a collection of working class madrileño musicians with the requisite Irish soul needed to bring traditional Irish folk music with modern influences to life.
This debut album from Malasañers is as good a debut album as you’re ever likely to hear or have heard in celtic-punk circles.The band are named after a district of Madrid in Spain and while two of the band are from Spain the rest are German and the whole band now reside’s in Germany completely. From the very first spin this album hit the spot for me. With thirteen tracks and clocking in at just under forty minutes Wolverine Records have released an excellent record here. The album was recorded in both Germany and Spain and the production is crystal clear and everything from the vocals to the various instruments in play are all combined to produce a perfect sound.
I first came across them on the superb four-band compilation double album ‘Welcome To The Folk Punk Show’ (review here) that was also released by Wolverine Records last year featuring as well as Malasaners, The Judas Bunch and celtic punk legends The Mahones and The Porters.
The album’s first track is the title song ‘Spanish Eyes’ and is about those brave men and women who fought against fascism in the 1936 Spanish civil war, especially those who came from Ireland. A beautiful song and fitting tribute-
“They came from North, South, and East
From Dublin, Clare and from Kildare
Their mission here was all too clear
To halt the evil beast”
From the first few chords you get a feel for exactly what this album has in store for you. This is celtic-punk with the story telling spirit of bands like The Wolfe Tones or The Dubliners looming large. All the songs on ‘Spanish Eyes’ are the composed by the band themselves and there really are no weak tracks here at all.
The Spanish Civil War is behind the following song ‘Kings Shilling’ as well, which has moments that remind me of the great Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone, before the speed folk kicks in and we are in familiar territory. Putting the lyrical boot into the forces that take an Irishman into exile to fight in one of the bloodiest battles in Spain on the side of the fascist forces. The lyrics throughout the album are outstanding and are no different here
“To fight for those who have enslaved me/ To wave their flags and spill my blood/ To turn my back on my own country/ To leave my bones in foreign mud”
This album could quite easily fit in with both sides of the celtic-punk fan base. ‘Still Alive’ is one of the folkier songs but still comes with a feeling behind it that carries the album along with great energy. ‘Drunk And Single In Madrid’ ramps up that energy to tell of a young Irish emigrant to Madrid and his escapades. The music is fast and furious with the banjo played at breakneck speed and the song ends with the great line
“They say Ireland is the place/ But I’m better broke, drunk and single in Madrid”
‘Listen’ rattles along with a country feel to it while ‘Rights’ is one of the albums highlight’s and is also accompanied by a great video. The banjo leads the way and Malasaners nail their political convictions to the wall again with a song trying to rouse the people from their slumber and take back their rights.
“It’s not fair the way we’re feeling
So abandoned, so unsafe, so insecure
They smile watching us bleeding
Let’s stand up, fight for our rights”
Not enough bands in celtic-punk use the harmonica so always cheers me to hear it, as in ‘The Price Of A Memory’, and its an instrument that even though not celtic does fit the celtic folk sound very well. ‘Tell Why’ again has a country feel to it and is the tale of broken love. ‘Lucky Duckies’ is a catchy number and one of my favourites with the fiddle blazing away while ‘Siege Of Drogheda’ has a sound not too disimilar to the ballads of the Murphys or the Mollys. Slowish but with the accordion out front and lyrics again touching on the tragic past. The ‘Siege Of Drogheda’ took place in September 1649 when the English forces of Cromwell besieged the Irish Catholic forces and committed what was said to have been
“unparalleled savagery and treachery beyond any slaughterhouse”
towards the captured soldiers and civilian population. ‘Walking Towards The Waves’ returns Malasaners back to what they are best at and another standout track which brings this great album to an end with the superb ‘Too Many Fools’ and the punky ‘Stoneheart’.
Malasaners have a very feel for their punk roots as well as a respect for Irish music and the Irish story telling tradition and have managed to meld them together in such a way that I can only see the band going on to much bigger and better things.
(press play below to hear the entire album)
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