Welsh Bands at SXSW - 2011
Wednesday March 16, 12:00am
Jonathan Powell @ Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn
Welsh talent Jonathan Powell, was recently described as 'Genius and a little gem' by Frank Henessey and Amy Wadge on their BBC Radio programme. Powell, age 23 from Cardiff is a singer/songwriter & viola player whose music is attracting major interest from some of the UK's leading music organisations. Since the release of his debut album 'Forgive this day' on his record label 'Still Small Voice' (Aug 2009), Jonathan has been in demand not only as a performer but also as a songwriter and producer, having recently co-written, recorded and produced several tracks on Charlotte Church's new album which was released in the UK on November 01. The voice of an angel star, also covered the track 'Snow' which appeared on Powell's debut album as 'The Year That We spent playing in the Snow'. Critics describe Jonathan's music as urban folk and whilst there are elements of country, punk, jazz and out-and-out pop, his music carries an immense emotional weight through lush melody and engaging story telling. There is also a strong classical influence; Jonathan studied the viola at the Royal Academy of Music, London from the early age of 16 after winning the National Chamber competition 5 times! In between recording & producing, over the last 12 months, Powell has been touring the UK and has performed at some of the UK's most popular festivals including 'How The Light Gets In' festival in Hay followed by a performance at 'The Marylebone Summer Fayre', the 'Beach Break Live', 'Hop Farm Festival' and most recently the' Green Man Festival'. At the end of January, Jonathan will perform at the Midem Festival in Cannes. Jonathan's new album 'THE FLIGHT & other stories' will be released on 07 February 2011.
Wednesday March 16, 9:00pm
The Last Republic @ Lustre Pearl
The Last Republic are many people’s tip to become the next big band to emerge from Wales. With soaring, bittersweet vocal melodies set against a sonic landscape of distorted grandeur, The Last Republic’s anthems for a generation and call-to-arms manifesto question the industrial illusion and the perceived progress of the modern world. The Last Republic formed in 2008, after meeting at the infamous rock venue The Duke of Wellington in Neath, South Wales. After gigging their way around Wales’ and London’s club circuit, they forged a reputation as a ‘must see’ live act and soon scored their first big break after entering Virgin Media’s ‘The Road To V’ competition. After weeks of TV coverage and seeing off competition from over 3500 bands, The Last Republic followed in the footsteps of The Young Knives and Bombay Bicycle Club to win the competition. Receiving 20,000 votes in the final, the band earned the right to play on The Main Stage at the V Festival alongside the likes of Oasis and The Killers in front of 10,000 people each day. Despite overtures from the music industry’s old guard, The Last Republic opted to accept an attractive offer of specialist music business investment in order to remain independent. The band have received airplay from Radio 1 DJ’s Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens, been playlisted by XFM and awarded the ‘Record of The Week’ on NME Radio. In addition to playing a sold-out support show at London's O2 Arena, The Last Republic have supported The Charlatans and Placebo, toured with the inspirationally independent band The Levellers, completed their own five-week headline tour and performed at festivals across the UK and Europe. The Last Republic recorded their debut album at the famous Monnow Valley Studio in Rockfield, Wales, with Chris Sheldon (Radiohead, Biffy Clyro, Foo Fighters) & Tom Manning (The Enemy, Broken Records, Feeder) during the winter of 2009/10. Entitled ‘Parade’, the album was mixed by Chris Sheldon, Andrew Scheps (U2, Metallica & The Mars Volta) and Dan Austin (The Doves, Cooper Temple Clause). It was released to much critical acclaim on 1st November 2010. Discography: Someday We’ll Be Waiting Single Released 12th April 2010 (C’Mon) Flood The Gates Single Released 14th June 2010 CCTV Single Released 25th October 2010 Parade Album Released 1st November 2010 “...speaking of the future, here are a band who have a big part in it.” – Zane Lowe – BBC Radio 1 “The Last Republic are making a name for themselves as purveyors of soaring epic anthems...Catchier than the clap and dressed sharper than razors, it's clear that The Last Republic have the proverbial 'bigger things' lined up squarely in their crosshairs.” – Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1 “The Last Republic – a band whose potential for broad appeal is complimented with grand guitar riffs, beautiful soaring melodies and a healthy punch of attitude” – Kerrang! Radio “The Last Republic have unbelievable vision.” - XFM (Manchester & London)
Thursday March 17, 12:00am
Jon Langford & Skull Orchard @ Continental Club
The L'homme de Renaissance of indie rock. (That's "Renaissance Man" for all you eating "Freedom Fries.") He's done it all in his time. For us, he's created lots of cover art, produced lots of records, lent his ham-fisted guitar stylings to recordings by the Old 97's, Kelly Hogan, Sadies, Sally Timms, Danbert Nobacon, Jon Rauhouse, Alejandro Escovedo, among others, draws a comic strip, plays in the long running art/punk collective the Mekons, written a book, appeared as the backing band on This American Life and acts as a reeling papa bear figure to many of Chicago's musicians looking for direction and reassurance in this vicious racket we call the music industry. Among the guiding forces in the Pine Valley Cosmonauts and the Waco Brothers and Wee Hairy Beasties. At any given time, he has several projects going. It tires us just trying to keep up. As nice as he is prolific. Sort of rare in the hyper-rarified environment of notoriety. For More of Jon's Art, go to his page at Yard Dog in Austin, TX; home of the annual Bloodshot SXSW shindig. Stop by, say hi, and make sure you look at the ten years of Yard Dog/Bloodshot SXSW Photographs!
Friday March 18, 11:10pm
The Joy Formidable @ Billboard Bungalow
There's something panoramic about The Joy Formidable's music - their mountainous, fuzzed out riffs and ferocious, earthy rhythms shrouded in ethereal haze. It sounds like where they're from: Childhood friends Ritzy Bryan (vocals, guitar) and Rhydian Dafydd (bass, vocals) grew up in rural North Wales, surrounded by rolling green hills and little else. "There's a beauty and a loneliness to the landscape there," says Dafydd. "We had no neighbors growing up," Bryan notes. "I think my parents looked for a house with no neighbors so they could play their music as loud as possible." For her part, Bryan loved the isolation. Growing up as an only child, the singer immersed herself in her parents' enormous record collection and the classical guitar studies she took on at the age of seven. "I loved playing guitar by myself, back then I was quite introverted with my music," she says. Bryan and Dafydd had been writing music separately from one another, and worked together in a couple of short-lived local bands after finishing school. They knew they wanted to collaborate, but didn't manage to make it work until a few years ago. "We kept missing each other," Ritzy says. Bryan went off to Washington, D.C "on a whim" and returned to Wales in 2008 with renewed focus. "My family situation wasn't easy to go back to" says Bryan. "I came back out of necessity and found a lot of sanctuary recording with Rhydian and having this new band to concentrate on." For six months, the pair wrote together, experimenting with different sonic approaches. "We'd go for walks in the hills between recordings," Dafydd remembers. "We'd write for hours and hours," adds Bryan, "and if we got frustrated, we'd go stomp it out, up and down the mountains." But as the sessions began yielding signature tunes like "Austere" and "Cradle" - tracks that combined the duo's interest in thick, textured noises with clear, shimmering pop hooks - they knew they'd found their sound. "We'd always been into writing strong melodies," Bryan says. "The sparks really flew when we started messing with things that were choral and symphonic, mixed with what both of us had already enjoyed separately: dirty, loud, rhythmic guitars and thick bass-lines." The Joy Formidable released "Austere" in July 2008, followed by "Cradle" on double 7" later that summer, and quickly produced an eight-track EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, which they released themselves in the U.K. in early 2009. Having relocated to London and recruited drummer Matthew Thomas, the trio quickly earned a reputation for blistering live performances. "We love and encourage the beautiful double-pedal," says Bryan, with a chuckle. "We do lean towards a slightly metal aesthetic when it comes to drums, which makes it very loud and heavy and all the things we want to be as a live entity. The new album definitely explores those elements, and that's because of Matt being in the band." The trio spent 2009 touring the U.K., Europe and Australia with bands including Editors, Temper Trap and Passion Pit, mastering tiny clubs and festival stages alike. Their introduction to American audiences came early this year, when Passion Pit invited The Joy Formidable to open a pair of sold-out shows at New York's Terminal 5. In late April, they teamed with a new label started by Passion Pit's Ayad Al Adhamy, Black Bell Records, to release A Balloon Called Moaning in the U.S. The New York Times' Jon Pareles praised the EP's "cryptic lyrics that glint with urgency," and said that "the music regenerates the turbulent haze of 1990s rock, but it's less tormented and more anthemic, confident of the pop structures at its core." They've also earned critical raves from NME, The Guardian, the London Times, Spin and Pitchfork, heavy rotation on Sirius XM's indie rock channel, Sirius XMU, and praise from Garbage's Shirley Manson and Courtney Love, among others. This summer, The Joy Formidable signed with Canvasback Records, and will release their debut album for the label, The Big Roar, early next year. When they weren't on the road, the band worked on writing and tracking the material for The Big Roar. "We recorded in a tiny corner of our London bedroom" Bryan says. "It was great, because you could capture that moment when you wake up in the middle of the night with a melody or an image or a lyric." Working on and off for a year, The Joy Formidable crafted a remarkable collection of modern rock songs that explore what Bryan describes as "the possibility of victory in a hopeless situation.” Adds Dafydd: "The album covers a lot of emotional range. It's captured the battle between the eternal optimist and the manic depressive." They produced The Big Roar themselves - with help from engineer Neak Menter - and traveled to Los Angeles this summer to mix it with producer Rich Costey (Muse, Foo Fighters, Glasvegas). A single from those sessions, "I Don't Want To See You Like This," is due out this autumn, with the full-length to follow in early 2011. The Joy Formidable will headline the Emerge NME Radar tour in September and October, making stops at various venues throughout the UK, and return to the U.S. for a headlining run in November
Friday March 18, 9:00pm
Gallops @ Latitude 30
"the jerky propulsion of Foals, the riffs-as-rhythm of Pivot and the synthy tomfoolery so beloved of Battles" NME GALLOPS are where live electronics and jagged guitars meet on the floor and thrash the s**t out of each other until neither one is left standing. Seamlessly blending organic and synthetic in a cohesive manner, while showcasing progressive song-writing without alienating the listener. This is as much for headphone listening in a dark room as it is for festival dance-offs. Taking influence from such drastically varied artists (Aphex Twin, Fugazi, Vangelis, Sun-Ra, Steve Reich...) goes someway to explaining the provocatively unique shape of this, their 5 track debut EP, which firmly stakes a claim on behalf of the 4 piece as 1 of the UK's brightest hopes. A limited edition collaborative release from 2 of the UKs most exciting DIY labels; Holy Roar (Rolo Tomassi, Pulled Apart By Horses) and Blood and Biscuits (Three Trapped Tigers, Tall Ships) this EP is destined to be one of those evasive records, which the snoozers will hunting down on e-bay in 6 months time. The 4 piece from Wrexham (yes, Wrexham!?) are a band of few words, infact this EP doesn't contain any. The closest you'll hear to vocals on the entire EP is a heavily manipulated hoover synth on 'Miami Spider' which sound as if it's been transmitted from extra terrestrials, speaking from galaxies away in an unidentifiable tongue, to steer the record to its ultimate conclusion. Much like some of our favourite pieces or art, books, films and records, the open interpretation only enhances the experience. So are GALLOPS willing to give us an insight into their stimulus, their methods, their evolution, their mindset, their intentions? "We just hope we are doing something a bit different and giving people enjoyment". We'll take that as a "no". http://www.myspace.com/thegallopsband