Recommended gig

Sion Russell Jones, Brigyn & Little Arrow at St John's Church, Canton, Cardiff on Saturday 10th November 7.30pm. Tickets available from: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/189421.












.... All reviews on newsoundwales are the personal opinions of the reviewer. We are not responsible for your listening enjoyment and cannot guarantee that you will share our views. Buy the music, go to the gigs, listen and make your own mind up

Rusty Shackle - Wash Away These Nights

Before you accuse Rusty Shackle of jumping on the Mumford & Sons et al bandwagon rest assured that despite their youth these guys are folk veterans with several members having been part of instrumental teen band sensation One String Loose . The album is largely made up of up tempo songs ideal for a live setting. The opener " 3am " is as good as early Noah & the Whale and it is surprising it didn't get more attention when it was released as a single earlier this year. Beyond the 3 minute pop gems such as this there is definite room for growth with songs such as " Fight for the Queen " and " Factory " indicating a more mature and introspective song writing style. Rusty Shackle are a young band of consummate musicians who show much promise for the future.



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Ian Hunter - When I'm President

The word 'veteran' is somewhat overused for rock stars who pass 50 and have a few decades under their belt. However, if anyone is entitled to that accolade Hunter deserves it more than most reaching the grand old age of 73 and having spent much of the past 50 years on the road. This is Hunter's first album since the Mott re-unions of 2009 and there is a sense of renewed confidence and swagger about his song writing. Admittedly it's not likely to win many new younger fans, but there are some gems here that deserve a wider audience. The title track " When I'm President " is well observed and perfectly timed for the forthcoming presidential elections. It could just catch the zeitgeist later this year. " Black tears " with its emotional observations cuts like a knife and demonstrates his much over looked lyrical mastery. Hunter has definitely moved on from his grumpy old man routine circa " Rant " and this album is going to give men half his age a run for their money.



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Louise Latham - Reclaimed

Listening to this debut album from Louise Latham you wonder where she has been hiding as seemingly out of nowhere we have an album with premiere league producer Arno Guveau (Manfred Mann, Fleetwood Mac) featuring large scale arrangements and even a full orchestra on tracks such as " I can see it in your eyes ". The opener " Saint " sets the tone for the album with its confessional lyrics, lilting melody, gorgeous harmonies all underpinned by some beautiful violin playing. " Young Boy " has strong echoes Arno's previous employers Fleetwood Mac, but she does have her own voice which shines through on the break up song " Erase Me " probably the most commercial track on the album. The lush production and acoustic leanings sometimes result in tracks that veer slightly too close to the centre ground. However, there is the start of something here and she would do well to align herself alongside fellow Welsh acoustic artists such as Paper Aeroplanes and Zervas & Pepper amongst which she wouldn't be out of place.

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Al Lewis - Our Lines Remain



This is an excellent 4 track EP from one of Wales' finest young song writers who heads out on his first headline UK tour this October. Al Lewis has developed a strong and recognisable style and may become one of the few artists who can stay true to his cultural roots but have mainstream success. The most memorable song on the EP is " Blackbird & the Magpie " a clear concise and direct lyric that will resonate with the listener, an excellent arrangement and a strong melodic chorus that conveys the emotion of the song; classic Al Lewis.


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Pulco - Man of Lists

On paper the thought of a spoken word album where the subject matter is often the observations of daily life isn't exactly promising. However, the 25 tracks here transform potentially dull events such as getting up early and having a haircut or observing birds in the garden into magical happenings. Set to a varied musical backdrop Ashley Cooke sooths and beguiles us and in the process transports us to his particular place in the world. Whereas his earlier output often sounded like an aural sketchbook on this album the arrangements are much more sophisticated such as " Music" or the atmospheric " Oxbow lake ". There is something special and original about Pulco and he is an artist we should treasure and encourage.

I am an artist
Musician
Poet

Ultimately this
Will be my undoing

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Go-Kart Mozart - On the Hot Dog Streets

Welcome to the world of Lawrence, the former front man of Felt & Denim. A world where the music of his youth is re-born, re-made and re-wired as a series of warped post modern glam rock gems. This is the third album under his current incarnation as Go-Kart Mozart and follows hot on the heels of the " Lawrence of Belgravia " documentary and you sense that maybe, just maybe Lawrence might finally get some of the attention he deserves. From the kitchen sink drama of ' Mickie made the most' to the driving synth driven beats of ' White stilettos in the sand' with its Bowiesque vocal tricks the standard rarely slips. Although deadpan wit and humour abound throughout there is often a melancholic streak at its heart that goes some way to reveal some of Lawrence's complex psyche. Few, if any albums, released this year will prove to be as fascinating, intriguing and uplifting as this.



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Public Image Ltd - This Is PIL

Very few bands get major deals these days and have to fund releases through day jobs. John Lydon is no different and has used the money gained from his butter adverts to fund this release. The plus side of this approach means that the band has more or less complete control and tracks such as " One drop " and " Deeper Water " are on a par with anything from " Metal Box ". However this freedom also results in the inclusion of several tracks that should have been reserved for b sides. It also gives us one of the worst album sleeves of the year - sorry John. That aside it is by far the best album Lydon has produced for well over 30 years and proof that his creativity is far from over.


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Flynn Lives - Halloween/Bones

Debut single from Cardiff band who are here to 'make noise, shake floors and break hearts'. The two tracks here have been produced by rising Welsh composer and producer Jordan Andrews and he has managed to achieve a sonic blast without losing sight of melody and passion. The single is being launched at Dempsey's in Cardiff 30 th June and on the evidence of these tracks the band could have a bright future on the Welsh rock scene and beyond.

Embedded sound clip:

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Bright Light Bright Light
Make Me Believe in Hope

Way back in 2008 we picked Rod Thomas as our artist to watch for the year ahead. It's taken a name change and 4 years hard graft, but finally things seem to be falling into place for the young man from Neath. This is a superb collection of incredibly well written and intelligent electro pop songs. The heart and soul of the album is a love of pop music and its ability to communicate emotions and connect with the listener. From the confessional opener " Immature " to the 90s infused stormer " Feel it " through to the anthemic " Grace " the quality of the songs is remarkable. If I were responsible for producing the next Kylie, Pet Shop Boys or Madonna albums then Bright Light Bright Light is the man I would want on board for the project. Best British pop album of the year.



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Cate le Bon - CYRK

Cate le Bon is not the Welsh Nico. Deal with it and move on. The Velvet Underground do have a small part to play in the sound of this album. However, this is a 2 nd or even 3 rd generation filter of influence via the likes of the Super Furry's and Gorky Zygotic Mynci. The world of CYRK is mysterious, enchanting and at times just a little bit disconcerting. Tracks range in style from the stop start garage pop of ' Falcon Eyed ' and the haunting melodrama of " Greta " through to the ecstatic cacophony of closing track " Ploughing out ". This isn't likely to bother the charts or become the soundtrack to your summer, but it is a fascinating collection and has to be a shoe in for a Mercury nomination later this year.



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George Harrison - Early Takes Volume 1

Collections of this kind can prove to be a fascinating insight into how the songs that we know and love came into being. Probably the best example is Dylan's Bootleg series where in some instances the alternate versions superseded the originals. Sadly most of the tracks here do little to provide a fresh insight and will probably only be of lasting interest to the hardcore Beatle collector. There are a few gems such as the stripped down demo of " All Things Must Pass " and the covers of the Everly Brother's " Let it be me " and Dylan's " Mama you've been on my mind " are a delight. On balance a fairly slight collection with only 10 tacks and a running time of just over 30 minutes. However, if you must own everything the four lads from Liverpool recorded it will be a valuable artefact to add to your archive.



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Huw M - Gathering Dusk

(Review by Stephen Nottingham)

On his second album, Gathering Dusk Huw M (Huw Meredydd Roberts) builds on the promise of his 2010 debut Os Mewn Swn (both on the Gwymon label). Multi-instrumentalist Huw M plays all manner of guitars and keyboards; although the cello playing of Lucy Simmonds (of the Mavron Quartet and co-composer on many of the tracks), the backing vocals of Bethan Reynolds, and the French horn of Angus West are integral to the richly-layered sound. Lightly tinged with psychedelia, these songs of nostalgia, empty rooms and inclement weather are gently uplifting. Four of the ten tracks are sung in English, with the oddball Be being an irresistible (wordless) barbers shop-style harmony with banjo. Babushka, wake me! has a gentle Jamaican lilt, a sitar sets the scene for Ystafelloedd gwag , while Hide behind you is driven by a catchy bar-room piano. It's all-of-a-piece though, with Huw M's persuasive vocals and guitar-playing steering a steady course through this accomplished set of songs. Great album artwork too!

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Tomos Lewis - Four Songs EP



Originally from Dolgellau and now resident in Cardiff, Tomos Lewis has signed to the increasingly impressive roster at One Small Voice alongside Sion Russell Jones and Jonathan Powell. The opening track ' I died deep inside' is probably the most commercial track here with a sympathetic arrangement it is a song sung from the heart. However, Lewis is just not a singer song writer and songs such as ' These boots ' illustrate that he has ambition and the ability to produce the kind of grand scale epic ballad that could well take his music far beyond these shores. With the likes of Georgia Ruth and Tomos Lewis beginning to make their mark the class of 2012 has well and truly arrived.



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Georgia Ruth -In Luna EP



Certain parts of the UK have a knack of producing artists who share a similar style; Birmingham has its heavy metal, Sheffield its electronic pop etc. West Wales seems to be establishing itself as a breeding ground for beautiful acoustic melodic folk pop with the likes of Paper Aeroplanes and although she has been around for a few years Georgia Ruth nee Georgia Ruth Williams could well be giving her fellow west Walian Jodie Marie a run for her money. On the evidence of these songs you get the sense that Georgia's music is going to have broad appeal. She is cool enough to be appreciated by the uber cool SWN set, but at the same time she wouldn't sound out of place o Radio 2. Her songs are deceptively simple, well crafted and with an exquisite sense of melody. ' Through your hands' has an enchanting melody backed with an arrangement that perfectly matches the strain of regret that permeates the lyrics. Closing the EP ' Anna ' demonstrates Georgia's vocal range and ability to convey emotion. In short this brief collection of songs is a calling card to die for.



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The Method - Art Gallery (single)



The Method are signed to zeitgeist Cardiff label seemonkeydomonkey and this is a near perfect slice of 1965 re-imagined. In this art gallery there is no pretentious post modern art nonsense just a scuzzy driving bass, power chording guitars and a glorious 'get off my cloud' shouty chorus. This the kind of adrenalin fuelled sound that will whip a live crowd into a frenzy and cause the kind of stage invasion that took place during their gig at Cardiff's Globe last year. Yesterday's sound reborn, re-invented and about to erupt big time.

http://seemonkeydomonkey.bandcamp.com/album/the-method-art-gallery-double-a-side-single

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Peter Broderick

http://www.itstartshear.com/



Many years ago a journalist quipped that Marilyn Monroe was so beautiful that she would probably look good wearing a potato sack. Sure enough someone took up the challenge and photographed her in said garment and yes she did look stunning. You somehow think the same would be true for Peter Broderick's voice. He could probably sing a tax office guideline and make it sound poetic and profound. Who else could recite a web address, as he does on the title track, and make it work? Since his 5star debut " Home " Broderick has largely been making instrumental ambient recordings with the likes of Nils Frahm. This album fuses elements of the traditional song format found on his debut with more experimental soundscapes and is a fruitful direction for him to follow. The title track " http://www.itstartshear.com /" is an exercise in writing something that is likely to airplay and it could easily be a leftfield crossover pop hit. Probably the song that will remain with you longest, however, is " Asleep " written about one of his friends who died in a kayaking accident. With its haunting refrain " where is your body " the song is dark and moving. Further proof, if you needed it, that Bella Union has one of the best rosters of artists in the UK at present.


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Jodie Marie - Mountain Echo



Jodie Marie hails from Pembrokeshire and this debut on Decca was produced by Suede's Bernard Butler who shares the songwriting credits with Jodie alongside the likes of Ed Harcourt. This is carefully crafted and it is clear that time and probably a considerable budget has been invested in this project; a rare thing these days. At times this veers towards Norah Jones territory and it is definitely more likely to be heard on Radio 2 than 6 Music. Where she shows true promise is on songs such as ' On the road ' which has hook that soars and captivates. However, the best is kept until last with ' Mountain Echo' a beautiful song that has a simply stunning vocal performance. If Cate le Bon is the Welsh Nico then perhaps Jodie Marie will turn out to be Pembrokeshire's very own Patsy Cline.



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Islet - Illuminated People

Complex rhythms, multi-layered melodies, fast changing time signatures; there is nothing easy or safe about this album and that is precisely why Islet are one of the most interesting and promising bands to have emerged in a long time. Whether it is the playful warped pop of " A bear on his own " or the semi gothic horror of " Filia " the band are never complacent or predictable. For some this lack of continuity and a clearly identifiable 'Islet' sound might present difficulties and is perhaps why they are destined to remain far removed from the mainstream. There is room for growth and the band might do well to address the vocal sound which at times sounds too clean and doesn't match the power and quality of the music. When we reviewed their debut EP last year we said " This is going to be an intriguing, eventful and at times turbulent journey". Fasten your seat belts and prepare yourself, the Islet voyage of musical discovery has begun.


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Leonard Cohen - Old Ideas




At the age of 77 and having been writing and performing for well over 50 years you could forgive Leonard Cohen for taking an easy route to his final resting place. However, this is a poet and singer who is refusing to take a cheap ticket aboard the nostalgia train. As he has done throughout his career this album sees a man addressing his thoughts, fears and views of life and inevitably his own mortality. " Yeah I know my days are few " he sings on "Darkness" against a sparse and sombre backdrop. The mood here is reflective, calm and a man at ease with his situation. Probably the best song in the collection is the opener " Going Home " in which he addresses himself in the third person. " I love to speak with Leonard, He's a sportsman and a shepherd, He's a lazy bastard living in a suit." If younger artists approaching their senior years are unsure of their place in the musical landscape and how best to deal with the march of time, they need look no further than Old Ideas by Leonard Cohen for some new ideas about remaining relevant and true to yourself in old age.


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The Maccabees - Given to the Wild




Back in the 1980s there was for a brief spell a move towards 'big music' i.e. epic songs with swelling choruses and rather pompous lyrics. In many ways the Given to the Wild sees the Maccabees veering towards this category. Much has been made of influences on this album with the likes of Bowie and U2 being name dropped. However, this seems to have more in common with bands such as Coldplay and the Wild Beasts. There is a sonically interesting palette and some effective haunting almost choral vocals and it does have coherence even if it lacks any memorable stand out tracks. This is the band's third album and in this era where acts are routinely dropped after 1 or 2 albums it is re-assuring to see the Maccabees being given a chance to grow and develop. The sound is great now they need some killer songs.

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Tunng - This is Tunng.




Live from the BBC Reviewed by Tom Bevan The British band's four albums to date have been periphery successes, with their unique experimental folk sound turning alternative heads across Europe and prompting an array of BBC sessions in the UK. For any British band, the first live session at the beeb is a rite of passage, a 'you've made it' moment, with support from the likes of Peel, Harris and Lamacq. Looking back at a series of radio sessions since their early days in 2005, Tunng saw they had an album's worth of material, which has now been compiled into this career-spanning LP.

The album takes in personal acoustic performances for Rob Da Bank to the standout collaboration with Malian desert blues heroes Tinariwen, Tamatant Tilay. Radio 2 legend Bob Harris may be on one track, too; "I seem to remember him 'playing' a telephone directory along to one of our songs". This sense of improvisation, unpredictability and Yellow-Pages-tapping appears throughout the album, giving the tracks that magic vibrancy only live music can offer. "Tunng are almost from another time, another place," says BBC Radio 1's Huw Stephens, for whom a number of the sessions were recorded. "When I think of Tunng I think of festivals, of sun, of smiles."

This Is Tunng. Live From The BBC is to be followed early next year by a new Tunng album as well as the debut record from Mike Lindsay's Icelandic spin off project, Cheek Mountain Thief. 2012 is set to be a bumper year for Tunng fans. and you can count me in!

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