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Britspotting w/ Matt McGrath

CD of The Week

Week of 10/01/18

    The Joy Formidable - AAARTH (Seradom)

    If The Big Roar was their debut, then AAARTH (Welsh for "bear," roughly) is the sound of the beast roaring again. The fourth album from Welsh natives The Joy Formidable never shies away from plunging into the depths of heavy guitar melodies that have placed them at the top of the Indie scene since 2011. The band's recent move to the American Southwest figures heavily into the mystique of the album; evident in the lyrics as well as the gorgeous cover art. Lead vocalist and guitarist Ritzy Bryan quotes: "Those multi-coloured sunsets & the primeval elements of nature in the Southwest – it's emboldened our imaginations in the songwriting and the production."

    Album opener "Y Bluen Eira" (translated as "The Snowflake") almost immediately breaks into a breathtaking sonic assault. "The Wrong Side" and "Dance Of The Lotus" are stand out tracks that evoke previous TJF singles; glorious barn burners that show off the blistering rhythm section of Rydian Dafydd on bass and vocals and Matthew James Thomas on drums and percussion. A few tracks may be peppered with slight and beautiful acoustics ("All In All," " Cicada," "Absence"), but the band never fails to incite a magical riot with each and every song.

    To call this album experimental is inaccurate, yet sufficient. They've introduced sounds and elements that we've not yet heard from them, but the progression is surprisingly logical. Occasional hints of influence from the Alt Rock 90s scene (Garbage, and Foo Fighters, whom they recently opened for) only enhance the breadth of their aural bliss. The Joy Formidable are a band that needs to be heard by the masses. AAARTH will surely find its way to the top of many independent music bloggers "Best Of" lists for 2018. Yours truly included.

    The Joy Formidable will blow the doors off at Underground Arts on November 11th, with opener Tancred.
    Review by Dave Lindquist

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