I'm of the opinion that 2011 was a Very Good Year for Welsh music.
OK, I'm not aware of any Welsh bands who clawed their way to the top of increasingly irrelevant sales charts. I'm only vaguely aware of a few bands whose music got clutched to the hearts of an international audience: The Joy Formidable, Gruff Rhys... erm... I believe Kids In Glass Houses, Funeral For A Friend and The Blackout had excellent years, too.
But sales aren't my domain. Feel free to make an argument that they should be below, however I can't see it being persuasive. I lost faith in the UK public's ability to value real talent over anodyne, herd-fed, manipulative karaoke bilge somewhere in the middle of X Factor's third series. It's an easy target, I know; but for those of us who cherish creativity it's a planet-sized target in good need of a visit from the Death Star.
Every Saturday evening my daughter sits there, hypnotised by Cowell's spinning reels, and gets conned about what is / isn't incredible, what is / isn't talent, what does / doesn't constitute the remarkable. Yes, I've laughed at it, got drawn in to the soap opera of the whole thing, spat takeaway curry all over my TV reading @Martin_Carr's tweeted commentary. But it's getting beyond a joke now, innit? It's a joke that turned into a plague - and the wooden cart is passing outside the daubed doors of the truly talented.
But I'm not a snob. I don't want the music I love the most to be secreted off in its own a-commercial cloister. I'd throw garish street parties were Bastions, Knickers, Future Of The Left, Tiny Skitz or H. Hawkline to reach the top of a chart, even if it were a chart of my own devising. Any excuse for a party!
I suppose, in some respects, my Christmas Day show is a chart of my own devising. Fifry-five pieces of Welsh music that filled my knackered old sails with a fulsome wind, blowing me to thrilling, hitherto unexplored territories. Not all of my favourite pieces of 2011, though; not when there wasn't room for the explorative, long-form excellence of Blatnova or much of what appeared on the Under The Spires label.
So, 2011 brought me Sex Hands, Joanna Gruesome, Chloe Leavers, Hotel Shampoo, Ifan Dafydd and a few dozen others, tightly packed into this 3 hour celebration of Welsh creativity, vision and imagination.
With the demise of Radio 1's dedicated Welsh Introducing show, the death of S4C's Bandit, and budgets everywhere shrinking to accommodate bankers' mistakes, the opportunities to showcase and encourage the most sonically talented of our populace are diminishing. Those people who graft our livelihoods onto racks that shrink and expand according to minute variations in the stock markets should be aware of the contribution creativity can make to a struggling economy. Especially in times like these.
Plus - unless you're in an extreme situation - a song as beautiful as, say, Sam Airey's The Blackout will be a shoulder to cry on when the darkest clouds gather; or something as rollicking and defiant as The Bright Young People's Devil's Pinch will chase those damned clouds away. Or set them on fire.
Music is therapy; cathedral and market all-in-one. It's the heartbeat of every nation and we should do whatever we can to look after that heart. It's more than a few snotty kids making a racket - but, all the same, god bless those snotty kids, one and all.
Let the street party begin, then. Who's got the cupcakes?
Many thanks / diolch o galon,
IRMA VEP - 'What's That In Your Mouth?'
JOY FORMIDABLE, THE - 'Cradle'
GRUFF RHYS - 'Sensations In The Dark'
METABEATS - 'The Snap Featuring Mudmowth, Rtkal & Ruffstylz ( Radio Edit )'
SKINDRED - 'Warning'
WIBIDI - 'Some People'
LLWYBR LLAETHOG - 'Bodlondeb Ty Cnau ( Featuring David R. Edwards )'
Blaenau Ffestiniog / Cardiff
KORELESS - 'Up Down Up Down'
LA DECADANSE FEATURING GWENNO - 'Pretty Pretty'
Brighton / Cardiff
KNICKERS - 'My Baby's Just A Baby ( But I Love Him So )'
London / Cardiff Distribution
Y NIWL - 'Chwech'
KEYS, THE - 'I Tried To Find It In Books'
Resolven / Cardiff
WHITE NOISE SOUND - 'Sunset'
GALLOPS - 'Joust'
SCIENCE BASTARD - 'Trevor'
LOVELY EGGS, THE - 'New Allergies'
GENTLE GOOD, THE - 'Llosgi Pontydd'
LLEUWEN - 'Cawell Fach Y Galon'
TINY SKITZ - 'Grime Is The One'
YR ODS - 'Troi A Throsi'
JONNY - 'Waiting Around For You'
EUROS CHILDS - 'Something On My Mind'
BASTIONS - 'Visitant'
STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR - 'I Am Weatherproof ( Album Version )'
JAY ROBINSON - 'Get Mad Now'
GOLDEN FABLE - 'The Chill Pt. 2'
LITTLE ARROW - 'Boat'
SWEET BABOO - 'The Day I Lost My Voice'
Bangor / Cardiff
IFAN DAFYDD - 'No Good ( 12" Version )'
SHY AND THE FIGHT - 'All That We See Or Seem'
Chester / Llangollen
LOS CAMPESINOS - 'Songs About Your Girlfriend'
HOUDINI DAX - 'Robin You Lie'
H. HAWKLINE - 'You Say You Love Me'
MC MABON - 'Health And Safety'
AKIRA THE DON - 'Babydoll'
BWGAN, Y - 'Dali Lawr'
Porthmadog / Caernarfon
PULCO - 'Whistle Frog ( E.p. Version )'
FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Polymers Are Forever'
SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Whisper In My Ear'
TRUCKERS OF HUSK - 'Dear Malcolm Sullivan I Hope You're Alive?'
VVOLVES - 'Clearer ( E P Version )'
Monmouth / Cardiff
SEX HANDS - 'Way No Way'
Dwygfylchi / Llanfairfechan / Conwy
JOANNA GRUESOME - 'Sugarcrush'
LOOSE CAPACITOR - 'Frankensynth'
TRWBADOR - 'Sun In The Winter'
Camarthen / Cardiff
HUW M - 'Ysgafelloedd Gwag'
CHLOE LEAVERS - 'Don't Leave Your Joy'
COLORAMA - 'Lisa Lan'
COWBOIS RHOS BOTWNNOG - 'Celwydd Golau Ydi Cariad'
BRIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE, THE - 'Devil's Pinch'
STRUCK A NERVE - 'Can't Lose Out'
SAM AIREY - 'The Blackout ( Radio Edit )'
XXXY - 'Ordinary Things'
DAU CEFN - 'Cariad'
Caernarfon / Cardiff
LOWLAND HUNDRED, THE - 'The Hushing'