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A Stranger In A Strange Land, Gruff Rhys Brings 'American Interior' To Town

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 9, 2014 5:00PM

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Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys is best known as the frontman of the very proudly Welsh psychedelic power-poppers Super Furry Animals. That band has been on hiatus since 2010, but Rhys has remained bust working on collaborations with other artists, including Damon Albarn's Gorillaz project, while also releasing solo albums of his own. The most recent, American Interior, was released overseas earlier this year but only saw its U.S. release earlier this week.

American Interior is more than just a solo album, though. It also serves as a component of a multimedia project that also includes a documentary, book and app built upon a 2012 odyssey undertaken by Rhys.

According to Rhys:

In 2012 I embarked on an investigative concert tour of the American Interior, retracing the steps, and looking for the grave of a relative called John Evans.

John Evans left Wales for Baltimore in 1792 and walked into the wilderness of the Allegheny mountains in search of a lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans, believed to be the descendants of Prince Madog.That was the year he traveled America looking for the final resting place of John Evans, a fellow Welshman that embarked on a quest in 1792 on a quest to find a mythical tribe of Welsh speaking First Nation Americans.

American Interior, the album, provides the soundtrack and partial narrative of Rhys' travels that year. Lyrically, it takes a more direct approach to its subject matter than we've seen from Rhys in the past, though this is less surprising since the narrative is built on actual events and not obfuscation based in loftier and less tangible themes. And, after some forays away from it, Rhys returns to a straightforward pop approach to the music, eschewing experimental touches to deliver an album solidly built on guitar hooks with electronic flourishes here and there that complement, instead of overpower.

Live, American Interior is built on a mixture of spoken word, songs and film, to deliver an experience beyond that of a simple concert you'd expect from Rhys. He's bringing the show to Schubas next Wednesday, so we expect that what transpires with be a pleasant instance of sensory overload as he performs in so intimate a room. This is a rare chance to view America Interior from the inside out, so don't miss out.

Gruff Rhys plays Wednesday, Nov. 12, at Scubas, 3159 N Southport, 8 p.m., $15, 21+