The last thing we were expecting was a flurry of new releases to land at London Celtic Punk Towers in the first couple of weeks of 2021. With releases down to the bare minimum during the latter part of last year we were surprised and delighted to receive them and will be giving them all the LCP treatment in the following weeks! So far we have 1916, The Feelgood McLouds, Jason Stirling and Tir Nan Og to catch up with but first this six-track EP from the French band Toxic Frogs.
The most obvious place to start with the review is that they are Celtic-Punks only all female band (I had quite a good rant about the idea of segregating bands into female/male ones when we reviewed their last release The Mermaids Song so I will spare you that this time!) and with an EP and an album, Kill The Devils, behind them they have kept up a steady stream of well produced videos to keep them in the Celtic-Punk public’s eye. As I say to bands all the time a good way to keep your profile up when you are not actually recording is to put out videos. Toxic Frogs ones are always entertaining and well produced and they have become one of the better known Celtic-Punk bands through them. Formed in the east-central French city of Lyon in September 2014 it was Ella who came up with the idea of an all girl Celtic-Punk band so started to advertise and soon enough a team of girls was ready. Having already played fiddle for the excellent French Celtic-Punk legends Celkilt she already knew the scene well and as soon as they hit the practice rooms something gelled. The name is an obvious dig at the friendly nickname the English give to French people (well don’t they call the English “rostbif”!!) and within a few years they had made quite the name for themselves with their energetic and passionate live performances and soon developed their own musical style as well.
My Lucky Own is released today and the EP starts with ‘Beginning’. A short intro of wailing eastern style fiddle soon giving way to the EP’s first single the superb ‘Thank You Humanity’. Chugging guitars and I’ve always been a big fan of dual vocals and they are used expertly hear with Ella dueling with no other than Mr. Mahones himself Finny McConnell. Finny has been as busy as pretty much any musician alive during the various lockdowns and it’s really nice to see him helping out other bands. The vocals are quiet, almost whispered in parts and it fits perfect the song and it’s story of leaving your homeland to go on an adventure.
The lyrics are all in English here and Ella certainly has a great voice and you can barely hear her French accent at times. The two fiddles give them a pretty unique powerful sound and having added banjo to the groups sound giving them a more ‘gaelic’ sound than before especially on ‘My Lucky Own’. Tribal drumming and again rather subdued musically and not the raucous free-for-all we have been use to with previous Toxic Frogs releases but that is soon sorted out with ‘The Shamrock’s Jig’ instrumental and a full throttle Irish throwdown with fiddles flying and smoking I am sure! These girls can certainly play and top marks for making it all themselves. No ‘I’ll tell Me Ma’ here you know! The EP really gets into its stride with the final two songs and they Punk it up with ‘Bestie Life’ while ‘Go Back Again’, for me the album’s standout track, is about as close as they come to a Celtic-Punk ‘standard’. Tuneful and catchy with great vocals and them fiddles and banjo with gang “Hey Hey’s” and a brilliant chorus and a great way to end proceedings.
The EP is sadly only sixteen minutes long but I’m afraid we will have to get use to the idea that at the moment bands will find it much easier to record shorter releases and full length albums will I fear be thin on the ground throughout 2021. On top of all that is the much reduced opportunity to promote anything via live gigs and tours. Thankfully though new music is coming out albeit sporadically and we are lucky to receive My Lucky Life. The girls have recently signed to Otbox Productions ( a French record label and tour promoting agency) so hopefully those of us further afield will have a chance to see them play live at some point in the future. This EP shows Toxic Frogs are much much more than just a ‘all girl band’ and can quite rightly take their place among the continents best Celtic-Punk bands.