Festival Preview: Focus Wales 2024 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Bored Marsh, Wylderness, Spiritualized, Eyre Llew

Festival Preview: Focus Wales 2024,

May 03, 2024 Web Exclusive
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Next week, Under the Radar makes its annual pilgrimage to Wrexham for the 2024 edition of Focus Wales. Now in its 14th year, the 2024 edition will feature over 250 artists from around the world playing across 22 stages and runs from Wednesday 8th to Saturday 11th May. Taking place in the North Wales city of Wrexham, Focus Wales has established itself as one of the leading showcase festivals in Europe while also hosting a full schedule of industry talks and panels, conferences, arts events and fiim screenings as well as its packed music timetable.

As with previous years, Under the Radar are among the media partners and will be showcasing two artists we’re really excited about. Cardiff five-piece Wylderness will be playing for us in the Hope Street Church on Friday evening while Nottingham post-punk quartet Bored Marsh open The Parish stage on Saturday afternoon. Read more about our two picks below.

Bored Marsh

(Saturday 11th May @ The Parish 405pm)

Hailing from Nottingham, Bored Marsh take their name from a clever word play on one of the city’s former shopping centres while their logo uses similar graphics to those displayed by Nottingham’s most famous record store, Selectadisc. Musically they’ve been compared to The National, Interpol, Slow Readers Club and The Chameleons, steadily building a devoted following in their home city thanks to some unforgettable live shows over the past few months. Having already released two singles (“The Grind” and “A Better Way (Don’t Stop”), their new EP entitled Idiot is due out later this summer and will be preceded by another single next month.

Wylderness

(Friday 10th May @ Hope Street Church 605pm)

Cardiff’‘s Wylderness have been on the radar for a while, ever since their eponymous debut album landed unsuspectingly five years ago. Comparisons to Ride, Diiv and Beach Fossils has seen their lo-fi shoegaze sound championed by everyone from Welsh radio DJ legend Huw Stephens to legendary independent imprint Sonic Cathedral, while 2022’s long-awaited second album Big Plans For A Blue World further highlighted them as one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK underground in recent years. A new EP Safe Mode is due soon, so expect to hear a potent mix of old and new material next weekend.

In the meantime, here are 10 other artists we’re excited about seeing at Focus Wales next week.

Annie Dressner

(Thursday 9th May @ St Giles Church, 720pm)

New York born and bred but now based in the UK city of Cambridge, Annie Dressner has been making music that straddles the line between introspective folk and melodic indie rock for the best part of two decades. Her new album I Thought It Would Be Easier came out earlier this year and is arguably her most potent collection of songs to date, and her early evening set in St Giles Church on Thursday will almost certainly be one of the festival’s highlights.

Benefits

(Saturday 11th May @ Penny Black Room One 1040pm)

Hailing from the North East of England, Benefits is the brainchild of Kingsley Hall. Their visceral sonic landscapes coupled with Hall’s disturbing monologues depict an England that’s a far cry from what the right wing media and its subservient commentators try to tell you its like. Pieces like “Flag”, “Empire” and “Shit Britain” have gradually become national anthems for the disaffected, while their live show is a must-see event that will live long in the memory. Ignore at your peril.

Bethan Lloyd

(Wednesday 8th May @ The Parish 1025pm)

Hailing from the Welsh valleys, Bethan Lloyd is one of the most unique and original artists treading the boards right now. Her experimental takes on traditional folk, psychedelic drone, and electronic music (to name but three) sets Bethan apart from many of her peers and contemporaries. Last year’s Metamorphosis was one of 2023’s finest long players that drew comparisons with Bjork and The Knife among others, while her recent live shows have seen her mix acapella numbers with haunting drone backdrops so expect the unexpected but also prepare to be enthralled.

Eye

(Friday 10th May @ Ty Pawb Performance Space 830pm)

Essentially the new project from former Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard singer Jessica Ball, Eye are an amalgam of styles and ideas. Musically veering between panoramic dream pop (think Mazzy Star or Slowdive) and electronic cold wave (Portishead meets Fever Ray). Their debut album Dark Light came out last month and is already picking up rave reviews. We expect Eye’s live show to make a similar impact.

Eyre Llew

(Saturday 11th May @ Penny Black Room One 630pm)

Nottingham’s Eyre Llew will be making their third appearance at Focus Wales this year, and first as a newly extended five-piece. Currently mixing and mastering their as-yet untitled second album and long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s critically acclaimed debut Atelo. Eyre Llew recently returned to the live arena with a sold out show in their home city and followed that up three weeks later with an equally busy set at Rough Trade for Record Store Day. Musically they’ve been compared to Bon Iver, Sigur Ros and Explosions In The Sky among others over the years, which gives you some idea of the skyscraping nature of their sonic belligerence.

Midnight Rodeo

(Saturday 11th May @ Hope Street Church, 730pm)

Yet another band hailing from the currently vibrant city of Nottingham. Midnight Rodeo fuse dreamy psychedelia with frenetic art pop passages that make them one of the UK’s more interesting psych rock acts on the circuit. Signed to esteemed Brighton independent label Fat Cat Records, Midnight Rodeo have already released a handful of critically acclaimed singles and are in the process of recording their eagerly anticipated debut album which is expected to land early next year.

Punchlove

(Thursday 9th May @ Wynnstay Hotel 540pm & The Rockin’ Chair Room One 915pm)

(Saturday 11th May @ The Parish 650pm)

This Brooklyn based quintet fuse nascent shoegaze with errant lo-fi and have already been cited as one of the most exciting new bands on the planet. The band’s debut album Channels came out earlier this year on one of our favourite independent labels Kanine Records and we’re expecting them to be one of the must-see acts at this year’s Focus Wales. What’s more, with three separate shows on their schedule, there really is no excuse to miss them!

Sailor Honeymoon

(Friday 10th May @ The Rockin’ Chair Room One 915pm)

Hailing from Seoul in South Korea, Sailor Honeymoon are an exciting trio whose music encapsulates numerous genres ranging from avant garde disco punk to riot girl infused noise rock. Their self-titled debut EP/mini-album came out this week and features eight songs including recent singles “Bad Apple”, “PMS” and “F**k Urself”. We think they’re going to be one of this year’s most talked about bands so come and see what the fuss is all about when they take the stage in Wrexham next Friday!

Spiritualized

(Saturday 11th May @ Llwyn Isaf 830pm)

Spiritualized requires very little by way of introduction other than to say they’re one of the most groundbreaking and consistent bands from the past three decades. Having formed in 1990 after the break-up of founder member Jason Pierce’s previous band Spacemen 3, they’ve gone onto record a multitude of critically acclaimed records throughout various line-up changes (Pierce being the only constant), while continuing to make astounding new music along the way.

Vanity Fairy

(Saturday 11th May @ The Rockin’ Chair Room Two,1115pm)

Recently signed to Moshi Moshi, Vanity Fairy is one of the most exciting new pop acts to emerge this past couple of years, having supported acts as diverse as Warmduscher, Acid Klaus and Audiobooks over a similar timeframe. Musically there are comparisons with Kate Bush, Donna Summer, Confidence Man and even the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb thanks to her distinctive falsetto vocals whilst also sounding incisively unique at the same time. Debut EP Love From Above catapulted Vanity Fairy into the hearts and minds of those seduced by its wares and we’re expecting a similar response to her live show next weekend.

For more information on this year’s Focus Wales including the full schedule and running orders, please visit their OFFICIAL WEBSITE.




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