Today sees the start of the Green Man Festival in Glanusk Park, Wales. While the location – beautiful though it is, on the edge of the Black Mountains – has never been crucial to the event’s musical pedigree (continued this year by headliners Mogwai, Van Morrison and Feist), let’s take the opportunity of Green Man’s 10th birthday to celebrate Welsh indie’s rude health. Here are six of its best acts. Those seeking more comprehensive coverage of what’s occurring should consult the gently flag-waving blog www.newsoundwales.com.
“Dyma Lythyr” by Huw M
Just let the gorgeous melody and overlapping textures wash over you. Huw M, from Pontypridd, offers wistful psych-folk in a bucolic Sufjan Stevens style on his latest album, Gathering Dusk, and at least a third of the lyrics are in English. The female foil on “Dyma Lythyr” (“Here’s a Letter”) is Bethan Reynolds. Hear more from the album at huwm.bandcamp.com.
“I Wanna Talk to You” by John Cale
The Welsh John Cale is, of course, John Cale. Here, the Velvet Underground veteran aims for “an old-school Detroit vibe” – the soulfully stomping, wah-wah kind – ahead of his new album, October’s intriguingly named Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, which is produced by Danger Mouse. Stream it at soundcloud.com/double-six/john-cale-i-wanna-talk-2-u.
“What Is Worse” by Cate Le Bon
This comes from the album Cyrk II, out next week, billed as the knowing “older sister” to April’s Cyrk (that’s the Polish word for circus, incidentally). Cate Le Bon is regularly likened to Nico, the stern yet sad female voice of The Velvet Underground. This superb track suggests she thought, “If I can’t avoid the comparison, I might as well embrace it”. Take a listen at soundcloud.com/controlgroupco/cate-le-bon-what-is-worse.
“Sun Ease Pain” by Richard James
Richard James was in Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, whose only rival as the definitive Welsh indie band – if the world has need of such a term – is Super Furry Animals. His current album, Pictures in the Morning, finds him in more acoustic form, as here on the raga-ish “Sun Ease Pain”.
“My Year Abroad” by Race Horses
Cardiff’s Race Horses release their new album, Furniture, on August 27. Check out their next single, “My Year Abroad”, at soundcloud.com/racehorsesmusic. Its increasingly fraught electro-pop, sights set on “the sinful lights of Tokyo”, could be ABC’s Martin Fry stumbling into Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. Singer Meilyr Jones is Cate Le Bon’s twin brother.
“Undegpedwar” by Y Niwl
The sound of Dick Dale translated to the Conwy Valley, Y Niwl (The Fog) play surf-rock on original 1960s equipment, apparently. All their tracks are instrumentals so the language barrier doesn’t stand. This, their best known number, can serve as a refresher for their new EP, entitled 4, available now at yniwl.bandcamp.com/releases.