FtM : 2018 Watchlist ...

Last year's Watchlist, published at the end of 2017 looks none too shabby in hindsight. Here are our thoughts for next year, as 2018 should offer much, not least a debut album by Crawia - going by the song available so far (Perlau, which is understated and beautifully arranged - see below) and songwriter Siôn Richards' past work such as Bradwr, it will be a significant release.

Folksinger Chris Jones, who has been unfortunately sidetracked by a hand injury for much of the two years since the superb Dacw'r Tannau, should have a welcome burst of renewed activity in the New Year. We will have a catch up interview with Chris soon.

And then a wish. After listening to the music that is available, and collaborations such as Cymylau, we fervently hope that 2018 will bring a solo recording from Caernarfon's Alys Williams.

Turning to events. As a prediction 2018's edition of Focus Wales should establish it as the signature contemporary musical event for Wales; the programme for next May and the real energy around the festival suggest this is inevitable. We recently spoke to co-founder Neal Thompson and there was a palpable excitement about what is in store, as he enthused, "Next year will be the biggest and best FOCUS Wales yet, we'll not only have the best of new Welsh music, but also from the rest of the UK and beyond - as well as special guest speakers from the global music industry, all compressed into three days of pure joy." The current line-up is here.

Looking to South and West Wales - Monico Blonde should finally get the attention their music deserves; with three brilliant singles so far and more due soon. Then, if the judgement of Libertino Records driving force, Gruff Owen, is anything to trust (and it most certainly is) Adwaith's debut album will probably warrant a new geological epoch named after it. South Wales music writer and bloggers Kevin McGrath has also offered us two of his own picks, "There are a number of up and coming acts currently playing the South Wales circuit with the potential to go on to bigger and better things in 2018. My personal preference would be for Indie noir pioneers Silent Forum, led by the utterly compelling Richard Wiggins. At the other end of the pop spectrum, Merthyr’s teenage country/blues singer Bryony Sier has a distinctive voice guaranteed to send shivers down your spine." So if you have chills, they might be multiplying.

But our main tip for 2018 world domination is Guide Dog. Out on 8th December on Hi Vis Records, Guide Dog's new post-grunge single demonstrates that the Cardiff based band (Peter Roberts on vocals/guitar, John Maloney (drums) and Ian Russell on bass) know how to punch out a piece of first rate, coruscating DIY garage-honed rock. It should come as no surprise - the first two names of the trio have played together since 1999, and had an album released by EMI working as Tetra Splendour. The lead track on the single is taken from the recent Lovely Domestic Bliss album; Egos with Genitals is perfect - the long, exhilarating corner slide of an almost out of control rally car turbocharged by crashing guitars and attitude. Have a listen.