One of 2021’s best Celtic-Punk releases so far The Black Clover are an innovative and somewhat unusual band that may take a listen or two before you fall for them… but I promise fall you will do!
This is the second appearance The Black Clover have made on these pages. Back in 2017 they released an excellent five track EP, From Sailor To Hobo, and they return four years later with another five tracker to thrill us. Founded in 2016 from the ashes of the short lived (but bloomin’ brilliant!) Seagulls Are Drunk who released one excellent EP before disbanding. The Black Clover hail from Grand Est in France and have, like their predecessors, a very unique take on Celtic-Punk. Their debut release touched on all the various wings of Celtic-Punk from Folk to trad to Punk while all fitting seamlessly together …and all with a really nice Tom Waits-y twang.
Veterans now of hundreds of shows playing every conceivable kind of venue they bring that ‘live’ sound to this recording and you can sense the enjoyment in the air as they play. Just Another Pub kicks off with a classic drinking song ‘We Drink So Much’ and the much missed sound of a pint glass filling up before fiddle and chugging guitar fills the air. Seb chimes in with that Waits-ish (perhaps not as pronounced as before but still there) voice before organ unexpectedly joins in and we’ve a right catchy wee number. A really enjoyable thigh slapper!! ‘El Poco’ takes another turn and I have to say I’m finding the organ here really great fun. A western style Tex-Mex rocker that sounds much better in French than it would in English I wager. The halfway point in the EP is reached with ‘Tonight In Dublin’ and a sort of laid back Jazzy, Folky, Poppy mash-up that once again stretches the boundaries of what The Black Clover play. These lot could give us ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and we’d fail to recognise it. ‘Tonight In Dublin’ was the lead single for the EP and the video, released at the height of the ‘clampdown’, consists of the guys playing in their own homes ‘isolating’ from each other.
‘Sloggy Trip’ whisks us back to the Celtic lands and again Seb’s vocals are in French and have a lot more bite to them in what sounds remarkably like a battle song. It’s a slowish swirling number with trademark brilliant fiddle playing from Nicolas who quite rightly is pushed to the fore throughout this EP. We end where we came in on a classy, pure thorough-bred Celtic-Punk drinking song! ‘Pure Whisky’ hits the spot but this time it is Olivier’s accordion taking the lead and the sort of song to get even the most reluctant of dancers to slap that thigh and be punching the air.
All in all a fantastic release my only disappointment being that it is only eighteen minutes long which while that isn’t bad for a EP I do find myself wanting to hear an whole album from the guys. lust like on that debut release they have a canny knack for bringing in lots of different influences but still managing to make it sound like a Black Clover song. This may have been a thin year for Celtic-Punk releases so far but this is definitely one of the very best of 2021. Now for them to get writing that album!
(You can stream and download Just Another Pub on the Bandcamp player below)