Attention! PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL GIG PROMOTERS. There. It’s said often, but occasionally needs restating in light of people (OK, us included) bringing exciting and different live music to Cardiff on a tight budget, working hard to attract live music fans along, and getting attendances of 25 or under. There are many exceptions to this – it’s been heartening to see sell-out crowds for the likes of Warpaint and the first week take-up for Swn weekend tickets is highly encouraging – but for each success there are a handful of gigs which deserve so much better. July’s a relatively quiet month across the region, dominated by smaller shows, so how about chancing your arm on a few more of them – a fiver spent on the last Joy Collective or Balloon gigs would have bought you roughly one and a half plastic bottles of Fosters at last night’s excellent Battles show, so it’s not too much to ask. Right? RIGHT.
OK, so what’s out there this month? Plenty, that’s what. You just have to look for it – there will doubtless be more than this lot to seek out over the next 31 days, but see this as a sampler. First up, a few to check out early doors. Swn wind down from four busy shows in a week with a Cardiff debut for AUSTRA (Undertone, 1st), whose beautifully poised, gloomy electronic goth-pop houses the imposing talents of Katie Stelmanis within more conventional songwriting than her earlier solo work would suggest. Highly recommended. Similar delicate, ornate charms abound elsewhere, with the rustic, minimalist folk of Geographic label man DIRECTORSOUND (Cafe Kino, 1st, with Headfall) and a promising-sounding blur of improv folk and electronica from SANDRO PERRI of Polmo Polpo (Cube, 5th). Our own SWEET BABOO takes his recent EP for a walk at two sold-out shows at The Pot (June 30th & July 1st) and another at the Old Library (2nd), improvising around the full-band sound of the EP with unamplified acoustic versions, and Gathered In Song bring more country/folk/Americana gems to Le Pub (1st, FREE SHOW) with DEAD ROCK WEST, recent collaborators with The Jayhawks and X, up top.
Speaking of tireless local promoters, here’s your next Joy Collective presentation, again beaten into shape by a trustworthy grown up (genuine dude Noel at Lesson No. 1). This time we offer harsh, mechanical no-wave and shiny metallic future-pop from Brighton’s COLD PUMAS, DIY dreampop and scrappy shoegaze from Calgary’s FRIENDO and treacly post-hardcore, pre-grunge moves from local faves SATURDAY’S KIDS. Turn up at Buffalo on the 8th and be dazzled, please. Ensure your continued radness by reserving further cash for Lesson No. 1’s other July show, a return visit for nutso Californian tribal cult/drum circle/public nudity genii FOOT VILLAGE (Undertone, 18th). Their last Cardiff show clashed with every gig ever, so it’d be nice if the crowd outweighed the band this time. Sweet supporting bill too (YAJE and more), and us Joy clots will DJ. More weird and wonderful sounds come from future Joy collaborators Rusty Trombone Of God, who bring Part Wild Horses Mane On Both Sides back to Cardiff in the guise of two side projects (Dempseys, 21st); percussion and vocal manipulation from HARD PAN TRIO and improv flute workouts from BELIED GUNAIKO. Chris Eynon, latterly performing bewitching solo improv/loop stuff as THE SPINES, curates and appears on a nifty bill with always great math-rock power duo ZAIL headlining (Undertone, 27th), and the dudes from SMILER (promoting as All I Wanted Was A Pepsi, check ’em) play with Cornwall thrashers RASH DECISION, Ed Wood and Witch Cult at the Gower (11th). Most of all, please dig deep for the second annual Headway charity alldayer (Clwb, 31st) featuring GENTLE GOOD, GINDRINKER, RATATOSK and many more. Support these fine people, hear?
More Cardiff treats! Top draw among the handful of larger shows this month is an unexpected and very welcome appearance from TOM TOM CLUB (Solus, 14th). Now each 60 years of age, Frantz & Weymouth haven’t released a record as TTC since 2000 but their early ’80s recordings still retain freshness and influence. Particularly ‘Genius Of Love’, sampled by the world and his wife over the years – including star of the successful Friday franchise and occasional rapper ICE CUBE, who rolls back the years at the very same venue on the 11th. Coincidence? Yes. Keep your eyes off the waistlines and your cynicism in check and both should be good fun. As should EVAN DANDO (Globe, 6th), shambling back into view a mere eight years after a cracking run-through of his back catalogue at Clwb. Young shavers doing the rounds include highly-rated Canadian popsters BRAIDS, cooing and scratching, agitated and restrained and very interesting indeed (Clwb, 12th) and lovable ADHD scamps LET’S WRESTLE (Buffalo Lounge, 15th – free show, albeit spoiled by Joy DJs). ELECTRICITY IN OUR HOMES (Undertone, 29th) should be approached with caution – looking like a fancy-dress Throbbing Gristle and with a wincingly by-numbers press release – but their angular racket should go over pretty well live, and the very fine MARS TO STAY unspool warm improv loveliness in support.
Elsewhere, there’s lovely sun-dappled lo-fi dreampop from CANDY CLAWS (Buffalo, 20th), ebbing beats and found-sound glitches from SEAMS (10 Feet Tall, 20th) and FlyLo-esque synth & percussion mutations from MY PANDA SHALL FLY (10 Feet Tall, 6th). Signature have a busy month, promoting a solo show from Sbtrkt vocalist SAMPHA (Buffalo, 7th), DEADBOY (Buffalo, 28th) and a live double bill of ROCKETNUMBERNINE and ZWOLF (Buffalo, 21st). ROSKA and BOK BOK appear for CYNT (Clwb, 29th) too. Out on the margins a little, there’s some interesting stuff happening in classy places; PENGUIN CAFE play the beautifully-upholstered new RWCMD hall (29th) and Chapter host a performance from female vocal group VOIX POLYPHONIQUE at Llandaff Cathedral (19th). Get some culture, you shapeless mob. Speaking of classy chaps, SPENCER McGARRY SEASON debut material from Episode 3 at a rearranged 10 Feet Tall show with BAREFOOT DANCE OF THE SEA (19th); it’s free entry too, as are the intimate Old Library sessions with RICHARD JAMES (9th) and THE GENTLE GOOD (16th).
Is Bristol on holiday this month, or are they just being secretive? Seems unusually quiet, but there’s still some good tackle. Post-rock/electro-noise japesters TRANS AM, whose keyboard player I once witnessed spend an entire song eating a pizza, are a guaranteed hit (Fleece, 11th); VIVIAN GIRLS return, benefitting from quietened press chatter, with a smart new album and call at the Fleece too (20th); hyperactive Joy Collective pals DD/MM/YYYY bring dayglo clatter (Croft, 18th); wondrous ‘lost’ folkie KATH BLOOM, subject of a fine retrospective/all-star cover album recently, appears in suitably intimate surroundings (Cube, 28th); mighty balls-out sludge-rock types HEY COLOSSUS trail their top new album (Louisiana, 10th); and the sweet, echoey culture-clash rhythms of Anglo-Kenyan collective OWINY SIGOMA BAND are also highly recommended (Croft, 14th). Them’s the highpoints, but there’s plenty more to check too, be it the accessible 90s-tinged house/techno/d’n’b fun of FALTY DL (Start The Bus, 16th, with excellent kindred spirit LONE), spartan, ghostly echobeats from NOSAJ THING (Start The Bus, 8th), inimitable reggae legend HORACE ANDY (02 Academy, 9th), Ninja Tune’s cut & paste originals DJ FOOD & DK (Croft, 9th), a quick return for doomy thrashers BLACK BREATH (Fleece, 10th) or the chiming, golden-voiced indie-rock harmonies of AVI BUFFALO (Thekla, 11th).
Round-up time. Definitely rock up for Anglesey angry mob BASTIONS‘ Clwb show (1st) now featuring added STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR, and find similar noisy thrills with SURVIVALISTS (Undertone, 19th), BRONTIDE (Croft, 22nd), ANTA (Croft, 27th and most likely 768 other Bristol shows this month) and above all a rare appearance from killer NYC noise-metal vets UNSANE (Fleece, 13th). SEA OF BEES do (does?) her folky thing at the Louisiana (17th) and Clwb (16th, with SIBRYDION and THE KEYS, nice bill all round), RACHAEL DADD heads a nice antifolk bill at the Cube (14th), TWO GALLANTS give it some bluesy welly (Thekla, 20th), MUSTARD ALLEGRO bring the west country surf-rock (Grain Barge, 1st), there’s a tweepop alldayer from the Big Pink Cake night (Croft, 2nd) which is worthwhile primarily for BETTY & THE WEREWOLVES if indeed they are playing, and finally let’s hear it for Supersuckers dude EDDIE SPAGHETTI, who goes solo at Clwb (28th) and Thekla (29th).