ALBUM: The Joy Formidable – ‘AAARTH’

As guitarist and vocalist Ritzy Bryan explains: AAARTH is what happens when you stop “giving a fuck about things that don’t matter”. The Joy Formidable‘s fourth album is an aural plunge in to freedom and self-exploration, and brims with the trio’s trademark alternative sounds. The record is set to be released via Hassle Records on 28th September.

AAARTH bursts in to life with the sound of ‘Y Bluen Eira’. Sung entirely in Welsh, it’s a powerful, all-encompassing track; permeated by waves of Ritzy’s buzzing guitar, Rhydian’s brooding bass and Matt’s heart-thumping percussion. ‘The Wrong Side’ follows, pushing through with steady grace before the thunderous ‘Go Loving’ breaks in. It’s a solid example of the band’s ongoing ability to pause and punch in all the right places.

Acoustic guitar and distorted bass lines sit perfectly next to each other on ‘Cicada (Land on Your Back)’, whilst Ritzy’s hushed vocals on ‘All In All’ provide a moment for quiet, ambiguous reflection about the “something missing”. The track’s pay off hits at the three minute mark in the form of swirling, atmospheric riffs and crashing drum beats. ‘What For’ bleeds in afterwards, leaving no room for respite. The same can be said for ‘The Better Me’, which rips and roars for just shy of four minutes, and hosts an incredible outro that will be the highlight of future live sets. It’s a song about “self-acceptance, living with your mistakes and appreciating how we all make up the whole and have something different to offer” Ritzy extrapolates.

The melancholy ‘Absence’ follows, acting as a calm interlude before the raucous ‘Dance of the Lotus’ kicks in. It’s easily one of the strongest songs on the record, with its immense drop-ins and wonderful guitar wails. Penultimate track ‘You Can’t Give Me’ rings out with orchestral elements and buzzing guitar for a full five minutes, before ‘Caught On a Breeze’ closes the album with more belting percussion, rumbling bass lines, and filthy guitar riffs.

AAARTH is a fierce new collection of songs that reinforces The Joy Formidable’s seamless ability to keep the momentum going with (what feels like) minimal effort. A decade after the release of their debut EP, A Balloon Called Moaning, the trio are still releasing sharply produced, thunderous sounds that are best appreciated at full volume, or in the flesh on a live platform. Don’t miss out on their in-store gigs at Rough Trade (dates below).

AAARTH is released on September 28th on CD, LP, limited boxset, Indie retail exclusive vinyl & Rough Trade exclusive vinyl. Pre-order here.

The Joy Formidable Live Dates 2018
Sept 29 – Rough Trade in-store, Nottingham
Sept 30 – Rough Trade in-store, Bristol
Oct 01 – Rough Trade in-store, London East

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LIVE: The Joy Formidable – The Lexington, 22.08.18

Almost six years to the day since they last played the venue, The Joy Formidable made a triumphant return to The Lexington to perform to a sold out crowd on Wednesday night. Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt are masters of loud-and-quiet alternative anthems, and despite being absent from the London live scene recently; the trio have lost none of their momentum.

Opening their set with the riotous and rarely played ‘Greyhounds In The Slips’, the band tore through the song with impressive precision and energy. ‘I Don’t Want To See You Like This’ followed, before the all-encompassing ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’ took hold – filling the venue with foot-thumping and chants of appreciation. At the close of the song, guitarist & vocalist Ritzy, and bassist Rhydian addressed the “familiar faces” in their crowd, and banter about her “mountain troll” clumsiness – as well as drummer Matt’s intake of walnuts and whisky – drew hearty laughs from their loyal fans.

After this brief hiatus, the trio eased in to ‘Ostrich’. Unlike the recorded version, this rendition hosted a calmer intro; reflecting Ritzy’s words about the song’s theme of “moving on and forgiving” people. The pay-off was still every inch as powerful, so nothing was lost in the translation. With their fourth album AAARTH due for release next month, the band then showcased some of their new material – including their latest single ‘The Wrong Side’ – which rang out with trademark Joy Formidable intensity.

Hitch single ‘This Ladder Is Ours’ thundered through shortly after, before the band briefly left the stage, returning for a knockout encore. Between the blur of ‘Buoy’ (which was given similar treatment to ‘Ostrich’) and final track ‘Whirring’, the band took some time to remind fans that next year marks the tenth anniversary of the release of their debut EP, A Balloon Called Moaning. Ritzy promised TJF would be celebrating the occasion with some intimate acoustic shows, then promptly apologised for not playing the acoustic dates she promised last time she was in town, when the band played at Oslo in Hackney.

In one final six minute frenzy of riffs and raucous drumming, the band threw themselves and their instruments around the stage during ‘Whirring’, leaving their crowd fired up with the promise of seeing them in town again soon. The Joy Formidable have been on the musical radar for almost a decade, and last night’s performance proved they’ve got another decade’s worth of raw live power in them.

Support came from the wonderful Bryde – who performed with a full band – who TJF heartily praised.

Pre-order your copy of The Joy Formidable’s AAARTH here.
Follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: June 2018

We’re mid-way through 2018, and we’re ready to share another playlist packed with fresh new sounds for your very eager ears! Take some time to scroll through our track selections, hit play on the Spotify link below, and let your ears fill up with the glorious new sounds of June…

Fever Ray – ‘If I Had A Heart’
Fever Ray were one of the headliners of Field Day this year and it could not have been a better end to the festival, hypnotic beats, terrifyingly warped vocals and an explosive stage performance. Gender bending outfits, with reverberating sound all whipped up together by the psychedelic and endorphin inducing visuals. When this track started I lost my mind – wow wow wow. (Tash Walker)

Catgod – ‘Keep My Promises’
Lead by sibling duo Robin and Catherine, Catgod’s new single interweaves swirling folk-tinged melodies with trip-hop inspired beats. As Robin’s soaring vocals are perfectly complemented by Cat’s exquisite harmonies, it showcases the band’s unique musicality in a cinematic soundscape that’ll captivate on first listen. Heartbeat In My Hand, the debut EP from Catgod, is out 22nd June. (Mari Lane)

Dott – ‘Bleached Blonde’
Galway’s Dott have released the perfect single for girls who love sunshine, surfing, and super-catchy garage pop anthems. The track is taken from their upcoming album Heart Swell, which is set to be released via Graveface Records on 8th June. It’s not on Spotify yet, but you can watch the video for it below. (Kate Crudgington)

S4U – ‘Heart’
‘Heart’ is the latest single London-based duo S4U (Something For You) taken from their upcoming Mixtape Heart 2 Say, which will be released via Different Recordings on 6th July. Looking forward to that a lot… I’m loving S4U’s new low-slung R&B experimental electro with some heavy 90s influences. Of the track S4U says “Curved, Parallel conscious, sub conscious, the synergy of heart and mind generates wise choices that benefit all. In other words as you appreciate that which is appreciating you. It is a wonderful thing to hold someone as your object of attention while you feel that G force Roses in Britain” Lovely. (TW)

The Menstrual Cramps – ‘Make Girls Feel Good’
Combining activism with musical prowess, The Menstrual Cramps provide a captivating force that we all need now more than ever.  With their fist-clenching ferocity, racing catchy hooks and a tongue in cheek wit, they create truly infectious punk-rock anthems. And this track is no exception – an epic dose of empowering energy, with lyrics like “you always look like such perfection that you don’t even need to try”, it’ll leave you feeling good and ready to take on the world. And we CANNOT WAIT to see The Menstrual Cramps headline for us at The Finsbury on Friday(ML) 

Slowcoaches – ‘Found Down’
Having previously captured our hearts with the totally epic, anti-toxic-masculinity anthem ‘Complex’, Slowcoaches are back with a new single. Racing with a seething energy, ‘Found Down’ hits your ears with its scuzzy riffs and the raw, angst-driven vocals of Heather Perkins. Oozing an immense, punk-fuelled power, it’s a perfect blast of raging honesty that we need now more than ever. (ML)

Placebo – ‘Scared Of Girls’
I scored tickets to Placebo’s Meltdown gig at Southbank Centre (curated by Robert Smith) and although this will be the fourth time I’ve seen them (quit bragging Kate), my heart is still beating double time with joy at the prospect of potentially hearing this track live. I imagine this song title accurately describes how most men feel when they see me dancing to it on a night out… (KC)

The Joy Formidable – ‘Dance Of The Lotus’
This is the band responsible for getting me in to alternative music a decade ago, so when I heard new single ‘Dance Of The Lotus’, my inner 18 year old imploded. They’re playing Robert Smith’s Meltdown Festival on the same day as NIN, and they’ll be playing at one of my favourite venues, The Lexington, in August. I missed out on tickets for both, so if anyone wants to help a girl out…I write good reviews… (KC)

Hilary Woods – ‘Inhaler’
‘Inhaler’ is the first single from Hilary Woods’ upcoming debut solo album Colt, which is set to be released via my favourite label Sacred Bones Records on 8th June. It’s a pensive, delicate, melancholy track about her struggles with homesickness, and it’s going to sound beautiful live when ringing out against the walls of St Pancras Old Church on 11th June. (KC)

VTR – ‘Soul To Skin’
‘Soul To Skin’ is taken from Brixton duo VTR’s recently released EP of the same name via Dream Diary. So sultry, so smooth, so seductive. This track reverberates around my ears giving me so much audible pleasure, very excited to hear more from these two in the future. (TW)

Barrie – ‘Tal Uno’
The new single from Brooklyn’s Barrie, ‘Tal Uno’ is filled with jangly hooks and swooning vocals, creating a totally dreamy, twinkling soundscape. As glistening synth-filled melodies glide alongside glitchy beats, it’s impossible not to float away in the shimmering, psychedelic haze that Barrie create. (ML)

ELA Lindsey – ‘Healing Me Slow’
This is the debut track from Nashville’s singer-songwriter ELA Lindsey who found her musical passion later in life starting at the age of 29. She says that by releasing this single she hopes to inspire other women to start their artistic journeys later than the typical industry standard usually allows. ‘Healing Me Slow’ has been firmly stuck in my head over the last couple of weeks, starting with her sweet and gentle vocals, then breaking down into this dark electro synth laden TUNE. With all the hooks and loops I could ever want. INTO IT. (TW)

Tigercats – ‘Candy’s Tailor’
Tigercats’ new single ‘Candy’s Tailor’ is filled with twinkling, jangly melodies and uptempo, calypso-like beats. Flowing with raw vocals and rich layers of sound, it’s an utterly uplifting summer anthem, and I’m already getting pretty excited about seeing these guys at Indietracks Festival next month! Pig City, the new album from Tigercats, is out now. (ML)

Nine Inch Nails – ‘Ringfinger’
I only discovered the true glory of NINs last year (always late to the party, when will I learn?) but I’m seeing Trent Reznor & co twice this month – at Meltdown Festival & The Royal Albert Hall – and I am nerve-shreddingly excited. ‘Ringfinger’ is one of my favourite tracks on 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine, and although they’re unlikely to play it live – I’ll still be bouncing off the walls in anticipation leading up to the gigs. (KC)

Photo Credit: Slowcaoches shot by Priti Shikotra