Label: Aderyn Papur Release date: 06/12/1964 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon Y Niwl are from Wales, surf rock is from sunny places with attractive people. But that won’t stop Y Niwl, oh no. What they’ve done with this album is take California and San Fran circa 1965 and pour its contents into Gwynedd, then put a few palm trees around to make them feel at home. They’ve done a surprisingly good job of it though. Starting off with ‘Undegump’, an instrumental number with winding guitars, a psychedelic groove, and a fantastic plucked bass line, they’ve laid out a mission statement. They’re here to do one thing and one thing only – be entertaining in a 60’s way. Imagine The Doors lost Jim Morrison and met up one day with Al Jardine and thought “Shit, let’s just go with this.” It’s damn groovy. The only problem is that the other tracks are in danger of blending into each other. Whether it’s because of the lack of vocals (I’m not berating them for that, just sayin’) or because they’re all produced in the same way, the can become a bit blurry. The instruments sound the same from track to track and, I don’t know, it’s not boring, but it’s not fully engaging either. It turns itself into background music without constant attention sometimes, and that’s a shame because there’s so much talent in it. And the talent really does shine through. Sion Glyn’s (see, I told you they’re Welsh) bass work is intricate and underplayed to exactly the right extent – it moves in and out and holds it all together perfectly, the was a bass should, while Gruff ab Arwel and Alun Evans’ (really Welsh) guitar work is subtle but perfect; it’ll echo and raise up when it needs to, with all the grace and grandiose it can muster, before happily sitting into the mix, generating that same exciting pulse that exists through the rest of the song. And Peter Richardson (Really, really... wait, that one doesn’t work) on the drums can maintain a pulse like the best drummers. It’s an underplayed role in the mix, but he does everything from boss the tempo to keep the track together. And even when Gruff takes to the organ, as he does so impressively on ‘Deg’, we get that tight groove woven again without flaw. In fact, ‘Deg’ has to be the standout of the album, if only for the last 30 seconds where it breaks down and goes manic. Really, what we’re looking at is a festival band. This is the sort of LP you’d put on at a beach party or on a really hot day in the middle of summer. This is the sort of band you’d watch at 6pm on the Saturday at a festival, while you’re in a field somewhere with sunglasses on and a girl by your side. The exact opposite of December music, but it’ll cheer you up. Photobucket