Today, the shortlist for the Gwobr Albwm Cymraeg y Flwyddyn (Welsh Language Album of the Year) was published, with the winner of this award set to be announced at this year’s Monmouthshire and District National Eisteddfod.
The aim of this award is to promote Welsh language music recorded or released during the period from 1 March 2015 until 30 April this year.
A jury of people involved with the Welsh music industry have been discussing a wide range of albums released this year, and the shortlist reflects the eclectic nature of the discussion and the diverse mix of music released and recorded in Welsh and in Wales at the moment.
The shortlist is:
Announcing the list, one of the organisers, Guto Brychan, said, “It’s great to see such a varied line-up on this year’s shortlist. It’ll be interesting to hear what the judges have to say during their session on the Maes during Eisteddfod week.
“This is the third time we’ve held the award, and it is important that the Eisteddfod gives new Welsh music due attention every year, celebrating the best Wales has to offer, and we look forward to doing this again this year.”
Last year, Gwenno Saunders topped the poll with her conceptual album, ‘Y Dydd Olaf’, winning great praise from the jury and judges alike. Since then, Gwenno has won the Welsh Music Prize and the album has received excellent reviews in Wales and further afield.
The Award will be presented in Caffi Maes B on Friday, 5 August, and the winner will receive a specially commissioned trophy, made by blacksmith Ann Catrin Evans.
The Monmouthshire and District National Eisteddfod is held on Castle Meadows, Abergavenny from 29 July – 6 August. For more information go online, www.eisteddfod.wales.
Details of the artists on the shortlist
Anian – 9 Bach
‘Anian’, 9Bach’s latest album is passionate about the state of the world, exploring contemporary themes, unlike their last album, 'Tincian' which commemorated the stories of the past. With ethereal Welsh singing to the accompaniment of the swamp guitar, harp, brooding dub beats and a pounding rhythm section, the songs range from quiet wavy rhythms to piano arrangements and layered vocals, showcasing the voices and talents of the band in all their glory.
With his first album as a solo artist, former Race Horses guitarist, Alun Gaffey’s music is a perfect blend of modern electronica with a shout-out to the past and groups like Brodyr y Ffin. With his vocal harmonies, his music is a wonderful velvet-like journey for the senses, and sounds like a hybrid of a Welsh speaking Alex Turner and the rhythm section from a child’s learn to play keyboard!
Band Pres Llareggub – Mwng
This is the first time in Welsh music history that a complete Welsh language album has been re-arranged, re-recorded and released in its entirety. The band took the most successful and pioneering Welsh album ever –Super Furry Animals’ ‘Mwng’ – and gave it a colourful mix of modern pop and dance combined with the unique sound of a traditional brass band. And the result? A truly unique album!
A band from Blaenau Ffestiniog which includes two of Wales’ most experienced musicians, Ceri Cunnington and Gai Toms, with Deian Jones on bass and Jason Hughes on drums. This first album from the band is a mixture of funk, punk and alt rock, and has been well-received by fans, the press and media.
Calan – Dinas
Fiddles, guitar, accordion, bagpipes and step dancing explode into life as Calan perform their new album ‘Dinas’. An infectious mix of traditional melodies and new songs, Calan’s unique style is a breath of fresh air, and an excellent introduction to Welsh folk at its very best.
Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog – IV
The fourth album from the brothers from Botwnnog and the first for the band to produce themselves. This album brings influences from further afield, including ABBA, Roxy Music and Leonard Cohen, and is a beautiful mixture of the familiar and unexpected, these songs deserve their place on everyone’s summer playlist.
Datblygu – Porwr Trallod
Porwr Trallod is Datblygu’s first full-length slbum for 22 years, and once again, the partnership between David R Edwards and Pat Morgan digs deep under the skin of modern society and individuals alike. This is an album which bridges the raw sound of the early days with the minimal digital arrangements of the 21st century, challenging the audience at every opportunity.
Plu – Tir a Golau
This is the third album from the brother and two sisters Elan, Marged and Dwilym Rhys from Bethel, Caernarfon, and their third appearance on the Welsh Language Album of the Year shortlist. Many of the songs on this album have been inspired by the landscape around them, and this album gave them the chance to experiment with sound building a range of layers and melodies. Most recently seen performing at Glastonbury, Plu are one of Wales’ most popular bands.
It is difficult to believe that this is Sŵnami’a first full length album, as their melodious pop songs are so well known throughout Wales. This is a direct synth-pop album, far more personal than their previous songs, but much less ambigious according to the band. This is a group which has proved very popular across the country and further afield, having represented Radio 1 at the Eurosonic Festival in Groningen.
Yucatan – Uwch Gopa’r Mynydd
This is the second full album from Yucatan, and it is a deep-thinking, cinematic and emotional offering, with the slightest of touches. Influenced by Radiohead, Hans Zimmer and Burt Bacharach, this is an album crammed with melodious guitars and primitive drum beats. The album was produced with David Wrench, a producer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the music business over the past year.