .mp3s).

Or post to:

Adam Walton
BBC Radio Wales
Canolfan y Diwydiannau Creadigol / The Centre for the Creative Industries
Prifysgol Glyndŵr / Glyndŵr University
Wrecsam / Wrexham
LL11 2AW

I'm off for a lie down. I've been up since 5am jogging circuits of the pitch in a luminous bib.

Have an excellent music-filled week,

Adam Walton


SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Neurological Design'

HARBOUR - 'Trempanation'

LANDSLIDE - 'Dig Deeper'

EVM (EVERMEAN) - 'Groove Content'


RACHEL LLOYD - 'Calling'

FEEDER - 'Side By Side'

METHOD, THE - 'Dissidents Dancers'

Y NIWL - 'Un Deg Chwech'

KEYS, THE - 'Everyone Loves You'
Resolven / Cardiff

EXOTOPE - 'Rituals'

GALLOPS - 'Joust'

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Throwing Bricks At Trains'


HOWL GRIFF - 'Bluebirds'

CRASH DISCO - 'Lemon Juice'

DAVID JAMES NEALE - 'Something Small'

GENTLE GOOD, THE - 'Llosgi Pontydd'

JONNY - 'You Was Me'

BADFINGER - 'Love Time'

ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'

ALPHANE MOON - 'Alphane Moon'

MAX SIX - 'Down'

KITTY COWELL - 'Take It Back'

SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Grey On White ( Session Version )'

SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Unattainable ( Session Version )'

SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Theorem ( Session Version )'

ZABRINSKI - 'Executive Decision'

SEN SEGUR - 'Sarah 57 ( Sarah Was An Android )'

BWGAN, Y - 'Branwen'
Porthmadog / Caernarfon


ANNI ROSSI - 'Land Majestic'
Chicago / New York (cardiff Label)

HOUDINI DAX - 'Whatever You Feel'


HIT OR MISS - 'You Can't Kill A Dead Shark'

HIGH SOCIETY, THE - 'Space 3.5'

LLEUWEN - 'Ar Goulou Bev'

FRIENDS ELECTRIC - 'Something You Should Know'

TOY HORSES - 'Interrupt (radio Edit)'

PETE LAWRIE - 'All That We Keep'


BEN HAYES (+ TRACK) - 'Spoken Contribution'

PRETTY THINGS, THE - 'Defecting Grey'

SHOOTER - 'Burn Deep'

Welsh compilation in aid of Japan

Post categories:

James McLaren James McLaren | 10:13 UK time, Friday, 1 April 2011

Tasukete, meaning 'help' in Japanese, is the title of a compilation raising money for the Japanese Red Cross appeal, orchestrated by north Wales band Gallops.


Tasukete cover artwork

Featuring 36 tracks, the compilation has songs from the likes of Gallops, Tall Ships, Heal The Last Stand, I Am Austin and JKLMNO. It features "a plethora of amazing music by amazing people," according to Gallops' Paul Maurice. "All proceeds will go to help Japan in their time of dire need. Massive thanks from all of us."


  • Tall Ships - Chemistry
  • Rush Keepers - VIOLING4
  • Minnaars - Escapism
  • Bastions - Island Living
  • Three Trapped Tigers - Cramm
  • Gallops - Defbox
  • Injured Ninja - Fallopian Tube Screamer
  • Teej - Slow Motion Summit
  • Dark Dark Horse - Sharks
  • Falls - Death in Disco Shoes
  • Heal the last stand - To See It All
  • Fag Machine - Formaldehyde
  • Hard Shoulder - Fuji Love
  • Bloodsport - Open Doors _ Closed Doors
  • Mother of Six - Cat Knife (Live)
  • Tallulah Fix - Awol
  • Santiago Street Machine - Dr. Hoax
  • Arnie - Fire
  • JKLMNO - Subtle Changes
  • Deaf Club - Lull
  • Arctus Questu - Frosty Fall
  • F.O.E - Jaws Of The Lion
  • Commander Short Shorts - Looking Like A Fairytale
  • Cy Tukay - Network
  • I Am Austin - L.A.F.S
  • The Screening - Colour
  • Fat Barrels - M
  • Lauren Burton - Better Off Good
  • Modern Faces - Gun for Hire
  • Tactics - Certain Acts
  • Victorian Hardware - Horse In The Rainbow Rain
  • HEHFU - Winter Sun And Summer Snow
  • Clockwork Radio - Please You
  • The Scene - Come Away
  • Infinite Third - Awake in the Dream
  • Whiskey & Lace - Wired

Find out more.

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