CD Review: Various, Dan Y Cownter 2

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Dan Y Cownter 2 Welsh reviewThere's a song on the hecklerspray iPod entitled Welsh Bands Suck that contains the pretty much universal line "Oh no/ They sing in Welsh/ Ach llach llach llach llach llach/ Llach llach llach llach."

And who's to argue with that? In fact, most Welsh bands that sing in English are pretty lousy too. Catatonia. The Stereophonics. The Manic Street Preachers. We could go on, but we'd just depress ourselves. And when Welsh bands do decide to sing in Welsh the result tends to be the same trad bollocks, just accompanied by the noise of a man who appears to be choking on a pair of shoelaces.

And there we were, happy with our alarmingly xenophobic opinions, until Dan Y Cownter 2 landed on our desk. Now we've changed our minds. Welsh bands don't suck, we've decided. Some of them are pretty bloody godidog.

Anyone who watched this year's Big Brother will have seen that the Welsh language is pretty ridiculous. For a start, Big Brother has taught us that Welsh is only spoken by girls with their own sex tapes who only know know how to say the word "babe" in English and skinny delusional boys; also, Welsh is so outmoded that any Welsh conversation has to be peppered with English words, meaning that listening to Welsh people talk is like watching a Fast Show Channel 9 sketch.

And then Dan Y Cownter 2 comes along and blows our assumptions. Chosen by professional Welshman and Radio One resident Huw Stephens, Dan Y Cownter 2 is compilation commissioned by the Welsh Music Foundation to show the world a) that there's more to Welsh music than that Welsh Super Furry Animals album from a few years ago and b) how very sorry they are about the 60 Foot Dolls. And, by and large, it works a treat.

Putting to bed any notion that Welsh language music is all backwards-facing, meat and potatoes guitar indie, Dan Y Cownter 2 offers up a breathtaking array of musical stylings. Sure, opener Pwer Y Fflwer by Radio Luxembourg is the sort of punky thrash you'd expect from this type of compilation, but it's pulled off with such verve that you can't help dismissing any misgivings you may have had beforehand. Besides, after Pwer Y Fflwer is out of the way Dan Y Cownter 2 explodes off into a million different expectation-bending directions.

Adar Y Nefoedd by Swci Boscawen is a slice of top-notch trip hop-infused pop music, Tir A Mor by Richard James is a sweetly-whispered acoustic folk song that's charming beyond belief and Sibrydion's Blithdraphlith is a fat, knowingly-dumb wedge of absurdly catchy Beach Boys-informed glam kazoo-pop. Forget the language that these songs are being sung in – it doesn't stop them from being fine, pleasantly diverse pieces of music.

As you'd expect from a compilation like Dan Y Cownter 2, the song quality differs wildly in places. For instance, Rhosyn Rhwng Fy Nannedd by Mim Twm Llai manages to take our disdain for white-boy reggae to a whole new level by identifying a gap in the market for Welsh language white-boy reggae – boys, the gap was there for a reason. And Mewn Can Mlynedd by Y Diwygiad helpfully demonstrates why Welsh language hip-hop never really took over the world.

But all of these negatives are blown away by the one moment of unsurpassable genius on Dans Y Cowner 2Breuddwyd Oer by Genod Droog. It's utterly fabulous; an extraordinarily well-produced drifting, spacey horn-led piece of music that stretches out for miles ahead of the listener like the most relaxing bath imaginable. It's part Flaming Lips, part Stereolab, part Boards Of Canada, part Moon Safari-era Air and part Spiritualized. Breuddwyd Oer isn't just a brilliant Welsh language song; it's a brilliant song full stop, it'll leave you gasping for more and it's worth you seeking out Dan Y Cownter 2 for alone.

On the whole, Dan Y Cownter 2 does its job exceedingly well. We now know not to start reviews of Welsh language pop CDs with lazy references to Wales-mocking songs we downloaded as a laugh once. Having said that, we'd have probably given Dan Y Cownter 2 an even better review if only we weren't partially convinced that at least one of these bands is taking the piss out of us behind our backs in Welsh.

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