“Locations change, friends change, scenes change, but we always have a home in song”.
Boston’s Mickey Rickshaw have long been considered the future of Celtic-Punk by some (guilty!) so a couple of years on from Behind The Eight Ball could their third studio album live up to the weighty expectations we had put upon it? Well read on to see what our good man Marv thought of it.
For the uninitiated, according to their website, Mickey Rickshaw is a “high energy Celtic Punk band that plays fast and loud”. Hailing from Boston, home to so much great music, and with a couple of albums and EP’s under their collective belts (there are eight of them!), ‘Home In Song’ is their third and latest album, due for release soon.
With a heritage like that, and not ever coming across them before, I was excited to review this album. I mean they are from Boston, am I right?! But strangely, on first listen I didn’t take to it. I have no idea why that is. Perhaps I was tired or just feeling a bit odd, or perhaps it was because I was on the train on the way to work on a Monday morning. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t feeling the love. The first couple of tracks just didn’t work for me; the phrase “trying too hard” crossed my mind. Looking back now, I don’t understand it. I love the punkier end of the folk punk spectrum and these guys have raw folk punk oozing out of their pores. So I let the album run on, after all you can’t write off an album after a couple of tracks and it certainly wouldn’t make for a fair review. I am very glad that I did.
(The video for ‘Home In Song’ was shot in the very American Legion that the song was written about, which is now privately owned and operates as a recording studio, and venue, WAMLEG. Directed and edited by the bands own Mike Rivkees)
“And then the sun came up on another day and we found ourselves in time, abandoning a scene that we felt that we built together.
Disenfranchised kids who found a home in song.
Music with a fist- we played it for so long.
Best friends of our lives- formed the strongest bonds,
and now our heroes, they’re falling one by one.”
The sound is predominantly loud bass, overdriven electric guitars over manic drumming (their drummer sure does love his crash cymbals!), thrashy and powerful, with shouty vocals and mob-chorus harmonies. It’s hard to avoid comparisons with the Dropkicks, but these are no DKM wannabees. Think of ‘Buried Alive’ from the Dropkicks’ ‘Blackout’ crossed with some Stiff Little Fingers and you’ll be in the ballpark.
This album just builds and builds. It’s a bit like going to a gig on rainy wet Tuesday; it takes some time to forget about the water seeping in through your shoes. By track four, ‘Keep Afloat’ they take a deep breath, slow it down a tiny amount and say to themselves (I imagine) “Right boys, let’s get this done”. Because let me tell you, you soon forget about that downpour. From there on there is no let-up, no looking back; the power and the energy scream out of the speakers and by the time we get to track six, ‘Fang’, the boys are belting it out and taking no prisoners.
This is no fiddle-de-dee music, there is no shoegazing or worthy whistle solos here. This is hardcore and filthy folk-based punk make no mistake. The absolute artistry of these tracks though, is how every now and then they drop the guitars out for a bar or two and let the melody carry the music to remind you of its glorious roots. After the magnificent onslaught, it is a welcome and jarring break just for a second or two, then they hook you back in and bludgeon you into submission. I get the feeling the entire album is designed to soften you up for the final track, ‘Floodgates’. Even after all the preceding mayhem it takes the music on this magnificent album to a new level with a banshee of a pipes riff. It’s an absolute masterpiece, an exemplar for the genre and I keep going back to it time after time. I learnt something today; more traditional Celtic folk punk, dare I say more melodic folk punk, with its mandolins, banjos, fiddles and tin whistles may be a joy, but there is a place deep in my heart for the fast, dirty, uncompromising and brutal tunes of Mickey Rickshaw and their like.
I have re-listened to this album many times now and after a while I think I finally got it. No more did the first couple of track sound forced, the fault had always been entirely mine. They were just the first hesitant steps on a journey to a different destination. You can pick up Mickey Rickshaw’s previous albums from their Bandcamp page on a pay-what-you-like basis for which they have my utmost respect. Today was a school day.