A Letter From... Wales #3

Welsh ones to watch...
Islet.jpg
Although January may nearly be over and spring is (kinda) on the horizon, there’s plenty of the year left to discover some great Welsh talent. Here are my 10 of the best Welsh artists for you to be keeping your beady little eyes and ears on over the next 11 months.

Ifan Dafydd - Putting on an Ifan Dafydd track without any prior information, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a new James Blake number. With plenty of layers, heavily processed vocals and fading organ sounds, there is no denying that there are similarities. However, when have similarities ever put anyone off anything? Ifan Dafydd is creating glitchy, atmospheric music with a definite groove. His debut EP, Treehouse is due out in February (not long now!) and a great place to start your Ifan Dafydd journey is with track, Treehouse, an easy-listening psuedo-soul number with organs dying and odd harmonies a plenty. Having had DJ support from the likes of Sinden, Jamie XX and Giles Peterson, 2012 should be a good year for this one.

Ifan Dafydd - Treehouse http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK-HpevfAHA

Islet - Islet (pictured) are a mysterious little quartet from Cardiff. Not wanting to give away too much of themselves, the band’s social media campaign consisted of a handmade fanzine called The Isness. They’re a bit of a chameleon act, with some songs sounding like they are by completely different bands. There’s some beat-heavy post-rock, there’s some Los Campesinos! moments and there’s even a sprinkling of Secret Machines. An intense live spectacle, this enigmatic group are causing a stir among the Welsh hills with their tribal beats and chanted vocals.

Islet - This Fortune http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywUT-Z43lT8

Kutosis - Another band delivering that little bit extra to their fans, Kutosis’ first release, We Are the Animal, You Are the City was a limited edition CD featuring a pull-out poster of fan-submitted artwork. Not only that, each of the 10 tracks on their album is accompanied by a video produced by a local filmmaker. Punk, rock, pop and a smattering of Bowie all rolled into one neat little package, Kutosis are a bit of a noisy bunch. They’ve got some really great, anthemic choruses. Their single, Shadows is a great place to start.

Kutosis - Shadows http://soundcloud.com/kutosis/sets/shadows-skin-aa-single/

Sam Airey - A lovely folky singer songwriter from Anglesey but now based in Leeds. Sam is mixture of artists such as Fionn Regan, Bon Iver, Iron and Wine and Nick Drake - he basically epitomises everything that is popular in the world of folk at the moment. With a beautiful, effortless voice containing just a hint of huskiness, Sam Airey’s music soothes and calms. The Blackout, a single released in summer last year is a lovely, simple song with a great melody.

Sam Airey - The Blackout http://soundcloud.com/samairey/the-blackout

Houdini Dax - You Belong To Dax Darling gets my vote for the best album name on the list. Signed by See Monkey Do Monkey after being contacted by them on MySpace, the band are obviously impressing behind the scenes. They’re extremely catchy, with a vintage sound to their music reminiscent of Arctic Monkeys between Humbug and Favourite Worst Nightmare. The heavy use of tom-toms and almost lazy sounding vocals produce something which is actually quite sexy to listen to. Give The Trend a listen for a great, rocky number.

Houdini Dax - The Trend http://soundcloud.com/seemonkeydomonkey/houdini-dax-the-trend

Town - This Newport based bunch are clear lovers of the iconic British bands, with the same attitude of bands like The Jam and The Clash. Their debut EP, Original Design, describes the joys and pains of being a young’un in Britain today. The vocal delivery is a no nonsense, forceful affair that echoes Tom Clarke of The Enemy, while some of their guitar work sounds pop-rocky like The Wombats.

Town - Teenage Sky http://soundcloud.com/ollierussian/town-teenage-sky

Georgia Ruth Williams - Aberystwyth born and Cambridge educated, Georgia Ruth Williams is a talented harpist with a beautiful folk voice that has some great little nuances to it. Her bluesy-folky harp songwriting is really interesting and unusual, she also writes for piano and guitar. There’s not really anyone comparable to her in today’s music scene and it remains unclear if a blues-folk harpist could break into the mainstream. However, Georgia Ruth has some great tunes and it helps that she’s pretty gorgeous too.

Georgia Ruth Williams - Ocean http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWSLIHKzpCg

Joseph and David - This pair currently divide their time between their Cardiff and Leeds hometowns and are best friends who deliver passionate, melancholic folk. The lead track from their EP, Falling Wood is epic and intense. Beginning with a quiet, calm vocal, the track continues to build, fall and rebuild to a heart-wrenching climax. Fans of Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Bon Iver, Devendra Banhart and James Vincent McMorrow, step this way.

Joseph and David - Falling Wood http://soundcloud.com/josephanddavid/joseph-david-falling-wood

Friends Electric - Friends Electric want to make people dance, and dance they shall make people do. They have got euphoric beats, they have catchy pop riffs and they have exciting, twinkling synth lines all over the place. A few years ago they swapped their guitars for some synthesisers and they haven’t looked back since. Currently rising through the remix ranks, giving Ellie Goulding and Kelis the Friends Electric treatment, they’re getting a solid dance following. Friends Electric are just really, damn catchy.

Friends Electric - Puzzle Pieces http://soundcloud.com/friendselectricmusic/friends-electric-puzzle-pieces

Cut Ribbons - Cut Ribbons are a five piece descending from popular Welsh tourist destination, Llanelli. Towards the end of last year the band released single, White Horses on the Kissability label (a joint venture between Transgressive records and Jen Long (BBC Wales/BBC Radio 1). The band have a great mix of boy/girl vocals accompanied by pounding drums and driving guitar lines. The track, Walking On Wires sounds like it could have been released by the band they clearly take some inspiration from, The Joy Formidable. Cut Ribbons have the capability of appealing to the same audience, and having the success as them in 2012.

Cut Ribbons - Walking On Wires http://soundcloud.com/cutribbons/cut-ribbons-walking-on-wires

Words by Rachael Hogg

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