Cate Le Bon – ‘He’s Leaving’

Cate Le Bon

Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon has released new track, ‘He’s Leaving’, as a sort of thank you to fans after she wrapped up her touring duties during the week.

Previously unreleased, ‘He’s Leaving’ was recorded during the Mug Museum album sessions in LA and it’s hardly surprising to find some of the album’s sparkle has rubbed onto this track. As with Mug Museum, there is a sparseness to ‘He’s Leaving’, along with a cool, controlled confidence that showcases her knack for the wonderfully weird and surreal. Incredibly bittersweet, it is etched with a mournfulness as her quivering Welsh accent gently gives added life to the most touching lyrics. It is bestowed with all the wondrous majestic brilliance that made her last album an utterly bewitching, beguiling and beautiful record.

You can stream / download ‘He’s Leaving’. Cate Le Bon’s latest LP Mug Museum was released late last year and it comes highly, highly recommended. If you’re in the UK, you’re in luck as she has announced a slew of tour dates for later in 2014, see here.

Introducing: Saint Max and the Fanatics

Saint Max and the Fanatics

Saint Max & The Fanatics are Max, Eliot, Fraser, Muir, Scott and Aldo, who hail from both Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland.

Together they create a joyous little racket. A quintessentially British sound with an open door policy on influences, incorporating a whole raft of luminaries from a rich pop family; Ala The Libertines’ devil may care attitude, the bouncy ska-pop rhythms of Madness and soulful horns of Dexys Midnight Runners. These echoes are never too much to bear, rather, they are effectively stitched together with swooping vocals, frenetic choruses and razor sharp lyrics, marking 18-year-old frontman Max Syed-Tollan as a songwriter beyond repute. While spritely gems such as ‘Soul Surrender’, ‘Afraid of Love’ & ‘Glasgow’ set the agenda for their insidiously catchy debut album, Saint Max is Missing and the Fanatics are Dead, there are pensive and emotive moments between the rhythmic frenzy of this indie-punk-ska-soul combo. Emotive and stirring renditions of ‘Sadsong’ & ‘Book Review’ offer a wistful and wilful insight, and display an added capacity to his songwriting.  An insidiously catchy, plucky and utterly loveable band, who manage it all with swagger and style. 

You can check out some choice picks from Saint Max and the Fanatics below or give their debut LP a listen here.

The Statics – ‘Hit & Miss’

The Statics 14

The Statics have been a firm favourite around these parts for quite sometime now. Saying that, the Dublin four-piece enhanced their reputation both here, and further a field, with their excellent Hidden Pigeon EP, and single ‘Alone’ last year.

The Statics’ latest single, and second taken from the aforementioned EP, ‘Hit & Miss’ is a touch slower and lyrically more bittersweet and emotive, than their signature indie-pop-jangle. Just a ‘touch’ mind, as it still bobs along bouncily to an effortlessly infectious rhythm and vocal harmonies. Utterly buoyant, utterly brilliant and seemingly effortless indie-pop magic. Hopefully by the time 2014 rings to a close, we shall have heard much, much more from The Statics.

‘Hit & Miss’ is available as a free download via bandcamp from Friday, January 31st. You catch them live with The Mighty Stef in Whelans on January 31st and at Phantom Presents in Sweeneys February 5th.

Introducing: Sen Segur

Sen Segur

Sen Segur are quite the pop music recycling plant. These Welsh psych-rock wonders – Benjamin Ellis, Sior Amor, Dafydd Evans & Gethin Davies – melt down bit ‘n pieces from past decades of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s & ’90s, and press it all into something new and rather exciting.

Performing in both Welsh and English, the four-piece already have a number of releases under their belt, constituting to a fun and supremely engaging collection of modern psych-pop. Sen Segur’s own reserved dreamworld of odd ball wizardry is one of psychedelic playfulness, splotches of spaced out throwbacks and straight-up riffs which spills over into our dimension to produce lovely, soft and dizzying psych pop songs. When they find their groove, as they do with their latest singles ‘Love Zebra’ & ‘Get On Up (And Get Back Down)’, it is a blissfully enjoyable experience. Sen Segur have happened upon a sound sparkling with enough ingenuity and charm, to make the past seem like an undiscovered country, well worth taking a trip to. Oh yes. This is great stuff indeed.

All aboard for the wondrous and imaginative world of Sen Segur? You can listen to and download some choice cuts below. 

The Adelines – ‘Alleyways’

the-adelines-wooo-its-summer

For such a relatively small place, the sheer quality and quantity of music with a Welsh origin over the past 12 months, has utterly been astounding.

With so much going on across the Irish Sea, some stuff will inevitably fall between the cracks, thankfully the festive period allowed for a reacquainting with these (and many others). As was the case with Swansea four piece The Adelines, purveyors of charming, carefree, easy on the ear and exquisite indie-pop. Their single ‘Alleyways’ is an absolute gem, capturing all the aforementioned attributes in just over three minutes. Morris’s honeyed, alluring vocals are an undoubted draw to this dreamy number, as guitars chime underneath woozy, laid back harmonies, charming melodies and addictive, flourishing choruses. An absolutely fabulous slice of indie-pop to brighten up even the darkest of days. 

Let’s hope there’s plenty more to come this year from The Adelines, and that this time I’m paying full attention. 

Introducing: Seazoo

Capture

In their relatively short life as a band – since April 2013 – North Walian three-piece Seazoo have certainly made a lasting impression (on me for a start).  

Seazoo and their multifarious concoction of charming, sprightly indie-pop, have impressed time and time again, at regular intervals throughout the year. Their music is a colourful, curious and smile inducing mix of guitar and keyboard noise, delightful fuzz and smiley melodies; infectious doesn’t even cover the half of it. Take for ‘Bumbler’ example, it harbors all the curious, quirky and beautiful pop goodness akin to Village Green era The Kinks, and that is not an exaggeration. ‘No Wrenching of Guts This Time’ on the other hand, while no less impressive, offers an off-kilter and heart-swelling kind of garage pop, of say Gorky’s meets Pavement. These are just utterly loveable tunes, with so much unrestrained vitality, as this Wrexham trio push their creative license to the fore. In short: Seazoo are a band to be treasured and enjoyed.

Hopefully we hear plenty more from Seazoo in 2014 but until then, there’s a few choice cuts below, for your aural pleasure. 

BarryGruff’s Albums of the Year 2013

BarryGruff Albums of the year 2013

It’s that time of year once again when every music blog, website and magazine busy themselves with list making activities, and this blog is no different. Due to other commitments this year, especially the second half, it was rather difficult to keep on top of album reviews for the blog. Saying that, I reckon I’ve listened to as many records as any other year without finding the opportunity to share my thoughts on many of them.

Without further ado, here’s the BarryGruff ‘Albums of the Year’ for 2013.

25. Crystal Stilts – ‘Nature Noir’

24. Appelscal – ‘Dreaming In Key’

23. Trwbador – ‘Trwbador’

22. Mr. Huw – ‘Cariad Affaich’

21. King Krule – ‘6 Feet Beneath the Moon’

20. Channel Swimmer – ‘Alphabet’

19. Valeria June – ‘Pushin’ Against A Stone’

18. Veronica Falls – ‘Waiting for Something to Happen’

17. Arctic Monkeys – ‘AM’

16. Public Service Broadcasting – ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’

15. Marika Hackman – ‘That Iron Taste’

A collection potent songs of enigmatic beauty, That Iron Taste is a gorgeous and charmed introduction to the delectable talents of Marika Hackman. It is done so with a striking vocal delivery, sounding both wise and beautiful, imbued with a telling level of touching emotion. She channels something beautifully rich and dramatic in telling these rather dark poetic stories. Absolutely no substandard happy-clappy folk pop nonsense on show here, on the contrary, her debut (mini) album is quite frankly a haunting, numinous experience.

[Stream on Spotify]

14. The Pictish Trail – ‘Secret Soundz, Volume 2’

Most likely the greatest album to be recorded solely in a caravan, Secret Soundz, Volume 2, is the second LP from The Pictish Trail, the alter ego of Scottish musician Johnny Lynch. Throughout the LP, he’s in a contemplative, often melancholic mood, concerned with life’s ups and downs. In contrast, musically Secret Sounds is rather chipper, spurred on by a glorious melange of oddball sounds, sparks of frazzled electronics and instrumental breaks. A magnificent record; warm, inviting and full of charming quirks from an exceptional talent.

13. Biggles Flys Again – ‘Remember Saturday’

Ireland produces plenty of great bands but where it falls short, of say our Welsh neighbors, is when it comes to indie bands of the weird and wonderful variety. In Biggles Flys Again, the moniker of Conor Deasy, we’ve got a domestic talent flying that flag. Biggles’ debut album Remember Saturday displays real talent for 3 minute pop gems. It is brimming with enchanting and whimsical good old fashioned pop songs, filled with sinuous melodies and organic arrangement. This is pop in the old fashioned sense, played by a band, and with an assured sense of style.

[Stream on Spotify]

12. Akala – ‘The Thieves Banquet’

Since the release of his debut in 2006, Akala has proven himself as one of the most articulate, intelligent and talented MC’s around, a trend continued on his fourth LP. A potent wave of righteous fury crashes through The Thieves Banquet. The world is beset by many problems, varied and plentiful they may be but Akala manages to take plenty of them head on. He remains passionate, focused and sharp when tackling everything from a sense of powerlessness to change things, to berating imperialism,  slavery, capitalists, 3rd world dictators and the clergy. A very fine record indeed.

[Stream on Spotify]

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