Category Archives: Album Review

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SKIDS- ‘Burning Cities’ (2018)

Thirty-six years since their last album Scottish post-punk pioneers The Skids, currently on a hugely successful comeback tour, have released their fifth album ‘Burning Cities’ and could it be the greatest comeback album of all time?

I wonder if there will be many readers here, who will never have heard of The Skids. If that is so, then that’s a sad situation. The Skids were a four-piece band from Dunfermline in Scotland. They formed in 1977 and had a very distinctive sound, mainly because of guitarist’s Stuart Adamson’s fantastic ability. This is why we at LCP are looking at this new release. Many people said that Adamson could make his guitar sound like the pipes; although he himself hated that comparison. When he left the band, he went on to form Big Country, who I’m sure most readers will have heard of and probably have enjoyed listening to. Big Country were one of the first commercially successful rock groups to incorporate Celtic instruments and themes into their music (hence our interest!). Anyway, back to The Skids, who had an all too brief impact on the Punk / New Wave scene in the late 70s and early 80s. Along with Adamson the band was fronted by Richard Jobson, who was the chief lyricist. Will Simpson and Tom Kellichan (bass and drums) completed the line-up.
Their highest charting single was the classic Into the Valley, still covered by many a band! When Virgin Records heard their self-produced Charles EP, they immediately signed them up to a long term multi album deal and perhaps this was their downfall. Adamson was a real ‘home bird’ and wanted to stay based in Scotland. Jobson and Virgin wanted the band to be based in London. This split between the two driving forces was inevitably going to be their undoing. Adamson, despite his guitar genius, was still a shy introvert. Jobson was a much more outgoing extrovert, he was getting plenty of attention from the London art and media fraternity. After three albums and a couple of line-up changes, on drums and bass, Adamson left, Jobson brought out one album (Joy), with the remainder of the group. And that was that, Jobson worked in TV presenting, acting and directing movies. Adamson, as I’ve said formed Big Country and received worldwide acclaim, until his sad passing in 2001.

Stuart Adamson- 11 April 1958 – 16 December 2001. RIP.

The reason for this little history lesson is that The Skids ‘reformed’ a couple of years ago; they went on a nationwide tour and received rave reviews for their performances. Following on from this tour they went into the studio and the result is the fantastic new album ‘Burning Skies’. The line-up of the band is, Jobson, Simpson, Baillie (he joined the original band in 79 after Kellichan left) and most interestingly Bruce Watson and his son Jamie. Whilst Watson wasn’t in the original Skids he was in Big Country with Adamson and obviously learned a lot from him. When you get these old bands re-forming, it’s usually a nostalgic trip down memory lane for most fans (witness the Rebellion festival every August) and The Skids of course play many of the old favourites when they perform. Burning Cities however is chock full of new original music. The sound is unmistakably Skids and this is where you see the wisdom of bringing the Watsons in. All the years that he played with Stuart obviously gave Bruce an insight into his playing style and sound. He’s not imitating Stuart in any way, but the ‘feel’ of him can be heard here.

(The Skids and their iconic and legendary hit single from 1979)

The album starts off with what could be called a ‘clarion call’ in the shape of This Is Our World, an up-tempo rail at the world, don’t let the opening piano fool you it soon bursts into life. One Last Chance follows and the almost bagpipe like sound of the guitar is there in all its glory. Next up is Kaputt with some choppy sounding lyrics that put one in mind of Belfast’s very own Defects (not a bad sound to make!). Jobson’s delivery over the recurring guitar riffs show he still has the cohones for a row. A World On Fire is next and this one has the anthemic lyrics in the chorus for everyone to sing along to. The kind of track you could imagine a football crowd belting out!

The title track is another anthemlike offering, the pace is a bit slower, but all the power is still there, a track that (if you’re anything like me) you’ll have running around in your head all day. Up On The Moors comes next speeding things up again, it sounds quite lively like some of the early Skids offerings, a catchy number that would have made a good single back in the day! Refugee is a much slower paced almost reverential track. There is a sound that brings Clannad or Enya into my head which just sounds daft, but listen to it yourself and then try to categorise it!! Subbotnik brings you out of the Celtic misty meanderings into another punky typical Skids tune. The intro alone into Kings Of The New World Order is worth the price of the album. The guitar work makes such a unique sound and is a joy to listen to. Into the Void is a fast-paced track with edgy sounding guitars and lyrics from Jobson that will make it another ‘earworm’ of a track with its “down and down and down we go“ hook.

The final track is like a ballad, Desert Dust tells the tale of someone signing up for the army. It has wonderful fiddle work weaving through it and will definitely be many people’s standout track. For me there are at least 6 standout tracks and 0 duff tracks. Although I have gone on at length about the guitar sound here, I don’t want to take away from the rest of the band, they sound tight and certainly contribute to making a unique all-round sound. This album was released in January and is already a contender for the album of the year slot. It really is that good, old fellas like me will revel in the feelings it brings and those who have never heard The Skids are in for a real treat!

Ger Mellon

Discography

Scared to Dance (1979) * Days in Europa (1979) * The Absolute Game (1980) * Joy (1981) * Burning Cities (2018)

Buy Burning Cities

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ALBUM REVIEW: ANTO MORRA- ‘From The Vaults’ (2017)

London Irish Folk Punk

Somewhere between the Pogues and Ian Dury with perhaps a dash of Madness.

He’s back. Guess whose back? Aye it’s the all round Mr. Nice Guy Anto Morra to sort the English folk scene right out! Even more prolific than Matilda’s Scoundrels Anto presents his new album that came out at the arse end of last year giving us no time to get a review in so with things a little quiet on the celtic-punk scene it’s a perfect opportunity to revisit this great album and give it the review it deserves.

This is not quite a new album though it’s more of a concept album. Offered some free time at a recording studio near his adopted home in Norfolk he decided to revisit some of his older works that were either never recorded or recorded in bands that he was previously in. Having laid down the bones of this album on a hot summers day in July Anto realised this would be a fantastic opportunity to bring in some of his ex and present band mates and also some of the talented musicians that he had hooked up with since the start of his solo career. The songs here were all written between 1986 and 1996 during a time when Anto says

“my only ambitions were to have as much sex, drugs and rock’n’roll as a young man could handle”

Sadly three of Anto’s close friends passed during the time when he began recording From The Vaults to it’s finish. A strange coincidence was that they all had birthdays on the 19th the month, different months and different years so in tribute to them the album was released on the 19th December.

Regular readers will need no introduction as he has featured on these pages numerous times due to his more than abundant releases! Just in case though we’ll give you a wee run down before the review starts. Born Anthony Morrissey and raised in London by Irish parents, his formative years were as a punk rocker floating from band to band and dole cheque to dole cheque in Thatcher’s Britain. His Irish background provides the backbone for much of his music and focuses on the confusion of being brought up between two cultures that were so opposed to each other. Old animosities are thawing but the relationship remains an uneasy one. Flitting from punk band to band during these years he eventually washed up in the Norfolk countryside and he began to further explore his roots with Whirligig, a four-piece ceilidh dance Band. In 2013 he left the band after ten years deciding to concentrate on songwriting and solo performances.

Anto

From The Vaults is another of Anto trademark releases with a huge booklet packed with photos and information on all the songs including a very lovely mention of yours truly that I was very touched by (thanks Anto). The album is fifteen songs and as usual he has squeezed as much as possible in. Coming with a cover painted again by famed London Irish artist Brian Whelan (check out his wonderful art here). We kick of with ‘Lifting The Lid’ which sees Anto reminisce about his Catholic Irish background and the realisation that it wasn’t as restrictive and as he thought it was when he was young. Something that comes to most people of Irish backgrounds when they grow up I think. As stated it’s not just Anto here and to read out the list of collaborators would take up a whole page so suffice to say the backing he receives here is absolutely terrific and lifts the album into the premier league! ‘Bomb Alert’ looks back to the early 90’s a time when the Gulf War lit up our TV’s and the Boys were still blowing up parts of London. ‘Tall Story’ is my favourite track here a catchy upbeat punky number from his days as vocalist in indie-punk band Fountain Head in the mid-90’s. Anto gives his voice a good work out next in ‘Martyr’ with a tale living in a bedsit and seeing fellow members of the underclass finding themselves deeper and deeper in poverty. Acoustic guitar backed by mandolin as Anto gives us it straight from the heart, as he always does, while backed on vocals by his Mrs Julie. The song goes straight into ‘Dance’ and fiddle comes into play and the oldest song featured here at over twenty-five years old! Anto thinks its a bit Jimi Hendrix you’ll have to make up your own minds on that. 90’s insomniac plagued sleepless nights inspired ‘Fugitive’ based around the TV show of the same night fiddle, flute and banjo manage not to sound Celtic somehow! ‘Better Place’ and ‘High In The Night’ both tell the highly personal stories mental health and drug issues but done with panache and a lot of style. ‘Crazy Chris K-Hole Glasto’ is the only song on the album written this century and is about a trip to Glastonbury festival with his auld London Irish mate Chris. To K-Hole is to hallucinate while on drugs and sadly Chris was one of the friends who passed away during production of From The Vaults whilst battling addiction.

” His brutal honesty and wit made him such great company and fun to be around”.

A fantastic tribute to him which features Chris having a ‘episode’ outside Anto’s tent while he recorded him on a wee tape deck. RIP Chris. ‘Dragon Hide Away’ is slow and mournful just how a song with accordion should be.

There’s even brass out for ‘Changeless Angel’ a story of a burlesque dancer with a happy ending for a change. We in for some more heartbreak next with ‘Youre Not Here (Sadder Than Asda)’ from 1992 about a particularly tough relationship break-up. Most men can relate to the words here but as Anto says on the album notes “strange how returning to the song could become such a positive joy”.

Time is a great healer it is true. Just Anto and Kerry Selwin on piano it ends on a perfect bittersweet note as Anto sings the chorus repeating “You’re not here” until the final words “Thank the Lord!”. Typical Anto! ‘Wrecked On Love’ tells of the cycle of relationships we find ourselves on until we find the ‘one’. We coming rolling up towards the end and ‘Happy Ending’ is dedicated to all the musical geniuses that left before their time. Written on hearing the news of Kurt Cobain’s suicide Anto is backed here by John and Thim from Anto’s current collaborators in the folk-punk band The Punkfolkers. In the main its been a reflective album, obviously, but the curtain comes down with ‘Seen It All’ and a song to send you off into the dark with a wry smile and a bursting heart. The kind of song where the words will pop into your head at some random point and make you smile.

Yet another hit from one of the nicest people in celtic-punk and while this release is missing much of the trademark humour that has made Anto so popular and well received his warmth still spills over from the CD into us. A wordsmith and a modern day seanchaí his words have a sincerity about them that would make many so called artists weep in jealousy! That he can both keep up the output and the quality of his releases is outstanding and we have been promised another album soon in The Punkfolkers release Night Bus To Tombland. Forty years of protest, rebellion and punk and with records like this we can look forward to another forty as well!

Dedicated to

Chris McCormack * John (Ribsy) Vick * Tom Paley

Buy From The Vaults

FromAnto

Contact Anto Morra

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(‘The Blacksmith’ from the recent Folkpunkers single )

ALBUM REVIEW: RED OR DEAD- ‘Trotsky Waltz’ (2018)

The self-produced and self-financed debut album from a bunch of socialist folk-punkers from North Wales who will bring down the system or fall asleep trying!
So we can safely say we are into the new year in full swing with this our first review of 2018. Released on new year’s day it’s not yer typical celtic-punk but seeing as how Red Or Dead hail from the Celtic stronghold of north Wales it certainly justifies its place here. While musically its from the same sort of path as ‘festie’ bands like The Levellers, Folk The System or even Ferocious Dog it sticks pretty much to the more modern standard of what passes for folk-punk and while I think it could benefit from a few celtic flourishes it’s fine as it is! The band formed only a couple of years after meeting while protesting outside a UKIP conference. Folk has long been a way for people to push for change and in fact the folk scene could do with a real dose of it now.

Red Or Dead left to right: Dave Sunerton Burl- Bass, Guitar * Rob Murray- Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals * Gala Elvira- Vocals * Emma Sunerton Burl- Cajon/Percussion

Trotsky Waltz begins with ‘I Am The Fire’ and if they weren’t indeed Welsh then I would be bringing the names of some classic English folk-rock bands into the equation. The most stand out thing after first listen is the use of a cajon which is one of those wooden boxes that people sit on and tap and thump instead of having a drummer. This means that it doesn’t ever really fly off into punk remaining solidly within folk. It’s a rousing start to proceedings though and its always sensible to start with a standout track I think. Lyrically its all a bit right on but does at least manage not to fall into cliche, or even worse parody. Robs vocals are strong and with Gala’s backing the two of them work brilliantly together. The following two tracks first appeared on their debut EP from last year and both have been improved on significantly. ‘No One Is Innocent’ sees Gala take over on vocals and she has a certain anarcho-punk sound to her voice reminding me of early Chumba’s perhaps. Looking back I think lot of what we called anarcho-punk back in the day would now be classed as folk-punk. Back when I first going to pubs when I was just a young spotty punk rocker the pubs and clubs use to be full of socialist folky bands, or at least the ones I went to, and how Red Or Dead would have loved those days. 
(listen to their debut release below)
‘Watch It Burn’ is like the rest of the album a call to arms, or at least the street and I will try not to overuse the word ‘catchy’ here though it is going to be hard. Gala belts out the angry ‘In America’ and its on songs like these that the band could benefit from a drummer to give the songs a bit of extra bite. Nevertheless it still trips along nicely until Rob chimes in with
“Land of the free? Fuuuuuck Off!  Land of the rich white man”
bawled out and follows a rant about the state of the nation over there in the USA. I do wonder though how Obama fits into this narrative of the “rich white man” seeing how many dead bodies he was responsible for around the world? ‘Colin Cambridge’ slows it all down and chucks in something you don’t often hear in modern day music of any genre… whistling!
(here is ‘Colin Cambridge’… minus the whistling though!)

In a song that is crying out for tin whistle I suppose you got to go with what you got in a song about privileged people who go on to do nothing with their lives. The best song since the opener is up next with ‘Steeltown’ and is a simple track beginning with acoustic guitar and mandolin and Rob singing over the top about the decimation of the working class and their industries. Coming from a coal-mining family myself I can only agree that it was the Tories and Labour who share the blame for screwing the working class. Its often been said that the Conservatives defend their class and Labour hate theirs. Wales is owed a hell of a lot by the Labour Party for a loyalty that was never deserved. ‘A New Day’ is yer standard victory is in sight song but wishful thinking methinks. While the left is obsessed by poisonous identity politics we are going absolutely nowhere.

‘Never Again’ is a well cliched song title but the song manages to be both angry and gentle and I love that they name check Jimmy Reid the old Scots trade unionist.
“Never again will I bow down to a false ideal or a faded crown”
‘All The World’ plays more of the same and for once the politics take a bit of a back seat. With influences from across punk you can hear The Clash loud and proud within ‘Travel Home’ which comes over as a tribute to ‘Armagideon Time’ and in the following song, ‘Strummer And Burnel’, Rob pays his debt to the heroes who inspired him into a life of music. Bemoaning, and quite rightly, the quality of both today’s music and today’s protest.
Students they don’t march no more the middle class won that war”
Catchy and thoughtful and with a nice bit of electric guitar that threatens to rock out but just resists. We are coming up towards the final bend and ‘Living In A Life’ is another standout number here and I feel they could certainly rock out more on numbers like this. Would still be a real foot tapper live but just in need of a little extra oomft! The album comes to an end with ‘Make A Stand’ and is the perfect way to end things with a ‘lighter waving in the air’ song.
So a whopping thirteen songs that come in at a also whopping forty-five minutes and if I’m being honest then I would say the album may have benefited from being maybe two or three songs shorter. While the cajon is absolutely fine live it does get a wee bit thumpy on disc and dare I say it monotonous. The music is catchy and solid and lyrics are straight from the heart and sometimes burn with passion making you wish the music was a bit up there too. The major criticism people have of folk-punk is that it is boring but Red Or Dead steer well clear of that and the album is very well paced and recorded with a clear and crisp production too. Unashamedly left-wing and idealistic they are the sort of band that would appeal to fans of all the usual suspects of festival bands and may well pop up playing at a political benefit near you at anytime soon.
(you can listen to the entirety of Trotsky Waltz for *FREE* below on the Bandcamp player)
Buy Trotsky Waltz
Contact Red Or Dead

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2017!

Yes I know it only seems like five minutes since the last one but it’s that time of year again when we give you, for what it’s worth, our opinion on who made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over 2017. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. So read on to find out who came #1! Remember though this is only our opinion and these thirty album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

1. FLATFOOT 56 (Chicago)- ‘Odd Boat’  here

2. THE TOSSERS (Chicago)- ‘Smash The Windows’  here

3. THE BIBLECODE SUNDAYS (London) – ‘Walk Like Kings’  here
4. THE PEELERS (Canada)- ‘Palace Of The Fiend’ here
5. FEROCIOUS DOG (England)- ‘Red’  here

6. BLACK WATER COUNTY (England)- ‘Taking Chances’  here

7. THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS (Germany)- ‘Sign of the Fighter’  here

8. IN FOR A PENNY (USA)- ‘One More Last Hurrah’ here

9. LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS (Brittany)- ‘Breizh Anok’  here

10. MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS (England)- ‘As The Tide Turns’  here

11. KILMAINE SAINTS (USA)- ‘Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos’  here

12. ORTHODOX CELTS (Serbia)- ‘Many Mouths Shut’  here

13. UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS (Italy)- ‘Handmade’  here

14. THE SILK ROAD (England)- ‘S/T’ here 

15. FLOGGING MOLLY (USA)- ‘Life Is Good’  here

16. THE LUCKY PISTOLS (USA)- ‘Where The Orioles Fly’  here

17. THE REAL McKENZIES (Canada)- ‘Two Devils Will Talk’  here

18. DRUNKEN DOLLY (Netherlands)- ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ here

19. CASSIDY’S BREWERY (Serbia)- ‘One Brew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’  here

20. CRAIC (USA)- ‘Sounds Of Vandemark’  here

21. THE MOORINGS (France)- ‘Unbowed’ here

22. JOLLY JACKERS (Hungary)- ‘Blood Sweat and Beer’ here

23. THE SCARLET (Hungary)- ‘Hardfolk Shanties’ here

24. THE DISTILLERY RATS (Germany)- ‘Tales From County Whiskey’ here

25. CELKILT (France)- ‘Stand’ here

26. DROPKICK MURPHYS (Boston)- ’11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’  here

27. O’HAMSTERS (Ukraine)- ‘Где бы мы ни бывали’  here

28. SONS OF O’FLAHERTY (Brittany)- ‘The Road Not Taken’  here

29. THE BABES (London)- ‘Greetings From London’  here

30. CHEERS! (Czech Republic)- ‘Daily Bread’ here

Just bubbling under:

THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM (USA), GHOSTTOWN COMPANY (Germany) McSCALLYWAG (Netherlands)

No surprise here at all as all four admins voted #1 for Flatfoot 56 and their utterly brilliant ninth album. Not only that but we also all gave second spot to The Tossers, making it a Chicago #1 and #2! The year began with news of two new Dropkick Murphys albums coming but we only got the one and it met with, well quite a muted response to be honest. Saying that they were fantastic live and they certainly added a new dimension to these new songs when played in the flesh. The list leans heavy towards the bands from these shores it has to be said but it was always going to be with bands we get to see live regularly. It’s especially fitting to see The Bible Code Sundays in there too. In a year when every ‘big’ celtic-punk band released an album the competition was great so well done to all. Keep them coming. If you are not here then it just means we didn’t all agree or even all hear it and maybe we didn’t receive it too. The amount of debut albums from loads of these bodes well for both the scene here and internationally with a great mix of bands from thirteen countries.

BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Taking Chances’

This was a very hard category to fill with so many new bands arriving on the celtic-punk scene this past year. Soooo many to choose from but in the end we pumped for our very own Black Water County who just pipped Cassidy’s Brewery and In For A Penny to the title!

1. BLACK ANEMONE (Sweden)- ‘In It For Life’  here

2. RAIN IN SUMMER (Indonesia)- ‘Discordant Anthem From The Gutter’  here

3. IN FOR A PENNY (USA)- ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’  here

4. THE BOTTLERS (Australia)- ‘The Bottlers’  (here)

5. BLACK RAWK DOG (Indonesia)- ‘Suburban’s Folk Stories’  here

6. BogZH CELTIC CATS! (Brittany)- ‘Kazh al Lagenn’  here

7. THE CRAZY ROGUES (Hungary)- ‘Rebels’ Shanties’  here

8. THE McMINERS (Brazil)- ‘Tales of Betrayal and Deceit’  here

9. BORN AGAIN HEATHENS (USA)- ‘Born Again Heathens’  here

10. THE DEAD MAGGIES (Australia)- ‘Wild Dogs And Flannies’  here

Stand out winner here from Sweden’s Black Anemone which none of us were sure was either a big EP or a small album so we gave it the benefit of the doubt and placed it in here. Outstanding! Two representatives of Indonesia’s fantastic celtic-punk scene made up for no album releases from there last year and one band from a Celtic nation with the BogZH Celtic Cats! The Bottlers sneak in as they only sent it to us the week before Christmas. Glad they did though.

1. DECLAN O’ROURKE- ‘Chronicles Of The Great Irish Famine’  (here)

2. ShamROCKS- ‘Ye Ould Chariot’ EP  (here)

3. CRIKWATER- ‘Crikwater’  (here)

4. BEOGA- ‘Before We Change Our Mind’

5. FOLLOW THE CROWS- ‘West is East’ EP  (here)

6. PLASTIC PADDY- ‘Lucky Enough’  (here)

7. DAMIEN DEMPSEY- ‘Soulson’

8. GALLEY BEGGAR- ‘Heathen Hymns’  (here)

9. I DRAW SLOW- ‘Turn Your Face To The Sun’

10. ANTO MORRA- ‘From The Vaults’

Absolutely no question who romped home here. from the first time I ever heard Declan O’Rourke’s monumental album Chronicles Of The Great Irish Famine I was simply blown away. I simply cannot recommend it enough. Go and acquire a copy now. A mix of folk and trad makes up the rest of the list with a special mention for Ukrainian band ShamROCKS who play Irish folk as if they were naturals! We would like to feature more trad and folk on these pages in the future hopefully. Also Vince Cayo had a fecking brilliant album but was neither celtic-punk nor folk. Was tempted to make a separate list just for him!

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

This use to be the Celtic Folk Punk And More Best Celtic Punk Web-Site award so often did they use to win but last year it went to the new kid on the block, our good mates over at Mersey Celt Punks. Well we were in a bit of a quandary about who would win this week but then in the last few weeks of the year the Mersey Bhoys upped their game and won a unanimous vote. They finally started to use their Web-Site (here) and published a whole host of great reviews and things like a events/gig section. You can also join in their fun and games at Twitter and Facebook and we heartily recommend you do.

So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other celtic-punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the four admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up over several pints of Guinness in Mannions. Not all of us heard the same albums so like all Best Of’s ours is subjective.

CARLTON HUNT

Of course we cannot go any further without mention of the saddest news of the year. That of the passing of Carlton , the drummer of The Bible Code Sundays. A friend of London Celtic Punks and an absolute diamond stand up guy he will be forever sadly missed by all who met him. We are grateful To Ronan for penning a few words for him.

We lost Carlton on 3rd November 2017 unexpectedly and it has left a massive hole in our family. Carlton joined The BibleCode Sundays some twelve years ago when we were still called Slainte.

His work ethic was second to none, he even dragged us into the studio to record our first CD, he did a lot of pushing in the early days and the Lord knows we needed it!

He was always the first to say yes to any gig, whether it was a small Irish pub like The Old Crown in Hayes or The Shawl or whether it was some of our bigger gigs. Over the years we played some fantastic gigs and venues, such as The Royal Albert Hall, New York’s Beacon Theatre, The House of Blues in Boston, Shepherds Bush Empire, The Roundhouse, Glasgow Barrowlands, Indigo at The O2, Glastonbury Festival, Finsbury Park, London Irish, on the pitch at Twickenham Stadium and at Celtic Park (the night Celtic beat Barcelona). We’ve played with Elvis Costello, The Dropkick Murphys, The Wolfetones, John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd, the Saw Doctors and he even got to realise a dream when we shared a stage with Thin Lizzy. They were minus legends Phil Linnot and Gary Moore but this mattered not to Carlton, his hero Brian Downey was still behind the drums. Carlton got to meet his idol and even got some Thin Lizzy drumsticks as souvenir, he was like an excited little kid that night. We did TV appearances on Sky Sports, BT Sport and even a live St Patrick’s Day performance on BBC’s The One Show.

We got to travel around on trips and tours all around the UK and Ireland as well as Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA to mention a few. This was all just topping up the stamps on his passport that he had accrued in his days with Bad Manners, Feast of Fiddles and The Melody Fakers and many more as he spent so many years on the London Irish music scene.

Not many would know that he also wrote poetry and song lyrics, they are very clever with pun-tastic wordplay and generally came out sounding like Bernard Cribbins songs with titles like ‘Breakfast Epiphanies’ or the Brighton-themed song ‘All Things Brighton Beautiful’. He used to always say

“I try to be serious but the humour always takes over”

He did, however, manage to pen two of the best songs on our latest album, he was very proud of his songs ‘Disorganised Crime’ and the beautiful ‘Clouds’. Drummers writing songs?! Whatever next?! He truly was the engine room of the band, a quiet and gentle man off stage who turned into a one man wrecking ball when he was sat behind his drum kit.

Things will never be the same without him but he would want us to and we will carry on making music and playing his songs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on drums.. Mr Carlton Hunt

This is the 5th year of us making these lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous Best Of’s then just click on the link below the relevant year.

We are not alone in doing these Best Of lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

FOLK’N’ROCK

PADDYROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

SHITE’n’ONIONS

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

CELTICPUNK.PL

remember any views or comments we would love to hear them…

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: FEROCIOUS DOG- ‘Red’ (2017)

In every musical scene every now and then a band comes along that is so good they threaten to break out and become the next big thing. That band is Ferocious Dog and that they have got to where they are solely on their own merits and without any sort of backing is simply incredible. Ferocious Dog are on the brink of something special and their new album Red will only speed them there.

Where to start with Ferocious Dog? I first came upon their name a few years ago whispered quietly upon the internet. They were formed way back in the day but for some reason they raised few eyebrows on the celtic-punk scene despite playing some of the best kick-arse celtic-punk rock you are ever likely to hear. Maybe they were missed because they were tucked away up north or we had them pigeonholed as a punky Levellers or a folky New Model Army and while those comparisons may be true there’s a whole lot more to the Ferocious Dog phenomenon than that. Originally formed back in 1988 as a duo with Ken on vocals and acoustic guitar and Dan on fiddle it wasn’t until 2010 that they took the step to becoming a full band.

It was the famed, and sadly now defunct, Paddy Punx website that first brought FD to my ears. The web site that upset every Celtic band in history by providing free links to pretty much every release by anyone that ever called themselves celtic-punk. Their description of the band as ‘English celtic-punk’ is not an oxymoron trust me and was enough to get me scurrying to my laptop and start downloading their self-titled debut album. From the very first play I knew I had to track this band down. That was back in early 2013 and you knew you were listening to something special straight away. Here was a band that bridged perfectly the folk and punk/rock scene’s perfectly. Since those days their star has risen higher and higher with the release of their acclaimed second album From Without and a bunch of absolutely brilliant EP’s and singles.

For Ferocious Dog it was the year 2015 that saw their promotion to the Premier League of alternative music. The release of From Without accompanied by two awe inspiring singles, ‘Ruby Bridges’ and ‘Slow Motion Suicide’, and a near sell out tour that went from one end of this sceptred isle to the other and across again culminated in a sell out performance in their, near, home town of Nottingham at the famed Rock City venue. The first time in that esteemed venues 35 year history that a unsigned band had sold out the venue in advance! One fan explained

“For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years. It feels like this gig was the moment things might change, they have integrity and strength and a loyal following”

Headline spots at Glastonbury followed and in the years since they have become a de-facto headliner for festivals to fight over. Any festie appearance guaranteeing bums in wigwams. Constant touring has helped to cement their position even if it did mean saying goodbye to two of the original Hounds who helped them on their way, Scott Walters and Ellis Waring.

Ferocious Dog: John Leonard- Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Bouzouki, Tin-Whistle, Uilleann Pipes, Accordion and shouting! * Ken Bonsall- Lead Singer/Acoustic Guitar * Les Carter- Lead Guitar * Dan Booth – Fiddle * John Alexander- Bass * Scott Walters- Drums

All this and without even a tiny bit of support from the record industry… and not for the want of either. Ferocious Dog are that rare thing. A band with integrity and belief. Yeah you read that right these guys have been courted by the industry and they have chosen the DIY route. No one controls the bark of this dog! The punk scene is notorious for having bands within it making all the right (on) sounds but the moment any interest is shown they are off like a shot with any principals and convictions left chucked to the floor in the haste to get on board the gravy train. None of that holds any sway for Ferocious Dog and they continue to plough their way through the alternative music scene gathering up more and more fans as they take England (and now the Netherlands!) by storm.

With new members on board, Les Carter, from indie Gods, Carter USM, multi-instrumentalist John Leonard and drummer Alex Smith, and all now firmly bedded in, Ferocious Dog have just released their third and latest album to the world. Titled Red it continues where From Without left off with more of their punk rock infused folk/Celtic sounds but with a more mature feel to it. Everything seems a progression in the FD camp from their gigs to their records and even their merchandise! The six piece band take in elements of punk, rock and reggae and mix it up with Irish and Celtic folk music and biting social commentary that comes from the ‘shop-floor’ not university lectures. The band hail from around Nottinghamshire, a working class area that once was famed for its industry and among the areas most important was coal-mining. In the famed 1984-85 miners strike the majority of Nottinghamshire’s miners sided with the government against their own trade union causing splits among friends, family and work-mates and it’s no exaggeration to say that civil war was breaking out in many mining communities across Britain. My own father worked at a coal mine across the border from Notts in South Yorkshire and never spoke to his strike-breaking brother again, not even attending his funeral. Real life experiences that shape and change minds and whole communities. The politics on Red are from the heart and from the working class. From where real politics come from.

One of the things that has enabled Ferocious Dog to achieve what they have done is the high degree of loyalty they bring out of their fans. Known as ‘Hell Hounds’, taking their name from a song from their debut album, its not unknown for fans to follow the band around the country from gig to gig and its a loyalty that is well deserved. A friendly bunch who make every gig an event and their lively mosh pits are welcome to all. Having seen them play now countless times I can assure you that the Hell Hounds make sure every gig is different and while it is, and always will be, better to see them in a small venue it doesn’t get better than seeing this wonderful bunch live! The first time I saw the band in a packed Half Moon in South London I still managed to have a quick chat with two of the band members after the gig they seemed to know the entire audience by name! Always accessible and available and with a real interest in what’s going on in the scene few bands have the following that Ferocious Dog deserve to have. 

Ken and Dan- original Hell Hounds

Red begins with ‘Black Gold’ and there’s no holds barred from the very beginning with this song telling of the role of the British Empire in slavery. Kicking off with some amazing mandolin before fiddle and electric guitar announce the arrival of the whole band into the fray. Ken has a very strong voice that is clear and precise and his northern accent shines through. I’ll try not to mention that word (catchy) too much in this review but as that word could have Ferocious Dog next to it in the dictionary it may be hard! This is followed by ‘American Dream’ and a bit of a first here in that I think it may be the first song that a proper video was shot for.

This is where the real celtic-punk kicks in. The first few songs remind me of San Diego celtic-rockers Lexington Field and it comes together perfect with superb fiddle driving the song along. ‘Spin’ is up next and begins as a straight up Irish trad tune with tin whistle and fiddle and is a real lyrics heavy track about the state of the country as Ken puts the boot into the Tories. One of the things that Ferocious Dog are famous for is their own compositions but they always throw in a couple of well placed covers and the first here is a version of Steeleye Span’s ‘Black Leg Miner’ that fair raises the roof. It first appeared on their album Hark! The Village Wait back in 1970 and the lyrics spit bile and give an insight into the contempt felt by striking miners and their communities to the weasels who stabbed them in the back.

“Across the way they stretch a line
To catch the throat, to break the spine
Of the dirty blackleg miner.
They grabbed his duds, his picks as well,
And they hoy them down the pit of hell,
Down you go, we pay you well”

The songs origins lay in the Durham coalfields of the 19th century and Ferocious Dog with a sense of their own history have certainly chosen well here. It’s perfect FD fodder with its slowly sung verses and frantic and manic chorus giving the audience plenty of chance to singalong before the moshing starts!

The next track up is ‘Together we are Strong’ and will soon I am sure become a firm live favourite. Catchy as hell and a real fist in the air shoutalong rather than singalong. Pleading for unity among the poor and dispossessed it’s not one of my favourites here but I’m sure the Hell Hounds will lap it up. It just seems a bit formulaic for me still it’s an upbeat number that is designed for the dance floor not critics tapping away on their laptops! So five songs in and the pace has been relentless with the band refusing to let up for a second so we were due a slower song but ‘A & B’ still came as a bit of a surprise. The change in pace is not unexpected but what a song! Up there with the best that they have ever recorded. Fiddle player Dan takes over on the vocals with simple but effective backing from John on acoustic guitar in a beautiful song about “the hardest story to be told”Inspired by visits to Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps in Poland the song has few lyrics but packs more in than any on this album. Ending with mournful fiddle that brings the song to an end.

We are back in proper FD territory again with the next song ‘The Enemy Within’ and again its a song dedicated to the miners and the strike. For a year the miners held out against a government determined to not only break them but to smash them. The miners went from “saviours of a nation” to, as Thatcher christened them, The Enemy Within. In France as the last coal mine close the miners were lauded as they rose from the depths of the earth. They were feted on live TV and the whole French nation paid tribute to these brave hard working men who faced death every time they left home for work. Here as the pits closed they simply threw the miners and their families onto the scrapheap and did absolutely nothing for the communities that relied so heavily on the industry.

I look around and all the mines are gone, I felt the need to put my feelings into song, You dare to tell me now the miners were all wrong and yes I am your enemy”

So yes a lot of anger and rightly so. Starting with military drumming it soon turns into a potted history of mining over a typical FD mosh friendly Celtic rocker. We are rolling up towards the end now and ‘A Place I Want To Be’ is a bit of a shocker with Les taking on lead vocals and having always been a huge fan of Carter USM it really made my day when they first announced he was joining the band. The song begins slow and gentle with Les picking away on an acoustic guitar before it explodes into action and any tale of a relationship breakdown deserves a bit of passion before it returns to just Les and his guitar. Now many seasoned celtic-punk fans may give a little sigh at seeing ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’ on the track listing but to be fair it’s possibly not a song that well known to the FD fan base. While many celtic-punk bands have given it a whirl (none have bettered the ‘rebel’ version by Easterhouse by the way here) it’s not particularly well known outside our circles. I’ve a tonne of family in Athy and spent many a summers day there escaping farm work and trust me they never shut up about this song! Here they start off gentle with the Celtic instruments to the fore but its not long before the band have all joined in and turned it into the celtic-punk dance fest its always destined to be. This is followed by ‘Small Town Hero’ and by Christ it’s the album standout for me. A chugging bouncy punk rocker with some lovely fiddle work. Despite Ken’s accent it has a feel of early Dropkicks to me. Maybe its the gang chorus of ‘Heys’ but it’s a real belter of a song and sure to be another live favourite with pints and fist thrust to the air. We have arrived at the end and the curtain comes down on Red with a real surprise number. FD have often flirted with reggae but here they go for a seven minute epic bastard of a song titled ‘Class War’. Now I’m not the biggest reggae fan. Twenty-five years of living in Hackney and listening to selfish bastards playing it out their windows at 3am has turned me right against it but I can appreciate it here and the change of pace is nice but the laid back vibe doesn’t last for long as FD can’t help themselves and before long it speeds up out of the blue and we are off again. Class war is indeed raging on the streets of England but it is not a war between the classes but a war against the working class and our very identity and culture. A great way to finish the album and so ends forty minutes of pure unabashed celtic-punk fun.

So there you have it and this is the longest album review to have ever appeared on these pages and  all written in just a couple of go’s with no notes. Obviously the inspiration flows out of Ken and the Bhoys into us all! The production on Red deserves a mention and Phil Wilbraham at the Electric Bear Studios in Mansfield has done an exemplary job here capturing the sound and feel of FD perfectly. The release comes in both vinyl and CD and the CD comes with a massive 28 page booklet featuring photos and lyrics. As is usual with all FD releases is has been recorded in tribute to Ken’s son Lee Bonsall.

LEE BONSALL

Pivotal to the ethos and drive of Ferocious Dog is the sad fate of Ken’s son Lee. Lee served in Afghanistan from the age of 18, and upon rejoining civilian life took his own life in 2012 at the age of just 24, unable to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from seeing one of his friends being shot dead by a sniper. Lee is commemorated in the Ferocious Dog songs ‘The Glass’, ‘Lee’s Tune’ and ‘A Verse For Lee’. This gave rise to The Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund which raises money and awareness for various causes close to the bands heart. Lee’s story was featured in a BBC documentary Broken By Battle in 2013. It was Lee that actually named the band as a child.

This third studio album from Ferocious Dog shows a band at the top of their game but they seem to have been at the top of their game for so long now that you could regard it as a usual state of affairs for them. It’s hard to see where their progression has come from as they haven’t radically altered their sound from their debut album but the difference from other bands comes from the quality of their songwriting and lyrics. Here three different members of the band take the mic and each excel on songs that range from full on fast celtic-punk rock to soft and gentle tear jerkers while all the time playing with a sincerity that would alien to most bands. I simply cannot state how much respect and love I have for this band and to prove it I am even giving up the heady delights of St Patrick’s Day in the capital with the London Irish to go see them in Oxford so see you there. I’ll be in the middle of the dance floor!

Discography

Ferocious Dog (2013) * Ferocious Dog 3 Piece Acoustic (2014) * From Without (2015) * From Without Acoustic (2017) * Red (2017)

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Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund

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  • If you are at all interested in the world of Ferocious Dog, and why wouldn’t you be?, then a very good place to hook into is the Ferocious Blog. A fans eye view of everything a potential Hell Hound would want to know in the FD orbit. Here!

2017 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART THREE: THE CELTIC NATIONS- BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS, THE DECLINE!, BRUTUS’ DAUGHTERS, REAL McKENZIES, VINCE CAYO, THE BOTTLERS

So welcome to 2018 and the first post of the year and the last of our round-ups from 2017. We simply could not keep up with the volume of releases we keep receiving so rather than completely neglect them here’s some much shorter reviews that will at least give you a taste of what they are about. We much prefer to do really detailed reviews but these are still worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out and apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in. This week we concentrate on bands hailing from the Celtic nations or the Celtic diaspora. You can still catch up with our North America (here) and European (here) round-up’s.

BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS- ‘Walk Like Kings’  (Buy)

Described by the band as being made by accident we, and they, should be thankful for such unexpected delights. This is an album of thirteen glorious tracks covering themes of loss and longing and hope that show the Bhoys reaching new heights, musically and lyrically. Tracks, such as the fun filled ska beat ‘Disorganised Crime’ leap out of the speakers in a joyous racket that simply defies not being danced to and then there’s ‘Stand Up And Fight’, a collaboration with New Yorks finest Da Ded Rabbits, that punches it’s way through in a hard hitting pounding track that will be a surprise to some fans. Never fear the Bible Code sound is still evident as are other influences including an Oasis tinged ‘You Got Me On The Run’ but the title track, ‘Walk Like King’s’, is pure Bible Codes, a majestic thumping track full of defiance and pride for 2nd and 3rd generation Irish immigrants who weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. Guests abound on this release – Elvis Costello, Matt McManamon, Brian Kelly… All adding to an eclectic mix of an album on which every track is worthy of your attention, be it the ethereal ‘America’

“Why we leave behind family, to a foreign land for to roam”

or the haunting beauty of ‘Snow Falling On Fire Escapes’ or the MacManus family collaboration ‘Willie Redmonds Volunteers’ all the tracks show a band at the top of their game and this is one that all London Celtic Punkers will want to check out. It has been a tough year for the band but this album is one thing that they can look look back on with fond memories and pride, let’s hope for more, someone once sang ‘accidents can happen, but only once…’ may the Bible Code Sundays fall into more.

“We face out, chest proud, In this town we walk like kings”

RIP Carlton.

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THE DECLINE!- ‘Heroes On Empty Streets’  (Buy)

More celtic-punk for you now but in the sense that this is a punk and from the Celtic nation of Brittany! The music scene in Brittany is very strong and is reflected in the growth of ‘Celticness’ and the resurgence in the Breton language. The Decline! are a five piece punk rock band from Rennes who formed in 2009. Their first EP, ‘An Old Indian Cemetery’, was released in the middle of 2010, and showed what proper genuine music today should be all about. They followed this up with their debut album ‘Broken Hymns For Beating Hearts’ the following year and was a mix of punk rock and acoustic folk tunes. 2014 saw the release of ’12a Calgary Road’ which saw the and branching out into celtic melodies but ploughing much the same furrow while taking on varying tempos with ease. This new album released in May may not have the asolute urgency of previous releases but more than makes up for it with it’s catchy singalonga punk rock. Kevin’s strong and distinctive voice and rumbling rhythm section certainly gets your blood pumping and while ‘Someday Somehow’ could pass for bleak post-punk maybe even Gothic in places the following track ‘Joyfull Thrill’ would make the early Dropkicks jealous.

We have to wait till track seven for the first signs of anything acoustic and it’s well worth the wait ‘We Love Our Scars’ hits the spot both lyrically and musically too. Its all very well done and very well produced too and while it may be possible to mistake this for an American punk release The Decline! are proud members of the Breton music scene. If catchy as feck melodic punk rock is yer thing then here’s the band for you.

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BRUTUS’ DAUGHTERS- ‘Hueso y Madera’  (Free Download)

Formed in November 2008 in Carabanchel, a suburb of Madrid as a straight forward punk rock band before they added Asturian bagpipe and fiddle and one of the most original bands in celtic-punk was born. This is the bands third album and, as usual, comes with songs written in Castilian, English and Asturian. As one of only a tiny handful of bands in the scene with female vocals they certainly stand out and with a defiantly anti-fascist message to boot. The music is fast and loud and punky but there is an undeniable hardcore traditional folk edge to it as well. Elements of their own countries as well as Celtic are merged together very successfully. As said I don’t understand much of the album but the sleeve notes speak of the endangered languages of the Celts, Celtic mythology and defending the underprivileged. The punk side of this reminds me of the Spanish punk music I use to hear in Hackney squats over the years but the folk influence is strong and comes out in reels and jigs throughout the album.

Only nine songs and twenty-eight minutes long but played at breakneck speed from the opening bars of the instrumental punky trad folk of ‘De Hueso Y Madera’ to the English language ‘Brazen’, the album moves at a great pace and its them pipes that really dominate here, holding it all altogether. Vocals are shared around the band and the standard gang chorus works very well especially on tracks like ‘Carretera’, for me the high point here with its catchy chorus while ‘Unidad’ is bass heavy and rumbles along nicely while the fiddle and pipes work overtime. ‘Carcel’ is another high energy number that offers up more of the same. Here’s a real Celtic band that is something quite apart from the herd. Alex voice is harsh and strong and fits the music perfectly. They are a lyrics heavy band so it’s a shame I can’t catch most of it as I am sure they have something important to say. Here’s a proper punk band playing proper punk rock songs that are littered with jigs and reels and a sea shanty about to break out at any moment. The hidden song here is the real folk gem though proving they can really play their instruments and you can find out yourselves for *FREE* yes you read that correct the album is available for sweet F.A from the link above.

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THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Two Devils Will Talk’  (Canada / RestOfTheWorld )

Well what to say about Two Devils Will Talk? How it managed to escape a decent review is beyond me seeing how popular this awesome and is. Up there with The Mollys and the Murphs the Real McKenzies have been going an amazing 25 years and this, their tenth, is up there with the est I kid you not. I wasn’t overly enamoured with 2015’s Rats In The Burlap but here they have returned with fourteen rousing tracks of pure, unabashed Canadian-Scots celtic-punk mayhem. From the opening anthemic ‘Due West’ to a fantastic re-working of early McK song ‘Scots Wha Ha’e’ its absolutely brilliant. Once again they missed out of playing here so we never got to see them live but we can’t wait till they do darken these shores again. Punk, folk, acoustic, electric with pipes throughout weaving in the Celtic influence for which the band is best known. ‘Seafarers’ is one hell of a stand out tune. You can’t change how the waves roll only how you roll through them. The sense of humour they are famous for is riddled throughout the album and nowhere better than on the laugh out loud ‘Fuck The Real McKenzies’ where the band take the piss out of themselves, and everyone else too! They find room for a cover of Stan Rogers ‘Northwest Passage’ that only adds to this great song. Originally sang as an acapella song the McKenzies do it justice as you would expect. The album ends with my favourite McK song of all and plenty of rebellious, Scottish charm and wit here on an album that shows a band who are still capable of hitting the high notes even after a quarter of a century. A defiant return to form for one of the Premier League bands of celtic-punk.

The Real McKenzies on 25 years of Canadian Celtic punk rock here.

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VINCE CAYO- ‘Bound For Glory’  (Buy)

This debut album from talented multi-instrumentalist Vince Cayo has been bouncing around London Celtic Punks towers for a good six months now without making much of an impact until I decided to revisit a few albums for these round-ups and I can only think I didn’t listen to it properly as it is absolutely fecking brilliant. Not so much celtic-punk but def in the country-punk realm of things and Vince has a very strong voice that growls out at you like Tom Waits lashing it up with McGowan backed by The Street Dogs. Opening track ‘Wasteland Blues’ is a great start to proceedings with fast rock’n’roll country and harmonica shining out and Vince putting McGowan to shame! Vince says his influences range from the cream the celtic-punk but most importantly Flogging Molly, and the title track takes this adulteration to epic proportions, alongside such luminaries as Social Distortion, Billy Bragg, The Gits, Tim Barry, Bob and Dylan and they are all in there but with a bit of good auld Yorkshire grit and determination.

Not afraid to take a risk either with the epic ‘Folk The World’ seven+ minutes of heavy and hard hitting folk music that builds up and up into a real anthem of a tune with fiddle and mandolin taking it recklessly close to celtic-punk territory Vince! ‘Turn It Up’ is classic catchy punk rock that doesn’t seem out of place here at all and in fact slots in nicely among the folkier tunes. ON hearing this properly I though I could imagine him sharing a stage with the likes of Matilda’s Scoundrels so was no surprise to read after that he already had done. When I hear album’s like this I wonder if this is the start of something new. Well I say new but what I mean is a resurgence of folk and country music but with a modern interpretation. The album’s dozen songs wraps up the absolutely awesome country rock’n’roller ‘The Garbageman’ and ‘You Wont Be Marching Alone’. Great songs and a great production make Bound For Glory as good a debut album I heard in 2017  and I will be looking him up for any London dates I can tell you.

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THE BOTTLERS- ‘The Bottlers’ EP  (Buy)

Our final review comes from the land of Oz. A place I am constantly telling you and telling you is where the best Celtic-punk scene is and where the best Celtic-punk bands hail from. Why this is so is anyone’s guess. Perhaps one of these great Aussie bands would like to give us over here on the other side of the world a bit of an insight? The Bottlers come from that world and are a hard playing, nine piece (yes, nine!) celtic-punk band hailing from the capital city, Sydney. They may be city dwellers but you get the feel of the country off these Bhoys and Ghirl. Kicking off with ‘Hades Way’ its a rollicking good stroll through Irish folk-punk as filtered through the Aussie experience. Drawing from not only the vast rural reaches of the Australian nation but also the city and suburban streets with a solid tip of the hat to the folk, punk and folk punk pioneers that have traipsed and trekked the trails well before them.

This is both Australiana AND celtic-punk so intertwined are the two. ‘Take Back The Streets’ is a call to arms to the nations poor in a swirling waltz of anger and beauty. Only three songs on this EP and the curtain comes down with ‘Up She Rises’ and The Bottlers go out with a song that has a nod toward to 70’s English folk-rock in there somewhere amongst the rabble.

“The Bottlers believe folk based music should progressively speak of the times it exists in whilst hearkening back to it’s past, to the true heart of folk music, people. Because you truly can’t get where you’re going till you know where you’ve been”

and you can’t get better than that. In fact we may put it on a London Celtic Punk sticker.

  • yeah yeah I been reliably informed that Canberra is indeed the capital city not Sydney so congrats to Celtic Punkcast for spotting out deliberate mistake! Australia’s finest celtic-punk podcast. Check them out here or here.

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So ends Part 3 and our final part of the 2017 Round-Up’s. Again apologies to all the bands as each and every release fully deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

  • COMING SOON- THE BEST OF 2017! What we thought were the best releases of the year covering Albums, EP’s, Celtic/Folk-Punk, Traditional and more.

2017 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART TWO: EUROPE- CASSIDY’S BREWERY, GALLEY BEGGAR, MAD MAN’S CREW, YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS, THE BLACK CLOVER

Every year that we have been doing this has got better and better for celtic-punk releases. As happy as we are that this is so it also means that we just simply cannot keep up with everything out there. We haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 2 of our 2017 Round Up where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but there’s been no way we could keep up so here’s a few quick ones just to get 2017 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out and apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in. This week we concentrate on European bands while last time we visited North America (here) and next time we will review bands from the Celtic regions so join us in a few days.

CASSIDY’S BREWERY- ‘One Brew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’  (Free Download)

The lads from Cassidy’s Brewery sent me the link to their debut album just a couple of weeks ago so they sneak into our round-up’s but they are one of many featured here that I would have liked to do a full review of. They are a six-piece band hailing from Belgrade, Serbia. Formed in 2008 the current line-up has been together now for a couple of years. The band started like most European celtic-punk bands I suspect playing covers from the mainstays of celtic-punk plus local legends, in their case the awesome Orthodox Celts, before setting out with their own material. Here they give us a ten track album split 50/50 with covers and originals and while the covers are faithful punked up versions of Irish standards like ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ and ‘Drunken Sailor’ it is their own songs that really shine on this album. Lyrically they are very strong with the words to album opener ‘Sail Away’ particularly sticking in my head. If you going to play celtic-punk and have no celtic roots then you need to know your history and this is where Cassidy’s Brewery come over well. With a accent that is easy to understand in fact you don’t need the lyrics as Uroš vocals are as clear as a bell throughout. Irish and Scottish history is covered and no better than on ‘Heroes’ where William Wallace and Finn MacCool go for a beer and end up meeting Prince Edward!

“We’ll slap you silly, so please come out!”
“This one’s for Culloden, and this one’s for Boyne, and this one’s for the pissy-ass stout!”

Absolutely brilliant and I love my celtic-punk with a sense of humour and Cassidy’s Brewery give it us. Musically it’s pretty damn good as well. Fiddle, tin whistle and accordion supply the folk instrumentation and the rest is yer basic punk rock quintet of two guitars, drums and bass. Its melodic punk with metally overtones but it never strays too far away from celtic-punk and they mix it up with folk songs and a superb version of ‘Rolling Down To Old Maui’ that is as good as any I have heard. It may say above that is free but that just means it is available as a ‘Name Your Price’ so it’s free if you like but if you value the celtic-punk scene and bands like Cassidy’s Brewery then stick them enough for a Guinness in there!

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GALLEY BEGGAR- ‘Heathen Hymns’  (Buy)

Here’s a band that you wouldn’t categorise as celtic-punk at all. Or folk-punk either but they certainly do have some crossover appeal to fans of London Celtic Punks I am sure. Heathen Hymns is their fourth album after  Reformation House (2010), Galley Beggar (2012) and Silence & Tears (2014) and the band have got stronger with each release. Hailing from Kent and London Galley Beggar are a band of six musicians that grew up obsessed with an old sound. You could I suppose pigeonhole them among bands like  Fairport Convention, Pentangle or Steeleye Span and while their may have been a time in my spikey haired punk rock youth I would have scoffed at that I can say that the sheer quality of their music has won me over. With their folk-rock sound quite in vogue at the moment they have been steadily building a huge fan-base and even huger reputation  and they have successfully merged the traditional folk sound of England with the psychedelic folk rock sound of the 70’s and nowhere better than on the hypnotic ‘Moon & Tide’ and its fantastic video.

Of course it’s the originals here that are the real jewels but the way they handle the covers of traditional standards ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’,  first heard in 1689!, and featuring guest vocals from Celia Drummond of UK acid folk legends Trees, and ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’ also impresses. Having recently signed to Rise Above Records they are set to kick on and move beyond their ‘festival fame’ and with bands like Ferocious Dog already on the way up its bands liken Galley Beggar who are set to join them.

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MAD MAN’S CREW- ‘Riot Without Weapons’  (Buy/Buy)

Hungary, Hungary, Hungary bloody Hungary. That’s how it seems this site goes sometimes. I won’t bore you with another list of absolutely brilliant Hungarian celtic-punk bands but will just say that I would swap all ours for theirs in a shot! Formed in June 2015 in Veszprém Mad Man’s Crew mix up a variety of styles with folk and punk colliding with ska via some rather nifty trumpet that slots in super nice. Kicking off with the brilliant ‘Leave Behind’ that takes melodic punk and throws in tin whistle and accordion and some band Oi! Oi!’s to great effect. As with Cassidy’s Brewery above the production here is superb and again the vocals are clear and Molnár is perfectly understandable. Eleven songs clocking in at forty minutes that very rarely strays from celtic-punk but when it does it explodes in your ears like a bomb going off. Fast paced punk rock with accordion is how I would best describe this. They have taken a different approach from the majority of Hungarian celtic-punk bands by concentrating more on the punk side of things though not to say the folk side is neglected it’s just that you wouldn’t automatically think of Irish folk music when you hear them. Other highlights here are the amazing ‘Anthem Of The Anarchists’ which takes all the elements and strands that make up celtic-punk and injects real life into them. I love this song so much it would make my Top Ten songs of the year!

Far as I can tell theirs no covers here but there is one song in Hungarian so maybe that’s one but a great debut album and yet another Hungarian band to go doolally about!

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YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS- ‘First Night Back in Port’  (Buy)

Hoist the Jolly Roger Ye Banished Privateers take no prisoners since launching in September 2012 and have a list of crew mates longer than yer arm with over thirty (!) members of the band and over a dozen on stage at gigs it makes for a rum do indeed. First Night Back In Port is the band/collective’s third album and is a staggering seventy-five minutes and fifteen songs of pure unabashed bastardized Irish folk an’ 17th century sea-shanty punk rock. The music takes you back to the 18th century a rough time when pirates dominated the seven seas and Ye Banished Privateers while they could easily become parody they mange to steer well clear of that thanks to great songs. At times it sounds like Tom Waits on the lash with fiddle, banjo and accordion while at others times its soft and gentle.

The album opener the emotional ‘Annabel’ is for me the best track here, a gentle introduction of a harrowing tale before plenty of opportunities galore to

“Let’s drink, let’s fight! Let’s fornicate by the harbour lights! Let’s fuck, let’s bite! Let’s dance away the night!”

leap out at you. The music is all acoustic and the vocals are shared around the band and while the music is strictly folk the spirit of punk is stamped throughout. One thing I did notice is that it is so full, with thirty members all battling for your attention, that it’s hard to pick out any elements in particular that impress. The sound is very authentic and not at all what I am use to listening to but i really enjoyed this wee time travel back to simple, honest and moving music.

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THE BLACK CLOVER- ‘From Sailor To Hobo’ EP (Buy)

Another release that sneaked in at the last minute this time from France and the debut release from a band that came from the ashes of Seagulls Are Drunk who featured on these pages a long, long time ago. The Black Clover celebrate their first anniversary with the release of this EP and again like with SAD it has a very particular French sound to it while also incorporating celtic-punk and traditional French folk music. Beginning with ‘A Road To Galway’ the song builds up and up and while not quite hitting punk rock levels it certainly rocks along and has a very catchy feel to it. Driving bass and drums and all the time fiddle and accordion keep it moving. They mix it up with ‘Black Tot Day’ a slightly jazzy sound but losing none of the celtic-punk bite and catchiness. Slowing it down for the saddest song you’ll hear today ‘The Lost Beer’, the tragic ballad of a lost love. As with Seagulls Are Drunk I thought then they had a real Tom Waits thing about them and the same here and not just because of Seb and his low and gruffled vocals. Imagine Tom fronting a celtic-punk band and you basically got it but then they go and throw out ‘La Baffe’ a Celtic/Breton bastard of a punk rocker and you realise that all four songs here are all different and then the EP ends with ‘The Sea Is Behind Me’ a beautiful ballad. Great release and bodes well for the future from a band who sound both innovative and fresh while having their roots planted firmly in the past.

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So ends Part 2 of our Round-Up’s and apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

2017 REVIEWS ROUND-UP’S PART ONE: THE AMERICA’S- THE DREADNOUGHTS, CRIKWATER, PLASTIC PADDY, THE WILD IRISH ROSES, LA FIESTA DEL DIABLO, COCKSWAIN

Every single year that we have been doing this has got better and better for celtic-punk releases. As happy as we are that this is so it also means that we just simply cannot keep up with everything that get’s released. We haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 1 of our 2017 Round Up where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but it has been impossible to keep up so here’s a few quick ones just to catch up and get 2017 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out and apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in. This week we visit not just North America as originally planned but further afield as well. Read on and find out where and shortly we’ll head to Europe so join us in a few days.

THE DREADNOUGHTS- ‘Foreign Skies’  (Buy)

This year gave us the ambitious ‘concept’ album, Foreign Skies, from Canada’s own Dreadnoughts. It was released to mark the 100th anniversary of the first world war (yeah, I know, the Great War ran from 1914-1918, so that includes 1917!), and features 12 original tracks all based on events, people and places that were part of that war. There are a few standout tracks, notably; ‘Daughters of the Sun’, ‘Anna Maria’, ‘Jericho’ and ‘Black Letters’. The rest is all good with the usual fantastic musicianship we’ve come to expect from the Dreadnoughts. The subject matter does make it a rather sombre listening experience, and while the feeling/belief behind the album is admirable, there is no getting away from the subject matter. An interesting work, but it won’t get too many airings at parties over the festive season.

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CRIKWATER- ‘Crikwater’  (Buy)

Now on first listen to this album from Crikwater you may wonder why they are appearing on a celtic-punk site and you may be right. They are here for the sole reason I love them! Formed in 2010 round the rust-belt in the Irish-American neighbourhood of South Buffalo, NY in 2010, Crikwater play beautiful but rowdy, country tinged Irish American traditional folk. No hint of an electric guitar on this their second album instead the band offer up 74 minutes and fourteen songs of classic Irish ballads that we all know and love like ‘Dicey Riley’ and ‘Long Black Veil’ and a few lesser known as well as some lively as hell polka’s, jigs and reels accompanied by some fantastic red-hot fiddle from Charlie Coughlin. The highlight for me was ‘Bruach Na Carraige Baine’ and words can’t explain the beauty of hearing the Irish language sung by someone born outside Ireland. Outstanding and you hear it below on the Soundcloud player. Recorded live in the studio in Orchard Park, NY. their long awaited follow up to 2012’s Don’t Stop ‘Til The Ship Goes Down showcases the bands amazing musicianship and their sound which encapsulates the modern Irish American experience laden with Americana, folk and country influences while all the time being steered by their Irish roots. Having grown from a humble quartet to a versatile sextet their mix of elegant ballads and rowdy pub songs is certainly among the best I have heard in recent years and they are almost certainly ready to give the big hitters of the Irish folk scene in America a run for their money. This is music for the pub to be heard with the drink flowing and the good times occurring and a tear in your eye for the auld place you left behind.

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PLASTIC PADDY- ‘Lucky Enough’  (Buy)

“A person who retains a strong sense of Irish identity despite not been born in Ireland or being of only partial Irish descent; used in reference to Irish-English or Irish-Americans. Perceived as irritating by Irish nationals”

Arriving in the same week as Crikwater this is as similar a album as you could find though separated by 1000’s of miles away from NY on the east coast of the US in sunny California. Though all born many miles away from Ireland this bunch of Irish-Americans have taken a similar, though much less trad, route as Crikwater distilling their own version of Irish music through country, Americana and folk and yet it still lives and breathes the atmosphere of yer old fashioned Irish boozer. Formed out of Pladdohg who disbanded in 2014 the music here again we would be hard pressed to describe as celtic-punk but I like it, a lot, so here it is! Their debut album Lucky Enough is 12 songs and 42 minutes long and consists of mostly original Plastic Paddy songs but with a small smattering of well loved standard Irish tunes including ‘Whisky You’re The Devil’ and ‘Dicey Riley’ popping up again. Highlights include an amazing version of Greg Trooper’s ‘Ireland’, a song with truly amazing words and I was saddened to read that Greg Trooper passed away in January this year just after his 61st birthday. R.I.P.

“With your mandolins, fill up the hall
not a dry eye left, you killed them all
Its just like you
just like you, Ireland”

Drawing on influences of Californian rock and country with Erin Bloom’s wonderful voice it also evokes late 60’s and 70’s British folk-rock and not many album’s featured here have slide guitar that much is true. Still it’s a polished album without being over produced album that captures their catchy sound and while they are home in the local pub I get the feeling that they could slide into the arena side of things as well with their music having appeal to anyone interested in Irish music.

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THE WILD IRISH ROSES- ‘Fill Yer Boots, Man!’  (Buy)

Now The Wild Irish Roses are your absolute true family band with Mom, Dad and all eight kids involved it doesn’t get more family than this! Again in common with the two previous bands Irish blood courses through the music and The Wild Irish Roses have a bright future ahead of them. Josie (15) sings and plays banjo, mandolin, penny whistle, viola while sisters Hanna (17) plays bodhran, Evelyn (13) plays concertina and viola, Penelope (10) sings and plays tambourine while the two youngest of the clan brothers Aengus (8) plays drums and Lazarus (5) plays harmonica. Father and guitarist of The Wild Irish Roses is Michael X. who also stars in recent London Celtic Punks featured band TheTemplars Of Doom while the Mammy Kristi plays bass. They cut their teeth in Brooklyn post-punk band The Astro-Zombies in the 90’s while during the 2000’s they were in The Brian Wilson Shock Treatment who released 8 albums up to 2010. Fill Yer Boots, Man! is an incredible 21 songs lasting 42 minutes and their is no let up throughout with the songs over as swiftly as they arrive. Kicking off with ‘Margaret Thatcher’s Death Song’ one of many self-penned numbers from the band including Evelyn’s ballads ‘Dancing Widowed Fool’ and ‘Blind Marianne’ and Josie’s contribution ‘Haunting Highland Laddie’, a tale of a piper who drunkenly fell from a castle tower and will haunt you to your grave- unless you pay him in pints of beer! Their is though a London connection here and that is from ex-Neck piping maestro Stephen Gara. Now happily settled in the States he made a special four foot bodhran called a Bodhran Mohr (Great Drum)which led to the song of the same title. It can be heard booming out throughout the album. The album closes with what for me was the absolute album highlight ‘Christmas in Kingston’, a sordid tale of lost love and redemption set in the former state capital of NY. Its rousing chorus of

“It’s Christmas in Kingston You Basterds, Every Junkie and Whore will be saved”

is up there with “You scumbag, you maggot, You cheap lousy faggot” and is sure to make it a surefire holiday favorite. It’s a bit of a mish-mash of an album but there is NO denying it’s originality and it’s an album that you’ll find yourself singing along to after a couple of plays. An incredible feat and a perfect example of ‘The family that plays together stays together’.

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LA FIESTA DEL DIABLO- ‘Mis Colegas, La Barra y Satán’ (Buy)

Proof that we are now a truly international scene comes in the shape of La Fiesta del Diablo. They are the very first band from Chile to appear on these pages and though celtic-punk is alive and kicking in Brazil we had never heard of it existing elsewhere. This is the bands second album having formed in November, 2015 in the capital of Chile, Santiago. They play what they call what they call themselves ‘multicultural noise’. On this album they take us on a journey through folk music with Celtic, Irish, gypsy, klezmer, tangos, rancheras and Russian, among others although with its roots firmly in punk rock. Whatever it is, one thing I feel that it’s got in common with celtic-punk is that La Fiesta del Diablo would be fantastic in a live setting.

(Video filmed in Bar Badalu in Santiago’s Italia neighborhood)

Twelve songs of which all but a small handful are written by the band. Kicking off with the brilliant energetic ‘Manifesto’ and its bouncy Russian trad folk sure to make your feet dance and get your head nodding away. Fast paced throughout and here the accordion is king with it’s sound dominating and nowt wrong with that. The songs are in Spanish and the vocals are nice’n’easy on the ear. A real mixed bag of an album and quite an eye opener as maybe it’s not celtic-punk but so much in common it deserves its spot here. Available for only $4 so take a punt and put it on on New Years Eve to get the party flowing. Brilliant.

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COCKSWAIN- ‘For the Whiskey’  (Buy)

Was only going to do five album’s per Round-Up but just had to give this one a quick mention. From Phoenix, Arizona this bunch of Irish-American’s must suffer in that local heat maybe that’s why they spend so much time in the pub! Rounded up in 2012 this is the bands second album after ‘Seamus’ in 2015. For The Whiskey is a fantastic release that I loved from the very first play. Their are hints of many of the scene’s big hitters from Blood Or Whiskey to DKM’s or the Molly’s but all played with plenty of individualism too. Ten songs that veer from full on Irish folk punk, ‘For The Whiskey’ (free song download here), to sober maudlin ballad ‘When I Die’ and all in between. All played with a fiery temperament and a real love of trad Irish folk music.

If you think you’ve heard just about everything a band can do it with ‘Dirty Old Town’ then Cockswain have a shock for you. An very interesting and surprising version. ‘Johnny Be Fair’ mixes in some female vocals and the curtain comes down with ‘Whiskey, Love and War’ utterly brilliant and a fine example of the celtic-punk genre. this came out around St.Patrick’s day and I can’t believe it took us so long to catch up with it.

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…and so ends Part 1 of our Round-Up’s and apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full epic London Celtic Punks review treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. For details how use the Contact Us section. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Breizh Anok’ (2017)

Proper authentic Celtic celtic-punk from the masters of the genre!

With more than 50,000 sales and over 600 gigs on the clock the Menhir Chimney Sweeps are one of the scene’s best and biggest bands, and they deserve that fame to spread beyond Brittany too.

There really is nothing like a Celtic celtic-punk band. By that I mean one from the celtic nations and I don’t just been anyone either but a campaigning radical Celtic celtic-punk band and their really is no one in the world to compare to Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs. Their are tonnes of great bands out there playing music inspired by their ancestors but their are only a tiny handful that sing in their native Celtic language and most of those come from Brittany. The north-west corner of what some know as France is in fact an ancient Celtic nation with its own customs, traditions and language. All of which the French government have for centuries tried to destroy. In common with all the other Celtic nations this has been resisted and in Brittany the Breton language is having a revival due in no small part to the wider community being so accepting of modern trends. Where as in Scotland the leaders of the Gaelic speaking community would rather it die out than mention that anarcho-punk band Oi Polloi sing in Gaelic. The reverse is true in Brittany as celtic-punk has been embraced and used as a weapon to push French away from the lips of Breton youth.

Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs with the incredible Louise Ebrel and the Bagad Bro Kemperle

Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs were founded in 2006 and its members include Éric on the bombard, Richard on the bagpipes, traditional vannetais singer Maurice Jouanno and Loran, famed guitarist from Bérurier Noir. Their first album Dañs an Diaoul (The Dance Of The Devil) came out the following year. The famous Breton singer Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician, guests on several songs on the album and has accompanied them throughout their career often playing with them live or on their records. We tried to get them over to these shores before but it was just too expensive sadly. If anyone out there fancies subsidising a wee tour drop us a line. They did play these shores before in early 2008 they played in Scotland with Oi Polloi and Na Gathan. Since then they have played 100’s of gigs and released two other album’s, Amzer An Dispac’h! in 2010 and Tan Ar Bobl in 2014. That LP was voted into 4th place in the 2014 London Celtic Punks Best Album list and deservedly so with it’s blend of hardcore punk accompanied by celtic instruments and shouty gang choruses and vocals. Guests from across the musical spectrum were asked to perform and did freely showing the lack of snobbery within the Breton folk/language scene. They choose to embrace Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs (not that it’s always been plain sailing) while as we have said Oi Polloi are put down and, even worse, ignored by their Scots compatriots despite all the positive work they are doing to promote Gaelic in Scotland.

Having got into them via a couple of Breton friends it really is amazing the sound that they can garner from trad Breton instruments and it was with no little shock and a wry smile that I only just found out what the band name means. It is Breton for chimney sweeps and a Menhir is the Breton equivalent of a Stonehenge style standing stone. These stones are found all over the Celtic nations as well as England and France. It is estimated that their are about 50,000 in these areas with over 1,200 in Brittany. The largest surviving menhir in the world is located in Locmariaquer, Brittany, and it is known as the Grand Menhir Brisé. Once nearly 68 foot high, today, it lies fractured into four pieces, but it weighed near 330 tons when intact. It is placed third as the heaviest object moved by humans without powered machinery. It seems apt that the band take their name from these ancient monuments as their music is so firmly rooted in Breton history and tradition.

To us the idea of a punk band playing with ancient instruments does not seem strange but outside our small but perfectly formed scene it is different but the Chimney Sweeps of Menhirs have won over everyone from young punks to their Grandad’s and Nannies and everyone in between. You may think it an exaggeration to say they are an institution but just about everyone in Brittany has seen or heard of this band that combines bombards and bagpipes with punk and is accompanied by and respected by some of the biggest names in traditional music.Using their music as a weapon to promote Breton independence it’s not too far fetched to say Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs are not just a band they are a movement and their new album Breizh Anok (Coop Breizh) is again a call to arms both literally and figuratively. You get ten songs clocking in at forty-six minutes that carries on their tradition of chugging, choppy guitar and Celtic pipes and whistles. They have always been a band that captures perfectly their live sound and here they have done it again. On Breizh Anok they are accompanied in part by the Bagad Bro Kemperle (a Breton traditional group comprising up to forty members). They joined the band on stage at Hellfest 2017 their whole performance is captured below but be careful it will bring out the Celtic warrior in you.

Now as much as it bugs me that I can’t understand what the songs are exactly about you can get a decent idea overall. Their is still no bassist and only a drum machine but by Christ can these Bhoys whip up a racket. Kicking off with ‘Dir Ha Tan’ the sound of the ocean is soon accompanied by the bombard, a sort of Celtic trumpet!, and soon we are off to that legendary Des Menhirs guitar sound and it’s fecking excellent. The drums are harsh as only a drum machine can be with its military style precision it makes sure you pay full attention. We get more like that until ‘Sucks’ rolls in and the band give the Crass song a real ear bashing with its anti-religion message. originally from the Feeding Of The 5000 album in 1978 its given a tweak here and there and

“Do you really believe in the system? Well O. K.
I believe in anarchy in Brittany.
Is it alright really? Is it alright really?
Is it working?”

The songs are given plenty of time to develop but they know when is enough as none drag on, despite a couple of songs lasting over six minutes and most well over four. Next up is the famous partisan song ‘Bello Ciao’ called here ‘Bell’ A.R.B.’. Written during the 1944/45 winter when Italians fought against German Nazis and fascists of their own country. Simple lyrics straight from the heart and more popular now than ever again it’s given a tweak and sang in part as a tribute to the ARB who were the Breton version of the IRA. I’m not afraid to say that a lot of this album has gone over my head and I have definitely, I’m sure, missed several really important bits but it’s far more important that they sing in their own language.  The album ends with a bunch of songs that nail their colours to the wall like ‘Fuck The System’ a straight up punk number. Their are no ballads here but the amazing Louise Ebrel pops up on ‘Pach Punk’ and shows that age don’t matter just so long as you got spirit. The album ends with ‘Oy! Oy! Oy!’ and goes out with a bang.

What to say here. It is powerful in music and I daresay in lyrics too. A band doesn’t get to where they are without meaning an awful lot to a lot of people. To be listened to with a free spirit as they will I promise you release that Celtic warrior inside us all. Now if only London Celtic Punks can find that sugar-Daddy (or Mammy! we not sexist) that will help us get them over here to play!

(you can listen to the whole album on You Tube below starting with ‘Dir Ha Tan’)

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email- contact@ramoneursdemenhirs.fr
 

here’s a list of YouTube videos here  well worth trawling through on a quiet night accompanied by a few beers!

easily the best English language web site check out THE BRETON CONNECTION “a portal to the Breton movement for self-determination and cultural rights”.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE PEELERS- ‘Palace Of The Fiend’ (2017)

Formed way back in 1999 in a small farmhouse kitchen in North Glengarry County in Eastern Ontario and now based in Montreal The Peelers have long become one of the more famous and popular celtic-punk bands in 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 their home. It was the place that the coffin ships during Án Gorta Mór, otherwise known as the Irish ‘famine’, sailed when turned away from America. The major quarantine station for immigrant ships was on the St. Lawrence river and it is thought up to 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 souls. We recently covered this subject on our review Of Declan O’Rourke’s new album Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine here.

The Peelers have, over their long existence, played at just about everywhere you can think of right across North America. From your small town dive to snowboarding championships,  cocktail lounges, festivals and just about every other kind of place a bunch of guys can fit a drum kit. Their debut album, Boots And Suits, hit the streets in 2002 before second album Liquordale a couple of years later. That release was named as Album Of The Year by the Boston based Shite n’ Onions web-site.

They started recording the new album in 2013 but like they say ‘good things come to those who wait’. For me this album is one of the best releases of 2017 and there has been some cracking albums released this year. It has thirteen songs and features guest performances by Finny McConnell (The Mahones) on the third track ‘Going Down Swingin’. Palace Of The Fiend was recorded in five different studios, located in Montreal, Toronto and Casablanca, Morocco and was one of the first releases of 2017, coming out on January 3rd so apologies to the band for taking so long to get the review done.

(The first video released from Palace of the Fiend)

This is a great upbeat tune to put you in the mood for a pint or two. The album opens with ‘New York’ which sets the scene nicely for the fifty+ minutes that follow. Stand out tune for me are ‘Five Roses’, ‘A1a Fla’, ‘Stand Down Clearly’ and ‘The Black Eye Blonde’. The curtain comes down with an amazing version of ‘Cúnla’ and illustrates the link to the past that The Peelers are so proud of. A ‘sean-nós’ (style of unaccompanied traditional Irish singing) children’s song believed written in the 14th century. The album is definitely more in The Flogging Molly school of celtic punk than Dropkick Murphys. I’d highly recommend Palace of the fiend to anyone who likes their Irish music with a twist of punk. – Shane

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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: FLOYD WESTERMAN- Custer Died For Your Sins (1969)

Floyd Westerman was a Dakota Sioux musician, political activist, and actor. After establishing a career as a country music singer he later in his life became the leading actor depicting Native Americans in American films and TV. He worked as a political activist for Native American causes and released two full-length albums, one of which features here, Custer Died For Your Sins, which took its title from a popular book.
Floyd ‘Red Crow’ Westerman
August 17, 1936 – December 13, 2007 
On the tenth anniversary of his sad passing (or entering the spirit world as he would himself put it) we offer up Floyd Westerman’s debut album as part of our Classic Album Review series. It comes with a free download which you can find further down the page and we hope you will take us up on this. Floyd was an engaging singer-songwriter and it’s a shame he never got around to making another dozen albums of protest songs. After all his people and their sad and tragic history could certainly supply the material to fill them.

CUSTER DIED FOR YOUR SINS

For the lies that were spoken
For the blood we have spilled
For the treaties that we broken
For the leaders you have stilled
Custer died for your sin
Custer died for your sin
Now a new day must begin
Custer died for your sin
For the tribes you terminated
For the myth you keep alive
For the land you confiscated
For our freedom you deprived
Custer died for your sin
Custer died for your sin
Now a new day must begin
Custer died for your sin

Now A new day must begin
Custer died for your sin
For the truth that you pollute
For the life that you have cost
For the good you prostitute
And for all that we have lost
Custer died for your sin
Custer died for your sin
Now a new day must begin

Custer died for you sin
Now a new day must begin

SLEEVE NOTES

From our hearts thank you by Vine Deloria Jr.

By a thousand campfires, traveling the endless miles of reservation frustration, huddling in the desolate urban centers and Indian bars, the soul of the American Indian cries out to his gods for justification.

Until now there has been no answer, no joyous cry of freedom. With this album. Floyd Westerman takes the giant step across cultures to bring the anguish and unquenchable pride of the American Indian to the forefront.

Raised in government boarding schools, supporting himself since he was fourteen, victim and conqueror of the society that betrayed his ancestors, Floyd is the only person who could have done these songs.

A veteran of the contemporary Indian movement, his rendition of Where Were You When? reflects the bitterness of those who have fought too hard only to be shunted aside in favor of newly arrived “Indian experts” who have all the answers.

The defiant title song, Custer Died For Your Sins, could only be sung by one who has glimpsed the Indian renaissance in the reservation backwash of American society.

Thirty-five More Miles, the story of Floyd’s mother represents the senseless waste of Indian lives by a society that does not understand and could not learn to care.

Red, White and Black and Missionaries tell of the struggle against hopeless odds which seeks to create in American society new sense of the dimensions of cultures.

Floyd was born to sing these songs and they were written in search of a singer like Floyd. Like the eyapaha, the cryer of old who summoned the camp to action, Floyd will provide the spark, the badly needed war songs that thousands have waited to hear. Hear him well.

The songs, brilliantly penned by Jimmy Curtiss, are a testimony to Jimmy’s ability to transcend time and space and live with the people in their sorrow and triumphs, to understand their sense of hopelessness and yet to see their vision.

With this album the continental divide of oppression is crossed and a new day begins. Remember it as the years pass and a new history for the American Indian is forged out of the decades. Remember how the world was before the songs were heard. The day is corning when you will not remember how it started — that it started with this record.

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Floyd Westerman was born on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation, home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe. It is one of the tribes of the Eastern Dakota subgroup of the Great Sioux Nation, living within the U.S. state of South Dakota. At the age of 10, Floyd was forced to go to the Wahpeton Boarding School, where he met Dennis Banks, who would later become a leader of the American Indian Movement. There Westerman and other boys were forced to cut their traditionally long hair and forbidden to speak their native tongue. This experience would profoundly impact his later life and as an adult he would champion his own heritage. He graduated from Northern State University with a B.A. degree in secondary education and also served two years in the US Marines, before beginning his career as a singer.

Custer Died For Your Sins was his debut release and is one of his few. He never created a large body of work throughout his career, but the tricks he had up his sleeve were good ones. Whilst playing in Colorado he met and became friends with the author Vine Deloria Jr., also a songwriter. They talked about the lack of Native American issues and traditions in song and a collaboration began. Floyd took sections of Deloria’s book, Custer Died for Your Sins, and created profound, sometimes humorous songs from the subjects. This led to the release of his debut album, titled after his friend’s book. The album has a strong country flavor that suited Westerman’s voice and has remained a sought-after classic ever since. The title song is tough and to the point, while other songs such as ‘Here Come the Anthros’ reveal a stinging satirical sense of humor. Two anthems on Side Two are particularly hard-hitting: ‘Missionaries’, certainly a well-deserved jab and ‘Where Were You When’ which takes a poke at Native American pride of the opportunistic sort. He established a solid reputation as a country-western music singer and his recordings offer a probing analysis of European influences in Native American communities. In addition to his solo recordings he collaborated with Willie Nelson, Harry Belafonte, Joni Mitchell and Kris Kristofferson among others.

After years of performing as a singer Floyd became interested in acting and he debuted his film career in Renegades (1989) alongside Lou Diamond Phillips. Additional film roles included Dances with Wolves (1990), The Doors (1991) and numerous others. His television roles included Walker, Texas Ranger, Northern Exposure and multiple appearances as Albert Hosteen on The X-Files. Westerman was recognized for his political advocacy for Native American causes and at times he participated in and supported the American Indian Movement. Floyd Westerman died on December 13, 2007, at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, California after an extended illness and complications from leukemia.

MISSIONARIES

Spread the word of your religions
Convert the whole world if you can
Kill and slaughter those who oppose you
Its worth it if you save one man

Take the land to build your churches
A sin to tax the house of god
Take the child while he is supple
Spoil the mind and spare the rod

Go and tell the savage native
That he must be christianized
Tell him end his heathen worship
And you will make him civilized

Shove your gospel, force your values
Down his throat until he’s raw
And after he is crippled
Turn your back and lock the door

Like an ever circling vulture
You descend upon your prey
Then you pick the soul to pieces
And you watch as it decays

‘Cause religion is big business
As your bank account will show
And Christ died to save all mankind
But that was long ago

Missionaries, missionaries go and leave us all alone
Take your white god to your white men
We’ve a God of our own

Musicians: Floyd Westerman: Vocals, Rythm Guitar *John Palmer Trivers: Bass * Bob Abrahams: Acoustic Lead Guitar * Jerry Shook: Harp, Dobro * Barry Lazarowitz: Drums * J.C. (Jim Curtiss): Rhythm Guitar * Pete Drake: Steel Guitar

Produced by Jimmy Curtis & Terry Philips

Recorded at Al Studios, New York City and Music City Recorders, Nashville, Tennessee

More On Floyd Westerman

Wikipedia  WebSite  Obituary  JohnKatsMusic

THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ‘STEPPING STONES’ CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW SERIES

This album was brought to you as part of our regular series where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re maybe use to. Lost or hidden and sometimes forgotten gems from the legends and also unknowns that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern age celtic-punk music. The albums are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

You can find our Steppin’ Stones page here with the full list of albums to choose from.

(if the links are broken please leave a comment and we will fix)

 

ALBUM REVIEW: DECLAN O’ROURKE- ‘Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine’ (2017)

Declan O’Rourke delivers an amazing album of extraordinary true tales from the most tragic period in the history of Ireland. Fifteen years in the making he takes the best of traditional Irish music and the heart of modern song-writing for something truly special.

Sometime around 1570 Spanish soldiers returned from their ‘adventures’ in South America with a tuberous vegetable that at the time was only native to the Andes. It didn’t take long before the potato as it became known became very popular and was found to grow extremely well from one end of the continent to the other as well as having a beneficial effect on the diets of those, mainly poor, Europeans that ate them. The potato grew especially well in Ireland and was grown in every space imaginable. Irish farmers were with very few exceptions tenant farmers and had no rights on the land they farmed. They also grew an abundance of wheat, barley, oats and cattle but this was sold by the farmers to their absentee landlords living in England and placed on ships for export. The food that maintained the British Empire was all produced in Ireland.

The nutritional value of potatoes was high because the skins could be fed to pigs and chickens and if a farmer was lucky enough to have a cow, their diet, based on the potato was highly nutritious. However, potatoes have predators. One is a fungus, blight, which destroys the entire plant from the leaves to the tubers below. Sometime in the mid-1840s, one ship sailing from South America introduced potato fungal spores into Ireland. The result was catastrophic, with every farm infected with the blight by 1846. With the primary food source cut off, the Irish began starving while exports of Irish produce (the so-called ‘English beef’) continued, sometimes by armed guard to protect it from the starving and dying. The so-called ‘famine’ became known instead as Án Gorta Mór, Irish for ‘The Great Hunger’. The blight did not just affect Ireland and all over Europe the potato crops failed but those countries stopped exporting food so they could feed their own people. This did not happen in Ireland. It took months during 1846 for the news of the condition of the Irish to reach the United States. There money was collected and aid shipped to the Ireland. Many of these ships were stopped and prevented from finishing their journey with the aid often going to feed horses.

So it can be clear and without doubt that the famine was no famine at all. An island famous for farming could easily have fed itself but an attempt was made to wipe the Irish Catholic from existence. The authorities claim the population of Ireland at the time was 8 million in an attempt to lessen what was done. It is widely acknowledged as an underestimate with some scholars imagining it was more like 11 million meaning over 5 million people starved to death, cutting the population almost in half. With very few exceptions, the response of English society was one of denial. The government and capitalist class in England viewed it as a superb opportunity to cleanse Ireland of their poor, ignorant tenant farmers. Absentee landlords stepped forward with offers to pay passage to any starving Irish willing to emigrate. The conditions aboard the ships that carried them to the United States were horrendous and when they arrived, the exploitation continued as soon as these poor souls stepped off the ships and their oppression continued but the Irish survived and now almost 170 years from the peak of Án Gorta Mór the Irish community continues to prosper in the USA.

Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine is the new album from Irish singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke and tells the story of the ‘famine’ in a

“an attempt to bring fresh air to an unhealed wound, and to remind the Irish people of what we have overcome through an examination of what has lurked just below the surface of collective memory for so long”.

It was as an immigrant himself in Melbourne that he first learnt to play the guitar after moving there at 10 years old when his family upped sticks from Dublin. Trips back and forth from home to ‘home’ continued well into his mid-20’s and finally having settled in Dublin he released his acclaimed debut album Since Kyabram in 2004 and followed up this success with Big Bad Beautiful World three years later. A stint with a major label followed and led to more critical and commercially successful releases which brings us pretty much up to date and an admission here that before this album I had only heard the name Declan O’Rourke so had no idea what to expect from this album except having an 2nd-generation Irishman’s interest in the subject matter.

The album was inspired by a night spent in a old Irish workhouse with his Dad. These were the places that the poor and starving turned to as a last resort but many found no help due to the sheer numbers of desperate and dying seeking help. Many died and many more were turned away. While making this album Declan found out that his Grandfather was born in a workhouse giving himself a very real link to the people that illustrate this album.

The album begins with ‘Clogman’s Glen’ and a mournful fiddle and as soon as Declan’s voice comes in it instantly shines through strong and proud. Reminiscent of Damien Dempsey in tone and Christy in manor it’s a beautiful and moving song that tells of a husband singing to his wife of the time before the famine when life had been good to them. Now all that they had known had changed and was gone forever. Ireland was a extremely religious nation at the time of the famine and could be seen as the major reason why Protestant Britain wanted to wipe the Catholic Irish off the face of Ireland. In ‘Along The Western Seaboard’ a priest laments that

“When we need to feed so many, and there’s not even for the few”

and curses the British for their cruelty at letting the people die. In this song Án Gorta Mór is explained. The Damo comparisons continue with the passion literally seeping from Declan’s voice. ‘Buried In The Deep’ is the horrific story of the coffin ships that left Ireland with the sick and diseased crowded onto them. Emaciated, filthy and near dead the mortality rate aboard reached 20%. Many ships were lost at sea, and deaths were so common that the dead were simply thrown overboard without so much as a word of prayer or comfort said over them.

“When I die they’ll put me over

That’ll cure my broken heart

My dreams can go no further

We’re buried in the deep

Where hunger cannot find us”

A beautiful song with Declan accompanied by harp and pipes on this stunning lament to those poor souls. Emotion spilling out it brought a flush to my cheeks as the realisation of what happened hits home.

‘Poor Boy’s Shoes’ is next and its upbeat start belies the sad origins of the song. Inspired by a line from John O’Connor’s book ‘The Workhouses Of Ireland’ it was the first song Declan wrote of this collection

“The man who carried his wife from the workhouse to their old home, mile after weary mile, and was discovered next morning dead, his wife’s feet held to his breast as if he was trying to warm them…”

as Declan says “I had stumbled into a chapter of history I knew almost nothing about. I wanted to be a witness, to share these stories the best way I knew how, through music”. An ending that will bring a tear to your eye as it did to mine. A punch to the gut as life is suddenly turned upside down for a very real family, The Buckley’s, and it beggars belief how any survived at all. He brings the story vividly and heart wrenching alive to us.

And there he tried to warm her cold feet through, And they found him there, in poor boy’s shoes”.

The bodhrán kicks off ‘Indian Meal’ and its driving rhythm tells of the removal of food while at the same time…

“There’s ships leaving’ full of pigs, heifer, and lambs
Some transportin’ convicts to Van Diemen’s Land
We’re hemorrhagin’ barrels of butter and grain
And all that comes back in, and all that remains is…
Indian Meal, Indian Meal, Indian Meal”

The government and forced labour schemes fed the poor, if they were lucky, a tasteless and un-nutritious porridge that did little benefit. The British Government found wanting and unable to hide the stench of the dead creeping across the Irish Sea responded with feeble ‘relief’ in an attempt to conceal their guilt. The stunning beauty of the harp helps ‘Mary Kate’ on its way and sorrowful the pain at having to leave your beloved ones behind and heart-breaking doesn’t even begin to measure its words. The true story of Irish girls ‘saved’ by being sent overseas. In the song Mary Kate is chosen to leave to Australia while her younger sister is to remain.

She tells her sister at the dock that she will she see her again knowing full well that to stay means death. The harp remains for ‘Laissez Faire’ which was the name given by the British to the system that believed that the free market will solve everything. That it is unethical to intervene in nature and that helping the poor only makes them lazy and dependent. An experiment that would lead to millions of deaths. The song makes mention of the help and aid given by the Quakers, among others, in America while at home and in Britain help was reluctant and miserly. Catholics were offered soup but only on condition that they renounced their Catholicism which led to the derogatory term ‘soup taker’ for any Irish Catholic who betrays their religion and country.

“Swap your Catholic halo for a Protestant hoop and give up your place in heaven for bowl of soup”

‘Rattle My Bones’ is a moment of lightheartedness among the tragedy as Declan starts off acapello before joined by accordion and soon has the ‘bones’ of a sea-shanty going. ‘The Villain Curry Shaw’ tells of a family leaving for Nova Scotia on board the Hannah setting sail from Newry on 29th April 1849. This true story tells of the ships sinking and the captain and two officers who left the sinking ship aboard the only lifeboat, leaving passengers and the rest of the crew to fend for themselves. 49 died and 130 were rescued from the freezing ice. His cowardice has gone into the history books and is now immortalised by Declan for all. The laments over for a moment ‘Johnny And The Lantern’ is for me the best song here capturing both the tragic times as well as the famous irrepressible Irish shining through. The Irish always fought the invasion of their country and again the upbeat and cheerful tune belies the subject but surely the demise of an absentee landlord is a time for celebration is it not. The landlords that sucked the land dry that farmers farmed were quick to evict when rent became hard to pay as Án Gorta Mór began to bite. Well fed on the back of their peasant farmers they were despised from one end of Ireland to the other.

‘Johnny And The Lantern’ tells of an anonymous Irish farmer shooting to death one such landlord, Manning, on the road in Delvin, Westmeath and, as is further illustrated on the cover of the album by the band dressed in ‘famine’ clothing, his body is cut to pieces.

‘And the last thing they buried, Were the hands that took the rent’.

On an album filled with melancholy and calamity your heartstrings are in constant danger as on ‘The Connaught Orphan’. Declan’s voice pulls the emotion from the tale of a young 6 year old boy who starving and all alone is provided with a new set of clothes by an American Quaker women. She wonders why the young lad is unhappy at his new outfit.

“I’ll surely die of hunger now
If they see me with your nice new clothes
They’ll think I’m telling lies, and that
I have a mammy feeds me so”

The awfulness of the situation is captured perfectly.

The inscription on the cross reads: Cailleadh Clann na nGaedheal ina míltibh ar an Oileán so ar dteicheadh dhóibh ó dlíghthibh na dtíoránach ngallda agus ó ghorta tréarach isna bliadhantaibh 1847-48. Beannacht dílis Dé orra. Bíodh an leacht so i gcomhartha garma agus onóra dhóibh ó Ghaedhealaibh Ameriocá. Go saoraigh Dia Éire – Children of the Gael died in their thousands on this island having fled from the laws of foreign tyrants and an artificial famine in the years 1847-48. God’s blessing on them. Let this monument be a token to their name and honour from the Gaels of America. God Save Ireland.

The story of those coffin ships is told in ‘The Great Saint Lawrence River’. Between 1845 and 1851 over 1,500,000 people left Ireland on diseased and vermin-infested ships rampant with disease.

“When I die they’ll put me over, We’re buried in the deep, Where hunger cannot find us”.

In the midst of Án Gorta Mór the U.S placed restrictions on the amount of Irish flooding into the country so unable to land the ships sailed on to Canada but the extra weeks meant many more perished. A 46-foot high Celtic cross stands at the highest point in the St. Lawrence River, thirty miles from Quebec. Grosse Île served as the quarantine station for immigrant ships and boar witness to the terrible devastation that brought Ireland’s destitute to the New World. It is estimated that between 12,000 and 15,000 are buried here. The largest mass grave of Án Gorta Mór victims outside of Ireland. The album ends with ‘Go Domhain i do Chuimhne’ a spoken word song.

Ach na dearmaid ar gcaithú, Cuimhnidh lámh ar an mead, A tháinigh muid tharais, Más féidir linn cuimhniú, is teacht ar an tuiscint, Más féidir linn tuiscint, maith (far an) croí.

(But don’t forget our sorrows, And all of our sadness, Reflect on all that we have overcome, If we can remember, we can try to understand, If we understand, we can learn to forgive).

Spoken first in the language of Ireland and then repeated in English it is a call to remember the tragedy of those times and of the loss that we suffer as a nation both collectively and personally. This winter marks the 170th anniversary of Án Gorta Mór reaching its peak. Events that haunt us yet. The island hasn’t recovered either with the population still far below what it was in the 1840’s. It saw the Irish scattered to the winds and their orphans are still with us today with over 80 million across the world claiming Irish heritage. It is a truly electrifying way to close this outstanding album.

Growing up in England we were never taught at school about Án Gorta Mór. Maybe they thought the reality of what happened and the obvious blame at whose door the dead should be laid to rest would be too much for us, instead we found out at home in hushed bedside stories and tales around fires. My own Great-Grandfather left Ireland and lost all four of his children and wife before returning to Ireland many, many years later to marry again and start a new family. Stories we all have if we look for them. This album covers Án Gorta Mór in a most sensitive and beautiful way. Never shying away from apportioning blame to the ‘richest nation on the earth’ and telling the story of real men, women and children. People from history who lived and died in those terrible times. During ‘Go Domhain i do Chuimhne’ Declan urges us to keep our heritage, traditions and language alive. The Irish people owe Declan a great service for what he has produced here and maybe its too much to ask for it to be put on the British school curriculum but it warrants it so. It’s an emotional ride alright with several songs the tears arriving. It has taken Declan 15 years to deliver Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine and on it he is ably assisted by a wealth of Irish musicians including John Sheahan on fiddle, Dermot Byrne on accordion, Gino Lupari on bodhran and Mike McGoldrick on pipes, whistle and flute and I can honestly say that in all my 47 years I have never heard anything that evokes Án Gorta Mór in such a moving and evocative way.

Buy Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine

SignedVinyl  SignedCD  Amazon

Contact Declan O’Rourke

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Soundcloud

In writing this review I owe a huge debt to the following- my Grandfather, Michael Joesph Wilkinson. Missed every day. Dave McNally of Folk Radio UK here for his outstanding review here and Stair na hÉireann which provides invaluable help with articles on every aspect of Irish history here.

Further Recommended Reading:

Let Ireland Remember

Irish National Famine Memorial Day

but the most extensive resource on Facebook about this period is to be found at

Irish Holocaust –Not Famine: The Push To Educate In Fact’s

(Declan O’Rourke performs two tracks, ‘Indian Meal’ and ‘Poor Boy’s Shoes’ and talks about the album and his reasons for recording it)

ALBUM REVIEW: THE LUCKY PISTOLS- ‘Where The Orioles Fly’ (2017)

FREE DOWNLOAD

To put it as simply as we possibly can The Lucky Pistols are an Irish folk punk band based out of Baltimore, Maryland. There.

Back in the year 1816 only 6,000 Irish people immigrated to America but within just two short years tragedy and an deliberate attempt to wipe out an entire race this number would double and would sadly continue to grow for the foreseeable future.  The greatest spike in the number of Irish who immigrated to America came during 1845-1853 the time of The Great Hunger which completely devastated Ireland.  In 1846, 92,484 immigrated and by 1850 that number had grown to 206,041. By the end of 1854 over two million had immigrated to America, astonishingly this was over one quarter of the population of Ireland. These were the lucky ones with the dead left by the roadside at home and many more dying on what became known as ‘Coffin Ships’ on the long torturous journey to what they hoped was a better life. It was during this dramatic exodus that Baltimore experienced it’s boom in its Irish population with close to 70,000 arriving in the city in the 1850’s and 60’s. Those who arrived in Baltimore settled in the southwestern part of the city with the men working for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad and the women finding work usually as domestics. The work was hard and dirty and dangerous but as employment opportunities were scarce and these Irish immigrants were mainly farmers so due to their lack of skilled labour, they faced a great deal of discrimination and were viewed as inferior people. They lived in tiny crowded and subdivided homes. Unable to afford better housing they were still better off than if they had stayed in Ireland and despite the low wages they were still were five times more than the eight pence a day that a farmer back home earned.

Baltimore became the third most common point of entry for European immigrants, behind New York and Boston.  In 1867, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad entered into a partnership with the North German Lloy Stemship Line to build immigration piers at Locust Point.  The ships landing at Locust Point would drop off German, Irish and English immigrants.  From there, immigrants could immediately go and work for the railroad or board a train and continue westward. The Irish experience in Baltimore was not a happy one but one of hardship and challenge.

Their children are The Lucky Pistols.

The Lucky Pistols left to right: Tony Graham- Bass, Backup Vocals * Sean Suttell- Guitar, Mandolin, Harmonica, Lead Vocals * Jay D’Annunzio- Drums (joined after release of the album. Drummer on the album is Matt Toronto) Victoria Renee Grier- Fiddle (Joined after release of the album)

The roots of The Lucky Pistols rather surprisingly begin in the German town of Heidelberg in a band called The Cold Shots. Pistols and good mates Sean and Tony spent five years ago playing Irish folk punk supporting many great Irish punk bands like Paddy And The Rats and The Mahones. As is the way with many immigrants the lure of home became too great and on the break up of The Cold Shots Sean and Tony moved back to the United States in 2013. After a short break Sean began playing solo gigs on the Irish pub scene in Baltimore and Annapolis and it wasn’t long before the Bhoys got the bug and decided to give it another shot and have been trying out their style of Irish folk punk on the east coast ever since.

Where The Orioles Fly is The Lucky Pistols debut album and to their absolute credit have made it available a free download so regardless of what you are about to read you ought to download it straight away. After all who is to say our opinion is worth anything anyway? The album begins with ‘Songs Of Ireland’ and straight from the off its fast paced acoustic Irish folk-punk. Yeah my favourite! I get off on this stuff I really do. A tale of drinking with mates and belting out Irish songs is, I am sure, familiar to many of you. My own brother when he was younger and hadn’t embraced his Irish roots as much as some in the family (ahem…) still knew the words to the entire Irish emigrant songbook. Catchy as hell and that north American celtic-punk sound that definitely has crossover appeal in that it is basically folk music for punks.  I love the harmonica and it is sadly underused in celtic-punk but used to great effect in ‘Girl At The Gallows’. Two songs in and you get a feel for what The Lucky Pistols are about and it’s good. The album’s title song, ‘Where The Orioles Fly’, rolls in next and the oriole is the official state bird of Maryland and the name of the local major league baseball team and tells of Sean and his journey home from across the sea.

Sean’s voice leads the band along and is the more stronger for it. The songs tell stories in that Irish tradition and also in the tradition of Ireland a few drinking songs wouldn’t go amiss and more importantly those warning of the perils of the demon drink and ‘Moonshine (Howlin’ At The Moon)’ is the first here. Country influence especially strong here but not of Nashville but of working men and women far away from rhinestones and glamour. There follows a group of songs with much in common. ‘Downtrodden’, ‘Back In The Harbour’, ‘Walls Of Misery’ all tell of the various struggles of those at the bottom of the ladder. Sad to say not everyone is a “king in the US of A”.

It’s not all doom though as ‘Regrets Are A Waste Of Time’ tells of dusting yourself off when life drags you through the dirt. Great sentiments and not many know the truth of that as much as the Irish do. The music so far has been fast and flowing steady but what I have been waiting for has been a kick-arse ballad and finally I am rewarded with the wait with the penultimate song ‘Drink With You’. Every celtic-punk album needs one and as it the way they usually revolve around a drink or two and The Lucky Pistols don’t buck the trend. Mind you I wouldn’t say its completely a ballad but it still rolls along beautifully and you can class it as the album’s epic. Where The Orioles Fly ends with the classic Irish standard ‘God Save Ireland’ and a song that is very rarely covered which is a shame as both the words and the tune I’ve always thought would make it the perfect song to ‘punk’ right up. Written back in 1867 it was the unofficial Irish national anthem up to the 1920’s and tells the story of three Irishmen executed in Manchester, England for their part in the ambush of a Police transport. The ambush achieved it’s goal of the release of two of their comrades but a shot fired at the lock of the van inadvertently caused the death of the police guard. In the ensuing weeks many local Irish were rounded up and eventually three men were sentenced to death. Despite none of them having fired the fatal shot Michael Larkin, William Phillip Allen, and Michael O’Brien were put to death and became known as the Manchester Martyrs. The songs lyrics were released the day before their execution on 23rd November 1867.

“Climbed they up the rugged stair, rang their voices out in prayer,
Then with England’s fatal cord around them cast,
Close beside the gallows tree kissed like brothers lovingly,
True to home and faith and freedom to the last”

The Lucky Pistols turn in an utterly fantastic version what is without a doubt the highlight of the album. Fast and catchy and thigh slappingly brilliant. A song that is built to last and no better tribute to those people mentioned at the beginning of this article. Sean the vocalist and songwriter of the band takes his inspiration from his Irish nannie (like a true Irish grandson!) and Maryland has a rich Irish culture which is celebrated throughout the year. Throughout the USA Irish culture is holding firm against globalisation and ‘mono-culture’ and bands like The Lucky Pistols play more than their fair share in aiding that. That their music speaks to the grandchildren of those brave Irish souls who settled in Baltimore many years ago is undeniable but their feisty mix of acoustic folk-punk laded with plenty of Irish ‘oompf’ with gather many friends of the Irish around the hearth too.

(you can download for free this fantastic album but if you can spare a dime or enough for a Guinness even then follow the link but listen first here)

Download Where The Orioles Fly

FromTheBand

Contact The Lucky Pistols

Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube  Twitter  ReverbNation

ALBUM REVIEW: CHRISTY MOORE- ‘On The Road’ (2017)

Christy Moore is one of a handful of people who brought Irish folk music out of the backroom sessions in pubs and homes and out in to the mainstream. With influences from rock, pop, and jazz music he is one of the architects of modern Irish folk music.

Released this very day is On The Road the new album from Irish music icon Christy Moore, a two-disc, 24-song set of classic tracks Christy has made his own in an incredible fifty years of touring and recording. The tracks have been recorded in seventeen live venues from London to Westport, Glasgow to Galway, over the past three years and is the first time Christy’s biggest tunes have been made available on one album. Of course with a career as long and successful as his not everyone will be happy and personally I would have liked to have seen some of the songs that gained him notoriety in the 1980’s when he was the bain of the Irish establishment recording tracks such as ‘They Never Came Home’ about 1981’s Stardust fire where 48 people died at a Dublin nightclub. Christy was hauled before the courts and fined and had his album withdrawn for suggesting, quite correctly, that the fire exits being chained was the reason for the disaster. ‘The Time Has Come’ described the last meeting of a hunger striker and his mother receiving regular plays on Irish Radio until it was revealed exactly what the song was about and it was subsequently banned. One song included here though banned at the time was ‘Mcllhatton’, which along with ‘Back Home in Derry’ was banned after it was discovered they were written by Bobby Sands whilst in prison. So there is no ’90 Miles From Dublin’ but what were we to expect. Much of the material here is of the leftfield kind and while ‘Viva La Quinte Brigada’ may have been the embodiment of everything the Irish government hated upon it’s release the years have been kind to this roll call of the brave Irishmen and women who left Ireland to fight Franco and the fascists in 1936 Spain. With his political output having ground to a halt, hopefully temporarily, it is Christy’s renowned sense of humour that takes centre stage. It is on songs such as ‘Joxer Goes To Stuttgart’ about Irish fans travelling to Euro 1988, in West Germany and, utilizing the same tune, ‘Delirium Tremens’ telling of his alcoholic demons, an idea later stolen by indie rock band Carter USM for ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’, that Christy’s music comes alive with the audience enthusiastically singing and clapping along.

“Goodbye to the Port and Brandy, to the Vodka and the Stag,
To the Schmiddick and the Harpic, the bottled draught and keg.
As I sat lookin’ up the Guinness ad I could never figure out
How your man stayed up on the surfboard after 14 pints of stout”

As much as I love the more raucous and lively tracks there is no denying the beauty of the slower songs here. Well known standards such as ‘Nancy Spain’ and ‘Cliffs Of Dooneen’ are putty in his hands extolling emotion that not many can squeeze out of a song heard countless times. One of the highlights of the album is his take on The Pogues ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and his half whispered voice and relaxed guitar adds another dimension to this amazing song. It ends with Christy whispering of a night on the lash with Shane in Tipp and it is breath-takingly beautiful. There is a new song in the shape of ‘Lingo Politico’ dedicated to politicians everywhere! The quality of these recordings is simply outstanding and they have been edited together superbly to make an album that flows and ebbs beautifully. Accompanied by a booklet that tells you every single thing you need to know about these recordings. Christy’s voice is strong and powerful when needed and gentle and kind at other times. Their can’t be many who need an introduction to his recordings but to those who love him and those looking for an introduction to his best work this can be recommended mainly because of that excellent production..

AN ORDINARY MAN By Scott Feemster

Christopher Moore was born in Kildare, Ireland in May, 1945. His father owned a grocery shop while his mother was a keen music fan and was often caught singing around the house to Clancy Brothers records. Christy and two of his five siblings, Ailish and Barry, all went on to be notable singers, Barry adopting the stage name Luka Bloom later in life. When Christy was young, he became aware of the deep well of Irish folk songs, though, at the time, he was more impressed with rock’n’roll than folk tunes. Regardless of influence, he took up the guitar and bodhran and played briefly in a band with who would become his long-time collaborator, Donal Lunny. When he was out of school, Christy took a job as a bank clerk in Dublin and became fascinated by the local folk scene. Though he played a few gigs he couldn’t work his way into the Dublin scene as much as he wanted, and when a labour strike struck in the mid 60’s he decided to pack it in and move to England to find work. Christy spent the next few years gaining quite a reputation in England with his mix of traditional Irish and British songs and towards the end of the 60’s he decided to take the next logical step. Managing to get noted songwriter (and brother of Brendan) Dominic Behan to produce an album of traditional folk and political songs called Paddy On The Road (1969) and it has become something of a rarity in later years since only 500 copies were pressed. Though thrilled that he finally had an album to show for his efforts, he was disappointed that the English musicians backing him didn’t have the proper feel for the Irish material he was presenting. Christy moved back to Ireland and set upon finding some musicians who could play the fiery brand of politically-charged folk music he wanted to produce. Moore teamed up with his old friend guitarist/bouzouki player Donal Lunny, uillean piper and whistle player Liam O’Flynn, mandolinist Andy Irvine and bodhran player Kevin Conneff to produce Prosperous (1972), an album that marked a turning point in Irish folk music. Suddenly, younger Irish musicians were taking up traditional instruments and songs and injecting new urgency and fire into them. This combination worked so well together that they decided to carry on as a group, calling themselves Planxty. Touring relentlessly and recording the landmark Planxty (1973) and The Well Below The Valley (1973).

Moore set to work on a solo album that would show all of his strengths, and decided to split Whatever Tickles Your Fancy (1975) between an acoustic side and an electric side. The acoustic side featured Moore’s voice, guitar and bodhran playing, while the electric side was similar to the folk-rock style Fairport Convention were popularizing around the same time. Moore followed it up with his self-titled Christy Moore (1976), this time concentrating on acoustic-based narrative folk songs that were his strength. Moore took on a heavy schedule of touring and playing gigs but kept his connection with his former Planxty bandmates, and by late 1978 the original four members were keen to try the band again adding fifth member flutist Matt Molloy to the band and recording three further album’s between 1979 and 1983. Wanting to branch out from the traditional sound put forth by Planxty, Moore joined with Lunny in 1981 and formed Moving Hearts, who combined traditional Irish music with contemporary elements from rock and jazz. Other members of Moving Hearts included guitarist Declan Sinnott, saxophonist Keith Donald, bassist Eoghan O’Neill, drummer Brian Calnan and uillean piper Davy Spillane. Protests against internment, the ‘H Blocks’ and in support of the hunger strikers led to several bans and Christy’s outspoken opinions left him no friends in the establishment. Two politically-charged albums resulted, Moving Hearts (1981) and Dark End Of The Street (1982), before again Christy left to concentrate on his solo career.

To say that the 1980’s was a busy period would be an understatement, as Christy managed to be a member of Planxty, Moving Hearts and a solo artist all at the same time. He released a whole series of solo albums throughout the 80’s, including The Time Has Come (1983), the critically acclaimed Ride On (1984),  Ordinary Man (1985), Spirit Of Freedom (1985) Unfinished Revolution (1987) and Voyage (1989), with guests including Sinead O’Connor and Elvis Costello. If Christy wasn’t enough of an Irish national treasure with his work in the 70’s, his output during the 80’s combined with populist political commentary in his lyrics cemented his stature in Irish music as Ireland’s equivalent of America’s Woody Guthrie.

Moore entered the 90’s still touring and releasing albums, though slowing down a bit to near human levels. Releasing the over-produced Smoke & Strong Whiskey (1991) before a more traditional, stripped-down sound with King Puck (1993). The rousing Live At The Point(1994) followed but in 1997, Christy’s decades of constant touring, combined with his attraction to copious amounts of alcohol finally caught up with him. Told if he continued performing at the level he had been his heart would kill him he retired to take care of his health, but soon returned to the studio to make Traveller (1999), a giant left turn for Moore. The album was techno-pop utilizing synthesizers, drum machines and heavily effected electric guitar, along with the usual traditional Irish instrumentation. The album was greeted by surprise by Christy’s fans, but was generally well reviewed. He planned a return to performing live again in 1999, but his health still wasn’t up to it using the down time to his advantage writing his autobiography, One Voice (2000).

Though it looked like his days of heavy touring were over, he was not done recording getting together with Donal Lunny and Declan Sinnot for This Is The Day (2001), which, sound-wise, split the difference between his earlier stripped-down acoustic records and the sound captured on Traveller. Moore followed with a series of low-key appearances in Dublin, and after being profiled on an Irish TV special, renewed interest was shown towards Planxty, and Moore joined with Lunny, Irvine and O’Flynn for some reunion shows. Planxty kept their reunion open-ended, and did not rule out working together in the future but Christy returned to his solo career with the critically-acclaimed Burning Times (2006), which featured his own compositions mixed in with covers by such songwriters as Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and Morrissey. Again, Moore took to playing some shows, although in a much more low-key manner, and put out the double album Live In Dublin (2006). Recent years have seen no let up but with his releases now tending to be of the tribute/live/greatest hits variety he is still a regular visitor to this side of the Irish sea and although recently the admission fee’s have been somewhat expensive he still remains one of Ireland’s most treasured performers and, dare I say it, now part of the establishment.

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ALBUM REVIEW: GHOSTTOWN COMPANY- ‘FolkRock’ (2017)

An original German band with their debut album a mix of modern day folk-rock but steered by traditional influences of Irish-Celtic music and American country music.

Not long ago in the summer of 2015, as tends to be the way with these things, two mates with an interest and a background in both folk and rock bands decided they wanted to combine the two and get a band together. With a handful of shows booked they set out on the search for fellow enthusiasts and having quickly agreed on the name Ghosttown Company they roped in a few acquaintances and the search was completed in October 2015. The band’s name describes the places left behind by the Irish during ‘The Great Hunger’ in the mid 19th century when millions were forced to leave Ireland in search of survival and a better life. Rehearsals soon followed culminating in a successful debut local gig in Saarbrücken. Not wasting any time at all the Bhoys took to the recording studio making their first Demo and after a further run of accomplished gigs the band signed a contract with Prosodia publishing company and so it has been a short journey to their debut album the rather aptly titled FolkRock, released in July this year.

Now celtic-punk and all things Irish are incredibly popular in Germany and we have gone over this several times including recently with reviews of albums by Restless Feet, Pitmen, Jamie Clarke’s Perfect The Distillery Rats and The Crooks And The Dylans. Here in England the celtic part of celtic-punk is often underplayed and many bands while actually playing celtic-punk and using Irish and Celtic tunes persist in calling their music folk-punk or attribute the said Irish tunes as English. This special affinity that German’s hold for the Irish means they don’t fall for such bullshit and hypocrisy and they completely go for the Irish/Celtic part and this makes the German scene one of the best in the world. Time and time again when I have met German folk I have been impressed by their knowledge of Irish culture, music and history. That Celtic are by far the most popular foreign team among German football supporters is testament to that affinity. There are several theories for this but my guess is that the Germans love a drink and a good party so it makes perfect sense for them to team up with the Irish. That and maybe perhaps a grudge against a certain nation as well has brought us together?

Ghosttown Company are not unusual among the German celtic-punk scene in that they play mostly acoustic folk music. Yes with the spirit of punk but this is celtic-punk played under the influence of Country, Americana and rock whilst butting shoulders with traditional Irish and Celtic songs. The album starts with ‘Shooting Star’ and they kick off with the album’s top song. Catchy is surely the most overused word when reviewing things so instead of repeating it throughout just assume every song is ‘catchy’ it will save us both time. The European celtic-punk bands love the flute and I am a late comer to the brilliance of this instrument (thank Firkin for my conversion) and it works wonders here. ‘Far Away’ is up next and is a more solid rock number with saxophone and chugging guitar driving it along. Now I’m not sure if the world needs another version of a famous folk trad classic and here it is ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ that gets the folkpunk treatment. Since the advent of recorded music the same songs have popped up for a reason and it’s a little rich to slate modern day celtic-punk bands for it when my Mammies record collection from the 50’s/60’s/70’s must have a thousand different versions of maybe 5 or 6 songs in it. More Dubliners than Thin Lizzy needless to say it’s a great cover and the Bhoys do it justice playing it with a hoe-down twist with added “Yee-Hars” and pub soundtrack. So far the band that is in the back of my head are The Men They Couldn’t Hang and on ‘Plastic World’, the LP’s longest song, you can hear it as well as feel it with the lyrics of the song. That ‘English’ influence continues with next track ‘Clowns In A Game’. One of the album highlights is the outstanding ‘Greenlands’ which takes us on a mesmerising journey through Ghosttown Company’s musical abilities. The music swirls and twines building up and up before relaxing again and repeating. The whole band plays their part and this must surely be a huge live favourite. While they can cut loose you also get the feeling that some songs like the following, ‘Going Down’, would benefit from the same and bit of ‘anarchy’. Another celtic-punk classic next with ‘Black Velvet Band’ and bands love this as it’s slow build up gives them a chance to go f**king mental when the chorus comes along. Not here though and the song is quite restrained with some excellent mournful saxophone and again the band take’s trad material and manages to do something a little different with it to give it their own stamp. The accordion and the mandolin lead us into ‘Hell You Know’ and another standout song that flows magnificently along. This is music that is perched halfway between folk and rock and the past and present and while it won’t scare your Grandparents it is still thoroughly thigh slappingly great. A visit to Ireland is recalled next in ‘Island Of The Green’ and the autobiographical story of how Ghosttown Company frontman and songwriter Chris fell in love with Ireland and all things Irish things on their first visit to Dublin. Music, alcohol and good times in the four corners of Ireland put to catchy (sorry!) country tinged Irish folk’n’roll. The last cover is ‘Spanish Lady’ and one of my favourite songs of all time. Now I can only remember this being covered in the celtic-punk world by Shane MacGowan And The Popes. It may be a tad restrained compared to that version but again they nail it and the thigh slapping continues unabashed!

The curtain comes down on FolkRock with ‘A Lost One’s Ballad’ and its a great way the close down. Slow and delicate and proof these guys can play a tune. Every celtic-punk album needs at least one of these songs and I have seldom heard better.

These Bhoys are brand new to the celtic-punk stage and are a more than welcome addition to it. As with many, many bands out there there is no stereotyping here (well maybe just a tiny little bit!) just a love of all the things that make us as humans great. These are things that the Irish are famous for but by no means solely confined to the Irish race. Generous, kind, faithful, hospitable, passionate and devoted while at the same time managing to be pretty well f**ked up as well and I get the sense that Ghosttown Company here are wise to that. The traditional songs here are solid renditions but gone are the days when celtic-punk bands were judged on their covers and with nine of the album’s twelve songs penned by the band themselves it bodes very well for them. Although here what I have done is actually pigeonhole them they were a band I found quite hard to do so. Now unique is not a word bandied around in celtic-punk circles very often, after all a lot in the scene does sound a bit ‘samey’ to put it mildly, Ghosttown Company have managed to come up with something different and show they are never just another Irish covers band and with this great debut behind them they are set for a great future.

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM- ‘Bring Me The Head Of John The Baptist’ (2017)

Drinking Guinness from the Holy Grail!

These lads are as Irish as they fecking come so check out the new album of mighty celtic-punk rock from The Templars of Doom coming out of Ulster county, New York.

The Templars of Doom hail from the aptly named Ulster County in upstate New York and play punked-up Irish music inspired more by the Sex Pistols and the Ramones than by The Dubliners. Originally formed as Alternative Ulster they released an album, Rebellion,  in 2016. A raucous celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising with a total of sixteen tunes, including six covers of the like of ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ (The Ramones), ‘Supernaut’ (Black Sabbath) and ‘Seventeen’ (The Sex Pistols) all of which have been blended with bagpipes to give them a new and exciting celtic punk edge. Sadly the band met with some trouble and a year later they emerged with pretty much the same line up and a new name- The Templars Of Doom. While they may sound like a death metal band rest assured it’s still very much “1977-meets-1916″ with traditional Irish ballads and themes played at punk speed with bagpipes and kilts.

Michael (Bass/Vocals ) Josie (Pipes)

The album begins pretty much where Alternative Ulster left off with ‘The Oliver Cromwell Twist’ and as the band say themselves

“hits the English overlord and executioner of the Irish with a Chubby Checker-esque slam dance”

Marty Shane (Mandolin)

Rory Quinn (Guitarist, Co-Lead Vocals)

and indeed they give it to the murderous scourge of the Irish with both barrels. The Last four words, Drogheda, Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny are the four cities in order Cromwell sacked and gave no quarter to the Irish Catholic inhabitants. At Drogheda and Wexford at least 4,000 were massacred mainly women and children. The music may be standard 70’s punk rock with bagpipes but to say it is catchy and infectious at the same time would be a massive understatement. Within a few seconds of playing my mind had gone to wild punk rock nights in New York with Irish-Americans bashing each other up on the while sliding about on a beer drenched dance floor. There though lies the rub with a band like The Templars Of Doom. They are very much a live act and though they have done a great job at capturing that here on disc they are still very much a band to be experienced live. A look down the album song titles reveals these lads are very much an Irish band and when people say that Irish-Americans aren’t Irish then get this album and shove it down their throat. At the moment, as there has always been but perhaps not as great, their is a tendency to deny ‘Irishness’ to those children of Ireland if they were born in America.  More often its from people who never left Ireland except for expensive holidays and gap years and find Irish traditions of music, dance, family and faith embarrassing and wish for Ireland a sort of globalisation where these thing are left in the past. Thank God for Irish communities around the globe who keep Irish culture alive.

The album continues with ‘Saint Patrick Saved Ireland’ and follows in much the same vein and aye you could be listening to a live track here with it’s wild abandon! The bagpipes start before the band kicks in with gang vocals and a tune, and vocals, straight out of late 70’s London. Classic rough and ready tuneful and tuneless at the same time celtic-PUNK to shake the cob-webs away with chants, reels and a punk rock mosh in the middle. 

Left to right: Rory Quinn (guitar, vocals), Eric Pomarico (drums), Michael X. Rose (Bass,Vocals), Josie Rose (Pipes), Brendan Merrit in hat(sitting in on gang vocals, pub style) at Snug Harbor, New Paltz, NY

Next up we have a song that is another embarrassment to those millennials who seem to care more about what happens on a distant shore 1000’s of miles away than just ninety miles from their parents swanky homes in Dublin. ‘A Nation Once Again’ is one of the most famous Irish rebel songs and even went so far as winning a 2002 BBC World Service poll of listeners to be crowned the world’s most popular song of all time, as performed by the kings of Irish rebel music the wonderful Wolfe Tones. Written in 1844 by the great Thomas Davis who proclaimed

“Music is the first faculty of the Irish… we will endeavour to teach the people to sing the songs of their country that they may keep alive in their minds the love of the fatherland”

So there you have it straight from Thomas mouth and I doubt very much whether or not he would care much that a band of Irish-Americans would adapt the tune and speed it up into a Irish punk rock jig  just as long as it was being played and past down to the younger generations. I swear I think trapped between the ‘West Brit’ millennials and the trad Irish folk snobs I think both would rather songs like this not be played rather than have a band of Irish descended punk rockers have a go on them! The song dreams of a time when Ireland will be a free land, and exhorts Irishmen and women to stand up and fight for their land.

“And righteous men must make our land a nation once again”

The Templars Of Doom’s version starts with bagpipe and sneering punky vocals and while its much slower than previous songs its still very much in the punk vein. It reminds me of drunken nights in Mannions in Tottenham belting out this classic with a bunch of 2nd generation Irish losers and boozers before annoying the neighbours on the way home! The album takes an unusual turn next with ‘Eyes’ and it’s a bit of country’n’western tinged Irish folk that peaks our interest. The beautiful sound of uilleann pipes as played by Scott Benson takes this song to another level and shows these Bhoys can play their instruments and belt out as good a song as anyone on the Irish circuit. ‘The Minstrel Boy’ is the shortest song here, just tipping over two minutes, and as you would expect it’s played at breakneck speed and has more in common with The Ramones than Planxty. Turn it up to 11 and get your Doc’s on, it don’t get wilder than this! The album’s title song follows and ‘Bring Me The Head Of John The Baptist’ doesn’t disappoint with more of the ramshackle UK 70’s punk rock sound that has served them well so far.

‘The Templars Erupt’ has the feel of The Pogues all over it with the setting of a bar and barroom chatter in the background while bodhrán and tin whistle fill the air. To me it sounds like it escaped from Hell’s Ditch and rightly deserved it’s place as the longest track here. We are nearing the end and they not going out gracefully and ‘Suicide Bomb’ is one of my favourites here harking back to London bands like Alternative TV and Menace while the album draws the curtains with ‘Michael Collins Ghost’ and just a couple of weeks after his birthday The Big Fellow must be looking down with pride that he still evokes such passion among the Irish and their friends. Sung and co-written by Mike O’Leary, along with Rory Quinn, the song is the highlight of the album and we will indeed

“Raise a glass to Michael Collins ghost”

The band come together perfectly here and it may have veered away slightly from celtic-punk into celtic-rock territory but who cares about that wee thing. The song is a masterpiece and great words and performance ends the album on the highest note possible.

The band have release Bring Me The Head Of St John The Baptist on their own label Poe Records which has also released CD’s from the side project of bassist and band artist Michael X. Rose, The Wild Irish Roses, which is Michael his Mrs and their 8 (eight!!) kids. Yep a true family band and also well worth checking out. This album may not get them on the bill at Get Shamrocked or even the local Celtic or Irish festival as it may induce heart attacks and fainting spells on some of the more lily livered members of our community. The Bhoys could have called it a day after Alternative Ulster but they have persevered and kept at it so if you want fast, punky, tuneful/tuneless Irish music that you can mosh pit down to with songs about the Templars, Ireland, the Holy Grail, saints and ghosts then The Templars Of Doom are your band and also the band for legions of green, spiky haired, young Paddys and Biddies across the United States!

( have a free listen to Bring Me The Head Of John The Baptist on Bandcamp before you buy on the player below)

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(For a week from now. Yes for the following seven days you can download the album for *FREE* as a special gift for all London Celtic Punks readers. Just follow this link here and download away but be quick. Where it says ‘Name Your Price’ simply put 0.00 or if you feeling generous send them a few bucks for Guinness. It will end soon but feel free to tell your mates!)

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(Vocalist and guitarist Michael made a movie about St. Patrick versus the Druid overlords. It’s called Bloodlust of the Druid Overlords and here for your delight is the trailer. Watch this space for the full movie coming soon!

please support this film by pledging to the Kickstarter fundraising here)

ALBUM REVIEW: CRAIC- ‘Sounds Of Vandemark’ (2017)

craic

noun also crack UK  /kræk/ US  /kræk/ irish english

enjoyable time spent with other people, especially when the conversation is entertaining and funny:

“The boys went driving round the town just for the craic”

CRAIC are your quintessential American-Irish band. Named after the Irish word for a good time that has invaded the English language in recent years and has become the word to describe a night out drinking. They hail from the city of Cleveland in the mid western state of Ohio in the Great Lakes region of the United States. A heavily industrial town that was built upon the bones of mainly immigrant labour in the 1800’s and needless to say a large proportion of those bones came from Ireland. Arriving in the 1820’s the first Irish settled in ghetto’s along the river where they they would build the Ohio and Erie Canal. Hard work that would see many of them perish. As numbers increased as the Great Hunger took hold in the old country the Irish in Cleveland grew too large for their ghettos and expanded into the factory districts of the city where many would eventually work. The Irish had a tough time of it living on Cleveland’s West Side.

“Shantytown was an open sewer of industrial and human waste.  The Flats area was home to cholera, diphtheria, and scarlet fever.  Because of the continuing Irish immigration, there were not enough homes to house everyone.  Therefore, many homes of Irish families housed many relatives from the old country.  The saloons became a place for the Irishman to go to get away from the house and to enjoy the company of his fellow Irishmen”

These Irish built the churches and schools for their descendants and even today many years after large scale Irish immigration to the States has finished the Irish still make up the second largest ethnic group in the city, with the largest being Germans. Irishness is still very much alive in the city with Irish traditions and customs still observed and sports clubs formed as is getting more common across the States Cleveland has an active and successful gaelic games club in the St.Patricks’s- St.Jarlath’s G.A.A. team (join them here if you’re in the area).

So it was in 2009 that this bunch of talented Cleveland Irish musicians got together and decided that the one thing missing from their local Irish scene was a fist pumping, ‘in your face’ good time band that takes traditional Irish music and mixes in folk, bluegrass and (you know what’s coming don’t you?) some quality high voltage punk rock.

CRAIC left to right: Timmy Causing – Acoustic Guitar * Brett M. Burlison – Lead Vocals * James R. McWilliam – Drums * Jennifer O’Neal – Fiddle * Theresa Kalka – Tin Whistle * Mitch Kozub – Banjo * Jason ‘Gojko’ Kollar – Bass * Aleks Patsenko – Electric Guitar

CRAIC’S first studio release was the 2011 EP It’s Still New Enough That It’s Forgivable which they followed up in March 2014 with their debut album Amongst The Mischief And Malarkey. The album received favourable reviews across the celtic-punk media and featured in many of 2014’s Best Of lists. That album was produced by ex-Dropkick Murphys star Ryan Foltz at Cleveland Audio studios and the band were so happy that they have welcomed him back to do a similar job on the follow up album Sounds Of Vandemark and again he has performed an exemplary job.

Sounds Of Vandemark is nine songs and seems to be over in a flash at just under a half an hour. I say seems as thats a perfectly reasonable length for an album but I enjoyed it so much I would have loved a bit more!!! There are five self-penned tracks and four covers and while that may seem a lot for a nine track album they have chosen well with a couple of standards and a couple of interesting non-Celtic songs that I had never heard before. The title of the album comes from the bands rehearsal space on Vandemark Rd, in a little suburb of Cleveland called Litchfield Township and the whole thing kicks off with ’20 Years Later’ and it don’t get better here than this. What a cracker to start with. Dropkick’s influences all over it from the crunchy guitar to the catchy chorus and vocals involving the whole band at times. Not to forget the subject matter which is of course having a beer or two with your friends and comrades. This is followed by a bit of an Irish/celtic-punk standard but what to say about ‘Drunken Sailor’ that hasn’t been said before I wonder?

Every few weeks it seems I have to come up with a new way to review this song so I won’t bother this time as it’s enough to say that CRAIC’s version with brilliant banjo, fiddle and tin-whistle is pretty damn good and is up there with any of the best. One of the ways that CRAIC have made their name has been their combination of bluegrass/ country and Irish music and while it hasn’t been particularly evident so far it sticks out a mile with ‘Gettin’ Up & Gettin’ Out’. Next up is another cover, this time ‘It’s Dangerous Out There’ written by American folk singer Bill Morrissey. Many of Morrissey’s songs reflected on working class life and he sadly passed away early at the age of 59 in July 2011. The song originally appeared on his album North in 1986 and his fabulous version can be heard here. Great lyrics and CRAIC do it justice keeping the folk heart of the original intact. We are back in Ireland again now with ‘Rocky Road To Dublin’ and again it’s one covered countless songs but very hard to master due to the speed you need to sing the words. Still it’s one of my personal favourites and I love the lines

” Hurrah me soul says I, me shillelagh I let fly
Some Galway boys were nigh and saw I was a hobble in
With a load “Hurray” joined in the affray
Quickly cleared the way for the rocky road to Dublin”

A cool version that leads us nicely into ‘Hal’ and another great example of CRAIC and their excellent county influenced celtic-punk. All that’s missing here is a ‘Yee-Har’ but takes an unexpected punky turn during the chorus before returning to the C’n’W. ‘Wool’ is more of a straight punk number and gives the band the chance to let fly and rock out. The album’s penultimate song is the final cover here and again it’s a cleverly chosen one. ‘Anything Anything’ was originally penned by New Jersey rockers Dramarama and featured on their debut album from 1985. You may not know them but possible you will have heard the song due to it being featured on the soundtrack of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. CRAIC turn an already great song (here) into even better one. The tune stays sort of the same but the addition of all those Irish folk instruments takes it to another level. The album ends with the band’s superb tribute to their home simply titled ‘Cleveland’

“It’s a town for shots and beers

Steel mills and refineries

Our fathers’ broken dreams

Promises and fears

I’ve been around the world

But Cleveland’s always home to me

And when I need a friend

I’ll always find them here”

Working class Irish-American life summed up in just a few lines in one hell of a song! With Chicago belonging to The Tossers, London to the Bible Code Sundays and Glasgow to The Wakes we can now add Cleveland to CRAIC. A great album and that rare thing in that it has more than enough folk to please the folkies and yet is punky enough as well to keep the punks pogoing away. This band will go from strength to strength I can see and with their name on the rise across the States judging by the number of festivals they get to play then there is no stopping them I fear. ‘Hooligans With Rhythm’ indeed!

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(excellent video showing Craic playing live at Peabody’s in Cleveland, Ohio)

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK ANEMONE- ‘In It For Life’ (2017)

Irish folk punk band from Sweden bringing chaos and mischief to the world!

Black Anemone hail from very close to the river Lagan… no not that one but the one just by Jönköping in southern Sweden! Now the Swede’s have quite the liking for celtic-punk music and Sweden has supplied the scene with some fantastic bands like Sir Reg and Finnegan’s Hell for just two and one of the latest are this bunch of young, edgy, sharply dressed folk-punk folk with their excellent brand of straight up, in your face singalong mixture of Irish folk and rock’n’roll and punk attitude.

Black Anemone from right to left: Mattias Sandberg- lead vocals (and various instruments) * Axel Martinsson- fiddle * Andreas Svensson (sitting down)- acoustic guitar, electric guitar * Rickard Olsson- Bass * Tilda Spross- tin whistle, second lead vocals * Adam Bernström- drums * Nermin Festa (sitting down)- electric guitar * Martin Hjärtkvist- banjo, mandolin * Fredrik Nilsson- accordion

Black Anemone formed in 2010 when front man Mattias fell in love at school with old time Irish music and after recruiting his longtime friend Andy on guitar they began to lay the foundations for the band. As Mattias says

”I wanted to mix the sound traditional folk music, mostly Irish trad and fusion it with rock and punk. Having strong roots in the rock and punk genre”

Within a few months and with the addition of several more school friends Black Anemone was formed. Solid rehearsing and some low key gigs saw the release of their first Demo, Let The Freak Show Begin, in 2011. That Demo definitely takes the raucousness of Flogging Molly but takes it to another level with fast Irish folk and Scandinavian raspy but still tuneful vocals. Its been made available by the band as a free download if you like (here). They soon after began work writing songs for their debut album and with a growing reputation as a live act and bolstered by several local music awards this album would be eagerly anticipated not just by their fans at home but also throughout the celtic-punk worldTitled King Of Kings it hit the streets in early 2013 and was eleven tracks of mostly acoustic but upbeat fast played Irish folk that shifts and changes and along the way sounded like most of celtic-punk’s major league players, as well a few that would deserve to be, and added to all that further folk influences sneaking in from all across Europe.

Their new album In It For Life begins with an absolute stormer of a song, ‘Freedom And For All’ with Mattias vocals perched somewhere between Shane McGowan and Joe Strummer it’s a banjo led number that has the feel good factor turned up to eleven and four years on from King Of Kings they haven’t lost any of their bite whatsoever.

‘Amber’s Point’ follows and is more a trad Irish number with a very distinctive Irish intro. Very catchy with a country feel at times and great vocals and lyrics and a banjo/accordion combination to die for! We stay in trad territory next for ‘Every Dog Has It’s Day’ an original song (not a cover of you know who!) and its what passes for the album’s epic slow number except it’s not really that slow but is indeed very epic. It’s the album’s longest track and for me it doesn’t get any better here than this. The accordion drives it along while the band accompany Mattias with the odd yell of ‘Hey!’ and with mandolin giving it that incredible Irish celtic-punk sound we all love so much. The album is only eight tracks and fairly brief at twenty-six minutes long but the Bhoys and Ghirl (an incredible nine members- that’s nearly a football team!) certainly know they way round a tune and the first cover, of two, is up next and yeah, yeah, yeah I know everyone seems to have covered ‘Drunken Sailor’ but there’s an obvious reason to why it’s covered so much and that’s because when its done well it’s quite simply one of the best tunes ever written and here I can be happy to report that Black Anemone turn in as good a version as you will ever likely hear. They keep it short and fast and proper-celticpunk! We are at the halfway point through the LP and next up is the title tune ‘In It For Life’. Again Mattias explains

“In It For Life is our tribute to the love of playing music. The love of playing live, Writing music, traveling and the constant grinding that is the music business today! we are are and will forever be in it for life”

The prominent banjo and alternatively fast punk/ska’ish sound reminds me a lot of our very own English celt-rockers Mick O’Toole. Gang vocals and a brilliant tune that leads us into ‘It’s A Short Life (But A Merry One)’ and they may have turned the punk down a fraction and maybe it’s possibly the odd one out on the album but its still an absolute belter that shifts towards being accordion driven halfway through before joined by fiddle. ‘Hellhounds On My Back’ is next up and funny enough Hellhounds is what fans of English celtic-punk band Ferocious Dog call themselves and the fiddle here gives the song an air of them as well before we get to the last track, and the second of the album’s covers of traditional folk songs. ‘Banks Of The Roses’ was originally made famous by The Dubliners and has been recorded by many Irish and Scottish artists since. The song is given a pretty standard celtic-punk showing and by pretty standard I mean, of course, utterly brilliant!

“On the Banks of the Roses me love and I sat down
And I took out me fiddle for to play me love a tune”

Sounding quite like The Rumjacks when they get hold of an old trad song Black Anemone give it plenty of oomft and the album ends on very much a high note.


In It For Life came out last June and as you can imagine for a nine piece band the sound is incredible so hats off to Alexander Gabara for his amazing work in capturing the band so perfectly. The band have got it exactly spot-on here with both their sound and the combination of folk and punk and folkpunk all underpinned with the trad sounds of Ireland. A superb album and well deserving of your ear time so don’t delay and follow the links below to hear Black Anemone today! 

(listen free to In It For Life before you buy by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy In It For Life

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Contact Black Anemone

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(full live concert recorded at Tre Trappor in Sweden last February)

ALBUM REVIEW: DRUNKEN DOLLY- ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ (2017)

Happy rocking celtic folk punk party music from Rotterdam!

Drunken Dolly LP

Coming from the Dutch port town of Rotterdam and formed way way back in 2004 Drunken Dolly are one of the best bands around but you can be forgiven for perhaps not knowing them as in all that time they have only got round to two releases! Inspired by Irish and celtic music and their love of punk rock they briefly split up back in the day but missed the drunkenness and debauchery involved in being in a celtic-punk band so got back together in 2014 and decided to take things a wee bit more seriously.

DD Band

Their debut release, the 4-track EP, ‘Drunken Dolly And The Drunken Man’s Curse’ came out in May, 2015. Now that was a full eleven years after they first got together so it had better have been good and we are glad to report it bloody was too. You can read our review of it here but rest assured it may not have been very long at only just over ten minutes long but was as good any EP released that year. Four songs of fantastic celtic-punk that we placed firmly within the Dropkicks camp but with equal appeal to fans of the Mollys too.

So a couple of years on and it’s time for their debut album to hit the streets. Alcoholic Rhapsody came out early last month and is 3/4’s of an hour of solid and superb catchy celtic-pop-punk which has elements of punk bands such as NOFX and Green Day and celtic bands like the the Dropkick’s and the Molly’s but also with harmonies straight off a Beach Boys greatest hits album! Kicking off with ‘Endless Party’ and while we are more use to the punkier elements of celtic-punk to be a bit more hard edged Drunken Dolly serve up something a bit more poppy. What pushed punk through to the mainstream a few years back was a new wave of bands who played their punk with a very distinct 60’s feel to it. Bands like Blink 182 and Rancid as well as the ones already mentioned were massive and opened the door to people wanting to check out the roots of punk. Its all very catchy and some would say somewhat throwaway but one thing is undeniable and that is that it is pure good time party music! The banjo is more prevalent in the next song, ‘No Regrets’ and is the albums first celtic-punk number and what a number. A real high octane celtic-rocker.

“The night at it’s end, as the sun hits the sky.
No money for the rent but no regrets for tonight”

The well worn tale of a night out and bugger the consequences! A great song and proof that they have only got stronger in the years since that EP’s release.

Relationship woes rear their heads in the mandolin and banjo driven ‘Time To Leave’ and the lengthy, over five minutes, ‘Whatsherface’ and while you may struggle to find any Gaelic tune up to now it is most definitely what we would refer to as modern day celtic-punk. ‘Dear Friend’ begins with a Tossers sort of intro before Gydo and his amazing banjo playing leads us in a spirited number about what we need the most in life.

“So if you have a friend like him
Raise your glass and we honour them together
It’s a fact that we all need
A dear friend, so lets honour them together”

By now we getting use to the Drunken Dolly way of doing things. Gang vocals with plenty of “Oh-Oh’s and some super catchy choruses to singalong with and ‘Hold On’ is a perfect example though not as fast as some of the fare here. For a sailor’s town it’s inevitable that we eventually must be due a sailor’s song and ‘Sailor’s Song’ is it. They ramp up the speed after a slowish celtic start and a nice catchy gang chorus ends it on a high before ‘Beware of the Fisherking’ and it instantly sounds more traditional celtic-punk fare with a nice Irish tune flowing through the more restrained punk sound but with plenty banjo and mandolin driving it along. ‘Drunken Man’s Curse’ is the first of the three songs from their previous EP that have been re-recorded for Alcoholic Rhapsody. Not a huge amount of difference I have to say except a crisper sound and much more rounder production. This is followed by the other two songs ‘Humongous Tattooed Arms’ and ‘That Kiss’ which was the first single released from Alcoholic Rhapsody and needless to say is one of the album’s highlights.

An absolute stormer of a classic rock number and with some real profound and meaningful lyrics. As someone whose Grandad was his hero they really struck a chord with me. The sound here reminded me of Mick O’Toole and their heavy banjo/mando sound.

“It’s your friends, your mates, your comrades
But mostly your wife you’ll miss
Now i sit here, thinking of them
How they all came to pass
It’s the nights we would drink,
The nights of fun
But mostly I miss that kiss
I miss that kiss”

We are steaming towards the end at breakneck speed and ‘Stop’ drops us by the beach in Southern California again and catchy is the word as we stroll into ‘Beat Up Good Johnny’. It’s another old song from an early Demo that has benefited from a re-fit and a better production. So we reach the end and it’s time for the album’s theme song ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ and for the Bhoys to go out on a high. It’s fast paced tale of alcoholic woes and tribulations is the main theme throughout the album and brings the curtain down on this fine album.

The celtic-punk scene in the Netherlands is both a lively and active one with several bands all working closely together rather than competing with each other. The great thing is that they all manage to come from different directions of the scene and none are more different than Drunken Dolly. Their pop-punk sound is pretty original and that fast and furious celtic-punk is super catchy and the perfect accompaniment for a beer or two. Or alcoholic rhapsody if you will!

(you can listen to ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ for *FREE* before you buy it by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Alcoholic Rhapsody

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Contact Drunken Dolly

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The Drunken Dolly Team

Michael Stoel – Mandolin/Vocals
Kevin Snoey – Bass/Vocals
Gydo Stalenberg – Banjo/Vocals
Scott Merts – Drums/Vocals
Randy van Soest – Electric-Guitar/Vocals

ALBUM REVIEW: THE BABES- ‘Greetings From London’ (2017)

The Babes are a trio of London celtic-punk misfits that play fast and punky Poguesy type music… and with just drums, bass and bagpipes!

In a small scene such as ours over here in Blighty it’s always brilliant news to hear of another celtic-punk band joining the fold and we were over the moon earlier this year to get The Babes on board the London Celtic Punk scene. Announcing their arrival with a series of gigs around London it took a while for us to catch them live but we did sit up and take notice of a bunch of well made and edited You Tube videos that impressed us straight away so we roped them into supporting Headsticks and Under A Banner at The Water Rats. There they blew the crowd away with what can only be described as celtic-crust music! Snotty, two fingers in the air, DIY punk rock with bagpipes and a massive stage presence. Having your guitarist leave just before a big gig the easiest decision would be to cancel but The Babes said hell no and instead went on to play half an hour of fast as hell with only drums, bass and pipes!

The Babes- Matt Ren Ex: Bass, Vocals * Mao Holiday: Bagpipes, Vocals * Marvin Pedro: Drums

The guys met at the IMW sound engineering school in East London and soon via a garage in Twickenham, South West London it wasn’t long before The Babes were delivered. Bringing together Colombian, American and English backgrounds and featuring ex-members of punk legends Total Chaos and Blitz they have already played more gigs than most band who have been together much longer and have embarked on two extensive tours of Europe as well. They are literally just back from their most recent Euro tour promoting this album which took them to Brittany, France, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium and with no let up they hit the boards again in London straight after and head off again next month to Catalonia and Spain for a few dates.

Greetings From London has been self produced and funded by the band and is a real achievement for them. The physical CD comes in a rather nifty jewel case with a beautiful huge full colour booklet with lyrics and photos and all sorts of stuff. Very nice it is too. But what about the music? Well the album kicks off with ‘The Awakening’ an instrumental that starts with very much a traditional Gaelic feel to it before the band slowly join in and take it up to the end and for once are a bit restrained and the album gets off to a fantastic start. The next track, ‘Gold Star’ again begins with the pipes loud and proud and Mao’s voice and strong accent driving it along but no sign so far as yet of what The Babes are best known for. I have to say at this point so that I don’t repeat myself throughout the review after each song that the bagpipes on this album by Mao are absolutely fantastic. A native of Colombia he has certainly learnt well and the pipes are a great addition to the solid punk rock fare. By the way the band have given up ‘Gold Star’ as a free download so simply click below to get the track for free.

FOR ‘GOLD STAR’ CLICK HERE

A couple of short ninety second songs follow in ‘Down Here’ and ‘Do Something’ and the band that springs to mind here are definitely the Bristol based drunken crusty punk band Disorder, who John Peel once famously described as “sounding like Triumph Bonneville motorbikes”. I came across Disorder as a ten year old Sham 69 fan who use to spend his weekly pocket money on punk singles but was so impressed one day by the sheer number of songs on one single in particular (and the cheap price!) that he bought it without listening took it home and got shouted at my his Mam and Dad when he put it on. To say it made Sham look like the Bay City Rollers would be an understatement! Best song so far is up next and ‘Lima Limon’ has plenty of energy and fire in the belly and even when you listen to it you completely forget that there’s no electric guitar here. For a three piece band they certainly fill out the space extremely well and are all great musicians in their own right. When I saw The Babes recently play Matt the bassist explained the significance of the song ‘Song of Finola’ and it was very interesting but beer has clouded my memory and all I can remember is that it was an Irish story. The pipes drive the tune along and Matts vocals seem distant while the song floats along. A superb track and here I find myself having to say that sure I don’t think that Greetings From London will appeal to everyone in the celtic-punk scene but then this is not yer typical celtic-punk album and The Babes are not yer typical celtic-punk band either. Next up is ‘Rampton Song’ originally written by and the lead song on that EP I bought thirty odd years ago by Disorder. Fast and over in a flash of ninety three seconds and The Babes have chopped and changed the song making it their own.

Thundering bass dominates here and live I can tell you it’s bloody crowd pleaser. ‘Kids’ doesn’t last much longer before ‘Dandelion’ and Mao and Matt share vocals and lyrics in Spanish and English. Next up it’s the album’s highlight which is without doubt ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away’. Released as the first single from Greetings From London and on hearing it I straight away knew they were onto a winner.

Promoting ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away’ took them on their first tour ‘The Babes Invade Mainland Europe’ where they had the opportunity to visit France, Germany, Belgium and Holland. Positive lyrics and a killer tune with stunning piping and that thundering bass thundering away it’s a complete tune and if you like this song then you are going to fecking love the rest of them.

“Tomorrow seems so far away,

why don’t we live for today?

When yesterday is all said and done,

why don’t we just have some fun?”

We nearing up to the end now with just two songs left and the short ‘The Choice Is Up To You’ takes us through to ‘Chia Sue’ and the album ends on a high with a punk rock masterpiece taking all the things that The Babes are good at and throwing them back to us.

As you can imagine for a band that met at sound engineering school the sound here is immaculate with plenty of power and oomft without being over produced at all. A really good job by Mao who engineered, produced, mixed and mastered the whole thing ably assisted by Colin Smith, David Clark Allen and Sean Bartle. As said The Babes may not be everyone’s cup of tea as they are most firmly planted on the punk rock side of the celtic-punk scene and they aint a lot of folk music going on here after that first song! Though as an old and greying punk rock misfit myself I blooming loved it. The energy is boundless and infectious and if maybe The Babes are best experienced live they have done as good a job as could ever be done in transferring that live sound onto disc. Greetings From London is a refreshingly raw album that goes to show that their is still plenty of room in the celtic-punk scene and it’s not all played out. Just as you think the scene has got stale and there’s never going to be another band coming along that doesn’t instantly remind you of something else then one appears and this time it’s The Babes.  

Buy Greetings From London

From The Band here or here and All Ages Records in Camden.

Contact The Babes

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  • The Babes are constantly playing somewhere and have even begun to venture beyond London too so have a look on their web site or you can subscribe to their Facebook events (here) and be sent a invite every time they play near you.
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