2 years ago, Sheffield-based Shanghai Treason played their first gig. Now the wait is over…January ’21 sees the release of their self-titled debut album! If you’re partial to a bit o’ Dropkicks, Flogging and Roughneck Riot (and if you’re reading this, you probably are), then these “Yorkshire banjo punks” should be to yer liking. This record sounds like a band working hard, having fun, and determined to make a difference.
As we all know, the banjo is a firm favourite in any Celtic punk line-up. And on this record, the instrument makes its mark immediately. “Emerald Causeway” is a cracking tune to start things off, an energetic number where banjoist Tom Hardy leads the way.
This is a sign of a band that shows promise, and we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed. The boys have been picked up by none other than The Rumjacks, who’ve taken them out on their current UK tour. Sadly, some shows have been cancelled – including Glasgow, dammit – but it’s a great early opportunity for the band in any case.
Now, the music might make an impression on the listener, but so too do the lyrics. In next track “Gatling Gun”, which has been released as a single, we hear clever lines from singer Sam Christie such as The city sucked me in, and moved the goalposts. A better one is Would you sew my eyes shut? I got a needle – you got any thread? That one’s from “The Fiendish Blue”, and I had to grin when I heard it. It’s always good to see a band using words in an intriguing way, right down to their band name.
Shanghai Treason stays true to the Celtic punk tradition, by boasting its fair share of speedy, 2/4-time songs. Listen to “On The Ropes”, where the accordion takes over and gives the banjo a wee rest. “Wildfire” sounds like it’ll be another thrasher, but a break in the middle saves it, before we’re plunged back into the fast-paced fun. Importantly, “Wildfire” also features Dan Booth, well known for his work with Ferocious Dog. Dan played fiddle on the track, and also co-handled production of the album. For Shanghai’s take on FD’s “Crime And Punishment”,
Despite the faster numbers, the band is apt at writing slower tunes too. “Uphill Battle” is a good example, with a steady jig rhythm commencing halfway through, making the song one of my favourites on the album. A much sadder example is “Hero’s Welcome”, a song about a POW returning home from war, only to be suspected of being a spy and tragically killed. Closing track “Boatman” is the other acoustic-led one, where the eponymous boatman could be literal, or maybe a metaphor, leaving it up to interpretation.
Where can I hear the album?
The best way to show these lads some support is to head to their Bandcamp page. There, you’ll find not only the album but some kick-ass merch. If ye fancy a listen first, there’s a wealth of videos on the band’s YouTube page for you to try, and be sure to subscribe!
If streaming’s your thing, and ye wanna contribute some royalties to the band, you can also give them a listen on Spotify or Apple Music. Last of all, be sure to drop ’em a message and stay in touch on either Facebook or Instagram. Their Facebook page lists lots of upcoming shows as the world slowly gets back to gigging ways.
Thanks for readin’! Or as they say in Scotland…slàn leat agus pòg mo thòin 😁☘️