Welsh Tracks of the Year 2021

Welsh Tracks of the Year 2021

This year’s picks – in alphabetical order – include the familiar and the freshest of meat all laid out for your best of buffet pleasure. We chose longstanding faves alongside sparkling brand new names. So many highlights for us this year, with Welsh artists moving into the international stage named as inspiration for new and emerging artists. A press release from September from an Irish artist starting right up front ‘suitable for fans of Adwaith’ proper warmed the cockles at GIITTV HQ.  More of it in 2022 please!

Afrocluster – Young Shall Grow

Afrocluster urge for positivity, as lead vocalist Tumi offers a hand of hope and guidance to young people who are often overlooked, in this super cut from their 2021 album ‘The Reach’. This jam laces brilliant jazzy horn runs with funky guitars and meditivite soulful sections, rising to a joyful and burgeoning singalong.(Bill Cummings)

The Anchoress – The Art of losing

Urgent and visceral and encapsulating a grief stricken time of trauma and loss for Catherine Davies: who consumes her experience and delivers rapier prose over a abrasive pirouetting percussive loop and pointy fingered synth lines. Affecting and dramatic.(BC)

Awst – Haul Olaf

Awst is a new solo project by Cynyr Hamer (Worldcub / Hippies Vs Ghosts / We Are Animal). It quietly seeped into the consciousness in November, the gentle dreamy opener melts into a sleepy, quirky curiosity. The sort of song which nudges at you, but stays in the mind for an age. The single is part of Awst’s debut EP, ‘Haul / Lloer’ pencilled in for a February release. (Cath Holland)

Bandicoot – ‘Fuzzy’

I’ve been a Bandicoot fan for eleven months, and so far it’s going rather well. The rumour of the death of guitar music has been greatly exaggerated as we all know, and Bandicoot are here to breathe even more life into it.  ‘Fuzzy’ is an absolute stomper and offered up hope in a springtime the world was still stretching itself awake. The Swansea-born, Cardiff-based foursome punched 70s glam and rock n roll in the jukebox and ran with it. Best video of the year, surely? (CH)

The Bug Club – We Don’t Need Room for lovin’

Wry, dueling girl/boy vocals that sound like they are wrestling to be on top, skidding guitars and ‘We Don’t Need Room For Lovin‘ from Newport trio The Bug Club, sounds like it could have a party in a cupboard. Clocking in at just two minutes it explodes into a joyous crescendo that leaves you wanting more, its an absolute bloody brilliant riot!(BC)

 

Eadyth, Cait Johnsen and Foxxglove – Paradwys

Horizons released ‘Paradwys’ as a free download back in February; a collaboration between soul-pop artist and producer Eadyth, Cait Johnsen from band Mawpit, and Ffion – a pop singer who works under the alias Foxxglove; two of the singers who despite being native Welsh speakers were recording in Welsh for the very first time. ‘Paradwys’ is a beguiling pop song that sews bubbling beats with glowing instrumental and runs over with infectious soulful harmonies that accentuate the beauty of the Welsh language. (BC)

Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18 – Ola

‘Olá‘s bossa nova and samba rhythmic flourishes are framed with gorgeous instrumentation, including grand strings, dappling drums and an enthusiastic flute solo. While Carwyn’s Welsh language narration captures it all in melody: it’s like a stroll across a Rio beach on a sunny day! Joyous.(BC)

Tom Emlyn – Serenade

 Record Store Day in July saw from Swansea/Cambridge underground label REPEA*T Records releaseYou Flexi Thing Vol 8: X-Ray Flex’. On it, we found solo work from Bandicoot’s Tom Emlyn. ‘Serenade’ is a song of love and longing, with Emlyn showing vulnerable emotional flesh. It’s not navel gazing misery, though; “I’d like to serenade you, because you are the bomb” is sweetly humorous. (CH)

Rhys Evan – Hailstones

The debut single from 17 year old popstar-in-the-making Rhys Evan revealed a burgeoning talent. Intelligent thoughtful songwriting, painfully personal. There are clear mainstream ambitions here, and why not indeed? (CH)

Los Blancos – Detholiad o Ganeuon Traddodiadol Cymreig

The surprise EP – I do like surprises – from Los Blancos saw them take a different approach from the norm. But if you can’t have a go at trying new things during a pandemic, then when can you. Each member contributed a song, distinctive but still very much the Los Blancos I still haven’t caught live yet. An ambition for 2022. Produced by the band in their own homes and mixed by Kris Jenkins. (CH)

Manic Street Preachers – The Secret he had missed

‘The Secret He Had Missed’ is three and a half minutes of shimmering, melody. A push-and-pull duet imagining dialogue between Welsh brother and sister artists Augustus and Gwen John, who were opposites united by blood yet driven apart by divergent lifestyles.

A cousin of (the bands 4th album) ‘Everything Must Go’s’ track ‘The Girl Who Wanted To Be God’, ‘The Secret He Had Missed’ features a gorgeous vocal from Julia Cumming (Sunflower Bean) sparring with James Dean Bradfield’s trademark intensity, laid over a tumbling ABBA-esque piano line, nifty guitar licks and a galloping, restless widescreen rhythm track. Epic. (BC)

 

Melin Melyn – Lucy’s Odyssey

‘Lucy’s Odyssey’ is a playful and shiny psych trip that goes through a tuneful jangle into a dreamy jazz flecked passage that sails along into a sax induced breakdown and addictive refrain. Its another sign post from Melin Melyn who are a individual emerging Welsh outfit who produce inventive tunes. (BC)

 

Mellt – Marconi

So grand to see Mellt release a song this year.  All we know is that it’s the first single from their new album and in the video they are dressed as astronauts. More info as we get it. (CH)

Papur Wal – Llyn Llawenydd (Lake Happiness)

From debut album “Amser Mynd Adra” (Time To Go Home), Llyn Llawenydd is a song of beautiful summertime, a safe solace to return to over and over. We love the shift to timeless classic songwriting and melodies Papur Wal have gone for here. Wonderful. (CH)

Ritual Cloak – Opaque Crater

Ritual Cloak‘s ‘Opaque Crater’ was the first single from the duo’s second album Divine Invasions. An enveloping track layered with chiming riffs, throbbing beats and a calvalcade of strings, samples and twinkling synths that gather into a heart swelling widescreen crescendo. This is a innovative, bold and life affirming shot of light in the darkness. (BC)

 

Rona Mac – Weapon

‘Weapon’, Mac’s haunting single released on Rose Parade recordings earlier this year, showed her songwriting was swiftly developing, her voice a thing of striking quality, simmering with the reflection of a tempestuous relationship that eventually came to an end. Rona carefully carves a self meditative narrative around love, loss and a craving for simplicity with an indelible wounded vocal: “you really fucked me up this time” she sings brokenly, framed in clipped guitars, an insistent beat and elegantly drawn backdrops.(BC)

Tacsidermi – Ble Pierre

‘Ble Pierre‘ is coated in woozy instrumental loops and dreamy refrains: evocative of never-ending, carefree summers and romantic escape and wonder.

Tascidermi are Gwenllian Anthony from the ‘Welsh Music Prize’ winning band Adwaith and multi instrumentalist Matthew Kilgariff.

A quick google suggests ‘Ble Pierre’ translate as ‘Wheat stone’, which adds to the feeling of countryside and landscapes elicited by this record. The dappling Hammond organs and lolloping percussion provided Davey Newington (Boy Azooga) on drums and aided mixing by Matthew Evans of KEYS, the duo forge an elegant marriage of French and Welsh language that has an atmosphere of Stereolab or early Air. Threaded by Anthony’s effortless and infectious vocal refrains, that are steeped in all the wistfulness and hope of a fading summer sun.  She is joined by Kilgariff’s spoken word in the final portion, perhaps in a tip of the hat to the works of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birken. ‘Ble Pierre’ is the soundtrack to the end of the summer, a gorgeous single that holds much promise.(BC)

 

Y Dail – ‘O’n i’n Meddwl Bod Ti’n Mynd i Fod Yn Wahanol‘ (‘I Thought You Were Going To Be Different’)     

Each time newcomer Huw Griffiths releases a song it’s a case of putting everything else aside to place it right at the top of the to-do list. He’s only a handful of singles in,  ‘O’n i’n Meddwl Bod Ti’n Mynd i Fod Yn Wahanol‘ (‘I Thought You Were Going To Be Different’ from June saw the teenager move on to another indie pop level.  Its frantic freshness, as shiny as a new coin, appeals; at some points he seems at the point of losing control, but pulls it right back in the nick of time. So much in this song, from the girl group fun times to bashed out piano. (CH)

Words: Bill Cummings and Cath Holland

 

 

 

 

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