Yorkshire! Yorkshire! Yorkshire!
A beacon of good, old fashioned, no frills celtic-punk music.
The policy on 30492-London Celtic Punks blog is to only review music from the current year. We have broken this maybe once or twice tops over the years but I had no hesitation in doing it again when I heard this release from Leeds based celtic-punk band The Hydropaths. I must admit that until the band posted something on our Facebook page I had never heard of them but that soon changed very quickly!
‘Wailing Away’ is the first official release from the band though they also have a five track release called ‘Basement Demos’ which is also available for Pay What You Like so click on the record sleeve to go to the download page. The band rose out of the ashes of a great Leeds punk band The Dead Pets that I had the pleasure of seeing quite a few times. They were famous for great energetic live shows and raucous punk rock cabaret so it seems kind of natural, to me at any rate, that they should have morphed into a celtic-punk band. ‘Wailing Away’ was recorded in the summer of last year in Leeds and is a real gem.
Leeds is without a doubt the most Irish place in Yorkshire with emigrants drawn to the city from the time of the Great Hunger onwards. It was in the forties and fifties though that Irish emigration to Leeds, and England, hit its peak. By the early seventies the Irish community numbered well over 30,000 and in fact, in 1971 there were more Irish per square kilometre in inner-city Leeds than in Co. Mayo! Irish culture, sport and traditions are alive and well in the city and have been throughout the subsequent decades and are still flourishing now. The story of the Irish in England is often neglected and the children and grandchildren of those immigrant Irish who grew up in working class communities with the children of other immigrants do have a unique take on life. Dismissed as either English or ‘plastic’ many of us turned to punk and/or politics and its certainly not unusual to find multiple Irish backgrounds in punk bands (maybe its something to do with our Catholic education?!?!). The Hydropaths vocalist Joe explains how his Irish background influenced him as a lyricist
“Growing up listening to traditional songs like The Rising Of The Moon and Kelly, The Boy From Killane had a huge impact on me as a writer. It’s about story telling”
The band was formed way way back in 2006 when The Dead Pets broke up but only lasted for four years till the band split. They reformed last year for a four gig tour with fellow Leeds band Kleine Schweine and are now embarking on a tour from November 8th-15th. They play Sun 8th 0The Union Bar Hastings, Weds 11th Unicorn in Camden, Thurs 12th The Parish in Huddersfield, Fri 13th Corner House in Cambridge, Sat 14th McGuires in Liverpool and finally their home town for the Pie Race Festival on Sunday the 15th. Check their Facebook page for more details.
The EP begins with the title track ‘Wailing Away’ and the mandolin begins the tune before the band join in and Joe’s distinctive voice starts up and its classic celtic-punk we’ve got here. The shitty state of the country for the working class is their concern and how nothing changes by just talking about it. A great song and superb all round production with the mando out loud and clear but all the multitude of instruments as clear as anything. ‘Where Have All The Good Men Gone?’ is again a fantastic tune with, again, Joe’s voice and words dominating proceedings. If I had to declare a band as a comparison I think The Tossers would be close but as for anyone here in Blighty their sound is their own. The song name checks Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly and Joe’s dad among others. ‘Long Gone Feeling’ is my favourite song here with the accordion giving it a Poguesy feel and once again the superb lyrics reminding me of MacGowan.
‘Another Night In Hell’ is about six stories in three verses including spending the night in a police cell or how the Bhoys put it
“a working class hotel”
Fast paced, as the whole EP has been so far, and no let up for ‘In Romance’ either. The song slows down a little but as you can imagine that aint saying much and finally ‘Wailing Away’ ends with I suspect with the song closest to The Hydropaths hearts. ‘To Sinners And Saints’ is the story of the lads ancestors leaving the green of home and coming to West Yorkshire to live and die and survive. The story is familiar to all of us who come from similar backgrounds. ‘To Sinners And Saints’ ends the record on a real pint (or fist) in the air/ arms round your mates moment that the The Pogues or The Tossers would be proud of.
So what you get here is over twenty minutes of absolutely brilliant Irish influenced folk-punk with plenty of rabble rousing with not much room for many ballads but a whole lot more than you’d imagine from this great band. The EP is available to download for whatever you want to pay so whether you think its worth £20 or 20p get it downloaded and be sure to make your way to Camden town for November 11th. Its my birthday so I may even let you buy me a drink and I can think of no better way to spend my 21st (ahem!) birthday than seeing The Hydropaths for the first time. I am positive it will be the first of many.
(you can listen to the whole of ‘Wailing Away’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. To get the album follow the link below the player)
Buy The EP
Contact The Band
More On The Leeds Irish
B. McGowan, ‘Taking the Boat: The Irish in Leeds: 1931-81’, 2009.
M. Patterson, ‘The Ham Shank’, 1993.
C. Silva & B. McGowan, ‘Róisín Bán: The Irish Diaspora in Leeds’, 1996.