CYMRU FEEL THE NOIZE
Wales In honour of a place well known for it love of poetry and being the land of song, a home to cultural greats like the Manics, Super Furry Animals, Dame Shirley Bassey, Dylan Thomas, Tom Jones and er Ryan Giggs, I give you a short review of three radically different Welsh bands:
THEY WALK AMONG US Outside the Campfire Circle EP
I reviewed this lots third album Monkey In a Chicken Pen last year and liked it enormously. They are now back with a new offering which doesnt vary greatly in style but carries on with a sound they describe as multi-layered, musically dextrous rock.
TWAU are a three piece hailing from the Cardiff and whilst still relatively unknown here are gaining something of a reputation in the USA, their last tour having taken in 36 cities spread over 26 states. The growing notoriety meant that the EP was produced by Charlie Francis, who has previously seen action with REM, Kaiser Chiefs and the Turin Breaks.
A nice opener of Bedside has several breaks of tempo, but is in essence a neat little rock song adorned with thunderous drums, falsetto vocals and shout-aloud chorus. Let Love Shout is more a melodic, guitar driven number with some nice harmonised backing vocals.
The Last Bastion is the longest track, clocking in at over five minutes. The guitar intro reminds me of the Manics and once again the song is held together by the excellent musicianship of the bands engine room of bass and drum. The vocals range from falsetto to baritone, but despite the song being a relatively slow tempo, the lyrics spit vitriol observing The lies rise before your eyes.
Last track Circling Wolves again is a multi layered number. Its starts with a dreamy, ethereal quality, with close harmonies similar to late 60s Mamma & Pappas. But just when things are getting too comfy it suddenly breaks out into a full blown rock number. From then on it oscillates effortlessly between the two musical styles to the songs conclusion.
Overall a nice stop gap until they are in a position to produce a new album.
Just when I thought I had seen the last of these OAPs (Old Age Punks) they roar back with a new EP and the same old sound, that can only be described as 33 years out of date.
The art of double entendre is sadly lacking in todays chart music. As far as Im aware po-faced bands like Coldplay and Radiohead rarely use them, but the lads show that the spirit of Sid James lives on with lead track I Cant Get It Up. Now I know that a title like this probably makes you think its going to be musically inept, and whilst the lyrical content may not have the same socio-economic commentary of say the Clash, this is a bloody fine punk song and insufferably catchy.
Second track Welcome to the Credit Crunch again see the band party like it is 1977. Theres nice guitar work by Johnny Cardigan and Sid Life Crisis comes perilously close to singing in tune, but the track is held together by the Jah Wobble style bass from Joe Strimmer (he has obviously been taking lessons) complete with a nice ska section.
Pound Shop eulogises the Aladdins cave of tat that is present on most high streets. They happily rip off Shot by Both Sides by Magazine for the mid section, although Im sure Howard Devoto never wrote lyrics like A plastic garden trowel in the shape of Simon Cowell, Some dodgy looking sweets, that no one wants to eat. Get your knickers worth, on this heaven made on earth. I was particularly pleased to hear the solid drumming from Adrian Viles, as he has recently seen the love of his life Christine Bleakly become engaged to the fat captain of Chelsea FC.
Finally they highlight their live act with a recording of their encore taken from their recent 25 night residency at Cardiffs Globe Theatre. Opening with the Ramones Hey, Ho, Lets Go, I thought we might be for a rendition of a classic by Da Bruddas. But no, what they actually give is a particularly unique take on an old Jeff Beck number. High Ho Silver Surfers is dedicated to men of certain age who seem unable to understand that things like Twitter and e-bay are for the kids and not middle aged farts (like me). Having seen them many times live I can attest that this is always a rousing way to end the night and invariably leads to a stage invasion.
Punks Not Dad play both Glastonbury and the Isle of Wight festival (yes, really!) this year. So if fancy being cheered up after hours of drudgery by U2 and Morrissey, check them out or better still just stay at home in the dry and buy the CD:
Carmarthen is not usually seen as a hot bed of rock, however that hasnt stopped Conductors from trying to make it the new Seattle. Formed in early 2009 by singer/ guitarist Aled Thomas, along with bassist Rhodri John and drummer Dominic Wright they signed to Death Monkey Records a label known in South Wales for championing alternative rock. Dim Problem (Welsh for No Problem) is a full blown eight track debut and apparently (it says here) contains themes of disillusionment, youthful revolt and angry defiance, set to the soundscape of pounding drums and distorted guitars.
The intro, called funnily enough Intro, is just that. A 22 second nostalgic burst of space invaders machines and then straight into Stone Paper Scissor. First impressions, they sound not unlike a Welsh Rage against the Machine. Slap base and tempo changes create a musical tapestry of a song. Not my usual cup of tea, but a good start and definitely a grower.
More of the same with Death from Above, and once again a song I could hear Zack de la Rocha getting his tonsils around. Ail Adeiladu, (To Build Again) is partly in Welsh, and it makes a refreshing change to hear this genre of music sung in something other than English. Aled Thomas gets a chance to extend his vocal range and enthusiastically bellows out the chorus Pick up the pieces and just rebuild. I actually purchased the first Welsh punk record NCB by Llygod Ffyrnig back in the late 70s and it is to eternal shame that I dont speak my native tongue.
Nice guitar work leads into Six of the Best, which seems to be a song with pugilistic overtones. Lyrics like Dance like a butterfly sting like a bee, The bigger they are the harder they fall are spat out by Thomas in a voice that reminds me of a young Robert Plant, with its gravely emotion.
According to my dictionary next track Cyrff means bodies. I thought that I might be in for a Welsh cover version of the Sex Pistols tracks, but this is definitely more nu metal than punk. Philistines and album closer Termites follow in the foot steps of the rest of the album and nothing wrong with that.
Interesting the band site their influences as Clutch, At The Drive In, Mogwai and Future of the Left. However to me I guarantee that if you like Rage against the Machine, Audioslave or even Red Hot Chilli Peppers you are going to like this CD. Have a listen on their Myspace and decide for yourself: