It’s been quite the year for Italian Celtic-Punk so far and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards prove once again that they are ‘Premier League’ with their third album all set to light up the Celtic-Punk world yet again!
Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are without doubt one of the world’s best Celtic-Punk bands. There I said it. It’s out of the way now. One of the most authentic bands in the scene they have a unbelievable crossover appeal to both Punks and Folk fans though they themselves think that they’re
“Too rock for the Folkies and too folk for the Rockies. The Bastards could please or disappoint almost everyone.”
Formed back in 2007 and based in the north of Italy most of the band have lived or spent time in Ireland and have fallen in love with Irish music and culture, playing a completely unique blend of Folk-Rock and Traditional Irish Music. In fact it’s safe to say that Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are unlike any other Celtic-Punk band.
The Men Beyond The Glass is the Bhoys third album and both their previous albums have scored enormous success across the Celtic-Punk world. Debut album Get The Folk Out came out of nowhere to hit #1 as the London Celtic Punks album of the year for 2014 while their follow up album Handmade made #13 in 2017 in what has since been considered the strongest year for Celtic-Punk in recent times. These albums were good enough to earn them a slot at the Dublin Irish Festival, the United States most important Irish music festival, in Ohio in 2019 where they went down a storm and made many friends. Besides the US the band has toured internationally and played more than 400 gigs worldwide, including several times supporting Celtic-Punk legends The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly as well as world renowned traditional Irish acts like The Dubliners, De Danann, Four Men And A Dog, Beoga and Cùig.
The Men Behind The Glass kicks off with ‘Hey Men’ and the glorious drone of the uileann pipes. Much harder to master than Scottish bagpipes and with a much ‘sweeter’ sound it was originally known as píobaí uilleann which translates literally as ‘elbow pipes’. A sound not heard very much in Celtic-Punk but when it is it moves a band from the same league as Leyton Orient up into Champions League territory. Not only that but Luca has truly mastered the instrument and provides an amazing backdrop for the Dirty Bastards to work alongside. The song was written by vocalist Guido whose aching vocals provide a powerful sound for the opening track. This is followed by the first song released from the album ‘Back On Your Feet’ and a song that is perhaps more usual fare for the band than track one.
Fast and catchy with an unmistakable Irish sound it’s a song with both a dark edge and a real catchiness about them and the band are also known for their intelligent lyrics and positive message.
“We spend a life to make it work
It takes a minute to ruin it all
We spent days, months, years
Trying to make it work
But that bloody one minute was worth it all
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again.
Fail again. Fail better.”
‘If Only He Applied Himself’ carries on in the same vein but with the band embracing the Celtic-Punk sound more and more. Think of them as an acoustic Punk band with Silvano’s understated electric guitar works just right in the barrage of sound here. Not only a master of the pipes Luca also excels on the Irish flute and tin whistle. On an album of such quality it is heartening to see that it is truly a band effort with Lorenzo, tenor banjo and mandolin, this time taking on the words and music for ‘Man Of The Storm’. A slow song but with a heavyness to it.
There’s a wealth of good songs here so hard to pick out the best but ‘Happily Misplaced In This World’ is one with a great singalong chorus and Lorenzo’s lyrics emphasise how much affection he has for that wee island on the edge of Europe.
“It’s springing in Dublin this March
And the crowd for Paddy’s day is gone
As I lay down and wait for the first sun
It’s just me and Charles Parnell”
On ‘Wish’ the song tells of a musician looking out on his audience and dreaming. A slow burner with a lovely Irish air to it provided by Luca Rapazzini on the fiddle and a nice touch with trumpet towards the end. ‘Devils Are All Here’ strays into bluegrass a smidgen but still fast and Celt and another killer chorus. ‘Life’s Grand’ has the best lyric of the album without a doubt and though they have that dark edge it’s undercut with a lovely dark humour too’
“Cause life is grand
Yes life is grand
Even when you step into dog shite
And life’s a curse but could be worse
And we would do it all over again”
‘The Count’ opens with the sound of Irish dancing from Irish dancing duo Perla Davide and Letizia Perin and then some of the albums heaviest guitars but still firmly entrenched in their trademark trad Irish sound. Luca’s pipes reign in the catchy and ‘pop’-ish ‘The Make-Sense-Law’. A great song and a standout here with a real foot tapping/ thigh slapping beat and that piping to die for. ‘Empty Glasses’ gives the Bhoys a chance to ramp it up and get the audience on their feet. With the energy of a Flogging Molly anthem like ‘Drunken Lullabies’ the song rolls along until album closer ‘Get Some Rest’ and a delicate ballad sees the curtain closes on The Men Beyond The Glass. A beautiful song from Lorenzo that fits Guido voice nowhere better.
The album has several interesting guest appearances with Luca Rapazzini on fiddle, Diego Lambertini on trumpet, Lucia Picozzi on accordion and piano, Andrea Verga on clawhammer banjo and Daniele Rigamonti on bodhran with Andrea Rock and Anthony Hind on backing vocals. It was recorded, mixed and mastered at Greenriver Studio, Cavaria con Premezzo by Tancredi Barbuscia who has done an outstanding job in gathering the bands sound together. The power in even the slower songs and ballads shines through the entire album. I’ve said several times this year that I thought that album of the year had already been decided with the debut release from Norway’s Ogras but now I’m not so sure.
In a scene where it is remarkably easy to fall into the cliches of Irish music everything the Bastards put into their music screams originality. It may seem their isn’t always a lot of room for the boundaries of Celtic-Punk to be stretched but Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are as good as band in the scene at stretching them. Fifty minutes that subvert the usual drinking songs that you usually hear on these pages. From the twelve original songs to the very title of the album The Men Beyond The Glass aims to show something different from just them drinking songs, jolly jigs, reels and sombre ballads. Not that the Bastards can’t turn their hand to those songs as well as these songs welcome you behind the artist and past the drinker to meet the men beyond the glass…
Buy The Men Beyond The Glass CD- FromTheBand