A year ago, the Horizons Cymru project was launched for the very first time, with twelve homegrown acts chosen for the scheme by a panel of music industry experts.
Horizons/ Gorwelion is a scheme developed by BBC Cymru Wales, in partnership with Arts Council Wales, to promote new, independent contemporary music in Wales, with the main aim of supporting and endorsing emerging Welsh music talent to wider audiences. Last year, a dozen acts – Baby Queens, Candelas, Casi Wyn, Chris Jones, Climbing Trees, Gabrielle Murphy, Houdini Dax, Kizzy Crawford, The People The Poet, Plu, Seazoo and Swnami – were chosen to represent the scheme in its inaugural year, and have seen themselves elevated to new heights of attention and accolades over the eventful eight months since the project began.
As BBC Radio Wales host and Horizons project manager Bethan Elfyn said in her previous interview for AfterDark, “What I hope Horizons has achieved is giving all these artists the extra ambition to carry on and go even further then they would’ve, and in terms of success think more on an international level rather than nationally.”
The scheme has arguably shined a light on the Welsh music scene which has largely been overlooked, and flown the flag for the high quality of Welsh acts. With its mission to promote up-and-coming homegrown artists achieved to a highly respectable degree, Horizons now returns for its second instalment.
The lucky dozen chosen for Horzions 2015 has been announced this week – Aled Rheon, Cold Committee, Cut Ribbons, Dan Bettridge, Delyth McLean, Hannah Grace, HMS Morris, Mellt, Peasant’s King, Violet Skies, Y Reu and Yr Eira all make up the new, highly diverse batch of home-produced talent. AfterDark’s Dean Hodge guides you through the Horizons class of 2015 which you can expect to hear a lot more from over the next twelve months.
Who are they? Bilingual folk singer-songwriter from Cardiff with an eerie transcendent vocal that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and notice, and fuzzy-warm guitar melodies that wash over you like sun-lit rain. Music to wrap yourself in through a cold Welsh winter or reflect a mellow mood on a rare sunny day.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Dyma Fi’n Mynd – Aled’s mystical Welsh-language vocals and finger-plucking finesse call the listener like an echo in the distance, inviting you to delve further.
Who are they? North Wales rock band that churn out sneering vocals, oversexed guitars and swaggering indie riffs handpicked from the cream of 90’s-era Britpop, all delivered with atypical confidence and arrogance that in their case is justified. They can boast previous support slots for the likes of Miles Kane and the now defunct post-Oasis band Beady Eye, and it’s only due time before they become the main attraction.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Masquerade – The title track of their debut EP, an infatuatedly infectious track chock-full of guitar hooks stretched to a total length of five minutes. Best played with speakers turned up to full!
Who are they? A Llanelli-based indie-pop outfit whose seductively joyous harmonies soar above a dense wall of wandering synths and jangling guitars. Their tracks paint uplifting lyrics in yearning sonic landscapes, resulting in rousing anthems that are sure to get crowds on their feet and swaying along.
Dean’s choice of first listen: In The Rain – This track perfectly encapsulates their distinct sound that has captured the ears and hearts of many, with a soaraway melody nicely accompanied by glistening vocals.
Who are they? On paper, another guitar-adorning male singer-songwriter hailing from Ogmore-on-Sea. However, one listen of that husky, bourbon-soaked vocal paints a very different picture. Blue-eyed, Americana-infused soul sang with a Welsh lilt. He sounds like an old soul singer resurrected in the body of a twenty-something Welsh lad.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Third Eye Blind – If there’s any track that comes close to capturing the scent of the mid 60’s era Muscle Shoals sound, this largely achieves that feat. The fact this is produced in Cardiff and the voice is coming from the mouth of a lad from Ogmore is sure to have heads scratching.
Who are they? Already an old favourite of AfterDark, as our review of her debut single Lost in Sound can testify. Possessing a sound that falls between a plethora of genres such as folk and country with such effortless elegancy, Delyth McLean’s warm, honey dipped vocal and magnetic presence sets her apart from her peers. We predicted great things for her in our review and the folks at Horizons clearly agree, enough to include her in their chosen dozen.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Lost in Sound – The track that instantly drew our ears – and our hearts – to the talent of Miss McLean. Her haunting falsetto vocals add an unnerving emotional power to the track.
Who are they? Young Wales/London-based soulstress who combines delicate melodies with a breathtakingly mature, bluesy vocal that is as graceful as her namesake. She released her EP through Gabrielle Aplin’s very own Never Fade Records as well as supporting her on her tour, and she has previously supported Hozier on the European leg of her tour, so many will already be familiar with her. Whether you are or not, you definitely will be soon.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Meant to Be Kind – The titular track of her debut EP rises from a whisper to a roar in the gospel-lite chorus, with Hannah delivering a vocal performance of raw yet effortless beauty.
Who are they? Psychedelia-infused, bilingual indie pop adorned with seductive vocals and reverb-drenched guitars that is menacing and mesmerising in dual measure. On first impression, the Cardiff outfit fall somewhere between sounding like a fuzzier version of Cocteau Twins and a leaner clone of Mazzy Star.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Shipping Forecast – The band sails through a serene sea of hazy guitar riffs and deliciously dark harmonies that instantly halts you in your tracks,
Who are they? A blistering punk rock trio from Aberystwyth, packing pulsating riffs polished with a sunny, melodic glean.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Oer – On first listen showcases a more mellow side to the band’s sound, only for the Aberystwyth lads to crank it up a gear midway through, as they shift between quiet verse/loud chorus with schizophrenic intensity.
Who are they? An outfit originating from Pontypridd and based in Cardiff who perform powerful, gutsy rock anchored in punchy melodies, something that only the green Welsh valleys can seem to produce.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Promised Land – All the elements needed to make an unshakably catchy anthem are condensed into this four-minute slice of bruising riffs, chanting vocals and solid grooves.
Who are they? A singer-songwriter from South Wales who bridges burning folk melodies with mellifluous R’n’B-styled beats, topped off by her polished vocal twang.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Patience – The songstress’ emotive vocal is married gracefully with crisp beats and sweeping strings.
Who are they? Welsh-language Nantlle/Caernarfon-bred band that combine dense beats, dirgy guitars and roaming synths to create a sound destined to ignite rock venues and indie disco dancefloors alike.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Haf – A musical magic carpet ride through irresistible synths and dense grooves, which pauses for breath midway through and soons descends into a frenzy of bludgeoning guitars and wailing vocals.
Who are they? Another Welsh-language band, this time hailing from Bangor, who capture the boredom, frustration and optimism of valley-town youth and condense it all into three to four minutes of pulsating, infuriatingly catchy guitar-pop.
Dean’s choice of first listen: Yr Euog – The band here paint themselves as the leaner, meaner, mischievous younger cousin to Super Furry Animals.