Played Cymru #5: The Best In New Welsh Music

Spotlighting new Welsh talent...

Croeso! Cheers for checking out our monthly new Welsh music column. As always, we’ll be using it to reflect on the finest recent releases by up-and-coming musicians in the beautiful land of Cymru. Wales may be small (our population roughly equals Greater Manchester’s) but our cultural output is extensive and brimming with personality, but it all too often fails to get projected far beyond our borders.

In terms of notable events in June, the acclaimed dance festival Gottwood took place up on Anglesey, stellar Swansea mag ABABCB launched their sixth issue, while in Cardiff the two-day, multi-venue Vela Pulsar Festival made its debut, Cardiff Castle opened its doors for a stacked summer bill of huge gigs and the Principality Stadium (a tip for anyone visiting: we still call it the Millenium Stadium) hosted the likes of Foo Fighters and someone called Taylor Swift. Staying in Cardiff, the excellent new venue and arts space Sustainable Studio opened its doors, while city institution Porter’s launched an urgent appeal for financial assistance. 

In terms of releases, established acts such as indie folk star Georgia Ruth released a lovely new full-length, while beloved hip-hop mob Goldie Lookin’ Chain put out a fun mixtape. June also saw new tracks from burgeoning musicians such as Lila Zing, Half Happy, MANLIKEVISION, James & The Cold Gun, Megan Wyn, Ivor Woods, The Eggmen Wooo!, Tom Emlyn, Sage Todz, The Shunkos, Mr Bewlay, Tokomololo, Campfire Social and plenty of others. 

The following are six of the finest releases from up-and-coming Welsh musicians in June of 2024:

Dactyl Terra – ‘Fi Fi Fo Fum’

One of the many great new bands that sprang up on the post-lockdown South Wales music scene (see here for more), Dactyl Terra are groovy psych rockers whose chill gleefully-absurdist vibe encapsulates a dominant strain of modern Welsh indie rock.

The four-piece’s debut album is extremely easy to love, with special mention going to the earworm ditty ‘Let’s Go Climbing’ and Erin Julian’s effortless basslines, which guide these ten tracks like a giddy shaman on a trippy tour through a sun-flecked Welsh forest. A bouncy, easy-going delight of an album.

Małgola, No – ‘Memory Loss’

Now for something completely different, but as equally fun and colourful. Polish-born Cardiffian Małgola Gulczynska is a prolific musician; one half of synthpop duo 100% Rabbit and a member of enigmatic collective Live, Do Nothing.

Under the Małgola, No solo banner, she’s released several full-lengths, the latest being ‘Memory Loss’; a sparkling collection that draws from turn-of-the-Millennium R&B and grime as well as hyper-pop and contemporary hip-hop. Featuring various guest spots from big names on the Welsh electronica scene, this is a strong, soulful and seductive outing.

Various Artists – ‘Lovely Ugly / Pretty Shitty’

This here’s an absolute gem. Repeat Records are a Swansea-based zine, promoters and label, founded by Richard Rose back in 1994 as a Manic Street Preachers fanzine. Richard’s a vital cog in the Swansea music scene and with Repeat’s latest compilation ‘Lovely Ugly / Pretty Shitty’, he’s compiled an essential who’s-who of the titular city.

It’s no exaggeration to say that every track bangs; 15 tracks that overflow with charisma, personality and flair. It’s hard to choose highlights, however, Angharad’s witty ‘Outsider’s Map Of Wales’, Kikker’s heavy ‘Trash’, Monet’s chaotic ‘Scuff Button’ and Tom Emlyn’s charming ‘One Sided Coin’ make for a great cross-section. Keep fighting the good fight Rich!

Twst – ‘TWST0002 (UPGRADED)’

Valleys-born but now London-based, Twst has maintained her Welsh connection through multiple performances at FOCUS Wales and Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach as well as via myriad plays and guest mixes for BBC Radio Wales.

She crafts an original and futuristic brand of hyperpop and on latest remixed/reimagined EP ‘TWST0002 (UPGRADED)’ has collaborated with a host of equally cutting-edge peers. Every track bursts with ecstasy and emotion, however, the unpredictable and emotive ‘Most Viewed (Himera’s Dream) is a particularly exquisite example of hyperpop at its most thrilling.

Dope Smoker – ‘Wolf’s Castle’

It seems like every month in this column we feature a new album by a West Walian stoner metal band. By way of explanation for why the rural West is producing multiple bands of this heavy ilk, Dope Smoker describe themselves as a “three-piece rock group from South West Wales where everyone smokes dope & surfs”.

The trio have actually been around for close to a decade now, but we’re including them in this usually new act-focused column because they absolutely rip and deserve some love from outside the metal scene. ‘Wolf’s Castle’ is another viscous and viscous collection of stoner/doom metal that overflows with fuzzy riffs and Ozzy-esque vocals.

A ridiculously fun and oddly summer-y album.

Olive Grinter – ‘Hugs’

We’ll end the column with a lovely folk record by Cardiff’s Olive Grinter. A hard-grafting solo performer (if you go to an acoustic showcase in Cardiff, there’s a strong chance Olive will be on the bill) her debut full-length is a terrific solo effort; firmly in the vein of the UK folk tradition and adorned with inspirations from its creator’s jazz background.

The best tracks (‘Mother Nature’, ‘Murmurations’) unfurl in gorgeous harmony with the natural world, conjuring warm sonic landscapes that feel like you’re sat with Olive on a quiet and tranquil Welsh hillside.

Words: Tom Morgan

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