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Video of the Moment #2899: The Joy Formidable

By on Thursday, 20th September 2018 at 6:00 pm

Ladies and gents, your attention, please! The Joy Formidable‘s fourth album ‘AAARTH’ will be out on the 28th of September. Yes. Next Friday! As long-time supporters of the band, we’re pretty excited about this at TGTF Towers. What do the Welsh alt-rockers have in store for us this time? They let us in on the fun with early taster ‘The Wrong Side’, featured in this previous Video of the Moment. This week, they’ve got another promo video for us, this time for single ‘The Better Me’.

Filmed pretty much as far away from Wales as you can get – Las Vegas – this video stars the band and features clips of them doing what they do best, rocking out. Of the video, the band say, “We knew we wanted to do something simple & centred around Ritzy’s performance because it’s a very personal song. There’s also this natural defiance in walking forward, pushing forward through these deserted streets in a lonely corner of Las Vegas.” Check it out below, and stay tuned for ‘AAARTH’ coming at you next week on Hassle Records. Itching for more on the Joy Formidable? You can check out our pretty comprehensive archive on the group through here.


Video of the Moment #2882: The Joy Formidable

By on Thursday, 9th August 2018 at 6:00 pm

This autumn is going to be fantastic. How do I know? Welsh alt-rockers The Joy Formidable will be releasing their fourth album ‘AAARTH’ at the end of September. The group themselves have had a good 2018 so far, having appeared in June in the Robert Smith-curated Meltdown Festival in London, where they gained lots of new fans, and they have loads of summer festivals left to appear at. While they’re out gigging at a festival near(ish) to you in the UK, they’ve left for us some aperitifs from the upcoming LP. The latest is punchy single ‘The Wrong Side’, full of grinding and squealing guitars. The song now has a colourful, psychedelic promo to go with it, which you can watch below. Stay tuned for ‘AAARTH’, which will be released on the 28th of September on Hassle Records. For all of our past coverage here on TGTF on The Joy Formidable, use this link.


Live Review: The Joy Formidable with Everything Everything at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 13th April 2016

By on Friday, 15th April 2016 at 2:00 pm

The Joy Formidable‘s Ritzy Bryan has a soft spot for the Nation’s Capital, as she was a resident of our fine city for several years before the band truly got going. It’s been nice validation to have the chance to see the Welsh trio in increasingly larger venues. While they played the inaugural Landmark Music Festival last September in West Potomac Park, their last proper show in the DC was a week shy of 3 years ago to their show here Wednesday night. In tandem with starting their own label C’Mon Let’s Drift, they released their third album ‘Hitch’ in mid-March.

Reviews for the new record have teetered between generally positive to mixed, with some pundits and fans saying the trio have gone too far from their tried and tested formula of assertive, in your face and at times noodley rock. As is oft repeated by the devoted fans of all artists, evolution as time goes on is not only inevitable and healthy, and I agree with this sentiment when it comes to ‘Hitch’. While it may appear that the band borrow liberally from ’90s greats on some tracks, the overall effort has, without a doubt, the stamp of The Joy Formidable.

On this 3-week tour of America to support ‘Hitch’, their support act has been Manchester’s Everything Everything, who interestingly find themselves in somewhat a similar point to their career as their current tourmates. Having released their third album ‘Get to Heaven’ in the UK in June 2015, which was followed by America finally having the record this past February and a showcasing turn at SXSW 2016 (including their FLOODfest appearance and my interview with lead guitarist Alex Robertshaw), they’ve already cemented their place in popular music history in Britain.

Everything Everything at 9:30 Club, April 2016 4

Most of the Joy Formidable fans I talked to before the show weren’t familiar with their work, so the tour serves not only as Everything Everything’s first proper and extended sojourn for live dates across our country. It’s also as a proper introduction to the band beyond the basic New York City and Los Angeles live markets. I myself have seen them on a number of occasions and except for at SXSW 2016 last month, all of those appearances have not been usual club shows, so I was pleased they were finally coming to DC.

If you were listen to The Joy Formidable and Everything Everything side by side on a streaming service, it doesn’t seem like a match made in heaven. Their musical styles are quite different, but what ties them together nicely are their individualism and independence when it comes to their songcraft. The funkiness of Everything Everything’s music – from their early breakout single ‘MY KZ UR BF’ to ‘Distant Past’ off ‘Get to Heaven’ – is miles away from The Joy Formidable’s harder alt-rock style.

Jonathan Higgs of Everything Everything at 9:30 Club, April 2016 2

Indeed, the fact that the band from Manchester are so, so very different from anything else you’ve ever heard, that in itself makes the band a unique proposition. ‘Regret’, with shakes of Michael Spearman’s tambourine with the militant repetition of all in the band shouting the word “regret!”, along with lead singer Jonathan Higgs’ sardonic to comforting lyrical delivery, proved irresistibly catchy to the audience. ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Kemosabe’ from 2013’s ‘Arc’ were additional rhythmic standouts. ‘Distant Past’, with its futuristic keyboard chords and the bounce in its pulse, ended their set on a memorable note.

Alex Robertshaw of Everything Everything at 9:30 Club, April 2016 1

I had two big questions: how are The Joy Formidable going to perform songs from ‘Hitch’, and will the evolution of their sound also carry over to the live spectacle? The 9:30 Club stage is plenty big for three bandmates and not all that much gear. Flashing lighting rigs and a fog machine that seemed overzealous on the job filled the large space while bassist / keyboardist Rhydian Dafydd and lead singer and guitarist Bryan were mostly staying put at their pedalboards.

Joy Formidable at 9:30 Club, April 2016 1

A constant since past tours is the clowning around between the two of them (such as faux whinging about the problem with the other’s axe, and Bryan’s admission she’s a klutz with guitars) and with drummer Matt Thomas. Thomas normally is not given a microphone and with some exasperation, Bryan explains the one time he was given a mike recently, he asked the audience if they enjoyed Jurassic Park. Laughter. A conversation about enjoying the first Jurassic Park ensued. More laughter. It’s more like going to see your friends play, not just seeing Dave Grohl’s pick for best new band out there in 2011.

The trio came out swinging with early hit ‘The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade’, proving without a doubt that a Joy Formidable show will be loud and full of pomp. With a famous EP (‘A Balloon Called Moaning’) and three albums, tough choices had to be made with the set list, and if you were expecting more from the past, you were probably going to be disappointed. I was surprised by the length, too, as they clearly have a lot of past gems – and future ones – that could have been tacked on to their set.

Joy Formidable at 9:30 Club, April 2016 2

Predictably, it was ‘Radio of Lips’ and early single ‘The Last Thing on My Mind’ that were the biggest crowd pleasers taken from ‘Hitch’, the latter sporting a sinister monster guitar riff not easily forgotten. ‘Cradle’ and ‘Little Blimp’ provided satisfyingly swirling walls of sound, while a gentler acoustic treatment – done within the crowd, no less – was given to ‘The Brook’, Dafydd and Bryan clearly enjoying being one with the fans. For anyone thinking based on the shift in direction seen on ‘Hitch’ meant that the Joy Formidable had changed forever, a show like this is all the proof you need to know that couldn’t be further from the truth.

After the cut: the set lists. Continue reading Live Review: The Joy Formidable with Everything Everything at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 13th April 2016


Album Review: The Joy Formidable – Hitch

By on Friday, 1st April 2016 at 12:00 pm

It seems somehow fitting that I’m taking a quick break from TGTF’s ongoing coverage of SXSW 2016 to review the new album from Welsh alt-rockers The Joy Formidable. Our own editor Mary first introduced me to The Joy Formidable just over two years ago on the opening night of SXSW 2014, when the band played at Austin’s Clive Bar on what happened to be a rather wet and dreary evening. The rain could easily have put a damper on The Joy Formidable’s late set that night, but the venue was packed with eager fans, and Mary and I both felt fortunate to catch the band in what would be one of their last live gigs before they disappeared into the studio for a long stretch of writing and recording.

The product of that time away is The Joy Formidable’s new LP ‘Hitch’, which lead singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan says is “one of the most driving records we’ve made but also the saddest”. Recorded and produced by the band themselves in their North Wales studio The Red Brick, the album was truly a labour of love for the Welsh trio, both emotionally and musically. They’ve taken a more streamlined musical approach with ‘Hitch’, but the emotional quality of the songs is undeniably cathartic, and the band themselves have described the album as “a good purge”.

Opening track ‘A Second in White’ starts things off with Bryan’s low-register voice murmuring over an ominous ostinato of guitars and drums, but the pace picks up almost immediately with the following track ‘Radio of Lips’. The sharp, concise lyrical lines in the verses lead to an irresistably anthemic chorus, and the drawn out anticipation in the bridge section is likely to make this one a live favourite on The Joy Formidable’s upcoming UK tour in May.

The album’s provocative first single ‘The Last Thing on My Mind’, whose video edit is featured in the tour date post referenced above, sounds both sullen and sultry, and like ‘Radio of Lips’ before it, stretches over 6 minutes long in the full album recording. Indeed many of the tracks on ‘Hitch’ are quite lengthy, as if the band’s major hang-up might have been in somehow finding closure to the whatever emotional drama surrounded the making of the album.


The first half of the album starts to drag a bit after the opening three tracks, wandering through more introspective tracks ‘Liana’ and ‘The Brook’ before regaining some momentum with the frenetic drum beat of ‘It’s Started’. Midway through the album, relatively shorter track ‘The Gift’ switches Bryan’s lead vocals for those of Dafydd, and perhaps it’s the contrast that makes Bryan’s vocals seem that much more on the album’s second half, especially as she sings the poignant line, “maybe we’re not alone after all” in ‘Fog (Black Windows)’.

‘Underneath the Petal’ is a rather gentler but still darkly dramatic affair that builds slowly in dynamic intensity and once again highlights the emotional quality of Bryan’s singing voice. ‘Blowing Fire’, by contrast, seethes intensity and spits resentment from beginning to end before the album closes with another soft, acoustic-tinged number. ‘Don’t Let Me Know’, which also happens to be the album’s longest track, spins slowly and elegantly into a climactic finale, or perhaps more accurately, into a heartfelt and bittersweet farewell.

While the songs themselves are a bit all over the shop, ‘Hitch’ makes up in variety and emotional power what it lacks in cohesion. Whatever emotional cleansing The Joy Formidable might have required was undoubtedly achieved in the album’s intense musical arrangements and lengthy instrumental interludes, but overall, the album feels dampened by the pressure of its own heavy emotional content.  Bringing the songs out of the studio and into live performance might be the impetus the band needs to complete its purge, once and for all.


The Joy Formidable’s third album ‘Hitch’ is out now on the band’s own label C’Mon Let’s Drift. TGTF’s full archive of coverage on The Joy Formidable is back this way.


The Joy Formidable / May 2016 UK Tour

By on Friday, 4th March 2016 at 8:00 am

Following on from their short tour in February, hard-rocking Welsh band and TGTF friends The Joy Formidable have announced an appropriately formidable headline tour for May 2016. The trio’s tour includes stops at Focus Wales in Wrexham on the 12th of May and at the Great Escape in Brighton on the 19th. Tickets to the gig dates on this upcoming journey around the UK go on sale today, Friday, the 4th of March, at 10 AM. The band’s new album ‘Hitch’ will be out on the 25th of March on the band’s own label C’Mon Let’s Drift. For all of TGTF’s past coverage of The Joy Formidable, head here.

Saturday 7th May 2016 – Newcastle Think Tank
Monday 9th May 2016 – Edinburgh Liquid Room
Tuesday 10th May 2016 – Sheffield Plug
Thursday 12th May 2016 – Wrexham Focus Wales (Central Station)
Friday 13th May 2016 – Colchester Arts Centre
Saturday 14th May 2016 – Manchester Academy 2
Monday 16th May 2016 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Tuesday 17th May 2016 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Wednesday 18th May 2016 – Norwich Open
Thursday 19th May 2016 – London Oval Space
Saturday 21st May 2016 – Brighton Great Escape (C2 Radio X Show)
Sunday 22nd May 2016 – Oxford Academy
Monday 23rd May 2016 – High Wycombe Bucks University


The Joy Formidable / February 2016 UK Tour

By on Wednesday, 3rd February 2016 at 9:00 am

Welsh rock trio The Joy Formidable have just unveiled details of their new album ‘Hitch’, along with a list of UK tour dates for next month.  ‘Hitch’ was recorded in the band’s North Wales studio and will be released on the 25th of March via their own label C’Mon Let’s Drift.  You can watch the provocatively graphic (read: NSFW) video for the album’s first single ‘The Last Thing on My Mind’ just below the tour date listing.

Laura J Martin will play support for the following February UK dates.  Tickets are on sale now.  Our extensive past coverage of The Joy Formidable is right back here.

Sunday 21st February 2016 – Manchester Deaf Institute
Monday 22nd February 2016 – Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
Tuesday 23rd February 2016 – London Oslo
Wednesday 24th February 2016 – Birmingham Rainbow Courtyard
Thursday 25th February 2016 – Glasgow King Tut’s



About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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