Selected by Dan Grunebaum

Leading Brit-rockers Oasis, Travis and Radiohead may have hit Japan this summer and fall, but look for Wales' Super Furry Animals to provide a more intriguing taste of current UK sounds. The five-piece bring their new album Rings Around The World to Japan for a three-date tour that stops down for one night at Shibuya AX.

Why the Super Furry Animals and not the much-hyped Radiohead? Fans of Kid A and Amnesiac may beg to differ, but Rings Around The World is a far more convincing fusion of rock and electronica than either of Radiohead's efforts. Released in July, the album has already been short-listed for England's prestigious Mercury Prize.

Formed in Cardiff, Wales, the Super Furry Animals were part of the mid-’90s Welsh-pop movement that also brought us the Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and Stereophonics. Led by singer Gruff Rhys, the band initially started as a techno unit, but soon evolved into a forward-thinking pop unit, heavily influenced by psychedelia.

Super Furry Animals signed with local indie imprint Ankst for their debut EP, the monstrously named Lianfairpwllgywgyllgoger Chwymdropwiltysiliogoygoyocynygofod (In Space), sung entirely in Welsh.

Having gained a strong cult following in the UK, the group then signed with Creation for their debut album Fuzzy Logic. Singing now in English in order to reach a wider audience, SFA scored a major hit with both the public and the press.

Radiator followed in 1997 and Guerrila in 1999, with another all-Welsh outing, MWNG, appearing in 2000.

Rings Around The World has to be the band's most ambitious attempt to date. Recorded over seven months in New York State's counterculture town of Woodstock, the album is a remarkably imaginative and unpretentious affair that also features cameo appearances by Paul McCartney and John Cale.

The band has also taken an unconventional approach to releasing and touring for the album. SFA commissioned short films by a slew of independent film directors for each DVD version of the album's 18 songs. The DVD version was released simultaneously with the CD version, which includes only 12 songs.

Meanwhile, the band recently held a series of "Furry Mania" promotional shows around the UK that featured sets of old material followed by sets of songs from Rings. For the older material, SFA wrote down song titles on tiny balls, and drew them randomly from a bingo machine to determine the play list. Can Japan expect the same?

Super Furry Animals play Club Quattro on Oct 17 and Shibuya AX on Oct 18 and 19. .See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana