Fatherson – Open Book
Open Book is the second studio release from the energetic Glasgow-based trio Fatherson. Having released their first album back in 2014, this is a strong follow up which shows the band hitting a new level of musical maturity. The album features their last single release Always and the forthcoming Lost Little Boys. Right from the outset the record blends a very distinct mix of melodic choruses, sung in a delightfully light Scottish accent, with medium-heavy guitar riffs. Opening with the anthemic Just Past the Point of Breaking, the song slowly gathers pace with the use of rolling drums framing the lighter verse vocals before smashing into powerful, emotionally charged choruses. The album noticeably slows, allowing the more moody and melancholy vocally dominated songs to shine through.
The notable stand out is the forthcoming single Lost Little Boys. Lyrically, this will resonate with a generation of 20-somethings forging out into a confusing world. The guitar riffs carry the soaring choruses brilliantly, giving a real depth to the song. Something to be listened to loudly on a cliff top!
Fatherson have composed a thoroughly enjoyable album, that more than hints at the future potential of the rising Scottish trio.
Ffug - Ffug
Ffug, formed in school four years ago, consists of singer Iolo Selyf James, Billy Morley (guitar), Henry Jones (bass), and Joey Robbins (drums). This is their second album, but first on Strangetown Records, recorded and produced by Dafydd Ieuan, drummer of Super Furry Animals.
Album opener and new single, Love Is Stupid, features a killer fuzzed guitar riff, pounding drums and driving bass. When the energetic vocal enters, it completes an instant kick in the face. It demands to be listened to. The assault of the riff then makes way for power chords that accompany the chorus, “Love is stupid/So are we”. Love Is Stupid doesn’t contain any overblown solos or bells and whistles - it stays true to itself - all in under two minutes.
Elsewhere, Byth Yn Stopio has a great anthemic quality which constantly wrong-foots the listener. Speedboat Dreaming is awash with hazy loveliness, recalling Pink Floyd. That, sonic, Floyd influence also appears on the second half of album closer Upside Down. It is bathed in phased arpeggios and reverb.
The four piece who, on first inspection, channel the initial movement of American West Coast punk rock. Their shaven headed singer even resembles a young Henry Rollins - in his presence. But this band is more than single genre copyists.
Ffug have created an album which embodies youth - and a message - many older bands struggle to convey. Bilingualism - full of new generation hooks and thought.
Only The Brave, Wales Millennium Centre
Only The Brave is a musical with a difference. Well, three to be exact. It’s the WMC’s first major foray into producing its own shows, a do or die step towards a fully-fledged production company – so there’s a lot riding on it. Secondly, the subject matter of WW2’s D-Day landings and the daring capture of Pegasus Bridge is unorthodox to put it mildly. Again, a bold move. And lastly, it’s inspired by the reallife, and death, experiences of those involved, from recruitment through training to the actual attack, dipping into the supporting roles played by their wives and the French resistance – knowing what you see is not fiction, you can’t help but become wrapped up in the highs and lows of the events depicted. Something which is fully exploited by a well-crafted script, a talented cast and some very moving songs.
Strong characterisation and well-paced, skilful direction get you emotionally engaged quickly. The songs and choreography are rousing, particularly the foot-stomping male ensemble pieces; individual performances, especially those of Emilie Fleming and David Thaxton playing the lead of Major John Howard, are both convincing and note-perfect. The sets are imaginative and atmospheric, particularly in the battle scenes, which capture the confusion and fear of war. It’s thoughtful too, with its darker moments handled with aplomb and a poignant cameo role for a genuine D-Day veteran topping and tailing the show. The result is a powerful, emotional, roller-coaster of a show that succeeds on all levels and bodes very well for WMC’s future.
Big Love Festival, Hay-on-Wye
The product of Cardiff ’s eclectic music scene, Big Love is the glitter soaked house party that you always dreamed of attending. Set in and around the imposing Baskerville Hall (Hay-on-Wye), the Big Love crew transformed the manor house and surrounding grounds into a musical playground for the three-day festival.
In their own words, the festival is ‘fiercely independent’ with none of the corporate branding that has come to be associated with larger music festivals. Many of the stages were run in conjunction with established nights from Cardiff and Bristol’s scene (TEAK, Groove Theory, Blue Honey and Fantazia) allowing musicians passionate about their work to showcase the best they have to offer.
Notable stand outs were the bass-heavy disco soaked vibes of Francis Inferno Disco, provided by Cardiff ’s own TEAK crew, smooth house supplied by the Cardiff duo Bodhi and the all-out party fun of AAA Bad Boy.
Alongside the musical delights, were some of the best independent food stalls Wales has to offer. For a new festival, the team behind Big Love have put together something pretty special. Perfectly showcasing talent, while allowing people to party freely in a beautiful setting.