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:
An adjective or phrase expressing a quality or attribute regarded as characteristic of the person or thing mentioned; e.g. “Britain; home of the ignorant, arrogant, and scared”.
Alright, so that last bit is the final lyric of Let, one of two new Cassels songs shared alongside the announcement of their debut album. The first part of that duo, Coup, is an angry beast rallying against pre-Brexit apathy; calling for us to be more aware of the state of the world before it’s too late. Its counterpart grew from a rant written the day after those results; and starts vitriolic, then abating some as it sinks into despair.
Twin lyric videos adhere to the band’s DIY motif, as the pair flick food colouring at each other atop an urban roof terrace. The two songs will be included on forthcoming record Epithet, released October 6th via Big Scary Monsters. Alongside a couple launch shows around this date, Cassels have been added as UK support for Single Mothers’ tour the following month, which includes a Cardiff show at Clwb Ifor Bach on November 23rd*.
*That date may or may not be the author’s birthday. She may or may not have danced around her house for a full ten minutes following the announcement. If you’re going to the gig, feel free to buy her a drink! ;p
Estrons continue to blaze brightly, tearing their way vividly as always through new single Strobe Lights. The video was filmed at their local rehearsal space with help from a few friends, so if you know Cardiff’s music scene pretty well then look out for some familiar faces (and the ever-recognisable My Name Is Ian shirt). The band will be on tour through autumn, including a set as part of Hoyfest at Cardiff’s The Gate theatre on September 30th.
I’m generally averse to hype bands – if too many people are raving about an artist, they tend to turn out not to be worth my time. Now, call me a hipster if you like, but the truth is that niche music is more interesting and anything that’s accessible enough for all the new music places to love equally, probably isn’t. Occasionally though, something comes along that everyone is talking about just because it’s impossible to ignore. That was Kamikaze Girls‘ Sad EP last year, which as the title suggests, tackles mental health difficulties head on. Now they’re back with debut full length Seafoam , which expands to face a more general disillusionment with being a young person in this modern world, particularly highlighted in the video for Deathcap. While personal factors have contributed to the mood of this album (opener One Young Man is based on real events), it’s the general attitude of just having had enough with the way things are that gives a sense of relatability, and the reason everyone is listening to them. The album is out now via Big Scary Monsters, and the band are on tour next week, including Buffalo in Cardiff on June 29th for DIY Cardiff.
So I don’t know who Himalayas new single is about or what they’ve done, but I’m pretty sure from this Clockwork Orange-inspired video that I’m glad I’m not them too! Thank God I’m Not You is out now, though the official launch show for it isn’t until June 8th in Clwb Ifor Bach.
One of Cardiff’s newest bands making waves already, Silent Forum formed from the ashes of something very different to grab everyone’s attention with debut EP Brief Collapses. Moving on from that though, Limbo is the latest single from the band, with a follow up promised next month. They also play a co-headline show with Mt. Doubt on June 6th, at Gwdihŵ in Cardiff, so get along to that if you’re local.