EP REVIEW: BENNY MAYHEM- ‘Song For Absent Friends’ (2017)

Australia’s folk-punk troubadour!

Just a few days before we review the new EP from Tasmania’s premier folk-punk outfit The Dead Maggies and it’s more of the same with more Aussie fare from Benny Mayhem. Not a name known to us till recently it would seem that Benny has blessed Europe quite a few times before as both a solo artist and as the shirtless, writhing front man of kick-arse smart alec punk rock party band Project Mayhem. He tours as both solo and with a band and if plans go to plan he will return to England with both in 2017 while inbetween Benny will be studio-bound applying the finishing touches to his latest LP.

From his home base on the west coast of Australia in Perth, Benny Mayhem has toured the world as a wandering troubadour and in England has gone from busking outside tube stations to the festival circuit in only two years. The EP begins with the title song ‘Song For Absent Friends’ and is an ode to the multitude of people that have helped Benny on his journey’s around the globe delivering folk-punk to the masses. It was in the Fuelled By Cider Studio in Somerset that Benny realised the three original songs delivered here needed the backing of a full band to realise their full potential. Returning to Australia he set about mixing the songs and gathering the right musicians for the job.

“Now I’m sitting in my room,
Thinking of times I shared with you,
And I wouldn’t be me today…
If it wasn’t for you”

He wrote the opener in a hotel room in the Austrian Alps and its poppy’ness’ and Cali-punk style belie its snow laden roots! It may not have much in common musically with The Dead Maggies but the Aussies seem to have cornered the market in great song/story writing.

(acoustic version of the full band song on the EP)

Benny and his acoustic guitar start the show next with the amazing ‘Mother Nature Will Have Her Revenge On Old Fatty’. Great well thought and inspiring lyrics as well as a great sense of humour. Listening to this song especially you can tell it would have worked as just Benny and that guitar but the band takes it into a different territory and will I am sure open many more doors for him.

“You’ll watch the jungle close in
Just as it always has before…
And the waters will rise
Just as they always have before…”

‘Bulwer Street Waltz’ is next and again it’s mostly Benny and his guitar with minimal but crucial backing from the band. A tale of mis-spent youth that ends with the absolutely fantastic line

“We were glared at in clubs
But we didn’t care
My only regret is that I didn’t dance”

What a line. I love it.

Song For Absent Friends ends with a class acoustic version of the Stiff Little Fingers standout ‘Suspect Device’. Jake Burns spits the original out with real bile while Benny plays it much calmer. Perhaps taking inspiration from Anto Morra who did an amazing job with SLF’s ‘Wasted Life’ proving you can do an angry song without an angry voice (here) Benny nails it regardless.

“Inflammable material, planted in my head
It’s a suspect device that’s left two thousand dead”

You can file Benny Mayhem in the folk-punk section with fellow Aussies like The Rumjacks and The Go-Set but just don’t be expecting the same celtic fuelled raucousness of said bands but more hook laden, catchy and contemplative songs from an artist whose journey has only just started. Whether that journey will lead him away from his trademark folk-punk sound who can tell but wherever it does end up you can be sure Benny will be delivering it straight from his heart.

(listen to Song For Absent Friend here for free before you buy)
* Benny Mayhem will be playing at Rebellion festival in Blackpool on August 4th so look out for dates across the country around then in what will be his fifth visit to these shores.
Buy Song For Absent Friend
Contact Benny Mayhem

ALBUM REVIEW: JOLLY JACKERS- ‘Blood Sweat and Beer’ (2017)

Let’s drink whiskey!

The new album from the fantastic six piece Hungarian band Jolly Jackers playing Irish-Celtic folk punk rock.

Things are said to go in cycles and the evidence is clear. They do. If 2015 was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band then 2017 is going to be as well. This year we have already had Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week with reviews from Firkin, The Crazy Rogues and The O’Neills. Three great records all released within a few days of each other. Well I can safely tell you that Jolly Jackers have kept up this incredible high standard with the release of their second long player Blood, Sweat And Beer. Not only that but while I was writing this review the new album, Hardfolk Shanties, by yet another Hungarian celtic-punk band, The Scarlet, popped through the letter box so expect a review of that any day soon.

Jolly Jackers: Guitar/Vocal- István ‘Sztivi’ Faragó * Flute- Andrea Boncz Bass- Enikő Papp * Drums, Percussion- Viktor Szepesi * Lead Guitar- Márk Fenyves Violin (on Blood Sweat And Beer)- Krisztina Ujházy

Jolly Jackers are a six piece band with three lasses and three lads that hail from Dunaújváros a working class city in central Hungary famed for its steelworks, which is the largest in the country. They were only formed on New Years Day 2013 and have risen in popularity and critical acclaim every year and show no sign of letting up. Their debut release was the five track EP Call The Captain which came out just in time for St Patrick’s Day 2014 and is available for free download at the link below.

They followed this up with their debut album Sobriety in January 2015 which again was mostly penned by the band themselves. Sobriety made the Top Twenty of the London Celtic Punks album of the year (here) back in 2015 with its fast paced original brand of celtic-punk going down a storm here at LCP Towers. Again Jolly Jackers have made it available for free download so again follow the link below to get your free copy.

So where does that leave us now in April 2017. Well the Bhoys and Ghirls have been hard at work to deliver another utterly brilliant album to their adoring fans. Blood, Sweat And Beer (and what a fantastic album title!) begins with ‘Back at Home’ and the sort of celtic intro that pops up to start many celtic-punk albums but it’s done with real style here. A nice pirate song that leads nicely into the title song ‘Blood Sweat And Beer’ and it does not disappoint. Sztivi’s vocals are all sung in English and even though his accent is quite pronounced it’s still very easy to understand. A really great drinkin’n’fightin’ song with great fiddle and flute pushing it along.

‘Devil’ is up next and begins with rather nifty guitar making you think you heading off in a completely different musical direction before the band pull it back into celtic-punk territory.

“Just please don’t let the devil dance on my grave!”

As seems quite in vogue among the European celtic-punk scene they throw in a whole load of ska into ‘Drive’ and again something tells me Jolly Jackers will be heading into that Top Twenty again come the end of the year. Catchy as hell and completely original. No two songs here have sound anything alike!

The first single release from Blood, Sweat And Beer was the standout track from the entire album, ‘Hymn for the Gang’, which was accompanied by an outstanding video that perfectly captures I am sure the live experience and the energy of a Jolly Jackers live show.

“One, two, three, four, five…
SIX days passed with troubles of life oh…
One, two, three, four, five…
Six rats helping us to survive oh…
This life is better together
This gang is here forever
It’s time to clink full glass”
It’s a loving tribute to being in a band and the camaraderie you get through the trials and tribulations that happen on the road. Led throughout by tin whistle and fiddle combined with the thrashy guitars, bass and drums keeping the song on track to glory. Nearing the end of the album and its all flying past at a frantic pace with ‘John Not the Silver’ is no different. A back track of punk rock but with an unmistakable Irish tune flowing throughout it. ‘Let It Rain’ finally slows it down for the album’s longest song. As I have said countless times before even the most hardcore punk bands in the celtic-punk scene benefit from a slow song to wave your arms (and pints) in the air.

Except though Jolly Jackers take no notice of me though, fortunately, and speed it right up again! The album ends with ‘Epilogue’ and I finally at the end get that slow song I have been whining on about.
Well what can I say except its another blinder and I can report also that they haven’t slowed down any either! Twenty-six minutes was the length of Sobriety and twenty-six minutes is the length here as well. The album flows ceaselessly and leaves you only wanting more. At home in both seedy punk venues as well as massive arena’s Jolly Jackers are living proof that it’s songs that get you places as well as good old fashioned things like touring and record releases. You can play as often as you like but if you don’t master your songs then you’ll go nowhere in the long run. They are yet another in a long line, and growing rapidly, of excellent releases from Hungary. Absolutely superb and recommended to anyone who likes their celtic-punk both folky AND punky.

Get Blood, Sweat And Beer

Here or iTunes for only £3.99!!!

Contact Jolly Jackers

Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube  Deezer  Spotify

and if you are on Facebook then I am afraid I have to insist you trot along right now to the ‘Celtic Punk/Irish Folk Hungary’ group page here where a warm welcome and Hungarian celtic-punk galore awaits you!

(a full concert from Jolly Jackers recorded at the Triskell Festival in Italy last summer, Not perfect sound quality but who expects that all the time?)

ALBUM REVIEW: PITMEN- ‘Back To The Pit’ (2017)

 As we strive to introduce you to new music you must check out the German psychobilly band Pitmen. A real melting pot of influences. In amongst the classic psychobilly fare, you can also hear Irish folk with banjo and fiddle giving things a nice céilíbilly twist and all blended together in original Pitmen style!

When I was a young one the music that reverberated through my house growing up were the sound of Irish folk and American rockabilly. My Mammy was a bit of a one in her younger days and from photo’s I’ve seen had the most incredible beehive haircut and saw every decent band of her generation from The Kinks to the Rolling Stones to The Beatles and even Johnny Cash. So no surprise then that both me and the brother grew up with a love of both Irish folk and rock’n’roll and while he became a Goth and I found myself living off chips, lager and punk and living in a squat we never lost that love. So when this album from German band Pitmen landed on my doorstep I was well excited. All I knew of them was a live You tube video of the band performing an old Irish rebel song ‘Roddy McCorley’ at a Psychobilly festival and it stirred me enough to order their new album, Back To The Pit, that had just come out.

Pitmen were founded in the spring of 1995 and the following summer of 1996 they recorded a demo which led Crazy Love Records to release it as Pitmen’s debut EP Misfits. They followed this in 1997 with their debut album Listen To The Engine and in 2001 their follow up album Welcome To The Show. Then back in 2003 at the top of the game and headline appearances around Europe at all the major Psychobilly festivals they decided to take a break. The members of the band went on to form and join other bands of many different genres with front-man Christian even forming a Irish folk outfit called airím with Susanne Böhler. So it was after six years Pitmen began to rehearse again and the following year they played their first live show since 2003.

So it is that after a several-year recording hiatus, Pitmen are back and Back To The Pit is the result. Fourteen tracks of

“Equal parts psychobilly, folk from both sides of the Atlantic, hard-as-fuck neo rockabilly and Celtabilly”

as O’Prez of the Dublin based psychobilly Hellacious Harmonies, here, site called it.

Long time fans are sure to be joined by new recruits on hearing this album and Back to The Pit kicks off with some western style guitar that thundering double bass and Christian ‘s clear as a bell vocals for  ‘Always On The Run’. Great start to proceedings and from the very off you can tell this is an absolutely spotless production with the sound as perfect as it could possibly be. The music speeds up for the psychobilly anthem ‘Grab Life By the Balls’ but still sounds perfectly accessible.

‘You Are Not My Friend’ is next and even though the CD booklet is sparse to say the least it doesn’t matter too much as regards the lyrics as Christian’s vocals are very easy to understand. I guess that playing Irish folk songs has helped that and every now and then you can detect a slight Irish twang to his voice as in the catchy as hell ‘Fifteen Dead’ with its fantastic singalong chorus.

Now anyone with a slight interest in psychobilly will know that there is a zombie fixation throughout the scene and following song the rockin’ instrumental ‘Zombie Rumble’ keeps that going nicely. A right foot tapper and thigh-slapper which takes us nicely onto ‘Please Don’t Call Me Baby’, one of the album highlights which if it weren’t for the electric guitar harks back to the genre’s 50’s roots. The first sign of that Irish folk influence comes rolling in next with ‘Hot Rod Hotel’ which features the wonderful voice of Nina Heinrich on backing vocals and only whets the appetite for a bit more folk and a bit of her too. There’s more horror themed catchiness to follow in ‘Roadkill’ and they follow this up with the hilarious ‘You’re The Reason Mommy’s Drinks’ which is some sort of country-psychobilly mash up lullaby from a disappointed father to his stepchild! The banjo and fiddle are out and proud courtesy of Fran Urton on fiddle and Eduardo Ribeiro on banjo. Great sense of humour there lads. Love it. Next up now is the song I have been waiting for. With the Dropkick Murphys adopting of Finbar Furey’s legendary song ‘The Lonesome Boatman’ and their recording of it on this years new album 11 Short Stories Of Pain And Glory. I would even go so far to say it was the album highlight but how well would Pitmen stand up to it and would they be able to do it justice. Well I can report it is amazing. Simply amazing. It’s unlike any version you will have heard before I can guarantee and yet is still unmistakable. All the songs here are sang in English except for ‘Schnitzel mit Kartoffelsalat’ which is in German and from what I can gather a drinking song about a food fight! Singer and guitarist Christian has written the majority of the songs here albeit with help from both his wife and guitarist Holger so they take a break with a superb cover of The Animals ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’. Again its done in their own style and is yet unmistakable and as we near the end they follow it up with another cover, ‘Baltimore Fire’, of an old song about the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 which was originally recorded by Charlie Poole (1892-1931) and The North Carolina Ramblers. Nina Heinrich is back on backing vocals and you can find more of her great voice by checking out Christian and hers folk trio Sackville Street here. The fire raged for over thirty hours, spanning seventy city blocks, and destroying 1,545 buildings, doing an estimated $3.84 billion in damage in today’s money. A great choice of cover and shows the band know their onions and have plenty respect for the music that has influenced them. We are at the end of the album and another album highlight with the romantic ‘One More Day’. A real fifties feel here with the vocals accompanied by whistling, which you don’t hear much these days. The banjo is back and a really outstanding way to bring down the curtain on Back In The Pit.

Christian

So sixteen years on from their last album Pitmen are back with an almighty bang and I was gutted to find out that they played here only last month at the famed Bedlam Breakout festival where they went down a storm. Now as much as I love psychobilly it has to be said, and the same too could be said about celtic-punk, that many bands do sound the same so when you do hear something that you can say is unique its worth taking notice of. Twenty-two years on from getting together in their working class coal-mining home town of Essen Pitmen are still bringing something to the table that no other psychobilly bands can manage. This is a fine album of mainly foot stompin’ originals and a selection of instrumentals and covers that just enhance what they do. Be sure to keep an eye on Pitmen as they will be featured here again soon!!

Buy Back To The Pit

JungleRecords  CrazyLoveRecords  iTunes

Contact the Pitmen

WebSite  Facebook  Wikipedia

LIVE REVIEW: FEROCIOUS DOG AND NECK AT THE GARAGE, NORTH LONDON LAST NIGHT!

We don’t hang about here and hot off the press here’s a review of last nights shenanigans. It all happened in the heart of Arsenal territory in North London but thankfully they weren’t at home and we had the Wetherspoons to ourselves pre-gig. Two of the greatest celtic-punk bands around combined for the perfect night and gave their London Hellhound following a night to remember.

Review by Chris Brown

Tonight’s gig was Ferocious Dog and Neck at The Garage in Highbury.

The Garage

An easy trip from Pimlico to Highbury and Islington on the Victoria line and the venue was opposite the tube station.

Ferocious Dog and Neck have been talking about doing this gig at The Garage for a year or two now and finally it’s happened.

I was there to do Neck’s merch and covered a couple of Leanne’s breaks too. Also had a Sea Shepherd stand next to us so I was able to talk to them about having a stall at my event raising funds for Hunt Sabs and Sea Shepherd in Derby on May 6th. 13 bands in 12 hours and free entry.

pre-gig

Neck’s set was superb. Playing favourite tracks like ‘Every Day Is Saint Patrick’s Day’, ‘Always Upsetting Somebody’, ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’, ‘Star Of The County Down’, ‘Everyone’s Welcome To The Hooley’ and ‘The Psycho-Ceilidh Mayhem Set’. A wonderful set of London-Irish Psycho-Ceilidh performed with the added bonus of Ruts DC’s Leigh Heggarty as guest guitarist.

And then, Ferocious Dog tore the fucking roof off. This is the first time I’ve seen Ferocious Dog with their new line-up after the departure of Scott Walters and Ellis Waring earlier this year.

Their more than capable replacements in the form of Hung Like Hanratty’s ex-drummer Alex Smith and multi-instrumentalist John Leonard of Seven Little Sisters have fitted in nicely and added their own thing to the mix that is Ferocious Dog.

From the atmospheric intro written and recorded by Hell Hound John James JJ Kirk to the opening notes of ‘Gallows Justice’ through to ‘Mairi’s Wedding Pt II’ and the encore of ‘Paddy On The Railway’ and ‘Slow Motion Suicide’ via ‘Poor, Angry and Young’, ‘Verse For Lee/The Glass/Lee’s Tune’, ‘Ruby Bridges’, ‘Crime and Punishment’, ‘I Stand’, ‘Unconditional’, ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’, ‘Freeborn John’, ‘Hell Hounds’, ‘Criminal Justice’, Blind Leading The Blind’ and ‘Freethinker’ (not in order and a few missing but yeah) the set was non-stop foot-stomping, hand-clapping, Ferocious moshing, heel-to-heeling and toe-to-toeing punk folk at it’s best.

I love the fact that Blind Leading The Blind is reappearing in the set now and that the loss of two very accomplished band members hasn’t meant Ferocious Dog calling it a day. They survived three members leaving before so it was hardly a surprise but I am genuinely delighted that the new line-up sounds so feckin’ good.

There’s life in the old Dog yet.

Ferocious DogWebSite  FacebookPage  FacebookGroup  YouTube  Twitter

NeckWebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter

thanks to Chris for the review, Amy O’D for the photos.

HOW TO BECOME AN AUTHENTIC IRISH-PUNK BAND!

irish-instrument1The Irish are quite rightly famed for their music. Whether or not this would be so if the country and it’s inhabitants hadn’t had such a tragic past is debatable but traditional Irish music has been around centuries and has had an influence on many different forms of music, most notably in American bluegrass and country. By the High and Late Medieval era, the Irish annals were listing musicians and in County Wicklow a set of wooden pipes were discovered that date even further back to the Stone Age to prove it. There’s just something about the pipes and the melodies of an Irish song that brings out so many feelings and emotions in people.

So there you are sat at home thinking of starting up an authentic Irish folk-punk band but what instruments do you need to include. Sure you got your drums and guitar and bass but what about the ones that will transform you from just a run in the mill punk rock band into the next Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly. You may be surprised at actually how few of them originated in Ireland but here are the traditional folk instruments that you will find in celtic punk bands that Irish musicians have been blowing, strumming, picking, plucking and thumping for a very long time indeed.

Bodhrán

bodhran

Imelda May

Pronounced ‘bow-rawn’ this handheld goatskin drum is certainly easier to get around and less trouble than a drummer! The name ‘bodhran’ is an Irish word that derives from the word bodhar which means deaf or dull. Known as the heartbeat of trad music for good reason this large drum is covered with stretched animal skin and struck with a stick that was traditionally made from double-ended knucklebone to provide our music with a pulsating beat that turns listeners into dancers with ease. It’s speculated that the instrument served a double purpose as a husk sifter and grain tray. We prefer it as a drum. For a taster of what the bodhrán has to offer, re-watch Riverdance for the thousandth time.

Uilleann Pipes

uilleann-pipes

Liam O’Flynn

Now most celtic-punk bands that have pipes have the Highland bagpipes rather than the uilleann pipes. This is mainly down to the uilleann pipes, which means ‘pipes of the elbow’ because of their pump-operated bellows, taking years to master and that the Highland bagpipes are much much louder. The bag of the pipes is inflated thanks to a set of bellows fastened around the waist and right arm of the musician. The bellows are able to relieve the musician from putting in the extra effort required to blow into a bag to maintain its pressure. These ancient pipes have been mesmerising listeners with their haunting tones since the 5th Century but it was two County Louth brothers, William and Charles Taylor, who developed the modern version after emigrating with the instrument from post-Famine Ireland to the United States. The pipes are different from several other bagpipes with regards to their tone and wider range of notes. With a distinct structure, which sounds much sweeter and quieter than other bagpipes. The pipes are almost always played while sitting down and it is thought one of the reasons that the pipes were invented was to compose music for dancing.

Tin Whistle

Almost all primitive cultures had a type of tin whistle with a possible Neanderthal flute found in Slovenia dating from 81,000-53,000 B.C.,a German flute from 35,000 years ago and a flute made from sheep’s bone in West Yorkshire dating to the Iron Age. Known also as the penny whistle, since it could be bought for a mere penny, the tin whistle has six holes, a mouthpiece, and is played by blowing air into it and using your fingers to cover different holes to produce different notes. British entrepreneur Robert Clarke began manufacturing the modern tin whistle in the early 1900’s and it became extremely popular and soon made it’s way over to Ireland. Nowadays found in most celtic-punk bands it has and become indistinguishable from Celtic music and is a beloved instrument of Celtic musicians and fans alike.

fiddle

Fiddle

Arr now this is the classic debate that is had in all kinds of folk music circles! Is it the violin or is it the fiddle? Well looks can be deceiving as they both look absolutely identical. Take the Irish fiddle, for example, this essential traditional instrument may look the same as a violin, but its unique playing style and sound set’s the two apart. Probably the most common traditional instrument found in celtic-punk bands the high-pitched and expressive fiddle is often heard above all else, and can be both euphoric and heart-breaking in equal measure. In Ireland the counties of Sligo and Donegal in particular both have rich fiddling traditions and have been redefining the sound of this sweet instrument for centuries.

Irish Bouzouki

irish-bouzouki

Donal Lunny

Adapted from a Greek instrument and brought to Ireland in the 1960s, the Irish bouzouki is the latest addition to our traditional music arsenal. Looking not unlike a giant mandolin, the instrument was popularized by Irish folk legend Dónal Lunny from Tullamore, County Offaly, who used one in seminal trad folk band Planxty. With such a rich and bright sound its no surprise we stole the idea and made it our own.  Bouzoukis are now regulars at many a traditional music session. Another instrument we stole and is played with such regularity in celtic-punk band’s it second only to the banjo, originally brought to America by African slaves it was adopted by Celtic emigrants and became associated with country, folk, Irish traditional and bluegrass music.

Concertina

heaven-hellDeveloped in England and Germany in the early 18th century and spread to Ireland late in the 19th century. The concertina, also known as the squeeze box, was known in Germany as a lower-class instrument used mostly by workers to perform music on the streets while the English concertinas developed an air of bourgeois respectability with the upper classes enjoying the exact same melodies. The concertina has buttons and bellows on both ends and when pressed, the buttons move in the same direction as the bellows. The piano accordion became highly popular during the 1950’s and has flourished to the present day in céilí bands and for old time Irish dance music.

Celtic Harp

Now this is a long shot as I know of no celtic-punk band out there that has a harpist. If you do please let me know in the comments section. The only time I can remember seeing one played is at Wolfe Tones gigs in the 80’s. Anyhow you know an instrument has reached iconic status when it appears on the currency. The Celtic harp is that very instrument. Variations of the triangular, gut-stringed-instrument have been plucked in Ireland since as long ago as the 10th Century, when nomadic harpists would travel around Ireland performing songs for food or a warm bed. In 1792, the Belfast Harp Festival saw the best players competing for prizes. And today, the ornate and ancient Brian Boru harp can be viewed in Trinity College in Dublin. So if you are looking for something to set your celtic-punk band apart then why not get yourself a harpist!

Folk The System instruments

Folk The System

So there you go all you need to start a band. Finding the players you need is a different matter though but with Ireland’s trad music attracting more and more listeners and more and more people of all nationalities taking up the instruments it hopefully shouldn’t be too hard. With our music schools, concerts and pub sessions, there’s no shortage of opportunists to learn either so if you fancy taking up any of the instruments mentioned follow the links below.

Link1  Link2  Link3  Link4  Link5  Fiddle  TinWhistle  Guitar

EP REVIEW: TOXIC FROGS- ‘The Mermaid’s Song’ (2017)

French celtic-punk chicks band!
Four Girls Two Fiddles

Toxic Frogs are quite the anomaly within celtic-punk circles it has to be said. As much as i hate the idea of segregating bands into male and female it is refreshing to see a all-female band in the scene and standing tall too. Most of the time it seems to me that when ‘female’ music is brought up we are suppose to like it whether or not we do actually like it or not. The failed and discredited identity politics that handed the American election to Trump have ensured that people can no longer have an opinion on ‘certain’ things without being shouted at and labelled by hysterical bigots with no actually basis in fact. Anyway rant over and my point is that as a music reviewer my job is review music not ‘virtue signal’ to you all how right on I am by giving good reviews to bad or mediocre music just because the band fit someone else’s ideological pigeonhole. I don’t not have to worry about any of that shite here mind you as The Mermaids Song is abso-fecking-lutely fantastic!

I have heard plenty about Toxic Frogs in the short time they have been together without actually hearing an awful lot of what they have put out so far. Always on my list of bands to find out more about I just had never gotten round to it. Their 2015 album Kill The Devil somehow passed me by except for this review from Celtic Punk Folk And More here but they have kept up a steady stream of excellent videos that have at least introduced them to the wider celtic-punk scene if not me personally!

Toxic Frogs left to right: Lucianne Wallace- Guitar * Elvina Lynn- Bass/ Fiddle * Lydie Dupuy- Drums * Ella Beccaria- Fiddle/ Lead Vocals

Formed in the east-central French city of Lyon in September 2014 Ella came up with the idea of staring an all girl celtic-punk band so started to advertise the idea and soon enough the team of girls was ready. Having already played fiddle for French celtic-punk legends Celkilt she knew the scene and as soon as they hit the practise rooms something gelled. Taking their name from the not so friendly nickname the English give to French people they began to make waves in the celtic-punk scene almost straight away but the question everyone wanted to know was did the band deserve the hype and the answer listening to The Mermaid’s Tale is undoubtedly a resounding yes!

The EP begins with the instrumental ‘Scott Is Back’ and what a start to proceedings. The band consists of electric guitar, bass and drums and some almighty fiddle playing. The music sits nicely on the fence between celtic-rock and celtic-punk and many a time could fall into each within a single song and the standout here is that amazing fiddle playing though that’s not to say the rest of the band don’t play their part equally as well. The song begins with a Scottish feel to it I think because of the Scottish style drumming before a more traditional Irish sound comes in. The songs builds to a breakneck speed and ends with a fantastic flourish. There are a couple of bands in the scene that have female singers like Irish Moutarde and Brutus Daughter but most of the the ladies are confined to backing vocals or taking the lead on ‘Fairytale Of New York’! The band sing in English and ‘Criminal’s Heart’ is pure pop-punk heaven. Much more of a folk-punk number until near the end when the celtic fiddle kicks in and leads the song until the end.

Title track ‘The Mermaid’s Song’ is up next and there’s some blatant metal overtones here which remind me of all girl punk legends L7. Again the fiddle comes in well after the song has established itself showing that Toxic Frogs could easily get away with being just a run of the mill rock band as well. Again the fiddle brings the last curtain down on the last couple of minutes. We are in celtic-punk territory with ‘Toxic War’ and the girls go about their job with a frantic fast paced song with plenty of gang vocal “Hey, Hey” going on.

Last year Katie out of The Mahone put down her accordion for five minutes to record the now infamous ‘F*** You’ for the Hunger And The Fight Part Two album and now Toxic Frogs can add to that with their own ‘F**k You’. At just over six minutes long its a bit of an epic and begins with a slow and soaring guitar rock solo. Ella comes in with her vocals and the music lifts and then all of a sudden we back with the more trad Toxic Frogs sound. A great song that never drags and a brave song to record knowing that celtic-punk fans much prefer short n snappy songs …unless they are ballads and then you can go for as long as you like. Shades of grunge are back in ‘Go!’ with the chugging guitar and the EP ends with the majestic ‘Violins and Hammers for Ever’. Yeah they save the best for last in my humble opinion. Like I said just a few lines ago I am a absolute sucker for a well played ballad and here Toxic Frogs manage it in spades. A beautiful song where Ella’s voice on this EP never sounds better. The best way to bring the curtain down at the end of a celtic-punk record without a doubt.

So an excellent record and good enough for me to leave you in a minute to go and check out their back catalogue as well. Seven great songs that clock in at over thirty minutes so probably long enough for us to call it a album seeing as it is longer than a few other 2017 album’s. Their is talk from our fellow London celt’s Urbankelt about bringing Toxic Frogs over to play so hopefully that will come off as they deserve to be seen far and wide.

Buy The Mermaid’s Song

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EP REVIEW: BORN AGAIN HEATHENS- ‘Born Again Heathens’ (2017)

Celtic punk rock from Raleigh, NC bringing a swift kick in the pants to Celtic Music. Something different, something rude, something drunk, something crude!

Rocking away out of Raleighthe capital city of the state of North Carolina, Born Again Heathens play absolutely amazing kick-ass UK82 style punk rock with bagpipes. Born out of the ashes of the areas only celtic-rock band My Three Kilts the drummer and bassist from said band fancied something with a much heavier edge to it and so Born Again Heathens were delivered.

“Someone born into the world with no religion, who gets baptized as a child, learns about or experiments with other religions as an adult and then declares all region to be BS. This person may or may not still believe in a higher being”

Like most cities in the States the local Irish-American community is flourishing again after some rather lean years. The city boasts the popular Raleigh GAA Club which plays both football and hurling, a massive Irish festival, a branch of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish dance and traditional music classes and enough Irish bars to give you blood poisoning if you attempted a pint in each one!

So it’s no surprise then that wherever you find the Irish community in America you will also find some top quality celtic punk bands and Born Again Heathens are one of the best I’ve heard of late. All the band are from Scots/Irish backgrounds like Andy the drummer whose Grandad came from the Shetland Islands. Now I do love my folk music and I love all kinds of celtic-punk from the more trad based to the hardcore versions, or you could say the Murphys to the Mollys even, but sometimes the folkier stuff just won’t cut it and your in the mood and need something to bang your head to. Well you can go ahead and place this EP in the latter section.

Kicking off with ‘Irish Goodbye’ it’s great old fashioned fast punk rock but just as you start to think what’s it doing in the celtic-punk section the pipes start up and you nod your head knowingly to yourself. That’s why. The pipes are played expertly as all the other instruments and the production here is quality too. Now a ‘Irish Goodbye’ is not something I knew much about before I saw it mentioned on an episode of The American Office. It means leaving a pub without saying goodbye. Now I’ve been known to do this myself but sadly without realising like the time I went to the toilet and came straight out the door and went home leaving my coat and bag behind me in the middle of winter!

Fast and furious with a real catchy feel to it with the bagpipes feeling really natural. This isn’t just a punk band with a bagpiper this is a band where the pipes are an integral part of what Born Again Heathens are doing. We are in for more of the same with ‘McIntyre’s Lament’ and the headbanging continues. More tales of the pub and a mate who can’t hold his drink. Even room for some fecking great metal guitar! ‘Wild In The Streets’ comes with a really well produced video and the songs sounds pretty damn good too. Most celtic-punk bands liken themselves to some sort of cross between The Clash and The Dubliners but here we have something a bit more different. Imagine if you would a hybrid of Manchester punk/Oi! trailblazers Blitz and Scots folk legends Silly Wizard and you’ll be much nearer the mark.

The vocals are sung in a sort of English accent which makes the Blitz comparison even more true. ‘Brass Tacks’ is the most traditional folk sounding song here. The pipes are pushed to the fore and lead the band along. I have rarely heard piping as good as this in celtic-punk and in ‘All My Friends Are Drunks’ the longest song here the Bhoys really get to drop the hammer. An absolutely superb song with influences washing in from metal and southern rock with chugging guitars and them wonderful pipes. The longer song really gives the band a chance to get into it and was I thought as good as it could get here till the even better ‘Stagger Alley’ came waltzing into my lugholes. Proving they aren’t just a two dimensional band they give us, for me anyway, the album standout. The catchiest of catchy choruses helps of course! The EP comes to an end with another great song ‘Sadie Hawkins Slam Dance’. In the states a ‘Sadie Hawkins’ dance is where a woman asks the man to dance with her, instead of the traditional way of man asking the woman. I found a hilarious explanation of the origins of the dance here.  This could become the Born Again Heathens anthem I think.

So there you are. Seven songs that fly past at breakneck speed in just twenty three minutes. I think any longer and we, the listener, may not make it through! I been listening to a lot of folk music recently and after playing this two dozen times I’ve decided its time to dig out the punk music again. Seven songs written by the Born Again Heathens that have plenty of scope and influences from outside celtic-punk that only add to the sound. They are starting to make a name for themselves outside of North Carolina and they certainly deserve to if they can keep songs like these coming. Now wheres that album Bhoys?

Born Again Heathens left to right: Scott Ervin- bass,vocals * Mōg- bagpipes, whistles, vocals * Bryan Swinson- guitar, vocals * Andy Pacheco- drums, vocals

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North Carolinian’s pride themselves on their knowledge of the history and culture of ‘North Cackalacky’ but when it comes to this unusual nickname no one seems to know where in the world it came from!

EP REVIEW: UNION BLOOD- ‘Working Class Pride’ (2017)

From the land of pipes and drunx comes this new EP of streetpunk and Oi! from Galician band Union Blood.

union-blood-ep
Bit of a departure for London Celtic Punks with this EP from the newly formed Street punk band Union Blood. Formed last Summer in A Coruña in Galicia now that city may ring a bell for celtic-punk fans as it is the home town of famous celtic celtic-punk band Bastards On Parades. As it goes Union Blood began last year as a side project but as Bastards On Parade announced on their Facebook page
“Hey! We wanted to let you all know that we are taking a break for a while. Different circumstances don’t let us keep the rhythm of traveling and tours we used to, so we will wait for the right time to come back as this band deserves.
See you soon you bastards!! Cheers”
Now Bastards On Parade, who took their name from the Dropkick Murphys song and played with them numerous times, worked their collective arses off over the years with their touring and even washed up over here a couple of times including a short and not particularly well organised tour (by us!) with The Lagan. So they are deserving of a break but what has stepped into the breach in the meantime you ask? Well what we have here is Union Blood’s first release and it has all the influences of Oi! bands past and present that you would expect flowing through it. Now I never been a skinhead but use to be a big fan of Oi! and one of the things about Oi! is that it was/is the British sound that completely dominates. Bands like The 4-Skins, Cock Sparrer and the Rejects seem to influence every band no matter where they come from and Union Blood are no different.

from left to right: Ruper, Arenga, Dopi, David

The EP begins with ‘Working Class Pride’ and its straight forward skinhead rock with David’s welcome, and familiar, voice rasping his way through a fast and catchy as hell number about having pride in your background. In a world where the working classes are hated by the elites (to be fair they always have been) for not voting the way they are told or being coarse or unruly and for simply not doing as we are told we only have each other. With the left around the world hellbent on destroying itself by the adoption of lunatic and poisonous identity politics a new left is needed that in the words of someone who should know is a new left that is
“from the class, for the class, of the class”

‘Reckless And Bones’ is up next and the chugging guitars are still evident but also the catchy gang chorus and “whoa whoa” too. Traces of Bastards On Parade here and with a piper in there we would be away!
The best song on the EP for me is the anti-fascist anthem ‘Blood On The Streets’ and cor blimey guv’nor it is a cracker. I won’t stray in cockney rhyming slang I promise but this song is an almighty foot tapper and fist shaker. Slightly slower and a lot heavier than previous tracks but by God it’s a class song.

The EP ends with the song ‘Brawlers’ which is another great song and dedicated to the Bhoys football team Deportivo de La Coruña. So there you have it songs about brotherhood, football, drinking and fighting the good fight. All played in such a way that if you were a fan of Bastards On Parade you would love this too. Great songs with interesting and well thought out lyrics and, most importantly of all, extremely good and catchy songs!
(you can have a listen to the EP below but only two songs feature so to get the whole four tracks you will have to buy the vinyl single)
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EP REVIEW: AND THE WASTERS- ‘State Of Repair’ (2017)

Will Tun And The Wasters carry on exactly where they left off except without Will Tun and with kind of a new name but still with plenty of that explosive folk’n’punk’n’ska rebel rocking they are renowned for!

and-the-wasters

We first heard of Will Tun And The Wasters a good few years back when I got a call out of the blue from someone begging me to let their band support The Dreadnoughts and The Lagan at Mannions in north London. They would even do it for free they were so desperate. Music to any music promoters ears so they were booked straight away. They arrived at the venue from universities from right across England and played a blinder, going down an absolute storm. Very young and enthusiastic, their energy was infectious as well as their music bringing with them equal doses of folk, celtic, punk and ska. Fast forward a few years and now mostly settled in Bristol they had become firm festival favourites as well as gigging and touring the length and breadth of these islands. Then all of a sudden vocalist Will Tun announced he was off. Nothing personal but it was time to get a proper job or something. Rather than agonise over what to call themselves they just dropped Will from their name and decided to just call themselves And The Wasters. I love it and think its genius!

atw-1

Last year And The Wasters played the main stages at popular English festivals such as Bearded Theory and Boomtown Fair and also completed an extensive tour of Europe. Adding elements of Latin, dub and even jazz to their usual brand of folk, punk and ska played with accordion, trumpet and fiddle. So after a year of playing as And The Wasters this new 5 track E.P State of Repair is their first release post-Will Tun and stands up well next to their album release from September, 2015 The Anachronist’s Cookbook which came out not long before Will’s decision to leave the band.

The EP kick’s off with ‘Lions Share’ and this is proper what we use to call festival music. Catchy ska based music but with hints of something a bit more aggressive below. The trumpet is leading the way and the band gel fantastically well and it’s a grand start to proceedings. Jo’s accordion rears its head towards the end and if we thought they would be hampered by Will’s absence then we were wrong. Next is ‘Small Victories and it’s more of the same. Still catchy and music to get you on your feet.

They may have left their more overt celtic-punk/ folk-punk sound behind but it’s back with a vengeance on the re-cycling anthem ‘Reduce, Reuse, Rebel’ all being it smothered in a rather lovely ska beat with again some great trumpet playing. ‘Bound as One’ adds Balkan folk into the mixture and stirs it about. This band sure do catchy well before the EP wraps up with the slow ‘Intro Dub’. None of the rowdiness of before bit more of a head nodder this one!

The past few years have seen the band taking their feel good music out beyond the usual safe spaces bands normally go. This band would literally play anywhere they can so attached are they to the idea of DIY music. The idea that bands can do it all themselves without the need for managers, publicists or record deals. But don’t be thinking they are just some happy-go-lucky ska-punk band version of The Wurzels though. Their music is only matched by what they have to say. That attachment to DIY only echos their positive message of solidarity, friendship and collective action. The band live by their message and their beliefs, being active within the DIY music scene and by lending support to various good causes.

(have a listen to State Of Repair before downloading it for *FREE* below)

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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE CLANCY BROTHERS AND TOMMY MAKEM- ‘Come Fill Your Glass With Us ‘ (1959)

ST PATRICK’S DAY BLESSINGS BE UPON YOU

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh

(Byan-okht-ee nah Fay-leh Pawd-rig ur-iv)

May those who love us,
Love us.
And those who do not love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And if He doesn’t turn their hearts,
May He turn their ankles,
So we’ll know them by their limping.

Irish Songs Of Drinking And Blackguarding

Sung By Patrick Clancy, Tom Clancy, Liam Clancy, Tommy Makem and Jack Keenan

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The Clancy Brothers were a group of brothers who, along with longtime companion Tommy Makem, are without a doubt among the most important figures in Irish music history. Still considered as one of the most internationally renowned Irish folk bands and some have even gone so far as to credit them as being among the main inspirations in the American folk revival of the ’50s and ’60s.

clancy

Bob Dylan claimed in the early 1960’s

“I’m going to be as big as the Clancy Brothers!”

With the Clancy Brothers dominating The Ed Sullivan Show and performing their sad Irish drinking tales and rebellious stories before thousands of people, Dylan’s declaration at the time seemed bold and impetuous. Its opposite came true, of course: Dylan submerged the Clancys’ pointed and poignant folk ballads into his stew of influences en route to rock ‘n’ roll superstardom while the Clancys peaked around 1964, then slowly drifted into a hodgepodge of break-ups, reunions, and greatest-hits CD collections. But in bringing Irish music into American mainstream culture, the Brothers were key figures in the 1960’s folk revival and helped Ireland rediscover its cultural traditions. Every Irish-music movement since then–from the Chieftains to Sean O’Riada, from Van Morrison to U2, from Enya to the Corrs–owes some of its success to the Clancys.

clancys-2

(Tommy and Liam)

Born in the small Irish market town Carrick-On-Suir, in County Tipperary, Tom and Patrick ‘Paddy’ Clancy were two of eleven children. Their parents, Robert, an insurance broker, and Joan, a housewife, sang Irish folk songs constantly, but neither Tom nor Paddy envisioned a professional music career when they were growing up. They served in both the Irish Republican Army and the Royal Air Force, Pat, a flight engineer in North India and Burma and Tom, an officer in Europe and North Africa. They left Ireland for Canada in 1947 and, after apparently hiding out in the back of a truck, immigrated to the United States three years later. Landing in Cleveland, Ohio, and then Manhattan, the duo pursued show-business careers. In addition to driving taxis and painting houses, they auditioned for acting roles by day and sang by night at clubs and coffeehouses such as the Lion’s Head and the White Horse Tavern. Tom had by far the most successful acting career, landing major Broadway roles and later on going on to appear in television’s Starsky And Hutch, Charlie’s Angels and The Incredible Hulk! Soon they were producing their own plays, at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village, but after three struggling years, they turned to midnight music concerts to pay the bills.

That was the beginning of the Clancy Brothers as they are commonly known. Drawing on their family singing background and their knowledge of Irish drinking ballads and rebellious folk songs, they began to build a small New York City audience. On-stage acting experience also helped. The Clancy’s told funny stories between songs and responded to applause with vaudevillian lines like

“You have very good taste, I must say”.

Soon their younger brother, Liam, and a friend, Tommy Makem, were joining them regularly on stage. Paddy Clancy created his own record label, Tradition, and put out albums of pointed but gentle folk harmonies, including 1956’s The Rising of the Moon, which was recorded around a kitchen table in the Bronx. Liam told CBSNews.com in 2002, promoting his memoir, The Mountain of the Woman.

“The crowds got so wild and they would hoist crates of beer up onto the stage and demand that we drink them. It was a wild and wonderful time… Greenwich Village was an island for people escaped from repressed backgrounds, who had swallowed the directive to be inferior, to know your place, to kowtow to royalty, to hierarchy, and all the other nonsense”

Their timing was impeccable. The Clancys’ Greenwich Village audiences at the time included young folk-music aficionados such as Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, who would later say, in the same article, of Liam Clancy

“For me, I never heard a singer as good as Liam. He was just the best ballad singer I ever heard in my life. Still is, probably. I can’t think of anyone who is a better ballad singer than Liam”

As legend has it, after hearing the Clancys’ version of Dominic Behan’s ‘Patriot Game’, Dylan tinkered with the lyrics and retooled the ballad into his own ‘With God on Our Side’. More than 30 years later, in 1992, the Clancy Brothers would reunite with Makem for Dylan’s recording-anniversary celebration at Madison Square Garden in New York City. They sang ‘When the Ship Comes In’, an Irish ballad Dylan recorded on The Times They Are A-Changing.

clancys

(left to right: Tommy Makem, Paddy Clancy, Tom Clancy and Liam Clancy)

Two major events in the Clancys’ career happened in 1961. First, they received a package from their mother as related by Paddy to the irishmusicweb website.

“It was a very cold winter in New York and my mother in Ireland read about the snow and the frost in New York. And her three sons were in America. So she knitted three Aran sweaters and she sent them out. We had a Jewish manager, Marty Erlichman. He saw them and said ‘That’s it. I’ve been looking for some identifiable costume for you. It’s perfect!'”

The thick, roped sweaters became their trademark–especially when, upon signing with Columbia Records, they wore them on the cover of 1961’s A Spontaneous Performance Recording. The second event was The Ed Sullivan Show, the influential television variety show that gave the Beatles their big break three years later. When a scheduled guest became sick, the Clancys sang for 18 minutes on the air. After that, they were international celebrities, playing ‘Fine Girl You Are’, ‘The Holy Ground’ and ‘The Rambler’ at Carnegie Hall and fancy venues everywhere. Dylan, jazz hero Stan Getz, and a promising young singer named Barbra Streisand were among their opening acts. The Clancys went on to record 55 albums and performed for luminaries such as President John F. Kennedy, a fan, at the White House.

As the 1960s wore on, with Dylan and the Beatles steering popular music away from traditional folk ballads and towards electric rock ‘n’ roll, the Clancys’ star power began to dim. They drifted from traditional signatures such as ‘The Old Orange Flute’ and ‘Whiskey Is the Life of Man’ and began writing and producing their own material. Makem left for a solo career in 1970; Liam left five years later. With Liam’s replacement, the Clancys’ youngest brother, Bobby, the group slowly devolved into a nostalgia act. Makem and Liam Clancy sometimes performed as a duet, and they came together on special occasions (including the Dylan thirtieth-anniversary show) in various singing configurations. But they never approached their early 1960’s star power again. Paddy returned to Carrick-on-Suir to raise cattle with his wife on a farm. Tom died in 1990; Paddy died in 1998. Liam and Tommy Makem continued to have successful solo careers before Tommy passed away on 1 August 2007, at the age of 74, after an extended fight with cancer. Two years later Liam died of pulmonary fibrosis, the same ailment that had taken his brother Bobby. He died on 4 December 2009 at the age of 74 in a hospital in Cork, Ireland.

This is the second album from the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem and is among their most notable efforts. It undoubtedly helped launch the group to international success. As you can tell instantly from the album’s title, ‘Come Fill Your Glass with Us’, the album is a virtual soundtrack of Irish pub life. The recording perfectly evokes the hard-drinking, late-night atmosphere of a working man’s Irish pub.

Tracklist

Whisky You’re the Devil
The Maid of the Sweet Brown Knowe
The Moonshiner
Bold Thady Quill
Rosin the Bow
Finnigan’s Wake
The Real Old Mountain Dew
Courting in the Kitchen
Mick McGuire
A Jug of Punch
Johnny McEldoo
Cruiscin Lan
Portlairge
The Parting Glass

FREE DOWNLOAD FOR THE FIRST 100 PEOPLE. IT SAYS ‘NAME YOUR PRICE’ SO PUT 0p IF YOU LIKE. AFTER THAT IT’S ONLY AVAILABLE BY DONATION. ALL MONEY GOES DIRECT TO THE JUSTICE FOR THE CRAIGAVON 2 CAMPAIGN.

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although this album is available for free download if you wish we would appreciate it if you could spare a few pennys or cent’s to donate to the Justice For The Craigavon 2 campaign. Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton are two young Irishmen that have been unjustly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. We ask you to find out more information on the case by visiting
jftc2.com
www.facebook.com/JFTC2/

and please do all you can to publicise these poor men’s imprisonment.

(listen to the album below just press play!)

COME FILL YOUR DRINKS WITH US ALBUM SLEEVE NOTES

by Patrick Clancy

A group of workmen were tearing down a very old distillery in the south of Ireland. It had not been used for fifty years and was full of birds’ nests. When they reached the vat where the whisky had been stored, they found a small metal pipe leading from it and going into the ground. It had been well hidden. They dug down following it one foot underground till it ended in a small hollow under a tree two hundred yards from the distillery. No one could explain it. The facts end here, but they suggest strange stories of men long ago stealing to that hollow at night and draining off the whisky out of sight of the distillery.
There is no one to tell of the nights of drinking and song that came out of that pipe, But I’m sure some of the Irish drinking songs on this record were sung, as some of them are much older than that distillery. Drinking and singing have been enjoyed by men everywhere and always. As islands were discovered and jungles penetrated, all new found peoples had songs of some kind and had found a way of making intoxicating drink. If you hear a lot of singing from your neighbor’s home at midnight, you just know there is drinking going on.
In Ireland people would gather in the pubs on fair days and market days when their business of the day had ended, to “wet their whistle” and hear n song. A travelling piper, fiddler, singer or fluter would provide sweet music for pennies and a farmer could learn a new song or two. My grandmother kept one of these pubs and learned quite a few of the songs, one of them being ‘Whisky You’re the Devil’, which I have not heard elsewhere. Another one of her songs was ‘Portlairge’, which is a local Gaelic song, and all the place names mentioned are within twenty miles of her pub. The words translate as follows:
— 1 —
I was the day in Waterford.
Fol dow, fol dee, fol the dad I lum.
There was wine and pints on the table.
Fol dow . . .
There was the full of the house of women there,
Fol dow . . .
And myself drinking their health.
— 2 —
A woman from Rath came to visit me,
And three of them from Tipperary.
Their people weren’t satisfied.
They were only half satisfied.
— 3 —
I’ll set out from Carrick in the rooming,
And take a nice girl with me.
Off we’ll go thro’ “The Gap,”
And northwards to Tipperary.
Like Tom and Liam and I, Tommy Makem learned most of his songs from his family, particularly from his mother, Mrs. Sarah Makem, who still lives in County Armagh, Ireland and sings on Tradition Records The Lark In The Morning, TLP 1004. When Tommy sings ‘Bold Thady Quill’, he is singing about a champion hurler from County Cork, whom I understand is still alive. The song ‘Finnigan’s Wake’ gave the title to the famous novel by James Joyce, who was interested in Tim Finnigan’s resurrection from the dead by having whisky (water of life) poured on him during a fight at the wake. The Gaelic chorus of ‘Cruiscin Lan’ (My Little Full Jug) means:
Love of my heart, my little jug, Bright health, my darling.
Most of these songs tell their own story. They are not merely curiosity pieces or antiques; they are still very much alive and are as popular as the drink that inspired them.

More Information On The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem

Wikipedia  WebSite  LastFM  Facebook  YouTubeLive

(The story of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem in their own words)

THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ‘STEPPING STONES’ CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW SERIES

This album was brought to you as part of our regular series where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re maybe use to. Lost or hidden and sometimes forgotten gems from the legends and also unknowns that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern age celtic-punk music. The albums are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

You can find our Steppin’ Stones page here with the full list of albums to choose from.

ALBUM REVIEW: O’HAMSTERS- ‘Где бы мы ни бывали’ (2017)

More masterful celtic-punk from Eastern Europe with O’Hamsters from Kyiv Ukraine showing us all how its done”

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Now we love celtic-punk music that much must be obvious as the nose on my face. The people who write for the London Celtic Punks are lucky (or unlucky considering all our ‘issues’ ahem) to be Irish but when it comes to our music we never discriminate and it’s a good job too as we would miss out on some great music if we ever bought into such ridiculous notions as ‘cultural appropriation’ or that folk/trad snobbiness that saw legendary bands like The Dubliners and The Pogues castigated as ‘un-Irish’ in their time.

This brings us nicely onto today’s band O’Hamsters (their is no ‘The’ just O’Hamsters) who have featured on these pages several times in the past including reviews of their last two EP’s (here) and (here). O’Hamsters hail from the capital city of Ukraine, Kiev, and have been playing together in a band since 2009 and Где бы мы ни бывали/ Gde By My Ni Byvali is their third album release. Now we are in a music scene that is truly worldwide but does tends to sing in English. Even bands from the celtic nations tend to sing in English, with the odd notable exception of bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs from Brittany, and even bands from further afield and well away from the Celtic diaspora nations tend to sing in English. Now this makes it easier for my job as a reviewer but I do worry about the effect this has on the music scene of the country the band comes from. Therefore I do find it refreshing when bands sing in their native language but it does mean I miss out on what the band are singing about. Going on what I know of O’Hamsters it will be the things we love here at London Celtic Punks. Folk, punk, football, Ireland and drinking and some other things we couldn’t print on a family blog!

Где бы мы ни бывали kicks off with ‘Истинный Ирландец’ and all I really want to say here is that the album is fourteen f**king brilliant songs that clock in just over forty minutes so just get to that download button below and get downloading. The opening song gives you the perfect taste of what is to come. Slow and soft accordion gives way to thrashing guitars, rapid punky drumming, quality mandolin and raspy vocals. As is the way with a lot of celtic-punk bands at the moment there’s a brief foray into celtic-ska before we are back again. Great country style intro for ‘Winter Hill’ before its celtic-punk all the way. I hear the word Massachusetts so can only guess that the song is about the home of famous ex-on the run Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger and his notorious Winter Hill Gang. It’s pretty much the same story right through to the end. This is fast and furious celtic-punk of the hardcore kind. Much like their neighbours from Russia, Middle Class Bastards, its’s unmistakable celtic-punk but with a much harder edge to it than we are use to in the soft west. They keep up the pace, and the quality, and it’s not until ‘Где бы мы ни бывали’ that we are treated to a cover version and its the brilliant sound of ‘Come To The Bower’. Having opened the album with their own compositions we are treated to a wonderful set of Irish songs that you never thought you hear in Ukrainian! Gang vocals kick it off and them thrashing guitars and furious accordion give it a sound that would shake the cobwebs from yer average Dubliners fan. This is also the name of the album and suits it perfectly as the song is written to reach out to Irish people exiled to escape political persecution or for financial reasons. A bower is a leafy seated area found in country gardens and often used by lovers but in the song, however, the bower refers to Ireland itself. We back in Irish history again next with ‘Храни, Боже, остров Эрин’ which goes to the tune of ‘God Save Ireland’ though not sure if it’s the same lyrics or not. Vera Brenner guests on Bagpipes and she is simply amazing and her playing adds so much. guys you need to persuade her to join the band full time I’m telling you! ‘Батальон Святого Патрика/ Batal’on Svyatogo Patrikais’ a cover of the David Rovics penned classic ‘Saint Patrick’s Battalion’  which was a Mexican army unit comprised of Irish Catholics who defected from the US army during the Mexican-American War. The St. Patrick’s Battalion was an elite artillery unit which inflicted great damage on the Americans during the battles of Buena Vista and Churubusco. After the battle most members were killed or captured and most taken prisoner were hanged. They are still celebrated widely in Mexico. The boys borrow the tune next from ‘The Wearing Of The Green’ for ‘Странный союз/ Strannyy soyuzand its classic celtic withthe tin whistle moving it along at a swift pace. ‘Cath Sulchuait’ is my album standout track. All the elements combine to make a song that at times could spill into the Dropkick Murphys but each time O’Hamsters steer it back into their own world. A great chorus and the band are never better here though it is close several times. We steering near the end and ‘Рыжий Айриш Бой/ Ryzhiy Ayrish Boy’ or in English ‘Auburn Irish’ takes us back firmly into the celtic ska-punk of earlier and is another standout. ‘Я из Коннахта/ I’m From Connaught)’ is officially the end of the album and ends with the ballad I have been waiting for. Joined by Anna Vasil’chenko from fellow Ukrainian band Kings & Beggars it brings the curtain down momentarily on a great album. I say momentarily as O’Hamsters have added two bonus tracks for you lucky people

(Lyrics in English!! Directed by Andrey Ganzevich and Artem Brin)

‘Стакан/ Glass’ came out in 2015 and is a frantic fast as hell celtic-punk classic that is all over and done within just eighty seconds. The final song here is ‘Ліжко Кухуліна/ The Sickbed of Cuchulainn’ abelter of a song which was one of the absolute highlights of the fantastic mainly Eastern European compilation album from last year The Tribute To The Pogues which is still available for free from here.

so in this year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen that has already gone down in history as the best year of celtic-punk album releases we have another to add to our growing list. A superb album from a superb band and you can listen to this and most of O’Hamsters back catalogue through their Bandcamp page below but it’s bands like this that make it celtic-punk a worldwide scene and if any band deserves a few pounds/ dollars/euro’s chucked their way then its them.
(you can have a listen to the whole of Где бы мы ни бывали before you download it)
Download The Album
Contact The Band
For another review from our comrades over at Celtic Folk Punk And More read here.

ALBUM REVIEW: UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS- ‘Handmade’ (2017)

Italian celtic-punk band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards play fantastic celtic-punk but spice it up it with pure traditional Irish music. With uilleann pipes, tenor banjo and Irish flute no other band in the celtic punk scene can compete with these Bastards in their knowledge of Irish trad music…

as well as that they are a great bunch of lads!

Handmade 2017

It’s a long time now and in this modern age we are taught to have short memories but back before the now deceased ‘celtic tiger’ roared it’s last breath Ireland was a land of plenty. High wages, plenty of work and regular masses promised opportunities for all good Catholics that washed up on it’s shores. Plenty of Italians flocked to the dear auld sod and among those emigrants were members and friends of the band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards. These Bhoys weren’t tourists they were there to work and their love of Ireland was inspired from living, working, and visiting there. So in 2007 the celtic tiger having croaked and the work dried up many of those Italians returned home but a part of their hearts remained in Ireland.

Day by day we found there what we were searching for in our entire life, something that would change us forever. That’s how we fell in love with Irish music and how we learned it”

The boys got together and with a few songs learnt in the pubs and streets they began to practise what has gone on to become a real tour-de-force within the celtic-punk scene. From dingy wee backrooms in pubs to massive rock festivals to small mountain huts Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards have gone down an absolute storm wherever they have set foot.

(video filmed by our good mucker Rory over at This Drinking Life web-zine here which also included an extensive interview with the Bastards so click and go there.)

They released their debut album, Drinking Not Thinking, in 2011 and soon after set out on a busking tour of Ireland, Wales and England where they fine tuned their sound and began to write some of their own material. On their return home they were joined by Irish traditional folk musician Luca Crespi who added uilleann pipes, tin whistle and the Irish flute to the bands repertoire. ‘Up The Bastards’ EP followed before 2014’s absolute stunning Get The Folk Out! took us all by surprise. Not knowing them I opened up their e-mail and my first reaction was “not another band with Bastard in the name”. I sat down to listen and my bloody jaw hit the floor with amazement. Get The Folk Out! is a masterpiece. Straddling both the Irish trad sound and celtic-punk it easily fits into both genre’s. The addition of uilleann pipes moved the bands sound into something quite incredible. You can read our review of Get The Folk Out here. The album went on to walk away with the London Celtic Punks #1 Album of 2014 here, something unheard of for a ‘unknown’ band to do.

uncle-bard-and

Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards left to right: Silvano Ancellotti- Electric Guitar * Luca Crespi- Uilleann Pipes, Irish Flute, Tin Whistle * Luca Terlizzi- Drums * Guido Domingo- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Lorenzo Testa- Tenor Banjo, Mandolin. Seated: Rob Orlando / Uncle Bard- Bass Guitar.

So with such high praise and expectation it was with wonder i sat down to listen to their new album Handmade. Could they live up to what we now expected of them? Well within one listen I realised they were onto another surefire hit! Released a fortnight ago on February 9th, 2017 they have managed to squeeze more than a hour onto the CD and have done it without a single weak moment. Uncle Bard And The Bastards start the ball rolling with the album’s title song ‘Handmade’. A short refrain starring Guido and his perfectly raspy and hoarse vocals and that’s it. The words explain the bands philosophy to what they do. A beautiful song and the perfect start.

“For a labour of love, Makes a work built to last”

They swiftly turn to their more raucous sound next with ‘Gipsey Geezers’ and them uilleann pipes fill the speakers but don’t be thinking that they rely solely on them. The whole band is extremely talented but you still need the songs and these Bastards do have them. As catchy a song as any on Get The Folk Out! it’s been a couple of years and I realise how much I have missed them. Not that only that but they finish the song with a jig called ‘The Arses Of The Lasses’ written by Lorenzo the like of which you will NEVER hear a fellow celtic-punk band play.

‘Too Old To Stop Now’ explains being in a band these days is more a labour of love than anything. Fortunes are to be made but only if you do as you are told and sell your soul for success. Things the Bastards have never and will never do. Again the celtic-punk of the main tune contrasts nicely with a polka tacked seamlessly onto the end. ‘Stay Untamed!’ again shows the songwriting talents of this band. Shared between them all it amazes how people who have English as only their second language can write such brilliant words. Never be afraid to take chances is the thing here and wrapped around a real foot-tapper. The tin whistle and punky guitar leads on a right celtic-punk classic that slows and speeds up with the fastest banjo I have heard in ages. ‘The Man Who Spoke To The Earth’ speaks of the the rich man in his castle and the poor man and again the song is interspersed with some absolutely amazing Irish folk tunes.

“I am just a poor man, On his own. But they will never know, What I’ve known”

The Bogman again written by the talented Lorenzo starts the section that concludes with Séamus Egan of Solas ‘The Czar of Munster’ and the trad ‘Coleraine’s Jig’. All played as expertly as you will hear. They leave the celtic-punk behind next and present further evidence that this band can whip up a traditional celtic folk storm as good as anyone. ‘The Donegal Lass/Butler of Glen Avenue/Tell Me About You’ has the fiddle and pipes giving it all. Never afraid to dip their toes in another genre we get the first taste on Handmade with ‘The Ferryman’. Bluegrass and ‘proper’ country spice up a song written by the legendary Irish songwriter Pete St John. ‘The Ferryman’ tells of the closure of the Liffey Ferry service in 1984, the loss of jobs and the end of a 320 years-old tradition that perfectly pictures how Dublin was changing during the 70’s and 80’s. The pipes are out in force for ‘Anger’ while the short and gentle banjo and flute piece ‘The Clarenbridge Fair’ is dedicated to Fintan and Tom Cussen where Lorenzo spent time in their Galway workshop.

“I dedicate this banjo composition to both of them, with a sense of gratitude for the great instruments they build and for their unequalled kindness”

‘The Streets Of Dublin’ is Lorenzo’s ode to the city that forever captured his heart. It’s not the saccharine sweet version of Dublin presented for the tourists but the warts an’all kind. Having watched Dublin change during the years and get through the economic crisis with more homelessness and teenage drug problems than ever there is hope. The Home Sweet Home movement is occupying offices in the centre of Dublin, to give shelter to homeless people for the winter and raise awareness of the problem. The music is again superb the mix of old and new never better while the lyrics speak of the same.

“Dublin me darlin’, What’s left for those who will come?”

Lorenzo again excels as a singer-songwriter on ‘Lads From The Countryside’ where he tells of the benefits of being born in the country. That they can follow a serious song such as ‘the Streets Of Dublin’ with this speaks volumes of their talent. Their is a phrase much loved by the foreign born Irish, like myself, “More Irish than the Irish themselves” and on ‘The Luck Of The Irish’ Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards prove they are indeed.

“So tell me, oh dear Where’s our pot of gold? I stumbled ‘till West Clare, To find there was none. At the top of me lungs, Leaned out over the cliffs I shouted ye oversea “Lucky me arse!”

the title reminded me of the John Lennon song which had much the same theme but without any of the Bastards humour. With British occupation, war, genocide, immigration heaped upon the Irish race where is this f’ing luck I keep hearing about? Now obviously I am drawn to the next song like a moth to a flame. The phrase ‘Plastic Paddy’ is well known to us outside Ireland. We can never be Irish enough for some people, mostly those who never suffered the necessity of emigration to survive rather than as some kind of student gap year.

It was released as a single last year but has been re-recorded and tweaked for inclusion on Handmade to make it a whole lot better!

“I went back to Temple Bar in great haste and fear
since I wanted to preserve the teeth I had in me mouth
I paid my seven euro for an iced pint of stout
but as everyone knows Guinness here is not the same
thanks goodness I found a few americans there
so we went out singing aloud along Merchant’s Quay
First “Whiskey in the Jar” and then a Garth Brooks’ song
Could it be a better way to celebrate today?”

Told again with great humour and is the longest song here. Have a good read of the lyrics over at the YouTube video. The music as ever is catchy as hell and the Bhoys admit they’ll be contributing to the whole mess themselves on St Patrick’s/Paddy’s/Patty’s day! My favourite song on Handmade is up next. ‘Rust’ is a beautiful song that  is more celtic-rock than punk but Guido’s great voice and his lyrics raise the song high. Superb banjo playing and the song has epic written all over it. Nearly at the end and ‘The Flat Above My Pub’ is Silvano’s turn at telling a tale. He reaches into his dark past and shares them with us in a happy-go-lucky song because

“when life hands me a lemon I just go to the pub and I ask for a pint or two. I don’t like lemonade too much”

Fast and furious and still catchy the song is possibly the best example of Uncle Bard And The Bastards on Handmade. Everything that makes them truly unique within the celtic-punk scene is here within this brilliant song. The album ends with the modern Irish folk classic ‘The Town I Love So Well’. Not much to say here except its a faithful version Phil Coulter’s classic personal lament about the war in the north of Ireland, specifically in Derry city, a republican stronghold. Written about his childhood the song begins by telling of the simple life he grew up with till he emigrated and then returned finding how his hometown become plagued with violence. Dennis Jelly, of the brilliant French celtic-punk band The Moorings, takes over on vocals and sends this album off triumphantly.

So there you go. It may not be up to Get The Folk Out! standards but fecking hell there’s only a small handful of celtic-punk albums EVER made they do. Handmade is absolutely brilliant in every way. Buy this and give it to any Irish folk/trad music fan and they will see celtic-punk in a completely different light. They don’t have producers, record labels, arrangers, lyricist’s or anyone backing them. Piece by piece Handmade was truly a labour of love. Every aspect of this album has been produced by this group of friends themselves not just from the lyrics and music arrangements and the recording but also the excellent ,and massive, CD booklet containing photos, lyrics and song explanations. This album is truly handmade and made with a genuine passion missing from most modern music. At a time when the most popular bands in celtic-punk are releasing album’s you should definitely not miss out on this album I have an inkling it will again be troubling them at the top of the Best Of charts again at the end of the year.

Discography

Drinking Not Thinking – 2011, Up the Bastards! EP – 2013, Get The Folk Out! – 2014

Buy The Album

FromTheBand  iTunes  Amazon      

Contact The Band 

Facebook  WebSite  Twitter  ReverbNation  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: FLATFOOT 56- ‘Odd Boat’ (2017)

Playing positive-natured hardcore-tinged celtic-punk Chicago heavyweights Flatfoot 56 released their new album, Odd Boat, last week with Sailor’s Grave Records. Produced by Matt Allison in Chicago and featuring twelve songs that blend their unique blend of traditional Irish folk music and surging punk rock.

by  Gerard Mellon, 03/2017.

flatfoot-56-odd-boat

So, it’s been five long years since we had a new album from Flatfoot 56, although in that period we had an acoustic album from 6’10, a punk/oi album from Brick Assassin (both bands featuring members of Flatfoot 56), and an EP, featuring a couple of new tracks, split between 6’10 and Flatfoot 56. But a new release from the Chicago Celtic punkers, has been a long time coming! It is called Odd Boat, and comprises a dozen tracks, it runs for 37 minutes.

(Justin has since been replaced on drums by Conrad)

And what a cracking half an hour or so it is! The punk and folk factions in the band blend so well together, giving us a sound so unique to Flatfoot 56 that places them right at the heart of Celtic Punk. These lads get it, they really do! Their last offering Toil was a superb album and this follow up is equally as good. Although it’s not a clone of Toil, far from it! The production on Odd Boat gives it a rawer sound, maybe it’s a bit more punk influenced. There is still the musicality and excellent instrumentation there, but it’s a bit like aggression or power has been added. Perhaps this disc is more related to the wonderful Jungle of the Midwest Sea album from 2007. Anyway, whatever tweaks that have been made over the past five years, they work very well.

Flatfoot 56 formed in the summer of 2000 as a three-piece punk band. The three original members, who are brothers (Tobin, Justin and Kyle), started writing songs in mid-2000 and by the Christmas they were playing their first gig. The following January they band added Josh Robieson to the lineup and the band began including the Highland bagpipes into its sound and Flatfoot 56 had began their rise as one of America’s most popular celtic-punk bands. Countless TV appearances and remember that series of Sons Of Anarchy involving the IRA that played them throughout the whole series! We even had the pleasure of seeing them live in London back in 2010 I think it was. They were first band on at 8pm and maybe twenty people tops there in the Hope And Anchor basement. Didn’t realise it at the time but this gig was the direct inspiration to start the London Celtic Punks! 

f56-band

Flatfoot 56 from left to right: Kyle Bawinkel – Bass, Vocals * Brandon Good – Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals * Conrad – Drums, Vocals * Eric McMahon – Bagpipes, Guitar, Bass Drum * Tobin Bawinkel – Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar

The opening ‘Ty Cobb’, is about a famous Detroit baseball player who was renowned for diving in (“studs up” in our London parlance!) at the bases, is a fast paced, up-beat intro that draws you in and lets you know that you’re in for something special. From the following track ‘Stutter’ through ‘Penny,’ ‘Odd Boat’, ‘Englewood’, ‘Forward’, ‘The Crippled’, ‘Curtains’, ‘KPM’, ‘PS’, ‘The Trap’ to the final track, ‘A Voice’, you feel that you have heard something special! ‘KPM’ is a ballad like track that leans toward acoustic. ‘The Trap’ goes the other way and is a much more punk/oi sounding track. Many people will have heard ‘Penny’ already and so will know just how good this new material is. The final track ‘A Voice’ is a mid-tempo spiritual song that signs off the album beautifully.

(the first single off Odd Boat featuring guest vocals from an artist named IL Neige)

I honestly could have sat here and gone through each track individually and told you all how good they are, but that would be crazy and still wouldn’t do the album justice. The only way you’ll be able to see how right I am is by going out and buying it! Then if you’re anything like me you’ll play it, then play it again and again. It’s an absolute pleasure having to review albums like this, but what I’d like to do and what many more people would like, would be an opportunity to review a live show! It must be time for the band to come over and play a few gigs in the Ireland and Britain!! I mean, even if they have to sail over in an Odd Boat!!!

Buy Odd Boat

SailorsGraveRecords  iTunes

Contact Flatfoot 56

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  LastFM

Discography

Rumble of 56– 2002 * Waves of War– 2003 * Knuckles Up– 2006 * Jungle of the Midwest Sea– 2007 * Black Thorn– 2010 * Toil– 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TOSSERS- ‘Smash The Windows’ (2017)

From the predominantly Irish neighborhoods of Southside Chicago The Tossers have been expanding the boundaries of contemporary Irish music since before much better known bands had even begun and have become one of the most popular and successful bands in the worldwide celtic-punk scene.

By Shane O’Neill

tossers

Only a few weeks into 2017 and we have already seen a whole host of fantastic album’s being released onto the scene. The Tossers are celtic-punk heavyweights and they hail from Chicago, Illinois. To be exact they hail from the South of Chicago. This is the part of Chicago that has housed the cities Irish Catholic community ever since they first started arriving from the ‘auld country’. The immigrant history of Chicago is rooted among untold amount of countries and people whose struggles and adversities have led them to the Midwest and to Chicago. From the cities founding in the 1830’s, Chicago has been the final destination for people journeying from all over the world looking for the famed land of opportunity that is the US of A.  It may surprise people to know that in a city known as ‘Chicago Polonia’, and also ‘Poletown’, that it is the Irish that constitute the city’s biggest ethnic community. While most Irish-American families in Chicago are three or four generations deep, plenty of Chicago’s Irish have landed fairly recently. Ireland’s economy in the 1980’s and 1990’s prompted many of its young people to go where many others had gone before them and Chicago with it’s strong Irish links was if not top of the list then very close to it.

tossers-erin

It’s hard to believe that the self-proclaimed ‘World’s Loudest Folk Band’ have been around for twenty-four years now, forming as they did in July, 1993. The six piece from south Chicago have been unleashing their brand of Celtic folk punk even before Dropkick Murphy’s (1996) and Flogging Molly (1997) hit the scene. Steeped in Irish tradition, The Tossers take their place as one of the finest Celtic punk bands on the planet. Like most bands of this genre you can clearly hear the influences of The Pogues and Tony Duggins style of delivering the vocals is frighteningly close to Shane McGowan. That said, The Tossers are not a tribute act – far from it. They have a very unique way of delivering a fine but hooligan like take on folk music. The band’s name though for us here in Britland is an unusual one and would I think effect their t-shirt sales here. Saying that one of the blog editor’s wears his Tossers t-shirt with pride and I must say it suits him fine! Rest assured though it’s not the rude meaning you lot think it is as it actually dates back to Shakespeare, and depending who you ask it also means commode, drunk, to agitate, disturb, or disquiet but the band chose their name for its meaning to “throw away”.

tossers-band

Smash The Windows is due for release early March 2017 and comes four years after their last album hit the streets, the astounding The Emerald City back in March 2013. You can read our review of The Emerald City here and I suggest you do as it is a fantastic album that i still play regularly. Smash The Windows is certainly value for money with a total of seventeen songs that clock in at just under one hour in length. That is definitely a well packed album and there’s something in there for everyone. The album pays tribute to the bands Irish roots and what it meant to be an Irish American.

The album begins with ‘Erin Ga Bragh’ which is of course Irish for Ireland For Ever and The Tossers nail their colours to the mast from the very off. Fast and furious Irish punk rock played on mainly acoustic instruments that would equally please the most devout punk or folky! ‘Smash The Windows’ and ‘The Horses’ are both full of energy and I can imagine them being a real hit live. There is a cracking cover of ‘The Foggy Dew’ which is always a crowd pleaser. I have never really been a fan of the song ‘Danny Boy’ (not sure why) but I must say I really like The Tossers version. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Celtic Punk without a tribute to our beloved alcohol. ‘Drinking All The Day’, ‘Whiskey’ and ‘Lots Of Drops Of Brandy’ ticks this box on the new album. ‘1969’ brings us back to a darker time in Ireland’s history during the Civil Rights campaign and serves as a reminder that we should never forget what the brave people of the time fought for on our behalf. In today’s world, we take too much for granted and forget that without the sacrifices of many back in the 60’s and 70’s things could have been very different today. There are too many good tunes on this album to pick a favourite. Not one of them have disappointed. The album is being released by Victory Records and will be a big hit.

The Tossers Logo

Again on this album one of the things that amazes me is the way that The Tossers can change tempo and go from a raucous Irish punk rock number to a solemn reflective Irish ballad or a full on trad folk piece without you even noticing. The Tossers are more than just a band to their fans. They inspire and promote a love in your roots that is sadly missing for most people. They tell the tale of both Chicago and America’s Irish communities. Serious and piss-taking and joyful and sad and upbeat and maudlin The Tossers do it all and yes we Irish are all of these things… and The Tossers celebrate it all.

Discography

The Pint of No Return (1994) * We’ll Never Be Sober Again (1996) * The Tossers/The Arrivals- split (1998) * Long Dim Road (2000) * Citizen Fish/The Tossers- split (2001) * The First League Out From Land-EP (2001) * Communication & Conviction: Last Seven Years (2001) * Purgatory (2003) * Live At The Metro ’04 (2004) * The Valley of the Shadow of Death (2005) * Agony (2007) Gloatin’ and Showboatin’: Live on St. Patrick’s Day (2008) On a Fine Spring Evening (2008) The Emerald City (2013)

Buy The Album

Here directs to several sites where the pre-order is available or VictoryRecords

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Spotify

HUNGARIAN CELTIC PUNK WEEK! EP REVIEW: THE O’NEILLS- ‘Chapter One’ (2017)

ireland-hungarySo welcome to you to our third and final part of Hungarian Celtic Punk Week. After two fantastic celtic-punk bands in The Crazy Rogues and Firkin we calm it down a little with The O’Neills and their debut EP. We can be quite parochial in celtic-punk sometimes and tend to stick to bands we know or have heard of but there’s an absolute wealth of music out there begging to be heard and some of it may be from countries you wouldn’t expect. If the only thing this blog does is gain some of these bands a tiny bit of recognition then we are succeeding in what we set out to do. Leave your misconceptions at the door and take off your pub shoes and dip your toes into the celtic-punk scene worldwide and what better place to start off in than Hungary!

chapter-one-album-cover

The O’Neills formed in April, 2013 and hail from the Hungarian capital city of Budapest. Where as the first two bands we featured this week both play celtic-punk that sees the folk and punk in equal measures The O’Neills are much more of a Irish folk band in the traditional sense. Formed for a one off occasion The O’Neills success led them to be asked to perform on the Irish Stage of the Sziget Festival some months later. The huge impact gave the five-piece group the bit of push they needed to become th regular session band playing traditional acoustic Irish music at Jack Doyle’s Irish Pub. After two years, they tried different pubs and bars in the inner city of Budapest, changing their gigs to an unique show each time. By January 2017 it had led them to become one of the most sought after bands in Budapest and they recorded this debut EP at the Artist Factory studio. As its title they chose ‘Chapter One’ with the band planning to release subsequent chapters annually. Here we get as Chapter One three songs of excellently played music that perfectly evokes the spirit of Ireland.

oneills-1

The EP begins with the Irish rebel song ‘Down By The Glenside’ and is beautifully sung by Krisztina. One of the best known and also saddest of the Irish folk song repertoire it dates back to the time of the 1916 Easter Rising. Written by Peadar Kearney, an Irish Republican and composer who also wrote numerous other rebel songs, including ‘The Soldier’s Song’ (‘Amhrán na bhFiann), which would go on to become the Irish National Anthem. Kearney was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, popularly known as the Feniansand the song stands as a call to arms for a generation of Irish people who were used to only political nationalism.

“Some died by the glenside, some died mid the stranger
And wise men have told us their cause was a failure
But they stood by old Ireland and never feared danger
Glory o glory o to the Bold Fenian Men”

The O’Neills version starts slow and maudlin. Just as it should be before speeding up with military style drumming and tin whistle. Never in a thousand years would you guess that this wasn’t an Irish band! The EP dips into more poppy territory with ‘Avicii’ next. The song is a mash-up of three of the house DJ Avicii’s three biggest hits done in a folk style. Again Krisztina’s voice is prominent, and why not when its this good, with the bands instruments wrapped around it. The song is mid-paced and is a catchy as hell foot tapper. Later on Dániel joins in on vocals and is the perfect foil for Krisztina.

“One day my father—he told me,
“Son, don’t let it slip away”
He took me in his arms, I heard him say,
“When you get older
Your wild life will live for younger days
Think of me if ever you’re afraid.”
He said, “One day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember”

The EP ends with ‘Country Medley’ and is exactly what it says on the bottle. A compilation of Irished up excerpts of country (ish) classics. Daniel leads the bands on vocals with what must be a sure fire live favourite proving that these Bhoys and Ghirls can certainly play their instruments.

oneills-band

The O’Neills from left to right: Tamás Kaposvári- Cello * Dániel Fekete-Szűcs- Acoustic Guitar, Vocals * Krisztina Hajdu- Vocals * Sophia Lajgút- Fiddle * Júlia Seres- Flutes

All over and done and dusted in just over ten minutes its a great first chapter and though it may not appeal to all celtic punk fans I’m sure there’s plenty out there willing to give a band from the more folkier side of things a chance.

( you can hear the whole of Chapter One below on You Tube)

Buy The EP

Contact The Band

Facebook  YouTube

So all in all a very impressive start for our Hungarian celtic-punk week. Check back in a couple of days for part two of three. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and if you got any sense you better be) the best place to find it is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here

HUNGARIAN CELTIC PUNK WEEK! EP REVIEW: FIRKIN- ‘Into The Night’ (2017)

Our Hungarian Celtic Punk week continues with the second of our three reviews and this time it stars the wonderful Firkin. As they say on their press “Firkin should not be seen, Firkin must be experienced! Firkin is good, firkin’ good!” and for once when talking about European celtic punk I can agree! For the final installment check back in a couple of days.

firkin-into-ep

Well here’s the second part of our Hungarian triple header. An EP released by one of the more prominent and internationally well known of the Hungarian celtic-punk bands. Firkin’s appeal doesn’t just stop with celtic-punk fans and they are one of the biggest bands in Hungary full stop and these days quite a draw across Europe too. Formed in 2008 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest they have released a bunch of albums and toured numerous times including playing an absolutely stunning one-off show in London on New Years Eve 2015. The gig drew in equal numbers of Hungarian ex-pats and London celtic punks that raised the bloody roof off the Dublin Castle! Certainly if putting in the hard work gets you the glory then Firkin have been working overtime to get the attention they deserve. Their original vocalist Barna left since recording their last album, which we reviewed here, but new singer Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin have carried on without pause or even catching breath!

firkin-band

Into The Night starts off with the title song ‘Into the Night’ and you can spot from the very off the different approach Firkin have to celtic-punk than The Crazy Rogues, who we reviewed the other day here. A far heavier sound erupts from the speakers and they manage to have both a trad Irish and punk sound going on at the same time. Their are some similarities though. The fiddle leads the way and also flute which is used a lot here to great effect. One of my favourite memories of that London NYE gig was PJ’s playing. You just couldn’t take your eyes off him so amazing was he to watch. For an instrument that sounds so Irish it does surprise me that not more bands use in it the scene especially when you hear bands like Firkin utilising it so well. Andy also sings in English and has a very strong and clear voice and again there is a very clear story telling way of writing song lyrics going on here. If they get off to a storming start to the EP they follow it up with the more Irish trad folk based ‘Flowers’. A beautiful song that shows Andy’s voice can easily manage both the folk and punk side to Firkin. Hey I tells you if your mammy wouldn’t like this this song then she got no taste! A song that swirls around Andy’s voice which is used another instrument alongside the flute here. Originally known as ‘The Flower of Magherally’ it has been recorded in the past mainly by the Irish trad community so was unknown to me but what a bloody good version this is I straight away thought.

We have a much more widely known cover up next with ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’. Mainly famous in these circles I would have thought for the Dropkick Murphys recording that Firkin stick fairly close to. A fast paced punky song with shouty chorus and fiddle lead. First published in 1867 and written by Joseph B. Geoghegan it remained popular in Britain and Ireland and the United States into the early years of the 20th century but it was when it was recorded by The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem in 1961 that lead to a renewal of its popularity. An anti-war song that was used to great effect to stop Irishmen joining the British Army the story tells of an Irish woman who bumps into her former lover near Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland. He is badly disfigured, losing his legs, his arms, his eyes and his nose and is now begging. The woman though is happy to see him and the implication is that she looks after him so for once a happy ending in an Irish song! The EP comes to an end with a bonus song that I have heard before. ‘Focimese’ was the song that Firkin wrote for the European Football Championship last year to support the Hungarian football team. It’s a rollicking great tune with plenty “La, La, La, La La’s” to keep the fans happy and a chugging guitar that accompanies the fiddle. A song that inspired the team to top their initial group before sadly losing to Belgium 4-0 in the Round Of 16. Four great tunes that show exactly why Firkin are so sought after across Europe. A absolutely perfect mix of Irish and punk rock with a real story telling way to them and on top of that a really good live show as well.

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So all in all our Hungarian celtic-punk week gets another thumbs up. Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for our final installment. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here.

HUNGARIAN CELTIC PUNK WEEK! EP REVIEW: THE CRAZY ROGUES- ‘Rebels’ Shanties’ (2017)

ireland-hungaryAnyone remember 2015? That was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk record. A whole host of bands coming together in a perfect storm and absolutely completely dominating the scene that year. Loch Nesz, The Jolly Jackers, The Crazy Rogues, The Scarlet, Firkin and Paddy And The Rats all featured in the London Celtic Punks end of year ‘Best Of 2015’ charts and all received glowing critical praise galore. What quite happened to them all last year is a mystery but the Hungarian celtic-punks are back with a fecking bang! So for one week we are running a Hungarian celtic-punk special. Three reviews in seven days from three amazing EP’s from three equally amazing bands who all have completely different styles of celtic-punk.

crazyroguesepThe Crazy Rogues are from Veszprém in mid-Hungary and were formed in 2014 making them among the earliest of the second wave of Hungarian celtic-punk bands.With two EP’s behind them, one of Demo versions and another called Chapter 1 which we reviewed back in 2015 here giving it a massive thumbs up. They have named their style as ‘Rogue ‘N’ Roll’ taking in elements of punk, country and bluegrass as well as Irish and Celtic. The EP begins with ‘And Then the Sky Fell’ and its fast fiddle led celtic-punk with good ole’ fashioned punk rock drumming and punk rock guitar playing in the background at times pushing the fiddle forward. ‘Fleet’ is up next and is a bit more traditional celtic-punk of the Flogging Molly kind. One of the things I liked on The Crazy Rogues previous releases is how they can switch from their folkier side to their more punky side with ease. They slow it down next with the sad tale of ‘The Sad Leprechaun’. A leprachaun is a mischievous mythical creature that roams the Irish countryside playing tricks on humans. Many though think they are real, including my Grandparents! Again the fiddle is the lead here and Verrasztó’s vocals are suitably angsty as he tells us of the life of these solitary creatures. The flute appears here and like a lot of Hungarian bands in particular it’s used to good measure.

They speed it up next with the fast paced punky song ‘Mutineers (must DIE)’ and though it does seem funny to call something a ‘traditional punk rock’ song this is it! Shouty gang choruses and fast guitar and then all of the sudden banjo pops up and we get a short blast of each band members individual talents before it ends. Short and sweet and snappy as hell and then we drift into ‘Silver Hair’ which reminds me of the sort of bluesy country folk that Shane MacGowan and The Popes were so f’ing brilliant. Superb mandolin here from Fellegi and I have to say that the mando and the banjo have been a bit low in the mix thus far so great to hear it dominate on this track. Well that is until right out the blue it suddenly switches to a ska song and the song ends with an absolute flourish with electric guitar helping it speed to a finish. The absolute standout track here for me. Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this song! The EP ends with the song ‘Rebellion’ and is a tribute to the Easter Rising of 1916 when a small band of Irishmen and woman declared war on the British Empire. They took over several important buildings in Dublin and held them for a week against far superior British forces and many died during that week until the rebels were forced to surrender. The British executed the leaders of the rebellion and this led to a wave of sympathy which would eventually lead to full scale war across Ireland that would in the end see freedom for the 3/4’s of the country. Verrasztó’s voice is clear and loud and stamps out where The Crazy Rogues stand. A perfect celtic-punk tune with everything that makes celtic-punk great. Story based lyrics with a solid punk rock base embellished with Irish instruments especially the fiddle again. Songs to get you both thinking and dancing is what celtic-punk is all about!

crazy

So six Crazy Rogues composed songs that clock in at a very healthy twenty-five minutes and not a single sign of a cover version. All sang in English with a multitude of musical styles thrown into the celtic-punk mix and with very thoughtful lyrics about a multitude of subjects that are very easy to understand. Rebel’s Shanties is an excellent EP and The Crazy Rogues continue to forge ahead to make a name for themselves in celtic-punk circles. Like both their previous releases Rebel’s Shanties is available for ‘Name Your Price’ download which basically means pay nothing if you got nothing and a couple of pounds (or more) if you got a couple of pounds. This EP is certainly worthy of it.

(listen to the Rebel Shantie’s EP for free by pressing play on the player below)

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So all in all a very impressive start for our Hungarian celtic-punk week. Check back in a couple of days for part two of three. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and if you got any sense you better be) the best place to find it is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here

THE LANGER’S BALL FROM MINNESOTA ANNOUNCE DISCOGRAPHY AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD!

Straight up, no-frills Irish ballads from the frozen Mid-West with just a hint of razor blades, safety pins and American rock ‘n’ roll!

The Langer's Ball 2

The Langer’s Ball have long been hailed as one of the most interesting and innovative bands in the north American celtic-punk scene. They have never been afraid to mix in other genre’s of music while all the time keeping one toe firmly in the music of The Emerald Isle. It’s bands like The Langer’s Ball that keep the scene alive and fresh and bring new ideas to the celtic-punk table. Just recently they took the unusual step of releasing their entire Bandcamp back catalogue for free download,a move that will I am sure get them the recognition they so richly deserve.

The Langer’s Ball two studio albums

Hailing from Saint Paul in Minnesota in the frozen mid-west of the USA have long been at the forefront of the celtic music scene in the area and now their fame reaches right across the America’s and it’s time us over this side of the Atlantic tuned into what they have to offer. The story of the Irish in Minnesota is remarkably similar to many other states across the States. They may only be the second largest population of the city at 14% but despite being only half the number of those of German descent they managed to somehow (I wonder how they managed that?!?!) control all facets of government for decades. Of course the days when the Irish ran the city are long gone now but still many of those in local government, the Police and Fire Service come from typical Irish backgrounds.

The Langer’s Ball began life as a duo back in 2007 and the release by Michael and Hannah of a couple of low key album’s that were well received by the celtic-punk community. This persuaded them to fill out the sound somewhat and so they recruited a few local musicians expanding from a duo into a full on band and so The Langer’s Ball were born. Taking their name from the Irish word ‘Langer’ which has its origins in county Cork and can mean up to three things. A right eejit, being pissed or your dick! After those two early albums back in 2007 and 2008 The Langer’s Ball went on to release ‘Drunk, Sick, Tired’, a live St Patrick’s day recording, in 2011 and ‘The Devil, Or The Barrel’ in 2012. Their first studio album went on to garner #1 Rock/Trad Album Of The Year by Grinning Beggar, #2 Album of The Year 2012 for Shite’n’Onions and #3 Album of The Year for Paddy Rock as well numerous outstanding reviews across the board and not solely from the celtic-punk media.

They followed this with 2014’s ‘7 Year Itch’ their last release from a couple of years ago which we reviewed here and described it as

“The title of the EP refers to this being the bands seventh year together and with a bunch of new songs they were itching to release and with the success of the session it all came together perfectly to release this to The Langer’s Ball growing army of fans at home and abroad. The music itself is reminiscent of the more folkier side of celtic-punk but with plenty of bite with the extremely well played accordion to the fore throughout the EP”

They followed this up last year with the stunning Whiskey Outlaws, their first full-length studio album in 4 years. An absolute killer of an album which made all the Best Of lists of the major celtic-punk media and confirmed their place as one of the best bands in the scene.

Brilliant originals and a superb choice of covers complement each other well. When we reviewed it here we thought

“One of the things I love about The Langer’s Ball is their sense of humour and its evident on every recording I have heard of theirs. ‘I’m Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover/Bye Bye Blackbird’ just about sums them up. A three minute romp that is guaranteed to get you up and jigging about”

From the band’s interesting and knowledgeable choice of traditional folk covers to their incorporation of Americana, country, rockabilly, hardcore, baroque, klezmer and even psychobilly alongside the Irish punk The Langer’s Ball are constantly evolving and constantly improving and you can get on board and check out that from begiinning to present with their very generous decision to make it all *FREE!!!!* So don’t delay you never know how long these offers are going to last do you?

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The band have made their entire Bandcamp discography ‘Pay What You Like’ which means you can download for free. Just click the ‘Buy Now’ option, which will ask you to ‘name your price’ but there is no minimum price, so just have it, the band want people to share their music.

“The music business is an odd one, especially when you love to make music and have people enjoy it. We have worked for nearly 10 years to better ourselves as musicians and play as often as we can. We are still trying to make the transition to full-time musicians, and are of the mind that if people love what we do, we can do it! That said, people have to hear what we do before they can love it, so we want to afford them the opportunity to do just that”

So what are you waiting for?? BUT if you’re feeling generous then chuck them a few bucks and if you like what you hear then why not visit their store here and get the  physical CD’s.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS- ‘Sign of the Fighter’ (2017)

Hot on the heels of their second album is The Sign Of The Fighter the brilliant new long player from German celtic-punkers The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats. 

paddyhats

Well it only seems like five minutes since we reviewed the second album from The O’Reillys and the Paddyhats and in fact it is. Last November we raved to the high heavens about Seven Hearts One Soul (here) and it ended the year a very respectful #16 (here) in the London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016 poll.

paddy-hats

Formed to play at a local wedding near Dortmund back in June 2011 they have since quickly shot to the top branches of the European celtic-punk tree. These Bhoys and Ghirl hail from the small town of Gevelsberg which is just down the road from the city of Dortmund. The local football team of course being Borussia Dortmond who have long had a kind of special relationship with Celtic supporters going right back to the 1980’s when Dortmond signed Celtic legend Murdo McLeod. As well as that the German celtic-punk scene is among the best in the world with bands such as Mr. Irish Bastard, Fiddler’s Green, The Porters, In Search of A Rose, The Ceili Family and the sadly deceased Auld Corn Brigade spreading celtic music and culture while entertaining the world!

(a teaser for the album giving a quick run through of several songs)

The Sign Of The Fighter is the band’s third album and begins with the title trackSign Of The Fighter’ and it starts off right from where Seven Hearts One Soul finished. I mean if you got a winning formula why bother changing it? A bluegrass tinged celtic-punk epic with a great big chorus ready to shouted out at the top of your lungs. Great fiddle work and a a superb start to proceedings. They follow this up with the more traditional celtic-punk ‘Come On Board’ with more fast paced tales of the ocean. More celtic punk themes next with ‘Barroom Lady’ and their very distinctive sound is aided by Sean and Dwight’s vocals and their familiar shouty choruses that beckon you to join in. ‘In Chains’ has a sort of ska beat to it in places and again the fiddle is cracking here. The album’s first cover is of the traditional sea shanty ‘Haul Away Joe’ dating from the early 19th century. To haul, in nautical terminology, means to pull on a rope and is designed so all the men haul at the same time. The story told is of a sailor who has trouble with his Irish girl and goes to sea, it’s usually played as a acapello song The Paddyhats choose to sing it with the band backing but in a much more subdued style and the song works perfectly. The fiddle, mandolin, banjo, accordion, whistles and wash board are back for the following song, ‘Irish Way’, and its time get tapping your toes again while ‘Interlude’ sets the scene with a little story with the sound of cop cars and water at the beginning which spirals into ‘White River’,the tale of a serial killer ‘on the job’ as it were and is accompanied by a great video below.

(Video by Wüstenberg & Römer)

One thing The Paddyhats are famed for is their videos and again its another top notch production that only adds to the song. Great lyrics though not a subject for everyone’s taste I’d suppose!

“White river washes me clean again
Clean my soul and take away the pain
White river washes me clean again
So the keys to heaven will be mine again”

Pirate ships are back next with the catchy ‘Bucket Of Blood’ while in ‘Old Gang’s Lullaby’ the band slow it down but a chugging guitar keeps the punk spirit intact. ‘Paddyhats’ is up next and is the longest track her at just over four minutes and though I still no idea what one is this is where the band truly hit the heights. It’s all here with the folky instruments leading the way while the fiddle shines and the “Hey Ho” chorus gets the old blood moving. We are nearing the end and ‘Ghost Of A Soldier’ continues the way we have have trodden the previous eleven songs. The album wraps up with the first  proper cover version to be found here ‘The Boxer’. Written by Simon And Garfunkel (here) and appearing on their fifth studio album Bridge over Troubled Water in 1970. The song’s lyrics describe the struggle to overcome loneliness and poverty in New York City. The final verse switches to a third-person sketch of a down and out boxer, who has spent his whole life fighting and is still fighting now.

“In the clearing stands a boxer
And a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders
Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
Or cut him till he cried out
In his anger and his shame
“I am leaving, I am leaving”
But the fighter still remains”

Its a return to the bluegrass tinged celtic-punk of the early songs on the album and though I hate to say that a cover is the album standout I have to here. The Paddyhats stamp their name all over the song and bar the “Lie-la-lie…” chorus you’d have a job to nail it down. A fantastic choice of cover and a brilliant way to end The Sign Of The Fighter.

paddyhats

left to right: Fitzgerald O’Brien (Bass) ; Sean O’Reilly (Acoustic Guitar, Flutes, Lead Vocals) ; Emily O’Farrel (Fiddle) ; Dr. Bones (Drums) ; Ian Mac Fannigan (Backing Vocals, Washboard, Chain) ; Dwight O’Reilly (Banjo, Mandolin, Accordion, Backing Vocals) ; Ryan O Leary (Step Dancer) ; Connor O’Sullivan (Electric Guitar)

Celtic-punk can sometimes feel a bit bland on record. After all it is designed to be heard in the public house as it is the official feel good music to the world but The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats have done a top job of transferring their great live sound onto record.paddy-wagon-17 The production here is amazing and is completely faultless. The band play with an passion and pride in Irish music and culture that is a joy to behold and constantly find it within themselves to come up with a fresh and original approach to their music. Whether it’s their amazing videos or their amazing artwork The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats put their everything into the band and it shows. They are already in the top division of the German scene and with output of this quality their name is spreading beyond their local scene and we look forward to seeing them in Germany on the London Celtic Punks Euro tour in September for the Paddy Wagon festival. Lots of great bands including The O’Reillys and the Paddyhats and a whole host of other bands we have featured in the London Celtic Punks site and that we never thought we’d get to see. If you are interested in joining us then contact us and we’ll add you to the event so we can make arrangements nearer the time.

Discography

2012 Sound Of Narrow Streets * 2016 Seven Hearts One Soul * 2017 The Sign Of The Fighter

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The scenery of the places and towns is footage of fans. They were asked to film their ‘home’ or those places that mean ‘home’ to them. You will see Mexico City, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Munich, Gevelsberg, Schwelm, Hagen, Usedom and many more. The Song ‘Fair Old Lady’ is about a man who sees his hometown as an old lady that breathes and lives just like a family member.

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Taking Chances’ (2017)

Dorset based six-piece celtic-punk band Black Water County’s debut album for this reviewer is as good as ANYTHING to be released this year.  Music to proper “beat up the floor to” !!

bwc-chances

Sandwiched between album releases by such celtic-punk greats such as the Dropkick Murphys, The Real McKenzies, The Tossers and Flatfoot 56 is this wonderful album by one of the best bands in the English scene Black Water County. Truly it’s no exaggeration to say that Taking Chances will be neck and neck with the aforementioned bands come the end of the year Best Of poll’s. Formed in Dorset, on the English south-coast, back on St Patrick’s Day in 2013 they celebrate only their 4th anniversary this year and in that time they have the folk/celtic-punk scene here alight and with this album hopefully their popularity will spread beyond these shores. Dorset and the surrounding area has been a mecca for celtic style punk bands for well over a decade with a whole host of bands plying their trade. People may think that London is some hot bed of celtic-punk activity but truth be told the real powerhouse is down there on the south coast of England! Most of them are gone now but several fantastic bands are still playing in each others backyards and all support each other with a friendly rivalry that most music scene’s could only dream of.

(debut EP Welcome To The Black County)

With basically the same line up since day one it’s not just the music that holds these Bhoys and Ghirl together but also the bonds of friendship. Famed for their energetic live show and their stout quaffing, banjo breaking, tin whistle mangling music Black Water County ‘s busy schedule seems them gigging away all over the south of England and building up an army of fans that sees many sold out and packed out shows along the way. They have two releases under their belts thus far with their debut EP Welcome To The Black Water County coming out in 2013 and following it up in 2014 with The Fellowship Of The Craic. Both achieved a high level of critical success from the celtic-punk media and around Dorset and has left us all eagerly awaiting Taking Chances to see if it’s as good as we are hoping.

(follow up EP The Fellowship Of The Craic)

The album kicks off with ‘Start Something New’ and right from the very first seconds you know it’s Black Water County. Released as the second single from the album a couple of weeks ago it’s fast, it’s furious, it’s fun and it’s f’ing brilliant as well. Everyone in the band gets a chance to showcase what they do and they do in every single song. Tim’s vocals suit the music perfectly with a voice that can easily switch between the punkier tunes to the more subtle celtic songs with ease.

(video filmed and edited by Marriane Harris)

Andy’s drumming is loud but not obtrusive and keeps the music flowing while the rest of the band swirl around and in between it. ‘The Painful Truth’ is slower but still the drumming gives it that punky edge without being over the top. A track that on the face of it owes much to Flogging Molly but when i really listened to it sounds nothing like them but a whole lot like Black Water County. They definitely inhabit the Molly’s side of celtic-punk rather than the Dropkick Murphys but they have managed to carve out a sound of their own within a scene that does sometimes lack in originality. What have been the Irish musical influences that have seen them get here is a question for another day but BWC haven’t just downed the Flogging Molly songbook and regurgitated it that’s for sure. Shan gets her first chance on the album to shine vocally sharing vocals with Tim on ‘Way Down Low’ and Gavin’s mandolin is the other star of this song. Expertly played and one of the features of this band live is watching his fingers as he plays with steam coming off them!

They don’t let the speed drop off for a second and I can attest that they are like this live as well. No time to breathe as they sweep through. On ‘If Only You Were Here’ Shan sings alone while Bradley and Tim hammer their guitar and bass in the album’s punkest song. Well you think they gonna follow this up with a ballad but the slow start is just a con and before long their thrashing away again with tin whistle dominating ‘Rise and Fall’. We at the half way point now and no sign of ‘The Irish Rover’ either. ‘One More Beer Won’t Hurt’ was the first song to be released from Taking Chances and quite rightly takes it’s place as the standout track of the whole album. Not to say there is much in it as every song here could take that title at one time or another.

Again this is classic Black Water County and they are doing in without sounding like anyone else. Tim’s voice again stands out in this joyful song and the bands lyrics are told in that story telling way we love here in London Celtic Punks. The right mix of humour and seriousness certainly belies Tim’s youth though that beard does make him look older! Re-recorded from the single version I do think it misses Shan on backing vocals but that’s only a minor gripe. Finally we get a ballad with ‘Memories from Another Life’ and it’s long been established that the older celtic-punk fans get the more we like the ballads! Shan is back on lead vocals on the longest song here of five and a half minutes. A country tinged ballad of love and pain and loss. They can’t help themselves and the song speeds up at the end making it something you could imagine Bruce Springsteen 2017 singing. We get a brass section on following song ‘Rambling Johnny’ which chucks in an unexpected ska beat and we are away with what must be a live favourite I’m sure. Had me nodding the head listening to it anyway! ‘No Regrets’ continues with the brass section and the album is getting more and more rockier with a song that could easily get in the set of ska-punk legend’s the Voodoo Glow Skulls.

(not the album version but still great)

We are nearing the end of Taking Chances and it’s been one hell of a ride I can tells you. Penultimate song ‘Under Skies of Black and Blue’ slows it down for about five seconds and they seem to determined to go out fighting with another fast as hell country tinged celtic-punk song. The only band member here who so far hasn’t received a mention is fiddle player Russell and I hope I don’t embarrass him now by heaping ten tonnes of praise onto his shoulders. Simply fantastic playing all the way through this album. Where required the fiddle comes through loud and clear and those other times when it needs to step back again and let other instruments and voices shine it is just perfect. Taking Chances ends with ‘Seeing Is Believing’ and finally the auld fogies among us get that ballad we awaiting. Just Tim and acoustic guitar and some great positive lyrics about picking yourself up and carrying on. Some tin-whistle and understated fiddle joins in but its Tim here who leads.

BWC

Well what to say. Eleven songs that comes in at a very healthy forty-three minutes of original tunes played by a band who haven’t copied or aped anyone to get where they are. Coupled with the fact that these are some of the nicest people I have ever met through the music scene what we have here is the first installment of a band set to go onto legendary status. Yes this album is that good. From beginning to end not a bum note or a tiresome song. Each track is superb and shows a band that works together to achieve such a great sound. There are no leaders here just a bunch of friends working together to bring some of the best Irish/celtic-punk rock to your ears as is possible, despite that competition, in 2017!

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