For those of you already geared up for the festive season, I bring you an early Christmas present in the shape of some great Welsh music (with a healthy bit of Ghana-ish... garnish. No?). Like a twenty-first century version of the Three Kings’ gifts, here is your musical gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Christmas period. However, if you are one of those types who won’t even think about snow and presents and fun until December, then it is just a plain, normal musical present for you (the Coke and Ferrero Rocher adverts have already been on television you know).
Among Brothers, an indie-pop Cardiff quintet, create music with percussive bouncy rhythms and anthemic catchy chanting. They met at Cardiff University and have been writing songs together since 2009, but are currently split between Cardiff and London.
The band cite Sigur Ros, Efterklang and Anathallo as their musical influences, but it is also possible to hear some Grammatics and Los Campesinos in there, with the band’s use of multi-vocal chanting and twee, swooping violins. However, Among Brothers go further. The Los Campesinos tweeness forms a base layer on which the band experiment, building electronic samples, glittering synths and complex instrumental layers, which takes a big step away from the twee label and more towards theatrical indie pop.
Among Brothers have just released their new double A-side single, out on 19 November. Listen to it here: http://amongbrothers.bandcamp.com/
Juliyaa is a gorgeous half-Welsh, half-Ghanian singer bringing her own brand of fusion music to the UK urban scene. She describes her sound as “rhythmic soul”, which comes across as a mix of R&B, soul, electronic and the occasional bit of dubstep and drum & bass.
Not only is Juliyaa a pretty face with a great voice, she also does lovely things too. After releasing her second single, ‘Smile’ in early 2012, Juliyaa embarked on a ‘10 day smile campaign’, performing random acts of kindness everyday, including baking a cake for a neighbour and leaving a note for a stranger on the train.
The EP’s first single, ‘Tidal Wave’ is a dancey, dubstep, drum & bass number full of energy and soul, which you can watch the video for below.
Juliyaa’s debut six-track EP, ‘Stars & Dragons’ (the title represents her heritage: the ‘black star’ of Ghana and the ‘red dragon’ of Wales) came out at the start of this month and is available for free via her Bandcamp page: http://www.juliyaa.bandcamp.com.
If you like intimate venues, then you will definitely love ‘Bedroom Live’. Created by Josh Bennett, local Welsh talent and independent artists are invited into his South Wales bedroom to record a short set to a small audience, which is filmed, edited and uploaded to the ‘Bedroom Live’ online music channel. The concept gives bands and artists an opportunity to showcase their music in a unique and intimate venue.
Although many singer-songwriters and smaller bands may start in their bedrooms, turning one into an intimate venue transforms the performance from a simple bedroom-busk, to something a little more special. Over the past year Josh has recorded: Scriber, Ed Stockham, Tortoise in Shoes, Alex Davies, Veez Nixon, Elliot Kozlik, Denuo, Greta Isaac, Esther Taylor, Don Broco, Inconsiderate Parking, William Stokes and Ffred Jones.
You can follow ‘Bedroom Live’ on Twitter: @BedroomLive,
Or have a listen to the 34 videos Josh has recorded over the last year on the ‘Bedroom Live’ Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/bedroomlive
Or if you fancy a bedroom sesh yourself, or know someone who should book a session, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
And in other Christmas music news, ‘Only Boys Aloud’, those cheeky Welsh choir chappies from ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ are set to release their debut self-titled album on December 3. Who’s got their heart set on a Christmas number one? They have. And with tracks including a swing version of ‘White Christmas’ and a stirring rendition of a Coldplay classic, why on earth shouldn’t they? Stocking prezzies all round Wales!
Until the new year, Welsh music lovers.
Words by Rachael Hogg