Many people have asked me, “How do you discover all of these new bands?” Well, here is one is my little helpers.
There are many streaming platforms out there; Spotify, Soundcloud, Amazon Music and Deezer to name a selection, all of which have different takes on offering music to listeners. For me though, one of Spotify’s newest features has proven to be wonderful in discovering new music. Spotify Radio.
Admittedly a feature that initially irritated me, Spotify Radio will continue playing songs when you reach the end of the album or playlist that you were listening to. In place of the artist, Spotify will then play you related artists, or songs from the same or a similar genre. This feature first irritated me when I was driving. Due to my cars Bluetooth limitations, I wasn’t able to change the music using my car’s sound screen. I wanted to continue listening to the artist I had chosen. However, the radio feature doesn’t allow you to go back, and by skipping I was just delving further into Spotify’s chosen station.
As I was driving I eventually relented my skipping frenzy, and carried on my journey with the Spotify radio playing. To my surprise, when I actually listened, it turned out that Spotify new my tastes pretty well. Although I hadn’t heard the artists before, the songs I was listening to caught my attention. As soon as I was home and my car was safely parked, I quickly added them to my ‘liked songs’. The radio feature had me hooked.
I have since discovered so many new bands and breakout acts in the indie genre this way. The Howl & The Hum, Black Honey and The Rifles to name a few. I’m sure many of you, as I’ll admit I used to, will quickly grab your phone and turn off the Spotify radio feature as soon as it interrupts your listening and plays an unfamiliar artist. I must stress though, give this feature a chance. I know we’re all creatures of habit, but if you’re a music lover and want to discover new music, which I’m sure you do. Asides from going to gigs all the time, this feature can be extremely helpful in broadening your music horizons, without even having to leave the comfort of your home (or car). If you are listening to an artist for example, Spotify will also sprinkle in a few of their songs too, as the radio playing will be ‘Artist’s Radio’ or ‘Playlist’s Radio’. I know Spotify isn’t loved by some artists and bands that despair at its algorithms and rising power in the music industry, but from my small corner of the world I will be honest and say I am lover of the app. I’ve been using it since 2010, having tried both the free and premium plan. I’ll admit it’s a modern app that I cannot live without.
Spotify allows you access to millions of artists and has thousands of playlists on any genre you can think of. The app is fantastic for listening to almost any song you could possibly wish for. The platform is very user friendly and doesn’t cost a fortune either. By listening through Spotify, you have the ability to listen to songs without the commitment of having to buy an album or vinyl. If you hear an artist on Spotify and you end up loving them, then of course you will support them by buying their material and attending their gigs. As a try before you buy option though, I think Spotify really is the champion.
Next time you’re listening to your favourite album on Spotify, and the radio plays after it. Don’t skip it. You might be surprised by the amazing new music you discover.
Many of you I’m sure will be wondering why a certain someone wasn’t included in my recent blog post ‘5 of my Favourite Gigs From 2019’. Well, this is because I felt she was worthy of a post dedicated just to her. Phoebe Green is an artist that I personally adore, but asides from my love for her, there is no denying that she has quickly become a rising icon these past 12 months. Absolutely storming 2019 in the process. With a signing to Chess Club Records, 2 new singles, and a string of live shows under her belt. Phoebe Green has certainly made a name for herself. I wanted to celebrate this hugely successful year of hers and explain why Phoebe has taken the crown for 2019 in my eyes, and I’m sure many others’ too.
I’d like to introduce Phoebe Green as an incredibly talented singer and songwriter. Phoebe writes her material herself, and her songs are a reflection of her own existence. This open window into her life, is something to be treasured. A very honest and brave lyricist, who does not hide behind a persona on stage. What you see when Phoebe performs is raw and real, and for me this makes her very special. From a young age, Phoebe has been passionate about music, and this is shown in her lyrics, that reflect as much colour and character as her name and personality. Originally hailing from the small seaside town of Lytham, Phoebe has since moved to follow her music aspirations and is now based in Manchester.
2019 has seen Phoebe take on supporting tours with the likes of Sundara Karma and Swim Deep, and most recently play an arena show with The Courteeners in Manchester. Earlier this year, Phoebe also had her very own headline tour in collaboration with ‘Get it Loud in Libraries’. An organisation that takes the quiet element out of libraries and instead fills them with music of all genres, in locations across the UK. As a result, this meant that Phoebe’s first tour was set to be so incredibly unique. Of course, I was first in the queue to get tickets to attend one of the shows, with the closest to me being Coventry. Asides from Coventry, Phoebe also played at libraries in Huddersfield and Liverpool this past summer. From what I saw; a smaller venue, with a dedicated crowd of fans, allowed Phoebe to shine exquisitely on stage. If I’m being honest, it wouldn’t even be fair to label the shows as being gigs, in my opinion the performances and atmosphere were far more intricate and intimate than that.
In Coventry Central Library, the stage was nestled in amongst the book shelves. It couldn’t have been anymore perfect, and it suited Phoebe so well. I don’t think I stopped beaming from the moment I arrived.
The first band to take to the stage were Porridge Radio. I’d never seen them before, but as soon as their set started I was captivated. Lead singer Dana has an incredible voice. I remember being completely fascinated by her sound and style. The songs they performed were gorgeous. Thanks to this gig I became a huge fan of Porridge Radio. I’ve recently written about them in more detail, congratulating them on their signing with Secretly Canadian Records.
Phoebe’s entrance to the stage was reserved, but beautiful. The room was so quiet you couldn’t hear a pin drop, and in that moment I felt for her. You could see that it wasn’t necessarily nervousness, but more a process of adaptation that was taking place. When you’re used to singing in front of a rowdy crowd that are fuelled on beer, to then be placed in front of people who are all patiently waiting in a library just to listen you. As Phoebe admitted herself, it was a change. Certainly not the environment she is used to performing in, as I’m sure would be the case for many other bands and artists.
As Phoebe began her set and the words of ‘Maniac’ began to echo around the room, you could see any hesitations she may have had melt away for her, as she relaxed into her surroundings. Needless to say, her performance was completely mesmerising. Phoebe has such a talent for song writing, and coupled with her incredibly beautiful vocals, this makes for a sublime pairing. A slight presence, that blooms in song. Phoebe Green is a flower bud, that bursts into life under the sunshine of the spotlight. She is wonderous to hear and behold. I’m not ashamed to say that Phoebe’s music has accompanied me through some of my loneliest, sleepless nights. Her songs have been there for me when I’ve cried, when I’ve overthought situations, and when I’ve simply needed something to listen to. So, to see Phoebe performing on stage, merely metres away from me, was very surreal. Phoebe’s set that evening was better than I could have imagined, and I felt so emotional during and after her performance. It was overwhelming in the best way possible.
To explain a little more about Phoebe’s music itself. Her self-released album 02:00am is gorgeous, and the lyrical content is haunting. It will reverberate with anyone who has ever been hurt or has longed for love. Vocally, most of her songs on this album are delicate to begin with, but the choruses are so powerful. Her songs transfix listeners with lyrics that speak of the frailty of the heart and mind. Encased in Phoebe’s soft vocals are subject matters that are certainly not delicate, but instead incredibly real, and piercing as a result of this. Phoebe sings of hurt, deceit, lust and love. For example, on the opening track of that night ‘Maniac’, Phoebe does not shy away from how weak we can be made to feel when blindingly in love with the wrong person. In contrast ‘Watercolour Envy’ speaks of a woman scorned, and shows beautifully, just how powerfully we can react when wronged by those we hold dearest, especially when infidelity is involved. The sheer raw emotion conveyed in Phoebe’s songs showcase her talents incredibly well. After listening to this album in full, it may come as a surprise that Phoebe had written these songs at just 16 years of age.
I know that Phoebe will openly admit she is embarrassed by the content of this album now, from having written the lyrics at a young age. However, despite her uncertainty, I’d like to assure her that for any listener, her songs will always be so relatable and poignant. Although, I can understand why she does feel detached from them. I know if I too were to look back on past relationships, and in turn old feelings that were inscribed within song lyrics, I’m sure I would also suffer embarrassment. Still it needs to be said, Phoebe as an outsider looking in, your lyrics are stunning. 02:00am should always be an album that is celebrated and loved.
Phoebe Green made her long-awaited return to music in March of this year. Prior to this, 02:00am was released in 2016. Her long hiatus from recording music has certainly helped her to grow, with ‘Dreaming Of’ clearly reflecting this. A stand-out, stand up for yourself ballad; ‘Dreaming Of’ lyricises a strong, independent woman who refuses to be put down, and aims to break free from her relationship and escape from a condescending partner. Phoebe projects so beautifully the betrayal that so many of us face, when we come to the realisation that we are in an unloving relationship, which we certainly do not deserve to be in. I’m so pleased to say that the passionate delivery of this new debut single gained Phoebe instant recognition. Clash Music and Pitchfork had both written stunning articles on Phoebe’s success by the end of April, and later in the year Phoebe had an interview with music heavyweights NME.
Phoebe’s new single came hand in hand with her signing to Chess Club Records, who clearly saw her talent and ran with it. Chess Club Records are a well-established name in the music industry, currently home to indie superstars Sundara Karma and Billie Marten. Chess Club also initially started the careers of giants Mumford & Sons, who put out their first EP with the label. This shows the sheer scale of what they see in Phoebe.
As I mentioned earlier, this year really has been the making of Phoebe Green. Being signed with such an expansive label as Chess Club has opened many doors for her, all of which she has gladly walked through. Many supporting and headline tours have kept her schedule busy, along with various festival appearances. Before finally closing the year playing an arena show with The Courteeners, which is certainly not an achievement to be taken lightly. However, Phoebe has remained modest throughout it all. Undoubtedly, one of the nicest people you could meet, Phoebe is so friendly and is genuinely such a kind-hearted person. I’ve been fortunate enough to have the pleasure of meeting her twice now. Initially following the gig in Coventry, I was over the moon to be able to speak to her, and more recently when she toured with Swim Deep at The Globe in Cardiff. Phoebe makes time for her fans and is so appreciative of everyone who speaks to her, and it’s these little sparks in her nature, that make her so wonderful. When I spoke to Phoebe after her set in Cardiff, she remembered when we spoke in Coventry. As a fan, that was so lovely and meant a lot to me. It proved to me that her fans obviously mean as much to her, as she does to us. Despite her clear musical talent, the lovely person that she is makes her all the more special.
I cannot wait for Phoebe to release her new album. As well as ‘Dreaming Of’ and her newest single ‘Easy Peeler’, which is equally as incredible and powerful in it’s emotional depth. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Phoebe perform two other new unreleased songs live. One I believe is called ‘A Song For Alex’ and the other is called ‘Double Vodka Lemonade’, which is my favourite. As soon as the album is released, it is without doubt that I will find myself writing about Phoebe again. But for now, I must congratulate Phoebe on the immense success that 2019 has brought her. It has been such a brilliant year for her, and she should be so proud of everything she has achieved.
I’m sure that 2020 will bring her even more happiness and success.
I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. Thank you ever so much for taking the time to read my writing, and for appreciating the incredible bands and artists whom I write about. I wish you all lots of love, happiness and more wonderful music in 2020.
This album was released on Christmas Day. Before this, it was kept a total secret. There were none of the usual pre-album single releases, or marketing strategies to prepare us. We weren’t aware this was happening, until the tweet came through on the bands page and the album was available to stream online. What a present it was.
The surprise element sent fans into melt down, and there was no denying the buzz around this album. So many questions teemed about it from not only fans, but names in the music industry too I’m sure. The release was a completely wonderful surprise. As it was Christmas Day though, I struggled to find a moments peace to listen to the album in full. On Boxing Day morning, I seized my chance. I listened to the album in its entirety, twice for good measure. My first impression? Honestly, it’s just stunning.
This new album has stripped Blaenavon back to their roots entirely. Recorded mainly just using a piano and an acoustic guitar. It consists of pure, raw, emotional lyrics that encapsulate singer Ben’s struggle with anxiety and depression. The album speaks of pain and hurt, but also of recovery and redemption. It’s a stunning vocal outlet of emotion and feeling, gift wrapped in gorgeous piano playing and acoustic melodies.
Stand out favourites for me are ‘Michael’, ‘slow down, cyclist’ and ‘write it down’. I just love how real and simply recorded these songs are. I don’t think I can gush about this album more. The way they’ve left dialogue in from where they’ve conducted the recording session, the emotional conversations, the odd bursts of laughter. It doesn’t appear to me that there were any forced retakes, any attempts at utter perfection. This album is perfect simply as it is. Blaenavon. Ben. Honestly this album is a masterpiece, and you should be very, very proud of it.
The songs are extremely touching and truthful. Whether there is intense meaning behind them, or whether they are simply the produce of a recording whim on the spot. The fact they leave the listener guessing and to draw on their own conclusions is magical in itself. For me, this album isn’t one that necessary needs to be understood and dissected lyric for lyric, as I have seen people calling for. It just needs to be listened to. It’s beautiful.
“What happens when you listen to one version of something so much that when it’s properly recorded it’s difficult to accept.”
Well Christmas is almost upon us, and the end of the year is in sight. The festive season is often a period of reflection for many of us. For me, this means an opportunity to look back on all of the amazing gigs I’ve had the pleasure of attending in 2019. Live music is a big part of my life. A couple of years ago I made a promise with myself not to miss out on gigs I wanted to go to. I started going to more gigs in local venues, and it has honestly been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve gotten to know so many new bands, and discovered some incredible music, along with meeting the loveliest people.
I thought I’d share with you, 5 of my favourite gigs from the past year.
Peter Doherty & The Puta Madres – Sin City, Swansea, February 2019.
Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres are a fantastically talented band of musicians, that perform blissfully well together. They really are a must-see. Their origins as a band derive from playing together during a string of festivals. At which time they whipped up a frenzy with fresh, exciting music, and firmly squashed rumours that they were merely a side project for Peter Doherty.
In February of this year, I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to see them for myself. In typical fashion, the gig was running late, door staff had informed me. Peter was out walking his dogs along the Swansea coastline at sunset, and who could blame him? It is beautiful. Once we were allowed in, I remember being puzzled for a second, as the band were already on stage. It took a moment for me to realise what was going on, and then I noticed Peter moving amps around and Jack tuning his guitar – it was soundcheck. They’d let us walk in on soundcheck. It was such an amazing experience. You could see the band were enjoying the unexpected early attention. With the gig being in the heart of Swansea, it gave Trampolene front man (AKA Puta Madres guitarist) Jack Jones, the opportunity to play up to a home crowd, reciting one of his most popular poems ‘Pound Land’. Pete also treated us to a few chords from beloved Libertines tunes, that really got the crowd going. There was no doubt in my mind then that this was going to be something extraordinary.
When the band came back on for their main performance, it was wonderful to see how chaotically perfect they were together. Resembling a gypsy punk-band, The Puta Madres are a spectacular sight to behold. As their debut single ‘Who’s Been Having You Over’ blared out to the crowd. Keyboard player Katia was a stunning free-spirit on stage. Drummer Rafa was the best kind of crazy. Needless to say, if you have read my previous posts you will know the adoration I have for guitarist Jack. Violinist Miki was kind and gentle amongst the madness. Bass player Miggles was more sensible on stage, but was wonderfully close to them all. I got the impression The Puta Madres are a band of friends, a band of lovers even. They have an adoring relationship with each other, and this is reflected beautifully in their stage performance.
The band sang and laughed, engaging with the boisterous crowd throughout the night. To hold on to my barrier position was hard, but by God there was no way I was giving that up. They introduced us to new single ‘Paradise is Under Your Nose’ and other soon to be album tracks. As well as performing hits from The Libertines and Babyshambles. As a treat for Jack’s birthday, Pete also gave him a moment on the microphone where he performed a stunning song ‘Lighter than Paper’, that is still yet to be released.
Honestly, I cannot explain to you just how much I enjoyed this gig. It was different, it was wild. I cannot recommend The Puta Madres enough.
This is The Kit – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, August 2019.
This gig was a real standout for me, because believe it or not, before that night I’d never heard a single song of theirs. I went to see This is The Kit with someone who adores them, in Cardiff’s Clwb Ifor Bach, and I decided to treat myself to the rare experience of hearing a band for the first time on stage. No spotify binging desperately trying to learn lyrics, no frantic searches for past set-lists. I just wanted to enjoy seeing them fresh in front of my eyes.
Honestly, the performance was sublime. Kate Stables, singer and founder of the band has an exquisite voice that really shone under the spotlight the night I saw them. Speaking openly, I’d say I was transfixed for most of that evening. Without questioning her vocal talent, she is also a wonderfully gifted songwriter. The lyrics in her songs are beautiful, and work stunningly well when placed against her voice, and the soft soothing playing of her instruments, whether it be the guitar or banjo. I remember being lost in songs such as ‘Bullet Proof’ and ‘Solid Grease’. I was frantically asking the person next to me as soon as they would finish, “What is this song called?” I went into the gig with an open mind, and it was sublimely rewarding. I was met with a beautiful band, in which all members are gloriously talented. Aside from Kate Stables, other band members such as Rozi Plain, are vocally talented in their own rights. Rozi has a growing solo-career ahead of her too, having recently played Cardiff’s Sŵn festival, amongst other locations.
You can clearly see during a This is The Kit gig, how in love with them their fans are. They have a niche cult following, that I’d guess they have acquired from dedicated festival going. This band can silence a room with their purely gorgeous soft songs, and in the next breath make them dance and sing with fan favourites such as ‘Moonshine Freeze’. All of which I had the glory of beholding for the first time. I watched how adored they were by those that knew them, and I too was captivated.
Now, I cannot even begin to tell you how desperate I am to see this band again.
This is The Kit are a gem certainly not to be missed.
The Amazons – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, February 2019.
Before I begin, I just have to say that this gig really was something special. I’d only managed to find out about it a few days before. The Amazons weren’t playing at many venues and had kept their announcements rather low-key. Probably because they were channelling much of their energy into the new album, but being as dedicated to music as they are, of course they wanted to treat us to a ‘little something’ before the release. I remember frantically searching to see if any tickets were still available, and to my relief, thankfully there were. I was so excited. Especially as I knew the venue was smaller, which makes all the difference. Although, of course I do go and see bands in larger venues, I much prefer a smaller gig, as the band are not lost on the stage and lighting. They are there, right in front of you. No huge barrier gap, no security guards in your way. It’s just you and the band. I think that was what I enjoyed most about that night. The atmosphere was just so intimate. To have the honour of seeing a successful band like The Amazons on a stage at my level, not high in the sky. It was fantastic. Honestly, if you go and see any band you love in Clwb, trust me when I say you will not be disappointed, but The Amazons really took the roof off the place!
I remember the night vividly, the room was awash with dedicated fans, all eagerly waiting for the band to take the stage. On a cold February night, the turnout was brilliant, and it was so great to see. It had been a couple of years since the release of their debut self-entitled album, and at this point in time, us fans had only been graced with new album Future Dust’s first single ‘Mother’. With the new album due in May, anticipation lingered strongly amongst the crowd. We were all anxiously waiting, desperate to hear any new material, and of course the classic tunes that we all knew and loved. The Amazon’s certainly obliged our request, by scattering new songs amongst our favourites. Us fans rejoiced. Any Amazon’s gig would be fantastic, but it really felt exclusive to see them playing in the small but mighty venue that is Clwb. We hung off every word that fell from Matthew’s mouth. Lyrics were sang adoringly back to the band, and they revelled in it. The room was alive, Clwb was alive.
Everyone was there for one reason, to witness the sheer amazing power of The Amazons.
They certainly delivered this, and more.
I remember the ending of this gig was phenomenal. Having kept us waiting, craving throughout the entire setlist. We were hit with it. ‘Junkfood Forever’. Mine, and I’m sure many others, favourite Amazons song. It was fantastic. The room completely blew up, and I’d say going to this gig was worth it just for this song if nothing else. That’s how good it was.
The All-Dayer (Headlined by Matt Maltese) – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff, November 2019.
This all day gig was a real treat. Starting earlier than usual, it was a jam-packed line up born from a collaboration between Council Records and So Young Magazine. Bands including Rosehip Teahouse, Drug Store Romeos, Talk Show and Happyness took to the stage. Headlining last but not least of course was the king of wounded lovers, Matt Maltese.
The first band I saw that evening, Rosehip Teahouse, are a wonder to behold on stage, their performances are beautiful every time, and this gig was certainly no different. Personally, I find them so endearing as a fresh, new band that I’ve written about them in more depth in my post on 10 Emerging Welsh Bands.
Drug Store Romeos were a new band on me, but their sound was so unique and different to anything I had heard before. To put it simply, they were nothing short of mesmerising. Lead single ‘Now You’re Moving’ was stunning, and Sarah was fascinating to watch perform, with her ability to sing and play piano, all whilst dancing and engaging with the crowd at the same time.
Despite this gig having a lengthy line-up, the intervals between each band were kept short and concise. I think this is what made everything run so smoothly, the gig was constantly moving, and there was never a point at which the evening lost momentum. In the intervals where bands were not on stage, I could see it was a fantastic opportunity for networking. Event organisers and representatives from the magazine and label mingled in with the crowd of fans, and band members who were also watching each others’ set. People were chatting, and getting to know each other. It really seemed as though there was a community spirit here, and that this was something more than a gig. Something rather special, I’d say.
The next band to take the stage were Talk Show. The lights were completely dimmed, and it was at that moment I felt the atmosphere change. I could see lead singer Harrison limbering himself up to take to the microphone, as if preparing for an exorcism. Holy hell did the devil take hold. Trust me when I say, I was blown away. Talk Show switched the night up in seconds, turning it into an eery, energy-filled punk show. Honestly, this band ripped my heart out of chest and stuffed it back in again with their music. Possessing a real “hold on for your life” feeling. They dominated that stage, and their performance. Talk Show hail from South London, and are similar in style to Slaves or Idles, but with more of a frightening twist to their lyrics and sound, that makes them so much better.
I wasn’t sure where the night was going to go after this, as Talk Show were so different to what I was expecting, given the style of previous bands and the subsequent headliner to come, Matt Maltese. I think that was the reason why, unfortunately the next band Happyness didn’t do it for me after that. I can understand how the mood needed to be changed, due to the complete contrast between Talk Show and Matt Maltese, but for me Happyness just didn’t work here. I hate to review anything negatively, and this is not a reflection on them as a band at all, as I could see how their sound was fun, and catchy, but it was just not right for this segment of the line-up I’m afraid. This is just my personal taste though; the crowd seemed to love them.
Last in the line-up was Matt Maltese. I absolutely adore this man and his music. I discovered him following the release of his single ‘Greatest Comedian’. Matt’s album ‘Bad Contestant’, dominated my summer last year and was mostly all I listened to for the remainder of 2018 if I’m being honest. On vinyl, it is an absolute masterpiece. Matt was at the top of my lists for artists I needed to see, so I was beyond delighted when I realised he was coming to headline this all-day gig in Cardiff.
Matt’s music is very close to my heart, so to say I was excited would be a sincere understatement. His music means so much to me, to describe how I felt waiting for him to come on stage, well I’d say I felt emotional more than anything else. I’d played his vinyl over and over, I’d cried, I’d laughed. Matt felt like more of a companion to me than a musician. So, to be faced with the fact that any moment now he was going to be performing the songs I adored so much, merely inches away from me, it was completely overwhelming but utterly blissful. It is an unreal sensation, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with, when you know you’re going to be in the same room with someone whose music honesty means that much to you. It could have accompanied you through the happiest or the saddest times in your life. I think this highlights why I feel so passionately about the live music scene. These artists are there for us when we could be completely alone, and to then be able to see them and treasure their songs and the memories attached to them in our own lives, is stunningly beautiful. This is what musicians need to hold on to and cherish about their fanbases.
Matt’s setlist that night was utterly gorgeous. To be able to watch him play piano and sing, so closely. Honestly it took my breath away. Matt played songs from ‘Bad Contestant’ including the incredible ‘Like a Fish’, and mixed in songs from his newly released album ‘Krystal’, which is of course a triumph, and I’d argue more emotional in its content than its predecessor ‘Bad Contestant’. My favourite from this album is the track bearing the same name, which I was also lucky enough to hear him perform live that night.
Matt even made time to run his own merch table, and greet fans after the show. Of course I went bounding over, and introduced myself. How could I not? I really felt as though Matt went the extra mile in this gig, not only with his stunning performance, but all by how approachable and personable he was. It really made me smile, ironic really, with lyrics so heart-breaking.
Massive Wagons – Patti Pavilion, Swansea, October 2019
I just had to choose this gig as one of my favourites! I love a good rock show, and Massive Wagons made sure I experienced one in all its glory. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing this band a couple of times now. The first gig was on a whim, as we had booked tickets for a Saturday night out. A few drinks and some good music. The added bonus was that I got to see this amazing band! Their live music was great, and during the days that followed I listened to their albums and I was hooked. I had to wait a few months to be able to stream the other songs I’d heard live, as they were touring prior to the release of their next album ‘Full Nelson’. It was this album that really cemented my love for Massive Wagons.
When their next headline show was announced a year later, there was no way I was going to miss out! Although I’ll admit I did have some difficulty getting hold of my tickets due to a local disgruntled ticket supplier, but I was determined not to let anything dampen my spirits! Massive Wagons were coming back to Swansea, and I was so looking forward to it. The Lancashire rockers put on an incredible show, as I knew all too well from when I last saw them. This time though, I loved the songs, I knew the lyrics and I couldn’t wait to be down at the front.
Billed as an evening of rock and roll, there were several bands performing before Massive Wagons took to the stage. Ryders Creed, Scarlet Rebels and Ravenbreed got the crowd ready for what was to come. The room wasn’t packed, but it was a Sunday night and to be honest we were having a such a good time. Who needs a boring Sunday in, when you can go to a rock show?
Massive Wagons stormed the stage. Baz’s hat introduced them, by making a perfect landing on the coat stand, which made all of us laugh and cheer even louder! One thing I will say that makes Massive Wagons so great, is how fun they are as a band! So many rock bands take themselves way too seriously, but Massive Wagons are a real down to earth and friendly band. You can see within seconds of them being on stage, that they love being there and they work extremely hard for it too. Baz, lead singer of the band, recently wrote a very touching piece on their Facebook page, explaining just how much dedication it has taken to keep the band going. For me this makes going to their gigs a million times more worthwhile. This band absolutely love what they do, and for the price of a ticket to go and see not only a rock band that care, but a rock band that put on one of the best performances I’ve seen. It is worth so much more, and it keeps the dream alive for not only them but us as fans too.
Massive Wagons have a mixed following of all ages, and this could be seen that night in Swansea. They’re the type of band that I love, and my whole family could love. Their reach spreads far and wide, and this is fantastic. Their music consists of classic rock and roll, punchy guitar solos, and one hell of a voice. Massive Wagons are brilliant, and really make you want to get up and get involved. If you want a taste of how great they are, just listen to ‘Hate Me’ or ‘Ratio’, and then come back and tell me what you think. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, if they’re coming to your hometown any time soon – go. You’ll see one of the best rock shows around.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I hope you enjoyed hearing all about my favourite gigs of this past year. Of course there were so many more I enjoyed, and I wish I could write about them all. If you would specifically like to hear about any other gig that I went to, please feel free to get in touch! Alternatively, if there were any gigs you loved in 2019, please share them with me! It would be lovely to hear from you!
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you lots of love, music and happiness in 2020.
For me personally, it would be a crime not to start this post with my absolute favourites. It is no secret to anyone who knows me, that I am a huge fan of Trampolene. Not only because they’re the most friendly and down to earth band, you will have the pleasure of getting to know, but because their music is out of this world. Upon initially discovering Trampolene, I was hit in the face by the sheer power of their lead single ‘You Do Nothing For Me’ but after listening to them more, I discovered an incredibly soft side to the vocals of lead singer Jack Jones, and this is what I fell in love with. How someone can sing with such raw spirit and passion on guitar shredding songs such as ‘Alcohol Kiss’, and then utterly tame their voice to a beautiful soothing lullaby on other songs like ‘She Sits With Me’, it just melted my heart. I’ve seen this band perform live several times now, and every time I see them they just get better. Despite the recently sad departure of drummer Rob Steele; Trampolene continue on their journey with Jack Jones, Wayne Thomas and new drummer Jay Bone. You can catch them at select locations on the upcoming Libertine’s Tour.
Buzzard, Buzzard, Buzzard
I will admit I was a bit late catching on to the brilliance of Buzzard, but by god am I glad I’ve joined that party. I’d heard of Buzzard’s chaotic, fantastically flamboyant live performances, but I’d yet to see them for myself. With my Swansea Fringe ticket in hand, I was eagerly excited to see Buzzard, and they didn’t let my high expectations down. Lead singer, Tom Rees, is a law all to himself, with not only a fantastic voice in the bag, but a wonderfully fun on stage presence that I dare anyone not to be captured by. Buzzard are brilliant to watch live, and since the show, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned up the volume of ‘Love Forever’ and ‘Double Denim Hop’ in my car. If you want a proper feel good, fun Welsh band, with a modern twist on a classic rock n’ roll sound, then look no further than Buzzard, Buzzard, Buzzard.
I’m going to mention one song, and one song only here, ‘Girls Talk’. It is phenomenal. Hailing from the welsh valley’s, CHROMA really pack a punch with their sound and unmistakable Welsh vocals. I absolutely love it when a Welsh band really let their accents come through thick in their vocals, and it’s truly glorious from CHROMA. Beautiful and powerfully female-fronted, CHROMA are fantastic to watch live. Katie Hall is a wonder on stage, and really gives you that girl-power vibe, keep doing what you’re doing girl! Also, if anyone is a Welsh speaker, this band are even better for you, as they have a lot of songs in the Welsh language. Even if you’re not a Welsh speaker, I still urge you to give them a listen anyway, as Katie’s vocals are mind-blowing, as are the guitar, bass and drums.
With a new album looming on the horizon, and a number of live shows already under their belt, Rosehip Teahouse are definitely ones to watch. I’ve been lucky enough to see them play twice in a short space of time now, and I just get a warm, fuzzy feeling from watching their live performances. As well as their individual crafted sound, their material is heartfelt but also has the boldness to touch upon delicate subjects. Music is a message, and to see a songwriter and band having the courage to show such expression and heart in their lyrics is truly admirable and fundamentally important. The words are hard-hitting, but are sung so softly, that they caress and linger on your skin. Every single time this band finish their set, I’ve been left wanting more. I really can’t wait to see the journey Rosehip Teahouse are going to take. Having the pleasure of also having watched their sound checks, and seeing them after gigs, I love that you can see how close they are. There’s a real homely feeling to their sound and character, and I just love it. I’m excited to see what the future brings for this band.
Those Damn Crows
Your local Welsh rock band, Those Damn Crows. This band has skyrocketed over the last few years, winning multiple awards and taking their music across the length and breadth of the UK. I really feel proud of what these guys have achieved, and how far they are going to go. I’m a sucker for a good, classic rock band. Give me a guitar, give me drums and give me a powerhouse of a lead singer and I’m there. The Crows really bring it. I saw them support the incredible ‘Massive Wagons’ over a year ago now, and they almost stole the show. A Welsh band performing in the heart of Swansea, with a dedicated following in tow, trust me when I say you could feel the crowd’s excitement swallow the room. Onstage, The Crows will bring you a loud, energy-packed rock show. If you ever go and see them play live, get down the front, take your earplugs out and get into the atmosphere for this band. They will blow you away. Songs such as ‘Rock n roll ain’t dead!’ (get it) and ‘Blink of an eye’ are stand-out favourites for me.
I know Dan Bettridge is a solo artist, but his backing band are lovely, so they’re being included in my blog post. I’m sorry if this is technically against the rules.
Where do I start with this? Well I think it’s fair to say that Dan Bettridge has an old-romantic soul, which is reflected stunningly in his music. He’s a singer that could soothe you to sleep. Now I’m not saying his music is boring by any means, instead think of it as a warm hug. I adore acoustics, and Dan really has that folky, acoustic guitar sound that I love. Think of a Welsh Paolo Nutini, but with more of an American-folk style. I can just imagine sitting in the New Orleans sunset, on a big ol’ American porch, listening to Dan’s music. His voice is so unique and comforting, everyone should have his songs on repeat. If you’re feeling a little stressed right now, and need something to listen to, put on ‘Rosie Darling’ and I promise you’ll feel a bit better. His music is soothing and his live shows are mesmerizing. Last time I saw him in the cosy downstairs room of Clwb, I actually found myself having that lost in the moment feeling. I was just consumed by the beauty of his voice. As much I love a loud, rowdy gig; I truly adore those moments where you can be so still, just listening, and you feel yourself connect with the stage. To be in a gig where you can’t hear a pin drop but the sound of the band, where the crowd are stood in awe of the beauty of who they are listening to. Have I got your attention yet? Trust me on this.
The People The Poet
With a jagged edge to the voice of lead singer Leon Stanford, it is hard not to enjoy the sound of The People The Poet. A homegrown band, who are as friendly as they are musically talented, have an infectious on stage spell that they cast over anyone who sees them. You can’t help but be charmed by them and their music. They’re the loveliest bunch of boys you’ll meet and are so deserving of all the success they are set to achieve, after putting in years of hard work playing across Wales in every small venue you could imagine. They have a classic old rock n’ roll style, accompanied by Leon’s whiskey-smoke vocals and flawless playing. They’re different to your usual modern rock band, and this works tremendously in their favour. So many rock bands are just carbon copies of each other, but The People The Poet are a refreshing change. I wish them all of the success for their future, and I’ll definitely be keeping a keen eye on them.
Having just released their first English language single ‘Wine Time’; primarily Welsh vocalized band Adwaith have seriously impressed me with this swirl of indie goodness. Following in the footsteps of Welsh heavyweights Boy Azooga, Adwaith recently walked away with the Welsh Music Prize. Unlike all of the other bands I’ve written about in this list, I haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing Adwaith perform live. Therefore taking this into account coupled with the ever-frustrating fact that I can’t speak my homeland’s language. I’m ashamed to say that, rather narrow-mindedly, prior to the release of ‘Wine Time’, Adwaith’s music was a lost cause on me. As this band had been making a quiet buzz in my peripheral vision and were certainly on my radar of music events, I really kick myself for not seeing them before now. Their sound is very up my street, and I have definitely learned my lesson that language is certainly no barrier in your own unique music tastes. Don’t be a fool like I was, give Adwaith a chance, I promise you won’t regret it.
I’ve only discovered Apostle recently, after seeing them support Dan Bettridge, and honestly I thought they were so great, I needed to write about them! The Cardiff based band are different to the usual genre of music I listen to, with more of a pop sound, but honestly this is refreshing and their songs are incredibly catchy. Apostle were a pleasant surprise for me on stage, having a totally different sound to what I expected. They’re a band I’ll definitely look out for if they are embarking on a solo gig or supporting in the future, just because their music is so upbeat and exciting. The band work wonderfully well together when performing, and I love how they mix the vocals between lead singer Sion Russell Jones and other members of the three-piece band, it adds a lot more variety into their performance and helps you to focus on all of the band rather than just the lead. They really left a smile on my face after their set, and isn’t that what live music is all about? If you want to feel happy too, and have a little dance in your room, listen to ‘Lavender’.
Anyone who has read my first blog post should have had a pretty good idea that I’d be including Panic Shack in this list. Fresh off the back of supporting Amyl and The Sniffers in Cardiff, Panic Shack certainly gained a room full of fans that evening; myself for one. Their set was fantastic, and I loved how brilliantly they moulded together as a band. Their 80s style, combined with raw powerful vocals and intensely played instruments make for incredible music, and really brought this band to the forefront of ‘wow’ for me. You can read my full review of their set at Clwb here. For now, just let me say, that this band are most definitely ones to watch. I’m so glad I discovered them when I did, and I can’t wait to see how far they go.
I hope you enjoyed reading this, and that you find the time to listen to a few if not all of these incredible bands. However, if there is a Welsh band you could scream at me for not having included here, please get in touch. I always LOVE listening to new music, and discovering bands to worship along with my favourites above. Please don’t be a stranger.
Is it fair to call this a gig review? After last night’s show, I’d say it’s more a declaration of love.
Last night, Clwb opened its doors to Australia’s phenomenally loud female fronted punk band Amyl and the Sniffers, and by god did they show Cardiff how live music is supposed to be done.
The night began at a steady pace, music boomed over the speakers as Clwb began to fill up. The gig had sold out, and as Amyl’s reputation precedes them, I was ready for a jam packed room, a beer fuelled crowd and an electric atmosphere. I was not disappointed.
I arrived ever so slightly late, as usual, just catching the tail end of first support Ratbags’ performance. The anticipation in the air was apparent; although for the moment, it was calm. The atmosphere began to build as the next band Panic Shack appeared on stage. By this point I had weaved my way through the crowd and was lucky enough to get a space near the stage. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Panic Shack, as I had never heard of them before, but they were fantastic.
It was their persona and fun energy from the moment they walked on stage, that caught my attention straight away. They looked almost fresh out of the 80s with their style; mullets and clothing to boot. They really captured my heart and the crowd’s, particularly by how much you could see they were enjoying being there. Similar in sound to Amyl herself, lead singer Sarah threw her lyrics into the crowd with a mixture of blood stirring vocals, and equally passionate spoken lyrics. With a cheeky play on words, including a song about Lambrini – they made me smile, laugh and dance, all whilst being entranced by their performance. Seriously, if you haven’t seen them before please go and check them out.
After Panic Shack had finished their set, I could feel the wave of people that had filled the room close around behind me. The energy was building, people were excited. Panic Shack had got the crowd ready for what was to come. What had felt like a swirling storm of dispersed chaos before, had turned into an excitable, eager crowd, packed together waiting for Amyl to take the stage. I was in the heart of it.
The crowd went wild as Amyl appeared from the side of the stage. In that moment, I’ll be honest I felt a mixture of excitement and nerves, wondering if I’d bitten off more than I could chew being at the front for this one. Amyl greeted the crowd with a girlish charm and politeness, that contrasted spectacularly with her stage presence as soon as the bass kicked in. Amyl is a powerhouse of female sexuality, raw emotion and spirit. The way she grabbed the attention of a room packed with young and aging rockers was mesmerising. I couldn’t help but be in pure awe of her. Is it bad that I couldn’t even tell you what the first song was now? I was just lost in how brilliantly she commanded the room. Everyone went mad for her, from the very second she took hold of that stage floor, the room swirled and sang, the storm was well and truly back, chaos has taken over Clwb. It was incredible to see.
Her rip-roaring vocals on songs such as I’m Not a Loser and Control were heard early on, and I knew the set would not be anything other than a dream. The band worked harmoniously together, I felt as though the other members were as much in awe of her as we were, as she danced and wrapped herself over the stage. There was a sublime sense of madness from not only Amyl but everyone in the crowd. People were taking the stage and surfing throughout the set. No one was told to get down, nothing felt wrong. There were no rules, the band relished it. The admiration from the crowd was incomparable to that of any I have ever seen before. Losing control in the very best way possible myself; I screamed the lyrics of GFY back to her as she flared her smile and drank in the craziness.
The atmosphere never faltered; the sweat, the smiles. People were captivated. Especially in the moments where Amyl would pour herself off the stage, flailing limbs and energy, honestly it was beautiful to behold. Monsoon Rock and I’ve Got You brought us to the climax. Amongst the swirl of the crowd, I found myself having a moment where I stopped and looked around the room, people were thriving in the chaos. This really was live music at its best. As Mutts Can’t be Muzzled closed the show, an Amyl classic, you could see that nobody wanted this night to end. The crowd swarmed to thank her as she left the stage, arms reached desperately out in gratitude. Amyl had scorched their Australian heat over Cardiff on a cold November night, with what was easily the best live performance I have seen.