So what do you get for your €9 (plus P&P)? Well, a hell of a lot as it turns out; some of the finest party oriented folk punk I have ever seen assembled in one place. It is a testament to the global love and reach of Celtic-influenced folk punk that of the twenty tracks on the disc, ten countries are represented. Six of the tracks come from German bands, which is understandable given the source, but we’ve got 14 additional jaw-dropping tracks from Spain, France, Ukraine, Serbia, Switzerland, Great Britain, Italy, USA and, of course, Ireland. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this eclectic mix of nationalities might water down the authenticity of the music- this is all top quality straight up loud, sweaty, folk punk perfectly designed with only one purpose in mind- an accompaniment to a night of dancing and drinking to the small hours. To put it another way, it is slap bang in the middle of my sweet spot and I loved every single minute of this epic collection.
I was already familiar with a handful of the beauties on this album; Ferocious Dog and Black Water County from the UK, Orthodox Celts from Serbia and Airs & Graces from Germany. Without exception the other bands on the album were completely new to me and in that respect it serves as what used to be called a “Sampler” album back in the days of yore. A collection of tunes allowing the listener to cheaply explore the best that a bunch of bands have to offer, without risking a load of cash on albums you might not like. Yes, I am aware the switched on media-savvy youth of today today just use YouTube for this, and so do I, but the point here is that this collection has been curated with love and a deft touch. Let this album take you on a journey across someone else’s music taste; it is a joyous trip!
Reviewing a compilation album is difficult. Running through each track and trying to describe it would soon become boring reading so I’m going to explore some of the tracks that were the standout songs to my ear- the tracks you have to go back to after the first complete run through because you can’t wait to hear them again.
First up is actually the first track on the album; ‘The Fury’ by Brick Top Blaggers. Opening with a slow and mournful waltz led by the fiddle, with acoustic guitar backing and a keening vocal, it lulled me into a false sense that the album would probably be featuring an appearance of ‘Danny Boy’ somewhere along the line and perhaps another version of ‘Fields of Athenry’. All classic songs of course, but not the Celtic party anthems I felt I was promised by the cover of the album, which features a caricatured drunken bawdy mess taking place inside a stereotypical Irish pub! The song soon put that to rights. After a verse of soulful fiddling the band clearly got fed up with it, cranked up the amps, plugged in the electric guitar and set the overdrive to eleven before kicking in with the drums for a fast melodic romp. The kind of track that makes you prick up your ears while having a quiet drink with your mates and paves the way to getting home at 2am when you only went out for a swift one. The biggest surprise of the track came when I checked out the nationalities of the bands to begin writing this review; these guys are from the USA, California in fact. The Beach Boys they ain’t!
I can’t review highlights without special mentions for Black Water County who lent their track ‘Way Down Low’ to the party, and Ferocious Dog who showcase ‘Crime and Punishment’ from their second album, From Without (not the Red album as documented in the CD inlay), Normally these would have been instant standout tracks for me, but I am very familiar with these bands and their music so it was more like welcoming old friends into the pub than finding new stunners. This is particularly relevant as, at time of writing this, McSlon’s Irish Pub Radio listeners have just voted Ferocious Dog’s Red album the #1 ‘Best Celtic Rock, Celtic Punk & Trad. Irish Folk Album’ of 2018. Congratulations to Ken and the lads!
Next in Marv’s Top Picks is ‘Yvonne John’ by The Logues. It reminded me a little of The Waterboys ‘A Bang on the Ear’ in places due to its production simplicity, though it is faster and drives along at a blistering pace led by some manic mando or banjo picking, occasional tin whistle and solid drumming. But its real beauty is in its soaring chorus, professing undying love to the itinerant Yvonne John three weeks after a catastrophic split. The song is so heartfelt I should think it might be a love-letter to real person. If so, Yvonne, wherever you are, you really need to listen to this! This was actually my favourite on the album, though all the tracks are so good it was a close call. I was interested when I found The Logues are the only representatives from Ireland on the album and wondered whether that subconsciously affected my instant affection for the song. But in the end I concluded this was not the case, it’s just the best bloody song in my opinion.
‘Folkpunk-Song’ by Paddy’s Funeral, from Germany, actually started out as my least favourite track on the album. It is a perfect “meta” song, deconstructing the notional formula used to construct folk punk songs, within the medium of a folk-punk song, doing all the things the lyric is instructing as they are sung. Very clever.
“At first we hear a mandolin,
It’s playing fast 16ths.
There it is the singer’s voice,
Dirty dark and mean.
The bass is playing one and five.
The bass drum quarter notes.
The key, surprise! G Major!.
This is how it goes…”
They even roll in a few bars from ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ half way through just to underline their credentials. I jumped to the conclusion they were smugly poking fun at my very favourite form of music in the guise of a comedy track (how dare they!). I don’t think it is actually the case now, after checking out some of their other material on YouTube, but even if it is they nail it so well it’s actually impossible not to love the song. It is so joyful I forgot they might be taking the piss! They might be doing it in an arch and knowing way, but they get it spot on, so I’ll forgive them this once.
When I asked MacSlon’s how the ‘Raise Your Pints’ series of compilations came about they told me that in 2015, after a few years of going it alone with their folk punk radio station, they produced an album called ‘Let the Kelts unite Europe’ to support the “Keltic Festival” in Germany and decided to do it again the following year. ‘So Raise Your Pints Vol. 1’ was released in 2016 and they hit upon the brilliant idea to do a new volume every year to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Volume 3 was released in 2018, though it is still available from the shop on their website. I simply cannot urge you strongly enough to check out this compilation series. What I have heard is fantastic and I cannot wait to see what we get in Vol. 4 on 17th March 2019. They are even going to be putting on a ‘Raise Your Pints’ festival in Germany in 2020 and I, for one, plan to be there.
Buy Raise Your Pints- Here
Tagged: MacSlon's Irish Pub Radio