ALBUM REVIEW: McSCALLYWAY – ‘Songs For The Wicked ‘ (2020)

McScallywag are an Dutch Celtic-Punk band. Influenced by traditional Irish Folk music, sea-shanties and good ol’ Drinking songs their second studio album Songs For The Wicked sees the light of day tomorrow!!

This year has been a tough one on all of us but has hit the music industry particularly hard. Most bands have had their album releases shelved, tours cancelled, and plans for world domination put on hold. It must be an extremely difficult time keeping the band members motivated when there is little chance of live performances or releasing new music. It isn’t easy for bands in the Celtic / Folk Punk genre to release a new album in normal times so to do so in the current climate is an exceptional achievement. Well our friends from the Netherlands, McScallywag have defied all the restrictions, lockdowns and other obstacles to deliver their new album Songs For The Wicked. What a brilliant achievement and what an excellent album!!

McScallywag top left: Ashley Buitenwerf – Electric Guitar * top right: Arian Sikkens – Lead Vocals, Banjo *bottom left to right: Ruud Platje – Drums * Talitha Barelds – Bass * Tom Kootstra – Acoustic Guitar * Frodo Bosma – Accordion *

McScallywag are based in Groningen, a city in northern Netherlands. The band was formed in 2013 when members of the hardcore punk band De Klootviolen decided to go in a completely new direction having fallen head over heels with Irish music. They describe themselves as “Dropkick Murphys meets The Pogues” McScallywag’s songs are full of what you would expect. Obviously the subject of drinking comes up but the band don’t confine themselves to being a stereotypical Celtic-Punk band and they intertwine songs about getting pished with the everyday struggles of staying sane in modern day society. Songs vary from mellow and acoustic to Punky and fast and as evidenced by their You Tube channel they are a pretty explosive live act as well.

Their debut album Dirty Water was released June 2016 their debut album Dirty Water was nine songs and half an hour of high tempo original Celtic-Punk that came out at a time when Celtic-Punk had never been as popular in the Netherlands. Circle J, Bunch Of Bastards, LQR, Drunken Dolly, Pyrolysis and The Royal Spuds are all plying their trade over there and we were even due to host a special Dutch Celtic-Punk night here in London till you know what happened! All these bands exist side by side with a sense of co-operation that ought to exist in every music scene. The music may be fast and furious and though acoustic it still owes much to Hardcore Punk in many ways. McScallywag are one of them Folky bands that plays as loud plugged in as not!

Mc Scallywag are a 6-piece band whose original roots come from hardcore punk but have developed into more traditional celtic folk but keep the raw punk edge. With a mix of guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, cello, drums and accordion Mc Scallywag make perfect drinking music. The accordion on the new album really catches your ear more so than on any other album I can remember. Its exceptional.

All songs written by the band themselves (no ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ here!) and were recorded at Twang Wolf Studio just outside Groningen. The excellent artwork for the sleeve has been done by Steven van Calcar and is crying out to be whacked on a t-shirt (hint hint!).

Although the band is less than 10 years old the new album has a very mature sound. It’s a mixture of high tempo tunes such as The Ballydesmond Polka, Out of Sight Out of Mind and Remember Me along with the slower pace of Run Away and Coming Home. A well-balanced album all round. Unfortunately, due to our current situation it’s not likely we will be able to join the McScallywag guys for a live gig anytime soon which is a real shame. So for now its hat’s off to the guys on the new album and hopefully well be able to catch you at the bar next year.

(you can stream or download Songs For The Wicked via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Songs For The Wicked  Bandcamp (CD or Download)

Contact McScallywag  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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