Published on AfterDark (3 Sept 2016) – click here to access article
See all photos by Nick Evans for AfterDark here
Dean Hodge reviews some of the acts from this year’s Green Man Festival held on 18 – 21 August 2016. (Photography by Nick Evans)
Photo: Nick Evans.
Having become anointed with the unique charms of Green Man Festival last year, a return was definitely on the cards for me this year. It is quite clear on my second visit that some things simply don’t change at Green Man 2016 – one of them being the incessant Welsh rain (lots of it) which has seemingly become a permanent staple on the annual line-up. Thankfully, neither has the quality of the music – which this year, like the downward water that falls out of the sky here, is in unlimited supply.
Having finally arrived and set up camp on Thursday – on what is a once-in-a-blue-moon dry day in the Brecon Beacons – I make my way to the front of the Far Out tent, which is probably not the most ideal place for the more passive gig-consumer given that the next band to play are capable of bringing bears out of slumber with their cacophony of noise. Continue reading
Published on AfterDark (14 April 2016) [click here to view]
Dean Hodge reviews some of the acts from this year’s DimSŵn Festival in Cardiff , 9 April. (Photography by Nick Evans)
Anelog, The Moon Club (Photo: Nick Evans)
If its older sibling Sŵn is the headline act of the festival season, then the younger DimSŵn is the inaugural support whetting aural appetites for the soundtrack to our year ahead. With the tenth year of Sŵn approaching, DimSŵn was in some ways a premature nine-and-a-half old birthday celebration – a mere slice of the Sŵn birthday cake full of the rich sonic filling and rare flavours-of-the-month that this defiantly Welsh institution never fails to mix up.
As is often the case at Sŵn, it falls on the slim guitar-adorned shoulders of a singer-songwriter act to open proceedings. So DimSŵn 2016 gets under way in Undertone with Merthyr Tydfil chanteuse Bryony Sier – the first in a line of acts representing the Forte Project stage. She manages to inject a unique edge into the country and folk genre with a voice that sounds more Memphis than Merthyr, and melodies cut straight from the heart. Continue reading
Dean Hodge speaks to Dion Hamer from CaStLeS (Cestyll) – one of this year’s Horizons/Gorwelion 2016 artists.
Members: Dion Hamer, Cynyr Hamer, Calvin Thomas
When listening to garage-psych trio CaStLeS (or Cestyll in Welsh), you only have to close your eyes and you can convince yourself that you’re back in the 60’s again. Their staunchly authentic sound is a kaleidoscopic blend of psych-infused surf-rock and West Coast influenced guitar-pop, filtered through a late 60’s lens.
The North Wales band have been meticulously honing their distinct style while managing to exist fairly underneath the radar for a while now. But while the ‘sound’ is one thing, are the ‘songs’ good enough? Recent singles like PartDepart and Foresteering are strong hints at a band who have belief in their craftsmanship, and are ready to emerge from the shadow.
Dean Hodge spoke to CaStLeS member Dion Hamer about the band being selected for the Horizons/Gorwelion 2016 scheme, their ambitions for the year ahead, and their two upcoming albums. Continue reading
Dean Hodge reviews the new EP by Cardiff band Afro Cluster (released 11 April 2016).
Tracklisting: First Rites/Love Thing/Double Trouble/We Don Land/Access Denied
For their new release, Cardiff funk-revivalists Afro Cluster – one of the Horizons/Gorwelion 2016 artists – have adopted a decidedly more-is-more approach, with their line-up expanding from eight to nine. The phase ‘too many cooks spoil the broth‘ frankly doesn’t apply within this musical kitchen though.
Rather, each individual in the band brings a different set of ingredients that simply accentuates the flavour of the sonic stew of soul, funk and hip-hop that the band serve up . Like a certain Premier League football team from Leicester, they seem to bring out the best in each other, and their approach to their craft is just as full of pace and attack.
We Don Land sees the nu-funk band once again play to their core strength – reviving the preserved back canon of 60’s/70’s funk and soul, while adding a modern sheen with lyrics that are in tune with the issues facing the world today – courtesy of frontman/wordsmith Skunkadelic. If the rest of the band are an engine, then his captivating wordplay is ultimately the steering wheel that gives a direction to their sucker-punch rhythms. Continue reading
Dean Hodge speaks to Alfie Cattell from Anelog – one of this year’s Horizons/Gorwelion 2016 artists.
Members: Danny Cattell (vocals/guitar), Sam Cattell (bass), Alfie Cattell (keyboards/synths), Sion Rogers (drums), Lois Rogers (vocals/synths)
North Wales psych-folk outfit ANELOG is essentially the collaboration between two families – both for whom music runs in their blood and harmonies exude from their soul. The Cattell brothers – Danny on vocals/guitar, Sam on bass and Alfie on keys/synths – make up one half, while Rogers siblings Lois (vocals/synths) and Sion (drums) complete the other.
The sound that arises from this family affair is one that is bathed in roaming folk melodies, psychedelia-tinged hooks and vocals that are almost telepathic in the harmonies they manage to create. When the band manage to make this intoxicating blend work, it really works.
Member Alfie Cattell took time out from one of their rehearsals last month to speak to Dean Hodge – touching on the band being chosen for the Horizons/Gorwelion 2016 scheme, their ambitious plans for their debut album, and the big radio break that marked the formation of the band. Continue reading
Dean Hodge speaks to Iolo Jones, the singer/guitarist for Ysgol Sul – one of this year’s Horizons/Gorwelion artists.
Members: Iolo Jones (vocals/guitar), Cian Owen (bass), Llew Davies (drums)
Llandeilo trio Ysgol Sul’s rapid rise – from Maes B ‘Battle of the Bands’ winners two years ago, to one of this year’s Horizons/Gorwelion artists – is a sharp contrast to their decidedly laid-back, sombre ‘dream-indie’ sound.
The band’s name directly translates from Welsh as ‘Sunday school’. Their music could aptly soundtrack a hazy Sunday afternoon in the dim-lit sunshine retreating from the daily grind of work or from one pint too many the night before. Behind the deceivingly easy-going façade of their music though is a darkly psychedelic edge, lent further mystery by the Welsh-language vocals.
Throw in the jangly guitars of bands like Ride and Cocteau Twins plus the edgy power-pop of The Pixies – and what you get is a sound that offers a sampling of pure escapism bottled into one sonic vial. To find out more about the band, Dean Hodge spoke to singer/guitarist Iolo Jones. Continue reading
Published on AfterDark (17 Nov 2015)
AfterDark’s Dean Hodge reviews the debut album by Brighton artist Oktoba (released on 29 October 2015).
Brighton. A town renowned for its seaside pier, its increasing obsession with artisan coffee shops and its famous house music scene. For all its notable features though, It’s the last place you’d expect to produce a homegrown Americana/folk singer. Yet artist Chris Athorne – better known by his alias Oktoba – is a defiant exception to that logic.
On his debut Smoke Signals – recorded with producer Tim Bidwell at Brighton’s Clockwork Owl Studio – his husky vocal and brittle string melodising are given vast room to roam over a breadth of ten tracks. The titular track and opener Smoke Signals sets the template for what follows in eloquent fashion – lyrics that paint stories of the disillusionment of adulthood and the yearning for true love, soundtracked by plaintive folk melodies and velvet harmonies. From the dreamy optimism of the opening track, to the closing paean to loneliness and the healing power of love on You to Me, the debut is a snapshot of the transition between youth and adulthood that anyone in their mid-twenties or older can relate to. Continue reading