First appeared on Never Enough Notes on Monday January 30 2012
In the mountains of Snowdonia you can imagine that fog could be an issue, after all Wales is not exactly known for its dry weather. Out of these mountains, three years ago, emerged from the mist a somewhat unlikely event.
Y Niwl (The Fog in English) are a surf rock band more akin to the west coast of America than the damp mountains of North Wales. Tonight they have travelled down south to one of Cardiff’s coolest venues, Buffalo Bar, to give an excited audience a dose of Shadows-esque guitar and surfy sounds, North Walian style.
Being an instrumental band can sometimes leave audiences feeling a little bit awkward. They can’t sing along and have to remember songs by melody and not what the singer is saying. For some, including myself, that can be a tall order. But Y Niwl show they don’t need lyrics; the depth of their rich sound speaks for itself, even after a storming set from support H. Hawkline. Y Niwl does very little vocalising in general, including in between the tracks, but the audience stay engaged.
Their self titled album was released in late 2010 and was nominated for last year’s Welsh Music Prize. Gruff Rhys won for his album Hotel Shampoo. Rhys is a friend of the band and they have toured America with him: “While a Welsh band going to America to play surf rock might seem a bit like taking coals to Newcastle, everyone over there was genuinely welcoming towards us,” guitarist Alun Evans told the Western Mail. Maybe you can teach your grandma to suck eggs.
Y Niwl play a neat 30 minute set at Buffalo, followed by an encore, and politely everything is done by 9.45pm with room for some Saturday night partying after the gig…or an early night.