The brainchild of Huw Stephens and John Rostron, Cardiff’s SWN Festival is back for its fifth year. Sprawling from Clwb Ifor Bach to the Cardiff Arts Institute and most places in between, this year’s line up boasts over 150 artists both local and from further afield. A growing favourite amongst festival-goers, especially those who prefer a soft bed to a wafer thin roll matt, SWN was designed to be Wales’ answer to SXSW, albeit on a much smaller scale. Set to kick off a day earlier this year, we’re here to guide you through the winding streets of the capital from Thursday 20 October to Sunday 23 October and what better way to start than with our essential picks for the weekend.
Slick, glacial pop that exudes a subtle sensuality.
Assembly by Elephant
The Assembly EP is released via Memphis Industries on 14 November.
When/Where: Thursday 20:30, Dempseys
An innovative, intricate and captivating listen, And So I Watch You From Afar (or ASIWYFA) create guitar music worth listening to.
Beautiful Universe MasterChampion by ASIWYFA
AIWYFA’s second album Gangs is out now on Richter Collective.
When/Where: Friday 19:45, Solus @ Cardiff University.
Crisp, Talking Heads inspired pop from this fresh-faced, paradYse-signed quartet.
A Mountain/Wax by Theme Park
‘A Mountain We Love’/’Wax’ is out now on Transgressive imprint paradYse.
When/Where: Friday 20:45, O’Neills
Tightly wound, guitar driven pop of the Don Caballero variety.
Matador by Brontide
Brontide’s latest album Sans Souci is out now on Holy Roar Records.
When/Where: Friday 21:00, Clwb Ifor Bach (Downstairs)
Because for every “tired”, “derivative”, “C86” band that is thrown our way their will always be gems like Veronica Falls – offering up plaintive, oddly morbid pop songs that are just absolutely irresistible.
Beachy Head by Veronica Falls
Veronica Falls’ eponymous debut is out now on Bella Union Records.
When/Where: Friday 22:00, Dempseys
Brilliantly flamboyant eighties inspired pop from Stockholm duo Malin Dahlström and Gustaf Karlöf.
The Fox by Niki & The Dove
The Drummer EP is out now via Sub Pop/Mercury.
When/Where: Friday 23:15, O’Neills
Ok, so you know the deal by now – just go and see Seams live already!
Focus Energy / Motive Order by Seams
When/Where: Friday/Saturday 01:15, Clwb Ifor Bach (Upstairs)
Spitting thrash-pop noise for fans of DFA1979.
Gebbie Street by DZ Deathrays
Their debut EP Ruined My Life is out now via Kissability/Big Scary Monster.
When/Where: Saturday 14:30, Buffalo Bar
Saturday 20:00, Dempseys
Haunted by a slow burning intensity the dramatic, beautifully textured efforts of Welsh natives Deaf Club are not to be missed.
Hana by Deaf Club
You can download their Lull EP for free here.
When/Where: Saturday 16:45, Buffalo Bar
Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley offer up swoonsome romantic pop drenched in nostalgia and filtered through a sepia lens.
Nobody Knows You by Summer Camp
Welcome To Condale! Is due out on 31 October via Apricot Recording Company imprint (in association with Moshi Moshi and pledgemusic).
When/Where: Saturday 17:00, Cardiff Arts Institute
Brighton’s resident dark, expansive, intelligent pop creators Esben and The Witch will be playing their first ever show in Cardiff.
Hexagons EP will be released on 7 November via Matador.
When/Where: Saturday 20:30, Buffalo Bar
Not only might Three Trapped Tigers “have the best music video of all time” in ‘Reset’ but Route One or Die might jus be one of my favourite albums of the year. Bottom line, you would be foolish to miss even a fraction of this…
Route One or Die is out now on Blood & Biscuits.
When/Where: Saturday 20:45, Clwb Ifor Bach (Downstairs)
Mysteriously appearing as Just a Number 05272011 before revealing themselves as Battlekat at this year’s SPOT festival, the Danish noir-pop quartet are all set to play their first UK show this weekend.
The Pain by Battlekat
When/Where: Sunday 17:00, Cardiff Arts Institute