Gareth’s Welsh Music Treats
The music scene in Wales has always been a bit cut off from the rest of the UK and I often find myself thinking that this has been to its benefit. After a brief flurry of interest from the UK music industry in the ‘90s (Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, Super Furry Animals etc) we’ve been largely left to our own devices. The scene here has always been independent from the rest of the UK, coloured as it is by the creativity of isolation and the uniqueness of a Celtic culture and language.
I don’t claim to be any sort of authority on Welsh music but I have been part of a very busy and extremely diverse scene since the mid 2000s. Below you’ll find a list of many of my favourite Welsh musicians. It’s in no way a comprehensive list as that would take far too long! I hope you enjoy!
1. Euros Childs – Bore Da – ‘Bore da’ is Welsh for ‘good morning’ – this is ex-Gorky’s front man Euros at his boisterous and psychedelic best!
2. Sweet Baboo – Let’s Go Swimming Wild – Steve Black (aka Sweet Baboo) began performing in Cardiff and now gets to play all over the world thanks to a raft of beautiful songs like this.
3. Meic Stevens – Can Walter – Meic is one of the original stars of the Welsh music scene and a phenomenally gifted songwriter and guitarist. Apparently Bob Dylan once called him ‘the greatest folk singer in the world’. I don’t know if that quote is true, who am I to disagree?
4. Y Niwl – Undegpump – Surf rock instrumental phenomenon fronted by the excellent songwriter Alun Evans (aka Alun Tan Lan – check out his solo work too!). One of the best live bands I’ve seen and familiar to footie fans everywhere as writers of the theme tune to ‘Football Focus’! Undegpump means ‘fifteen’.
5. H Hawkline – Moons In My Mirror – I’ve been a fan of Huw Evans’s music since his fantastic early psych-folk releases on Cardiff label Shape Records. On his most recent record he’s retained the quirkiness and added an infectious groove that is pretty irresistible.
6. Tystion – Byw ar y Briwsion – Tystion were a hip hop band formed in 1996 by MC Sleifar (Steffan Cravos) and MC Mabon (Gruff Meredith). One of the first Welsh language hip hop bands, they were always highly political and anti-establishment. The title means ‘living on the crumbs’.
7. R.Seiliog – Mt. Essa – R.Seiliog is the stage name of Robin Edwards and as well as being a fantastic musician Robin is a whizz with electronics and production. This track comes from his most recent album ‘In Hz’ which is absolutely brilliant.
8. Richard James – Tir a Môr – Rich is a great Welsh songwriter and guitarist and has released several great records in recent years that have been criminally overlooked. This track comes from his debut solo album ‘Seven Sleepers Den’ and is one of my favourites. He also played in one of the greatest Welsh bands of all time; Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci!
9. Cymbient – Arced – Cymbient is the musical output of Cardiff-based psychedelic artist Andy Fung. As well as being a great musician, Andy is a highly skilled visual artist and a central figure in the psychedelic scene in Cardiff. This track comes from their most recent album which was released on Folkwit records earlier this year.
10. Super Furry Animals – Pan Ddaw’r Wawr – Ok it was bound to happen wasn’t it? Here’s a track from the soon to be re-released Welsh language album ‘Mwng’ the highest charting Welsh language album ever (it got to number 11!). It means ‘When the Dawn Comes’.
11. Trwbador – Sun in the Winter – Sun in the Winter – A great duo from Carmerthenshire made up of Owain Gwilym and Angharad Van Rijswijk they mix up folk with techno and a bit of hip hop to make spellbinding music.
12. Datblygu – Y Teimlad – Datblygu formed in 1982 and led the way for the Welsh rock scene for years to come. Made up of David R Edwards, T.Wyn Davies and Pat Morgan, the band were known for Welsh language lyrics that reflected disillusionment with life in West Wales in the 80s. This song means ‘the feeling’ and was covered by the furries on ‘Mwng’.
13. Gwenno – Chwyldro – Gwenno is a musician from Grangetown in Cardiff that has a drive to place welsh language music into an international context. Her most recent album ‘Y Dydd Olaf’ (The Last Day) experiments with layered, home-fi keyboard sounds wrapped in dreamy vocals and musique concrète-inspired beats. Chwyldro means revolution and the song refers to Wales’s industrial past.
14. Oce – Geraint Jarman – Geraint was raised in the same part of Cardiff as Gwenno, and is one of the original stars of the Welsh rock scene. He was heavily influenced by many of the musicians in Cardiff’s Butetown area and introduced Reggae to the Welsh scene. This track comes from his recent album ‘Dwyn yr Hogyn Nol’ (Bringing the boy back home), which is a brillant record.
15. Georgia Ruth – Codi Angor – Georgia is a songwriter and harpist from Aberystwyth and here brings her silken tones to a traditional seafaring song from North Wales. She is joined by Iwan Hughes, another great songwriter from the Botwnnog in the Llŷn Peninsula. Georgia won the Welsh music prize in 2013 and this track was nominated for a Radio 2 Folk award for best traditional song. Gorgeous!
16. Cate le Bon – Are You With Me Now? – Orignally from Penboyr in West Wales, Cate spent many years in Cardiff before moving on to Los Angeles. Her music is a fabulous blend of folk, rock and psychedelia all delivered through one of the most gorgeous voices you’ll ever hear. This track is from her most recent album ‘Mug Museum’ but do check out her earlier work as well it’s great!
17. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – Patio Song – idolised in Wales and by those in the know all over the world Gorky’s are undoubtedly a huge influence on many Welsh bands to this day. This is one of their best known songs and is famous for the image of Euros’ flaming patio. Enjoy!