Sŵn Festival 2015: AfterDark’s 15 acts to watch out for

Published on AfterDark (28 Oct 2015)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge previews this year’s Sŵn Festival (6th – 8th November) and picks his 15 acts to go and see.

Swn cover pic

The venues: Buffalo/Clwb Ifor Bach/Four Bars (Dempseys)/Gwdihw/Ten Feet Tall/Undertone/The Moon Club/The Abacus Rooms

After a brief two-year spell in hibernation and having briefly submerged under the guise of DimSŵn both early this year and last year, the musical behemoth that is Sŵn Festival returns to Cardiff in its original multi-day form. If you don’t currently have anything planned for the weekend between Fri 6th – Sun 8th November, then you may want to put this in your diary.

Right after the clock hand strikes five on Friday, the biggest musical ‘street party’ in Cardiff (co-founded by Huw Stephens and John Rostron) officially gets under way in Abacus and continues all through the weekend. True to form, the line-up this year is a eclectic mix of artists from every conceivable genre, among them a handful of names you’ll likely be hearing more from.

As Swn co-founder John Rostron stated in his previous interview with AfterDark, “We want Swn to be a platform for newer or under-the-radar acts to play to a bigger audience, and to encourage our attendees to discover acts they wouldn’t normally listen to, or be able to easily discover anywhere else. The popularity of an act is very difficult to determine as people’s opinions of how great or established an artist is are extremely varied, and I think that in itself is one of the great things about music.”

With that philosophy in mind, AfterDark’s Dean Hodge has sifted through the Swn playlist of the some of the acts playing this year and compiled ’15’ artists that are likely to be a hit at Swn Festival 2015. Just the matter of condensing into such a number is an audacious task and we’ve likely missed a few good un’s. So read through our handpicked fifteen and judge for yourself how we’ve fared…. Continue reading

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Single review: Mi’das ‘Feels Like Only Yesterday’ – ‘Wistful lyrics are impeccably framed within a stirring minor-key melody’

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge reviews the new single by Mi’das (out now).

MidasChairGoldShadUpIf there was ever a proven formula for how to produce a transcendent three-minute pop tune, then it arguably lies within the combination of melancholic yet cathartic lyrics, a contrastingly uplifting melody, and a voice derived from an old heart and a weary soul that can instantly connect with any listener.

It is a simple yet winning formula which Brighton tunesmith Mi’das has sought to replicate in his own musical craft to successful effect, as he does on his new single Feels Like Only Yesterday.

The title is an apt choice and the wistful, nostalgic lyrics, which reflect on the freedom of youth away from the confines of adulthood, are impeccably framed within a stirring minor-key melody that doffs its cap to the R’n’B and soul sound of the 70’s. The influence of Stevie Wonder is heavily present in the jaunty piano hook and mellifluous vocal turn.

If you listen very closely to the opening few seconds of the track, you can even hear what seems to be the sound of a cassette tape being slotted and tuned in, which adds a suitably sentimental touch to proceedings. It is a track which is heavily indebted to the sounds of the past, and yet still manages to be at once relevant and refreshing. Continue reading

Review: Maddie Jones ‘Colour Me In’ EP – ‘A sonic palette of pristine rock ’n’ roll brushed with Maddie’s distinctly deft touch’

MADDIE JONES 'COLOUR ME IN' EP

Published on AfterDark (14 Oct 2015)

AfterDark’s Dean Hodge reviews the new EP by Maddie Jones (released on 23 Oct 2015).

Tracklisting: Could You Be My Rock ‘n’ Roll/Deadliest Little Fever/Push Back

Mistress-of-all-trades Maddie Jones has firmly asserted herself as the chameleon of the female singer-songwriter scene, with her debut album Vita Brevis an eclectic tapestry of songwriting that weaves in and out of any genre in distance, underpinned by Maddie’s distinct voice.

She remains as reliably unpredictable as ever with the release of her latest EP release Colour Me In, taking her sound down a more electric route with the immaculate melodies of her debut swapped for bruising riffs. Miss Jones’ faultless vocals remain as ever though, as does Charlie Francis (REM, Future of the Left, Sweet Baboo) on production duties. Whatever sound or genre Maddie can be pigeonholed into is essentially up to the listener to decide for themselves, an answer eluded to in the EP’s title and artwork.

The chugging blues-rock riff of Could You Be My Rock ‘n’ Roll gets the ball rolling with Maddie delivering an ultimatum to the listener as well as the lyrical subject of her affections. “I came out with an aching in my chest/I wanna find someone who’s different from the rest”. It’s as effective a call-to-arms to the dancefloor to join Maddie in shaking the dust off and dancing the blues away as any opening lyric. The presence of co-writer and guitarist Matthew Evans from Welsh garage-psych wizards KEYS certainly sprinkles a further dosage of 70’s dust over this four-minute stomper of a track, and you can almost smell the scent of bourbon and leather jackets throughout. Continue reading