Lostprophets Announce Album Release

Welsh rock band, Lostprophets, will be celebrating the release of their upcoming album by giving fans a free download of their new single.

The rockers from Pontypridd are due to release their fifth studio album, Weapons, on April 2, and their brand new song, Better Off Dead, will get its first play at 8.30am tomorrow (January 6) by Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1.

Giving their Facebook followers a sneak peak of what was to come, the band wrote: “You keep asking for new music… If we were you, we’d be glued to BBC Radio One Friday morning from 7:30.”

The Prophets will also be treating fans to a free download of the new track through their Facebook page following its radio debut.

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Top 5 Welsh Rock Albums, By Ben Rogers

South Wales Rocks welcomes a guest post from a trainee journalist at Cardiff University, Ben Rogers. Ben is also a rock music blogger who runs Live and Loud Rock and has given South Wales Rocks a countdown of his top five rock albums to come out of South Wales in the last 10 years.

5. Memory and Humanity – Funeral for a Friend

The year before the release of Memory and Humanity, Funeral for a Friend released their concept album Tales Don’t Tell Themselves and to say this split the opinion of critics would be an understatement. Although this album doesn’t see the band go back to their post-hardcore roots, it does act as the obvious successor to their 2005 release, Hours. In You Can’t See the Forest for the Wolves, the band has penned the type of track which made Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation an instant classic. A soft acoustic section is soon followed by the heaviest riff heard on a Funeral album for years. This acts as a warm-up for the albums best track, Waterfront Dance Club. Containing one of the hugest choruses you will ever hear, it is almost impossible to not succumb to the need to belt the lyrics out along with Matt Davies, who delivers some of the best vocals since the band formed. Despite never hitting the peaks that their debut album managed, Memory and Humanity is a brilliant album which will be abusing speakers for many years to come.

4. The Betrayed – Lostprophets

The Betrayed was doomed from the start. Lostprophets, having written and recorded a follow up to 2006s Liberation Transmission, decided to scrap it and start afresh. Following such chaotic recording circumstances, fans were more than a little concerned that the album would feel rushed, but how wrong they were.

Both heavier and darker than previous albums, The Betrayed spans numerous genres while always managing to blow away the competition. Screamo (Next Stop, Atro City), arena rock (Where We Belong) and metal (Dstryr/Dstryr) are all present in the album and it is impressive that the band have managed to include such variety without the album sounding disjointed.

The Betrayed may not be perfect, but it is the best Lostprophets album to date, and one which they will find very difficult to improve on with their next release, although they will give it their best shot I am sure.

3.  The Best in Town – The Blackout

In a year which saw the release of albums by Alexisonfire, Silverstein and Thrice it would have been forgiven if The Best In Town had fallen by the wayside, outshined by their more experienced predecessors. This was not the case however, as The Blackout put together 10 tracks which blew its competition out of the water.

From brilliant opener Shutthefuckuppercut to album closer We’re Going to Hell…So Bring the Sunblock, The Blackout prove that they are a force to be reckoned with. The heaviness of their debut album remains, but the songs have been fused with hooks that grab the listener by the scruff of the neck and force them to pay attention.

It is testament to the quality of this album that there are no standout tracks, all of the songs available here are brilliant. Whether it be the juxtaposition of visceral screams alongside the backing vocals performed by a group of children on Children of the Night, or the cheeky I Love Myself and I Want to Live, a stab at Nirvana’s depressing I Hate Myself and I Want to Die, there are no weak tracks at all. It is fair to say that with this release, The Blackout proved their critics wrong and showed that the title of the album is indeed very apt.

2. Fever – Bullet For My Valentine

If debut album The Poison was the band finding its feet and follow up Scream.Aim.Fire was them losing their footing, then Fever sees BFMV finding their way to the top of the heavy metal ladder and from the sound of things they intend to stay put.

The heavy riffs of albums gone by remain, but Fever sees them balanced by both hooks and melodies which will be scrapping in your brain for hours after listening.  That each single released from the album found its way onto the Radio 1 playlist is a testament to how well written this album is. Of course the lyrical content remains the same, but it wouldn’t be a BFMV album without tracks of broken romances.

Your Betrayal picks up where Tears Don’t Fall left off on the band’s debut album, while Bittersweet Memories and Pretty On The Outside prove that the band belong in huge arenas. Matt Tuck’s vocals are stronger than ever before, and the clean delivery which dominates most of the album is driven by the right amount of screams that fans of both styles will enjoy.

In Fever, BFMV merged what made The Poison and Scream.Aim.Fire sell by the bucket load and shined it up into one of the best mainstream metal albums to be released in a very long time.

1. Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation – Funeral for a Friend

Funeral for a Friend may have released five full length studio albums, but none of them have been able to hold a torch to their 2003 debut album Casually Dressed and Deep in Conversation. The album boasts the perfect balance of intricate guitar pieces, huge riffs, complex time signatures and brutal vocals without ever sounding anything below brilliant.

From start to finish, the band penned one of the best albums this generation has ever heard. Juneau was an instant classic and has been a staple in the band’s live shows ever since. Although She Drove Me to Daytime Television is possibly the heaviest the band has ever been, Escape Artists Never Die is clearly the standout track of the album. The instrumental breakdown and resultant cry of “please someone help me, I’m dying here in front of you”  just over halfway through the song  still gives me goosebumps over 8 years after the track was first released.

Your Revolution is a Joke shows the band’s ability to be both gentle among the raucous nature of the rest of the album without the track sounding out of place, and closing track Novella is the perfect parting shot, leaving fans begging for more of the same. Although they have tried; both Hours and Memory and Humanity have gained commercial recognition and a place in the hearts of their fans. But nothing a Funeral for a Friend have released since this album has come close to topping what is one of the best rock albums ever released.

Check out Ben’s blog on rock music, Live and Loud Rock

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The Rock Music Scene in South Wales

Over the past few years’ questions have been raised about the future of rock music in South Wales, and South Wales Rocks has delved a little deeper by asking if the rock music scene in South Wales is growing or dwindling?

It was in the 1970s when Welsh rock music really came into its own, and bands such as Cardiff rockers Budgie really came into their stride in this decade.

This decade also saw the growing success of Monmouth based Rockfield Studios. After being set up by Welsh musician and record producer Dave Edmunds in 1963, the studio has seen many famous bands and artists record material.

The rock music scene in South Wales still seemed to be picking up momentum in the 1980s, and saw music become more creative.

But, the 1990s was possibly the biggest decade for rock music in South Wales, with three of the areas biggest music names emerging onto the rock scene. The Stereophonics, Catatonia and the Manic Street Preachers all quickly made names for themselves as the power houses of Welsh rock.

The emergence of these three bands helped Welsh music lovers to coin the phrase ‘Cool Cymru’, but only two of these bands still survive today. With Catatonia, spliting after hitting their peak in 2001.

Following the ‘Cool Cymru’ period, many music lovers in South Wales turned their attention to Newport and the city was dubbed the ‘new Seattle’ after the emergence of new guitar bands such as Feeder in the late 1990s.

From the 2000s onwards, rock music in South Wales has continued to thrive, with artists including the Lostprophets, Funeral For A Friend, Bullet For My Valentine and The Blackout coming to the forefront of the Welsh music sphere.

Bands who made their entrance onto the Welsh music scene in previous decades have also recorded further successes, and bands such as the Manic Street Preachers, the Stereophonics and the Super Furry Animals continue to have successful careers.

Seeing the success of these bands, more and more aspiring musicians are making their way into the South Wales rock circuit and many are showing a somewhat entrepreneurial spirit by organising and promoting their own gigs and some are even setting up their own record labels. This suggests rock music in South Wales is far from dead.

Expressing his hopefulness for the rock music scene in South Wales, The Blackout’s guitarist Matthew Davies, said: “For ages I thought it was dwindling, it seems like it’s been years since a great new band has sprung up, but then I helped judge the battle of the bands that picked the openers for the Merthyr Rock second stage and the bands that played all blew me away.

“Hopefully these bands will work hard, have some luck on their side and make their marks on the UK music scene too.”

Despite so many bands coming out of the area, South Wales has been hit by a venue drought in recent years, with multiple places closing their doors to music lovers.

Among the most recent closures are Barfly, Cardiff and TJ’s in Newport. After being open for more than 30 years the legendary TJ’s closed in April 2010, after it was found the venue was facing financial difficulties.

Cardiff’s Barfly unexpectedly closed its doors in September 2010 after being open in the capital for 10 years. A statement on Barfly’s website said: “Cardiff has a rich musical heritage and many genuine music lovers, for this reason we hope at some point to return to the city.”

Other live music venues which have bid the Welsh music scene a farewell include, Merthyr Tydfil’s RM’s and the Studio Bar, The Point in Cardiff Bay, Tom’s Bar in Pontypridd and Cardiff’s Millennium Music Hall.

Rob Hunt, from The Nothing, said: “I think the rock scene in Wales has suffered tremendously over the last few years. Unfortunately, we’ve sadly seen major venues in Welsh rock history perish overnight. With very few venues left it’s fair to say rock music has taken a hit. With less venues available to showcase music it seems like it could be a struggle for up and coming bands.”

Despite worries that rock music in South Wales may be dwindling, there are so many things going on in the area which suggest otherwise.

Spillers Records owner, Ashli Todd has a very optimistic view of the Welsh rock music scene. Hear what she said below:

Jarrad Owens, a journalist, musician and a music blogger, said: “I think for the moment the scene venue-wise is in a state of rebuilding. Lots of grassroots venues went under over the last few years.

“Luckily the Barfly has come back under the legendary Bogiez and it seems that a few new venues have sprung up to fill the gaps.”

South Wales has always had a rich rock music history and evidence of this comes from the numerous bands to come out of the area over the past decades.

The map below shows just a few of the bands to come out of South Wales:

With venues opening, bands continuing to form and Welsh rock music businesses such as Spillers Records and Rockfield Studios powering on, it is clear the South Wales rock scene is continuing to grow and a has longevity unlike any other.


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Kelly Jones tribute to Gary Speed

South Wales music legend, Kelly Jones paid tribute to another Welsh legend, Gary Speed, on Friday night.

The Sterophonics vocalist performed an acoustic version of Andy Williams’s classic Can’t Take My Eyes off You, as a tribute to the Wales international manager, Gary Speed, who was found dead at his home on Sunday, 27 November.

Kelly played the iconic song after it became an anthem for Welsh football fans during Gary’s career, and was even featured in the BBC Wales promo for the 1994 World Cup campaign.

A video of the track was played on Friday, 2 December on Sport Wales at 10pm, as part of a special programme in memory of Gary Speed.

The Sterephonics frontman even took time out from working on new material in Brussels to record the emotional tribute.

BBC Wales Music

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Spillers Records: The oldest record shop in the world

It may be unknown to some, but the oldest record shop in the world is located in Cardiff, South Wales. Spillers Records has been a music institution in its own right in the capital city for 117 years.

Spillers was established in 1894 by Henry Spiller in the Queens Arcade, Cardiff, and sold phonographs, wax phonograph cylinders and shellac phonograph discs.

In the 1920s the shop was handed down to Henry’s son Edward and accordionist Joe Gregory, and from this point Spillers began to sell musical instruments and pre-recorded music.

The music store was moved to its second location on The Hayes, Cardiff, in the late 1940s. It remained here for 60 years and changed hands a further two times, being sold to a group of business people before making its way into the hands of current owners the Todd family.

After working at Spillers for several years, Nick Todd, purchased the legendary music shop in the 1970s and went on to own the establishment for 30 years, until he sold the business to his daughters Ashli and Grace Todd 18 months ago.

Along with its new owners, Spillers moved premises a final time to its current home in the Morgan Arcade, Cardiff.  This last move was not without trouble as the store faced closure in 2006 after the rent on the Hayes premises was raised, but a huge campaign kept the record shop open and led to the premises movement in July 2010.

Commenting on the new premises, co-owner Ashli Todd said: “The sound outside in this arcade since we have been here is absolutely beautiful. Because of the acoustics of the arcade I actually like being outside the shop because of the way the sound travels, it does not distort the music at all.”

When asked about Spillers status as the oldest record shop in the world, 28-year-old Ashli said: “It is a unique selling point for us to be the oldest record shop but I wouldn’t say it is a tourist attraction, although I think it is a selling point of Cardiff.”

Ashli also said downloading had not hit Spillers as hard as some of the larger music retailers, suggesting that many downloaders’ were looking to get singles rather than full albums online.

According to music lover Ashli vinyl seems to be making a comeback, she said: “Vinyl is becoming popular again. I think it’s because there is nothing else like it, the sound is unique.”

In addition to selling a diverse range on music on cd and vinyl, Spillers prides itself on its live in-store performances, with the store being able to hold around 100 people.

Ashli said: “As long as the shop has been open people have played music here, artists have made in-store appearances in Spillers for as long back as we know.

“Performances here have always been a little bit special because we are not a music venue, it tends to be more stripped down and acoustic.”

Spillers has hosted numerous performances in the past including James Dean Bradfield from the Manic Street Preachers, The Peth, Kids In Glass Houses and many more.

Upcoming performances in Spillers include, Josh T Pearson on 24 November and Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals will be launching his new EP in the store on 19 December.

Spillers Records Official Website

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An Interview with the Blackout

They are one of the biggest rock bands to come out of South Wales and after being named as the Kerrang! Best Live Band in Britain, The Blackout seem to be at the height of music success.

These six South Wales Valleys boys Gavin Butler, Sean Smith, James ‘Bob’ Davies, Matthew Davies, Rhys Lewis and Gareth ‘Snoz’ Lawrence have celebrated their almost 10 years experience in the music industry by embarking on their biggest tour to date.

Now, The Blackout’s guitarist Matthew Davies has taken time out of their headline tour to answer a few questions for South Wales Rocks.

How was The Blackout formed, and did you expect to get this sort of reaction from your music?

“The band formed 10 years ago after I left my old band. Sean and Gavin were friends at the time and had come down to watch what ended up being the old bands last practice with me in it, but some how the three of us and the drummer started messing around and playing a few covers and it was just fun. I ended up leaving that band and me and Sean decided to start our own. We asked Gavin to join too and started the search for other members.  We found Rhys through the internet and Snoz was a friend of a friend so we asked him to join too, and then finally Bob joined a few years later.

We never expected any success from it. The band was just something an excuse for us all to hang out and not be bored at home and somehow, 10 years later, we’re still together, still having fun, still making music and playing to people.  It’s more than we could ever have dreamed of.”

Who or what has been an inspiration for the band’s music?

“The biggest inspiration was probably seeing Lostprophets doing really well and also being from Wales, which made us think that if they could do it then there was nothing stopping us from doing it too.  Band wise we all like different stuff from Glassjaw to Queen to Bon Jovi to Metallica to loads of pop music, so we’ve always tried to incorporate everyone’s different tastes when writing songs just to keep everyone happy.  That’s how we’ve ended up having ballads like Silence to heavy songs like Riot.  We never really dismiss people’s song ideas that they come up with.”

What has been your favourite moment of life in The Blackout?

“That’s a pretty tough question.  The whole experience has been amazing and it’s hard to pick one single thing. Each time you do something for the first time is always special though, the first time we went to Japan, or Australia, or headline an iconic venue, or play a festival.  They aways stick out.”

I hear you all have matching tattoos, is this true and what are they? 

“Yeah, we all have a matching tattoo on our right ankles.  We had them back in 2006 after a day off on the Lostprophets tour in Nottingham where us, Lostprophets and Dopamine all we went go-karting, to the cinema and for food and just had a generally good day.  We were going to get tattooed that day too but we couldn’t find anywhere open so we all had it done when we got back from tour.  The tattoo just reminds us all of a good day spent with good friends.”

What has been your favourite gig/performance so far?

“Probably the Roundhouse and Birmingham Academy shows on the tour we’ve just done. Both were so good, the crowds were insane throughout the entire show and it just made playing the shows so effortless.  They’ll both be shows I’ll remember forever.”

How is the current tour going?

“The current tour has been amazing.  It’s been the biggest tour we’ve done to date in the UK and its the been the first time that we’ve been able to take out lighting and sound production, so we were able to put on a complete show, something we’ve always dreamed of doing.  The kids at each show were also mental so it made the shows incredibly fun to play.

We’re in Europe at the moment and right at the end, we only have one show left.  Although it’s a shame it’s come to an end we’re also excited that we’re getting to go home and catch up with our sleep, eat normally and see our families and girlfriends.”

What is next for the Blackout once you finish this tour?

“We’re in the middle of writing a new album, so we’re going to spend the end of the year and beginning of 2012 finishing it. We’re planning to record in March and put it out in the summer some time. Then just start the cycle of playing festivals and touring again.”

How does it feel to be named Kerrang! Best Live Band in Britain?

“It’s a bit weird.  When we first heard that was their angle for the cover we were all pretty shocked that they’d called us that.  But then at the same time we feel like we put everything into our live shows and we’re very proud of it, so it’s flattering to be recognised for that.”

How did you find performing at Merthyr Rock and do you have any plans to come back and perform in Merthyr anytime soon?

“Merthyr Rocks was awesome, the show was really fun and made even more special by it being a home show for us.  We were really nervous when we first heard about Merthyr rock, with so many other festivals this year struggling or being cancelled and it being Merthyr Rocks first year, we didn’t know if it would be a success, but the whole event turned out better than anyone could have imagined.

We’d love to play Merthyr again, it’s just difficult to find somewhere to play and then fitting it into our schedule, it will probably have to be a festival warm up or something like that.”


To all The Blackout fans out there, don’t forget they will be performing at Cardiff University Students’ Union on December 30.

The Blackout Official Website

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The Nothing have arrived

New four piece band The Nothing have launched themselves onto the rock scene by offering free downloads of their first two singles as a taster of things to come.

The first two singles up for download are So It Begins and You Wanna Know How I Got These Scars, and both songs are perfect examples of not only talented musicians but great song writers.

Another two songs released by the band are Even A God King Can Bleed and I Am Your Nightmare.

Of all four songs released, So It Begins is the best. It delivers a catchy opening which builds up to punchy rifts and memorable lyrics. Listen to this and it will make you eagerly await their next release.

Despite naming their hometown as Birmingham, two of the band members are from the South Wales Valleys. The bands vocalist and guitarist Ceri Collins and lead guitarist Rob Hunt are both from Merthyr Tydfil, with drummer Simon Greenaway and bassist Adam Furmage from Cannock.

The Nothing have made themselves unique by asking people not to pigeon hole them into a specific genre, they said: “If you must pin it down to something it would simply be Rock. Songs will have elements of punk, metal, swing, pop etc.”

With their first gigs booked, The Nothing will be playing at the Fern and Fallow, Cannock in just a week’s time on Friday, November 18. They will also be performing at Rock-It, Brilington on Monday, November 21 and at Backline Live, Guildford on Saturday, November 26. We await to see them list a South Wales gig.

The Nothing Official Facebook page

The Nothing downloads

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Manics release National Treasures

With more than 20 years in the music business under their belts, Blackwood’s Manic Street Preachers have revealed they will be reinventing themselves following the release of their new singles collection.

In celebration of the 21st anniversary of their first single, the South Wales rockers released a singles collection called National Treasures – The Complete Singles on Monday, October 31.

Manics bass guitarist, lyricist and occasional vocalist, Nicky Wire told BBC Radio Wales: “This panorama of our past does say there’s nowhere else to go now, but to really try something and reinvent ourselves.”

National Treasures comprises of all 38 of the bands A-side singles, starting with Motown Junk their first single through to songs from the Manics last album, Postcards from a Young Man

The band which is made up of James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore will also be performing a Christmas party show at the O2 Arena, London on Saturday, December 17 as an additional celebration to the release of their new album and their 21 years of success in the music industry.

National Treasures Track List:

Disc 1

  1. Motown Junk
  2. Stay Beautiful
  3. Love’s Sweet Exile
  4. You Love Us
  5. Slash ‘N’ Burn
  6. Motorcycle Emptiness
  7. Suicide Is Painless
  8. Little Baby Nothing
  9. From Despair To Where
  10. La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh)
  11. Roses In The Hospital
  12. Life Becoming A Landslide
  13. Faster
  14. Revol
  15. She Is Suffering
  16. A Design For Life
  17. Everything Must Go
  18. Kevin Carter
  19. Australia

Disc 2

  1. If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
  2. The Everlasting
  3. You Stole The Sun From My Heart
  4. Tsunami
  5. The Masses Against The Classes
  6. So Why So Sad
  7. Found That Soul
  8. Ocean Spray
  9. Let Robeson Sing
  10. There By The Grace Of God
  11. The Love Of Richard Nixon
  12. Empty Souls
  13. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
  14. Autumnsong
  15. Indian Summer
  16. (It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love
  17. Some Kind Of Nothingness
  18. Postcards From A Young Man
  19. This is the Day

BBC: Manic Street Preachers break to ‘reinvent’ themselves
Manic Street Preachers Official Site

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Welcome to South Wales Rocks

Hey everyone,

This is just a quick post to explain what this blog will be about once I’ve got it up and running. As the name suggests I will be taking a look at the rock music scene in South Wales. I hope to have a good mix of band interviews, Welsh music news and gig and festival details. On top of talking about rock bands in Wales, I will also look venues, music shops and outlets for Welsh rock music. If anyone has any Welsh music news or if you are in a Welsh rock band you can contact me  by emailing southwalesrocks@live.co.uk