Category Archives: Album Review

ALBUM REVIEW: SHANGHAI TREASON – ‘Shanghai Treason’ (2022)

2 years ago, Sheffield-based Shanghai Treason played their first gig. Now the wait is over…January ’21 sees the release of their self-titled debut album! If you’re partial to a bit o’ Dropkicks, Flogging and Roughneck Riot (and if you’re reading this, you probably are), then these “Yorkshire banjo punks” should be to yer liking. This record sounds like a band working hard, having fun, and determined to make a difference.

Shanghai Treason. From Sheffield, and keen to keep the local music scene going.

As we all know, the banjo is a firm favourite in any Celtic punk line-up. And on this record, the instrument makes its mark immediately. “Emerald Causeway” is a cracking tune to start things off, an energetic number where banjoist Tom Hardy leads the way.

This is a sign of a band that shows promise, and we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed. The boys have been picked up by none other than The Rumjacks, who’ve taken them out on their current UK tour. Sadly, some shows have been cancelled – including Glasgow, dammit – but it’s a great early opportunity for the band in any case.

Now, the music might make an impression on the listener, but so too do the lyrics. In next track “Gatling Gun”, which has been released as a single, we hear clever lines from singer Sam Christie such as The city sucked me in, and moved the goalposts. A better one is Would you sew my eyes shut? I got a needle – you got any thread? That one’s from “The Fiendish Blue”, and I had to grin when I heard it. It’s always good to see a band using words in an intriguing way, right down to their band name.

Dynamic music

Shanghai Treason stays true to the Celtic punk tradition, by boasting its fair share of speedy, 2/4-time songs. Listen to “On The Ropes”, where the accordion takes over and gives the banjo a wee rest. “Wildfire” sounds like it’ll be another thrasher, but a break in the middle saves it, before we’re plunged back into the fast-paced fun. Importantly, “Wildfire” also features Dan Booth, well known for his work with Ferocious Dog. Dan played fiddle on the track, and also co-handled production of the album. For Shanghai’s take on FD’s “Crime And Punishment”,

Despite the faster numbers, the band is apt at writing slower tunes too. “Uphill Battle” is a good example, with a steady jig rhythm commencing halfway through, making the song one of my favourites on the album. A much sadder example is “Hero’s Welcome”, a song about a POW returning home from war, only to be suspected of being a spy and tragically killed. Closing track “Boatman” is the other acoustic-led one, where the eponymous boatman could be literal, or maybe a metaphor, leaving it up to interpretation.

Where can I hear the album?

The best way to show these lads some support is to head to their Bandcamp page. There, you’ll find not only the album but some kick-ass merch. If ye fancy a listen first, there’s a wealth of videos on the band’s YouTube page for you to try, and be sure to subscribe!

If streaming’s your thing, and ye wanna contribute some royalties to the band, you can also give them a listen on Spotify or Apple Music. Last of all, be sure to drop ’em a message and stay in touch on either Facebook or Instagram. Their Facebook page lists lots of upcoming shows as the world slowly gets back to gigging ways.

Thanks for readin’! Or as they say in Scotland…slàn leat agus pòg mo thòin 😁☘️

Andy x

ALBUM REVIEW: THE BLACK TARTAN CLAN – ‘A New Beginning’ (2021)

The Black Tartan Clan are back! Having re-located from Belgium to Spain one of Celtic-Punk’s greatest ever bands return with a fantastic new album.

It was a dark day back in 2017 when The Black Tartan Clan sadly called it a day. With five releases and a Greatest Hits behind them the bands founder and joint songwriter MacTouche had decided to up sticks and re-locate to Spain. This did cause a bit of upset among other members of the band and they have re-grouped as the Black Tartans and have also recently started to record new music too. MacTouche still had an interest in making great Celtic music so the band has re-started with new members but the task was made many times harder by the Covid lockdown. Last March though the band were finally able to get together to rehearse and then to finally play live. The original version of The Black Tartan Clan were famous for their amazing bagpipe sound. I’d go so far as to say they were even the best band in Celtic-Punk for their piping. Here though the pipes are gone and all the pipe parts are replaced by guitar. The Black Tartan Clan keep their Celtic-Punk sound but in a much harder way.

Black Tartan Clan left to right: MacKurr – Guitar * MacTouche – Vocals (founding member) * MacRivery – Drums * MacChaud – Guitar * MacFrank – Bass * MacPië – Silent partner (founding member) *

A New Beginning is not quite a new album as all the songs have previously appeared but the bands new style gives them a lift and while it would be hard to improve on them they certainly give it one hell of a go. The opening track is the band’s anthem ‘We Are The Clan’ from the 2014 album Scotland In Our Hearts and its a hard rocking affair and the guitar sound not a million miles away from The Skids. You can still hear the pipes through the guitar and MacTouche’s gravelly vocals haven’t changed much, thank Heavens, as he sings in both English and French. ‘Don’t Walk Alone’ comes from the album of the same name from 2013 and again it’s straight down the line hard rocking but catchy with it. ‘Ye Jacobites’ is an (very) old Robbie Burns poem put to music countless times but usually with a distinctly Folky influence but not here!

 

Three songs in a row now from the 2014 Scotland In Our Hearts album. ‘Scotland In Our Hearts’ is the first and you can imagine exactly where the pipes would be and you know what it works. I wasn’t too sure before I played it but aye. It must be incredibly hard to perform minus the thing you’re band is famous for but the guys have pulled it off even if their sound is now a bit more towards hard rock it still has all it’s roots in Celtic-Punk. ‘Piper Bill’ was always one of my favourite BTC songs and they do it justice here.

The last couple of songs start with a great ‘Friends Until The End’ and then the album ends with the appropriate ‘Toora Loora’ from Don’t Walk Alone. Only a handful of songs and hopefully it will serve it’s purpose to let the Celtic-Punk scene know they are back and though different they are still great. It’s absolutely brilliant to see these guys back and proving they’ve plenty left to give as well. Listening to this had me pulling out all my old Black Tartan Clan albums. It’s a hard rocking album but I needed an album like this as I been listening to too much Ewan MacColl of late!

Download A New Beginning  Apple  Deezer   

Contact The Black Tartan Clan  Facebook  ReverbNation  YouTube

The Black Tartan Clan back catalogue is all available on Spotify

2021 CATCH UP REVIEWS. PART 2 – WILD COLONIAL BHOYS, THE POKES, HAWTHORN, SURFIN’ TURNIPS,

Our last post was an attempt to catch up with a few albums that we loved but had missed for reviewing during 2021. Part One wasn’t originally planned to be but they all ended up being ‘solo’ albums and so today we have a bunch of albums from bands. Apologies for not being able to do more detailed reviews but as we say each and every month “we can’t review what we don’t hear”. 

WILD COLONIAL BHOYS – Remote Ruaille Buaille

Not a band I’m particularly knowledgeable about bar coveting one of their great t-shirts but here goes. I’m pretty sure I had some stuff from them in the past but was all lost in the great external HD crash of a few years ago. Hailing from Minnesota the album was recorded remotely, hence the name, which makes the expert production even more impressive.

Things start with the self penned ‘Red haired Lass’ and a upbeat bouncy Country /Celtic number. The production here is maybe one of the best I’ve heard all year. The sound is so full with the many instruments here all complimenting each other. The talented band show their ability throughout the album able to switch from more rocking numbers even to trad Folk. Their harder edge comes out early on, on the first of a handful of covers and ‘Rocky Road’ never fails to disappoint. Their are several excellent covers like  Ewan MacColl’s ‘Homes of Donegal’, and Luke Kelly’s ‘Schooldays Over’ but as usual it’s the originals that I’m really interested in. The standout track here is the ‘Tragedy At Duffy’s Cut’ where the Bhoys tells the tragic story of the death of 57 Irish immigrants whilst working digging the railroad near Philadelphia in the 1830’s. The death and unmarked grave containing these men’s remains was hidden for decades and is a stark reminder that the lives of working-class Irish Catholics in those days were worthless. A fascinating story well worth reading more about but the story is well told here. The album ends with a great upbeat version of ‘The Auld Triangle’ and it all reminds me what I have been missing. A fantastic album that captures the spirit of Irish-America perfectly.

THE POKES – Another Toast  (Here)

The Pokes had quite a lengthy several year hiatus between this album and their last but have returned with an album that reminds me of them at their best. Another Toast is their fifth studio album and takes off from where Mayday ended. Their distinctive Folk-Punk sound is left intact as well as the humour they are famous for. Kicking off with an ode to their beloved Berlin wart’n’all. Accordion led with a real catchy beat chugging along. As I’ve said before The Pokes remind me a hell of a lot of the Geordie band The Whiskey Priests. Unafraid to venture into political commentary but it’s pure bold and absolute brazen entertainment that is the goal here and is achieved 100%. My personal favourite here is ‘Gambler’, now talk about bloody catchy! but several songs could all be described the same. With the album’s artwork it’s no surprise The Pokes take a deep look at death here but always with a jig in their heart and a beer glass being slammed into a table.

The CD album comes with the added bonus of the vinyl only Sail single from earlier this year and also with a extensive 16-page booklet. The album was released on the famous Mad Butcher Records and is available in all formats. This to me is Celtic-Punk without being particularly Celtic but it is nevertheless absolutely superb party music!

HAWTHORN – All The Light We Cannot See  (Download)

We have just literally done a review of another band from Arizona (the new album from Swainn) and his has been in the to-do pile for a few weeks without us giving it much of a chance. hawthorns roots began in another local Celtic-Punk West Winds and they have previously released a 6-track EP in 2017 before this. Hawthorn are, rather unbelievably, a duo with Sarah Elizabeth and Brent Anderson playing all the instruments. The band is rather mysterious with blurred videos and artsy photos never quite giving you a decent view of the band. Still we here for the music and that is damn good.

I didn’t know they were a duo for a good while after I heard this album and I still find it hard to believe now after several listens. The amount of instruments here is incredible with flute, tin-whistle, uileann pipes, upright bass, mandolin, banjo and plenty more all in the mix here. At times the music is aggressive Celtic-Punk and at other times gentle Celtic inspired Folk. Basically the perfect model for an album on these pages. Of the former the brilliant intro ‘Beltane’ that leads into the fast bagpipe led ‘A Green And Ancient Light’, ‘Gardner’s Ghost’ and the album’s closing song ‘Raven’ all rock along with Celtic intensity, while of the latter the Irish trad instrumental ‘Lughnasadh’, the atmospheric ‘Samhain’, with almost Gothic sounding uileann piping, and the gentle ‘Solstice’ all stand out. Overall it’s a great album with a bit extra than most Celtic-Punk albums. Definitely not yer typical American album with both it’s style and lyrics. The album is available at the link below for ‘name your price’ download so basically a £100, a pint of Guinness or bugger all. Up to you but make sure you do download it.

THE SURFIN’ TURNIPS – Down The Allotment  (Download)

The Surfin’ Turnips have been with us now a good few years and round their way (Bristol and the south-west of England) they have become quite the institution. Known primarily as a festival band they have a decent enough back catalogue too and their latest album Down The Allotment came out back in March.
These guys are the real deal when it comes to West country Cider Punk anthems and its all heads down Folk’n’Roll as on the album opener the Ramonesy ‘Mermaids Leg’ that leads into the Folky but Punky but still Folky ‘Windbound’. It’s all done in great spirit and with tongue lodged firmly in cheek with salty songs of the sea, some of the fields and some of the orchards too. There’s plenty here but maybe you have to be a local for it to really click with you. Some of the subjects sailing right over me head but I loved the uncomplicated Punk-Rock sound that is only improved by the addition of accordion. The kind of band that when asked your standout tracks it would change every listen. At the moment the spoken word ‘Evesham Wheel’, UK82 style ‘Cider Police’, the piss taking ‘You Are My Cider’ and the album’s closing song, and also one of my favourite songs, ‘The Bonnie Ship The Diamond’ all stand out though I can guarantee that will change. One for ‘turnip’ up loud and getting your dancing boots on!
 

2021 CATCH UP REVIEWS. PART 1 – PHIL ODGERS, CHRISTY MOORE, JIM LINDBERG, DAN WALSH

Here’s hoping you all had a great Christmas and New Year.  Despite everything it’s been another great year for music. Maybe not quite as much of it but things are picking up and the end of 2021 saw us caught in a deluge of music we couldn’t keep up with. Any regular reader will know we prefer to do detailed reviews and even though we can’t do them justice here are some notable release we simply had to mention before the end of the year.  Each one impressed us immensely and are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. We start with Part 1 and a bunch of solo artists.

PHIL ODGERS – Ghosts Of Rock’n’Roll  (Bandcamp)

Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers has been one half of the legendary joint vocal strike force of legendary folk rebel rockers The Men They Couldn’t Hang since the early 80’s and has recorded under many various monikers over the years. In fact this is his fifth solo album. In February TMTCH announced the sad death Of Swill’s fellow vocalist Stefan Cush and many wondered where The Men would go from here. Well The Men still continue to perform and Swill put out Ghosts Of Rock’n’Roll in September after a successful campaign to raise the necessary to release it. Eleven tracks of acoustic folkiness accompanied by guests galore including Sid Griffin and The Men fiddler Bobby Valentino. The music itself owes much to The Men perhaps inevitable given Phil Odgers distinctive vocals. Of the songs here the opening ‘The Serpent, The Maiden and The Bear’ kicks off with a county-ish happy-go-lucky jaunty banjo led song with the warm vocals telling of guiding your way home from reading the stars.

The following song, a cover of Phil Ochs, ‘Flower Lady’ is another high point standing out from the more Folky songs with its R’n’R guitar while it is ‘Brooklyn Bridge’ that is most memorable. A beautiful study in aging and dementia originally written by Joe Solo. Ghosts Of Rock’n’Roll is like a Men album it that it does encompass several distinct influences and also like a Men album it is both uplifting and sobering. Though the sadness of the death of Cush hangs over the album is dedicated to Cush and is a fitting memorial to him.

CHRISTY MOORE – Flying Into Mystery   (Here)

A ‘proper’ new album from one of the last remaining true legends of Irish music. Christy Moore’s first studio album since 2016 features twelve songs Christy has brought to life and made unique even if some we have heard before. For the first time (with the exception of health induced breaks) since 1969 Christy’s life hasn’t revolved around live performances and so as he says “all my focus has been on this album”. As is common with a lot of his work the album consists of his own interpretations of others and a handful of his own compositions. There are Gary Moore’s ‘Johnny Boy’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘I Pity The Poor Immigrant’ among the better known but also the less well known like the chilling ‘December 1942’ by Cork singer/ songwriter Ricky Lynch telling of the arrival of a train from the Warsaw ghetto at Auschwitz “to unload its human cargo/met by demons and by devils and their savage dogs”. While I do sometimes despair of the dreaded ‘celebrity opinion’ and their desire to stay relevant Christy’s politics at least come from the heart and on the album’s lead single ‘Clock Winds Down’ he sings of the mess the planet is in. Written by American singer Jim Page who was also covered by The Moving Hearts when they recorded his anti-nuclear classic ‘Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Russian Roulette’.

This is followed by another harrowing song, the traditional ‘Van Diemen’s Land’ telling the cautionary tale of a young lad Henry tried and convicted for poaching and sentenced to transportation to the horrors of the British penal colony in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).

“Young men, all now beware, Lest you are drawn into a snare”

My own favourite here is one of his own songs and ‘Bord na Móna Man’ is always the kind of song I think of when I think of Christy Moore. A comic tale and a tribute to the art of turf cutting and turf cutters. Their was a time when it was a feature of Irish national life but these days the government would rather import it from overseas.

Their is something very familiar about this album. That mix of trad, modern covers and rowdy self penned numbers is very much the Christy formula but he does it with such style that the whole thing still sounds fresh and new.

JIM LINDBERG – Songs From The Elkhorn Trail (Here)       

Here’s another ‘Punk’ vocalist taking time out from his usual duties to lay down a solo album but unlike Cush this is the Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg’s first album. Known for shouty Pop Punk friendly anthems he takes a far more reflective turn here and once again the subject of getting old comes up and again is handled beautifully. His father passed away in 2018 from Alzheimer’s Disease and was obviously a huge influence on his life supporting him in his career with Pennywise and even buying him his first guitar. The album cover depicts Jim playing guitar by his old mans Palm Desert home by the Elkhorn Trail and on the cello infused ‘Don’t Lay Me Down’ he opens his heart to us

“Drove to the desert house to say my last goodbye / I ran every light, didn’t make it there in time … A toast to those who gave us life”

Some of the songs here are over twenty years old and the upbeat music often disguises something more serious. The opening track ‘The Palm Of Your Hand’ is a great rousing start and call to sort ourselves out despite the pain we may hold.

On ‘You’re Not Alone’ Jim keeps it catchy as hell, poppy even with an inspiring message keeping the cringe at arms bay. ‘Hello Again’ is a gentle number that verges on exploding into something else but is reigned in magnificently. The words of a man who loves a drink while he reminisces about his Dad before the piano led ending. A truly lovely song though dark as much of the album is. The full band ‘Not One Of Them’ comes as close to a rock-song as possible here but still retains a country-ish feel to it while ‘Good Enough’ also comes close but in acoustic way. On such a good album it may be hard to pick a standout track but along with the two songs featured here a special mention for the strings laden ‘It’s Only’ and an emotional journey through the life of a life well lived.

Not being much of a Pennywise fan I was initially reluctant to give this a spin but I am glad I did and I am sure it will connect with many people in the same way it has with me. The album features some star guests in Social Distortions David Hidalgo Jr. on drums, The Mighty, Mighty Bosstones Joe Gittleman on bass, Dropkick Murphys / Walker Roaders guitarist Marc Orrell and award-winning record producer, musician, and songwriter Ted Hutt working the knobs. Lindberg will be celebrating his Mammy’s Irish roots supporting the Dropkick Murphys for their St. Patrick’s home town gigs so no doubt plenty of you will be lucky to see him then.

DAN WALSH – Live at the Floodgate   (Here)

There ain’t many instruments so suited to Celtic-Punk as the banjo is and while this is a Folk album there is plenty to love about the way Dan Walsh plays for everyone. Since his debut album, Tomorrow’s Still To Come, in 2009 Dan has made a considerable impact n the UK music scene with collaborations with all sorts from The Levellers to Seth Lakeman but he is more than just a ‘banjo to hire’ and his own material displays influences from some pretty imaginative sources! Born into a Irish family in the English town of Stafford Dan has been playing since 13 when so impressed by the likes of Barney McKenna and Gerry O’Connor he begged his parents to buy him a banjo and he has never looked back since. Now several album’s in he has recorded a live album ‘Live At The Floodgate’ at a pub in his own home town.

Recorded just before the first lockdown but only recently released, Live At The Floodgate sees Dan re-visiting all five of his previous albums as well as some new material and also some of his favourite covers like his outstanding version of Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’ that he has never released before. He kicks off with a thoughtful and tentative instrumental ‘Over The Border’ which ever so slowly builds into the equivalent of banjo Motorhead! The first time we hear Dan’s voice is on ‘Still A Town’ about gentrification and perhaps the destruction of the kind of places where this kind of music can still be heard. There’s a couple of auld Saw Doctors tracks ‘The Suilin’ and ‘At Least Pretend’ while ‘Late Night Drive’ at half way through the album begins to show Dan’s confidence as he plays with such speed it’s incredible and all note perfect too. You can hear from the audience too that the excitement is building. Two of the previous reviews have touched on the treatment of the elderly and here Dan puts the banjo down for acoustic guitar as he tells the moving story of an elderly man in a care home on ‘The Song Always Stays’. The song was actually inspired by a visit to Scots singer Glen Mason in a Surrey care home. Glen was often visited by musicians, whose repertoire would sometimes include his own songs, up to his death in 2014. The beauty of music eh? One of the highlights is the epic (over seven minutes!) ‘Joxers Set’ which starts off with you expecting another ballad before speeding up several times to the point where you cant imagine he can go any faster… before getting faster! Dan could have left it there but returns for the obligatory encore and the alcohol has flowed enough even for some audience participation as he sends his appreciative fans home (no doubt with the song playing in their heads for the following couple of days!) to Lester Flatt’s ‘Sleep with One Eye Open’

The live album can be very much a mixed bag but here Dan plays with such an intensity and comes across as so likeable that it’s impossible not to get drawn in. Over an hour that shows him at his very best and with the varied material here this is an album that anyone could love even them as don’t like banjos. If such a person does exist?

WATCH OUT FOR PART 2 COMING THIS WEEKEND!

ALBUM REVIEW: THE GROGGY DOGS – ‘Grog O’Clock’ (2021)

Grog-fuelled, rum-thievin’ Punk Metal Pirate Band with a drop o’ Celtic on top!

Our last review of the year, we’ll see you soon, sees the debut album from Seville based Groggy Dogs. They be a pirate band that fuses Punk, Metal ‘n Ska wit’ sea shanties ‘n traditional Celtic melodies, achievin’ a forceful ‘n fun sound that invites ye t’ dance ‘n party wit’ a few grog jugs.

The end of 2021 saw a flurry of ‘Pirate-Punk’ releases to which we can now add The Groggy Dogs and their debut 8-track album Grog O’Clock. Based in Seville in southern Spain. The city itself is not that far from the sea which may explain why the guys set up a Piratey band. As we have said before there is no more than a fag paper between Celtic-Punk and Pirate music sharing many of the same tunes and songs and sea-shanties galore, as evident on Grog O’Clock.

The Groggy Dogs left to right: The Deadman (Lucas Hidalgo) – Drums * The Voodoo Witch (Fátima Caballero) – Violin * The Cap’n (Mauro Blanco) – Vocals, Guitar * The Cook (Carlos Ghirlanda) – Bass * The Buccaneer (Seba Santa Cruz) – Accordion *

We can thank the Covid lockdown for The Groggy Dogs as they were formed only in April, 2020 only a month after the worldwide lockdown began, with Mauro, already a veteran of several Celtic projects wanting to give the music a more forceful sound. Soon joined by several other musicians and being huge fans of traditional sea songs, the decision was to form a Pirate-Folk-Punk band.
“An unknown plague was sweepin’ the whole world when The Cap’n, marooned, realizin’ that his supplies were diminishin’, decided t’ embark on a new adventure in search o’ ports t’ plunder. He knew that his guitar ‘n his grog-worn voice wouldna be enough t’ navigate through the roarin’ seas ‘n winds so he united the crew”
This album has been out a while being released last April and just goes to show if you want a review then you have to send it us. We don’t need a CD just a download and away we’ll go. The album was recorded in mid-2020 and contains the perfect combination for drinking and having a great time with it’s mix of popular covers and original compositions. Starting off with the great instrumental ‘The Roaring Seas’ and maybe somewhat predictably but still very effective the sound of the shore is soon joined by accordion and then fiddle. Needless to say guitars start thrashing, drums pounding and bass throbbing before the song goes off in a unexpected tangent  of Ska and Metal. I love a bit of trad to kick things off and we next get the first of the covers and a thrashy energetic 18th century Irish sea-shanty ‘Ten Thousand Miles Away’.

Ska is never too far away and the song bounces along in that way that only Ska can do but the fiddle and accordion are pumped up loud (but perfect) in the mix and the song changes tempo several times but always remains tuneful. ‘All For Me Grog’ is another well known sea-shanty that tells of a sailor who sells everything he owns, as well as his wife, to pay for his distractions! The Dubliners had a top 10 hit with the song in 1967 which still remains the most popular version. This is followed by a companion song ‘The Wise Grog’ and another top notch accordion led Metally-Ska instrumental.

Next another well known standard of the genre ‘Drunken Sailor’ and again dating from the 18th century and from Ireland. This song could have been written to be turned into Punk so natural is it. Played fast and with plenty of chorus for the audience to join in on it’s no wonder it has become so popular. ‘The Ghost Of High Barbery’ dates even further back to the early 17th century and tells of a English ship being attacked by African pirates and having to defend themselves.

“For quarter, for quarter those pirates then did plea
But the answer that we gave them, was to sink them in their sea.”

(Directed and animated by Carlos Ghirlanda. Art by Martín Neironi and Agustín Capiglioni)

Not a song I’ve heard before but I love The Groggy Dogs version with it’s gruff vocals and speedy tuneful tune. ‘Botany Bay’ is also known as ‘South Australia’, under which title is was recorded by The Pogues, and is still a favourite of mainly Irish bands. The album ends with another brilliant instrumental and ‘Last Night’s Grog’ sees the album out with probably the best song and never do they sound more Gaelic! A fast, catchy, tuneful, uplifting instrumental to send us off.

Grog O’Clock was expertly recorded, mixed and mastered by The Groggy Dogs Cap’n and founder Mauro at Estudios Tomahawk. The sound is absolutely perfect and with all the instruments as clear as the proverbial bell! The whole album blends traditional Irish Folk and sea-shanties (sometimes the same thing) with more modern influences to make for something very good. The touches of Punk, Ska and Metal in The Groggy Dogs hands make for a brilliant sound. A forceful ‘n fun sound that invites ye t’ dance ‘n party wit’ a few jugs o’ grog (that’s enough of that- editor).

(You can stream / download the whole of Grog O’Clock on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Grog O’Clock  CD-FromTheBand  Download-Bandcamp

Contact The Groggy Dogs  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

So that’s your lot for 2021. Our final post. Thanks for sailing with us and thanks for everybody involved in the site and everyone that has supported us over the last year. Happy to say that 2022 is shaping up to be a great year something for us all to celebrate. 

ALBUM REVIEW: FEROCIOUS DOG – ‘The Hope’ (2021)

Having gone to see Ken and the boys live in Edinburgh this year, it seems only right that we review Ferocious Dog’s new album before the year’s out. Enjoy The Hope, a triumphant slice of folk-punk from a band at the top of their game.

The Hope by Ferocious Dog. Don’t forget to spin this one!

From the epic opening seconds of “Port Isaac”, it’s clear that this is an album that the band put a lot of thought and work into. With a sense of foreboding we’re chucked on board a ship, with Cap’n Flint barking the orders (not really) and the opening lines of “Haul Away Joe” chiming into view. After that, the band’s cover of this sea shanty gets going properly, and we knew it wouldn’t be long before the Dog’s familiar brand of folk-punk and polka beats came to kick us in the ass. Some o’ the lyrics are also a fresh deviation from other versions of the song out there.

Follow-up track “Pentrich Rising” continues in the same vein. The band filmed a video for this one, which reconstructs the failed Pentrich rising of 1817. To check out the video, and a “making of” that the band put together, go HERE and HERE. Or just watch it below:

“Pentrich Rising”. About the workers’ uprising of 1817 that foundered due to an inside job.

Plenty to dance to

Following the trend set by “Joe” and “Rising”, there’s plenty more to dance to on this record. Take your pick from some o’ the ones below ☘

“Born Under Punches” is about the sad story of a broken home, where the youngest runs away to follow their dreams in London, only to end up “on the old main drag”, as Shane MacGowan might have put it. But bleak or not, the song’s danceable from the start. So too are the equally-themed “Slayed The Traveller” and “Sea Shepherd”. The latter of these shows direct support for Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd charity who promotes an Earth-centred (rather than human-centred) view of the world. And if “Haul Away Joe” was a re-imagining of a trad song, so too is the band’s take on “The Parting Glass”. To quote Billy Bragg, they really put the power drill on this tune, to see what would come out.

Born Under Punches” talks about homelessness on the dark streets of London.

Music of the heart

The picture we’ve painted so far is of a fast-paced jumper of an album. But don’t be fooled – there are plenty of sombre moments on this record too. The first of these is “Broken Soldier”, a beautifully sad song about war, inspired no doubt by the sad fate of Ken’s son Lee Bonsall, who had served in Afghanistan. The line “it’s a far cry from the blue skies” particularly strikes you – it hints at the fact that war is horrific, but that our Western society can be ugly and unkind too.

“1914” is another example. Here, lead vocals are taken by fiddler Dan Booth, whose delivery of the line “there was whiskey on Sundays and love in the wings” is definitely reminiscent of “The Broad Majestic Shannon”, another MacGowan masterpiece. If this song takes a look back at WWI, “Khatyn” is about WWII, and a village in Belarus that in March 1943 was all but wiped out by the Nazis. Credit to the Dog here for not being afraid to bring in events and countries from outside the Celtic world.

The masterpiece of the album, however, has to be “The Hope”, an outstanding title track that is worthy of being a title track. A strong ballad, featuring beautiful singing from Ken, this one slowly builds to a wonderful choir-like singalong at the end, bringing a tear to the ol’ eye. This is music of the heart, written for those struggling to find any joy in life, walking around thinking, “I hope one day happiness comes my way.” If you’re reading this and you feel that way, then we hope you find happiness too. There are different answers that work for different people, so never stop searching for solutions.

“The Hope” – an outstanding and moving title track if ever there were one.

Go check it out!

With 17 songs, you won’t be shortchanged (or disappointed) by what’s on offer here. The album is a success, a masterclass in folk-punk with top-notch production values. The band put a lot of graft in here, so well done to them on reaching #1 in the UK Folk charts, and even #31 in the mainstream charts. Not that charts always matter, but it’s nice to let the mainstream know that there’s more music out there than just what gets played on national radio. There’s a wealth of great underground music out there, and it’s good when some of it succeeds on its own terms.

Now, as Jack Nicholson famously said after his wife locked him in a storage cupboard: “GO CHECK IT OUT!” 😁 If ye have the money, buy “The Hope” from Amazon (it’s not available from the band’s website until after Christmas, ye ken). If money’s a wee bit tight, then the album’s up on the major streaming platforms too. And whatever ye do, be sure to follow the Dog on Instagram or Facebook.

EP REVIEW: FOGGY DUDE – ‘More Ain’t Less’ (2021)

Our favourite Czech Republican Celtic-Punk band Foggy Dude are back with an amazing studio EP of seven songs to follow last years Pub 10 live recording. 

These guys came to our attention last year with the release of Pub 10 a live EP of five songs recorded at their favourite Prague pub. Sadly for them, being live, it wasn’t eligible to be included in our end of year Best Of’s or else it would have definitely featured so impressed were we. Recorded ‘warts’nall’ it really captured this talented band perfectly so I was delighted to hear they were still going and had recorded new material.

Foggy Dude left to right: Jirka – Bass * Drunken Joe – Acoustic Guitar * Caba – Mandolin * Štofi – Electric Guitar * Ilia – Violin * Jirka – Tin Whistle * Peťa – Drums *

Foggy Dude (great name!) were formed in the Summer of 2017 by a group of friends who were studying at Strahov Technical University in the Czech Republic capital of Prague. In their earliest days they were a 8-piece gigging round the local student/punk scene in Prague at mainly the Vagon Rock club, 007 club Strahov and, what would become their spiritual home, the Block 10 Pub. A few years later they may no longer be students but they can still be found hanging around the pubs of Strahov. As any Celtic-Punk fan will tell you it’s next to impossible to keep that many people together long term and so it proved as people have come and gone from the band and no sooner had they released Pub 10 then two members up and left. Foggy Dude have risen to the challenge though and now a mere 7-piece instead of bringing in a singer they now share the vocal duties among the band. A very novel and commendable approach.

A wise man once said: Do you know why you should drink more? Because more ain’t less! Or so the story goes according to Ilia, who decided to demonstrate said proverb to us one drunken night at Pub 10. Since then, we took it to our hea… livers, as we got through many more drunken nights. We wrote some songs, we sang them loud for the entire drinkery to hear and thus this album came about. – Taken from the album notes.

More Ain’t Less begins with ‘Raise Your Glass’ and Ilia, the fiddle player takes on the main vocal in a tribute to The Dreadnoughts. So impressed by the Canadians love of sea-shanties (they recorded a whole album not long back) they decided to write one themselves to open shows so only right it should open here too. Next up is bass player Jirka and a song he wrote in the Himalayas (!) about the small things in life sometimes being the most enjoyable. In this case being in the Himalayas and missing a pint in your favourite bar with your friends.

“I sailed the deepest ocean
and climbed the greatest mountains
I know what is the life
I slept with many girls
and beat a lot of men
I know what is the life”

Great words and musically it’s bloody fantastic too. Great fiddle and a tune to die for. Five minutes of pure unabashed kick-arse Celtic-Punk party music. Catchy beyond words. All I can say is you’ll just have to check it out yourselves.

Cába of the mandolin sings ‘Hunt For Leprechaun’ and it’s actually the very first song ever written by the band about having your gold stolen by a leprechaun and then gaining your revenge. Again it’s a belter of a song and as catchy as hell. Word is they only wrote this song as they wanted to shout “NOW THE GOLD IS IN HIS ASS” in public! This is one hell of a bunch of talented guys and I don’t just mean musically either as they next turn their hand to an instrumental and ‘Felfire Dance’ includes two jigs both written by the band. The origins of the song lay in the time Cába was studying in Ireland. Jirka is back next for ‘Old Man’ and a sad tale but told with amazing gusto and such a uplifting Eastern influenced tune. A old man slaves his life away breaking his back till he can work no more and on finding his life in ruins finds solace in the bottom of a glass.

“Once there was an old man,
in a grotty pub, siting alone
and he had a story to tell
I got one bottle of whiskey
and I sunk across the table”

We see plenty of these old fella’s in the Irish community but truth be told they are everywhere and they built everything. Cába is back on vocals for ‘You Didn’t Even Appear At All’ and a more straight up Punk track but still with all the Celtic instrumentation. Based on a habit of old singer Sam to leave funny messages on peoples phones when angry or drunk or drunk and angry. The EP ends with another fine instrumental ‘Slainte Pico’ of two Foggy Dude original compositions.

Altogether this is a really wonderful release and it really made my day. With a pile of releases to get through of mostly Folky stuff it was an absolute pleasure to get this and it ended up taking over my day so good was it. The only disappointment here is that their is not more of it! The balance struck between Folk and Punk and Trad is perfect as is the production and it comes with the best booklet I’ve seen on any release this year. If we did give marks out of ten then put More Ain’t less down for a 9!

Download More Ain’t Less  Spotify  YouTubePlaylist

Contact Foggy Dude  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE OUTCAST CREW – ‘Myths & Yarns’ (2021)

The debut album from Ireland’s newest Celtic-Punk band- The Outcast Crew. Ten original roaring trad punk songs about myths, folklore and singalong sea shanties!

Strangely there aren’t a huge amount of Celtic Punk bands based in Ireland, so we were delighted to receive the debut album Myths & Yarns from The Outcast Crew. It is extremely encouraging that the genre is alive and kicking back in the homeland.

The Outcast Crew are 6-piece band including Brian O’Mahoney (Vocals/Guitars); Paul Flynn (Drums); Niall Harney (Bass); Adela Mealy (Accordion); John Davidson (Fiddle) and Alasdair McCann on banjo. Myths & Yarns has been released though the Los Angeles publishing company ‘Songs to your Eyes’.

Lead singer and songwriter Brian O’Mahoney explains how the album came about.

“I had written a couple of instrumental folk/trad albums for publishers in both London and LA. Austin Seltzer had mixed and mastered a previous album of mine and he suggested I write an album with folk instruments along with heavy guitars and vocals.”

The album is made up of 10 songs and is a perfect blend of all that is Celtic Punk. You can clearly hear influences of 70’s classic punk (The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, Sex Pistols) which are blended perfectly with the more Celtic influences of The Pogues and more recently bands like Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.
As the title suggests the album is fully of tales of folklore, myths, sea voyages and of course the odd session which are brilliantly delivered with gritty vocals, guitar, banjo and fiddle.

“You are the one I want”, “Renegade” and “Bound for Hell” are worthy of a specific mention as songs which stand out on the album. In saying that the whole album is an excellent offering as a debut album. I have no doubt that based on Myths & Yarns we will be hearing much more of The Outcast Crew in the future. Keep it coming lads.

Buy Myths & Yarns  Amazon  Apple

Contact The Outcast Crew  Facebook   Spotify

ALBUM REVIEW: STAR BOTHERERS – ‘Tales Of Layton Rakes’ (2021)

The second album from Midlands based Star Botherers is a fine mix of Folk, Punk and social commentary.

Now if one band has dominated the Celtic-Punk scene on these islands in the last twelve months it has to have been Ferocious Dog. The runaway success of their recent album The Hope has only continued their rise in popularity and they’ve plenty more in the bank to come too. Along with their success they’ve managed to ferment a whole crew of regular support acts wherever they go that play a similar kind of broadly left-wing Folk-Punk. Some of these are pretty damn good with The Silk Road, The Leylines, The Whipjacks leaping to mind, but also many more are drippy studenty singer-songwriter types, a band that I knew existed in same milieu as FD but I hadn’t heard was the Star Botherers. Coming from the same small town as Ferocious Dog, Warsop near Mansfield in Nottinghamshire, they have a good relationship together with FD covering a few of their songs and Broken Soldier features on the new FD album, The Hope. It’s an area famous pretty much just for coal mining which ceased in the area 30 years ago but like most mining communities continues to define where they live.

Star Botherers from top left: Ellis Waring – Bouzouki, Mandolin, Guitars, Ukulele * Brad Drury – Percussion * Joel Howe – Guitars, Accordion, Vocals * bottom left: Andrew ( Bart) Hawkins – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar * Dave Drury – Bass, Vocals *
Recording, mix, master, produced: Joel Howe

Tales Of Layton Rakes is the Star Botherers second album after debut Happy Angry from 2017, which itself was preceded by a handful of demos that are now unavailable. Some of the tracks from those early days have been re-recorded here and the one or two I have heard have benefitted from the update. The album opens with, I think the album’s best song, the modern sea-shanty ’13 Years In Oregon’ a gloriously updated version of a track that appeared on their very first EP. The song steams along at a great pace telling of a life on the sea with some great lyrics and nice vocals from Andrew putting on a sort of Yank drawl. It’s a great wee opener and not what I was expecting from a band that I had imagined were prone mostly to jokey songs. The first of the modern tracks is up next and ‘Spoons’ is, as most UK based residents will know, the nickname for the cheap and (sometimes) cheerful (sometimes not) pub chain JD Weatherspoon. In the modern day of gentrification it’s often the only place in some city centres where working class people can afford a couple of pints. It’s common these days for people to bash Spoons under different guises but underneath it’s always that the owner of Spoons was prominent in the ‘Leave’ campaign. This is followed by ‘Blackpool’ and a list of things about why the town is “Shit, Shit, Shit”. Catchy and it chugs along with a story about a day out in the famous seaside town. ‘Let It Stand’ tells of the plan to erect a statue of Maggie Thatcher in her home town of Grantham not far from where the band are from. Needless to say it’s not universally popular but to to everyone’s surprise the band are in favour but as a way to remember what she stood far. ‘Just Around The Corner’ is another older song re-recorded. A jaunty folky tale of working your life away to make a decent life for you and your family and the breaks you get and more often don’t get. All quite serious stuff but hidden away in the kind of song that you could easily end up swinging strangers around a dance floor to. ‘Another Lidl Song’ is about the cheap but popular Lidl supermarket that is the fastest growing supermarket in Britain. ‘Kyle And Norton’ compares the two staples of British telly swopping their shows and how they get on. A clever and witty song.

‘Freethinker’ is another re-recorded song that has been covered by Ferocious Dog and it sounds like FD copied it note perfect! ‘Swearing In Songs’ is a slower Country-ish number with rather understated swearing considering the subject matter. ‘Silence Is Acceptable’ almost reaches Celtic-Punk in it’s intensity with a roll call of people and groups who fought for rights for all while ‘He Got Dreads’ I would say is about the kind of person who sneers at Spoons and Lidl and working class people in general. All the songs here are written by lead singer Andrew Hawkins with the exception of the next song, ‘Oddly Excluded’. Originally recorded for inclusion on the tribute album The Pete Drake Project (Vol​. ​1) and is one of the album highlights here. The album ends with ‘Sailors Grave’ and another marvelous song about the sea. Bit more Punky it definitely lifts the album at the end.

The album is released tomorrow and is available for pre-order below. It was recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Joel Howe at the Black Market recording studio at home in Warsop and the CD comes with a whopping 16 page lyric booklet. Lyrically it they do seem caught between being an outright jokey band and their more serious material. A balance that will come in time I’m sure. Overall it’s a great album but like most Celtic or Folk-Punk it’s probably best to hear these songs in the live context as it is undoubtedly perfect for drinking and lepping about to!

(You can stream and download Tales Of Layton Rakes on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Tales Of Layton Rakes  Bandcamp

Contact Star Botherers  Facebook  YouTube  

ALBUM REVIEW: SWAINN – ‘Under A Willow Tree’ (2021)

The third album from Arizona based Swainn (also known as Cockswain). Sunburnt Celtic-Rock sealed by Punk-Rock energy and desert heat.

Sitting here in a big jumper with a icy droplet hanging off the end of me nose trying to escape the bitter cold it’s hard to imagine a world where people listen to Celtic-Punk all year round in t-shirts and shorts but we Irish are a travelling race and we are everywhere! What those first Irish settlers thought when they first washed up in Arizona we can only imagine but it may have been along the lines of “phew” ! So it is that wherever you go you’re always guaranteed to find a Irish pub and more than likely a band inside it.

Swainn left to right: Mandy LubkingFiddle, Backing Vocals * Neil Ward – Vocals, Acoustic / Electric Guitar * Brian DailyDrums * Wake LubkingBanjo, Backing Vocals *

It’s not uncommon for Celtic-Punk bands to trace their origins back to St. Patrick’s Day. The lure of a bit of cash (or free drinks!) must seem appealing and many seem to enjoy it so much so that one or two offs become four or five and eventually become permanent. Well nine years on from their humble openings around the pubs of Tucson and marathon three hour sets at packed pubs throughout the wider Phoenix area it’s now time for Swainn’s third album. They have appeared on these pages before back in 2017, when known as Cockswain, with a review of their second album ‘For The Whiskey’, a follow up to their debut album ‘Seamus’ in 2014. Taking the well worn route of mixing originals and Irish standards their audiences soon grew alongside many successful festival appearances but the appeal for a musician is always to play your own material and that is where they are now with Under A Willow Tree. As Neil says “we started out as a scruffy sea shanty Irish band who wrote drinking songs, and we’ve come so far”.

The title of the album Under A Willow Tree represents for the band symbolism, myth and history. As fiddle player Mandy explains

“The Willow itself has Celtic symbolic origins, the tree really represents a lot of synchronicity for us, because Neil regular references nature in the lyrics. When we were settling on the title, I was studying mandolin techniques online one night, and the video was set to none other than ‘Bury Me Beneath Willow’ by Woody Guthrie. It was meant to be.”

The album kicks off with ‘Voices’ and for those this side of the pond it has certain resonance with English band Mick O’Toole. Fast and heavy with the banjo pushed hard into the mix and Neil’s vocals growling out at you. A grand opening and while I may have made it sound like like some sort of Celtic Napalm Death it has that undeniable accessibility that any generation could warm to. Next up is the album’s lead single ‘Bag O’ Bones’ and sometimes a press release can get a wee bit too flowery

“I was reading a bunch of Ram Dass, he was a psychedelic Buddhist teacher who moved on to another plane. ‘Bag o’ Bones’ is basically your body in a sense. Your spirit is anchored down until you pass on. That’s what the song references.”

God alone knows how I would have described it otherwise! ‘In The Morning’ began life as a straight up drinking song before becoming about mental health and depression and sadly I’m not sure anyone knows more about the sad connection between the two as the Irish and yet ones of my generation still worship the grain. Great banjo from Wake here and a real thigh slapper before ‘Take Action’ whish begins in a trad Folk style before mixing in some bluegrass style while making a simple statement without ramming it home thank Heavens. The mention of Bluegrass is quite as apt as the acoustic  ‘Home’ takes it to the next level with a song that could almost come from another era. You know after that we are due a stormer and we get it in ‘Let’s Get Loose’. A quick and jaunty trip with lots of gang shouts and a right royal rowdy Celtic Folk knees up. ‘Sink Or Float’ is a bit more on the poppier side of things but still unquestionably just as catchy while telling us of the journey of outcasts.

“I sing Danny Boy and the Rose Of Tralee cannot deny the rebel in me”

‘Fairwinds’ is more traditional Celtic-Punk sounding not so far off Flogging Molly at their best. A uplifting number with great banjo and fiddle. A “raucous fight song meant to kick everybody’s ass” according to Neil. One of the things here that makes Under A Willow Tree a cut above most Celtic-Punk albums is the quality of the songwriting and ‘Up On The Mountain’ is a perfect example. Celtic-Punk should, in common with Celtic-Folk, be about story telling. There is no other genre that could ever get you jigging about to a song about famine dying of hunger or alcoholism or despair! 

“I hope people have a good time when they listen to us or see us live, that’s always the goal for us.”

We washing up to the end and time for another slower number in ‘Brand New Day’ before the album ends with the fantastic piss taking ‘Another Drinking Song’ where the band take the mickey out of themselves in what could be described as ‘classic Celtic-Punk’.

(‘Another Drinking Song’ live at The Tucson Celtic Festival and Scottish Highland Games, Tucson, AZ in November 2018)

One thing I know is that whenever I have been anywhere hot I always get a urge to go sit somewhere cool where cold drinks are readily available so if the folks from Swainn are anything like me this is where they find their inspiration! On Under A Willow Tree we find Swainn moving away from the “scruffy sea shanty Irish drinking songs” that they began with but still staying true to the traditions they come from but trying something more sophisticated.

Buy Under A Willow Tree  Here

Contact Swainn  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

( A live stream from last St. Patrick’s Day direct from the Swainn garage for the Phoenix Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library Phoenix Virtual Concert)

ALBUM REVIEW: SPOTTED DOGS – ‘The Old Disgrace. Live’ (2021)

We don’t get many live albums to review but when we do they tend to be pretty decent. Swedish band The Spotted Dogs new album of fast Irish Folk is no different and transports you from your home direct to them and even puts a pint in your hand too!

FREE DOWNLOAD

Well you wait all year to review a new Swedish release and then you get two in the same week and not only that but both from the charming (so I’m told) old city of Gothenburg. Surprisingly there’s no overlap so some healthy competition for each other and let’s hope this is a start of a beautiful relationship!

We dig with whitening knuckles in the Irish soil and find the vein of hard swinging Celtic-Punk. Just surrender, lace up and roll up!

Like most bands the original inspiration can be traced back to a handful of bands and likely subjects The Dubliners and The Pogues figure heavily in The Spotted Dogs sound. Formed way back in 1995 by five spotty Swedish teenagers they spent their early days playing at illegal clubs in boathouses along the archipelago outside Gothenburg. As they became more well known and the popularity of Irish music grew so they progressed to the pub scene around the city. From the start the Bhoys knew they wanted to play Irish Folk but with Punk-Rock attitude and over the years their sound has developed into a more faster style though more akin to Flogging Molly than the Murphys. An early decision was to drop any slow ballads from their set and keep their set upbeat and more in keeping with the pub setting. These days The Spotted Dogs spend their time playing mostly Punk clubs in western Sweden.

The Old Disgrace kicks off with that auld London Irish favourite ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’, one of many here made famous by Ronnie and Luke and co. It’s fast and furious yet totally accessible. Like a band at your local Irish Centre who decide to unload for the last few songs when everyone’s a little more ‘relaxed’ (!). This is followed up by a couple of Celtic-Punk / Irish Folk standards and ‘Follow Me Up to Carlow’ and ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans’ could well be my favourite rebel songs and their tempo has made them perfect for Celtic-Punk bands to adapt and you’ll not beat ‘Black & Tans’ for a shouty chorus. Next up is ‘Connolly Was There’ a song recently recorded by the Dropkick Murphys telling of the great role the Irish labour leader James Connolly played wherever he went. Born in Scotland he enlisted in the British Army serving in Ireland where his parents had emigrated from. He would later desert and eventually move to Ireland where he organised the Dublin workers in the Irish Citizens Army. He would fight in the 1916 Easter Rising where he was shot and captured and eventually executed. His execution would be roundly condemned for given no more than a day or two to live he was unable to stand for the firing squad and so he was tied to a chair and executed. Last rites were given by Father Aloysius Travers and asked to pray for the soldiers about to shoot him, he said

“I will say a prayer for all men who do their duty according to their lights.”

‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’ follows and it never ceases to amaze me that people can keep up with the words, especially here played at this speed. ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ written by Leon Rosselson, and made popular by Billy Bragg (remember when he was good?) took it into the charts in on the Between the Wars EP, released towards the end of the momentous miners’ strike in 1985. The song tells the story of the Diggers, a group of radicals radical group who set up what was effectively an agricultural commune at St George’s Hill near Weybridge in Surrey amid the tumult of the English revolution. These days St. Georges Hill is a collection of golf courses surrounded by the mansions of the mega wealthy and no monument to the men of 1649 stands. One thing to take notice of here is Anders vocals. Loud and clear and able to carry a tune you get the impression he could belt out a ballad if the band would let him! He almost gets the chance next and while ‘The Foggy Dew’ may be what passes the closest to a ballad here it is by no means in the true sense of the word. Another ‘rebel’ song embraced by the Celtic-Punk scene this is a great version. The last three songs whizz past in no time at all and are all famous ‘pub’ songs for want of a better word. ‘Join The British Army’, ‘Greenland Whale Fisheries’ and finally ‘Muirsheen Durkin’ give the six-piece band a complete work out and though the album may only last just over twenty-five minutes theirs more energy in it’s ten songs than many double that.

The songs on The Old Disgrace were all recorded live at a concert at Pustervik in central Gothenburg and the recording is absolutely note perfect. Shut your eyes and you could almost be there. There’s nothing original on this album to be honest and why that my sound bad don’t be put off this album is fantastic. Passion, pride and the pursuit of a bloody good time. If you’re going to perform an album of covers then my advice to you is to do it like The Spotted Dogs do.

(You can listen to The Old Disgrace on the Bandcamp player below. It’s available as a **FREE** download so follow the link below and grab yourself a copy)

Download The Old Disgrace  Bandcamp

Contact The Spotted Dogs  Facebook 

ALBUM REVIEW: THE CRAZY ROGUES – ‘Advanced Roguery’ (2021)

The new album from Hungary’s The Crazy Rogues again stretches what we think of as Celtic-Punk while still keeping both feet firmly in the Celtic-Punk scene.

So it is that just a couple of weeks after we featured the release of their lead single we now have the pleasure of reviewing Advanced Roguery from The Crazy Rogues. This is the first full length album from the band after several EP’s, all of which have been received favourably by the Celtic/Folk- Punk press, and while the Hungarian Celtic-Punk scene has been a bit quiet of late it never too long before a high quality release hits the shops. Formed in Veszprém in mid-Hungary in 2014 they are among the earliest of the second wave of Hungarian Celtic-Punk bands after the likes of Paddy And The Rats and Firkin. It’s been a long four years since the Rebels’ Shanties EP and what a four years it has been!

The Crazy Rogues: Teo Biermann – Flute, Vocals * László Verrasztó – Lead Vocals * Dávid Csillag – Violin, Vocals * Krisztián Fellegi – Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals * Gábor Fazekas – Guitars, Vocals * Péter Németh – Bass * Ákos Nagy – Drums *

The album kicks off with ‘Bull’s Eye’ and one thing The Crazy Rogues have never been afraid of and that is to experiment and escape the basic standard Celtic-Punk formula. Eastern Europe meets Far-West Europe as the influences bounce off each other with gang shouts and mandolin and fiddle embracing László’s great vocals. Catchy as hell and some great lyrics too in a story about stealing from a gangster. Even their songs subject matter makes a nice change! Advanced Roguery includes three tracks released for St. Patrick’s Day 2019 but all re-recorded and re-mastered. The first of which is the Punky ‘Fight You’ another great story this time of a man betrayed and now out for revenge. The Crazy Rogues can’t quite escape their PaddyPunk roots and they do a utterly fantastic cover of one of the most famous and popular Irish rebel songs. ‘Black ’n’ Tans’ has become a bit of a standard now among Celtic-Punk bands with it’s rousing chorus and violent call to arms against the British army.

“Come out and fight me like a man”

As we often say the test of a truly great Celtic-Punk band is their ability to turn to a ballad or quieter moments and on ‘Brother’ they achieve it with some very moving lyrics and the tune that takes an upbeat turn half way through. ‘Man Cave’ is the second of the re-mastered tracks and one thing that the pandemic proved was that men have been pushed out of the house under the illusion of having their own space. Several friends now have these spaces in their back gardens where they can keep their football memorabilia or music without being nagged at!

“Our sacred base, A hideout for the days, When man can be what he’s meant to be”

Now for the album’s standout track and no surprise that the band chose ‘Empire Of Sand’ as the albums lead single. Blending their trademark Celtic-Punk sound with Arabic tunes making a perfect example of what they call ‘Rogue’n’Roll’ that was released back in June 2021 in a live studio session.

The video above is a slightly different from that on the album, for that you’ll have to listen to it on the  Bandcamp player below. ‘Lady With A Lily Crown’ and ‘Better Than Home’ both give a wee nod to a famous (non) Irish Folk song and rattle along at a fair pace before we are in for a real Celtic-Punk rattler with ‘King Of The Alehouse’ with some clever wordplay about unrequited love in Kilkenny. We nearing the end and ‘Too Far Away’ is a nice ballad style track before the last of the re-done songs, Stranger’s Tale’ and having not heard the 2019 versions I can’t comment on how different they are except that they are all among the best songs on Advance Roguery.

One of the things that Hungarian bands have especially embraced is the flute and while I wasn’t much of a fan It was while watching fellow Hungarians Firkin that I fell in love with its use. The curtain comes down on Advance Roguery with ‘Walk The Line’ and takes as it’s base traditional Irish and Moldovan Folk tunes with some great guitar and drum work and and a uplifting accompanying Punky tune.

Expertly recorded, mixed and mastered by Botlik Mátyás at Grenma Studios in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Botlik has captured the sound of the band perfectly. Their are twelve songs here of which eight are compositions written by the band and together they represent well the journey The Crazy Rogues have taken over the years. Advanced Roguery blends the old with the new though their sound is still underpinned by Celtic-Punk you will find a variety of styles here that all sound terrific together and they lift the band to a whole new level of roguery!

(You can stream and download Advanced Roguery on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Advanced Roguery  Bandcamp 

Contact The Crazy Rogues  Facebook  SoundCloud  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: HOLD FAST – ‘Last Of The Rebels’ (2021)

No easy task keeping the tricolour flying for Pennsylvania’s large Irish community but Hold Fast do just that. Whether tales of the sea, songs of whiskey, or lessons on love and life. Back with the follow up to their debut album three years ago Hold Fast provide more rowdy Celtic-Punk and Irish Folk.

Hold Fast can get a rebellion started and keep it going long into the early morning! 

In this day and age we have easy access to music of all kinds and as you can imagine we get plenty of new music here at London Celtic Punks. So much in fact that sometimes I can find myself listening to nothing but new releases for days on end. Saying that some ‘older’ album’s do stand out and one of them has been Hold Fast’s debut album, Black Irish Sons, which I have revisited many a time in the years since it came out.

“moments of fast punk rock and slow and gentle ballads mixed together to make an album that is laid out perfectly and at a ideal pace. The bands Irish roots are stamped all over things and they may look to the past of the Tones, Clancy’s and Dub’s but are not stuck there and have added their own stamp to everything they do.”

Black Irish Sons was universally well received at the time sitting just outside the London Celtic Punks Best Album Of 2018 top ten in #12 and finishing Top Ten for both Paddyrock and Celtic Folk Punk And More. So with the winds at their back they continued doing what they do playing regularly around their home state until the Covid lockdowns and things were put on hold. The recent appearance of Last Of the Rebels signifies two things to me. The triumphant return of Hold Fast and the return also of (even if just a little) a normal life.

Founded in 2016 in the state capital of Harrisburg Hold Fast are but part of a flourishing local Celtic-Punk scene along with the mighty Kilmaine Saints, Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Punkabillys, Lucky Lad Green and The Tradesmen the best known and all of whom have featured on these pages at one time or another. The Irish make up the State’s second biggest ancestry group at just under 20% (#1 is German) but in many places that rises to over 40% and so there’s a very good reason for such a wealth of Celtic-Punk bands alongside the State’s many traditional Irish Folk acts.

So can Last Of The Rebels compete with Black Irish Sons or not is the question? The first thing I noticed is the number of tracks on their debut was a bog standard ten but here the album stretches to fourteen songs and lasts just under a hour. That’s a risky thing with peoples attention spans not being what they were and especially in Celtic-Punk where we all accept that the best place to hear the music is down the pub in the company of others rather than sitting at home. The album kicks off with ‘Silver Shamrock’ and while I was expecting a ditty based around the unforgettable theme tune from Halloween 3 it turns out to be a rocking Paddy-Punk bagpipe heavy tribute to the Silver Shamrock tattoo parlour run by a horror mad Irishman. Not the blazing opener I was hoping for but a good toe-tapper singalong and anyway ‘Three Can Keep A Secret’ supplies the rowdiness next and it’s top quality Piratey Punk. Cole’s vocals are just the right side of raspy here, strong and powerful. Not quite Tom Waits but Shane-ish compared to most. Glad also to see our auld mate Mike McNaughton has joined the cast here since the album’s release on drums too.

Title track ‘Last Of The Rebels’ was the first single from the album and came out with a rather uninspiring video but these guys don’t have time to get all artsy-farty and the video did it’s job in letting us all know that Hold Fast had lost none of their spunk in the intervening years. Hold Fast keep the covers to a minimum and concentrate on their own material like ‘Magh Meall & Tir Nan Nog’ a Punky, fast and furious (the shortest song here) modern sea-shanty. On past experience the ballad holds no fear for Hold Fast and Cole’s vocal range can more than handle it and so they show on ‘Prodigal Sun’. A outstanding song with some great writing too. They follow this up with a dark and foreboding short instrumental ‘Gentlemen And Rogues’ which more than tips it’s cap at legendary Irish act Horslips. ‘The Sails Are On Fire’ takes us on another nautical voyage which even includes some nice brass instruments. The challenge from piper Jon was to find the Tuba and if I had to guess than I’d say it was here. Of all the American sports I think it is Baseball that we over this side of the Atlantic don’t get the most. As far as I’m aware its the sport of choice for the working-class American and especially the Irish-American working class. As an aside I live about a 20 minute walk from where the first ever Baseball game was played! Still I just don’t get it but I’m happy and willing to agree that it’s more than just a American version of Rounders! ‘The Ballad Of Joe Savery’ is next and when I looked up the name I found local Philadelphia sporting idol Joe Savery but on listening to the song it has bugger all to do with him and is another superb tribute to sailors.

‘To Davey Jones’ tells of the well worn metaphor (Davy Jones Locker) for the bottom of the sea where the souls of drowned sailors dwell and shipwrecks lay consigned to the depths of the ocean. Jon puts down the pipes to concentrate on accordion duties and another great song of the sea. When the Yuppies were doing their sea-shanty impersonations a while ago on Tik-Tok I never seen one that you could even compare to this. Time for another crowd pleaser and ‘Brody’s Lament’ gives them that. A great singalong chorus and plenty of thigh slapping Country infused elements here to enjoy. One thing missing so far has been a proper overt Irish rebeller and they don’t disappoint with a great version of the famed Wolfe Tones track ‘Erin Go Bragh’. On Black Irish Sons they performed another Tones song ‘Big Strong Man’ that they absolutely owned and is well worth checking out. Here named simply ‘The Erin Go Bragh Suite’

“I’ll sing you a song of a row in the town
When the Green flag went up and the Crown flag came down
Twas the neatest and sweetest thing ever you saw
And they played the great game they call Erin Go Bragh”

The song is about the events that took place during the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin and was written by Peadar Kearney, who also wrote the Irish national anthem. At almost 10 (ten!) minutes it can definitely be described as the album’s epic and as I hinted earlier never outlives it’s welcome. Played slow and purposeful before half way through a sudden surge into life and a Punky Celtic-Punk tale of the ‘boys’ taking on the Tans in county Cork and wiping out the whole ‘f**king lot’. Well worthy of being called epic it’s the album  standout track and shows Hold Fast cramming every element that makes up Celtic-Punk into one song. We are treated to another great cover next as the album comes to an end. ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ is a Scottish Folk song that is perhaps best known as played by Irish acts like The Pogues and The Dubliners ( and indeed The Pogues And The Dubliners) and this is a perfect example of how to play a popular standard. Take it and inject it with some energy and passion and some of yourselves too. ‘Raise Your Glass’ takes us back to where we all like to be- the pub before the curtain comes down with the final track and ‘Slán’. Irish for goodbye Hold Fast say goodbye with a gang-vocal cover of ‘Raise Your Glass’ accompanied on piano before a few seconds of silence before the bonus track and I’ll say no more and leave it to you to find out.

(The Hold Fast set from the Paddyrock Live Stream fiesta from this years St. Patrick’s Day)

So an absolutely outstanding album from the Hold Fast Bhoys. To be honest I was never in any doubt, These guys have the spirit of Irish-America flowing through them and seem to know exactly what the community (and it’s friends) want. This is a great record but sadly for many of us we will never get to experience it in it’s ideal environment. Why the public house of course!

(You can stream / download Last Of The Rebels on the Bandcamp player below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: GREEN GUARD – ‘Devil’s Lung’ (2021)

Hello and welcome to Green Guard. Pretty damn good Celtic-Folk-Punk from Moscow, Russia with bagpipes… and heart!

Russia has seen a fair few Celtic-Punk bands come and go so it’s always great to be able to report on these pages a new band. I say new but that is only to us and they’re been around since 2017 (which in this scene still makes them babies!). They released their debut album, Green Noise, in 2018 which was followed up by a couple of singles and the 10-track Ulster Girl album last year. All are available on the  band’s Bandcamp player for just a few dollars. All their previous releases like their new one are exclusively new material. This is a completely free covers zone! Devil’s Lung came out digitally last March in the run up to St. Patrick’s Day but finally saw the light of day as an actual CD just last week.

Devil’s Lung begins with ‘Lights Of Morning’ and the first thing to notice is the female vocals placing Green Guard in a very select group of bands within Celtic-Punk. Whether by accident or design female involvement seems on the main to be restricted to fiddle and accordion with some of the scene’s best but it’s by no means uniform with Brutus Daughter and Toxic Frogs bucking the trend. Green Guards music is best described as urgent. A sort of Gothy Punk-Rock played at breakneck speed with Valeria’s vocals both clear and powerful accompanied by highland bagpipes, flute and bouzouki giving them a very distinct Celtic sound. No attempt is made at Celtic melodies just glorious catchy as hell Punk-Rock that happens to be played with Celtic instruments. ‘Raindrops’ is a great song. Balanced between Metal, Punk and Medieval Folk it’s again a catchy number and again Valeria’s vocals stand out giving the bands sound a delicate edge. ‘Hell As Home’ sees chugging guitar and pipes before it’s time to slow it down and ‘Devil’s Lung’ does just that, but only for a bit before the guitars and drums come crashing down and soon a nice wee bagpipe solo takes over. One of the best tracks here it shows the amazing depth of this band and the multitude of influences they inject into each song. It comes as no surprise that members of Green Guard are also involved in Metal bands given the influences here and ‘Pain’ was indeed written by guitarist Anton for a metal project. Using piano and vocals to tell the tale of addiction and the high price that that addicts (and those around them let’s not forget) have to pay. The first time Green Guard performed ‘Pain’ was in the Spring of 2020 while in Covid quarantine. It became the first single from the EP in May of this year and it is a slightly undated version that appears on the album here. Valeria sings in perfect English with dramatic effect. Think of Kate Bush as a Punk-Rocker! Only a couple more songs to go and ‘Share Me So Light’ showcases Marina’s outstanding piping before the final song ‘Summer’ ends on a positive note with a song that bounces off the walls. Musically it could easily fit into the American Pop-Punk scene with it strong catchy and melodic tune and Valeria’s note perfect vocals.

Only eight songs which places it to me right on the fence between album and EP. There’s no science (or logic!) involved really but it’s the album’s length at almost thirty minutes that finally convinced me that Devil’s Lung belongs among 2021’s albums. I really enjoyed this album but it did raise a couple of questions. There doesn’t seem, to my ear anyway, to be any Celtic melodies here but the band contains more Celtic instruments than most Celtic-Punk bands do. On top of that they are proud to label themselves a “Celtic Folk Rock Punk band” so is it still Celtic-Punk or just Punk with bagpipes? Have a listen and see what you think. Whatever you decide the one thing we can agree on is that it’s pretty damn good!

(You can stream and download Devil’s Lung on the Bandcamp player below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS – ‘In Strange Waters’ (2021)

Seems like only five minutes since their last album The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats reel off another one! This time In Strange Waters celebrates their 10th anniversary together but not as you’d expect it to do. Nine of the best Paddyhats songs played in completely new arrangements and genres and a bonus of a completely new song. There’s only one man we know that can get to grips with that. Take it away Anto Morra.

The Paddyhats have got to be one of the hardest working bands around, even managing to release the brilliant ‘Dogs On A Leash’ in 2020. How many gigs they managed from their accompanying tour is anyone’s guess! Clearly German work ethic is unfazed by the pandemic. I was delighted and privileged to be asked to review their 10th Anniversary offering ‘In Strange Waters’ not just a compilation album re-mastered and packaged with an extra song, but a brilliantly executed snapshot of their 10 years together with 9 of their best songs re-imagined, arranged and recorded and a previously unreleased song.

The album opens with their 100% party song ‘Barrels of Whiskey’. Here the drums are stripped back, a bottle-neck guitar is added together with a more refined moody vocal style. It has an almost Alabama 3 quality, and the horn section at the end is a lovely touch. Taken from their 2016 album ‘Seven Hearts One Soul’ is ‘Fair Old Lady’

The 10 year version starts with a beautifully sparse piano making it very mellow and as it continues it becomes more Celtic Mysticism than Celtic Punk, reminding me of Enya’s 1988 hit ‘Orinocco Flow’ but with a much more earthy vocal and a lot less pretentious. There is an unaccompanied section with just vocal harmonies, which works brilliantly.

‘Ferry Man’ from 2020’s ‘Dogs on a Leash’ is taken up a notch in party stakes and with a terrific horn section, almost ventures into Two Tone territory, while amazingly still maintaining an overall Irish feel.

‘Light Up’ is the only song I’ve not heard before, and is a craicin’ song in the Shanty tradition with a perfectly subtle banjo break. Ed Sheerhan’s ‘Galway Girl’ springs to mind when the funky pop rhythm of ‘Irish Way’ kicks in. It’s an age old tale of men being led a stray by the smarter sex, and a very fresh and far removed update from their 2017 album ‘Sign Of The Fighter’.

‘We’re bollocks full of Sin’ has got to be one of the best line in a song ever! So glad it’s still in this really interesting, less aggressive and more melodic version of their 2018 album title track ‘Green Blood’

Followed by another album title track 2020’s ‘Dogs On A Leash’

This time done as a wonderful sparse acoustic version,with almost barbershop vocal harmonies. Before you get too comfortable and start to think they may have lost their edginess ‘We All Know’ shows off a more Metal influence and is almost ‘Black Sabbath’ in places and Death Metal in others. ‘Beautiful Fear’ is a wonderful song and this new Shanty version with big dramatic drums gives it all the pathos the lyrics require.

2018’s ‘Yesterday’s Rebel’ closes the album and once again it’s softened with a host of synthetic pop additions reminding me of what Sinead O’Connor did with traditional songs on her album ‘Sean-Nos Nua’

This is possibly The Paddyhats easiest to listen to album. A real testament to their song writing and creative abilities, great songs can be done in lots of different ways and this proves that in so many ways. This band do not let the grass grow and I’m so glad they’ve dared to do this different. They still are and always will be one of the best Celtic Punk Bands around and their humour and versatility has never been more prevalent than on this record. Well done Paddyhats, Keep Punking about and mixing it up!

Buy In Strange Waters  FromTheBand  StreamingSites

Contact The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats

Born and raised in London by immigrant parents from Ireland Anto Morra swapped the Smoke for the Swamp in 1989 and adopted Norfolk as home but still returns often to visit his Mammy and play for London Celtic Punks. At times a pogoing, gobbing Punk, a lazy pot smoking hairy Hippy, a bopping Rock-A-Billy, a sharp dressed Mod and even a Bauhaus loving Goth he’s soaked it all in and none of it and all of it has been an influence on him.

https://www.antomorra.com/

ALBUM REVIEW: BLAGGARDS – Blagmatic’ (2021)

Texas Celtic-Punk band Blaggards (there is no ‘the’) play what they call Stout Irish Rock. Traditional Irish mixed with Rock’n’Roll, informed by everything from Johnny Cash and Elvis to Thin Lizzy and Sabbath. Their new album has just hit the shops 

Unbelievably this is the fourth Celtic-Punk album out of Texas in just the last few months. The Real McCoys, The Dead Rabbits and Die Strömms have all released albums we have raved about and it will be bloody hard to separate them come the end of year best of 2021 polls. The band’s name is pronounced “bla’guards” and was a word used continuously by my Grandad back in the day.

“A scoundrel; an unprincipled contemptible person; an untrustworthy person. Usually, only used to refer to a male person.”

The band formed in July 2004 in Houston, Texas after Dublin born Patrick Devlin emigrated from Ireland in his early 20′s. Working as a jobbing musician for several years, Patrick saw the popularity of Celtic-Punk and that nobody was taking advantage of. So in 1996 he formed On The Dole who would go on to play with the likes of the Wolfe Tones and the Saw Doctors. It was in 2003 though that Patrick met Chad Smalley, a bassist and singer and veteran of the local music scene. Having just returned from New York Chad was looking for a new project they hit it off and the two of them soon began singing and performing together and a year later, Blaggards was born. Eric C. Hughes would later join on drums officially in January 2020 after several ‘unoffical’ performances. Blaggards have one of the busiest touring schedules of any band in the American Celtic-Punk scene. Playing constantly throughout Texas and nationally and also touring Ireland every year (except lockdown)  since 2010. This busy schedule has perhaps hampered their recording output as Blagmatic is only the bands third album after Standards, an album of exuberant, irreverent Irish Folk covers from 2005 and Live In Texas, recorded at the Continental Club in Houston, in June 2009.

Blagmatic begins with the first of a handful of Irish trad covers. Some may be a bit overplayed and some are not but each and every one are injected with new life, given the Blaggards original stamp and played with a good healthy dose of irreverence. ‘The Moonshiner’ begins with a bit of guitar I can only describe as Horslips-ish before slipping straight into a good bit of headbanging Irish Folk-Rock. Maybe if AC/DC were Paddies and not Jocks this may be old hat but it all sounds pretty damn fresh to me. Following this is another Irish cover and ‘Spanish Lady’ is played a lot more traditional Celtic-Punk sounding.  An old song I first heard it by the Dubliners when I was a kid but the song dates back a hundred years or so. Like a lot of Irish Folk songs it’s all a bit unclear.

‘Sweet 16’ is the first of the Blaggards compositions all written by Patrick. The Celtic instrumentation is kept at a bare minimum as they play another rocker that gets the toes tapping and the neck snapping! The irreverence continues with a fantastic cover of ‘Delilah’. Originally recorded by Welsh singing legend Tom Jones it’s great singalong chorus has for years disguised the true meaning of the song. A man discovers that Delilah has been cheating on him, so waiting outside for her lover to leave, he enters the house and stabs her to death. When the ‘cancellers’ find out they’ll be horrified!

“My, my, my, Delilah
Why, why, why, Delilah
So before they come to break down the door
Forgive me, Delilah, I just couldn’t take anymore”

A couple of Blaggards songs now beginning with ‘Rain Or Shine’ which starts off with a great hard rock guitar riff. No wonder Patrick wields a v-shaped guitar! The slips into some more Horslips style Rock before a wee Gaelic flourish and some lovely fiddle before returning to its metal origins.

‘PLFM’ is a modern sea-shanty with a nod to Alestorm. Catchy as feck as every song on Blagmatic is trust me. The Bhoys are not afraid to revisit some stone cold classic (some may say overdone!) but there’s a very good reason why people still want to hear songs like ‘The Wild Rover’. I always think of it is a real rabble rouser as at school this was one of only a small number of songs they could get the boys to sing. We loved as we could beat up the desks with our fists in the chorus! Needless to say Blaggards rip it to pieces and be sure to avert yer ears if you are a sensitive soul!

‘2nd Worse’ is a great song and a good old fashioned rocker in both style and subject matter. The 2nd worse of the title is an ex-girlfriend and the song bops along with some good laughs and a bit of mean fiddling. When I spotted the next song I must admit to cringing a little. I’m sure unbeknown to Blaggards were not to know that ‘Wagon Wheel’ has become a bit of a joke in the London Irish scene. Played so often that folk now call out for it and even one famous London Irish Celtic Punk band are known to have a go occasionally. Not that I would need to worry as the song is a total hard-rocker and f’all to do with a hitchhiker going to meet his girlfriend. We nearing the end and time for an emigration song. ‘Spancil Hill’ is without doubt one of the saddest (and let’s face it the competition is immense!) and beautiful of all Irish emigration songs. I can still clearly remember properly listening to this song for the first time. I had heard it plenty of times growing up but the first time I took care to listen to the words brought a tear to my eye the sadness of it all.

“Then the cock he crew in the morning, he crew both loud and shrill
I awoke in California, many miles from Spancil Hill”

The curtain comes down with another original ‘Lights Of El Paso’ and a touch of western Americana and tongue in cheek humour rounds the album off expertly.

Blaggards left to right: Chad Richard Smalley – Bass and Backing Vocals * Patrick Devlin – Guitars and Vocals * Eric C. Hughes – Drums and Backing Vocals *

As well as the three Blaggards they have been assisted on Blagmatic with some truly talented guest musicians. Jeff Duncan – fiddle, Patrick Brennan – keyboards, Willy T. Golden – pedal steel, Shane Farrell – mandolin and banjo and Paul Beebe on backing vocals, who also produced, engineered and mixed the album too. The album is available on CD, vinyl and download and although it’s available on all the various streaming sites we’d ask you to get it from the Blaggards themselves. There is even a option when you buy the album to ‘reforest Ireland’ by donating an extra $5 to CatchMyCarbon.ie who plant native Irish trees in new forest sites in the West of Ireland. A fantastic album and despite the hard rock at times I think it would still be totally accessible to even the folkiest of Folk fans. Not all of what is here can be described as Celtic-Punk or even Celtic-Rock but i feel I can say that everyone of you would still enjoy this great album and oh my God they must be fecking brilliant to watch live!

Buy Blagmatic  FromTheBand CD/Download  or Vinyl

Contact Blaggards  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

As well as working their arses off Blaggards also do a regular podcasts called SlapperCast: a weekly talk show where the guys share their experiences and occasionally chat with guests. The episodes passed #130 a good while ago and last anything from a few minutes to over a hour and have never failed to put a smile on me face. 

https://slappercast.fireside.fm

Full live show recorded in their mates warehouse A & A Supply Company streamed live on You Tube on Sunday, April 26, 2020. In full HD with stereo sound the set includes many songs from Blagmatic.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: CALLINAN-FLYNN – Freedom’s Lament (1972)

The latest in our series of reviews of albums from the past that deserve to be aired again! Freedom’s Lament is an album from the early 1970’s from Callinan-Flynn, a Irish Folk duo that only recorded one album and one single of contemporary Irish Folk that still stands proud today almost fifty years on. 

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I was after a copy of this album for quite a while after reading about it but gave up on hearing how rare it was so I was delighted to come across the album hidden away on the internet and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. Recorded between sometime between 1971 and 1972, things are a bit vague!, by the duo David Callinan and Mick Flyn and accompanied by drummer Kieran O’Connor and Romey Young on mouth harp. The album was recorded at Chalk Farm Studios , London and came out on the small micro-label Mushroom records (I wonder if this has anything to do with them not remembering when they recorded it) in 1972 and with a tiny circulation of only 200 on vinyl though it was re-issued by by Dolphin Records a couple of years later. So no surprise that it would soon become a highly sought after collectors item with original albums at well over £200 on eBay. A CD version did come out in 1991 on UFO Records with two extra songs that were released in 1972 as the ’72 With The Songs’ single.

Mick Flynn (left) David Callinan (right) perform live on stage at the Roundhouse in London in 1972. (Photo by Fin Costello/Redferns)

The songs on the album are evenly split credit wise with only three covers, rather unusual at the time in Irish Folk music. ‘Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore’, Moon Coin Reel’ and ‘The Banks Of Newfoundland’ making up the covers. The music itself is played quite simply and is all the more memorable for it. The opening track ‘Puckarees’ is a perfect example with Mick Flynn’s strong but gentle vocal over the drone of the jew’s harp giving it a fairly typical 70’s Folk sound. Later on in the song it takes a turn into traditional Irish that at the time I’m sure would horrified the Folk snobs purists but even now sounds totally contempory. Therein lies part of the problem with the gatekeepers of Irish music. Always unwilling to change and to give those that do their full due. I have often heard trad Irish played better by Celtic-Punk bands than trad bands!

The main accompaniment to the vocals is acoustic guitar though often other instruments do appear, their appearance is often used sparingly and rather on the quiet side. Back in the day Callinan-Flynn would have been lumped together in the ‘Psych Folk’ scene despite not being particularly ‘Psych’ at all! It does have a haunting, melancholy feel at times but the music is far more standard Irish Folk than anything. The album strays away from the Celtic/Irish sound occasionally with ‘Marion’s Song’ a particular highlight but I’m sure songs like the republican ‘Ballad Of Belfast’ would also have upset the Folk music orthodoxy. While songs of 1798 were welcomed any mention of the ongoing war just a 100 odd miles north of Dublin saw the powers of the Irish state come down on performers. At the time ballad bands like the Wolfe Tones and Barleycorn were playing to packed houses both at home, and also over this side of the Irish sea, playing the ‘people’s music’ that was banned from the airwaves and television. Sometimes a simple plea for ‘1 man 1 vote’ in the north of Ireland, as in ‘We Are The People’, would be enough for a song to be banned.

Looking at Freedom’s Lament through modern eyes it’s easy to see it as a ‘rebel’ album but I think it so much more. It played a very important part in the development of Irish Folk music that would lead later onto the Celtic-Rock scene. Radical politics were common place in the 70’s and in fact put what passes for radical politics in this day and age to shame. The war in Ireland was awakening. Civil rights, equal votes and decent jobs and housing were all denied to Catholics in the north and it was inevitable that the new generation of musicians would sing about these things.
Tracks:
01. Puckaree – 5:13
02. Freedom’s Lament – 3:15
03. Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore – 4:18
04. Moon Coin Reel (Johnson’s Favourite) – 2:16
05. The Old Man And The Flower – 2:32
06. The Banks Of Newfoundland – 4:46
07. Beyond The Pale – 2:40
08. Ballad Of Belfast – 3:53
09. Marion’s Song – 3:33
10. Paddy’s Delight (Tinkers’ Polka) – 2:33
11. London N.W.2 – 2:23
12. Fortune For The Finder – 3:43
13. We Are the People (The Road to Derry Town) – 3:55
14. A Woman Is a Woman – 3:42

Vocals, Guitar [6 String], Harmonica – Dave Callinan * Vocals, Guitar [6 String], Twelve-string Guitar, Flute, Bodhrán, Bongos, Mandolin, Harmonica, Autoharp, Tin Whistle [Penny Whistle] – Mick Flynn * Drums – Kieran O’Connor * Jew’s Harp [Jaw’s Harp] – Romey Young

Design [Cover Design] – Romey Young * Producer, Engineer – Vic Keary

These days David Callinan is is better known as a writer and author with a back catalogue of books ranging from thrillers to children’s books and stories and non-fiction. He began his musical career in The Spalpeens in the boom years of the Irish ballad scene before moving to ‘Celtic Swamp Music’ with Urban Clearway, with whom he toured with the likes of Elton John, Billy Connolly, Fairport Convention and Rod Stewart. A highlight of his musical career was co-writing a Celtic-Rock opera for the Edinburgh Festival. Pucka-Ri starring Pierce Brosnan. After Urban Clearway split, Callinan joined forces with Mick Flynn in the folk-rock singer-songwriter duo Callinan-Flynn. Mick Flynn began his career playing and recording with the Tinkers and is still recording with Mick Flynn & The Rustic Rolls Royces releasing Uisce Beatha three years back.

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David Callinan has said that he was shocked by the relative success of the album seeing as how it had little impact on release.

“I was quite amazed when I found out that an album I made in 1972 has become a surprise underground rare hit and been sought after by fans and collectors all over the world. They are calling it folk-psych (whatever that is). A new wave Irish chanteur, Sean Tyrrell has also recorded some songs I wrote many years ago.
Could be the start of a revival.”

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David Callinan Web Site

ALBUM REVIEW: TORTILLA FLAT – ‘New Stuff In An Old Barrel’ (2021)

The bagpipe heavy Swiss Celtic Folk’n’Punk band Tortilla Flat celebrate both their 30th anniversary together as well as their 10th anniversary of playing with The Independent Pipers with the release of their ninth album New Stuff In An Old Barrel.

Tortilla Flat celebrate a amazing 30 (yes thirty!) years together in 2021. This makes them one of the oldest Celtic-Punk bands in the world still going and definitely one of Europe’s (if not the) oldest. Thirty years on since Chris, Ritchie and Lexu sat down together and inspired by Scots and Irish Folk music made plans for a Celtic-Folk-Punk band in their home town of Langenthal in Switzerland. Taking their name from the John Steinbeck novel and movie of the same name about a bunch of Californian outsiders who want to do nothing but get drunk, Tortilla Flat are joined regularly by the The Independent Pipers who keep up a steady supply of expert bagpipers. For many bands in the Celtic-Punk scene the priority has always been the live show, after all it is what pays the bills for many, and so don’t get round to recording as much as bands in other Rock genres would. Tortilla Flat are an exception though as since their debut In The Grip Of The Grape back in 1996 their new album New Stuff In An Old Barrel will be their ninth album alongside plenty of other singles and EP’s as well.

Tortilla Flat live at Stadtpark Aarburg last month.

This is the third time I have had the pleasure of reviewing Tortilla Flat and so I do kind of know what to expect when I hear it. Previous albums have been a mix of bagpipe heavy authentic sounding traditional Folk and ’77 style Punk rockers and no New Stuff In An Old Barrel is not much of a departure from that. The album kicks off with ‘The March Of Bill Carson’ a slow Western style instrumental dedicated to the memory of Bill Carson the character from the film The Good, The Bad And The Ugly who sets the whole shebang off when he reveals that he has buried a stash of gold in a cemetery and then he pops his clogs! This morphs straight into ‘Tobermory Bay’ the first of the Celtic-Punk rockers here inspired by a visit vocalist Chris made to the Isle Of Mull and the accompaniment from The Independent Pipers (Tom MacFly, Rob Highlander and Lord Peter Of Lochaber) is truly amazing. Some Scots inspired Ska up next with ‘Captain Bill McCoy’ with some excellent accordion from Asi MacHasi guesting for the band. The song tells the true story of Scots-American Bill McCoy who the phrase ‘The Real McCoy’ originated from. During the prohibition era (1920–33) McCoy was illegal a rum runner who was known for never watering down his imports; thus, his product was ‘The Real McCoy’.

Tortilla Flat left to right: Asi MacHasi – Accordion * Chris – Guitars and Lead Vocals * Tom MacFly – Bagpipe * Lexu – Drums * Rob Highlander – Bagpipe * Ritchie – Bass and Mandolin * Lord Peter of Lochaber – Bagpipe * Christine Sdiri – Violin and Cello *

The first trad Folk song next and the popular Irish song ‘The Parting Glass’ made famous by The Clancy Brothers and unusually for once isn’t the closing song. Done in every style imaginable now Tortilla Flat play it punky. We all have our own reasons to like this song, usually to do with someone close to us and I’m no different. ‘Stag Night Site’ returns us to some good auld bagpipe Punk and the funny antics of a night before the big day. One of the album highlights now and ‘Cut And Dried’ sees the band joined by old mate Jorgen Red Westman of the Swedish Punk band Psychotic Youth. He previously joined Tortilla Flat on their vinyl single ‘The 45rpm’ a couple of years back. Jorgen has a great voice and the song is as catchy as hell and ought to get plenty of airplay with his faux American accent helping I’m sure. The bagpipes fit right in and sounds a bit like a Celtic Social Distortion! Next we get an simple acoustic number about the Covid lockdown with ‘Baby I’m Bored’ before another Celtic-Punk number ‘Trumped Up’. The last few songs are all outstanding beginning with ‘The Girl With The Rose Tattoo Tattoo’ and hard rocking guitar meets utterly superb bagpiping in a catchy great love song that Angry Anderson would approve of I am sure. The famous ‘Loch Lomond’ returns us to trad Folk and it’s heartening to hear a band that can switch from both ends of the Celtic-Punk scale so easily. Christine Sdiri accompanies the band on cello and once again this is a song that normally closes records. You may not recognise ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ from it’s title but within a couple of seconds it reveals itself as the 1977 novelty Punk-Rock hit from Plastic Bertrand. An long time live favourite it’s finally been put down on disc and it’s fantastic! This leads us finally to the last song on the album and ‘The Rain Over Brodgar’ is a great way to bring down the curtain. A quiet thoughtful somber instrumental. Christine returns to play both cello and fiddle and only a couple of minutes long they could have stretched it out further I think and let it really develop.

The album’s title could have been the smallest review we have ever done. New Stuff In An Old Barrel is exactly that. Even the songs that have stayed faithful to the trad versions still have a modern air to them. The album is a limited release with just 250 copies of the CD available in a numbered box but is also available through all the usual digital channels. Another great release from Tortilla Flat and another band that deserve to be much more widely known. Here’s to 2041 and the half century!

Buy New Stuff In An Old Barrel

Contact Tortilla Flat  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube * The Independent Pipers

If all the dew were diamonds”, Pablo said, “we would be very rich. We would be drunk all our lives”. But Pilon, on whom the curse of realism lay uneasily, added: “Everybody would have too many diamonds. There would be no price for them, but wine always costs money. If only it would rain for a day, now, and we had a tank to catch it in”. “But good wine”, interjected Pablo, “not rotgut swill like the last you got”. “I didn’t pay for it”, said Pilon. “Someone hid it in the grass by the dance hall. What can you expect of wine you find ?”

from “TORTILLA FLAT” by John Steinbeck, 1935

1916’S BILL CHATS WITH LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ABOUT THE BANDS LATEST ALBUM

Upstate NY, Celtic rockers 1916 are an explosive concoction of modern Irish Folk, Punk and Psychobilly which makes 1916’s sound both highly original and at the same time traditional! A band that truly stands apart from other bands in the Celtic-Punk genre.

Our man Raymond Lloyd Ball caught up with lead singer and songwriter Bill Herring to talk about the band’s origins and their highly rated latest album Revolutions.

So here’s the story. 1916 is a band from Rochester, NY, about 45 minutes from where I am in Buffalo. We’ll touch on it, but this region of New York State was a place where, in the 1850s-1860s many Irish immigrants made their way from New York City or Boston. Obviously, the name “1916” needs no explanation. I was able to get an interview with Bill Herring, singer and guitarist in the band about the latest album “Revolutions” and the general gist of the scene as is.

Ray: First of all, we get the prominence of the name 1916, but what in the community in Rochester gave you guys both the incentive and the ability to put together the group and really make it work?

Bill: Well the “working” of 1916 is always something I consider to be a work in progress. Always evolving, changing with the times.

The name came about as a result of a healthy respect for Irish history and as a desire to get Americans interested in their own shared past. When we first started the group there were many many people who had no idea what “1916” stood for or what the significance of the name was. We always try to respect that history in our songs whenever we can-with undertones of revolution and forging your own path throughout the vibe of the music. That being said we do try to have some fun with it as well, with a songs like Ordinary Man and Khaleesi.

Rochester and most of central/western NY state is heavily steeped in a rich history of Irish culture. You’d be hard pressed to stumble through a post colonial churchyard west of Syracuse without finding Irish names on half the headstones. That rebel spirit has revealed itself in the existence of the Molly McGuires in the 1800’s and later on the Hibernians as time passed. I’m sure you even probably heard of the Fenian raids of post civil war Buffalo into British owned Canada in hopes of seizing a new Ireland. Now I’d be lying if I said we did name the band with all this in mind…but maybe it was all this history that led us to inevitably choose that name. I will say there is a quote from Dave King of Flogging Molly, where he talks on the Whiskey on a Sunday film they released several years ago. He mentions growing up in Ireland and seeing the young men of Dublin falling into a life of war with the IRA, and that there must be a higher form of communication to let people know what is happening over there. The only thought I had after hearing that was that-through intense, super fun music, you could engage people enough to get them interested in learning about this past…and how it affects the present day situation between Ireland and the USA.

Ray: Awesome answer, I’m AOH Myself.

Bill: As am I…

The Ancient Order of Hibernians is an Irish/Catholic fraternal group that does everything from charitable work to commemorations of things such, as Bill mentioned, the Fenian Raids from Buffalo to then British Canada. As a member from here, we hold an annual ceremony to the raids and to those who gave their lives for the cause of Irish independence.

Ray: So, given that history, how do you feel it’s important to incorporate modern music in a way that’s different then the traditional sessions you here at every other pub?  I know you incorporate modern instrumentation while still harkening to topics that are either old in premise, modern, or similar (I’m thinking of a man you don’t meet everyday) and make it fresh?

Bill: Yes I think it’s important, at least for 1916, to provide a bridge between Irish traditional music and American folk/rock music. Even early county music has its roots steeped in Irish and Scottish music. That’s really the sound we’re going for. An American band that pays tribute to our immigrant cultural heritage.

Ray: Lastly, in terms of Revolutions, that came out just at the end of last year if I’m not mistaken. How on earth did you cut a record, and a good one at that, during the pandemic?  How how did that effect the process 1916 has either writing or recording?  Obviously “When We Reopen” is directly about it, but did anything else about the pandemic change the record?

Bill: The record wasn’t really about the pandemic. We actually wrote all of those songs (except for When we Reopen) well before any of this craziness ever happened. If anything there was a palpable vibe that I felt during the writing of those songs that you could feel out on the streets. People were edgy…combative. It felt like something bad was about to happen. The song that most mirrors that I think is The Falling. I wanted to write a song about my observations on the devolution of humanity in the face of our own technological achievements. Then I saw how bad things really could get the following year with the plague and the riots.
We recorded that record, mostly, with Bob Schmidt – (formerly of Flogging Molly) at the engineers booth along with our trusted friend Doug White, owner of Watchmen Studios in Lockport NY.
Having missed two consecutive St Patrick’s Days now, we are still trying to save up enough money to release the album on disc. I think people don’t realize how hard the shutdowns were on bands like ours. It was a tough tough time and I hope this bullshit is over soon.

Ray: That said, “Revolutions” is a solid record. I’ve been listening to it on and off for some time now. It’s got the classic 1916 vibe, upright bass, classic (though I’m definitely biased) Gretsch guitars, and a handful of traditional instruments with a solid kit. Is it reinventing the wheel?  No. And better for it. We’ve all come a long way since The Pogues and earlier, more brash bagpipes-over-Minor Threat-style Celtic Punk. And there have been a number of bigger and smaller acts that have definitely left their mark upon the scene. They take some rockabilly, some punk, and a lot of Celt to make a fine Irish/American blend. Cheers to the guy from down the I-90.

Buy Revolutions  Amazon  Apple

Contact 1916  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Bandcamp  YouTube

Thanks to Raymond Lloyd Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys covers was one of the most viewed of that year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board the London Celtic Punks team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site.

During the lockdown 1916 played several full concert live streams, as well as some great solo performances from Bill himself. Here’s just under two hours of 1916 from this years St. Patrick’s Day live stream performance. I can barely remember it through a fog of stouts and ales though I know I must have woke the neighbours! The music starts at nineteen minutes.

ALBUM REVIEW: FINNY McCONNELL – The Dark Streets Of Love (2021)

After 30 years of leading renowned Celtic-Punk rockers, The Mahones, Finny McConnell decided that it was time to make an album for himself. Showcasing his intimate songwriting skills, Finny also includes covers of songs with deep meaning to him. The Dark Streets of Love is a collection of his most intimate music, stripped bare.

Earlier this year Finny made an announcement over on The Mahones Facebook page that the band’s days of spending months on end touring round the world were at an end. It didn’t come as much as a shock admittedly as I don’t think it was possible to keep up that level of commitment indefinitely. I mean The Mahones not only covered more miles than any other Celtic-Punk band in a year but I daresay any band!

It must be strange being in a band where you alone are the chief songwriter as well as singer and for all and purposes the leader so where does the urge to go solo come from I wonder? In just the past couple of years The Mahones have recorded an acoustic album where much of the ground covered on The Dark Streets Of Love is covered. But this album is much more than just a Mahones album in Finny’s name you feel. The songs he has chosen, and among them are a few of his composition, are obviously very close to his heart. Finny has always been one for wearing his heart on his sleeve and it’s rare that a performer can come across so honestly especially at a time when honesty is at a premium.

Of the eleven songs presented here seven are covers the rest by Finny. To a causal observer though it would seem like they were all covers such is the quality of Finny’s songwriting. Whether writing about going on the piss in north London, basketball, Irish history, loss or love or unrequited love he put’s the same passion into everything. That with other people is sometimes their undoing though Finny seems to thrive on it. The Dark Streets Of Love kicks off with a song by everyone’s favourite Irish-German-American and The Bosses ‘Atlantic City’. From the opening few seconds even before Finny comes in you know you’re onto a winner here. When he does come in he sings with a sort of weariness that even Bruce didn’t achieve. Gentle accordion adds to the atmosphere only coming into the open during the musical sections and so taking none of the spotlight away from Finny’s voice. ‘Someone Save Me’ is from a recent Mahones album, The Hunger And The Fight Pt. 1 from 2014. Co-written with his now ex- wife Katie I thought it was a beautiful song then but now… Gina Romantini’s beautiful fiddle lends subtle support to Finny’s voice just as Kevin Hearn’s accordion did during the opening track. A magnificent tribute to love and such is the passion expressed it can sometimes feel like you’re sitting in on a private conversation.

‘Stars’ is again from the same Mahones album as ‘Someone Save Me’ and again was co-written with Katie. A loving tribute to the life of Oscar Wilde. A sad tale of the famed Irish poet and playwright 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 better ‘modern’ songs it has a fantastic chorus and Finny tells the story with grace. Finny has always had a bit of a Shane drawl and puts it to good use on ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’. Even among the stone cold classics Shane MacGowan penned this song is one of a handful that tower above even them. Fellow Mahone Michael O’Grady adds haunting tin-whistle and Glenn Milchem drums as Finny sticks closely to the original. Maybe a bit too closely at the end!! On a album that is so tender ‘New York City’ seems a bit out place with its Glam-Rock bounce and chunky guitar but then why wouldn’t a solo album follow the same pattern as The Mahones. He never said it was going to be a quiet album. Loud and bombastic and taken from The Hunger And The Fight Pt. 2 from 2015 Finny channels the 1970’s for the next few songs beginning with this tribute to NYC. Maybe the cities best era as despite it’s high crime rate and poverty it wasn’t full of fucking yuppies. The introduction of piano for ‘So Far Away’ is masterful as Finny sounds like he’s chatting someone in a pub in the early hours. Again piano led ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ sees Finny’s gravelly vocal chords giving a simple but stunning rendition of Lou Reed’s original. Though the covers here are great it is Finny’s own material that shines through. On ‘We’re Miles Apart’ he talks maybe about himself and maybe he doesn’t. A sad song about lovers who become friends. I’ve always though Finny was cut from the same cloth as the legendary Tom Waits and on the Waitsy ‘Cocktail Blues’, swishing drums and jazz piano steer clear of ‘Jazz Club’ comparisons thank God. From one of the earliest Mahones albums The Hellfire Club Sessions from 1999 it drops the Gaelic touches and sticks tightly to ‘lounge lizard’ territory. The curtain comes down with a song in tribute to Gord Downie from Finny’s home town of Kingston in Ontario. Gord passed away in 2017 of cancer and is remembered as lead singer and lyricist for the The Tragically Hip’ ‘Fiddlers Green’ is a great tribute and played stripped back with just Finny and acoustic guitar.

As is the way though there’s a bonus track and it’s ‘Back Home’. One of The Mahones best ever tracks taken from Draggin’ The Days from 1994.

“Hey, it’s not long till we get home
Say, you know I hate to drink alone
Did I tell you, you send shivers through my bones
And I wish I was back home with you again”

A great way to end things buy why bother with this ‘bonus track’ hooey!

The album was produced by Finny himself and engineered by Gene Hughes and recorded as live over St. Patrick’s Day 2021, in Toronto. It’s not your typical Mahones album in fact the Irish touches here are far and few between but Finny’s Irish soul shines through. A beautiful and at times heart wrenching journey through one of Ireland’s true musical geniuses.

Buy The Dark Streets Of Love  TrueNorthRecords   OtherCorporateBullshitSites

Contact Finny McConnell  Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

As suspected you can’t keep a good man down for long and Finny will still need his suitcase and shower cap as he’s now a part of the Punk-Rock trio Ultrabomb with Greg Norton of Hüsker Dü and Jamie Oliver of the U.K. Subs. The guys will be performing a mix of all three bands songs plus material they’ve written for a new album. They have announced a handful of gigs as we to press including Ireland and one here in London at 229 The Venue in the west end. Sadly though we are going to have to wait till April 2022. You can find all the relevant details including ticket information over on the band’s Facebook event.

ALBUM REVIEW: DIE STROMMS – ‘Vinum, Et Domina Canticum’ (2021)

There’s a new sound rumbling out of the ‘red dirt’ countryside on the third album from North Texans Die Strömms. A winning combination of Celtic-Folk, Western, Bluegrass, Punk with loud guitars, mandolins, banjos and fiddles they have created a sound they call ‘Southern Celtic Cow Punk’.

The Ramones meets Willie Nelson by way of Celtic-Folk!

Amazingly this is the third Celtic-Punk album we have reviewed from the state of Texas in just the last few months. Both The Real McCoys and The Dead Rabbits released albums around St. Patrick’s Day to great acclaim and now Die Strömms join them as another contender for album of the year. The north Texan outfit with the least Celtic-Punk name in Celtic-Punk celebrate the release of their third album of what they call ‘Southern Celtic Cow Punk’. Cowpunk to those who don’t know is to Country music what Celtic-Punk is to traditional Celtic Folk. Their was instant crossover with many of the bands labelled ‘cowpunk’ playing with The Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang in the London clubs back in the earliest days of Celtic-Punk. These bands rubbed off each other and incorporated each others sound to a great degree. There’s a brilliant article on the history of the genre, ‘A Brief Y’Alternative History’ , on Pop Matters written by a fan.

Formed in Dallas, Texas in 2015 by Kane Kelly using the alias ‘Killian Strömm’ Die Strömms {pronounced die stromz) have independently released two albums (Der Aufstig von Texas Keltishes Kuhpunk / Rise of Crazy Southern Cowpunk in 2017 and Viva el Dia de los Muertos in 2018. Like most active bands plans were waylaid with the arrival of the pandemic and so it was that Vinum, Et Domina Canticum / Southern Summer Anthem was somewhat delayed after it’s initial launch on Soundcloud.

The album kicks off with ‘Bleeding Hearts’ and not a million miles away from recent favourites Phantom Of The Black Hills. Chugging guitar and Tex-Mex melodies along with clear yet forceful vocals give the album a craicing start. ‘Whiskey Ship Down’ continues in the same vein but with much more a Celtic Hoedown going on. ‘Drunkard’s Progress’ is one of the most memorable songs here with a simple yet effective tune and tongue in cheek lyrics celebrating the likes of heroes like nurses, teachers and bar-tenders. The music again floats the line between Celtic and Country and is incredibly catchy and doesn’t take itself too seriously but the drinking songs here are definitely a notch above the drink, fight, fall over kind we usually hear. The production is perfect and it helps that the vocals of lead singer Killian Strömm are absolutely perfect too. Clear and distinctive their is no need for a lyric sheet for this album as even on the more raucous songs its all very easy to understand and as I’ve hinted this is intelligent Celtic-Punk with a good dose of black humour. ‘Absinthe & Gin’ is a album highlight with banjo and mandolin put to extremely good use. ‘Makes Them Money’ takes aim at the wealthy but again done with great humour and a great song that drops the folkier influences and still works well and doesn’t sound out of place either, before the album title track next and the first song to be released from the album  ‘Southern Summer Anthem’. The fiddle is back and pure Rock’n’Roll Celt style.

‘Glass Of Beer’ is pure country. Simple and again effective despite lasting only ninety odd seconds before we go dashing headfirst into the albums most Celtic number the brilliant ‘Swagger’s Tale Jam’ based on the famous ‘Swallowtail Jig’ dating back it is thought to the mid-nineteenth century. One of the most distinctive and well known Irish instrumental tunes guest fiddler Koi Anunta does a incredible job with a nice rockin’ backing. There’s certainly plenty of talent here and originality too as they follow this with another trio of ‘southern-rock’ number type numbers ‘Where Are The Songs’ (with a utterly brilliant intro), ‘Greater Life Academy’ and ‘Speak No Lies’. Another famous Irish trad tune is utilised for ‘The Alchemist’ and almost sees the album out in great style with another high class drinking song before the whole thing comes to an end with the standout track ‘A.O.T.’. Catchy is just not the word trust me!!!!

I’m a sucker for a bit of trad Country (even the embarrasing stuff!) so this album is right up my street and even when the songs lean more towards rock or country you still hear the Celtic influences. Seriously not a single weak tune on this album and I have to admit that on face value I wasn’t really expecting anything much but what we got instead is one of 2021’s best albums.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/artist/6By6FMJQjTrSJJNMgJ6Wwk

Buy Vinum, Et Domina Canticum  Vinyl/CD FromTheBand  Download Here

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE SKIDS – ‘Songs From A Haunted Ballroom’ (2021)

Their third album since Fife’s most explosive band reformed is a collection of covers mostly from the era that saw The Skids labelled as one of the most influential original Punk bands. Long time fan Gerry Mellon gives us the rundown on Songs From A Haunted Ballroom that pays tribute to the band’s that played their hometown venue, the great Kinema Ballroom in Dunfermline!

Now I’ll be the first to admit that albums made up of cover versions are not a particular favourite of mine to listen to. Admittedly every band has their favourite song or two that they like to play and many produce top quality versions of other people’s creations, but it’s usually one track on the album or a couple of songs at a gig. The Skids don’t do things like other bands though, do they! Their last album, Peaceful Times was a collection of acoustic versions of some of their older tracks and was a more than decent offering from them. So, it looks like this incarnation of the band are ready to push the limits just as much as the originals did. It seems to be working well for them if the reviews of their ‘comeback’ tour are anything to go by, a headline appearance at next year’s Rebellion Festival should be well worth catching. Their back catalogue and newer stuff, including some from the magnificent Burning Cities album, should make for a thrilling show. Anyway, after all the, well deserved, praise that I’ve heaped upon them I have to say, The Skids have released a covers album!! What’s more important though, is that it’s pretty good!!

The new album is called Songs from a Haunted Ballroom, a link to a track on the Yankee Dollar ep called Hymns from a Haunted Ballroom, and is an eclectic collection of songs that were popular when the band were originally performing. The Haunted Ballroom refers to the Kinema in Dunfermline, the main place in the town for touring (and local) bands to play. Perhaps this is the place where they heard some of these tracks for the first time. The pandemic will probably have played its part in the band releasing a covers album, getting together to work on new material must have been a nightmare for so many bands over the past couple of years. There may well have been a lot of looking back over good times and large doses of nostalgia for the band members, the main contributors on this release are Richard Jobson, of course and Bruce and Jamie Watson, father and son from Big Country. It’s produced by Watson and Liam Saunders and is comprised of 14 tracks. The last three tracks are originals from the band, the superb Into the Valley which announced them to the world back in 79 and had a whole generation of schoolkids (me included) trying to translate it!!! The excellent Saints are Coming released before Into the Valley, but was only really made famous by the U2 and Green Day version. The third song is Christmas in Fife and it seems to be a bit of a piss take of Christmas songs!

As I said the cover versions are fairly eclectic in styles, but they all come from the same era of Glam rock and Punk in the 70s. It kicks off with Young Savage, an early track from Ultravox in the pre–Midge Ure days, to be honest I’m not too familiar with the original, but Jobson does an excellent job with the vocals on this upbeat, hight tempo opener. Next up is the superb Complete Control from The Clash, they make a very good go of it indeed and I would love to hear a live version. It’s never going to be better than the original, but I doubt that’s what they were trying, more a case of them putting their own stamp on a punk rock classic. The Adverts Gary Gilmore’s Eyes is next, another early punk classic. For those new to the track, it tells the story of an American murderer who has donated his eyes to be used after he is executed. The lyrics are the guy in the hospital waking up after an operation and discovering he has received Gary Gilmore’s eyes! It caused a storm when the adverts appeared on Top of the Pops playing it back in the day! I remember it well and it was bloody fantastic!! This version sounds as if it’s being played at a tiny bit slower tempo, or it could just be the way that Jobson delivers the lyrics in a sometimes-staccato way, it still sounds great though.

Heart of the City comes next, the original is by Nik Lowe, it’s another track I’m not overly familiar with, but I’ll check it out soon. All of these tracks have outstanding guitar-work on them and this one is a real beauty, with rhythm and lead both pushing it on at an electric pace. Magazine’s The Light Pours Out of Me is up next and, surprise surprise, it’s another cracking track. You could actually believe that this one was a Skids original, it has the beautiful guitar build-ups and then an almost chant-like chorus, very reminiscent of early Skids numbers. An unusual selection comes up next with David Essex’s Rock On and the band put their own stamp on this glam rock-pop favourite. Essex’s version is slower and thinner and doesn’t have the menace that Jobson puts into this one; The Skids have roughened it up a bit with thrashing guitars and an aggressive vocal from Jobson. He goes on to tell how it was one gang’s favourite song back when he was going to the Kinema in Dunfermline, apparently once you heard the gang members start to sing this song it was time to scarper or as Iron Maiden would have it Run to the Hills!! I clearly remember and love the original and can honestly recommend this version to anyone.

Who remembers Mott the Hoople then? In the early 70s they were this weirdo hippy looking bunch who came out with some actually quite good music, All the Young Dudes would probably be their best-known number. Violence is their track that comes up next and the Skids put their own stamp on it to make it sound much punkier than the original, it’s a good track without being a real banger (as the kids would say!) The next track is from Garland Jeffreys (nope, I’ve never heard of him or it either!). 35mm Dreams is the name of it and it appears to be a homage to old movie stars from the b&w era. I’ve never heard the original and to be honest didn’t even seek it out, this track is goodish, but not a patch on the band’s other televisual homage TV Stars. When I hear Jobson singing about Greta Garbo and Bette Davis (among many more) my heart is screaming out Albert Tatlock!!! Track 9 comes from none other than the kings of UK punk, The Sex Pistols, and its Submission. Much like with the earlier Complete Control, trying to just copy the original would be pointless and who could copy our Johnny’s vocals anyway! Well we have Richard Jobson who has his own inimitable style and he performs this track with aplomb. The guitar is crisp and clean and sounds relentless in this excellent cover. Back in the New York groove is the next track and if you’re anything like me, hearing it will put a smile on your face. It was originally from a band called Hello (nope, me neither!), but has been covered by a few groups. It’s a track that used to get them on the dance floor in the 70s and has another Skids-esque chanting chorus, great fun. Next up is the stone-cold classic I Wanna Be Your Dog, by Iggy and the Stooges. It really is hard to believe that it was first released in 68, over 50 years ago. When you hear this cover, it sounds like it could have been written last week! Anyway, they make an excellent job of it with no frills just a great punchy punk rock song.

The final three tracks are, as previously mentioned, Skids originals that have been re-recorded. The two singles sound great, and the Christmas one is what it is! I think it’s fair to say that the guitar work, whilst being brilliant in its own right, can never reach the highs that Stuart Adamson brought to the sound and I can’t help but imagine what these covers would’ve been like if he was still around to have contributed. He is sorely missed, when you hear albums like Undercover by Big Country, you can see he was equally as impressed/enamoured by other bands music and adept at performing it. Funnily enough, that’s probably the last time I was as impressed with a covers album as I am with this one! It would be worth checking out the originals of these tracks to see just how good a job of interpreting them into a Skids sound the band has done. Well worth the price and hopefully the entrance fee if we ever get back to gigging again.

Buy Songs From A Haunted Ballroom

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Lucky for Gerry The Skids are on tour at the end of this month from the 28th August taking in the length and breadth of England and Scotland. Tickets are available from the usual outlets and links on venue websites.

ALBUM REVIEW: SETH MARTIN – ‘Through Dark Valleys’ (2021)

Hear the new album from Seth Martin, Oregon born singer/songwriter from Oregon living in South Korea. T.C. Costello reviews his latest album, Through Dark Valleys, and discovers his music has deep roots in the American Folk tradition as well as strong political convictions.

During these unprecedented new-normal and blah blah blah times, artists across the globe have been forced to adapt, improvise, and learn to create in new ways. While I’ve dealt with said times by entering a period of unprecedented unproductivity, other artists have embraced the new normal and have turned to the internet. Live streams have been ubiquitous across social media these last 12 months, often times with stylish masks and links to fundraisers.

But Seoul-based folklorist and singer-songwriter Seth Martin, with his reputation for collaborative efforts bringing together various artists and traditions from around the world, was faced with a unique challenge. How was he to collaborate at a time when social interaction was to be kept, by law, to a minimum? In the end, despite his fairly pronounced luddite sensibilities and approaches to performing and recording, turned to the internet. The result was an album that never would have happened, had it not been such an unprecedented, blah blah blah, nightmare of a year.

“Through Dark Valleys,” says Seth, “is both part of a half-decade long project and a fairly sudden decision to finish an album, however unconventionally, that resulted in an unusual and explosive collaborative final recording process.”

A part of this “Mountain Trilogy,” ¨Through Dark Valleys” is built around a set of studio performances from 2015-2016 in Portland, Oregon, with Seth and his longtime producer and collaborator David Fuller, “as well as “a handful of live, lo-fi phone or camera recordings I had made in recent years here in Korea,” Seth adds.

Different versions of the album had been in the works for years, but circumstances kept getting in the way of its completion. Finally the needed spark came unexpectedly last winter. The album would not have happened without the sudden chance to perform with and get inspired by well-known Korean folk rocker Hahn Dae Soo, one of Seth’s musical heroes. Hahn was not part of the album, but his influence is largely what made its completion possible.

Hahn Dae Soo was so kind, hilarious, and fun to work with, and the experience of joining him for a recording session, a show, and several meals and times of sharing stories deeply inspired me. He only had a few weeks to make a full album, and his main concert in Korea to support the album–which he claims, sadly, is his “last”–had to be switched from in-person to online due to Corona regulations.

But instead of disappointment, writes Seth, Hahn Dae Soo “used his influence to simultaneously include and encourage a large group of musicians in his project,” and to preach “caution, cooperation and solidarity in efforts to respect mask and group regulations, to keep one another safe during this pandemic.”

Seth remembers his time with Hahn as “fresh water to my pandemic-depressed soul,” and after the collaboration, he suddenly felt that it was not only possible, but that winter 2020, with all its isolation and limits for artists, was the perfect time to finish the album. In early December, he contacted violinist Zoe Youngmi Blank, producer David Fuller, and his younger brother and fellow artist Joel Martin, with hopes of finishing the process by Christmas.

All agreed to take a shot at building and completing the album together, with plans of a final project ready to share by Christmas. Zoe, who contributed backing vocals and violin from her home in Seoul, called it the “most fulfilling remote collaboration (she’s) been a part of”:

Due to the Corona music hiatus, it was a relief to finally play music together, though it being remote. Actually it being remote lead to a unique synergy between Seth, David Fuller and Joel Martin that surprised me. The project existed somewhere beyond space and time. We, all spread across the planet, could meet in this nonphysical recording space… online. In folk tradition, we echoed past generations’ struggles and strengths, yet grounded ourselves to modern day relevance present in Seth’s lyrics.”

Joel, who added guitar and vocals mostly from his homemade studio in the hills of small-town Toledo, Washington–his and Seth’s hometown–where he had been spending the fall and winter in isolation with his parents, said he is “awestruck at how spectacular a job… David Fuller did with the messy pile of tracks he got from all of us.”

Seth describes the process as “a flurry of experimentation and track sharing between myself, David, Joel, and Zoe–two of us in Korea, two in the US, all isolated from each other.”

This rag-tag and somewhat intentionally haphazard, free-flowing collaboration resulted in a low-fi, psychedelic album with atmospheric and at times disconcerting arrangements, and the choice of songs were frankly a perfect reflection for such a year.

Heavy themes aside, the album starts with a simple fiddle-and-banjo tune with that one can easily whistle or hum along to, and indeed, the cast of the album joins in with humming and whistle along.
Next comes one of the highlights of the album, the stream-of-consciousness “April 1st (Rusty Roads)”.

The base track was Martin performing the ten-minute song for the first time ever into his phone, “So parts of it were inspired and kind of made up on the spot, as I read the paper in front of me in my room and also improvised as felt right in the moment.” Martin adds, “we embraced rather than cleaned up the messiness, and real grief and wobbliness in the recording.”

Seth follows this with an interpretation of Mother, Sister, a poem by Kim So-Wol, a Korean poet under Japanese colonisation. Providing lead vocals on Mother, Sister is Gwon Jaehyoung, a Korean folk musician and leader of SMB mountain school. Martin joins him, and Seoul singer-songwriter eeho adds some wonderful background vocals. Next comes “Don’t Forget It,” which Seth wrote in 2014 when he was hiking in Korea, falling in love with Lee Nan Young, now his wife, and decided to move to Korea. The track begins with a familiar refrain from a classic children’s song about a bear that went over a mountain, but these lines are soaked in a current and heavy feeling of loneliness fitting the times we are in, and carry added significance given the mountain symbolism and themes that run through the project. There is also the Korean symbolism of bears and mountains being referenced here, adding to the beauty and intertwined, heavy history in the song, personally, and with Korea-US relations generally. As the song winds and rambles down its path, it features some truly impressive violin work from Zoe that really adds unexpected rhythms and several climaxes to the song.

Then, after nearly ten minutes of singing about the importance of walking the long and hard roads together and promising not to let go of love when life is at its loneliest and hardest, we are suddenly brought to another scene of grief and pain. Track 6 features the traditional American spiritual ¨Climbing High Mountains,¨ which is quite the pertinent hymn for 2020.

“I’ve been climbing high mountains trying to get home.
I’ve been wading deep waters trying to get home.
I’ve been burying my loved ones trying to get home.
I’ve been climbing high mountains trying to get home.”

Musically, this a slow build featuring multilayered violin tracks by Zoe, and a chorus of background singers from either side of the Pacific Ocean, that is too time consuming, if not impossible to identify by name.
In Korea, Seth recruited Yamagata Tweakster, Eeeho, Choi Sung-Hee, and No Soon Cheon, about half of whom I know, and on the US’ West Coast, David recruited close family and friends, Nicholas Von Pless, Sarah Fuller, Maya Fuller, Jonathan Behr, and Elizabeth Hadley -“All from his Corona “pod,” Seth adds.” Further, students from SMB mountain school as well as friends at an ant-gentrification vigil added background vocals throughout the album, if not this song specifically.
Next stop is America in the 1860s with Civil War ballad “Going Across the Mountain,” popularised by Frank Proffitt, who claimed it was written by a family member from South who crossed the mountains “to give (President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis’) men a little of my rifle ball.”

Another, slow build, it starts with a spacey intro of the well known Korean folk song, Doraji, and ends up with a bit of a disco rhythm courtesy of Joel Martin and David Fuller on bass and percussion. The effect is a more than a bit disconcerting, particularly with the different backup vocalists chiming in and cutting out seemingly at random. Even more disconcerting is that the song descends into another controlled-chaos remix of field recording of a Korean grandmother’s singing a protest tune called “Little Giant”

It is a mixture of David’s experimental mixing, and banjo chiming alongside a field recording of a Korean grandmother singing a satirical tune in protest of a gentrification project in (A Seoul neighbourhood), in which a group of newtown apartment folks pressured the local government to bulldoze her small diner along with many other streetside shops, to “improve” and “widen” and make more safe a street between an outdoor market and a school. The grandmother is calling out the apartment collective defiantly. Her shop had been a popular stop for locals for around 3 decades, and was called “Little Giant.”

Next is the only track on the album that Seth had absolutely no part in. It’s a sound collage put together almost entirely by David Fuller in his Portland studio–the central headquarters and final destination of everyone’s individual recordings done in isolation across Korea and the States. Using passages from the dark and often caustic verses of “45 Voices: Overheard in an American Graveyard,” Seth’s book of poems reflecting on the first 100 days of the Trump regime, written as a sort of continuation or companion piece to the first Mountain album-t proves very zeitgestiy with delivery of lines like:

“Of course not all immigrants are rapists and drug dealers, but don’t you think the stereotypes for a reason?¨Seth adds, “Fuller’s own voice is featured but in a deeply distorted fashion, and he also included several other voices of album collaborators, each taking on various disturbing Americana “characters” as they were depicted in the book. In creating this sound collage, Fuller creatively included the poetry book follow-up to This Mountain into Through Dark Valleys, not only linking it to both albums, but also endowing sections of it with its own sound, and thus cleverly recasting it as a musical work itself.” Regarding the experimental sounds in the background, Martin adds, “I couldn’t tell you all the technical weird stuff David did in that track exactly, but I love it, and I am glad it is there.”

Next, the crew of the album plays Martin’s “The Ballad of Eric Garner,” Set to the tune of the American work song “900 Miles,” the song is a tribute to Eric Garner,” famously murdered by police in New York City, but also serves as a statement on the realities of current systemic racism and police brutality across the States.

“Out in famous New York City
Famous for its lack of pity
That’s where a man named Eric Garner used to live
He was big and Black and proud
Had friends and family all around
And despite so many hassles with police
Garner’s neighbors knew him as a man of peace“

A very raw recording, you can hear Martin’s chair squeaking as he sings of Garner’s last day on earth, and his ensemble delivers some particularly psychedelic instrumentation with producer David fuller adding keyboards, trumpet and clarinet.

Another experimental track, “Ferry Boat and Passenger & smoke break during an air raid drill” follows.

The lyrics come from Buddhist Korean Independence activist Manhae’s famous poem, and Martin’s wife, Lee Nan Young, reads the poem in Korean:

“I am the boat that carried you
across the river…
You pressed your dirty feet
against my sides,
while I kept you safe and dry.
When you reached the other side
and began to walk away,
you did not look back.
Every day,
every day,
I am still here
waiting for you to return…”

Martin’s original, “Grown up Soul (These Dark Valleys)” proves to be a perfect ending to the album, once again with a raw, but multilayered psychedelic sound, Seth sings:

“I’ve been walking these dark valleys
trying to find a place called home
And everywhere I laid my head
I felt so cold and all alone”

(You can stream or download Through Dark Valleys at the Bandcamp link below)

Buy Through Dark Valleys  Bandcamp

Contact Seth Martin  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Thanks to TC for the review. TC is currently shacked up in Barcelona and playing the odd gig or two there so give him a nudge over at his FB page to find out where and check out our review of his last album The Blackbird to hear more from him.

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN RELEASE NEW SINGLE. COVER OF THE UK SUBS ‘RIOT’

German Celtic rockers Muirsheen Durkin release ‘Riot’ as a tribute to old school indestructible Punk-Rock legend Charlie Harper of the UK Subs.

“Closing down our club for no good reason” A wake-up call after the forced Corona break!

Having known each other for some thirty years it was only a few years back in 2009 that the idea to start something new came up. Wanting a band with its feet based firmly in traditional Irish music and with an emphasis on emigration songs Muirsheen Durkin & Friends was born. Their feet may be in trad music with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle, accordion and two pipers but the addition of classic rock and Punk sees Muirsheen Durkin as one of the leading lights in the German Celtic-punk scene.

Their latest single is a pretty damn good cover of the UK Subs ‘Riot’. Released in 1997 on the album of the same name which was the first in decades to re-unite original members Nicky Garrett and Alvin Gibbs back together with the Peter Pan of Punk Charlie Harper. Formed in 1976 the UK Subs were one of the original bands in the first wave of Punk in the UK. Famous outside of Punk for their album releases starting with consecutive letters of the alphabet from Another Kind Of Blues in 1979 to Ziezo in 2016. Since then this most prolific of bands have added another two albums and a EP. Born in Hackney and now aged an incredible 77 years old Charlie Harper has been the mainstay of the band throughout the years. Still energetically performing at up to 200 UK Subs gigs a year he is an inspiration to us all.

Inner City life
Is getting me down
Police and gang wars
All over town
Closing down our clubs
For no good reason
Hassle us on the street
Take away our freedoms
*
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, so sick and tired
*
Here come the riot squad
They’re closing in
Guns and riot shields
And gas grenades
They see us standing there
All in a line
Black and white unite
Confrontations high
*
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, we’re sick and tired
*
Oh, oh, leave us alone
They have a justice bill
That’s what they say
Now, they have the power now
To put us away
There were four of us
Minding our own
We’re a riotous assembly
Walking down the road
*
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, so sick and tired
Oh, oh, we wanna riot
Oh, oh, leave us alone
*
The song is available on the MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio compilation album Raise Your Pints #6 – Coronoa Sessions which features twenty bands from eleven countries celebrating (might be the wrong word- editor) the virus lockdowns in Celtic-Folk-Punk style. Every variation of Celtic-Punk is covered from trad to Hardcore and is available from the link below.

RAISE YOUR PINTS #6

Contact Muirsheen Durkin  WebSite  Facebook  ReverbNation  Spotify  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE RUMPLED – ‘The Perfect Match’ (2021)

Another release from prolific Italian Celtic-Punkers The Rumpled. With a sound influenced by traditional Irish Folk they are already one of the best bands in the scene and a band to expect big things from in the near future.

The last few years have been quite a time for fans of Celtic-Punk in Italy. While the genre has always been popular due in no small part to to the friendly relations between Italy and the Celtic nations never before has Italy had quite so many great bands, among them some of the best in Europe. I won’t go into the names as I’m afraid to miss one of them but a simple search among the posts here will give you the opportunity to give your ears a real treat. The Rumpled are one such band and in their relatively short existence they have been as prolific as any band in Celtic-Punk. Formed in Trento in the north in 2013 it was five years before they got some songs down on record and the result was Ashes & Wishes, recorded and produced by Gianluca of Black Dingo Productions, who have supported The Rumpled ever since. A sixty date tour of Switzerland, France and Italy in 2119 promoting the Grace O’Malley EP was followed by another EP, Toss The Coin, and tour the following year. Of course Covid soon arrived and any plans the band had were shelved while the world came to terms with what was going on.  Despite this the band ploughed on and did manage to release both Home Sessions, a EP of covers with the help of some pretty well known faces in Firkin and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, and an acoustic EP Rumplugged.

The Rumpled from left to right: Michele Mazzurana- Drums, Backing Vocals * Davide Butturini- Guitars * Patrizia Vaccari- Fiddle * Marco Andrea Micheli- Lead Vocals * Luca Tasin- Bassman, Backing Vocals * Tommaso Zamboni- Accordion *

The new album is called The Perfect Match and was released late last month again for Black Dingo and while new material is thin on the ground, with it being basically a re-recorded and re-vamped compilation of The Rumpled’s last two studio releases it is still an outstanding release and the perfect place to enter if you are new to the band. The Perfect Match kicks off with ‘Time To Go’, the album’s only new song and which was also the lead single for the album. The song is dedicated to Italian para-olympian athlete Giuliana Chiara Filippi and her story of fortitude and resilience, despite her many obstacles to overcome, and her dream to represent Italy in the Paralympics. Inspired they choose her to be featured as the main character in the video. A truly Perfect Match.

A great rocking start and a lovely tribute. We wish her well. Talking about the single The Rumpled said

“The song is an invitation to return to life with energy and enthusiasm and move into the future, throwing the difficult situation of last year behind us. After this long break, our desire to restart, to get back on stage and perform for a crowd is uncontainable, that’s why we all sing the in chorus: “hey ho, it’s time to go, we’re gonna raise hell tonight – So let’s go to another show and everything’s gonna be alright”!”

Musically The Rumpled play an energetic and lively style of Celtic-Punk. While The Rumjacks influence casts a shadow over much of the Italian Celtic-Punk scene The Rumpled have always done their own thing with a sound influenced by traditional Irish Folk music as much as anything. ‘Stand Up’ was the opening track on the Toss The Coin and sees the band accompanied by the Bold Rumjacker himself Frankie McLaughlin. Accordion led and with one hell of a catchy chorus it’s fist in the air time here as you swing your mates round and round. The energy is unrelenting and continues throughout the albums forty minutes with only a handful of pauses for breathe.

The following six songs also come from the Toss The Coin with ‘Take A Drop’ and ‘The Gipsy Dancer’, a lead single from Toss The Coin and you will see where the EP gets its title from in the excellent accompanying video. ‘The Road’ is less ‘traditional’ and more modern sounding Celtic-Punk combining elements of Ska with some great ‘Woah-Woah-Woahh’ gang vocals. ‘One Love’ is the first of two songs to feature guests from fellow Italian Celtic-Folk-Rockers Folkamiseria from western Piedmont. More Folk orientated but still with that harder edge while ‘Broken Romances’ has a more harder edge.

‘Patty’s Jig’ was the final song on the EP but here marks half way. Accompanied again by Folkamiseria on bouzouki The Rumpled show they can go full on traditional with a self penned Irish Folk tune that could have been written a hundred years ago!! Song #9 here is the song that began the Grace O’Malley EP ‘Song of Ill Repute’, a speedy accordion and fiddle led whirling dervish of a song which is followed by the EP’s title track, a extended version, ‘Grace O’Malley’. With over 1,000,000 plays on Spotify and a place in the Top Ten Celtic-Punk EP’s Of 2019 on this here web-zine. Grace O’Malley was known as ‘The Pirate Queen’ and until recently was largely known only to Irish communities around the world with tales of her exploits being told and re-told through the generations. A fearless leader over land and sea, a politician and tactician, rebel and pirate, and the ’most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’.

‘Fearless And Brave’ sees the band accompanied by Paddy O’Reilly from the awesome Celtic-Punk band Paddy And The Rats. Utterly brilliant the dual vocals work to great effect while the Celtic-Punk crosses into Ska and back. ‘Feelin’ Fine’ keeps up the pace going and finally ‘The Maiden’ brings down the curtain.

So while it’s a shame for us long time fans of the band not to have an album of brand new music its perfectly understandable that The Rumpled want to get their music out to as wider audience as possible and this is a great opportunity for them to do so. So if you’re a fan pass this on to someone who isn’t (yet!) and make their day. The album is available on both download and physical release and also why not read up on Grace O’Malley it really is a fascinating story.

Buy The Perfect Match  Here  Contact The Rumpled  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

Black Dingo Productions  WebSite  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: PHANTOM OF THE BLACK HILLS – ‘That Witch’ (2021)

One of the best bands to wield a banjo IN THE WORLD Phantom Of The Black Hills  soak in influences as varied as Country, Punk, Goth, Folk, Bluegrass with distorted vocals and mysterious mystique and a dark (very dark) western ethos. 

That Witch is their 6th studio album and they are accompanied by Mather Louth from renowned ‘Gothic Americana’ band Heathen Apostles.

To put it simply Phantom Of The Black Hills are fantastic!!

When I saw that their was a new Phantom Of The Black Hills album on the way I can admit to being pretty bloody excited. Even though I love music we receive so much here at London Celtic Punks Towers that it is hard sometimes to rally up enthusiasm for new releases but for That Witch I was even willing to pay (those that know me will know how incredible that is!). Luckily for my Scots /Yorkshire sensibilities I was incredibly lucky to receive a free download from Ratchet Blade Records and it’s not left my lugholes ever since!

The Phantom and Mather Louth

That Witch had originally been planned for release in 2020 but with all the shit going on was delayed almost a year. For those wishing to pigeonhole the label’s most bandied about for the Phantom Of The Black Hills are ‘hellbilly’, ‘frontier-core’ or ‘doom country’ and all capture them pretty fairly squarely and imaginatively. Taking elements of Country, Folk, Punk, Psychobilly, Bluegrass and mixing traditional instruments like mandolin, banjo and fiddle but combining them with fiercely dark and angry polemic, crunching guitars, snarling distorted vocals, intense sound effects and cleverly used movie dialog this is one ‘country’ band you won’t see at the Grand Ole Opry! Shrouded in secrecy hiding themselves away from the glare of publicity the bandana’s they wear in their videos and photos are very careful not to give away any clue as to their identities so it’s kind of hard to tell you anymore about the band themselves! That Witch is their sixth album, the last being Scalped in 2017. That album was to first to feature guest vocals from the lovely Mather Louth on ‘Wild Witch Of The West’ (be sure to check out the brilliant video). She also doubles up as the lead singer of excellent fellow ‘Gothic Americana’ band Heathen Apostles and she guest vocals on pretty much the whole of That Witch giving the album that little extra special range.

The Black Hills of the bands name are in the American state of South Dakota and are most famous for the Mount Rushmore memorial of the four presidential heads of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, each measuring over forty feet high,  carved into the granite by Gutzon Borglum from 1927 to 1947. It’s also an area where huge numbers of Scots and Scots-Irish settled. This may explain the propensity for moonshine in the area! Production of illegal alcohol that is still widespread today. Another possible by-product of the Celt on the local population is widespread mistrust of all government institutions and even today in a age where yuppies and hipsters seem to have overtaken everywhere you are unlikely to find a Vegan coffee shop or a demand for stricter gun control laws in the Black Hills. Having been forced out of their homes over here they brought that mistrust with them and it still permeates through the local populace.

That Witch begins in superb form with ‘Rising Son’ and The Phantom snarling his way through a song that takes the point of view of Native American’s and their resistance to the early settlers who sought to steal their land and force them onto special reservations.

“This ain’t Oklahoma
And I was here long before ya
Mistress Darkness has come
And when the night is done
I’m the rising son”

The song is a slow burner. A dark foreboding of what is to come building to a climax in the lyrics rather than the tune. Excellent fiddle throughout from El Gato is matched by Popeye on guitar, banjo and bass and Deacon on drums.

‘That Witch’ sees The Phantom and Mather dueling it out on vocals and it’s another dark slower song and I think it’s fair to say that while their albums have progressively darker the sound has mellowed somewhat though the heaviness of the music does mitigate that. You often think you’re listening to a much faster song than you actually are. We get a fast one next with the album’s lead single ‘Buck Knife’ and the tragic tale of a veteran of the Civil War suffering from PTSD. On returning to his home town he is shunned and the story climaxes in a orgy of deadly violence before ending with the kind of twist to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.

Heathen Apostles are one hell of a band in their own right and it is absolute genius to team her up with the Phantom Of the Black Hills. The perfect foil to The Phantom’s vocals her beautiful voice on ‘Lady Judas’ belies the story while we do see a lot less of the electric guitar like on next track ‘Moon Killer’ with vocals now dominating but it works a treat and the distorted vocals are still clear enough to understand every word and the various tales of  violence, drunkenness, debauchery and revenge.

“Time to take a vow and consecrate

Using skin and motion as my bait

The cauldron is a-bubblin’
Got to go and show him sin

Lucifer just don’t want to wait…”

‘Hunger’ is co-written by Mather Louth and the band and she leads here her voice soaring above the bands train-like rumble and that majestic fiddle.  The Phantom takes the rein back for ‘Road To Bleeding’. This is the kind of song that previously they would have slung hard and heavy electric guitar all over but now they treat more gently. ‘Sin & Sanctify’ is as close (still not that close really) as they come to a traditional Country song while the album continues to its violent conclusion with two of the album’s best songs ‘Wicked Storm’ and the storming ‘Attack’.

That Witch was released July 2nd on Ratchet Blade Records. The Los Angeles based label home to the Heathen Apostles, Doghouse Lords, the Mau Maus, Charley Horse, Berlin Brats and many more. Ratchet Blade Records describes itself, correctly, as “the best in dark roots music”. Once again it features the amazingly talented former Cramps bassist, and current Heathen Apostles one, Chopper Franklin on production duties. The digital sale of the album is only $7 and the CD not much more but comes with buttons and stickers. Their is also an option for international orders which has drastically reduced ($5 international shipping as opposed to $15) postage charges. To be honest I’m kinda upset this ain’t a Celtic-Punk album as it would definitely be up there in our end of year Best Of awards. Looks like I’m going to have to make up a special new category just for them!

The Phantom Of The Black Hills have come a long way since Ghosts and while their sound may not be quite as raucous as then they still are as powerful and heavy and even more darker than ever before. The teaming up with the beautiful Mather Louth adds a whole new dimension to the sound. It’s a dark world out there and the imagery The Phantom Of The Black Hills conjure up in the mind may not be a pleasant one but it’s an imaginative one filled with the ghosts of the wronged, deserted mines and villages, dust and dirt and the people who lived there and also the  best music the ‘old’ west can produce.

(you can stream/download the whole of That Witch on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy The Witch  Bandcamp (Download/CD)

Contact Phantom Of The Black Hills  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

Ratchet Blade Records  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

Discography: Ghosts (2009) * Born To Gun (2010) * ENEMY! (2012) * Black Hearted Killer EP (2013) * Moonshine Bright (2014) * Scalped (2017)

If you would like to check out the Phantom Of the Black Hills previous albums (and I’m sure you can tell from our glowing review what we think!) then we ran a feature back in late 2018 where we tried to introduce the band to a wider audience, especially this side of the Atlantic. Links are included to listen to all their previous releases so click below and enjoy being lasso’ed in! You can but their entire catalogue for less than £20 through Bandcamp.

PHANTOM OF THE BLACK HILLS

ALBUM REVIEW: RAISE YOUR PINTS. CELTIC- PUNK SAMPLER. VOLUME 6 – VARIOUS ARTISTS (2021)

From the scene. For the scene.

After months of planning, organising and fund-raising the compilation album Raise Your Pints #6 has finally been delivered. Twenty bands from eleven countries celebrating (might be the wrong word- editor) the virus lockdowns in Celtic-Folk-Punk style. 

Anyone remember the original Celtic-Punk samplers from Shite’n’Onions? I think they stretched to three volumes and came at a time when I had never been on the internet. Yes I was one of the select few who never even had a MySpace account! So to come across these samplers with upwards of twenty  bands on and pretty much all new to me (even the English ones) was eye-opening… or should that be ear-opening? Them days are long ago and we can thank Shite’n’Onions for being early pioneers of the Celtic-Punk sampler though they have long passed the baton onto MacSlon’s Irish Radio. Now in their 11th year the radio station brings out the best in Celtic-Rock, Celtic-Punk and trad Irish Folk both modern and ancient(!). They have also for the last few years been a major player on the merchandise front organizing merch for a whole host of bands from across mainland Europe and even the United States.

This is the 6th in the Raise Your Pints series and all the songs have been written and recorded over the last 16 months while the Corona virus has done it’s best to wreck the music industry. We are yet to see what long term damage the lockdown have caused but already here in London, and across England, many music venues have closed their doors permanently and several bands have handed in their guitar straps. The thirst for live music though seems at a all time high but bands are still finding it difficult to book gigs and tours with so much uncertainty around about whether or not the lockdown will return.

So the arrival of Raise Your Pints #6 is to applauded for many reasons but chiefly among them is that the bands will directly benefit from the sales of the CD and with not much else going on it’s a chance for them to remind their fans and followers that they are still here and still fighting.

Reviewing a compilation album is hard enough but one made up of different bands is even harder so I will forego the usual review and just tell you a small bit about each artist and song and link to them so they can tell you more. Of course the best way to find out more is to buy the album!!!

RAISE YOUR PINTS VOLUME 6

THE MULLINS (France) – ‘Part Of Me’

The album kicks off with The Mullins. Hailing from the south of France their song began life before the lockdown but the band took the opportunity to perfect it and even managed to get together inbetween lockdowns to record the cracking video!

THE CEILI FAMILY (Germany) – ‘Corona Chesay’

The album is perhaps a bit top heavy with German bands but that is totally understandable. They do have the #1 scene in Europe you know. The Ceili Family are one of the better known established bands. The band first stirred back in 1996 and even had a great recommendation from the late Philip Chevron: “Enjoyed listening to the CD, by the way. Always good to see people doing something of their own with the basic idea we invented!”

THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS (Germany) – ‘Dirty Bastards’

More Germans here with The Feelgood McLouds formed in January 2015 southwestern Germany. More than any country in Europe the Germans have embraced Celtic-Punk with the number of bands, gigs and fans far outstripping anywhere else this side of the Atlantic. This track is taken from this years critically popular ‘Saints & Sinners’ EP.

GRASS MUD HORSE (China) ‘ Absent Friends’

Grass Mud Horse only seem to have around a year or two but already have more releases than many more well established bands. Formed when Scouse-Irish musician Chris Barry mover to China the band has had some set backs with members coming and going because of the virus (they are based in Wuhan) but luckily things have settled down and they recently recorded a single with yer man Frankie McLoughlin.

UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS (Italy) – ‘Back On Your Feet’

From playing with ALL the Celtic-Punk superstars to headlining festivals across Europe and even getting to the United States several times Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are without a doubt one of the select few you could describe as ‘Premier League’ Celtic-Punk bands. ‘Back On Your Feet’ is one of the standout tracks from last years album Men Behind The Glass that the Bhoys have recorded an acoustic version for here. One of many great Celtic-Punk highlights during the lockdown was the Bastards hour long acoustic live stream. Brilliant!

JACK IN THE GREEN (Germany) – ‘Old Maui’

Yeah we may have all heard it a 100 times by now but popular covers are popular for a reason. That we never tire of hearing them! Hamburg’s Jack In The Green play a great acoustic version rather than the ‘choir/acapello’ type I’m more use to hearing. Vocals remind me a lot of from The Whisky Priests who in their day were massive so wonder if they were an influence here. 

THE MOORINGS (France) – ‘Champion At Keeping It Rolling’

Cracking version of the Ewan MacColl penned classic about lorry driving from French band The Moorings. Formed in 2011 the band have released several albums and EP’s a Folky version of this song appears on their debut EP Pints & Glory but they have re-recorded it in proper Celtic-PUNK style here. They have just completed a successful crowd-funding campaign for a new album so can’t wait for that.

JOHNNY HASH (Ireland) – ‘Ride On’

Johnny Hash is a bunch of people from various Belfast bands who got together during the lockdown and released a few videos of Irish Folk classics. Christy Moore’s ‘Ride On’ was their first attempt at a video. Still knocking them out months later let’s hope they develop into something more permanent.

THE RUMPLED (Italy) – ‘If I Should Fall from Grace With God’

The Pogues track gets an airing here from the Italian band The Rumpled. Hard to compete with the originals but gutsy to try and they give it a great go. A relatively new band having got together in 2013 in Trento, Italy. Known for fast paced Celtic-Punk, combining Irish Folk, Rock, Ska and Punk. They have a new album out at any moment so watch this space for news on that.

MEDUSAS WAKE (Australia) – War Of Independence

The debut album from Sydney based Celtic-Folk-Rockers Medusa’s Wake hit the top spots in all of 2018’s Celtic-Punk medias yearly ‘best of’s’ and since then they have gone from strength to strength. Writted by Tipperary born Eddie Lawlor, he sings from the heart of the war back home between 1919 and 1921 against the British. Much of that war took part in the fields and villages of the ‘Premier County’ and those of us with Tipp backgrounds grew up hearing of the tales of heroic activities of those ordinary men who took on the worlds strongest army.

HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS (Germany) – ‘Stay At Home’

Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers may just have the best name in Celtic-Punk but they are a pretty shit-hot band as well. They take their name from a song by rockers Motorhead so should give you an idea about them! Another band that hails from Germany from the small town of Schwäbisch Gemünd. ‘Stay At Home’ is a re-recorded re-jigged new version of a song from their debut album Folk’s Gaudi in 2016.

AN SPIORAD (Germany) – ‘Carry Me Home’

German band that began life as a two-piece band “The Plästik Päddies” in 1997 before changing name to the far more complicated An Spiorad (Scots Gaelic for The Spirit). ‘Carry me Home’ is taken from their recent album Album Dord Na Mara.

SONS OF O’FLAHERTY (Brittany) – ‘The Pack’

More Celtic Celtic-Punk now from Vannes in Brittany Sons Of O’Flaherty formed as a duo in 2010 they soon fleshed out to a whole band due in no small part to the popularity of Irish music in this Celtic nation. ‘The Pack’ is a new song and with it being four years since the release of their last album The Road Not Taken hopefully this signifies some new sounds on the way.

NEVERMIND NESSIE (Belgium) – ‘Lock Him Up’

Formed in Belgium in 2009 Nevermind Nessie‘s track comes from this years EP Another Six Pack Of Drinking Songs that came out in March. A fast, raucous song about Donald Trump.

KILKENNY BASTARDS (Germany) – ‘Be A Bastard’

More bastards!! This time from Iserlohn in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Like many German bands their emphasis is on playing live such is the demand for their music so their recording output sometimes doesn’t match up with the age of the band. Kilkenny Bastards are one such band and we look forward to them rectifying this soon!

ALL THOSE EMPTY PUBS (Switzerland) – ’40 Days’

Based up in the Swiss alps ’40 Days’ was the debut release from All Those Empty Pubs (what a great name!) earlier this year. We loved it so much we ran a feature and a small interview with Diego the genius behind this one-man-band. Diego utilises all his talents here with mandolin, flute, acoustic guitar and even Hammond organ alongside your more usual Rock band instruments. It just don’t get more DIY than this.

RAPPAREES (Germany) – ‘Las Vegas (In The Hills Of Donegal)’

Another band from Hamburg Rapparees kicked off thirty years ago in the dive bars before changing their name. A straight up acoustic cover of the Goats Don’t Shave song. A ‘raparee’ was the name given to Irish soldiers who survived the Williamite war with the British in the 1690’s and used guerilla tactics or became highwaymen after the war ended.

LA STOATS (Germany) – ‘Raise Your Pints’

German band La Stoats come from Essenbach in Bavaria in the south-east of Germany and incorporate the traditional tunes and melodies of their Bavarian home into their brand of Celtic-Punk. ‘Raise Your Pints’ is one of the standout songs here with chugging guitar and a real cool early 80’s Punk Rock sound with some superb bagpipes. Definitely a band worth checking out.

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN (Germany) – ‘Riot’

The last of nine German bands on Raise Your Pints features one of the best Muirsheen Durkin And Friends. ‘Riot’ is a bloomin’ brilliant Celtic-Punk cover of a UK Subs song from 1997. The original is superb but here it is mastered with the energy intact and growling vocals and a core of Celtic instruments chugging along.

SEAN TOBIN (USA) – ‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’

The last of the 20th songs belongs to New Jersey Irish singer/ songwriter Sean Tobin. Theirs 2 versions of ‘St’ Patrick’s Day Forever’ and I guess you could call this the ‘radio edit’. Blue-collar, working-class Irish American Folk music and one of the standout tracks on the album to bring down the curtain.

So that’s yer lot. There’s bound to be a load of bands here that you have never heard of. Some are new even to us and the styles of music is varied from Folk and trad right across to Punk but the songs are all totally accessible at all times. This (like the previous five volumes) is essential listening to all fans of Celtic-Punk and we cannot put it any clearer than that! Raise Your Pints #6 is out on July 9th and is available for pre-release order from the link below.

https://macslons-shop.com/v-a-raise-your-pints-vol-6-cd

ALBUM REVIEW: DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘Turn Up The Dial’ (2021)

Now the dust has settled and everyone else has had a go and published their reviews of the latest Dropkick Murphys album ‘Turn Up The Dial’ it is our turn. We see our role here as to promote the little known bands in the Celtic-Punk scene but we have always got time for the ‘big-hitters’ too. We are pleased to have guest reviewer Rory Quinn of New York-Irish-Celtic-Punk band The Templars Of Doom to give us a unique insight of the album from a American-Irish perspective. 

The Bastion Bhoys of Boston do it again!

After a year like 2020 you have two options for your fans: wallow in the suffering, or present the world a reprieve. Dropkick Murphys have (wisely I feel) opted for the latter. Not particularly a surprise from a band that spent the pandemic raising money for others and offering live-streamed performances to keep people entertained. So before you listen you have to ask yourself? Am I ready to say “forget the nonsense, let’s crank the music!”

Anyway, let’s dive in!

Arrangement wise this album has hooks and riffs for days between the multiple instrumental melodies to the gang vocal chant of chorus’s urging you to sing along before you’ve even finished the first listen! This band is tight, the parts fleshed out, the vocals good and snarky. Really what more could you want from classic Celtic-punk?

The Dropkick Murphy’s have had the means to create sonically fantastic worlds on record for a while now and ‘Turn Up That Dial’ is no exception. Every facet is crystal clear from the roar of the guitars to the lightest folk instruments. What really draws me in is their ability to match the intensity of their legendary live performances. At points I completely lost track of the fact I was listening home alone. I would have sworn I was in the middle of a crowd cheerfully chanting as I picked up the lyric!

Speaking of lyrics DKM are known for a combination of comedic and heartfelt songs with ’Turn Up That Dial’ continuing that tradition. You’ve got classic self deprecating “Middle Finger” vs the longing/sorrow of “I Wish You Were Here.” And of course, the occasional grateful power song as found with the albums namesake. Without explaining every song to you dear reader I believe you’ll get the idea, it’s the DKM, they have a style they love and we love ‘em for it!

We are blessed to be living in an age where the internet allows access to Celtic-Punk from throughout the globe. It’s easy to forget that not long ago this wasn’t so. My first experience with Dropkick Murphys came in the late 90’s. A cousin of mine HAD to show me this new record he got, one that combined Punk with our Irish heritage. I didn’t believe it until I heard it, and my life changed from the first riff. Being Irish was something that (as an American) was celebrated by my family and not much else. Sure the St. Patrick’s Day parade existed but it seemed more an excuse to party than to honor heritage. To hear in that music a shared sense of community opened my eyes to a world in which I firmly belonged, an understanding of family that exists from afar. Every year I hear more people dismiss DKM, maybe because they’re the easy target or because they’ve survived long enough to suffer “It’s not as good as their old stuff” syndrome. My retort is NONE OF THAT MATTERS. Love ‘em or hate them Dropkick Murphy’s opened the door for Celtic-Punk and a celebration of Irish culture all the world over, and for that I am eternally grateful. 

If you’re a Celtic-Punk fan lend this album your ear. It’s a prime example of what the DKM have been about for a while, story songs to improve your life from the sheer enjoyment of it all. This collection of 11 songs will have you moving, laughing, forgetting your problems, and most importantly turning up that dial!

Dropkick Murphys  WebSite  Facebook  Store

Now seems the perfect time to mention the #1 Dropkick Murphys group on Facebook. Ran by fans for fans. Simply click the link and join up and join in the Murphys related fun.

Dropkick Murphys – Fan Page

Thanks to Rory for the great review. The Templars Of Doom are soon to begin the recording of their third album but you can listen for free to both their previous albums at the link below.

https://templarsofdoom.bandcamp.com/

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: BOB DYLAN – ‘The Ghost Of Woody Guthrie’ (1961)

Today is the 80th birthday of Bob Dylan so in celebration here’s a set of live recordings from 1961 the year before his debut album. None are original songs and as the name suggests, the legendary American singer-songwriter Woody Guthrie’s influence hangs like a specter over much of the material here.

The latest addition to our Classic Album Review series where we re-discover hidden gems from a bygone. Lost and sometimes forgotten songs from legends and unknowns that have inspired Folk music and musicians right up to modern Celtic-Punk music. These records are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

29 January 1961:

Number 19 In The Series Of The 50 Key Events In The History Of World And Folk Music

In September 1960, Bob Dylan borrowed a copy of Woody Guthrie’s autobiography Bound for Glory from a college classmate and became obsessed. Written with the encouragement of Alan Lomax and published in 1943, it rendered its protagonist an almost mythical figure. Dylan started mimicking his hero’s speech patterns and even told the crowd at the Cafe Wha? when he arrived in New York for the first time the following January:

“I been travellin’ around the country, followin’ in Woody Guthrie’s footsteps.”

The “dust bowl troubadour” – author of this This Land is Your Land, whose guitar bore the legend “this machine kills fascists” – had himself almost reached the end of the road: he was now in his fourth year at the Greystone Park Psychiatric hospital in New Jersey, suffering from Huntingdon’s disease, which finally led to his death in 1967. But Dylan hunted him out there, and the two men met – Guthrie apparently giving Dylan a card after their first meeting saying: “I ain’t dead yet.” Dylan wrote, and played to his idol, a new piece of his own called Song to Woody. It met with the older man’s approval and was one of only two original compositions that made Dylan’s 1962 debut.

Caspar Llewellyn Smith June 2011

Surprisingly Bob Dylan has barely featured on these pages much. He has been name checked along the years but this is the first time we have highlighted some of Dylan’s recordings. Woody Guthrie on the other hand has appeared numerous times with various tribute albums and biographies dedicated to him. The recordings here are among Dylan’s earliest known with him beginning his journey towards musical stardom. Starting off shyly the later recordings show a Dylan more confident in himself cracking jokes and entertaining the audience between songs. Unsurprisingly given it’s age, sound quality at times does go in and out but mostly it is perfectly listenable however none of the recording quality detracts from the songs. Only a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s ‘See That My Grave Is Kept Clean’ made it onto Dylan’s self-titled debut LP, though ‘1913 Massacre’ would become ‘Song To Woody’.

Track Listing

01. 1913 Massacre – November 4, 1961 (Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall)
02. Ain’t Got No Home – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
03. Baby Please Don’t Go – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
04. Car, Car – September 6, 1961 (Live at The Gaslight Cafe)
05. Cocaine Blues – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
06. Don’t Push Me Down – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
07. Gypsy Davy – Early 1961 (Gleason Tape)
08. Handsome Molly – July 29, 1961 (Riverside Church Tape)
09. How’d You Do – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
10. In The Evening – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
11. In The Pines – November 4, 1961 (Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall)
12. It’s Hard To Be Blind – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
13. Omie Wise – July 29, 1961 (Riverside Church Tape)
14. Pastures Of Plenty – Early 1961 (Gleason Tape)
15. Poor Lazarus – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
16. Railroad Bill – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
16. Railroad Boy – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
18. Remember Me – Early 1961 (Gleason Tape)
19. Stealin’ – December 22, 1961 (Minnesota Hotel Tape)
20. Talking Merchant Marine – November 4, 1961 (Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall)
21. This Train Is Bound For Glory – May 1961 (Minnesota Party Tape)
22. Young But Daily Growing – November 4, 1961 (Live at Carnegie Chapter Hall)

LINK1   LINK2   LINK3   LINK4*

( * file including artwork, notes, bonus tracks )

WOODROW WILSON ‘Woody’ GUTHRIE (1912-1967)

Woody Guthrie is the most influential American folk musician of the first half of the 20th century. Best known for his Folk ballads, traditional and children’s songs, and improvised works, often incorporating political commentary. He was closely identified with the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s and his songs from that time earned him the nickname ‘Dust Bowl Troubadour’.

Born in 1912 in Okema, Oklahoma, Woody moved at 18 to Pampa, Texas, a small town in the hardest-hit area of the Dust Bowl. It was in Pampa that he experienced the fury of Black Sunday—a severe dust storm that swept across the Midwestern states on April 14, 1935, and inspired Guthrie to write the song, ‘So Long, It’s Been Good to Know You’. After Black Sunday, Guthrie joined the ranks of Okies migrating to California in search of work. Many of his works – ‘Do Re Mi’, ‘I Ain’t Got No Home’, ‘Talking Dust Bowl’ and others – chronicle the conditions faced by working class Okies in their new home. At the close of the 1930s, he left California for New York City and it was there that he wrote his best-known song, ‘This Land Is Your Land’. In the often-omitted fourth and sixth verses of the song, Guthrie rails against class inequality.

Guthrie died in 1967. Despite his decline, he had a major impact on American popular music in the second half of the 20th century and the rise of the Folk movement, and many of Woody Guthrie’s recordings have been archived in the Library of Congress.

As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign there, it said “Private Property.”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing!
That side was made for you and me.
In the squares of the city, in the shadow of a steeple,
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

for more like this…

BODH’AKTAN – ‘De part et d’autre de l’Atlantique’ (2021)

A new album from Bodh’aktan to whet your appetite for when live concerts return. Recorded during their last major tour across venues in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Quebec.

Anyone out there remember live gigs? For me it was a great night out in Staines enjoying a very nice evening of culture with Peter And The Test Tube Babies but all seems like a long distant fading memory now. So it seems rather apt now that we are on the verge of a semblance of normality returning that we should be reviewing a live album. The ever prolific Bodh’aktan, this is their eighth album now, recorded all their live shows from their 2019 summer tour and handpicked the best versions of eleven of their most loved songs for this release on their 10th anniversary.

Bodh’aktan formed in Québec in 2011 so eight albums is pretty damn good and judging by their placing’s on the various Celtic-Punk end of year awards they have been pretty well received by all. The songs here come from pretty much their entire back catalogue with four taken from debut album Au Diable Les Remords in 2011. Only their last album De Temps et de Vents is absent no doubt because of the lack of gigs since its release.

The album begins with ‘Nothing But A Game’ the first of a couple of songs taken from the Paleo Festival in Switzerland. From their album of English speaking songs Ride Out The Storm it’s a jolly romp that is made solely for enjoying yourself. Like all the songs here a Bodh’aktan concert is a time to forget yourself and immerse yourself and have a good time. Concerts are the life blood of Celtic-Punk and like no other genre it is all about enjoying yourself. ‘Les Dames Du Large’ is from that debut album and has a slight ‘western’ tinge to it. More thigh slapping follows with ‘La Bonne Journée – La Suite De La Capitale’ and a album standout. Catchy and lyric packed (I can’t tell you what they are saying) Alex’s voice fits superbly. This song is is from a intimate performance on the Magdalen Islands, in the heart of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a place with much symbolic meaning for Irish-Canadians. The music up to now has been fairly laid back and it can perhaps be forgiven that they haven’t packed the album with their rowdiest Celtic-PUNK songs but ‘Zimmerman’ certainly gets the blood racing. Mostly acoustic the electric guitar is placed behind the acoustic guitar but the still rocks in that way that The Pogues showed us (“the loudest acoustic band in the world”). These fella’s are great musicians and show it off with the traditional instrumental ‘Le Medley Du Mal De Pieds’ with Alain’s lectric guitar allowed to come out of the shadows and enter the limelight along with Marc-Etienne and his fiddle. Breton and Irish influences abound here as the song reels off several reels packed together in just three minutes. The next couple of songs come from a concert in their home of Québec and show the width of the bands talents with Par Chez Nous’ showcasing their stadium skills with the audience singing along to a slow, swirling ballad while ‘La Bouteille Est Agreable’ shows their other side with a rockier/ punky number. The nest three songs come from gigs in Italy, Shamrock Castle in Italy and Celti’Teuillac in France. The fiddle led ‘Ici’, the Newfoundland traditional ‘Heave Away’ and the country-ish ‘Samedi Soir Au Fais Dodo’ all crowd pleasers that continue the romp! The album ends with ‘Le 31 Du Mois D’Aout’ (in English ‘August 31st’) I’m sure it has some important significance so forgive me Québécois for my ignorance. A call to arms perhaps and a pint in the air / arms round your mates ballad to round things off with the obligatory fast ending to send you off into the night sweating and smiling.

Eleven songs may seem like a short album but Bodh’aktan don’t do short songs. Their songs are given a chance to breathe and at almost 45 minutes the album is both entertaining and even on the more lengthy songs never drags. With all the songs taken from different shows you might expect the album to be a bit disjointed but it flows absolutely perfectly. A triumph of the mixing room! A great album all told but then I am a big fan and with their frequent visits to Europe it’s not unreasonable to think I may get to see them live. Certainly on this showing it will be a experience worth saving up for!

Buy De part et d’autre de l’Atlantique  Backlink

Contact Bodh’aktan  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  LastFM  Soundcloud

Disography Au Diable Les Remords (2011) * Against Winds And Tides (2013) * Tant Qu’il Restera Du Rhum… (2013) * Mixtape (2015) * Bodh’aktan (2016) * Ride Out The Storm (2018) * De Temps Et De Vents (2019)

ALBUM REVIEW: BUGUL NOZ – ‘Chat In The Freezer’ (2021)

The second album from Bugul Noz. Belgian Celtic-Punk with major influences from both Metal and Brittany especially.

Apologies to Bugul Noz as their email somehow ended up in a file I no longer use so when I came across it four months later I dashed off an apology to the Bhoys and settled down to have a listen to their new album with a big mug of tea. The band hail from Namur in Belguim which is the capital of Wallonia one of the three federal regions that make up the country and has a history of coal mining and iron works. The band were formed in 2016 and as is usual their list of Celtic-Punk influences cites all the usual suspects but also bands like Les Beruriers Noirs and Trust and and Celtic music, whether Irish, Breton or Scottish.

Their debut self titled album of thirteen original tracks was released in the Summer of 2017. With the songs split fairly even between French and English it is the opening track that is my favourite even though I don’t speak French! Another great highlight is ‘Fucking Irish Song’ with Metal guitar and over the top vocals. Class! The whole album can be streamed via YouTube here. The Metal influence sometimes outstrips the Punk here but always with both feet anchored by Celtic music. The music does seem to have a Breton edge to it which is hardly suprising I suppose especailly when we learn that the band take their name from a Breton legend.

The Bugul Noz ‘Night Shepherd’ is a fae-like being who lives in the woodlands of Brittany. He is the last of his kind and is said to be incredibly ugly, which causes him distress. His appearance is so awful that even woodland animals avoid him, and he sometimes cries out to warn others nearby of his approach, so that he won’t frighten them and that they will go home. He is called the night shepherd because it is generally not safe in forests late at night. The Bugul Noz is not malicious (indeed, rather kind and gentle), he is always alone because of his hideous visage.

The bands second album was released back in January and no doubt they were expecting London Celtic Punks to be a bit more professional …well now now they know! Still here we are in the end and just a shame I missed out on hearing this earlier. The album is again all original tracks and with the songs split between French and English. I look forward one day to being able to write a review without having to mention the dreaded co*id lockdown but the inevitable delays and problems the lockdown presented don’t seem to have affected the finished article at all an Bugul Noz still managed to work together to get the album delivered.

Chat In The Freezer begins with ‘I’m Not Crazy’ and the familair drone of the pipes. How someone from Belguim decides to learn the bagpipes is a mystery to me but Fred is an excellent player and accompanied here by Candice on fiddle the song soon opens up into a real Celtic-Punk-Rocker. There’s plenty of Metal style flourishes and the song flashes by despite its length at almost five minutes. This is not Celtic-Punk for your Nan this is for the moshpit and shaking the dandruff out your hair. Tremendous!! As Bugul Noz are a brand new band to my ears I literally had no idea what to expect but one song in and I’m already loving it. ‘Ton Opinion’ is a more basic number and I can’t understand but the words are flying out at me as the fiddle leads. Next up is ‘Cat In The Freezer’ and no I haven’t left out the ‘h’. Strange name for a album song and being a cat fan I wondered what was ahead of me. Starting off with a sort of Gothic rumble and a cat meowing it soon develops into a punky chugging guitar classic. My favourite song of the album it builds up and up taking in a multitude of influences telling of a poor cat trapped in a freezer… I think anyway.  A couple of songs in French follow with ‘Meurs En Silence’ and ‘Chance D’exister’ and one thing that stands out a mile is the amount of lyrics here. Imagine that chorus of ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ over and over again. The music is fast and furious and I’m stuck somewhere between the Dropkicks and the Mollys here as a way to describe them. Of course they sound nothing like either but have perhaps the power of the Murphys and their Folkier side is more akin to Flogging Molly, To keep the tunes so faithful to Celtic music when ‘punking out’ is quite an achievement. ‘Donald’ begins with a spoken word intro in French so I can’t tell you anymore but the song does have a medieval feel to it, at least until Andy and Gilles come marching in with loud thrashy guitars. ‘From Hell To Freedom’ is, at five minutes, the albums longest track and with the whole album lasting nearly fifty minutes all the songs are given a chance to develop and its good to see the band taking their time. Not that they do here as Fred shouts out Conflict style over a thrashy-hardcore number not for the faint-hearted or them dreaded snowflakes I keep seeing mentioned everywhere.  Fred exhibits his superb piping again next on ‘Copier – Coller’ and believe me it is superb.

‘Sunday Morning’ has a more overt Murphys influence as well as 80’s English Punk thing going on. After several months confinement the band took advantage of the temporary cessation of the lockdown to get together to record the video for the lead single of the album ‘No Way’. As with all the songs on Chat In The Freezer the English language tracks take a more Punk approach while the French have a more Celtic feel. Still the bagpipes blare loud as hell and God alone knows how Fred managed to keep up with himself at the rate he does!

They pushed the boat out for the video for ‘Comme Une Licorne (Punk En Kilt)’ a hilarious romp through the Walloon countryside with transvestites, unicorns and drumming horses! The song is all pipes, fiddle, drums, pounding bass and chugging guitar and, of course, Fred and his distinctive vocals. We have reached the end and the decision must have been “shall we go out in style or show the skeptics that Celtic-Punk bands can play a mean traditional tune”? Well ‘Ciao L’ami’ takes both routes starting with with a nice gentle folky tune with gang vocals before the heavens open and they go out in Punk rock style.

So a cracker of an album that came as a very pleasant surprise. As I may have hinted this album is for the rockers out there but the all round musicianship is extremely good and the Celtic instrumentation is particularly good. You won’t be shocked to hear that I have a feeling that it is in the live setting that Bugul Noz really come into their own. Having already reached Moscow it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that London may be on their radar. I certainly hope so!

Contact Bugul Noz  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McCOYS – ‘Outlive Death’ (2021)

Folk Drunk Folk Punk!

Third album from Texan Celtic-Punk band The Real McCoys. Combining Folk-Punk with Celtic influences for a rowdy bar or any revolution-ready extravaganza!

Funny how things work out and just a couple of weeks after reviewing an album from Houston band The Dead Rabbits comes another album from the same city. The Real McCoys have been together since 2015 when Josh left The Dead Rabbits with a notebook of songs he had written and began looking for a band to record them. Roping in Tommy on drums and a workmate on bass things soon led to the release of debut album Folk Drunk, coming out in May, 2016 and was fifteen original songs dedicated to the memory of Glen Campbell. After recording they went on a short tour and on return their bassist  would later give them the ‘Irish goodbye’ (look it up if you’re not American!). A friend Jeremy took his place and they wemt on to record Barfly in 2017, a collection of songs written from Josh’s time as a hopeful drinker. Listening to all kinds of stories and watching people’s lives unfold in wild ways sitting at the same old hole in the wall every night. Again it was all original songs and the twelve songs whizz by in under twenty-five minutes. Definitly on the jokier side of things both albums are both a fun ride through Celtic-Folk-Punk and are higly recommended.

Somehow they have only featured on these pages with only the briefest of mentions. A mystery to me personally as I’m actually a big fan of The Real McCoys and have all their releases. Anyway we got here in the end and nows a good a time as any to wax lyrically about this class band. With the Covid lockdowns musicians have suffered imeasurably but Josh has used the time wisely despite not being able to practise and gone back to his DIY Folk-Punk roots and recorded the album pretty much by himself and that is about as DIY as it can possibly get!

So now onto the present day and whats the score with The Real McCoys here in 2021. Well I was really suprised that Outlive Death just sort of appeared. One day just popping up on my Bandcamp feed, somewhere I very rarely check, It certainly deserved more than its low key arrival and hopefully this will review will go a tiny way to rectifying that. The album kicks off with ‘We All Fall Down’ and the album is pretty much sign posted from this one song. Fast, catchy, clever and over in just over 100 seconds. The kind of song yoy’d love to go on a lot longer but perfect for some of us to dance around to before we get too tired!! Josh has got a distinctive voice that really suits this style (and that accent is pretty damn cool as well!) and writes a real good tune as well as managing to tell quite a story too. ‘True Punx Don’t Need Kidneys’ is lashed with the kind of humour that The Real McCoys are famous for and even lasts three minutes plus!

The title track is up next and features Marissa Sendejas of anarcho-folkies Days N Daze and Asa Martin on baritone guitar. It’s a slow moving song that Josh wrote about the passing of his Dad when he was only 21.

“My Dad passed away from cancer when I was 21, it was a really crazy point In my life that was the source of my excessive drinking in my barfly days. Helping my mother clean her house over quarantine she was throwing some books so I had a look. I pulled out The Road by Cormac McCarthy and when I opened it up to start reading a few days later on the first page in my dad’s handwriting was “to Micah (my brother) love Dad, 2009” (a year before he passed). All through the book were little notes written to him of various little things… like my Dad was passng me wisdom from the grave..it was beautiful. And it got me thinking about how even those passed can speak to us sometimes in various ways. The Road is about a father who’s dying and trying to teach his young son how to survive in a post apocalyptic world. It culminates in him passing away and his son going on to use what he’s learned … It was very very very fitting. Uncanny. It was like all that I went through in the 11 years since he died kinda resolved in part from my father after the fact from the grave…it was beautiful. And ‘Outlive Death’ just came spewing out as a result.”

An emotional ballad and one that a loving son should be very proud of. The kind of song that would make even the stoniest face shed a tear. ‘Barfly’ is one of a handful of songs here that was originally planned to make the debut album but didn’t make the cut. Reworked and partly rewritten again managing to be both catchy and tell a real story of someones life. ‘Sonder’ is 90 seconds long but seems so much longer. Great use of the mandolin here and it certainly has a sound of the full band.

‘LADADA Whiskey’ is the catchiest song here with a lovely tune and a beat to slap your thigh red raw too. Again a nice wee short number we love both our serious songs and pour drinking/fighting songs here we are against all that Folk snobbery and The Real McCoys have the perfect blend of both.  ‘Stingers’ again  comes with some furious strumming and I’ve only just realised this album is purely acoustic. ‘You’ll Be Fine’ is the most Celtic-ee number here and they slow it down but not too much. My favourite track of the album with great lyrics and a great sound. It’s worth saying at this point that the whole albums production is perfect which leads us nicely to the final track and ‘Cold Moon’ brings down with another catchy number packed full of meaning and even manages to incorporate a Poguesy ‘See You In Hell’ style Western vibe.

All three of the Real McCoys albums are available for free as a ‘name your price’ download but there is aso an option to leave some money and while I am sure Josh don’t mind we would like him to have a beer of two out of it so feel free to leave something… or not. I would recommend grabbing all three at once and we give you the London Celtic Punks promise that you’ll not be disappointed. A sort of seal of approval if you like! Outlive Death flies past in only twenty-two minutes but it is time well spent with someone with a lot of talent that I feel has lot more in him once things return to normal.

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

Download Outlive Death  Bandcamp

Contact The Real McCoys  Facebook  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: HEADSTICKS – ‘C.O.W.’ (2021)

Fresh from their utterly brilliant ‘Live Sessions’ broadcast at Christmas English Folk-Punk-Rockers Headsticks release their fourth studio album having signed to Chapter 22 Records. Hard hitting, emotive, infectious anthems and barbed lyrics a plenty.

Straddling the Punk and Folk scenes and still managing to keep everyone happy is quite a feat but one that Headsticks manage quite admirably. A couple of weeks ago we ran a feature on 80’s band The Glasgow Tremens titled ‘Punky But Not Punk, Folky But Not Folk‘ well this can not be said of Headsticks! The band describe themselves as “where folk and punk collide” and while you can’t help but make comparisons with a host of big names like the New Model Army, a more punky Levellers, Billy Bragg (when he was good) and even more recent bands like Ferocious Dog but Headsticks are still very much their own band. Formed out of the ashes of two much loved, and long gone, Celtic-Punk bands. ‘Tower Struck Down’ who were one of first English Celtic-Punk bands back in 1985 and Jugopunch, who had a song ‘Blackheart’ on the Shite’n’Onions compilation What The Shite #2 back in 2006. This brought them to international attention so popular were this series of CD’s. Well the Celtic touches are mainly gone but what remains is the plain good old folk’n’roll that made them popular first time round.

C.O.W. is their upteenth release and they have been reviewed here quite a few times so regular is their output. The last time was for an 4-track EP ‘Lies, Lies,Lies‘ featuring Punk Rock legend Steve Ignorant. With such a regular output they are also one of a few bands who also put out their releases on vinyl, even going so far as to have had vinyl only releases in the past. Hailing from Stoke in Staffordshire an area once famed for the manufacture of pottery (the area is known as The Potteries), coal mining and steel making. The area has gone into decline with the disappearance of these industries and neglect from both national and local government. Betrayed by the party the people bled red for they now vote for other parties. An area with a proud working class and trade union tradition is where Headsticks come from and this seeps through their music. Kicking off with ‘Red Is The Colour’ an anthem for those that gave their lives on battle fields everywhere. Sounding more like Jello Biafra than I can remember vocalist Andrew Tranter portrays the right ammount of passion and be sure these are passionate songs. Bands like Headsticks have always had plenty to sing about and these days when the ordinary bloke in the street is seemingly despised by everyone their is plenty ammunition. Next up is the apocalyptic love song ‘Peace & Quiet’ foretelling of environmental disaster but like all things Headsticks it’s told in a beautiful way. The art of writing lyrics that tell a complete story is some achievement and one that not just Celtic-Punk bands are adapt at.

The first song from the album to be released late last year it came out as 7″ single backed with a tremendous cover of ‘In The Ghetto’ (still available here).

“Don’t Predict A Riot! I want some peace and some quiet, I don’t to be the one who has to be the one to be so strong!”

‘Miles And Miles’ is a great example of their Folked up Punk while the next songs both show their range from 1980’s Anarcho-Punk in the style of early Chumba’s or Blyth Power to gentle acoustic musing. ‘A Tear For Yesterday’ and ‘Tyger, Tyger’ though poles apart on the surface fit together perfectly. ‘This Ain’t Politics’ is another on the folkier side and one I’m sure will be more popular at 50% of their gigs.

‘Naked’ was the second song to be released from C.O.W. on St. Patrick’s Day just gone and a great chugging Punk-Rock number. Simple but effective. The music takes quite a turn for the next couple of songs with ‘Red Sky’ and a pumping funky bass line my favourite track on C.O.W. while ‘Burn’ turns out a metally rocker. Both songs leave you with plenty to digest. Headsticks are one of those bands that its good to have the lyrics in front of you. ‘Opium’ is another acoustic number the shortest track on the album. We are into the last two songs and you can be among the first people to see the new Headsticks video for it comes out later today! ‘Speak Out’ comes at 9pm here so be sure to tune in and leave a comment. A bombastic rocker based upon the post-war poem by German pastor Martin Niemöller about the cowardice of German intellectuals to stand up to the rise of the Nazi’s. To ignore the persecution of others until it lands on your own doorstep. The standout and most memorable song here brings the curtain down and ‘Sing Danny Boy’ will raise the hairs on your neck. Andrew speaks over a gentle swirling backdrop about child abuse and psychological scars with a rare emotion found in music of any era or style. Some people are damaged before they get a chance to live it’s a terrible heart breaking thing. The passion spills out and I implore you to listen to the song below.

C.O.W. is Headsticks fourth studio album and their first, having recently signed, for the independent Midlands label Chapter 22 Records. The CD comes with a beautifully produced 20-page lyric booklet. C.O.W. is the bands best album so far and unusually each album they have released I have said that about. This may not be the usual kind of fare that readers are use to here but we have a sort of artistic license sometimes to include bands we love that we feel you will love too.  Headsticks have always been one of those bands and their constant innovation and evolving sound deserves to be heard and loved by many more. 

Buy C.O.W. Vinyl/CD Here  Download Here

Contact Headsticks  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE PEELERS – ‘Down And Out In The City Of Saints’ (2021)

Immersed in a hotbed of Gaelic culture that smashed head on into a love of whiskey, poetry, footy, debauchery, ska and punk The Peelers may not be the most prolific band on the Celtic-Punk scene but  for 20 odd years they have certainly been one of its best! 

Sadly for The Peelers the release of their fantastic new album Down And Out In The City Of Saints was overshadowed by the release of the new Rumjacks album. Coming out around St. Patrick’s Day we are normally overwhelmed with releases but it’s understandably been more of a slow trickle so far during 2021!

The Peelers left to right: Scotty Mitchell – Bass * Jonny Mooreman – Fiddle * Steve Creep – Lead Guitar * Dave Barton – Lead Vocals/ Rhythm Guitar * Eric Diamond – Organ/ Irish Whistles * Will Laurin – Drums *

One of North America’s more popular bands The Peelers are celebrating their 22nd anniversary this year after forming in 1999 in a small farmhouse kitchen in North Glengarry County in Eastern Ontario, Canada. Glengarry holds a special place in Canadian Irish history being separated from New York State by the St. Lawrence river it was originally settled by Irish immigrants who chose the name Glengarry in memory of home. It was where, during Án Gorta Mór, the coffin ships sailed to after being refused entry from America. It is thought over 15,000 Irish people are buried on the small island of Grosse Île where a huge Celtic cross now stands as a memorial to their poor souls. Nowadays though The Peelers are based in Montréal, the largest city in the French speaking province of Québec and The Peelers and their fame has long spread beyond Canada.

Their debut album Boots And Suits came out in 2002 followed by Liquordale in 2004 but it was an incredible 13 (thirteen!) years before they released another album with Palace Of The Fiend arriving on January 3rd, 2017. Recorded in five different studios, located in Montreal, Toronto and Morocco it was very well received across the Celtic-Punk world reaching #4 on the LCP Best Of 2017 list that year. So it is that a four year gap is not bad at all for The Peelers! The new album was again recorded in multiple places in Montreal, Dundee and Vancouver (sounds a bit like a version of Del Boy’s three wheeled van!) between December 2019 and June 2020. We can thank Covid for the gap this time with recording and production interrupted for several months while most of the world went into lockdown. The new material again reflects the North American experience of the Irish diaspora

“blending truth and fiction, glory and sport, love and loss, darkness and despair, while introducing composites of individuals, companions, friends and foes met along the punk rock journey.”

​Now signed to local record label Stomp Records Down And Out In The City Of Saints begins with ‘Give Us A Roar’ and its Celtic-Punk in it’s purest form. A backbone of Irish music ably joined by Punk and Rock’n’Roll that from the first few notes lets you know what you’re in for here! The title track follows and ‘Down And Out In The City Of Saints’ follows in the same energetic mode of music to beat up the floor to. Lyrically these are not your usual Celtic-Punk fayre of drinking and fighting songs (though their is some of that!) and these songs tell stories in the traditional sense.

“You can drive me to drink, I’ll give you the keys And I’ll chart a path to the sea”

The first track from the album to be released was ‘Prizefight’ and a great decision being the album’s standout track for me with singer/songwriter Dave Barton again coming up tops with a sing that channels both Rancid and The Tossers. Bagpipes appear for the next track on ‘Spirits Seldom Sober’ and if you can keep up with Dave here singing along to the words then hats off to ye. Heavy but not fast it has slower interludes of gang vocals and a brilliant pint in the air chorus.

“In bliss or torment judge him now but it’s not what you are thinking. It was an angel that put it in his hands but a devil made him drink it”

We step into real Irish territory with ‘Stick And Move’ a corker of a Gaelige rocker about Irish boxer Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan, the pride of Cork city! Holder of multiple belts including Irish, WBA and WBO titles he also tread the boards starring in several films. ‘Rakes Around The Point’ carries on in the same Irish vein with a track telling of hoods, gun and gangsters.

The only video to promote the album was for ‘Glad To See The Back Of You’ which came out on St. Patrick’s Day. The song itself was actually a reworking of a demo from 2004 along with the album closer ‘From Here To Halifax’. The band excell themselves next with ‘Last Glass’ a rather beautiful wee gentle number with piano with Dave’s words spilling over with emotion proving again this guy is up there with the best in Celtic-Punk history.

“And what if this is our last glass
Just know I loved you all along
If all we’ve done is all we have
And all I’ve left you is this song”

The boxing metaphors continue on ‘Harder They Fall’ an irish rocker laced with a spirit of rebellion and defiance. The curtain comes down with ‘From Here To Halifax’ and I don’t think they mean the market town in West Yorkshire so it must be Halifax in the overseas Celtic territory of Nova Scotia. A working class fishing port it has long been associated with Celtic culture and immigration. The track is a cracking light hearted drinking song celebrating the town and a real good way to end things.

It may only be their third album in 22 years but isurely a case of quality over quantity! The albums ten tracks last almost forty minutes and has superb production as well as a pretty amazing cover by Canadian / Filipino artist @therealdannyrebel. Hope you guys are getting this knocked up as t-shirt? So St. Patrick’s 2021 did come good in the end and I look forward to still be playing this on next years one too!

(Stream / download Down And Out In The City Of Saints on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Down And Out In The City Of Saints  Download / Vinyl – Bandcamp

The album is also available from Stomp Records

Contact The Peelers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube 

PUNKY BUT NOT PUNK, FOLKY BUT NOT FOLK. THERE WENT THE GLASGOW TREMENS

The 1980s weren’t all gloom and misery. Emerging from the smog of wars, strikes, unemployment, police corruption and pop charts clogged with over-produced music were a little-known Scottish band called The Tremens. They were loud, brash and full of it. They were like some kind of Glaswegian mutation of The Pogues and Tom Waits. They were punky but not Punk. They were folky but not Folk. And for a few years they were the freshest band in town…

During the recent lockdown I decluttered a room that was stuffed to the rafters with junk. Mountains of it. In a far corner I clocked a box ink-marked “Tremens”. The box contained a trove of old vinyl, master tapes, pictures, cassettes, Press cuttings and lyric sheets. It was like exhuming a corpse. Suddenly, it all came back to me…

Early publicity photo intended for an NME article that never happened!

I formed The Tremens as a 4-piece around 1985, most of us from the Govanhill area in Glasgow’s Southside. This first incarnation of the band was shouty and thrashy, second generation Punk, musically limited but bristling with attitude. We sold cassettes of our material at gigs around Glasgow and through the burgeoning Cassette Underground scene. I still love cassettes by the way. Great format. Songs from this period included Here Come The Plods and the boozy Shake Prattle And Fall. Both were included on a now very hard-to-find compilation called Dougie Donnelly’s Robot Pants which changes hands for silly money these days.

Our audiences always had a good time!

I was a huge fan of John Peel’s anything-goes music policy at the time and decided to widen the band’s output by incorporating folkier elements into the set. My influences at that time would have included The Pogues, Alex Harvey, Ivor Cutler, Half Man Half Biscuit and a lot of stuff released on the Ron Johnson label (Bogshed, Stump, Big Flame etc). I drafted in new members and this second version of the band played about 40-50 gigs up and down Scotland for a couple of years. The addition of a sax gave us a near unique sound, described in one review as

“Alex Harvey auditioning for X-Ray Spex”

and by 1987 or so The Tremens were a formidable live draw. Bands we supported around this time included Toxik Ephex, Nyah Fearties, Attila The Stockbroker, Pregnant Neck, Distorted Truth and many others. We were always a support act. Promoters liked sticking us in the middle of multi-band line-ups to give the running order more variety, more colour.

Ray belting something out at a mid-80’s gig

Members came and went, and a newer third version of the band released a 6-track EP in the late 80s called Feral Children, which was played to death on the BBC’s Beat Patrol show on Radio Scotland. For some reason the record became very popular in Germany, selling out in a few months, but full-blown tours abroad never materialised. We were too disorganised. Too lazy and probably too drunk. We continued for another year or two, but I then started going abroad for extended periods, busking and hitching, and I jacked-in the local gig scene. For the next 10 years The Tremens were an occasional recording unit only, releasing about half a dozen albums on CD and cassette, with whatever musicians were passing through. All in, I think there must have been around 30-40 floating members over the years. At one point we had banjo, bagpipes and xylophone in the ranks competing with the standard bass/drums/guitar line-up. Crazy. But it kept the material fresh. We never stayed in the one place, musically speaking. It was always evolving, but the attitude remained the same.

Other bands were by now using the name “Tremens” (there’s at least 3 of them out there), so we eventually became The Glasgow Tremens to distinguish us from the others.

Sometimes there were 8 or 9 of us on stage having good rammy

Listening to the band’s material recently for the first time in decades, it’s clear we were neither Punk or Folk in the conventional sense, but contained elements of both. The Punk element was in the attitude and delivery, not the musicality. Listening back, I was also surprised

by the amount of humour in the songs. We were an antidote to the legions of po-faced bores around at the time. As I said, the 1980s weren’t all gloom and misery.

Selection of Glasgow Tremens releases

The original vinyl, cassettes and CDs are long gone, occasionally popping up in the second-hand market for ridiculous money. I therefore decided to upload a batch of stuff on music site Bandcamp. I’ll put more songs up at a later date but for now, if you’re curious, you can download a 10-track album called SAWNEY BEAN’S GOT THE MUNCHIES.

Cheers, Raymy Tremens

*

Thanks to Raymy and we hunted down the album for you. You get three free listens then your free ride is over and you have to fork out a measley fiver. So get on it Folk-Punk folk.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DEAD RABBITS- ‘7 Ol’ Jerks’ (2021)

Fueled by cheap whiskey and Lone Star beer The Dead Rabbits have emerged out of Texas as one of the American Celtic-Punk scenes best bands. Charged by the ole songs of Irish rebellion and the speed and harmony of Punk, they combine a potent mix of Irish Folk, Bluegrass, Gypsy and Punk Rock.

Taking their name from the real life street gang of American-Irish criminals active in Lower Manhattan in the 1830s to 1850s The Dead Rabbits hail from Texas but these guys are from your typical Texans! These original Dead Rabbits took their name after a dead rabbit was thrown into a gang meeting, prompting some members to treat this as an omen, their battle symbol becoming a dead rabbit on a pike. Besides their criminal activities they often clashed with so-called ‘nativist’ groups and gangs who viewed Irish Catholics as threatening and dangerous.

Formed in mid-2009 with the band’s founder, Seamuis Strain, a guest of the state at Louisiana prison he returned to Houston and bagan to put together what would become known as the ‘Warren’. Since that day, as with all bands, members have come and gone but always Seamuis has led from the front pushing and promoting the band across social media and he has become a known face on the many Facebook groups and pages specialising in Celtic-Punk. Their debut release was the excellently titled ‘Tiocfaidh Ar La’ which went onto be voted one of the best releases of 2013 by both Paddyrock Radio and Celtic Folk Punk web-zine! As far as I can tell the band spent the next few years playing gigs and touring and it came as a suprise to me that it wasn’t till last year that they followed up ‘TAL’ with the sort of greatest hits self-titled album The Dead Rabbits. It was basically a re-release of TAL but with a handful of new tracks and covers.

The Dead Rabbits: Seamuis – Lead Vocals, Guitars * Banjovi – Vocals, Banjo * Danger Dave – Fiddle * General Woundwort – Vocals, Guitar * Bigwig – Drums and Vox

So a new album is long overdue and their is certainly no messing about here on 7 Ol’ Jerks with the nine tracks clocking in just short of twenty-one minutes it’s a fast and furious, blink and you’ll miss it rollercoaster ride through the angrier side of Celtic-Punk alternating between Discharge styled hardcore Punk and a just slightly more Celtic version of them. Not for the faint hearted these are not likely to turn at Renaissance fayre’s or family orientated Celtic festivals (mores the pity!). Laced with humour and Irish spirit(s) I bloody loved it but then again I am an aging auld anarcho-punk but these days with better politics and hair!

They follow this up with another quick blast through the Shane MacGowan penned ‘If I Should Fall From The Grace With God’. The title track of what is often thought to be the pinnacle of The Pogues career it is here given the full Punk-Rock treatement with some great fiddle work giving it that Irish feel. Played at breakneck speed Seamuis has a great voice for this style but the rest of the band too showing how good the production/mixing is. Another ‘quickie’ with ‘L-Elaine’ not even breaking the minute mark but still manages to tell a story of love and love of the bottle. ‘Father McGregor’ is a oldish song with the version below from Bandcamp a few years old now but has been reworked for 7 Ol’Jerks.

You might expect The Dead Rabbits to not be the kind of band to play the ‘auld favourites’. The kind of song that when your Mammy walks in while you’ve got Celtic-Punk turned up to 11 asks “do they play such and such?”. You reply of “don’t be daft. Of course not Mum, this is Celtic-Punk” and then the next song that comes on is ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and she walks away smiling! Well here the Rabbits turn their ear to that most loved of all Irish songs, especially among the American-Irish, ‘Danny Boy Medley’ in which they stick in half-a-dozen classics before the clock strikes three minutes. ‘Train Song’ is a song about trains. Just that but with banjo and fiddle before we get another classic and  ‘The Leaving Of Liverpool’ is one of many Irish Folk tunes that is perfectly suited for ‘punking up’. The sound of the Dubliners version is still intact and recogniseable while the Rabbits add a new dimension to the song. The album ends with two original tracks the short more trad Celtic-Punk sounding title track, ‘7 Ol’ Jerks’, and the epic 4 (four!!) minute ‘Dreams’, originally recorded by The Cranberries. I think it’s a shame they didn’t choose this as the opening single to promote the album as its is utterly brillliant!! They can do the hardcore stuff very well but this song lifts the album from just pretty good into album of the year material, yes it is that good. Seamuis voice aches and strains over a tune to die for that depsite being classic Celtic-Punk still has that harder edge than most bands which I’m sure is what they were striving here on 7 Ol’ Jerks.

Buy 7 Ol’ Jerks  Amazon  Apple  Spotify

(Pre sale orders for vinyl are available now from Grimace Records)

Contact The Dead Rabbits Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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Facebook has become an unlikeable monster with more and more good folk leaving. Can’t say I blames you. So we have set up a Telegram group. Similar but better (and easier to use) than Whats App and free from Facebook control. Join us on Telegram and you wont miss a beat!

ALBUM REVIEW: AFTER HOURS- BLACK 47 TRIBUTE COMPILATION (2021)

Thirty years since the release of Black 47’s eponymous first album comes the first part of a trilogy of tribute albums celebrating this popular and controversial band of who Time magazine wrote in 1993 it was

“the proletariat passion of Black 47’s songs that make the group stand out”.

Seven songs from Larry Kirwan and Black 47 with Celtic Cross, Pat McGuire, Screaming Orphans, The Gobshites, Rory K, Gary Óg and Martin Furey produced by Peter Walsh of The The Gobshites and Larry Kirwan of Black 47.

Taking their name and inspiration from the worse year of An Gorta Mór (the Great Hunger) in Ireland Black 47 were one of the brightest lights of the Irish music scene on the American east-coast for twenty-five years from 1989 till they called it a day in 2014. Their influence still spreads across the whole of America and wherever Irish music in America is mentioned then the name of Black 47 will be included. So it is fitting that Valley Entertainment have announced a series of tribute albums to be rleased over the next few months starting with After Hours celebrating thirty years since the release of their debut self-titled album in 1991.

Executive produced by Peter Walsh of the much loved Celtic-Punk band The Gobshites and Black 47’s very own Larry Kirwan, After Hours will be released in three parts, each comprising a selection of reworked Black 47 favourites beginning with the first volume that came out on St. Patrick’s Day 2021. Playing over 2500 live shows across three continents during their time together (including one memorable evening down the Haringey Irish Centre in north London) these collections feature musicians that the band met along the way while performing everywhere from stadiums to theatres, rock clubs to Irish bars. In addition to working on these releases, the ever busy Larry Kirwan has been working on several other projects:  His latest novel Rockaway Blue was published by Three Hills/Cornell U. Press on March 15th.  He conceived and co-wrote the Broadway bound musical Paradise Square that tells the story of the immigrant Irish and African-Americans in the Five Points neighborhood of New York City during the Civil War. While for Peter Walsh and The Gobshites they have come storming back onto the Celtic-Punk scene with their latest single ‘Carry Me Away’. The music on After Hours includes songs from the entire Black 47 catalogue, each one featuring a guest artist.

(Each song is featured individually but to hear them together go to the Bandcamp link at the bottom)

Celtic Cross – ’40 Shades Of Blue’

Pat McGuire – ‘Too Late To Turn Back’

Screaming Orphans – ‘Sleep Tight In New York City (Her Dear Old Donegal)

The Gobshites – ‘Livin’ In America’

Rory K. – ‘Desperate’

Gary Óg – ‘James Connolly’

Martin Furey – ‘Rockin’ The Bronx’

 

Buy After Hours  Fanlink  ValleyEntertainent  Bandcamp

Released by Valley Entertainment. Independent record label based in New York City. The label includes an eclectic repertoire with focus on singer-songwriters, modern Irish musicians and World music.

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter

Facebook has become an unlikeable monster with more and more good folk leaving. Can’t say I blames you. So we have set up a Telegram group. Similar but better (and easier to use) than Whats App and free from Facebook control. Join us on Telegram and dont miss a beat!

EP REVIEW: NEVERMIND NESSIE – ‘Another Six Pack Of Drinking Songs’ (2021)

Held over from last year the new EP from Belgian Celtic-Punks Nevermind Nessie finds the band in top form with six original songs of up tempo Celtic-Folk-Punk.

Another Six Pack Of Drinking Songs was recorded in 2020 and was all set for release when the dreaded Covid reared its ugly head and slowly the world shut down. Terrible timing for any band but with the shutdown happening just days before St. Patrick’s Day it can be argued it affected Celtic-Punk bands worse than most with that time of year the busiest time with releases, tours and gigs booked well in advance. Stripped of any chances to promote the release Nevermind Nessie decided to delay release until better days and with light appearing at the end of the tunnel now is Nessie’s time.

Formed in Belguim in 2009 Nevermind Nessie in common with a lot of Celtic-Punk bands have always concentrated on the live side of things so their recorded output has been limited to just three releases, a self- titled EP in 2012, Story of A Lost Generation in 2015 and Best of Foes in 2017. All were put out by the band themselves as is this new EP. Through the last  year they grabbed every opportunity possible to rehearse and so on St. Patrick’s Day came Another Six Pack Of Drinking Songs. Ironically a EP containing only one drinking song! The EP’s songs are all written by the band, no ‘Fields Of Athenry’ or ‘The Wild Rover’ here and touch upon a multitude of subjects. The opening track is ‘About Her’ and a tender love song about falling for a hippy chick! I say tender but it’s far from a ballad with clashing guitar and Pop-Punk style drums. Flute leads though with the fiddle subtly playing in the background.

The track was written three years ago in Lille and the video recorded and filmed last year and it finally saw the light of day this month. The video is great telling the story of the song with humour and style. This is followed by that solitary drinking song and ‘Another Drinking Song’ is the highlight here for me and not just because I’m a sucka for drinking songs! Catchy and with profound lyrics the fiddle is more up in the mix here and the song is a guaranteed floor filler. ‘Greyhound Lovesick’ is an punky ode to coach travel while ‘A Deadly Quest’ is a sea-shanty-ish rocker but remember these songs were well in advance of the current popular hipster trend. Another highlight here with the accordion leading reminding me a bit of Matilda’s Scoundrels. Underneath these songs are classic Folk tunes powered by whistle, accordion and fiddle but backed with a solid Punk rhythm section. The first single from the EP was ‘Lock Him Up’ a rather obvious song about Donald Trump released six months ago but it gives the boys a chance to Punk it up and give the gang in the pit a chance to go wild. 

The EP ends with a rather topical song ‘The End Of The Show’ about live concerts (remember them?) and sees them go out in style with a real catchy slower tempo number.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/0r3dg29rLXALfBHZEX6DFV

Nevermind Nessie are first and foremost a live band playing in sweaty bars and summer festivals. The EP is only out as a digital release only at the moment on all streaming channels but physical copies will be available as soon as gigs start happening. The songs were recorded and mixed at Studio Trad by Jeroen Geerinck and he has done a marvelous job. Sadly this is the last stand for Vincent the bands accordion player as he leaves on good terms so if you live locally and can play then get in touch with the band. But for now grab yourself a pint, get comfy and give Another Six Pack Of Drinking Songs a quick listen.

Contact Nevermind Nessie  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

 

ALBUM REVIEW: THE RUMJACKS – ‘Hestia’ (2021)

The long awaited and hotly anticipated new studio album from The Rumjacks is now out and available everywhere. We missed the release date last week as we didn’t get an advance copy for the first time (!) but better late than never and who better to judge it for us than the ‘FolkPunker’ himself Anto Morra

This arrived just in time to put on while I made my breakfast on St Patrick’s Day, the opening track ‘Naysayers’ had me pogoing around the kitchen and the second ‘Bullhead’ had me attempting to step dance on the tiled floor so that’s a pretty good start I’d say! Both songs have Irish Rebel fury and ‘Bullhead’ not only has a tongue twisting refrain ‘If my will is the wind, then I will die willing and free’ but also borrows the brilliant line ‘I’ll not die ‘till you bury me’ from Shane MacGowan’s song ‘Aishling’ from there it’s straight into the mouth of the craicin’ title track ‘Hestia’ which starts like a sea shanty before bursting into a pure rock wig-out. The celtic sound freely ploughs through but if it wasn’t there you might think you were listening to a hair less Punk band.

I think they must have channeled the late great Ennio Morricone for the intro of ‘Through These Iron Sights’ just over 60 seconds of moody bliss before 15 seconds of metal, then we remember we’re listening to a Celtic-Punk band again. ‘Sainted Millions’ can only be described as an anthemic war cry to the Celtic diaspora and it’s fantastic to hear a really distinctive accent from down under in the shared lead vocal. Here is a great live acoustic version (that makes me wonder is Mick a closet morris dancer with ‘bells on his toes he’ll have music where ever he goes’)

“Sleeping sainted millions, can you tell me what you know? Sing to me a song you wrote beneath your pile of stone.”

“I wouldn’t trade it for another, and I would do it all again.”

It’s a challenge for any band to replace a vocalist when they’re as established as The Rumjacks but the choice of ‘Mickey Rickshaw’s’ Mike Rivkees is a very wise one as he clearly has the range and aggressive delivery needed. This is very different from past offerings but still has the elements we love. More of the same would be… well just the same and bands and audiences need to progress and grow and the Celtic-Punk genre needs this new line up. The musicality is top notch and with a younger singer the energy pours out of the recordings. The generation that saw Punk arrive in ’76 / ’77 and then The Pogues carry a certain amount of baggage that a band like The Rumjacks new line up don’t and that makes them much more confident to lift influences from places us oldies would never dream of.

The Rumjacks left to right: Johnny McKelvey- Bass, Vocals * Pietro Della Sala- Drums, Vocals * Mike Rivkees – Vocals, Tin Whistle, Accordion * Gabriel Whitbourne- Guitar * Adam Kenny – Bouzouki. Mandolin *

Although there is a lot more of heavy rock influence here, it still maintains a celtic charm and punky reggae party feel even if it lacks some of the humour of punk and Irish folk. That is until we hit ‘Tell me what Happened’ which ticks both boxes ‘The girls that carried you home have left you to rot in the bars alone’. There’s a beautiful simplicity to the ‘Rhythm Of Her Name’, it’s catchy and classy and one of those songs that you could do anything to and it would work. I could even imagine The Proclaimers doing it. As for ‘Lizzy Borden’ the folk story telling tradition at it’s gruesome best. ‘Light in My Shadow’ is up there with the best really abrasively catchy with bagpipes to die for.

‘Wunderlust’ is for some reason reflective of something that may have come out on the Two Tone Label in 1979. ‘Goodnight & Make Mends’ is the perfect closer.

In conclusion this is a belting new start for one of the best bands on the Celtic Punk scene. There is not a bad track on it, 14 songs and no dud’s or fillers- what you hear is a band re-invigorated and joyous. They’ll probably hate me for saying some of this but I was hearing all sort through this record so I’ll just list ‘em in no particular order, Big Country, Metallica, Green Day, Madness, Kiss, The Levellers and most obviously The Rumjacks right back on form.

Buy Hestia  (CD/ Download/ Vinyl) Here

Contact The Rumjacks   WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

Born and raised in London by immigrant parents from Ireland Anto Morra swapped the Smoke for the Swamp in 1989 and adopted Norfolk as home but still returns often to visit his Mammy and play for London Celtic Punks. At times a pogoing, gobbing Punk, a lazy pot smoking hairy Hippy, a bopping Rock-A-Billy, a sharp dressed Mod and even a Bauhaus loving Goth he’s soaked it all in and none of it and all of it has been an influence on him.

https://www.antomorra.com/

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.

CLICK HERE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD

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 th