The best of NP 2019 – Playlist and track review – Part 1

2019 has been an inspiring and productive year for the Newport scene, inspiring enough for me to compile a playlist of some of the best songs released from artists residing, or with a strong influence in this area. To listen to this playlist, click HERE. To read a little bit about the tracks and artists that comprise the playlist, please keep on reading. Oh and look out for part 2, which will be published soon after this, with the songs to be added to the playlist!

Rusty Shackle – Newport Rising

Caldicot’s Rusty Shackle have a long history with Newport, which has only gotten closer in the last 13 months ago after headlining Newport Rising festival two years running, most recently in the grand ballroom of the historic Westgate Hotel.

This track, from their brilliant 4th album “The Raven, The Thief and The Hangman” is an obvious choice, not just because of the title, but because it is such a brilliant, fist pumping anthem. The song was also accompanied with this brilliant video, filmed in, you guessed it, The Westgate Hotel! Look out for announcements next year as they celebrate their 10th year as a band.

Pencil Pushas – El Diablo

Pencil Pushas is a side project of Newport musicians Jon Lilygreen and Scott Bowman and El Diablo is 1/5 of their ep “Hasta La Vista, Baby!”, a collection of tunes dedicated to the films of that Hollywood legend/former Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

After a quick Google I now know that “El Diablo” is a reference to that little know movie “Predator”. Okay, so I should’ve known this without Google, but I didn’t, so let’s move on shall we? Anyway, it’s a smashing song & ep and that’s enough for me!

Joe Kelly & The Royal Pharmacy – On My Way

Ah, Joe Kelly & The Royal Pharmacy. In some ways this was a difficult choice to make, such has been the quality of the bands output this year. In the end it was actually a pretty simple decision given that “On My Way” is one of my favourite and most played songs of the year.
“On My Way” is Joe at his most pained, most exasperated and, well, most Joe. The Royal Pharmacy all chip in with stellar performances to match; keys, drums, guitars, it’s all there and gone before you know it, until you hit repeat and repeat and repeat!

Bryony Sier – ID

“ID” was the most recent single to be reviewed on this blog, published just yesterday. I’d previously included a different Bryony Sier song…until she took all her previous releases off Spotify! “ID” is more than good enough though.

From Merthyr, Bryony has strong ties to Newport and is a regular on the scene on venues such as Monusk and Cellar Door. She supported Joe Kelly in a memorable gig in the intimate Phyllis Maud a few months back and featured on Joe’s ep “The Wheel” on backing vocals.

The Nightmares – Half Awake

Post punk from this Newport act who released their self-titled debut 5 track ep this year, celebrated with a launch in Le Pub.

As you’d expect from a band named The Nightmares the ep is full of eerie, atmospheric darkness with hints of Joy Division, big chunks of The Cure and I’d imagine a load of other influences I’ve failed to pull out!

CHROMA – See Me In The Dark

Although from Pontypridd, it’s fair to say CHROMA have a decent chunk of their heart in Newport and are as popular and influential in the city as anyone right now, easily enough reason to include them in this playlist.

“See Me In The Dark” is an explosion of ferocious guitars and drums, tied together by Kate’s impassioned vocals. Like an enraged Cerys Matthews. CHROMA have big plans for 2020, their words, not mine, but there’s no proof to suggest otherwise!

The Honest Poet ft Just Jax– Last Dimension

I’m not really sure how to describe Chepstow’s The Honest Poet, which doesn’t really reflect well on me considering I’m writing a music blog! His Facebook pages describes it as “acoustic, Soul, R&B and Poetry”, which is a pretty good summary.

“Last Dimension” ticks plenty of those boxes and more, as he is joined by Cardiff rap artist Just Jax. It has a unique sound, completely different to anything else on this playlist.

Jim Mellen – Are We There Yet

Jim Mellen is clearly a busy lad, taking time away from his band Oceans to release this cracking tune, as well as his most recent single “Cosmos”.

“Are We There Yet” is miles away from anything Jim has released with Oceans, which shows his keenness to explore and diversify. Whilst the verses lo-fi and shoegazey, the chorus explodes into life with Strokeseque guitars, although still retaining that DIY sound – and I mean that in a good way!

Pizzatramp – Stop Being a Racist Cunt

The world would be a poorer place sans this Caldicot trio, but thankfully that’s not something we have to negotiate. “Stop Being a Racist Cunt”, takes aim at the racist cunts, demanding they stop being racist cunts. They won’t listen though, because that’s racist cunts for you.

SBARC is taken from Pizzatramps latest album “Grand Relapse”. It’s Pizzatramp being Pizzatramp, ie, an absolute blast. Loud, fast, fun, horrible and socially on the button. The only way to end part 1 of this compilation.

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