Manic Street Preachers and, of course, Tom "It's Not Unusual" Jones may be better-known Welsh exports, but the Stereophonics bring the crunchy rock (and a little political soapboxin') in a big way. The boys (guitarist and lead singer Kelly Jones, bassist Richard Jones and drummer Stuart Cable) ain't hard on the eyes, either, a fact reiterated by this critic's Scottish roommate every time the band's first big single, "Local Boy in the Photograph," came on the radio: "Oh. My. God. Ster. Eo. Phonics."
The music is raucous and catchy, but don't be fooled -- Kelly Jones has a knack for writing lyrics that are as intelligent as they are hook-worthy. This is great blue-collar rock & roll infused with strange stream-of-consciousness poetry, and the combination is fun and fascinating. Be sure not to miss the Stereophonics when they open for pretty-boy popster Howie Day at Mississippi Nights. And if you fall hard for this Welsh trio, don't worry; they won't stay away for long -- the boys'll be back in St. Louis in May to open for David Bowie. It's a Welsh invasion! Oh. My.