ALBUM REVIEW: BODH’AKTAN- ‘Ride Out the Storm’ (2018)

Bodh’aktan feature seven characters from vastly different musical trends disembarking to forget the daily grind and all the hassle and leave only good times and a good mood behind them!

To fans of Celtic-Punk music traditional Irish music is part and parcel of why we love it so much. It is rather surprising then their are hardly any links between the ‘old’ world of trad Irish and Celtic music. Sure The Dropkick Murphys did a wonderful collaboration with Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners (see here) and Derek Warfield and his Young Wolfe Tones regularly play with the best Celtic-Punk bands but only in the States. So it was a shock, but a welcome one, to find the legendary uileann piper Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains collaborating with Bodh’aktan on their new album, Ride out the Storm. Many of the legends of Irish folk that we grew up with are no longer with us so its no exaggeration to say that Paddy is truly treasured by everyone and even at the tender of eighty (his birthday was just last week) he has lost none of his brilliance and his contribution here is both faultless and incredible. More on that to come but now on with the review!

Ride Out The Storm is sort of Bodh’aktan’s second album. I say sort of as they have also recorded an album Against Winds and Tides which was basically a collection of some of their own songs re-recorded in French. The band hail from Quebec, the French speaking semi-autonomous region in eastern Canada. The region has a totally different feel to the rest of Canada and French is the only officially recognised language. Within this French culture is also a large Breton influence and their are no shortage of Celtic influenced bands and music coming out of Quebec and to that merry band we can now add Bodh’aktan! The British never like to give up their colonies and in 1980 and 1995 referendums were held on whether or not to leave Canada. Sadly in 1995, the people of Quebec chose to stay in Canada by a 1% margin and so it is they remain subjects of the British crown.

 

Ride out the Storm came on the 1st of June and features fourteen brand new songs with three trad folk covers and a set of reels featuring three Irish trad instrumental tunes. It begins with ‘About Things To Come’ a short intro of just over a minute that starts off like Hell’s Ditch era Pogues with a Western feel to it and just as you expect the following song to explode out the speakers at you ‘Nothing But A Game’ is a soft and gentle Celtic number. With whistles and acoustic guitar it gallops along at a steady pace. Upbeat and friendly and alcohol infused it’s a cool start to things before it gets rocky with next track ‘Get Loud’. A while ago the AC/DC video for ‘Its A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock’n’ Roll (check it out here!) went viral across the Celtic-Punk world thanks to singer Bon Scott and his bag-piping. Well i had to look and check this wasn’t a AC/DC cover and it isn’t but Christ it could be. Showing the band can turn their hand to more rockier songs its as catchy as hell and I’m sure Bon is looking down with a smile on his approving face!

Again it’s as catchy as hell and leads us nicely onto ‘Heave Away’. A traditional sea shanty from Newfoundland it’s given an upbeat Celtic feel and while it is a complete contrast to the rocky ‘Get Loud’ it doesn’t for a second feel out of place.

“Sometimes we’re bound for Liverpool
Sometimes we’re bound for Spain
But now we’re bound for St. John’s town
To watch the girls a-dancing”

The album’s second cover is next and while ‘The Black Velvet Band’ is not exactly a rare song to be found on a Celtic-Punk bands album it is transferred to a different level by the inclusion of the fore-mentioned Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains. The song itself is as solid a rendition as you could expect but Paddy’s piping is truly remarkable. His contribution to the traditional Irish music scene is immeasurable so hopefully the album may make it into the ears of the folk music purists (or snobs as we call them) and they will see that Celtic-Punk music is a part of the same tradition. It’s a real stormer of a song and one for waving your pint int he air with your hands round your mates. The songs so far while all being fairly obviously Celtic influenced have all actually been quite diverse with everything covered, including Goth if you include the ‘gloomy’ opening intro.

More trad Bodh’aktan can be found next on ‘Ride Out The Storm’ another modern day sea shanty that has a Dropkicks feel to it for me but rocks along in a standard Celtic-Punk way although with perfectly executed vocals. ‘The Bridge’ is next and again that classic sound is there but the influences this time seem to be shared with 70’s era heavy (air?) metal and trad Irish folk. This is followed by a song simply titled ‘Reels’ and shows these guys can certainly turn their ear to a trad song or two. Three tunes are included showing how marvelous their musicianship is while not being afraid to ‘punk’ it up a little too. A song you could both Irish dance and mosh too is a rare thing indeed. It’s fast and furious and proof for those folk ‘purists’ we mentioned earlier that they are missing out on something good. They are cut from the same cloth as those who derided The Dubliners and The Pogues back in their day. They would be more happy if the music died that to have someone respectfully adapt and change it. We may never get through to them. It’s their loss. ‘You Are The Ones’ and ‘Chasing The Wind’ are again classic Bodh’aktan with the music at all times highly charged whether fast or slow. The final cover is of ‘Mick McGuire’, a song that no one really knows how old it is. Recorded by many greats over the years most notably The Clancy Brothers the song tells of a man who pisses away his marriage

 “Johnny, come up to the fire, come up, you’re sitting in the draft
Can’t you see it’s old McGuire and he nearly drives me daft
Ah, I don’t know what gets into him, for he’s always on the tare
Arragh, just sit where you are and never you dare to give old McGuire the chair”

The melody was used for the tune to ‘Hot Asphalt’ by Ewan MacColl. Shipping up to the end of Ride OUt The Storm and we get the first version of ‘We Cannot Fail’ recorded by Bodh’aktan. A real singalong with a great chorus, heavy bass line and catchy as feck tune with loads of band chants in the background. ‘While I’m Away’ is a modern day Irish folk song and a beaut of a song before we get the bonus second version of ‘We Cannot Fail’ and if I thought #1 was a belter then this version wipes the floor with it. Aided and abetted on the song by German Celtic-Punk legends Fiddler’s Green it brings down the curtain brilliantly and will get your leg pounding the floor as you listen to it!

So fourteen songs with a small smattering of trad covers all clocking in at literally just under fifty minutes that while tipping their hat to the bigger bands of the Celtic-Punk scene also showcases their original sound and their ability to ceaselessly drift in and out of different genre’s without you even noticing! Everything here is perfection personified with the production top notch without being overdone and in songs that veer from trad folk to heavy metal its quite a feat to capture Bodh’aktan’s sound and massive array of instruments so well. This is an energetic album that comes with thoughtful and thought provoking lyrics in the traditional story-telling way that, thankfully, is quite common in Celtic-Punk. The spotlight may be on Irish folk here and the punk elements more subdued but this is an album for all fans of Celtic music whether it be your Grandad or your young nephew!

Buy Ride Out The Storm

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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: KICKIN’ HITLER’S BUTT: Vintage Anti-Fascist Songs 1940-1944

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Yeah the title says it all! Eighteen anti-fascist anthems from WW2 (don’t tell the Americans the War actually started in 1939) including songs from seasoned bluesmen Leadbelly, Josh White and Son House alongside Spike Jones’ madcap ‘Der Fuhrer’s Face’ and the acappella Golden Gate Quartet’s sublime ‘Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’.

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE KIDDING MR. HITLER?

Now this is an American release so that means the theme tune from Dad’s Army is sadly missing but that is still no reason to not to indulge yourself with a free download of this collection of anti-fascist songs written, performed and released between 1940 and 1944. Its often thought that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour started the American involvement in the war but America had already made massive loans to the British war machine and having placed a oil embargo on Japan steps were being made to join the war before they were pre-emptied by the attack on Pearl Harbour. The US army for instance had grown massively from 267,767 in 1940 to 1,460,998 by mid-1941, an increase of 446%. Pearl Harbor was an American naval base in Hawaii, that was the scene of a devastating surprise attack by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m. hundreds of Japanese fighter planes descended on the base. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack and another 1,000 people were wounded. The day after the assault, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan.
Knowledge coming out of Europe was slow but many in America, and not just on the left, realised the danger of Hitler’s rise to power and sought to agitate against it. It’s a little known fact that Germans made up the largest ethnic base in the States at around 17% which just happened to be the exact percentage of the American population who did not express support for Britain. Only 1% wished for a German victory suggesting that even this was inspired as much by pride in Germany as any dislike of Great Britain. The artists featured here contain such renowned figures as Woody Guthrie and The Almanac Singers folk singers from the from the protest movement all the way to bluesmen like the legendary Lead Belly and jazzmen like Spike Jones & His City Slickers. The album contains eighteen songs from fifteen diverse artists who in the main have disappeared from the air-waves but deserve to be known and studied and celebrated. Of course God is assumed to be solely on the Allies side, something I’m sure all in war believe.

Kickin’ Hitler’s Butt begins with a track from The Almanac Singers, a New York City-based group, active between 1940 and 1943 and formed by Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie. They performed songs that were anti-war, anti-racist and pro-union. The Almanac Singers felt strongly , just like London Celtic Punks do, that music could help achieve these goals. Music is one of the great uniters and one of the areas of life where people of all races and religion mixed. A cappella gospel  group The Golden Gate Quartet’s contribution to the album, ‘Stalin Wasn’t Stallin’ wasn’t out of pace with it’s praise of Joseph Stalin with American public feeling at the time. Written in 1943 by Willie Johnson even Roosevelt had this to say
“The world has never seen greater devotion, determination, and self sacrifice, that have been displayed by the Russian people and their armies under the leadership of Marshall Joseph Stalin”
and it’s true that many of the most significant battles in the War were won by American and Russian forces co-operation. The Southern Sons Quartet’s ‘Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition’ is another gospel a capella song written in response to Pearl Harbour by Frank Loesser in 1942. The song tells of a Sunday morning in December 1941, and the chaplain is asked to say a prayer for say a prayer for sailors aboard a U.S. navy ship under attack by the enemy firing from all directions. The chaplain puts down his Bible, mans one of the ship’s gun turrets and begins firing back, saying “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.”
“Praise the Lord and swing into position
Can’t afford to be a politician
Praise the Lord, we’re all between perdition
And the deep blue sea”
The Southern Sons remain the most successful African-American gospel quartet music groups. Next up is Jazz Gillum and ‘War Time Blues’. William McKinley ‘Jazz’ Gillum was an blues harmonica player whose recordings nearly all come from the 1940’s. Jazz was shot dead On March 29, 1966, during a street argument in Chicago.

The Florida Kid performs the simple but effective ‘Hitler Blues’ on piano while next up we have two collaborations between some real legendary figures. Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee give us ‘Move Into Germany’ and Lead Belly and Josh White perform ‘Hitler Song’. Famous in their own rights they all became involved civil rights protests and recorded Piedmont blues, country blues, gospel music and social protest songs. Following is another absolute legend in Woody Guthrie. Woody has featured on these pages many times and it is no exaggeration to say he remains the most significant figures in American folk music inspiring several generations, both politically and musically, since his death from Huntington’s Disease in 1967. He performed with the slogan “This machine kills fascists” on his guitar and he is one of the few artists here who is still largely celebrated. Josh White performs solo next with the amazing ‘Fuehrer’. The song tells of a German soldier, on the Russian front, starving and freezing to death dreaming he could go back home to Berlin. A sad song and beautifully played but not devoid of humour too. 
“Tell me, my Führer, what can I do?
My hands are freezing and my nose is blue
I’m dying of cold but then you never can tell
‘Cause when the Russians come, they make it hotter than hell
I got a touch of pneumonia, I got a terrible cough
If I sneeze once more, it’s bound to carry me off
When the Russians come, they always take us by storm
And there’s nothing like running if you want to get warm”
Josh White grew up in the south during the 1920’s and 1930’s and his experience led him to spend his life agitating for a more fair and equal system. This led to him being caught up in the ‘Red Scare’ panic from 1947 through to the mid-1960s which saw him black-listed as a communist. His ban from the airwaves was broken in 1963 when JFK asked him to perform on national television. Josh passed away in 1967 in New York.

Classic bluesman Buster ‘Buzz’ Ezell gives up ‘Roosevelt And Hitler’ Parts 1 and 2 featuring the memorable lyric
“He’s treating us so mean with his dreadful submarines.”
Delta bluesman Eddie James ‘Son’ House, Jr., noted for his highly emotional style of singing and slide guitar playing, plays ‘American Defense’. Starting off as a preacher before turning to the blues his recording career was short, punctuated by time in jail before he was re-discovered in the 1960’s and performed at folk festivals and toured during the American folk music revival. He recorded several more albums before passing in 1988. Next is ‘Coming In On A Wing And A Prayer’ by The Four Vagabonds, an African-American vocal quartet. The song tells of an American plane on its way home on one engine.

“What a show, what a fight
Yes, we really hit our target for tonight!
How we sing as we limp thru the air
Look below, there’s our field over there

With our full crew aboard and our trust in the Lord
We’re Comin’ In On A Wing And A Pray’r”

We move from such serious subject matter to the slapstick jazz of Spike Jones And His City Slickers with ‘Der Fuehrer’s Face’ where Spike tells us to blow raspberries in Adolf’s face. Spike was a bandleader famous in the 1940’s and 50’s for satirical arrangements of popular songs of the era. The jazz-swing of
Sam Browne And The Six Swingers follows with ‘Berlin Or Bust’.
“So it’s Berlin or bust!
Oh, we didn’t want to do it but we must”
Sam Browne was an English dance band singer who became one of the most popular British dance band vocalists of the pre-war era. US band leader Paul Baron And His Orchestra serve up the rousing ‘Up & At ‘Em, Yanks’ before Lead Belly returns with the only song here I had heard before the amazing Mr. Hitler. Now Lead Belly had one hell of a life (its well worth reading our biography of him here, you’ll not believe it!). Huddie William Ledbetter spent multiple spells in jail including a sentence for murder he was released early for. Passing away in 1949 he survived long enough to see Hitler in his grave. The album ends with the Rev. James A. Gates and ‘Hitler And Hell’. A preacher and Gospel music singer born in 1884, he was the pastor of Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Atlanta from 1914 until his death. During this time he recorded over 200 tracks. Performed in the style of a dynamic old-school sermon.

So faced with the worse evil of their times these artists chose to take sides. With these songs they actively encouraged and inspired the bravest of the brave to liberate humanity from one of the most vile and dangerous phenomena – fascism. Many of the artists here also fought during the War putting their words into action. Even with Hitler’s death and the defeat of the Nazi’s the war with fascism has not ended. The war continues on every continent and among every race. If we are finally to bury this evil ideology then we must win the hearts and minds of the people and with that in mind I’ll leave you with a quote from the great Irish patriot James Connolly.

“No revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and the hopes, the loves and the hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement, it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude.”

To download Kickin’ Hitler’s Butt click

HERE

for more like this…(only in researching the article to accompany Kickin’ Hilter’s Butt did I come across this amazing concert from Josh White. Do your soul a favour and take thirty minutes of your life and spend it in the company of this wonderful and remarkable human being)

EP REVIEW: MAN THE LIFEBOATS- ‘Man The Lifeboats EP'(2018)

London based five piece Man the Lifeboats play raucous, upbeat folk music. Their debut EP is four songs of full-throttle, upbeat contemporary folk music to drink, dance and sing along to…

Now before i start have to admit that I never really got the Skinny Lister thing. While all around me people and friends were renting and raving about how brilliant they are I remained marooned on my desert island a lone voice against the many. Maybe it was their unbridled cheerfulness or that in the early days all their merchandise was festooned with the ‘Butchers Apron’ but I may have to have a re-think though as relatively new band on the London scene Man The Lifeboats cite them as their main influence and therefore there has to be something I am missing out on.

Man The Lifeboats left to right: Harvey Springfield- Mandolin, Electric guitar, Harmonica, Backing vocals * Rich Quarterman- Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Daniel Gilroy- Fiddle, Stroh Violin, Penny Whistle, Backing Vocals * Sam Barker- Bass, Stompbox, Backing Vocals * David Vaughan- Drums, Percussion.

Formed in the wake of seeing Skinny Lister live in concert in 2016 this is the debut EP from Man The Lifeboats. It was recorded at Soup Studios on a floating lightship studio on the river Thames – where else! – and was produced, engineered and mixed by Ed Ripley who has worked extensively with the oft mentioned Skinny Lister.

The EP begins with ‘Doomed’ and its bouncy upbeat fast paced folk music from the first beat. Harvey’s mandolin is the most ‘in-yer-face’ instrument along with Rich’s vocals and it works perfectly. Perhaps Daniels fiddle could have been louder but that is a very minor gripe on a song that fits together perfectly. The lyrics belie the jollyness of the song as it repeats that we are doomed with the rising of the sea levels and pollution but done with lashings of humour that will raise a smile or two.

“We’re all doomed
The four horsemen are coming, we’re marooned
Time to go and colonise the moon
This is the sound of impending doom

The video for ‘Doomed’ was released last May and was the first sign that Man The Lifeboats were on the way.

This is followed up by ‘A Wasted Life’ and this song reminds me a little of my favourite bands The Housemartins. Massive at their time in the mid-80’s they are completely forgotten about now but as well as their superb agit-pop they also wrote some great ‘folk’ tunes. Again Harvey’s mandolin is to the fore and the fiddle is louder here too and with the addition of one of the most under-rated instruments in Celtic-Punk the harmonica its a great tune and with clever and insightful lyrics about the common theme, the havoc that over indulgence in alcohol can wage against us.

“Yeah
Why should I care?
I’m going down the drink
I’ll see you there
And I wouldn’t be pretending I was Hemingway or Reed
If I could write a happy ending
To this wasted life I lead”

All the songs here are written by the band but the lyrics are by Rich the vocalist and he is very much in the tradition of a singer-storyteller. The songs have an auto-biographical feel to them and all are interesting in many different ways whether he’s trying to make some political point or excuse some drunken escapade in the dark past of days gone by. On ‘My Westferry Sweetheart’ he sings of the time

“I had a sweetheart who lived down on Westferry Road
On the banks of the Victorian Thames”
The music is soft and gentle and drifts along and as Rich sings it all sounds just about perfect as it could be till he leaves us with the line

“And you know how the story ends”

Letting us know how it all ended. The EP comes to an end with ‘Molly’ and again its a story of doomed and lost love upon the streets of London. This time the music begins with the harmonica and an Irish tune which soon morphs into a straight up folk ballad with more of what will, I am sure, become well known as their trademark humour. The words fit snugly together with a series of hilarious rhymes like “But I won’t be sailing like Sir Michael of Palin”.
(live version of ‘Molly’ recorded as a three piece last year)

Its a great song and brings down the curtain on a debut EP that is a credit to them. Very London-centric and nothing wrong with that at all. London is a big place and gives plenty of scope for stories about pretty much anything. In a city of millions of people its still hard to connect with people and even harder to hang onto those we love and cherish. 

The EP came out just a couple of weeks ago on the 22nd June and the Bhoys played the EP launch party to a packed audience at the Nambuca in north London. With great tunes and a catchyness about everything they do Man The Lifeboats have their fare share of problems with band members but with a settled crew on board now they look set for further and better things. With lyrics that tell stories about real heartfelt events that raise a smile and a hackle, when needed, along with some beautiful fiddle and mandolin melodies and a stomping beat Man The Lifeboats have created a sound that is pretty unique among the London folk and punk , and folk-punk, scene. Put it all together and you are sure of a blistering live experience. You can catch Man The Lifeboats soon playing as main support to those lovable Aussie Celtic-Punk rogues The Rumjacks at the New Cross Inn in South London on Monday 6th August (check out the Facebook event for that gig here). As someone said a ‘tonic for these troubled times’.

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE KILLIGANS- ‘Dance on Your Grave’ (2018)

The Killigans are a Celtic-Punk band from Lincoln, Nebraska. Now over a decade young, they are honed and steeled for action. Glass-raising anthems for tenacious underdogs, lonely vagabonds and anyone who’s just trying to make it in this world. 

Born in a filthy garage in 2004 The Killigans have gone through various personel changes in their time together but have kept at their core a set of foot-stomping beer-loving raucous anthemic numbers drawing from traditional Celtic music along with streetpunk, gritty rock’n’roll and working class country music. Having become one of the most popular bands in the Nebraskan music scene they have gained a rapidly growing army of fans across the States and overseas as well. One of the highlights of their early career came in 2010 when their song ‘Lessons from the Empty Glass’ was used on the soundtrack to the big budget Universal Studios hit move Robin Hood. Dance On Your Grave is The Killigans fifth album and their development over the years is plain for all to see. From the rough and ready Irish folk-punk of 2006’s Brown Bottle Hymnal to 2010’s Honor which saw them shift towards a more stripped down punk sound and then to their last album Another Round For The Strong Of Heart from October 2012 which saw them raise the bar with their best release to date with a collection of songs that took the catchy Irish Celtic-Punk of their early days and the anthemic punk of Honor and combined the two for something particularly special that will go down as one of the best album’s that the Celtic-Punk genre has ever produced. Not bad for a bunch of working-class blokes from flyover country!
Dance On Your Grave was five years in the making with some of these songs three or four years old. The Bhoys admit to having lost motivation and to having run of steam. After all their lives had changed from young raggamuffins to being middle aged family guys 
“We never meant for the music to stop, and it has shaped us and our families along the way.  Its just been a lot more difficult for us to make new music happen.  I like to think we have a lot more to offer in the way of songwriting than a couple 22 year old punks who have been on their own for a couple years.”
The Killigans have endured a lot of life and one thing that has always shone through with their releases is their utter honesty. A straight up band that has always played a straight deal. Dance On Your Grave carries on from where Another Round for the Strong of Heart left off. Hardly surprising as that era is from when many of the songs here were written or first imagined with old drummer Ben Swift starting the writing process that new drummer Mikey Elfers would help finish by coaxing the band into actually finishing the album! 

The Killigans left to right: Trevor- Bass * Brad- Vocals, Accoustic Guitar * Mikey- Drums * Pat-  Accordion, Mandolin, Trumpet, Organ * Greg- Guitar * Chris- Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin, Harmonica, Trombone *

The album saw the light of day on  April 28th this year and kicks off with Throw It Away’ and shows a maturity that comes with middle age but the Bhoys still play with a wild abandon that brings to mind early Flogging Molly. The era when they combined folk and punk perfectly and had their audiences both slam dancing and jigging away. It’s fast and furious and with lyrics that show The Killigans may not have stayed still but know what we love in the Celtic-Punk scene and are more than willing to give it us! Second song ‘Peducah’ was the first release of the album and begins with an accordion gypsy flourish before trumpet and trombone come in adding a somewhat ska’ish sound while the pace never slows. Even more surprising is that they are not guest musicians but brothers Chris and Pat who play a multitude of instruments for the band including mandolin and accordion. Third brother Trevor plays bass in the band. Its trad Celtic-Punk and it don’t get any better!

The songs are short and snappy and played at breakneck speed like ‘One Angry Voice’ which could easily fit in any punk rock play list. The words decry the way has become a fashion and the values and spirit of why it exists are fading. When punks would rather spend £30 to go to a gig or £100 to go to a festival rather than a local pub down the road then I’m afraid punk has a terminal disease. Putting on gigs here in London it is something I noticed get worse over the years as promoters and bands struggle to get people to come a gig for £3 or a fiver when everyone is up the road watching some reformed old fogie punks at £30+ a ticket.

“Fact is I’m getting older but if the honest truth be told

There’s something changed about punk rock

What does it stand for?

Is it a t-shirt and a drug scene? A hairdo and a piercing?

We think it’s more!

It’s the kid awake at midnight, living life how it feels right

Though his parents are concerned and think him strange

And at school the students shun him, and the teachers make fun of him

But he knows in the end he’s gonna make a change!”

The album takes a folky turn with ‘Burn It Down’ and I’m a bit of an old fogie myself as these days its the folkier songs that i like more than the punky ones. Not to say it don’t have a punk edge and it speeds up nicely mid-way. The accordion and brass instruments make for a great combination and Brad’s vocals fit perfectly beside the music. The Dropkicks rear their ugly heads for ‘Fight Today (Knock Them Down)’ with a killer chorus the Bostonians would die for. Over far too quickly its a beaut of a song loud and proud and aggressive. We back in Molly territory for the next bunch of songs with ‘The Best Words’ played like FM on speed and with ‘Bartender’ you get another song that plays like fast FM but are in fact two quite different songs. I don’t like to compare a band too much to others and you would be wrong to take away from this review that The Killigans are just a Flogging Molly band as their sound is completely their own and if you go back and trace their trajectory from their early days its easy to see where they have come to. For ‘Particle Board’ the band put their heads down and plough through a fast punk number and on ‘All Good Men’ they play to their strengths with fast paced Celtic influenced punk with Brads voice strong and clear. ‘Cracked Rear View’ is one of the songs they began after last album way back in 2012 and begins with a thundering bass before the band join in and we soon end up with my album favourite. Elements of pop-punk and it sure is catchy enough to call it that. A cracking song and the Celtic takes a back seat for a couple of minutes. We are nearing the end of the album and ‘Realty Bites’ is a right proper anthem for the American working class.

“This gentrification is necessary good

A complete revitalization of your neighbourhood

A lonely puddle in  a cracked brickmavenue

Throw up a LED street light it’s as good as new”

and ends with

“This district

You’re no longer part of it”

At a time when the American left have turned their backs on the working classes by adopting the poison of identity politics its a timely reminder that they are still here and still fighting. Its another speedy song and leads into ‘Artificial Hip’ where we get thirty-six seconds of punk rock oompf before we arrive at the final and title track ‘Dance on Your Grave’. This is the bands big sound with accordion and brass coming together to wrap things up wonderfully for a sure fire dance floor filler about everyone who wronged Brad including school bullies and ex-girlfriends getting their just deserts!

So The Killigans are back with a bang and maybe not one for the more folk inclined it certainly rocks along and if you miss the early days of Flogging Molly then this is the album for you. Sometimes maturity doesn’t make you a better band but here The Killigans have soaked in influences from all over and come up with something that will have you wearing out your shoe leather while also giving your heart and (Celtic) soul a workout too.

(you can have a *FREE* listen to Dance On Your Grave on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!)

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EP REVIEW: PADDY’S UNDERGROUND PARTY PEOPLE- ‘Tell Your Ma’ (2018)

The debut release of pure, unadulterated Irish folk music from Norway’s Paddy’s Underground Party People. 

To most people on the ‘outside’ it would probably sound a bit strange to have a Irish/Celtic folk band in Norway but to those of us who follow the Celtic-Punk scene it’s no surprise at all as Norway is already home to one of the best, one of the most popular and one of the longest running Celtic-Punk bands in existence with The Greenland Whalefishers. The Whalefishers may have formed ten years after the Pogues, in 1994, but with their style of Celtic traditional music combined with British punk they are considered to be one of the founders of the modern day Celtic-Punk scene. So with that in mind it’s no coincidence that Paddy’s Underground Party People tip their hat in the Whalefishers direction with this their debut release. Formed in 2011, and with the current band members together since 2015, they hail from the southeastern city of Hamar. An interesting connection to England is that the diocese of Hamar was founded in 1152 by Nicholas Breakspear, who later went on to become Adrian IV the first only English Pope but that’s where any connection to England ends, for this band play good time old fashioned Irish music!

Paddy’s Underground Party People left to right: Jens Haugan- Guitar * Tove Brovold Vassaasen- Bass * Sindre Vikhagen Halvorsen- Mandolin, Vocals * Gaute Smestad Pedersen- Vocals * Bård Uri Jensen- Tin-Whistle, Vocals

The EP begins with ‘The Ballad Of Susan Grey’ and from the off its acoustic guitar and flute give it an Irish air while the song has a Irish air too. Many olden Irish songs often had dark subject matter but the jolly music meant the lyrics were over looked. The song tells of Susan Grey a serial killer of her many husbands who meets a grisly end. It follows in that Irish tradition with a jaunty tune and singalong chorus and while Gaute does have a strong Norwegian accent its sung perfectly well in English and he even manages a bit of an Irish twang.

The first of the EP’s two covers is ‘Star Of The County Down’. Recorded many’s a time from within the scene and in the larger folk scene it’s a well known song and dates back to the end of the 17th century. Written by Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927) the song is set in the Irish town of Banbridge in County Down, and tells of a young man infatuated with a beautiful young cailín (Irish for girl) and who is determined to marry her.

“From Bantry Bay up to Derry’s Quay,
From Galway to Dublin Town,
No maid I’ve seen like the fair cailín
That I met in the County Down.”

Paddy’s Underground Party People play it as a straight Irish folk cover and it’s a well decent stab at it. To be honest you can’t go wrong with this song and I’m sure it fills the dance floors of Hamar and beyond. Gaute is joined on vocals by Bård and his five year stint studying in Glasgow stands him in good stead as I originally thought it was a Scottish singer! The other cover follows and is ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’, another Irish pub standard known throughout the world these days. It’s another old song with no exact date of origin. Also known as ‘The Belle of Belfast City’ the song is believed to have originated as a children’s skipping song, or street song.

“I’ll tell me ma when I get home,
the boys won’t leave the girls alone;
They pulled me hair and they stole me comb,
but that’s all right till I go home.”

Again the Bhoys give it a hearty rendition though the music is a bit subdued in the mix it’s still ticks all the boxes and with that chorus leave all who hear it shouting and singing along with Bård expertly played flute. The final track of the EP is the excellent folky ‘Trekkspellterroristen’ and I had to check with the band what this meant as the song is sung in Norwegian. Thanks to Gaute for explaining that the word trekkspell is Norwegian for accordion and that the song is about when fighting breaks out at parties in rural parts of Norway it is broken up by ‘the accordion terrorist’ who gets people to forget the fighting and start singing and dancing. The Irish is toned down here but still comes through and I was right to sense it’s not a particularly serious song going by the tune!!

So a very nice start to the band’s career. It’s not unusual at all for a Celtic-Punk band to have a few covers on their debut release and as I’ve said before there’a very good reason why new bands outside of the Celtic diaspora tend to record from the same group of songs and that is because they are so God damn popular! I’ve been to enough nights in Irish pubs to know that it’s only when the band gets out the Dubliners songbook that the party really gets going! It’s four songs and twelve minutes of Irish folk as filtered through the folk traditions of Finland and further proof if it was ever needed that people around the world know a good tune when they hear it and I hope we hear much more from Paddy’s Underground Party People in the near future.

Buy Tell Your Ma’

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ALBUM REVIEW: CIARAN MURPHY- ‘Once Upon A Time In Ireland’ (2009) *AVAILABLE AS A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD FOR THE FIRST TIME*

 Ciarán Murphy, ex-political prisoner, singer-songwriter and one man acoustic hand grenade from West Belfast. A protest singer in the finest Irish tradition and politically as sharp as a syringe needle hanging on razor wire. On this his debut album, available as a digital download for the very first time, he points out the often ugly truths of Irish life, asks difficult questions and never once pulls his punches. ciaran-once-upon
Ciarán Murphy seemed to come out of nowhere for us. One day on MySpace (remember that?!?!?) a long, long time ago I came across a few songs of his and its fair to say he fair done blew my mind. Having got a wee bit bored of hearing the same songs over and over again here was passionate, modern day, Irish rebel music with punk swagger and attitude that did all the things that good music is suppose to do. To educate, to inspire, to encourage, to dream. What was not to love? Later that year he went on to play the very first London Celtic Punks organised gig and it’s fair to say he stole the show and on top of that he was, as we say in London, a diamond geezer.

In these days of relative calm in the north-eastern section of Ireland the Police Service of Northern Ireland proudly claims to be ‘Making Northern Ireland Safer’. They’ll have you believe that they’ve moved on from the notorious days of the B-Specials and Royal Ulster Constabulary. The residents and Ciarán Murphy know differently and Once Upon A Time In Ireland opens with a angry blistering attack on Northern Ireland’s police force that is more punk rock than any punk song I ever heard.
“And they’re still a rich man’s police force,
they serve a rich man’s state.
They’ll baton charge the workers on the orders of the great,
they’ll use their fathers’ weapons to move against the free.
They’ll always be the RUC to me”
Armed only with an acoustic guitar, Ciarán comes across sometimes as a one-man punk army. His songs cover a multitude of topics relating to life in modern day Ireland (and to that north-eastern bit in particular). ‘A Word to the New Irish Racist’ damns those Irish people who suffered racist attitudes from British imperialists for decades, and who themselves now target new arrivals into Ireland:
“And every one of us were immigrants in our own time
And every patriot knows Irish is a state of mind
But you’re blind”
Ciarán understands because he comes from the same class as those left with no other option to survive than to leave Ireland in search of work over the years. Brilliant sentiments that could just as easily apply to any nation on the planet as to the Irish. Ciarán Murphy plays with such fury and ferocity that it’s no surprise he needs a box of plasters at the ready for when he leaves the stage. But folkies relax it’s not all full-on acoustic thrash, though. Some of the more impressive moments happen when the guitar assault slows down a little. Check out the gorgeous multi-tracked guitars on ‘Rebel Song’, while Ciarán spins a tale about a would-be revolutionary/terrorist having second thoughts while on the way to an attack. An amazing song that reminds us of the very real price that these soldiers paid for the cause.
(Ciarán playing live for London Celtic Punks in North London)

On ‘Che Guevara T-Shirts’ Ciarán takes aim at modern day politics and its clear here he foresaw the rise of the poison of identity politics. Divide and rule was once the tactic the state used to keep the left divided. Now its the ‘left’ that use it. He never leaves you unsure of where he stands. After all you get splinters in yer arse from sitting on the fence! The guitar picking on ‘You Cried for Ten Men Dead’ is simply outstanding. This track never fails to leave me in tears, as Ciaran sings to his father about the impact of Ireland’s struggle on the old man. From fighting for Great Britain in World War II, to joining a revolutionary army in Ireland, to crying for the ten hunger strikers who died in the Maze prison in 1981. The old man fell under the spell of whiskey and was unable to keep it together. Simply breathtaking. Played from the heart it’s followed by ‘State Of The Nation’ my favourite here where again modern day Irish politics is chastised.
“Kieran Doherty died as Irish TD (MP)
and not a word of condolence was passed
but for Lady Diana they lowered the flag to half mast.
Yeah they lowered our flag to half mast
so who’s taking us back to the past?”
The Irish government, so desperate to suck up to both the UK and the USA, are even willing to destroy national monuments to accommodate foreign interests and to degrade the ideals of the men whose acts they use to push an agenda these men fought (and many died) against. They have betrayed the people of Ireland but as a great man once said “our revenge will be the laughter of our children”.

‘Michael McIlveen’ is the tragic tale of a young 15-year old Catholic boy beaten to death on the streets of the north-eastern Irish town of Ballymena in 2006 by a Protestant gang. The teenager, known as ‘Mickeybo’ to his friends, was beaten with a baseball bat and kicked around 60 times in an alley after simply visiting a pizza shop. Ciarán reaches out to the Protestant community to remind them that some of the most revered and respected Irish revolutionary heroes have come from the Protestant faith.

Mickeybo 1991-2006 qui tacet consentire vidétur

‘Nine hours’ is again an incredible song where Ciaran, in jail for Republican activities, is given nine hours compassionate leave to attend the funeral of his father.  During the song Ciarán recalls childhood fishing trips with his Da and the history he taught him of the places they visited while he follows his Dads coffin in utter personal agony, regretting years of non contact. Nine hours later that day a steel door slams shut and that’s fucking it.
“I never thought that things would end like this,
not in my wildest dreams.
But life is cruel and sometimes twisted,
like their judges and it seems.
that nothing here is sacred and I know what that means.”
A song that will take your breathe away the beauty and sadness of it. On ‘Catholic Guilt’ Ciarán ponders his youth and faith and what the future will bring. The album is drawing to a close and ‘I Feel The Eyes Of British Spies’ is all about the very real technological war Britain declared on Republican communities but told with a sly humour and twinkling eye. The title track closes the album, with its multi-tracked guitar and one of Ciarán Murphy’s strongest vocal efforts. The song tells of Murphy’s quest for that elusive ‘once upon a time in Ireland’, of trying to come to terms with Ireland’s real and mythological past, and sifting through it all to find lessons that apply to Ireland today.

FOR DOWNLOAD CLICK HERE

AVAILABLE TILL THE END OF THE MONTH FOR JUST £5

While Ciarán Murphy’s 2008 debut release, The Verbal Hand Grenade EP, was a solid release, this one showed Ciarán had made infinite progress. Each song features just acoustic guitar and voice, but Ciarán creates so many different textures that no two songs sound alike. The beauty of the folk tradition – and it applies equally in punk rock – is that anybody can pick up an instrument and play the songs that strike a chord in them. We are almost a decade later yet Ciarán Murphy’s songs still need to be heard, and they need to be sung. In my opinion they are right up there with the songs of MacGowan, Kelly, Drew, Moore. You may think that’s an exaggeration, but hear this album and I’m sure you’ll agree. Sadly Ciarán has retired from the music scene and no amount of cajoling it seems (and we have tried, oh have we tried and tried!!!) will bring him back to the stage. That is a great shame as Ireland is in desperate need of its poets. There was a very good reason the British use to execute them you know.
Bandcamp
Previously only available on CD, this, Once Upon A Time In Ireland is now available via the London Celtic Punks Bandcamp page for digital download. A huge thanks to Ciarán for allowing us to  organise this. It was our pleasure Pip! Coming soon for first time as a digital download Ciarán’s debut release, Verbal Hand Grenade. Watch this space.

(you can hear the album for free here on the Bandcamp player)

JUSTICE FOR THE CRAIGAVON 2

Justice for the Craigavon TwoEvery single penny raised from this album goes directly to the Justice For The Craigavon 2 campaign. For Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton, who were unjustly convicted of the murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll and sentenced to life imprisonment. The London Celtic Punks believe the case was corrupt and the ‘evidence’ inconclusive, contradictory and discredited. Both these poor guys find themselves victims of a system that sought to find suitable scapegoats in the wake of the political and media backlash following the killing. Over on our Bandcamp page you will find a bunch of downloads available mostly for donation. All the money goes to the Campaign and helps pay legal fees and to aid Brendan and John Paul’s families. You can make a real difference. Please send all donations to  justice4thetwo@gmail.com

Justice For The Craigavon 2
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thanks to Andy in NSW for help

ALBUM REVIEW: MEDUSA’S WAKE- ‘Rascals & Rogues’ (2018)

The eagerly awaited debut album from youngish Aussies Medusa’s Wake, founded in 2015 in Sydney! Playing a mixture of Celtic and Australian folk in the spirit of The Pogues and Roaring Jack, using accordion, mandolin, banjo and tin-whistle! 

If there was a world cup to determine the best country for Celtic Punk music, then Australia would win it hands down every time. Not sure what they put in the water down there, but this place continues to churn out the best Celtic Punk bands over and over again. The calibre of music is so good that we have actually kidnapped The Rumjacks and are currently holding them captive at a secret location in Europe. When we received the new album from Medusa’s Wake a few week ago we were expecting a good album. The debut offering from the Sydney 6 piece, Rascals & Rogues, didn’t disappoint. Formed in late 2015, Medusa’s Wake released a 7 song EP in 2016. They then hit the studio in 2017 to record the current album which was released in June 18. Two of the song from the 2016 EP ‘No Nay Never’ and ‘Gates Of Hell’ have been re-recorded and feature on the debut album.

(here’s their debut EP from January last year. it’s available as a Pay Whatever You Want download. Meaning nowt if you like but enough for a couple of pints if you can!

Medusa’s wake left to right: John Coote- Electric Guitar, Banjo * Ben Pattison- Accordion * Ron Clark- Drums * Ed Lawlor- Vocals, Mandolin, Bazouki * Frank Sallie- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica * Zane McRae- Bass *

The album kicks off with ‘Seldom Sober’ which is also the first track and video released off the album which is full of energy and a great introduction to the band.

“I’m a Rover Seldom Sober
Whiskey I have only eyes for you,
I’m a Rover Seldom Sober,
Darling I think this time we are through.”

This is followed up by ‘Hobart Sailor’ which has a very familiar sound which is unique to the Australian Celtic Punk scene. ‘Convicts Tale’, ‘Irish Sky’ and ‘Branxton’ (traditional instrumental) stand out as favourites on the album however I must say there isn’t a bad song on the album. 11 excellent songs for the band to be very proud of. The mandolin and vocals really make this album one of the top releases we’ve heard so far this year. That says quite a lot as it’s been a good year for Celtic Punk album releases so far.

(The first single from the album recorded at Norton’s Irish Bar, Sydney, Australia)

We have no doubt that this is a band who we will hear a lot more about in the coming years and no doubt will feature on here again. Hopefully some day we will have the pleasure of seeing them live however a word of warning to the band, if you come to visit us you might like it over here and stay!!

(have a listen to Rascals & Rogues before you buy on the Bandcamp player below)

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You can stay informed with all the best in Australian Celtic-Punk and Folk-Punk by joining these two excellent Aussie Facebook groups.

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AUSTRALIAN FOLK PUNK SCENE

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE MAHONES- ‘Love + Death + Redemption’ (2018)

30492-London Celtic Punks web-zine is amazingly five years old today. Bloody seems like it too…

After a brief hiatus Celtic-Punk heroes and legends The Mahones have returned and are back with a bang with the first of a four album package slated for release in 2018.  With new album Love + Death + Redemption they hit the heights but maybe not so in a way we would expect them to.

Well what to say about The Mahones? If you haven’t heard of them where have you been hiding? Under a rock? Please bow your head and go away and rectify the situation as soon as you finish this review. While the Dropkicks and the Mollys have gotten the glory and the massive stadium gigs and tours there has been only one constant wherever you are 0over the last twenty-eight years and that has been The Mahones. Come rain or shine they have always been there. When I was a young punk rocker in my wee one horse town growing up the first, second, third, fourth etc., punk band I ever saw was the UK Subs as they were the only punk band that would play there. The same can be said of The Mahones and their constant touring. I am absolutely certain they rock up in some towns somewhere where they are the only physical link to the Celtic-Punk scene and that is one of the many reasons they are held in such high esteem. The band means the world to me personally as it was at one of their legendary gigs here in London I asked, and was granted, the hand of my good lady.

Their new album Love + Death + Redemption finds The Mahones in reflective mood. The full on Irish punk is toned down but it is still unmistakable Mahones. Instead the band have gone for a gentler more contemplative album with only brief flashes of Irish punk. The album opens with ”I’m Alive (Save Me)’ and as with most of the tracks here it is written by Finny and if The Mahones had a trademark sound then this song would be it with Finny’s voice straining and aching through a steady beat with the distant ring of the tin-whistle and layered guitar. Joined by the beautiful voice of Priya Panda from the Canadian hard-rock band Diemonds on vocals the words tell, possibly, of the sad break up of his marriage, but not the friendship, to fellow band member Katie. Be prepared to shed a tear here Celtic-Punkers. Throughout the album they are joined by a motley crew of special guests and on this song that also includes fellow Canadian rocker John Kastner on backing vocals and guitar. It’s a great start though not quite the rabble rousing that we are use to it is still powerful in other ways. It sets the standard for the album and they don’t disappoint as they follow this up with ‘Heroes Die’. The tune may be a bit more upbeat but again the words find Finny in reflective mood.

Next they slow it down a bit for ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ and Finny is joined by one of his heroes Johnny Fay  of the legendary indie band Tragically Hip. The lyrics of the song are maybe directed by Finny to himself but what do I know I’m just a Catholic Irish boy. It’s a restrained folksy tune and you either get and love his style of vocals or don’t and I have always loved it. Perhaps more on record than live even. The album is beginning to sound like a who’s-who of alternative Canadian music and on ‘Never Let You Down’ the band are joined by singer-songwriter  Sarah Harmer and her stunning voice is the perfect counterpoint to Finnys. A slow burner of a song that slowly builds and builds and with the aid of Michael O’Grady’s tin-whistle and Ryan Chopik’s mandolin it’s the most Celtic sounding song on Love + Death + Redemption. Back in October, 2016 Finny’s mother Anne McConnell-Strong passed away in a tragic accident and her loss has been felt heavily by Finny himself obviously but also the wider Irish community in Vancouver and Canada where Anne was much treasured. This explains in full the nature of the album and on ‘Mother, My Angel’ The Mahones pay tribute to this wonderful woman and all she did for others with a dazzling swirling almost psychedelic Celtic number.

Anne McConnell-Strong 1934-2016. Anne Kearney was one of five girls born and raised in a typical thatched-roof cottage in Oranmore, a quaint village in the west of Ireland on the edge of Oranmore Bay, an inlet of Galway Bay. Her sister Mary still lives in the old family home.
She studied nursing in England and later, along with first husband Brendan McConnell and the couple’s two eldest children, daughters Ita and Dympna, emigrated to Canada in the 1960s, eventually settling in the Limestone quarter. In Kingston, the McConnells owned and operated the old Frontenac Hotel on Ontario Street and, in time, the Irish pubs Finnegan’s and Muldoon’s, bringing in top-name Irish acts such as the Clancy Brothers and the Irish Rovers In 1978, Anne founded the local chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, was elected chairperson of the Eastern Comhaltas Regional Board in 1988, and spent nearly four decades ceaselessly promoting the development and preservation of Irish traditional music, dance and culture in Canada and the United States. Suaimhneas síoraí tabhair dí, a thiarna, agus go lonraí solas suthain uirthi.

We are back on Celtic territory next with the album’s first cover and it is expertly chosen. From The Waterboys now classic album Fishermen’s Blues which saw them abandoning their pompous rock sound for a mix of Irish and Scots traditional music. The Mahones keep close to the original and do the song more than justice.

“You ain’t calling me to join you
And I’m spoken for anyway
But I will cry when ye go away
I will cry when ye go away”

Again the lyrics tell of the pain Finny and his close knit family has suffered. We are more than half way through the album before we see any sign of the (in)famous Irish punk that The Mahones are (in)famous for and it comes courtesy of guitarist Sean Ryan on vocals for ‘Win Some, Lose Some’ with backing vocals from members of his other band Irish Nails. Its fast, furious and glorious and over in just over ninety seconds and will I am sure fill the moshpits of all corners of the globe. Next up is another cover this time ‘Heroes’ written by another of Finny’s favourites David Bowie with Brian Eno. Again it is played fairly close to the original but with some lovely flourishes and Mahones touches that move the song far beyond just being another bog standard cover. The song tells the story of two lovers, one from East and one from West Berlin and has become one of Rock musics great songs. We are nearing the end of Love + Death + Redemption with ‘Angels’ the last of the original songs here and again its reminiscent of earlier song ‘Mother, My Angel’ with Finny’s voice distorted and detached while the music swirls around his words. It’s not The Mahones we are use to but it’s beauty is undeniable. The curtain comes down with the great Irish classic penned by Pete St. John ‘The Fields Of Athenry’. Over the last decade or two the song has become perhaps the most recognisable of all Irish songs and recorded countless times by artists of all genres. Finny is accompanied on vocals by Canadian-Irish singer-songwriter Damhnait Doyle. I always wonder why so many bands choose this song to record these days but then when you hear it sung with passion and pride it has an affect on your heart and soul that shows exactly why. It is a song we Irish can be proud to give to the world. It ends with the whispered words “Love you Mum”. Leaving us in no doubt who the song is sung towards.

The album was produced by Finny himself and engineered and mastered by Gene Hughes. It was part recorded back in the auld country at The Doghouse Studio in Belfast as well as Red Rhino in Montreal and Telejet Music in Toronto. The production as usual is impeccable, it is well known, after all, what a perfectionist Finny is. Love + Death + Redemption was written for and dedicated to the loving memory of Finny’s late Mother Anne. No Irish boy gets over the loss of his Mammy…

the four upcoming Mahones releases for 2018

So as stated not your typical Mahones release but none the worse for that. The tragic events of the last couple of years have I am sure taken their toll on Finny but here he has managed to put a voice to those emotions and feelings, and maybe his demons as well, and make something that is undoubtedly good for his soul and whats good for Finny is good for us too. A grand album, one to listen to with the headphones on first and catch it all. With another three Mahones slated for release this year Love + Death + Redemption is an incredible start and I can’t wait to hear the others. Glad to have you back with us Finny you were sorely missed.

Discography

Draggin’ The Days – 1994 * Rise Again – 1996 * The Hellfire Club Sessions – 1999 * Here Comes Lucky – 2001 * Live At The Horseshoe – 2003 * Paint The Town Red – 2003 * Take No Prisoners – 2006 * The Irish Punk Collection – 2008 * The Black Irish – 2010 * Angels & Devils – 2012 * A Great Night On The Lash – 2014 * The Hunger & The Fight (Part One) – 2014 * The Hunger & The Fight (Part Two) – 2015 *

Buy Love + Death + Redemption

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(The Mahones at ‘Chien a Plumes’ Festival in Langres, France on 6th August 2017)

ALBUM REVIEW: HOLD FAST- ‘Black Irish Sons’ (2018)

 The debut album from Pennsylvania-Irish band Hold Fast takes both traditional Irish and original material in a blend of Celtic, punk and rock.
Hold tight, hold steady, Hold Fast! 
The term Black Irish is thought by many to originate back in Ireland for the offspring of Spanish sailors shipwrecked on the west coast of Ireland back in 1588. Far more likely is it became a term of abuse for poor Irish immigrants in the latter half of the nineteenth-century. The necessity for these immigrants to take the lowest and most dangerous jobs thought by the more well off classes to be the preserve of Blacks came to see them labelled Black Irish. It came about as a result of English/Protestant prejudices imported to the USA by the early colonists who saw the Irish as uncivilised and Catholicism as anti-everything for which Protestantism stood. In recent years the term has been reclaimed and is now worn as a badge of honour by working-class Irish-Americans who sometimes ‘cross the line’.

Hold Fast left to right: Buzz Klinger- Bass, Harmonica * Michael Parks- Drums, Percussion * Dave Thompson- Tenor Banjo, 5-String banjo, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar, Piano * Cole Brown- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Jon Heller- Accordion, Bagpipes * Kayla Rosencrans- Tin-Whistle *

Formed only a couple of years back by Cole and Drunk Dave Hold Fast hail from Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, home of a flourishing Irish rock and punk scene with the The Kilmaine Saints at the very top of it ably supported by other local bands in the Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Punkabillys , Lucky Lad Green and The Tradesmen. In fact piper Jon also pipes for the Kilmaine Saints. The Saints have been very instrumental in helping Hold Fast get on the scene and get their name out there.

Black Irish Sons is their debut album and features ten tracks, eight original tunes and two covers, one rather overexposed and one that is much less well known. The album begins with ‘Gangway’ and the sound of bagpipes fills the air and then the sound of a pub before the band join in and when the banjo comes out the song instantly reminds you of a rather famous Dropkick Murphys song. They follow this up with ‘Drunken Irish Bastard’ and lead singer Cole has that unmistakable Irish-American twang to his vocals and a clear voice that sounds like he smokes 60 a day! The band cite trad Irish ballad bands like The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones as influences and they do sound quite a lot like a punked up version of these bands rather than The Pogues folkier version of them.

Cole’s voice is very much to the fore throughout the album and on crowd favorite ‘The Banshee Wail’ it is given full reign to go from shouty to soft but always tuneful. An album standout the music veers from hard to gentle with Cole accompanied by a understated mandolin most of the time until the song comes to a tremendous end with the music not getting faster just louder. Any Celtic-Punk worth a sniff these days needs a few ingredients to make the correct mix and one of these is a decent sense of humour which Hold Fast certainly have and ‘My Girl Is A Singer In A Punk Rock Band’ is evidence. Played as a straight up punk song with tin-whistle its got energy and bite and gives Cole a good opportunity to test those vocal chords. We love our Celtic-Punk here but we also love a good auld ballad and Hold Fast deliver a beauty with ‘Cthulhu’. Named after the monster created by writer H. P. Lovecraft that would drive any sailor who looked upon it insane. Never read any of his books though I did try once and found it a heavy going with very very tiny print but the song conveys the terror of the being quite admirably. The album’s first cover is titled ‘Belle of Belfast’ here but is much better known as ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and is rapidly heading to the #1 spot of covered classic Irish tunes. Have to say I do roll my eyes soon as I see the song listed on a new album but there’s a great reason for it being covered by so many and that’s because it’s such a fantastic song and perfect for a Celtic-Punk re-tune. Done and dusted in seventy-five seconds Hold Fast certainly don’t hang about! Next up is the rowdy title track and ‘Black Irish Sons’ takes the Black Irish theme onwards and chugging guitar and loud vocals makes for a perfect singalong.

“Because all day long whiskey and shenanigans

Every bastard that we meet turns out to be another friend

You can pour another round and we’ll raise a pint again

Cuz we’re the Black Irish sons of Erin”

You get the feeling that the band play their instruments with one hand while the other holds a beer! We are back in ballad territory again next and it’s another Hold Fast beauty with  ‘Curse of the Drinking Class’ with Cole’s voice nicely reigned in and sounding never better. Accompanied by acoustic guitar and restrained accordion and tin-whistle it’s a great song. We get another alcohol laden track now and it’s to the seas me Bhoys as ‘Pour Me Grog’ hits the deck. A great banjo sound and gang vocals make this one of my favourites here. The album ends with one of my all-time favourite sons ‘Big Strong Man’. The writer of the song remains unknown but if not for the Wolfe Tones I fear the song would have been lost for forever. The date the song was written can be guessed from the references to the actress Mae West, the ‘Jeffries-Johnson’ boxing match of 1910, the famous Irish-American boxer Jack Dempsey, whose career began in 1914 and to the RMS Lusitania briefly the world’s largest passenger ship, the ship was sunk on 7 May 1915 by a German U-Boat off the southern coast of Ireland at the cost of almost 1,200 lives. The Hold Fast version punk up The Wolfe Tones version (check out the Tones version here) somewhat but keeps the tune intact and the hilarious lyrics keep the tune afloat. One for the crowd to go wild too and a cracking way to bring the curtain down on the album.

At only twenty-eight minutes long it’s over far too quickly but that’s what makes Black Irish Sons such an interesting album. Moments of fast punk rock and slow and gentle ballads mixed together to make an album that is laid out perfectly and at a ideal pace. The bands Irish roots are stamped all over things and they may look to the past of the Tones, Clancy’s and Dub’s but are not stuck there and have added their own stamp to everything they do. The more I hear of bands like Hold Fast I begin to realise the importance of Celtic-Punk to the Irish-American community.

Hold tight, hold steady, Hold Fast!

(listen to the whole of Black Irish Sons for free before you buy by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. Enjoy!)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE CLAN- ‘Here To Stay’ (2018)

Here To Stay the third studio album from the Milan based Irish rockers The Clan. Celtic rock band formed 2013 from a group of musicians coming from diverse musical directions but with the same deep love for Ireland and its unique sound. 

Back in 2016 The Clan were one of the first bands on the site that had been reviewed a second album. Time marches on and here we are now reviewing third third album and if we ranted and raved about the previous two then prepare yourselves for some more of the same as this album rates up there with both of them! The Clan hail from the small town of Muggiò in the province of Lombardy in the north of Italy and have been playing music together since 2013. The relationship between Italy and Ireland has in my own experience been a happy one. At my Catholic school here in England the two communities got on well while in the States, as far as I know, there has always been a high degree of inter-marriage. Plenty of Italians have passed through Ireland over the decades and more than a few have passed the other way with pretty much all of my Irish relations having chosen Rome for their honeymoon destination! We are both sitting out the World Cup too!! The Celtic-Punk scene in Italy is also quite unique as the scene is so bound up with the music of Ireland. There is a sort of generic Celtic music that incorporates music from all the Celtic nations and though instantly recognisable as Celtic-Punk it doesn’t belong to one place in particular. The Italian bands are different. The music from bands like The Clan, Modena City Ramblers, Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, Kitchen Implosion, The Rumpled and Dirty Artichokes (coming to London in August!) all have the same deep love for Ireland, it’s culture and musical traditions. That love dominates their music throughout and has produced a truly unique style of Irish music.

As we have said many a time it’s no good expecting the best Celtic-Punk bands out there to have Celtic blood in them as you will be sorely disappointed! The Clan come from a beautiful place and play beautiful music that fills your heart with cheer and will surely plant a smile right across your face. Here To Stay begins with a kick-arse tune from the very off with ‘Pocket Money Heroes’ and it may start as if it’s heading down the hard’n’heavy route but before you know it’s completely changed track and your listening to a high energy poppy punk song with reggae interludes and great bagpipes and fiddle that change the direction of the song on arrival. A massive gang chorus of ‘whoah’ the opener covers everything and shows their songwriting abilities from the first beat. The Clan to more trad territory next with ‘Glory Waits’ and one of the standout tracks here for me.Mandolin and tin-whistle and one hell of a folk rocker with a dead nice country feel to it. Catchy as hell and just what we came here looking for. The next song up is ‘Jail Times’ and I have to say it’s not my cup of Barry’s. It’s well played and will especially appeal to fans of bands like Rancid with even a organ interlude! We are back on more solid ground next with ‘Rebel Town’ and finally the Irish influence comes spilling out. Now this is Irish-punk music with a brilliant singalong chorus and a foot stomping beat that will fill the dance floor. That a band can take two such diverse genres like punk and trad folk and then mix them into something so infectious it would get even the most miserable onto their feet is always something that never ceases to amaze me. The bagpipes open for ‘Johnny’ along with the drums giving its a Scots feel before the ‘whoahs’ start again and it’s a catchy punk number with Angel’s voice given full range and his gravelly strained tones portray a passion for what he’s doing. ‘Rat Race’ again takes the standard Celtic-Punk weapons of tin-whistle and mandolin and teams them with punk and comes out with a real beauty of a track. This is followed by the album’s title tune and ‘Here to Stay’ is a lively upbeat reggae infused number that’s duel vocals give it a Black Water County feel. There’s more of a punk rock influence here then before but it still sits within the Rancid description I think. The pipes are back again for ‘Prodigal Son’ and Chiara’s playing is immaculate as The Clan throw out yet more ‘whoahs’ making for a great audience song where arms are flung aloft and lungs are loosened and beer is no doubt spilt. Catchy as hell as is the whole album The Clan have an ear for a good tune. ‘Seize the Day’ is the album’s nearest tune to a ballad with Angel accompanied for most of the song only by a frantically strummed acoustic guitar though later Frisco joins in with some exquisite fiddle playing. Finally we reach my favourite song of the album, the western influenced, in style and content, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and if I was to make a Top Ten Celtic-Punk videos then The Clan would feature heavily so don’t pass by without watching the great video below. The music like the video is heavily influenced by both western and country but with that unmistakable Clan Irish-punk feel to it.

We are nearing the end and ‘Vesuvius’ is up and the album’s only instrumental and takes Irish music to another level. You may hear stuff like this every now and then but rarely, i repeat rarely, do you hear it so well played and executed like this. It takes all the best elements of The Clan and exploits them to good use especially Chiara this time on the tin-whistle. Brilliant Irish folk music played by Bhoys from Milan. One to get up the noses of the folk snobs! Absolutely fantastic. The album goes out though on ‘Easy Roller’ and The Clan love a heavy metal song and here they sound like the band they love, AC/DC, thrashing it out with the bagpipes. There were a couple of bonus tracks on my download and the earlier track ‘Johnny’ is re-recorded in Italian as ‘Johnny Non Parla’ and finally Here To Stay comes to an end with another Italian version of the album’s opening track this time called ‘Rievoluzione’ and the band are accompanied by Cippa and Paletta of the Italian punk band Punkreas.

Fourteen original songs that rocks in at just under fifty minutes Here To Stay was released last St. Patrick’s Day eve on the 16th March 2018 on Black Dingo records. It’s a fantastic album and, as others around the world’s Celtic-Punk media have written, a definite contender for those end of year Best Of polls. The Clan have been one of the best bands within the scene for a few years now coming to the fore on the strength of a handful of excellently produced videos but have managed to keep up the quality and prove they are no novelty outfit. While the posh wankers can whinge and groan about so-called cultural appropriation bands like The Clan take Irish music and play it with a love and respect for the past while keeping an eye to to the future.

(Here’s that video. Yes that one!)

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SINGLE REVIEW: TORTILLA FLAT featuring JORGEN RED WESTMAN- ‘THE 45rpm’ (2018)

With the Swiss taking the World Cup by storm here’s a band that’s been around for quite a while and have released a bunch of cracking Celtic-Punk records. ‘The 45rpm’ is a vinyl 7″ release of chugging punk rock with full blooded bagpipes roaring throughout.

Taking their name from John Steinbeck’s novel of the same title Tortilla Flat are from Langenthal in Switzerland and play Celtic-Punk heavily influenced by both Scottish and Irish melodies. This is a band that easily sits slap bang on the line between Celtic and Punk/ A band that anyone with the slightest interest in either would love I am sure. Therefore it’s a mystery to me why they don’t get a bit more press. They thoroughly deserve to. We are at fault as any as despite owning a couple of Tortilla Flat CD’s they have never properly graced these pages despite having a total of seven album releases and a couple of singles in their back catalogue. Well hopefully this will go some way to redressing the balance with the release of a vinyl only 7″ single. I have noticed vinyl making a bit of a comeback generally but more importantly there has been a good few recent Celtic-Punk releases too.

Tortilla Flat as featured on the single from left to right: Tom MacFly- Bagpipe * Rob Highlander- Bagpipes * Chris- Guitar & Vocals * Jorgen Red Westman- Vocals * Ritchie- Bass * Lord Peter of Lochaber- Bagpipes * Lexu- Drums *

Where folklore meets stirring punk attitude, there’s something for everybody. An invitation to dance and sing, or maybe just to shout along but these Bhoys are enjoying the ride

“because it’s both a soundtrack for party nights and comfortable evenings with friends; because it makes rainy days sunnier and brings you a holiday on the islands within reach during the summer heat.”

Tortilla Flat have at their core three good friends in Chris, Ritchie and Lexu and are supported at various times by the The Independent Pipers who supply a good dose of Celt whenever it’s needed. The music you hear first maybe punk rock but there is no denying that it’s Celtic melodies, mainly Scots, that run things here with the pipes always leading the way.

The single kicks off with the title song ‘The 45rpm’ and its a 1977 Brit punk style number with some wonderful bagpipes. The song features Jorgen Red Westman on vocals and he has a great voice, hardly surprising as he has just celebrated thirty years as the frontman of the legendary Swedish garage-surf-punk band Psychotic Youth. The song moves at a great pace with a catchy beat akin to those early punk bands. Not too fast but miles away from slow!!! The song first appeared, in a different version, on their seventh album from last year Forward To The Past.

Next up we have classic Tortilla Flat fodder where they take the song ‘A Man’s A Man For A’That’ written over 220 years ago by the great Scottish poet and nationalist Robbie Burns. A poem that promoted Burns political and moral views. Published anonymously in The Glasgow Magazine for fear of arrest, it is thought the song is proof of his support for the Revolution in France. The song was recorded live in concert at the stunning Klostersommer Rueggisberg, not that you would know it as the quality is far and above any live recording I have heard in years!

The guitars chug, the bass thumps and drums beat while the pipes pipe. A bloody brilliant song and a real foot stomper too. Originally recorded for The Great Escape from 2013 the brilliant video was recorded, filmed and mixed by Benny Wyder of Swiss Music Service

“Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that”

This is followed up with the Irish folk classic ‘The Wild Rover’recorded during the same set again it is clear as crystal and could almost pass for a studio recording of not for the clapping and cheering from the audience. Played by everyone at some point there is no denying its popularity among the punters at gigs and I remember it being one of only a small handful of songs we (the boys) use to really enjoy singing at school as we were allowed to stamp our feet and clap our hands during the chorus. It makes for a perfect Celtic-Punk song with plenty of punk rock attitude and Folk history. Tortilla Flat do a grand job keeping it fast and catchy. The single comes to an end with a alternative version of ‘The 45rpm’ again featuring Jorgen and also Chris on vocals. The lyrics tell of how much better music on vinyl is than on CD or download. I’m afraid people I have to concur. I have never quite given up on vinyl in all my years and it is true when Jorgen sings

“you were born too late and you will never understand”

what it meant to you when you had saved up enough money to go and buy a record. A feeling that modern day music just doesn’t, and won’t ever, compare to. The single is released at the end of this week but you can pre-order the single via mail-order from MacSlon’s and Outsider at the links below. The 7″ vinyl version is limited to just 300 copies but will be available as a digital download as well.

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If all the dew were diamonds”, Pablo said, “we would be very rich. We would be drunk all our lives”. But Pilon, on whom the curse of realism lay uneasily, added: “Everybody would have too many diamonds. There would be no price for them, but wine always costs money. If only it would rain for a day, now, and we had a tank to catch it in”. “But good wine”, interjected Pablo, “not rotgut swill like the last you got”. “I didn’t pay for it”, said Pilon. “Someone hid it in the grass by the dance hall. What can you expect of wine you find ?”

dialogue from “TORTILLA FLAT” by John Steinbeck, 1935

EP REVIEW: FLATFOOT 56- ‘The Vancouver Sessions’ (2018)

Chicago’s Flatfoot 56 announce the release of their new EP featuring five songs old and new that blend the band’s mix of traditional Irish folk music and surging punk rock.

While the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly are undoubtedly the biggest band in Celtic-Punk I have no doubt who the best band in Celtic-Punk is and that is Flatfoot 56. Ever evolving and always innovative it only seems a few weeks ago that they managed to walk away with the London Celtic Punks album of the year for 2017 (here) for their superb album Odd Boat. It was an unanimous #1 vote from all four of us here and Gerry made it clear what he thought on the review of the album

“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!”

The new EP released last month is completely acoustic and consists of five songs one new and four old ones that have been completely re-written and presented as basically new songs.  The band have never been adverse to using traditional instruments but here they bring out the Irish uileann pipes as well as whistles and accordion to produce a sound that is both melodic and gritty but thoroughly magnificent. To help achieve this the Bhoys enlisted the help of veteran producer Roy Salmond, the owner of White Water Productions near Vancouver, BC who has been working with artists for over 30 years.

The Vancouver Sessions begins with a song from the bands 2007 album Jungle of the Midwest Sea re-imagined as a classic slice of Delta Blues. Compared to the original it is barely recognisable and I even had to check it was the same song! On ‘Cain’ Flatfoot 56 head more in the direction of their folky offshoot 6’10 but still manage to keep the Flatfoot 56 energy and passion. As Tobin puts it

 “took on an entirely different feel than the original, loved the way this new take on an old song turned out. It’s low, its gruff and it’s us in a very weird way.”

Mandolin, fiddle and Tobin’s gruff rumbling voice ensure this song is the ultimate ear-worm designed never to leave you alone once you’ve heard it. The song comes accompanied by one hell of a video too of the band sitting around a campfire playing in the most natural settings for the song.

In fact for the video members of 6’10 accompany them and even bringing in original members and friends including Tobin’s good lady Vanessa.

“I see you coming, don’t do it
I know you and I see through it
Your parents curse made you work the fields
You gave God what grew but you didn’t yield
In your anger, you beat him dead
And his blood turned your field red”

The song tells of Cain and Abel the first sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was a farmer and his brother Abel a shepherd. The brothers made sacrifices to God but God favoured Abel’s sacrifice instead of Cain’s. Cain then murdered Abel, whereupon God punished Cain to a life of wandering. ‘Cain’ is followed by the EP’s only new song ‘How Long’. Tobin kicks it off with acoustic strumming and then his wonderful warm full vocals take over and with accordion and drums keeping the beat while Vanessa’s beautiful voice is a lovely counterpoise to Tobin’s. The song’s lyrics talk about the yearning for something more than all of the chaos the world seems to be throwing around. Consistent with many of Flatfoot 56’s lyrical themes, this one leaves the listener hoping and looking for something more. ‘I Believe It’ has already seen the light of day in an semi-acoustic version on 2012’s Toil but here they slow it right down in a song that strips the original right back to its barest bones before adding in some amazing uileann piping. The pipes drone only adding to the melancholy of the song.

“thoughtful—and tender, at times—reminders of what life can be if we slow down and take lyrics in”.

The song ends with a few lines from the Flatfoot favourite ‘I’ll Fly Away’ and slowly it ebbs away.   ‘Penny’ was the fastest and most punky song on last years Odd Boat so even more remarkable that they have managed to turn it into the song here. The tune remains but the addition of gentle mandolin takes it to another level while again Vanessa’s traditional style of folk vocals adds perfect balance. For the EP’s closing number Flatfoot again take one of their fastest tracks and adapt it into something stunning and while ‘Take Hold Again’ is the most recognisable of the songs here its still packs a punch in such a different way to the original. Elements of trad Irish folk, Country and Americana abound and while its not your usual F56 release for those of us who have softened to 6’10 its utterly perfect.

The album has been released on Sailors Grave Records and comes as a special edition etched vinyl disc in three different colors. It is also released on CD and digital formats but you can have a sneaky free listen via the bands Soundcloud account here.

The band have announced that it is important to remember that this is not a new direction for Flatfoot 56 but rather a temporary diversion and it won’t be long before they are back to their driving anthemic Celtic-Punk rock anthems before we know it. And anyway they do have 6’10 for this sort of thing. If their goal is to help introduce their punk fans to folk then they can sit back and relax as it is mission accomplished as The Vancouver Sessions may be calm and laid back but it still successfully transfers their aggressive punk rock sound into something that is real, raw and superbly beautiful.

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Discography

Rumble of 56- 2002 * Waves of War- 2003 * Knuckles Up- 2006 * Jungle of the Midwest Sea- 2007 * Black Thorn- 2010 * Toil- 2012 * Odd Boat- 2017*

ALBUM REVIEW: 1916- ‘Far Beyond The Pale’ (2018)

The fourth studio album from one of the best bands in Celtic-Punk, the Rochester, NY based Irish-American band 1916. An explosive concoction of modern day Irish Punk and psychobilly with an original sound all of their very own.

You may scoff at the idea that their is a Celtic-Punk band out there that has an original sound all to themselves! In a scene where the comfort comes from all the bands mining from the same sources of history it is true believe me that one band has managed the seemingly impossible. To stand apart from the crowd but to still be a part of the Irish-American Celtic-Punk scene. Hailing from upstate NY, 1916 take influence from the traditional Irish folk of bygone days and mix in the modern Irish Punk movement but also add in elements from both psychobilly and rockabilly giving them the sound which sets them apart from other bands of the genre.

1916 left to right: Ryan Hurley- Upright Bass * Jon Kane- Mandolin * Steve LaDue- Drums * Billy Herring- Vocals, Guitar *

Their days began as an acoustic duo in back in 2006 with singer Billy Herring and drummer Steve La Due playing the trad Irish ballads of the Dubliners and Wolfe Tones in local pubs in and around their hometown of Rochester. Deciding to name themselves 1916, after the year the uprising in Dublin against British rule took place, to get people interested in Irish history it was in 2010 they took the decision to attempt to turn 1916 into a ‘proper’ band and called in electric guitars, trad instruments and drums. It wasn’t long before they were supporting the Dropkick Murphys and so began a new chapter in 1916 history. 2012 St. Patrick’s Day saw the release of their first studio album, A Drop of the Pure while the following year saw the release of Stand Up & Fight. Each album containing a selection of Celtic/Irish covers and originals that saw the bands sound evolving but it wasn’t until the release of Last Call For Heroes at Christmastime 2015 that the critics went ape. Named in the top half of all the various Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of lists (including our very own one here peaking at #3) 1916 had found their niche and bigger and better things were around the corner for them. As an aside I’ve had their amazing version of ‘Hot Asphalt’ as my ringtone ever since!

Far Beyond The Pale begins with a short instrumental dirge ‘The Risen People’. The sound of chains and a beating drum symbolising stamping feet and the struggle of the Irish race while a mandolin plays a delicate Irish tune. A great start to proceedings as the song becomes the pathway to ‘Some Songs’ and that classic and original 1916 sound is back. Fast and as catchy as hell with bass rumbling away and thrashy guitar nicely understated while Bill tests his lungs with his raspy shouting, though always tuneful, and a great “Woooohh-Woooohhhhhh” bit for us fans to sing along to. 1916 have a knack also for writing some great lyrics too and follow in the tradition of Irish story telling through song. The song tells of the day he fell in love with the music of

“Luke and Ronnie Drew”

and how he has come full circle and I hope Bill realises that he is a direct descendant of these legends and through his music he passes the torch onto the younger generations. Luke and Ronnie would be proud. Next up is the lead single from the album ‘Ophelia’. Bill’s Irish-American brogue and Jon’s mandolin keep the song firmly within Celtic-Punk but it would only take turning up the guitar to take it another level. Saying that I love the guitar on this album. It’s loud and ever present but understated in a way that means it never dominates.

The album title track follows and ‘Far Beyond The Pale’ brings in a slight country influence here but the 1916 rumblin’ is still there. They slow it down slightly but give full reign to Ryan and his upright bass. The phrase ‘beyond the pale’ is well known but what is not so well known is that has a specific Irish meaning. The phrase dates back to the 14th century, when the area around Dublin under English rule was marked by a boundary made of stakes and fences. This became known as the English Pale and to travel outside of that boundary, beyond the pale, was to leave behind all the rules and institutions of English society, which the English modestly considered synonymous with civilization itself. I’m happy to say my family come from many miles Beyond The Pale in Tipperary. They slow it down even further with ‘Guns Of 16’ and maybe I’m getting on a bit but it’s one of my favourite tracks here. A brilliant tune and Bill rolls out the words almost laconically

“Guns of 16 are here
Never have they gone away
Into your deeds they have moved
Keeping the butchers away”

Utterly brilliant. Well so far you have heard a lot about the psychobilly/rockabilly side of 1916 but having stuck fairly closely to the Celtic side of things so far they unleash things for ‘Shake And Roll’ and Ryan’s bass goes into overdrive! There is a saying that “Old punks don’t die they just become rock’n’rollers” and I actually think theirs a bit of truth in that. Having grown up with Rock’n’Roll and Irish music from my Mammy I’ve found myself getting more and more back into over the last few years. I have come to the conclusion its because I’m rather happy in life so don’t want to listen to noisy songs about nuclear war anymore!!!

“We hit the floor together as legion till the end”

Bill shouts out as Jon, Steve and Ryan belt out a real mosh pit filler. The psychobilly influence becomes more of a rockabilly influence for the following song ‘All Outta Whiskey’ and it is absolutely amazing the difference in sound having a upright bass makes when compared to a normal bass. This song is what I would describe as the traditional 1916 sound. First the subject matter (!) then rumbling bass and buzzing guitar with a gang chorus to sing along to and Bill’s laid back vocal style, which is both punky and shouty and trad and folky at the same time, all encompassing a song that straddles punk and folk that is a catchy as feck! The sea features heavily amongst 1916’s repertoire of songs as well as their imagery and no surprise if you read up on how the Irish washed up in north America and the terrible conditions they suffered on board coffin ships supposed to bring them to safety. At least 30% of all Irish immigrants perished on board the ships while many more passed away on arrival. ‘Sticks And Stones’ is another great punky number that rattles along at a fair old pace

“Come all you captains and sailors so bold
and take us through the raging seas of old
Arm yourselves men with your sticks and your stones
and fight against the tide that calls us home”

before taking us into a superb version of ‘Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’. Made famous of course by Cait O’Riordans version on The Pogues second album Rum, Sodomy And The Lash but the song dates right back to the 1880’s and has both Scots and Irish versions. Bills plays with the words a little introducing the line “A tattooer by trade I’m a roving young blade” into the song that speeds up the Pogues version and they nail it by turning it into a 1916 song rather than a Pogues/Dubliners cover. It’s fast, furious, frantic and catchy! We steering up towards the final bend and with ‘Christmas In The Canal’ they have the album standout. The sound is traditional 1916 and is a tribute to those original Irish who fell out of coffin ships and went to work doing the jobs no one else would do. Bill begins the song with the short exclamation

“it was the early 1800’s and the Irish were at the forefront of digging one of the great wonders of the world out of New York state for the Erie canal and despite the harsh conditions they were still able to celebrate”

before the rest of the Bhoys join in with the tale of the Irish digging out the 363 mile canal from the Hudson River near Albany, New York to the Niagara River near Buffalo. Armed with pick axes and shovels, it was backbreaking work, from sunrise to sundown for little pay but it was acknowledged that the Irish were a hard working and hard drinking crew. Not only did the Irish lend their unique work ethic to the canal, they also put their stamp on it in many other ways, including ‘canal songs’, fashioned after popular tunes from home but with new words to fit the environment. And of course, they settled in towns all along the canal route, where today you still find them proud of their Irish roots. The song celebrates them in song just as they sang back in the day and we are still singing now!! A cracking song and one of the elements I have always loved about 1916 is that they do pay homage to those dark days when the Irish in America were on the bottom rung. The album’s second and final cover is up next and the hymn ‘I’ll Fly Away’ is played as a fast folky number. Written by Albert E. Brumley in 1929 it is thought to be the most recorded gospel song of all time and I remember singing it with gusto in my Catholic school days, after all the only way to get the boys to sing was to give them a song that they could shout along to at the top of their voices! It’s already been given the Celtic-Punk treatment on 2012’s Toil by Flatfoot 56 but again 1916 give it their all and come up with something original rather than copied.

“When the shadows of this life are gone,
I’ll fly away.
Like a bird from prison bars has flown
I’ll fly away.”

The curtain comes down on Far Beyond The Pane with the wonderful ‘Going Home’. At over five minutes its by far the album’s longest song and though it starts off plaintive and on the slow side the Bhoys can’t help but go out on a flourish and Jon’s mandolin must have smoke coming off it by the time the end of the songs comes!

This is an album full of life. A celebration of Irish-American identity that is open and accepting to all and is packed to the rafters with passion and energy. The album is available on CD from the band as well as all the usual download sites and the CD comes with a massive booklet entitled Ships Log done in the style of a olde day ships log containing the lyrics of the songs. Mind you Bill’s vocal style renders it useless as you can understand every single word he sings over the album’s forty minutes. 1916’s star is rising all the time and with tours having taken them right across the States and Europe (though sadly not England) and back again and having become an integral part of the #1 event in Celtic-Punk, the  Flogging Molly Salty Dog Cruise, theirs no sign of it dying down just yet. 1916 are easily in my favourite, say, five bands in Celtic-Punk and I defy anyone to not enjoy this band and this fantastic album. With equal measures of humour and seriousness and whiskey it sure is a unique blend alright.

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  • You can read more about the ‘coffin ships’ and The Great Hunger here
  • The history of the Irish and the Erie canal here and here

LIVE REVIEW: TC COSTELLO/ ANTO MORRA/ BRENDAN O’PREY AT THE GUNNERS 17th MAY 2018

A very nice review by the talented Anto Morra of the recent London Celtic Punks gig held in north London that saw the start of TC Costello’s European tour. Accompanied by Anto and Brendan O’Prey (literally at times!) the night saw Irish artists from three different countries perform and they will all, I am sure, go on to play much better attended gigs than this one! 

A GREAT NIGHT WITH THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS

by Anto Morra

THE GUNNERS  LONDON N5 – TC Costello, Anto Morra, Brendan O’Prey  Despite a poor audience turn out for the gig it was quality not quantity that made the evening so great.   London visits are much more gruelling  for me as I get older and to avoid traffic congestion, parking tickets (or any of the other unjustifyable things they can charge you £60 for 3 days after the event) I have to travel in on public transport from my safe parking base in Woolwich, ironically the gig was in Arsenal / Finsbury Park quite a trek on public transport with instruments, leads & Merch.  I was as usual unfashionably early, the first there but was able to sound check my Bodhran and fill the sound man Andy in on the evenings proceedings.

As the small posse gathered I was reminded how lucky I am to know this motley crew,  a nicer bunch of people you couldn’t wish to meet and it was great to catch up with them again.  Established in 2009 The London Celtic Punks webzine has been putting on gigs, promoting bands and reviewing albums that fit the ever growing Celtic Punk genre.

Since The Pogues in the early 1980’s, Celtic Punk has grown beyond anyones expectations with the top names today being the likes of The Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Mahones and The Rumjacks.  The term Celtic is used very loosely I think as a replacement for the ‘Folk’ terminology to distinguish it from those finger in the ear, woolly jumper wearing acts I love so much as there is very little that is Celtic about The Levellers or Ferocious Dog but their names will always crop up when the genre is being analysed.  Three of the best Celtic Punk bands on the London circuit I’ve come across are the Bible Code Sundays, Neck and The Lagan.  Recently The Lagan front man Brendan O’Prey has started to venture out as a solo performer and he was the opening turn this evening and a very fine one it was too, packed with Christy Moore classics but unlike Christy these days performed with personality and passion.

After a bit of insistence he finally gave Me and the Bhoys the classic Lagan song we wanted.

Next up was myself I thought I’d start with my new revised ‘Ballad Of Margaret Thatcher’ and I nearly got through it without fault but still not quite!   As I never write a set list and try to work of the audience TC Costello had told me he had been listening to Gypsy Smile and London Irish a lot, so I thought I’d play that for him until I thought this might be better with a band.

I rattled through a few more including requests from the Merch King Chris Brown and Mr LCP himself- Mark, but slung this bit of Irish Trad in towards the end of my set, sticking to my only performance rule that is to start and finish with my own songs.

My Complete Set List:   Guardian Of The West (Ballad Of Margaret Thatcher). Gypsy Smile. London Irish, Wasted Life (Stiff Little Fingers Cover).  Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (The Jam Cover). Finnegans Wake (Trad). Rocky Road To Dublin (Trad).  Ballad Of Anto Morra.

Finally the star turn all the way from South Carolina and jet lagged from a gig in Brooklyn New York the night before (but you’d never know) a one man Celtic Punk machine….. TC Costello.

(Performing Waxies Dargle, Rose Connolly, Blow The Man Down, Mafia Punk)

To conclude: Brendan O’Prey’s pure Irish passion comes across in a genuine way.  As a solo performer myself I love to hear things stripped bare and hearing him without the band was a real joy.  His vocal style reminded me a little of Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers also from the North of Ireland and also with a rasp to die for.

I’m never happier than when I’m in performance mode and so had a thoroughly fun time and to be joined by Brendan and TC was a privilege.  I’ve no more plans to play in London so this may have been my last gig there and if so I’m happy it was a memorable one.

TC Costello is remarkable.  Pure Energy, Pure Punk, Pure Entertainment.  If he comes to a town near you don’t miss him- his warmth and charm is infectious and when he hits those high notes there is a vibrato reminiscent of John Lydon himself.  Let’s never forget John Lydon was the very first London Irish Punk.

You can catch Brendan O’Prey and TC Costello along with Matilda’s Scoundrels at another London Celtic Punks show on Thursday 5th of July at The Lamb in Surrey KT6 5NF. It is TC’s last gig before he heads back to the States so lets send him off with a rousing goodbye. The Lamb is just a couple of minutes walk from Surbiton station which is only 20 odd minutes from London by train and walking distance from Kingston and promises to be a fantastic night. Entry is **FREE** and the evening will start around 7-30pm but check the FB event here for set times and running order nearer the date.

The Lamb 18

Check out these great artists and buy all their records and merchandise!

Brendan O’Prey Twitter The Lagan- WebSite  Facebook  Twitter

Anto Morra  Facebook  Reverbnation  Twitter  YouTube  Bandcamp

TC Costello  Facebook  Bandcamp  Tumbler  ReverbNation  Twitter  YouTube

TC is probably pogoing around the Europe, as we speak, at a tremendous rate, so be sure to see if he is popping up in your town. It’s more than possible!

HUNGARIAN CELTIC-PUNK WEEK PART 4. THE WHO’S WHO TOP TEN!

So hopefully by now you will have equipped yourselves with at least three bands from the Hungarian Celtic Punk scene over the last few days so what better excuse than to give you a Top Ten of the best bands in that wonderful scene. They range from traditional Irish to folk-rock to full on punk but each band contributes to the scene without copying another and that is what makes the Celtic-Punk scene in Hungary so great. Some of the bands have overlap of members and it’s even possible by now that some have disbanded but these are the bands that have given Hungary such a great reputation among the worlds Celtic-Punks! Feast your ears on these lot!

PADDY AND THE RATS

Formed 2008 * From Miskolc * Buy Rat’s On Board

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FIRKIN

Formed 2008 * From Budapest * Buy Finger In The Pie

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JOLLY JACKERS

Formed 2013 * From from Dunaújváros * Buy

Facebook Bandcamp YouTube Deezer Spotify

THE SCARLET

Formed 2012 * From Budapest * Buy Midnight Avenue (here)

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THE CRAZY ROGUES

Formed 2012 * From Veszprém * Buy Rebels’ Shanties (here)

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THE O’NEILLS

Formed 2013 * From Budapest * Buy Chapter One (here)

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LOCH NESZ

Formed 2010 * From Budapest * Buy Leave The Captain Behind (here)

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Soundcloud

MAD MAN’S CREW

Formed 2015 * From Veszprém * Buy Riot Without Weapons (here)

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COLLEEN

Formed 2014 * From Budapest * Last I heard they had changed their name to Kolorful

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PUNK WHISKEY

Formed 2011 * From Budapest * Buy Delirious (here)

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Soundcloud

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

STOP-PRESS in the following weeks after we published this article yet another Hungarian Celtic-Punk band appeared on the horizon so we thought we would add them in at the end here. So here’s one more. The more’s the merrier!

HIGHLAND BASTARDS

Formed 2016 * From Ózd * Buy Lost At Sea (here)

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HUNGARIAN CELTIC-PUNK WEEK. ALBUM REVIEW #3: JOLLY JACKERS- ‘Out Of The Blue’ (2018)

The last of our album reviews of Celtic-Punk bands from Hungary is the third studio release from one of the scene’s newest bands, Budapest’s Jolly Jackers.

So after the two big hitters of the Hungarian Celtic-Punk scene, Firkin and Paddy And The Rats, were featured these last few days it’s time for one of the lesser known bands and it’s a band that are clearly set for great things in the future. Out Of The Blue is the bands fourth release and sees them take their place alongside the aforementioned big hitters.

Jolly Jackers left to right: Andrea Boncz – Flute/Tin Whistle/Vocals * Enikő Papp: Bass Guitar/Vocals * István Sztivi Faragó: Main Vocals/Guitar * Márk Fenyves: Lead Guitar * Noémi Szentimrei: Violin * Viktor Szepesi: Drums, Percussion

Jolly Jackers are a six piece band that hail from Dunaújváros a working class city in central Hungary famed for its steel production. They formed on New Years Day 2013 and their debut release was the superb five track EP Call The Captain which came out 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. Again Jolly Jackers have made it available for free download so again follow the link below to get your free copy.

Their third release was last year’s eight track album Blood, Sweat And Beer which again hit the streets in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Both their albums so far had sailed it at twenty-six minutes so if you like your Celtic-Punk in short and snappy blasts then Jolly Jackers ARE the band for you. Once again it made our end of year Best Of list (here) and came in a very respectable #22 in a year when every big band in the scene released album’s.

So there you are. Plenty of free music for you to whet your appetite for their new release. Breaking with tradition Out Of The Blue came out at the end of April and seals their place as one of the best bands in Hungary. Clearly inspired by both the giants of the scene at home as well as the international greats

The album begins with the creepily beautiful ‘Blue’ a short half minuter that could come straight out of a Halloween movie but luckily we are back on sounder ground as it soon morphs into ‘Billy the Crook’ and the sound of Hungarian Celtic-Punk fills your ear-holes. The sound is immaculate with Sztivi’s vocals clear as a bell and his English perfect as well and as Jolly Jackers are a story telling band that’s good. The other thing I picked up on straight away was the use of the flute and Rea’s playing was faultless. It’s not an instrument you usually hear within Celtic-Punk but in Europe, especially in Hungary it would seem, it has become an integral part of the band. They follow this up with ‘Rich, Famous & Cool’ and it’s a nod to pop-punk with its lyrics about a musician setting off to become famous but when his partner becomes pregnant he has to sell his guitar.

“I’ve got no longer plans
I’m not rich, famous or cool
But guess what: I’m happy
’Cause I found my place in the world
My place in the world”

A wonderfully positive message and the uplifting music that combines short snappy distorted guitar with fiddle. In a somewhat crowded music scene in their home country it must have been tempting to try a shortcut and emulate one of the more famous bands but that is not Jolly Jackers way and they have managed to come up with a very original take on Celtic-Punk. They add in some trademark jolly-ness next with the catchy foot-tapper ‘See You at The Sea’. A jaunty song that while gentle does sit well in amongst the harder edged songs. They stretch out their influences further with ‘Chameleon’. Beginning with acoustic guitar and Sztivi’s it has a real country edge to it before half way through the song kicks in and they turn it into an anthemic Celtic-Punk rocker. At just over four minutes it’s the albums longest tracks and towards the end the band go to town and thrash it out. I would love to hear this at the end of the night it would bring the house down! They follow this with ‘War’ and heavy guitar and flute dominate the song. Within the song are several fiddle solo’s and changes in tempo that really give it something. My favourite song here.

“Freedom is not about blood in the grass
Not about children without their parents
It’s not about death it is not about gore
You say it’s for freedom, but it’s all about war”

Jolly Jackers turn the mood up for ‘Dancing Shoes’ and it’s a short folksy twee number played fast and with spirit while ‘Lies’ brings out the Celtic-Punk guns in a song about no friends of ours, politicians!

‘Deaf And Dumb’ continues with much the same with the band experimenting with electric guitar and fiddle solo’s and a heavier punk sound then the rest of the album. We are coming towards the end of Out Of The Blue and ‘Demons And Angels’ is the nicely told story of a soldier dreaming of his wife while on the front line. The tune is also a simply played Celtic number but with solid punk backing. They keep the first big surprise till the end and ‘Until We Meet Again’ is beautifully sung traditional Celtic number. Absolutely stunning. The album ends with the instrumental ‘Surprise’ and sure they couldn’t have picked a better song title with its lounge lizard jazzy electric guitar joined half way in by Noémi on fiddle. A very unusual way to bring the curtain down and i’m surprised to hear myself saying that yeah it fitted in exactly right.

From the album’s cover to the music inside it this is an unusual album. The sleeves colourful cartoon of the band members made me realise that most Celtic-Punk imagery is a bit dark and often stacked with meaning so Jolly Jackers attempt to bring a bit of light into things is very much welcome. Out Of The Blue indeed. They have kept the folk melodies of their previous releases but the punkier elements seem toned down but without losing any of their wild abandon. Not prepared to stick to the script it was nice to find Jolly Jackers willing to take chances and even better that they managed to pull them off. Here is an energetic band with great tunes and an ability to write their own songs that seems to me to be in transition. As the saying goes their is plenty here for everyone to enjoy all of it Jolly Jackers very own.

(have a free sneaky listen to the whole of Out Of The Blue for free before you buy it by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Out Of The Blue
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Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for our final part of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week.

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. ALBUM REVIEW #2: PADDY AND THE RATS- ‘Riot City Outlaws’ (2018)

Hungarian Celtic-Punk week continues with another huge band from the scene. Paddy And The Rats serve up a pirate party with a heavy dose of polka, punk and folk bringing the Irish pub straight into your merry home! 

So we move onto Album #2 of our Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week (be sure to check out #1 here) and it’s another band who are massive both and home and abroad. Paddy And The Rats are possibly the best known of all the Hungarian celtic-punk bands and deservedly so. Hard work and constant touring have paid dividends for the band and these days they are known throughout Europe for their superb records and great live shows. Riot City Outlaws is their fifth studio album following ‘Rats On Board’, ‘Hymns For Bastards’, ‘Tales From The Docks’ and ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’. Formed in 2008 with a love of Irish music, pirates and punk rock they have been going strong and getting stronger ever since. The original celtic-punk sound from their first four albums saw them change track somewhat on their last album but we did note that

“No harm in that. Its called progression and I’d rather they did that than just stick to playing ‘The Wild Rover’ for evermore.”

and it couldn’t be more true. A band can stand still and play the same album year in year out but that is not what Paddy And The Rats are about and thank the Heavens. As they say themselves

“Well, it`s one thing to dream about being Irish”

but this Miskolc-based six piece decided to throw a hefty dose of pirate-isms, polka and gypsy punk onto the Celtic mix!

Riot City Outlaws launches with ‘Aerolites’ and one of the albums stand out tracks straight away. Beginning with piano, acoustic guitar and Paddy’s great rock vocals it soon picks up pace and becomes a catchy feelgood Celtic rocker that’s guaranteed to get you on your feet.

The Bhoys follow this up with another classic song the accordion led ‘Join the Riot’. Like the opening track it switches melody from calm and collected to wild and manic whilst still keeping the feelgood factor. Accompanied by one of their famously excellent videos Paddy And The Rats nail their colours to the mast both figuratively and literally. Another song bound to get the audience beating up the floor at live gigs.

The Rats have always added a healthy dose of pirate to their Celtic-Punk and it’s always worked well for them, especially as pirate-punk/metal has always been seen as more a joke or parody thing. Obviously their roots as a folk-punk band must help and on ‘Black Sails’ those roots shine through with an accordion led track that also hits the heights that is both hard and heavy and ‘pop-punky’ at times. Paddy’s vocals shine throughout the entire album and are both crystal clear and very easy to understand. Having signed to Napalm Records in the summer the powerful production by Grammy award winning producer Cameron Webb, famous for his work with the likes of Motörhead, Megadeth and Social Distortion, lends itself well to Paddy And The Rats with their loud massive choruses and bombastic big tunes. ‘The Way We Wanna Go’ is one such tune with banjo, mandolin, fiddle all fighting each other in a mighty tune. If there is one song here that maybe ventures into parody its ‘Sail Away’ with its drunken bar scene opening and then a rollicking folk-punk tune taking over before ending with a fantastic punk rock/fiddle jig. These are the kind of songs that would go down equally as well in a small hovel of a pub or a stadium full  of adoring fans and Paddy And The Rats are use to both. ‘Blow’ is accordion led along with tin-whistle and chugging guitars it takes a different approach with a really (and a mean really) cool pop-punk sound in the vein of Green Day or Pennywise. they follow this with what passes for a ballad on this album and ‘Castaway’ may be slow (ish) but it’s certainly not dull and is as loud and as brash as the fastest song here. Accompanied by another great video it would be well worth your time to put the kettle on, grab a packet of biscuits, take a hour of your life and clicking on their You Tube channel. A lot of thought and attention has gone into them.

The ocean is the theme of the next couple of songs and both ‘One Last Ale’ and ‘Where Red Paints The Ocean’ are brilliant Celtic/Pirate rockers. Tuneful, catchy anthemic songs that again manage to be both hard and gentle with Paddy showing his vocal range from both hard and gentle as well.

We are steering towards shore and time for another ballad in ‘Another Life’. They know their way round a good song and are equally at home playing anything from Pirate metal to folksy ballads like this with everything rock based inbetween. A great way to slow things down and ‘Bound by Blood’ begins sounding like another ballad before kicking off into the stratosphere and thrashy guitars and another song in the vein of the earlier ‘Blow’. Coming across like the bastard Irish born offspring of The Offspring and The Beach Boys it’s as catchy as it gets. The familiar story of the morning after is taken up next with ‘I Won’t Drink Again’ with acoustic guitar and tin whistle leading the way before turning into a song the Dropkick Murphys haven’t written in years sadly. A happy-go-lucky tune that’s a real foot tapper. The end of the official album comes with ‘Children of the Night’ and needless to say (but say it I will!) it’s an absolute stormer of a song.

The video above may not be exactly the greatest you will ever watch but it again perfectly shows the relationship between Paddy And The Rats and their fans. Paddy before the song starts speaking from the heart but in Hungarian so thanks to Ábel for translating and giving us an insight into the song we wouldn’t otherwise have had.

“My son was born 1,5 years ago and that moment changed my life forever. I was started to think differently and that I wrote that song mostly because he came to the world. I believe there is a very important thing to pay attention to every children. These tiny ‘creatures’ are our future for sure, but in many cases the politicians don’t notice that and they sacrifice them or they parents for the sake of the power, so they remain alone. We think that is so horrible to grow up in this world without parents, who are driving you on your way, and even worse to let them alone. That’s why we wrote that song.”

On an album of high points again Paddy And The Rats do it with a song that contains every element that makes Paddy And The Rats so enjoyable. The bagpipes and fiddle are loud and proud on my favourite song form the album. A real Celtic-Punk classic. So there we have the end of the official album but there are two bonus tracks added that deserve a mention the Irishy ‘Raging Bull’ and celtic pop-punk ‘Summer Girls’. Both great songs that I’m puzzled are tacked on at the end not that I’m not glad they are.

Riot City Outlaws is a real return to form from Paddy And The Rats and when you hear music like this it fills you with its infectious energy and simple happiness. Dark tales make perfect subject matter for Celtic-Punk and theirs loads here wrapped up with them catchy choruses and dynamic up-tempo songs. paddy And The Rats may have returned to their roots here but they are standing still and on hearing this neither will you!

(hear selected songs from Riot City Outlaws on the Bandcamp player below)

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Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for Part 3 and the final part of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. Part 1 here

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. ALBUM REVIEW #1: FIRKIN- ‘We Are The Ones’ (2018)

Kicking off a week celebrating Hungarian Celtic-Punk we have the new album from Grammy Award-winning Budapest Irish band Firkin. Having played well over six hundred concerts in seventeen countries and it’s no wonder as they are without doubt one of the best live bands on the continent.

When you think of Celtic-Punk the first countries you would think of would be the ones that the Celtic diaspora fled to in times of despair and poverty and oppression. Well maybe that was then but these days Celtic-Punk is a truly international phenomenon and of all the countries outside of the traditional homes of Celtic-Punk no country has embraced the music quite like Hungary has. I’d be hear all day if I was to list all the bands on the scene over there but rest assured that we in England would be jealous of to have but half of them! Why exactly Hungarians have embraced the music to their hearts and ears I do not know. Maybe one of Hungarian friends can let us know. For the following week we are running a special Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week with three of the scene’s best bands all releasing albums then it makes sense to follow up last years (see 2017 here) Hungarian Celtic-Punk week with another one. So stay tuned and visit again in the week for #2 and #3.

One of the things that makes the scene there so special is the bands have all found their own niche within it and the music ranges from full on traditional folk to fast and heavy hardcore punk but today we feature one of the most prominent and internationally well known- Firkin. Formed in 2008 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest by flutist PJ, Firkin have released a whole 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. The bands original vocalist Barna left the band amicably after recording the album Finger In The Pie in 2014 but new vocalist Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin have carried on without pause or even catching breath! Firkin have played more than 600 concerts in 16 countries and not just in Europe having toured Canada in 2011. Their debut album, Firkinful Of Beer, hit the streets in May, 2009 and within a year had gone gold. Soon after the album was nominated for a Hungarian Grammy Award, Fonogram 2010, which was followed by two further nominations in 2013 for their third album Igyunk Pálinkát! and in 2014 with their fourth album Keep On Firkin. In 2016 Firkin’s song ‘Focimese’ became the official song of the Hungarian football team for the UEFA Championships which saw Hungary storm the opening group stages before being hammered, like Ireland were, by Belguim in the knock-out round. Last year saw them grace the stage at many of Europe’s leading festivals which brings us up to date with the release of We Are The Ones which will be followed by a huge European headline tour in the Summer.

We Are The Ones is Firkin’s sixth studio album and they continue their quest to take over Europe by introducing the uninitiated to quality Irish-punk rock! Beginning with ‘All Is Well’ and its a fast start from the very first beat and Andy’s great vocals fit right in. The music flits between Springsteen heartfelt rocker and the Irish punk of their early days. ‘One More Pint’ is a tale of life passing you by but there always time for one more pint. Again Andy’s vocals sit nicely. Tuneful and shouty at the same time and in absolutely crystal clear English too! Firkin have always handled a nice ballad well and just as you think ‘Those Irish Punk Girls’ is it it flies off into fast as feck Irish punk with fiddle and flute literally leaving a stream of smoke behind them. As good a song on the album as any and a real blast from Firkin’s past. Another standout track follows with the album’s title song ‘We Are The Ones’.

A great gang chorus of “OH-H-H-H-H’s” in a song where Firkin pay tribute to their fans. Catchy as hell and will grow to be a real fan favourite I am sure.

“We are the ones who will go insane,
go mad when we are in pain.
We are the ones who might be exiled,
we’ll feel at home and smile”

Next up is ‘Lily Of The West’ and believe it or not a song that I could imagine leaving Christy Moore’s lips this one. An old song and not your typical cover version it has a real authentic Irish feel to it with the music at times bordering on trad as well as country. One for your Ma’s this one. Now its ‘Your Odyssey’ and I can’t imagine Christy singing this one! Proper Celtic-Punk with thrashy guitars maybe a little understated but still giving the song plenty of oompf. I was never a fan of the flute to be honest. That was until I saw Firkin live in concert and I was immediately converted. PJ is such an amazing musician and has an incredible stage presence that its hard to stand in awe of Firkin when they let fly. We are back in the pun now with ‘Hold My Beer’ and like a lot of bands Firkin make music to be enjoyed with a jar or two and I’m reliably informed that Hungarians like their beer so a band named after a beer measure ought to have a couple of alcohol friendly songs at least!

As we head towards the end of the album and it’s time for Firkin to dust off a few covers which they begin with the famous Dubliners trad song ‘Nancy Whisky’. A perfect song for Celtic-Punk bands to cover and Firkin serve up a great version and follow this up with perhaps the greatest (and saddest) song ever written about Irish emigration, ‘Spancil Hill’. A real tear-jerker this one and again delivered with style and given an upbeat treatment. Time for an original and Firkin have always dipped their toes into folk-metal while never quite getting their heads wet and ‘Awaken The Iron’ is as far as they venture on We Are The Ones. A great metal-folk-punk song with Andy never sounding more like a pirate in his life.

“Show a leg!
Pirates aboard! Prepare your swords
Pull out the guns and shoot a full load
Release your wrath ‘n aim the mainmast
Fight for the glory till the last breath
Remember the days, the years we fought together
Steered between waves through days and nights
This is the moment we all been living for
Awaken the iron, rats quake in their boots”

The albums fastest song gives way to ‘Galway Girl’ and this song I am sure is played hundreds of times every night on every continent on the planet and I am sure Steve Earle never imagined the hit he had had on his hands but the song is now up there at the very top of popular Irish songs. Nevertheless Firkin don’t do sloppy covers and they stamp the Firkin brand on it and mange the seemingly impossible to make it their own. We Are The Ones comes to an end with the beautiful Irish trad number ‘Flowers’ featuring the absolutely stunning voice of Hungarian folk singer Agi Szaloki. Originally called ‘The Flower Of Magherally’ it dates from 1928 and was most famously covered by Altan.

“I met my love near Banbridge Town,
My charming blooming Sally, O
And she is the crown of County Down,
The Flower of Magherally, O”

Andy shows he can really sing and what a pair of lungs he has as together they belt out a real folkie number that brings down the curtain perfectly.

So another classic Firkin album ends and with twelve songs and seven originals it’s a good balance of their own material and covers too while it steams along at such a nice pace I was surprised it was forty minutes long as it seemed to be over far too quickly. The auld Irish influence may have subsided a wee bit in favour of more typical Celtic sound but theirs no denying that Firkin are at the top of the tree when it comes to Celtic-Punk on this fair continent and long may they continue and they surely will if they continue to put out such great material.

Buy We Are The Ones

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( A whole Firkin concert from 10th June, 2017 – Open-Air Theatre Budapest)

Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for the rest of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. Part 2 here

Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for Part 2 of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. 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

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: EWAN MacCOLL and DOMINIC BEHAN- ‘Streets of Song. Childhood Memories of City Streets from Glasgow, Salford and Dublin’ (1959)

Scottish folksinger Ewan MacColl and Irish singer Dominic Behan delve into their childhoods to present the songs and chants of working-class neighborhoods in Dublin, Glasgow, and Salford. Unaccompanied—in keeping with tradition—the 100 songs include rhymes, ditties, counting games, skipping-rope pieces, jibes, taunts, oaths, street ballads, seasonal songs and insults. In between selections, Ewan and Dominic provide context by explaining the circumstances in which the songs were performed.

A fascinating real piece of working class history performed by two legendary figures who have featured on these pages many times. Some listeners may recognize songs from their own childhood their are certainly more than a few I recognise from my younger days on the streets and playgrounds of South Yorkshire. Both Dominic and Ewan spent their lives preserving and archiving music from days past and now almost sixty years later we can present this remarkable album to you. It comes as a free download so feel free to take a copy and enjoy and if you wish follow the link below to get the accompanying booklet that came with the album.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Ewan MacColl- January 1915-October 1989

For nearly 60 years, Ewan MacColl, an activist and left-wing socialist, expressed his views as a playwright, social activist, songwriter and performer. During the course of his lifetime he composed a body of work that ranks among the best in the folk genre. He was born in Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland, the son of a Lowland Scots father and a Gaelic-speaking mother. Both parents had an extensive repertoire of Scots folk songs and ballads, and a large part of MacColl’s tremendous repertory was learned from them. After leaving school at the age of 14, he spent the next 10 years working odd jobs between periods of unemployment and one day out busking, he was noticed by a BBC director and given his first radio broadcast in a programme called Music of the Streets. Soon MacColl began to devote an increasing amount of his time writing programmes for the BBC, including his first group of Folklore broadcasts. Included among his many folk music activities have been the collecting of folk songs for the BBC archives and in addition to being one of these island’s leading folk singers Ewan MacColl’s fame lives on in the songs that he both saved from extinction and those he wrote including ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘Freeborn Man’ and his Grammy Award-winning song ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, a hit single for Roberta Flack in 1971, which he wrote for his longtime collaborator and life partner, Peggy Seeger. After many years of poor health (in 1979 he suffered the first of many heart attacks), MacColl died on 22 October 1989, in London, after complications following heart surgery

Dominic Behan- October 1928-August 1989

Dominic Behan was born in Dublin, Ireland, having a traditional Irish fiddler as a father and a folksinger as a mother. Born into a family of committed republicans, it was no surprise that even at the age of six he joined Na Fianna h-Eireann (republican Boy Scouts) and by sixteen was an active fighter for the IRA. His activities on behalf of his political convictions resulted in his being imprisoned, in Dublin and in London, four times between 1951 and 1954. Following in the footsteps of his uncle, the noted rebel song-writer Peadar Kearney (who wrote the Irish national anthem) he penned a number of rebel ballads, including the well-known ‘Patriot Game’. During the 60’s and 70’s he wrote almost twenty plays for British TV as well as writing several books though it was as a songwriter that he excelled and had more than 450 songs published during his lifetime. Dominic had well publicised spats with both Liam Clancy and Bob Dylan over use of his songs where lyrics were changed or omitted. He took the view that his work was written to make some form of social, historical or political statement and should either be used as an entire piece of work or not at all. Dominic died at home in Glasgow, aged 60, on 3 August 1989.

Streets Of Song sleeve notes by Kenneth S. Goldstein

Childhood memories of City Streets from Glasgow, Salford and Dublin. The Oral Lore of Children

In listening to this recording, one will find three distinct types of oral children’s lore. First there are the items which have little or no restrictions of national boundary. Some of the pieces recited and sung in this recording are known throughout the English-speaking world, originating, perhaps, in the British Isles and spreading out from there to all of the many countries culturally and linguistically affected by the British and their far-flung empire. Who, in the English-speaking world, for example, has not heard one or another version of the singing-game The Farmer Wants a Wife (heard in a Dublin Irish version on this recording), or Poor Mary Sat A-Weeping (from Salford on this recording). You may know these pieces by other names, and in forms differing quite radically from those presented on this recording, but it will require little imagination or insight to realise the relationship of the versions you know to those presented here.
A second category of pieces found in this recording are those which appear to have strictly national boundaries, being known either only in the British Isles or, perhaps, only in a single country or national group. Such pieces are frequently related to festivals or events which are purely national in character and incidence, or are so dependent upon purely national events or references as to make them almost meaningless outside of the national boundary of the country in which, they may be found. Such pieces include the holiday song Christmas is Coming (item number 67, from Dublin, but known throughout the British Isles), and the Scottish jibe, Wha saw the tattle howkers (item number 62, from Glasgow, but known in other parts of Scotland) among numerous others.
The third category consists of those pieces of a purely local nature, existing almost exclusively in a single community, town or county, but rarely found elsewhere. The reasons for such limitation of tradition are similar to those given for the second category mentioned above, but with considerably more localised references or language. Such piece include Up The Mucky Mountains (item number 64) and Jessie Stockton (item number 68), both from Salford, and Cheer up, Russell Street (item number 56) from Dublin. Into this last category must also go those pieces which are the creative efforts of a moment, in use for only a short period of time, and fading into the world of lost traditions almost before they were born. Occasionally such-pieces fall into the collector’s lap, but the collector (at best, just an accident in time, in such instances) has no way of sorting out these pieces from those which are more than just mere ephemera.
The record contains an even 100 pieces of diverse examples of children’s lore. Here will be found game songs, nonsense rhymes and ditties, counting games, ball-bouncing games and rhymes, skipping-rope pieces, jibes, taunts, oaths, street ballads, seasonal songs, and insults. What is the origin of these pieces? For most of them we cannot even begin to speculate on the question of origins.
Some few can be pinpointed to historical occurrences and personages King Henry, King Henry (item number 12), tells of the affairs of love of a well-remembered English monarch. Others are the breakdown of older traditional ballads and tales; I know a woman, she lives in the woods (item number 23), obviously derives from the ballad The Cruel Mother (Child 20). Some like items 4, 56 and 59, are children’s parodies of recent creations, including music hall and popular songs. Most of the pieces are created out of happenings and sights of everyday life. Because of the universality of their subject matter they might arise anywhere or at almost any time so it is an impossible task to do much more than guess at their origins.
First, we are introduced to the cultural milieu with which we are dealing. Poverty, a proud working-class inheritance, slum conditions, and the everyday, mundane things and occurrences affecting the individuals concerned. Next, we are presented with the oral products of that environment, set off against a train of thought concerning those products, not of the children living, playing and reciting those pieces of lore, but of two adult bearers of this urban tradition whose sensitivity to the setting is expressed in terms of mature afterthought. The opportunity presented by this recording to study the whys and wherefores of urban childhood traditions is the next best thing to working in the field with the children themselves.
One fascinating problem suggested by working with children’s lore, and, even more specifically, with the lore of working-class children, is the question of class boundaries of such lore. Of this question, Dominic Behan has written:
“It can — so far as kids are concerned — be made only by children who own so little other rights to amusement that they must sing and make up songs about themselves and the places they inhabit; tenement house schools, neighbours, and, most and biggest of all, their playground — the streets. Maybe this is not quite true, maybe other classes of folks’ children make up other classes of songs. All I can say is if they do, I have never heard them.”
So much for the songs: what of the games? Are they ‘class’ bound? Do they belong to certain people or are they the property of all? Once again, I don’t know. Once again I will guess, and say all.
The challenge has been issued. It is the duty of folklorists, sociologists, and psychologists to take it up and answer the question. An attempt to do so from a library chair will prove futile; the data are insufficient and largely undocumented in most of the existing works on children’s lore. By utilizing the existing tools of each discipline we can expect to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. We are fortunate in dealing with children’s lore, to be working in an area which appears to have no beginning or end in time, and while some scholars have bemoaned the dying of oral tradition (such claims have been made for the past century, though I for one prefer to think of traditions changing and evolving rather than dying), none will be so rash as to deny the very vital nature of children’s songs and games. There is no question of the existence of sufficient material for study.

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Great article on the Life And Work Of Dominic Behan here

 with thanks to Zero G Sound- if you want music like this to light up your life then go find them here.

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

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

(if any links are broken please leave a comment and we’ll do our best to try and fix it)

ALBUM REVIEW: THE MUCKERS- ‘One More Stout’ (2018)

While they do play Irish music Atlanta based celtic-punkers The Muckers blend in  influences from gypsy music, sea shanties, country, rockabilly and anything else they can get their hands on.

One More Stout is The Muckers second album and if their debut was a helluva lot of fun then they have gone and topped it with this one. Their self titled debut album came out in September 2016 and even though they had only recently formed it received excellent reviews from right across the celtic/folk-punk scene and entered the end of year charts of all the ones who did one including ours. We described it back then as

“A great knees up of an album with a grand sense of humour and infectiously good fun and well played”.

and to be perfectly honest we could easily re-use that comment to describe their new album One More Stout as well!

Based in the deep South of America in the city of Atlanta in Georgia they are the only local Celtic-Punk band and had gathered a massive following around them in the city and state among the Irish and their friends. That was back then and it would be safe to say that these days The Muckers are rapidly becoming one of Americas better known ‘new’ Celtic-Punk bands. They are on the face of it a straight up Irish band but dig a little deeper into their sound and you will discover a host of influences from at home and overseas. This is a very real American Irish music that takes the spirit of Ireland and adds in a little something from gypsy, country or even rockabilly to produce something that is an absolute joy to listen to, and I am positive a joy to catch live as well.

The Muckers left to right: Steve Lingo- Drums * Brady Trulove- Guitar * Jeff Shaw- Fiddle/Mandolin * Dave Long- Accordion * Randall English- Bass.

One More Stout kicks off with the opener ‘Let’s All Go to the Bar’ and it has a kind of Gobshites feel to it. A real happy-go-lucky bounce to it accompanied by a feel-good vibe that would be sure to fire any gig/party/barmitzvah off! The Gobshites comparison may be a good one as I later found out vocalist Jeff was an auld Gobshite himself for a couple of years and played mandolin work on their album The Whistle Before the Snap.

Originally penned by Rhode Island roots-punk quintet Deer Tick the song stays fairly close to the original but with a huge injection of celtic-punk attitude with some excellent accordion and mandolin.

“Forget if you’ll regret when the morning comes
We’ll have a heart attack, we’re having too much fun
If the coops show up we ought run, run, run
But we’ll laugh in their faces when they tell us we’re done”

At nearly four minutes it’s the perfect length and a great start to proceedings. Jeff Shaw has a great full voice that belies his wee frame and fits snug into The Muckers style of music. The Bhoys have an obsession with alcohol (fancy that!) and keep it up with their first self-penned number ‘Hellbound’ and Jeff puts down the mandolin to play some pretty damn amazing country style fiddle over this fantastic number. The song ends with a very nice Irish trad flourish and they back this straight up with another original ‘Day Drinking’ and it’s hard to believe they are only a five piece band so large is the sound here.

Not only that but they are almost acoustic except for Randall’s bass. I’m still looking for a word I can use instead of catchy (If you know please tell me!) but that is the word that is stamped all over The Muckers music. This song is again accordion led (even with a tinge of ska!) but with such a fantastic production it never over dominates things and blends right in. Next up is another cover and again they stay fairly close to the original by Californian country/American group The Devil Makes Three. They do of course speed ‘Black Irish’ right up and add some bollocks to it.

“Cuz I, I wanna feel that blood rushin in my veins
I don’t want this night to ever turn into day
If I could only do all them things I wanted to
While that spirit’s rushin now in my veins
Yes If I could only do all them things I wanted to
While that spirit’s rushin in my veins”

At least musically anyway as the lyrics speak for themselves! The fiddle kicks it off before accordion joins in and low and behold there’s an electric guitar thrashing away there! Now this is Celtic-PUNK I tells you. Now its the title track and ‘One More Stout’ is an ode to the famous Black Stuff. Following this is a cover by one of my all-time favourite Celtic-Punk bands the glorious Cutthroat Shamrock. Criminally under-rated they split up last year but I was delighted to see that they had reformed this St. Patrick’s weekend to play some local gigs around Tennessee. ‘Long Gravel Road’ is one of their best songs and I would heartily recommend checking their original version out here from their 2009 album Blood Rust Whisky. The Muckers do the song perfect justice and keep the country-Irish feel of the original intact while still putting their own stamp on it. We take a trip out East now with the Bhoys version of the old Russian traditional folk song ‘Limonchiki’. Of course the accordion is in favour here and Jeff hams it up a bit in a real nice number that is guaranteed to get feet moving! Next is a cover by Canadian Celtic-Rock legends Great Big Sea. You know when a band has reached legendary status when ‘ordinary folk’ start to take notice. In this case it was when my sister-in-law asked me if I knew Great Big Sea and did I have any of their stuff. Yeah only about six hours worth! Anyway The Muckers give ‘Old Black Rum’ a real going over and make it their own while ‘God Save Ireland’ is a old song. Very old. it was written to commemorate the Manchester Martyrs, three members of the Fenian Brotherhood executed in England in 1867 after a successful mission to free a comrade from arrest ended with the death of a policeman. It served as the unofficial Irish national anthem from the 1870s to the 1910s and has been recorded by a multitude of artists. In particular I always remember it raising the roof when The Wolfe Tones play it. Its catchy tune and singalong chorus make it perfect Celtic-Punk fodder and needless to say (but say it I will) Its gets a bloody good airing here. We back in the bar for ‘Whiskey’ and the on-off love affair we have with alcohol. Catchy in a sort of hoe-down country way which leads us nicely onto ‘Drunker’n Cooter Brown’ which takes it a bit further with elements of bluegrass and zydeco sneaking in.

One of the album highlights for me and if the dance floor aint filled up for this then there’s something wrong with the audience! ‘Molly, Pt. 2’ is the sequel to ‘Molly’ that appeared on their debut album and that was one of the standout tracks then so only fitting the sequel is here. The mandolin shines here showing what a great instrument it is in Celtic-Punk. Its delicate, beautiful sound butting up against the rougher edges of the other instruments really does sound wonderful. Finally we have reached the end of One More Stout and we wrap things up with an absolutely stunning instrumental traditional Irish folk reel called ‘Castle Kelly’. The tune is very old and also known The Dark Haired Maid’ when recorded by the Bothy Band, or ‘Mo Nighean Dubh’ if you speak Irish. The Muckers version is a s good as any I have heard. An amazing way to finish things.

As we have stated The Muckers are riding a wave which has seen them take the stage at Shamrock Fest and Dragon Con and they were invited to play the welcome party for what is rapidly becoming the most important event in the worlds Celtic-Punk calendar the famed Salty Dog cruise organised by Flogging Molly. Lucky bastards!! This band is set for the top table of celtic-punk embracing everything that’s great about celtic-punk. Passion and pride in the land of their ancestors but also a willingness to experiment a bit and step away from the confines of Irish folk and inject other cultures and music into what they do. And all the time with a smile plastered across their faces. The obvious fun they have is infectious and if the only thing Celtic-Punk achieves is to make people happy then The Muckers have got a surefire hit on their hands. Get on board before they become massive!

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EP REVIEW: BLACKBEARD’S TEA PARTY- ‘Leviathan!’ (2018)

The first new release from Blackbeard’s Tea Party in three years takes traditional songs and folk tunes about the whaling industry and gives them a heavy edge but with a playful arrangement and driving dance rhythms.

Blackbeard’s Tea Party have been together since 2009 and in that time became firm favourites on the English folk scene. An independent band with four albums to their name, Blackbeard’s Tea Party have also completed a number of successful UK headline tours. So it’s been a bit of a mystery as to why they went quiet on the recording front and this is their first release since Reprobates in 2015. They continued to tour and are still as popular as ever but in this game you have to have regular output otherwise there is always another new band waiting in the wings to take your place.

Anyroad they are back now and with this great EP celebrating the history of the whaling industry. Although whaling had existed for thousands of years it was in the 17th century that industrial whaling emerged with organised fleets that by the late 1930’s were killing more than 50,000 whales a year. Communities along the coast around the world have long histories of subsistence whaling and harvesting beached whales. On Leviathan! Blackbeard’s Tea Party play out the history of an industry that once made the fortunes of ports such as Hull, Whitby and Peterhead. Thousands relied upon the practise but it would eventually drive the species to the verge of extinction so much so that in the 1980’s it was banned though many countries still hunt whales under so called scientific purposes.

Blackbeards Tea Party from left to right: Liam ‘Yom’ Hardy – Drums * Dave Boston – Drums * Stuart Giddens – Lead Vocals, Melodeon * Laura Boston-Barber – Fiddle * Martin Coumbe – Guitar * Tim Yates – Bass

Leviathan! is the bands fifth studio release and even though only five songs its a mighty fine way to remind any fans who have lost touch that they are still around! The EP begins with the traditional folk song The Diamond’. Popularised by Scottish legends The Corries (check out their version here) the song first appeared on Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd’s 1957 album Thar She Blows! Lloyd recorded it again in 1967 for his album Leviathan! Ballads And Songs Of The Whaling Trade. I would guess these two releases have been very much influence on Blackbeard’s Tea Party.

On the song A.L. Lloyd commented on the Leviathan! album sleeve notes:

Sad events lie behind this most spirited of whaling songs. By the 1820s the relativity milder northern waters were fished clean, and whalemen were having to search in more distant corners of the Arctic, notably round the mighty and bitter Melville Bay in Northwest Greenland. In 1830, a fleet of fifty British whaleships reached the grounds in early June, a month before they expected. But the same winds that had helped them also crowded the Bay with ice floes and locked most of the fleet in, including the Diamond, the Resolution, the Rattler (not Battler) of Leigh (not Montrose), and the Eliza Swan. Twenty fine ships were crushed to splinters and many bold whalermen froze or drowned. The Eliza Swan was among those that got free and brought the sad news home. Our song must have been made only a season or two before that tragedy for the Diamond‘s maiden voyage was only in 1825. One wonders if the man who made the song was up in Melville Bay, the year of the disaster, and whether he was lost with his ship.

Blackbeard’s Tea Party have always been an innovative band and their version skates through English and Celtic folk music while adding some surprisingly modern touches while Stuart Giddens sumptuous (their description not mine!) vocals ably fit the music. His voice may not be that of a crooner but it is strong and versatile and reminiscent of folk singers of old but without the trademark finger in the ear. They follow this up with the first of two instrumentals and ‘DLFN’, written by the bands Laura Barber and Dave Boston is certainly a bit of a shock. With Blackbeard’s dark bite it chugs along with a real foot slamming beat. The fiddle shines throughout and only adds to the somber mood of the song. Next up is title track ‘Leviathan’, written by Giddens it’s a song that verges (or even passes!) on folk-punk and steams along at a mighty pace with Stuart telling the story of the albino sperm whale known as Mocha Dick that lived in the Pacific Ocean in the early 19th century and went on to inspire the story of Moby Dick by American writer Herman Melville in 1851. This song shows Blackbeard’s Tea Party in all their glory as story-tellers as all the finest folk musicians truly are. The song plays out the excitement of the hunt while never shirking from the blood thirsty reality of a whalers life at sea where these mighty creatures may at any moment strike back and take the ship down. We now have another Boston/ Barber instrumental in The Lost Triangle’. Again the fiddle shines and the darkness of the song evokes the bloody reality of life out at sea. At nearly seven minutes long the song is loud and bombastic and ends with a real doffed cap to the early days of English folk before speeding up again and ending with a real flourish reminiscent of 70’s folk/prog rock.. Leviathan! comes to an end with another traditional folk song, ‘Weary Whaling Ground’. The song is about whaling in Greenland during 1840-50. Again A.L. Lloyd recorded it for Leviathan! Ballads And Songs Of The Whaling Trade and his album notes sum up the feeling of the poor souls aboard ship better than anyone.

“Three emotions dominated the old time whalerman: exultion in the chase, a longing for home, and disgust at the conditions of his trade. This latter mood descended heaviest upon him when the fishing was poor and he became “whalesick” (like homesick, only sick for whales). The man who made the complaint for The Weary Whaling Grounds must have been very whalesick.”

Having added a second drum kit to the band it has given the band a much rougher and tougher edge and with dark material like this it works a treat giving it a doom and maybe even Gothic touch they never had before. Their may be only one new song here with lyrics but the band have turned out two extremely good original instrumentals and have taken two songs from relatively ancient times and breathed new life into them. That new song ‘Leviathan!’ shows the new found power of the band and their flair for storytelling which places them in a direct line from the likes of Ewan MacColl to today. There was a time when the folk purists (or snobs as we call them!) would have approved of Blackbeard’s Tea Party but maybe they are trying to distance themselves from the ‘party approved’ AOR folk of the likes of the Mumford’s but the move into darker territory suits them well.

Discography

Leviathan (2018) * Reprobates (2015) * Whip Jamboree (2013) * Tomorrow We’ll Be Sober (2011) * Heavens to Betsy (2009)

Buy Leviathan!
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For more on the sea why not dip your toe into our Classic Album Series review of ‘Steady As She Goes. Songs And Chanties From The Days of Commercial Sail’. Released in 1976 the album is dedicated to the workers of the sea. Undoubtedly hard and very often tyrannical under many a vicious Captain’s rule. The workers said “a song is as good as ten men” and the songs were used in the manner of field work song’s. These shanties tell the tales of loneliness, the families these men left behind and the daily hardships of an unkind sea and nautical life.

Many of the albums featured in the series (here) come with free downloads.

THE CARDINAL SINS- ‘Straight Left Right Hook’ (2018)

It may sound a bit strange that over the years we have only featured a handful of ‘Irish’ Irish bands on this site but for whatever reason Celtic-Punk in Ireland has never seemed to take off band wise. So with that in mind we love it when a new band from the auld country appears and even though The Cardinal Sins have been going a few years we are sure they are new to most of us over this side of the water and hopefully it won’t be long before we get to see them in the raw!

STRAIGHT LEFT RIGHT HOOK

Write him off at peril, he’ll dance around at god’s free will
Rolling through the town like a steam train running late
He’ll settle all and put em down, take any man that glanced a frown
Line em up 1 to 10 and let them have their go
Chorus:
Straight left down he go’s (hey Ho!)
Right hook down he go’s (the crowd began to shout!)
Straight left down he go’s (man Down!)
Right Hook down he go’s (he knocked the fucker out!)
Jimmy said he’d give a try he’s 7ft tall and just as wide
The crowd were looking for a cheer so they took it to the square
In and out they danced about, and from the sides they bawled and shout
The honey-badger threw his fist, Jimmy’s on his ear
It was hard to see if he’d get back on his feet,
But jimmy bowed his head, he was taken by the best
And in the disbelief well the crowd took to their feet
And then they start to shout
HE KNOCKED THE FUCKER OUT!!!

The Cardinal Sins are a Celtic Rock group from Laois and Offaly in Ireland that formed in 2013 with six members making up the Holy Synod. The band come with a high pace, high tempo list of contemporary , traditional and original songs played in their high energy style with influences including The Pogues, Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphy’s to name a few. Over the years The Cardinal Sins have enjoyed success at home which saw the band release their debut EP, release several music videos, play at various festivals in Europe as well as becoming a regular on the Irish festival circuit. 2016 saw their first ambitious tour, outside Ireland, of Italy taking in Milan, Bologna, Parma, Cuneo and Pesaro. The same year also saw concerts in Copenhagen along with trips to Germany to co-headline the Volmarstein Folk Festival with Irish music legends De Danann. Last year saw The Cardinal Sins concentrate on the Irish festival circuit and to start to write some original material that will see the light as an EP later this year. The lead single to this EP “’Straight Left Right Hook’ is out now and available on iTunes and Google.

Cardinal Sins left to right: Trisha Mulraney- Fiddle / Whistles * Stephen Murphy- Bass / Vocals * Wayne Brereton- Lead Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Electric Guitar * John Tobin- Banjo / Mandolin / Vocals * Reece Wardrop- Drums / Percussion * Darren Cahill- Accordion / Vocals.

The song itself is a riotous romp pitched somewhere between the simple Irish folk of our childhoods and uplifting pounding fist in the air punky rock music. A tonne of passion and plenty of pride The Cardinal Sins have nailed it here and we look forward to hearing that EP when it lands. In the spirit of the Dropkick Murphys ‘Shipping Up’ being played at every rugby match everywhere The Cardinal Sins have adopted their very own sports star in local Portalington MMA fighter Philip ‘the honey badger‘ Mulpeter and Straight Left Right Hook has become his walk on tune. Its all a bit rough for this gentle soul but you can check out this up and coming Irish fighter here

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EP REVIEW: THE GRINNING BARRETTS- ‘The St. Padraig’s’ (2018)

 Beer and Whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rock from Vancouver Island 5 piece The Grinning Barretts who deliver a range of originals from floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems!

The Grinning Barretts hail from the town of Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The area was renowned for coal mining in the early decades of the twentieth century. As would seem to be the way with industrial workers it is coal-miners who have been traditionally the most militant and the area was famed for it’s militancy with many strikes and unrest as the areas miners battled the mine owners in an area at the time thought to be the most dangerous in the entire world. As around the world the bosses realised it is cheaper to import coal dug by children and modern day slaves and so the mines eventually closed but the ides that were forged miles underground by those miners still live on in the closely knit town where Pamela Anderson was born! The band formed in 2015 and after going through several line up changes have finally settled upon a steady line up. The St. Padraigs EP saw the light of day on St. Patrick’s Day just passed and the Bhoys already have a follow up release planned any day soon and a third release for later in the year. Out of the ashes of local ska bands The Kiltlifters and Street Prophets Union, Scot and Pat decided after a decade away from playing live music that the time was ripe and the area was in need of a kick-arse Celtic-Punk band so after roping in recruits from the local Pacific Gael Pipes and Drums corp. as well as from the local rock scene The Grinning Barretts hit the stages around Ladysmith and the rest is history!

The Grinning Barrettts left to right: Jeremy Fiddy- Drums * Bern Kinnear- Bass * Aaron Bergen- Bagpipes/Whistles * Dylan Wickham- Guitar/Banjo/Vocals * Pat Westmacott- Guitar/Mandolin/Vocals * Kevin Dougan- Bagpipes/Whistles

The EP begins with the pounding blue-collar working class anthem ‘Plutocrass’ and it’s hard and fast bagpipe punk from the get go. The sound is in the same vein as Yank bands Of Doom and Alternative Ulster. Yer basic standard catchy as hell punk rock played with superb bagpipes as an integral part of the music rather than just tacked on as an afterthought. The band call it “A shot at the rich bastards who own news outlets, and pay them to lie so they can get richer.”  

“Billionaires paying millionaires to tell the middle class to blame the poor
To keep them from our guillotines, torches and pitchforks
Billionaires paying millionaires to lie right thru their teeth
Filling empty heads with ignorance to justify their greed”

I likes it a lot! ‘W&B’ carries on in the same vein with a story of friendship but told in The Grinning Barretts own indeterminable way

“When the pot is getting hotter or you’re only treading water
I’ll be a life boat and ferry you home
Fuck your fair-weather friends I’ll be there till the end
Drinking whisky and pissing on their bones”

It’s great stuff and again catchy as hell and with a real foot slappin’ beat to it. There are no namby-pamby lyrics or feelings here just words as normal working folk would speak them. This is NOT a safe space!! Pat’s growl fits the bill and the chugging guitar accompanies the pipes perfectly here. Next is ‘Kudatah’ and there’s the slightest ever tinge of a ska beat going on. Obviously these guys can’t leave it all behind. It works as well as it so often does in Celtic-Punk.

The only Celtic instrument on display are the pipes but these Grinning Barretts are definitely an Celtic-Punk band. The use of the pipes is so entwined with the music how could they be anything else. Check out their full concert video at the end of the review for further proof. Another great example is their first cover with ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’ as it’s never been played before. Something about this traditional Scots folk ballad just lends itself to Celtic-Punk and quite a few bands have covered it but The Grinning Barretts give it the full on punk rock treatment. They follow this up with a visit to Ireland and another, perhaps overdone, Celtic-punk standard with ‘Black Velvet Band’. The Bhoys adapt it to their own home and give it plenty of oompf and you may suspect a ballad is coming till the cobwebs are well and truly blown away and the song almost veers into metal but its the unmistakable tune of the original that shines through. We coming up to the final bend and its time for my favourite song and its an anthem dedicated to workers everywhere. A union song that would give The Dropkick Murphys a run for their money! ‘UFS’ is not just a union song though its a Join Your Union song. I come from a long line of militant trade unionists myself so love the sentiments here. If only we as workers understood our power is when we are together and that being in a union is a necessity these days. When you buy home insurance you don’t think your house is going to burn down and the same with joining the union you may think the bosses will always treat you fairly but history says your wrong. Do as The Grinning Beggars say and join a trade union today. Beers and cheers to Brooks Jamison for the superb guitar solo who delivered the goods in only three takes and asked only for beers for the pleasure. Finally The St Padraig’s EP ends with ‘To Your Name’. It’s the longest song here due mainly in part to Aaron Bergen’s fantastic bagpipe solo at the end of a classy punk rock number about always remembering you lost friends and comrades. 

“To your name, we raise a glass
To the miles that we walked together”

As I stated these are words from the heart and from the street not the coddled university’s where the pampered offspring of the middle classes turn their fury away from the real enemies and onto the working class who have never profited from anything but have always lost everything.

All together we have seven songs with five originals and some novel takes on a couple of standards that you will never have heard played like that! Not a band for the faint hearted folkie but if you love your Celtic-Punk played with passion and pride in their class and their music then this EP is for you. The Grinning Barretts will drink your beer, and you will like it.

(listen to the whole of The St. Padraigs EP below on the Bandcamp link)

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(full concert from last year at Logans in Victoria B.C. and as they say “Apologies for poor sound and dark lightning but it is a punk bar”)

ALBUM REVIEW: BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN- ‘Drinkin’ To The Dead’ (2018)

Pittsburgh celtic-rockers the Bastard Bearded Irishmen deliver an original, ferocious blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic music, mixed with punk, gypsy and high-energy rock n’ roll on their third album out this week.

Bastard Bearded Irishmen are one of the hardest working bands ON the Irish-American celtic-rock scene and their hard work has paid off with the band now known right across the States and even beyond. Formed back in 2008 the band celebrate ten years together with the release of their third studio album, Drinkin’ To The Dead. Originally planned as a one off tribute for a friend’s funeral, George H. Evans IV, a friend of the band and guitarist who died in a car accident in 2004. George was a big Irish-American guy who loved the Dropkick Murphys and during that one-off show Jimmy Bastard and Ben Jaber decided their passion for Irish music needed a further outlet so after recruiting a couple more local guys and gaining a rather nice sponsorship deal from Jameson’s Irish whiskey the Bastard Bearded Irishmen were born.

Bastard Bearded Irishmen left to right: Jimmy Bastard- Lead Vocals, Acoustic/Electric Guitar, Banjo *  Paul Dvorchak- Fiddle * Danny Rectenwald- Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals * Ryan Warmbrodt- Rhythm Guitar * Dan Stocker- Drums/Percussion * Ben Jaber- Bass, Vocals (Ben has since left amicably and the new Bastard bassist is Sean-Paul Williams)

This is the band’s third album behind their self-titled debut of 2011 and ‘Rise Of The Bastard’ in 2014. That debut trod the well worn path of mostly auld Irish standards and though an excellent album it only left their fans wanting to hear more of their own stuff. They got their wish with Rise Of The… which was an album of solid self penned songs with just three covers chucked in. One of the most pleasing things about the Bastards was their ability to switch from Irish punk to folky trad and though on their new album the rougher edges have been smoothed down this ability still shines through.

Bastard Bearded Irishmen hail from Pennsylvania’s second largest city Pittsburgh located in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The city is known as ‘The Steel City’ due to its history of steel production and way back in the 1830’s, many Welsh people from the Merthyr steelworks immigrated to the city following the aftermath of the Merthyr Rising. By the 1840’s, Pittsburgh was one of the largest cities west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Great Fire of Pittsburgh destroyed over a thousand buildings in 1845 and the city was rebuilt by Irish immigrants who had arrived in the area escaping The Great Hunger back home. By the end of the century Pittsburgh’s 1,000 factories were consuming 22 million coal bushels yearly with coal mining and iron manufacturing attracting waves of European immigrants to the area, increasingly from southern and eastern Europe, and including many Catholics and Jews fleeing injustice and poverty in their homelands. Today the Irish still number 16% of the cities population and the Saint Patrick’s Day parade is second only to New York in the whole of the USA.

(the Bastard Bearded Irishmen bhoys discuss their upcoming 2018 album, Drinkin’ to the Dead and the evolution of the group)

So coming from an area with a rich working class history and confident in it’s Irishness the Bastard Bearded Irishmen found much work around the city playing to their fellow Irish-Americans but as has been said hard work and solid graft has seen them voted ‘Best Rock Band in Pittsburgh’ for four years in a row, ‘Best Bar Band’ twice, opening for the Dropkick Murphy’s and Stiff Little Fingers and a whole host of major folk and rock bands while, of course, playing just about every decent Irish music festival including last years mega Shamrockfest. Their third album Drinkin’ To The Dead came out on that most special of days for sc-fi fans, May the 4th, kicks off with ‘Salutations, Memoirs, Denouements’ which was their first single from the album released last February. They seem to have lost none of their bite since 2014’s Rise Of The Bastard and despite promising to have moved away from the Irish punk of the first two album’s I can tell you there’s plenty here to keep fans old and new very happy indeed. As is the way the opener is always one of the strongest songs and no different here with Jimmy Bastard belting out the lyrics about remembering close lost friends and comrades.

” But through the tears (we arise) as we honour the lives of the ones we left behind”

Fast and furious and tuneful with great fiddle work its a brilliant way to start things and I can tell I’m in for a good time here! Drinkin’ To The Dead also sees mando player Danny Rectenwald step up to the plate vocals wise and him and take the lead on a handful of songs here that gives some nice balance to Jimmy.

So if the opener made me think we were in for more of the same ‘No Problems, No Drama’ took me by surprise with its combination of celtic, reggae, klezmer and eastern European tunes all bashing up against each other. At over six minutes long it’s a bit risky but the risk was worth it as the lads take time to build up the song layering each others instruments on top of each other and building the song up to a climax. Maybe not one for live shows but it certainly works here and shows that there is a lot more to the Bastards than drinking songs… though they are pretty fecking good at them too as in next track ‘Let’s Have A Party’. It’s straight up Irish folk-punk though perhaps with just a tinge of country and again Paul’s fiddle is on fire as the band bash through the song as quickly as they can.

It may be overplayed as hell and appeared on every Celtic-Punk band’s play list but lets face it you can’t beat ‘Dirty Old Town’ can you. We have gone into this song so many times here but Ewan MacColl’s song is played so often for a reason and that is because it is such an amazing song. The Bastards play it Dubliners style. Nice and slow with Jimmy showing he’s got a decent set of lungs on him and the band with a nicely subdued backing but then half way through they kick it off and bring it in fast as yer like. Ewan was a bit touchy about this song especially about how Shane MacGowan sang it (apparently putting the emphasis in the wrong place) but sure wouldn’t he happy hearing it still blaring away sixty-nine years after he wrote it. Next up is a solid Irish folk instrumental ‘Harvest’ before the gypsy-punk of  ‘Ya, Ya, Ya’ begins with the familiar sound of a can of beer opening! It’s not all as expected and they can still bring out a few surprises and ‘Moscato’ is a nicely understated gentle tune dedicated to the delights of drinking wine. Just Jimmy’s voice, acoustic guitar, bass and mandolin lead us into another nice drinking song but more in keeping with the Irish tradition. The bittersweet tale of ‘Another Bottle Of Booze’ of realising what the stuff does to you but not be able, or wanting, to stop. A slow song but played tough and a real foot stomper. This is the quieter section of the album and ‘Green Side Of The Hill’ may start off as a ballad before incorporating reggae and gypsy into it. Great words too reinforcing what I have always said about them that their story-telling is an integral part of what they do. Eventually the song bursts out at you and the quiet section is no more and the band whip through the ending. The song is another long one at five and half minutes and never drags and the extra length of some of the songs on Drinkin’ With The Dead is evidence of a maturity that the band have faith in themselves to deliver songs that keep the listeners interest. ‘Drunken’ Drinkin’ is about being drunk and still drinking and the song again doesn’t stick to the Celtic-Punk blueprint and neither does it stick to just keeping it fast either.

We have a lovely Irish folk tune next in ‘Slip (the) Jig’ and a song that’s been around a couple of years now, ‘Pirates Of Three Rivers’ that is classic Celtic-Punk territory. The three rivers, the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio, converge in the city and Pittsburgh owes its existence to them.

We coming up towards the end and ‘What A Life That Would Be’ is a song that maybe shouldn’t work but by hell it does. Shift changes all over the shop and packed with influences from all over the place it on the face of it is all over the place but yeah it still gets you there! Down to the last two songs and they are both called ‘Drinkin’ With The Dead’ and as Jimmy Bastard says

“It’s kind of funny because the name of the album has been around for two years, we just had to get it done. And on the same day Danny said he wrote a song called ‘Drinkin’ to the Dead’ (the second version), I told him I wrote one, too. We thought we couldn’t have two song called ‘Drinkin’ to the Dead’ on the album, but then thought, ‘Yes we can. We can do whatever we want.’”

‘Drinkin’ To The Dead (Prelude)’ is a sad but glorious, thought provoking piano driven ballad dedicated to the friends they have lost. Danny’s voice achingly recalls loved ones.

“Raise a glass to tomorrow and the past
to the ones that we love
down here or above
for this may or may not be the last time we can.”

They follow it up with the second version of ‘Drinkin’ To The Dead’. At near eight minutes long you can bet your arse it’s an epic and rousing way to bring the curtain down on things. Solidly based on Irish folk the words speak of respecting the dead and moving on with your life and making those you loved proud of you. We Irish are obsessed with death though I have always found in a good way. A damn fine way to end things.

Bastard Bearded irishmen logo.jpg

As a band whose whole existence was to commemorate fallen friends and family Drinkin’ With The Dead is a more than just a couple of steps forward for the band. Proof if it was needed that Irish-American music is both inventive and innovative and willing to push the boundaries of what we think of as Irish music. Bastard Bearded Irishmen have stepped it up a notch and though still well grounded in celtic-punk the extra touches they have introduced will I am sure gain them recognition and friends far beyond our narrow little scene and Good Luck to them while they do it!

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(A mini-documentary on the Pittsburgh based band, Bastard Bearded Irishmen. Created as a senior class project by Rachael Hower. Recorded September 2014-February 2015)

ALBUM REVIEW: MR. IRISH BASTARD- ‘The Desire For Revenge’ (2018)

Mr. Irish Bastard blend the drink infused energy of pure Irish folk with punk rock guitars and a bottle full of attitude. They have toured excessively, played with the Pogues and have graced stages from Tokyo all the way to Kiev.

The beginning of a band are usually quite ordinary and when in 2006 Mr. Irish Bastard set out to shake the world all their band members could hardly all fit on the stages they played on! Today, three studio albums and a good 700 gigs later, including tours of China, Japan, and alongside such celtic-punk giants as The Pogues, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and The Levellers, Mr. Irish Bastard have become an internationally renowned band and not just within the celtic/folk-punk scene.

The German Celtic punk giants, Mr. Irish Bastard, spring into 2018 with the release of their latest studio album The Desire For Revenge released on Reedo Records. This year so far has been extremely busy on the Celtic punk scene with many bands releasing new materials just before Paddy’s Day. It’s been tough keeping up with all that’s going on but have to say generally the quality of material coming out have been very good and Mr. Irish Bastard have landed us with another good one. The Desire for Revenge comes three years after the bands last album release and it kicks off with a (pre) Christmas themed tune ‘Black Eye Friday’. A high tempo opener paying homage to the traditional festive “bash”. This leads into ‘Oliver Cromwell’s Head’, a song which takes no explanation. This song pulls no punches in the hatred a lot of Irish have for the Cromwell following the cruelty he inflicted on our ancestors.

“and we’ll chop off his head and kill him twice just to make sure he’s blood dead, and we’ll dance around a burning spike around Oliver Cromwell’s head”

‘Darlinka’ (Darling Karlinka) has a very catchy Gypsy Folk beat. This one wouldn’t be out of place on a Gogol Bordello album. In total there are a total of 12 songs on the new album with a few like ‘Mike Malloy’ and ‘Poor Irish Billy’ standing out tunes. It also contains a cover of Cyndi Lauper single ‘Time after Time’. An unusual choice to cover but have to say it works well.

Mr. Irish Bastard are one of the stand out Celtic punk bands on the European stage and with the latest album it is easy to see why. The eight piece outfit continue to consistently churn out top notch material allowing them to go from strength to strength. Long may it continue. If you like your celtic punk fused in whiskey, banjo, mandolin and tin whistle then get your hand on The Desire for Revenge.

The Desire For Revenge was recorded by  Mr. Irish Bastard, Gran.E.Smith on mandolin, banjo and  bouzouki), Beouf Strongenuff on bass and drummer Ivo K’Nivo, guitarists P and Moe Leicester, BB on the accordion and tin whistle expert Kate. A new dimension in sound is added by the violinists Laura Zimmermann and Mona Kaczmarczyk. As Mr. Irish Bastard explains

“The violin is a new timbre in our sound and carries emotions that have not played any obvious roles with us, we celebrate and define our previous history as a band on the new album. At the same time, we also refine our sound, because only those who change will ultimately remain true and remain honest with their listeners. In short, as in any folk interpretation, longings all over the world remain the same. People all need the same thing, friends, something to drink and eat, love. And some now and then also lust for revenge, retribution, guilt and atonement. ‘The Desire For Revenge’ could be their record”

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE RUMPLED- ‘Ashes & Wishes’ (2018)

Dance, scream, jump, sweat, clap hands and wear out your feet. Italian celtic-rockers The Rumpled come wrapped up with heaps of enthusiasm and energy and on hearing this they  will soon have you trapped in their spell!

If you ever think that celtic-punk music is confined only to the Celtic nations and the Celtic diaspora then you couldn’t be more wrong! Those days are long ago, if indeed they ever really existed at all, and these days celtic-punk music is spread literally all over the globe. Today’s review is of Italian band The Rumpled’s debut album Ashes & Wishes and if celtic-punk was designed as a vehicle to take elements of traditional Irish folk and punk rock and blend them together while staying true to both genres roots then The Rumpled have nailed it.

The band was born in 2011 in the northern Italian city of Trento and began with the name Seven Deadly Folk but as is often the way with celtic-punk bands with the coming and going of new and old members the band decided in 2014 to change their name to The Rumpled. This led to the release of a 4-track demo in June 2015 and the change of name did them no harm and in the summer of last year they won the prestigious European Celtic Contest organized during the Montelago Celtic Festival. Having already performed over a hundred concerts at pubs, festivals, on the street and many more unlikely places and with this award under their belt and the release of their album last month they set off later this month on their biggest ever tour of Italy.

(the first demo release from The Rumpled)

The celtic-punk scene in Italy leans very heavily towards the Irish side of things and in bands like The Clan and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards Irish traditional folk music is referenced heavily. Another band I have started to notice being referenced quite often, and for good reason, is Aussie celt’s The Rumjacks. Kicking off with ‘Rumpled Time’ and its catchy, riff laden, accordion led celtic-punk heaven! Its more the folky side of things but still with plenty of bite to it and, in common with the above Italian bands, Marco, the vocalist, has a strong voice and when singing in English is perfectly understandable. Following this is ‘Just Say No!’ and the Irish influence is strong on a song that bounces along with tin whistle leading this time. So far the emphasis has been on good time music but the Bhoys ramp it up for ‘Jig Of Death’ and was the second single released from the album the week after St. Patrick’s Day. According to the video the ‘vocal supervisor’ was one Francis D. McLaughlin so we could have half expected them to singing in broad Scots!

Another thing they have in common with The Clan is their elaborate and well made videos. Take a few minutes to check them out as they are well worth your time. The album carries on with ‘I Wanna Know’ and by know I’m getting the vibe off them that they are very much a live band. Music like this belongs in the public house but they have made a very decent job of transferring it onto disc so well done lads. The Rumjacks connection continues with ‘The Ugly Side’ featuring the Rumjacks themselves. Don’t these guys ever intend returning to Australia?? One of the punkier songs on Ashes And Wishes but without losing any of its catchiness. The bagpipes are loud and proud for next song ‘Don’t Follow Me’ the video of which features the local Celtic interest group Il Clan della Fossa. This was the lead single released last November and sparked up a lot of interest in the band around Europe.

As I already mentioned Italian celtic-punk bands have really embraced the sound of trad Ireland and on ‘County Clare’ The Rumpled take that music and inject it with a healthy dose of punkiness and an energy oft times missing. The song is again led by the accordion and Marco’s voice combine for the album standout for me. The album continues with ‘Bang!’ and a catchy ska beat knocks shoulders with a country folk base and nice wee track with very well played fiddle from Patrizia. We are nearing the end and still no covers just some excellent original celtic/Irish influenced folk punk. ‘Dead Man Runnin’ continues the punkier side of things before ‘Ramblin’On’ brings us back to their more folky side. Again its catchy as hell and finally the album comes to an end with ‘Letter To You’ and if the only thing missing from Ashes And Wishes was a lovely wee ballad then they almost pull it off with this wonderful song that they can’t quite help sticking a jig in the middle of it. The sort of song Springsteen would do if he ever records an Irish themed album.

Ashes And Wishes is a real fun album the sort of music that would see you certain of a good night out among friends and comrades. With the spirit of great Irish bands like The Dubliners, The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly infused here celtic-punk is not a genre built entirely on originality in fact it skates by on a massive dose of nostalgia as much as anything else. In which case it’s sometimes hard to judge bands and with the best place to hear this kind of music being the pub its the feelings it evokes that tell us whether the music is good or bad or in between. What you have here is just plain good old time party music. There is no hidden meaning to it just the wish from The Rumpled for us, the listener, to enjoy ourselves and to forget our troubles.

Which is exactly what I did for thirty-four minutes!!

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EP REVIEW: UNDER A BANNER- ‘Riot’ (2018)

Fine purveyors of passionate, powerful and poetic folk-rock Under A Banner unveil their brand spanking new EP this week. 

Under A Banner have featured on these pages several times over the years and strangely, for a English band, they have managed to get here on the strength of their many releases rather than their live performances. Not to say they aren’t bloody brilliant live but that they have hardly ever played in London. We helped put them on once at the legendary Water Rats (where The Pogues played their debut gig) but i couldn’t make it leaving my only Under A Banner gig at a festival in Croydon a couple of years back. Needless to say they outstanding and I’ve tried several times since to catch them but to no avail.
The band hail from the West Midlands town of Wolverhampton and began life as a duo before slowly adding to the roster of musicians until they had gathered around them the core of what would be Under A Banner for quite a while. A heavy touring schedule and a very healthy relationship with their fans (one look at the bands social media shows how much love flows from the band to their fans and back again) has seen their star rise and rise all the time becoming more and more popular. The folk-punk scene in the Midlands has also played a large part in their popularity with bands like Ferocious Dog leading the way and others like The Silk Road, The Whipjacks and Headsticks who all know and support each other. Further proof, if needed, that while the Celtic/Folk-punk scene may not be massive in numbers the people who make it up are the best. Solidarity me Bhoys and Ghirls! With several releases under their banner (ahem!) including a bunch of singles and EP’s as well the albums The Ragged Rhythm of Rain in 2012, Close To The Clouds in 2014 and Wild Places in 2016. We reviewed Wild Places here and  most of their previous releases are available as Pay What You Like downloads on Bandcamp at the link at the bottom if you want to check them out.

 

So with a new band member in tow, new bassist Richard Corry formerly of The Whiskey Syndicate, Under A Banner returned in February this year with a new single and video for ‘Light Breaks Through’. The video was directed and edited by Nick J. Townsend and announced the unveiling of a Crowdfund campaign to raise the necessary readies to pay for the EP’s release. The bands fans came running and here all ready and delivered is the new five track EP which while sounding like the old Under A Banner hasn’t stood still and has taken the band into a much bigger sound.
At the head of it all are the words spun by singer/guitarist Adam
“We always seek to bring passion and power with what we do, although sometimes we just love to spin a good old yarn”
and therein lies the secret of Under A Banners success so far. It’s their ability to combine catchy tunes and stories (with bands like these I prefer to call them stories rather than lyrics as lyrics make them sound trivial at times) that have captured the folk-punk public.

The EP kicks off with the title track ‘Riot’ and with feedback and Richards pounding bass and its a heavier and harder hitting Under A Banner while still keeping their folkier sensibilities. They are constantly compared, especially by us, to New Model Army in the past but the new EP brings in influences as diverse as Anarcho-Punk and bands like The Stranglers, The Cult and Rush. We have said before that they are only a fiddle away from being the next great celtic-punk band but here Kat 70’s and 80’s inspired synth more than makes up for that. At a length of over six minutes the song never runs out of steam and on my first couple of listens I couldn’t believe it was that long as it sounded so short and snappy to me. Next is ‘The Wrong Hands’ and the sound is massive with one of many anthemic choruses on view here giving us all plenty of chances to stick our fists in the air!

“Power in the wrong hands”

Hard rock and synth launch ‘We Want Hope’ and here its the harder edged NMA that springs to mind and more great fist pumping choruses and words that reach you brain as well as your feet. The EP continues in the same vein with ‘Last Orders’ and the quality hasn’t waned and another corker with a all too brief folk/blues interlude before it rocks back into action. The EP ends with possibly Under A Banner’s greatest ever moment (so far!) with the amazing ‘Light Breaks Through’ and here they sound most like the old Under A Banner. Now this is what Folk-Punk should sound like people. Great meaningful lyrics that actually mean something accompanied by a mix of rock and folk that leads into yet another catchy chorus and a real foot/head tapper that should have the dance floor full when they play it. They may be compared to others but Under A Banner have only ever followed themselves.

The EP does have one extra song a radio friendly edit of title track ‘Riot’ at a shorter length of only five minutes. I prefer the longer version!
So what to make of the new direction? I love it! The harder and louder edge suits them and you still hear their folk influences throughout and I’m sure will signal the start of a new era in the band’s history. They are embarking on their most extensive tour to date taking in venues and festivals across the UK throughout the Spring and Summer so be sure to check out their web-site for tour dates, to be announced imminently! Anthemic, loud and heavy it’s the same Under A Banner only bigger and better!!

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  • We interviewed Under A Banner last year and it makes for a great read so check it out here and find out a bit more about the bands origins and influences

EP REVIEW: STEVE WHITE- ‘Fake News From Nowhere’ (2018)

Local folk-punk hero Steve White is back but without The Protest Family this time to cement his reputation as one of East London’s finest sweary guitar playing lefties!

This EP had almost slipped my memory when I bumped into Steve in the Leyton Orient Supporters Club bar. Trust me you’d need a drink after watching us this season! Anyway it reminded me that Steve had released a five track solo release and I promised him I’d get my thoughts onto here soon as I could.  Steve is the vocalist of one of London Celtic Punks favourite bands Steve White & The Protest Family. They have featured here a couple of times with album reviews and having played a few of our gigs but its been well over a year since the release of Protest For Dummies so something has been long overdue for this prolific band. Since that review the left has further entrenched itself in the backwardness of identity politics and the divide between the left and the class it’s suppose to represent has never been bigger. As I said then “It’s hard to be left-wing at the moment and certainly there is no joy in being so…” but that was before Jeremy rode over the hill on his white horse to save us. I’m not convinced but there you go. It’s a small light at the end of the tunnel and any hope is better than no hope. In a scene characterised by too serious po-faced lefties and hand wringing earnestness it’s heartening to find Steve White and his merry band still kicking out against the powers than be with their very own brand of bawdy, satirical, revolutionary socialist punk-folk-folk-punk music!

Steve has a certain knack for hitting home his points without that earnestness that puts so many people off. Not to say that the songs on here don’t make serious points or are even told in a serious manner as most are but its the way they are delivered that makes the difference and Steve White knows it.

Fake News From Nowhere was released the week after St. Patrick’s Day on 22nd March and has been released as a ‘Name Your Price’ download, more on that later but what better incentive do you need to get this? With several releases as Steve White And The Protest Family and couple as a solo artist Steve has been active on the London scene for a good few years and somehow finds the time away from his job as a firefighter.

Only One Team In East London

Fake News From Nowhere begins with ‘The Death Of Facts’ and the new modern way of media that sees facts making way for feelings and rumours. If people can still lose the argument while using facts than something is seriously wrong. On ‘Don’t Look Down’ the lyrics tell of the ‘I’m alright Jack’ way society has been moving for decades. Steve’s accent is propa Cockney here while the music is gentle. Like a lot of the bands songs the gentle front often hides a passion and call to arms. ‘If The Queen Had A Hammer’ is I think a full band song. It certainly sounds like it. Again the music has a gentle side to it while Steve hammers home a anti-monarchy message while still acknowledging that the Queen is still a human being.

“If the Queen had a hammer, would she hammer in the morning?
Would she hammer on the rich or on the poor men?
Would she hammer for change or for the status quo?
Would she hammer to remain or hammer to go?
Would she hammer with her head or hammer with her arse?
Would she hammer for the patriotic working class?
Would she hammer with her head or hammer with her feet?
Would she hammer on the metropolitan elite?”

Steve is a wonderful songwriter and the high point here is ‘Children In The Crosshairs’ with lyrics dealing with school shootings but not in as direct a way as you would maybe imagine. An intelligent and sensitive song that makes it’s point loud and clear. The final whistle on EP is for ‘A Song For St. Patrick’s Day’ and absolutely no surprises that it’s my favourite track here. Round every 17th of March English people are found bemoaning the fact that the Irish here celebrate St. Patrick’s Day while St. George’s (the patron Saint of England) Day shuffles by without anyone really doing anything. It turns out that St. George was in fact from the Middle-East so was in fact a refugee from his homeland.

“Each year on this day of March seventeen
A bigot will make a complaint
That in England no man of Irish descent
Will honour his host’s patron saint”

A great wee ditty that sees Steve accompanied on mandolin and will raise a smile I am sure. So another fine disc out of East London and from supporters of the best team in East London too. Five tracks that come in at a rather good twenty minutes and buzzes along nicely sitting. While the folk-punk scene does have a habit of espousing politics in a kind of virtue signalling way you just know that Steve and his merry band both live and breathe their beliefs. Some may not agree with everything they say but I’m sure we can all admire a band that not only packs a punch but also tickles your funny bone while doing it.

(you can have a listen to Fake News From Nowhere below on the Bandcamp player but seeing as its’s ‘Name Your Price’ why not just download the bloody thing!)

Download Fake News From Nowhere

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You can catch Steve White And The Protest Family live in London this the weekend!

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ALBUM REVIEW- FINBAR FUREY- ‘Don’t Stop This Now’ (2018)

We rarely use the word legend on this site so when we do then it is only when it is well deserved. Multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter, storyteller and actor, Finbar Furey is celebrated around the world as one of the great folk icons and is a supreme storyteller as well as a versatile and multi-talented artist.

We have often spoken here on what Irish music and culture meant to the children of the Irish growing up in Britain in the 80’s. When The Fureys and Davey Arthur appeared (watch it here) in the middle of the 12th November 1981 edition of the popular music TV show Top Of The Pops featuring the likes of Kool & The Gang, Haircut 100 and Earth, Wind & Fire the effect it had on the Irish community here was gigantic. As Finbar said on the groups entry into the Top Of The Pops studio

When we walked in, people went ‘What in the name of Jaysus is this!’

There had been success for Irish bands but it was years before many of us were born. The Wolfe Tones played to thousands wherever they went and all without press or publicity so when these band of hirsute middle aged Irishmen took the stage playing ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen’, a beautiful ballad that I’m sure over the years has brought a tear to most Irish peoples eye over a certain age! The band included brothers Finbar, Paul, George and Eddie as well as Davey Arthur. That day it became a defining moment in many a young 2nd and 3rd generation Irish person’s life. I remember it clearly how proud my family were at the bands achievement the smiles beaming across their faces. It would climb to #14 in the singles chart at a time when that meant selling 10’s of thousands a week. At a time with the war raging in the north of Ireland and spilling over onto English streets the Irish were having a bad time of it over here. Suspicion, aggression and bigotry against them was everywhere and countless Irish men and women were being jailed on very little evidence (all later to be cleared of any crime) with the effect that many Irish born people kept their heads down and put up with the abuse. But things were changing. There were around a million Irish born people in Britain in the early 80’s and their children were not going to be silent and act ashamed of our roots. We were still a few years away from The Pogues and Irish culture and accents were never seen on TV or the media except to be ridiculed so when Finbar Furey sang

“Come to me, and my
dreams of love adored
I love you as I loved you
when you were sweet
when you were sweet sixteen”

in front of watching millions it planted something in our minds that would later come to fruition just a few years later when The Pogues would erupt onto the music scene.

The Fureys And Davey Arthur

The band were no one hit wonder and several of their songs like The Green Fields of France and The Lonesome Boatman have gone on to become solid gold Irish classics. Go to any Irish pub on any day of the year in ant part of the world and there’s a very very good chance you’ll hear one of their tunes. Born in Dublin into a Irish traveller family on 28 September 1946 in Ballyfermot, Dublin Finbar came from a highly respected musical family and began playing the uilleann pipes as a child. By his teens he had won just about every medal he could win and his amazing ability had spread across Ireland. IN the late 60’s Finbar and brother Eddie were part of the legendary Irish folk group, The Clancy Brothers with Finbar playing the pipes, banjo, tin whistle, and guitar. The brothers left in 1970 and began to perform as a duo and in 1972 their single, a version of The Humblebums ‘Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway’, was enthusiastically received by John Peel becoming his favourite song of 1972. Peel like many over here fell in love with the glorious sound of the Uilleann pipes (listen to it here) and they more than played their part in the coming celtic-rock phenomenon that was about to shake the music industry at home and abroad. It was though when his other brothers joined the band and they teamed up with Davey Arthur that fame came a calling and they carved out a very fruitful and successful career until in 1997, after almost thirty years in The Fureys Finbar decided to pursue a solo career as a singer songwriter.

Finbar released his first solo album ‘Colours’ in 2013 with a powerful mix of contemporary originals and modern interpretations of classic Irish songs his status as one of Ireland’s most treasured performers was cemented further. The album featured Mary Black and the second-generation Irish Mancunian Shayne Ward and instantly brought Finbar to a whole new audience too young to remember The Fureys in their heyday. Alongside his solo career he also found time to take up acting, appearing in the Martin Scorsese directed feature film ‘Gangs Of New York’ as well as 2004’s ‘Adam And Paul’ and the RTÉ TV series ‘Love/Hate’. In 2014 Finbar was honoured by the City of Dublin with the Lord Mayor praising him for

“Bringing life and laughter to many homes in Ireland”.

He followed that album up with 2015’s The Slender Promise an instrumental album of pipes and flute which brings us bang up to date with Don’t Stop This Now. The album, unsurprisingly, made #1 in Ireland under it’s original name Paddy Dear. Obviously that title was deemed too sensitive for these politically correct times so a new name was chosen. The album begins with ‘Sweet Liberty Of Life’ and the first thing that sprung to my mind was how similar in both delivery and emotion it is to the late great Johnny Cash and his American recordings. The voice is unmistakably the same as one that lit up our TV screen in that tiny living room in England twenty-seven years ago except now its more weathered and one magazine’s description of him as a “played out Dublin born Tom Waits” fits admirably.

Finbar sings of freedom and peace on a song he wrote back in 2010

“Liberty, life and freedom are words that capture the true spirit of humankind in every imaginable way”

At 71 years young Finbar’s voice comes alive and after his near-fatal heart attack in late 2012 in a gentle country-folk number it’s no wonder emotion is evident in his voice. Next is title track ‘Don’t Stop This Now’ and again there’s a strong country feel to proceedings with a string section backing and the first appearance of the uilleann pipes. Finbar’s voice is strong and direct and the wonderful words all present a song that anyone could sing and make a maudlin mess out of it but in his capable hands it becomes the beauty it is. The only downside I found is the annoying ending where they fade Finbar’s voice out rather than just simply ending. We go back to 1994 now with ‘Annabelle’ and the first exercise of the auld tear duct’s. A true story of a homeless woman in the Dublin of the 1950’s. Having lost her love in the Irish War Of Independence Finbar’s auld Mammy befriended her

“I’d often be with them as they’d share a bar of chocolate sitting on the roadside”

It’s a beautiful and simple song and leads us into the tragic story of a family caught up in The Great Hunger in ‘We Built A Home’. Both songs songs show Finbar’s strength is in his storytelling. After the amazing recent release the album ‘Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine’ by Declan O’Rourke (read our review here) this song could easily fit onto that album telling the fact of why The Great Hunger happened.

“To bear witness to heaven’s eye of cold,cold genocide”

Again its a beautiful song this time led by Finbar on the banjo. ‘The Galway Shawl’ follows and is the only cover on this album. Not much is known of the origins of this traditional Irish folk song but it has been covered widely over the years. Telling of a musician who meets the love of his life but has to leave her behind.

“Said she, “goodbye sir”; she cried and kissed me,
But my heart remain with the Galway shawl”

The string section is back for ‘Sarah Waits’ and is the tale of soldiers away at war while their love awaits their return. Linking World War One to today’s the wars continue… even as I write these words. My favourite song here is up next and it’s not even very Irishy! On ‘Co-Exist’ Finbar weaves an Eastern tune out of his banjo and the simple but effective words tell universal truth. Finbar’s daughter Aine Furey accompanies him on the two following songs, ‘The Taxi’s Waiting’ and ‘Hail, Rain Or Snow’, and her wonderful voice brings a sprightly youthfulness to the songs. The first is a catchy folky number while the second is bluesy folk number with a real foot-tapper with a lovely singalong chorus. Not surprisingly their voices are perfect together. On ‘Michael Power’ Finbar tells of a man at sea dreaming of his love at home in Dunmore. On ‘Paddy Dear’ Finbar’s voice is strong and powerful as the strings connect with the tin-whistle in a gentle tune later joined by the pipes.

We are washing up towards the end and for a man who spent so much of his life away from Ireland its a charming song about that scourge of the Irish nation- emigration. On ‘I Was Further Than I Thought I Was’ his voice cracks with emotion as the banjo and whistle lead us gently along with the story known to many of us of a old man thinking of a home he will never see before he dies. Now Irish lads and their Mammies is a story in itself and it’s kind of heartening to know that I’ll still be like this when I’m Finbar’s age! The tear ducts get another airing here and it just goes to show that his wonderful storytelling is a joy to behold.

The album ends with the haunting ‘Lament for John’ an instrumental starring Finbar on flute and uilleann pipes.

An outstanding album showcasing the amazing talent of Finbar Furey. Shane MacGowan had this to say about him recently

“proves he is not just a massive force in Irish music’s heritage, he is a massive force in shaping it’s future as well.”

It may be twenty seven years since he lit up our living room but Finbar has lost none of that sparkle and this album will please not only his own fans but will announce him to a whole new range of fans too. The album is packaged with a free DVD of Finbar in concert performing many of the songs from the album and his better known hits too making this a must have album. As stated at the beginning legend is a word far too often used in this day and age but it belongs far and squarely after the words Finbar Furey have been written.

Buy Don’t Stop Me Now

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EP REVIEW: TEUFELSTANZ- ‘Carmina Tristia’ (2018)

Teufelstanz are a Russian band that performs medieval music in modern times.

In Teufelstanz they play medieval bagpipes supported by various rhythms of the drums with deep resonant percussion. A unique sound they call ‘Alternative Medieval Music’.

If one of the aims of this site is to introduce people to new music then I can safely sit back with my feet up after this one I think. I can’t remember how i was introduced to Teufelstanz but I got a message just this morning from Bandcamp that they had a new release out. I rushed off my $ (yes one dollar) and sat back to take it all in.

Teufelstanz were formed in Moscow in the summer of 2009 when the drummer Konstruk-Thor left his previous band and gathered around him a bunch of musicians well known upon the Russian folk scene. Jaroz and folk-hero piper Haldavan took part in the new project and after a handful of gigs they expanded taking on two more pipers in the ‘great and horrible’ Bergtroll and Minoss as well as a drummer. Since those early days Teufelstanz have shared a stage with many of the best bands to pass through Moscow like the Dropkicks Murphys and Irish celtic-metallers Cruachan. They have released a bunch of singles and three albums, the last of which, XIII, came out last December but sadly passed us by.

(you can listen/buy all the three previous Teufelstanza album’s here and help to keep this great band on the road) 

Their new EP, Carmina Tristia, was released last week and was recorded and mixed by Bergtroll from the band and an awesome job he has done. It must be hard to get the sound right for one bagpiper but three!!! How to describe this band. Now I haven’t dived too deeply into their back catalogue but on Carmina Tristia the bands own description of themselves as ‘alternative medieval music’ is spot on but I’d maybe go so far as to call them celtic-goth as well.

The EP begins with the title track ‘Carmina Tristia’ and unlike a lot of their previous work its on the slow side of things. Medieval group chants over pipes and drums its a great song and the added bonus of a string section all makes for something very special and a must have for any pipe fans. The words are in Russian but the title means ‘The Dire’ and tells of a country that has lost in war with some pretty downright and suitably gloomy lyrics.

“Our rivers are poor in water,
Our windows do not see the day,
Our morning looks like a night,
Well, and the night is for me”

The second song is ‘The Rains Of Casta Mere’ and again its a total surprise. Done almost entirely on piano with McArrow’s accompanying voice. It’s a emotional ride and beautifully done.

“Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall,
And not a soul to hear”

It may be familiar to some of you in that it’s taken from the TV series Game Of Thrones and has appeared several times throughout it’s run. The final track here is the instrumental ‘Der Finne’ and only further cements this EP’s place in my brain as ‘celtic-goth’ as its performed on that most Gothic sounding instrument of all- the cello. The song was originally performed by the similar German band Varius Coloribus as a bagpipe song (check it out here). The song once again is beautifully done and with the backing of a string section and is wonderfully understated.

So only three songs to report on and apart from that title track perhaps not much to interest your average celtic-punk rocker but there’s plenty here to intrigue and to whet your interest to check out their back catalogue as well. Any band with three bagpipers is bound to be worth looking out for and with the EP available for just one measly dollar its well worth a shot in the dark.

(listen to Carmina Tristia first before you buy at the Bandcamp link below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS- ’11 Pints & 3 Shots’ (2018)

And we all thought Muirsheen Durkin had gone off to mine gold in California but would seem he got lost on the way to Amerikay and ended up in Arnsberg and started playing some proper kick-arse Irish-Celtic-Folk-Punk-Rock!

I have a feeling we’ll still be reviewing celtic-punk releases from March well into the Summer at this rate! Here’s another that arrived in time for St. Patrick’s Day and has hardly been out of my ears since. The quality of what we received here at London Celtic Punks Towers has been amazing and when I said I thought Krakin’ Kellys new CD was already the album of the year I hadn’t heard 11 Pints & 3 Shots by this awesome German collective of musicians.

Having known each other for some thirty years it was only a few years back in 2009 that the idea to start something new came up. Wanting a band with its feet based firmly in traditional Irish music and with an emphasis on emigration songs Muirsheen Durkin & Friends was born. Their name comes from the auld song about a happy go lucky Irishman heading off to mine for gold in America during the  California Gold Rush of 1849. The song is unusual in that its a happy song and Muirsheen (a reference to the phonetic pronunciation of ‘Máirtín’ (in English Martin) in the West of Ireland.The feet may be in trad with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle, accordion and two pipers but with the addition of classic rock music instruments the band joined an ever growing scene

” set about re-voicing Irish traditional’s with pulsing bass runs, pumping beats and the use of relatively rare instruments, making it hard to recognize the contemplative shanty or seafaring vocation , Pure enjoyment and a little punk rock is still…”

Modern day celtic music and celtic-punk music has moved away from the areas well known for Irish/Celtic emigration and is now played throughout the world inspired by hundreds of bands throughout the globe. They no longer come from Ireland or London or New York but from Indonesia, Russia, Japan and even China. This is the proud legacy that the Pogues leaves to the world.

11 Pints & 3 Shots is the third release from Muirsheen Durkin with their debut album, Last Orders, hitting the streets back in 2012 and their follow up to that, Drink With The Irish, a four track EP, arriving in 2014 which features ‘The Pogues and Whiskey’ a stunningly great homage to Kings Cross finest. Each release came with mighty press from around the celtic-punk world with everyone from Celtic Folk Punk & More to Shite’n’Onions raving to the high heavens about how good they are.  Formed in the central German town of Arnsberg the band were first revealed to me when they played at the Celtic-St. Pauli football and music festival and loads of fellow Celtic supporters arrived back over here raving about a band they had seen. That was a couple of years ago and with 11 Pints & 3 Shots I finally had the chance to hear them for the first time.

What we have here is fourteen tracks that clock in at three quarters of an hour which includes three instrumentals and and a bunch of songs that you may have probably heard before but done in a style i’m sure not many are accustomed to outside these pages! Mix in some re-workings (updating?) of a couple of songs and a smattering of original compositions and you got yourself one hell of a an album!

So onto the actual review and the fun begins on 11 Pints & 3 Shots from the very off with a great album opener ‘Another Drunken Night’. Self penned by the band this was the song that announced the new release to the waiting public and needless to say it is a corker! Banjo and accordion led with nice drumming it has a definite Rumjacks feel to it but these Bhoys and Ghirls have been around long enough, and on another continent!, to come up with it themselves. A grand song and what a way to start.

The subject matter well have a gander at the video above and you’ll easily work it out. We stay in the pub next for ‘One Whiskey’, another band penned number. The song really evokes an Irish sound to me. This is the Gaelic music music that we grew up here but with plenty more bite to it. Its still folk music but played at a breakneck speed and with a real passion. Vocalist MacRünker was a member of the first Irish folk punk band in the area, Lady Godiva, who released four albums and his voice fits in superbly. Hoarse and raspy but never too much and totally in tune with the music. The bagpipes are out for ‘Itchy Fingers’ and it puts the mental into instrumental. It’s the same tune as The Kilmaine Saints signature tune which I am sure is well known but beyond my feeble memory. A killer of a song and you’d expect it to be from a band with two pipers and where half the rest of the band can pipe as well!

The first totally recognisable cover is the Scots classic ‘Donald Where Your Troosers’. Written by the great Andy Stewart in 1960 while sat on the toilet in a recording studio. The song tells the hilarious story of a kilted Scotsman travelling round London shocking the well heeled residents of London.

“I went down to London town
To have a little fun in the underground
All the Ladies turned their heads around, saying,
“Donald, where’s your troosers?”

This is followed up with another classic Scottish song in ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and make no mistake I tells you this is the best bloody version of it I have ever heard in all my days! Folk music is put aside somewhat for a moment as the band punk it up with a thundering bass and MacRünker and acoustic guitarist Sonja and accordionist Mine kick up a real storm on vocals that captures Muirsheen Durkin perfectly. Talk about catchy this album sounds like there’s about twenty people playing and if i never thought I’d hear a better version than you-know-who’s then i was wrong. Another classic cover up next and its one perhaps made famous by The Dreadnoughts, ‘Old Maui’. The song can be traced to records going back to the mid 19th century and tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling.

“It’s a damn tough life full of toil and strife
We whalermen undergo”

The song is strong as any on the album but doesn’t add much to the Dreadnoughts version for me and for a band that really can stamp their brand onto any song maybe it might have been better to cast their net for a less known song. After a smattering of covers the next couple of songs are self-penned by the band and ‘Peggy The Waitress’takes us back to the auld sod of Ireland and a tin-whistle led instrumental that takes in a variety of tunes some sounding familiar and others not before the banjo takes over and leads us until the accordion takes over and then all kick in before we get ‘Land Of 1000 Mountains’ and its a country/Irish folk crossover and again MacRünker’s voice is exactly what is needed here. The song steams along at a steady pace and you know its gonna take off and when it does it lifts the roof. Another album standout here proving they are not just a brilliant covers band but a brilliant band in their own right. Next up we get another cover and Sonja and Mine again take up the vocals on ‘Botany Bay’ and again it’s a great version but perhaps a bit overdone. For a band so in touch with ‘Irishness’ this would be my only wee complaint here. ‘MacRunkers Junk’ is another belting Irish folk punk instrumental with what could easily pass for a ska interlude if they wanted. The tunes fly at you and once again some familiar and some not but they make for one hell of a song when they all put together. On ‘Drink With The Irish’ Muirsheen Durkin pay tribute to one of Ireland’s best ever bands and one that at times could have got you arrested for just listening to! The Wolfe Tones classic rebeler ‘Erin Go Bragh’ is chopped and changed and adapted with love and respect into a celtic-punk number.

“I’ll sing you a song of a row in the town,
When the green flag went up and the Crown flag came down,
‘Twas the neatest and sweetest thing ever you saw,
And they played that great game they called Erin Go Bragh”

Written and arranged by banjo/mandolin player Thomas ‘Lanze’ Landsknecht I bet the tones would whole heartily approve. With the King Of Celtic-Punk’s recent 60th birthday Muirsheen Durkin then pay tribute with ‘Last Of McGee’ written by Shane himself.

“Rope of hemp, around his neck
To hang from an old gum tree
And as he hung
The branch came down, and finished the last of McGee”

You may not have heard it as the song was unreleased and was recorded in 1990 during the recording sessions for the Hell’s Ditch album and produced by Joe Strummer. The song stays fairly true to the MacGowan version and is a timely reminder of the great mans talent. Fast and furious and how could it be anything other than absolutely fecking brilliant!! We are steering up towards the end and the quality hasn’t waned and in ‘When The Pipers Play’ we have what for me is the albums standout track. Originally played by the amazing Black Tartan Clan from Belguim the lyrics are by Muirsheen Durkin and leans heavily on songs as varied as ‘The Water Is Wide’, ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’. If you like bagpipes in yer celtic-punk then this is the song for you. Absolutely stunning pipes from Andre and Simon and arranged into a completely new song.

11 Pints & 3 Shots comes to a glorious end with the hilarious ‘Botany Bay Reggae’ and aye you guessed it is a reggae infused version of everyone’s favourite emigration song. Now I hate reggae but I love this so there! What a way to wrap up the album and the perfect way!

Overall the album has a fantastic sound. Quite a feat with the amount of musicians at work here and thanks are due to Sebastian Levermann of German progressive metal band Orden Ogan who along with the band members has managed to capture the band perfectly. The CD also comes with a very elaborate twenty page booklet with everything you need to know about the album and with some amazing cartoons of the band drawn by Sebastian Kempke. Last year was the year all the giants of celtic-punk released albums and this year may seem quieter because of that but so far we have a handful of albums that must have the giants quaking in their shoes and up at the top of that list is this one!

Buy 11 Pints & 3 Shots

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RAISING FUNDS FOR IRISH DRINKING SONGS FOR CATS, PAW’T 3!

Do you love cats? How about Sea Shanties? What about traditional Irish folk music? Then why not adopt a new CD of Sea Shanties for Cat Lovers!

Yeah you read that right it’s Irish Drinking Songs For Cat Lovers and if you think that’s a bit odd then where have you been? They already released two volume’s (or paw’t!) and they are ready to unleash a third but they need your help. I’m a bit of a cat fan myself with two of the most wonderful companions anyone who runs a mildly successful celtic-punk website could ever want. Here’s my beauties!

Murphy and Molly

HOW DID A CAT ALLERGY TURN INTO A SUCCESSFUL CAT SONG SERIES?

by Marc Gunn

I love cats. I currently have three in my household. Okay, four if you add in the stray ‘Orange Kitty’ living on our porch. I was not raised with cats. I thought I was allergic. (turns out I wasn’t). When I finally took the plunge after pressure from an ex, I fell in love… with cats. My relationship with my ex didn’t last, but my love of cats remains.

I adopted my boys Tiziano and Torre. They were educational to say the least. They tore up my couch. They peed in my bed. They yowled and played wildly as I tried to sleep. But they also sat in my lap. They rubbed their heads on my legs. They were a constant comfort and joy in my life. It was no surprise then when one day while singing the famed Irish drinking song ‘Wild Rover’, I started meowing in the middle of the song. PURRR! An idea was born. The idea turned into a three-song single. Then a website. It blossomed into a full-length CD. It bred into a second album. That launched into a live CD. It’s been ten years since I released my last cat album. Throughout that time, my Celtic Cats meowed for more. It’s time to see if we can make that happen.

Will you adopt a cat CD?

WHO ARE MARC GUNN AND THE DUBLINERS’ TABBY CATS?

My name is Marc Gunn. I sing drinking songs. It started with traditional Irish and Scottish songs at Renaissance festivals. But soon, I became a staple at science fiction conventions, like Gen Con and DragonCon. You’ll hear me beautifully fuse traditional Celtic songs with themes about Firefly, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, and yes, CATS! I’m not just a musician though. I’m also a podcaster. I host the largest Celtic podcast in the world. The Irish & Celtic Music Podcast has three times won the award for Best Podsafe Music. It’s been featured by Apple Podcasts numerous times. I tell you this because I love Irish music. When I decided to record these albums, I wanted to make an album that might’ve been recorded by The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, The Chieftains, The Wolfe Tones, or the Irish Rovers… but with cats. So I started a band–The Dubliners’ Tabby Cats. The original band was made up of a variety of traditional Irish musicians from Austin, Texas, where I lived. Plus cats of course. Together, we created a beautiful mix of Irish music along with meows, yowls, hisses, and purrs. Fourteen years later, it still sounds amazing!

SEA SHANTIES FOR CAT LOVERS

Each of my albums was themed. The first was a tribute to The Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem and The Dubliners. It was Irish drinking songs, but with cats. The second was more like The Chieftains, Planxty, or Lunasa. It had an even more traditional Irish sound, but about cats. The third album is heading out to sea…again… with cats.

Sea Shanties are tremendous fun to sing. They’re easy and upbeat. They’re also fairly easy to parody. I want to share the cat versions of some of these incredible songs.

You can listen to previous albums when you follow Marc’s Cat Loving Spotify playlist here.

WHY I NEED YOUR HELP?

The music business has changed. I used to think I would one day retire on the 20+ albums that I released over the past 14 years. I used to be confident that I could have a thousand CDs adopted in a year. For better or worse, streaming music came along. Now I don’t know if I can afford to create an album with the same quality as my original CDs: Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers and Whiskers in the Jar. Please make a pledge to adopt this exciting new cat CD by Marc Gunn & The Dubliners’ Tabby Cats. I decided to reach out to the cat loving community. My hope is that you will adopt a CD and help me bring the third album in the series to life. And maybe, just maybe, I can keep recording and releasing new cat songs for years to come. Irish Drinking Songs for Cat Lovers is more than just a pet project. It’s brought joy to thousands of cat lovers. I want to bring you even more happiness.

I’m gonna need every cat lovers help to spread the word about this album. I have a ton of videos and MP3s and old podcasts that people can share to help us reach the goal. But this will not succeed without your help. Please make a pledge and share on Forums, groups, mailing lists, social media and even at vet clinics and animal rescue shelters.

Visit Marc’s website to learn more and sign up to my mailing list here to be kept informed about what’s new and you get six free cat songs when you subscribe.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE JOHNNY CLASH PROJECT- ‘The Johnny Clash Project’ (2018)

The most novel and interesting covers album you will ever hear! The debut album of The Clash re-imagined as The Man In Black. 1977 punk as boom-chuka-boom-chuka country’n’western with the roots of original rock’n’roll showing.

By some quirk of fate I came across The Johnny Clash Project and purely on the name I decided to check them out. Well to say I was impressed is an understatement. I was further intrigued to read that they would soon be touring the UK so I dropped the lads a message on Facebook to find out if they were playing London and sadly the answer was not. Well a couple more emails and a bit of jiggery pokery and we had landed them to play at the London Celtic Punks show later this month in Leytonstone on Friday 27th April. More on that later but you may now be wondering what was so special as to warrant all this interest well here you go.

Covers are not unknown in the celtic-punk scene and I dare say 95% of celtic-punk releases include a cover or two but The Johnny Clash Project’s debut album is all covers. Not only that they are of the same band, The Clash. It is in fact a song-by-song tribute to The Clash self-titled debut album from 1977. Now there’s two ways to record a cover (three if you include f*cking it up like Ed Sheeran did recently with ‘Fairytale Of New York’) you can either copy it closely or else breathe new life into it and try and record it in a new style. We are used to hearing both here and they both have value as long as they are recorded with love and respect. The Johnny Clash Project have taken the second route and recorded an album that is so God-damn memorable and catchy, its songs haven’t left my brain alone for over a week!!

What they have done is take the songs of The Clash and recorded them in the style of the great and legendary country outlaw Johnny Cash. Yes The Man In Black himself. There’s plenty of elements of blues, Americana, folk and rockabilly but essentially this is country of Johnny Cash of the Folsom Prison Blues era. Songwriter. Six-string strummer(!). Storyteller. Country boy. Rock star. Folk hero. Preacher. Poet. Drug addict. Rebel. Saint AND sinner. Victim. Survivor. Home wrecker. Husband. Father. Son. and more… Johnny Cash the ultimate music villain widely loved and respected by all passed away in 2003  and this is also a loving tribute to him as well.

The Johnny Clash Project formed in January 2013, in Bologna in northern Italy, and stars Lorenzo Mazzilli (voice and guitar), Paolo Cicconi (guitar and banjo) and Zimmy Martini (double bass). All three are active in other bands, The Giant Undertow, Lucky Strikes and Muddy Worries but here they are united in having only one purpose- to take the songs of the one band whose influence in punk has never waned and re-imagine them in the style of the ultimate Country singer-songwriter outlaw, Johnny Cash and to make them their own and this they have done. With several tours of home behind them and a two month tour last year that took in Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and England they have been causing waves and their live show has been receiving plaudits from all and sundry.

Taking the boom-chuka-boom-chuka of Marshall Grant’s double bass and piling on top a voice that is so close to Johnny’s that it will make you do a double take this album is an absolute must have. It all kicks off with ‘Janie Jones’ and it’s one of a handful of songs here that the original tune stays in tact. Most of the album is done in the style of ‘Remote Control’ and ‘I’m so Bored with the USA’ where the tune is completely different and it’s not until the chorus that you start to recognise things. There are several high points but to be perfectly honest from start to finish this album is an absolute belter. ‘White Riot’, ‘London’s Burning’. ‘Career Opportunities’ keep the energy of the originals and the fast tempo while  ‘What’s My Name’ and ‘Cheat’ are played as an emotional ballads and the curtain comes down with ‘Garageland’ and accompanied by Marc Santò on the fiddle and the three female singers from fellow Bologna ska band Le Birrette, Anna, Carlotta and Giulia, it even manages to stand out even more. Fourteen songs and just over forty-five minutes of musical heaven. There is something about knowing the words to a song that brings you closer to the music and here you almost find yourself singing along before you know what the song is!

As said Johnny was the ultimate rock’n’roll outlaw. Had he been born twenty later perhaps he might have embraced punk himself even. Ever faithful to both the spirit of The Clash and the sound of Johnny Cash this is pure unabashed country-folk but would they have got away with it if Lorenzo didn’t sound so much like Johnny Cash? Probably not but so what. Backed by Paolo Cicconi on electric guitar and banjo and Zimmy Martini double bass, they are joined here on the drums by Matteo Dall’Aglio whose simple rhythms and changes of pace take you back to those halcyon days of the 1950’s. The album was released on St. Patrick’s Day eve this year and has been released on Milan label Rocketman Records. The sound is completely authentic sounding and the whole project reeks of care and attention to detail. Normally we come across albums we love with a sense of joy crossed with dejection. Joy at the discovery of music that will warm your soul but dejection at the realisation that you will never (probably) get to see the band in question perform. Well some of you those feelings will remain while for Londoners we can catch The Johnny Clash Project in the flesh in just a couple of weeks time. Don’t miss this great band and while I do have a tendency to wax lyrical about records I love the songs on this album are still swimming inside my head as I write this a week after I first heard it so that has to be the best recommendation hasn’t it?

(listen to the whole of The Johnny Clash Project at the link below)

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The Johnny Clash Project will be joined on Friday 27th April by Dutch celtic-folk-punkers Drunken Dolly, also playing in London for the first time, and London’s #1 celtic-punkers The Lagan. Live at one of East London’s most popular Irish pubs The Plough & Harrow, 419 High Road Leytonstone, London E11 4JU. Halfway along Leytonstone High Road the nearest tube is an easy 8 min walk from Leyton tube. For up to date information join the Facebook event here. Full tour dates- Tuesday 24th April at The New Inn, Canterbury * Wednesday 25th April at The Liver Hotel, Liverpool * Thursday 26th April at the Craft Taproom, Liverpool * Friday 27th April at the Plough & Arrow, London and Saturday 28th at the Fez in Margate.

EP REVIEW: RAISE MY KILT- ‘A New Tartan’ (2018)

All the way from Argentina it’s the new EP from Raise My Kilt. Celtic-Punk that is 100% attitude and  100% fun!

Well what can we say except that its become common these days for bands in the celtic-punk scene to schedule their releases around St. Patrick’s day and 2018 has been no different and we have been overwhelmed here at London Celtic Punks with both the number and the quality of recent releases. One such band is relatively new to me. Raise My Kilt hail from Buenos Aires in Argentina and are one of a handful of bands ion that country playing celtic music. Last year they self-released their debut EP, Gaitas And Tanos, which received a great review over at Celtic Folk Punk And More (here) which brought them to many people’s attention and thank Heavens they did. The title of the EP refers to Gaitas which is a local Argentinian word for people from the celtic nation of Galicia and also the word for Bagpipes while Tanos is the local word for Italian people and as the band are all  of Italian and Spanish descent.

Raise My Kilt from right to left: Mariano Miramontes- Guitar, Vocals * Manuel Magariños- Drums * Damian Giancarlo- Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals * Diego Moreno- Banjo, Acoustic Guitar * Carlos Scelzi- Bass, Vocals * Pablo Gadea- Bagpipes

Their new EP, A New Tartan, consists of six songs and similar to that debut has a fine balance of traditional folk songs and original compositions. While some may roll their eyes at some of the bands choice of covers its important to remember that not everyone has grown up on these songs and while I may have first heard ‘Dirty Old Town’ in the womb I respect everyone who chooses to do their own version of it. As long they inject it with a bit of life and a bit of their own personality then Good Luck to them. Its also worth remembering that this is not for our market here it’s for their own country where many wont have heard them before.

Raise My Kilt have trodden a similar path to many of their contempories in the celtic-punk scene in that a bunch of friends in the Buenos Aires punk and hardcore scene had started to listen to some traditional folk music and before they knew it an idea to start a band had formed. To take the trad folk of Irish legends like The Dubliners and The Chieftains and to mix in the energetic and raucous sounds of Celtic-punk legends like the Murphys, McKenzies and Mollys. That was October 2013 and little more than a year later the band played their debut show. With over three years of shows behind them we would much rather be reviewing an album but I suppose a EP will have to do… for now!

The EP kicks off with the title track, ‘A New Tartan’, and if you like bagpipes then this is the band for you. Obvious comparisons to major league hitters like The Real McKenzies and Pipes Or Pints but these guys have their own take on things too. The drone of the pipes begins the song and its a sound that fills my heart. You can hear why the sassenach would often run from it in battle or why you would follow it into battle. The band chip in half way through and run it down as an instrumental trad punk number. Now I was expecting more of the pipes’n’punk but ‘New Arcadia’ takes me by surprise and is a much more trad folk-punk number with the banjo leading and some ace gang vocals. To top they close out the track with ‘John Ryan’s Polka’. This song may have been a better choice to close the EP but what the hell do I know. No pipes in that number but they are back for a healthy version of ‘Dirty Old Town’. Chugging guitars and them wonderful pipes give it the Raise My Kilt stamp and yeah it may be done to death here but fecking hell when it’s played this good you’ll forget you ever heard it before. After all Ewan MacColl who wrote the song hated The Pogues version so whose to say anything! Again they surprise you with ‘1982’ up next. Played as a a straightforward punk rock number with the pipes coming in and out its catchy as hell and a real foot tapper. A great song and shows the bands versatility in the different strands of celtic-punk on display. Nearing the end and we get a celtic cover of the Cock Sparrer favourite ‘We’re Coming Back’. The banjo and pipes accompany on a song that I’m sure will have any dance floor filling. The EP comes to an end with a fast and furious version of the Scottish anthem ‘Scotland the Brave’ that would have many a other band diving for cover.

With the recent retirement and somewhat resurrection of Black Tartan Clan and bands like Krakin’ Kellys and The Clan raising the pipes throughout Europe it would seem that Bagpipes in the celtic-punk scene have not gone away. Some would say that the sound may be an acquired taste but when you have band’s that really care about how they use the instrument in their songs it really makes a huge difference. These are not just punk bands with a piper attached playing along to the tune these are songs where the pipes are an integral part of the song every bit as much as say the drums or guitar are. Raise My Kilt are a solid addition to the worldwide celtic-punk scene and as one of only a handful of bands in the South American continent playing celtic-punk we ought to get behind them and show them our support. Here they have only whetted our appetite for a full length release and I for one cannot wait to hear it.

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ALBUM REVIEW: AIRS AND GRACES- ‘Voting At The Hall’ (2018)

With a mix of folk and punk with a dash of country Airs & Graces have that boundless enthusiasm and infectious energy creating a superb medley of melodies, chants and sing-a-longs that will have you howling for more!


Born in 2012 Airs & Graces are the latest in a long line of utterly fantastic German celtic-punk band’s to grace our scene. We have featured many German bands over the years and Germany has always been the country with the third most views every year since we started of (behind the ‘UK’ and the USA). We have a feeling to why celtic-punk is so popular in Germany so if you not tired of hearing it then head over to our review of Ghosttown Company’s debut album here and find out. Just recently we have had reviews of records from Distillery Rats, Restless Feet and The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats and a new review will be coming soon of perhaps the best known of all German celtic-punk bands Mr. Irish Bastard.

Airs & Graces hail from the south-eastern German town of Regensburg but if you like me then you’ll be wondering what a maple leaf is doing as part of their logo. Well it turns out that the bands guitar player Arlyn is Canadian (a native of Saint John, New Brunswick) and has lived in Germany since 2008. She is married to Philipp who plays mandolin and sings lead vocals in the band, Together they were both members of celtic-punk band The Buccaneers till they disbanded in 2012. The Canadian connection does not stop there either with Ayron Mortely and Lindsey O’Connell from Toronto who were also part of The Buccaneers and who also play in Airs & Graces but are not featured on Voting At The Hall but do look out for their other celtic-punk band The O’Deadlys.

Airs & Grace from left to right: Arlyn- Guitar/Back Vocals * Philipp- Mandolin/Lead Vocals * Kerni- Drums * Asche- Bass

Voting At The Hall is the bands first official release after a four track Demo from October 2014, Six Men Were Put On Trial, with Matty from Northern-England folk-punkers The Roughneck Riot contributing vocals on one track and despite not having much of a recording history they certainly have made a name for themselves by word of mouth. A couple of high profile gigs have done them the world of good and with their debut album I’m sure they hoping to further capitalise on their good name. Here we have fourteen tracks and every one an original composition, composed by lead vocalist Philipp and arranged by Airs&Graces.

Starting off with ‘Card’ Voting At The Hall is fourteen tracks that comes in just under forty minutes. From the very off it’s reminiscent of 70’s/80’s English punk but with with some nice Celtic flourishes. ‘Cards’ is in fact one of the best tracks on the album with Philipp’s clear vocals shouting out loud and proud. It has a certain Dropkicks feel to it too with its catchy chorus and driving punk and mandolin. Excellent start. The lyrics deal with the betrayal of workers by their trade union leaders. ‘These Hands Master’ tells of working class life that was taken for granted until they realised that not only can these hands build they can also vote.

“These are the hands that built this cities walls, These are the hands voting at the hall”

Great as it is to hear such things I also like a bit of humour and ‘Ginger Red Bastard’ supplies it. Real foot-tapper this and may be a bit slower than previous and that English punk rock sound is even more clearer here with them reminding me of a band from my youth that I can’t quite put my finger on. It will probably come to after this is published! ‘Four Corners’ appeared on the MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio compilation and was a standout track upon it even though surrounded by the cream of today’s celtic-punk scene.

Telling the story of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 it’s brilliant to hear history told this way. Never forget the past people. You can get the compilation here. The album continues with ‘Ringing of The Bell’ and it’s short and sweet and over in two minutes but me heads nearly falling off me shoulders before ‘Turn Her Into The Wind’ and you can hear in the songs that if you took away the Celtic instruments then Airs & Graces would still be a very very good punk band. Another standout here is ‘Throat’ with a memorable hook that would get you up on yer feet if you weren’t already and you can see why the band have got such a good reputation as these are songs that were made for the live setting. ‘Straighten Your Back’ is the shortest track here clocking in at dead on ninety seconds and its catchy as hell while they follow this up with ‘A Town So Black’ which is the most Celtic they get so far with mandolin kicking the song off before the rest of the band come clashing in. Seems the band have a score to settle here but that’s all i’ll be drawn on.

(‘A Town So Black’ featuring David De Prest from Boston punkers Continental)

We’re well over halfway now and ‘Refuse To Go’ continues with another solid slab of punk rock. Now you’d expect me to be biased in favour of the more Celtic numbers but my miss-spent youth and embarrassing photos of multi-coloured mohicans are testimony to my love of old school punk rock and that’s in plentiful supply here and on ‘Devil’s Factory’ where Airs & Graces prove they have a stock of catchy songs that are well played with boundless energy and abandon. ‘Three Sisters’ again has a great hook and singalong chorus and ‘bounce’ to it and the words speak of a landmark at sea that welcomes you back to home soil.

‘Never Wanted Trouble’ is another track that sails by in less than two minutes before ‘Pull Me Out’gs down the curtain on Voting At The Hall and a great ending. No slow songs here its just fast and furious celtic-PUNK rock. People I know who I have been lucky enough to catch them in concert remarked on their excellent live show and their it seems that Airs & Graces have managed to capture their live sound rather well here in the studio and that energetic, raucous and ‘shantyish’ punk rock sound has transferred well. They have a grand sense of history too and all working class people should be proud of our labour history. As someone once said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. It seems an obvious thing to say so I will say it but lovers of Dropkicks style celtic-punk would absolutely love Airs & Graces and this album is full of good songs that these days the Dropkicks would love to play! At the moment the album is only available From MacSlon’s shop but will be coming as a download in around 3-4 weeks on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer etc so if you can wait that long get in touch with the band.nearer the time.

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ALBUM REVIEW: MALASAÑERS – ‘Footprints’ (2018)

German-Spanish band Malasañers fill the gap between early and late Flogging Molly with whiskey-soaked Irish folk and good auld fashioned rock music. 

Malasañers history is a complicated one and begins back in working-class Madrid where due to the financial crisis at home Carlos del Pino makes the journey across Europe to move to the mid-German town of Bamberg to start a new life. Inspired by his father’s vinyl album’s of Irish and Celtic music Carlos develops an enthusiasm for the music of the green isle and mixed with early influences of the Ramones, Beatles and Elvis the scene is set for the early beginnings of Malasañers. Formed in Madrid in 2012 the band are cheerful and folky taking in influences from Spain as well as broader Rock and Indie music but with the band going nowhere at home and frustrated by the economic crisis Carlos moves to Germany in 2014 reignites Malasañers and gathering around him some of the areas best musicians Carlos burning passion for Irish punk finds a happy home in the beer metropolis of Bamberg with the active music scene.

The celtic-punk quartet take their name from 15-year-old girl Manuela Malasaña, who was murdered on the streets of Madrid on 2nd May 1808 during  the uprising against Napoleon I of France stationed in the Spanish capital during the Spanish War of Independence. Manuela was a seamstress who had had her scissors confiscated by French soldiers leading indirectly to her death. For the band scissors have become the band symbol and the pointless murder continues to exert a shattered fascination on Carlos inspired by the fight against narrow-minded nationalism.

“I am happy about intercultural exchange – this is how people learn to become more open”, as he says himself. “I see the nationalist development that is currently going on in Europe as very dangerous because either they want to rebuild their borders or draw borders there, where they never were.”

Their debut release in 2014 was part of ‘Welcome To The Folk-Punk Show’ compilation album on Wolverine Records. The album features four bands with three songs each that alongside such scene stalwarts as The Mahones, The Porters and The Judas Bunch announced their arrival on the European celtic-punk scene and made many of us sit up and take notice. The following year saw the release of their debut album Spanish Eyes. Forty minutes of self-penned Irish folk-punk that straddled extremely well both the folk and punk sides of celtic-punk. A healthy respect for Irish music throughout the release shines through and sets the scene for their follow up album, Footprints, that is now available having come out on St. Patrick’s eve.

Malasañers left to right: Corni Appun- Electric Guitar/ Vocals * Philipp Renz- Drums * Frau Vau- Fiddle * Carlos Del Pino- Vocals, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Bass

Footprints begins with the awesome single ‘Sell The Night’ and from the off its high energy uptempo classic celtic-punk fast, hard and heavy but accessible as ever and with a catchy as hell chorus.

Banjo and accordion are both kicking arse here and they even throw in a bit of one of my favourite instruments the harmonica on ‘My Time Before I Die’ and again energetic music coupled with those catchy chorus ensure it’s another winner. The second single from the album to be released was ‘Workers On The Run’. A socially conscious track nailing their colours to their mast.

‘But Not Today’ is a little bit out of place but don’t be mistaken it’s a great song it’s just that it moves away from celtic-punk a little into more rock ballad territory. Actually it’s one of my favourite songs from the album and it may not be as heavy as some on Footprints (till the end that is) but it’s still got plenty of bite to it. They celebrated the release of the album with a new video for the fourth track ‘Long Live The Glory’. As is the way with bands on the continent they not happy with just putting together a compilation of live pictures or the like the video here tells a story. Watch it yourselves and take it from me it’s well worth a view. Played as a straight up punk song its a great wee number and the video perfectly conveys the fun the band seem to be having.

One thing I always look for is the amount of original compositions and here I can happily report that they all are! The whole band involved in writing the lyrics and the music mainly by Carlos it’s quite an achievement. So begins a section of the album where the ‘celtic’ takes a backseat and Malasañers concentrate on some kick-arse punk rock numbers with ‘The Stars Are Falling’, ‘Paris Je’taime’ and ‘I just Can’t Stay And Wait’. The album’s title track rolls up next and you can hear why they named the album ‘Footprints’ after it. Elements of country, folk and spaghetti westerns abound but with Carlos voice and that great accordion its unmistakable Malasañers. Again it’s not there typical fare but all the better for it. We nearing the end and ‘To The Border’ slows it down a little losing none of their catchiness and ‘Ghostly Border’ speeds it up with a great punk’n’roll song that Social Distortion would kill for. Carlos recorded the bass for the album such is his immense talent (…the bastard!) and thumping bass kicks off  ‘Fun Has Just Begun’ in a catchy wee number dominated by accordion and a great accordion solo in amongst another great singalonga chorus. ‘Your Wars’ brings the curtain down on Footprints and Carlos croons away on a fantastic folky anti-war song that is a real nice surprise and a lovely way to end proceedings with some truly heartfelt lyrics that tell you all there is to be told about this grand band. 

So thirteen songs and over forty minutes of whiskey-soaked Irish speedfolk that will knock your bleedin’ socks off! Footprints has been produced and mixed by Carlos with Trine Pedersen and is a refreshing addition to the celtic-punk scene and will only go on to increase their popularity.  Malasañers have produced a quality album here that takes in both the traditions of working-class Irish pub music and the anger and passion of punk and rock music. Music to dance to your ass off to and enjoy but with also a serious side. The words promote friendship between nations and international togetherness. In these times where the old politics seem to be making way for something new that no one seems to know where it’s going these are good sentiments indeed.

(you can listen to a couple of tracks from Footprints via the Bandcamp player below)

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Germanys finest independent Punk, Psychobilly, Celtic-Punk and Rock’n’Roll label. Featuring such luminaries as The Mahones, The Hellfreaks, and Jamie Clarkes Perfect

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EP REVIEW : IN FOR A PENNY ‘Sometimes It’s Better To Not’ (2018)

We called In For A Penny the hottest new Celtic-punk band of 2017 and with their new EP that came out for St. Patrick’s week they only cement that view in our eyes!

One of the highlights of 2017 amongst all the album releases from the ‘superstars’ of celtic-punk was the discovery of a new band out of Savannah in Georgia in the USA. In For A Penny hadn’t been going very long and both their releases of 2017 both featured high in the upper echelons of our Best Of Albums and EP’s of the year.

So it was then could they keep it up? Well on the evidence of their EP which hit the streets of Georgia last week then the answer is a resounding yes. With their previous release they have trodden a similar path with sometimes an equal amount of Irish standards and self -penned songs. Needless to say I much prefer their own songs. While they do play the standards in their indomitable way I much prefer to hear bands play and record their own material. A perfect example is their last album One More Last Hurrah! which has the perfect mix of covers and originals. You can still download the album for free or as the lads put it

“Don’t wanna pay nuthin? Cool, download it and enjoy. Think you wanna toss us a couple of bucks to help support our Irish punk habit, great. Want to give us one million dollars… well, you get the idea”.

A fantastic album recorded in just 7 (seven!) hours in in the back room of The Sand Bar on Tybee Island, GA. Not that you’d notice mind as the sound is fantastic and if you need to know anything just think that in a year of album release from the Murphys, Mollys, Flatfoot, Tossers, McKenzies and many more established and well known bands we placed it as #8 in the years album releases.

Here on Sometimes It’s Better To Not the band do not disappoint and all the songs are written by the band themselves. Irish-American Sean McNally is both songwriter and lyricist for In For A Penny and in him they have found someone who has his finger right on the nations Irish-American community. Hard to believe he first picked up a mandolin in anger in 2014 but after only a few open mic performances Sean soon realised that the response he was getting to stripped down cover’s of The Dubliners and The Dropkick Murphys on just mandolin and vocals was so great then the next step must be to form a band. Roping in old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums and Jeremy Riddle on guitar and Sean’s son Bryce on bass In For A Penny took their home state by storm and judging by the wider celtic-punk media they have taken everywhere else by storm too.

This EP, Sometimes It’s Better To Not, is only four tracks long but sails in at nearly twenty minutes long. In For A Penny while they don’t go in for short songs they also know when to bring the curtain down so the EP never drags on. Sean’s gravelly yet distinctive voice again shines through and it’s incredible to think that the whole thing started off as just a jam but within a few days the band had taken Sean’s melodies and turned them into what we have here. The EP begins with ‘Before The Devil’ and it’s unmistakable In For A Penny. For a band with such a short time span they have really nailed their sound. With Bryce, bassist and Sean’s son, having moved to Colorado Matthew Price has been filling in and opens the EP off nicely before the band join in and it’s a fast, danceable number catchy as hell and as pretty the template for celtic-punk to these big ears. A story of redemption and trying to steer clear of you know.

(the bands submission for last years The Salty Dog Cruise)

On ‘Broken’ Bryce returns for a song with him recording his bass bits at home and then sending it on to Sean to mix. Bryce played their recent St. Patrick’s shows so maybe they could go all Ned’S Atomic Dustbin and have two bassists! With a opening that sounds like a Irish rebel song it soon changes to into a track telling the tale of ‘every man’. The homeless, lost and broken in society. A brilliant track that ends on a positive note of hope. Great words and music. The EP’s epic is ‘Dancing With The Stars’ at not far off six minutes! A slower song than usual but with an intensity that makes it seem faster. The song builds and builds and amazing to think theirs only four fella’s playing here. A real foot-tapper and at times could veer off in metal but they keep it subdued and in my opinion just right.

The EP ends with the standout track next ‘Your Claddagh Heart’. Johnny Piper of London Celtic Punks faves Alternative Ulster guests on bagpipes on this one and really makes the song shine. Sending his pipe track over to Sean from New York like Bryce did making this EP certainly wasn’t a easy process.  Dedicated to Sean’s Mrs it’s a lovely song and though it’s sentimental as feck it’s not gushing and I reckon the kind of song we’d all secretly like to write for our loved ones.

“when I said I love you, I meant forever”.

Johnny’s pipes are perfect and again it’s a fairly lengthy (for celtic-punk anyway) song at just a few seconds under five minutes but still the only thing i got left to say is the EP ends all to quickly. So there you go, yet another contender for our Best Of charts from these extremely talented Bhoys from Georgia. Sadly Sean is working away from home for a few months after St Patrick’s is over so this will be the last we hear of them for a while but plenty of plans are afoot on their return so don’t let this great band slip from your thoughts. They will be back!

(you can listen to the whole of Sometimes It’s Better To Not before you buy on the Bandcamp player player before you buy. G’wan it’s only 5 bucks!)

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The Bhoys over at Mersey Celt Punks beat everyone to the first review of Sometimes It’s Better To Not and is well worth looking at for another opinion. It’s a great site and well worth subscribing to so check it out here

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY TO ALL. CELEBRATE WITH A FREE TEMPLARS OF DOOM DOWNLOAD!

It’s here again. The day when everyone is just a little bit Irish, except for the gays and the Italians obviously (©Simpsons!). St. Patrick’s Day a day of wearing the green and celebrating the land of your birth or of your ancestors in whichever way you see fit. For some it’s a religious holiday that may make you want to attend Mass while for others it’s a time to have a few drinks and party. After all today all Lenten restrictions are eased and so I will be personally celebrating with the biggest bar of chocolate known to man!

When we were young ‘uns we knew St. Patrick’s Day wasn’t far off when bunches of pre-paid postcards from relatives in Ireland would appear on the doorstep and then as the day got closer a strange bulky package containing strange green leaves would arrive.  Some would pinned to your coat and you’d be sent off to Catholic school which would be a sea of green for the day. The one day of the year we were allowed to be Irish in a country that if not hostile just ignored us. You see I’ve always thought of St Patrick’s Day as a day for the Irish overseas. It’s our day. A day to remember our roots and while we may have been airbrushed out of history and school curriculum’s and our contributions ignored it was a day to assert ourselves and say We Are Irish! We are still here and still fighting as the sticker goes. It was in the United States that Saint Patrick became the symbol of Irish heritage and culture that he is today. As more Irish came across the Atlantic, the Feast Day celebration slowly grew in popularity. In fact the first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade was in Boston in 1737. Celebrated around the world wherever an Irish person has ever set foot or settled it is celebrated on the anniversary of Patrick’s death, which was believed to be March 17, 461 AD.

So you won’t find anyone sneering at you condescendingly from the London Celtic Punks for whichever way you choose to celebrate. Get to mass or the pub (or like me both!). Dust off the auld Eire/GAA/Celtic top or even your leprechaun outfit and whatever you choose to do be proud of your roots if you got ’em. In amongst all the fun why not spare a moment to remember those who passed that pride onto us and are not here anymore so raise a glass to the sky for them.

Sláinte.

As our gift to you on this grand day we are happy to offer you a **FREE DOWNLOAD** of the new Templars Of Doom track ‘Saint Patrick Saved Ireland’, written especially for St. Patrick’s Day 2018. Templars Of Doom are a Irish-American band out of New York that have not long released their debut album which you can read all about here. Thanks to Michael X. Rose, Rory Quinn, Eric Pomarico, Marty Shane and Josie Rose for sharing.

Saint Patrick saved Ireland
Ireland saved the World
He drove out the snakes, (He) drove out the Druids,
the Pagans and Satan

The Vikings captured Patrick
Christ saved Patrick
Patrick saved Ireland
Ireland saved the World

Voices of the Irish cried out
We beg you holy youth,
come home and walk once more among us
Patrick answered the call

The Druid priests mocked Patrick
And were thrown in the air and died
On Easter’s eve Patrick lit the Fire
The Druid priests did not survive

Released last week the single is available free to all London Celtic Punks for the month of March so click here and follow the link to your free download! Simply click on ‘Buy Now’ button and put in 0.00 to get it for free or leave a donation if you wish.

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Today’s a good time of year to remember those we love who are no longer around. This year we want to dedicate our St. Patrick’s Day post to Joseph Patrick Michael Mullally the Grandfather of Michael of the Templars Of Doom and whose birthday it would have been today. Like many who crossed the broad Atlantic he never knew what he would find but through hard work and endeavour he made a success of his life and never forgot his roots in the auld country.

The Mullally family with Joseph in the gold shirt and tie and Michael the little boy who’s ear he’s twisting!

Born in Born in Kilross, Tipperary on March 17th, 1913. His mother had returned home from Boston to have the baby in a convent, which was standard back then. His Dad stayed working as a butler in Boston and didn’t see my Grandfather til the War ended, when he was 5 years old. He entered the United States at the age of 5 with his Aunt. Their names are on the wall at Ellis Island. He became a Doctor of Philosophy, (Thomas) via Columbia University, one of the youngest in the US. He taught at Notre Dame and then was the chairman of the Philosophy Dept. at Queens College NY, CUNY, for about 40 years. Loved and respected by all.

Raise a glass to him and yours today.

ALBUM REVIEW: CLAN OF CELTS- ‘Beggars, Celts And Madmen’ (2018)

A new(ish!) London band fusing together all their musical experiences and influences ranging from Rock, Metal, Country, Punk and of course traditional Irish. They have created a unique style of original Celtic-Rock and an unmistakable sound that is brought to you with Celtic pride, passion, commitment and respect for our traditional roots.

Clan Of Celts are no strangers to the London music scene with roots dating back over the past 20+ years to many various other bands throughout England and Ireland. March is generally a pretty busy and drunken period in the Celtic punk world but the Clan Of Celts are busy preparing for the launch of their debut album Beggars, Celts And Madmen. All going well it is expected to be launched on Paddy’s Day so if by chance you intend to have a pint then this album is the perfect partner. Stick this CD on in any bar and it will definitely put you in the mood for a decent session. 2016 saw the release of the first song and video from the album ‘Please Don’t Send Me Home’. The video release was a great introduction of the band and is written about the Irish emigrants in London and the craic in the bars and clubs around London.

“They’ll fight about the horses, they’ll fight about the cards
Hold back the fists although they’re pissed, to make out that they’re hard
They may drop a tear for Ireland, and sing their mothers song
You’ll be sure of the craic, when you drink with the pack so
Please don’t send me home”
If you’ve ever lived in London you’ll easily relate to this tune.

‘Please Don’t Send Me Home’ was followed up in 2017 with another video release of the album title song ‘Beggars, Celts And Madmen’. The video features Frankie from The Rumjacks on the whistle. The song is written about the forced emigration of many Irish in 1864 following An Gorta Mór and the hardship they faced upon arrival on foreign shores. Despite everything they worked and toiled to save themselves from starvation and build a better life for their family and friends. A dark period in Irish history which unfortunately is repeated in many parts of the world today.

“This song is dedicated to the memory of those brave Men, Women and Children that made those journey’s, who worked, fought and died to make a better life for themselves and their kin. To Celts all around the world, your hearts are with us.”

The third video release from the Clan of Celts came in January 2018 with the release of ‘Dream Catcher’. This is a more melodic song about the passing of Denis’s (vocalist and guitar) father in 2016. It paints the picture of his dads soul leaving England and returning to his native home in The Curragh, Co Kildare.

An excellent song with an introduction of pipes to set the scene. The video was filmed and edited by Mr. McLaughlin Of The Rumjacks who also features in the video. (Be careful guys I think he’s stalking you!!!)

“I see her reaching far and wide
Beyond my fading eyes
Rainwater resting on the sod
From all the tears I cried
I leave behind my love mankind
And end these months of pain
Cross gripped in hand
Depart this mortal land
And join the souls that glide the Curragh Plains”

Other notable tune on the album are ‘Stacy Lawlor’ which is an extremely catchy tune about the dangers of online dating. I’m lead to believe that this is based on a true experience by one of the Clan (who will remain nameless) so before you go online give this a listen. You have been warned. The album kicks off with ‘Clan Of Celts’ which is a great into to the album and sets the scene. This is quickly followed up by ‘The Boots Are On’ which is another upbeat tune about a night out down the Holloway Road (or County Holloway as it’s known round here!). There’s a good story behind this one but best to ask Denis about that. Not sure I could put it in print!! This is an excellent debut from Clan Of Celts and they are already hard at work on the follow up album. They are also keen to take do an tour with the debut album so jump over to the website and buy the CD to help them hit the road and come to your town. I expect we will be hearing a lot more about these guys in the coming years. Great to see the London Celtic punk scene making progress with excellent bands emerging. Keep up the good work.

Clan Of Celts left to right: Denis Dowling- Vocals, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Strings *  Jim Filgate- Banjo, Accordion *  Grant Wildy Drums, Pots * Billy MacAllister- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar *  Alistair McCaig Bass * Padraig O’Reilly- Fiddle, Whistle

Buy Beggars, Celts And Madmen

FromTheBand (Download coming soon!!)

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Clan Of Celts Merchandise  Here

COMING VERY SOON

Watch this space in the next week or so for a big and beefy interview with Denis from the Clan Of Celts about all things Celtic as well as life in general. To subscribe to London Celtic Punks simply fill out the form either on the right or below depending how you are viewing this page.

NEW MOVIE- THE BLOODLUST OF THE DRUID OVERLORDS

Here’s the new short film from singer/vocalist of Irish-American celtic-punk band the Templars Of Doom, Michael X. Rose. Thanks to Michael for sharing. Heaven knows how he keeps up the level of activity he does. I’m jealous! So sit back put your feet on the coffee table pour yourself a drink and break out the hob-knobs for a classic Hammer Horror style movie featuring ritual virgin sacrifices,visions of the Virgin Mary, a giant burning Wicker man, bloodthirsty Druids and a swashbuckling St. Patrick!

THE BLOODLUST OF THE DRUID OVERLORDS

Written, Produced, and Directed by Michael X. Rose.

Assistant Producer James Pogo Lo Rubbio | Edited by Dr. Jeff Burns | 30 Minutes 

Music by the Brian Wilson Shock Treatment

Starring Mary Urban | Michael X. Rose | Suzanne Schubert | Steve Scibelli | James Pogo LoRubbio | Gala Scibelli

Ireland. 428 A.D. Bloodthirsty Druids overrun the land seeking Virginal Maidens to Sacrifice to their Dark, Insatiable gods. They emerge from dark caves carrying torches, wearing white robes and hideous animal masks. Soon Saint Patrick arrives from Britain sent by a dream. He is rowed by two fellow monks to the wooded shores of Ancient Ireland. While praying in his hut, the Virgin Mary appears to St. Patrick, telling him to “go and save my maidens.” Meanwhile the young girls are brought by land and water to the unspeakable place of sacrifice by the Druid Overlords. Victim after victim is slaughtered in bloody worship to Belinus. Half-naked nymphs drink human blood and eat the human flesh that they crave. Can St. Patrick find the Druid orgy in time? As the most pure virgin is prepared to be burnt alive in a forty-foot tall wicker man, see him battle the Druids to save the last virgin in a life or death climax in this thrilling blood-soaked tale.

You can contact Michael via the Templars Of Doom Facebook page here or his Web Site here

ALBUM REVIEW: KRAKIN’ KELLYS- ‘Promised Land’ (2018)

What happens when traditional Irish Folk’n’Roll meets American Punk music? A rather unique blend, courtesy of Belgian Krakin Kellys!

Now dear readers I’m sure you have absolutely no idea how many celtic-punk albums we have to trawl through to give you the best of the bunch. Well let me tell you its loads and its not often that many make me sit up and really take notice. Just recently we have been lucky with the amazing releases from bands like Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Airs & Graces and Irish Moutarde who were all especially good but a rare thing happened in June last year. I got in from work to find a e-mail from Krakin’ Kellys, a celtic-punk band from Belgium I hadn’t ever heard of informing me their new video for a song called ‘One Way’ had just been released. Now nearly without exception the bands that I hear are all pretty decent so I was expecting something good but to say my mind was blown is to put it mildly. What a fecking song!! I must have played it about two-dozen times before replying to the band to tell them how much I loved it and then sharing it on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page for you lot to marvel at too! The song was ‘One Way’ and I’m delighted to say it appears here on their debut album, Promised Land, and it was by far my favourite song of 2017 and even now whenever I’m on YouTube I find myself drawn to it!

Krakin Kellys left to right: – Olivier Dreze- Drums * Stephan Mossiat- Bass * Pierre-Yves Berhin- Acc’ordion * David Leroy- Vocals * Matthieu Hendrick- Guitar * Rémi Decker- Bagpipes & Whistles

Krakin’ Kellys hail from the city of Namur in Belgium. The city is the capital of the self-governing Walloon Region which was created, largely along language lines. Wallonia consists of the French-speaking provinces of Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, Walloon Brabant and Namur. Its elected government has authority over such are as as agriculture, transportation, and public works and has a population of 3,500,000. There is a burgeoning independence movement in Wallonia that seeks to split Belguim into Dutch speaking Flanders in the north and French speaking Wallonia in the south. The area has struggled to recover economically from postwar industrial decline, and there are those in the north who label their French speaking neighbours as spongers and feckless. As is usually the history behind the conflict is complicated so I think I better leave that there!

Formed only last year Krakin’ Kellys have taken the celtic-punk scene by storm without releasing an album so their debut album has been widely anticipated by just everybody. They describe their music themselves as

“taking the opposite line from the genre’s godfathers, Bostonian Dropkick Murphys, Krakin’ Kellys songs begin with punk-rock riffs, which they then unite with Eire-inspired melodies.”

The comparison to the Dropkick Murphys has been made about the band and yes they are definitely on the DKM’s side of celtic-punk rather than say Flogging Molly but this band is not just another Boston clone I can tell you. In fact I’d go so far as to say that there’s virtually no way the Murphys will ever come up with an album as good as Krakin’ Kellys Promised Land ever again. I hope I am proved true and I can only imagine how fecking good that would be!!

Promised Land begins with ‘Anarchy In The Double K’, the albums third single release, and the drone of bagpipes before the accordion kicks in and then the whole band join in with what can only be described as celtic-skate punk! Straight away bands like The Descendents, NOFX and Pennywise spring to mind but with Pierre-Yves amazing accordion and Rémi’s bagpipes Krakin’ Kellys have nailed their tricolour firmly to the celtic-punk ship. It’s fast, catchy as hell and with David’s incredible raspy-punky vocals laden on top international stardom awaits them I am sure!

One of the ways bands without any or few releases can make a splash in the celtic-punk scene, or any scene really, is to make use of YouTube. One great example of this is The Rumjacks whose ‘An Irish Pub’ was sailing towards 75,000,000 views the last time I looked. Krakin’ Kellys have followed this route and all three of their releases from promised Land are accompanied by absolutely brilliant videos. Filled with fun and humour and with a wee story to tell it’s no wonder they have become the to watch out for in 2018. Next up is ‘Bar Fight’ and yeah it’s a drinking song and yeah its a cracker. All the best elements of punk and ‘Celtic’ are here and its so well played too. Next is my second (it would have to be) favourite song of the album, the title track ‘Promised Land’. By the end of this page you going to be sick of how many times I use the word ‘catchy’ if I’m not careful. Accompanied by another great video it has a great tune and aye it’s bloody catchy too.

So three songs in and I have to say that I have never heard better accordion in a celtic-punk band in my life. The sound is perfect and leads the songs along in such a glorious way. Pierre is truly a master of this art wielding his accordion lifting the band to magical heights. And just to prove that God doesn’t deal out talent in a fair and equal way he also did the artwork for the album cover! For many celtic-punk band it’s a background instrument but not here. On ‘Our Pride’ it leads the tune and its many flourishes (could you call them accordion solo’s?) only add to the tune. Of the fourteen songs here most come in around the 3:20 minute mark giving them plenty of time to develop the songs and  even though they are fast as on ‘United’ or ‘The Journey’ they could linger too long and one of the things I’ve noticed about playing this album is that it speeds by so fast. That is a sign in itself that I must be enjoying it. Loads of humour dotted throughout like on next song ‘Kinky Mary’ and it’s great to see a band not taking it all too seriously and obviously enjoying themselves. ‘When I Die’ stops and starts and is guess what… catchy with great singalong chorus. ‘Come And Get Some’ begins a tone heavier but soon settles down into a sorta celtic-metal-rap song while ‘Lovely Jess’ is a nod to the bagpipes and if there’s a song here that could pass for the Murphys it’s this one. Gang vocals, the pipes and measured tribal style drumming combine for a beast of a song that wouldn’t be out of place on last years 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. We are back in cracking form for ‘Hey Bro’ before finally we get to that song and even though I must be responsible for about half it’s views on You Tube it has lost absolutely none of it’s power. ‘One Way’ was without a doubt my favourite song of 2017 and on hearing it I’m sure you will agree. Again accompanied by a fantastic video and again thanks to band guitarist Matthieu Hendrick for his marvellous work. The song could be early Dropkicks but (and I better whisper this) a lot more celtic-punk.

The album is nearly up and still no sign of a ballad here I’m afraid. On ‘Giving Up’ its yet more of the same catchy stuff as we have seen. There isn’t a weak song on this entire album and to prove it they go out with ‘Garry’s Battle’ yet another brilliant trad-infused punk-rock track. A whole album of standout tracks!

So there you go and I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up at the top of the Best Of 2018 polls it is that good. Full of energy and bounce and humour this is downright drinking music. There’s no revelations about politics here and no songs about nuclear war and I can only say thank heavens. Sometimes we need music to take the pressure off us. To take our minds away from the daily grind and that’s where celtic-punk comes in. Its music to drink to, to dance to, to meet folks and make friends and Krakin’ Kellys have delivered unto us the ultimate celtic-punk album. It’s not often I use the words this is a must have album but this is a must have album!

(you can have a *FREE* listen to Promised Land on the Bandcamp player below. Just press play and away you go!)

Buy Promised Land

FromTheBand Pre-order of the album. You get 3 tracks now and the complete album the moment it’s released on March 17, 2018 with some exclusives bonus items!

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The third single of Krakin’ Kellys ‘The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough’ released on 1st September 2017 and written and composed by Cyndi Lauper!

ALBUM REVIEW: IRISH MOUTARDE- ‘Perdition’ (2018)

Quebecois Irish Moutarde are back with their second album with folklore sounds of bagpipes and banjo mixed with punk rock riffs. This album has something for everyone to enjoy.

Back back in the day when this here web-zine was in its infancy one of the very first bands to send us their new album was Irish Moutarde. To say we loved it is a bit of an understatement and so they have always been a band that we have followed and looked out for so we are delighted that they have safely delivered their follow album and it’s an equal, if not better, than their previous one.

Irish Moutarde were formed in 2009 in Quebec city (the French speaking province of Canada) as a covers band playing trad Irish songs but with a punk feel and attitude. It wasn’t till 2012 though that they released their first single, ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ which went on to become an instantaneous hit right across the celtic-punk scene.

This track was based on a song from one of the novels that inspired the hit TV show Game of Thrones. The song coming out a year before the show debuted. This keen interest lead the group to follow up this release with their first album Raise ‘Em All the following year and they have since gone on to become one of North America’s best celtic-punk bands. Combining the usual punk rock instruments with banjo, mandolin and highland bagpipes. On my first listen they reminded me of a celtic-punk NOFX and it is this winning combination that has saw them at the top of all the various Best Of 2012 lists and will do the same for this year I suspect. Sadly as is the way for bands, especially for celtic-punk bands who tend to have so many members, some of the Bhoys and Ghirls fell by the wayside. Irish Moutarde were not beaten though and after recruiting some new blood to the band they began to slower get back in the swing of things. A few shows were played last year to showcase new songs before hitting the studio to record their new album.

Released on the first day of Spring, March 1st, this year Perdition is thirteen songs of pure celtic-punk heaven! The album begins with one of it’s best songs and from the very off I knew I was in for a treat.

‘Prélude En La (Lala)’ begins with pipes and drums and then the electric guitar comes chugging into ear-shot and Irish Moutarde are off. The song is sung in French and rather than run the lyrics through Google Translate I’m not going to try and decipher them. Bagpipes and banjo rule here and the clear and concise vocals are still pretty punk rock as well. Irish Moutarde are that rare thing in celtic-punk in that they have a female vocalist and they are certainly not a novelty act either. The vocals are shared between Andrée-Anne and Tony but both Sébastien and Fred take the lead as well on occasion. On ‘The Poison Trail’ the story revolves around going for a pint with the devil and its another high quality song with the relentless fast pace, except for a bagpipe solo!, and the various instruments accompanying each other rather than drowning each other out. It’s fast and furious and typical Irish Moutarde good fun.

Next is ‘Terre Rouge’ and they speed it up and some rather gruff metal style vocals kick in in a song shared between vocalists. This could almost be two different songs, one a metal thrasher and the other a sweet celtic number. That they manage to fit the two together is testament to how good they are. On their debut album the vast majority, maybe even all, of the songs were sung in English while here they have decided to concentrate on singing in French. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, detract from the music in fact I would always rather hear a band singing in their native tongue. On ‘Jarrets’ and then ‘Eat, Drink And Be Merry’ it could be a nod to both medieval punk as well as punk as of the NOFX variety. A good fun number and thank heavens for that. Sometimes all you want is a bit of fun and something to make you smile.
“So sing (dance), dance (hey)
Like no one’s watching
Forget those losers talking ‘cause I don’t care about them anyway
Eat (drink), drink (hey) and be merry
And I’ll be here to carry you home
‘Cause I don’t want to leave here all alone”
The most Irish song here without a doubt is the brilliant ‘N’oublions Pas’ beginning with banjo and some gentle piping and another standout track soon takes a turn into wild abandon and on an album of standout tracks it don’t get any better than this. This is the sort of stuff we were expecting (hoping) the last Dropkicks album to be like but turned out to be Dad-Rock. Here especially the shared vocals work a absolute treat. The formula works again for the following few songs with ‘À La Santé de Lucifer’, ‘Only in Your Lies’ and ‘Bientôt’ all rocking out with abundant use of celtic instruments and punk rock. On ‘Old Days’ we get the albums solo slow number and by Christ I love it too. Nice lyrics about meeting up with a old friend and going on the lash knowing well that the days when the next day wouldn’t be spent ill in bed are long gone!
“Tomorrow is not going to be easy
Weakness, headaches, fatigue and thirsty
And you know that this is the price to pay
To have a good night just like in the old days”
We are nearing the end and its time for Irish Moutarde to ramp it up again and they don’t get any faster on Perdition than on ‘Go Away’. The excellent drumming throughout the album is not bettered here and the band keep up just in time. It may be fast but still accessible I am sure to anyone. Next up is ‘Condamnés’ and sees the band determined to not go out slowly and finally Perdition comes to an end with ‘The Bitter End’ and an unusual but simply brilliant way to go out. Fast and slow in alternate moves and all the time as catchy as feckin’ hell!
The album was produced by Sébastien Malenfant and he has done one hell of a job. I always think its one of the particularly hard to produce a record with so many instruments and not just that but that some are relatively quiet compared to say the drums. The music here is mixed perfectly and everything has come out clear as a bell. All the songs on the album have been written by the band and again that’s fairly novel within the celtic-punk scene as well. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that Irish Moutarde would bring out an album that would be as good as their debut, the classic Raise Em All, but didn’t they just go and only bettered it didn’t they! 

(Have a listen to the whole of Perdition for free below )

Buy Perdition

FromTheBand

Contact Irish Moutarde

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Two Interesting Whisky-Fuelled Band Facts:
1. The name Irish Moutarde was chosen because it is a pun on the French expression “relish-moutarde,” which the founding band members felt the name was (and still is) humorous, light and expressed their musical quality.
2. The band’s mascot is Olaf the Irish Giraffe, who was created by fans of the band Julie Lévesque and Guillaume Racine. The sixth song on their debut album is a tribute to this whisky drinking, green metal giraffe who sports a long white mane and long white goatee.

ALBUM REVIEW: MARYS LANE- ‘Wild Unknown’ (2018)

FREE DOWNLOAD

Marys Lanes hail from Cleveland, Ohio and their new album is a diverse collection covering themes of love, life and death, trials and tribulations, religion and of course drinking. Never straying too far from their Irish roots it adds Celtic instincts into an mix of sounds that crash-land somewhere in between rock, pop, bluegrass, Americana and honky-tonk.

Marys Lane.jpg

America is, maybe unsurprisingly, and always has been a hotbed of innovative and original Irish music. Away from the native land Irish musicians in the USA have soaked up influences galore from other cultures and mixed them up with the music of their ancestors to come up with something that is always impressive. Marys Lane are no different and the six-piece band take their inspiration from their Irish and Celtic backgrounds and their musical histories have all been way of the various pubs, clubs, pipe bands around Cleveland. The band met at the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival but it wasn’t until a year later, they met again, and realized waiting was no longer an option. they needed to start a band.
Last Summer they pulled off a ten date tour of Ireland which saw them play many of Ireland’s famous folk venues including Matt Molloy of The Chieftains at his venue in Westport. With a rake of releases behind them their most successful to date was their collaboration with Martin Furey of the High Kings having met at an Irish Festival in the States. After hearing Marys Lane perform a song called ‘Sleep When I’m Dead’ and after being introduced through a friend of a friend the plan was made to hit the studio and record it the next day and so the Furey Sessions EP was born.

Cleveland St Patrick’s Parade 1935

The story of the Irish in Cleveland has parallels with many other major Irish-American areas. A small number arriving around 1818 they began to arrive in large numbers during the 1820’s during the building of the Ohio Canal starting in 1825.  It was mainly Irish labour that built both the Ohio and Erie Canal. They made their homes on what became known as Whiskey Island. Considered outcasts by fellow immigrants the Irish began to build shanties and saloons and churches there. The Irish population of Cleveland remained around 1,000 until the years of the ‘famine’ and the Irish flocked to many cities across America. Many of these immigrants came from Mayo in the west of Ireland. They did not farm in the Cleveland area, instead becoming labourers who unloaded ships or worked in the steel mills. At the end of the 1800’s, the Irish had a terrible time with Shantytown an open sewer of industrial and human waste.  The area was home to cholera, diphtheria, and scarlet fever and because of continuing Irish immigration, there was simply not enough homes for everyone. The Irish population grew to over 10% of Cleveland’s total population and as the city grew, Irish families moved from the slums into the suburbs and began to build lives for themselves and their descendants.

Danny Greene

The Irish throughout America are famous for fighting their way out of the slums through the clever use of politics although in Cleveland they never quite attained the control they wielded in other places they still managed to have much bigger representation then other larger immigrant groups. The diverse ethnic composition of the city was reflected on the city council, and while certain districts elected Irish representatives, city council never had an unusually large proportion of Irish. Nowadays they say the Irish have assimilated into society but one in six Clevelanders claim Irish ancestry, more than 9%, and Cleveland has one of the longest running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in America regularly attracting more than 500,000 people. The Cleveland Irish were catapulted into fame in recent years thanks to the release of Rick Porrello’s book To Kill The Irishman. In the 1970’s proud Irish-American and local folk-hero Danny Greene became one of the most powerful crime figures in Cleveland. Literally a living legend all the stories about Danny you ever heard are all true. He looked after those in his neighborhood who were in most need. A church going, God fearing Irish gangster whose goal in life was to look after his own. The book led to several documentaries and a feature film about him and the many failed attempts on his life. Needless to say it was inevitable Marys Lane would write a song about this most famous of their fellow city men and what a song it is! Danny still has family in the city and ‘Robin Hood Of Collinwood’ has become an anthem for the cities Irish community to rally behind.

So with a decent back catalogue behind them it’s time for their latest release to hit the streets and a couple of weeks back Wild Unknown popped through the letterbox at London Celtic Punks towers. Eleven songs that take in pretty much every variation of modern day Irish music in their own indomitable way. The album starts with a great folk/Irish/country mashup ‘Dead Man Walking’ and its lively, jaunty fast paced acoustic music with a real catchy feel to it. At once the sound of a wee Irish pub and at the same time a massive festival fill yer ears. Vocals on the album are shared between Patrick Mulloy and Michael Crawley and here Patrick shines with a voice perfectly suited to the sound.

‘Rain On My Parade’ slows it down a little and reminds me of a couple of other Irish-American bands I came across at the arse (or should that be ass?) end of last year, Crikwater and Plastic Paddy. Next up is ‘Petronilla’ and again it’s a slowish song but don’t mistake that for dull or boring with an interesting bass line line and drums. While so far the album has shown the multitude of influences that Marys Lane have soaked up on ‘Last Gift’ they give us their first full blown Irish track and blew me away. That word ‘catchy’ pops up again and its a real foot-tapper that you could imagine the dance floor filling up at your local Irish hostelry. We stay firmly on our native shore with ‘Road Less Traveled / Harvest Home’ which brings back the country feel to it with some exquisite fiddle work dominating proceedings. ‘Smoke’ has a feel of another Irish-American band The Young Dubliners and I’m starting to hear a common sound amongst a whole host of bands from across the broad Atlantic. On the blurb that accompanied the album Marys Lane compare their sound to that of the Irish kitchen session.

“Cleveland rock roots but knee deep in the ghosts of Ireland – not maudlin mind you, but in the typical Kitchen Party made so famous by the Irish – everyone comes, everyone joins in, one way or another, and everyone leaves wishing the night would never end”

It’s a great description and better than anything I could say about them.

Not that it will stop me trying! More than halfway through and its time for one them good auld Irish drinking songs and its a belter. We Irish, mostly!, love a drink and ‘Another Round’ can be added to the long list of loving tributes. ‘Box Of Roses’ is their most country song here and yet still has the Irish feel to it and I don’t mean the dreaded Country’n’Irish thing that scared many a young 2nd and 3rd generation Irish kid off music when they were young. If you could imagine a (more) Irish Bruce Springsteen then this is the kind of music he’d serve up, especially in these days when he’s rediscovering his roots. ‘Whiskeytown’ is an ode to their home town and is a beautiful tribute to a city that may have seen better days but like most working-class cities it has heart and a will that will see it return to its days as an American powerhouse. So far the only thing missing has been a jig or two and for the penultimate song we get them both served up in ‘Gypsys Dance / The Kesh Jig’. Now I don’t have much of an ear for remembering trad jigs but ‘The Kesh’ Jig may be an old Bothy Band song and if so the band certainly do justice to it. Wild Unknown comes to an end with the album’s best song I think. The epic sounding  ‘Between The Darkness And The Light’. We are back in ‘Irish Bruce’ territory here and it may again be on the slower side of things but that does not diminish its power and it’s a swirling, twirling monster of a song and a fantastic way to bring down the curtain.

Wild Unknown is that exceedingly rare thing on these pages. An album of all original songs written by the band themselves. Their are four songwriters within the band and all band members contribute to everything they produce. A real team effort. The album was recorded with multi platinum award winning producer Michael Seifert and it certainly shows as the sound is absolute perfection and clear as the proverbial bell without being over produced or ‘fiddle’ with too much. A great album all round and this Irish-American sound is well worth checking out especially if you like your celtic-punk a bit more on the gentler side.

Celtic rock- hard to define, hard to resist, much like Marys Lane.

(you can listen to the whole of Wild Unknown before you download by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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Find out more about the legend that was Danny Greene, an impoverished but charismatic young Irish-American who rises to power as president of the longshoreman’s local union and is charged with corruption but evades serious jail time by becoming an FBI informant. With fearless nerve he joins forces with a Mafia gangster to rise to power in Cleveland’s underworld, gaining the reputation of a Robin Hood-like figure with nine lives as he escapes countless assassination attempts.

Danny Greene: The Rise and Fall of the Irishman

USA | 2011 | 60 min.

Genre: Documentary Director: Tommy Reid

Photographs that have never been seen before and exclusive interviews with the family members of Danny Greene, officials from the Federal government, associates of the Mafia and representatives of Cleveland Police Enforcement make up this documentary examining the life of the legendary infamous Irish-American gangster Danny Greene.

Clint O’Connor of The Plain Dealer writes

“Feeding America’s appetite for mob stories with a grisly slice of Cleveland’s criminal past, spotlights the gangster whose life was famously extinguished by a car bomb in a Lyndhurst parking lot. A fearless hood who grabbed headlines for years in the 1970s, Greene was a colorful character. He dressed in green, drove green cars, and embraced Irish history and Celtic lore. Alternately a union troubleshooter, embezzler, and enforcer, Greene dabbled in racketeering, gambling, and loan-sharking. He excelled at beating the rap, which may have been attributed to his other occupation: FBI informant. Police have long assumed that Greene conspired to take out Shondor Birns, a rival in Cleveland’s numbers racket, and later mafia underboss Leo ‘Lips’ Moceri, whose body was never found”

Kill The Irishman

USA | 2011 | 1hr 42mins

Genre: Action | Biography | Thriller Director: Jonathan Hensleigh

Starring: Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, Vincent D’Onofrio