The folk-punkers from Vancouver are back, with a new collection o’ songs to get ya up and dancing. Following our review of 2019’s Into The North, we now present some o’ the finest moments from the band’s latest offering, Roll And Go. Let’s get into it!
In case ye don’t know ’em so well, The Dreadnoughts are a 6-piece band hailing from the West coast of Canada. They refer to their brand of Celtic punk as “world-core cluster folk”, and these humorous songs are brought to you by a cast of musicians with equally humorous nicknames. Examples include Wormley Wangersnitch on fiddle, Drew Sexsmith (aka. Dread Pirate Druzil) on mandolin and banjo, and – perhaps best of all – The Stupid Swedish Bastard on drums. I wonder what fellow Celtic punkers Sir Reg would make of that one…😁
On a more serious note, The Dreadnoughts have toured and recorded pretty relentlessly since they started out in 2006. This new record gives the band another chance to showcase their experience. We kick off with “Cider Jar”, a short and unnerving intro complete with glockenspiel, of all things, and a bastardisation of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”. This is, of course, only the quiet before the storm.
Soon, we’re launched into “Cider Holiday”, which kinda speaks for itself 🍺 Everything that the Celtic punk fan knows and loves is on offer here – the 2/4 polka rhythm, the band’s street punk attitude, a chorus singalong and – of course – a nod to the ol’ West Country influences (i.e. Bristol way, to anyone outside the UK). Sean Astin pulled off a decent West Country accent in Lord of the Rings. In my estimation, these North American dudes aren’t too bad at it either.
One of the standout tracks on Roll And Go has to be track #4 “Problem”. Not to be confused with the Sex Pistols song of [almost] the same name, the band get the klezmer/polka punk out here, and to brilliant effect. Slow Ride’s accordion and Wangersnitch’s fiddle link up well, and the lyrics are witty, funny, and very catchy. So call some mates, get some drinks in, and get dancing round the room to this one. There’s a “trippy” break in the middle of the song, if you need to catch your breath!
Don’t forget to check out the official YouTube video to this song too. In contrast to the energy of polka punk, this clip features the band doing absolutely nothing 😁 Fortunately, the fans in the video more than make up for it.
“Battleford 1885” is more of a straightforward, hard rock song. It does have its Celtic influences, however, and I quite enjoyed this number meself. For those of us interested in history, the song refers to a wee town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It was looted in the late 19th century by a party of Cree Native Americans, who were short on food supplies at that time.
Love music…with a difference
To sample the band’s own polka-powered take on a love song, try “Vicki’s Polka”. This is a touching, but bouncy tune with some sweet accordion passages to break it up. The Dreadnoughts regularly perform as a trad polka band at certain festivals, under the name of Polka Time. This song is a nod to that factor. Next time you’re thinkin’ of ideas for a date, don’t take your other half to a club. Go polka with them ☘️ As we all know, it’s a barrel o’ fun and you’ll both love it.
“Scrumpy-O” is a different kind of, er, love song, as it’s another dedication to the band’s favourite beverage. Scrumpy, for those who ain’t sampled it yet, is a cider originating in the good ol’ West Country of England. An angry-sounding bass intro by Squid Vicious (great name there) leads us into another Celtic punk thrash rhythm, complete with a West Country “Cider!” growl. I quite fancy a trip back to Bristol and a pint in the pub after listenin’ to this one. Make mine a Guinness though, please, my wife’s the cider fan 🍻
The loveliest song of all, though, is saved till last (well, second from last). Track #12 is the band’s take on traditional sea shanty “Bold Riley” – or “Reilly”, by their own spelling. Many a musician has covered this one, from Kate Rusby to fellow Canadians The Wailin’ Jennys. The ‘Nought’s rendition is similarly beautiful, while a soft percussive tap keeps time. One of my favourites on the album, and a song that puts me fondly in mind of “John Kanaka”, another sea shanty.
Roll And Go
Last of all, we’re treated to the epic title track. The band pack everything they’ve got into this finale: a quiet acoustic intro, a build-up on drums, and then the heavy guitars to kick our ears into gear. The klezmer-polka influence makes a final return during the instrumental breaks. But it’s interesting how the band dial back the typical 2/4 thrash rhythm on this one. A well-worked ending to a well-worked album, and The Fang’s closing lyric made a particular impression upon me:
I’ve never known a better bunch of bully lads than you. And we’ll be back some fine and lucky day.– The Dreadnoughts, “Roll And Go”
Give the title track a spin here:
What The Dreadnoughts have delivered here is a strong collection of songs, with clean and crisp mixing and mastering values. The six-piece continues to show its experience, but they’ve lost none of their Celtic punk grit on this latest offering.
Now…to support the band directly, buy yourself a copy of Roll And Go on the band’s Bandcamp page. If your CD or vinyl player’s long been consigned to the ocean floor (or the local dump), then you can get the album in digital format as well, from the same link above. If streaming’s your thing, then listen to it on Spotify or via Apple Music.
Last of all, communication is key as they say, so stay in touch with the band on their social media channels. They’ll tell ya what’s next, and when they’ll be appearin’ in your neck of the woods. Find ’em on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Folk on, me hearties!