Herri Arte Eskola – ‘Galestar Konexioa’ (Basque Country)

‘Basque Folk Orchestra and Dancers’ by Herri Arte Eskola from Errenteria town (Basque Country) has been carrying out cultural and pedagogical exchanges for 3 years.

After Galicia and Catalonia, in September 2023 it was Wales’ turn with special guests Gwilym Bowen Rhys (voice and guitar), Patrick Rhimes (violin) and Angharad Harrop (clock and contemporary dance) presenting the work carried out for months at the ‘Atlantikaldia’ festival. This initiative enriches culturally the guest artists, teachers and students of the school, and allows them to learn about other languages, instruments, choreographies, melodies, traditions… from other places as well as making Basque heritage known. In this performance you will hear tunes played with traditional instruments such as alboka (7 people), dultzaina (2), txalaparta (5), trikitixa (6), etc. and traditional Basque and Welsh choreographies (20 dancers) as well as other disciplines such as tap-dance (8) and contemporary dance (5), all with the 3 Welsh special guests.

Home Counties

Having grown up together in a small village outside of Buckinghamshire, it’s a sense of shared experience and easy camaraderie that sits at the heart of Home Counties: a band combining a lyrical eye for life’s smaller moments with a musical sensibility that’s increasingly prioritising synths, hooks and the power of a good time.

Formed of Will Harrison (vocals/guitar), Conor Kearney (guitar), Lois Kelly (vocals/ synths), Bill Griffin (bass), Barn Peiser Pepin (synths/ percussion) and Dan Hearn (drums), and with two EPs – 2020’s ‘Redevelopment’ and last year’s ‘In A Middle English Town’ – already under their belts, the sextet’s new material comes informed by a 2022 that saw them head out frequently on the road, playing their own sold-out headline shows before joining Psychedelic Porn Crumpets for a UK run in August.

“I don’t really consider us a guitar outfit anymore. We want to be a more melodic band, with pop tunes and catchy songs,” explains Will. “We just love songs that are dancey and we want our gigs to be fun.”

Having recently moved collectively to London, the likes of forthcoming single ‘Bethnal Green’ shine a relatable light on the capital with the same nuance and fondness for specifics that Home Counties’ early material showed their hometown. Those tell-tale punctuation marks are still there as they head towards a 2023 debut album: an eye for the day-to-day, all-too-relatable details of crap modern living. Yet, coupled with an ear for hook-filled, grin-inducing melody, the pay-off is one riddled in joy rather than despair. Or, as Conor succinctly sums up the current ethos of the band: “My life is ruined cos I can’t afford rent, but I’m gonna dance about it.”

Pys Melyn

Ceiri, Sion, Owain and Jac from Pen Llŷn, North Wales, have been playing music together since they were kids. Pys Melyn began releasing singles in 2018, forming Ski-Whiff records the following year, and released their first album, “Bywyd Llonydd” in 2021, drawing on a variety of global influences, which was nominated for a Welsh Music Prize. They released their second album ‘Bolmynydd’ in August, which draws on a more traditional range of 60’s/70’s influences.


Seazoo is a noisy indie-pop group from Wrexham, influenced by the likes of Yo La Tengo, Courtney Barnett and Grandaddy.

Sleeping Together

Being renowned for their energetic live shows, Sleeping Together’s sound has been described as “a nod to the upbeat melodies of The Strokes, with a bit of Arctic Monkeys/Libertines angst thrown in”. With a twist on the modern indie rock band, Sleeping Together create a sonic landscape that mirrors the euphoria and heartaches of adolescence, with a distinctive blend of scratchy guitars and poetic storytelling.

Coming off the back of sold-out shows in Manchester and Liverpool, and having amassed 40k listens on their debut releases, Sleeping Together are looking to make 2024 their breakout year. With a catalogue of unreleased songs resulting from a collaboration with the creatives behind Inhaler’s acclaimed debut album, there’ll be no shortage of new releases from the 4-piece indie outfit, to keep you entertained x


CHROMA are a bi-lingual, alt-rock band from Pontypridd. The three-piece are hotly tipped by Under The Radar Mag as ones to watch.

Influenced by the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and The Gossip, CHROMA have received radio support from BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, Kerrang! Radio, Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru and ongoing support from BBC Introducing.

CHROMA have played festivals such as Reading & Leeds Festival, BBC Radio 1’s Biggest Weekend, FOCUS Wales and Festival Number 6 along with European festival appearances in Barcelona and Brittany. They’ve also played sold-out shows all over the UK with the likes of IDLES, Peace, VANT and Tigercub.


HAZMAT are an alternative rock/grunge band from Wrexham, Wales. After venturing from their hometown, they find themselves currently based in Liverpool. The band consists of Iwan Douglas (vocals/rhythm guitar), Luca Visetti (lead guitar), Owen Brown (bass guitar) and Matthew Birnie (drums).

Heavily influenced by an array of iconic artists such as Slowdive, The Smashing Pumpkins, Deftones and Radiohead; HAZMAT showcase elements of dreamo/shoegaze guitar tones, intertwined with overdriven fuzzy riffs. After travelling across the UK playing shows off the back of their debut EP ‘DOOM’; the band look forward to big plans in 2024.

Dresden Wolves (Mexico)

Introducing Dresden Wolves, an explosive post punk duo all the way from Mexico.

Campfire Social

Genre blending, indie-pop collective Campfire Social craft a dynamically rich sound with bright harmonies layered over hypnotic melodies that help to underline a continued theme of self deprecation with a feeling of hope. Their honest approach echoes a love of 90’s ‘heart-on-sleeve’ emo culture. At times sobering, a positive message prevails; we’re better together.


‘unhinged, euphoric, wonderful’ Pitchfork
‘A model of how a left-leaning rock band ought to conduct themselves’ NME

Islet, as in small island, is pronounced ‘eyelet’. Islet are a band’s band, a band who make people want to start a band. They’ve been playing by their own rules since forming in Cardiff in 2009, where the four members were drawn together by a common desire to affirm life through the making of noise. Since then they’ve released three albums and a handful of EPs on their own label Shape and on Fire Records. In 2023 wife and husband team Emma & Mark Daman Thomas and friend Alex Williams were rejoined by brother John ‘JT’ Thomas. Founding member JT, who was absent for 2020’s ‘Eyelet’ album, has now returned on drums, this fixing of roles a shiny new consistency for the band who have previously switched instruments. What persists throughout their music is an intense energy: driving rhythms with unexpected shifts; inventive, playful lyrics and vocals that shapeshift from airy to unleashed.

The Bug Club

After a live album (of new, one-off tracks) and an EP to get the year started at a leisurely pace, The Bug Club capped off 2023 with their second full-length album – an hour-and-a-bit long double LP called Rare Birds: Hour of Song.

Now then, what could you possibly have to say that takes two records to spit out? Pay attention to this and learn. It’s The Bug Club’s Hex Enduction Hour. South Wales’ Double Nickels On The Dime. It’s The Faust Cycle for people with shorter attention spans. Listen to me, why don’t you. I’m from the label. I’m relevant. I have a huuuuge record collection, I love name-dropping, and I don’t have many friends.

Their fifth release since joining forces with We Are Busy Bodies earlier this year, ‘Rare Birds…’ is a culmination of a year spent relentlessly touring. But it’s not one of those hackneyed road records. It’s about birds, to an extent. Well, it is, and it isn’t. And it is 47-songs long, featuring 23 Cutler-esque spoken-word tracks that weave through the music telling a surreal story to accompany the band’s usual witty, taut garage rock. Oh, and it comes with a fully illustrated, 32-page book.

Vocalist and guitarist Sam Willmett kind of attempts to explain: “All the songs were written in our summer holiday lull before we went away to tour (debut album) Green Dream in F♯ last year. Then we picked the lucky winners to go on the album when we got home around Christmas. “We just wrote every day we were home, mostly in the garden. That’s probably why it’s vaguely about birds. All the songs are in the order they were written apart from the last two which we swapped around. “I only actually remember writing one song. ‘Passionflower, Paperbacks and Woodlice’ which came about as I was sat by a passionflower when a woodlouse crawled over my paperback. I thought it looked and sounded nice.

“We wrote the wordy bits in one hit around the songs once the record was nearly done. One big story. We think the record is like a fall asleep relaxation tape with the cartoon ‘burd’ narrating and guiding you.”

‘Short and Round’ is The Bug Club at their most playful. Recalling The Soft Boys and The Kinks as much as their usual touchstones of The Moldy Peaches and The Modern Lovers, the track sees the band admiring an unnamed person’s barnet. And why not? They’re often worth admiring. It builds to a repetitive chorus before swaggering off with a solo they’ve chosen to fade out, just like they did on their debut single ‘We Don’t Need Room For Lovin’. Need to know more? Spare us an hour and four minutes. That’s what we’re asking of you here. It’s a big ask, these days.

But if you do, you’ll find yourself entrenched in an immersive world of The Bug Club. The other records – with the sardonic and surreal, the riffs and the obsession with outer space – were a run up. With Rare Birds… Sam, Tilly and Dan have created an expansive environment in which we can all bask in a cocktail of garage rock, poetry, nonsense, wordplay, sentimentality and fuck-offs. Ivor Cutler’s come round to play with Gordon Gano and Kimya Dawson in a semi-detached in Caldicot. They’ve made something you’re going to really like.

The Royston Club

Wrexham’s own The Royston Club return for their biggest ever hometown show following the release of their debut album, Shaking Hips and Crashing Cars, which charted at no.16 in the UK album charts in the summer of 2023. This show, at 1,400 capacity, will actually be the biggest ever hometown headline show by any band from our new city, EVER. Join us for this milestone show for the band, and Wrexham’s music scene!

The Mysterines

When it comes to pivotal life moments, having the mighty Nick Cave snatch a balloon out of your hands when you’re seven years old before smirkingly stomping on it is going to make you do one of two things. 1) Run off crying and forever commit to a quiet life or 2) Decide to be just like the big tall man who gets a kick out of scaring little kids. When it happened to Lia Metcalfe, she wisely decided to do the latter.

Still only 20 years old, the Mysterines’ imposing frontwoman melds together more than her lifetime’s worth of experiences with the kind of deep, impassioned vocal you won’t forget in a hurry. In her songs and stagecraft you’ll see and hear everything from PJ Harvey’s raw and ragged stomp to the crazed carnival energy of Tom Waits and eviscerating poetics of Patti Smith. The first great British rock band of the post-pandemic era, the Mysterines let us in on Lia’s unfiltered look at life, the universe and everything, complete with serious riffs and an unflinching honesty.

Though currently based in Manchester, Lia was raised in Liverpool, born to parents only just out of their teens who raised her on the road and in and out of festival VIP areas – hence that unforgettable run-in with Nick Cave. Both were – and still are – music obsessives, bringing her up to the sounds of Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, The Strokes, Motown classics and Bob Dylan, who remains her songwriting icon.

Lia never remembers not singing. “I didn’t really know any different,” she explains. “Growing up around someone who was always making music and always writing, it just seemed like the natural thing.” Since the start her voice was a cut above, a bassy, deep thing even when she was just a kid. But what really hooked her into making music was lyrics. “I still don’t really see myself as a singer,” she explains. “First and foremost I’m a writer, that’s my main passion.” By her early teens she was already gigging locally. At 16 she decided to throw herself fully into music. “I went to college for a month, but I got kicked out for smoking in the non-smoking area,” she shrugs. A couple of months later she was off on tour anyway with her band the Mysterines. “I never wanted to be solo,” she says. “I knew my songs weren’t gonna be acoustic, they needed to have a big and full sound behind them.” The idea of a band also fitted into a classic set-up that Lia loved. “I wanted to have a gang-like atmosphere,” she says. “I thought it was cool when Blondie and the Pretenders did that – having a woman in charge.”

The rest of the Mysterines naturally coalesced around Lia. George the bass player she met when she was 14, standing outside a branch of Home Bargains. “I thought he looked like a bass player, and he was. So he’s been with me ever since,” she explains. Lead guitarist Callum and drummer Paul she met a few years later at a Psychedelic Porn Crumpets gig in Liverpool. She’d forgotten her ID and the bar refused to serve her, despite the fact that she’d just turned 18. Callum helped her out by offering Lia a warm can of beer from out of his backpack. The rest, of course, is history.

Spending lockdown covering everything from the Waterboys to Radiohead on social media for the Mysterines’ growing fanbase, Lia showed off not just her own incredible vocal range, but also her wildly varied influences, which run the gamut from Captain Beefheart and Dua Lipa to Smokey Robinson and director Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s the darker side of things though which has always fascinated her. Her nan was the first person to give her a Tom Waits record, sensing that the young Lia would find a kindred spirit in his particular form of sonic voodoo. It almost worked. “I put it on and it scared me to death,” she laughs. “Then I tried again a few years later, and heard ‘Clap Hands’ and fell in love with it. He’s definitely had an impact on the way I execute certain things.” That moody bleakness is deep in the bones of all the writers Lia loves, from Captain Beefheart to beat poet Allen Ginsberg. “I like controversial, almost explicit stuff. People who are always trying to push boundaries and themselves,” she states. “I’m still trying to find the balance, but it’s fun to explore what I can say, stuff that’ll make people think ‘that’s hilarious but also really scary.’”

The Mysterines debut ‘Reeling’ – set for release in early 2022 – was made under the watchful eye of acclaimed producer Catherine Marks (Wolf Alice, The Big Moon, PJ Harvey). Going back and forth from her west London studio, Assault and Battery, over three weeks in between lockdowns, it was recorded live to capture the intensity of the songs. “It’s a pretty ambiguous title for most people, but for me ‘Reeling’ sums up every emotion of the album in just one word,” says Lia. It also reflects the emotionally draining process of making a 13 track record, Lia’s biggest challenge to date. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” she explains. “But Catherine was fucking great. She turned into one of my best friends and really just believed in me and what I wanted to execute. She was super calm throughout the whole thing. Well, until you piss her off…”

When it comes to lyrics, Lia calls her style of writing “creative divination”. She explains that her meticulously crafted songs are “either predicting something that’s going to happen or about something that already has, but in the way that Tarantino reinvents history in his own films, I’m reinventing what I would have wanted to happen.” Written just two weeks before they went into the studio, the album’s ferocious first single, ‘In My Head’ is a perfect example. “Superficially it’s a love song but really it’s a reflection of me looking at myself like Leonard Cohen’s ‘Avalanche’ – you think he’s talking about someone who he was with and fell out of love with, but really it’s about himself.”

Grief, self-destruction and heartache run heavy through the record, but all are brought together by the blackest of humour. The dirty desert blues of ‘Life’s A Bitch’ was actually meant to be the first single, “but it turns out I say ‘bitch’ too much on it,” chuckles Lia. Other tracks run the gamut from the grunged-up country of ‘Old Friends, Die Hard’ to the giddy, free-falling ‘On The Run’, Lia’s unique take on the tale of the teenage runaways in Terrence Mallick’s iconic Badlands. Then there’s the creepy, cultish ‘Under Your Skin’, which is The Doors by way of The Manson Family and the Stooges-esque ‘The Bad Thing’, of which Lia says: “It’s the most fun to play, and the words I find really funny as well – I’m digging someone up from the grave that I used to love.”

Somewhat prophetically, Lia has already had a Number 1 album of sorts. When supporting Miles Kane in Brighton, his mate Paul Weller came down to a show. Lia and Paul bonded over the fact he had a daughter called Lia and after fish and chips on the front, he invited The Mysterines to his studio to write. Over lockdown he WhatsApped her and asked for some lyrics. The track, ‘True’, features on ‘Fat Pop’, Weller’s sixth chart-topping album. “I can’t really say it’s my Number 1 album,” offers Lia. “I’ve only got one tune on it, it’s definitely not down to me.” If you ask us, it’s more than a good start.


While some people imploded in the lockdowns and isolation of the epidemic, others were thriving.
“I felt like I’d been in training for this my whole life” said J Spaceman in a text conversation last June or so.
He was referring to his fondness of isolation and when you reframe loneliness as “beautiful solitude” then it isn’t so bad.
He would walk through an empty “Roman London” where “even the sirens had stopped singing” and where the world was “full of birdsong and strangeness and no con-trails.”

He used the birdsong walks to listen and try and make sense of all the music playing in his head. The mixers and mixes of his new record, a ninth studio album, weren’t working out yet.

Spaceman plays 16 different instruments on Everything Was Beautiful which was put down at 11 different studios, as well as at his home. Also he employed, more than 30 musicians and singers including his daughter Poppy, long-time collaborator and friend John Coxon, string and brass sections, choirs and finger bells and chimes from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. So, there’s a lot going on.

“There was so much information on it that the slightest move would unbalance it, but going around in circles is important to me. Not like you’re spiraling out of control but you’re going around and around and on each revolution you hold onto the good each time. Sure, you get mistakes as well, but you hold on to some of those too and that’s how you kind of… achieve. Well, you get there.”
Eventually the mixes got there and Everything Was Beautiful was achieved.

The result is some of the most “live” sounding recordings that Spiritualized have released since the Live At The Albert Hall record of 1998, around the time of Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space.

The opening track “Always Together With You” is a reworking / supercharging of a track originally released in demo quality in 2014. This new version is a perfect Spiritualized song; a breathtaking, hard edged, psychedelic pop tune where themes of high romance and space travel collide. In one of the most sublime refrains of the band’s career, the backing singers call out “if you gotta lonely heart too”.
And don’t we all? Sometimes?

On “Best Thing You Never Had”, we meet characters who blew their mind but “never had a mind to blow” over backing instrumentation that sounds like a New Orleans funeral procession band who’ve been drinking thinners all night. It’s possible this Stones at Exile-era stomp is auto-biographical, but maybe not. It’s hard to remember.

“Let It Bleed (For Iggy)’’ is heavy eye-lids and the romantic intricacies of emotional intimacies, a honeyed song that careers into choir-fueled intensity. A country number “Crazy” is even sweeter, a lorazepam Tammy Wynette ballad with backing vocals by Nikki Lane.
Spaceman: “When we were mixing, I relied a little bit on what I knew of Ladies And Gentlemen…, that if you start throwing mixes together, it stops sounding like what you already know from the past. Some people have a method of making records like jamming Lego bricks together into something they already know but I wanted to do this differently.

“And like the last record (And Nothing Hurt) was made to go out and perform live, we did the same thing with this, but even more so. We’ve tried to play stuff from this album live before but it never really worked but now we’ve got the record how we want it to be, we have something to launch from.”

Of all the songs on Everything Was Beautiful, the three contained on the b-side are the ones that already sound close to the intensity of Spiritualized’s live shows. The final piece of the recording process involved adding some clarinets and vocals to give “it all a sense of proper chaos”.

Spaceman wrote the lyrics to “The Mainline Song” one night while watching the protests happening in America on TV. And if that track is like driving your car too fast with the one you love in a city you’ve never been before, then the following tune The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)” is driving that thing off the edge of the world.

A stupendously epic tale of “words that are old as the hills / cooked on a diet of mushrooms and pills / One man’s crime is another man’s thrill and we’re gone”, it’s a mountainous song, a glorious noise; screeching sax, clarinets, free jazz, improvised chaotic squall, a seething mass of Spaceman rock and roll and its seven minutes are over far too soon.

The last (nine minute) tune “I’m Coming Home Again” recalls the atmosphere of “Cop Shoot Cop” from Ladies and Gentlemen; a brooding, repetitive, swamp song, building and building, abetted by a choir to get deeper and darker over time, with lyrics like: “I’ve kind of had it with philosophy cos I’m thinking I am but I’m failing to be”.

“The last track was always the thing that the record, hinged around. I wanted it to be almost like a dub, something that just hung in the air.

“It develops quite slow and it seemed to be an almost easy option to sort of make it a really screaming free form thing but it’s kind of restrained and held back and it just kind of hangs.”

It hangs, it floats and then it’s over. And you can go back and do it all over again because there are so many layers and layers of sound in this thing that to listen to it once would be selling yourself short.

The artwork is designed once again with Mark Farrow. If you buy the vinyl you can pop a pill box out of the sleeve, revealing gold foil underneath, and assemble the Braille-embossed little thing and put it somewhere in the house. The box set has 8 of them. Literally a boxset. It looks more beautiful in the flesh.

About the boxes: “Farrow and I were talking about what we should do and we just said, ‘It’s called Everything Is Beautiful, how could you not have a pill?’”

All these layers, all these details, the year-long mixes, the making sense of it all and the lives lived within these lyrics; for somebody so famously unconfident of his own abilities, isn’t this a punishing thing to keep doing?

“Yeah, but I like what I do. There’s a line from Jonathan Meades that’s about having all the attributes to being an artist. ‘Paranoia, vanity, selfishness, egotism, sycophancy, resentment, moral nullity and more idiot than idiot savant.’

“And that’s what it feels like, this kind of thing. You’re your own worst enemy and biggest supporter.
“There’s a ‘Of course this is worth it. It’s me’ and then this kind of deep doubt of ‘What the fuck is this all about?’
“And then ‘Why is it important?’ and then knowing there’s no easy answer.
“But it’s there. I know it’s there.”

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