Category Archives: Album Review

ALBUM REVIEW: TIR NAN OG – ‘Sing, Ye Bastards!’ (2021)

Love, life, death and lots of alcohol! Yeah the sort of themes you expect to hear on a Celtic-Punk album but in the hands of German band Tir Nan Og on their new album Sing, Ye Bastards! these traditional themes are anything but traditional!

Fifteen years and hundreds of gigs later sees the the sixth album from the Bavarian based Tir Nan Og. Germany is the epicenter for all things Celtic-Punk in Europe and if any North American bands are reading this forget about touring anywhere else if you want to actually play to more than 2 men and a dog! We’ve touched on the various reasons for why they love the music before so no need to go into it again suffice to say the mutual love of alcohol between the Irish and the Germany plays a large part in it. Tir Nan Og play a mean drinking song but by no means is that all they’ve got in their cannon and they are as likely to delve into Irish mythology as dive into a public house.

The album begins with ‘Fear Gorta’ and a story about the Great Irish ‘famine’ of 1845–1852. I say ‘famine’ because their was plenty of food available in Ireland at the time but it was being escorted by large military force outside the island while the Irish literally starved by the roadside. Numbers vary but millions died and many more were forced to flee overseas to escape death (sadly for many this wasn’t possible as the ships that took them across the Atlantic ocean were later to be called ‘coffin ships’). 

There are many legends about the time, one being the story of the Hungerman (Gaelic: Fear Gorta). A ghost that would collect the souls of the starving.

“God Almighty have mercy on our souls.
Save us from Fear Gorta and please fill our bowls.”

The song is fast paced and with great dual male/female vocals with a multitude of instruments smoking away. The best Irish Folk music tells a story and Tir Nan Og put many Irish bands to shame with this little known story. Robert sings in that very distinctive German way. Hard to explain but it is very clear and absolutely no need of a lyric sheet as every word is crystal clear and without even a hint of a German accent too! Most of the album is original material without any of the Irish standards beloved by most German bands. Maybe they got them out of their system in their previous albums but its original material that impresses us and here we have plenty to be impressed by. The quality of the music here is superb and on ‘Last Order’ a combination of piping and ‘poppy-country-ish’ Folk works well but the Celtic-Punk tag is maybe a tad too much for them as they are in essence a trad Folk band and no better on this album is that proved on the fiddle led ‘Maelstrom’, the upbeat ‘The Wanderings Of Oisin’ (a poem by William Butler Yeats) and ‘Green Pill’. Three songs which showcase the bands range from fast as hell right through to fast and then just catchy. Through all the songs different instruments are given the lead and used to perfection but no matter which is leading the songs still have that Tir Nan Og trademark sound. The first inkling of the band’s Celtic-Punk roots is the short (but sweet) ‘We’ve Been Everywhere’ and again Sarah and Robert work brilliantly together on vocals on a tongue in cheek song about dragons! I was thinking this may have been the start of the album turning in a heavier direction but ‘Sláinte’ is a bit too jolly for this gnarley faced old Punk rocker! Work on Sing, Ye Bastards! took two and a half years from beginning to end product and right when they might be thinking of a release date Covid lockdown appeared and everything was postponed or cancelled. Tir Nan Og rose to the challenge as drummer Volker said.

This album was created in difficult times and that’s why we were particularly able to empathize with the Irish attitude towards life, to stick together despite difficult times and to make the best of it.“

‘I Sold My Soul’ introduces a slight Ska beat to the bands repertoire with great bagpiping from Andreas. A song that would not be out of place in a Irish pub with the album’s title as the song’s chorus it’s a song to be played as fast as you can and shouted as loud as you can. It was often said that The Pogues were louder with their acoustic instruments than many Punk bands and this song shows that you don’t even need to pay particularly fast or manic to achieve that Punk ‘feel’ while playing what is in reality trad Irish Folk music. Sarah takes the vocal duties on ‘Stone Cold Heart’ and it kind of reminds me of the type of rock ballad (with a Celtic edge though) that Springsteen would have sung in his hey day. The second single to be released from Sing, Ye Bastards! was the ballad ‘Sea Of Sorrow’. The song was written about migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea.

A topic not too dissimilar to the ‘coffin ships’ mentioned earlier. The song completes the cycle for Tir Nan Og. Listening to the album so far the only thing is was missing was a hard hitting ballad and both lyrically and musically it delivers.

“You’re asking me, to sing a happy song
But how could I when happiness is gone?
See the tears and the world is going by,
Sing a happy song when all I want is cry”

We down to the last three songs and Sarahs voice is as strong and powerful as ever on ‘The Song Remains’. It’s the last of the Tir Nan Og compositions with the final two numbers covers from the Dutch Harmony Glen and fellow Germans The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats. ‘O’Hanlan’s Last Words’ is magnificent banjo led tune about a convicted criminal with one hell of a bagpipe solo and the album ends with a superb version of the Paddyhats ‘The Firestorm’.

So love, life, death and plenty of alcohol. It’s all here on an album that sees Tir Nan Og’s progression into a band that could oh so easily fall into the Irish Folk category. The quality of the music, songs, lyrics all point to a band that has outgrown the Celtic-Punk tag but we’ll hang onto them for a bit longer yet! Thirteen songs and eleven original Tir Nan Og compositions that come in just short of fifty minutes long. Songs that uplift in parts and make you think in others. The gloom sometimes descends but is soon followed by something to raise your spirits whether in anger or joy. Another great album from Tir Nan Og and considering the circumstances of its release a massive achievement. Well done folks.

Buy Sing, Ye Bastards!  Prosodia: CD or Download

Contact Tir Na Og  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW (1970)

Songwriter. Six-string strummer. Storyteller. Country boy. Rock star. Folk hero. Preacher. Poet. Drug addict. Rebel. Saint AND sinner. Victim. Survivor. Home wrecker. Husband. Father. Son. and more…

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I was rather fortunate to grow up with The Man In Black in my ear. It was thanks to my Mum who kept up a steady stream of Johnny Cash, Rock’n’Roll and Irish-Folk that me and my siblings all developed huge interests in music. Johnny himself may have passed away sixteen years ago but interest in him and his life still hasn’t waned and as new material is periodically released it is snapped up eagerly by fans old and new. He still remains the coolest man ever in Rock’n’Roll.

The Johnny Cash Show was Johnny’s 35th album and was released to tie in with the TV series that he was hosting at the time. From the summer of 1969 through to spring 1971, pretty much the whole of America sat down together in front of the TV set waiting for the famous opening line “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”. The perfect gentleman with an indomitable spirit and down to earth grit the ever popular Johnny struck a chord with people right across the country. All creeds, classes and colours were united in their love for this great man. His willingness to take risks is what made his show incomparable. Johnny knew talent when he saw or heard it, and his word meant a lot. So, it was no small feat, nor beyond reasonable expectations, that many reclusive stars joined Cash on the pilot show. Though this album is one of Cash’s lesser-known records, it did spawn the highly successful single ‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down’, which helped kick start the career of singer-songwriter turned actor Kris Kristofferson with the song and album eventually both going on to reach #1.

This song is about the dreaded hangover, with Johnny singing about ‘coming down’ on a Sunday morning after being ‘stoned’ on a Saturday night. In the song, our hero puts on his cleanest dirty shirt, drinks a few beers, and heads out to face a lonely day.

Well I woke up Sunday mornin’, with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more, for dessert
Then I fumbled through my closet, for my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt
And I shaved my face and combed my hair and, stumbled down the stairs to meet the day

I’d smoked my brain the night before on, cigarettes and songs that I’d been pickin’
But I lit my first and watched a small kid cussin’ at a can, that he was kickin’
Then I crossed the empty street and caught the Sunday smell of someone fryin’ chicken
And it took me back to somethin’, that I’d lost somehow somewhere along the way

On the Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin’ Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’, half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin’ city side walks, Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

In the park I saw a daddy, with a laughing little girl who he was swingin’
And I stopped beside a Sunday school and listened to the song that they were singin’
Then I headed back for home and somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringin’
And it echoed through the canyons like the disappearing dreams of yesterday

On the Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin’ Lord, that I was stoned
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’, half as lonesome as the sound
On the sleepin’ city side walks, Sunday mornin’ comin’ down

Before Johnny performed the song on The Johnny Cash Show, ABC censors asked him to change the lyric, “Wishing, Lord, that I was stoned” to “Wishing, Lord, that I was home” but never being one to accept being told what to do Johnny sang the song the way Kris Kristofferson wrote it, even stressing the word ‘stoned’!

( Sadly none of the series have been released officially so any that appear the sound and picture quality is definitely not DVD quality. What does appear are random performances some better than others. Here athough the possibility of a third season existed, Cash knew the writing was on the wall. The last twelve minutes of the last episode of the last Johnny Cash Show features Cash performing ‘I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen’, ‘He’ll Understand And Say Well Done’, The Statler Brothers singing ‘When You And I Were Young’, June Carter singing ‘Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes’, Carl Perkins playing ‘Your True Love’, the Carter Family singing ‘Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies’ and Cash’s final words to his television audience)

The ratings for the show were excellent (reaching #17 in the nationwide Nielsen ratings in 1970) and ABC extended the original 15 show run to a whopping 58 (fifty-eight!) episodes. The end of the series came in 1971 as the show was cancelled as part of the so-called ‘rural purge’ in which urban executives at all three major broadcast networks eliminated rural and older skewing programs. ABC viewing figures over all were in massive decline and so they cancelled one of their only successes a horrifying testimony to just how mismanaged the network was at the time. That the copies of all the shows still lay unreleased in the vaults is I think a terrible mistake and we can only hope someone pulls their finger out about it soon.

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With the exception of the album’s obvious highlight, ‘Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down’, each of these songs sings of the history of the working man in the United States with the centerpieces of the album the two jaw dropping medleys: the first concerning truckers, the other concerning the cotton belt. Performed with backing vocals and music by the Tennessee Three, The Statler Brothers, and The Carter Family and Bill Walker’s Orchestra the closing performance of the spoken word ‘Here Was A Man” is a superb piece of Gospel and shows how easily Johnny could turn his hand to different styles.

To these ears though it sounds like classic Cash. His voice instantly taking me back to my childhood of sitting round the record player listening to my mammy’s Johnny Cash collection. All the adults I knew, especially the Irish ones, seemed to be a massive fan of his with their record collections bulging with his albums. it was impossible not to like him. The subject matter was so much darker than other country artists and lets face it he was as cool a fecker as ever there was in music! He was himself the quintessential Scotch-Irish American, with a bit of Native American too he use to say!

Johnny Cash  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  The Johnny Cash Trail  

(this amazing video popped up on my feed recently and it never takes much to set me off on The Man In Black so give it a twirl. Its great to hear Johnny just chatting away and the animation is top notch capturing Johnny perfectly)

for more like this…

INTERVIEW WITH WU WEI FROM CHINESE CELTIC-PUNK BAND SMZB

We here at London Celtic Punks have a passion for music but what about those who use music to try and achieve a higher goal than just pure enjoyment. The Chinese Celtic-Punk band SMZB are such a band and here Michael X. Rose interviews WuWei their lead singer/ songwriter and reviews their latest album, Once Upon A Time in The East.

Interview with Wu Wei, vocalist and songwriter for SMZB. January 2021.

I was discussing Once Upon a Time in the East, with him, the latest LP from SMZB released in August, 2020. It’s a great album and a fantastic follow up to 2016’s The Chinese are Coming.
If you haven’t heard SMZB before, their sound is a blend of classic Punk- energy and chords- with Celtic rhythms and instruments. They use bagpipes, tin whistle, banjo that give it the Celtic feel. They also add brass trumpets on some which give those songs a kind of totalitarian terror, like the Communists are about to kick down your door.
I asked WuWei about the band name, what does it mean? There is a microphone called an SM7B, was it related to that? I was curious. WuWei replied,

It is the abbreviation of the band’s earliest Chinese name Pinyin SHENG MING ZHI BING, Chinese name means “BREAD OF LIFE” or “BISCUIT OF LIFE.” In 2002, the Chinese name was no longer used, only the acronym was retained, and the band’s logo (attached) was a four-letter acronym, we love it!

Biscuit of Life, there you have it. I love it too!

If you go to purchase the album on Bandcamp, don’t be afraid of the 78$ price tag, that’s in Hong Kong Dollars, and is only about 10$ US/Euro or so.

Many of the songs on Once Upon a Time… are listed on in Chinese, so here are the translated titles, the * means its in Chinese only on the Bandcamp;

1. Red Riot
2. All Red the River *
3. Lumo Road
4. Slap Like Teen Spirit
5. Old Guns *
6. Great Hall of Rock ’N Roll *
7. Brewing Freedom *
8. Get the World Drunk *
9. Emma the River Dolphin
10. Mao’s Great Famine
11. Happiness Camp ( Slavery Manifesto) *
12. A New World Of Misery *
13. Three Women *

First, Thank You for doing this interview. I’m so excited about this. I am a big fan of SMZB ever since I heard The Chinese are Coming.
Red Riot, first song on the album. The siren intro is amazing, it’s like the Bell tolling Doom. You mention several times kids and parents ratting out on each other, and not being able to trust anybody. What is it like to live in a Police State?

My feeling is that there is no safety or dignity in China.

SMZB – Red Riot (Fight Or Die)’ Official Video

There are six members of SMZB, a large group. Where are you all from, is anybody Irish or of partly Irish descent? How did you get into doing the Irish Sound? Personally, I hear a Chinese influence you bring to the Irish Punk, and it fits well and adds a new dimension.

Our band members are from three different cities in China, Wuhan, Beijing and Changsha. None of us have Irish links but enjoy the music from the Pogues and the Dubliners. That began my interest in Irish Punk.

How many LP’s does the band have out? When did you switch from “plain” Punk to Celtic Punk and why? What converted you?

The band has 10 albums. I wanted to do Celtic punk from the beginning but it was difficult for me to find the instruments or the musicians. But in 2005 I met the bands bagpipe player and we toured Europe where I was able to buy some instruments such as the tin whistle. From then on we made the Celtic Punk music.

Who writes the songs, is it collaborative, or separately?

I write the lyric and melody and then work together with the band to complete the songs and get their input.

I hope you don’t mind me asking, your songs are so clearly and strongly against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) which is fantastic, how do you not get arrested? Are you worried about that?

Well so far I haven’t been arrested but my social media and phone is under surveillance. Probably my band is not big enough to cause the CCP much trouble, if I was too famous then perhaps I would be arrested by now. But it doesn’t worry me.

What do you think of the One Child Policy and the deaths that it caused? Is the Common Chinese person fed up with the CCP? Will there be Freedom for the good people of China anytime soon?

The one child policy was scraped a few years ago now, it was a stupid policy and of course had tragic consequences. Most Chinese people are content with the CCP, they don’t question them. I think one day there will be freedom in China but who can say when, although my thoughts and hopes are that it will be soon.

Where is the band from? I think it says Wuhan on Bandcamp, do you still live there? Sometimes it says you are located in Hong Kong. Do you think you need to defect? Where are you located currently?

The band began in Wuhan, at the moment there are two band members still living in Wuhan. I moved to Portugal last year and other band members live in Beijing and Changsha.

How has the Corona Virus impacted you in ways we may not expect? Is Wuhan devastated? Are you aware that it was made in a CCP lab as a Bio Weapon? Is the average Chinese citizen aware that the CCP created this virus?

Thankfully the virus has not impacted me or my family and friends very much. Other than we of course stay home more. Wuhan has recovered very well since last year and the virus rate is low, most daily life is back to normal. I believe the virus was created in the bio lab but most Chinese people do not think this.

Slap Like Teen Spirit, fourth song on the album is such a great song. My reflection on the lyrics is; Do you feel like China is one giant prison camp? Do you know about the Uighur prison camps and their extermination by the CCP? What advice do you have for Westerners now that CCP style censorship has come to the West?

Yes my feeing is that China is a prison camp, I know about the Uighur camps but most Chinese people are not aware of it.

Lyrics:
Sit around a table with your classmates,
Remember how people fight on the streets,
Watch violent videos on your cellphone,
No one is your friend, everybody is your enemy.

You can learn nothing, waste time in your school,
Make yourself brutal and cold-hearted,
Practice abuse, Insult and bully,
Laws and rules mean nothing to you.

Stand in a circle, rip off your uniform,
Slap each other, then kick kick harder.
Spit like a gangster, speak like a rogue,
Stare like a killer, hurt like an avenger.

Track 6, Great Hall of Rock ‘N Roll, the chorus musically references an Irish song The Waves Down in the Ocean. I love it. Can you talk about its inspiration?

I hadn’t heard the waves down in the ocean, but the song is inspired by traditional Irish music. This songs title translates to ‘Great hall of rock and roll’.

Emma the River Dolphin (Track 8). You sing a lot about pollution, Communist China is well known as one of the most environmentally polluted countries on Earth. What are your goals here? Can China be saved?

China is developing fast and it is destroying the nature. But nature is strong and it can be saved if things change. I hope they do.

SMZB – ‘Mao’s Great Famine Official Video

The song Mao’s Great Famine. I’m sure many Chinese know how Mao killed over 100 million Chinese and the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. Most Westerners don’t know this history and may even hang paintings of Mao on their wall by Andy Warhol or carry a Little Red Book. Tell me about the Lyrics for Mao’s Great Famine for the Westerners reading this interview.

Most people in China know about the famine but they don’t blame Mao, they have been taught it was a natural disaster.

Song 11, Happiness Camp. This song is so great. There is a slide guitar lead break in it, maybe mixed with a woman’s vocal on the breaks? It’s a very ghostly haunting sound. Can you tell me about the production of this song a little bit?

Track 12,this songs title is ‘Happiness camp’ with the camp referring to the prison camps. The women’s vocal is with the guitar solo, it’s a tribute to Ennio Morricone.

Lyrics:
HAPPINESS CAMP(SLAVERY MANIFESTO)
Cleanse your brain, or change its makeup, and use your anger as needed at all times.
No more extra complaints, no more words, let them play and emasculate you, cooperate with their hand-to-hand combat.
You suck what they exhale and eat what they shit, nothing is important, as long as you can flirt.
Even the cold will be proud, the hunger will be proud, and it is here that you will have equality and still feel the embrace of God.

Sign this declaration of slavery, there is no bottom line to happiness here.
Serve your master with all your heart and soul, and you will be happy in this concentration camp.

Be reluctant to open those doors and windows and let the sun shine in front of you, be infinitely loyal to your leaders and help them move bricks and build walls.
You say you are all sober, you are all calm, and say forget those sufferings and enjoy the happiness and peace that you have now.

Sign this declaration of slavery, there is no bottom line for happiness here.
Serve your masters with all your heart and soul, there is only happiness in this concentration camp.

Track 12, A New World of Misery. I really like the stripped down songs you do. They remind me of Spaghetti Westerns. This song is so great with just acoustic guitar, tin whistle, and fiddle, it refreshes between full punk blasts. Tell me about this one.

Track 13.This song is called ‘A new world of misery’. It was inspired by a visit I made to villages in the Sichuan province in China 25 years ago which had a huge amount of poverty. What really shocked me was that when I returned to the same area, the situation was the same.

Are there any other great Chinese Irish Punk Bands we should know about?

There are some good Chinese punk bands but no Irish punk bands in China. (Editor – China is a BIG BIG country so a big shout to Grass Mud Horse here!)

SMZB – ‘Happy Concentration Camp (Declaration of Slavery)’ Official Video

What does the band like to drink Guinness? Whiskey? What brand? Or is there a Chinese brand of Stout we should all look out for?

I like Guinness and whiskey, Jameson is my favorite for the price. Recently the craft brewery business is expanding in China, there are now many good craft stout made in China. But Guinness is unique.

1/17/21  Michael X. Rose

Contact SMZB  Facebook

Thanks to Wu Wei and the guys and to Michael for the interview. Michael also sings and plays guitar in New York state Celtic-Punk band The Templars Of Doom whose latest album Hovels Of The Holy is still available (and now out on vinyl too).

Ten years old but what a great show. SMZB play their 15th Anniversary Show @ VOX Livehouse, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Christmas Day 2011.

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS 2020 READERS POLL WINNER ANNOUNCED

Well that has blown us away. To say we have been delighted with the response to this years Readers Poll is an understatement. For the first time ever over we had 1000+ votes cast. That’s an incredible 600+ more on 2020. Last years winners Mickey Rickshaw would only have placed 5th place this year! It was a three horse race right from the very beginning and we knew it was going to be a good year with over 200 votes cast in the first few hours. It stayed that way until the final day the poll was open and in the last 24 hours one band came from nowhere to sweep to victory!

The winner of the 2020 London Celtic Punks Readers Poll is (drum roll!) Aussies The G-Set with an astounding 25.4% of the votes cast. McScallywag looked odds on for victory leading from day 2 from early leaders Finnegan’s Hell. Black Water County moved into 2nd place and it stayed that way till the Aussie vote turned up. Most of the votes came from the UK with the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, USA, Canada and France following.

The ‘other’ (the write in part) section was interesting with 22 releases gaining votes with two that I hadn’t heard (The Bonny Men and The Roughians). The Top 5 in this section were

  1. CLOVERS REVENGE – Truants And Absolution
  2. THE NEW RUFFIANS – Shenanigans
  3. 7 STOUT CLAN – 7 Stout Clan
  4. PADDY WAGGIN- Race To The Bottom
  5. BARBAR O’RHUM – Journal de B’O’R

the top three here would have all finished above Ogras in the main poll in 5th, 6th and 7th place.

So cheers for taking part in our poll and congratulations to The Go-Set. A wonderful band and proof that they mean an awful lot to a lot of people. You may not know it but they played a massive part in the existence of London Celtic Punks too so we owe them our thanks as well. Hopefully 2021 will bring all these bands the recognition they deserve and things will settle down to normal soon. You can check out the official London Celtic Punks Best Of 2020 list here. Hard to predict what the following year will be like but we do know several releases from ‘big’ bands were delayed from last year so hopefully we will see them emerge soon. Why not consider subscribing and never miss a post (the box is on the left when viewed full size) we promise not to bombard you too much!

NUMBER ONE

Buy Of Bright Futures…and Broken Pasts Download

Contact The Go-Set  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

NUMBER TWO

Buy Songs For The Wicked  Bandcamp (CD or Download)

Contact McScallywag  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

NUMBER THREE

Buy Comedies And Tragedies CD- FromTheBand  Download- Spotify  AppleMusic 

Contact Black Water County  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

*

READERS POLL 2018   READERS POLL 2019

ALBUM REVIEW: THE NEW RUFFIANS – ‘Shenanigans’ (2020)

A heady mix of traditional Celtic music and Punk for late night pubs and afternoon garden parties alike!

The New Ruffians are the type of English band that usually comes from the rolling hills of Devon or Somerset. Alcohol loving folkies playing spirited covers at 110mph and totally enjoying themselves! Instead they come from the West Midlands town of Wolverhampton home of Wolves FC, the mighty Slade and the even mightier Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners. The New Ruffians were formed in 2015 by four multi-instrumentalist ‘Wulfrunians’, as natives are called, and have been playing a chaotic mix of traditional Irish, Celtic-Punk, vintage Ska and leftfield folk to inebriated locals since.

These are not yer typical Celtic-Punk band by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t just mean because they include a trombone player! A seasoned live band and popular on the local pub scene they recorded their first album ‘Shenanigans’ in early 2020 but thanks to you-know-what (!) wasn’t released till the end of November. Still it snuck into the London Celtic Punks Best Album list at #28.

The New Ruffians left to right: Dave Dunn – Guitar / Bass Guitar / Backing Vocals * Paul Dunn – Cajon / Bongos / Trombone / Vocals / Guitar /Banjo / Harmonica / Percussion * Daran Crook – Vocals / Guitar / Mandolin / Banjo / Cajon / Harmonica / Tin Whistle * Rich Harvey – Piano Accordion / Melodica *

Shenanigans is the bands debut release and features seventeen songs with the emphasis on covers and most of those Irish songs. Its a good selection but as usual we would have liked to have heard a few more originals but with the album lasting a 3/4’s of an hour there’s no denying you get great value for money but what about the music?

The album kicks off with ‘Wake Up’ and true to form it’s a song about being at a music festival (probably in Devon or Somerset!) and trying to get up despite a sore head. The music is acoustic guitar, accordion and thumping heavy bass line and that trombone! To say the mix is unusual is a understatement but somehow it works but it always helps to have a strong vocalist and Daran is that. Loud, perhaps a tad too loud in the mix, but if you’re looking for an album that will transport you mentally to the boozer then this is it and there is nothing wrong with that! This is followed by a bunch of covers, ‘Waxies Dargle’, the instrumental ‘Lark In The Morning’ and the lively ‘Courtin’ In The Kitchen’. These three songs pretty much sum up the band. Full of energy and passion and emphasise their link to Irish music and especially the kind made popular by The Pogues/ Dubliners.

Another new one ‘Tipsy’, a classic take on that staple of Celtic-Punk the drinking song witha unusual Ska-ish accordion beat and even featuring the gibberish chorus of

“fol deedah, fol deedah, fol deedah fol de hey fol de ho, fol de alley alley oh! Hey!”

‘Millionaires’ is a cover of Cornish buskers Phat Bollard and again is a lively song, easy to singalong to and next a bunch of Folk songs some better known than others, but all played with gusto. The Irish trad instrumentals ‘Father O’Flynn’ and Siege Of Ennis’ along with ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ and the Scots tune ‘Come By The Hills’ before we are treated to a couple of originals. ‘The Parkdale Jig’ is short and sweet catchy instrumental while ‘Daddy Was’ my favourite song on the album is definitely the sort of song to get your feet moving despite its sparse arrangement. The spirit of Shane and Ronnie lives on in The New Ruffians final few songs with ‘Rare Old Mountain Dew’ leading into the original ‘Merry Hell’ with more tales of drinking and its effects. Matthew O’Reilly’s ‘To The Devil With Your License’ is the longest track here and the most elaborate. Another standout while the album closes with two Celtic-Punk staples ‘All For Me Grog’ and ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’.

Not a bad effort at all by The New Ruffians. Their debut album and you get the sense they tried to cram as many of their songs onto it as possible! I think the last two were probably not needed and it would have been better to finish on the great ‘To The Devil With Your License’ but I guess they wanted to leave the album exactly how they came in. With upbeat humour and plenty of shenanigans. There is no other genre of music that fits the pub quite as much as Celtic music does and The New Ruffians are made for the pub and treating everyday as St. Patrick’s Day. This is as faithful a copy of a pub set as I think any band has managed and I bet they can’t wait to get their raucous drunken table dancing mayhem back to the pub!

(You can stream or download Shenanigans on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Shenanigans  Bandcamp (also iTunes/Apple, YouTube Music, Amazon, Spotify)

Contact The New Ruffians  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

2020 ROUND-UP’S. THE MAHONES, RUNA, ALESTORM, MAGGIES FLOCK, BARBAR O’RHUM

2020 was by and large a shitty year for music. Sure their were a few bright spots… off the top of my head the many Live Streams but it was never going to replace live gigs for the Celtic-Punk scene where live gigs are everything. Even in a year with much fewer releases we still couldn’t keep up with everything! At London Celtic Punks we pride ourselves on giving detailed and extensive reviews but sometimes this isn’t quite possible so here’s the ‘Round-Up’s’ of some of the records we missed first time round.

THE MAHONES –  ’30 Years And This Is All We’ve Got To Show For It’

Just a couple of weeks ago we reviewed the 30th anniversary album of German band Fiddlers Green and around the same time was released another album by a Celtic-Punk giant on the other side of the planet celebrating thirty years in the game this time from The Mahones. Yes 30 years. THIRTY. Hard to believe isn’t it? Popular throughout the world they have recorded eleven studio albums, two live albums, an acoustic album and a compilation marking their 25 year anniversary and have covered more miles than British Airways! Here they have carefully chosen nineteen tracks of their best from across the 30 years of their career. The album is available as a ten track vinyl release (on green!) and also on CD and download with nine bonus tracks from True North Records. As for the songs they are everything you would expect. We may have heard them all before but their really is something for everyone here as The Mahones flit from raucous Irish Punk rockers to maudlin and sad ballads. The mix of songs is perfect and the balance between the harder songs and the ballads is as well. For a band that tours as much as The Mahones do 2020 must have been a particularly difficult year for The Mahones but already with dates released for 2021 (see you in London in February!) they are well prepared to take their 31st year by the throat when it arrives.

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RUNA – ‘The Tide of Winter’

American Irish ‘supergroup’ Runa are one of the best Irish Folk/Trad bands around. This is due in no small part to the beautiful voice of lead singer Shannon Lambert-Ryan (who also plays quite a mean harp!) and that they also have the ability to weave other influences into their signature sound without you even noticing. Several LP’s in Runa have become famous on both sides of the Atlantic now and continue their path with The Tide Of Winter. Now by rights this ought to have been done pre-Christmas but it slipped the net and we ran out of time. A beautiful, at times haunting and at others spirit lifting, collection of thirteen Christmas themed songs and carols. All the favourites are here (‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Silent Night’) as well as a few new ones including a stunning version of ‘The Wexford Carol’ (also known as ‘Enniscorthy Carol’) recorded in its native Irish Gaelic.

It was in May 2019 that Runa got together for a weekend to get into the Christmas spirit and started working on arrangements for the album. Highlights beyond those already mentioned include the track ‘Instrumental’ which features the songs ‘Hark the Herald / Dixie Hoedown / Red Prairie Dawn / O Come Emmanuel / Road to Cashel’ seamlessly joined together with some amazing musical work from Fionán, Chery, Caleb and Jake. One for next Christmas I suppose but hopefully by then Runa’s joyous album really will be something to celebrate.

Buy The Tide of Winter  CD- FromTheBand  Download- Here

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ALESTORM – ‘Curse Of the Crystal Coconut’

From traditional Christmas folk music now to Heavy Metal! Founded in 2004 in Perth, Scotland by Christopher Bowes Alestorm are one of the pioneers and certainly the leading light of Pirate Metal! Basically the combination of Heavy Rock/Metal and Pirate music. Now Pirate music is often confused with Celtic music and for good reason too. The similarities are obvious to anyone with a pair of ears with plenty of the same melodies (and even some of the same songs) criss-crossing the genres. Alestorm have been together for fourteen years and they may have toned down the Metal side of their music a little but their popularity seems set to continue with this their sixth album. Now I don’t claim to know much about this genre but it does seem to be growing and their have been a few high profile gigs in London over the last couple of the years with Alestorm headlining some of the towns biggest venues. Released in May on Napalm Records and recorded in Thailand this is as good a place as any to start if this genre interests you. Songs like ‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’, ‘Fannybaws’ and ‘Pirate’s Scorn’ give you an idea but it is the epic eight minute ‘Wooden Leg Pt. 2 (The Woodening)’ that really stood out for me showing there’s more to Alstorm than gimmick.

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MAGGIE’S FLOCK – Party At The Cemetery

The debut release from Dutch Celtic-Folk-Rockers Maggie’s Flock. The six-piece band from Nijmegen / Arnhem that play a style of music that veers from Celtic-Rock to traditional Folk with more than a little Celtic twist. The band had the novel idea to release a video/song a month on You Tube from January 2020 through to December and then compile the songs into an album and release it. We have tracked these videos over the last year and it really is worth checking them (the Party At The Cemetery YouTube play-list) out yourselves as the work the band put into them deserves it. So quite a novel idea in quite the ‘novel’ year! The Netherlands has quite the cool Celtic scene and one of our gigs last year that Covid killed off was a Dutch Celtic-Punk double-header with Pyrolysis and The Royal Spuds. Musically Maggies Flock come across to me as a ‘mature’ Dropkick Murphys. I mean the Dropkicks sound of recent rather than their punky years. Catchy, tuneful songs with chugging guitars and superb whistles and accordion. ‘The album opener ‘The Poguey Club’ is one of the many highlights here and you can tell this album has not been rushed into. The idea of releasing a song a month has worked perfectly here as the balance of songs is great and the music is not solely Celtic veering into more Folk-Rock/Punk at times. Personally I love me Tipp songs so I especially loved ‘Travelling Laddie’ but the fast ‘Bored Beyond Death’ is sure to get the toes tapping.

A lot of effort then and not just in the music with the vinyl version coming in a luxurious fold-out cover with all the lyrics while the CD has an extensive 24 page illustrated booklet.

Buy Party At The Cemetary – Vinyl/CD FromTheBand

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BARBAR’O’RHUM – Journal de B’O’R

Drawing in inspiration from sea-shanties, traditional music, Celtic-Rock and Celtic-Punk, Irish-Punk and Folk-Metal, Barbar’O’Rhum inhabit an area that sits somewhere between Alestorm and The Mahones. Founded in 2014 in the South-West Of France the band offer up their own style of music they call ‘Rock ‘n’ Rhum’. The musical style here owes much to theatrics making them more a band you would want to witness live but they have captured the sound of the band here rather well and also the atmosphere too which I would think is a lot harder. From beginning to end it’s an accessibly joyful Punk Rock stomp from album opener ‘Pirate des Champs’ which brings in some offbeat but delightful influences to eight minute epic ‘Freres de Bitte’ which brings down the curtain on the album and manages to capture all the various parts of Barbar’O’Rhum in one bombastic theatrical campy triumph. Yet in a album that lasts over an hour and the majority of the songs are around the five minute mark it’s that opening track that stand outs head and shoulders and one listen to that will tell you all you need to know about whether you would like this album or not. Me I fecking loved it!

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So their you go our ‘last’ post of 2020. Apologies to all the bands that we weren’t able to give each album the full London Celtic Punks treatment but was just not possible this time. Remember if you are in a band then we cant do a review if we haven’t heard your release!

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ALBUM REVIEW: CELT AND PIPER – ‘No Mercy’ (2020)

Breton Celtic-Punk group Celt And Piper unleash their debut album No Mercy. Eight songs of bagpipe heavy rocking Celtic music!

What could be a more Celtic band name than Celt And Piper I wonder? Answers on a postcard please but this newish band from Nantes in Brittany (NOT France) certainly nail their colours to the wall and their debut release No Mercy has to be one of the most authentic ‘Celtic’ Celtic-Punk releases of 2020.

Most of the band have played together before Celt & Piper so an actual start date is a bit vague but they reckon on October 2018. Put together by lead singer Fabien and his drummer brother Hervé who had both plenty of experience playing in native Breton and Celtic bands. Joined by Alain, Jean Jacques, Maxime and Jonathan the band was not only complete but every base was covered and looking for a name that conveyed ‘celtitude’ that also had a bit of an memorable and original feel to it and so they settled on Celt & Piper. Gig offers flooded in and the Celt & Piper sound was soon heard at home from Nantes to the Côtes d’Armor moors and Penn Ar Bed while also crossing the border into Vendée, Paris and even eastern France. Their march was sadly soon halted by the dreaded ‘clampdown’ and like a lot of bands whose major concern is playing live they decided to record instead and on the evidence here I’m very glad they did and look forward to a few more too.

https://youtu.be/87dJlpyzIP8

No Mercy begins with ‘Go Hard Or Go Home’ with AC/DC style guitars followed in quick succession by bagpipes it’s a real foot tapper about a St. Patrick’s Day night out in a Irish pub.

“Go hard or go home you’re all in a Irish pub”

Not clear if this is a Irish pub or Ireland or Brittany but as they are all closed anyway at the moment it don’t matter so much. Fabien’s vocals remind me instantly of Jesse from legendary Baltimore Irish Celtic-Punk band the Charm City Saints. A kind of hoarse growl that gives the music a Punky edge and with the pattern set by the opening track Celt & Piper continue in the vein with firm Irish Folk favourite ‘The Wild Rover’. It’s impossible not to think of this song as a rabble rouser. We use to sing this in school music lessons as it was one of only a handful of songs they could get the boys to sing as we could beat up the desks with our fists in the chorus! Here it’s Jonathan’s fiddle that leads things along as Celt & Piper breathe new life into this well known song.

‘It’s Gone Again’ is up next and you can hear influences from across the Rock scene here with the song taking in several genres. Catchy as hell with some cool chugging guitar work and piping. Title track ‘No Mercy’ is my standout track here though the album is a good mix of covers and originals it’s always the original songs that get my juices flowing and their is of course nothing like the sound of bagpipes to stir the blood and in Maxime they have a superb piper.

‘The Last Day’ starts off as another Dropkicks/AC/DC flavoured but has several Folky interludes along the way. Time for another trad Folk song and the raucous ‘All For Me Grog’ may have started off as a sailor’s song before being adopted by the Irish. Made popular by the Dubliners the song tells of a man who sells everything, and even his wife, to buy drink and tobacco. As is the way in Irish music a man’s life is ruined by drink but the song is celebratory rather than regretful. Celt & Piper play in ‘pub style’ win a ska-ish style. Great fun and nice to hear this standard done in a unusual manner. The pipes reign again during ‘Brace Yourselves’ and No Mercy comes to an end with the brilliant Irish Folk standard ‘The Foggy Dew’. Nowadays quite common on the Celtic-Punk scene (any idea who was the first to record their version of it?) not many songs suit being ‘punked’ up like this one. Celt & Piper again give it a respectful thrashing and once again the superb piping takes it to another level. A great way to end proceedings.

No Mercy came out on November 1st and was mixed at Garage Hermétique in Rezé by Nico and Pierre who have done a fantastic job. Only eight songs but still over thirty minutes, Celt & Piper have produced a great record here though I would like to hear more of their own compositions as they are the standout tracks here for me. For lovers of harder edged blue-collar style Celtic-Punk and bagpipes Celt & Piper have leapt into the list of best European bands with No Mercy and I can’t wait to hear more.

(you can stream or download No Mercy on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy No Mercy  FromTheBand

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ALBUM REVIEW: FIDDLERS GREEN – ‘3 Cheers For 30 Years’ (2020)

30 years after the band was founded Fiddler’s Green have released a collection of the most well known traditional Irish Folk songs! And all in the ingenious Fiddler’s Green sound: honest and direct, playful and brutal, dreamy and drunk.

Two of the Celtic-Punk scenes giant bands celebrate their 30th anniversary this year. One is The Mahones from Canada whose non-stop touring has garnered them fans around the world while the other is the biggest and probably the most popular band in Europe – Fiddlers Green. Since their formation in 1990 Fiddlers Green have released an incredible fifteen studio albums and just in case that wasn’t enough their have also been a further six live albums plus EP’s and DVD’s galore earning them the reputation as one of the busiest acts in Rock music let alone Celtic-Punk! Already during 2020 they have released the Acoustic Pub Crawl II – Live in Hamburg album back in March. 2020 was set to be a busy gigging year for them too with an extensive ‘unplugged’ tour playing an acoustic set in intimate settings across Germany. Sadly as we know Covid has caused the cancellation of live music so the band has kept busy instead  writing new material and recording. On Acoustic Pub Crawl II Fiddlers Green picked sixteen of their favourite tracks from across their extensive back catalogue played as if they were in front of a roaring fire in a cosy wee Irish pub. The tour has been put back to 2021 so keep a well peeled eye out for that.

So here’s one band that haven’t let the ‘clampdown’ keep them down and they celebrated their anniversary with a live stream last week live on both Facebook and You Tube. The set was recorded at The Dubliner pub in Bayreuth in northern Bavaria, Germany. Interspersed with songs from 3 Cheers For 30 Years while Alexander Prinz, aka ‘The Dark Knight of Parables’ interviews the guys from the band with stories from their three decades together. They welcomed many friends and guests to the stage as they played live old and new Fiddlers Green classics.

The event and album release was financed through the Crowdfunding web-site and supported by their legions of fans ensuring that Fiddlers Green stay true to their DIY roots and out of the clutch of greedy businessmen! Their are still some amazing merchandise packages available if you fancy grabbing one.

The album itself is everything you could expect from Fiddlers Green. A polished, well played, exciting romp through the national music archives of Ireland as played by a band with a Celtic soul. Irish music, especially Celtic-Punk, is very popular in Germany and if this was a court of law then the evidence presented would be this album! The eleven songs here have all been played to absolute death of course and are well known to everyone who has ever set foot in an Irish pub or walked past a busker but as ever the achievement is to breathe new life into ancient songs and keep them alive. This is something Fiddlers Green have no problem achieving. The list of songs are all new to the Fiddlers Green set-list and swings from Dubliners faves like ‘The Wild Rover’, ‘All For Me Grog’ and ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ to ones that The Dubliners recorded but became better known through others like ‘Whiskey In The Jar’. Several songs have been become mainstays of the Celtic-Punk scene for decades now like ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’, ‘The Drunken Sailor’ and ‘Molly Malone’ while their is even room for the ‘newest old song’ in the Irish pub singers repertoire ‘Galway Girl’. The album ends with a spirited version of ‘Greensleeves’ and while their are no massive revelations here it is nevertheless another great album from the Bhoys as these old songs take on new life in the hands of these fabulous musicians.

3 Cheers For 30 Years sees against all the odds Fiddlers Green’s year end in style and shows the rest of the Celtic-Punk scene how to handle and interpret an old song and turn it into a modern ‘speedfolk’ classics.

Buy 3 Cheers For 30 Years CD – FromTheBand  Download – Here

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE STANFIELDS – ‘Welcome To The Ball’ (2020)

London Celtic Punks favourites Nova Scotian Folk’n’Rollers The Stanfields have just released the incendiary live album Welcome To The Ball.

The Stanfields trod a well trodden path to 2020 by beginning their career back in 2008 playing cover songs during open mic performances at the Seahorse Tavern in their hometown of Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As the years rolled by The Stanfields may sound like have taken some dramatic turns but to any long turn fan (ahem!) it’s been easy to follow their trajectory from full on their Celtic-Punk to where they are now. Influenced by the many many strands that make Canada and the description of them as “the bastard children of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” their music blends Working Class Hard-Rock with the strands of Folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland.

So far the guys have released seven albums, multiple singles, and have toured extensively throughout North America and Europe – sharing the stage with many of the Rock scene’s most popular bands. So, despite the Covid lockdown, they have been especially busy compared to a lot of bands with the release of the critically acclaimed Classic Fadeout, a bunch of great video releases (be sure to check out their You Tube channel) and now they have returned with their second full-length release of 2020, Welcome To The Ball. Band frontman Jon Landry says

“Since Covid-19 has effectively made it impossible for us to play live shows safely, and on our own terms, we thought that the time was right to release a live album. Luckily, we had this performance in the can, it’s fun to see how much the songs have evolved over the years, although it’s been a stark reminder to us of how much we miss our natural habitat.”

Welcome To The Ball documents The Stanfields performance at the 2019 Blacktop Ball and includes tracks from across their career along with an added bonus track. Welcome To The Ball begins with the aptly titled ‘Blacktop Blues’ from their 2012 album Death And Taxes, as do the first three songs.

The first thing to say is that the songs here are well chosen and include not just the fan favourites but also some important songs from the bands history. The other thing is that many of these songs are quite lengthy (notice I said lengthy NOT boring!) with three over seven minutes long! The sound recorded, mixed and mastered by Darren van Niekerk (hats off!!) and is absolutely fecking brilliant. Taking you right into the heart of the mosh pit! Nothing is spared as the band steam along at full pelt with the traditional anti-war Folk ballad ‘Mrs. McGrath’ given the epic Stanfields treatment next followed by ‘The Road to Guysborough’. Now I’ve never been much a fan of live records but when they are done well like here they can be explosive, capturing the very essence of a band. Next up are firm fan favourites ‘Fight Song’, taken from 2015’s Modem Operandi, and ‘Hard Miles’ from 2013’s For King And Country. Both songs saw the band tweak their original Celtic sound and bring in more harder Rock elements. 

‘Dagger Woods’ is the first of three tracks here from debut album ‘Vanguard Of The Young And Reckless’ from 2010 and is over eight minutes long and while that may displease the Dead Kennedys it fully deserves the word epic. A fantastic song that literally spills emotion and while it’s not just worthy it’s catchy as hell too. ‘Ship To Shore’ is relatively short at just four minutes while ‘Ghost Of The Eastern Seaboard’ at almost eight returns us to epic territory along with the final song from their set that night, the outstanding ‘Fox in The Heather’ at over eight.

‘Welcome To The Ball’ brings the curtain down as the bonus track and the only new song and sees The Stanfields accompanied by the Hatchet Lake Reverb Choir (Heather Harris, Sasha DeSouza, Brad MacDougall, Craig Eugene Harris, Trevor DeSouza) in a song that fully deserves to be the curtain puller at any future gigs.
“Take a look at the one beside you
Let the power of us provide you
The means to guide you, right beside you
Welcome to the Ball”
Written as a tribute and in the spirit of the Blacktop Festival which was sadly cancelled this year but The Stanfields love for the fest grows and they will return for their annual visit next year. Written as an over the top, 80’s-style Pomp-Rocker it comes with the most brilliant video you really ought not to miss. 

The line up for the gig that night was Jon Landry – Vocals, Guitar, Calen Kinney – Fiddle, Vocals, Jason MacIsaac – Guitar, Vocals, Dillan Tate – Bass, Vocals and Mark Murphy on Drums and the show is that kind of rambleshackly perfect that Celtic-Punk bands seem to be perfect at. Their may not be a better band around doing what The Stanfields do. Combining hard rock music with Celtic and Americana in a perffectly acessible way. Not only that be here they proove they can do it in style on the stage too. As they say themselves 

“we play what we want, sing what we feel and leave nothing on the table”.

Buy Welcome To The Ball FromTheBand

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE CUNDEEZ – ‘Teckle An Hide’ (2020)

Dundee is a truly unique place in Scotland becoming known as YES City after 57% voted in favour of Scottish independence in 2014’s referendum – the highest proportion of Yes votes in Scotland.

Like their hometown The Cundeez are also unique. Unashamedly Dundonian Working-Class with a fast and heavy sound, straight out of the Punk-Rock tradition, but with pipes and kilts!

The Cundeez are back with their fifth album of Highland bagpipes driven Punk Rock hot off the presses. One of the London Celtic Punk favourite bands they safely saw off their 10th anniversary recently and never ones to rest on their laurels five minutes after finishing Teckle An Hide they began work on their next album!

Teckle An Hide kicks off with the simply titled instrumental ‘Dundee’. The first of a trio of home town dedicated songs dotted through the album. Now every town needs an anthem, one to play as the local football team comes out and with two teams, Dundee and Dundee United, I hope one or both take the opportunity as the song is a belter. Building up slowly (for them anyway!) before Gary’s brilliant piping comes in and you can tell why for years opposition forces on the field of war recoiled in fear as the sound of pipes filled the air. This takes us into ‘Peat & Diesel’ a song dedicated to their friends in Peat & Diesel, a three-piece band from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Highlands of Scotland. They are a young band that have been steadily on the rise over the last couple of years so great to see this solidarity between an experienced band like The Cundeez and a band just setting out. The song itself shows The Cundeez wicked sense of humour as new drummer Shaun Kerr stamps his arrival in the band with fierce tribal drumming while long time members Stevie and Trotsky on guitar and bass supply the perfect backing. At nearly six minutes it’s the albums longest track and sways from Gothic in places to hardcore Punk and back to melodic rock while the pipes are again in evidence.

Never afraid in throw in a bit of Ska and with ‘Teckle’ an obvious comparison here is with early Rumjacks when they were based in Oz. Now we are three songs in and my Dad was Scots but a lot of this is passing even me by! The Dundee accent has a very particular sound and is integral to the band’s identity. The band take their name from the Scots word ‘cundie’, meaning a drain, which comes originally from the French word conduit. Having said that piper and songwriter Gary’s vocals are very clear despite being delivered in trademark Punk Rock shouty sneer. ‘Scooby Dubh’ tells of a serious pub crawl delivered in speedy breakneck form. They follow this with the first of the albums three cover versions and ‘LWTUA’ is a fancy unexpected instrumental Ska version of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ with skanking guitars and piping. Who would have thunk it possible and it may have hardcore JD fans writing to their MP’s but I bloody love it! The Cundeez have always enjoyed themselves and their sense of humour is legendary but they also have a serious side and in ‘Bow To No One’ they take the well trodden Punk path of anti-religion.

They continue the combativeness with ‘Them And Us’ as the band unleash on the divides in society that leave the working classes at the bottom while pumping out a 1981 style UK Punk classic. Another cover next and after two Punk thrashers it’s time for Gary to get out the pipes for ‘Horo’, a cover of ‘Horo Gheallaidh’ by the aforementioned Peat & Diesel. Now this is another highpoint with the catchiest track on the album. Fast, thrashy guitars telling the tale of a night out in the Highlands. Brilliant!

Another hometown anthem next with ‘Made In Dundee’ but perhaps not one for the Tangerines to run out to. A warts an’ all expose of Dundee in all it’s misery and glory wrapped in a dark plodding ‘dub’ number. Next up is ‘Rebellion’. Originally released as a 7″ vinyl single on Urinal Records in early 2016 and at the time The Cundeez were on a bit of a high performing at Punk festivals in England and even travelling all the way down from Dundee to London town for a couple of gigs in north and south London. The single was limited to only 300 copies and sold out in no time so its fair to say it probably passed most fans by seeing as it was just before the return of vinyl as a popular format.

The album continues with ‘Up For The Craic’ a jolly Punk Rock ride that again shows the bands lighter side before they again tackle something a bit darker in ‘I Am Gangster’ about the desperate life of a poor soul destined for jail. Appearing on the album listings as ‘Buzzcocks’ the lads next tear into ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ and it’s another corker of a cover with the pipes lifting it out of this world. We’re steering towards the end and if I was to have one wee quibble it would be that the album is a tad on the long side with sixteen songs with a running time of almost a hour. You certainly get yer hard earned worths but I wonder if the album could have been trimmed a little with the album closing with two reworked versions of ‘Sehturday Night’ from 2011’s ‘Lend Wiz Yir Lugz’ and ‘Gangs O’Dundee’ from 2010’s album Radio Cundee taking us into the anarcho styled curtain closer ‘Austerity’.

Released on the American Punk label Tarbeach Records and recorded at Seagate Studios in their hometown the album is an outstanding success, especially considering that a lot of it was done under the restrictions placed upon the band because of the Covid ‘clampdown’. Make no mistake it may have been very tempting for us to rope The Cundeez in with other bagpipe heavy Celtic-Punk bands but they are no Real McKenzies and, more importantly, have never tried to be. The Cundeez are a Punk band with Celtic roots but even then there is much more to them as they are never afraid to stray off into other genres. Teckle An Hide is possibly their most accessible album to date. It still has their trademark fast, punchy, catchy Punk-Rock and the same shouty vocals delivered in that raw Dundee dialect but their Celtic and Ska influences see them moving into new territory without ever watering down their music or their identity.

(The Cundeez playing a socially distanced Facebook Live Stream from the end of last September. As Gary said afterwards “a crazy surreal experience doing a ‘gig’ all split from band members but thankfully we got there. It was rough and raw and absolutely nerve-wracking.”)

Buy Teckle An Hide  TarbeachRecords

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE STUBBY SHILLELAGHS – ‘Glass To Mouth’ (2020)

High-Energy northern Colorado acoustic Celtic-Folk-Punk Band The Stubby Shillelaghs release their fifth studio album, Glass to Mouth, to celebrate the band’s tenth anniversary.

The Stubby Shillelaghs new album (out this week!!) is self-produced and self financed as well as being recorded and mixed as a result of quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a great risk to put out an album in these bleak times as their are no proper chances to promote any new releases but life must go on and for many music is one way to help get through the dark times. As Shaughnessy McDaniel, the bands songwriter and guitarist says

“I think this album really sums up what we are about, this year has been tough for everyone and I hope that a little of our band’s aggressively positive attitude and slapstick sensibilities can shine a little light on people’s days,”

Glass To Mouth celebrates the bands 10th anniversary together and you have to go back to June, 2010 to the very start when the small northern Colorado town of Greeley saw three long-time friends Andrew Mithun, Ryan Knaub, and Shaughnessy McDaniel looking to start a Celtic influenced band as a small side project. Later that year Greg Farnsworth, owner of local Irish bar Patrick’s, was looking for an act to play a Halloween show and took a chance on the as-yet unproven Stubbies. The success of this show led to what became known as ‘Stubby Tuesdays’, a weekly residency at the bar and in the process becoming a staple in Colorado nightlife with their four hour sets legendary. The following year saw the release of their debut album Stubbies Assemble! (available as a free download) and also the band gigging further afield into neighbouring states. They went on to release further studio albums Whiskey Business, Celtic American and Critical Fail in 2015, a live album Parental Advisory Live!, a Live DVD Uisce Beatha: The Water Of Life and a greatest hits release Bangerz! the Greatest Hits (2010-2019).

For Glass To Mouth the band continue on the DIY path setting up a Kickstarter appeal that raised all the necessary money to both the record Glass To Mouth and to also release it on vinyl, something that the band have always wanted to do, and with the growing popularity of vinyl among music fans who can blame them. Glass To Mouth kicks off with the instrumental ‘Butter Up That Jig’. A short acoustic fiddle led song to open proceedings that leads into ‘Buyer Beware’ and demonstrates the Stubby Shilleaghs eclectic nature, influences, and musical style perfectly. Laid back Folk music with an American-Irish flourish warning people against buying the CD as they are much better live. I don’t do the lyrics justice as they made laugh out loud on hearing this song! They continue along the same route with ‘Sails And Sorrow’ which features fellow Colorado band Bolonium an American comedy-rock band famous for their satirical style parodies and music soundtracks. Accordion and the fiddle led Pirate song and we’re only four in. Plenty of Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! but they do resist the urge to shout “Ahoy, Me Hearties!”.

Title track ‘Glass To Mouth’ is up next and begins with the band telling us

“People ask us, “Stubbies, How are you so positive and cheerful all the goddamn time?” Well here’s our secret. Now listen up, cuz this is some Mary Poppins-ass shit!”

Anyone out there remember Tenacious D? Well these guys are the Celtic-Punk equivalent of them! Not much serious shit so far on this album and sometimes that is exactly what we need. I mean life would drive you up the wall and as someone i knew once said ” We are here for a good time not a long time”.

After saying that they go and play a political number next which for me is the album’s standout song ‘Rebel Heart’. Catchy as hell and and a real footstomper to beat the floor up to.

We back on more humorous ground next with ‘Shagnasty McHammerhands’ about the bands guitarist and songwriter. 2020 will go down as the ‘The Year With No St. Patrick’s Day’ and personally the first since I was a teenager that I went to bed sober. The song features another Colorado band, Keep Britain Irish, helping out on the chorus. One of the albums fastest songs it still keeps to the albums style that would see them being able to be enjoyed by all. Punk enough for the Punks, Celtic enough for the oldies and irreverent enough for the Dads!

We steering towards the albums end and we have the interesting Sobermen Trilogy up next. A three-part song set that tells the story of the meeting in 1783 of the great Irish alcohol suppliers Arthur Guinness and John Jameson. Part 1 is ‘Prophecy Conspiracy’ a Country influenced song that also takes in Irish and sea-shanty along the way as the tale is regaled. Part 2 is the Scots tinged ‘The Fall Of Speyside’ while the final epic part is ‘The Siege Of St. James Gate’, with St. James Gate being of course the home of delicious Guinness Stout, and the guys rock the hell out of it with a Celtic-Metal finale. Over ten minutes of brilliant storytelling with all the humour we have come to expect from The Stubby Shilleaghs. That’s not the end though as the final song of the album is ‘Merry Bards Of Metal’ and a gentle and tuneful way to bow out.

Glass To Mouth was recorded at Crunchtronic Studios in their home town and marks the Bhoys tenth anniversary of goofiness and irreverence that has made the band a popular feature on not just the Celtic scene in Colorado. An album with instant appeal to anyone and everyone who enjoys a laugh with their Folk music.

Buy Glass To Mouth  CD/Vinyl

Contact The Stubby Shillelaghs  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE POGUES – ‘BBC SESSIONS 1984 – 1986 (2020)

The first ‘new’ release from The Pogues for quite a while compiles all their various BBC Sessions between April 1984 and July 1985. This CD/ digital release includes two sessions not included on the recent vinyl version of this album. 

The Pogues – BBC Sessions is the definitive complete collection that The Pogues recorded for the BBC during that era. All the tracks date between 1984 and 1986 and thirteen of the recordings are previously unreleased. That is not to say they are unheard as apart from their initial airing they have long been available on bootleg tapes back in the day and CD’s plus most can be heard on You Tube too. The album is available on CD, digital and streaming platforms and will be released on October 30. If you have already heard of it then that is because a special vinyl only version was released for Record Store Day on Saturday 29th August. That release was limited to 5000 copies and only includes sixteen songs which begs the question why not make it a double album and include all the songs that would be on the CD/ digital release? The vinyl version was available for Record Store Day only but is still readily available around the net but shop around as it varies in price quite considerably.

Record Store Day is an annual event inaugurated in 2008 and held on one Saturday every April and every Black Friday in November to celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store. The day brings together fans, artists, and thousands of independent record stores across the world.

This twenty-three track album features a collection of songs from six separate live sessions from BBC radio shows: The John Peel Show (April 1984), The David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show (July 1984), The John Peel Show (December 1984), The Phil Kennedy Show (March 1985), The Janice Long Show (July 1985) and The Janice Long Show (November 1986). The album groups each session together in chronological order from their first session recorded in April, 1984 when they were still called Pogue Mahone.

TRACKS 

Broadcast  April 17th 1984 (as Pogue Mahone) on The John Peel Show
1)      Streams Of Whiskey*
2)      Greenland Whale Fisheries*
3)      Boys From The County Hell*
4)      The Auld Triangle
Broadcast July 9th 1984 on the David ‘Kid’ Jensen Show
5)      Dingle Regatta*
6)      Poor Paddy On The Railway
7)      Boys From The County Hell
8)      Connemara, Let’s Go*

Broadcast December 4th 1984 on the John Peel Show 
9)      Whiskey You’re The Devil*
10)    Navigator*
11)    Sally MacLennane
16)    Danny Boy
Broadcast March 2nd 1985 on The Phil Kennedy Show 
13)    A Pair Of Brown Eyes ***
14)    Muirshin Durkin ***
15)    Sally MacLennane ***

Broadcast July 11th 1985 on the Janice Long Show
16)    Wild Cats Of Kilkenny*
17)    Billy’s Bones
18)    The Old Main Drag
19)    Dirty Old Town*
Broadcast November 5th 1986 on the Janice Long Show
20)    If I Should Fall From Grace With God ***
21)    Lullaby Of London ***
22)    The Rake At The Gates Of Hell ***
23)    Turkish Song Of The Damned ***
     *** Not featured on RSD vinyl release  * Previously unreleased

The collection captures The Pogues sound as heard through their first three albums: 1984’s Red Roses For Me, 1985’s Elvis Costello-produced Rum, Sodomy & The Lash, and 1986’s If I Should Fall From Grace With God along with a handful of single B-sides and novelties like the immortal ‘Danny Boy’. Ten of the album’s twenty-three tracks were previously collected on the career-spanning box set Just Look Them Straight In The Eye and Say…Pogue Mahone!! released in 2008. From the first chords of ‘Streams Of Whiskey’ when they were still going by the Pogue Mahone moniker. They were fresh from a tour supporting The Clash and had recently signed to Stiff Records but the BBC were reluctant to play their debut single due to their name. Being a rough Irish translation of ‘Kiss My Arse’ had the BBC clutching their handbags and so the band reluctantly changed their name to The Pogues. Throughout the controversy John Peel was the only one to use their original name. The album covers The Pogues great range from moving ballads all the way to the raucous punk they were more than capable of and ends with a selection of songs that would appear on If I Should Fall From Grace With God released two years after the session they appear on here.

Buy The Pogues BBC Sessions  AppleMusic  Amazon  iTunes  Spotify

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

ALBUM REVIEW: ShamRocks – ‘FCP LIVE’ (2020)

With a new studio album on its way ShamRocks, founding fathers of Ukraine’s Celtic-Punk movement and originators of ‘Stout Rock’ – a blend of Irish, Scots, Breton, Finnish Folk -release FCP Live a album that sounds like it could have been recorded down Mannions!
When exactly did the ‘clampdown’ begin? Well for me it was a bit earlier than most as a couple of days after St. Patrick’s Day my Doctor rang me and told me the date for an operation and so I was confined to base as it were. This made my long walk up to the local Lidl to get 4 cans of Guinness to watch the Dropkick Murphys Live Stream my last venture out for quite a while. While those few days saw some fantastic live music streamed over the internet with the Dropkicks, Brick Top Blaggers, 1916 and Bryan McPherson standing out in my memory one Live Stream deserved a much wider audience but went under the radar a little and that was ShamRocks from far away Ukraine. On March 20th the Bhoys got together with a bottle or two of Jamesons and played one hell of a show over Facebook and You Tube. One hour + of some of the best Celtic-Punk played that weekend.

It‘s been four years since the release of their acclaimed debut album Captains Log which hit the dizzy heights of the Top 5 in that years London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016. A real innovative and interesting album that took songs like ‘The Rising Of The Moon’ and  ‘Wild Cats of Kilkenny’ and injected them with just enough of the original but with an equal amount of themselves as well. They followed this up the following year with an EP Ye Olde Chariot which did even better at #2 in our Best Of 2017 charts so this is a band with a pretty good pedigree and one that we are big fans of.

ShamRocks left to right: Serge Vdovychenko – Lead Vocals, Bass * Andrew Neretin – Guitar, Vocals * Alexey Sletkov – Drums * Anatoliy Khomenko – Violin, Mandolin, Vocals * Sergiy Khudoliy – Keytar, Accordion, Vocals *

ShamRocks have continued to play and tour in the intervening years and plans were laid this year for their follow up album which has of course had to be delayed. So in the meantime ShamRocks have handed us this. A live album which has taken the songs from their St. Patrick’s Live Stream session and seamlessly edited them together. The album features songs from both previous releases and also a handful from their forthcoming album. ‘We’ll Be Drinking’ kicks off the album and we are straight into it. I commented before that they have a way of recording that gives it a real ‘pub feel’ while not taking away any of the professionalism and that is evident here. These guys must be one hell of a blast to catch live… Well of course you can kind of experience that via that Paddy’s Live Stream here.

A couple of songs fell by the wayside but thirteen survive and end up on this forty-five minute album. The guys do play some well trodden Folk tracks like ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’ but add to it a skanking beat making it as different a version as I have ever heard. It even closes with something more resembling Reggae! Next up is their ‘pièce de résistance’ the amazing ‘Rising Of The Moon’ which takes John Keegan Casey’s, the ‘Fenian Poet’, 1866 poem and conjures up something absolutely brilliant. The tune is still (mostly) intact but ShamRocks have real fun here mixing the Sex Pistols song Anarchy In The UK into it and while it may upset some folk music snobs purists I thought it was an absolutely fecking belter! Serge has a great voice for this Punk/Trad/Folk hybrid switching from one to the ther with ease. The band have Anatoliy covering the Celtic bases on fiddle and mandolin and Sergiy on the keytar manages to replicate bagpipes as well as a myriad of other sounds too. ‘Bring It On!’ is a new song and from this showing I’m very excited to hear the new album.

A very catchy and hard driven Celtic rocker followed by the Bobby Sands penned ‘Back Home In Derry’. A song that began behind the bars of the Maze Prison in the north of Ireland has become a staple of the Celtic-Punk scene over the last few years. Popularised first I think by Neck but here the song becomes a thrashing Punk-Rock classic. ‘Yellow Ribbon’ is the shortest song here. A cover of the trad Folk song that is also the official anthem of the United States Cavalry! Not a song you may think you know but wait till you hear it. Like every cover here they may change and adapt and add to the songs but they still manage to make them instantly recognisable. ‘Roll The Old Chariot’ is next and starts off in acapella style before the mandolin comes in and you may suspect that the time for a slow one is now but ShamRocks soon blow the lid off and the song ends off speeding towards the end with Sergiy’s keytar sounding remarkably like Tex-Mex trumpet! ‘Sails To The Wind’ is another new one and has an American Celtic-Punk feel to it while ‘Kiltartin Cross’, based on the poem ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ by Irish writer and nationalist W.B.Yeats, is a beautiful song and Serge’s vocals are fantastic as he sings in Ukrainian about an Irishman in WW1 fighting for Britain but dreaming off his home in Kiltartin in Galway. ‘Rogers Rangers’ is another new one and you get the feeling that the new album will be a lot more heavier Rock style then their previous stuff but still very much within Celtic-Punk. ‘Jacobites’ is the old Scots Folk rebel song, re-written by Robert Burns around 1791, about the 1688–1746 Jacobite risings. ‘F​!​C​!​P!’ is of course F**K Corona Patrick’s the name of this album and is dedicated to “all those who play Celtic-Punk… badly” and is a rollicking great ride through several styles of Celtic-Punk and has several auto-biographical passages I think! Great fun all together and one of the highlights of the album. FCP Live comes to an end with one of the great Irish Folk classics ‘Molly Malone’ and for once the Bhoys play the song straight up… except in Ukrainian!

ShamRocks are definitely one of the most innovative and original bands in the Celtic-Punk scene and usual deserve a much wider audience. The album is the fully fledged ShamRocks experience with no ‘post-production magic’ or any such nonsense, just the live mix with a bit of mastering on top and edited together to make something pretty damn good. I’m not a fan of live albums usually but every now and then I hear one that really hits the spot and as an example of their old and new stuff it’s well worth getting while we wait for their new album. I will end with the words I used to review their album as i don’t think I have said it better since.

“There is plenty to upset the folk purists (or snobs as I prefer to call them) here but these people like to keep Folk music locked up in a box. Put away and kept out of the hands of people who (in their opinion) don’t respect or cherish them as much as they do. Their way is noble yes but is also a surefire way to kill off folk music. They attacked the Dubliners and then The Pogues in their time and now they fawn longingly over the bands they once called sacrilegious.”

(Download or stream FCP Live on the Bandcamp player below) Buy FCP LiveBandcampHereContact ShamRocks  WebSiteVK.comFacebookYouTube

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE HUMBLEBUMS with Billy Connolly Gerry Rafferty- ‘Open Up The Door’ (1970)

The next in our series of ‘Classic Album Reviews’ this time features Scottish Folk-Rock group The Humblebums. Formed in 1965 by Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey it was the arrival of the soon to be legendary singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty in 1969 that would see the band move in a new direction with Gerry’s sensitive, beautifully written songs and Billy’s anarchic humour combining magnificently, especially here on their last album before they split the following year

Billy Connolly and guitarist Tam Harvey founded The Humblebums in 1965, both having been regulars on the Glasgow folk circuit while Connolly had also been playing old-time country music in The Skillet Lickers. The bands name coming from a Connolly quip that,

“I am humble and Tam Harvey is a bum.”

The duo quickly became popular due in no small part to Billy and his between-song patter, which over time became a much larger part of their act and would eventually lead Billy Connolly to superstardom! The band was active from 1965 to 1971 and recorded their debut album, First Collection of Merrie Melodies, in 1969 for Transatlantic Records. Regulars in the Old Scotia Bar. Billy sang, played banjo and guitar, and entertained the audience with his humorous introductions to the songs while Tam was an accomplished bluegrass guitarist.

They were soon joined by Gerry Rafferty, who would also go on to superstardom, and for a short while performed as a trio. Tam soon departed and the remaining twosome recorded two more albums, The New Humblebums (perhaps most famous for the Gerry Rafferty penned ‘Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway) and Open Up The Door, before going their separate and lucrative ways. Their repertoire back then was split between trad Folk songs and songs penned by each of them. Billy Connolly is much better known these days as a stand up comedian whose appeal has lasted over four decades now. Even as a comedian he still managed to put out some great music including his #1 parody of Tammy Wynette’s song ‘D.I.V.O.R.C.E.’ and the Village People’s ‘In the Navy’, subtlety changed to ‘In the Brownies’. Encouraged by his audience reaction Billy Connolly began to put more and more effort into his comedic side and in 1974 the release of the live double album, Solo Concert would take him far beyond Glasgow. But it was a appearance on the Michael Parkinson Show in 1975, where he had Parky in stitches with a joke, rather risque for the time, about a man burying his wife ‘posterior up’ that showed he was set for stardom and he never looked back. His years in the Glasgow Folk scene gave him ample material for his stand up and soon his natural ability and popular appeal saw him also appear in countless films and television work. A true working class folk hero in every sense. Gerry Rafferty, would after the Humblebums, record the solo album, Can I Have My Money Back?, and then formed Stealers Wheel before eventually emerging as a major recording act with Baker Street who would record mega-hits like ‘Stuck In The Middle With You‘, (if you saw Reservoir Dogs you might remember the scene where Michael Madsen’s character, Mr. Blonde, tortures a captured Policeman whilst doing a little dance to this jaunty tune) ‘Star’ and the worldwide smash hit ‘Baker Street‘ in 1978 and would continue to perform to legions of adoring fans till around 2008 when he shunned the limelight. Sadly the death of his elder brother in 1995 affected him greatly from which family and friends said he never fully recovered and he slunk into alcohol abuse which would ultimately contribute to his death of liver failure on the 4th January, 2011.

Billy Connolly is quoted as saying of his friend and former bandmate:

“Gerry Rafferty was a hugely talented songwriter and singer who will be greatly missed. I was privileged to have spent my formative years working with Gerry and there remained a strong bond of friendship between us that lasted until his untimely death. Gerry had extraordinary gifts and his premature passing deprives the world of a true genius.”

Both men came from Irish Catholic working class backgrounds and it was perhaps this that led to such a wonderful partnership in the Humblebums with their different approaches working wonderfully together. Plenty of songs from these days would re-appear over the years on Billy’s many comedy albums and on Gerry Rafferty compilations and all were re-released in the aftermath of the duos rise to international stardom.

Open The Door was the duos last album and sees them backed up by several of the bands friends to flesh out the songs somewhat. One of the nice things here is that both Gerry and Billy sing their own songs and while both are quite different they complement each other perfectly. For Gerry the influence of The Beatles can be heard while for Billy its hardcore Folk and Blues that comes through. The albums biggest hit was ‘Shoeshine Boy’ outselling everything in Scotland but failing to attract much interest in the rest of the UK. However, there was disagreement about the direction of the band and Billy’s off stage drinking had got out of hand and he had become unwell. Gerry’s material having a more serious side and with Billy’s humorous offerings and that in-between song patter taking up more and more of the Humblebums show time, it reached a point where Gerry wanted the comedy cut out altogether. Also with the recordings now using extra musicians it made it harder to replicate the record on stage as a duo and it came as no surprise to those who knew them when the Humblebums broke up in 1971.

Both guys went on to far bigger things but we can be grateful for the three albums they did record.

01. My Apartment (Billy Connolly)
02. I Can’t Stop Now (Gerry Rafferty)
03. Open Up The Door (Billy Connolly)
04. Mary Of The Mountains (Billy Connolly)
05. All The Best People Do It (Gerry Rafferty)
06. Steamboat Row (Gerry Rafferty)

07. Mother (Billy Connolly)
08. Shoeshine Boy (Gerry Rafferty)
09. Cruisin’ (Billy Connolly)

10.  Keep It To Yourself (Gerry Rafferty)
11. Oh No (Billy Connolly)
12. Song For Simon (Gerry Rafferty)
13. Harry (Billy Connolly)
14. My Singing Bird (Gerry Rafferty)

Billy Connolly – Vocals, Guitar * Gerry Rafferty – Vocals, Guitar
with special guests
Bernie Holland – Guitar * Barry Dransfield – Fiddle * Jimmy Tagford – Drums * Terry Cox – Drums
“I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free”

DOWNLOAD OPEN UP THE DOOR

LINK1   LINK2(not UK)   LINK3   LINK4

for more like this…

ALBUM REVIEW: NEVER SAY DIE – ‘Punk Rock Pirates’ (2020)

Maryland Irish PUNK-ROCK band Never say Die release their third studio album of loud blaring noisy as hell Punk-Rock!! 

The journey of most Celtic-Punks (Particularly those of Irish descent and of a certain age) seems to be that you grew up listening to your parents music. This tended to be Irish Folk and Rock’n’Roll. This was replaced by Punk as they got a bit older and then at some point in their adult life the love of Irish Folk music came back to them and luckily their was a whole genre of music specifically for them! This was my journey anyway and for a solid twenty years inbetween the Folk/R’n’R of my childhood and my late thirties all I listened to was loud blaring noisy as hell Punk-Rock. Maybe its a mellowing but I’m as likely these days to listen to the Clancy Brothers as I am the Anti-Nowhere League but that’s not to say those days are completely behind me and so it is I love it when I hear a band playing that loud blaring noisy as hell Punk-Rock but with a Irish edge to it. Never Say Die are a band that does just that.

They hail from the strangely named Germantown in Maryland in the mid-Atlantic region of the South-Eastern United States. The town was founded in the early 19th century by European immigrants and was named Germantown due to the prominence of German businesses, even though most residents of the town were of English or Scottish descent. These days the Irish population of Maryland stands at just under 13% which is just above the national average and so no signs that the Irish are going anywhere and a good example of that is Never Say Die. They play good old fashioned Punk-Rock but with an Irish edge to it. You wouldn’t tell straight away as they have no Celtic instruments or any overt tunes but it’s there in the spirit of the band!

Punk Rock Pirates is the bands third album after Surrender Is Not An Option from 2010 and Convictions & Addictions in 2014. They also had six tracks on Live Your Gimmick from last year, a compilation from Tuna Forsushi Records featuring the classic ‘Irish Goodbye’. All their previous material is available on Soundcloud (link below).

The album kicks off with the band’s theme tune ‘Battlecry’ and it’s over in just sixty-five seconds. Gang vocals shouted over a fast and furious Punk number gives you all you need to know about where this album is going. It leads straight into Irish Folk and Celtic-Punk favourite ‘Drunken Sailor’ and Never Say Die play it dark and heavy. No great surprises here but its spirited and a nice nod to their Irish roots.

(Never Say Die live at Fishhead Cantina May 2019. Never Say Die performing ‘Battlecry’, ‘Drunken Sailor’ and ‘Saturday Night’)

They get into their stride with ‘I Hate Punk Rock’ and ‘Six Gun Lullaby’ mid=paced Punk but played with a heavyness making you imagine its lot faster. Vocalist and guitarist Captain Kelley has a great voice for this style of music with clear and distinctive ‘gruff’ vocals meaning you can hear every word he utters! Sadly though this as this album came out both bassist Thunderbilly and drummer Ziggy Bax both left the band. There’s never been a worse time to be in a band especially a DIY band but things are bound to get better so if you’re in or know some musicians near Never Say Die then send them their way.

(Never Say Die live at O’Gannigans Bar December 2019)

‘The Cursed Mariner’ is and to the pirates of the albums title while ‘I’ll Stand Strong’ slows it down with a Punk Rock ballad. Of course this means its nothing like your usual ballad but the same themes of standing strong in the face of daily life and keeping your chin up are present. The standout track for me here is the title song ‘Punk Rock Pirates’ and even those all the songs here are catchy dance floor fillers this is one that would even persuade the likes of me onto the pit. Never Say Die could, if they wanted, make a pretty damn decent Celtic-Punk if they went the acoustic route but I get the feeling that they make like the odd acoustic number like ‘The Legend Of Stingy Jack’ it’s not where their hearts lie and its songs like ‘Working Class Nobody’ where their full power comes into play that they prefer. Gang vocals and “Oi! Oi! Oi!” belted out alongside the important message of standing your ground and relying on you mates to get you through the bad times with the help of a beer or two. Like on many a Celtic-Punk album the theme of alcohol pops up regularly and ‘Raise Your Glass’ is another ode to that most wondrous of things! pretty much all the songs here hover around the two and a half minute mark which is on the short side of what we usually review but about average for Punk songs. ‘The Outlaw’ is the exception here and at three and a half minutes can be described as the Punk Rock Pirates ‘epic’ song. I like the extra length giving it a chance to develop and stray into both grunge and metal.

(Never Say Die live at Sparta Inn August 2019)

‘Breakaway’ is another great track. Well played, simple, no fuss, uncomplicated, no ego Punk. Chin up and chest out songs for simple, no fuss, working class people. The curtain comes down with another great number and ‘One More Time’ sees the album out admirably. Punk Rock Pirates was funded by the band and their fans through Kickstarter and they raised all the money for recording and printing the CD easily. The ‘clampdown’ over Covid came at the just the wrong time for Never Say Die and as their name suggests the show does go on and there’s a lot more to come from these guys I am sure.

Buy Punk Rock Pirates  FromTheBand

Contact Never Say Die  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: PADDY MURPHY- ‘Rams Rebels Goats And Girls’ (2020)

If you want to indulge in Celtic Folk Rock, you will definitely take pleasure in Paddy Murphy. Homesickness, the struggle for freedom, sailor’s yarns, love of the odd drink and the rebellious Irish spirit coming together in a musical whirlwind from Austria!

With the popularity of Celtic-Punk in Germany second to none it’s perhaps no surprise that this love should have spread to their next door neighbours in Austria. Still it’s not a country particularly well endowed with bands with only Scotch from Weyer in Upper Austria making a mark upon the scene (their fantastic debut EP Last In The Bar is still available for free download). In common with the bands from Germany Paddy Murphy (a band not a fella!) don’t just perform straight up Celtic-Punk but rather their own interpretation. An individualist streak that flows through the scene that manages to stop bands being too samey.

In common with Scotch Paddy Murphy also hail from Upper Austria in particular the town of Steyr and though they not be particularly well known this side of the English channel in Europe they have a strong pedigree of touring going back well over a decade. Paddy Murphy have been taking their brand of Irish Speed ​​Folk Rock as they describe it themselves to a multitude of festivals across Germany, France and Switzerland in particular and headlined to tens of thousands at festivals in Italy in Padova and Rasa. Founded in 2008 Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls is Paddy Murphy’s third studio album after 2012’s Dog’s Dinner and 2014’s Coffin Ship. Both of which you can hear on their Web-Site. They also released a handful of singles and EP’s over the last few years (all with absolutely stunning artwork most featuring their logo of a goat!) which has boosted their popularity with a great selection of covers and original material.

Paddy Murphy from left to right: Florian Aufreiter – Drums * Franz Höfler – Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Irish-Bouzouki, Harp, Vocals * Ingolf Wolfsegger – Bass, Vocals * Hermann Hartl – Fiddle, Vocals * Oliver Loy – Electric Guitar, Vocals

Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls was released in early March and came out on ATS Records. It’s been sitting round LCP Towers ever since and due to a mix up over who was going to do it it never got the review it deserved at the time. Still hopefully this will make up for it! Fourteen songs (the CD has a extra two live tracks) in total that comes to just under a hour about that green island, women, whiskey and Guinness! The album begins with ‘We Hoist The Sail’ and bursts with energy out of the speakers and if its top quality Celtic-Punk you are after then you have come to the right place my friends. Echos of fellow German bands The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats and The Feelgood MacLouds but this band have their own style. A great opener and vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Franz Höfler certainly knows his history of Ireland in a song that even uses the popular Irish term ‘Amerikay’. ‘My Dark Foamy Friend’ is a song that has a dual meaning of the sea or the pint but I know which one is preferred! Released as a single it reached over 20,000 listeners within a few weeks on Spotify. I have to say that the fiddle on this album is absolutely brilliant so hats off to Hermann Hartl for his incredible work. It is seriously some of the best fiddle I have ever heard on a Celtic-Punk album and i Happy to hear it used extensively throughout the thirteen tracks. ‘Black Ones Brown Ones Blond Redhead’ is another dual song meaning beer and this time women and this time they prefer women to beer! Fast and energetic and whats that I hear its the harmonica one of my favourite instruments and criminally underused in Celtic-Punk.  When I first played this album the next track stood out on its own. Paddy Murphy like their own stuff but are not averse to the odd cover and their ‘Basket Case’ by Green Day done Irish style and it is an absolute belter of a song! Give it a listen and be hooked.

Very clever and highly original it is a great choice of song and makes a change from ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’. If I’ve played this song once I’ve played it a 1,000 times. Another couple of drinking songs follow telling the different sides of life ‘Just One Drink’ is a jaunty wee number while ‘Time to Make Some Changes’ sees a life in turmoil on a visit to Ireland. Slow, sad and swirling in that traditional Irish way that makes you want to put your arms around a complete stranger (even in these strange times!). Who said Celtic-Punk can’t do emotional? We do it better than fecking anyone! Time for a famous song and they don’t come more famous than ‘The Irish Rover’. Known to everyone and covered by just about everyone too. They make a decent job of it nothing particularly special but you know if you heard this down the pub you’d be banging on tables and shouting your lungs out along to it. The Country influenced ‘At Least for Tonight’ is catchy as hell. What I call a thigh slapper.

“Get up and dance and drink all night”

‘American Dreams’ is the albums longest song heading towards six minutes and not for one second outlives its welcome. Franz again opens up and his aching vocals make for a great song. Irish themes abound and one of the standout things about this album is the quality of the lyrics. Pure poetry and proper story telling whether its a pub song’ or a Punk-Rock thrasher. We in Pop-Punk territory next with ‘You’ll Never Bring Us Down’ with the Celtic competing with the Punk. The song ends with being both and will be a real dance floor filler once we’re allowed back on the dance floor that is.

So we’ve had quite the album so far that has taken us around the Celtic-Punk scene and it’s many influences and they may have almost gone ballad in places they deliver it next with ‘The Cliffs of Grey’. A beautiful and touching yet haunting ballad whose depth will shock those here only for the drinking songs. After that the aptly titled ‘Gloomlifter Jig’ shows Paddy Murphy have even more left in their arsenal with a perfect traditional Irish that soon enough sees the electric side of the band coming in and we end up with a song that would have graced any Horslips album. Another catchy as hell number on a album where their is absolutely no filler at all. Each song is of an incredibly high standard and it’s no surprise why when you trawl their photos on Facebook their live gigs are always packed out. The work for Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls began a whole year before its release and the hard work shows. ‘Epic Scene of Life’ is a perfect example of their sound.

Uplifting and bursting with energy and at all times refreshing in a scene that as I said can be a bit samey. The curtain comes down on the album with a amazing version of Scottish singer-songwriter Eric Bogle’s ‘No Man’s Land’, probably better known as ‘The Green Fields Of France Written in 1976 it’s message is ever lasting sadly and here Paddy Murphy perform one of the best versions I have ever heard. Bagpipes add to the songs emotional roller-coaster and is the perfect way to see the album out.

Irish and Celtic music appeals to people of all ages and nationalities. That is what is really special about it and Paddy Murphy are immersed in that sound and this Austrian Irish Folk-Rock Band is committed to continuing that tradition! Celtic-Punk is often derided or misunderstood by Irish Folk snobs purists who think the artists are more influenced by Sid Vicious than Matt Molloy but this is a direct descendant of the music played in Ireland 100’s of years ago. That they can keep that tradition while also throwing in the Punk/Rock sound they have is testament to the bands outstanding musical ability. Fiddle, banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, bodhran, drums, electric bass, electric guitar and five male voices have made this album what it is and it would be a act of criminal negligence for the Irish music scene and its fans to pass it by.

Buy Rams Rebels Goats & Girls – CD- FromTheBand   ATS Records  Download- AppleMusic  

Contact Paddy Murphy – WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE JAMESTOWN BROTHERS- ‘Rebels, Rogues and Regrets’ (2020)

Debut album full of Celtic tinged anthemic songs from Somerset based band The Jamestown Brothers. Soul stirring, foot stomping originals drawn from the well of Country, Blues and Celtic Folk.

Don’t know what they put in the water (or the cider!) down there in the South-East of England but when it comes to bands with a Celtic influence the counties of Devon, Dorset and Somerset can’t get enough. Bands like Black Water County, Mad Dog McCrea and Sinful Maggie have all reached headliner status across England playing a variation of Celtic-Rock/ Punk that is particularly popular down where the cider flows freely. The reasons for this I cannot really put my finger on. The Irish in England are numerous but outside urban areas they may still be found but they never settled in the countryside in any sort of numbers so I think we can discount Irish heritage so maybe its just the unabashed reckless abandon and fun of Celtic music that does it for them. After all in Folk music everywhere is sort of connected and these are also the areas where old English customs are not just maintained but flourishing too. Might not be connected but they also have had a reputation for many years of being a bit lawless with smuggling and the like years ago and even in the present day where unjust or unpopular laws are not fought and campaigned against just totally ignored!

So this is the part of England that the 9 (yes nine) piece band The Jamestown Brothers hail from, in particular Somerset. The area is these days best known for farming and agriculture, tourism and the manufacture (and drinking) of cider with several of the best known producers originating from here. The locals though much prefer ‘scrumpy’ a type of rough cider made from non-premium apples and significantly stronger in alcohol content. They were formed by lead singer and main songwriter Colin Batchelor in 2017 but it took them almost two years for their first release the EP Singing For Our Supper to come out. This EP gained them a large local following and saw them appearing on the plentiful local festival circuit of which their are many in the area the band come from, including the world famous Glastonbury festival.

The Jamestown Brothers from left to right: Simon Reilly – Bass * Del Walker – Drums * John Trimble – Fiddle/ Mandolin * Ian Burton – Guitar/ Vocals * Colin Batchelor – Guitar/ Vocals * Phil Price – Keyboards * Sharon Eastwood – Recorder/ Vocals * Andy Williams – Trumpet/ Flugelhorn * Charlie Fisher – Trombone *

Rebels, Rogues And Regrets is the bands debut album and was released just a couple of days ago and kicks up a right (un)royal storm from the first notes of the recorder till the last. ‘Cut ‘Em Down’ is a great start telling the stories of local rebellion as well as of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester on 16th August 1819. Cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000 demanding parliamentary representation causing 18 deaths and severe injuries to 100’s. Though acoustic you just know these guys could go louder than most Punk band’s. Catchy and tunesome and great vocals from Colin on the whole it reminds me of the folkier side of The Men They Couldn’t Hang.

“cut ’em down, the rebels are arising we’ll have no talk of reform or liberty

 cut ’em down, the cavalry came riding into the crowd of peace and harmony”

‘Rebel Rousing Few’ follows and TMTCH comparison continues with a song that starts as a ballad before becoming a jaunty Country influenced number based again on the local history of rebellion and transportation to Australia of men and woman from this beautiful part of England. Fiddle and recorder are the main stand out instruments but that’s not a disservice to the other seven members as the sound is deep and multi-varied and the production is immaculate.

Two songs in and they finally get around to a drinking song and ‘If You Can’t Have A Drink’ opens with brass and a humorous take on heaven hoping their favourite bar is open up there. Mind you with the death of so many boozers in the last few years I’m hoping Luke Nolan’s up there pulling pints in a heavenly Acton Arms. Piano gives the song a olde timey music hall feel with great lyrics set to give the stoniest face a smile. ‘Salvation Alley’ has a darker edge to it then previous songs with trombone giving it a sinister feel. ‘Please Let Me Go’ straddles the fence nicely between Folk and Country and sees Colin accompanied by Sharon on backing vocals. ‘Whitley Girl’ sees The Jamestown Brothers take on a love song to the local girls of South Somerset and the joys of alcohol.

(just released the promo video for the album featuring excerpts from each song)

‘Bring Your Moma Down’ has a Kinks thing going on and is a nice change of pace too with the brass instruments playing their part here. We steering up towards port now and another change of pace with the beautiful and personal ‘The One’. The curtain comes down on Rebels, Rogues And Regrets with ‘Long Walk Home’ with another jaunty Celtic number that sees them go out with a fight. Hard to pick a favourite but I’d say this or the equally as good ‘Salvation Alley’.

The album came out just a couple of days ago on the 31st August 2020 and will definitely gather them some new fans and plenty of attention. In fact with 2020 officially cancelled they have already been booked to play festival’s in Godney, Watchet, Exmouth, Wimborne, Sheppy, alongside Seth Lakeman, and a Saturday night headline slot at Home Farm where their reputation for high-energy live performances, equally at home in the pub or the festival stage, will steal the show from a lot more well known bands. So plenty of chances to catch them play, especially if you’re a fan of camping like me. Guitars, drums, mandolin, fiddle we are use to here but recorder, piano and a brass section we are not and it comes together brilliantly.  Throw in what the band actually has to say and their willingness to tell the stories of the past to us today and we have a band that is hopefully bound for bigger things. Definitely worth checking out especially if you like your acoustic music to dance to as well as ever-so-fecking-loud!

Buy Rebels, Rogues And Regrets  CD- FromTheBand  Download- Apple  Spotify

Contact The Jamestown Brothers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE KONA ROGUES- ‘Batten Down The Hatches’ (2020)

Debut release of Celtic Rock Rebels The Kona Rogues from Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Rock/Punk fueled music with Celtic roots taking rebellion to a whole new level making music for an insurrection we can all dance to. Among the many great original songs it takes a lot to give songs like ‘The Foggy Dew’ or ‘ Whiskey In The Jar’ something new but these Bhoys manage it.

Well here’s a first for the London Celtic Punks! We thought we had covered just about every corner of the world but then somewhere pops up that totally astounds you. Today’s review is of the band The Kono Rogues from the beautiful island of Hawaii right out there in the middle of the Pacific ocean. It is the only U.S. state located outside North America, the only island state, and the only state in the tropics encompassing 137 islands spread over 1,500 miles and just as you would imagine the Irish even washed up here with almost 5% of the island of proud Irish heritage.
So it is that the charismatic Irminsul a native musician of the island who has spent most of his life playing Celtic music and who was guesting on St. Patrick’s Day for the band Creacialtie on his Celtic harp (another first for London Celtic Punks. A Celtic-Punk band with a harp!!!) alongside fiddle player and island musical icon Joanie Collins, who was also guesting. Well a year on Irminsul calls Joanie and the end result has been The Kona Rogues. Kona for their home town on the island and Rogues because no one had ever tried to do what they were doing. They were literally smashing conventions. As Irminsul says
“Be open to what comes next, because this aint your granddaddy’s Celtic music.”
As I said Irminsul has spent years of his life playing in Celtic bands, both as a solo artist and singer/ songwriter. Joanie had a similar background in Celtic music while guitarist Seishi Saegusa is famous on the island for his musical ability and drummer Todd Oldham has played with some of the greats in the music world but their short time together hasn’t been without controversy.
“We got a fair amount of flack from traditionalists who just think it’s not possible to perform original, modern Celtic rock on this island but thanks to some ground breakers like Creacailtie and The Kilt Lifters, that was completely wrong.”
Batten Down The Hatches is the perfect title for an album representing both the island that is regularly hit by hurricanes and a style of music that most will never have come across before. The album kicks off with ‘The Pikes Will Be Together’ and if unabashed catchy as feck rebel music is your thing then we’re all in the right place! Music and lyrics are by Irminsul, like on most of this album, and based upon ‘The Rising Of The Moon’. A pike is a long pole used by infantry until the early 18th century when it was later replaced by the bayonet and was used extensively by Irish rebels during this time.
“The pikes will be together and the nation will be one.”
The music is as I said is very catchy with the fiddle and harp leading the way and Irminsul’s great and distinctive vocals while electric guitar and tribal drums give the tune a very modern twist to its ancient Celtic roots. Next up a couple of songs well known to readers with ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ and Celtic-Punk favourite ‘The Foggy Dew’. Not a lot to say except yeah, they are very good and are not just simple covers with ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ also including the famous traditional Irish jigs ‘Swallowtail’ and ‘Kesh’ showcasing Joanie’s amazing fiddle skills while ‘The Foggy Dew’ is played significantly different to any version I have heard before with the tribal beat of the drums and a great almost ballad like speed. Tremendous.

Next a bunch of more originals written by Irminsul beginning with an ode to the legendary Michael Collins. Collins was the driving force behind the Irish revolution during the War Of Independence (1917-1921). A soldier and politician who was was unafraid to get his hands dirty if you know what I mean! He was assassinated in August 1922 during the Irish Civil War.
“If I had a dime for every Irish hero
Taken in the height of all their fame
They would see his face, in every Irish hero
Laid into a dark and early grave”
Beautiful lyrics that make the hairs stand up on your neck. One thing sadly missing from Irish music these days is decent modern Rebel songs. Most tend to be pretty cheesy and predictable while The Kona Rogues have plenty of good ones that don’t follow the ‘Irish rebel song blueprint’ like most. ‘The Bairns Of The New Brigade’ even has Gothic pretensions while cheering the Bhoys home in a song that is quite poppy and accessible.
“What remains of the old Sinn Fein
A marketing charade
Now the Royal Fop sent a mob to stop The Bairns of The New Brigade’
‘Crofters Song’ is an amazing trad ballad that sounds 300 years old. Again stunning lyrics and Irminsul’s clear, distinctive and heart aching voice giving the lyrics a real passion.
“Now we sail for a strange land, we don’t know a soul
They’re telling us that now we’ll be harvesting coal”

Next is ‘Link Arms (Until Freedom Has Won)’ and a heart lifting song giving hope that one day injustice will be banished not just from Ireland but everywhere. For the first time we hear more traditional harp playing from Irminsul and it is indeed a beautiful instrument that adds much to this song that switches several melodies along the way. Definitely a standout song on the LP. ‘Oro Se Do Bheatha Bhaile’ is a traditional Irish song meaning ‘Oh, Welcome Home’ in English. It’s origins are unclear but it has become associated with Irish nationalism and recorded by many Irish Folk greats. Perhaps the most amazing thing here is Irminsul’s immaculate Irish in telling the songs story. At a time when most Irish bands know as much Irish as I do (basically nothing!) it’s great to hear. The song itself is quite unlike any version you’ve ever heard with a lengthy Prog-Rock interlude in the middle led by Seishi’s electric guitar work. The Kona Rogues take a much darker route next with ‘Yeah’ which just so happens to be my favourite song here. Clever and humorous lyrics (this man Irminsul is a true seanchaí) abound with a song that manages humour, revenge and bloodlust with ease with a song that encompasses The Cure, The Cult and Siouxsie And The Banshees!

We are steering up towards the end now and its about time for a love song and its delivered via ‘Whiskeys The One I Take Home’. Not yer traditional Irish love song it has to be said with the object of his desire not some lass- not for the want of trying though but that other well known subject of many a Irish song. Another class song bursting with humour so in a way it is a traditional Irish love song. Batten Down The Hatches comes to an end with ‘Lenadoon Lament’ a beautiful commemorative funeral air for all the battles lost by the Irish Republic. A quite amazing way to bring down the curtain.
Batten Down The Hatches is over forty minutes and eleven songs of mostly original material and even the few covers can be described as anything but covers really given The Kona Rogues treatment. To say I am surprised at this album is a MASSIVE understatement. From the lyrics to the musicianship displayed it is simply an outstanding piece of work. Added to all that is Irminsul leading the way (like someone said ‘Sid Vicious on electric harp’ !!) achingly re-telling and telling of the struggle that is still ongoing now to unite one island far away from it on another island known by many to be a paradise. Irish music that would make you believe it is from ancient times butting up against ‘electric high octane rock bordering on punk’ that even then seems to come from another era. From beginning to end I heartily loved this album and recommend it to all who love a good shout out to Ireland from across the world.

(you can stream and download Batten Down The Hatches from the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Batten Down The Hatches  Here  Amazon

Contact The Kona Rogues  Facebook  Soundcloud  

ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Beer And Loathing’ (2020)

Their eleventh full-length album Beer And Loathing is a true return to form for Canada’s The Real McKenzies. Dueling guitars double up against soaring bagpipes while Paul regales the listener with epic tales of alcohol soaked debauchery, historic sagas and hard-fought personal battles.

The Real McKenzies need little introduction having founded in 1992 in Vancouver, Canada. They have established themselves as one of the most formidable the Celtic Punk bagpipe bands on the scene. Hard to believe they have been around for almost 30 years!!!!

(Great interview with Paul from The Real McKenzies from April, 2020)

Although they have gone through many line-up changes, Paul McKenzie remains at the helm leading the crew into another decade of Scottish influenced celtic punk and mayhem. The Real McKenzies have kicked off 2020 with the release of their new album Beer and Loathing. Now its fair to say 2020 hasn’t been the best year so far but its not all doom and gloom. Beer and Loathing is guaranteed to take your mind off small matters such the worldwide pandemic, the potential for WW3 etc etc. It’s a crackin album and I must say one of my favourite from the Real McKenzies.

(Video by: Eric Dieterich  https://solomanmedia.com)

The new album has been released on Fat Wreck Records and contains 12 rockin’ tunes. It opens with a bagpipe lead instrumental The Widow’s Watch but quickly ramps up though the gear to a faster tempo with notable song such as Nary Do Gooder, Death of the Winnepeg Scene and The Cremation of Sam Mcgee. The Real McKenzies stick with the Scottish flavour with Cock up Your Beaver. It’s a slower song which is a version of a Robert Burns poem. Probably not what you were thinking when you read the title first (tut, tut)!!! All in this is a great album and good to have the Real McKenzies back three years after the last release. It’s a reminder why the band have lasted almost 30 years on the scene where others have fallen by the wayside. So grab yourself a wee dram, stick on Beer and Loathing and crank it up to 10. It’s time like this we need music like this to get us through all the other crap in the world !!!

The vinyl for the album is available on swamp green and beer, oxblood and gold!

(Grab a listen to Beer And Loathing on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Beer and Loathing  CD/LP-FatWreckRecords  Download

Contact The Real McKenzies  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

(On March 13th, 2020 the Real McKenzie’s live show at the Starlite Room in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was canceled by Alberta Health Services due to the COVID-19 virus. As to not let the all their fans down, the gig went ahead as a live stream!)

ALBUM REVIEW: TIM HOLEHOUSE- ‘Come’ (2019)

Come is the eleventh studio album from nomadic troubadour Tim Holehouse and sees him drift away from his normal mutant delta blues to more Folk territory than on any of his previous records.
Recorded with a full band including lush strings and vocal harmonies this may not be typical London Celtic Punks fare but all the better for it!

Back in May we were set to put on a double header gig starring London Celtic Punk regular TC Costello and a friend of his by the name of Tim Holehouse. Well it barely needs repeating what happened to the gig (rest assured though the date has only been postponed not cancelled!) but it fell to the great gig massacre of 2020. Pompey born Tim is not a artist I was familiar with before this and when I looked him up and saw he was in album release double figures I felt shivers go down my back. Now the last thing you want to be doing as a music reviewer is have the eleventh album release of an artist land on your doorstep. That’s just his studio albums as well he has a host of live and split recordings under his belt as well. It’s fifteen years since Tim began on the path that would change his life. Fifteen years on the road touring pretty much every country in Europe, Iceland, Japan, Australia, USA and Canada playing anywhere between 250-300 gigs a year continuing to seek new adventures and build upon the hard work he’s already put in.

On the very first listen it struck me that it reminded me of someone but I couldn’t for the life of me think who. It was probably on the 20th listen seconds after I had shared that dilemma with TC Costello that I remembered who. Everlast. Yes he of Gaelic Hip-Hop legends House Of Pain. You may scoff but I’m sure anyone familiar with his solo work, especially the Countryfied ‘Whitey Ford’ material will get it straight away. How it is a man from the South coast of England can nail that American drawl is another thing but then if your thing is ‘mutant delta blues’ then it’s really not that difficult! As I said I’m not familiar with his previous work bar an afternoon spent whiling away watching his You Tube channel so Come is a new start for me. The album may be a nominally solo effort but here he is backed by a full band including a string trio and pedal steel guitar at Silent City Studio by Robert Hobson. Hobson is perhaps better known for producing hard rock albums, including those of A Forest Of Stars of which two members appear on this record.

Written over five years it has been a real labour of love to get this album as perfect as possible and patience has paid off. After several listens I am forced to place Tim somewhere between the aforementioned Everlast, Bonnie Prince Billy (who the song Prince of the Palace is a tribute to) and off-kilter bands like Low or the sadly missed Noah And The Whale.  Come begins with ‘Numbers Game’ the American drawl taking us on the first of nine journeys. Gentle acoustic guitar and double bass gives way to a cello and Tim steps it up while still narrating his story to us. This may not be our usual fare but we are lovers of catchy music and this is as good as any I heard this year. I always compare it to how my Grandad gave it away he loved something musical. His foot would be tapping away or is standing he’d gently tap the side of his leg with his hand. This is that kind of music I think. It’s music to really listen too and take in. Maybe with headphones so you won’t miss the swirling melodies and numerous instruments going on.

‘Next up is ‘Averio’ and again its a cacophony (big word!) of instruments slotted together perfectly. Tim has only three rules 1) I will not appear in my own music videos! 2) I will not have my name or face on a shirt! 3) I will not sell my soul! so don’t expect to see him featured in any of the vids I have posted here from You Tube.

‘The albums two shortest songs follow ‘One Day’ and ‘Sleep’ both hovering around two minutes and consist mainly of heartfelt thoughts on life. ‘Prince Of The Palace’ as I already said is about the legendary Bonnie Prince Charlie. My mate Simon got me into him a few years ago but as he’s about the most prolific recording artist I have ever known I decided there and then that I couldn’t afford to be too much of a fan! Labelled a ‘Appalachian post-punk solipsist’ whatever that is I recommend his music to anyone likes who what they hear here and someone who performs

“a fragile sort-of warble frittering around haunted melodies in the American folk or country tradition”.

To be honest I thought he had died but no he’s still knocking them out and is well past his 30th album! Tim’s song is a glowing tribute and I can well imagine the Bonnie Prince giving it a go. ’24 Hours’ is my favourite song of the album with Tim’s drawl and the full band coming in given a bit of bite by drums. The story unfolds and the music changes direction several times but always in fitting with the original tune as it progresses through what seems a lot longer is only just over three minutes.

‘(I’m Not) Icarus’ rolls in next and continues with the lush melodies and singer/songwriter story telling style. The story of Icarus comes from Greek mythology who attempted to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax but flew too close to the sun causing his wings to melt and him to crash into the sea. Icarus’ story has come to symbolise recklessness and the defiance of limitations. Another fabulous song among many.

(solo version of ‘ (I’m Not) Icarus’ recorded as part of Adventskalender Session 2019)

Steering up towards the end with two standout tracks the rocky ‘Placid Lake’ and ‘London’, Come’s longest song, where Tim takes us through the dirt and grime and anonymous streets where you can hide away. A grand song to see us out and the end of an album I can honestly say I never imagined I would get quite so into.

The album is out on Aahh!!! Real Records based in Cambridge a fiercely independent label proud to not specialise in any particularly style of music, but in good people with good ethics. Come comes in a gatefold CD and a rather beautiful special limited edition orange sunrise vinyl with alternate artwork. Tim plays his own music with his own lyrics and thoughts and is like the best music inspired by all good music. Punk, Hardcore, Blues, Jazz, Country, Metal and even electronic music it’s all the mix somewhere. 

“I’m not very keen to be boxed in as a song writer of a certain style. Each album has a different take on myself and the music is very much written from the heart about subjects I either am interested in or personal experiences.”

Good music is good music right? A rather excellent album that will be on my playlist for a long time after this review has passed into the ether and an artist I look forward to seeing a lot more of too. I’ll end this review with Tim’s catchphrase borrowed from one of his favourite films, Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure…

“Be excellent to each other!” 

(You can listen to Come on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Come  Download  CD/Vinyl

Contact Tim Holehouse  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

Discography  Where? (2019) * Kill (2017) * Hail (2017) * Past (2016) * Just (2016) * Odd/Even (2016) * Down (2014) * Bar (2014) * Antidote (2014) * Fighter (2013) * Grit (2011) * From The Dawn Chorus (2007) * Found Dead On The Shoreline (2005)

Tim will performing live over on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page on Thursday 20th August from 8pm for a hour of Mutant music for people who are excellent to everybody! Expect anything from Hardcore-Punk to Jazz to Trip-Hop anything can happen. He hasn’t told us what he has planned!!

Facebook Event- https://www.facebook.com/events/3121307697990090/

ALBUM REVIEW: THE MUCKERS- ‘Irish Goodbye’ (2020)

The Muckers are a five-piece Celtic-Folk-Punk band from Atlanta. With a strong emphasis on Irish music, the band also blends influences of Gypsy music, sea shanties, Country, Rockabilly, and anything else they can get their hands on. According to TC Costello their name doesn’t mean what you think it means.

A year ago I found myself at DragonCon, one of the largest sci fi and fantasy conventions in the galaxy. 85,000 fans descended upon the city of Atlanta in sweltering heat to celebrate their fandom with costumes, medieval fighting demonstrations, and panels featuring famous actors (not a bad a place busking, either) but when not playing the ‘Game Of Thrones’ intro or the underwater theme from ‘Super Mario Brothers’ on accordion, I was fortunate enough to catch The Muckers, an Atlanta Celtic-Punk band I had heard of for the last year or so, but had never seen live, and what a live show it was! Aside from the twirling of light sabers, passing around of warm beers, and Star-Trek-uniformed mosh pits, The Muckers proved to be one of the most fun Celtic bands I’ve ever seen. The entire audience had huge smiles on their faces, and when they kicked out a rendition of “Drunken Lullabies,” no one in the crowd could keep still.

Frontman Jeff Shaw switched between fiddle and mandolin while providing plenty of banter, and Dave Long played some very Pogues-influenced accordion, while Randall English, Brady Trulove and Steve Lingo provided a nonstop folk-rock rhythm section with electric bass, acoustic guitar, and drums. Their set even featured a rendition of “Seven Drunken Nights” where the pipe “was made of glass instead of wood and had a little hole in the side,” and it became apparent that Long was the one cuckolding his bandmate Shaw. Never trust an accordion player. The enjoyment was so pervasive that I felt like I had no choice but to see them three more times during the convention. I was a bit skeptical that they could recreate such an atmosphere with a recorded album, but they do that and more with their latest effort, “Irish Goodbye” while sneaking in some truly heartbreaking material as well. Before the bleakness though, the craic is 90 with the ska-influenced Celtic-riffing opener, “Queen of the Pit,” an ode to the band’s friend Meg, who proved herself adept at moshing during Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog Cruise. Shaw sings in the chorus:

“Throwing her elbows, swinging her hair
Don’t start a fight ‘cause she don’t fight fair
Running in circles, you know she won’t quit
Get out of the way! She’s the queen of the pit”

They follow with “Rock on Rockall,” an Irish Protest song regarding Rockall Island, which The Irish Government claims as Irish and the UK government says is part of Scotland. Given that The Wolfe Tones made the song famous, it shouldn’t be hard to guess which side The Muckers take.

The Muckers from left to right, Steve Lingo- Drums * Randall English- Bass * Brady Trulove-  Guitar * Jeff Shaw- Fiddle/Mandolin * Dave Long- Accordion

A melancholy fiddle intro leads into the “Buzzard’s Bay” a tribute to Shaw’s friend Johnny Pike. Lyrically sparse, the song reflects on Pike’s tragic drowning in Buzzards Bay Massachusetts:

“A Boston boy named Johnny Pike
Disappeared on a summer night
Cold New England water took his life
Now he’ll never walk on land

23 is far too young to die
Unfinished life pulled out on the tide

John is gone we lost him to the sea
Left behind just washed out memories
Got in too deep, there’s nothing left to say
They found him floating out on Buzzards Bay”

Accordionist Dave Long takes the lead vocals next, with another protest song, “Building up and Tearing England Down.” With a vocal delivery somewhere between Shane McGowan and NOFX’s Fat Mike, this tale of fatalities in the English construction industry may be the perfect protest song to get people out of the pub and up to the barricades. In addition to accounts of falling off a hydro dam, death by concrete mixer, and one particularly gruesome incident with a high tension wire, this song features a blistering accordion solo that is just fantastic– and reminds me I should practice more.

They lighten the mood during a quartet of songs that seems to reclaim copyrighted material as folk songs. The songs present them as something to be changed and reinterpreted. The first is “Whale of a Tale,” a narration of nautical naughtiness that I only recently learned is from Disney’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” Bassist Randall English takes the lead on this one, telling us of maritime romances that include:

“Typhoon Tessie
Met her on the coast of Java
When we kissed I,
Bubbled up like molten lava
Then she gave me, the scare of my young life
Blow me down and pick me up
She was the captain’s wife!”

Lead vocals on this track are a joint effort, as Jeff Shaw sneaks a version of “Rare Ould Mountain Dew” that’s not about whisky, but rather that “Keefy Stuff from California”: “If the police come, try to stop our fun and lock us all away/ Away we’ll go and smoke a bowl of the good green Mary Jane.” After that high note of bridge the band blazes through one final verse about Harpoon Hannah.

Next, drummer Steve Lingo takes over lead vocals on a faithful cover of the Rumjack’s reflection on other possible life stories, “My Time Again.” Guitarist Brady Trulove next sings The Pogues; wartime waltz “A Pair of Brown Eyes.” Then the band puts The Ramones classic, “Sheena is a punk Rocker,” through a Celtic-Punk filter. While the Ramones’ “Sheena” leaves the beach party life for New York city’s part scene, The Muckers’ “Saorise” and friends dress in Scallies (another word for a flat cap) kilts and go to Ri Ra– Irish pubs in Atlanta.

Following the band is all revved up and ready to go with the Rockabilly-inspired drinking song, “Out on My Ass.” Shaw says,

“While you could easily mistake that for one of our silly drinking songs, I consider that a tragic song. A man is throwing his life away for alcohol.” Indeed, during this song’s drunken hijinks, the narrator loses his marriage, his life’s savings, his home, and is possibly bound for eternal damnation.”

Next is a cover of George Gershwin’s bluesy classic “Summertime.” It starts pretty traditionally, with some jazzy accordion licks the mandolin emulating some high-on-the-neck jazz guitar. Little did i know Trulove, Lingo and English were biding their time before launching into a high-octane, almost hardcore punk second verse. When I first heard it live, I wasn’t totally enamored with the idea, but the Muckers won me over, and by the end of it, I was moshing alongside Trekkies. Closing the album is the country-tinged title track. While mysterious in its origins, the term “Irish Goodbye” means leaving without announcing your departure. Shaw uses this as a metaphor for his divorce: “While we were still together we had a fight, and when I woke up she was gone. That wasn’t the real end of the relationship, but that feeling of waking up and finding your partner has left is what I based the song on.”

“The halls echo empty, there’s a ghost that sleeps in my bed
My heartbeat has flatlined, the stoplights all turned green to red
I know deep inside must’ve been something I could’ve said
To keep her by my side instead of an Irish goodbye”

Buy Irish Goodbye  FromTheBand-CD

Contact The Muckers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

(The Muckers full band Live Stream set from the PaddyRock Festival last month)

ALBUM REVIEW: HUGH MORRISON- ‘The Other Side’ (2020)

Scottish-born Hugh Morrison has spent the couple of decades baking in Houston,Texas and playing and singing in a range of styles. As part of The Street Dogs and lead vocalist of Celtic-Rockers Murder The Stout he has toured the world and has released his second solo album of New Orleans influenced Folk-Rock.

After spending twelve years in the USA, the Scottish Highlands born Hugh Morrison returns to his homeland for inspiration on his latest project. His first solo album Robert Burns Rocks came out in 2010 taking his favorite Robert Burns’ work and adapting them for the present time. Burns work has been re-interpreted many times including by many Celtic-Punk bands and this album was designed to bring attention to Scotland’s Bard, opening up his material to a whole new and audience. Hugh Morrison has spent his time in the USA wisely fronting the popular Houston, Texas based Celtic-Punk band Murder The Stout and playing squeezebox in the sadly now no more Street Dogs. 

He released his second studio album in 2016 called Prison Ballads ten popular songs all with the theme of Prisons or going to jail! Songs from another age brought back to basics like ‘Banks O’ The Ohio’, ‘Down In The Valley’ and ‘The Auld Triangle’. His new album came out at the turn of the year and has been sitting in our to do list since being played sporadically but thoroughly enjoyed.

The album begins with ‘Passing Place’ and features only Louisiana musicians, mainly the Louisiana legend, Beth Patterson on backing vocals, bazouki and bass. With many friends and guests here its far from yer usual singer/songwriter type of thing. Hugh slightly ached vocals over a catchy acoustic guitar and female background vocals give it a feel of 1980’s UK indie bands. The albums title track is next and ‘The Other Side’ features some choice brass from the New Orleans Second Line Percussion. Be warned this isn’t the upbeat celtic-Rock of Murder The Stout and even with South Louisiana’s Cajun bursting through it’s a sad song about death and Hugh’s vocals and accordion works great here. In the article referenced at the bottom in The Ripple Hugh states that the two following songs are his most favourite ones he has ever written. On ‘Life Can Be Short’, a five minute epic with a definite Irish tinge to it, reminding us to enjoy every moment with the ones around us and ‘Old Scotland’, a ode to his faraway home.

The songs so far have a sadness attached to them that is specific to Celtic music. Death looms large here but without the sentimentalism even when on a song like ‘Old Scotland’ you can tell easily how much the words mean to him. The music is acoustic excepting the bass and while its possible to play really fecking loud with acoustic instruments here Hugh takes another approach with the music almost delicate but still coming out with plenty of fire and bite. ‘Sunshine’ is another folky indie number while ‘Ballad Of Thomas Higgins’ the air of which sounds remarkably like ‘The Patriot Game’ which in itself was stolen from ‘The Merry Month Of May’ and probably several songs pre that one too. Telling of whaling in New Bedford its a great track and shows pretty much all the albums guests in one place. ‘Dance Hall Girl’ is a gentle folky tale while ‘Ticket Out Of Here’ sees the drums pounding just that bit heavier than before with Hugh and Beth combining beautifully on a song whose subject is well known to many of us. I’m a big fan of the harmonica and it gets a good airing on ‘Not Hanging Here’, a catchy melancholic song while on ‘Edge Of The World’ the upbeat modernist Cajun / Country belies the songs serious side.

The albums penultimate song is ‘Kitty’ a sad traditional Irish love song about a Fenian saying goodbye to his sweetheart. Shane MacGowan said he recalled hearing his Mother singing it often which would explain its appearance on Rum, Sodomy & The Lash where The Pogues injected new life into the song. Here Hugh takes the gentle approach with Hugh’s Scots brogue floating over an arrangement similar to The Pogues. The album ends with the upbeat ‘Everything’s Gonna Be OK’ where we get as close to a full band as the album allows. Even the words here are upbeat as Hugh reassures us everything’s gonna be OK.

So a grand album and at this moment in time its the kind of singer/songwriter album with guests we are seeing a lot of but this came out before the ‘clampdown’ so the originality is all Hugh Morrison’s. He proves here what an excellent frontman he is and how adept he is at taking influences and welding them to traditional Scots Folk sentiments and emotions. It may not be in the same league as Murder The Stout but among its peers in Folk music yeah it’s pretty damn bloody good.

(you can stream The Other Side on the Bandcamp player below before you buy)

Buy The Other Side  FromHugh  CDbaby

Contact Hugh Morrison  YouTube  Twitter  YouTube  Instagram  Facebook

Keep an eye on these pages for a further Hugh project in Iron Roux. Scottish highlands meet Louisiana swamp as Hugh and Beth Patterson combine forces resulting in driving guitar, subversive bass solos, and tight vocal harmonies. We’re here for the ballads, but will stay for the accordion and bouzouki thrown into the mix too! A EP is slated for release very shortly…

Hugh had a very interesting interview The Ripple that is well worth a look.

ALBUM REVIEW: KELTIKON- ‘The Black Boar’ (2020)

An hour of original Celtic-Folk-Punk Keltikon songs and Irish and Scots traditionals. Thrilling tales of pagan creatures, esoteric TV, sea bound ships, orphans, boozers, rocky roads, atomic submariners, traveling people and Italian partisans as told by a band who combine the present and the ancient with ease.

It’s been quite a while since Keltikon graced these pages properly. You have to go right back to May, 2014 to find our review of Agenbite Of Inwit. These may have been early days for the London Celtic Punks Web-Zine but we recognised the quality and later in 2014 it made the Top Twenty Albums Of The Year in a year marked out for some outstanding releases. Agenbite Of Inwit was the bands debut release and is an old-English phrase meaning in modern terms, a crisis of conscience. Formed in 2012 in the Swiss city of Pfäffikon, not far from Zurich, they are the leading band in the Celtic scene in Switzerland playing mainly their own original songs as well as traditional Irish and Scottish jigs, reels and ballads, injected with Heavy Rock, Folk, Punk and Folk-Punk. Skilled musicians with decades of experience between them, not only of Scottish and Irish traditional music, but also the added attraction of Rock, Ska, Folk and Baltic all together creating Keltikon’s unique sound.

Keltikon have since their inception toured relentlessly and did an extensive tour of Ireland in 2018 that they were set to repeat this year till the dreaded ‘clampdown’ but their appearance at the Mary from Dungloe Festival 2020 has only been delayed and they are all set to play next years re-arranged Fest. The Black Boar plays just like a live Keltikon set with everything from maudlin ballads to high energy Celtic-Punk rockers but always with a link to something ancient.

Most of the original Keltikon songs here have been written by guitarist and vocalist Olaf Ohl and to say he delves into the past with his songs is an understatement. The album begins with the title song and  ‘The Black Boar’ and its a belter to kick things off with. Here’s the story behind the song

For old Celts pigs were spirit animals, a sign of courage and power, also a symbol for war and disorder. Tryon was the King of Boars, an giant pagan creature in Irish mythology. The the counterpart could be the Welsh legend Twrch Trwyth, a prince of Wales, who had been cursed and transformed into a wild boar. He was hunted by King Arthur and and after a long hard battle the boar swam out to the sea and disappeared. This more humorous adaption suggests that the boar tricked King Arthur and only hid under the cliff, he’s still among us…

You’ll not hear this kind of lyrics on your normal run of the mill Celtic-Punk album. I’d say it belongs in the world of Horslips or Loudest Whisper but of course with a much harder edge to it.

(The first single from the album. Video concept, filmed and produced by Steve Diener)

‘Once Upon A Time (Star Coins)’ tells of the fairy tale Star Coins written in the 19th century by the Brothers Grimm famous for collecting and publishing folklore and who wrote some of the best children’s stories ever. The music is country influenced Folk-Rock reminding me of the Bible Code Sundays with the acoustic guitar and the catchy tune but with new fiddler Mélodie Pican from Orbes, in the French part of Switzerland, amazing fiddle leading the tune along. next up is ‘We Have Been (And We’re Still Here)’ and again Olaf digs deep into Celtic history but linking it to modern times. The poor have always been exploited by the greedy but these tyrants in history never last but the little people always hold their ground. The song shows the bands imagination with the Ska beat dominating but plenty else going on. Olaf’s vocals are hard to define sitting on the edge of being both a crooner and a punk. The ached sound emphasising the meaning behoind each song and show what they mean to him. A row of traditional songs now beginning with ‘Donald McGillavry’ dealing with the feats of MacGillavry of Drumglass in the Jacobite Wars in the 18th century when this song could have been written.

“Donald was mumpit wi mirds and mockery;
Donald was blinded wi’ blads o’ property;
Arles ran high, but makings were naething, man,
Lord, how Donald is flyting and fretting, man.”

I’ve heard this song plenty of times and it lends itself well to be played upbeat and is a Celtic-Punk staple but Keltikon do more than enough to stamp their own sound all over it. Something they also do with the English folk song ‘The Lark In The Morning’. Though maybe not a song that you would think lends itself to Celtic-Punk here it is treated with reverence but the Keltikon stamp is firmly stamped and the song, first recorded in 1778, has a real catchy tune only just related to the original air.

Now I’m sure you’re going “not again” and the appearance of ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ had me eliciting the same response but Keltikon give it plenty of oomph and when played with a bit of imagination, humour and flair like how Keltikon do here taking it down a reggae route with Ursi Steck from Winterthur, who is Keltikon bassist’s, Dave’s daughter. Another song gaining popularity on the Celtic-Punk scene is ‘Bella Ciao’ an Italian protest folk song that originated among the paddy field workers in the late 19th century. It was sung to protest against harsh working conditions and later the song was adopted as an anti-fascist anthem by the Italian partisans against the Nazi German forces occupying Italy and more recently it has become much more internationally known and popular. 

( Recorded live in concert at Musigburg Aarburg on 15th August 2019)

A couple of originals now penned by Olaf. ‘Chartered’ a sentimental ballad about the hardships of sailors life and ‘The Three Graves’, a tale picked out from the ‘Fenian Cycle‘ and given a cheery Country-Rock sound and again the Bible Code Sundays comes to mind. Another cover next the Scottish Folk song ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ telling of a rich lady who runs off to join the gypsies and has been recorded by all the giants of Folk and traditional music. Ursi takes on vocals again and they play the song pretty straightforward though her fine voice gives the song something extra. A couple more Olaf penned songs with the Poguesy Hells Ditch era ‘Heal My Shakra’, which does drag a bit lasting as it does nearly 9 minutes, and ‘The Diving Dutchman’ one of the earliest Keltikon songs and already featured on Agenbite Of Inwit but tampered with and re-recorded to give it a bit of extra bite and even with the fiddle like guitar work it still ranks as the most Celtic-Punk song of the album and easy to see why the band love playing it. Taking the ancient old mariner’s tale about a ghost ship and turning it into a Dutch nuclear submarine with a similar problem. Only a couple left and ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ is always a good choice telling the tale of a 19th-century Kildare man emigrating to England who arrives in Liverpool only to have to fight his way out. There will never be a version to top Luke Kelly and The Dubliners but Keltikon give a great blast through. The album ends with ‘The Local Boozer’ written by long time friend of London Celtic Punks and a man who does immeasurable good work for Irish music. I give you John O’Donnell Cotter, songwriter, booking agent, radio presenter and resident of county Donegal. Unsurprisingly an lovely Irish air with great humour and a fantastic way to end things putting a smile on everyone’s faces.

So almost an hour of authentic Celtic Rock and Punk. The music itself leans heavily upon the Scots Folk sound but as Keltikon began with a piper rather than a fiddle player that may be why but they certainly have made the major change in the band very smoothly and their exuberant energy shines through here. A band that has crossover appeal and could I am sure find favour with your Irish Nan, your Scots Dad or the inner Punk in everyone. Olaf’s songwriting is some of the best in Celtic-Punk and always has a real story to tell whether with humour or great sadness whether wrapped around a folky, rocky, foot-stomper or a weepy ballad. A unique band that encompasses everything good about the Celtic nations and its people and stories. 

HEAR THE BLACK BOAR HERE

Buy The Black Boar  Here

Contact Keltikon  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

Our very good friend Rob who makes the fantastic blog This Drinking Life has just published a great interview with Olaf from Keltikon. Covering life in Switzerland over the clampdown, the release and the recording of The Black Boar (each song was done in one take. Impressive) and a hell of a lot more. Find out the origins of the bands name too!

THIS DRINKING LIFE

ALBUM REVIEW: 6’10- ‘Carried In Retrospect’ (2020)

The second full length release from Flatfoot 56 off-shoot band 6’10. Tobin Bawinkel began 6’10 to go back to his musical roots in Americana and Folk music. Life can’t be all circle pits and spitting on sweaty crowds! The groups first full length album since 2014 Gerard Mellon finds ten tracks of childhood memories, raising a family, love and social commentary about society toxicity documenting the progression of the 6’10 story. 

What with pandemics, despotic rulers and a lack of football, we almost let this one slip past us. Thankfully Eagle Eye Eddie wasn’t going to let that happen; and who can blame him, as it comes from one of this site’s favourite artists, Tobin from Flatfoot 56 fame. Obviously, it’s from his other project 6’10. The acoustic, more ‘folksy’ sounding group. I think the membership of 6’10 is quite a fluid thing, with different contributors at different times. What is a constant though is Tobin and his good lady wife Vanessa’s, contribution. In fact, this 10 track album features a number of what could be called duets.

The recent addition to Tobin and Vanessa’s family of a baby brings a much more mellow feel to Tobin’s song-writing. Fatherhood has definitely influenced the style and content of this offering. It still contains the clever sometimes whimsical offerings, along with the expert musicianship, but maybe now has an introspective slant. There are pleasant love-songs like ‘She’s the One’ and ‘Vanessa’s Song. There are also deeper songs like ‘Wither’ that somehow carry extra punch when one considers what the world is going through in the current climate. Flatfoot and Tobin could never be accused of lacking a social conscience. (In the traditions of all good Celtic Punk artists!) ‘Weight’ is a great example of this, especially these days when so many are questioning our roles in the new normal.


I think this is one of the great features of Tobin’s song-writing, that it makes the listener think; whether it be the large faith/religious aspects of some songs, or the intimate closeness of others. These are universal feelings that we all can relate to and perhaps share. Vanessa takes the lead in a couple of tracks, notably ‘Come Home’ and she plays a major role in the whole feel of the album.

(No ‘proper’ videos of any of the songs released yet so you’ll have to go on Gerry’s word but 6’10 did perform a couple of songs from Carried In Retrospect on their recent Live Stream set on Facebook)

The whole feel of this album is different to 6’10’s previous offerings, without calling it downbeat, it just feels slower, less impactful than the Humble Beginnings of a Roving Soul. Maybe it’s the post production or the recording process, but the “feel” is pared back, fewer instruments are involved in the final sound. It harkens back to the America of the dustbowl and the 30’s, when the content of a song seemed to be more important than production effects. You can imagine Tobin and Vanessa touring this album as a complete family unit, with no razzamatazz. Genuinely good music with honest emotions and good intentions. Perhaps this is what we’ve got to look forward to over the next few years.

Buy Carried In Retrospect  Download-Here  CD- Here

Contact 6’10  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW- QUINTESSENTIAL QUARANTUNES (2020)

Six bands, three from Ireland and three London based. No longer able to play their trade due to government lockdowns either side of the Irish Sea have been virtually brought together by one man – Phil Parsons and one pub – Frostys Bar, Kenton to create a lockdown album like no other. With a mixture of Celtic Rock, Traditional Irish Folk and Rebel music, this is your must buy album of 2020.

Released just last week Quintessential Quarantunes is a compilation album of six bands. Three from London and three from across Ireland. There’s twelve songs in total with two each carefully chosen by the bands themselves. The music is mainly of the Irish folk ballad kind. Think along the lines of The Wolfe Tones. All the bands here are gigging musicians meaning its the sole income for many of them so for a tenner you can support Irish music at home and abroad for less than a pound a song.

THE BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS

With over twenty years worth of experience The BibleCode Sundays have performed live on many TV shows and played extensively throughout Europe and the USA. They have played on the pitches of Celtic Park on Champions League night, Twickenham Stadium for Heineken Cup Finals and for many years at London Irish Rugby Club. They have performed at Glastonbury music festival and supported Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon and his band Public Image Ltd on several occasions as well as The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy, The Sawdoctors and Christy Moore. They have also supported American punk band The Dropkick Murphys in both the US and the UK and recorded with Russell Crowe, Elvis Costello and Shane MacGowan to name but a few.

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BLACKSTAIRS REBEL

Formed in 1997 after a sing song on a bus home from a Wexford hurling match. PJ, Kevin and Ollie, later joined by Miss Carol Cooney on accordion. They soon built a reputation for the sessions they put on and were helped along with support slots for The Wolfe Tones, Dublin City Ramblers and Brendan Grace. The band write an occasional song but their real passion is playing live and for the past 23 years they have made many new friends along the way. A highlight of 2019 was playing Crawley Irish Festival. Meeting people, making new friends, having a few beers, eating kebabs, getting on ferries and planes, cars breaking down and belting out Irish folk, ballad, trad and rebel tunes where ever we go, for that’s what we love, that’s what we do and thats what we will continue to do for as long as people are still enjoying it.

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THE REELS

The Reels came together in late 2006. We all met through various music lessons growing up as kids or at sessions in many an Irish pub! With Gavin on vocals and guitar, Leanne on vocals and mandolin, Antonia on the fiddle, Mikey on the bass and Mad Kieran on the drums. Mixing traditional Irish music into more modern songs and taking the old Irish classics and making them more appealable to the younger second generation Irish in London. Already in popular demand to play the London circuit we will continue to belt out the music for as long as you’ll listen to us.

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CATALPA

Catalpa are a 3 piece band who are the resident band for The Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs and play before every home game in The Lansdowne Rugby Club. They traveled to France in 2016 for the Euros to play for the fans in La Rochelle. toured the USA, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Spain playing their brand of Irish ballads. Catalpa have played in The Aviva Stadium the famous Barrowlands in Glasgow and have supported The Wolfe Tones, The Dublin City Ramblers and Hermitage Green at various gigs and festivals. Catalpa have released three CDs to date and one CD in particular being a Charity CD for the John Giles Foundation.

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CELTIC STORM

Celtic Storm is a solo performer who hails from Co. Carlow. With over two decades of musical experience having performed in the USA, Europe and extensively throughout Ireland he is a highly sought after entertainer. He has played the famous Barrowlands on numerous occasions, most recent been the memorable night with his good friends Catalpa. Celtic Storm has one album to date and the ‘ballad bug’ is still as strong as ever.

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THE PEPPERED ACES

The Peppered Aces are a three piece Irish folk/rock band from London. Founded in 2015, the band have featured in festivals, international sporting events and have appeared on national radio. An annual event for the band sees them travel to NYC to perform at the St. Patrick’s festival. They are a developing band and have just commenced recording a selection of covers which prominently feature in the live set. Looking forward, The Peppered Aces plan on exploring their own original content and applying their unique sound and experience gained from playing together over the years.

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(Download or stream Quintessential Quarantunes from the Bandcamp link below)

Download Quintessential Quarantunes  From Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS- ‘Dogs on the Leash’ (2020)

Germany and Celtic-Punk go together like Guinness and chips and there’s no better purveyors there than the wonderful O’Reillys And The Paddyhats. Our man Anto Morra runs the critical rule over their enjoyable fourth album.

This record opens with the title track, which is a craic’r and appears to have it all, just what Dr Folk Punk ordered. A song written from the perspective of those in charge wanting to keep the people drunk, drugged up, calm, quiet and brilliantly concluding

‘We won’t back off, We will free ourselves from the leash’.

“Here it goes again” levels the class playing field with the clever observation that no matter how financially wealthy or poor, we all go through the motions of endless struggle or celebration, to the point at which it becomes mundane. So the chorus wisely informs us to ‘Get out of your castle get out of your shack, It’s not Groundhog Day so leave the bloody track’ and all with a great punky reggae party feel.

An exquisite fiddle and banjo leads us into “James Brian” for a bit of Celtic mysticism. The story of a man that mysteriously vanishes from the bog because he worked into the night, this is a great arrangement with hints of klezmer and The Levellers springing to mind at times.

“Captain Without A Ship” kicks of with a brilliant twinned guitar harmony part in the style of Thin Lizzy, continues to rock out the middle 8, and ventures into Status Quo playing Oi -if you can imagine that! After another rousing chorus, we are treated to a fine bit of plank spanking from Jan, that’s not unlike the great solos of Kane Roberts on Alice Cooper’s Constrictor album.

“Millions” ‘How many millions do you need to say that you succeed?’ an appealing sentiment, big chorus with a Klezmer crescendo- what more do you need? Sounds like a recipe for success to me.

“Ferryman” is a lament that if it was wearing a different outfit could be described as a power ballad, the arrangement is perfection. Thankfully, because Franz does not sing like Bruce Dickenson, it works beautifully with the low whistle and other trad instruments, which keep it flowing, grounded and not at all laboured.

“From Dublin To Moscow” is a superb tale of five courageous 17th century adventurers whose only fear is running out of beer. It is at the same time a clever doff of the hat to the Irish traditional songs, like the ‘Blarney Stone’ and ‘Star Of The County Down’, that mention many place names as comfortably possible to appeal to everyone from those places. Of course, I was delighted that London got a mention!

“Overtime Work” is just over 3 minutes of more fun than I’ve ever had doing overtime, but I think I could have spent time as a CEO of the company supplying this overtime.

The strength of “Hobo Of Mitchelstown” is the fact it can not really be compared anything, while at the same time sitting comfortably in the folk punk genre. The heavy rock guitar sound could place it, dare I say, in the folk rock genre.

“Beautiful Fear” is a terrific song, full of romantic imagery, but the humour is not far away. I feel as this is an anthem for people like myself that suffer dreadfully from FOMO (fear of missing out). This track could also be called “Beautiful Fiddle” as the solo is just spot on.

In true punk style they appear to have stolen this Bobby Sands/Gordon Lightfoot classic “Back Home In Derry” with no credits on the sleeve notes. It’s a very fine version with a different member of the band on each verse, and that enchanting fiddle playing again. The last verse is reserved the great face of the band Benny, ending with a huge chorus which without missing a beat goes seamlessly into “Shoe Shine Boy”. If you weren’t paying attention when you hit the chorus, you may think you were still back home in Derry, but this is a wonderful song about a wise shoe shine boy and an arrogant rich man. ‘Things change farewell, farewell my friend’ – “Farewell” is just a joyous closing track. ‘We are drinking lots of beer, we’re not asking our livers’ is my favourite line!

The O’Reillys and The Paddyhats succeed where so many celtic folk punk bands fail, is with the quality of singing. Franz has a great strong engaging voice, and Tim adds the aggressive rasp that is essential in punk and rock music. The song writing is intelligent, witty and at times a little comical, but never novelty or flippant- if their musicianship wasn’t top notch they would not be able to successfully execute the humour they do! This is their rockiest offering so far, but they have not lost any of their German Irish charm. Just go and buy it because it has been a joy to review.

Buy Dogs On The Leach  CD/Download- FromTheBand

Contact The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

Album Discography (Click for review)- April 2016 Seven Hearts One Soul * February 2017 Sign Of The Fighter * September 2018 Green Blood *

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London Irish, Punk Folk singer, songwriter and artist Anto Morra lives in East Anglia and is a regular performer on the Norfolk Folk Roots and acoustic music scene as well as the London Celtic Punks scene. He’s even second cousin to Morrissey!  he did a special Live Stream London Celtic Punks show on June 5th and no it wasn’t suppose to be sideways!!

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DEAD MAGGIES- ‘More Than Just Ghosts’ (2020)

Tasmanian devils The Dead Maggies are back with a new album recorded last year in Indonesia while on tour.

Stories of tragic Tasmanian folklore swashbuckling adventures of bush pirates and convict rebels set to upbeat toe-tapping thigh-slapping Cowpunk Folk-Punk, exploring the links between the past and present in their music and lyrics.

The Dead Maggies usually sing about dead people. In fact that is not just a statement of fact but also the name of their debut album! Founded in Tasmania in 2013 and taking their name from the then recently deceased, and much loved(!), ex-Prime Minister of Britain Margaret Thatcher. Tasmania is the island at the bottom of Australia 150 miles to the south of the Australian mainland. Half the country is still in exactly the same state it was when the British invaded in 1803 and christened the island Van Diemons Land. Tassie, as its known to its residents, was used primarily as a natural prison state to house convicts brought from Britain and Ireland convicted of crimes that ranged from murder and assault to stealing sheep or even bread. It’s this history that gives rise to the subject matter that The Dead Maggies find so fruitful.
(debut album The Dead Maggies Sing Songs About Dead People is available as a ‘Name Your Price’ download. This is the 2014 re-issue. Remixed and remastered with added violin)
and as you will tell from that debut album ‘The Dead Maggies do indeed Sing About Dead People’. Only seven songs which tell the history of the various sad endings of colourful characters from Tasmania’s history. Perfect Celtic-Punk subject matter. Taking the past and completely bringing it to life through song. Putting flesh and bones on figures from Tassie’s olden days and ensuring their legend lives on.

They followed that album up with 2015’s Well Hanged and again the past is presented up to us. Twelve tracks exploring the lives, battles, deaths and loves of ordinary people. The people whose history is being written out of the books and just the kind of history that children don’t learn at school but should do. The album was extremely well received featuring in all of that year’s end of year Best Of polls reaching #7 on our Best Of, #12 for Paddy Rock Radio (USA) and #18 for McSlons Irish Pub Radio.

In among these releases were extensive tours of Europe including a visit to these shores which took them from one end to the other in a ramshackle tour culminating in one hell of a night at Tottenham Chances in 2014. They made a great compilation video of the tour that features some footage from that hot and sweaty night in North London and if you look closely you’ll spot some familiar faces in the crowd too. They continued their prolific output in 2017 with two EP’s released in quick succession with Wild Dogs And Flannies coming out in April and The Wild Folk in June both again focusing on stories set in the early days of Tasmania. They would return to these shores later that year with a couple of London dates sandwiched in between appearances at two of Britain’s largest festivals, Outcider and Boomtown. One of the scenes (they prefer to call themselves Folk-Punk) most traveled bands that became, as far as I know, the first Western Celtic/Folk-Punk band to tour Vietnam and then Indonesia. A country well known for its love of Irish music and Celtic-Punk. Whilst there they played with some of that country’s best bands (watch this space for The Cloves And The Tobacco’s new EP!) and also took the opportunity to record and mix More Than Just Ghosts. A truly international effort across the 5,566 km between Bandung, Java and Hobart, Tasmania.

The Dead Maggies left to right: Hannah Morrell – Fiddle * Teresa Dixon – Banjo, Mando, Flute, Vocals * Gruf Mongrel – Guitar, Clarinet, Vocals * Mark Downie – Double Bass, Vocals * Sam Wellings- Drums

The album came out just as the Covid clampdown started to bite meaning The Maggies had to cancel four months of touring and festivals all booked up. Rest assured though they will be rescheduling so keep an eye on things for new dates when all ‘this’ is over. For the first time here on More Than Just Ghosts the Maggies, more famous for writing their own material, have included traditional songs in among their original hard hitting Folk-Punk kicking off with the the trad ‘Mad Tom Of Bedlam’. Dating from early 17th Century England Bedlam in the title is the notorious London insane asylum Bethlam Royal Hospital. Told in three parts through the album its acapello re-telling is reminiscent of The Dreadnoughts. ‘Lacey’s Redemption’ follows directly on from the song ‘Matthew Brady’ as featured on Well Hanged and tells of George Lacey who betrayed Brady and carried the burden of guilt for the rest of his days seeking redemption by campaigning to close Sarah Island, Van Diemen’s Lands most notorious concentration camp or penal colony as it was known at the time.

The video was filmed and edited by Quinton Trembath while with The Dead Maggies in Indonesia and the bands energy is suitably portrayed. Musically its straight up Maggies with a catchy as feck tune with fiddle and banjo accompanied by double bass and even clarinet and Gruf Mongrel’s incredibly rich and powerful and distinctive voice. ‘The Tale Of Martin Cash’ is the tale of a gentleman bushranger. A sort of Robin Hood figure stealing from the rich but whether he gave to the poor is debatable.
“Oh life on the road rarely ends well but if you can’t be rich have a story to tell”
A life rich in legend that he helped himself to forge being one of the few Aussie outlaw figures to die a peaceful death in his bed an old man in 1877.
“This is the man who made the dash, who bashed the fash to save his lass, yes this is the man who dodged the lash, this is the tale of Martin Cash.”
Another rip roarer of a song which takes us into ‘Port Arthur’. A place memorable for being the site of a penal colony in the 1800’s and now a popular tourist destination and also the tragic site of a mass shooting in 1996 in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded when a madman rampaged through the local area.
“And some shores just see more pain than most; Port Arthur is haunted by more than just ghosts”

A heartfelt and incredibly beautiful plea for gun control. The saga of ‘Mad Tom Of Bedlam’ continues before ‘The Diary Of Michael Howe’ tells us of another infamous bushranger. The Yorkshire born Michael was sentenced to seven years transportation for robbery arriving in Van Diemons Land in late 1812. He refused to cooperate with the guards escaping to join a group of other escaped convicts in the bush eventually rising to become their leader. He came to a sticky end having his brains bashed out by a greedy accomplice for as the Maggies point out 
“I led the outlaw community, but makes it hard when they double your bounty”
Teresa takes over vocals for the first time for ‘Flash Mob’ telling of the women convicts who would not submit to servitude while ‘Paradise’ tells of Ephraim Doe transported in 1839. Slow and dirgy the song tells his story and you’d be hard pressed to find an album of recent years with as many lyrics as The Dead Maggies. They fit in poor Ephraim’s life story for example in only five minutes. ‘Mad Tom Of Bedlam’ comes to its conclusion as ‘Fire On The Ship’ blasts through ninety seconds and if its a true story then by God its hilarious!
“Building ships to transport logs, putting trust in convict dogs. They stole the ship they’re sailing away, what should we make the semaphore say? Fire on the ship! But the semaphore’s manned by convicts too, we’re trusting the dogs with a job to do, to our disgust, to our dismay, guess what they made, the semaphore say? There’s no fire on the ship!”
‘Down To The Sea’ is another slow burner with mournful fiddle and a modern story of escape. This is followed by their cover of In The Pines a song you may not know until revealed by its better known name ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’. Dating back to the 1870’s of the Southern Appalachian area of the United States it rose to fame in the modern age when recorded by Nirvana but a far superior version is the one recorded by Blues/Folk legend Lead Belly. It is thought over 160 different variations of the song exist and the Maggies play it pitched somewhere between Nirvana and Lead Belly and nail it perfectly. The final track here is a slow ballad dedicated to Australia’s next door neighbours ‘Indonesia’ and specifically the Javan punks from their recent tour. 
Our opinion on Aussie trad music is well known, there’s a wealth of bands playing such great music and all have that link to the past that the Dead Maggies do. Maybe that is what makes them so special. The Aussie scene shows no sign of slowing down either with bands like Meduas’s Wake, Handsome Young Strangers and Fox’N’Firkin making waves at home and abroad. There are two particularly good sites on Facebook, Aussie Celtic Punk’s and Australian Folk Punk Scene while The Dead Maggies themselves run the record label where I would recommend just about every single bloody release! Folk’Til Ya Punk Records is becoming the main hub to find all things Australian Celtic-Punk, Folk-Punk, Folk, Punk, Gypsy and Bluegrass related and all the artists on its roster are well worth supporting. Also if you’re going to get the album get it from the link provided below so that the band get the maximum amount of money without the vultures taking their cut.
In a human being’s short stint on this earth, no one should have time for death. But it fascinates us, draws us to it. It calls to us, begs us to enter its cold embrace. We worship death in sleep each night, and our band pays homage to it in our songs, as just another aspect of the cult of death.

(you can stream or download More Than Just Ghosts from the Bandcamp player below)

Buy More Than Just Ghosts  FolkTilYaPunkRecords

Contact The Dead Maggies  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK ANEMONE- ‘Chasing The Sun’ (2020)

Celtic-Punk band from Sweden Black Anemone bring even more chaos and mischief to the world with the release of their new album, Chasing the Sun. One of the harder bands in Celtic-Punk to pigeonhole they may draw from the likes of Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys but combine with their own influences to great effect.

Black Anemone have used the power of social media to become one of the better known bands in the Celtic-Punk scene over the last few years. Always there with a supportive comment they have truly embraced the idea of #onecelticpunkfamily to their hearts. Chasing The Sun is the bands third full length studio album and so far they have all been received favourably by the various Celtic-Punk media and even outside, especially with their well produced and clever videos. Coming as they do from very near the river Lagan (not that one but the one in Jönköping in southern Sweden!) it may be no surprise the rocky road these young Scandinavians have taken.

Formed in 2010 and still at school when future vocalist Mattias came up with the idea of mixing “traditional folk music, mostly Irish trad and fusing it with Punk-Rock” and having recruited longtime friends Andy on guitar and Adam on drums they began rehearsals and others soon joined to fill in the gaps. Their first release was a demo the following year and later an EP titled Let The Freak-Show Begin’. In the later part of 2011 Black Anemone started working on their first full length album that would eventually come out in 2013. The album, King Of Kings won several local awards including ‘Best Act’ in their region and would appear in most of that years Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of’s. It would be four years till they followed this up with In It For Life as sadly, in common with a lot of Celtic-Punk bands, line up changes always seem to come at the most awkward moment. It was the first music we had heard of theirs are we were suitably impressed with their “combination of folk and punk and folkpunk all underpinned with the trad sounds of Ireland”.

Opening with the first single from the album ‘Straight Back To Hell’ and its straight into what Black Anemone are best at. Lively, cheering Pop-Punky tunes as catchy as the hell their going straight back to! The video below is a perfect example of their art too. Not showy or overstated but works amazingly well and makes a change from the ‘band playing in a pub’ scenario.

The album takes several twists and turns and they tune on the Gaelic for ‘Drinking On A Sunday’ perhaps the most Irish sounding here. Needless to say its a corker and keeps up the lively approach of the opening song even time for a ‘slapyourhands/stampyourfeet’ interlude. ‘Voices From Bones’ begins with fiddle and banjo standing out while Mattias has a strong voice for both the rocky and more contemplative moments while unsurprisingly able to sing in perfect English. One my favourites here and at four and a half minutes it doesn’t drag its feet either. ‘Scream Of A Banshee’ showcases Stina’s amazing fiddle playing in a song with plenty of ‘Woaaaa’. The first slow track rolls in next sounding for all the world like a off cut from Rum, Sodomy And The Lash. While not quite a ballad ‘Letter To Lorelei’ is slow but still heavy and its Irish core leads nicely into ‘Templehouse Session’ where the Bhoys and Ghirls blast through 160 seconds of brilliantly played fast trad Irish folk. I love it when bands pull this pout of the bag proving to the Irish music snobs purists that Celtic-Punk is more than just songs about drinking and fighting. The same snobs purists were saying the same things in the 1960’s about The Dubliners! Title track ‘Chasing The Sun’ was the albums second single and coming out post-clampdown meant whatever idea they had for the video had to changed but they still manged to come up with something novel that looks great. Accordionist Fredrik takes over on vocals and while he may have the look of a Death-Metal head his voice is achingly tender.

Time now for that ballad and ‘The Willow Creek’ delivers it with gusto. Again its not a gentle thing. Instruments are pounded and the swirl is large. At near five minutes long it does well to fly past so quickly. Definitely a song for holding your pint up to the stage and clinging on to those you love and trust the most. Nearing the end now and ‘Wanderlust’ takes us back into Celtic-Punk territory again while ‘Far Away’ brings down the curtain on a thoroughly enjoyable forty odd minutes of original music.

Black Anemone from left to right: Stina – Fiddle * Andreas – Guitar * Fredrik – Accordion * Mattias – Lead Vocals * Rickard – Bass * Martin – Banjo/Mandolin * Adam – Drums *

Chasing The Sun came out on May Day it was recorded at Distmaskinen, mixed by Alexander Gabara and mastered by Ulf Blomberg. The sound is excellent and very clear and for a band with so many members that is some achievement. Celtic-Punk when played in the right spirit should be a joyous affair (even taking into account the rather dark subject matter of some of the scene’s most popular themes!) and on the evidence here Black Anemone have nailed it yet again.

(stream or download Chasing The Sun from the Bandcamp player below)

Download Chasing The Sun FromTheBand

Contact Black Anemone  Bandcamp  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube  Twitter

They got together in early May to play an acoustic Live Stream on Facebook so have a listen. Its just over a hour long and shows this band have a real talent for Irish Folk music. 

ALBUM REVIEW: BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO- ‘Hermanos De Guerra’ (2020)

Celtic-Punk again shows it’s international appeal as Mexican band Batallón de San Patricio celebrate the release of their debut album. Named in respect of the famed Irish battalion that fought in the America-Mexico War of 1846-1848 these Bhoys are more than just a pretty name.

Here’s a first for London Celtic Punks a review of a Celtic-Punk release from Mexico. The band in question are called Batallón de San Patricio and for those in the know that is Spanish for St. Patrick’s Battalion and something extremely significant in the relationship between Ireland and Mexico. The band chose their name with great care taking their inspiration from the St. Patrick’s Battalion (see our extensive article The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song from the other day). A group of immigrants, mainly of Irish descent, who deserted from the US Army because of anti-Catholic bigotry and went to fight for the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). It’s a tale of great adventure and heroic valour but ultimately it is another sad chapter in Ireland’s history. They are still commemorated today by the Mexican government and its people with a parade featuring a bagpipe troop. Musically the first links were forged by The Chieftains who collaborated with Ry Cooder on their 2010 San Patricio album which combined Irish and Mexican Folk music to great effect to tell the tale of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion. The album featured a long list of guests, including narration by Liam Neeson of a poem in tribute to the San Patricios. Still those of you who read our article earlier in the week The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song will already be well versed in the history of these giants of men.

Batallón De San Patricio from left to right: Juan Alcalá ‘Peludito’ – 5 String Banjo/Backing Vocals * Ricardo Martínez ‘Ricky’ – Lead Vocals/Harp/Tin Whistle * Adrián Flores ‘Kazio’ – Drums * Elias Rubio ‘Ponko’ – Guitar/Backing Vocals * Emanel Muñoz ‘Alan’ – Bass/Backing Vocals * Ricardo Lupercio – Fiddle / Backing Vocals

So at last we move onto the review and I can hear the relief from here! Batallón de San Patricio were formed in July, 2017 in the city of Guadalajara and right from the start the idea was to pay tribute to their namesakes. In many ways the name was a obvious choice for a band whose chief aim was to play Celtic-Punk mixing Irish and Mexican culture. Their first few months were spent practicing and playing covers of you know who (!) and with a few line up changes they were ready to go and began to pay locally and eventually further afield. It’s been a steady procession for the Bhoys with a 6-track demo in 2018, a 2-track single last year and now finally the album has been completed.

The album is titled Hermanos de Guerra (in English Brothers Of War) and was released on May 30th. Recorded at the Bilbao studio  in Guadalajara Mexico by Alex León it’s twelve songs are all sung in Spanish and as I’ve said before I’m a product of the English education system at a time when languages were thought of in the same category as Cooking and Needlework. We had to do them but no care was put into how they were taught. So it is that whatever is being sung about here has, bar a couple of songs, completely passed me by. Not to worry though as the message they spread is a positive one of love, friendship and loyalty. What Celtic-Punk is all about if you ask me.

“We strongly believe in brotherhood, honesty, dignity and respect. Our slogan will always be ‘Family First’. Our music forms part of our life and people around us and to remember those who passed away. We will always step forward on this long hard way making it Green and not forgetting Mexico’s unity with the rest of the world.”

The album begins with the title song ‘Hermanos De Sangre’ and the sound of marching feet soon erupts into a fast and furious Celtic-PUNK number which unless my ears betray tells the story of the St. Patrick’s Battalion. ‘Familia’ featured on their single from last year and unsurprisingly is about the love of family. More folk than it’s predecessor and this will become a common thread throughout the album as they manage record twelve songs that cross all boundaries of Celtic-Folk-Punk and  make an album where each song stands on its own feet. Todo Sigue Igual (in English ‘Everything Remains The Same’) slows things down and the lonesome banjo combined with some beautiful Cowboy atmospheric fiddle and almost verging on Country it threatens to come bursting out the blocks but they quite rightly restrain it when it comes and the song is all the better for it.

It may not be as polished as some releases we review here but those slight rough and ready edges give it a live feel that really works for them. ‘Piratas’ introduces one of my favourite instruments, the harmonica, to the fray alongside banjo, violin, harmonica and Irish flute (which I have only recently realised is what some folk call the tin-whistle) and the usual Punk-Rock instruments of bass, guitar and drums.

Let’s face it it wouldn’t be a Celtic-Punk album without a alcohol song and Después Del Alcohol (- ‘After Alcohol’) begins in an usual way with just bass and banjo but Bhoy is it catchy. El Ultimo Partir (- The Last Leaving) takes the previous songs banjo and turns out a more country-fied song again with excellent fiddle work while ‘Fadir’ even has a bit of an English 80’s Punk vibe around it all be it with the fiddle still fiddling expertly away. As I said they skate round a lot of genres here and I have to admit I am drawn to the less Punky ones and songs like ‘Amigo’ really hit the spot. Catchy, well played and with a nice balance of Punk and Folk. For ‘Viciosa Lujuria’ (- ‘Vicious Lust’) though they return to a classic Celtic-Punk sound with tin-whistle to the fore. The video for ‘Leal’ (- ‘Loyal’) came out on St. Patrick’s Day just gone and is dedicated to all the people who have ever been stabbed in the back by someone they once held dear.

It’s the quickest song here at under two minutes and showcases the banjo admirably as they kick out a straight up Punk number though that doesn’t quite prepare for ‘Asesinos Por Naturaleza’ (- ‘Natural born Killer’) which turns the guitar up to 11 and a heavyness and energy we haven’t seen so far. A cracker of a song and one that will no doubt get the dance floor heaving once a few beers have been downed. The album ends with ‘Trotamundos’ (- ‘Globetrotter’) and a slow funereal end to proceedings.  The Bhoys harmonise together over a gentle tune with only occasional fiddle over the quiet banjo, bass and drums. A quality end indeed.

So there you go and it’s been an enjoyable forty minutes. To be honest this is the kind of album that I would normally buy regardless of what the music sounded like. The very idea of a Mexican Celtic-Punk band and one based inn such noble Irish history just ticks all my boxes. That the music is also pretty damn good is a bonus. Definitely one for our Spanish speaking readers but don’t be dismayed as this is a thoroughly pleasurable album for non speakers too. A great album for all! 

(you can stream or download Hermanos de Guerra on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Hermanos de Guerra  TotemRecords

Contact Batallón De San Patricio  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Batallón De San Patricio played a Live Stream on Facebook last weekend and although tremendous good fun and a brilliant watch they suffered the same fate as we did recently when we featured Callum Houston doing his. That of the dodgy internet connection!!! Well worth persevering with so here’s Part One, Part Two and Part Three. I think I have them in the right order!

ALBUM REVIEW: CelKILT- ‘The Next One Down’ (2020)

French band CelKIlt have long established themselves as one of the Celtic-Punk/Rock scenes heavyweights and here they return with their seventh album The Next One Down.

Trad Celtic-Rockers CelKIlt are back with their seventh album, recorded in Italy, France and Switzerland over several months, its time has unfortunately come in the middle of the clampdown doing away with any chance of decent promotion and it would be tragic if this album were to pass people by because of that. Reviewing CelKilt’s last album in 2017 I made the bold statement that “I’ve had to promote CelKilt up to the Premier League of top celtic-punk bands” and their new album hasn’t changed my opinion much either. They might be famous to a lot of London Celtic Punks readers for their song ‘Everyday’s St Patrick’s Day’ which kicks off the #1 Celtic-Punk compilation (still free and now at well over 1,500 downloads!) Irish Pub Songs- Celtic Punk Sampler.

CelKilt are a five piece Celtic-Punk band from Roanne, near to Lyon, which is pretty much bang in the middle of France and have been together since 2011 what is quite remarkable is that The Next One Down makes it seven albums in only nine years. I know a band who got together in 2010 and are still on one. Not mentioning any names!?!? Their releases include a whole album of Christmas themed originals titled Kiltmas Songs from 2015 as well as a Live album and on top of over 500 live shows they have even toured the USA not once, not twice but an amazing three times!!! They have been invited to play Shamrock Fest twice and in 2018 they returned to the States to play the Flogging Molly Salty Dog Cruise in 2018 (the lucky bastards!). Now not many Euro bands get the chance to go ‘Stateside’ so if you do then that means an awful lot. Last week we reviewed the new album from Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, who also toured the USA, and I would very much class CelKIlt as being in the same league.

Their last album, the excellent Stand, made the Top Thirty Best Celtic-Punk Album of 2017 and when I reviewed it I hadn’t quite realised that their was such a thing as Google Translate so some of the bands history passed me by still it made me concentrate much more on the music than I would perhaps would do for an ‘Irish’ band. A superb mix of AC/DC hard rock, Celtic/Irish melodies and even Pop-Punk and ballads it is a brilliant album and one that I still play regularly. The Next One Down begins with the title track and some heavy and atmospheric piping from new team member Iain are joined by loud guitar before Titou’s great rock vocals come in. He sings in English and it’s clear as crystal and rather ‘theatrical’ in the style I can only describe as Freddie Mercury-esque. The music is more Rock style than Punk influenced but they make up for that next on ‘The Best I Can’ and a straight up Celtic-Punk masterpiece. Lyrically it’s about the environment but not preachy. In fact the opposite in saying it’s good enough to try our best and not make things worse. The song is only just over two minutes long and new band member Iain is much in evidence.

A great video which gets across the energy of the band and considering it’s their live performances that are mainly responsible for winning them their legions of fans it’s done a good job of portraying that. ‘Dig Around’ has some amazing piping and the more rocky sound reminds me of Fiddlers Green or the American bands Seven Nations and the Young Dubliners. Titou’s vocals throughout are another instrument for a band that you’d be amazed consists of only five members. ‘People Are Crazy’ dips it’s toe into some catchy ska/reggae but all the time firmly anchored in Celtic music.

‘Carry On’ is the albums longest song and I suppose a type of bombastic rock ballad. The Celtic side of things on The Next One Down is more subdued than on previous albums I would say but it still makes for a fantastic album given that they always had more of a Celtic spirit than 95% of bands in the scene anyway! The first of the album’s two instrumental is next and while ‘Their Wasabi’ may not be the massive free for all you’re expecting it is extremely well played and as catchy as hell. A word for the cracking video too a perfect example of ‘necessity breeds ingenuity’. The foreboding start to ‘The Road That Takes Me Home’ does not disappoint with its great gang chorus and heavy beat and clever and poignant lyrics.

‘Your Hand’ is the albums most accessible song to ‘outsiders’. The type of song that would appeal to everyone from Celtic-Punk extremists like me right up to your Mam! The Celtic takes a back seat except for Ana’s, as ever, amazing fiddle playing and has traces of Celtic-Rock from bands like U2, Simple Minds or even The Alarm. ‘Dewey’ is the second of the instrumentals here and at only ninety seconds it’s pipe heavy with a hard rock feel. Only a couple to go and both standout tracks with ‘Can’t Go Back’ the fastest song here taking in US style Pop-Punk as well as Calypso too. It’s all here folks!! The curtain comes down with the glorious singalong ‘Whaole’. A modern take on a sea-shanty and bloody brilliant and set to become a crowd favourite I would bet my shirt on.

CelKIlt continue to push the boundaries of Celtic music and with The Next One Down are right to be considered one of the scenes leading lights and internationally acclaimed. The album was mastered by Howie Weinberg, famous for his work with the Dropkick Murphys and other such giants such as Nirvana, Jeff Buckley and Deftones, and it cannot be understated what an amazing job he has done. The album is as close to perfection as you can get. The Celtic base to every song gives CelKilt the chance to spread their wings a little compared to their last LP but doesn’t detract from the overall feel. A great album and in this time of clampdown a ‘goodfeel’ album we desperately need.

Buy The Next One Down  Download  CD-FromTheBand   Vinyl-FromTheBand

Contact CelKilt WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube 

ALBUM REVIEW: UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS- ‘The Men Beyond The Glass’ (2020)

It’s been quite the year for Italian Celtic-Punk so far and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards prove once again that they are ‘Premier League’ with their third album all set to light up the Celtic-Punk world yet again!

Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are without doubt one of the world’s best Celtic-Punk bands. There I said it. It’s out of the way now. One of the most authentic bands in the scene they have a unbelievable crossover appeal to both Punks and Folk fans though they themselves think that they’re

“Too rock for the Folkies and too folk for the Rockies. The Bastards could please or disappoint almost everyone.”

Formed back in 2007 and based in the north of Italy most of the band have lived or spent time in Ireland and have fallen in love with Irish music and culture, playing a completely unique blend of Folk-Rock and Traditional Irish Music. In fact it’s safe to say that Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are unlike any other Celtic-Punk band.

The Men Beyond The Glass is the Bhoys third album and both their previous albums have scored enormous success across the Celtic-Punk world. Debut album Get The Folk Out came out of nowhere to hit #1 as the London Celtic Punks album of the year for 2014 while their follow up album Handmade made #13 in 2017 in what has since been considered the strongest year for Celtic-Punk in recent times. These albums were good enough to earn them a slot at the Dublin Irish Festival, the United States most important Irish music festival, in Ohio in 2019 where they went down a storm and made many friends. Besides the US the band has toured internationally and played more than 400 gigs worldwide, including several times supporting Celtic-Punk legends The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly as well as world renowned traditional Irish acts like The Dubliners, De Danann, Four Men And A Dog, Beoga and Cùig.

The Men Behind The Glass kicks off with ‘Hey Men’ and the glorious drone of the uileann pipes. Much harder to master than Scottish bagpipes and with a much ‘sweeter’ sound it was originally known as píobaí uilleann which translates literally as ‘elbow pipes’. A sound not heard very much in Celtic-Punk but when it is it moves a band from the same league as Leyton Orient up into Champions League territory. Not only that but Luca has truly mastered the instrument and provides an amazing backdrop for the Dirty Bastards to work alongside. The song was written by vocalist Guido whose aching vocals provide a powerful sound for the opening track. This is followed by the first song released from the album ‘Back On Your Feet’ and a song that is perhaps more usual fare for the band than track one.

Fast and catchy with an unmistakable Irish sound it’s a song with both a dark edge and a real catchiness about them and the band are also known for their intelligent lyrics and positive message.

“We spend a life to make it work
It takes a minute to ruin it all
We spent days, months, years
Trying to make it work
But that bloody one minute was worth it all

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again.
Fail again. Fail better.”

‘If Only He Applied Himself’ carries on in the same vein but with the band embracing the Celtic-Punk sound more and more. Think of them as an acoustic Punk band with Silvano’s understated electric guitar works just right in the barrage of sound here. Not only a master of the pipes Luca also excels on the Irish flute and tin whistle. On an album of such quality it is heartening to see that it is truly a band effort with Lorenzo, tenor banjo and mandolin, this time taking on the words and music for ‘Man Of The Storm’. A slow song but with a heavyness to it.

There’s a wealth of good songs here so hard to pick out the best but ‘Happily Misplaced In This World’ is one with a great singalong chorus and Lorenzo’s lyrics emphasise how much affection he has for that wee island on the edge of Europe.

“It’s springing in Dublin this March
And the crowd for Paddy’s day is gone
As I lay down and wait for the first sun
It’s just me and Charles Parnell”

On ‘Wish’ the song tells of a musician looking out on his audience and dreaming. A slow burner with a lovely Irish air to it provided by Luca Rapazzini on the fiddle and a nice touch with trumpet towards the end. ‘Devils Are All Here’ strays into bluegrass a smidgen but still fast and Celt and another killer chorus. ‘Life’s Grand’ has the best lyric of the album without a doubt and though they have that dark edge it’s undercut with a lovely dark humour too’

“Cause life is grand
Yes life is grand
Even when you step into dog shite
And life’s a curse but could be worse
And we would do it all over again”

‘The Count’ opens with the sound of Irish dancing from Irish dancing duo Perla Davide and Letizia Perin and then some of the albums heaviest guitars but still firmly entrenched in their trademark trad Irish sound. Luca’s pipes reign in the catchy and ‘pop’-ish  ‘The Make-Sense-Law’. A great song and a standout here with a real foot tapping/ thigh slapping beat and that piping to die for. ‘Empty Glasses’ gives the Bhoys a chance to ramp it up and get the audience on their feet. With the energy of a Flogging Molly anthem like ‘Drunken Lullabies’ the song rolls along until album closer ‘Get Some Rest’ and a delicate ballad sees the curtain closes on The Men Beyond The Glass. A beautiful song from Lorenzo that fits Guido voice nowhere better.

The album has several interesting guest appearances with Luca Rapazzini on fiddle, Diego Lambertini on trumpet, Lucia Picozzi on accordion and piano, Andrea Verga on clawhammer banjo and Daniele Rigamonti on bodhran with Andrea Rock and Anthony Hind on backing vocals. It was recorded, mixed and mastered at Greenriver Studio, Cavaria con Premezzo by Tancredi Barbuscia who has done an outstanding job in gathering the bands sound together. The power in even the slower songs and ballads shines through the entire album. I’ve said several times this year that I thought that album of the year had already been decided with the debut release from Norway’s Ogras but now I’m not so sure.

In a scene where it is remarkably easy to fall into the cliches of Irish music everything the Bastards put into their music screams originality. It may seem their isn’t always a lot of room for the boundaries of Celtic-Punk to be stretched but Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are as good as band in the scene at stretching them. Fifty minutes that subvert the usual drinking songs that you usually hear on these pages. From the twelve original songs to the very title of the album The Men Beyond The Glass aims to show something different from just them drinking songs, jolly jigs, reels and sombre ballads. Not that the Bastards can’t turn their hand to those songs as well as these songs welcome you behind the artist and past the drinker to meet the men beyond the glass…

Buy The Men Beyond The Glass  CD- FromTheBand

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ALBUM REVIEW: T.C. COSTELLO- ‘The Bluebird’ (2020)

With the imminent release of his seventh album next week London Irish Folk Punker Anto Morra gives his view on T.C. Costello’s The Bluebird.

The Bluebird will be launched live on Facebook on Thursday where T.C. will be debuting some new songs and a few auld favourites too no doubt.

The last time I graced a stage in London I had the pleasure of performing a song with T.C Costello so if you’re expecting an unbiased review you’re gonna be outta luck as when I took the second wave Punk oath back in 1978, I’ve been cursed into a life of artistic honesty.

T.C’s voice is a very acquired taste but what it lacks in melodic beauty, it more than makes up for in passion, expression and wild abandonment in a similar way to MacGowan and Strummer. As a musician he is quite remarkable and completely fearless, with strange instruments dropping in and out all over the place. Imaging the first Roxy Music album lead by an accordion with Ferry on a mixture of absinth and amphetamine, Eno tripping his bollocks off in a room full of chimes bells and whistles, and Manzanera’s strat replaced by a bunch of strange acoustic stringed instruments from the four corners of the earth, and you may have some idea of what you’re gonna get on his latest offering.

‘The Bluebird’ is quite a leap sonically from his previous ‘100 Years Ago’ album but has not lost any of the energy or joy. I am quite ashamed to admit I struggle with any singing that’s not in English (Even the French bit in The Beatles ‘Michelle’ gets on my nerves) and so the opening song ‘Saeya, Saeya Parang Saeya’ was quite a shock and most certainly a challenge for me, but when I applied the right head space and put aside my narrow little Englander prejudiced approach, I started to love it in a similar way I love these early Thompson Twins song’s ‘Vendredi Saint’ or ‘Animal Laugh’.

The term ‘World Music’ is always one I’ve hated (simply because all music is world music unless it’s been made in space) making it mean nothing along with ‘Fusion’ a fuckin’ bass and drum is a fuckin’ fusion!!! However Folk Punk, Celtic Punk does not seem to fully pigeonhole TC Costello’s music adequately so I’m gonna describe it as ‘World Punk’ as the influences here are from everywhere. The psychedelic 60’s india is pulled into Eastern European Klezmer moments and wrapped around the odd traditional and Irish songs and delivered in that authentic, warm, Greenville South Carolina USA accent. Traditional Irish standard ‘To The Begging I Will Go’ follows and is a song I easily relate too and this is a remarkable arrangement of it that seamlessly slides into Italian protest classic ‘Bella Ciao/Pizzicarella Mia’ the latter part sounding like a beautiful Italian love song delivered on Red Bull and Vodka.

The next two songs are very familiar on the Folk scene since the 60’s revival. ‘The Old Churchyard’ popularised by The Watersons and ‘Lord Randall’ a tale of a fool poisoned by the Fairies.

‘Malena’ is another I have to plead ignorance about but it’s full of emotion, passion and musical dexterity. This takes us into the exceptionally familiar ‘Matty Groves’ sticking lyrically close to the Fairport Convention version but musically much more adventurous. ‘Tramp Tramp Tramp’ is a great song about prejudice and discrimination that I think may have taken the melody from ‘God Save Ireland.’  ‘They’re Red Hot’ is a fantastic break neck folk Rag and before you know it, TC is informing us with great joy “who we can and canae throw off the bus”. I’ve heard more versions of ‘Haul Away Joe’ than you can shake a stick at, but the arrangement and performance is one of the best. It’s how I imagine someone like Nick Cave would approach it, very dark, very tortured passionate and authentic. ‘The Willow Garden’ closes this record appropriately, as it is a traditional murder ballad.

This is not a record for those who want a traditional song played the way they always have been, but for people that want possibilities stretched. It’s one of them you’ll listen to again and again and always hear something else going on, a complete acoustic psychedelic head fuck with all the discordant beauty of the world smashed together and made coherent by the passionately spewed lyrics and vocal delivery.
If you want to be taken from anxiety verging on a panic attack, to manic joy and laughter, then be dropped off at the nearest watering hole to cry in your beer? You better buy this album.

(The Bluebird is available for download from Bandcamp. Only $10 the album is set for release on June 1st and all Proceeds go to International Medical Corps, who provide medical and related services to 30 countries around the world)

Pre-Order The Bluebird From TC

Contact T.C. Costello  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

I’d like to leave you with this little clip from a couple of years ago, when I last played in my beloved home town and it really is the only way to put a band together; it features the great man himself as well as Brendan O’Prey of brilliant Celtic Punk outfit “The Lagan.”

ALBUM LAUNCH LIVE STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT

Par for the course and ages after everyone else has had a go we are doing a series of LiveStreams. We begin with the album launch for The Bluebird. We sadly had to cancel the TC Costello/Tim Holehouse gig but TC still wants to play for his UK based fans so he will be streaming live from South Carolina while hopefully Tim will fit in a show for us soon afterwards.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1150555188477972/

The 20th May was all set for his 5th triumphant return to The Lamb but fear not his UK and European fans T.C. will go live at 8pm (9pm- Europe) direct into our phones and computers via his page https://www.facebook.com/tccostello2/ and will play till his hands go sore… so that’s about a hour. Tune in there and then and we’ll see you in the comments section.

For more details on our exclusive Live Streams check out here

ALBUM REVIEW: THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS- ‘Life On A Ferris Wheel’ (2020)

Imagine if The Dubliners were around now and in their early twenties… then they may sound just like German Celtic-Punkers The Feelgood McLouds do!!

It is very hard when reviewing to figure out how popular a band is. Sure it’s easy enough if you are seeing that band regularly but when it’s one from abroad you can only go on instinct. The Feelgood McLouds are a band that have never appeared on this site before which seems strange especially as we have all been fans of theirs since their debut self titled album in 2017. That debut album saw The Feelgood McLouds pushing the envelope with both bagpipes and a more Streetpunk/ Oi! sound, both highly unusual for German Celtic-Punk bands. The album though utterly brilliant seemed to bypass the usual media and was completely ignored by us for some inexplicable reason as I can confirm it was a pretty decent debut.

So here we are in May 2020 and I cannot possibly imagine a worse time to release a record with the opportunity to promote Life On A Ferris Wheel almost non-existent. With no sign of the ‘clampdown’ being relaxed it is a refreshing attitude to say “Hey, Life goes on” and say “Damn it!” and just put it out. The boys are a relatively new band, being formed in January 2015 in the city of Saarbrücken in the southwestern German state of Saarland. Now the Germans have taken to Celtic-Punk like no other country in Europe has and they have a wealth of really excellent bands but The Feelgood McLouds do more than enough to make themselves stand out. While most of these bands take a more Folk orientated route the McLouds are unashamedly Punk Rock and you could categorise the difference as being Do Or Die Dropkick Murphys and post- Mike McColgan Dropkick Murphys. That is not to say they are a straight up Punk band as they are most definitely not and they manage to combine that Streetpunk sound with Irish/Celtic melodies and instrumentation really well and authentically. The band themselves describe their sound as

“like NOFX and the Dropkick Murphys are meeting in an Irish pub for an endless party”

which is fair enough but I also feel detracts from their ‘Celticness’ a little.

Life On A Ferris Wheel came out a couple of days ago on Wolverine Records,  one of the best known Punk labels in Germany and one that has seen its fair share of Celtic-Punk releases from bands like Bastards On Parade, Jamie Clarkes Perfect and The Mahones. Released on digipak and vinyl the album runs for an impressive near forty minutes and even more importantly, for us, its all original material with not a hint of a ‘Wild Rover’ or a meadow in Galway. The album kicks off with ‘Spineless Mass’ and if you heard that debut album you  may be expecting more of the Oi!/ Celtic crossover sound but here they have taken a Folky route but without losing any of their trademark speedy delivery and Punk rock attitude. Günther’s vocals are perfect for their sound and on ‘Foggy Days’ they come across as a sort of Flogging Molly/ Street Dogs hybrid with his vocals gruff and coarse and with the rest of the band joining in at intervals it makes the song a high point of the album. The first song released was ‘Moonshiners’ accompanied by a simple but effective and well made video of German bar life surrounded by adoring fans but guys what is it with the head on them beers?

Its a great song and pure Celtic-Punk and while I feel they have toned down their sound somewhat I also feel it is for the better and I’m a person that prefers Celtic-PUNK! Catchy and well played with a killer chorus and some great accordion from Benni. Their are flashes of the auld McLouds with ‘Mad O’Riley’ playing as mostly straight forward Punk but with a nice Irish interlude at several points through the song. In common with a lot of Euro bands they inject a spot of Ska into proceedings and ‘Lovers And Friends’ takes an anti-racist stance without being preachy and po-faced and plays with great humour and cool lyrics. Again the accordion shines here. There is a lot going on in their songs and at times they are banjo led and other times accordion which must make it difficult live as Benni is the man behind both instruments. Halfway through with the country tinged ‘Off The Rails’ and its all first class but not heard a great deal of the much vaunted Bagpipes yet. ‘King For A Day’ is fast and furious at just over a couple of minutes and for the first time since the opening track the pipes get a proper good airing and its well worth it. ‘Last Hurray’ flies by in just over a minute and with the manic banjo plucking reminds me of Mick O’Toole. ‘Drink To All My Friends’ features Valerio guesting on vocals from Berlin based Ska-Punk band The Offenders and was the albums second single release. The Offenders are probably best known for last years single ‘Rose Thorn’ featuring the distinctive voice of the wee legend himself Frankie McLaughlin.

Take a minute or two to check out the fantastic accompanying video which goes to show that even in these testing times a bit of imagination can produce something really good and clever. A great song would be good and that is delivered too with another banjo heavy number. ‘Runaway’ has Eastern influences while Gunthers vocals verge on Death Metal but we are back in traditional Celtic-Punk territory for the final two tracks with the pacey ‘Behind Black Eyes’ and the sad swirling of ‘In Our Pub’.

Twelve tracks all written by the band themselves and not a single duff note among them. The McLouds are making a name for themselves and as is evident from the songs here their live show must be bloody manic. Singalong choruses, catchy rhythms, loads of different influences (which don’t detract from the Celtic feel of things), hard and fast Punk at times and a more trad Celtic at others its a extremely well paced album that, as someone else said in a review it is “never boring” and that is absolutely the truth. The Feelgood McLouds may not be a band on every bodies lips just yet but Life On A Ferris Wheel is hopefully set to change that but anyway the message the bands hope finds its way into your ears is “We drink to all our friends and we’ll never go home!” and to that I can can raise a glass also. Sláinte.

(The Feelgood McLouds live in concert May, 2019 in Cologne, Germany)

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ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Comedies And Tragedies’ (2020)

Since their arrival on the Celtic-Punk scene back in 2013 Black Water County have become one of its shining lights swiftly going from support slots to headline act right across the country. Marv runs the rule over their second album which shows them maturing into an act that is preparing for BIG things.

Back in September 2019 I was lucky enough to spend a day in the studio with Black Water as they were putting the finishing touches to their new album Comedies and Tragedies at The Ranch Production House in Hampshire. It was a lot of fun to spend time with the band and get the skinny on the new album. It was clear from the run-throughs that they were gestating a banging new set of tracks and it was a real pleasure to see it unfold.

As anyone familiar with their evolution will know, Black Water County has gone from strength to strength in the past couple of years. After a couple of EPs, their debut album Taking chances met with almost universal acclaim a couple of year ago. Their brand of fast and uproarious Guinness-and-Cider-soaked mayhem has proven impossible to resist in the grass roots folkpunk live scene. Particularly in the west country but also further afield and their gigs are usually loud, sweaty parties of booze-driven joy. I was at the front for their Bimble Inn debut at Beautiful Days Festival in 2018. Their follow-up Beautiful Days set in 2019 was a glorious party, packed to the 2000-capacity gunnels for a triumphant set of classic BWC before an adoring crowd, all intent on singing and dancing their arses off.

With the new album they have come of age. It’s the same Black Water County we know and love, the same level of hard-working folkpunks songs seemingly designed with the specific intention of putting a grin on your face and movement in your body. However they have upped their game. It’s smoother and yet simultaneously coarser. More complex whilst at the same time retaining their raw and rowdy energy. Vocal duties continue to be shared between Shannon and Tim with lashings of gorgeous harmonies from the rest of the band. Gone are some of the more comedic vocals and themes (brilliant and humorous though they were), to be replaced with more songs of wistful loss, conflicted angst and other contemplative themes, but all pounded together skillfully with blistering drums and musicianship. I even noticed some solo bass runs in there and some screaming electric guitar amongst the manic fiddle, banjo and lord knows what else; it’s all in there! A beautiful cacophony of distilled folkpunk bliss!

The songs are all new of course, yet instantly familiar. If you love Black Water County you will adore this album. There is no let up in the fellowship of the craic (the title of one of their early EPs) a perfect description of their unwritten manifesto. If you want a taster to see if it’s up your alley, find the track Darkest Days, it is both quintessential Black Water County and the perfect showcase of their new raw sound. How the hell did they manage to do that in a single song? It beats me, but I’m too busy wallowing in the glory to question it further.
The Rise and continued Rise of Black Water County; long may it continue.

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Photos courtesy of Marvellous Gig Photography camera for hire!

ALBUM REVIEW: CLOVER’S REVENGE- ‘Truants And Absolution’ (2020)

Based In Sarasota, Florida, Irish Speed Folk trio Clover’s Revenge exist at the dangerous intersection of two great Irish musical traditions: Acoustic pub music and Celtic-Punk-Rock. Their second full length release, Truants And Absolution, came out on Paddy’s Day.

The new album from Clover’s Revenge carries on in much the same vein as their debut release Gotta Get O’Raggednized. Very simple instrumentation with an emphasis on traditional Irish music but done with barrel loads of humour and charm. The review for their debut album declared them very much a pub band and I can still find no disagreement with that after listening to Truants and Absolution as well and just like their debut it is restricted to eight songs and while that may feel a bit on the short side at twenty-four minutes it’s not too bad. The songs are a mixture of well known classic trad and folk songs and some not so well known (but I wouldn’t quite say obscure) and the odd original track.

Clover’s Revenge left to right: Beau Wilberding- Cajon Drum * John Barron- Mandolin * Zach Johnson- Guitar *

Based in Florida I had always thought the area was largely untouched by Irish immigration but a staggering one-in-nine Florida residents are of Irish or Scotch-Irish ancestry. That works out at over two million folks!!! The Florida Irish claim to fame is that Father Richard Arthur, St. Augustine parish priest, started the first public school in America in 1606. Open to children of both sexes and of all races!  Since that time, the Irish in Florida have proudly played and continue to play key roles in the history and heritage of the state. So it is that wherever you find the Irish you will find several bands of hearty folks willing to entertain them and in Florida they don’t come any bigger, or better, than Clover’s Revenge.

Debuting, like many other bands, on St. Patrick’s Day Clovers Revenge first saw the light of day in 2015 and have performed all over the State as well as regular trips back to the ‘homeland’ while 2020 was set to be a BIG year for the Bhoys with a Northeast/Midwest tour booked in June and then in July a series of gigs in Scotland which was also going to see them perform a one-off London date organised by us. As time has ticked on these dates have looked increasingly unlikely to happen sadly but we can but hope. The band were formed by frontman, lead singer and mandolin player John Barron and he is ably backed up by Dr. Zachary Johnson, on vocals and guitar and Beau Wilberding, who also sings and plays the cajon, a box-shaped percussion instrument played with the hands. Taking influence from modern day Irish-American bands as well as the irreverence of The Pogues they manage while not bringing anything particularly new to Irish music certainly they make music that is fresh and appealing and in the right setting (guess where!!) is most definitely enjoyable.

Labelled ‘Irish Speed Folk’ Truants and Absolution kicks off with a song much loved in Irish Folk and Celtic-Punk and no matter how often I hear it I never tire of ‘The Leaving Of Liverpool’, especially when it’s played well like it is here. The song has a natural energy and a great tempo for ‘punking’ it up and Clover’s Revenge give it plenty of oompf. I also love the harmonica at the beginning (a much underused instrument in folk these days) and the song also has a touch of bluegrass/ country at times. Next is the first original and ‘The Maid Behind The Bar’ and John certainly has a voice that fits in perfectly with the sound of the band. It may not be Frank Sinatra but its slightly rough edges are perfect for Irish music. The song is dedicated to the priestesses of fun at the altars of our joy and in particular one Danae Chiaudano from McCabes Irish Pub in Bradenton, Florida who has kept the Bhoys beer glasses over-flowing through the years. It is set to be the albums second single release.

The following is a mashup of two jigs ‘Old Hag You Have Killed Me / Dinny Delaney’ and is absolutely stunning. Amazing in its simplicity and yet sounding like several more people were plucking away rather than just John and Zach. That big sound continues next with another original Clover’s Revenge song, this time written by Zachary and instrumental called ‘The Ahdmor Jig’ which soon morphs into a loud and rowdy version of ‘Tell Me Ma’ and if Leaving Of Liverpool is popular in Celtic-Punk then this has to be the #1 song of all time. Played with reckless abandon the song is irresistible played by most but Clover’s Revenge nail it. The first single from the album was another original and one the lads may go to hell for! ‘The Merry Misadventures Of Sister Mary Margaret’ is fast approaching a healthy 10,000  streams on Spotify and has seen plenty of airplay both within and outside the Celtic scene. Composed by John and arranged by the band it’s a great auld romp about a gambling obsessed Nun. My Mum went to convent school and we had plenty of Nuns teaching at my secondary school and so its hard to get offended ‘cos if you ever actually knew any nuns and while they did have their fair share of hard nosed task-masters their were also ones who loved music and football and the horses!

‘Big Strong Man’ is best known to us as one of the signature tunes of the great Wolfe Tones and with no record of who or when it was written it was the Tones version that claimed it as an Irish-American song helped no doubt by the reference to Irish-American boxer Jack Dempsey. Another well chosen track and in keeping with the high tempo sound of the album and no doubt a live favourite with its catchy as feck singalong chorus.

“He was my brother Sylvest (What’s he got?)
A row of forty medals on his chest (Big Chest!)
Well, he killed fifty badmen in the west
He knows no rest, thinkin’ a man’s hell fire
Don’t push, just shove, plenty of room for you and me
He’s got an arm like a leg
And a punch that can sick a battle ship (Big Ship!)
Well it takes all the army and the navy to put the wind up Sylvest”

The album comes to an end with a epic version of the great American traditional folk ballad, ‘The Lakes of Pontchartrain’. At over six minutes long its quite the departure on an album of short, fast and friskey numbers but I needn’t have worried as the band have interpreted the song into a musical tour-de-force. Again the origins of the song are unknown, though it is thought to have originated in the southern US in the 19th century. The story tells of a man who is sheltered by a Louisiana Creole woman who he falls in love with but when he asks her for her hand in marriage she declines as she is already engaged. The course of true love never runs smooth in Folk music! The highlight of the album for me its a great song owing much to Paul Brady’s version and a utterly superb way to close down the album.

So eight songs (or is it more like ten?) of simple Irish Folk music that the lads don’t mind admitting are heavily influenced by ‘more talented Irish musicians from history’ and their is absolutely no shame in that at all. Like their debut Truants And Absolution is best heard live but they’ve done a wonderful job transferring that live sound onto disc and the album reflects their live performance pretty damn well. A sound we were looking forward to hearing in auld London town in July and while we are still hopeful there’s no guarantees of bloody anything in 2020!

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE BOOMTOWN RATS- ‘Citizens of Boomtown’ (2020)

One of the biggest bands of their generation and fronted by a real larger than life character the first album from legendary Dublin band The Boomtown Rats in thirty-six years is finally out. Gerry Mellon gives us the rundown on the Rats sixth album.

Before I start, I must tell you that when Bob and the lads announced a tour after their big success at the Isle of White festival in 2013, I was one of the first people in the queue for tickets. Their return to London at Camden’s Roundhouse the following year was absolutely fantastic. When they played Rebellion in 2015, Bobs digs at “old bald blokes in black tee shirts and Primark shorts”, showed us he had lost none of his acerbic wit! Many were disappointed, I was delighted. So, when the head Celtic Punk said the Boomtown Rats had a new album out, I was the perfect fella to take a look at it. I was almost as excited as when I heard John Peel introduce Looking After No 1 on his legendary show back in the 70s.

Many of you will have heard Trash Glam Baby, the first single off the album. It’s also the first track on it. The hints toward Bowie and ‘Glam Rock’ are plain to hear and made me wonder what direction this album was going in. It’s not the in your face outpouring of youth angst that the first, self-titled, disc delivered. In fact, the hook line “Another Shit Saturday Night, would seem to apply to a jaded middle aged narrator. The type of person many of us aging punks has become. Anyway, it’s a good, if not exciting, opening track. Sweet Thing is the second track and the minute it starts, you think you’ve heard it somewhere before. It is so reminiscent of Neon Heart from the first album, that if someone else did it the Rats would soon have them in court!! That’s not to say that it’s a bad track, in fact it sounds quite strong and I’d love to hear a live version.

Older Rats left to right: Pete Briquette, Simon Crowe and Garry Roberts, Bob Geldof

Monster Monkeys is the third track, and it’s a flat-out bluesy offering, rhythm runs right through it and it features some great guitar work. You can picture The Nightlife Thugs (the Rats original name) playing this back in the day in Dublin. When an experienced group of musicians and producers get together and really gel, then you get excellent tracks like this. I’m not too sure what it’s about, but it’s a cracker that gets better with every listen. More R’nB follows on track four with She Said No. Old school rhythm and blues played with heart and soul, a sexy blast of fun. This track would be a brilliant live one, getting the crowd to join in with the No No Nos!! Love this one. Track five is Passing Through, an apt title because it’s one of those that after the first couple of listens you just skip passed it! I’m not sure if it’s an attempt at a ballad or a pastiche of those awful 80s cringe songs that used to turn up in shite movies or on Miami Vice! Jayzus lads, but it’s a poor effort from ye! A dirge!

The Ballymun 80s style that spawned “Passing Through”!!

Thankfully track six’s Here’s A Postcard lifts the mood with a sound like a 60s mod band singing about sunny London. It makes me jealous of the London summers now that I’m living on the western edge of the continent. It’s an upbeat song about sunshine, quite poppy, but still well worth listening to. Maybe a summer single? Track seven is another, better, upbeat number called K.I.S.S and this one is brilliant, just plain brilliant! It’s a mishmash of styles from folk to hip hop and it works a treat.

If you remember Billy Joel’s We Didn’t start the Fire, well this is similar, but much more listenable and singable and danceable. A standout track. I’ll have to give it a few more spins to find out what it’s about, but the beginning chorus line of “Oh Shut Your Mouth” had me singing along and thinking of the late great Joe Strummer. (Really good tracks have that effect on me!! Dunno why!!).

Rats plugging the Rats!

Track eight brings us Rock ‘n Roll Ye Ye Ye, a song that will make you think of the great Southern Rock acts from the US like Lynyrd Skynrd. It’s a good rock standard, singing the praises of our own culture. How a blast of good old Rock ‘n’ Roll can cure so many ills. Great backing singers on this and a very good track. Get A Grip is track nine and at the start you think a Pet Shop Boys tribute act are starting, but it soon morphs into a pleasant enough quick beat type of track, the tempo is great and pushes it through really well. The last track is a live favourite, The Boomtown Rats. I’d guess that most of you will have heard it by now, it’s not the best track on the album, but it’s still a glorious sing/shout along number that the band use to introduce their shows.

Happy rats!

So that’s it, ten tracks from Dublin’s finest. I have to admit that I’m pleasantly surprised. Anyone who has listened to some of Bob’s solo work will know he always had that edginess to his writing. Well it’s on display here, although the rest of the band have smoothed down the really hard edges. It’s not A Tonic For The Troops, but is that no bad thing? The band has changed and grown just like the rest of us. There are no real Celtic style songs here, but with any band that hails from Ireland you can feel the Irishness in the melodies and the composure of the music. There are four standout tracks on this album, the rest are way better than average apart from maybe one real turkey of a song that should have been shot the minute it escaped Bob’s lips. They’re doing a tour once this virus has been beaten and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate beating the virus than spending time with The Rats!

Buy Citizens Of Boomtown  Here

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ALBUM REVIEW: KRAKIN’ KELLYS- ‘Burn Your Flag’ (2020)

My favourite Celtic-Punk band in the whole wide world are back with their second album and needless to say it’s another belter to beat up the floor to.

The last couple of years have been out of this world for Belgian band Krakin’ Kellys. Only formed in 2017 they have far and away been the Celtic-Punk critics and fans favourite band. Announcing their arrival on the scene with debut album Promised Land and a series of fantastic videos I even used the phrase I hate the most “this is a must have album!” to end the review! It’s fair to say it bowled me over and at the end of 2018 the album romped home as Best Debut Album of the year and 4th best overall. They cemented their popularity further by winning the London Celtic Punks Readers Pick of the year polling and incredible 32.38% out of 522 votes. Since then they have consolidated their popularity and last year saw them release of the Irish Tribute EP. Six classic Irish folk music tunes beefed up with heavy punk-rock riffs. The songs were an inspired choice with, bar ‘The Irish Rover (!), them avoiding the world of ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and ‘Black Velvet Band’. David’s vocals standing out loud and proud and gruff and smoky against a backdrop of pure Irish Folk-Punk. I ended that review with a very telling quote about them “they show a love and respect for source material that you would not expect for a band from the heavier side of Celtic-Punk” and this is one of the reasons they have gone down so well.

Their third release is Burn Your Flags and came out on this years ill fated St. Patrick’s Day (every single year I am still reviewing Paddy’s Day releases well into May!!!) and like everyone else their album promotional tour fell at the corona virus hurdle. So much thought and planning and thought had gone into making this years even more spectacular than usual only for the day to fall apart as cancellations began in the run up to the 17th eventually taking pretty each everything worldwide. Just to make matters worse the sun was cracking the pavement here in south-west London! Trapped in the house with only Guinness Original and pizza and crisps the day was made better by a handful of things. Among them the stella live stream performances from New Yorkers 1916 and, of course, the Dropkick Murphys and the chance to play Burn Your Flag every opportunity I could. So without any live gigs to promote it the album has had a rather subdued release which we hope to rectify now if only in a very small way.

Krakin’ Kellys from left to the right : Olivier Drèze (Drum) * Stephan Mossiat (Bass) * Pierre-Yves Berhin (Accordion) * David Leroy (Lead Vocals) * Matthieu Hendrick (Guitar) * Rémi Decker (Bagpipes & Whistles )

Burn Your Flag offers nothing new in the Krakin’ Kellys arsenal that is true. Twelve original songs all written by the band that continue in pretty much exactly the same vein as their previous two releases have. Now their is nothing wrong with that at all. After all when you got a winning formula you don’t suddenly start chopping and changing especially when it starts working for you and a winning formula is what Krakin’ Kellys have. They got the formula but have they got the tunes and once again the answer is a resounding YES! The album kicks off with the sound of bagpipes onFreedom And Whiskey’ and Krakin’ Kellys have not only one of the best pipers in Celtic-Punk with Rémi but also one of the best accordion players too in Pierre-Yves who also does the fabulous artwork for the Kellys releases under his ‘business’ name Hamo. Guitarist Matthieu is responsible for much of the leg work in promoting the band and their fantastic videos (more on them in a bit) and also helped record and master the album with Nicola Lomartire. The song drifts along at a fair old pace and is very Celtic but it is only when David’s vocals start that the song become proper Krakin’ Kellys fair. His raspy vocals sit nicely on top of chugging guitars and Punk drums and bass. It’s the sort of song you could play someone and they wouldn’t necessarily get the Celtic aspect of the song. A great fist in the air chorus and as catchy as anything I’ve heard this year it already says to me that Finnegans Hell will have competition for the Best Album Of 2020. I can see I’m going to over-use the word ‘catchy’ doing this review so from now on just assume each song is ca**hy. ‘Bigger Plan’ keeps the energy level to max and tin-whistle adds to the Celtic feel to it alongside, even for them, heavy guitar. The style of Punk I feel they are closest too would be that of bands like Leatherface who could play at 100 mph and still be totally melodic and accessible. Like Leatherface they also possess a wonderful sense of humour like o‘Not A Mermaid’. Another reason for their immediate success in the scene was their brilliant videos (as directed by Matthieu) and they nail again in the video for ‘Today’s The Day’. Seemingly filmed at the last available chance before ‘virus lockdown’ its shows the band members playing their bits at home surrounded by their families. Truly wonderful piece of work and a nice insight into their lives.

Most of the songs here hover around three and a half minutes. Standard in Punk really. Their are no ‘epics’ just speedy Punk Rock with a tonne of Celtic/ Gaelic melodies. On ‘Just Remember’ they also throw a touch of ‘Gallic’ flair too while ‘Payback’ actually at times comes close to trad Irish. ‘The Champ Is Here’ seems like straight forward Punk but those Folk instruments come in and take the song in another direction. These songs are written with the Celtic side very much in mind and though they could probably get away with being just another decent Punk band it is with the addition of those Celtic instruments that they stand out from the crowd. The title song, ‘Burn Your Flag’, is of course one of the highlights and half way through gives Pierre-Yves the opportunity to play a Punk-Rock accordion solo.  ‘Crazy Dancer’, ‘Golden Youth’, ‘No Regrets’ and ‘Cletus The Great’ all follow the same standard. Catchy (their I have said it!) as hell, super energetic Celtic-Punk that manages to keep the songs completely different enough in style so that nothing here sounds the same so the running length of the album never starts to grate on you.

We are nearing the end and ‘We Are The Freaks’ was the albums first single and another outstanding video too. I implore you to take the time out to watch their videos. Their is so much going on that the music only adds to their appeal. The albums ‘curtain closer’ is ‘Scars’ and a positive message played in a fast punk song with a singalong chorus and pint in the air close. There’s a great version of it here on RTBF a French language web-site so foo,ow the link and check that out.

So if you are stuck at home, like you should be, then if you are anything like me it is music that is keeping you sane. It’s no wonder Krakin’ Kellys are considered one of the best bands in Celtic-Punk and it is at times like this we need to support the people who bring us such enjoyment so please consider buying the album and give these guys. This is music to dance your ass off to and though it may be a while before we get the chance to do so together move the chairs back and let yourself go after all we still have beer!!!

(you can stream Burn Your Flag below on the Bandcamp player before you buy it!)

Buy Burn Your Flag  FromTheBand

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE MAHONES- ‘Unplugged’ (2020)

The Mahones have always been one of Celtic-Punk’s heavyweights and last month celebrated their 30th anniversary in style with another knockout album to add to their ‘Irish Punk Collection’!

The Mahones are well regarded amongst Celtic-Punk fans and recognised indeed as pioneers of the scene. Formed in 1990 on St. Patrick’s Day in Kingston, Ontario as a band for a one-off show their reception was such that they would go onto become one of the most famous DIY Punk bands in the world and one of the hardest working bands out there. Their tours each year take them right across Europe and North America to every nook and cranny. In fact at this moment in time they ought to be on tour in Australia with The Go-Set! With a stack of studio albums behind them as well as Best Of’s, Live Albums, Compilations even tribute albums their back catalogue is second to none in the scene and to add to them now is this compilation of acoustic, mainly original, Mahones tracks taken from throughout their career.

I’m a sucker for albums like this and I’m sure those of you of a certain age will well remember Nirvana’s triumphant Unplugged album that set the scene for many albums of this kind afterwards. The Mahones may be one of the biggest ‘good time’ bands around but these songs given a raw and intimate performance gives them a new lease of life. The Mahones main attraction has always been their songwriting and whether wrapped around a three minute Punk Rock mosh pit filler or a five minute ballad the effect is much the same. Here Dublin born frontman Finny McConnell comes into his own and already famed for his ached and emotional way of singing his voice really suits these songs new arrangements.

The album begins with the romantic ‘Girl With Galway Eyes’ originally recorded for 2010’s Black Irish. Played at much the same tempo like the majority of songs here it becomes a new song played like this. ‘Rise Again’ is from the album of the same name from 1996 and is a bit of a cheat as it was acoustic then too! Still it’s a nice updating. ‘A Little Bit Of Love’ comes from 2006’s Take No Prisoners and Finny is accompanied on vocals by Canadian-Irish singer-songwriter Damhnait Doyle. So far the influence of country has been trying to make it’s presence felt and here it takes over but not in a cheesy way at all. This is followed by a couple of live set favourites with the fiddle heavy ballad ‘London’ and ‘Draggin’ The Days’ both from the early days of the band as well as the next, ‘Cocktail Blue’ and these songs lyrically show The Mahones singing about the Irish emigrant experience of drink, work and loneliness. The days of the Irish student gap-year supported financially by Mammy and Daddy were decades away. Back then the Irish emigrant was almost exclusively working class and like the generations who left before them worked the shittiest jobs and lived in the roughest and toughest areas. Like the best Irish singer-songwriters Finny takes you back to those days and makes you re-live them with him. ‘Far Away’, ‘Night Train To Paris’, ‘Will Ya Marry Me’, ‘100 Bucks’ and ‘Back Home’ also come from those early days and ‘Unplugged’ is becoming a really nice overview of those early albums and it’s even better to hear a few songs that don’t get played anymore. This is the sort of album that will have you re-visiting your record collection to search out the original. I haven’t played The Mahones so much since I started listening to this one!! Next up is arguably their most famous song, ‘Celtic Pride’, and the one that introduced yours truly to The Mahones. The title track for the 1996 film of the same name about two Irish-American Boston Celtics basketball fans starring Dan Aykroyd and Damon Wayans. I remember watching the film and sitting by the telly with a pen and a bit of paper trying to catch the name of the band on the soundtrack! It’s commendable that Finny has recorded an album of mostly originals and also songs from across The Mahones songbook but ‘Hurt’, famously recorded by the legend Johnny Cash towards his final days, is one of the albums highlights here, Finny’s vocals fit superbly and the slow accordion easily nails the sound. Written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails he described the song as being “a track I wrote in my bedroom at a black moment” but it was Johnny’s amazing version that brought the song to the public’s attention. Another highlight is Simon Townshend of The Who providing acoustic guitar and harmony vocals on ‘Stars’ telling the sad tale of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. Convicted of “gross indecency” at a time when homosexuality was illegal, he was imprisoned and died in poverty in 1900 at the tragically early age of 46. One of The Mahones best more modern songs it has a chorus that is out of this world and would I am sure have Oscar looking down with grace and a twinkle in his eye. We are nearing the end and it’s clear Finny writes directly from the heart and on ‘Someone Saved Me’ it can sometimes feel like you’re sitting in on a private conversation. Finny has experienced much tragedy in the last few years which we won’t go into here but if music can save us (the listener) then it can also save them (the performer) too. The curtain call for the album is another in the same style ‘Never Let You Down’ featuring singer-songwriter  Sarah Harmer and her stunning voice is the perfect counterpoint to Finny’s. A slow burner of a song that slowly builds and builds and with the aid of tin-whistle and mandolin it’s the most Celtic sounding song on their last album Love + Death + Redemption from 2018.

So another release from the ever prolific Mahones and for me one of their best in recent years. Their is nothing here that most die-hard Mahones fans won’t have heard before but these new interpretations are worth getting as the often subtle and occasionally overt differences in the songs really make he songs sound fresh and even original. Their is plenty left in The Mahones cannon but this is probably the best imaginable way they could have celebrated thirty years on the road.

(Stream The Mahones Unplugged on the Soundcloud player below)

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EP REVIEW: BRAVE THE SEA- ‘The Murders Three’ (2020)

The brand new E.P from Newark, OH Celtic Punk band, Brave The Sea sees them take on three traditional folk tunes or as they say “murder them” in the classic Brave The Sea style.

Now the first thing to note is that Brave The Sea don’t actually come from near they sea. That’s not to say they don’t have saltwater running through their veins though. We have to go back to the Summer of 2015 when four friends in the small industrial town of Newark, Ohio decided to get together and form a band with the aim to cover everything from trad Irish tunes to well chosen covers of the more famous Celtic-Punk bands. Originally called A Pirate’s Life and unsurprisingly they played it Pirate style! A year later they had enough material under their belt to release an album and decided to shift course and become Brave The Sea. That album titled A Pirate’s Life in homage to their original roots as a band saw the light of day in 2017. This was followed last year with The Kraken and again highlighted their unique sound and Celtic-Rock riffs.

The state of Ohio, like everywhere in North America, has strong links back to the auld country and their are over 1,500,000 people of Irish descent there. The Irish in Newark are served well by Ohio Irish-American News and the towns multiple Irish bars (the oldest surviving being McGovern’s Tavern opened in 1936 and still thriving) present the most obvious connection. Irish culture and traditions have played an important role in Newark since the Irish first came to the city escaping An Gorta Mór in the mid-nineteenth century settling for its burgeoning industrial connections.