When a band generates a buzz of the level that’s surrounded Estrons for a while now, it’s quite easy to get distracted and start celebrating that, rather than the band themselves. Sometimes it can be necessary to take a step back, listen to the music rather than the hype, and remember what matters – that they just write damn good songs.
Cold Wash is the b-side to recent single Glasgow Kisses, and showcases exactly what it is that makes this bunch of former ‘strangers’ stand out from all the rest. Direct and passionate, the track captures the band’s untameable energy and autonomous spirit; that’s why I listen to them, not the amount of magazine coverage they get. And not that their being from Cardiff matters all that much, but it’s great to remember how damn lucky I am to have bands so important that I can consider local.
Speaking of which, if you’re around this area you can catch Estrons at their live best next month, as they play a hometown show with CHROMA and Palomino Party at Clwb Ifor Bach on December 9th.
As you may, or may not be aware, over the past few weeks the creator of Cardiff’s favourite live music podcast has been sharing drawings of the city’s venues. These images combined will form a comprehensive map, highlighting the wealth and diversity of spaces we have here to support artists, all the way from their very first shows to the 75,000-seat stadium. Thursday night (November 2nd) sees its official launch at Clwb Ifor Bach, a venue that has sat at the heart of our music scene for more than thirty years, and recently had to be defended from the ever-looming eye of developers.
In swift response to this threat a campaign was launched to ‘Save Womanby Street’, the tiny pedestrianised strip of Cardiff’s city centre where Clwb is situated – home to an extraordinary number, for its size, of the places to be featured on Minty’s map. One Saturday afternoon in April, somewhere just shy of 2000 people gathered here and marched on city hall in protest against the application to build flats right against the side of the iconic building. With the backing of many local MPs and councillors, the campaign showed signs of real impact within weeks as Wales’ Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs announced her intention to amend current planning policy with explicit reference to the agent of change principle, and to allow for the designation of areas of cultural significance. Before the end of the summer this had been debated in the Welsh Assembly and unanimously agreed upon. Over the months that followed all appeared to quieten, when out the blue it emerged that the plans for development had been withdrawn, with no reason given; quickly Cardiff Council purchased the land, to not only prevent future threats but also with the aim of expanding the venue.
Now it’s time to celebrate our success, and how better to do so than with a beautiful and informative guide to everywhere Cardiff has to offer to live music fans! Oh of course, and a big party featuring performances from alt-rock live wires CHROMA and hip-hop violinist Mike Dennis, as well as a secret, to-be-announced-on-the-day headliner. Alongside these will be guest speakers in the form of Save Womanby Street founder Ewan Moor; one of the campaign’s earliest supporters, Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens; national Music Venues Trust representative Jon Fox and Adrian Palmer from For Cardiff. Full details of the event can be found over on facebook, and just in case you want a quick reminder why these, and other grassroots venues need so desperately to be protected:
Listen to the new tune from False Advertising a few times and it’ll be buzzing ’round your head like – well, incidentally, with a similar momentum to three people racing bicycles ’round the city. Which fittingly enough is exactly what the video for Hey You depicts, as the band escape the daily grind to battle it out on Mobikes.
The song, which highlights a slightly more mellow but intensely catchy side to the band’s lively grunge-pop, features as the opening track on their new EP. I Would Be So Much Happier If I Just Stopped Caring was released yesterday and includes recent singles Not My Fault, It’s Been A While (So Sick) and Honest, alongside new song I Think I Got My Wish.
I have to confess, by the time Wylderness got around to releasing their debut single, I was concerned it might be a little late in the year for a song titled 72 & Sunny. However while the temperature might not be quite there, October is proving today that it can still be pretty bright!
The name may be very slightly misleading anyway – while there’s no denying the prominence of hazy vocals and washed-out guitar, there’s also an underlying element of the garage rock of (previous project featuring most members of this band) KUTOSIS. This added bite actually asserts the track as fairly fitting for a crisp-but-clear autumn afternoon.
It’s not uncommon for bands that have built up their reputation through playing live for the same energy to transfer to their records; but with White Room it’s that little bit more, a glorious enthusiasm that permeates everything they do. Cable-Built Dreamland, despite actually being a critique on society’s infatuation with our own online appearances, bounces and glides along with all the enjoyment that it fears people are missing out on by not spending enough time in reality.
Self described as ‘sky-gaze’, the band mesh the most colourful traits of psychedelia into perfect indie-disco pop songs. With double-EP Eight on its way and a near-endless touring schedule, this writer recommends you get off your phone and immerse yourself in one of their gigs asap.
While the whole slacker vibe is a definite part of Black Surf, Oh Weird just sounds laaaaazy. Not in a bad, can’t-be-bothered way; more in a Tuesday-morning-off-work, no-need-to-get-up-quickly way. Which may explain why it’s taken me until the evening to get around to writing this. After the first verse, an arm attempts to extricate itself, but winds up straight back under the duvet. By about halfway through the track has picked up vigour enough to roll over and switch on the bedside lamp. After a brief slump then, we find we’re finally crawling out of bed; suddenly our feet hit the floor, the song over and our day begun. Oh Weird is currently available for free (well y’know, in exchange for your email address, natch) from the band’s website, which also features a countdown clock to… well, you’ll just have to follow and see!
One day, I will get round to learning Welsh. In the meantime though, I just have to be grateful that Ysgol Sul have dumbed things down for the sake of monoglots like myself; the songs on their new EP are written in the English language. Due for release on September 30th, Eventide is characterised by a subtle capriciousness, that draws on and accentuates the most whimsical elements of classic indie.
Elsewhere acts as an anchor in the middle of this release, and is the obvious choice for a single, its gentle but propulsive rhythm driving the song decisively beneath hazy guitars and languid vocals. The rest of the EP floats around this point somewhat formlessly, fluctuating gradually so as to avoid jarring its listener from the lulling state that these songs evoke. Perfectly timed as autumn draws in, there’s an erratic element here that’s just a bit too unexpected for a summer daze, and a slight sullenness to the vocal that suits the fall of the year.