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.











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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


Top 50 Albums of 2010

This is always a matter of personal taste, but we thought as 2010 is rapidly drawing to a close we would put our heads together at newsoundwales and come up with our 50 favourite albums of the year. Some entries will be expected, some might be a surprise and with some you might think we have lost the plot! Our top album by John Grant has also been featured in other end of year round ups, however, we have been playing this album virtually non-stop since it arrived and it is without doubt a modern day classic.



If you have got your own list
please send it in to mail@newsoundwales.com

1.John Grant
Queen of Denmark

2.Perfume Genius
Learning

3.Arcade Fire
The suburbs

4.LCD Soundsystem
This is happening

5.Band of Horses
Infinite Arms

6.Midlake
Courage of others

7.Jonsi - Go

8.Cakehole Presley
Look after your chihuaha

9.Gareth Pearson
Urban Echoes vol 1

10.Paper Aeroplanes
The day we ran into the sea

11.Baby Dee
A book of songs for Anne Marie

12.The Walkmen - Lisbon

13.The School
Loveless unbeliever

14.First Aid Kit
The Big black and blue

15.Gideon Conn
New bop sounds

16.Cherry host
Beneath this burning shoreline

17.Al Lewis
In the wake

18.Gorillaz- Plastic beach

19.The Keys
Fire Inside

20.Erland & the Carnival
Erland & the carnival

21.The National
High Velvet

22.Steve Mason
Boys outside

23.Plan B
The defamation of Strickland banks

24.Manic Street Preachers
Postcards from a young man

25.Beach House
Teen dream

26.Villagers
Becoming a jackal

27.Black Keys
Brothers

28.Jessica Lee Morgan
I am not

29.Foals
Total life forever

30.Islet
Celebrate this place

31.Two Door Cinema Club
Tourist history

32.Race Horses
Goodbye Falkenberg

33.Ellie Goulding - Lights

34.Field Music
Measure

35.Laura Marling
I speak because I can

36.Lone Wolf
The Devil & I

37.Kelis
Flesh tone

38.Johnny Flynn
Been Listening

39.Rumer
Seasons of the soul

40.Caitlin Rose
Own side now

41.Belle & Sebastian
Write about love

42.Besnard Lakes
Besnard Lakes are the roaring night

43.Antony & the Johnsons
Swanlight

44.The Drums
The Drums

45.Yeasayer
Odd Blood

46.The Divine Comedy
Bang goes the knighthood

47.Kele- The Boxer

48.Delphic
Acolyte

49.Harper Simon
Harper Simon

50.Lucy Wainwright Roche
Lucy


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The Gentle Good - Tethered for the Storm


If you are a regular gig goer in South Wales the chances are you have seen Gareth Bonello aka the Gentle Good at least once as he is something of a stalwart of the live scene. This is his 2 nd album and is a real step up from his debut. There are still the fairly traditional folk songs which are pleasant, but nothing exceptional. However, the addition of a string quartet and some excellent arrangements give many of the songs a pastoral feel with much needed colour and dimension " Ocean is King " being a case in point or the beguiling " Pamela ". There are hints to future changes of direction on songs such as " Old Window Song" with its rolling piano melody it is almost late 60s pop. All told at this rate it won't be too long before Gareth may well have to give up his day job and head out on the road spreading his music far beyond these shores.



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Sufjan Stevens - All Delighted People

This has been released as an EP, however at 59 minutes it is twice the length of many albums released this year. This fact and a release date on the eve of Christmas will probably mean it will slip well under the radar which would be a great shame as there is some excellent music here. The title track makes reference to Paul Simon's 'Sounds of Silence' and is epic in it's narrative and complex musical developments; classic Stevens. Elsewhere songs such as ' Heirloom ' are more traditional but there is beauty in their simplicity. The track that lingers most is " The Owl & the Tanager " that has an intriguing narrative and a melodic vocal that enchants. The title track probably doesn't deserve 2 lengthy versions and the closing neoprog track " Djohariah will stretch the patience of many coming in at an unnecessary 17 minutes. However, those niggles aside there is some stunningly ambitious and creative music here. Sufjan Stevens quietly continues to be the most influential American artist of the past 20 years.



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The Moles - The Future Sounds of Ashton


BRISTOL -based The Moles excavate the late 1960s underground for inspiration on The Future Sounds Of Ashton . Their 15-track debut, on See Monkey Do Monkey Recordings, clocks a spooky 52:52, and channels The Kinks ( Stuck Like Glue ), The Beatles ( Three Ghosts In My House ) and all points psychedelic, via Blur and a garage/punk sensibility. The ghost of Syd hovers, with The Combined Forces Of An Atom being pitch-perfect Barrett-era Pink Floyd. Despite the borrowings, however, this is a coherent musical landscape that looks forward as well as back. Brin Davies writes lyrics crammed with startling imagery, both wistful ( It's Snowing Again ) and menacing ( Ginger Tom ), Dan Chandler's effects-laden guitar is always interesting, Billy Fuller's throbbing bass propels proceedings, especially on standout Neptune's Beard , and Steve Dew's drumming keeps things grounded. A little too hallucinogenic for the mainstream, but The Moles have surfaced amidst a psychedelia revival. With FSOL (aka Amorphous Androgynous) now expanding their monstrous psychedelic bubble, FSOA may set the controls for the heart of Bristol.

( Reviewed by Stephen Nottingham)



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Cakehole Presley - Look After Your Chihuaha

The core of Cakehole Presley - Chris Ridgeway & Mark Humphries have been playing in and around the Cardiff music scene for decades. It seems that all those years of gigging, busking and sheer perseverance may have finally paid off with the release of this album. Look After Your Chihuaha is at times uplifting and joyous as with " Gotta know your name " and at times seething, driving and angry with songs such as " Back inside ". The highlights are the bittersweet and almost maudlin ' Sweet dreams " and the classy, sophisticated Dylanesque " Covered in candy ". Songs like this are born out of years of experience, finely honed song writing skills and ultimately dogged determination. Ladies and gentlemen be upstanding Cakehole Presley have entered the building!



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Colorama - Box



Another fine release for See Monkey Do Monkey recordings and the first album proper from Carwyn Ellis' band Colorama. It overflows with gorgeous melodies and a wistful late 60s worldview. Carwyn's vocals are excellent and his accent comes through loud and clear giving the songs a real sense of character. Title track The Box sounds like a lost Ray Davies or even Donovan gem. There are a couple of Welsh language songs on the album with Mynydd Hud, a beautiful folk song, being the high point. Forty years after the event Colorama sound like the great 60s band that Wales never quite managed to produce.



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Antony & the Johnsons - Swanlights

It's now more than 10 years since Antony & the Johnsons first began to emerge after Lou Reed sang their praises in a series of interviews. After all this time this is still only the band's 4 th release. Seemingly unwilling to pursue the easy post Mercury prize option, the band have released 2 albums in quick succession, both of which posses an introspective almost meditative quality. There is no denying that Antony's voice is one of the great modern wonders of the indie world. However, he needs to take care that his limited vocal range doesn't begin to lose it's attraction and become predictable and dare I say it slightly dull and lagubrious. Songs such as I'm in love and Ghost are startling, enthralling and beautifully arranged. However, some of the tracks such as Thank you for your love just sound too formulaic and begin to grate half way through. Maybe some new instruments, such as guitar, brass or synths would give future recordings the sonic lift that is slightly lacking here.



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Gideon Conn - New Bop Sounds



Manchester's favourite troubadour has finally released his debut album packed full of some truly fine songs ranging from the upbeat, chirpy " I want you around " to the more melancholic and reflective " Inside " and political protest with " Wildfire ". There is a naive charm and sweetness about Gideon's music, but there is also a genuineness which is refreshing. Gideon Conn may come across as a bit of a joker but on the evidence of the material here he has the potential to become a great British song writer.




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Risa Hall - Glass Half..?



Originally from New York but now residing and working in Manchester Risa Hall has produced and album that is eclectic and an excellent calling card to demonstrate her song writing skills and vocal ability. There are some quite seismic shifts in style between the swanky, more or less standard jazz of ' Can't Take Away' and the full on rock of ' Candy Coated Hell '. Whereas this enables Risa to demonstrate her versatility it might confuse some listeners and in order to build a fan base it might be advisable that she develops a more consistent style and sound. The tracks that seem to work best are the sophisticated, melodic pop of ' Shooting Stars' and ' I Know You'll Get There' and this might be the area she could explore in order to get a recognisable Risa Hall sound. Glass half full? Most definitely!

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Besnard Lakes
And This Is What We Call Progress



Formed by husband and wife team of Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, Besnard Lakes have recently had this album shortlisted for the Polaris Prize, the Canadian equivalent of the Mercury. The album opens with the swirling epic ' Like the Ocean' which sounds like a lost mid 70s rock classic. Anthemic and bursting with crunching guitars and tight harmonies. The rest of the album doesn't quite match this although the title track ' And This Is What we call progress' comes close. On the evidence of this album and recent UK gigs Besnard Lakes are further evidence that Canada is currently a real global hotspot for independent music.



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Caitlin Rose - Own Side Now



Taking a traditional genre and producing songs that sound vibrant and fresh is rare and unusual. This album may not revolutionary or ground breaking, but it does contain some brilliantly crafted songs that already sound like standards and breathe new life into an increasingly tired and predictable genre. Songs here that are ' bound for glory' include ' Learnin to Ride' , ' For the Rabbits' and particularly ' Shanghai Cigarettes' with it's haunting line " This will never be right and I will never let go". Traditionalists are going to lap this up and those who would normally avoid this type of music will be pleasantly surprised. She may not be the new Patsy Cline as some have suggested, but she is certainly prodigiously talented and this is a brilliant debut.



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Arcade Fire - The Suburbs




This is the album that is going to establish Arcade Fire as a global stadium band and if they want it they now have the opportunity to inherit the potentially poisoned chalice of REM's crown. On first hearing a few tracks stand out, but with each repeat listening another gem is revealed until you realise there are no fillers to be found. From the outset themes such as nostalgia, alienation and loss are explored. What makes the songs so special is the band's ability to take the seemingly tired rock/indie format into a different league. A case in point is 'Ready to Start' which begins like a fairly routine 'Keep the car running' part 2 but through a kind of mournful, longing vocal hook that Win Butler is so good at it becomes celebratory and uplifting. There is immense variety throughout ranging from Yoko meets Blondie on 'Sprawl ll' to the Springsteenesque 'Suburban War' and unlike many albums of this length it doesn't outstay its welcome. Forget the battle for the critic's album of the year, the best international album Brit award or the Grammy; it's already been won hands down.



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Jakokoyak - Aerophlot



This is the debut album from Welsh musician Rhys Edwards and those involved include Dafydd Ieuan (SFA/The Peth) & Cate le Bon. It is a dreamy melancholic sound fitting broadly into folktronica. Like a lot of music in this field it can veer towards sounding soporific and not out of place alongside the seemingly endless supply of conveyer belt chill out music. However, there is more depth to this than first meets the ear and tracks such as 'Aerophlot' with its disconcerting pitch shifting keyboard are softly encapsulating. The album does suffer slightly from sounding somewhat dated and wouldn't have sounded out of place alongside Air's 'Moon Safari'. Nevertheless it is a well produced collection and should help establish Rhys Edwards as a key player in the Welsh music scene.



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Pulco - Triceratops




Pulco is a new project by ex Derrero singer and guitarist Ash Cooke. This is a home recording put together during 'stolen moments' as he calls it. It has the feel of a workbook containing sketches, collected thoughts and a record of random and disparate events. There are some strong songs here such as 'Wearing Down Well' and 'Close Forms' interspersed with a snippets of spoken word and found sounds such as 'Billy d Horsey' featuring Pulco's son which is actually quite striking and rather bizarrely a sound clip of Richard E. Grant's Hamlet speech from Withnail & I. It would be interesting to hear what would happen if Pulco took the best handful of songs here, put together some arrangements and spent time in the studio with someone such as Martin Carr in the producer's chair. In the meantime this serves as a good way of reminding the world that Ash Cooke is a talent we shouldn't overlook for long.

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Johnny Flynn - Been Listening




There has always been something holding Johnny Flynn back from getting the attention or recognition he deserved. Perhaps he was too good looking or perhaps his family tree was just a bit too embarrassing - his brother is Jerome Flynn. This album should help win over some of the cynics as it is a marked step up from his debut. The song writing has matured and the styles are more varied, even up tempo at times such as the semi afro beat of 'Churlish May'. The title track 'Been Listening' with its guitar refrain is magnificent and is undoubtedly the best thing he has recorded so far.



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Ivan Moult - Mine Canary EP




This excellent first release from Cardiff's Ivan Moult is an impressive calling card and wouldn't have sounded out of place coming out of the Island Records early 1970s stable of singer song writers. The songs are subdued, reflective and have subtle embedded melodies that gradually reveal themselves. The more you listen, the more impact they have. 'I Might Get Cold' is the standout track and could do for his career what 'Run' did for Stephen Fretwell. Just when you thought things had gone a bit quiet for new talent along came Ivan Moult and my faith in new Welsh music is restored once more. Classy.

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Islet - Celebrate This Place




In an age when bands are using myspace and every social networking site available to spread the word it is a brave step to shun the internet. In the case of Islet it has paid off and has given them a sense of mystery and helped build interest and expectations. The music here is fractured, complex and at times comes dangerously close to sounding like a German progressive space rock band from 1974. The opening track 'We Shall Visit' even has a cheeky snippet of Kraftwerk as if to hammer home what's in their record collection. Elsewhere the sounds vary and the closing track 'Rowen' has a gothic beauty about it. Islet are never going to be accessible or produce music that is easy listening. However, for those that don't want a smooth ride, tighten your seat belt. This is going to be an intriguing, eventful and at times turbulent journey. Exhilarating, experimental bliss.




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Gareth Pearson - Urban Echoes Vol 1



Gareth Pearson is recognised as being one of the best finger style guitarists of his generation and has finally released his debut album on American label Candyrat Records. Tracks are more or less equally divided between covers and original compositions such as 'Every Time We Fall' featuring some majestic violin playing and 'Beauty of Discipline' with its intricate, intertwining melodies. The cover versions are mostly contemporary, astutely chosen and should appeal to a younger age range than this style of music would normally attract. Although 'Billie Jean' is a live triumph, it is his version of Radiohead's 'Paranoid Android' which is the most impressive track here with its complex, dark and semi classical style. Gareth Pearson is helping to move finger style guitar playing into the 21st century and in the process has made the genre exciting, current and cool. Is this album as good as seeing Gareth Pearson live? No, but it is the next best thing.



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Harper Simon



Yet another album by the offspring of famous rock royalty! On this occasion this particular 'son of' is going to have to work extra hard to be taken seriously as his voice has a very close resemblance to his father, Paul Simon. That being said, there are some really fine tracks here, beautifully recorded with some truly great musicians such as Nashville legend Lloyd Green on pedal steel guitar. Harper has bided his time before embarking on his musical career which may pay off if he can continue to produce material of the standard contained on this classy debut.



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John Grant - Queen of Denmark




This is the debut from former Czars frontman and if it doesn't end up on the critics end of year lists I will be amazed. It is an instant classic containing deeply personal songs backed with some truly gorgeous musical arrangements. Grant is gay and was raised in a religious community hence the anger you hear on tracks such as 'Jesus Hates Fags' in which he vents his spleen against Christian fundamentalists. Elsewhere songs document his troubled personal life and relationship woes. Not exactly cheerful stuff, however, with music as good as this it becomes a thing of great beauty. This album is truly remarkable.



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The Keys - Fire Inside



It's interesting that two of Cardiff's most promising bands have both found inspiration in the 1960s. Whereas The School are channelling Phil Spector The Keys sound seems to have been inspired by the whole gambit of alt psych rock 1965 -1969. This album contains some incredibly well constructed rock music that is timeless and destined to take this band a long way from their home town. The title track 'Fire Inside' has real power and should get significant radio plays. Much of the material here is as good, if not better, than anything produced by Oasis in the past 10 years. This band is on fire and about to burst into flames!


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Jessica Lee Morgan – I Am Not

A life in music was probably something of an inevitability for Jessica Lee Morgan with Mary Hopkin and Tony Visconti as parents and family friends including the likes of Danny Thompson and Benny Gallagher. Jessica has now finally released her long anticipated debut album. The first thing that strikes you are the high quality of the songs and the purity of her voice, but also the dramatic style shifts between tracks ranging as they do from electro pop to acoustic folk. The fact that she is a Gemini goes some way to explain this variety and although this may confuse some, it does demonstrate her ability to master different genres and her skill at writing incredibly catchy and memorable songs. The track that screams out as a potential hit single is ‘Leave the Light On’ with its poignant narrative and a melody to die for it drills into your brain and won’t let go. If this isn’t a success for her or someone else I will be surprised. Other highlights on the album include ‘New York’ and ‘Your Girl’ which are fine acoustic folk ballads. This album is an excellent calling card for Jessica Lee Morgan’s song writing and with maybe more of a consistent style on future releases a promising recording looks set.

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Ffred Jones – Feed the Fire EP

Ffred Jones is one of Wales’ most talented young singer song writers and this is fine collection of upbeat songs ideal for the long hot summer days ahead. When the musical landscape is littered with numerous bedroom balladeers writing mournful songs in minor keys it’s a breath of fresh air to hear a collection of songs with a more positive sound. Songs such as ‘Penny for the Good’ work really well and are a good indication of his song writing and we are definitely beginning to witness an emerging, distinctive Ffred Jones sound. Not so sure about the use of the Welsh Choir on the title track although that’s probably down to personal antipathy to choirs on my part! All proceeds from this EP go to Ty Hafan so what’s not to like.



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Laura Marling - I Speak Because I Can



This album opens with the Dylanesque 'Devil's Spoke' with an assurance and strength of mind that sets the tone for this stunning 2nd album from on of this country's most promising singers. Much of the album is more stripped backed and roots based than her debut. This works to her advantage as the simplicity helps to accentuate the pureness of her voice and the directness of the lyrics. One of the highlights of the album is 'Alpha Shallows' with its haunting refrain and perfectly balanced production. With another album apparently already in progress it beggars belief that Laura Marling is still only 19 years old yet sings songs that have a maturity and quality that are light years beyond her years.



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Baby Dee - A Book of Songs For Anne Marie



The spiritual great aunt of Antony Hegarty and Grand mother to Perfume Genius, Baby Dee has been constructing her persona and style for nearly 60 years. In many ways this simpler and stripped back collection of songs mostly with just piano or harp backing is far more successful than the previous full band production of 'Safe Inside the Day'. Dee's voice has to be one of most unusual you are likely to encounter. Once you become accustomed to its manner and cackling vibrato it is a thing of great beauty. Songs such as 'An Early Spring' and 'Black but Comely' are approaching genius. Baby Dee will never find favour with the mainstream, yet she is producing truly great work that is challenging and original. In an age where most new music is revival or rehash hearing music as pure as this is both refreshing and uplifting.



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Lucy Wainwright Roche - Lucy



Coming from a family of folk royalty is a double edged sword. High expectations mixed with the suspicion of silver spoons and unfair advantage. Having already released 2 EPs '8 Songs' and appropriately '8 More' this is Roche's debut album. It is full of simple and affecting songs with straight forward narratives, such as the aching and beautiful 'Open Season' and 'Accident & Emergency' that recounts the night she went on a first date and ended up in a London A&E. Lucy Wainwright Roche may never write an opera or sing Piaf at the Barbican like her half siblings. However, she is developing her craft as a fine old school singer song writer and within that field she looks set to establish herself as a talent in her own right regardless of who her family happen to be .




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Jimi Hendrix – Valleys of Neptune

In the years following Hendrix’s death his memory and his fans were not served well by the stream of studio albums that were released. This reached its nadir with the release of Midnight Lightning and Crash Landing where music was re-recorded and overdubbed by musicians at the time. Thankfully the official releases since then have largely been sympathetic to his legacy and the Hendrix estate have kept a steady supply of live recordings and compilations coming over the past 10 years. This release sees the first official release of ‘Valleys of Neptune’, ‘Ships Passing through the Night’ and ‘Crying Blue Rain’. Neptune was a track that had potential to become a Hendrix classic. However, this version is still very much a work in progress and was not meant for your ears or mine when it was recorded. There are some fine moments here and the best are the pre-Albert Hall rehearsal takes such as a blistering ‘Red House’ featuring the original Experience line up. However, there are some less than essential loose blues jams such as ‘Crying Blue Rain’ that having been issued will be making Jimi turn in his psychedelic grave for sure. Proceed with caution and only buy once you have got hold of the original studio albums and live compilations.


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Ellie Goulding – Lights


It would seem that the Ellie Goulding backlash has begun in earnest with some stinging reviews, especially in the fashionista music quarters. You suspect that is she was unknown and hadn’t won a Brit she would have faired much better from these critics. Admittedly the album isn’t particularly cutting edge or revolutionary, but if you are looking for quality synth pop it doesn’t get much better than this with tracks such as ‘Under the Sheets’ and ‘Starry Eyed’. Nearly all of the songs here are potential singles, full of melodic hooks and she has a strong and unique voice. The production does overshadow her personality at times and hopefully future releases will see her taking more control in the studio and trying out different styles. A fine talent that needs to be allowed to flourish and grow.  







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Field Music – Measure


Several years apart with side projects School of Language and The Week That Was you could have been forgiven for thinking that a Field Music reunion was as likely as David Bowie performing the ‘Laughing Gnome’ on his next tour. However, fine those side projects were this album demonstrates the special bond between the Brewis brothers and combined their talent is monumental. I was slightly trepidatious approaching this release fearing it would be a sprawling, drawn out 2 hours of difficult impenetrable music. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes it is ambitious and almost progressive in places with shifting time signatures and layered guitars. However, it is at all times accessible, tight and hugely invigorating. One minute you are reminded of 10CC at their creative early period best and the next Todd Rundgren at his most inventive. The instant stand out track is ‘Them That Do Nothing’ a song that Ray Davies would have been proud of. It is early in the year but you just know that this is going to be one of the albums of 2010. Oh and at just over an hour in length I wish it was longer!



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Race Horses – Goodbye Falkenberg

Changing their name from Radio Luxembourg to Race Horses could have been a setback or even a death Nell for many. However, it seems to have given this band the kick start they needed. This debut is packed full of fresh, intelligent upbeat Welsh pop music. This is a band bursting energy, enthusiasm and ideas and when it works well it is uplifting and full of energy. The first part of the album contains some real gems with tracks such as ‘Cake’ which with its driving beat and backwards guitar is already a Welsh indie freak beat classic. The band seems to lose some momentum as the album progresses and they seem to be searching for sounds and experimenting. That being said the first few tracks on this album demonstrate just what this band is capable of. On this form Race Horses seem to be odds on favourites succeed Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci and the Super Furry Animals as the next great Welsh band.






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Midlake – The Courage of Others

Another 3rd album release this time from the band from Denton, Texas. Released on uber cool label Bella Union, much has been made about the band’s new found obsession with 60s folk rock bands such as Pentangle and the Incredible String Band and they have certainly had an impact on this recording. The album is carefully crafted with exquisite arrangements and sounds superb. Even from the outset with opening track ‘Acts of Man’ the tone is set and the atmosphere established for what follows. Tracks flow from one to another with many at the same tempo and seemingly the same key and instrumentation. This does give the album a coherence and strong identity, however the lack of variety is a slight drawback. Nevertheless this seems destined to be the alt dinner party listening for the year ahead.



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Los Campesinos! – Romance is Boring

This is the 3rd album from the Cardiff Uni graduates. Produced by John Goodmanson (Death Cab for Cutie, Pavement, Bikini Kill) the album sounds less frantic and more thoughtful than previous releases and shows a definite growth and developing style. The band are now veterans of producing indie pop hits such as the title track ‘Romance is Boring’ with apparent ease. However, it is the darker and more reflective songs such as ‘The Sea Is a Good Place to Think of the Future’ that show a maturity and willingness to experiment which are more rewarding and bode well for their longevity. This album is a huge leap forward and deserves more attention than it seems to be getting.



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Delphic – Acolyte

It’s always difficult when a band gets tipped for greatness before they have a time to develop and make their mistakes in relative private. After all the hype there was always going to be a sense of disappointment with this album. Despite this it is pretty good and contains some finely crafted indie dance tracks not a million miles from Friendly Fires territory. Where it works best is with songs such as This Momentary, Remain and the Duran Duran infused Submission. However, at times, such as with the title track, they sound too much like any one of thousands of dance tracks you could have heard 10 years ago – Unicorn Kid does this type of music much, much better. This band needs time to grow and develop. Hopefully they havent’ reached too high, too soon and will be given the time and space to build up their own sound and work on developing their song writing. The promise is there, but it needs a few years and a few more albums yet to reach its full potential.



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Lawrence Arabia – Chant Darling

This Bella Union release is the 2nd album from New Zealander James Milne aka Lawrence Arabia and it is a welcome ray of sunshine during this cold start to 2010. Short, sweet, joyous pop songs that are heavily influenced by the Beatles. Infact at times it does move perilously close to Rutles style pastiche with tracks ‘The Undesirables’ sounding like Lennon’s ‘Julia’ part 2. However, the album is saved by the sheer quality of the songs and musicianship. Standout tracks are Apple Pie Bed, Eye A  and the Beautiful Young Crew which would make a great single. If he can begin to assert more of his own personality and style Lawrence Arabia looks like a star in the making.



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