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reviews albums 40 WATT SUN ****

Wider Than The Sky (Radiance) Emerging from the remnants of doom metal outfit Warning, London trio 40 Watt Sun are mainly appreciated by that scene; 2011 album The Inside Room bridged a gap between doom and bands like Low and Red House Painters. Its long-awaited sequel runs with this – Patrick Walker’s guitar chiming rather than thunderous, a majestic foil to his reliably rich vocals. With six songs averaging over 10 minutes, Wider... isn’t an easy listen exactly, but its sonics are both lush and accessible, and could open up a large audience. NG

BLONDE REDHEAD ****

Masculin Feminin (Numero Group) They’ve got that New York cool and parallels with Sonic Youth abound, but where Gordon and co got bigger and bust, Blonde Redhead deftly avoided the dirty linen in public route and kept evolving in the margins. This comp chronicles their earliest forays into musical squall and is a ton of (ominous, anxious, occasionally proggy) fun. Highlights of a collection running to nearly 40 songs include the Le Tigre-stripes of This Is The Number Of Times I Said I Will But Didn’t and Madonna’s cheeky cameo on Woody. Right on! AJ

CAKEHOLE PRESLEY *****

In The Used To Be (Newsoundwales) From beneath the surface of the cosmic universe… comes the latest album from Cardiff’s professional buskers. In The Used To Be serves as a memorial to late Cakehole Presley member Mark Humphries (“the most underrated songwriter in Wales”) with great titles such as Cobbled Streets And Syphilis, and the romantic Gimme A Blanket Sweetheart. Songs are full of wit and poetry; tunes, from the toe-tapping to the soulful, are complemented by Chris Ridgeway’s husky voice. There’s something here for everyone. LN

THE COMPUTERS ****

Birth/Death (One Little Indian) Slick Exeter rockers The Computers are at their bombastic best on Birth/Death. Stylistically, this

is a record that really sees the band push forward from their earlier garage-punk days. They still ooze Brylcreem-cool, but the spikier side to their sound has been filed down by David McEwan’s top-end production and the likes of bouncing soul-pop opener You Want The News... are as reminiscent of Jamie Lidell as they are Rocket From The Crypt. Hooks, style, swagger – The Computers have the lot. HR

CONFORMIST ***

Lifestyle Bible (Consumer Consumer) Local Cardiff producer Conformist returns with a second album of cut-and-paste electronic collages that are spat out with a sneering punk edge. Seamlessly following on from his 2013 debut, this is a chaotic yet coherent sophomore effort that's big on ideas but a little lacking in subtly and poise. There’s an interesting political edge to Lifestyle Bible, which is often missing from this genre, but it’s not exactly an easy listen – which is probably the point. SE

DARKTHRONE ***

Arctic Thunder (Peaceville) Having changed the direction of black metal in the early 90s, or at least had an audible influence on it, Darkthrone have since been content to merely reinvent themselves. Arctic Thunder sounds a bit like the endpoint of the Norwegian duo’s constant absorption of influences: it’s punky, crusty, and nods to various speed metal and swords’n’sorcery epic metal types from 30-35 years ago. As such, if this ended up being their last album it’d be kinda fitting, but there’s otherwise no reason why it should be. NG

THE DOUBLECROSS *****

Keep Bleeding (Boss Tuneage) Fancy a trip back to when punk was fresh and sharp? Then Keep Bleeding, the latest offering from Cardiff band The Doublecross, is your ticket. Reminiscent of The Clash, Buzzcocks and other more melodic bands of the early punk era, this album has a comfortable familiarity, Jon Greenwood’s gruff, nasally vocals blending well with head-swaying tunes. Stand out tracks are the anthemic My Only Friends Are Chemicals and Bad Dreams. This is punk easy listening at its best. LN

Once in a blue moon an album comes along that grabs you on the first playing and Feeder’s All Bright Electric is one such album. Light riffs lead to heavy basslines that blend seamlessly into soft piano and back again, while Grant Nicholas’ smooth vocals lull the listener into a true sense of security. {Infrared-Ultraviolet is more Coldplay than Nirvana, {Geezer} and {Divide The Minority} have serious psychedelic undertones but the Welsh-Japanese combo pull it off, effortlessly. LN

reference will die quickly here: from Hanna-Barbera to (natch) Ulrike Meinhof, Luke Haines piles them on so thickly on Smash The System it's either ritual summoning or descent into senility. Great songs though: from the twitchy glam rackets of Power Of The Witch and Black Bunny to eerie childhood vignettes like Bomber Jacket it’s lean, purposeful, golden period stuff. You’d think the old fucker was happy or something. WS

THE GENTLE GOOD ****

MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD ****

FEEDER *****

All Bright Electric (Cooking Vinyl)

Ruins/Adfeilion (Bubblewrap) The Gentle Good, aka Gareth Bonello, has, over three previous albums, become a well-known and much loved artist in his hometown, Cardiff, and beyond. His fourth is as graceful and delicately performed a folk record as you’ll hear. Bonello’s songwriting is splendid, in particular Bound For Lampedusa, its breezily upbeat delivery belying its subject-matter, the plight of refugees from north Africa. A cast of local talent add brass, strings, backing vocals, which elevate Ruins/Adfeilion and bring Bonello’s tales to life. HR

HOW TO DRESS WELL ****

THE NOTWIST ****

Superheroes, Ghostvillains + Stuff (Alien Transistor)

This represents the culmination of Tom Krell’s journey from lo-fi blog beginnings to the sleekly produced electronic pop that has defined his more recent output. Crooning with conviction on lead single Lost Youth / Lost You and the playfully spry Anxious, the Chicago-based artist’s soulful vocal range is in ascendance on Care. Lingering soft piano moments hint at the docility of previous efforts on an album that affirms itself as a consistent and holistic addition to his canon of material. CHP

This indie sextet from Germany approach the genre with a thoroughly open mind. Their mammoth new album is teeming with different influences and sounds. Leaning on electronica, jazz, rock, pop and just general experimental noise, each track can be a wildly different experience from the next. This could be seen as a negative but it’s rather more a thrilling adventure that seems fairly well set out. Pretension? Sure... just a little, but nevertheless a very interesting band. CPI

KAISER CHIEFS ***

Stay Together (Fiction) On the back of a flat out summer of touring the world, Kaisers album number six is ready to hit the charts. The born and bred Yorkshire lads release what is described as their “relationship album”; first release Parachute is a bit off-track in a very ‘un-trademark Kaiser Chiefs’ way, but new single Hole In My Soul gets the direction back on point. Collaborations with MNEK and Wayne Hector bolster some new sounds, while Ricky Wilson’s vocals are still recognisable throughout. OS

LUKE HAINES *****

Smash The System (Cherry Red) Anyone downing a shot for every 70s cultural

THE BUNKER ***

Wales Interactive, PS4, Xbox One, PC “What year is it?!" I hear myself screaming as I play this full motion video (FMV) horror game. Not really because of its plot, where the player is the last survivor of a nuclear attack on England, but because I haven’t played any FMVs since the late 90s. The acting is very professional, creating a genuinely spooky atmosphere at parts with an interesting plot. However, it’s a little too short and the style doesn’t really translate into the modern era. Still, a bold effort and good fun. LOB

Konami, PS4, Xbox One, PC Looks like it’s time once again for the annual FIFA and PES rivalry. PES 2017 is on form, and builds upon last year’s remarkable PES 2016 with an improved attention to detail. The clubs seem to have different playing styles, but players’ individuality has also been enhanced making this one of the most immersive football games in years. With improved defensive AI and goalies, the game forces you to create new strategies to win making it a very rewarding experience. It plays well online too. LOB

BUZZ 46

When these Wrexhamites dropped their anvil-onJupiter debut album Noeth Ac Anoeth last year, they could glibly be pegged as a Welsh answer to Sleep – 30-minute songs of elephantine doom riffs and that – but this follow-up moves the goalposts again. The production is even more crushing, the FX more psychedelic, and Jessica Ball’s vocals are more ethereally shoegazed-out. Imagine the nexus of Acid King, Floor and My Bloody Valentine, and don’t be put off by the self-parodic stoner name. NG

Care (Weird World)

GAMES REVIEWS

PRO EVOLUTION SOCCER 2017 ****

Y Proffwyd Dwyll (New Heavy Sounds)

PANGAEA ****

In Drum Play (Hessle Audio) Head Hessle honcho Pangaea finally gets around to dropping a debut album and it has been worth the wait. Releasing singles and EPs since 2007, In Drum Play takes in everything Hessle Audio stands for, with 50 minutes of weirdo techno, electronic exploration and bass blowouts. This is an album that fidgets and fizzes with energy, that clearly knows its onions and bangs when it wants to. The warped funk of closer DNS is the highlight of a LP of many. SE

PIXIES ***

Head Carrier (Pixies Music) The latest album by revived Boston four-piece Pixies is their first with new bassist Paz Lenchantin, whose musical and vocal ability is truly showcased in the withdrawn, contemplative All I Think About Now. This is not to say the band have stepped away from the sound that originally defined them, yet a subtle and more melodic Pixies is trying to raise its voice. It is this ability to ricochet between heavy and soft, and chaotic and calm, that ever-enhances their allure. FC

SERA ***

Little Girl (Folkstock) Caernarfon-born singersongwriter Sera Louise Owen flies the flag for Gogledd Cymru here; a real weaving Americana styled story teller. The folk/country artist has garnered a good following with familiar song Melody featuring in TV’s Stella and numerous ad campaigns. New tracks Carry Me and Storm

Buzz October 2016  

It's time for our annual arts special, and this month we round up the best of what's on in the Welsh arts scene throughout October. With Car...