Music. Beer. Music and beer. Whiskey. Music and Whiskey. Music and Beer and Whiskey.
‘Rise Of The Bastard’ is the follow up album to Bastard Bearded Irishmen’s self-titled album of 2011. Hailing from Pennsylvania’s second largest city Pittsburgh. Famous for its largely working class communities of Irish, German and Eastern Europeans the city was built upon steel making and has been a home for Europeans fleeing injustice and poverty since the 1800’s. 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. So it is this background that lead to the formation of the Bastard Bearded Irishmen back in 2008. Originally started as a planned short term tribute for a friend the guys had so much fun they decided to stick around, and with a sponsorship from Jameson’s Irish whiskey who can blame them!
L to R: Dan Stocker- Drums, vocals Danny Rectenwald- mandolin, vocals, banjo, piano Ben Jaber- bass, vocals Jimmy Bastard- lead vocals, guitar Paul Dvorchak- fiddle, vocals Jon Pitcher- guitar, vocals, whistle **not pictured: Mike Hall- accordion, vocals
On their first album the boys trod that well worn path for celtic-punk debut albums of choosing mostly standards to record. The few originals showed they were more than just a covers band and had the potential to go places. With ‘Rise Of The Bastards’ the band have gone the opposite way and recorded a album of solid self penned songs with just three covers chucked in. Their choice of cover song has them playing two absolute classic celtic-punk songs ‘All For Me Grog’ and ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and one of my all time favourite traditional songs ‘Three Drunken Maidens’. All are played to perfection and you’ll find yourself shocked that the same band who can knock out an album of full on Irish punk rock can also play these folky trad numbers so well. The album has fifteen tracks and comes in just shy of fifty minutes. All encased in a beautiful fold out cardboard cover with all the song lyrics, band photos and some rather nifty illustrations too. So while you could get the download for this for once we’d recommend forking out that bit extra and getting your hands on a physical copy..
The album kicks off with ‘Mama’ and begins with expertly played fiddle before soon exploding with chugging electric guitar and a gypsy influenced Irish number. Catchy is the word for to describe this album and its chockablock full of foot-tappers, fist in the air shouty choruses and moshpit friendly celtic punk. ‘Switchblade Molly’ has some of the fastest mandolin playing you’ll hear in a song that easily rivals those other Mollys for superiority! ‘Tomorrow’ has more fiddle and when you hear that that violinist Paul is classically trained you know that ALL the music on this album is exemplary. ‘Paddy O’Shea’ has a country feel to it but is still played at breakneck speed. The song tells the story of an Irish immigrant to Pittsburgh who was murdered because he wouldn’t throw a boxing match.
“He was a saint to some but a judge to those that sinned
The last thing that sinners saw was his Daingean grin
A blood thirsty shepherd whose fists held fast
Choose your words wisely for they are your last”
The album sails on in much the safe way but every song is set to become a celtic-punk standard itself! ‘Bastard Blarney’ is a cracker of a song with a great story of a lovely auld man until he takes drink and then
“he’ll kick your ass to a bloody pulp just to pass time”
They slow it right down for the beautiful but sad ‘Last Drink’ and show they can play as good a ballad as anyone when needed as well. Finely played instrumental ‘Rotten Irish Plank’ has a bit of a Mollys feel to it followed by the before mentioned ‘Three Drunken Maidens’ which reminds me of The Dubliners and the boys have certainly breathed new life into this old traditional song. ‘Land Of The Free’ salutes those poor immigrants who battled through the many hardships to set foot on American soil.
“Salute to those who came before us, through us they’ll live on again
We’ll make the masses remember, what was given up for them
See the past repeatedly before us, strive to find the purpose we lend
See the path of those laid before us, stand to unite what they died to defend”
Setting the pace for the last songs of the album its more manic fiddle and mando plucking and by the time ‘Bartenders Friend’ is over and the final, and standout, track ‘Whiskey, Rum, Bourbon, Beer’ hits you I’ll be surprised if you’re not leaping around your living room knocking over the furniture! Surely one of the contenders for album of the year its a whole lot of fun and superb musicianship with great vocals and good story telling lyrics. All the various strands of celtic-punk are here but rarely have they come together so perfectly!
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Tagged: Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Flogging Molly, The Dubliners