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Watch: Welsh Language Album of the Year shortlist announced

04 Jul 2024 8 minute read
Welsh Language Album of the Year 2024 Shortlist

With exactly a month to go before the start of the Rhondda Cynon Taf National Eisteddfod, the shortlist for the Welsh Language Album of the Year prize has been announced.

Organised by the National Eisteddfod and BBC Radio Cymru, the award celebrates the eclectic mix of Welsh language music recorded and released during the year and is jointly organised by the Eisteddfod and BBC Radio Cymru.

This year sees the coveted prize celebrate its tenth anniversary.A panel of judges, all part of the music scene have spent hours listening to all the albums, and then voted for their favourite albums at the end of the process. This year’s judges were Gruffudd Jones, Tomos Jones, Gwenno Morgan, Keziah O’ Hare, Mared Thomas and Owain Williams.

The winner will be announced on the Pafiliwn stage at 15:00 on Friday 9 August.

The shortlisted albums are:

  • Amrwd – Angharad Jenkins and Patrick Rimes 
  • Bolmynydd – Pys Melyn 
  • Caneuon Tyn yr Hendy – Meinir Gwilym 
  • Dim dwywaith – Mellt
  • Galargan – The Gentle Good 
  • Llond Llaw – Los Blancos 
  • Mynd â’r tŷ am dro – Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog
  • Sŵn o’r stafell arall – Hyll 
  • Swrealaeth – M-Digidol 
  • Ti ar dy ora’ pan ti’n canu – Gwilym

The shortlist was announced on Mirain Iwerydd’s programme on Radio Cymru on Wednesday 3 July.

The shortlisted albums

Amrwd – Angharad Jenkins and Patrick Rimes

amrwd (raw) is Angharad Jenkins and Patrick Rimes’ first album. Two artists at the forefront of the Welsh folk scene, who have a deep musical relationship, sharing an intuitive musical language, and with a desire to hear these ancient melodies as they are: raw and unfiltered.

Both are mainly associated with the Welsh fiddle tradition – a style that both have helped to shape in their own ways in recent years. In amrwd, we get to hear the pure earthy sound of the strings as the two violins rotate around each other in a lively conversation, as well as the rich singing voices of both and the whole is decorated with the occasional percussion instrument and piano.

With classical echoes this deceptively simple album explores some of Wales’ rich folk traditions from two highly respected players. As a duo their love and knowledge of Welsh folk music raises it to new heights, with lively playing and beautiful vocal harmonies.

Bolmynydd – Pys Melyn

The band from north Wales released their second album in August 2023, following the success of their first album, ‘Byd Llonydd’.

The latest album is very melodic, drawing on a range of styles from the 60s and 70s. Several of the songs have funny, political lyrics with many sung with a southern accent.

Over the past few months, the band has supported Gruff Rhys and Spiritualized, and played a live session on BBC 6 Music.

Caneuon Tyn yr Hendy – Meinir Gwilym

‘Caneuon Tyn yr Hendy’ contains eight brand new songs and a bonus track, ‘Goriad’. In a diverse collection of songs, Meinir’s talent as a poet and musician once again shines and the allbum itself grew and developed naturally during the past year.

From the raw sincerity of ‘Dwi’m yn Cofio’ to the challenge and uplifting spirit of the album’s opening song, ‘Waliau’, Caneuon Tyn yr Hendy takes the listener on a journey along paths of adventure, longing, love, uncertainty and hope

Recorded partly at home and also in various locations, including Stiwdio Sain, Stiwdio Un and Stiwdio Ofn, with the help of Sam Durrant, Osian Huw Williams and Aled Wyn Hughes, the album was produced by Meinir herself, with musical contributions from Ceiri Humphreys and Euron Jos (guitars), Twm Elis and Cai Llywelyn Gruffydd (drums), Bob Galvin, Osian and Aled (bass) and Edwin Humphreys (horns and sax) Alys Williams’ voice on the tender and emotional track ‘Yr Enfys a r Frân’ and the voice and harp of Gwenan Gibbard on the folk, lively track, ‘Rew di Ranno’.

Dim dwywaith – Mellt

Mellt are a quartet originally from Aberystwyth, who are now based in Cardiff. Their first album ‘Mae’n Hawdd Pan Ti’n Ifanc’ won the Welsh Album of the Year at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff in 2018, and the album reached the Welsh Music Award the same year.

The second album ‘Dim Dwywaith’ was released in October on the Clwb Music label. Having played a number of live shows, Mellett are the anarchists of the crowd, causing a stir wherever they go.

Mellt has been influenced by The Clash, The Band and The Replacements with their catchy guitar riffs, slacker rock and post punk sounds, and their lyrics are the crowning glory.

Galargan – The Gentle Good

The Gentle Good’s long awaited fifth album ‘Galargan’, is a stripped-back exploration of Welsh folk song performed with solo acoustic guitar, vocal and cello.

The record came together during the isolation of the pandemic and is suffused throughout with a sense of romantic escapism and sadness born from the sorrow of these times. 

Perhaps it is the naturalness of the music that creates the enchantment. Crafted in a kitchen in Cardiff, and in a small cottage in the wild expanses of Cwm Elan, where the musician was accompanied by no one but himself, the arrangements are simple.

Sometimes, we hear the cello – like the sun coming from behind a cloud, filling the world with brightness again – but it is the guitar and the voice that are constant and striking.

Llond Llaw – Los Blancos

‘Llond Llaw’ is Los Blancos through and through, self-deprecating and always creatively honest. It’s an absolute rejection of narcissistic elements which exist in today’s society.

The album was inspired to some extent by a collection of short stories by Matthew Baker, and specifically the quote: “Welcome, dear visitor, to a proud and storied nation. When you put down this guidebook, look around you. A nation isn’t land, a nation is people.”

While their first album ‘Sbwriel Gwyn’ deals with themes relating to their personal concerns and the complications of the world, ‘Llond Llaw’ conveys a band that is in a much more comfortable place, with stories and anecdotes about the characters around them.

This is a collection of 13 tracks that tell personal stories, sincere words and wise comments – with each member of the band contributing to shaping those stories.

Although their raw energy and infectious passion is still evident on their second album, ‘Llond Llaw’ shows clear progress in their development as a band. Similar to Bukowski, Kerouac or Tom Waits, Los Blancos see the good in the bad and the beauty in the imperfect.

Mynd â’r tŷ am dro – Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog

Mynd â’r tŷ am dro’ (Taking the house for a walk) is the band’s sixth album, following the release of their first live album, ‘Yn Fyw! Galeri Caernarfon,’ last year.

The album was recorded in Stiwdio Sain, Llandwrog, and produced by the band themselves.

Sŵn o’r stafell arall – Hyll

Since forming in 2016, Hyll have won the hearts of many with their unique songwriting and witty lyrics about the characters of their hometown, Cardiff.

After experimenting with different sounds on their 2021 EP ‘Mymryn’, the quartet go back to their indie roots on the album, and follows a similar sound to their recent singles ‘Hanner Marathon’ and ‘Mike’.

The album is a collection of ten tracks, and highlights the band’s musical influences including Nick Cave, Dinosaur Jr, Pavement, Soccer Mommy and the Pixies, as well as writers Walt Whitman and Virginia Woolf.

Swrealaeth – M-Digidol

M-Digital is versatile musician Rhun Gwilym’s project. He enjoyed considerable success before he was a teenager, with the unique band ‘Y Morgrug’.

Rhun has been studying music at the University of Leeds over recent years and has turned his talent towards electronic music production.

His album, ‘Swrealaeth’ is a seried of electronic treats ranging from glitch and electronica to breakbeat, featuring 13 tracks that take us on a unique journey through sonic discovery.

Ti ar dy ora’ pan ti’n canu – Gwilym

This is ‘ti ar dy ora’ pan ti’n canu’, the second album by one of the most popular bands of the last decade in Wales, and there’s a clear development in their sound.

The band has already released all the songs off the album, on two separate EPs, ‘rhan un’ (part one) and ‘rhan dau’ (part two).

The band were keen to do things a little bit differently, by infusing their audience with as many new songs as possible.

The singles were a great success before the album itself was launched, and many have been featured on Spotify playlists over the past few months.

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