This week's show is now available via the iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.
Future Of The Left are a big rusty spike in the side of a rather moribund music scene. Pop metal/pop punk is ubiquitous, and although the tropes of rock's anti-establishmentarianism are still present and correct in rock's currently successful incarnation - daft hair, piercings, tattoos, silly trousers and guitars, the guitars now sound - all too frequently - like the least important part of that equation. Rock is pop. Pop is rock. Quite athwart has gone all decorum.
Listening to 6 Music can be a rather disorientating experience. The odd, nasty, off kilter, plain weird stuff is - frequently - the old stuff. The new bands come on and - generally - play their instruments very nicely, with nice tunes, even if they're touted as being a bit extreme.
The contemporary bands who do push the envelope have become more marginalised than ever before. Lucky, then, that a lot of them are happy to exist on those margins, selling the interesting stuff that once may have altered the path of the mainstream via Bandcamp to audiences in the thousands instead of the hundreds of thousands.
Nicky Wire's just done an interview with The Guardian that bemoans the Death of Rock 'n' Roll. He acknowledges pop's current dominance. His band are going to go on hiatus while rock recovers. There was a time when the Manics would have been looked towards to provide the necessary jolt for rock's knackered corpse. Individual rock bands can't redefine the form forever, keeping it fresh. As a cultural entity, rock music has always needed the spit, irreverence and vigour of youth to revitalise it. Chuck Berry begat The Stones begat The Stooges begat New York Dolls begat the Sex Pistols begat Guns N Roses begat the Manics begat Funeral For A Friend begat what, exactly?
Bastions are one of a handful of genre-disrespecting post hardcore bands who are about to reinvigorate the form with a massive defibrillation (in Bastions' case with a debut album called, aptly, Hospital Corners). However, for the most part, rock has been so successfully assimilated into the polite, sanitised, corporate leftfield, it has become the mainstream. It's become dull-eyed, insipid in its glossiness and predictable in its assembly.
Clicky double bass drum - check.
Sweet melodic vocal line - check.
Occasional screamo throat shred - check.
Massive, fist-pumping chorus to drown out any accusations of creative redundancy - check.
Because if you're selling albums - and filling venues - at the speed that many of Wales' most successful bands do (Kids In Glass Houses, Funeral For A Friend, The Blackout et al) who cares about artistic worth or originality? The greatest compliment that anyone can pay a piece of rock music - whatever its shape or form - is to want to hear it. And, clearly, many thousands of people - *young* people - want to hear all those bands and their identikit brethren more than they want to hear anyone/anything else.
As much as rock has the potential to soundtrack the disillusion of the times (say, MC5 or the Stones in '68) it has also been a wonderful vehicle for escapism (Guns 'n' Roses, Cold War hair metal in general) - and bands who have managed to reconcile the two (Manic Street Preachers) are rarer than orthodontists for chickens.
So, we - well, I - need Future Of The Left now, more than ever. They're a lacerating antidote to fast food Metal, to all that sanitised and formulaic bland that is glooping up the ear arteries of the contemporary 'rock' fan. They're fiercely intelligent, both lyrically and musically, but that intelligence is never at the expense of The Force. Not anything to do with midichlorian mumbo jumbo, but the instinctive, primal force that makes rock 'n' roll transcendentally exciting.
It's only after the tinnitus has subsided from a Future Of The Left show that you start to hear the cleverness in the lyrics. That extra level of cryptic fascination - Falkous' lyrics are never straightforward, always compelling - and the focused creative restlessness of the band have maintained their capacity to intrigue.
And - with the announcement of their new EP's release (with their third album to follow in 2012) - they just got a whole lot more intriguing (more slabs of grievous analogue synth than ever before; echoes of Stereolab in the coda to Polymers Are Forever; a skittering avalanche of guitars and verbals as perplexingly ace as anything they've done previously - With Apologies To Emily Pankhurst; something that sounds like muppet zombies playing Squeeze - New Adventures and there are still three other tracks I haven't heard yet. It's an EP that can't stop giving.)
Andrew Falkous - I'm too plain old to start calling him Falco now - comes aboard this week's show to tell us a little about the new EP. We don't discuss any of the above, but I do get to play you two tracks off the new EP (released on Xtra Mile on 14 November).
Suffice to say: rock is dead, long live Future Of The Left.
That's an awful lots of words dedicated to 15 minutes of the show. Elsewhere Huw Williams plays a song about curry that has me fantasising what his tweepop kneecaps would taste like in a Tikka Masala sauce. Lara Catrin translates some Galwad Y Mynydd. Ben Hayes plays a record with the most infectious handclap of all time. And we have a bristling mass of Welsh sounds, including first time plays for Phil Kieran vs. White Noise Sound, Buffalo Ben, Skarpa, Tylwyth Teg, Kevin, Weak(end) Arrows, Bex Elliott, Ellie Larke and Uther Moads.
Please send mp3s/download links to firstname.lastname@example.org
It's Swn Festival this coming weekend. It's my favourite weekend of the year. I hope to see you there.
Have an excellent week! Many thanks/diolch o galon.
STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR - 'I Am Weatherproof ( Album Version )'
BRIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE, THE - 'Hang Up ( Radio Edit )'
LOS CAMPESINOS - 'Hello Sadness'
COLORAMA - 'Lisa Lan'
JOHN LAWRENCE - 'Indian Summer'
DAN AMOR - 'Taflu Dy Lais'
GRUFF RHYS - 'Whale Trail'
IFAN DAFYDD - 'Treehouse'
WHIP, THE - 'Secret Weapon ( Gallops Remix )'
Oldham ( Welsh Remix )
JOY FORMIDABLE, THE - 'Cradle ( Fang Island Remix )'
BASTIONS - 'Augury'
MANIC STREET PREACHERS - 'Kevin Carter'
Future Of The Left - 'With Apologies To Emily Pankhurst'
ANDREW FALKOUS - 'Spoken Contribution'
Future Of The Left - 'Polymers Are Forever'
SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Unattainable'
SONIC YOUTH - 'Snare, Girl'
DERRERO - 'Radar Intruder'
HOWL GRIFF - 'Jean's Therapy'
HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'
BAD DREAM FANCY DRESS - 'Curry Crazy'
BEDFORD FALLS - 'Wilmington'
GRETA ISAAC - 'Don't Go'
LITTLE ARROW - 'Boat'
PHIL KIERAN VS. WHITE NOISE SOUND - 'Never Believed'
BUFFALO BEN - 'Chill Deep'
HAIL THE PLANES - 'Brother [ Trwbador Remix ]'
KEYS, THE - 'Fire Inside'
KUTOSIS - 'Salton Sea'
MOWBIRD - 'Empress'
CHLOE LEAVERS - 'Rhoist I'n Oleuni'
SKARPA - 'Darkness Of The Mind'
DOOM REGGAE - 'Terror Jungle'
DEE SHAE - 'On My Own ( Featuring Y T U 13 )'
PETE LAWRIE - 'Half Way Home'
GERAINT JARMAN - 'Breuddywd Ar Y Bryn'
TYLWYTH TEG - 'Y Delyn Newydd'
KEVIN - 'Brifo'
LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
GALWAD Y MYNYDD - 'Niwl Y Môr'
SMOKING HEARTS, THE - 'Stomper'
WEAK(END) ARROWS - 'Sugar Pie'
BEX ELLIOTT - 'Hidden'
ELLIE LARKE - 'Love For Sale'
BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
JIM FORD - 'Dr Handy's Dandy Candy'
Kentucky, U S A
UTHER MOADS - 'Easy'