Welsh Music Wednesday: 15 of ’15


Hi there, it’s been a while. The weekly Welsh Music Wednesday feature is back for 2016! Because I’ve been away for a bit, I’ve missed out on some really awesome music, and whilst I plan to rectify that in the coming weeks, I’m going to cheat a little bit and give you a list of some of my favourite Welsh releases from 2015 all at once… right now. Some of them are almost painfully obvious choices for me but others you might be more unfamiliar with, for the time being.

As some of you will know, two of my five favourite albums of 2015, from anywhere in the world, came from Welsh bands. Those were: Stereophonics with ‘Keep The Village Alive‘ and No Devotion with ‘Permanence‘. As I’ve already talked about those albums (and because it’s already hard to only choose who to include in this feature) I’m not putting them in this list, as politely as possible, in order to free up some space for two lesser-known Welsh releases, which I think is fair. Despite those albums not being listed below, you really, really, really should go and check them out because they’re excellent.

With great difficulty, I’ve managed to narrow my favourite Welsh releases from 2015 down to 15. But I’m going to cheat again…. I’ve made a playlist on Alt Scribe’s new Soundcloud page (I know, we’re getting pretty modern and serious now, right? We might even do The Spotify soon) this playlist features my top 15 as well as just a few more songs that I really enjoyed last year (an idea which I definitely nicked from David Owens, so thank you, David).

I would love to take full credit for discovering all these incredible Welsh artists by skulking around Le Pub all night, but there are people in Wales who are far more awesome, and certainly a lot more reliable (and better at time management) than I am. Two of them being BBC Radio WalesAdam Walton and David Owens from Wales Online, these gents are largely to blame for the struggle in narrowing down my favourite releases to 15. I’d shake an angry fist at them for making my life harder (and my purse lighter) but my record shelf is a lot fuller, so that’s all that really matters.

1. The Hearts – ‘Run Free’ (single)

A truly shocking top pick from me, I know. First on my list, always and forever. The Hearts have had quite a year, most of which I’ve documented here and here, and it’s no surprise they’re doing so well when they make indie, synth-pop anthems as solid as this. I’m ready for an album now, guys.

All joking aside, they are pretty good.

2. Chain Of Flowers – ‘Chain Of Flowers‘ (album)

Dark, emotive and intense. Chain Of Flowers are a bold, post-punk band from Cardiff. Their self-titled LP is laced with despair and rage, which is a winning combination for me, it’s poetic melancholy echoing over intricate, gothic melodies. And noise, lots and lots of noise.

Speaking of noise, they’ve just announced their first live show of 2016, in Cardiff. Make sure you go.

Check back soon for a full feature.

3. Houdini Dax – ‘Naughty Nation‘ (album) 

I’ve been following the Dax boys for a while, I was so stoked for this album to finally be released and it didn’t disappoint. ‘Naughty Nation‘ wouldn’t be out of place on the shelves next to those dominating the alternative charts, it’s an indie rock and roll classic from start to finish.

4. The Cradles – ‘Denmark Street‘ (free download/video)

A reappearance from one of my favourites and regulars to Alt Scribe, The Cradles are another band who have been on my radar for a while. They have such a strong 60s rock & roll sound that listening to them feels like you’re inside a time capsule. They’ve recently started working with producers Iain Mahanty and Rob Thomas  and the result has been pretty spectacular. You can hear those results in the form of their new single ‘Ideal Girl‘, which is due to be released in March, but until then, here’s another song they recorded (which is free to download) with Iain and Rob last year, complete with video.

5. Voes – ‘Let Me Stay’ (EP)

I was first introduced to Voes early last year when they supported The Vestals, (who would have easily made this list, had they released any new music in 2015, it’s been two years since their Life Without Love‘ EP, can you believe it?).

Anyway, I was completely floored by Voes when I saw them live, almost moved to tears by Harriet Whitehead‘s  beautifully harrowing voice. Needless to say, their EP ‘Let Me Stay‘ was on repeat for weeks after the show, Voes have already released new music this year, I’m excited for whatever dreampop delight comes next.

6. Samoans/Freeze The Atlantic – (split EP)

Something sweet to keep fans of Samoans occupied in the space between their stunning debut album ‘Rescue‘ and their highly anticipated second album which is yet to have a release date. Their split EP with their friends from across the border, Freeze The Atlantic, is a perfect filler for those who are (im)patiently waiting for more music from this fantastic band. The EP features an original track from each band and a cover of each others’ songs, Samoans’ original track, ‘Wrong Cops‘ is utterly brilliant; gritty, melodic and bloody good live. Samoans’ second album is one of the future releases I’m most excited for, so get a move on, guys.

Oh, and you really should check out Freeze The Atlantic‘s cover of Samoans’ ‘I Am Your Density, too.

7. Shop Girls – ‘In The Bathroom‘ (free download) 

The internet is great, new music is shared everywhere; some of it fantastic, some of it not so much… and then every so often you stumble across something so good that your ears feel like they’ve struck gold. I was pointed in Shop Girls‘ direction by ex-60 Ft. Dolls & current The Lash drummer, Carl Bevan and I’ll be forever grateful, check them out and you’ll understand why.

8. Euros Childs – ‘Sweetheart‘ (album)

I am so embarrassingly late to the Euros Childs party, I first heard his music on Adam Walton‘s BBC Radio Wales show, then I saw him live at Le Pub for their We Shall Overcome weekend and now I’m pretty much ready to hand him over my heart (and all my money) in a box. If you ever need cheering up, put ‘Fruit And Veg‘ on, I’m pretty sure that melody is “happiness” in musical form. The rest of the album is fantastic too, you can download it, as well as other releases for free on Euros’ website, but you can also buy it from there too, so please do if you can afford to do so.

9. We’re No Heroes – ‘Voodoo/Stay Weird‘ (double A side 7″)

We’re No Heroes are another one of my favourites, I know it may seem like I just deliberately put “my favourites” on these lists, but they’re “my favourites” because they’re absolutely brilliant, and they deserve to be “your favourites” too. We’re No Heroes  have been around for a while and already have a pretty decent discography, but their latest offerings ‘Voodoo/Stay Weird‘ are definitely going to be the ones to put them on the musical map. It’s a funky, psychedelic disco. Oh, and the drummer is also the lead vocalist.

10. Joe Kelly – ‘Devil At Your Door‘ (single)

2015 was a good year for the gnarly, folk singer/songwriter, Joe Kelly. Formerly of The Lash and currently of The Johnstown Flood, all on top of making solo material, Joe (as you can hear) has been working really hard to showcase his musical ability, natural talent for songwriting and that gorgeous voice, which is somehow both powerful and delicate at the same time. And he wears excellent shoes.

His hard work (and taste in footwear) is starting to pay off, late last year he was awarded Launchpad funding from BBC Horizons which will enable him make and release more music, and his single ‘Devil At Your Door‘ was released on Beeline Records. For now, you’ll have to listen to it on Soundcloud, but it will be available for physical release very soon.

Joe Kelly is playing a show in Newport with the amazing, Siôn Russell Jones and Ofelia this month, come down, wear good shoes.

Check back soon for a full feature.

11. ESTRONS – ‘Make A Man‘ (single) 

This is another one I can (happily) blame on Adam Walton, every time this song starts playing sometime between the hours of 10 & 1 on a Saturday night (and it comes on a lot) I experience a sudden surge of adrenaline, motivation and elation. ‘Make A Man‘ is easily one of the best songs to come out of Wales in the last 12 months and ESTRONS are fast becoming Cardiff’s most talked-about bands, and deservedly so.

However, we wouldn’t be cruel enough to keep them all to ourselves, they’re heading out on a UK tour next month, go see them. If their live shows are anywhere near as exhilarating as they are on record, I fear for the survival of your bones. And your eardrums.

Check back soon for a full feature.

12. The Sick Livers – ‘Mid Liver Crisis‘ (album)

The Sick Livers are absolutely filthy, no seriously, Ginge, it’s been five days, take a shower #BipolarRockstar. Anyway, Twitter jokes aside, The Sick Livers are probably one of the best and most beautifully disgraceful garage punk bands Wales has to offer, and ‘Mid Liver Crisis‘ encapsulates that fact from start to finish. It’s noisy, angry fun. I mean, it must be pretty good, even Nicky Wire of Manic Street Preachers popped into Diverse Records and picked up a copy, you can too, right here.

Whilst I would (obviously) recommend picking up a copy of ‘Mid Liver Crisis‘, to get the full ‘Sick Liver Effectyou have to see them live. And you’re in luck if you live in Swansea, because they’re playing The Lemon Factory in a couple of weeks.

For now, here’s a taste, wash your mouth out afterwards. With Jägermeister:

Check back soon for a full feature.

13. Iwan Rheon – ‘Dinard‘ (album) 

I feel like Iwan Rheon doesn’t get enough credit as a musician, forget what you know about his work elsewhere and listen to his debut album, ‘Dinard‘. It’s beautifully crafted, raw and elegant, acoustic artistry. I’m impatiently waiting for the day Iwan starts playing live shows again, I know he’s pretty busy these days, but he’s remarkable; his voice is simply stunning, somehow both soothing and stimulating, like the flicker of candlelight.

Dinard also features a duet with his wonderfully talented brother, Aled Rheon, who saw much of his own success last year with BBC Horizons. Their Welsh-medium song, ‘Rhodd‘ is also part of Wales Online‘s ‘Reach Out: Welsh Rock For Refugees‘ album, curated by David Owens, all the proceeds of which go to Refugee Action.

Here’s Iwan Rheon playing an oldie, live. Come back, Iwan, we miss you:

14. The People The PoetMatchday (single)

The People The Poet have been around for a while now and they’re pretty consistent in releasing fantastic music. October 2015’s huge single, ‘Matchday‘, was no exception. It’s empowering, emotive, catchy and brilliantly Welsh.

More recently, The People The Poet have launched ‘Music Is My Medicine‘, a campaign which raises money for Cancer Research UK in memory of one of the band’s biggest fans, Samantha Wilding. The band have started the campaign by printing t-shirts and they’ve already received an overwhelming response, if you would like to buy a t-shirt, you can do so here.

Matchday‘ itself, isn’t actually available on Soundcloud (good, that means you’ll have to buy it) so I’ve featured an older The People The Poet track in my 2015 playlist, ‘Take‘ (thanks, David)

As well as buying ‘Matchday, I would very much recommend you check out the video:

Check back soon for a full feature.

15. Tree Of Wolves – ‘Sebastian‘ (single) 

I first heard ‘Sebastian‘ live, it was one of those rare occasions where a song you’ve never heard before is so infectious that it stays in your head for days afterwards, I found myself eagerly counting down the days until it was released as a single, and it was worth the wait.

Here’s a live acoustic video they’ve recently released, listen to those harmonies:

So that was my Top 15 of 2015, but like I mentioned earlier, I’ve cheated a bit, it seems unfair to only give credit to 15 releases when last year in Wales was just so, so good to us. Here’s another 40, I hope you enjoy. See you next week. 


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