EP REVIEW: THE GRINNING BARRETTS- ‘The Riot EP’ (2018)

 The second EP release in less than six months from the beer and whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rockers The Grinning Barretts. Delivering more of the same with a range of floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk originals, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems that will sure blow the cobwebs out your ears!

Though formed in 2015 this year has been a very busy one for Vancouver Island Celt-Punk upstarts The Grinning Barretts with the release of The Riot EP quickly following their debut EP from last St. Patrick’s Day. To say we rated it highly is a bit of an understatement and we are also pleased to report that The Riot hits the high spots too.
Grinning Barretts

The Grinning Barrett’s left to right: Bern- Bass * Aaron- Bagpipes, Whistles, Vocals * Dylan-Guitar, Banjo, Vocals * Jeremy- Drums * Lydia- Riot Brewing bartender * Jimmy- badass fan * Pat- Guitar, Mandolin, Lead Vocals. Not in the pic: Kevin- Bagpipes

Hailing from the small ex-mining town of Ladysmith in British Columbia, Canada that debut release saw seven song, including two covers, of pounding anthemic Irish influenced punk rock. Simply played but with a passion missing from many a signed band The Grinning Barretts have a pride in their ancestry as well as their class which shone through in songs like ‘UFS’ (-Union Fight Song) and covers like ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’. Rather than repeat ourselves head over to our review of The St. Padraigs EP here and find out a bit more about the rich (not in money!) history of where The Grinning Barretts ancestors washed up and the individuals involved in the group.

The Riot EP was released last week and is another step in the right direction for this class band. Kicking off with ‘Armstrong Ave’ and with two pipers they waste no time in getting them involved in a Real McKenzies-ish, who even get a mention,  fast paced punk rocker.

“I hear evolution, Fire get’s passed along,  I hear the tried and true.

Who still soldier on Good Riddance, McKenzies, Strung Out, NoFX. I listen to Rancid.

I will until I’m deaf”

Punk lives on and each band carries the torch and whose to say there’s not a group of young guns out there listening to The Grinning Barrett’s who will take the torch from them… but not just yet. ‘At The Altar Of Saint Ayn’ is more Irish with vocalist Pat Barrett’s mandolin getting a good work out. The music is fast and punky with the occasional break for some trad folk and it’s all done with a style you wouldn’t often associate with a straight forward punk band. The song is interspersed throughout with chat from England’s own Christopher Hitchens. Look him up if you like and make your own minds up on what he says is all I will say. The song is about the Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand.

“The apostles of St Ayn. Blue blooded time and time again profess the virtues of toil and sacrifice. From offices so high. Bestowed as a birthright and baptized on the altar of St Ayn”

Next up is ‘Last Call’ and is that most dreaded words for any Celtic-Punk fan. We may hate it but what about the poor bar staff trying to shoe horn us out the bleeding door! This song is for them. We have our first and only cover next up with the old and beloved ‘The Rising Of The Moon’. Picked up and sung on occasion by Celtic-Punk bands but by no means common i can only remember it played by US band The Kilmaine Saints and Ukrainians ShamRocks it’s played to the max here and coming in at under two minutes its fast and most unlike any version you ever heard before. Pat’s voice is harsh and gruff and adds plenty punk rock bite to the rest of the proceedings. Aaron and Kevin’s pipes are out again in force and it takes us nicely into ‘IBLD’ a straight up punk number with a nice guitar break from Dylan. No Celticness to admire here just a catchy as hell punk rock number. We are nearing the end and again The Grinning Barrett’s mine (!) their local history for its rich source of material and ‘King Of Scabs’ is without doubt the #1 song on The Riot EP for me. Beginning with the pipes and one hell of a catchy tune and Pat reins in his voice a little and even sings along at times. Its a cracker of a song and for those that don’t know a Scab is the word used to describe a ‘person’ who betrays his brothers and sisters and crosses a picket line. Take some advice from The Grinning Barrett’s and London Celtic Punks- Don’t ever cross a picket line. The song tells the story of miners strike and is important enough I’ll reprint it all here.

“Across a picket line a man with no loyalty walked. Into the mines because his honor had been bought and over bodies he would step to line his bank account. While other men’s families learned to go without.

1887 at Nanaimo #1 an explosion killed 148 Men. Condemned to die by conditions in the mines trying to put food on their plates. On broken strikes and broken backs the King built his castle and he paid a pittance for the lives lost deep down below. The men got locked out of the mines for talk of a better wage.

Roberts greed and Roberts pride would see them all as spaces. He hired thugs and police to harass picket lines until men accepted starvation wages in collapsing mines

(Chorus) Halfway to hell at the morning bell into the mines for coal. While the king of scabs clawed wages back from high in his castle”

The King of scabs in the song is Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant to Vancouver island. He was a union coal miner, but crossed a picket line to scab his fellow workers becoming a wealthy coal baron as a result. He exploited Chinese workers willing to work for less to drive down wages, and was active in keeping safety laws lax. He built Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria that is still there today. The Riot EP ends, appropriately, with ‘Riot Crew’ and its all over in sixty-five seconds of fast Oi!/Streetpunk and we can finally catch our breath. The EP was recorded at the Riot Brewing Co. in Chemainus British Columbia and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea it sure is mine! Fast and agressive Celtic-Punk with the emphasis on PUNK that is played with passion and pride. A great EP and now all they need to do is knock out a Long Player otherwise they going to dominate the Best Of Year EP charts for 2018!

(listen to The Riot EP for free before you buy here on Bandcamp)

Buy The Riot EP

FromTheBand

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