Nothing like a bit of organisational chaos to remind you how frustrating it can be to be a live music fan in Cardiff. Or, more pointedly, a promoter, as it’s that deranged breed who’ve felt the sharp end of Millennium Music Hall’s annoucement this week that they’re to close operations at their Wood Street home before June 1st. Cue a scramble to protect long-booked shows and find new, suitable homes for them before money, time and reputation invested in them (and Cardiff as a setting for medium-to-large shows) is lost. The MMH will return in the autumn, in what should be impressive new premises, but some of June’s most exciting and/or intriguing shows will be elsewhere now. BATTLES‘ return to the city (Solus, 26th) has to be the cherry on the metaphor this month; new line-up, new album, same kinetic, intricate and powerful math-rock rhythms twisting and unwinding into huge hands-in-the-air moments of release. ISLET and TRUCKERS OF HUSK complete a dream bill, with H. Hawkline’s Huw Evans now augmenting the former onstage en route to a full Cardiff bands bingo card, and Truckers will play their about-fucking-time debut album in full. Sweet. Book early. Book right away, though, for another high-profile Swn show; spooky tribal dance-poppers WARPAINT team up with the studied but slyly tuneful Mary Chain-isms of CRYSTAL STILTS at the lower capacity Globe (23rd) and tickets are already scarce.
Away from such tribulations, there’s an awful lot more excellent stuff about this month. Your Joy bulbs humbly present KELLIES, cracking Buenos Aires grrl-punks in the vein of the Slits or ESG, at Buffalo (19th), with support from ace wonky lo-fi kindred spirits BELLIES! and JAMES JAMES. Do turn up, they’re all really bloody good. Further idiosyncratic thrills are brought to you by various good eggs. Swn present THOMAS TRUAX and his menagerie of anthropomorphic homemade instruments, at the reopened Norwegian Church (7th, with the highly fun FRANCESCA’S WORD SALAD); Balloon’s latest outing pairs schizo post-rock-meets-indie types CATS & CATS & CATS with the charming slacker pop of EFFORT and a packed line-up of authors (Undertone, 15th); and meanwhile, upstairs Gathered In Song offer pristine Appalachian folk from both sides of the pond with the CHAPIN SISTERS and BAREFOOT DANCE OF THE SEA (10 Feet Tall, 15th). JONNY make a swift return, taking in the Globe (28th); their effortless songwriting, glorious harmonies and magnificent straight-faced banter were a joy to behold at Clwb last time, so don’t hang about. That’s the last of four shows in six days for Swn, who also present ex-Czars frontman, Midlake collaborator and friend of Cardiff JOHN GRANT (Gate, 26th). More delicate treats in store at the intimate Big Little City series in the Old Library this month, with H. HAWKLINE (11th), MEILIR (18th) and COLORAMA (25th), and they’re all free – as is the first airing for SPENCER McGARRY SEASON‘s new material, a keyboard-led return to the indelible pop hooks of Episode 1 (10 Feet Tall, 8th).
Hardier souls will dig the efforts of Le Pub in securing blistering Sacramento hardcore smashers TRASH TALK (15th – probably sold out, fools) and the bracing DIY doom-meets-grind line-up of DIET PILLS, SPIDER KITTEN, ATOMCK and SMILER going down at the Gower in Cathays (11th). Texan post-rockers THIS WILL DESTROY YOU detour nicely away from previously competent if inessential post-rock with a fine, raging new album and a Cardiff debut at Clwb (26th) with well-chosen support in THE DEATH OF HER MONEY and a rotten head-to-head clash with Battles (though the latter play Bristol Trinity on the 28th too). STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR‘s last gig for some time (due to absconding drummer) is reason enough to go to CAI (8th) but leave before Tribes, who have an horrific/hilarious biog and sound like Razorlight being taught the Singles soundtrack at gunpoint. Much better is the epic prog/blues/improv noise of AVASH AVASH, silent for ages but returning at 10 Feet Tall (27th), the pleasingly overblown tribal pop yelpings of WU LYF (Clwb, 9th) or the modish psych and killer tunes of THE KEYS (Norwegian Church, 11th).
The noisy and DIY are recurring themes over in Bristol this month, too. The Cube lead the way, with some exceptional bills starting early doors with pounding, minimal Chicago mob DISAPPEARS and nicely spare, brooding fare from SLEEPING STATES (2nd) followed by the frazzled, sunburned psych and 12-string gorgeousness of SIX ORGANS OF ADMITTANCE teamed with Invada’s THOUGHT FORMS, whose own epic, droning improv noise will feature at an upcoming Joy gig, on the 3rd. Drone-folk genius ALEXANDER TUCKER trails a new album at the same venue on the 11th with his South Walian counterpoint RATATOSK in expertly chosen support, a definite high water mark for the month. Tucker’s over at the Fleece on the 6th, too, sandwiched between ANTA and headliners ÆTHENOR, a hypnotic improv/ambient/metal hybrid featuring Stephen O’Malley of Sunn 0))) and Daniel O’Sullivan of Guapo. Yes please. The Fleece also hosts a mighty double-header of BORIS and RUSSIAN CIRCLES on the 21st and the more contemplative, hymnal post-rock of MONO on the 8th. There’s some right gems in the smaller bolt-holes too; THE JELAS are busy as ever, teaming up with painfully loud, utterly ace prog/math titans SHIELD YOUR EYES and MODEL BOAT (County Sports Club, 24th) and furious Glaswegian duo BRONTO SKYLIFT (Mother’s Ruin, 12th) and FUZZY LIGHTS do a nicely edgy, symphonic instrumental take on the folky thing (Croft, 14th, with Thought Forms and CAI, 15th).
Elsewhere in Bristol there’s recommendations across the spectrum. THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART feed c86 classicism through a huge noise-pop filter (Trinity, 9th); the utterly life-affirming hybrid pop of tUnE-yArDs – a one-woman collision of afrobeat, R&B, folk and electro-pop – is a must-see at the Fleece (20th); HERMAN DUNE‘s deathlessly pretty antifolk returns to the Thekla (4th); ANAIS MITCHELL is a dark horse of a singer-songwriter with a fluid, theatrical album in Hadestown and well worth a look (St Bonaventure’s, 6th) and there’s vibrant, endearing takes on trad forms with KITTY DAISY & LEWIS‘ rockabilly/swing revival (Clwb, 8th and Thekla, 18th) and FRANK FAIRFIELD who returns to the Cube (4th) with archival appalachian trad-folk. There’s also a showcase for one of the year’s finest debut albums as NICOLAS JAAR‘s warm, minimal house and purring techno hits the Thekla (8th), and if that’s appealing then the long-awaited Cardiff debut of JOY ORBISON (4hr b2b set with Jackmaster at Clwb, 24th), a full-band return for JAMES BLAKE (Globe, 16th) and a cracking dubstep/future bass double-header with KODE 9 and EGYPTRIXX (Clwb, 17th) should also be in your diary.
Revival corner! Plenty of chances to relive past glories this month, whatever the decade of your long-since snuffed-out dreams. The MMH fallout means a short-notice relocation for the revived PUBLIC IMAGE LTD, now playing the Coal Exchange (2nd), which if they’re remotely interested should be pretty great. Did anyone know that PRIMAL SCREAM were ‘doing’ Screamadelica in full in the Great Hall (20th)? Does this gig exist? Early 80s raincoat new wavers THE WILD SWANS visit Thekla (9th), CHEAP TRICK do the O2 Academy (12th) and – I shit you not – schlock ‘n’ awe latex-and-jizz metal monsters GWAR are relocated from the MMH to Walkabout (14th). That’s right, they’ll tread the same boards as once did Karl Kennedy off Neighbours. You couldn’t make it up, huh? Finally, if you’re hankering for a return to the glory days of the early noughties, THE CORAL plod on (O2 Academy, 23rd) and JIMMY EAT WORLD do that one good song (Great Hall, 21st). Go nuts.
A few last ones to note, late announcements and general stuff I forgot. RACE HORSES and H. HAWKLINE do a cheap short-notice show at Clwb (1st), GINDRINKER and JOY OF SEX team with THE OUTDOOR TYPES (Buffalo, 3rd), ZOEY VAN GOEY do nice winsome indie pop (Buffalo, 1st), This Heat/About Group man CHARLES HAYWARD plays the Croft (1st), SURVIVALISTS should be checked out (Clwb, 2nd) and there’s a literally-announced-today album launch for ex-Fredrick Stanley Star man LITTLE ARROW at The Pot cafe (16th). Enjoy it while it lasts.