A Letter From... Wales #7

The latest in Welsh music...
The Joy Formidable

If you’re stuck inside, buried under four feet (or an inch) of snow, start munching those emergency carbs and treat yourself to some tasty Welsh music morsels.

Ambiguous genre (and definitely not like other bands simply because of their female lead singer) rockers The Joy Formidable, have announced they are currently (whirlwind permitting) recording a Welsh-language EP. As second album, ‘Wolf’s Law’, out January 21, is done and dusted, the band plan to dig into their own musical archive and finish more tunes. Lead singer Ritzy Bryan said, “There’s quite a lot in the Joy Formidable vault that we need to finish. We thought about the Welsh EP as it’s Rhydian’s (bass player) first language and my second, so in lyrical terms, with it being my second language, I’m intrigued and excited about the idea. Hopefully if we don’t get caught up in the whirlwind that’s starting to form, we’ll manage to finish it. That would be great.”

In sad Welsh music news, five-piece art-pop upbeat-indie types, Race Horses have announced they are splitting up, after two albums, citing musical differences. It is a shame and Wales (and everyone else) are losing a band who seemed happy to explore the very musical differences that have led to their demise. Despite being able to hear a few genres in their music, it always made their sound really interesting. Although the band were due to tour with the Kaiser Chiefs in February, they have cancelled all dates except a last gig together in Clwb Ifor Bach on February 9 (https://www.facebook.com/Racehorsesmusic).

In slightly odd Welsh music news, Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys has turned his hand to psychedelic, western musical writing. In ‘Separado!’, expect to be taken on a pan-continental road trip to find Gruff Rhys’ long lost Patagonian uncle, guitarist in a poncho, Rene Griffiths. Director Dylan Goch follows the Super Furry Animal on a tour across Wales, Brazil and the Argentine Andes in an adventure where he discovers what became of the Welsh Diaspora, his family and a musical legacy. Available to watch here

The award for the most appropriately-named band of the week goes to Winter Villains. Ahead of the release of their new single, ‘The Air’ on February 4, the band have recorded a gorgeous live Church Session video in St John’s Church, Cardiff. Their sparse, minimalist undercurrent, carefully dotted with the odd violin or cello allows rich, vocal harmonies to really shine. The acoustics of the church help enhance their already beautiful sound. Winter Villains’ debut album is due out in February.

Iwan Rheon is probably best known for his role in E4’s BAFTA-winning ‘Misfits’, playing the quiet but rather fancyable Simon Bellamy. He has also performed in Tony award-winning musical, ‘Spring Awakening’, ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’ and has been recently cast in ‘Game of Thrones’. However, the multitalented chap has also been songwriting and singing since the age of 16. Iwan has moved away from band ‘The Convictions’, but out on his own has produced two EPs (‘Tongue Tied’ and ‘Changing Times’), with rumours of a full-length album on the way. Although he has no plans to make music his full-time career, Iwan has a voice with a lovely depth to it that will possibly be too much for teen-girl Misfits fans to handle (he can act as a cute, awkward guy AND sing and play guitar as a cute, awkward guy?!). You’re a sensible bunch though, so we’ll have no swooning here please.

Until next time, stay safe and stay upright.

Words by Rachael Hog

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