Review: "Mary Jane" by Rosey Cale
 
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I'll admit, when I was sent 'Mary Jane' to have a listen to, I genuinely wasn't expecting the little golden nugget of Americana-inspired Alt-Rock that I received. I'm not sure what I was expecting, in fact - something lighter fare, perhaps, but the structure of the track, along with the underpinning harmonic progression screams of Tom Petty's classic stylings, and with the final breakdown and repetitive riff (kudos to Jimmy Brewer for his work on guitar), that influence is cemented. It's a simple, tested structure, and the instrumentation throughout works to add a perfect amount of variation to keep the listener hooked.

Playing with the dynamics and anchoring with the acoustic guitar cleverly means that it's undoubtedly and unavoidably still the work of a singer-songwriter, adding that charm to the full band orchestration. The understated vocal melodies in the verse work brilliantly to contrast the ramped up, gutsy choruses whilst the hammering home of the outro echoes of Cheryl Crow.

All in all it's a well-crafted Country-Rock number, and Owain Jenkins' (of StudiOwz) production is perfectly balanced to allow for Cale's beautiful vocal work to sit neatly on top of the mix.

"Mary Jane" is what I imagine it might sound a little like if Susan Tedeschi fronted The Heartbreakers.

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'Mary Jane' will be available for download from the 22nd March on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play and other platforms.

by Joe Bayliss

Interview: James Weaver [Swansea Music Producer]

Words & Photos: Billy Stillman

Swansea based music producer James Weaver has certainly made a name for himself in the city and beyond over the years, providing professional tracks of a unique style for many bands coming out of South Wales. With a production sound that is becoming more and more publicly recognised, I chatted with James about the importance of his recording services in the local music scene and the plans he has for 2019.

 
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SWANSEA MUSIC HUB: 2018 was a very productive year for you, having been the go-to producer for countless Swansea bands, any highlights?

JAMES WEAVER: 2018 was an amazing year for me thanks to all the great artists that I had the pleasure of working with. It’s hard to highlight something specific from this year, as all the bands I’ve recorded have their own unique characteristics and musical flare. It will always be a highlight for me when I hear the bands that I record getting airplay on the Radio. Massive shout out to Adam Walton from BBC Radio Wales who has aired my recordings countless times and is doing a great job shining a spotlight on some amazing artists around the country! I also heard that some of the artists I worked with got signed up to record labels due to the recordings I created, so I’m over the moon about that! Its great to know that the music I work on reaches so far and helps people in various ways!

SMH: Being such a popular Swansea producer, especially with the younger generation who are looking for a professional sound, I understand you have a rapidly growing list of artists you have recorded. Do you experiment with new techniques and ideas with every musician and band that comes to you?

JW: I am constantly learning new techniques and try to soak up all the information I can get my hands on. I love to experiment with sound at any opportunity and I’m constantly filling up the studio with new gear and audio plugins that I get incredibly excited to implement into my artists music. When crafting ideas, I try to stay as close to the artists vision as possible, and then build on that vision to make something bigger and better! I think its really important when creating ideas to have a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the studio so that everyone in the room feeds of each others creative energy. That way you all come up with great ideas together. Always keep the teas, coffees and snacks flowing!

 
 

SMH: Are there any key musical influences that have a significant impact on your production style?

JW: I think musical influences are definitely dependant on the artist I’m working with at the time. Different genres and styles may define different musical directions. Saying that, I love music that has a powerful production behind it, for example; Bring Me The Horizon, Don Broco, Lower Than Atlantis and Enter Shikari. I try to embody that explosive, wall of sound in my mixes. Additionally, I adore listening to orchestrations and film scores by composers such as Hans Zimmer, Jesper Kyd, and Lorne Balfe. Their music style is so emotive and dynamic. Their minimalistic, yet commanding melodies have a way of plucking at your heart strings.

SMH: Who are you currently listening to that’s a favourite?

JW: Bring Me The Horizon, Pvris, Architects, Nothing But Theives, Arcane Roots, Don Broco just to name a few...

SMH: Since the beginning of your career as a producer up until now, do you feel that your recording style has changed and improved?

JW: I definitely think the quality of my recordings have improved in many ways since I started. Experience has given me a better grasp of the recording process and also working with people to create great music. Theres always room for more improvement though and I plan to make 2019 the year I take my recordings that extra step further!

SMH: If you had any advice for the younger James starting out his career as a producer, what would it be?

JW: One of the best pieces of advice that I learned is not to worry too much about the small things. Always keep your eye on the bigger picture!

 
 

SMH: And is there any advice you would give to artists going into the studio?

JW: Make sure you’re well prepared going into the studio. Practice your songs. Practice them again! Restring your guitars, reskin your drum kits. Have a good nights sleep before the session. Oh did I mention practice your songs... haha! Great recordings are made by great musicians with great ideas. Producers like me just add the extra sparkle! And last but not least, don’t worry or stress about it. Its just music at the end of the day and I’ll be there to help you along the way!

SMH: Who was the first and most recent artist you recorded? How much has your style changed in between the both?

JW: The first artist I recorded was my own band The Effect. The latest artist I recorded was a local Swansea band called I Digress. A great deal has changed since I started producing music in my bedroom all those years ago. I now have a professional studio setup with higher end recording gear and a mind full of new ideas that I’m excited to unleash. Although much has stayed the same. My work ethic hasn’t changed too much. I’ve always worked countless hours recording, editing, and mixing, getting the music to sound as best it can and thats never going to change. I always strive to give my clients 110% and I hope that shows in the music!

SMH: What have you got lined up for 2019?

JW: I have loads of bookings so far this year for recording so should be a busy year! I will also be stepping into the world renowned recording studio Monnow Valley in the near future to produce a song with a band, which I’m really excited about.

SMH: Finally, top three artists you would love to record / loved to have recorded?

JW: Oasis, David Bowie, Foo Fighters


To find out more about James and his music production services, check out: www.jamesweavermusic.com

Interview & First Listen: Laura Benjamin of Hawthorn Avenue
 
Hawthorn Avenue - Photo by  Lauren Pitson .

Hawthorn Avenue - Photo by Lauren Pitson.

 

There are scores of exciting new acts emerging around South Wales every year, but Laura Benjamin and Marcus Gumm’s new country outfit ‘Hawthorn Avenue’ are set to drop their debut single this Friday (February 1st, 2019), and for these hard-working, accomplished musicians, it’s taken years of cutting their teeth to get to this point of holding their original creations up to the limelight.

We caught up with Laura to talk about all things Hawthorn Avenue, and were treated to an exclusive listen of their debut single ‘Wildfire’. Read on, music lovers;

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Swansea Music Hub: Being experienced musicians, both Marcus and yourself are regulars around South Wales venues, but have not necessarily focused on original music in the past. Is Hawthorn Avenue a relatively new idea, or has the project been around for a while before being realised? And, for that matter, where did Hawthorn Avenue come from?

Laura Benjamin: Honestly, the first time Marcus and I sat down together to write was September 2018, which feels like yesterday, but when we sat in the room and decided what the topic of our song was, everything just flowed out of us and we very quickly realised how musically compatible we were. We were surprised and excited by how quickly the lyrics and melodies flew out of us, and wrote the single ‘Wildfire’ in one afternoon. Every track on the EP has been the same, we just work together and so we knew it was worth pouring 100% of our hearts into this project and not wasting any time in releasing the songs we wrote. As for the name, I’d love to say something clever and cool, but... it’s the name of my street... where we wrote all of our songs. I wish we had found picking the name as easy as we found writing the songs! We’d both researched a lot about how to choose names and overwhelmingly, the answer google gave us was ‘pick the one you hate the least’, so we threw a few ideas out there and came up with my street name!

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SMH: What is it about Country music that excites you?

LB: To me, the most amazing thing about country music is the fact that it’s so diverse but that all of country music shares the same purpose. You can get the most pop- country songs with synthesisers and flashing lights and you can get a single guitarist sitting on their front porch and you can almost always guarantee, they’re singing about love and life and learning lessons. It’s people pouring their hearts into their lyrics and tying them together with simple but beautiful melodies and harmonies. It’s exciting because you can go in so many directions with it, and it’s exciting because people who love country music are so supportive and open-minded. It really is this wonderful community of people who just want three chords and the truth?

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SMH: What are your immediate plans for the future of Hawthorn Avenue?

LB: I’m an obsessive planner, and so we have our next ten steps planned at any given time (I’m also like an excitable child- we both are, so it’s hard for us to keep up with all our exciting ideas). But to give you a little idea about what’s to come, we’ll say that the next new music is never going to be far away (because we’ve written and recorded most of it already). If you’re on the Hawthorn Avenue journey with us, you’re in for one hell of a ride, and we cannot wait.

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SMH: Tell us a little about your writing style. Is it a collaborative process when it comes to your songwriting? Do Marcus and yourself have different approaches when considering new material?

LB: Everything we do, we do entirely together. We sit in a room together and have a completely blank sheet. One of us (or usually both of us) may have a song by another artist that has inspired us and we brainstorm (literally- my Dad is a maths tutor and we draw a mind map on his white board in his classroom/ our garage) until we start to feel what the song sounds like. I don’t know how, but we can just read each others’ musical minds. When I can’t find the melody for the line I’m thinking of, Marcus will sing something and it will be perfect, and vice versa! We try not to question it too much because it feels a little bit like magic (sorry if that’s cheesy, I am a country musician after all!).

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SMH: 5) Do yours and Marcus’ musical tastes differ wildly?

LB: To an extent, yes. We both adore country music and there are a lot of things we both love (Striking matches, Luke combs, Lady Antebellum, basically anyone who is in Country to country this year) but there is definitely a sub-genre within country that makes me roll my eyes whenever Marcus plays it to me. I don’t know what it’s called, but you can guarantee it’ll mention ‘boots’ or ‘moonshine’, have a shuffling drum beat and have lyrics like ‘Opened me a beer’ or ‘Drivin in ma truck’ - you know, the very cheesy kind of ‘look at me I’m a cowboy’ music. I like country music that’s cooler, and more subtly country. Saying that, I’m a self- admitted T-Swift super fan, so I can’t say much about cheese.

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SMH: Do you have a favourite track to play live and, if so, why that specific one?

LB: From our originals, our joint favourite to play live is ‘The Water’s Edge’ because it builds on beautiful harmonies and sounds best stripped back and raw. I think our favourite cover that we play is ‘Take Me Home Country Roads’, again because it suits our voices and the harmonies make my heart flutter.

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SMH:  If you could organise and perform on your dream lineup, what would the rest of the billing look like?

LB: Taylor Swift then us, so that I could possibly make skin to skin contact with her as she walks on stage and we walk off. Striking Matches (did I mention them yet?). Lady Antebellum. Ashley McBryde (If you don’t know who she is, you need to go and listen to her song ‘fat and famous’ because it genuinely has me in stitches every time I listen to it even though I’ve heard it a million times). Can I have all of the Nashville cast? Is that allowed? Rascal Flatts. Lee Ann Womack. I can’t stop. Can this be a never ending lineup? Zac Brown Band for Marcus. Maren Morris. Ward Thomas. Little big down. Florida Georgia Line. Okay I’ll stop.

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SMH: What are the top five songs on your band mixtape whilst touring?

LB: We haven’t been on tour yet, but I can guarantee when we do, Marcus will be the driver and I will have free reign of DJ duties, so it’ll be all of the above even if Marcus pretends not to like Tay-Tay.

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SMH: Is there another Welsh artist (or artists) that excite you right now?

LB: In general, it’s just really great to see local artists contributing to and getting recognised for country music. For a long old time the genre was dominated by American artists, understandably. People like The Shires, Ward Thomas and Catherine McGrath are really paving the way for musicians from everywhere in the world to contribute to the genre, and so it’s bringing UK country fans out of the shadows and giving them the confidence to write their own music. We’re so lucky to be friends with so many talented songwriters, and to name a few, Natalie Jones, Ryan Davies, John Adams, Rosey Cale and Holy Home Video (who we are lucky enough to have supporting us at our EP launch party) are all artists who continually inspire us and make us proud to be Welsh artists.

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Hawthorn Avenue’s debut single 'Wildfire’ drops this Friday (February 1st, 2019), but we’ve an exclusive stream below, alongside our review. Have a listen, and plan on getting down to a show near you when you can!

For more information on Hawthorn Avenue, and the current goings on in their ‘camp’, pop on over here!

 
Hawthorn Avenue - Photo by  Lauren Pitson .

Hawthorn Avenue - Photo by Lauren Pitson.

 

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EXCLUSIVE FIRST LISTEN

WILDFIRE

by Hawthorn Avenue

Country music, for me, can be somewhat contentious, and, in my mind, there’s such a thing as being just ‘too Country’. I’m overjoyed to say that this debut track from Hawthorn Avenue, although obviously distilling it’s sound from the genre, infuses itself with a new life that keeps it contemporary and fresh.

Wildfire is a sweet, driven Country number but tempered by a Pop aesthetic, while Tommy Harden’s production perfectly balances the two elements so they sit comfortably entwined within each other. The opening riff, which is reprised at the end of the track, screams of Joe Walsh, while the whole track has a distinctly Eagles flavour, but largely more stripped back.

The duo’s vocal lines sit crisply above the mix, allowing you to really wrap your ears around the flawless unison throughout, and when the true harmonies in the pre-choruses and choruses kick in, it gives a lift to the hooks that works wonderfully whether the instrumentation beneath is sparse or more richly orchestrated.

All in all, for a first offering for a contemporary British Country act, Wildfire displays an accomplished approach to the craft, and excites in all the right ways, and I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into whatever they drop next.

For more information on Hawthorn Avenue, and the current goings on in their ‘camp’, pop on over here!

Interview and Review by Joe Bayliss

Gig of the week: The Stray Pursuit & friends at Creature Sound
 
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A great selection of new and up & coming bands this Friday at Creature Sound as The Stray Pursuit play their first headline show. We were first made aware of the Swansea boys when they supported The Zinvandels at their show in The Bunkhouse last November. Making a big impression, then went on to support The Riff and White Riot - and we’ve heard nothing but good things!

Supporting them are Alt/Indie band The Furns (who are also going from strength to strength at the moment), new kids on the block Motel Thieves (who debuted only last month) and other new kids on the block Cease to See See The Sun.

A night of discovery for the next generation of top notch bands coming out of Swansea - don’t miss out!

Swansea MusicHub
GALLERY: BANDICOOT AT THE BUNKHOUSE (SOLD OUT)

On Saturday 22nd December, Bandicoot played a very special SOLD OUT hometown show at The Bunkhouse Swansea and what a night it was! Jacob Winter was on hand to capture the show through his pictures (+ check out the video at the bottom of this post captured by Steph Evans).

Photos by JACOB WINTER

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

Photos by Jacob Winter

Video by Steph Evans

Gig of the week: I Digress 'Haunting Me' EP Release show
 
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Our first featured gig of the week for 2019 is alternative rockers I Digress’ show tonight at The Bunkhouse to celebrate the release of their debut EP ‘Haunting Me’. Tonight is a must for rock fans in Swansea - I Digress have been tearing up the scene with their high energy sets and great sound for the last year. Joining them are Port Talbot rockers I Am Gravity and Llanelli band Beyond The Break.

Don’t miss this! Tickets are £3.00 in advance and more on the door!

Ones to watch 2019
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Happy New Year! After what we can safely say was an incredibly exciting 2018 for the Swansea music scene, we’re beyond excited for what this year will bring! After weeks of discussions, lots of conversations and opinions of those around the city, we’ve done our best to compile a list of 10 acts that we’re really excited about for 2019. The list genuinely could have been twice as long, which shows the strength of the acts coming out of Swansea right now - but here are our 10 shortlisted acts to get excited about this year…

 
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AidenKeryn

It’s hard to ignore how far AidenKeryn has come in the last year. Still in sixth form, Aiden’s been putting an almighty shift in - gigging extensively and writing/releasing tunes that show how much of a talent she really is for someone so young!

With new music undoubtably on the horizon and a slot already secured at this year’s FOCUS Wales showcase festival in Wrexham (who, as a festival, might we add, don’t mess around with selecting the best in up & coming talent) 2019 is set to be huge for Aiden!

 

 
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All Dead, All Dead

What a year All Dead, All Dead had last year - they’ve achieved a ridiculous amount in such a short space of time! With shows in Kiev, Amsterdam and closer to home (including headlining The Bunkhouse for the Swansea Fringe Festivals) and with 3 incredible releases already under their belt, we are super excited about these guys and what’s to come!

 

 
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Eleri Angharad

Country/Pop queen of Swansea Eleri Angharad is a credit to our music scene. Forever supporting other artists & gigs but also working ridiculously hard to record and release her own stuff! With an album coming out in 2019 & a special tour in the works, this year is going to be huge for Eleri!

 

 
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News From Nowhere

Psychedelic indie / art rockers News From Nowhere are set to have a very exciting 2019. Every show they play and every tune they release always stop us in our tracks - high musicianship, well thought out compositions and just a really great band. Fingers crossed we’ll have some new music from them in 2019 - they’re album “...and the human had half” is one of our favourite albums to come out of Swansea - definitely check it out.

 

 
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Only Fools and Corpses

In late November we were sent a link to “Support Your Local Scene” by Only Fools and Corpses - grabbed immediately by the title of the track and the name of the band we eagerly went to watch the video. What we were greeted with was a cacophony of noisy, angry punk matched with a superb video and we absolutely loved it. More of this in 2019 please boys!

 

 
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Pastel

It’s very hard to ignore the stamp that Pastel have left on the music scene in 2018. With their shoegazy rock n roll that channels all your favourite Britpop bands, Pastel are set to have a monumental 2019 starting off with a headline show in the Bunkhouse late January.

 


 
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Sarah Birch

There’s lots to be excited about for Lost Tuesday Society front woman Sarah Birch and her solo stuff! With an album on the way and plenty of live shows we’re certain this year is going to be huge for Sarah! If her single “The Rain Dance” is anything to go off - we’re all in for a very special treat!

 

 

Soundwire

Gorgeous psychedelic soundscapes & a superb live show. This is the impression that we have from Soundwire after we booked them for the Swansea Fringe Festival last year. What a band!! With their self titled album due out on February 4th, 2019 is undoubtably going to be huge for these guys - and we can’t wait!

 

 
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String Theory

We caught String Theory three times in 2018, and each time we did we were totally blown away - not only by their superb sound but by the consistent reaction of their fans - who all go mental for every show! With two great singles “I’m here” and “17” under their belt, we’re excited for more from these young alternative / indie rockers!

 

 

Vanilla

One of Swansea’s favourite young indie party bands Vanilla have had a storming 2018 - and we cannot wait to hear more from them in 2019. A huge number of shows (each one we’ve been to has been mental, sweaty and showcases some of the finest crowd surfing we’ve seen!) and a superb debut single have made Vanilla a force to be reckoned with. More of the same this year we hope!

 

Written by Simon Parton

Ones to watch 2018 - A look back

On the first of January this year we announced 10 acts that we thought would have a big 2018 - so before we announce our next acts for 2019, we thought it’d be nice to look back and dig deeper into what our 10 got up to this year!

Bandicoot

 
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2018 proved to be a very very busy and exciting year for Bandicoot. They’ve released three tunes - ‘Stuck in Space’, ‘Being Erased’ & ‘House of Fame’, and gigged extensively including support slots for Spring King at Sin City, Al Moses in Clwb (Cardiff) and Estrons in The Parrot (Carmarthen).

As part of Radio One’s Biggest Weekend, the boys played a special showcase show for Horizons, went on to headline the Swansea Fringe Festival at Sin City and played Swn Festival in Cardiff. If that wasn’t enough, the boys ended their year by selling out the Bunkhouse, for a very special hometown show. Do not sleep on this band - they’ve got a massive 2019 ahead!


King Goon

 
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The Goons have been very busy in the studio this year, preparing to unleash their long awaiting album to the world. As always, the boys have brought the party to multiple venues in the city including Creature Sound and Sin City (twice - once as part of the Swansea Fringe Festival) and also provided the BBC Academy with a special acoustic set as part of the Biggest Weekend!

We’re all waiting eagerly for that album (hopefully due out 2019) and we’re even more excited about the party that’ll accompany it’s release!


The Zinvandels

 
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Swansea’s favourite rock n rollers spent a lot of time in the studio this year - and released their latest single “Liars” in November. With lots of packed hometown shows including at Cinema & Co and The Bunkhouse the boys also headlined a special Horizons x Swansea Music Hub showcase at Unit Nineteen for the Biggest Weekend back in May.

These guys are going from strength to strength both in their songwriting and in their live shows - we can’t wait for what 2019 will bring them!


Emilie Merry

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Emilie released her debut EP “Not Your One” back in August and rumour has it she’s back in the studio creating her next batch of tunes! Emilie’s also played lots of shows, wowing audiences with her soulful poppy tunes and played a special full band show for the Radio One Academy during the Biggest Weekend in May.

If her next release is anything like her EP, we’re in for something very special from Emilie!


CrazeTheJack

 
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2018 has been a massive year for CrazeTheJack - lots of gigs and festivals, including The Biggest Weekend Fringe, FOCUS Wales and the Swansea Fringe Festival matched with the release of his long awaited album “Kaleidoscope”. He also provided an insane verse for Rachel K Collier’s cover of Badfingers’ ‘Come & Get It” - created for Horizons in celebration of the Biggest Weekend.

Big things are coming for Craze next year!!


Cities

 
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Cities have been very busy in the studio this year, putting the finishing touches to their next release (that we’re so so excited about) as well as a storming end of year show in Cinema & Co alongside. They played at the Bunkhouse for the Swansea Fringe and provided us with one of our favourite moments of the festival.

2019 is set to be huge for the band - we can’t wait to hear what they’ve been doing!


Geraint Rhys

 
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Geraint’s had a very impressive 2018 with a host of super cool achievements. He created a short documentary on the role of music during the Catalan independence struggle and won awards for it! He played for us at the Swansea Fringe Festival for Folk at the Fringe in Unit Nineteen and his latest single Dilyn was released in November!

With new collaborations and creative journeys set for 2019, we’re very excited for what the future holds for Geraint!


The Riff

 
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A very busy year for the boys in The Riff - with a whole host of gigs! Most notably, the boys sold out the Bunkhouse this month and blew the roof off! They headlined the Swansea Fringe Festival at Sin City, played a headline show at Sin earlier in the year and also played a special set for the Radio One Academy as part of the Biggest Weekend!

Favourites of the Swansea Music Hub, we can’t wait to see what they’ve got planned for 2019!

 

Picsel

 
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Picsel are another band who have been busy in the studio this year (their album is due out next year and we cannot wait!!). This year they released their single Alcohol and Drugs, played a bunch of exciting (and sweaty) shows including South West Fest in Cinema & Co and headlining The Bunkhouse for the Swansea Fringe Festival.

Next year is set to be their biggest yet - do not miss out & make sure you listen to their music and catch them playing live!


Little Folk

 
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Little Folk have had a ridiculously busy year. They’ve played so many gigs and festivals including the Biggest Weekend Fringe Festival, Hub Festival, the Swansea Fringe Festival, the Wales’ Airshow, Americana Fest, Live on the Wye, Countryfile Live and The Longroad Festival for BBC Introducing!

Their single Heading South was released earlier this year and is an absolute banger (we seriously recommend you check it out!). If 2018 is anything to go off, this band has got a very exciting year ahead of them!


Words by Simon Parton

GIG REVIEW: TRAMPOLENE LIVE AT THE BUNKHOUSE (SOLD OUT)

TRAMPOLENE (SOLD OUT) // THE BUNKHOUSE, SWANSEA // 7.12.18

 
Photo by Jacob Winter

Photo by Jacob Winter

 

The long awaited return of Swansea’s own Trampolene finally hit The Bunkhouse on the 7th of December, and the boys did not disappoint, giving us all a night to remember. As the floor quickly filled, seconds before the band were due to hit the stage, voices simmered as a violinist played the Welsh national anthem, a perfect way to start this massive homecoming show. Soon after, through the swarming crowd, singer and guitarist Jack Jones struts on past with a grin on his face, his own recital of teenage experiences in ‘Artwork of Youth’ blearing through the speakers. Wearing the iconic monster-like fur coat that loyal Trampolene fans would recognise, he joins his fellow partners in crime, bassist and vocalist Wayne Thomas, and drummer Rob Steele onstage.

 
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The boys begin thrashing through their chaos-bringing anthems, amongst which is ‘It’s Not Rock & Roll’, the relentless opener of their second album ‘Pick a Pocket or Two’. The front are sent into a thrashing of their own, bouncing away to the sound of the energetic riffs and driving drums. Greeting his adoring fans, Jones embraces the arms that are flinging towards him, standing proudly sporting the shirt of his native Swansea City’s football team.

 
 

To the right, Thomas is belting the lyrics to the catchy choruses passionately into the mic. Behind the swinging guitars and flying sweat, sits Steele, calmly but loudly bashing in harmony with the storm of noise, the Welsh flag draped over the bass drum.

The ever so humble Jones pours his heart out as his almost tearful expression shows it, grateful for the lively response of his hometown, shaking the hands of everyone in his sight. But there’s no time for being sentimental. Jones quickly returns to the mic and screams ‘Tom Hardy’ into the sea people packed into the small venue, once again sending bodies crashing into a frenzy. When he brought out the acoustic guitar, the crowd knew that the band’s latest release, ‘The One Who Loves You’ was coming up, everyone singing along with Thomas’ backing vocals in the choruses - but nobody was expecting the very festive rendition of ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’.

 
 

As the band draw near to the end of the set, they also cover the fitting ‘Friday I’m In Love’ by The Cure, which had the whole place singing. As a cloud of smoke fills the stage, lights strobing through the mist, it is clearly time for their last tune, ‘Storm Heaven’. The chaos of the song sends Jones crowdsurfing, and he perfects the solo when he lands back onstage, bending the strings with his teeth. He pumps his hand into the air as the show comes to an end, screaming triumphantly. The evening finishes with the popular spoken track ‘Pound Land’ (because it would be rude not to) and the crowd recite back every single word. Trampolene disappear backstage, having proved again to be one of Wales’ finest up and coming bands.

Uppa Swans.

Support came from The Sandinistas, Zepher & Pastel

 
 

Words: Billy Stillman / Photos (Colour): Billy Stillman / Photos (B&W): Jacob Winter

Gig of the week: String Theory & friends at Sin City
 
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String Theory are taking over Sin City this Wednesday to celebrate the release of their storming new single “I’m Here” (LISTEN HERE) and their bringing their mates, curating a top notch evening of live music. The last time I caught String Theory, it was with a very similar line up in Sin City when Vanilla headlined - and it went OFF!

There was crowd surfing, sweat, bouncing crowds, sweat, a display of raucous noise & energy and more sweat. It was certainly a night to remember, and we’re sure that this one will be no different.

Vanilla will bring the indie vibes, Valley boys & recently announced as part of Forté 2019 Sssnakes will bring their high energy alternative sound & completing the lineup bringing their exciting indie sounds is The Furns.

It’s only £3. What else would you be doing on a Wednesday night that beats doing this!? Go party with the best in upcoming music in Swansea & South Wales.

Gig of the week: Cities & Estuary Blacks
 
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What a treat for you #SwanseaMusic fans this week! With lots going on, there’s a lot to choose from, but one stand out for us is this display of talent at Cinema & Co on FRIDAY night. If you’re into your Post Rock, you MUST NOT MISS THIS! It’ll likely be your gig of the year!!

Estuary Blacks & Cities team up to form an ultimate lineup of musicianship at the highest level, two belting live shows that’ll leave you no doubt in awe.

Describing themselves as “POST MARSH ROCK FROM NORTH GOWER SCOUNDRELS” Estuary Blacks have just released their stunning self titled debut on CD and vinyl (which will no doubt be available this weekend) Listen below:

And with new music on the horizon, Cities will be showcasing tracks from their new release, as well as picks from their debut EP Manning Alaska - if you saw their set at the Swansea Fringe Festival this year, you know it’s one not to miss!

Interview: Rhys Wilcox of Dream State
 
Rhys Wilcox - Photo by  Gareth Bull

Rhys Wilcox - Photo by Gareth Bull

 

With a hometown show to cap off 2018 in The Bunkhouse on the 15th December, we thought we’d catch up with the Swansea borne-and-bred melodic hardcore outfit to pick their brains on this year’s overwhelming successes and grab the chance for a chin-wag. Rhys Wilcox talked to us during a brief lull in their busy schedule;

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Swansea Music Hub: It’s been year of highs for the band, from touring with The Amity Affliction and Babymetal, making appearances at leading festivals such as Download, 2000 Trees and The Great Escape and releasing a rather stunning cover of Linkin Park’s ‘Crawling’ for the “Songs That Saved My Life” charity compilation. If you had to pick one experience as a band from the last 12 months as a ‘standout’, what would it be?

Rhys Wilcox: Thank you! 2018 has been a year of amazing experiences which we'll treasure for the rest of our lives, especially the shows and festivals. Our EP has had a truly humbling reaction and we are so thankful to everyone who's been there with us along this journey. The standout moment, without a shadow of a doubt, has to be winning the Kerrang! award for Best British Breakthrough; it's the kind of thing that's so unreal you don't even bother to put on your bucket list!

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SMH What has been the hardest part of keeping up such a relentless tour calendar?

RW: Touring is equal parts life-affirming and brutal. Huge amounts of time and hard work go into making each and every performance the best it can possibly be and I think it's often taken for granted how much bands invest to make things work. The hardest part we face at the moment is staying financially afloat when everything's expensive and flexible jobs are a rarity. There's a perception that we're a "made" band, but while our prospects look promising for the future, it couldn't be further from the truth.

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SMH: If you could organise and perform on your dream lineup, what would the rest of the billing look like?

RW: Depends on the show! I'm going to go for a UK focused line-up and say: BMTH, Architects, While She Sleeps, Marmozets, Boston Manor, Loathe, Rolo Tomassi, Holding Absence, Crooks, Svalbard, The Decoy.

Throw us in anywhere!

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SMH: Tell us a little about your writing style. Is it a collaborative process when it comes to your songwriting? What do you generally start with when putting tracks together?

RW: Our writing process varies a lot, but the general procedure is the same. We tend to figure out the basic structures of the song first and then add finer details to individual parts along with extra layering. Once we've got something fairly complete, it's just a case of refining it as much as possible before we hit the studio!

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SMH: How has your music evolved since starting Dream State? Have your personal music tastes changed and have those changes affected your band’s style?

RW: I can't speak for the "Consequences" era because I joined further down the line, but "Recovery" was definitely moving towards a more contemporary sound. There was a lot of experimentation that went into crafting the EP and it felt like we really found our identity in those songs. It's important to keep things as fresh as possible and challenge your music taste; you can't really explore new sounds if you don't open your mind to what's out there!

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SMH: Do you have a favourite track to play live and, if so, why that specific one?

RW: My favourite song can vary depending on how the audience is reacting to the show. One of the things we found from touring Europe is that each city seemed to have its own unique taste and energy, so no two sets felt the same. If I had to pick one from a performance perspective, I'd say "Solace". It's got a bit of everything in it!

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SMH: Where was the first show you, as a band, performed? Do you have a standout memory of that show?

RW: Again, before my time, but it would have been at The Golden Lion pub in Carmarthen. Anyone who knows that place will have an idea of how it went down! I actually played my first gig there too which was an open mic night. It's funny how we've crossed a lot of the same paths as young Welsh musicians and I think it really shows how important it is to keep local venues alive. Support your local scene!

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SMH: What are the top five songs on your band mixtape whilst touring?

RW:

The Plot In You - ‘Feel Nothing’
Architects - ‘Doomsday’
Loathe - ‘White Hot’
The Amity Affliction - ‘Feels Like I'm Dying’
Don Broco - ‘Technology’


We have a Spotify playlist that we update now and again if you want to hear more!

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Dream State - Photo by  Gareth Bull

Dream State - Photo by Gareth Bull

 

SMH: Is there another Welsh artist (or artists) that excite you right now?

RW: For me, I'm currently loving Only Fools and Corpses, The Decoy, They Live We Sleep, Breathe In The Silence, VAILS, Frown Upon, Ssssnakes, Holding Absence, People and Other Diseases, Hot Mass and many more.

I've probably missed some, but there are tonnes of hidden gems in the Welsh music scene right now!

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SMH: If you had to dish out one ‘pearl of wisdom’ for emerging artists, what would it be?

RW: Always try to be self aware and take a step back now and again to look at how you're progressing as a band. It's so essential to be honest to yourself and seek out things that you can improve. Record your performance regularly (even if it's just a phone video in the practice room). That said, this applies to all aspects of band life, be it image, art direction, self promotion, even self enjoyment - make sure you love what you do!

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Dream State’s sold-out Swansea show at The Bunkhouse caps off their 2018 calendar, but make sure you catch the band on their European tour in January, or their UK tour in March-April of 2019 at a venue near you!

For more information, pop on over here!

Interview by Joe Bayliss

Gig Review: CONFLICTS (FAREWELL SHOW) // THE BUNKHOUSE, SWANSEA // 2.12.18

Words & Photos: Billy Stillman

 
 

As the fans and friends of South Wales’ much-loved Conflicts gather around the stage at The Bunkhouse, the band prepare themselves for a very last heartfelt performance.

Anyone could see that these guys have a natural talent for creating the sound of pure rage, whilst watching guitarist and vocalist Dan Phillips, and drummer Dai Jones’ hair flying and heads banging. The band ascend into catchy choruses similar to that of Enter Shikari, lead by the pounding Joey Jordison style beats, as singer and screamer Ieuan Southard parades through the scene. His impressive vocals go from low to even lower, dragging the rest of the doom down with him.

With the help of guitarist Ynyr ‘Pidge’ Thomas, the band lives up to their metalcore appearances while he perfectly executes the crab stance, not to mention the powerful squealing riffs.

 
 

During the set, Southard bends down after pouring his heart out into the mic, seemingly squeezed dry of all energy, but instantly shoots back up to give the audience everything he’s got, and for the last time. As a final goodbye to their fellow metal heads, the band invade the floor, carrying with them the drums.

 
 

The performance ends with a circling swarm of sweaty fans, worshipping the music coming from within. After each member plays their last note, Phillips and Jones embrace in brotherly arms, and the room gradually empties, leaving behind it a battered drum kit as a sign, long live Conflicts.

Support came from: ENMERKAR / I Am Gravity / DEFERENCE

 
 
Swansea MusicHub
Artist of the Week: Paul Hazel
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Aside from being an all round nice guy and absolute legend, Paul Hazel is a composer, musician, record producer and film maker from Swansea. It was a pleasure to have Paul headline a special show for us at this year’s Swansea Fringe Festival at Cinema & Co where he launched his newest release, ‘Test Pattern Redux’, and further proved why Paul is a force to be reckoned within the wider electronic music scene. 

Paul moved to Wales from London in 2003 and lectured at Swansea College of Art for 14 years. During this time, he co-founded the Swansea Laptop Orchestra, who if you haven’t experienced before you definitely should. 

The music that Paul creates is multi-disciplinary, thought provoking and really clever. This was translated during his set at the Swansea Fringe festival, which I was really lucky to catch (after a volunteer forced me to stop panicking and sit and enjoy Paul’s music).

It was an incredible experience - I went from being ridiculously stressed to be completely immersed in Paul’s set, forgetting, almost instantly everything else in the world. The sounds Paul produced were hypnotic, textured and consistently interesting - this, matched with the visuals behind him, made it (for me) the perfect live show. 

 
 

It’s interesting to read Paul’s three basic principles that he has for his creations after experiencing it, it really makes sense and is working well. His basic principles are: 1) achieve the most possible with the least: “less is more”. 2) each piece of work is an attempt to question the assumptions on which it is built 3) striving for art that “performs the possibilities it promotes”. 

Paul also runs his own record label, Bamboo Radical, where you can listen to his tunes - I highly recommend that you do. His most recent release (also available on 12” vinyl) Test Pattern Redux (2018) is an absolute techno classic and the EP Dreaming Detroit (2018) matches this quality and showcase the range of influences that Paul has on his music. 

His website is also worth a read - you can find out about all of Paul’s work, including his really interesting trip to Japan. On this note, check out his most recent offering: “Kyoto Air Conditioner Dub”

Even if Techno or Electronic music isn’t your bag, I implore you to give Paul’s stuff a go. I bet you’ll find yourself lost in his sounds, leaving everything behind and coming out the other end thinking “I can’t wait to do that again…”

Written by Simon Parton

Gig of the week: King Of Despair + guests at Cinema & Co
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An elusive and sadly short-lived musical projects returns this Saturday night as King of Despair take to the stage at Cinema & Co. for an evening of Alt-Folk and Alt-Rock that is bound to be unforgettable.

Playing tunes from their posthumously released album, 'Harpoon', King of Despair is made up of a heap of #SwanseaMusic luminaries - Paul Battenbough, Huw Rees, David Godwin and Darren Beale.

Joining them on the night are Swansea Music Hub favourites, The Zinvandels and, if you needed even more of a reason to nip along, the stellar lineup of local acts is completed by hometown boy Josh Ace.

Artist of the week: Sarah Birch
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Sarah Birch is as much of a musical enigma, in her solo-guise, as you might find around these here parts.

From her ongoing tenure with Swansea legends Lost Tuesday Society, to guest featuring with other local artists on record (see Greenmailer's newest release 'Luluna' for an example) or live.

Here is a musician who has worked over the last few years to hone her effortless talent into a force to be reckoned with. Seeing her performing live "as herself" - and that's the only way at the moment you can glimpse her solo material - or in guest-spots with other artists, you can see this.

Hers is a natural, in-grown talent, with a real knack for composing melodies that are hypnotic, pure and dignified and that show a mastery of her own voice that floats effortlessly between a pop-sensibility and a sublime, ferocious jazz-blues styling in her delicate sensitivity for what the situation requires.

 
 

Sarah's work with alt-folk outfit, Lost Tuesday Society, has always created material out of left field - in the best sense of the term - and her solo material, which we've heard a number of times live, builds on this, with eclectic instrumentation and graceful arrangements ranging from the gentlest of intimate moments, to the audience weathering a beautiful maelstrom of musical mayhem in the form of trumpets, additional guitars, percussion and anything else she can fill the stage up (and keep the sound engineer on their toes) with.

There's even rumblings of string quartets on the horizon and by rumblings, I mean rumours that are entirely substantiated and verified by her Facebook posts...

If history says anything about Sarah Birch, then her upcoming debut album is sure to be a majestic tour-de-force from this home-spun songstress. Keep an eye out for shows near you in the near future, and make sure you keep up-to-date with her social media platforms for updates.

I know I will be.

Written by Joe Bayliss

Gig of the Week: White Riot at Hangar 18

There’s a great lineup of young local talent this Saturday as White Riot & friends take over! Celebrating the release of their second single ‘Ghost Town’, White Riot’s live sets are already renowned to be one not to miss - and if their first single ‘Sid’ is anything to go off, their second will no doubt be another absolute banger!

Joining them are young indie rock / alternative band The Furns, (who we like to keep an eye on - they seem to be going from strength to strength) and newly formed The Stray Pursuit, who' we’ve heard great things about so far!!

Tickets are just the precise £2.97 available here via SeeTickets.

Gig of the week: The Orange Circus at The Garage
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A right royal knees up is what you’ll get at our gig of the week this week. Celtic / Bluegrass / Alt Country / Indie band The Orange Circus will be taking over The Garage for their single launch of latest track “I Miss You” - a band with roots in Wales, Cornwall, England and Virginia They have a hand in traditional roots music, but they produce wholly unique, contemporary sound. We had them play at our show in Cinema & Co alongside Professor Elemental & they were really great.

Also joining them are Swansea favourites The Lost Tuesday Society, with a special acoustic set.

Artist of the week: Ssssnakes
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Last weekend I had the pleasure of experiencing elusive Swansea punk legends Ssssnakes at the Langland Loco fundraiser at Cinema & Co - and I wasn’t disappointed! As a band that I’ve been following since their first release Kissss Thisss in 2011 I was super excited and wondered if they were able to match the energy on their studio recordings live on stage. They were able to multiply this energy by 100 on stage. It was insane.

 
 

You couldn’t take your eyes off them - however this may be due to bassist Rhys’ magnificent outfit consisting of the finest crop top, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, hot pants & neckerchief. Their first time live as a band in Swansea for a while, you could tell that the crowd were super excited - multiple cries of “WE WANT SSSSNAKES” over the raffle that preceded their set.

Their set started with (and maintained) this crazy energy - the crowd going mental and finished with front man Jamie diving into the drummer to finish. Definitely one of the best shows I’ve seen in Swansea.

For those of you that haven’t listened to or even heard of Ssssnakes, they are (in their own words) : “a band that sing songs about girls, skateboards, friends and sticking it to the man.”

Their first release “Kissss Thisss” (2011) opens with “Don’t Tread on Us” - a powerful punk rock banger. I remember one of the first tunes I heard on the album was the 9 second “Donald Trump” - written back in 2011 - I guess they had some sort of premonition of things to come with the lyrics: “Think Big! Kick Ass! … Donald Trump”. The track “Ssssnake or Die” is a personal favourite off the album - everything you want in an angry punk tune.

Their latest release, EP “Love Eggssss” (2017) continues where the Ssssnakes left off and maintains their reputation as one of the finest punk bands Swansea has produced. Cabello is a personal favourite off this one. Check it out.

If you get the chance to see Ssssnakes, do it - and when you do, buy them a beer. You definitely won’t be disappointed. They’ve played two mega shows in the last week in Swansea - The Langland Loco last Saturday at Cinema & Co and a super secret punk show above Broadside Tattoo (which I was gutted to miss - it looked wicked).

We approached Rhys from Ssssnakes for a comment on being Swansea Music Hub’s artist of the week, he replied:

“Ssssnakes rule, buy me a beer”

Swansea MusicHub
Gig of the week: WINDSHAKE, The Pitchforks & more at Creature Sound
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Creature Sound host our spotlighted gig of the week this week as some of South Wales’ finest young rock bands take over on Friday evening.

Headliners WINDSHAKE bring their superb psychedelic rock and roll sound in what is always a standout live set. We’ve really been enjoying what they’ve releasing and caught these guys a couple of times - really worth checking out if you haven’t already!

After recently sharing a stage with WINDSHAKE at the YMCA for this year’s Swansea Fringe Festival it’s great to welcome Rhodda’s The Pitchforks back to Swansea! One of the Horizons 12, The Pitchforks are one of the most exciting young Welsh bands on the scene at the moment!

Newport alt rockers Finding Aurora also join the lineup: their 90s and 80s Alt Rock influenced sound makes them a really exciting young band to watch. And completing the line up are Swansea three piece punk band White Riot - another one we’ve been really impressed with in the short time they’ve been together!

It’s just £4.00 on the door - what better way to spend your Friday evening than to support young, emerging talent from South Wales!