stories of drinking, whoring, family tragedies and lost love
Rovers Ahead were formed in 2007 and are based in Copenhagen in Denmark. They are also the Dane’s only celtic-punk band to my knowledge. In common with Sir Reg and Flogging Molly they are a celtic-punk band led by an ex-pat in Nathan Corcoran from the working class streets of Dublin. They released their debut album ‘Always The Sinner, Never The Saint’ in February this year and it has already been called “one of the best albums of 2014, hands down” by Paddy Rock Radio.
Having previously released 2 3-track EP’s way back in 2009, ‘Subversive Sessions’, and 2010, ‘Candy Farm Session’, you may have been forgiven for thinking that was it but the band have been going from strength to strength back in their homeland playing regularly to crowds ranging from 50 to over 35,000 and supporting most of the worlds best punk bands who pass through Copenhagen! It seems rather than rushing into it they have taken the time to perfect their sings and it truly shows.
On first listen you can hear all the famous bands of celtic-punk in there. The Pogues, Tossers, Murphys, Mollys, Sir Reg all the elements are there but Nathans voice and distinct Dub brogue really lift it into new territory. Sounding like a man whose suffered plenty of heartbreak and a 40 a day habit his husky and abrasive vocals speak of a life of hardship and the lyrics confirm this. Kicking of with ‘Dear Father’ the seven musicians accompanying Nathan play to perfection and gel perfectly to make something special. The songs lyrics are a ode to a father whose fucked things up and getting on and moving on with your life. ‘King Of Nothing’ is as depressing as it comes but you’ll still find yourself swaying about on the dance floor with yer arms wrapped round a complete stranger spilling your beer and shouting yourself hoarse!
One of the best things in celtic-punk at the moment and especially with European bands is that they are tending to concentrate more on their own songs rather than record celtic-punk standards and on this album you’ll find eleven self-penned numbers, one instrumental and ‘The Mouse On The Barroom Floor’, a spoken-word traditional poem from Dublin.
“Some Guinness was spilt on the barroom floorWhen the pub was shut for the nightOut of his hole crept a wee brown mouseAnd stood in the pale moonlightHe lapped up the frothy brew from the floorThen back on his haunches he satAnd all the night you could hear him roar“Bring on the goddamn cat!”
All adding up to a highly original and enjoyable romp despite the sometimes dark lyric matter. ‘One Night At The Pub’ is one of Rovers Ahead’s first original songs and has been through many different incarnations but i doubt they’ll ever be able to improve on this version. With electric guitar and drums clashing with Niel’s fiddle it sounds fresher than ever. Nathan takes a break from vocal duties for ‘Went Out to Get a Drink (And Ended Up In Jail)’ and Benjamin picks up the role with ease. ‘Rose Full Of Thorns’ kinda reminds you of Blood Or Whiskey what with that brogue and the banjo to the fore and is another song promoting
“drinking all your sorrows away”
‘Make Me A Saint’ is one of the album’s slower songs but still kicks with a punk-rock beat followed swiftly by instrumental ‘Stingy Jacks Rumble’ which gives the band the chance to exhibit their fine skills. It’s over far too soon in a couple of minutes dead-on and I think it would make the perfect intro to their live set. ‘Day Of Defeat’ is about finding the strength to carry on in the face of adversity and like the rest of the album has a great fist in the air singalong chorus. ‘Town I Love So Well’ could be The Dubliners before the drums kick in and heads into the standout track from the LP. The lyrics about leaving Dublin and ending up in Copenhagen ends with a positive note before the final song about drinking on the dole and ‘Lend Me This Months Rent’ brings down the curtain on a a real celtic-punk gem.
The sound on ‘Always the Sinner, Never the Saint’ is absolutely perfect and when you realise it has been mixed and mastered by Göran Frid and Erik Dahlqvist, from Sir Reg, then you’ll know why. This album is guaranteed to be riding high in the various ‘Best Of’ charts come the end of the year and deserves to be heard by a much wider audience than them lucky Copenhagenists! As i always say about the best bands in the scene its the lyrics that lift the best albums out of the ordinary into the classic and while, sadly, the CD doesn’t come with a lyric booklet there is a link in the CD to download them and they do warrant reading. A fantastic fun loving alcohol fuelled album that jigs along as fast as feck that belies its 45 minute length and sometimes dark subject matter but sure aint that the story of modern Ireland?
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