There’s something about living in Wales that creates an innate sense of otherness – of not belonging; of being, well, a bit weird (I can say this because I’m Welsh). This tends to filter into the art that comes out of the one-time principality. Of course, Wales has produced plenty of bands that are leaden, derivative and dull, but what the better Welsh bands tend to do is take an established genre or style and make it, well, a bit weird. Think Super Furry Animals. Think Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. Think Datblygu. Think Fflaps. Think Mclusky (okay, so their singer was English, but he was no doubt infected with Welshness by osmosis).

For the first time in a while, Wales has a burgeoning collection of bands worth writing about. In the north, Anglesey’s Bastions offer ultra-aggressive hardcore odes to the frustration and isolation of island life. They’re joined by Klaus Kinski, who – though now Manchester-based – are a pure distillation of oddball Welsh village life, coming across like Arab on Radar fronted by Birthday Party-era Nick Cave recounting episodes of The League of Gentlemen. Down south, the likes of Harbour and Facel Vega are doing their level best to recreate the 80s Washington DC scene with some feverishly energetic punk rock.

Somewhere in between all of the above you’ll find Saturday’s Kids. Again, they’re a south Wales band of a punk persuasion, but carrying more of the aforementioned Welsh weirdness than their southern brethren, putting them closer in spirit to Mclusky. This 10” self-titled EP is the sound of a band not entirely comfortable in their skin, but not necessarily in a bad way. Songs twist and contort constantly, shifting between unhinged thrash-outs and taut, menacing quieter passages.

That said, sometimes things get so uncomfortable that I’m not entirely sure how much I’m actually enjoying it – and I like awkward music. That’s not to say the band are creating musical forms so outré as to be off-putting – they’re really not. Everything is easy enough to follow – no revolutions to be had here. But the music is so deceptively simple, slack and riff-based, but often wrested into odd tangents, that I’m not sure if I think it’s good or just interesting. What I will say is that the songs radiate with compelling energy, even if the quality isn’t always consistent.

Opener ‘I Am a Runner’ starts off and slow and loping, before careening into an up-tempo punk wig-out not unlike defunct US post-hardcore outfit Kill Sadie. Elsewhere the band brings to mind the twisted, minor key rock and roll the likes of Mono-era Icarus Line and Drive Like Jehu specialised in, but falling short of those bands’ greatness. Not that there is any dishonour in failing to live up to some of the genre’s brightest lights – Saturday’s Kids are still a young band, and will hopefully continue to develop and refine their songwriting in the years to come.

The ranty-yet-anthemic ‘Empty Spaces’ offers a glimpse of the band’s potential, but the riff that carries ‘Pillow’ sits just on the wrong side of cheesy. Closer ‘The Old Comedians’ is an enjoyable Les Savy Fav-style blast that works by being a little more straightforward than what has preceded it. It would clearly be a great live song, as I suspect many of this EP’s songs would be. Noisy music is difficult to capture on record, though Saturday’s Kids have made a decent stab of things here. And while I don’t imagine I’ll be listening to this record a year from now (though it had befuddled me so much, maybe I will be), I’d definitely try to catch the band live at the next available opportunity.

Photobucket