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Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008
New bands festival rocks Cardiff

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat Music Reporter

Now in its second year, Cardiff's arts festival Swn (meaning 'sound' in Welsh) takes over the capital once a year and celebrates art, film and the best in new music. Newsbeat was down the front.

Amazing Baby
Brooklyn's Amazing Baby headlining Cardiff's Barfly

Radio 1's Huw Stephens is taking a well-earned breather in the doorway of Cardiff's Buffalo Bar.

In between interviews he's been hurriedly hand-delivering bands' riders to venues across the city and updating Facebook bulletins.

However the task he's struggling with most is deciding which bands he's most excited about seeing over the next 72 hours.

No surprise, it's a tough decision. The second annual Swn Festival, a three-day winter arts festival based in Cardiff, boasts over 150 new bands making noise across 15 different bars, clubs and spaces.

The line-up is hand picked by a team of local promoters (Twisted By Design, Peppermint Patti), national sponsors (NME, Drowned In Sound), record labels (Heavenly, Moshi Moshi) and Huw Stephens himself.

Loosely based on Texas' annual spring new music conference, South By South West although still in relative infancy the event's principle is simple.

To highlight Cardiff's (and Wales in general) thriving talent and stuff as many activities into three days as possible.

That's seminars, art instillations, club nights, quizzes, Scrabble afternoons and, of course, the reason why most people are here - a premier selection of the best new bands from the UK and abroad right now.

Newsbeat's 10 best new bands from the weekend:

Cate Le Bon (Spillers Records)

Aptly, Newsbeat's weekend begins where it all began. Cardiff city centre's Spillers Records is reputedly the oldest record store in the world, founded in 1894. Ordinarily part of Gruff Rhys' Neon Neon Mercury-nominated project, local songstress Cate Le Bon kicks off the festival with a tiny instore performance.

Her angelic vocals and simple acoustic backing fill the little space left between the packed rows of plastic album sleeves, hand-scribbled gig posters and punters hunting for warmth on a cold winter tea-time.

Volcano (Clwb Ifor Bach)

In these parts Clwb Ifor Bach is an institution - a three-storey haven of grubby rock 'n' roll, sticky floors and gravely sound systems. Set up on the venue's floorboards Chicago's Volcano are an eruptive delight with their inquisitive brand of Wild Beasts-like explosive rock. Thunderous, challenging and complex but still melodic, the threesome are a much-needed early evening brain work-out.

Chew Lips (Buffalo Bar)

chew lips
Chew Lips' enigmatic singer Tigs playing upstairs at Buffalo Bar

Despite the name, there's nothing flowery about London's Chew Lips. Lead singer Tigs is a smiling, preening, posing madam-star in the making - a gobby Karen O, if you like, backed by two friends Will and James. Set centrepiece Solo is a gyrating Yeah Yeah Yeahs meets the Gossip-esque belter, and the highlight of 20 minutes of glorious electronic pop.

Gallops! (Kaz Bar)

It's not just their equine referencing moniker that Wrexham's Gallops! share with a band like Foals. A shared love of sonic experimenters Battles, Don Caballerro and Pivot is hugely apparent. Yet their sound is all their own. In the disorientating surroundings of a wine bar their furious, raw, motorised computer-led crank-rock proves extremely potent.

Pete And The Pirates (Tommy's Bar)

Pete & The Pirates
Pete And The Pirates' lead singer and guitarist Thomas Sanders

Pete And The Pirates' spring debut Little Death was a total marvel and inevitably destined to be stowed an underground cult classic. It shouldn't really be though, as their tunes are primed for the mainstream. Perhaps the fact that they look like sixth form geometry students counts against them, but the Reading fivesome have scorching indie tunes to spare. Knots and She Doesn't Belong To Me are 24 parrot gold.

The Muscle Club (Barfly)

Cardiff, and the surrounding area, generally seems to birth a breakthrough artist at least once every 12 months (see the recent Automatic, Los Campesinos! Future Of The Left lineage). Handsome student four-piece The Muscle Club might well be next in line. On this form anyway - with their spiky concoction of The Maccabees, The Libertines or The Cribs - it seems almost inevitable.

Broken Records (Barfly)

broken records
Edinburgh's sextet playing songs from their debut LP due in 2009

Edinburgh's waist-coated gents Broken Records are only a handful of brilliant singles old - Slow Parade the best of those. But like Arcade Fire, this gang look like they've been together forever such is their ferocious cohesiveness. Their Celtic broth of accordion, keys and Killers-esque vocals threaten to lift the dingy roof off Barfly.

Amazing Baby (Barfly)

Having just rolled off tour with pals MGMT - guitarist Simon used to play with Andrew and Ben in a band called Misogynistic Pineapple - the eyes of decadent Brooklyn rockers Amazing Baby might look bleary but their songs are sharp.

Their louche image (tie-dyed T-shirts and hippie head scarves) would have you believe they'd spend their live shows popping grapes into each other's mouths or wearing Greco-Roman togas but in reality they're more like Jane's Addiction wrestling Brian Jonestown Massacre playing astride the Grand Canyon. Chauvinists - in the best possible way.

Golden Silvers (Kaz Bar)

golden silvers
Golden Silvers also run a clubnight called The Bronze Club in London

North London trio Golden Silvers are celebrating. After the success of their debut single Arrows Of Eros and their victory in this year's Glastonbury Festival unsigned competition they've just finalised the details of their marriage to uber-independent record label XL (White Stripes, MIA) by playing to a packed out room. With piercing organ and wobbling afros, it's the stuff of pop perfection. Rest assured you'll be hearing much more from them in 2009.

Flashguns (Buffalo Bar)

Brighton's Flashguns, headlining Buffalo Bar, surely shouldn't be up this late. They may look like bunking schoolkids (because they are) but their sound is far more aggressive. Classic touchstones like the Cure and The Smiths are visited but also contemporaries like The Kooks. They play with joyful urgency (probably because mum's outside ready to pick them up) and rattle through some instant scratchy-pop nuggets. If we sound jealous, it's because we are.



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