Altameda (AB, Canada)

“Bought a dead man’s suit in Denver / Then I wore it onstage,” sings Altameda’s Troy Snaterse, his voice drifting out over a bed of slowly shifting piano and synth chords. “Got me thinking about impermanence / How everything dies with age.”

Like much of Altameda’s stunning new album, Born Losers, the line is at once simple and profound, a visceral snapshot of a moment in time that speaks to something far deeper about the human condition. Recorded with acclaimed producer Thomas D’Arcy (Neko Case, The Sheepdogs) and mixed by studio wiz Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Whitney, REM), Born Losers is a meditation on change, loss, and growth, but more than that, it’s a reckoning with mortality, a call to live while we’re still alive. The band recorded the album after moving from Edmonton to Toronto, and Snaterse wrote much of the lyrics during a tumultuous stretch in which he nearly lost his father to a stroke, only to lose his 18-year-old stepbrother just weeks later in a tragic accident. The resulting emotional upheaval permeates the music in ways both painful and transcendent, with raw, candid performances often arriving wrapped inside gorgeous, gently atmospheric arrangements. Where past Altameda records showcased the sound of a rock and roll band cutting loose live in the studio, Born Losers is an exercise in craftsmanship and restraint, one that relies on subtlety over brute force as it learns to let go and fully embrace the present.

Namsakē

Namsakē are a five piece Midwest Emo band from London; conceived at Falmouth University, providing an energetic rhythm section coupled with ethereal instrumental layering, punchy choruses and melodic vocals who have been writing together since 2016, defining their sound over years of gigging, touring and an evolution of vocal direction. They’ll be releasing new music throughout 2022.

“Vivacious and confrontational, there isn’t a moment where you can’t feel the emotion brewing in the sound. The band doesn’t hold back in getting the heavy lifting underway, as the song is explosive from the word go.” RGM

Growl of Clown (Mongolia)

Growl of Clown (often abbreviated as G.O.C) is a Mongolian band formed in 2014 that releases deathcore, a sub-genre of extreme metal music.

Eve Goodman

Eve Goodman is a singer-songwriter from North Wales, who writes and performs in English and Welsh. Her music is rooted in her sense of place. Carried by a clear voice, Eve weaves in the natural world and the beauty surrounding her. Her lyrics reveal a deep connection to what it is to be human in these troubled, inspiring times. From swimming in lakes and finding her voice, to letting her tears be washed by the ocean, her songs are bound by themes of collective human experiences, and our relationship to the wildness within us.

Eve has released three EPs to date and is currently recording her debut album. With a captivating and unflinching honesty, the album is a deeply personal meditation on loss. Eve shines her light on bottomless grief and unanswered questions; despite it all, these raw yet beautiful songs take us on a journey towards finding joy again. From house gigs and festival campfires, to The Dubai World Expo, The Houses of Parliament and Celtic Connections festival, Eve’s captivating stage presence is a gift she carries with her wherever she goes. 

Mangka (India)

Mangka is an Indian Manipuri folk, classical and contemporary song performer and a Pena player. She is also one of the few remaining Moirang Sai (storytelling artform) and Basok (female performance art) artists. She received her training by several famous Indian classical artists like Guru Langathel Thoinu and Padmashri Guru Khangembam Mangi. She is the recipient of the State Icon Award in Manipur, India.

These shows are presented by Ziro FOCUS 2022, an ongoing collaboration between FOCUS Wales and Ziro Festival of Music (India) as part of the British Council and Arts Council of Wales’ Connections through Culture programme.

Eädyth

Fans of Solange and Jill Scott will revel in the warmth of Eädyth’s soulful, soaring vocals, whilst fans of Massive Attack will enjoy the combination of fractured beats with melancholic and powerful production. 2021 was a high note for Eädyth, she has continued to receive support and acknowledgement for her releases through the challenging period.. At the beginning of 2021 she released a double sided welsh/english single ‘Breuddwyd/Dream’ on Welsh language music day, and also collaborated and released welsh single ‘Paradwys’ with Wales based singer/songwriter Foxxglove, and singer for MawpitBand Cait Johansen, which was funded and supported by BBC Wales, Wales Arts Council and BBC Horizons. Alongside her new music career, Eädyth has had continued acknowledgment and opportunities for her sound designing skills. She was the composer for Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre’s ‘The Merthyr Stigmatist’, and is continuing to work alongside the theatre as a sound designer/composer. Eädyth also received support from Wales based artist talent agency BLOCS and was showcased on 5 different stages in North Wales’s international multi-venue festival FOCUS Wales at the end of 2021. This year will bring many exciting opportunities for Eädyth. She is currently working in her home studio, on her new EP ‘Heal Yourself’ which will be released this year.

These shows are presented by Ziro FOCUS 2022, an ongoing collaboration between FOCUS Wales and Ziro Festival of Music (India) as part of the British Council and Arts Council of Wales’ Connections through Culture programme.

Art d’Ecco (BC, Canada)

An all-new Art d‘Ecco movement is imminent; defiantly maximalist and nostalgic in style, After The Head Rush is the latest dynamic release from the British Columbia-based audiophile expressionist. Combining the addictive dazzle and rebellious party of his last album In Standard Definition, with the dizzying effect of what happens in the late-hours once everyone’s gone home, After the Head Rush arrives like a confessional, chock-full of swagger and disarming candor. Infused with belated coming-of-age wisdom it sparks the dawn of a new era – inspired by a move to his hometown and the thrill of rediscovering the music of his youth.

“Returning home as an adult, after being away almost 20 years – before all the travel, touring, and living – put a spell on me. It had me constantly framing and reframing the memories, moving emotional goalposts to better suit my current needs. Asking myself “are you happy? Is life everything you hoped and dreamed it would be?”

An unapologetic ode to the audacity and playful cynicism of growing up, After The Head Rush emerges like the shadow of a sundial cast between two time zones – one in the past, and one in the present. D’Ecco’s goal was to face down this new reflection by translating its gaze; what emerged is a paradoxical elixir providing comfort as the varnish begins to wear off. “The highs and the come down is a line I’m constantly tip-toeing,” d’Ecco tells, “I feel better having gone through it. That said, I’m prone to reframing memories to the positive, even if in the moment, I felt quite differently. I crave that romanticism.”

The experience bled into d’Ecco’s obsessive production methods and unlocked a newfound sense of freedom in his writing as the ideas revealed themselves with one simple mission: “Maximalism!” he declares. “I wanted to produce a big, bright, sparkly album. Along the lines of something you hear in a Tears For Fears or Peter Gabriel record, or something Bob Clearmountain would have mixed in the ‘80s.”

With the album’s bed tracks recorded at the legendary Hipposonic Studios (formerly Little Mountain Studios) in Vancouver, d’Ecco was able to harvest its iconic rock sound where history seeps from the walls. The arrangements were filled out on proven home turf at Hive Studios in Victoria alongside key local talent, before d’Ecco carried his newest creation to Montreal, ready for mixing with Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire); “an expert at creating space within the mix.”

Surgically precise, yet cheeky and playful, it’s shrewdly intentional; cautionary nods to coping mechanisms so easy to cling to are set to the throbbing backbone of polyrhythms and infectious melodies, whilst swaggering basslines with fever dream synths juxtapose anxiety and resolution to create an atmosphere for catharsis in one moment – and unease the next. Take the snake oil seeping from “Palm Slave”, or the self-aware cautionary tale, whispered from the front seat of time machine “I Was a Teenager”. “Until the Sun Comes Up” sends a toxic love letter to the bratty version of you with a heavy dose of “screw it” once shit becomes too damn catchy. “Midlife Crisis” meanwhile, nods to both the mid-30s gumption and world-worn sarcasm of Ric Ocasek, and a weighted blanket of dehydrated anxiety that’s impossible to shake no matter how much coconut water you drink.

With life in this album around every turn, each track is a new morning after; warm and comforting odes to hope in the form of the Bonnie and Clyde top-down freedom of “Run Away”, the familiarity of tandem self-medication in “SAD Light Disco”, and the stentorian, devoted howl of “Only Ones”. Apt then, now is the moment d’Ecco has chosen to shed his recognizable visage for an unflinching, authentic reality check.

When d’Ecco humbly purrs “Day Fevers was an album of mine so long ago”, as if offered in passing to a stranger while at the bar waiting for drinks, you hear the mic drop on the d’Ecco we once knew. You double-take to see this raw soul, whose once raven bob cut has become a naked shock of white-blond with unwavering eye contact, refusing you to ignore the present moment. You sit and begin to relish wisdom in the come down, and the unvarnished freedom in the reflection you earned after losing time in the smoke machine.

Tallies (ON, Canada)

Possessing an extensive knowledge of early-’90s dream pop and the skill set needed to replicate the sounds they loved, the Toronto quintet Tallies balance nimble, effects-heavy guitars with extroverted vocals to craft songs on their self-titled 2019 debut album that wouldn’t sound out of place on a mix tape between Lush and the Sundays. Now signed to Bella Union (UK/EU), Tallies are excited to be coming back to FOCUS Wales and have more new music coming in 2022.

JayWood (MB, Canada)

‘When he was starting out, Jeremy Haywood-Smith — who records under the pseudonymous name JayWood — would post covers of songwriters he admired like Mac Demarco and Craft Spells to his SoundCloud. Now, the Winnipeg, Manitoba native stands alongside those artists on the Captured Tracks roster.’ KEXP

Anthony OKS (MB, Canada)

Complex Magazine: “Be it supposedly wintery Winnipeg, or tricked out rap video cars, MC Anthony OKS and singer Begonia are masters of subversion in their new clip for “Fortified Bond.” The rapper’s latest single from his recently released EP The Garden finds him and the heavenly voiced singer bandying lyrics over a beat as lush and breezy as the summery Winnipeg afternoon in which the music video is set, several key scenes of which find him cruising in a classy Oldsmobile 442 cutlass muscle car.”

Samantha Savage Smith (AB, Canada)

Samantha Savage Smith is a singer, songwriter, and musician from Calgary who deals in glistening nuggets of pop songcraft, confessional yet subtly playful lyrical themes, and an evolving vision of musical dressings that recall choice bits of Roxy Music, Angel Olsen, and Land of Talk. The new album Fake Nice is a shimmering collection of multi-hued songs brought to life by Smith and co-producer Chris Dadge (Alvvays, Chad Van Gaalen), alongside guests such as Scott Munro (Preoccupations), Ryan Bourne (Ghostkeeper), and Edmonton’s Marlaena Moore. Her live band is the cream of Calgary’s ever-ripe music community (including members of Polydactic, Sunglaciers & Lab Coast) and have shared stages with the likes of Cate Le Bon, M Ward, Hayden, Couer de Pirate, and Basia Bulat. Fake Nice is slated for release April 22 on Saved By Vinyl, and will be available everywhere that you find good music.

Vagina Witchcraft (MB, Canada)

Hailing from the icy depths of Winnipeg, MB, Vagina Witchcraft blend rumbling, feedback-laden doom metal with frenzied elements of punk and hardcore to create their unique sound. Queer non-binary poet and vocalist, Kayla Fernandes, leads the sonic assault with blistering ferocity, delivering lyrical content concerning mental health, heartbreak, anger and racial identity. This band’s first, self-titled release landed them on the 2021 Polaris Music Prize long-list, and recently they won a Western Canadian Music Award for Metal/Hard Music Artist of The Year.

Super Duty Tough Work (MB, Canada)

Golden-era taste, current-era based. Inspired by the dirty jazz loop sound of 90s east coast hip hop, Super Duty Tough Work is the live incarnation of hip hop culture’s quintessential era. Revered for their methodically curated set, SDTW mixes laid-back with high-energy, for a satisfaction-guaranteed journey through culture, touching on everything from life as a struggling musician to police violence and racism in Canada and abroad. SDTW excels on stage and on record, bringing a fresh take on tradition in a movement where loops are and jewels are the tools of the trade. Following the release of their debut album Studies In Grey, SDTW received a WCMA nomination for Hip Hop Act of the Year and received a Polaris Prize nod making them the first Manitoba-based hip hop act to be considered.

Ghost Woman (AB, Canada)

Postcards are great because there’s no place for a return address, especially when yours is constantly changing. Still, Ghost Woman fans and claimants alike will be comforted knowing that mailboxes in Alberta, Arizona and other localities do get checked from time to time. GW lead Evan Uschenko grew up cashing guitar player cheques at the gas station after the banks had closed. That same shrewdness is palpable in the music, where lean punk rock melds with union man melodies into what taste like premium cocktails – drawing comparisons to contemporaries like Kurt Vile, the Black Lips, and Steve Buscemi. A warm, low sodium hue bath in a blinding time, look for the GW name emblazoned on a marquee in a town near you.

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