Thanks for reading The Big Deal About Welsh Music - you can read my other posts in this series here.
Let’s start with a tune:
Not bad, right? It’s not always through conventional or ‘cool’ ways in which you discover new music, particularly music that ends up playing such a big part in your life. Despite previously being aware of his work with seminal Welsh band Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, it was after coming across this video via an acquaintance on Facebook that I was really drawn to the music of Euros Childs.
Photo by Kirsten McTernan via Euros Childs
Euros Childs is a genius and one of my favourite recording artists of all time!
Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals, 2014
Euros Childs (pronounced ‘air-ros’) is the perfect musician for music fans, and I don’t mean that on some kind of esoteric, higher-than mighty level. What I mean is that he’s a very rewarding musician, one that constantly challenges both himself and the listener. He’s an extremely gifted songwriter who understands that excellent tunes delivered with passion and energy is what fundamentally makes music exciting.
Childs’ music is distinctly Welsh sounding – the wide spaces and meandering diversions in his music conjure up images of rolling West Walian countrysideHis often quirky tales of life more often than not are tinged with a sense of humour sorely lacking from popular music. Childs main instrument is the piano, which is bashed senseless and lovingly tinkled in equal parts.
Since his first solo album ‘Chops‘ was released in 2006, Childs has prolifically released an album (and sometimes 2) every year since. It’s a level of productivity that puts many songwriters to shame, particularly considering the quality of output Childs has maintained over his career. Writing songs in both English and his native Welsh, Euros has pushed the boundaries of his own creativity over many varied releases. He established his own National Elf record label in 2009 which has served not only to free him of any record company interference but also to spike his creativity. He’s shown us many sides of his songwriting muse since then including the impenetrable synth noise of ‘Face Dripping‘ and introspective man-at-his-piano album ‘Ends‘. Child’s has kept fans of his poppier side satiated too – 2012’s ‘Summer Special‘ and the following year’s ‘Situation Comedy‘ contain a wealth of bopping tunes, showing this man’s playfully poppy side is in rude health.
If you didn’t think that was enough to keep Childs occupied, the man has also played as part of number of bands and side projects in the past few years. Pop-rock band Jonny with Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake did a fair amount of touring and their 2011 self-titled album is well worth checking out. Cousins, a project with Meilyr from Race Horses, released their first record ‘First Cousins‘ in 2012 – it’s a corker too! Childs’ restless creativity is but a perfect situation for the listener, who is constantly indulged in colourful yet often challenging music on a generously regular basis.
My photo of Euros Childs live at the Tangled Parrot in Carmarthen, March 31st 2012
Where to begin with the great man? I’d recommend starting with ‘Son Of Euro Child‘, the first record he released on National Elf in 2009. Euros has said that the establishment of a label breathed new life into his career and you can certainly hear this on this album. He was free to tether some of his best tunes to a a rickety and eccentric soundscape made from cheap keyboards and drum machines. Check out the performance of ‘Like This? Then Try This‘, live last year on tour – it’s out there:
The tuneful one-off single ´Spin That Girl Around´ showcases Childs´ keen ear for voice harmonies. There’s a lovely verse in which Euros takes a train that is filled with evocative imagery.
‘Situation Comedy‘, released in 2013, was a series of often uncomfortable character sketches and portraits. Check out lead single ´Tête à Tête´ below for an idea of the kind of tales told on this album:
Those brave enough to tackle ‘Face Dripping‘ are rewarded with a challenging yet certainly not without merit piece of work. Here’s the title track:
‘Bore Da‘ (‘Hello’ in Welsh) will outlive us all. This is from his Welsh language second solo album of the same name, released in 2007. This song is wonderful:
‘My Country Girl‘ isn’t your typical Euros Childs song, but it works nonethesless and the it’s a great idea for a song. It’s from his first album ‘Chops‘:
‘Parents Place‘, heavy in subject matter and sombre in mood, is a personal favourite of mine. From the home recorded album ‘Ends‘, this is a revealing and intimate portrait of the artist.
Let’s end on a high note – here’s the 2011 lead single from the collaboration Euros made with Norman Blake from Teenage Fanclub. Enjoy!
If it wasn’t apparent to you already, Euros Childs is one of Wales’ most distinctive and talented songwriters and is well worth checking out. Head over to his website and get one of his albums. He offers them both for free or by donation – take your pick and enjoy!