by Jeff Yerger
Never call a Welshman “British.” I learned that the hard way once at a bar in Florida after I asked where the bartender was from. Needless to say, I didn’t get the quickest refills after that. However, the next time I went to that same bar, the bartender calls me over and gives me a gift: a t-shirt with a big Welsh flag on the front. “You better wear it,” she tells me with a sly grin, and I do. I wear that thing with as much pride as any true Welshman. Cymru am byth!
See, I’ve come to find that people from Wales are very proud of their country and of their culture. Most of us in America take our lovely country for granted, but not the Welsh. They may be a relatively small, mountainous piece in the United Kingdom puzzle, but they’re an important piece, damnit, and they’re going to let you know about it. So, it comes to no surprise that Welsh rockers The Joy Formidable are proud to be launching “Aruthrol” (“formidable”), an all-Welsh monthly, vinyl singles club.
Although they’ve released a Welsh version of their breakthrough hit “Whirring” in the past, The Joy Formidable are now diving further into their roots with this project. “We’ve been talking about making a Welsh record for a long time, but we’ve been busy touring,” says guitarist/vocalist Ritzy Bryan, per the press release. “We had a few weeks back home over Christmas and that became the perfect time to set everything up, among all the memories of being back home where the band started.”
Recorded at the band’s studio in the North Walean hills, the songs on “Aruthrol” are sung in Welsh and will be released as collaborative split 7” singles, sharing sides with other Welsh bands members of the Joy Formidable admire. “They’re double A-sides,” bass player, guitarist and co-vocalist Rhydian Dafydd emphasizes. “Not an A-side and a B-side. Both sides have equal importance.”
The first release for “Aruthrol,” titled “Yn Rhydiau’r Afon” (“In The Fords of the River”), picks up where the band’s last album, 2013’s Wolf’s Law, left off. It’s a sweeping epic, featuring rafter-shaking energy interwoven with solemn interludes led by Rhydian’s Spanish guitar. In a way, it recalls the band’s earlier, pre-The Big Roar material in that it has a certain frantic, raw energy about it, and yet, the song still pushes the band forward, introducing new sounds and textures along the way.
This first installment, Aruthrol “A,” which also features Welsh band Colorama, is available for pre-order now at thejoyformidable.com, but get ‘em while they’re hot, because they will be very limited (only 500 copies of each vinyl pressing). In the meantime, have a listen and watch the video for yourself below: