What do we normally think about when asked about the Welsh music? Wales is traditionally referred to as “the land of song,” and music is a significant part of the Welsh cultural identity. Yet, Wales is by far not considered as one of the world’s music hubs. This is largely due to the fact that Welsh music and showbiz are largely integrated into the Anglo-Saxon culture. Often we don’t know about a great and famous artist’s Welsh descent. To name just a few: Bonnie Tyler, Manic Street Preachers, Shirley Bassey, Stereophonics, Super Furry Animals, Tom Jones…
Today we take a look at some of the more recent Welsh music acts that have rocked the charts and radio stations around the world, but left the world mostly ignorant of their Welsh background.
Rising from the ashes of another Newport-based crossover metal band – Dub War – in 1999, the four-piece Skindred have been enjoying significant chart success on both sides of the Atlantic. Their debut album Babylon was released in 2002, and since then the band has been putting out new material and touring extensively practically non-stop. They describe their style as ragga metal or new metal, organically fusing elements from rock and metal, reggae and dub, electronica and hip hop. If we were to look for something similar, the nearest pick would be Bad Brains who also have a quite distinct style that cannot be confused with any other band.
Kids In Glass Houses
This Pontycymmer-based pop-punk band was a rare example that gained mainstream attention prior to signing with a major label (in their case – Roadrunner). In 2006-2007 they got to share the stage with such established artists as 30 Seconds to Mars, Funeral for a Friend, Lostprophets, Manic Street Preachers, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Used, and others. They also got some major attention from the media: BBC Radio 1, Kerrang!, and NME celebrated and supported the independent newcomers. Kids in Glass Houses released 4 successful albums before disbanding and embarking on a farewell tour in 2014.
Born in Gwynedd in 1984, Amie Ann Duffy got familiar with soul music at a relatively not-so-young age of 19. In 2004, she got introduced to Bernard Butler of Suede who “educated” her by downloading some of the soul classics onto her iPod. This included Al Green, Burt Bucharach, Phil Spector, and – according to Duffy herself, one of her biggest inspirations – Bettye Swann.
Duffy’s first solo album Rockferry was released in 2008 to huge success. It was celebrated by fans and critics alike, and lavished with awards, – both in the UK, Europe, and the US. However, the 2010 follow-up Endlessly failed to repeat the success, and got Duffy disappointed in making music altogether. We are still anxious to hear Duffy’s third album, but unfortunately, there is no definitive news in this regards at the moment.
Bullet For My Valentine
These metalheads from Bridgend have been around since 1998 and need no introduction. Having started their careers with nothing more extraordinary than covering their idols – Nirvana, Metallica, Iron Maiden, etc., – Bullet for My Valentine were propelled to success with the release of their debut album The Poison in 2005. Despite the fact that the band does not stand in one place artistically, you can always hear some pronounced influence of the classic 80s metal music, organically updated.
The latest album Venom was released in 2015, followed by a long global tour. BFMV are currently working on their sixth studio album.
The Automatic (or The Automatic Automatic, as they are known in America) are a Welsh indie/dance punk band from Cowbridge. The founding members have known each other since primary school, and they are one of the few instances of a childhood dream of having a band actually making it into adulthood – and with success! Their debut (and most successful) album Not Accepted Anywhere was released in 2006 to mixed reviews from the critics, but securing them a solid fanbase and respectable sales in both UK and the US.
Unfortunately, the follow-up albums did not do quite as well, and the band is on hiatus since 2010 with no plans of recording any new material or touring together.
Goldie Lookin’ Chain
They say that if you want to create a good parody of something, you should really love the material that you are making fun of. This is just the case with the other Newportonians on this list – the comedy rap group Goldie Lookin’ Chain, common shortened to The GLC. Their satire reveals respect and admiration for American hip-hop, as well as for the South Welsh realize and the chav culture.
They have over 15 albums in their catalog, and a great deal of charting singles, the most commercially successful being “Guns Don’t Kill People, Rappers Do” that peaked at number 3 in the UK.
The rumor goes that The GLC are to put out their second Greatest Hits compilation this year, and a tour will follow where they will play both Greatest Hits albums in their entirety.
People In Planes
People in Planes were the third incarnation of this band from Porthcawl. Upon moving to Cardiff, they became known as Tetra Splendour. Finally, upon signing up to Wind-Up Records and moving to New York City, they began to call themselves People in Planes. The original and the final names are derived from the fascination the band members share about air travel.
If you are a fan of 2000s alternative rock, then you know exactly what you will get here. Sadly, People in Planes disbanded in 2013.
Funeral For A Friend
Funeral for a Friend was formed in Bridgend in 2001 and marked the dawn of the emo trend in music and culture. In fact, they were one of the trendsetters with their Casually Dressed & Deep in Conversation (2003). Despite their overwhelming success, they have always been hard workers, and each consequent album was more mature, introducing their new artistic sides to the listener. The debut above is marked with the angry guitar sound, whereas Tales Don’t Tell Themselves (2007) has a much more melodic rock feel, and on Welcome Home Armageddon (2011) we hear heavy guitars again, but update without repeating themselves.
Before breaking up, FFAF released their 7th album Chapter and Verse in early 2016 and concluded their glorious career with a grand tour that lasted until May 2016.
From Merthyr Tydfil, The Blackout was another Welsh band to catch the emo vibe of the mid-2000s. Before they caught the attention of a label and could actually record something to get exposed to larger audiences, they had the chance to perform alongside such renowned bands as Funeral for a Friend, Kids in Glass Houses, Lostprophets, The Automatic, and others. And this is how they got the attention of Fierce Panda Records, which eventually released their debut album We Are the Dynamyte in October 2007.
The Blackout was notable for a more melodic sound than their genre fellows. The musicians have released 4 albums before deciding to conclude the band and move on to other projects in 2015.
The Joy Formidable
Northern Welshmen The Joy Formidable were formed by childhood friends-turned-couple Ritzy Brian and Rhydian Dafydd in 2007 after the two had played together in many other projects. With three studio albums behind their backs, The Joy Formidable play the kind of music that can be described as a harsher rendition of Metric or a smoother version of Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
It looks like they are done touring in support of their latest album Hitch (2016). Fortunately, they have not voiced any plans of breaking up any time soon, so we should patiently wait for their fourth album to be announced.
Mike Rotts is a melomaniac from London, actively pursuing a full-time career and attending a wide range of live music concerts all over the UK. Eventually, his music addiction brought Mike to Ticket Select. The site’s slogan — ‘one search, all tickets’ — immediately appealed to Mike’s active music lifestyle, and right now, he is one of the most active members of our growing team. Rotts happily shares his experience about the latest concerts and conveys his thoughts on the most promising bands that are yet to perform in the United Kingdom. In addition to that, Mike is always willing to review some of the leading local venues he’s been to.