It’s the curl in his hair and his falcon-eyed stare…

End of the Road next week… better get on with these…

Welsh Revival?

Still got a bunch more recordings from Green Man to share with you, and for this post I’ll make them all artists from the Principality itself.

If you were to count Super Furry Animals and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci as the first wave of new Welsh bands (probably a bit spurious I know…), then there’s definitely a second wave of great, new music coming out of Wales these days. And with not a single Super Furry Animal, and scarcely a Zygotic Mynci on the GM bill this year, you could say it was definitely time for the young pups to step up.

(To be honest, I’d’ve got this post up a couple days earlier, if hadn’t been labouring with some tired old analogy about passing the baton on to the next generation – damn those Olympics!)

H Hawkline was the first act of the whole festival; four o’clock on the Thursday is probably not the best slot of all. But he was fine, warbling and thrumming away, backed ably by Cate le Bon on guitar and Sweet Baboo on bass. He was pretty good and I enjoyed his set, sprinkled with new material as it was.

Broken Fingers – H Hawkline

Ghouls – H Hawkline

Cate le Bon’s set was last thing on the Saturday night in the WalledGarden, a good spot, although it was dampened a little by the rain. Hawkline played guitar and keyboards, Sweet Baboo bass again. (Sweet Baboo actually had his own spot on the Sunday, which unfortunately I missed, but I’d imagine there might’ve been a couple of familiar faces on stage with him. Thank God the drummer didn’t have his own band…)

Cate le Bon’s got increasingly gothic in the last couple of years, with more and more of the Nico in her, and her set was really quite dark in places. Again there was a lot of new material from her excellent Cyrk record.

Fold the Cloth – Cate le Bon

Falcon Eyed – Cate le Bon

Another early set I saw was by a youthful Sen Segur, who were really good value, mining a quirky, psychedelic vein that seems to have a pretty rich seam in these parts. They were great, I really liked them, and whereas Hawkline and Cate le Bon did pretty much what I expected, Sen Segur were a genuine revelation and I shall enjoy looking out for their records

Cyfroeth Gwlyb – Sen Segur

The last recording is from the only member of the Gorky/SFA axis to appear at Green Man this year. Richard James’ new project, Pen Pastwn, played to a back drop of indie films last year, but seem now to be moving into the direction of literature and poetry, getting involved in the In Chapters project in Cardiff. I’ve seen Richard James four or five times now, and it’s usually been pretty folky, but this year he played a largely instrumental, again psychy sort of a set which I really enjoyed. At one point, the large uncompromising figure of poet David Oprava, reminiscent of David Thomas, came on stage and read a poem backed by Pen Pastwch. It was pretty powerful, if sounding a little like David Byrne in parts…

Pen Pastwyn with David Oprava

Enjoy these. I do still have a few more things to post, but whether I’ll actually get there before EotR is doubtful…

Come on, Eileen! These things are real!

OK, so a day and a bit back from Green Man, work’s started again and already the weekend’s revelry is beginning to recede somewhat.

An evening’s fiddling around with these recordings, however…

Dexys

I’ll confess that the sheer scale of Kevin Rowlands’ majesty has only recently been revealed to me, having been give a copy of Don’t Stand Me Down by a friend. In the past months, however, I’ve given it a fair old play, and bought the new one. I admire his honest song writing; am more than a little nervous of his mad-eyed intensity and love the spoken conversational elements of his songs. Where have I been, eh?

Wasn’t entirely sure how he’d approach Green Man or how he’d go down, but I needn’t have worried. I loved the Field Music set I posted yesterday, but for sheer fun and exuberance, Dexys was certainly the best hour of the weekend.

Introduced by the careful and understated keyboards of Mick Talbot, and ably supported by long time crony Pete Williams, Rowlands came on immaculately dressed and ripped through an hour of intense, brassy passion, striking “tongue in cheek” poses and embodying his fearsome songs with swagger and no little fun.

Half way through, singer Madeleine Hyland came on to play the toyed-with and, ultimately, spurned lover who falls foul of her man’s weaknesses. She was as full of attitude as Rowlands himself and played her part admirably.

Generally the set focused on material from “One Day I’m Going to Soar”, but there were some older numbers, including a ten-minute “Come On Eileen”, which he then topped with a 15-minute “This Is What She Is Like”. Wow!

Towards the end of the hour, some wag with a west country burr shouted out “Kevin, ya mad bugger!”, which pretty much summed up the occasion for me.

What great fun it was!

Free

Come On Eileen

This is What She is Like

No need to worry, now the day is done

Well, I’m back from another fine weekend of music, good company and mud at the tenth GreenMan.

It really chucked it down on the Friday and the site quickly became a bit of a mud bath in places. We’ve had three pretty good years previously, so I guess a wet one was due… I don’t like the rain, but can generally cope OK, but this was the first time I’ve actually left a festival early, regrettably missing all the Sunday acts (particularly disappointed to miss Of Montreal…).

We did our normal trick of packing the tent up Sunday morning ready for a quick midnight flit once the revelry was all over, but when we got to the car park at ten or so, it became obvious it was a case of leaving there and then or sleeping in the car and being pulled out of the mud by a tractor on the Monday. Being gentlemen of a certain age, we chose the former, and escaped slithering and skidding from the car park by the skin of our teeth, aided by a group of energetic and noble stewards and assorted other mudlarks. It wasn’t pretty (and neither were we by the end), but I was glad to be away (as I write, I’m getting tweets from people still marooned in the mud…).

Still, getting there by midday Thursday, I felt we got an almost full complement of festival fun – drink was taken, pies were eaten and music was all over as ever. I got some pretty good recordings and I’ll try to get the best bits up in better fashion than last year…

Field Music

I love Field Music. I love Field Music more every time I see them. From their humble, good natured attitudes though their jumpy, complex rhythms to their well-fashioned, clever lyrics – I love them beyond reason.

They played a terrific set, covering a lot of Plumb but also touching on each of the other records and some School of Language stuff to an enthusiastic tent of punters.

I’m still impressed at the way the Brewis brothers switch drumming, guitar and vocal duties between songs, none of which seemed to interrupt the flow of an effervescent, and at times, funky set. It may have been the best performance of my weekend (although there’s another candidate for that, which I’ll come to soon). They seemed to enjoy the atmosphere in the Far Out tent too and made a point of thanking everyone via Twitter, claiming that it was their best festival experience ever. Good lads…

I’ve got some decent recordings, too:

Who’ll pay the bills?

(I’ve been thinking about) A New Thing

Them That Do Nothing

Rockist pt1

Throw me in the landfill, don’t think about the consequences…

Phew! Easter, eh?

Chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, all manner of rich fare on which to gorge yourself, (and then feel vaguely self-conscious about the extent to which you’ve over-indulged). A season of intemperance…

I was going to attempt some ill-advised metaphor along the lines of immoderate consumption of sugary substances being similar to overdosing on the rich Psych Fest sounds of Austin, Texas, etc, etc. …but frankly I can’t be arsed…

Let’s just agree that we all need a sharp little palate cleaner every now and again.

Daughter

(Probably not my finest introduction for a band, made them sound like a green salad…)

Daughter are one of the myriad of waiting-to-be-discovered folksy gems that populate Green Man every year and make it such a damn fine weekend. If you click on the Daughter link, you’ll see words like “ethereal”, “pure”, “unadulterated” and (regrettably) “soundscapes” drifting languidly before your eyes, which kinda give you a starting point but don’t really do justice to the four tracks that make up their recent “His Young Heart” EP. Singer Elena Tonra certainly has a pure, alabaster voice that floats and flutters above her spidery, intricate guitar work, but the words are filled with bitter, (almost spiteful) regret and make a genuinely interesting contrast to the lush surroundings.

There’s quite a nice little piece about Daughter here.

The record is available from Emusic, but can also be streamed and bought from the Daughter Bandcamp page, and really you should.

Here’s the first track from “His Young Heart”, Landfill

Beguiling stuff,  for sure…

Lucky Seven – Live and Unreleased!

Got to thinking about a couple of the self-deprecating comments I made in the last post, and thought “I’ll put a couple of them right at least…”

So here’s the first Lucky Seven for a good while, and it’s made up of some of the recordings I made during 2011, which are currently languishing unattended on my hard-drive.

Summer Holiday – Wild Nothing

Chinatown– Destroyer

Undegpedwar – Y Niwl

BatteryKinzie – Fleet Foxes

Queen of Eyes – Robyn Hitchcock

Don’t Want Love – Antlers

Since We’ve Fallen Out – Burns Unit

Now I come to look at it, these were all part of the mess of Green Man recordings that I still have, so I’ve added a bonus recording to the package, made at End of the Road, by my good friend Marcus – I’ll leave you to find out what it is…

Lucky Seven – Live and Unreleased

Have a good ‘un!

We dream and we die alone, it seems…

My stubbornly autonomous imagination has just refused to leave last week’s tired Welsh-music-scene-as-episode-from-Pobol-y-Cwm metaphor well alone.

I can’t help filling in the scenery further. I’ve been imagining other Welsh luminaries living round the corner and former tenants made good moving out to greener pastures but coming back to visit regularly. This is all very well but unavoidably leads to concerns over parking and then questions about whether the parish council can afford to run the library service as well as keeping the Post Office open in the current climate. Honestly, if I still had the kids’ Lego kits and accompanying model figures, well, I’d not be writing this post…

Any-hoo.

The latest artist to “move in” to the community (I had to go back and put those quotes marks in…) is this feller.

H Hawkline

Wrote about H Hawkline last year, although I wasn’t really operating from a position of strength; couldn’t find a lot online about him and had (of course) missed him at Green Man. Recently though, a couple of Hawkline records have appeared on Emusic, both really good but very different to each other.

The first, Cup of Salt, is more the style I wrote about before, delicate but more-ish guitar pieces with few vocals on it. I quite like it but the second record, The Strange Uses of Ox Gall is more my sort of thing. It starts quite slowly with a bit of noodling and gawky playfulness, but there are some much more substantial (and quirky) pieces just around the corner. Goofy, creepy fairground keyboards and homemade samples litter the place, but beneath the garish wrapping are some genuine, rather melancholic pop moments. Particular favourites are Surf Pound, Mind How You Go and Funny Bones (with Cate le Bon on backing vocals – not doing much to dispel the Pobol y Cwm fantasies, there). The single You Say You Love Me is rather sweet as well.

I’ve also had these recordings of H Hawkline at this year’s Green Man, languishing on my hard disk for a couple of months now. I enjoyed the set a lot and thought that having armed myself with the albums I’d be a little more in the know when I went back to listen to the recordings, but actually, turns out that there’s very little from either record there – it’s pretty much all new material (Ox Gall was only a summer release, I think).

But it’s good stuff and quite a useful little counterpoint to the whimsy that dominates the records, sounding rather choppy and garage-y as it does. As I say, a lot of the songs he played were new to me and I’ve had to try and make sensible guesses about titles – if anyone can put me right, I’d appreciate it.

Forget What You’ve Learnt and Live Life like a Child

My Dreams

Don’t See Me Getting Old

Broken Fingers

Kiss Me on My Lips

Hell’s Bells

Full Focus

Leather Belly

(btw, just so as you know that I do put in all due research and effort to these posts, marbling, engraving and lithography are just some of the strange uses of ox gall…)

In a House With No Mirrors

Well I don’t know how this has happened, I appear to have been catatonic for a period of weeks.

No posts, no recordings, a whole raft of EotR recordings untouched…

And somehow this post never got written…

Gruff Rhys @ Green Man

I scarcely know what to say, this all seems some time ago now. In fact I’m sure I did actually write a clever and bang on the money review of the last set of the weekend that I think we can all agree would have made this Blog the go-to place for many a discerning reader, but alas, it appears to have never made it to the airwaves. What can I say?

All I’ll say is, great set, national treasure, decent recordings, and we’ll leave it at that, eh?

Gwn Mi Wn

Candylion

Court of King Arthur

House with No Mirrors

Lonesome Words

Sensations in the Night

If We Were Words (we would rhyme)

Honey All Over

Ni Yw Y Byd

Gyrru Gyrru Gyrru

Shark Ridden Waters

Skylon

Actually, listening to the recordings again, it all comes rushing back – the euphoria and fatigue of the weekend, the long delay for “technical problems beyond my comprehension”, the good humour of the man, and the knowledge that I’d finally managed to catch a set on disk that I’d conspired to miss on each of the previous three occasions I’d seen him.

Now I must get on with all the other recordings…

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries