From false friends, to (temporary) sobriety, to lovable junkies and the world’s worst public transport however you like your Celtic Punk’n’Roll – the debut release from The Cloverhearts will have you covered!
No country in the world had had such a relationship with Ireland and the Irish as Italy. From the poverty stricken roots of our mass migration to the new world and then living side by side in American slums to the eventual ‘coupling’ of their communities to the influence of a shared religion that dominated every strand of life back home and that they also helped spread around the world. When I was a kid on holiday back in the ‘auld country’ it was pretty common to bump into foreign travellers and in my experience the Italians always outnumbered everyone else. Even these days its common to meet young Italians experiencing the real Ireland away from gentrified Dublin. These links have now gone full circle and we have those same Italians going back home with a love of Irish culture and music (that many sadly in Ireland no longer have) and re-inventing it. To that end no countries in Europe have adopted Celtic-Punk as Germany and Italy have. With The Rumjacks Italy has took them to their bosom and several bands have hit the streets with an obvious affiliation with The Rumjacks sound.
The Rumjacks sound is a good place to start here as both they and The Cloverhearts have a very unusual thing in common. The Rumjacks have a Italian drummer and The Cloverhearts have a Australian singer in Sam Cooper not only that but Sam and Italian tin-whistle/bagpipe extraordinarie, Chiara de Sio first met at a Rumjacks show in Manhattan, New York fresh from Chiara’s departure from fellow Italian Celtic-Punkers, The Clan. Fast forward and joined by guitarist JJ Bassi, bassist Stefano ‘Cione’ Becce, and drummer Christian Amendolara The Cloverhearts have unleashed their first record alongside two recent high profile support slots with (them again!) The Rumjacks. So considering the band have only been together for just a short time their rise has been meteorically and this new EP is a great way to start.
The Cloverhearts left to right: Cione Becce – Bass, Backing Vocals *Christian Amendolara – Drums, Percussions * Chiara De Sio – Tin Whistle, Bagpipes * Sam Cooper – Vocal , Songwriter * Luigi JJ Bassi – Guitar, Backing Vocals
The Sick came out at the beginning of last month on the Italian record label, Black Dingo Records and has six new songs all written by Sam and the band themselves. The EP begins with ‘Always Monday’ which was the first single and shows how much those Europeans love their ska. I’m not such a big fan myself preferring sad tearful songs about hunger, famine and forced emigration to happy-go-lucky joyful bouncy Ska like this! I know this all makes me somewhat of a pariah. “How can anyone not like Ska” has been said to me many a time. Luckily this song has a tough edge to it and threatens to turn Punk at any moment meaning that I can just about tolerate it. Basically a song everyone else will love and enjoy so just ignore this miserable bastard.
I’m in much more favourable territory next with what I consider the EP’s standout track, ‘Black Eyes And Broken Hearts’. Kicking off with chunky loud guitars and bagpipes the music has the same sort of Pop-Punk air to it as Dutch Celtic-Punk band Drunken Dolly or more famous bands like NOFX or Blink 182. Catchy as hell with great lyrics smothered in black humour and Sam has a great voice too for this. I was also a big fan of Chiara and her piping while with The Clan and here again it is absolutely note perfect. This leads us onto ‘Drinking Songs’ and with its tin-whistle opener it is more yer typical standard Celtic-Punk song. Played fast and with passion this is a sure fire dance floor filler leading us onto ‘Fuck Trenitalia’, a story about Italy’s national rail way service. Funny enough I first heard this while waiting for a train that was running late whilst in deepest Surrey so can sympathise 100% with the sentiments expressed. I’m guessing a lot of people in Italy would as well as within ten days the video had amassed a staggering 170,000+ views on You Tube!
(Warning- “this video may be unsuitable for some”)
Loads of ‘effing and blinding’ throughout this exceedingly catchy number. Again played at full throttle and plenty of The Cloverhearts usual humour. No time for any ballads on The Sick and ‘Junky’ keeps the pace going. About a junky friend of the band and we should remember that inside everyone cursed with this terrible addiction is a real person who needs support to rid themselves of it. Anyone immersed in the punk scene will know a person who has lost everything to addiction and the sentiments in ‘Junky’ are beautiful. Not a bad song either and the catchiness keeps coming at you with the EP’s final track and a return to some Ska with ‘No Time For False Friends’. No lecture from me this time as the whole EP (including the Ska-ish) tracks have grown on me and it’s an excellent song to bring the curtain down. Veering from Ska to Punk and back to Ska again the whole band sound magnificent. The bagpiping sounds fantastic and though the bagpipes don’t appear on every track you can hear that the songs have been written with the pipes in mind and they haven’t just been tacked onto any old song.
The Cloverhearts opening up for them Rumjacks recently in Bergamo
So there you go the debut EP from a band that has only been together for a blink of an eye and already one of my favourite releases of the year. We always delight in the arrival of another new band on the scene and its unusual for a band to come straight out the blocks and find their niche straight away but The Cloverhearts have done just that. They may be influenced by others in the scene (who isn’t?) but they have come out with an EP that has their individual sound stamped all over it. Highly recommended!