Posts tagged Swansea Heavy Metal Scene
Review: "A Loveless Attraction" by Apathy Avenue
 
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At first glance, Apathy Avenue's newest single is a change of flavour for the Neath/Swansea lads. A change of pace from the frenetic, energy-charged material I've heard at shows and online, but if anything, this allows the Apathy Avenue gents to show their true colours as creatives.

The track is a neat, clean number that builds on an enduring Swansea pedigree - somewhat Stoner-edged. Sludgy yet punchy. Entrancing. Music you can head bang to, or veg out to.

Or perhaps it could provide the sound track to a bar room brawl.

With their more pacey material, think Truckfighters meet Green Day in a Welsh pub for a swift round, but for 'A Loveless Attraction', think Black Stone Cherry sharing a casual stubbie with Clutch.

Aled Davies' and Samuel Kilby's (of Unit 13) production allows a perfect amount of space between the instrumentation, the bass tone in particular is bright, piercing, cutting through the mix in a highly satisfying way (bear in mind, this is coming from a guitarist, too!) and there's an enviable drum fill, courtesy of Liam Hawkes around 3:30 (more of that please, sir!).

All in all, a great offering from the Apathy Avenue boys, and you can make sure you catch them on the 28th June in The Bunkhouse, Swansea or 29th June at Rock The Barn, Hereford. Check their Facebook page for upcoming shows.

Watch the video below, or head over to YouTube to give it a gander.

Whilst you're at it, you can admire that impressive 'tache too.

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'A Loveless Attraction' is now available on all streaming services including YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and much more!

by Joe Bayliss

 
 
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 & 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

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

Artist of the Week: Helldown
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Furious, monolithic riffs and intense, unrelenting rhythm underpins each track dropped by Swansea-band Helldown.

Formed in 2013 by brothers Ben and Matt Evans (Bass/Vocals and Guitarist, respectively), the lineup was completed with drummer Ross Thomas and lead guitarist Chris Driscoll soon after.

 
 

Their debut release, a self-titled, 2015, EP displayed an already refined approach to songcraft, building on elements of classic metal and thrash and infusing their creations with a personal twist that at times challenges, and at other times perfectly play into, Thrash tradition. Have a listen to 'Thrive In Violence', a brutal track that, on first listen, reminded me of Thrash icons Slayer - I had that same reaction the first time I heard Slayer's 2015 Repentless - with its uncompromising, truculent rhythms driving the track to its ferocious climax.

2017's 'The Watchers' displays the craft of a band who have worked tirelessly to refine their sound through experience and practice. The traits from their earlier debut are still there, but now more developed and sculpted, the production value has been upped and they're now a real force to be reckoned with.

With gigs all over the UK, catch them when they're nearby. Make sure you take your most trusty earplugs though...

Written by Joe Bayliss