» LATEST FEATURES

LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Ffa Coffi Pawb
Am Byth
Empyrean Casual Records

Rating: 7.5/10 ?


May 5, 2005
I first encountered the Welsh language in fifth grade, when my teacher wrote the name of a 34 letter-long Welsh town on the chalkboard. It was the most cartoonish arrangement of letters I had ever seen in my life - there were four L's in a row at one point, for fuck's sake! As a result of this early experience, this ancient tongue became for me, as it had become for a number of other Americans, little more than a punch line.

Ffa Coffi Pawb knew very well what the rest of the world thought of their language, and were able to laugh at their own limited relevance by naming their band a nonsensical phrase that translates into "Everyone's Coffee Beans," but reads phonetically as Fuck Off Everyone. While their name may have been tailored to their Anglo audiences, their Welsh lyrics reward the select few who can understand them - judging from the rough translations that penman Gruff Rhys (yes, that Gruff Rhys) provides in the liner notes, these may have been some of the wittiest, most absurd power-pop songs of the early 90s, as they bandy about fantasies of yellow superficial ponies and beg a local television station for money to shoot a music video in Sacramento. The joke ultimately falls on the listeners, regardless of which language they speak.

Am Byth documents pop prankster Gruff Rhys and fellow Super Furry Animals founder Dafydd Ieuan's first musical partnership, and surprisingly enough, there's some pretty serious rock and roll to be found on this 70-minute collection. Buffered by guitarist Rhodri Puw (Gorky's Zygotic Mynci) and bassist Dewi Emlyn (touring member of SFA, GZM, Mogwai, and Cornelius), Rhys and Ieuan pound out one jangly college radio gem after another with such ease that their inability to gather notoriety outside of the Welsh-speaking community boggles the melodic guitar rock-lovin' mind.

Though Ffa Coffi Pawb formed in 1986, this retrospective focuses mostly on offerings from the early 90s. It still covers a great deal of ground, however, culling from 12" singles, compilation contributions, flexi-disc singles and their four full-lengths. No duds slipped in, either - each track goes down smooth, blending The Jesus and Mary Chain's blustery feedback with the tunefulness of The Velvet Underground's last two LPs, albeit without the experimentalism or level of craftsmanship of either. Any of these songs could stand toe-to-toe with the more accessible faction of their shoegaze contemporaries (Swervedriver, Pale Saints). This compilation's consistency can also be chalked up to the band's decision to call it a day just before the Brit-pop explosion - they played this music at the height of it's relevance, and never had to tweak their style to keep pace with Blur and Oasis (see the Pale Saints' pallid Slow Buildings).

According to the liner note essays, an entire community of Welsh-speaking guitar pop bands made intriguing contributions to the British underground alongside Ffa Coffi Pawb. Hopefully this carefully-selected, well-packaged collection will lead to a series of reissues from other acts (we've seen it happen with early 80s post-punk acts). The labels, fans, and record collectors who could bring such projects to life can take their time, though - Am Byth gives us more than enough infectious buzzsaw clamor to digest for the time being.

Reviewed by Phillip Buchan
A one-time music director at WUOG in Athens, Phillip is into college radio, literature, writing, buying records, going to shows, talking to friends, learning -- pretty much the same stuff that all of us priveledged, (pseudo?)intellectual Americans are into.

See other reviews by Phillip Buchan

» MEDIA DOWNLOADS

» GOT STICKERS?

If you'd like to help spread the word about LAS, or simply want to outfit yourself with some adhesive coolness, our 4" circle LAS stickers are sure to hit the spot, and here is how to get them:

--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.

» WORLDWIDE DOMINATION

LAS has staff and freelance writers spread across North and South America, Europe, and a few in Southeast Asia as well. As such, we have no central mailing adress for unsolicited promotional material. If you are interested in having your project considered for coverage, please contact us before sending any promotional materials - save yourself time and postage!