Celtic Punk or Irish Punk or Paddy Punk or Folk Rock or Rock or Punk or Folk Punk or Folk?
The latest studio album from one of the most popular and most successful celtic-punk bands in the world!
The eighth studio album from London Celtic Punks fave’s the Greenland Whalefishers and boy oh boy it does not disappoint! Regular readers will know how much we love this band and we have been privileged to have organised both their only visits to London over the years. One of the celtic-punk scene’s major hitters they have been on the go since 1994 and with over 20 years of touring and recording behind them they show no signs of letting up either. On the release of their ‘Looney Tunes’ EP last St Patrick’s Day (review here) we had this to say about them
“For those not in the know The Greenland Whalefishers hail from Borgen in Norway and have been wandering the globe for over twenty years now playing their fantastic brand of celtic-punk for the masses. Way, way before the Dropkicks and the Mollys were even thought of it was The Greenland Whalefishers who were flying the tricolour for celtic-punk in Europe…and beyond.”
They have toured literally the four corners of the earth and built up a massive fan base all without the help of any major label support and all done on their own terms. They have kept it independent and done it all themselves.
The album is ten songs that come in at a lengthy forty minutes long and has nine original songs (though two were included on that ‘Looney Tunes’ EP mentioned above) and one instrumental. One of the best things about the Whalefishers is that they don’t feel the need to rush through things. Their sound has been likened to The Pogues and I would agree and just like The Pogues they can race through a frantic, fast paced number or a slow ballad and it will not wear out its welcome. This comes from a band being at perfect ease with itself. They trust in what they do and so do we…
This fine album is up there with the best of The Greenland Whalefishers I am happy to say and will I am sure set the scene alight if there is any justice in this world. ‘The Thirsty Cave’ begins with ‘Tinted’ and from the first sounds of the sea followed by acoustic guitar and tin whistle and then Arvids voice begins and we are in familiar territory here. I find myself saying this over and over again but I do find myself judging a lot of celtic-punk releases on not just the music itself. After all a lot of what is released does whether we like to admit or not sound pretty similar so I find myself looking for things that set the releases apart and one of those things is the lyrics or message the band is trying to get across and one of the things that the Whalefishers have always had is strong and powerful lyrics. Again not too dissimilar to that great band that influenced them the most. Vocalist Arvid is chiefly responsible but by no means exclusively so and they are a real collective effort.
“Carry my weight / and if you like some of my hate”
A great song to start with and as catchy as anything you’ve heard from them before. ‘None Of Us Are Faithful’ is up next and is much more traditional celtic-punk. As I already mentioned the lyrics I have to add that there’s not an awful lot of cheerfulness here. Unrequited love, despair, worthlessness, alcoholism, pity seem to be the order of the day but all wrapped in such gloriously uplifting music that half the time you don’t know how sad your singing is! The self-penned instrumental ‘Nothing To Say’ is the album’s shortest track and Agnes tin whistle dominates proceedings and a fine auld tune it is too. Pure paddy punk mixing that Pogues sound with some real punk urgency. We are big fans of Tom Waits here and ‘Angel’ gives Arvid the opportunity to give it his best chance to do a ‘celtic-Waits’ and a slower swirling song that still has plenty of bite in it. ‘Been Away’ has a feel of Hell’s Ditch Pogues to it and speeds along nicely with another sad song
“I ran into you on a rainy night and we fell in love, in the beginning there was light”
’20 Years Of Waiting’ was the title track of that St Patrick’s Day single and is here simply the highlight of an album where every track is outstanding! All the differing components of the Whalefishers coming together in a perfect storm of a song.
‘Ted McKenzie’ is another slower track that somehow doesn’t seem slow at all. So much going on musically that it has the impression of a fast song without being one. All the band swirl round together to make a glorious noise with more tales of woe and death and losing at the bookies. ‘Queen’ is another high point and a ton of London references in the song about meeting some lassie who breaks your heart! Accompanied by a great video of the band filmed on location at home in Bergen and in London on their date at The Water Rat’s back last Summer.
‘Looney Tunes’ is the other song from this years earlier EP and again its a beauty. Rhyming ‘River’ with ‘Liver’ will tell you all you need to know about the songs story. Such great production on this album that continues with final track ‘The Letter’ which sends us home with the fastest song on The Thirsty Cave and the Poguesy feel is never greater.
“Live every day like its now or never, I hope you don’t lose your mind”
So there you have it. Neither a great leap forward or a re-hash of what has gone before but somehow Greenland Whalefishers have pulled out of their hat yet another fresh sounding album chockablock of some fantastic Celtic Punk or Irish Punk or Paddy Punk or Folk Rock or Rock or Punk or Folk Punk or Folk songs. Whatever you want to call it their appeal is universal and they deserve their place as one of the celtic-punk scenes best bands. If you are still to be converted to the Greenland Whalefishers delay no longer and do yourself a favour and get this album. Its not every band that has been together 20+ years you can say the best place to start is with the new album but with the Whalefishers go on and dive in!
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- For an alternative view of this great album check out the ever excellent Celtic Folk Punk And More’ blog here for their review…