celtic-punk from the home of authentic Budweiser beer!
Pirates Of The Pubs debut album Drunken Forever hit the streets on St Patrick’s Day this year and immediately won over large sections of the international celtic-punk media. The album has been sitting in my inbox for quite a while now waiting for the opportunity to give it a proper listen and so with a few days off work the chance came round and I can only say how daft I have been to wait this long!
The seven piece band were formed on New Year’s Day in 2012 and hail from České Budějovice, the capital of the South Bohemia region of the Czech Republic. The area is most famed for the production of Budweiser lager. Not the watered down pish available in the UK and the States but the original and superior Czech brew. Founded in 1895 the Pivovar Budějovický Budvar (Budweiser Budvar Brewery) has the legal right to sell Budweiser in much of Europe but a inferior American version, which was originally brewed as an imitation of the original, is also available. The US brewers Anheuser-Busch attempted to buy out the Czech company in order to secure global rights to the name Budweiser, but the Czech government has refused all such offers, regarding the brand as a matter of national pride. For once money did not win!
There are a handful of similar bands already kicking up a storm in their home country with the most famous being the excellent bagpipe punk band Pipes And Pints and celtic rockers Benjaming’s Clan. So they are not alone in playing this great music at home and their have been several, now deceased, bands over the years that played variations of celtic-punk so it may not be new but Pirates Of The Pubs certainly give it a new spin compared to those older bands. Together for four years Drunken Forever may be their first studio recording but it has certainly paid off for the record shows those four years together have given them the chance to perfect their sound. The album was made with the support of the bands fans on the fundraising site Startovač.cz where the band managed to collect almost twice as much as originally requested.
Drunken Forever kicks off with a short piratey intro with ‘…Are Coming’ and plenty of “Yo-Ho-Ho’s” before ‘Vítejte Na Palubě’ and the lyrics switch from Czech to English already and the music is certainly trying to keep up by switching from celtic to punk to celtic-punk and we only two songs in.
By the time of third track ‘Jolly Roger’ I’m getting an idea of what Pirates Of The Pubs are about. The vocals go from male to female and back to the whole band giving it a go altogether and it works. Believe me it works. It may be much more pub-rock than arena-rock but that only makes it more fun and you can bet your bottom Euro that they are one hell of a band to catch live. ‘Irish Music Heart’ showcases Bára’s superb fiddle playing while she also takes up vocal duties on the song too. ‘Stupid Drinking Song’ is exactly that! Tin whistle and a great celebration of alcohol with a shouty “La La La-La Li” chorus. Catchy as hell and sure to go down a storm at concerts. The band’s signature tune is next and no exaggeration to say ‘Pirates Of The Pubs’ is fecking brilliant. The album’s stand out track. The band come together with a catchy as hell tune and everything works to perfection here with fiddle and accordion seemingly on fire. The album’s only cover follows and if you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a thousand times but at least ‘Tell Me Ma’ is given a good seeing to with Bára’s great female vocals and its all fast and furious and over in dead on two minutes. They follow this with a very interesting song called ‘Bohemian’ a gang vocal acappella anthem about their home sung in English, where Bára sings lead vocals and the boys sing backing vocals. We are back in Czech for ‘Na Vlnách Naděje’ and the folkiness takes a back seat and the punk is ramped right up and is followed by ‘Vlci’, another song in Czech and based on the tune of the old Irish song ‘The Star of the County Down’. Yet another song in tribute to their home is the brilliant ‘Budweis Pirates Clan’. One of a handful of songs here that could all be the official anthem to their home town.
More gang vocals and plenty of accordion here accompanying the frenetic drumming. With the 100th anniversary of the Easter Uprising in Ireland being celebrated this year ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ is a fitting tribute to the rebels who fought an empire eventually bringing it to its knee’s. The song is not the version made famous by the likes of The Clancy Brothers or, more recently, Solas but their own tribute and a great slice of celtic-punk it is too.
“Sun rose in the sky so now I must go, don’t wait for me, my love
I’ll just take my guns and your kiss, the last, tonight maybe I’ll dieFor freedom, for our land and for our homefor freedom, for Ireland I must goFor hundreds of years the occupied our landthe evil in name of crownbut our time is coming, time for revengelet the Irish Republic alive”
Drunken Forever comes to an end with Bára back again on vocals singing the beautiful love song ‘Boy From Copenhagen’ alongside a simple acoustic guitar.
Recorded over several nights and with the help of their local brewery (!) the band have come up with an album that rocks and folks at both the same time. Thirteen tracks playing at over half an hour with the lyrics sung in both Czech and English. The vast majority are self penned numbers with just the solitary cover and I have to say it is easily their own numbers I am most impressed with. A great debut album with excellent production that also comes with great packaging as well.
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