Why Welsh Language Music will be your new obsession in 2018

I understand that, probably, the vast majority of the British public have never heard a song in the Welsh language before. They are probably unaware of the existence of a ‘Welsh Language Music Scene’, and how one might be able to function. But, I strongly believe that this scene, even though it lives and breathes through the medium of a language that is alien to most of this blog’s readership, might be of definite interest, especially in 2018. If you are willing to allow me to give a brief historical prelude, you might find a gem that will impress  even your indie-est friends…

Since the latter part of the sixties, there has been a constant network of bands, labels, gig venues and publications that align themselves with different forms of the arbitrary term ‘Sîn Roc Gymraeg’ (Welsh Language Music Scene) that basically encompasses all popular music that is sung in Welsh. Being heavily influenced by the sounds of the Anglo-American culture (apart from some folk-crossover bands that owe the Welsh traditional culture as well), it might seem inconceivable for non-Welsh speakers to understand that it has always been considered as a universe of culture within itself.

Treating the scene as a separate ‘universe’ of culture might make it easier to explain the extreme musical changes that it has undergone over those fifty years. Loosely connected to musical trends of the rest of the world, such as the Folk Revival, Punk, Reggae and Hip Hop, many artists over the years have attempted to change our perception of the scene and its image and values.

 And now in 2018 we find a growing sense of confidence in the scene. Over the past few years, a wave of guitar-driven artists, such as Sŵnami, Yr Eira and Yws Gwynedd have created a new musical ‘mainstream’ that has gathered a relatively large following. The latter, for example, has been streamed for over one million minutes on Spotify last year, which, in context, is quite a feat. However, many questions were asked about the lack of diversity in terms of gender, genre and personnel of these bands, and 2017 became the year of a new alternative. Led by the desire of Carmarthen-based label Libertino, that spawned a number of exciting bands from that area, as well as other labels such as JigCal, veterans Cae Gwyn and Neb, 2017 saw the formation of an exciting plurality and variety in the scene that would sonically please music fans from across the world.

This is why I have prepared an easy ‘If You Like this.. Try this’ list for you newbies. With streaming being so easy nowadays, there are no excuses for not dipping your feet in what will become your favourite hipster obsession of the year.

IF YOU LIKE…

The rifftastic sparkly indie pop of Two Door Cinema Club, Courteeners and The Wombats

TRY…

Sŵnami, Yws Gwynedd

IF YOU LIKE…

The cheeky college-boy charm of The Night Café and Peace

TRY

Yr Eira, Ffracas

IF YOU LIKE

The exciting attitudes of St Vincent, The Big Moon and Peaness

TRY

Adwaith, Cadno

IF YOU LIKE

The loose slacker-rock rhythms of Mac DeMarco and Carseat Headrest

TRY

Los Blancos, Hyll, Papur Wal.

IF YOU LIKE

Melodically Intergalactic Space-Pop

TRY

Omaloma, Serol Serol, Pys Melyn

IF YOU LIKE

The indie disco anthems of The Libertines and The Killers

TRY

Y Cledrau

AND ON ANOTHER NOTE

 If you only take one thing from this article… Subscribe to Ffarout’s channel on YouTube, for an amazing variety of some of the most innovative music to come from the Welsh Language music scene from across the decades.

Words by Gethin Griffiths @sonamsinblog.

Photo by Nadine Ballantyne.

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