Starting this Thursday, Focus Wales takes over Wrexham for three days of brilliant music and art. So we decided to do a special Tracks of the Week to whet your appetite with tracks from some of the acts playing the festival. Mwynhau!
TEKE::TEKE – Kala Kala
Why we love it: Whilst the emphasis of Focus Wales rightly remains upon emerging acts from the Principality, the inclusion of artists such as TEKE::TEKE affirms the event’s extensive international reach. TEKE:TEKE hail from Quebec in Canada and released their debut album Shirushi almost exactly a year ago. The record embraces many disparate musical genres from Japanese psychedelia to Mariachi and surf rock to Bulgarian folk and fuses them all into a kaleidoscopic maelstrom of revolutionary sound.
The lead single and opening track from TEKE:TEKE’s debut album is ‘Kala Kala’ and here it is captured in all of its riotous live glory at the Trans Musicales Festival in Brittany, France last December. Infused with a strong Oriental vibe, a most thunderous groove, and Maya Kuroki’s distinctive voice the song positively levitates from the stage. (Simon Godley)
Ava in the Dark – Manic
Why we love it: Ava in the Dark are a powerful Leeds based band, with Welsh roots. Lead singer Kiera provides rich yet angelic vocals that collide with widescreen production that fuses thunderous dance beats with glimmering synths and glistening guitar work. Recent single ‘Manic’ is a mighty fine example, a new discovery for me it will be great to catch them at this year’s festival!
Balimaya Project – Balimaya
Why we love it: Balimaya Project was formed in 2019 by percussionist Yahael Camara Onono. Balimaya Project uses the repertoire of the Mande peoples of Senegal and Mali as the bridge to bring the folkloric West African music together with Jazz and the sounds of Black London, its a sound brimming with imagination and rippling percussive instruments, xylophones, and horns, its a riot of colour and sounds. It will be fascinating to witness them live at this year’s Focus Wales!
The word “Balimaya” comes from the Maninka language and means the essence of kinship. In Mande society, the ideology of kinship is engrained in the moral fabric of its people. Family ties aren’t just limited to blood relations. The concept of extended family created by marriage, cousins, shared history within ethnicities and deeds done for one another. (Bill Cummings)
Hemes – Faking a Smile
Why we love it: Hemes is a songwriter from South Wales with eastern heritage, she has recently released her debut EP Matters of the mind. The EP is a bold window into Hemes’ thoughts meditating on overthinking, anxiety, and a search for peace.
‘Faking a smile‘ marries subtle R&B pops with slick vocal hooks, that detail the difficulty in faking happiness and confidence. It’s an earworm tune that carried a perceptively personal message. (Bill Cummings)
Ogun- 24 Freestyle
Why we love it: We will be fascinated to witness Newport multidisciplinary artist Ogun, firsthand in Wrexham this year. The autobiographical ‘24 Freestyle‘ is superbly well crafted hip hop. Shot through with personal, brooding bars over robust skittering beats, reminiscent of early Dave, this is both powerful and profound. “Every word is priceless/I don’t need no Dragons Den” spits Ogun, displaying inner confidence and ambition for how music can change your life, underscored with the wistful reflection of growth through struggle its an extremely impressive cut, that vividly depicts an artist deservedly on the rise. (Bill Cummings)
Tallies – Wound up Tight
Why we love it: Tallies have captivated me before with their brand of dreamy gaze pop laden with melodic never worlds. I cannot wait to see them at Focus this year armed as they are with a string of most excellent singles from their forthcoming second album. ‘Wound Up Tight‘ is urgent and visceral, swathed in a kaleidoscopic wheel of fuzz and vocals consumed with being stuck in the constant tumult of anxiety and frustration of being with someone who won’t change!
“This song is about being stuck in a constant rotating vicious circle that makes one want to tear their own hair out,” say the Toronto band. “A feeling towards someone who just doesn’t care enough to make a change.”
It comes accompanied by a brilliant psychedelic video created by Christopher Mills. (Bill Cummings)
Art School Girlfriend – Good As I Wanted (Guilia Tess Remix)
Why we love it: An inventive remix by Guilia Tess of Art School Girlfriend (aka North Wales’s own Polly) track ‘Good As I Wanted‘, enlivens the originals hypnotic and reflective qualities, retooling it into an electronic tapestry of spluttering breakbeats and rising atmospheric synths. I’ve seen Art School Girlfriend at Focus before and she was excellent, and since she had to unfortunately pull out last minute of last year’s event, I will be eager to see her again. (Bill Cummings)
Goat Girl – Badibaba
Why We Love It: because it is a groovy and psychedelic kaleidoscope of wonky keys and harmonies with a bass and drum that will have Wrexham boogying its collective toes off. It also collapses into a great swamp of sludgy instruments that sound like they’ve taken them off and chucked them into a bog.
They have a deadpan persona which is often incongruous to their music but can equally suit them. This sets up a potentially Cameleon like live performance in North Wales this weekend. (Jim Auton)