Picking up their pace in terms of releases, Silent Forum shared their second single within as many months. Darkly fretful, Trust is held back from outright despair by its jaunty guitar melody, a delicate balance that sounds much more contained on record than their visceral live shows. Speaking of such, they don’t have any gigs lined up at the moment that I know of, though I did hear a rumour that plans of one with surf-punk wunderkinds HODAD could be in the works…
If you live around Cardiff, then you know My Name Is Ian for one song; and if you don’t, well then you probably haven’t heard of them at all. I’d say that new album Cincinnati Cola is about to change all that, but if that’s what the band were aiming for, they’d’ve made something a lot less… well, odd. From orchestral/electronic/spoken-word-sounds-like-a-film-quote opener Spring Grove Cemetery, it’s clear this record isn’t meant to be accessible, at least not in any mainstream sense of the word.
That’s not to say that these songs aren’t catchy – in fact, some of the more pop-orientated tracks among the collection are instantly recognisable if you’ve seen the band live recently, Shangri-La And Paradise and lead single Fight, Drink And Watch People Die On TV are two that particularly spring to mind as having been in their set for a while. Once upon a time, great pop music was recognised by earworm songs rather than autotuned vocals and the ‘right image’ – any argument in favour of these songs being considered such though is scuppered anyway by lyrics often constructed of nonsense rhyme. Then take into account that even around the sing-a-longs, the rest of this album is mind-bogglingly strange – as you’re ultimately reminded by final track Merlot Ego (If I Was A Gentoo Penguin, I Would Find You The Smoothest Pebble) ending on two-and-a-half minutes of nothing but erratic bleeps and blips.
But that’s the fun of it, being a fan of My Name Is Ian is almost a cult wherein once you can sing along to In The Best Case Scenario We’d Die At The Same Time (from their previous album), it feels like you’re ‘in’. Saying that, I wouldn’t be surprised if Fight, Drink… becomes the new festival anthem; you can check out the What’s My Age Again-inspired video for that one below. Oh, and if you do live in Cardiff, keep an eye on where they are at the end – working out the punchline before the camera pans up makes it even funnier. Back to the record – Cincinnati Cola is out now via Bubblewrap Records, available digitally by itself or as part of a t-shirt/download/artwork bundle from the label’s website.
They’ve been quiet (in terms of releases at least) since their self-titled debut album late in 2015, but Cardiff’s most entrancing live band return now with a double A-side single. Chain Of Flowers’ Let Your Light In/Flesh, Blood And Bone will out next month, June 16th to be specific, again via Alter and the first of the two tracks is online to listen to already.
Cardiff’s live music scene is, without a doubt, blooming. The fairly recent addition of Tramshed brought the mid-sized venue which the city had been crying out for, completing the set so to speak. However the true wealth of this city (for music fans, at least) lies a 10-15 minute walk from there – a few metres of mostly-pedestrianised road (artists loading in and out are the only vehicular traffic) sandwiched between the giant Principality (formerly Millennium) Stadium, and the mainstream nightlife of St. Mary Street. Home to multiple grassroots venues including Clwb Ifor Bach, a 30-year-old, three-floor wonderland of bands and DJs; as well as pubs and even a vintage market which are often used as pop-up stages during the many festivals that take place along there, Womanby Street is the hub of live music in the Welsh capital.
In the past few months though this area has come under attack – first from Brains, the Welsh mega-brewery which has claimed back The Moon Club to be converted to a jazz and blues bar, and Dempsey’s (including upstairs live room Four Bars) which will be turned into a Gareth Bale-sponsored sports bar. On top of these blows, Wetherspoon have announced that The Gatekeeper, a strange anomaly on the otherwise locally-owned street plan to add hotel rooms above their current pub. Whilst on the surface this may seem to be a harmless development considering that it won’t directly affect any of the other properties, it is important to consider why this enclave has flourished in the way it has. A big contribution to Womanby Street’s success has to be its location – in the centre of town, the lack of residences nearby avoid noise complaints from loud music or late-night revellers meandering between the clubs. Taking this into account, the concern about having a hotel there is apparent – who will become responsible for ensuring these guests’ peaceful sleep? After only saving Le Pub in next door Newport by some determined fundraising to pay for soundproofing after such complaints almost saw them closed down a couple of years ago, the South Wales music scene is all too aware of the risks such venues face.
The first step to counter this new threat was a petition against Wetherspoon’s development, signed by thousands of people including musicians such as Frank Turner. If you would like to add your own name to that list, you can find it here. A much more active stance however is being taken by a campaign group working to protect the area by law, as a cultural night time economy. This includes encouraging the Welsh Assembly to see the agent of change principle adopted, which simply means that it would be up to the developers of the hotel to ensure they protect against existing noise from the street, therefore taking responsibility for preventing complaints away from the venues. In this scenario, Wetherspoon could carry out its plans without putting Cardiff’s live music scene in danger; let’s just hope that this street can be recognised for its cultural value, not just development potential.
Following their initial demo just over a year ago, DISJOY have been quiet on the release front but return at last with Divided. It is apparently the precursor to a “full record” but what form this will take and when it will be out, there is no indication of yet other than “soon”. So for now just appreciate this song and keep your eyes peeled for more info.
I walk to the door of the pub, get ID’d. Show my wristband, the festival is over 18s only, that has to be quicker than digging around to find any actual identification on this rainy late October night. The security guard realises what I’m looking for and points me to a different door, up the stairs he says, that’s where the bands are. I’ve lost count already of how many acts I’ve seen tonight, but the first in this particular venue; I follow his instructions round the corner and finally inside, up to the live room. As I gingerly push open the door to a fairly crowded space, I’m hit by a wall of heat and sound, the music has already started and reverb hits me physically before I have time to scrabble for my earplugs. When next I see Chain Of Flowers (which is to happen innumerable times over the coming years) I’ll be more prepared; for now I take a deep breath and push my way through the audience to get a better view.
This moment came to be the most lasting memory of my inaugural venture to Sŵn festival back in 2013. Something about the contrast of unavoidably disgusting late October Welsh weather against the bright room packed with warm bodies and noise more alluring that I’d known existed in the city a month previously, sum up the reason I’ve been to every weekender and one-day DimSŵn event since. Tomorrow sees the festival begin to celebrate its 10th year with Crows, Pumarosa, Sandinistas and Estrons (last minute stand-ins for Sprink King) and Meilyr Jones in Tramshed before expanding to a dozen venues for the rest of the weekend. As usual my schedule is jam-packed with options that I’m just going to have to choose between based on my mood at the time, but here are a few acts that I’ll definitely (hopefully!) not be missing:
Soul Structure – 2:45-3:15 Fuel
Lovers Open Fire – 3:15-4:00 The Big Top
Superglu – 4:30-5:15 Four Bars
FALLS – 4:45-5:30 The Big Top
Bryde – 5:45-6:30 Clwb Ifor Bach (downstairs)
Silent Forum – 6:15-7:00 The Big Top
Estrons – 6:45-7:30 The Moon Club
Broken Hands – 8:00-8:45 Clwb Ifor Bach (upstairs)
Sports Team – 9:15-10:00 Four Bars
McClusky* – 9:45-10:30 The Moon Club
Tibet – 11:00-11:30 O’Neills
Shame – 1:30-2:00 Clwb Ifor Bach (upstairs)
Adverse Camber – 2:00-2:30 O’Neills
Wolf Girl – 3:30-4:00 The Moon Club
Fehm – 5:15-5:45 Fuel
Bad Breeding 6:15-7:00 Gwdihŵ
Dingus Khan – 7:45-8:30 Gwdihŵ
Dream Wife – 9:45-10:30 Clwb Ifor Bach (downstairs)
My Name Is Ian – 11:00-11:45 Four Bars
Below you’ll find a playlist of as many of these acts as I was able to locate on soundcloud, the others I guess you’ll just have to check out on faith. Or maybe don’t, as you can find the full schedule here and loads more info over at Sŵn’s website to help you make your own decisions who to see.
If you’re not sure yet whether this festival will be worth your time, just think about how much you like music. (If you don’t I have to question why you’re even reading this, unless you’re my little sister, in which case thanks for the support Jojo!). If it’s death metal or acid house that you’re into then there are other events throughout the yeah which cater to those, maybe not so much this one. However if alt folk/weird pop/indie rock and post-punk interest you, it’s definitely worth popping along to wander between venues and stumble across your new favourite artist. Whether it’s a local band who’ve been under your nose all along and you just didn’t know where to look, or an obscure act from some far-flung corner of the UK who you’d likely never have had a chance to hear otherwise, there will be someone who you end up begging Sŵn to bring back next year. And even if that doesn’t work, you’ll be there again anyway to find yet more new music to fall in love with, because you know it will happen, it always does.