- For its natural location, warmth and informality, Llangollen is one of the best event settings in Britain. Chasing further superlatives for its home, the town's annual Fringe must rank as Wales' most eclectic arts festival - 2019's edition includes the Dub Pistols' energised spate of drum & bass, hip-hop, ska, dub and punk, the swirling dance beats of Electric Swing Circus, raw and rooted Welsh singer-songwriter Lleuwen, filmmaker / environmentalist Bruce Parry and life-affirming Afrobeat from Emmanuel Jal & Nyaruach. [Preview]
- Birkenhead might not be the first place you'd usually look for something to do on an August bank holiday weekend, but it should be this year. Using a priory, a civic building, an art centre and a pub, the team behind Liverpool culture magazine Bido Lito! have crafted an innovative two-day event in the town, headlined by Bill Ryder-Jones, Anna Calvi and Stella Donnelly, but distinguished by brilliance all the way to the foot of the bill. [Preview]
Super Furry Animal Gruff Rhys has been involved in drawing together the line up for a brand new three day mini-festival in Bethesda this September. Working with Neuadd Ogwen and FOCUS Wales, he will present Aldous Harding I Audiobooks (Thurs 19th), followed by Múm I Jane Weaver (Fri 20th), before performing himself on Saturday 21st with Muzi and special guest Bill Ryder-Jones. The event promises three days of spellbinding music. [More + Tickets]
ALDOUS HARDING I The Barrel
Reviews & Interviews
- Described as "a sound akin to a dream where Bill Ryder-Jones fronts The Velvet Underground with echoes of Cherry Ghost drifting in for good measure", Jayne is a softly lambent single by Studio Electrophonique, from a forthcoming 10" vinyl album, Buxton Palace Hotel, due for release by Violette Records this September. [More]
Climbing Trees' frontman, Matthew Frederick has a second solo album out later this year. The first single released from it, Tell Me, is a sure signal that the long wait since 2015's Live at Long Row will be rewarded soon. [Interview]
MATTHEW FREDERICK : Tell Me
The fifth installment of Douglas MacGregor's heptad of releases, written to mark his adult process of delayed grief after his mother died when he was a child, is The Stowaway's Voyage. Less intense than the four instrumentals that have preceded it, but no less beguiling, The Stowaway's Voyage has a mood of quiet, calming enchantment. [More]
DOUGLAS MACGREGOR I The Stowaway's Voyage
- Three years since his last EP, North Wales based multi-instrumentalist Tom Mason, again recording as Denuo, has released a new single, Lucid - a drift of fervent dream-pop and a longing, summery reminiscence shaped by an underlying melancholy - that foreruns a new album later in 2019. [More]
Rabbit Hole is the first of a series of singles bilingual Caernarfon singer-songwriter Sera has planned for 2019, all coming from a new collaboration with producer Andi Bonsai. It is a surreal, energised and rancorous rollercoaster of a song, heralding a fascinating creative reboot; as if to underline that impression, the accompanying video artfully matches the track's spirit. [More]
Sera also joins Eve Goodman, Gwilym, Endaf, Kidsmoke & Y Cledrau as part of a strong North Walian contingent in the Horizons 12 for 2019.
With his new album Welsh-language folksinger Gwilym Bowen Rhys has delivered on the promise of his live performances. The songs and instrumentals on Arenig are transcendent; the contrasting emotional textures of the recordings are available to anyone irrespective of language - the poetry resonates in the music itself. Arenig is available as a download now, and on CD from 1 June. [More]
GWILYM BOWEN RHYS I Arenig
- Cynefin is a recording project led by folk musician Owen Shiers. The Welsh word he chose as a descriptive name for the venture translates loosely to mean a sense of place, belonging and familiarity in English. It's an apt title; Shiers has collected traditional songs and given them new life as resonant contemporary folk, whilst keeping their roots intact. A thirty minute showcase at FOCUS Wales 2019 demonstrated his genuine heft as a performer. [More]
- Devon's Edgelarks are Hannah Martin and Phillip Henry; they won 'best duo' in the 2014 BBC Folk Awards, and have been nominated again twice since - Feather re-stakes their claim to be recognised amongst British folk's finest. [Review]
The last of Llio Rhydderch's five albums to get a digital re-release, Carn Ingli, is out now. To mark the launch, I spoke to Gorwel Owen about Llio's past work, and what makes the triple harp such a captivating and creative instrument in her hands. Read the interview.
- Watching BBC Alba's excellent series Port, which sketches the music found in different Scottish and Irish towns, yielded a sighting of Mike Vass when the programme visited Inverness. Normally associated with traditional music, Vass released an album of self-penned compositions, Save His Calm, at the start of April. His shift in form has produced nine songs of mellow rapture. [Review]
- From punk roots in Cardiff, Gwenifer Raymond has followed a singular path to American Primitive guitar music. Now signed to a prestigious US label, and having released an energised, emotionally articulate debut album, she is one of this year's unmissable acts at FOCUS Wales - this interview explains her journey.
- Having released two acclaimed albums of Americana-influenced folk, Norfolk trio Alden, Patterson & Dashwood made a first visit to Bangor's Blue Sky Café and tore the roof off the place in as quiet a manner as is humanly possible. [Live review]
- The day Blodau Gwylltion's Llifo Fel Oed was released I took a long bus trip to Caernarfon to satisfy the urge to buy a physical copy. The music the CD holds is as beautiful as it is understated - Manon Steffan Ros' vocals a hushed lullaby of sound, Elwyn Williams' guitar invariably a quiet, exquisite frame. [Review]
- The first date of Liverpool singer-songwriter Nick Ellis' Speakers' Corner Tour was held in his home city at the Leggate Theatre last October. On that occasion Ellis held the audience spellbound with an hour long set built around his newest songs. The tour's finale, held a mile from its start, was an equal musical delight. [Live review]
- Ruth Notman released a pair of highly regarded albums a decade ago and has been mostly silent since. In the same ten years Sam Kelly has built a stellar reputation and gathered a string of successful collaborations to his name; a seemingly unlikely duo, but their debut together is an album of magnificent and bewitching contemporary folk. [Review]
North West Wales' poet and author Alys Conran has a second novel, Dignity, due for publication in 2019. Her brilliant, award-winning debut, Pigeon, was the subject of one of the first few interviews uploaded to the From the Margins three years ago, and that conversation is worth revisiting for an insight into how Conran's roots inform her writing. [Full interview]
- The cover of One Thousand Birds is an image of an art installation inspired by the story of Sadoko Sasaki, an innocent child victim of Hiroshima, who died from the effects of radiation ten years after the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Two tracks on the album deal with her tragic life - the rest mirror their slow-burning emotional intensity, and confirm Grice, who has worked with Richard Barbieri (Japan) on this, his third album, as a unique art-rock talent. [Full review].
- Jamie Smith's Mabon have been chosen to headline one of the prestigious evening concerts at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2019 (Thurs. 4th July) - marking the band's twentieth year, this new, live album spells out why. [Review]
Siobhan McCrudden's childhood home was resonant with traditional music and folk tales; that exposure and early connection is indelibly imprinted into her sound - out of time, but like a baton passed on, Icarus Girl is full of the seductive sense of otherness and mystery first found in early seventies English folk. [Review]
- Climbing the stairs to the intimate setting of Bangor's Blue Sky Café it was hard not to have high expectations of the performance due, as Tom Blackwell's latest album of subtle Americana, Memphis Volume 1, released in July 2018, is an understated classic. Two near-hour long sets from the Liverpool based singer-songwriter didn't disappoint. [Live review]
- Merry Hell's music is rooted in the cobbly backyards of Wigan, where the band's previous incarnation The Tansads first sparked their clogs. A new acoustic album ranges over a decade of the (new) band's always spirited musical development - and confirms the undeniable, irresistible pop edge found in their folksongs. [Review]
The diverse roots of the Ímar's members mean they bring a huge range of influence and experience to their work together; mostly self-penned, the tunes recorded on Avalanche represent a group of musicians able to effortlessly create irresistible moments of flow using traditional forms - an exhilarating achievement. [Review]