Category Archives: Album Review

ANTO MORRA’S NEW ALBUM IN HIS OWN WORDS

Songwriter, performer and multi media artist that believes ‘Life is for laughing and fighting injustice’. Traditional folk songs and punk rock of his formative London years, along with his Irish roots and Norfolk home are the inspiration behind his work.

by ANTO MORRA

Twenty is a compilation of 20 songs taken from 7 CD releases. Late last year I had the idea to put this together to replace the 6 full albums that were available for download and streaming. The reason being that the way music is digitally consumed today is rarely in album form and more often in odd tracks on shuffle. I felt this was making my output very incoherent and so I chose a selection of songs and got them re-mastered to work together as an album and also as individual tracks.

1. NEVER HAD TO SHOUT

The title track of my debut album. Very much in the story telling folk tradition but with 1977 punk sensibilities. Inspired by my love of British and Irish Gangster films, West London and the Clash. The main character is called Jimmy. I used this name because I had an Uncle Jimmy that lived around the Ladbrooke Grove area and had a market stall on Golbourne Road. On one occasion I performed the song at Cecil Sharp House (home of the English folk song and dance society in London) after Thomas McCarthy (an amazing singer of Irish Traditional songs passed on to him by his Irish Traveller family) approached me and questioned me (in a really strong Irish brogue) about who Jimmy was, as he had grown up around the Grove. I explained that I’d used my uncle’s name and even though my Uncle had been dead about 20 years, it soon became very apparent that Thomas had known him. You could have knocked me down with a feather. I don’t use the term ‘amazing singer’ lightly judge for yourself.

2. LONDON IRISH

It’s quite hard to imagine when I wrote this declaration of my nationality, I’d heard of neither the London Celtic Punks or The Biblecode Sundays. Unlike my elder sisters and many of my peers that moved from Catholic primary school onto Catholic secondary (High) School, my Irish identity never really developed. As many of my best school friends were English protestant, Jewish or Black, and one of my best out of school friends was a Turkish Muslim, so I always just felt like everyone was from somewhere else. Dyslexia was not really a recognised condition back then and although I wasn’t a severe case, I was always bottom of the class, angry and disruptive. Inside I thought I’d inherited my stupidity from my Irish parents, who were anything but stupid! The relentless stream of jokes about the ‘Thick Mick’ and my father fitting the stereotype of hard drinking builder, I was always emotionally conflicted about my nationality. It took a long time to confront it but I’m sure a diagnosis of dyslexia in the mid 90’s was a great help!

3. TALE OF THE SLIGO WIDOW

I spent an awful lot of wasted years drinking heavily and smoking cannabis on a daily basis, which made me adore folklore and those acoustic hippy kings like Marc Bolan, Donovan and Syd Barrett , but detest that over produced whispy Irish celtic mystic sound of people like Clannad and Enya. Although by the time I wrote this I thought I was done with writing that sort of weird hippy shit, like the cannabis it hadn’t entirely left my system! I’d like to site two songs that were the inspiration for this the first is Marc Bolan’s ‘One Inch Rock’ and the second is the Donovan’s ‘Widow with a Shawl’ .

4. TIME

I’ve always struggled with anti-social media, I’ve got accounts with the most well known platforms but never got my head around any other than Facebook. I’m still not sure how to fully utilise that to my advantage but sometimes I enjoy just screaming into that void! Some years ago there was a question posed by a FB user asking ‘If you could give your 10 year old self one piece of advice what would it be?’ Of course being dyslexic I never read the part that said ‘one piece’ and so I managed to get a full four verses out of it.

5. WRONG PATH

Like the four previous songs this is from my 2013 debut album and is in the storytelling tradition. Originally titled ‘Sealing fate’ when I started writing it in about 1990 and a song that remained really quite shite for at least 20 years, but following the 2011 London riots it finally became the song I was trying to write. I like to think of it as a re working of ‘In the Ghetto’ by Elvis but with a modern London twist. When recording it I had sung it unintentionally in a mid-Atlantic accent which sounded fine until Percy Paradise put down his slide guitar making my vocals sound hideously American. Rerecording my vocals was easy enough until it came to the chorus where The Woodland Creatures had followed the original ‘Path’ vocal line forcing me to use the American, Irish or Northern pronunciation rather than the London/southern pronunciation ‘Paath’.

6. POETS DAY

Is a working song for a lazy bastard! When I started work on building sites in the early 1980’s, Friday was known as Poets day an acronym for ‘Piss Of Early Tomorrow’s Saturday!’ This is still remembered by people of a certain age and I’m sure applied a lot more occupations than just in the building trade. Workers were paid weekly in cash back then and often on a Friday. Once you had your money in your pocket work was over and the weekend had begun and it was straight into the pub for a few pints and a game of pool or darts. Happy days!

7. WHERE’S DADDY GONE?

Written not long after my father died so consequently my mother hated it, as the Daddy in the song was nothing like my father who never hit any of us or chased other women once married, though he did occasionally stay out drinking. The inspiration for this comes from my love of those Kitchen Sink dramas of the 1960’s combined with all the rhythm and pace of a Leonard Cohen song. It does resonate close to the bone with some people, a friend of mine was quite taken aback by it and how it reflected his home life as a child.

8. CHARLEVILLE (RICKY’S SONG)

This recording is taken from a 2013 compilation cd featuring performers based in East Anglia. Some years ago while tidying stuff at my Mum & Dads house in London, I came across a piece of paper with a poem called Charleville scrawled in biro on it. Charleville is a town on the Cork, Limerick border in the Republic Of Ireland where my mother’s family are from. I asked her about it and she nonchalantly replied ‘Oh Ricky (her brother) wrote that.’ I was astounded not by the poem by just by the fact that one of my Irish relatives had been brave enough to attempt some creative writing. That sort of thing wasn’t for the likes of them! They were as Patrick Kavanagh would say ‘fog dwellers’ – rural types without need for self expression or showing off. I took the poem chopped some out, added an Irish cliché or two, pinch a traditional tune from somewhere and my work was done. There is a different version of the song on my album 16, but I chose this one because I love the understated banjo of Pete Alison and mandolin of Terry Saunders.

9. BLOOD ON THE SHAMROCK AND THE ROSE

This is the song that changed everything for me! I wrote this in the mid 00’s and by the reactions I got performing it in folk clubs, I knew I had to start taking my song writing more seriously and do some proper recordings of my songs. Growing up in London when it wasn’t great being Irish and narrowly escaping two IRA bombings- first in Selfridges 1974 and then the Wimpy Bar in 1981. I lived a mile from Marble Arch and so Oxford Street was where my mate Sean and I would go to play out on a Saturday. On both of the above occasions, we had got home to see the devastation on the News! Not only had we walked passed the Wimpy Bar on that day, but we had actually been inside Selfridges, just before we got the bus home. I could never relate the lovely kind Irish people that I had met and was related too, with the kind of people that could commit these acts of cruel violence. As I got older I started to understand it a little better and was finally able to articulate how I felt about it in a song. I have to credit my Sister Anne for verse three. When she was visiting a friend in Ulster at the height of the Troubles, she was advised if anyone asked her religion she was just to reply ‘I’m not one of them’ in order to stay safe and neutral.

10. GREEN, WHITE AND GOLD

On holiday in Ireland as a child I remember my dad pointing to a flag and saying ‘That is the Irish flag- it’s green, white and gold.’ To which I replied ‘That’s orange Dad.’ ‘No it’s gold, son!’ This contradiction went on for quite sometime until I think I just gave up. Years later I was reliably informed, that despite it representing the protestant William of Orange and his influence on the population of Ireland, Orange is not an Heraldic Colour and so my Dad was right! I wrote this not long after he died, so sadly he never got to hear it.

11. EDITH LOUISA CAVELL

Written and released as an EP in time for the centenary of her execution in October 1915. I was chosen by Norwich Cathedral Chaplin to be included in the Cathedral memorial service, where I performed it live, and the service was broadcast live on BBC Radio 4 to about 1.5 million listeners. A scary but enjoyable experience!

12. BALLAD OF EDITH CAVELL

In early 2014 I started to work with a very over educated man called Gareth Calway. A novelist, poet, playwright and historian who was staging a medieval morality play that he wanted me to be part of. When I had a very informal reading for a part, he told me of another project he was working on which was a book of ballads all based on people and places in the East of England. He was looking for musicians that could take his words and make them songs. I wasn’t keen at first as I hate reading and some of these ballads were really high brow wordy stuff but once I started it became like a runaway train and before I knew it we had an album to record.

13. PATRIOTISM IS NOT ENOUGH

The title track of The Edith Cavell Story EP released for the centenary commemoration. The EP was written on the advice of my good friend and London Irish artist Brian Whelan, who had been commissioned by Norwich Cathedral to do a number of paintings depicting her life and so suggested I write something for the planned events. The songs on the EP are all unaccompanied and linked with concertina and harmonica tunes played by my friend Percy Paradise. The reason for this was not only to respect the folk tradition of unaccompanied singing but also for a feel authenticity as there weren’t many guitars about during the First World War. I have sequenced the three Edith Songs this way because this is how I perform them live.

14. HALF GOD HALF NELSON

I always thought that I was not able to sing harmonies as when I have tried at Folk Clubs it has never been a good experience for anyone, but when recording this the harmonies came quite naturally to me. I’m not sure where I stole the shanty melody but I think it works perfectly when telling Gareth Calway’s tale of Norfolk’s Lord Admiral Nelson.

15. BALLAD OF ANN BOLEYN AND THE BURGLAR

Another from the pen of Gareth Calway. Blickling Hall in Norfolk was once the home of Ann Boleyn and it has been reported that she still haunts the place. In this song her ghost mistakes a burglar for her true love Thomas Wyatt, yet again I’m not sure where I pinched this very traditional sounding melody. My wife Julie’s harmony really pulls this together and it’s one I really love to sing when we are at folk clubs together.

16. ENGLAND

Some years ago I was booked to play in a local Norfolk bar on St. Patrick’s Day and St. Georges Day. As you can imagine St Pat’s was a walk in the park while St. Georges was a struggle, as there are hardly any English songs about how great the country is that aren’t slagging off some other country or praising the Monarchy. I stuck to things like The Jam, The Clash, The Kinks with a few great English Folk songs and got through the evening quite well I’d thought until someone came up after and said he still thought I’d been doing Irish stuff all night, but that’s pub gigs for ya! Shortly after I wrote this song to express what I love about the place. When performing it live I often explain before that it’s about place and you don’t even have to like the English to sing along with it.

17. YOU’RE NOT HERE

Originally called ‘Sadder Than Asda’ was written in the mid 90’s when I was on a painting and drawing course to get an extra £10 benefit on my giro. To get out of the studio on the outskirts of Norwich and get a bit of lunch, we’d visit a huge Asda superstore opposite. I had also started working on music with a band and we were considering names for the band. While chatting with my fellow Art students and shopping in Asda, one of my friends suggested that I should call the band Fountain Head after the cheap fizzy water sold in Asda. I put it to the band and they loved it, so that’s what we were called for our 2 year existance. When I wanted an interesting title for a song I’d written and I played the tearjerker to them some one suggested ‘Sadder Than Asda’, and like the band name, it stuck until I recorded and renamed it ‘You’re Not Here’ in 2017. Originally, recorded on a 12 string acoustic guitar that was removed completely when Kerry Selwin sprinkled her magic on the ivories. I spent a bit of time making this little video for it which is filmed in Balham, South West London where my parents rented a flat and lived for 20 years until my dad died. The shots of me watching TV and sitting by the window were done just before the TV and furniture were sold and the flat was handed back to the landlord.

18. DRAGON

When I first settled in Norwich I ran a record stall in St Benedict Street indoor market, it was a great little place which is sadly no longer there, next to my stall was a tiny hippy kiosk that sold a few ‘spiritual’ things and did tarot card readings. The owner of this kiosk was a bit of a weasley little shit but harmless enough, when he had days off there was another chap that did tarot reading who was a lovely fella that played a mean guitar and had great taste in music. One day when it was quiet one of the stall holders had brought her little boy in and he was chatting to the nice tarot reader who was trying to explain to this 5 year old what Dragons were. It proved to be fascinating listening, together with my love of T-Rex (Futuristic Dragon) and the fact that I was born in the Chinese year of the Dragon all came together in this song.

19. WRECKED ON LOVE

Another song written in the early 90’s and originally performed with Fountain Head. At this point in my life I’d been through several doomed relationships and was searching for some stability, but seemed destined to flit from bedsit to squat to family sofa. Far too many drugs and/or booze was being consumed and much too much early Marc Bolan and hippy shit was being listened too, but it was all worthwhile when a song like this came out of it. It was the first song I ever wrote that had a very folk feel to it. I particularly love the intro my talented friends did on this with flute, harp, cello and fiddle.

20. THE CONSCIENTIOUS ODD DRINKER

The closing song of my debut album was inspired by British soldier Joe Guyton, who refused to fight in the Gulf War, when it had been declared illegal. Also a story my father told me about his time in the Korean War, when one of his regiment in the royal artillery got blown up when a gun jammed. This got me thinking about PTSD and how many returning soldiers can’t deal with civilian life after the horrors they have witnessed. It’s a very sad song but in the Irish tradition of sounding good fun & having a knees up.

Buy Twenty  Vinyl/CD’sFromAnto

Contact Anto Morra Web-Site  Blog  Facebook  Reverbnation  Twitter  YouTube  Bandcamp

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2019!

Well here we go again. It only seems like five minutes since I was compiling all the votes into last years Best Of that saw The Rumjacks romping home with Album Of The Year. This year has been a bit quieter on the Celtic-Punk front but as last year was so busy that is perhaps not surprising. That’s not to say their weren’t some fantastic releases as their were plenty and it was still really difficult to come up with the various lists below. Not so many big bands this year so it was left to the lesser known bands to shine but remember this is only our opinion and these releases are only the tip of the iceberg of what came out last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we are adding the Readers Poll again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2019 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.

We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

(click on the green link to go where you will find more information on the release)

1. THE WALKER ROADERS – Self Titled

2. MICKEY RICKSHAW – Home In Song

3. FEROCIOUS DOG – Fake News And Propaganda

4. GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS – Based On A True Story

5. BARLEYJUICE – The Old Speakeasy

6. THE NARROWBACKS – By Hook Or By Crook

7. McDERMOTTS TWO HOURS – Besieged

8. PIPES AND PINTS – The Second Chapter

9. THE RUMJACKS – Live In Athens

10. SELFISH MURPHY – After Crying

11. TORTILLA FLAT – Live At The Old Capitol

12. FIDDLERS GREEN – Heyday

13. THE RUMJACKS – Live In London Acoustic Sessions

14. THE WHIPJACKS – This Wicked World

15. 13 KRAUSS – Redención

16. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – Craic Agus Ceol

17. AIRES BASTARDOS – Self Titled

18. THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM – Hovels Of The Holy

19. THE FIGHTING JAMESONS – A Moment In California

20. ANGRY McFINN AND THE OLD YANK – Songs of Whiskey, Women & War

21. THE SHILLELAGHS – Ripples In The Rye

22. HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS – Pub Crawl

23. BODH’AKTAN – De Temps Et De Vents

24. HEATHEN APOSTLES – Dust To Dust

25. SONS OF CLOGGER – Return To The Stones’

26. THE CHERRY COKE$ – Old Fox

27. THE FILTHY SPECTACULA – The Howl Of The Underclasses

28. THE POTATO PIRATES – Hymns For The Wayward

29. TC COSTELLO– Horizon Songs

30. THE TENBAGS – ‘Bags o’ Craic’

How to compete with last year? Every single top band in the genre released an album so things were always going to be a bit quieter for 2019. Top spot this year unsurprisingly goes to The Walker Roaders Celtic-Punk super group! With Pogues, Mollys and Dropkicks making up the team how could they possibly go wrong! Everyone’s ‘next big thing’ Mickey Rickshaw came in a well deserved second and Ferocious Dog took third after releasing their best album, for me, since From Without. Greenland Whalefishers celebrated 25 years on the road with their best album for quite a while and what Best Of would be right without some bloody brilliant Irish-American bands challenging at the top too. Pipes And Pints new album with a new singer received acclaim from across the Punk media and The Rumjacks couldn’t follow up last years unanimous victory despite having two album releases (both sort of live) in the top thirteen. Fiddlers Green continue to make consistently great albums and go into 2020 celebrating thirty years together! Good to see homegrown bands The Whipjacks, The Tenbags, The Filthy Spectacula and Sons Of Clogger making it too. The top thirty was made up of thirteen countries from USA, England, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Quebec, Hungary, Spain and Japan.

1. THE LUCKY TROLLS – Self Titled

2. DRUNKEN DOLLY – The Party

3. LORETTA PROBLEM – The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream

4. THE CLOVERHEARTS – Sick

5. KRAKIN’ KELLYS – Irish Tribute

6. THE PLACKS – Rebellious Sons

7. GYPSY VANNER – Five Distilled Celtic Punks

8. THE RUMPLED – Grace O’ Malley

9. FOX’N’FIRKIN – Hey Ho! We’re Fox n Firkin

10. SHANGHAI TREASON – Devil’s Basement

The Lucky Trolls took #1 spot with their brilliant self-titled EP following on from fellow countrymen the Krakin’ Kellys multi award winning 2018. Trust me it would have taken an exceptionally good release to keep The Party by Drunken Dolly off the top spot but that is what happened. Dolly’s excursions over to these shores this year j=has seen them grown in stature and you can’t go to a Ferocious Dog gig without spotting at least a dozen of their shirts. Loretta Problem wowed us with their single ‘Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ which took us right back back to The Pogues glory days and what about that accompanying video too!! If we had a award for best video then that would have walked it. The Kellys had a quiet year with comparison to ’18 but still managed a respectable #5 and great debut releases from The Placks our sole representative from a Celtic nation (big things are going to happen to this band in 2020 mark my words), Italian/Aussies The Cloverhearts and, from just down the road from my Mammy, Shanghai Treason from Sheffield who only put out one song… but what a song! Eight countries represented from Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Argentina, Australia and Yorkshire!

AIRES BASTARDOS– ‘Self-Titled’

Argentina is becoming a bit of a hot-spot for Celtic-Punk with not only some well established bands but also some new ones starting up too and with this release Aires Bastardos announced their arrival on the international scene too. Not afraid to dive straight into a folk number after a Cock Sparrer cover they veer from standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in that really accessible way that only Celtic-Punk (and maybe Ska-Punk) bands can do.

1. THE DREADNOUGHTS – Into The North

2. CROCK OF BONES – Celtic Crossbones

3. 6’10 – Where We Are

4. BRYAN McPHERSON – Kings Corner

5. CALLUM HOUSTON – Gravities

6. PYROLYSIS – Daylight Is Fading

7. SEAMUS EGAN – Early Bright

8. LE VENT DU NORD – Territoires

9. DONNY ZUZULA – Chemicals

10. DERVISH – Great Irish Songbook

The Dreadnoughts don’t really think of themselves as Celtic-Punk so I reckon they’d be happier to win this than Celtic-Punk Album Of The Year. A superb collection of sea shanties that is a pleasure to listen to that was always going to be #1. Crock Of Bones representing the London Irish in 2nd with an album of trad folk with punk rock attitude and it’s especially good to hear some originals done in the style of the ‘auld ways’. 6’10 challenged for the top spot as they always do with everything they release and Bryan MacPherson and Callum Houston both produced great releases of singer-songwriter acoustic folk with Irish roots.

Sadly the Celtic-Punk world has shrunk a little regarding Web-Sites. Winners of the last two years the Mersey Celt Punks have been slacking (sort it out lads!) and enjoying their gigs too much to tell us while Shite’n’Onions have been too busy transferring everything onto a different platform and preparing for a bit of a re-launch I expect. Sadly celtic-rock.de have shut up shop after twelve years so it just makes it all the more clear how much we all miss Waldo and his fantastic Celtic-Folk-Punk And More site. As regular as clockwork and all the news that was ever fit (or not!) to print. Closing down the site in its 10th year in March must have been a tough decision to make and so this year we award best Website to Waldo and let it be known that no Celtic-Punk site will ever come close to replacing you. We would certainly not exist without his kind help and inspiration. All the best comrade enjoy your retirement! One welcome addition is Michu and his Celtic-Punk Encyclopedia site from Poland. Worth checking out especially if you are in a band.

We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2019 lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST

FOLK’N’ROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

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 admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.

This is our 8th year of making these Best Of lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous ones then just click on the link below the relevant year.

Last year we introduced a new feature THE READERS PICK. We had no idea if it would work or not but it was a raging success so we going to do it all again this year. With well over 500 votes cast you lot chose the debut album from the Krakin’ Kellys as a worthy winner. Only the Top Ten albums are listed but there is an option to write in your favourite release or just to send us love… or abuse!

You are allowed to vote twice but not for the same artist.

The Poll will close at midnight on Friday 31st January with the result announced soon after.

remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020

ALBUM REVIEW: BARLEYJUICE- ‘The Old Speakeasy’ (2019)

Barleyjuice out of Philadelphia are back with their seventh studio album with fourteen never before released recordings featuring ‘Juice members old and new!

Drinking, singing about drinking, singing while drinking, drinking while singing. We never drive while drinking, but we do drive while singing drinking songs, which drives others to drink, giving our drinking songs more drive.

Six studio albums in, as well as a Best Of double CD collection, Barleyjuice have, i am reliably informed, become one of the most popular Celtic bands in the USA. As far as I am concerned though this is the first time I have heard one of their records even though I have come across the name of the band several times while writing reviews for this here site. Their music is of the Celtic-Rock variety but with enough bite for it to cross over into our territory at regular intervals! Such is their regard that they have had songs featured in two of my favourite TV programmes in The Office and King Of The Hill as well as the Sly Stallone film, Driven. Barleyjuice were founded in 1998 beginning as a side project for a couple of bagpipers in the Loch Rannoch Pipes & Drums of Pineville, Pennsylvania. The Bhoys are now into their third decade together and if the previous six albums are half as good as The Old Speakeasy then I have been missing out on something!

(a short promo film featuring American celtic rock band Barleyjuice celebrating 20 years of live performances. Edited by Hiu Yau)

The album itself is fourteen songs coming in at a very healthy fifty minutes and is a smattering of old and new songs including some classic Irish folk songs and some other inspired covers. Led by Kyf Brewer, who also produced and recorded the album, who plays a multitude of instruments here including guitars, mandola, bouzouki, bagpipes, piano and also lead vocals. Kyf started the band alongside Staten Island, NYC native Keith ‘Swanny’ Swanson as a side project having both been members of the same pipe band. Kyf has been playing music ever since his first band, The Ravyns, had ‘Raised On The Radio’ featured in the successful 1982 movie Fast Times At Ridgemont High. He also has a rather successful career in acting having appeared in VH1’s Before They Were Rock Stars as well as such cult films as Serial Mom and Fahrenheit 911 and also playing a cop in NBC’s Homicide and a sleazy photographer in CBS’ Hack.

Barleyjuice left to right: Eric Worthington- Vocals, Bass * Chris Shepherd- Guitar, Mandolin * Kyf Brewer- Lead Vocals, Guitar, Mandola, Bouzouki, Bagpipes, Piano, 
Harmonium, Garden Shears, Drums * Kyle Blessing- Fiddle * John Tracey- Drums

Backing Kyf and Swanny on this album is bassist Eric Worthington, fiddler Alice Marie and fellow ex-member of The Ravyns John Tracey on drums. As solid a team of Irish-Americans (and Irish/Scots American in Eric’s case) as can be found in American Celtic music. But the rota of musicians doesn’t end there as Barleyjuice have rounded up a staggering fifteen ex-members, including violinists Shelley Weiss and Billy Dominick, bassist Dennis Schocket, mandolinist Graham Ford, guitarist Dave Woodworth along with friends and family who had contributed over the years. Brewer’s daughter,  Scotlyn and wife Beth provided backing vocals while another daughter, Claire plays trumpet on The Old Speakeasy. By its time of The Old Speakeasy’s release, Keith Swanson and Alice had retired, replaced by guitarist/mandolinist Chris Shepherd and fiddle player Kyle Blessing. Now it’s not uncommon for a Celtic band to have a sort of revolving door policy but at a minimum of fifteen they may be pushing for the record here!

So the most obvious thing to ask about Barleyjuice is are all their songs about drinking and the answer is maybe not all but a good few are! Even the album’s title, The Old Speakeasy, gives it away with ‘Speakeasy’ being the name given to a saloon selling alcohol illegally, especially during the time of the American Prohibition when there was a nationwide ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. The album kicks off with the albums title song and from the off you get what they are about with Kyf’s laconic voice dragging itself along a song that has elements of The Beatles and Stones as well as an undeniable Celtic base. The many instruments here give it a layered effect used to great measure. An awesome start that only gets better when they follow it up with the classic Irish rebel song Join The British Army’. Played with passion and a great dose of black humour The Wolfe Tones may have made it famous but Barleyjuice make it their own as well with a brief interlude into ‘Some Say The Divil Is Dead’, another famous Tones track, while they are it. A real foot stomper and the line between Celtic-Rock and Punk is blurred at times and this is a classic example of that blurred line. Barleyjuice may have a serious side but here on The Old Speakeasy they go for your funny bone most of the time and on their tribute to Scots life ‘High On Highland Life’, away from shortbread box covers (or maybe not!) and ‘Don’t Call Me A Pirate’ they manage to combine genuine funny lyrics with some catchy as fecking hell Irish Rock’nFolk!

(a stripped down live version from the end of last year of ‘High On Highland Life’ featuring a rare performance from Swanny before he retired from the band)

Those 60’s influences pop up again on the lovely love song ‘Rose Of Garden City’ and we only five songs in and they manage to craic every boundary. A slowish song about Irish emigration sung from the heart and experience. This is a band with its finger on the pulse of Irish-America. They follow this with one of the album’s standout songs ‘A Fine Lass’. The famous ‘Maggie May’ follows and it’s not the version you may have expected as Barleyjuice give us a song about a sailor and a Irish lass who fall foul of both love and the law. The song takes in both Americana and Country as the band sound like they having a whale of a time. Most of the songs here are written by the band with most of the band members involved like on ‘State Of Desiree’ written by Kyf and Dave Woodworth  and the Irish trad influenced ‘A Winter Toast’ written by Swanny. A couple of serious ones sees the Bhoys need to return to a bit of daftness and on ‘Merry Queen Of Scotch’ they even venture into Ska sounding like a Celtic Mighty Mighty Bosstones with a fast and furious song about a whiskey loving lass that is utterly mad and while completely different to everything around it on this album somehow manages to slot in perfectly.

‘It Takes A Village (To Raise A Drunk)’ is the albums longest song at over five minutes and is the type of epic songwriting that Celtic-Punk is famous for. A grand song that slowly builds up and up and swirls round yer head and when played live I am sure is the kind of song perfect for wrapping your arms around a loved one and belting out the chorus at the top of your lungs. We coming up to the end and the standard so far has been exemplary and they keep it up over the whole album with the instrumental ‘Crackin’ Jenny’s Teacup’ a Horslips inspire Celtic-Rock/Trad Irish masterpiece. The albums opening track is revisited as ‘The Old Speakeasy (return)’ and Kfy leaves the Tom Waits/Shane vocals to one side to show he can croon as well as anyone in a slow ballad with the whole gang joining him in the background. The curtain comes down on the album with ‘Hail Ye Merry Maids’

It doesn’t take a genius to tell why I was desperate to fit this album review in before next weeks Best Of 2019 as it will definitely be bothering the top spot i can reveal. A pity it took the last couple of weeks before the end of the year for me to hear one of the years best albums. A utterly superb album that encompasses all of the different traditions and influences an Irish-American band could soak up. As I said a band with its finger on the pulse of the community that they hail from and not afraid to show their pride in what makes it both great and sometimes not so. A stunning album and every single song is a standout in it’s own right and someone tell me how this fecking great band managed to hide itself from me for so long???

Buy The Old Speakeasy  CD-Here  Download-Here
Contact Barleyjuice  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

Discography One Shilling (1999) * Another Round (2003) * Six Yanks (2006) * Bonny Prince Barley (2008) * The Barleyjuice Irish Collection (2009) * Skulduggery Street (2010) * This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things (2013)

(Barleyjuice takes it to the streets and festivals, welcoming all weekend Irish to join them!)

ALBUM REVIEW: NOWHEREBOUND- ‘Mourning Glory’ (2019)

Just a couple more releases from last year before we publish our renowned (well to us anyway!) Best Of 2019 list. Here we have one of our favourite bands and though it’s by no means exclusively Celtic or Folk orientated it integrates traditional Punk with Rock’n’Roll while weaving in threads of gritty country and folk, I’m sure it will appeal to many of you.

Nowherebound’s sixth studio album, Mourning Glory, is an ambitious return to the DIY ethos the band was founded upon. A double album, this record showcases the prolific songwriting and expansive diverse spectrum of ‘Punk-Rock’ Nowherebound encompasses.

The album consists of all-new music but it plays like a greatest hits album already.

Nowherebound are a six-piece punk outfit based in Austin, Texas who have been rocking the scene since 2010 with their very unique sound. Having toured extensively they have managed to take time to get back to the studio and have recently released their latest studio album Mourning Glory. These guys don’t do things by half. The album has a total of nineteen tracks which spans almost eighty minutes. They have never been tied to any particular style of punk and have influences ranging from The Pogues, Joe Strummer, Rancid, Black Flag, The Rolling Stones and The Stooges.

That’s quite a span of influences and this is evident in their music. Their music varies widely, sometimes slower melodic such as ‘South Paw’ to the more hardcore explosive tune ‘Leap Of Faith’. There’s even a hint of Ska punk in the track Feather Fist. The album is a roller coaster ride which doesn’t disappoint from start to finish. Its difficult to pick the best tunes on the album but ‘Frankfurt AM’, ‘No Horse’ and the title track ‘Mourning Glory’ definitely stand out.

(the official video for ‘Mourning Glory’ directed by Jm McKay of JMK Pictures)

“And while roads less traveled were often gravel,
We made our case, gave mob the gavel, cause this was life, and we would not lose it…not yet anyway.
We’d choose to watch the glory fade,
as youth lost its war with time and age, but soldiers never were so brave
as when they made their great escape out of the yard…”

This is a very straight forward unapologetic punk rock album with something in there to please everyone. Get yourself a copy of Mourning Glory and try to catch them live if you get a chance!!

(you can stream Mourning Glory on the Bandcamp player below before you buy)

Contact Nowherebound  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Buy Mourning Glory  Vinyl/T-Shirts DrunkenShipRecords  Download Bandcamp

2019 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART THREE: THE REST OF THE WORLD. THE CHERRY COKE$, AIRES BASTARDOS AND ANGRY ZETA & THE HILLBULLYS

Welcome to the third and final instalment of our yearly Round-Up of Celtic-Punk, and related, releases from the past twelve months. As the scene becomes more popular we are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with everything so for a week in December we give a short mention to those bands that have slipped the net. Each and every band here are worthy of your time so please be sure to check them out. To start with in Part One we featured releases from North America (here) and in Part Two Europe (here) so here in our final round-up of 2019 we have releases from Japan and a couple from Argentina as well as an Argentinian Celtic-Punk playlist put together by out good friend Pablo that I recommend you check out and a South American Folk-Punk compilation from last year that we somehow missed and is also highly recommended.

THE CHERRY COKE$- ‘Oldfox’ LP  (Buy here/here)

The Cherry Coke$ may have one of the daftest names in Celtic-Punk but they are far far far away from being any kind of joke band. Celebrating their twentieth anniversary with the release of their ninth (!!!!) album Oldfox Japanese Irish rockers The Cherry Coke$ were probably the first band in the scene from outside of one of the ‘traditional’ Celtic-Punk countries (the ones with substantial Celtic diasporas) to become famous. Basically playing fast as hell trad Irish folk they became as close to superstars as is possible in the Celtic-Punk scene for a while and though their star may have waned a little over the years that they are still producing the goods recording wise is testimony to how good a band they actually were and still are now too. They have got a bit faster and a bit punkier but the unmistakable sound of Irish music can be throughout Oldfox. With a multitude of members playing every imaginable Celtic instrument yet it always seems, just like the band that influenced them the most- The Pogues, to always be leading the way.

As far as I can tell the whole album of eleven songs are all original material with many standout songs like the opening track ‘Hibana’ which takes in elements of Ska and Metal as well as Folk and Punk and all are played with an incredible passion and energy and respect.

On the banjo heavy ‘Public House’, you have an uplifting Irish song that will have you stamping the floor while on ‘Social Network Slave’ they offer up something more akin to what Bruce Springsteen is making these days. The song is heavy in places while delicate in others while also criticizing modern society and the alienation coming from our over reliance on social media. The songs are sung mostly in Japanese and it is in the albums shortest song that I feel the true spirit of The Cherry Coke$ comes out. ‘Of Music’ is a sort of pop ballad full of innocence and love for music. Another outstanding song here is the album’s closing track ‘Brigade’ where they get as Poguesy as you can possibly get. Fantastic record and here’s to another twenty years, and another nine albums too!!
Contact The Cherry Coke$  Facebook  Twitter  Spotify  WebSite  YouTube

AIRES BASTARDOS- ‘Self-Titled’ (Buy )

A few years ago Brazil was the leading country in South America when it came to Celtic-Punk but slowly and surely the balance of power has slowly been moving to the country that is Brazil’s great rival in everything- Argentina! With several bands on the go at the moment (more on them below) Aires Bastardos have released their debut album onto the scene and it is a corker as we say in England. We get eleven songs clocking in at almost forty minutes and though the majority of the songs are Aires Bastards originals their are a smattering of inspired covers as well. Lets get them out the way first with two great versions of The Ramones ‘We Want The Airwaves’ and Cock Sparrers ‘Because You’re Young’ which adds fiddle and banjo to these great songs while Pablo’s gravelly voice is perfect for belting out these numbers which are definitely in the Celtic-PUNK scheme of things. Singer Pablo is also responsible for most of the lyrics here and is a well known member of the Celtic-Punk scene networking across the web and promoting not just his own band but in the spirit of Celtic-Punk all the other Argentinian bands as well in #OneBigCelticPunkFamily ! The third cover here is the auld traditional Irish folk song ‘Drunken Sailor’ and to say it is well covered is a bit of an understatement with just about everyone having a go at it at sometime. Assisted on vocals here by Zeta Vaccaro from Angry Zeta And The Hillbullys (more below) and Gabriel Leão from their Brazilian next door neighbours the Celtic-Punk band McMiners. The rest of the songs are sung in the bands native language, Spanish, so thanks to the English education system when it comes to learning languages I don’t have a clue what the band is saying. So only going on the music it definitely has a ring to it of other Spanish language bands like Brutus Daughter and 13Krauss and the three Celtic instruments of banjo, fiddle and tin whistle are evident throughout but they have a lot more to offer than that. The songs are catchy and cool and veer from pretty much standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in a really accessible way that will have a wide appeal. I loved this album and for a couple of weeks in November I listened to nothing else!! The band have put the whole album up on YouTube for free but it is also available from Apple Music to buy.

Contact Aires Bastardos  Spotify  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ANGRY ZETA & THE HILLBULLYS- ‘Live’ (Buy)

With Celtic-Punk releases from the ‘Rest Of The World’ being a bit thin on the ground in 2019 I have had to cast my net a bit far this year to reel in some bands that will interest you all. I actually came across this band while writing the review for Aires Bastardos above and with one click of a button I found a new band to love from Argentina! Angry Zeta & The Hillbullys are from Buenos Aires and Live is the bands second release. The band play mostly Country-Punk (it use to be called Cow-Punk back in the day) versions of famous C’n’W and Cowboy songs like ‘Rawhide’, ‘Sam Hall’ and ‘Cocaine Blues’. The music is intense acoustic music with the spirit of the west throughout. Male and female shared vocals compete with some absolutely astounding banjo plucking and fiddle work as well as some double bass pounding. Their debut album is available as a ‘Name Your Own Price’ download on the Bandcamp link below if you want a taster of Live go check that out. The band have toured Europe before so keep an eye for them appearing at anytime. Here’s a stripped down version of ‘Glory’ taken from Live but as gloriously ramshackle as could be!!

It’s a really good recording that at times is very hard to tell its recorded live. I also couldn’t tell if there any originals on here but the ones that I know are covers are done in such an original way and with a passion and energy flowing through them they may as well be Angry Zeta & The Hillbullys own songs anyway!

Contact Zeta & The Hillbullys  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Here also seems a good place to mention a couple of other important things. One is this amazing compilation album ‘Latino American Folk Punk’ of sixteen South American bands that came out last year. Featuring bands from Argentina, Brasil, México, Colombia and Chile it includes (in fact most of them are!) several Celtic-Punk bands whose name has spread beyond the continent like Lugh, Punching Namard and McMiners from Brazil, Aires Bastardos, Gypsy Vanner and Raise My Kilt from Argentina and the amazing La Fiesta del Diablo from Chile. The other bands I don’t know but overall this is a fantastic album and I can’t believe it passed me by. Maybe someone with a bit more knowledge would like to write a feature on it and the bands? If you are interested in a hard copy of the album you should contact Essential Distro on their Facebook or Instagram pages.

CELTIC-PUNK ARGENTINO!

Another interesting development in the Argentinian scene is the Spotify playlist of the three most popular bands in the scene Aires Bastardos, Gypsy Vanner and Raise Your Kilt. All great bands who deserve a bit of recognition beyond their own shore. Hopefully this playlist will introduce them to a whole new range of fans so do them a favour and share wherever you can.

Put together by Pablo Gadea of Raise Your Kilt the Playlist contains twenty-eight songs and gives a wide range of all three bands and the songs they perform. You can go check it out on Spotify here.

So ends our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have probably still missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally 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.

2019 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART TWO: EUROPE- BROPHY’S LAW, DIE DÖDELSÄCKE, HELLRAISERS’N’BEERDRINKERS, PYROLYSIS, SCHËPPE SIWEN

We continue in our vain attempt to catch up with the Celtic-Punk and related releases we missed throughout the year! Each year the number of releases we receive here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS continues to amaze us. Now this is great news but it does mean that we cannot keep up with everything we receive. We simply don’t have time to give a review to everything so each December we have a week to catch up with any we missed first time round. We like to write detailed reviews so apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in this way. Each and every band featured here are worthy of your time so please be sure to check them out. Today in Part Two we have five releases from Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and a sort of Euro collaboration between Scandinavia and the British Isles! To check out Part One which featured North America then visit here. Our final part will be in a few days when we round up the rest of the world! So please be sure to check back soon.

BROPHY’S LAW- ‘True Stories’ (Buy)

The perfect place for Brophy’s Law seeing as despite being based in Copenhagen they actually contain members from Cornwall, England, Scotland and Denmark. They came to prominence last year as they embarked on a UK wide tour with Swedish Celtic-Punk heavyweights Sir Reg as The Neil Brophy Band. A year later and a new name to reflect the full band sound and a new album of thirteen self penned songs spanning the Folk-Punk genre. The album touches on themes as diverse as world travel, revelry, small-town England, record collecting, refugees, propaganda, vikings, lucky people, fishing and homecoming. Their single from the album, Nice To Know, released on Record Store Day received plenty of favourable press and airplay most notably from Steve Lamacq on the UK’s favourite alternative music station BBC6. The song reflects on Neil’s return to his home town of Northampton after a few years away. Life in the city may seem to change fast to us but the reality is at local community level some things never change. As Neil sings: “my country, my heritage will remain!”

Other album highlights are the acerbic politically charged ‘Fear Of Fear’ with it’s raw, brash Celtic soul sound and poetical social commentary, the fun filled C’n’W tinged ‘Bears Go Fishing’ and the lovely ballad ‘Far Away’. Prominent use of the harmonica and banjo always wins bonus points with me! As we have said the music throughout spans several genres of folk including Country, Celtic, and Americana. They are tailor made for the new generation of music festivals aimed at a slightly older sort of festival goer. Where people look after the bogs and the music finishes at midnight! The band go by the motto of ‘Whatever Happens-Happens Whatever’ and in these uncertain times that’s a good way to think.

Brophy’s Law- Facebook  WebSite  YouTube

DIE DÖDELSÄCKE- Letzte Fahrt (Buy)

Die Dödelsäcke are a German band from Mülheim and are not a band I have been previously aware of. This is a shame as this EP of seven songs is their swansong and the band officially split up in September after playing a gig in Oberhausen. Not only that but they have chosen to split up on what would have been their 30th anniversary together making them one of the oldest Punk bands in Germany. Even stranger is that they have a massive discography going right back to 2002’s Durst 609 and a reputation as being ‘The Kings Of German Bagpipe Punk’. An affinity with Scotland is evident on this album despite all the songs being sung in German. The band has eight members combining your traditional punk rock instruments alongside bagpipes, mandolin, banjo, flute and tin whistle. Vocalist Andel McGoy has the perfect voice for Celtic-Punk being just the right side of hoarse! The first single from the EP was ‘Letzte Fahrt’ which wraps up proceedings on the EP and is a great example of the German style of Celtic-Punk.

Heavy on the mandolin and also the vocals its a great romp and catchy as hell while still being as Punk As Feck! The rest of the EP is just as good with notable tracks being the excellent bagpipe heavy ‘Far Far Away’ with its chugging guitar, gang vocals and rather slow build up as well as ‘Küss Mich Mit Whisky’, probably the most ‘Celtic’ song here. Fast and furious the song would stand on its own as a Punk song. ‘Jokers Billardzimmer’ begins slowly with the dirge of the bagpipes before kicking off and picking up the pace. I’ve not a clue what they are singing about here but you do hear the word ‘Whiskey’ dotted throughout the EP so that should give you a clue. Like a Celtic version of Peter And The Test Tube Babies this is a brilliant release and I’m only sad that I discovered them too late. 

Die Dödelsäcke-  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

HELLRAISERS’N’BEERDRINKERS- ‘Pub Crawl’

Taking their name from a 1980 release by rockers Motorhead Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers are a band that also hail from Germany and the small town of Schwäbisch Gemünd. This is their second album after 2016’s Folk’s Gaudi. They play a style of Celtic-Punk that is more Folk related but with a Punk Rock attitude. Most of the songs are sung in English bar a couple in their native German but with a name like Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers you can kinda guess that this band is in it for the kicks and throughout it’s dance able Irish influenced folk music but with loads of other influences thrown into the mix like the excellent reggae and metal enthused ‘Gaudium Fürs Folk’. They lay claim to be the original purveyors of ‘Gaudi Folk’. Now I’m not sure what this is and whether it relates to the geezer who designed all the wacky buildings in Barcelona is anyone’s guess. With  mandolin, banjo and accordion as well as double bass the boys have quite an original sound with the songs ranging throughout the Folk-Punk genre starting with another album high point the opening track ‘Honkytonk’ which brings in elements of Country and Americana. ‘1000’ is another great track with the words sung in immaculate English and its positive message dedicated to rebels everywhere. Slow starting but building up throughout.

The albums ends with three outstanding songs that are all completely different and showcase the range of Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers. The first of the trio is a story of being trapped in a pub. The pub in question is also the title of the song and the bands local. ‘Piston’s Pub’ is accordion led and proper catchy tune that is followed by ‘Abserviert’ a slow waltzy type number sung in German and shows that despite their name they know their way round a good tune. The album ends with their ode to that most Celtic-Punk of subjects- ‘Beer’!!! A fast and furious accordion led tune with a distinct ‘pirate’ style. Ten self-penned songs that clock in at a very healthy thirty-five minutes that manages to cover so much ground but still keep its feet firmly in Celtic/Folk-Punk.

Hellraisers’N’Beerdrinkers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Soundcloud

PYROLYSIS- ‘Daylight Is Fading’ (Buy)

The fourth release from Pyrolysis (all are available on Bandcamp) and happy to say they are still pumping out fast-paced and energetic acoustic folk alongside the odd dark and intense ballad and all the time still not wearing any shoes! Completely acoustic (well except for the bass!) and with a bodhrán (Irish hand held instrument) instead of drums they manage to kick up quite a din and the music would definitely be classed as Celtic-Punk if there was an electric guitar in there. Their music ranges across the Folk genre with Punk, Gypsy and even Pirate music getting a nod but it’s their energy that gives them that Celtic-Punk feel. Founded in 2010 in the small Dutch town of Zaltbommel Celtic-Folkies Pyrolysis have been a regular fixture in their home countries festival scene over the years but have also made it over to these shores too. Daylight Is Fading is twelve songs, mostly originals but with a few traditional Folk covers, that comes in just shy of fifty minutes. The opening track is a short instrumental setting the scene for the storming ”The Pace’ which may sound like an electric guitar but you are wrong. The song is as Punk as you can get without electric and the Celtic tinged number rattles along at a grand old pace while main songwriter and lead vocalist Tim has that rather typical Dutch accent where he sounds completely English! In common with a lot of Folk (and Celtic-Punk too) his voice is just another instrument here and used to great effect. They can also turn their hand to a mean traditional song like the instrumental ‘Cooley’s Reel’ or a real foot stomper like the auld Scots classic ‘Donald McGillavry’ as well which leads nicely up to ‘Never Fade’ an album highlight and we are fortunate that they have just released a pretty damn good video to accompany it.

This is one band I would have really loved to have done a detailed review of as they are such an interesting band. They may look a bit ‘hippie-ish’ and that may be so but their music reminds me in style, not content, of those 70’s Irish Folk bands like The Bothy Band, Planxty or 1691 whose innovation lay the groundwork for much of what came afterwards on the island. It can definitely be traced to what we now call Celtic-Punk. I said before in a review of their second album ‘‘On Mountains I Stand‘ that the band I am most reminded of here was The Whisky Priests who flamed very brightly cross Europe in the 90’s with their unique brand of Geordie (Newcastle) English folk-punk music and you can still hear that a lot in what Pyrolysis do especially as the accordion is at the forefront of so much. ‘This is How’ begins as a sorrowful song about a sailor with amazing fiddle work in an Eastern European style. ‘Captain Cray’ has an somewhat English feel to it apart from the Celtic fiddle and the album is coming to an end and you can always tell a good band when they play a really long song that holds your interest. Here it’s ‘Rainy Road’ at seven minutes that closes the album and it’s a real masterpiece with fiddler Rikke taking over the vocals and her beautiful voice matching well the beautiful music. The slowest song here but the most dramatic and my absolute favourite. A great album. One the best I have heard this year so highly recommended.

Contact Pyrolysis  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

SCHËPPE SIWEN- ‘Wat Bleift’ (Buy/Buy)

Here’s a first for London Celtic Punks. We thought we had covered just about every country in Europe and then this little beauty arrived on our doorstep all the way from the wee country of Luxembourg. Famous in my youth for always finishing bottom of their European Championship group I knew very little more about them. Joined these days by even smaller countries they have at least risen to second bottom these days! With a population of just over 600,000 with only just over half the population being Luxembourgers with the other 44.5% made up of mainly Portuguese, French and Germans. So it’s a small country but perfectly placed between Belgium, Germany and France. Perfect indeed for a Folk-Punk band looking for gigs! Schëppe Siwen were founded in December 2009 and released their debut self titled album three years later and the follow up Sprëtztour in 2016. These passed us by but not this years Wat Bleift. Mixing Folk, Rock, Pop, Reggae, Punk and Ska and proudly eschewing the opportunity to sing in either French or German they proudly sing in their native Luxembourgish. Of course these means two things. 1) that we really admire them and 2) that we haven’t a clue what the songs are about! Still anything that involves a trumpet is bound not to be too downbeat. Here we have ten songs that clock in at 33 minutes and all original material. Like Pyrolysis I would have really liked to get my teeth into this review as their is so much going on in here but alas I just have to do my best. The album starts with bar talk followed by accordion and then trumpet. The olde world of Folk comes crashing together with more modern sounds and before long the song is hurtling through your ears. With eight members and an astonishing three trumpet players alongside the aforementioned accordion as well as fiddle with yer more traditional rock instruments keeping it all ticking along. An instrumental that leaves you not quite knowing what you have just listened to but in a good way. The influences are all here and play alongside each other nicely creating a danceable happy sound. ‘Looss Alles Zreck!’ sees the album turn almost full on punk but they reign it in and while Jojo’s gruff vocals may sound punkish to us here the style is more common in Europe and they give the music a bit of bite. With a more conventional singer the temptation would have been to go a bit lightweight but I’m glad they keep well away from that. Their are several outstanding tracks here and while none could be described as Celtic it sits snugly within the Folk-Punk genre or maybe a new genre Folk-Ska.

The title track gives it some old school ska (video above) while ‘Heif Deng Fauscht’ sees the album pause for its first breath with a slower track while ‘D’Auer Leeft’ is another instrumental that again takes all the influences imaginable blending them together. The bands earlier heavier days have been replaced with a love of ska but ‘De Klenge Männchen’ sees a return to form and opening with some classic Rock guitar they sound almost Californian for a minute. Jojo’s voice comes into it’s own here and the band deliver one hell of a tune. Catchy as hell and a real foot stomper. They quickly dust of the Folk instruments for ‘Fett Ewech’ while the album closes with two songs, ‘De Leschten Danz’ and ‘Starenhimmel’, that show the breadth of what the band can offer. From almost Tex-Mex-Ska-Folk-Punk to a heartfelt ballad accompanied by a children’s school choir. An album I thoroughly enjoyed and while I’m not sure of where Schëppe Siwen have come from musically I can safely say that on Wat Bleift they have delivered an album of pure originality where the traditional meets contemporary but still seems perfectly in time with both. There’s an excellent interview with the band about the album and the recording process in Tough Magazine just remember to run it through Google translate.

Contact Schëppe Siwen  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

So ends the second part of our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have probably still missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally 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.

2019 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART ONE: NORTH AMERICA- ROSIER, THE LUCKY EEJITS, WOMEN SING WAITS, HEATHEN APOSTLES

Each year the number of Celtic-Punk and related releases we receive here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS continues to amaze us. Now this is great news but it does mean that we cannot keep up with everything we receive. We simply don’t have time to give a review to everything. Each December we have a week to concentrate on catching up with anything we missed the first time round. We like to write detailed reviews so apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in this way. Each and every band featured here are worthy of your time so please be sure to check them out. To start with here in Part One we are concentrating on four releases from North America with the USA and Canada featuring. In a few days time we will head to Europe and then we will focus on the Rest Of The World so please be sure to check back soon.

ROSIER- ‘Self-Titled’ EP

Anyone expecting a pulsating Quebecios folk fusion, in the vein of La Bouttaine Souriante/ Genticorum and such like, will be in for quite a surprise here. Released to accompany a fall tour from  Montreal 5 piece Rosier this 4 track EP blends a very lush, dreamlike, multi -layered  indie folk organically together with strong Quebecois folk traditions- which while always having a sense of exploration and development, never loses its distinct lightness of touch.
Rosier features the band’s steadfast original lineup: front-woman Béatrix Méthé (lead vocals and fiddle), Colin Savoie-Levac (lap steel, banjo and foot percussion), Sarah Marchand (lead vocals and keys), Éléonore Pitre (acoustic and electric guitar) and Marie Savoie-Levac (bass) while everyone helps out on background vocals. All the songs adapted from traditional and arranged by Rosier, except You Behind, which was written by Béatrix. A very relaxing listen, maybe best as an accompaniment to a wee dram at the end of the night.
Contact Rosier- WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

THE LUCKY EEJITS- ‘Out Of Time’

Now I was first attracted to The Lucky Eejits thanks to their name and it’s ‘Gaelic’ meaning. Eejit of course being the way an working class Irish person would pronounce ‘idiot’. Playing straight forward punk rock this trio blast high speed and high energy upbeat punk music and their is simply no let up on Out Of Time with its catchy riffs in your face punk rock edge. Based in Oakland California the band began life as a Celtic-Punk outfit featuring six eccentric Irish-Americans but after a change in the bands line up The Lucky Eejits were reborn as a more than solid Punk-Rock band. The album is twelve songs long and lasts just over a half hour. Not bad for a album chockablock with songs played at breakneck speed. From the fast Pop-Punk of opener ‘Get Out’ to the final song, a nod to their Celtic-Punk days perhaps, ‘Warm Guinness’, about the perils of tour life, it’s an album that never lets up. Album highlights include ‘Champion’ and ‘So Far So Good’ which they released as singles with the latter as a pretty damn good official video.

Throughout Out Of Time it is packed with catchy melodies and is a fantastic follow up to 2016’s Do It Again. It’s definitely a fan friendly album with chances galore to join in the singing. This may make them more of a live band to follow but this album is certainly worth hearing too. The message here is one of hope and positivity and lets pray the guys get their hands on a cold Guinness soon!

Contact The Lucky Eejits-  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits’

The main problem with albums like this is that everyone on it treats their song as if it’s either the opening or finale of the whole thing and produces something incredibly over the top. A female only tribute to the legendary Tom Waits sounds great on paper but it is rather overblown and judging by Corinne Bailey Rae’s version of ‘Jersey Girl’ they’d have been well to invite Mariah Carey to perform here! Twelve artists of Tom Waits greatest ballads covered by Aimee Mann, Patty Griffin, Rosanne Cash, Phoebe Bridgers, Joseph, Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer, Corinne Baily Rae, Courtney Marie Andrews, Kat Edmonson, The Wild Reeds, Iris Dement and Angie McMahon and yet it’s the oldest artist here Rosanne Cash and ‘Time’ that steals the show for me though the jazz influenced Kat Edmonson’s ‘You Can Never Hold Back Spring’ and the Country and Western singer Iris DeMent’s ‘House Where Nobody Lives’ wring out every piece of emotion from Tom’s majestic words and the album’s final song ends with the overblown (and rightly so this time!) The Wild Reeds version of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’.

Tom Waits has just recently celebrated his 70th birthday though sadly this album adds very little to his canon of work. An opportunity to really re-interpret his work has got lost (largely) under some rather inflated ego’s. For Waits fanatics its worth buying for the Rosanne Cash song alone and also producer Warren Zanes who wrings as much out of the songs as possible and provides some excellent liner notes on his relationship with Tom Waits music.

“He kept writing those songs that burrowed into the broken places inside of us, Waits could regularly deliver that revelation that comes with only the best songs: you may be lonely, but you’re not alone. As the years rolled by, every Waits recording arrived like it had come just in time.”

HEATHEN APOSTLES- ‘Born By Lightning’ EP

So far here we have reviewed a Folk album, a Punk album and a sort of Bluesy compilation album so none of our usual uptake and that doesn’t change with this review of the latest EP from Heathen Apostles. They play a sort of Gothic Americana Blues crossed with alternative alternative country. Born By Lightning comes hot on the heels of their recently released album Dust To Dust, their fifth to date, and five new songs of what one reviewer described as “the bluegrass of Bill Monroe put into the woodshed with the Gothic tendencies of Siouxsie And The Banshees”. Label mates of one of my all time favourite bands Phantom Of The Black Hills they tread much the same path but definitely in a more accessible way to yer average Joe. Fiddle and banjo aplenty here while Mather Louth’s beautiful yet powerful voice shines above all else. Starting off with the slow Country styled Gothic ballad ‘Death Bell Blues’ a tribute to the legendary Howlin’ Wolf before leading into the dark ‘Chosen One’ which shows the Apostles at that catchiest best. The title track ‘Born By Lightning’ sees them back in darker country again with an intense ballad that builds on Mather’s voice with the rest of the band restrained before here. A million miles away from the Grand Ole Opry! The last two songs have a much harder edge, ‘Devil Comes For All Of Us’ is elf explanatory while ‘Scarecrow Blues’ take us far away from traditional Country and into the realm of the ‘murder ballad’ with its tale of a social misfit  being burned out of his house only for the vigilantes to burn down the entire town while it slinks and slithers to the beat of the blues! A Country-Bluesy-Punky affair the band have long wanted to do a Blues style release and with Born By Lightning they have managed to stay close to their roots and something that would also appeal to more traditional music fans too. Signed to Ratchet Blade Records which specialises in ‘Dark Roots Music’ where you can find out all you need to about this glorious genre.

Contact Heathen Apostles  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

So ends the first part of our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still missed some fantastic music I am sure so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally 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: THE DREADNOUGHTS- ‘Into the North’ (2019)

Ever since 2007 The Dreadnoughts have been an ‘tour-de-force’ upon the Celtic/Folk-Punk scene. Thrashing their way around the world blending Punk-Rock with a bunch of European Folk traditions with a power and range that few others can match. Now though they have returned to their roots with their fifth studio album Into The North, a collection of traditional and original sea shanties recorded deep in the Canadian hinterland.

Its been a long road for The Dreadnoughts. Not only because they have probably played in more countries than any other Folk-Punk band but that they have a come along way since their singer’s early days in the famed Ontario, Canadian band Siobhan. I say famed but at the time the Celtic-Punk scene was tiny but they still managed to make a name for themselves with their two studio albums The Patron Saints of Debauchery and Welfare State and legendary stage shows. When Siobhan split a couple of years went by before they dived straight back in with The Dreadnoughts. Those early days spent playing in Vancouver’s notoriously seedy Ivanhoe Hotel saw them build up a large and loyal following and later they would be recognized as one of the best live bands in the city. Embracing the old-school destructive chaos of live Punk, their gigs were hot and sweaty and full of joy and went on till the audience was exhausted, happy and pissed to the gills. Fast forward to 2019 and with a host of critically claimed studio albums behind them The Dreadnoughts have again taken us by surprise and have stripped their sound right back and when I say right back I mean right back!!

Always with a fondness for sea-shanties their version of ‘Roll The Woodpile Down’ can be credited for starting a trend amongst the scene for bands in the middle of their sets to lay down their instruments and test their harmonies with an acapello song. The haunting thunder of sea shanties has long been the backbone for The Dreadnoughts sound and on their new album here they have fully embraced the genre for a whole album that is the greatest collection of original and reworked traditional sea-shanties in modern times! Tasked with recording the songs the band decided early on in the process that they didn’t want to go for that slick produced ‘studio’ sound so they

Holed up for a week in a small wooden cabin with nothing but whiskey in our glasses, four microphones in front of us, and hordes of mosquitoes outside singing along, we belted these damn songs over and over until we had them just right, and the result is the album we’ve always wanted to make.

With their last album, 2017’s a multi-genre, historically themed concept album Foreign Skies also stepping outside the box, being a raw and emotional ride through the horrors of the First World War it only shows that The Dreadnoughts are without a doubt both a band that is unafraid to take risks and the most innovative bands in our or any other scene. Stories of love and loss, war and strife, redemption and sorrow from a band that up till then only sang songs about gin and scrumpy cider… this was new territory and also a massive success with fans and critics alike.

(see for yourselves by streaming/downloading Foreign Skies on Bandcamp below)

Now first off I have to say that bar a few of the more obvious ones I know not what, if any, of the songs here are originals. You can never be too sure with anything The Dreadnoughts do as their mischievousness could always have you believing the opposite! The album opens with ‘Rosibella’ and considering I was expecting some Folk-Punk fury I was shocked to find in its place a stripped down sea-shanty with only occasional squeezebox to accompany the words. ‘Fire Marengo’ was found by The Young Traditions Royston Wood in an old book called Shanties From The Seven Seas, where a few of the songs here were first documented, and after changing some verses and adding the tune went on to release it on their 1967 EP Chicken On A Raft. Most of the songs here hover around the two minute mark as without the padding of music it’s mainly the vocal harmonies, and a bit of foot stompin’, that rule here. ‘Pique La Baleine’ is a traditional Breton whaling song sung in French and dates back to the early 19th century. Again it is accompanied only by squeezebox while mournful fiddle makes an appearance on the relatively modern ‘Roll Northumbria’ a song about the building of a war ship in the Tyne in 1965. ‘Joli Rouge’ is an Dreadnought original devoted to Cidre Joli Rouge, a company dedicated to the production of real cider not the syrupy, corporate, mass-produced, prison wine that passes for it in most pubs. The company has even made a Dreadnought Cider!

“she’s called the Dreadnought cider
she’s proper and she’s fine
and when the day is over how I wish that she were mine
or in the dark of winter, or on a summer’s eve
one hand giveth while the other doth receive

So you can have a Mangers and pour it over ice
or you can have a Strongbow if it’s sadness that you like
or join us up the river and we’ll set your heart aglow
and how you’ll feel when the real cider starts to flow”

One of the album’s highlights without a doubt! Anyone who has seen them play over the last couple of years will recognise a couple of the songs here and if not then will be familiar with the style of the songs. I’m not sure if I saw them giving ‘Lifeboat Man’ a run through at their outstanding gig at the Cursus Festival last year or not but its familiarity is nice even if they didn’t play it! ‘Shallow Brown’ is pure sea shanty at its best. A typical call and response song with The Fang, otherwise known as Nicholas Smyth, singing the verses while the rest of the band sing the chorus. The song is a sad tale of a man leaving a woman on shore, pretty much a standard subject for a shanty, though this time its the story of a man being sold into slavery.

Sad and mournful and perfect for a good bass voice like Nicholas’. ‘Whup! Jamboree’ is an auld song and like most here no one is sure quite how old. It’s a cheeky number and shows workers at their most risque!

“And soon we’ll see old Holyhead
No more salt beef, no salt bread
I catch my Jinny and it’s off to bed
Come and get your oats me son”

Accompanied by very low key squeezebox and the solitary slow beat of a drum it’s another highlight. A.L. Lloyd sang ‘Whup Jamboree’ in 1957 on his and the great Ewan MacColl’s album Blow Boys Blow. He commented in the sleeve notes:

Whup Jamboree is one of the wildest and most exultant of homeward-bound shanties. The progress through the English Channel and into London River goes as a fast clip, and all hand are looking forward eagerly to what the girls ashore have to offer. From its references to Blackwell Dock, this shanty, used for work at the capstan, apparently rose among sailors in the Far East run.”

‘Paddy Lay Back’ is probably the best known of the songs here as it has been recorded by many famous Irish artists including The Wolfe Tones (here) and the Dublin City Ramblers (here). It’s earliest date is 1898 and tells of a poor Irish lad who goes to sea to earn his fortune but suffers at the hands of foreign sailors, poor conditions and the long voyage. ‘Dear Old Stan’ is dedicated to the memory of Stan Rogers the acclaimed Canadian Folk singer-songwriter who passed away in 1983 but is till remembered fondly for his Celtic influenced Folk songs many telling of his parents days working off the sea and tales of the lives of ordinary working people.

Some really wonderful lyrics here that fair bring a tear to the eye and explain the high esteem that Stan Rogers is held in Canada and around the world.

“The Yanks have Woodie Guthrie, The British Ralph McTell
The Celts have got the Corries, aye and Ronnie Drew as well
Adge Cuter sings of cider out in the west country
but I am a Canadian, and so I say to thee

Arise and be merry
and sing out while you can
The world will never see the likes
of dear old Stan”

Following this tribute is ‘Northwest Passage’ one of Stan Rogers best-known songs and my favourite song on Into The North. An acappella song, originally released in 1981 it is now considered one of the best songs in Canadian music history.

Take a moment also to watch this tribute to Stan Rogers version here. ‘Sacramento’ is a catchy foot stomper while the only song here that gives a hint of what The Dreadnoughts are famous here are the instrumental trad songs ‘Harper’s Frolic / Bonny Kate’. Showing the bands mastery of traditional Folk and how easily the Bhoys can turn their hand to anything while still be able to give it a distinctive Dreadnoughts stamp. We are near the end of Into The Norths forty-two minutes and ‘Shiloh’ is another up lifting foot stomper while the curtain comes down with ‘Starbuck’s Complaint’, a great song to end with as Drew’s voice and harmony brings the album to a melancholy close and how else could an album of sea shanties end. The work was without a doubt hard and often tyrannical under many a vicious Captain’s rule. The workers would say that “a song is as good as ten men”. The songs were used in the manner of field work song’s and these shanties tell the tales of loneliness, the families these men left behind, the daily hardships of an unkind sea and adventure on the seven seas.

Celtic-Punk is more than just getting your girlfriend to play fiddle over a punk song (just as Folk-Punk is more than a trendy hipster achingly singing over an acoustic guitar). It has a past and that link to the past has to be explored and celebrated. There are certain values I think to be associated to whatever it is that passes as a Celtic-Punk scene and to celebrate the music that inspired it is surely at the top of the list. Here The Dreadnoughts do just that. If you are expecting their breakneck Punk-Folk then you may be disappointed on first listen but by the second or third you’ll come to really appreciate what it is they have done here. In fact I look forward to seeing them placed in our Top Ten Folk and Trad releases of the year rather than their usual spot in the  Celtic-Punk Top Ten! Celtic folk music and Punk can form a perfect union and while on Into The North they take a more traditional route with these wonderful songs I’m sure it won’t be long before they’re back breaking stages around the world, scoffing down the ciders and spreading their gospel to anyone and everyone who will listen.

(stream Into The North from Bandcamp below before you buy!)

Buy Into The North  FromTheBand

Contact The Dreadnoughts  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Stoked. A documentary about The Dreadnoughts by Adam PW Smith

|  | 17 November 2017 (Canada)

Vancouver legends The Dreadnought returned from a six year hiatus in 2017 to record a new album. Filmed in the recording studio, and drawing from an archive of photos and film clips that go right back to their second ever live show, this low budget documentary rises above its station with great characters and stories that range from enlightening to hilarious (and occasionally dubious). These liquor soaked musical heroes prove themselves to be thoughtful, as well as entertaining. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Vancouver-based Celtic-Punk band – and perhaps things you didn’t – can now be found in Stoked: The Dreadnoughts Return. Watch the film here.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE RUMJACKS- ‘Live In Athens’ (2019)

The glorious Rumjacks are back with their second release of 2019 an excellent live recording of their November 2018 gig at the Piraeus 177 Academy in Athens, Greece! 

After their critically acclaimed stripped back acoustic album Live In London Acoustic Sessions The Rumjacks release another compilation to celebrate their tenth anniversary. 2018 saw The Rumjacks become somewhat of a European hit. A tour lasting almost the entire year saw them perform in pretty much every European country from East to West and North to South. Their album of that year Saints Preserve Us was also hailed as their best since their incredible debut album Gangs Of New Holland. The album would go on to receive the #1 album of the year voted unanimously by all the London Celtic Punks admins. Crowds on the tour saw them selling out venues regularly and performing at some of the biggest festivals around. The band continue to go from strength to strength helped no doubt by their down to earth attitude and consistently good songs and live performances.

The Rumjacks left to right: Top: Gabriel Whitbourne- Guitars, Vocals * Adam Kenny- Mandolin, Banjo, Bouzouki, Bodhran, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals. Bottom: Johnny McKelvey- Bass, Vocals * Frankie McLaughlin- Vocals, Tin-Whistle, Guitar * Pietro Della Sala- Drums, Vocals.

So it was that The Rumjacks rolled into Piraeus 177 Academy in Athens on November 3rd 2018 to play one one of their biggest ever headline shows to date. The atmosphere in the venue that night was electric and the band went on to play one of their best sets of the entire tour in front of an appreciative crowd that seemed to know the words to every song. Thankfully the entire show was captured and has been released as The Rumjacks first ever live album release. Featuring twenty-one songs split fairly evenly between their very earliest days and their latest album. Four songs come from their first two EP’s while five tracks each from Gangs Of New Holland and Sober And Godless with four from Sleepin’ Rough making up the bulk of the songs.

Kicking off with ‘Plenty’ the first thing to strike you is the absolute authenticity of the recording. Having seen The Rumjacks a stack of times I can confirm that the sound is as perfect as you could hope for and is definitely the next best thing to actually being there. Its all here from Frankie’s somewhat strained tin-whistle on ‘Kirkintilloch’ to Johnny’s in between song banter consisting of shouting at the audience! All the best songs from their current and back catalogue there is no filler whatsoever. As hard as it is to pick the best tracks here some of the ones that stood out for me included the catchy as feck ‘Cold London Rain’.

“If you wait for me here, I’ll return with a joy for your sorrows,

A cure for your heart & a wee drop to soften the pain,

And no matter the mark that we make on each others tomorrows,

I will sing to the glory of you and your cold London rain.”

Soon after the ska tinged ‘Kathleen’ and ‘Spit in The Street’ tumble after one another and hidden away right in the middle of the album is the song that broke them to the world ‘An Irish Pub Song’, now sailing up to 60,000,000 (that’s sixty million) views on You Tube! I remember sitting in Bootsy Brogan’s in Fulham with Guy from Neck the day the Ireland football team were playing someone or other (go easy I’m 50!) up the road at Craven Cottage and this came on in the middle of a random selection of Irish classics. That was the moment i realised The Rumjacks were going places. The Greek crowd go mad as soon as  they realise as Frankie starts the intro on acoustic guitar.

(fan video of ‘The Reaper And Tam McCorty’, ‘The Bold Rumjacker’, ‘Uncle Tommy’, ‘Jolly Executioner’ and ‘Saints Preserve Us’)

Another great song that here sounds utterly fantastic is ‘The Bold Rumjacker’ the highlight of their debut release Hung, Drawn And Portered. The song always give them a chance to muck around and they don’t disappoint here turning the ska and calypso tinged song into something special. A couple of their fastest songs next with ‘Uncle Tommy’ and ‘Jolly Executioner’ before the Celtic-Ska ‘Saints Preserve Us’ keeps the atmosphere at its highest possible point. The only disappointment on the album is that it does strip away all the friendly banter from Frankie mainly but also Johnny too confining them to just the occasional shouts of encouragement or the introducing of, at the time, new drummer, Pietro Della Sala, to the masses. They play an awesome version of ‘The Black Matilda’ and wrap things up with a string of Rumjacks best and most popular songs before ending with the classic Irish folk song ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ which saw them end with another song taken from their debut release.

(another great fan video of ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ as filmed on the night)

So while not a massive fan of live albums this gets a double thumbs up from me solely because it captures the gig so completely. Its a warts an all performance of a band that really knows how to put on a great show. With such a fantastic back catalogue it will always be hard to please everyone but this is as a comprehensive compilation of their best songs as you could wish for. With their touring schedule second only to none (perhaps Ferocious Dog maybe?) they are sure, as long as you live in Europe that is!, to rock up near to you sooner or later so get this album to whet your appetite for when the day arrives!

Buy Live In Athens  iTunes  Google

Contact The Rumjacks  WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube  Soundcloud

Discography Hung, Drawn & Portered EP (2009) * Sound As A Pound EP (2009) * Gangs Of New Holland LP (2010) * Crosses For Eyes 7″ (2012) * Blows & Unkind Words 7″ (2014) * Sober & Godless  LP (2015) * Sleepin’ Rough LP (2016) * Saints Preserve Us LP (2018) * Live In London Acoustic Sessions LP (2019) * Live In Athens LP (2019) *

ALBUM REVIEW: CROCK OF BONES- ‘Celtic Crossbones’ (2019)

Alt Folk, Irish, Trad, Celtic.

Celtic Crossbones the debut album release from Crock Of Bones the hottest new band on the London Irish Folk and Trad circuit. 

Hot on the heels of their debut EP, Nasty, Brutal And Short, comes the debut album release from Crock Of Bones. Formed this year out of various members of other groups most notably LOCKS, Red Eye, Lost Revellers and rockabilly outfit The Obscuritones. So quite a diverse bunch of musicians but with links back to Celtic-Punk through the brothers Bryne and their band Pitfull Of Ugly who played energetic punked up versions of Irish folk songs through Hackney and North London in the early 90’s. Here they ply a much more traditional route though but with the same punk rock attitude they have always have. The five songs from Nasty, Brutal And Short are included on Celtic Crossbones alongside five new tracks of radical interpretations of Irish folk.

Crock Of Bones- (back) Mike Byrne, Marian McClenaghan, Jim Wharf (front) Hugh Byrne and Caitlin Roberts

Celtic Crossbones kicks off with the self penned number ‘Just One Of Them Things’ a slow swirling number with fiddle and accordion leading the way while Hugh sings of lost love. A great voice but his Dublin accent now has a wee bit of a Cockney twang about it! Next is one of the best songs ever written about the Irish on this side of the Irish sea, ‘Hot Asphalt’. Ewan MacColl (no stranger at all to these pages!) was famous for chronicling the life of the working classes and who better than the Irish road building gangs of the 50’s and 60’s. The camaraderie of these gangs of Irish workers is reflected in the comical goings on of a gang of poor Paddies digging up the road.  Somewhere along the way a policeman falls in a pot of boiling asphalt and the gang cover up his death!

“I’m thinking, says O’Reilly, that he’s lookin’ like old Nick
And burn me if I am not inclined to claim him with me pick
Now, says I, it would be easier to boil him till he melts
And to stir him nice and easy in the hot asphalt”

Played in the same style as the Dubliners famous version it’s the best version I have heard in a good while. ‘The Magnificent Eight’ is another self penned number Hugh wrote about one of his old bands Ella And The Blisters, a rootsy tootsy band of misfits that split up in 2016. The song is dedicated to all the jolly fine former members, Gabby, Sam, Luigi, Wayne, Caitlin, Richard, Sarah, Brian, Tom and Nathaniel and ‘The Magnificent Eight’ is a fine tribute to them. Banjo heavy and the tale of a band that almost nearly crossed the path into bigger times. ‘Ferry’ is a sad mournful song with great lyrics about a long distance relationship about a couple saying goodbye at the ferry terminal that comes to an end with the great line “waiting for a voice on a landline telephone”, long before the invention of mobile phones. Bands like Crock Of Bones don’t have to do much if they don’t want to. There is a huge market in London for Irish and traditional music but Crock Of Bones don’t want to be one of them bands that just churn out the covers and it’s the many self-penned numbers on Celtic Crossbones that interest me the most. Modern subjects wrapped up in auld music like on ‘Nothin Worse’ the best song on the album here. Great lyrics and accompaniment from the rest of the band. Neither fast nor slow but one of them foot tappers/thigh slappers that trad Irish folk is famous for. Grand stuff altogether! The instrumental ‘Swallowtail Jig’ is next and while there’s not an awful lot of choice on the Crock Of Bones You Tube channel (it’s the only video!!) pop along and have a look yourselves!

‘TASTHTGP’ is next up and TASTHTGP is a short way of saying ‘Talk about shit things happening to good people’ and a decent sense of humour is needed for anyone in a band. It’s a slight song but well intentioned. Next up is the song that alongside ‘Hot Asphalt’ chronicles best the life of a working class Irishman in Britain in the 50’s and 60’s, ‘McAlpine’s Fusiliers’. Of course not all dug the roads but many many did including my own Grandfather before he settled in on the railways with a shovel in his hand for 40 odd years. Most came from the countryside of Ireland to cross the Irish sea to work long and hard hours in tough jobs and their only respite came from a few beers after work. Written by Dominic Behan the title refers to the construction company of Sir Robert McAlpine who exploited employed mainly Irish workers.

“They sweated blood and they washed down mud
With pints and quarts of beer
And now we’re on the road again
With McAlpine’s fusiliers”

The song ends withe the refrain “And if you value your life, well, don’t join, by Christ with McAlpine’s Fusiliers” and judging by the broken bodies and bent backs of many of the ones who who use to while away the hours in the Irish pubs of my home town it was good advice. We are nearing the end and time for a real Irish legend of a song, ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’. We even wrote a recent article specifically about this and its origins and many covers. A very old song recounting the Battle of Glenmalure in 1580 where us Irish had a rare victory over the English invaders! Its a great rabble-rouser of a song and has a couple of lines that contain some of the most vitriolic of any rebel song. Crock Of Bones give it plenty of oompf and it’s a joy to belt out the words at the top of your lungs! The album comes to an end with the traditional instrumental songs ‘Cooleys Reel/ Mountain Road’. Cobbled together nicely and owing a lot to The Dubliners as catchy a tune as has ever been written and just the ticket if you’re looking to give the floor a good beating!

(You can stream Celtic Crossbones on the Bandcamp player below before you invest your hard earned in this great wee release)

You can catch Crock Of Bones playing very soon live for London Celtic Punks on Friday 22nd November with local lads The Disinclined at The Oak in Kingston-Upon-Thames. as usual our man GREENFORD BHOY will be spinning the discs and getting the mood in order playing all yer favourite Irish-Celtic-Folk-Punk-Rock’n’Rebel in between the bands and till the landlord kicks us out! The venue is only twenty minutes on the train out of London and just five minutes from Kingston station. The gig is **FREE** so expect a Friday night of hot Irish jigs, reels, foot stompers and lyrical folk. Not an opportunity to miss I tells you! 

Buy Celtic Crossbones  FromTheBand

Contact Crock Of Bones  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: THE NARROWBACKS- ‘By Hook Or By Crook’ (2019)

New York Irish Music

The Narrowbacks are back with their third album of Irish-American Celtic-Rock and conceivably their best yet! If Joe Strummer, Shane MacGowan and Bruce Springsteen survived a drinking session through the 5 boroughs, the hangover would be called The Narrowbacks. Fire it up!

nar·row·back /ˈnæroʊˌbæk/ [nar-oh-bak]
–noun Slang.
1. Disparaging. an Irish-American.
2. a person of slight build who is unfit for hard labor.

Across the major cities of the Irish diaspora you will find one (or two if your lucky!) band that comes to totally represent the Irish of that city. Like the Dropkicks in Boston, the Mollys in LA, The Wakes in Glasgow and The Bible Code Sundays and Neck in London these bands are a rallying point to the Irish community and help to keep alive the past, present and future of that community. The painful history of tragedy and hardship became a sense of pride and celebration that today across the world the Irish community is flourishing. Even though their are several bands that could lay claim to to the title of NYC’s most prominent Irish band and with competition from greats such as Shilelagh Law or Black 47 The Narrowbacks with this their third studio album By Hook Or By Crook have nailed the honour with this flying colours.

In a city where everyone is fighting for space the the working class Woodlawn area of the Bronx remains to this day a predominantly Irish area, the neighborhood is still referred to as ‘Little Ireland’. Young Irish still flock to the area on their arrival to the States due to the area hosting both the Emerald Isle Immigration Center and the Aisling Irish Community Centre as well untold amount of pubs and construction companies where many of these newly arrived Irish can find work. It was in Woodlawn that the Irish-Americans that form The Narrowbacks grew up. Formed in 2010 as the brain child of a future banker and a drop out bartender as a drunken joke that soon enough developed, under popular demand for them, into the next big thing on the New York Irish music scene. Taking their name from the slang name historically used to describe a Irish-American who was considered too soft to do hard physical labour.

The Narrowbacks left to right: Reilley Vegh – Fiddle * Fionn McElligott – Electric Guitar * Barry Walsh – Acoustic Guitar/Banjo/Mandolin * Seamus Keane – Lead Vocals * Anthony Chen – Bass * Chris Moran – Drums * Pat Keane – Button Accordion

The Narrowbacks pursuit to take over the NYC Irish music scene arguably began when Black 47 called it a day back in 2014. The undisputed ‘Kings Of NY’ were a Celtic-Rock band, formed in 1989 by Larry Kirwan and Chris Byrne taking their name from the the summer of 1847, the worst year of the ‘Great Famine’ in Ireland. With them out of the way the scene was set for some new blood and following their debut album, Fire It Up in 2013, they really came into their own with the EP After Hours and their second album release Arrogance And Ignorance in 2016 the year that also saw them opening for the likes of Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. The album peaked at #2 in the London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016 album chart so much did the assorted wastrels here rate it!

So The Narrowbacks are back and they have a lot to live up to. Arrogance And Ignorance was one of my favourite albums and is still regularly given an airing over at London Celtic Punks towers. The Christmas themed ‘Prodigal Son’ is particularly glorious. An auld fashioned Christmas song about an Irish mammy waiting for her off-the-rails son to come home. Capable of bringing a tear to the eye its nay on impossible to make a truly unsentimental Christmas tune but The Pogues and The Narrowbacks have done it. Based in singer Seamus Keane’s pub in Woodlawn, Keane’s Bar And Restaurant, where music is supplied seven days a week by up-and-coming Irish and Irish-American musicians the band are not just leading the cities music scene but are also helping to make it flourish with their support of other artists.

Tribal drumming and distortion kicks off By Hook Or By Crook with the title track and soon, after only forty seconds, comes to an abrupt end and ‘Streets Of Woodlawn’ takes over and was the first single released in advance of the album. Instantly giving a sense of London’s own Bible Code Sundays due in no small part to the prominence of fiddle and accordion it’s a rip-roaring song the kind of track that gets you screaming at the top of your voice along with the band or a singalong down at the pub smacking your glass on the bar shouting along with the Bhoys “In the streets of Woodlawn”.

Over in a flash of under three minutes The Narrowbacks are not hanging about and the addition of the excellent fiddler Reilley Vegh has given the band that little bit extra buzz. Next up is ‘Tripping Up The Stairs’ and Reilley again shines and his contribution really rounds off the bands sound nicely. The song ticks along nicely with Seamus having perhaps reigned in the ‘gravelyness’ of his vocals. Maybe he’s given up smoking!?! The song ends with a fab trad fiddle solo showing their are no boundaries here and ‘On The Radio’ they have one ot the albums stand out tracks. As catchy as hell with a great chorus and infectiously fun the song gives the whole band to shine individually while not disturbing the flow of the song.

So far its been fun fun fun but as anyone will tell you its not all fun being Irish and ‘All I Know Is Woe’ is the song to bring down the mood, but only a wee bit as the music is still catchy as hell and completely uplifting. While the Bible Codes never really passed into Celtic-Punk remaining firmly embedded in the London Irish pub and trad scene it’s great to hear The Narrowbacks thrash out a bit and ‘Delirium’ is the track to do it in. Still with both feet firmly in Irish music the song has a bit more bite to it and even sounds louder than the other songs here!! The song even touches on that most Celtic-Punk of themes that of the pub and alcohol. On an album as strong as By Hook Or By Crook it seems a wee bit unfair to point out the better tracks but ‘Jackson Notes’ is certainly one of them. Again as catchy as a New York Yankees baseball mitt it’s a rollicking good ride with great vocals from Seamus alongside the whole band stepping up to the plate a great chorus to top it all off. We are nearing the end and nay sign of any ballad yet and ‘Sackcloth And Ash’ is not one either. A more folky approach here despite Fionn’s thrashy guitar, Chris’ drums and Anthony’s rumbling bass best attempts to keep it rocking. The longest song here at nearly five minutes it never outlives its welcome and is, here’s that word again… catchy! The folk instruments are supplied by Patrick on accordion and Barry on both banjo and mandolin as well as Fionn on fiddle. ‘Last Call’ carries on in similar vein with a folky base. Talking of life on the working class streets of NY and not everyone is a king in the US of A. Another great song giving the album a strong ending as ‘Bitter End’ brings down the curtain on By Hook Or By Crook. As Seamus rallies his friends together in a song about how friendship and family determines who we are and tells us to “hold our heads high”. A fantastic ending to an outstanding album.

Ten songs that, all penned by the band themselves, comes in at just over thirty minutes. With seven members the production could get a bit messy but it is as clear as crystal and all the various instruments from folk to rock are clearly balanced along with Seamus vocals. Whoever mixed and produced the album deserves a tip of the hat for such a fantastic job. While The Narrowbacks are probably not a ‘celtic-Punk’ in the traditional sense they are common among Irish-American bands in that they keep one foot in the trad folk scene and come across as a Folk band playing Punk/Rock songs. In these days with the Irish community in the States seemingly at last happy in it’s role in American life bands like those that inhabit the Celtic-Punk and Rock scenes play an important part in keeping the community grounded and to not to forget its past and what others went through to give them the confidence they have today. Seamus Keane sums up the Irish-American community in in his own inimitable way

“Irish America in 2019 is its own thing altogether. One part Donald Trump, two parts Civil Service, construction and pubs, mix in equal parts GAA and AOH, finish with three parts Wolfe Tones. A contradictory recipe for a terrible conversation at Thanksgiving Dinner.”

By Hook Or By Crook gives Arrogance And Ignorance more than a good run for its money and the songs fly past in an whirl and show a growing confidence The Narrowbacks have in themselves. How they are not more widely known is a mystery to me but the Irish around the world love Irish-America (we are all secretly obsessed with it!!) so hopefully this album will receive them the exposure they so greatly deserve. Destined to be at the higher end of this years Best Of Album chart By Hook Or By Crook takes you instantly to the smoke filled bars of Katonah Avenue. Places built on the blood, sweat and tears of generations of Irish and Irish-Americans who still keep a flame alive in their hearts for a place that many will never see.

Buy By Hook Or By Crook  CDbaby  Apple  Amazon

Contact The Narrowbacks  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube  Bandcamp

(The Narrowbacks live set opening for the Dropkick Murphys during their St. Patrick’s residency at The House of Blues in Boston in 2016)

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SHILLELAGHS- ‘Ripples In The Rye’ (2019)

The Shillelaghs are an Irish-Canadian band hailing from Calgary. With this their second studio album they deliver some hard hitting and original Gaelic tinged Celtic-Punk which takes me back to the glory days of the scene!
If there’s one thing we can’t seem to get enough of its band in Europe with the word ‘Bastard’ in it and in North America bands with the word ‘Shillelagh’!! At least though Bastard is easier to spell as i can think of at least four bands with different variations of shillelagh. It’s got to the point where I’m not sure what the correct spelling is but seeing as these guys and a gal from Calgary are very much in touch with their Celtic roots then I think its easy to presume this spelling is the correct one!

The Shillelaghs from left to right: Lisa Graham – Piccalo * Andrew Shannon – Bass Guitar * Dave Anderson – Vocals * Greg Devine – Accordion * Ryan ‘Van’ VandenBerg – Drums * Kyle Libbus – Guitar

The band took the well worn route to Celtic-Punk having formed out of various local punk bands in 2006 and unusually for a Celtic-Punk band those members are still intact and driving forward. You just cannot beat a settled and established line up. This would lead to the release of their debut album in 2011, Wastedly. It took another four years for them to follow this up and in 2015 the eagerly anticipated Bury Me At Sea landed at shore and gave The Shillelaghs uniformly great reviews across both the Celtic-Punk world and further afield too. Voted into #14 in our Best Of 2015 the album also made the top-ten of the sadly deceased (and buried at sea) Celtic-Folk-Punk site.
(Have a listen yourselves and stream the The Shillelaghs debut album Bury Me At Sea below on the Bandcamp player)

So thirteen years after coming together, and nine after their debut album, the original band are still together and pumping out what I would call ‘traditional North American Celtic-Punk’. Here The Shillelaghs have recorded ten outstanding original tracks for Ripples In The Rye and as vocalist and songwriter Dave beautifully puts it

“reaching out to the past to tell us of it’s struggles, only to find ourselves reflected back – hope and acceptance in the face of loss, and the power to enjoy ourselves in spite of it – being burdened with knowledge, and the internal power to throw off the chains of guilt – the immortal adventure of memory forged with your compatriots by your side, and the journey yet to be written…”

Ripples In The Rye starts with ‘Relentless’ and that’s the sound of classic (or traditional) Celtic-Punk invading your ear. Kicking off with some some pounding drums a piccolo (flute) grabs your attention and chugging guitar before Dave dives in on vocals that may divide some but I love them. On the growlier side of things these are punk vocals for a Folk-Punk band. The song keeps a steady pace except for an interlude broken by Kyle and a wicked little guitar solo. This is Celtic-Punk and so most of the subject matter tends to be of the serious though hidden behind a wall of tomfoolery and shenenigans and a ‘reet good time’ and while that tends to be true there’s always a stream of black humour throughout and The Shillelaghs don’t disappoint on ‘Drunk On A Loading Dock’ which has all the things I just mentioned in a song that flies past in just 123 seconds!! Very nice accordion solo here too (from guest Greg Devine who also helped with the production for the album too. My hat is tipped to ye!) and I would have enjoyed a bit more of that to be honest. ‘From Your Mind’ slows it down a bit with more accordion giving it at times a Cajun feel while the band support with a Ska-ish beat. Dave’s vocals here soar and prove there’s a lot more to it than just shouting in harmony. ‘Old Growth Soul’ begins gently with acoustic guitar before taking off in several directions. Influences galore here to the point that it’s hard to put your finger on them. Punk at times and Folk at others it’s a strange wee number though also strangely familiar. More than half way through and no sign of a ballad yet and ‘Let Me Go’ speeds along very nicely. A song about death is always a surefire hit and it’s the album’s standout track for me as everything combines perfectly for a song steeped in Celtic-ness in both music and lyrics. Another short song of only just over two minutes these Shillelaghs don’t hang about do they!

Released as the bands first ever official video (come on gang you got to keep up) and also the lead single from the album it’s accompanied by a video that is perfect in it’s simplicity. Just a band performing in front of their mates in a bar. That is the perfect Celtic-Punk video. So an album of just over half an hour for ten songs shows they keep it snappy but they take a longer route next on ‘Along The Road’ and it doesn’t disappoint either. The arrangements are a bit more elaborate but aye I agree with you guys keep it punky!! The songs are coming at us now and ‘Pale Horse’ is fast and furious and leans more towards a straight Punk song while ‘Street Pirates’ takes the tune from it’s name and though their are distinct genres of Pirate-Punk and Pirate-Metal it’s almost that ballad I was after but I think I’d have to call it a Pirate-Rock ballad. Cool as ever and catchy as hell with great accordion with a killer chorus that leads us nicely into the last song of Ripples In The Rye and ‘Blackthorns’ takes us out in style with another song of ‘traditional North American Celtic-Punk’. Dave sings achingly and bursting with emotion (as he does throughout the album) while the band come together for a song that is lead beautifully by Lisa on the piccalo.

I have spoken here about a kind of ‘traditional’ album. A traditional sound for a Celtic-Punk band. Well that doesn’t mean the likes of the Dropkicks and the Murphys it means the sound of bands like The Shillelaghs who have distilled the sound of their ancestors with the sound of modern (though not always that modern) music to make something that is both meaningful and to be enjoyed to the upmost. The Shillelaghs are a band that can take the serious and the fun and put them together to give a glorious riot of a good time. Ripples In The Rye is released on November 2nd and is available for pre-sale at the links below so don’t delay and get in there as quick as you can. In fact as quick as a Shillelaghs standout track will do.

(you can stream some of the songs from Ripples In The Rye on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Ripples In The Rye  Vinyl-FromTheBand  Download  Google

Contact The Shillelaghs  Facebook  WebSite  YouTube  Bandcamp  ReverbNation

ALBUM REVIEW: DONNY ZUZULA- ‘Chemicals’ (2019)

Donny Zuzula has worn a lot of hats and walked a lot of miles.

Having spent a decade as the guitarist, singer, songwriter for the Michigan based Celtic-Punk trio The Tosspints, Donny Zuzula’s debut album takes us through every aspect of his life. Dark, sad, heartbroken tunes, poetically sung from the soul and layered with guitars and harmonies.

The Tosspints are a strange band within the Celtic-Punk scene. Not only are they the only trio in the scene, being made up by the Bros. Zuzula, Donny and Zak accompanied on drums by John Johnson, but they are also not really much of a Celtic-Punk band in that they have no Celtic instrumentation. It is true though that they somehow manage to convey the feel of a Celtic band better than most with just bass, electric guitar and drums. Donny who is the main writer for The Tosspints is a singer-songwriter in the old school meaning of the term. Not some pampered puppet singing achingly of experiences they have never or will ever know. Celtic-Punk is dominated by several themes that cross from continent to continent especially among the children of the diaspora- Loss and emigration, heavy drinking, heavy working and death, solidarity, religion, class pride, an gorta mór (the great hunger) all bleed into the modern day working class Irish-American experience. Donny had a knack back then (a must listen to album is The Tosspints excellent album The Privateer from 2015) of capturing this way of life and here on his debut solo album he continues in much the same way. Donny chose to record a solo album rather than another Tosspints album because

“this solo venture is more of an exercise in writing alone to explore more versatile styles that wouldn’t normally be courted along with the band. A little more folk influence and a little more explorative of personal topics than when writing is done with the band, this album is just different enough to be something new, but just familiar enough that fans of previous work should feel right at home.”

Donny served time in the military overseas and these experiences alongside growing and living in Saginaw, until recently the most dangerous places in America! Once a thriving and successful town by the late 20th century, industry and its once-strong manufacturing presence had collapsed leading to increasing unemployment and crime. This hard nosed, working class background runs through The Tosspints music. It’s also an area of America with long historical links to Irish emigration with Irish emigrants responsible for building the areas many canals and even the areas connection with Irish nationalism has always been closely linked with the Labour movement in which Irish-Americans were among the earliest organizers and leaders. As the band say about themselves

“living through the school of hard knocks, brought to bear from war, loss, degradation, and hard drinking. A band created entirely by a family who has had to make it through life the hard way and use their experience to create songs about the more distressed side of being human”

Donny Zuzula first album is Chemicals, the much anticipated follow up to The Privateer and as ever Donny draws from not from cliches but from the very life of a man who has seen and experienced things we can only dream about. From being a war veteran to fatherhood, Donny takes us on a ride that incorporates Folk-Rock and Punk as well as honest to goodness blue collar working man’s music. Introduced to music through his fathers love of Neil Young, Donny takes a harder edged route and while stopping short of Punk it has the same appeal as The Tosspints and will I am sure be welcomed by fans of that band.

The album begins with ‘Alive’ and the Neil Young comparison is still OK but also crossed with the great Bob Mould. Donny’s vocals still rock and his range is extraordinary and conveys the emotion of the songs perfectly. This is no guy going through the motions. The song is catchy as hell as can be expected and sets the scene for an album that continues to impress me on each play. ‘Another Shot’ veers into that 80’s Post-Punk sound that saw Punk’s not afraid of complicated guitar riffs and more elaborate set ups.

“I crossed a line today
I marched to battle and on my way
It’s just a memory
But feels like it’s all happening again”

The words here seem so personal that it kinda feels funny to attempt to make sense of them from the outside. They speak in such a way that I would recommend looking up the lyrics on Donny’s Bandcamp page. ‘Never Go Back’ slows things down akin to a rock ballad but no cheese while ‘Empty And Gone’ comes up with a delicate Country-rocker. ‘Nothing Left To Say’ takes us back to Mould territory and an excellent rocking tune that gives Donny amble opportunity to show off his vocal range.

Catchy as hell and a guaranteed favourite that leads nicely into ‘Any Other Day’ and if the words here don’t strike you in the gut then there is nay hope for you.

“It’s getting awful late
And my urge to medicate
Has surpassed my will to use the skills
That keep me from the bottom of the bottle”

The final three songs of Chemicals show Donny in reflective form as he turns again to the influence of Country music though wrapped up well in punk attitude. Slide guitar on ‘Turn Away’ makes it the more obvious tune but on ‘Sleep Is For The Weak’ the influence is just as great but more accessible.

“I tell that bottle
all my hopes and my dreams
I tell that bottle
all that’s happened to me
I tell that bottle
the way that I really feel
that bottle understands me
in a way you never will”

Leading the way to the albums closing tune and the albums standout song, ‘Chemicals’.

I would compare Donny in a lot of ways to Bryan MacPherson who has featured on London Celtic Punks pages perhaps more than any artist. Like Donny, Bryan’s life has seen ups and downs and his songwriting draws you right into his soul. We are not voyeurs in their life and they neither hold up their experiences as a vehicle for their music it is much more the other way round and the music becomes the way to express themselves. Where others may play up to events in their lives Donny, and Bryan too, has that ability to draw you into his life through their music. It is something incredible and a talent that very few have and many more think they have but don’t! Chemicals is many things. It is gritty and heartfelt as well as passionate and inspiring and the words are powerful. Chemicals deserves to be heard…

(You can stream Chemicals on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Chemicals  Vinyl/CD  Download

Contact Donny Zuzula  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: SONS OF CLOGGER- ‘Return To The Stones’ (2019)

West Midlands based Sons Of Clogger are an alternative four piece band with a huge sound fusing Punk, Indie, Rock, Metal and Folk. Their full blooded invigorating music has been captivating crowds and listeners in many countries and as our man in the States T.C. Costello finds with the release of Return To The Stones their second full length album they are set to continue doing so…

About a year ago, I found myself at the Ragged Bear Festival in Warwickshire. This two-stage festival seemed tailor-made for anyone who’s ever been to a London Celtic Punks show, tailor made to anyone who loves a sea chantey as much as a moshpit, and indeed tailor made me. The Whipjacks’ played of some the speediest Celtic-Punk I’ve ever heard downstairs, and Greenman Rising, who organized the festival, brought their hardcore folk tradition to modern audiences on both stages.

Another highlight of the festival was Sons of Clogger. This Staffordshire foursome’s sweaty basement show felt like a folk session from long ago but unstuck in time, with traditional melodies and story teller lyrics over an rhythm section straight out of the ‘80s punk scene in London. Adding mandola, low-D tin whistle and a 12-string acoustic guitar created a sound evocative of pre-Christian Britain, a bit of ‘80s Camden Town, and an Irish Session.

Needless to say, it came as a massive surprise to me that the band’s first full-length album starts with a distorted guitar riff. And this album, indeed, is full of surprises – so much so that this review may warrant a spoiler alert. With ‘Return To The Stones’, the band continues to blur the lines between the ancient and modern, the Folk and the Punk, and even more genres.

After the unexpected electric guitar on the opening title track, the full band comes in with 4/4 rock groove a bit reminiscent of The Clash. I was wondering where the folk aspect of the band had gone. But as soon as DaveO’s vocals kicked in, I had my answer.

“We’re heading for the Northern Lights

From town to town with you right by my side

Oh Yeah, Bring me that girl today”

He croons with the command of a storyteller and the fury of punk, narrating a tale of the Callanish Stone Circle in the Outer Hebrides during Pagan times. The Narrator is a mother who had visited the stones 10 years previous to ask for a daughter. She is travelling to the stone circle again to thank the stones, this time with her daughter, now of course ten-years-old.

More definitive folk elements sneak into this song, too, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

The second song of the Album, ‘London Town’, also takes you back in history, though not nearly as far, and tells of decadent underground cults amongst the gentry in London. The band writes, “Over the last 300 years, underground gentry have worshipped various cults: Some celebrating homosexuality, some devil worship, and some even to this day celebrating the death of King Charles I!”

“Subterranean location

Was shattered and prosaic

It earned its reputation

Was full of old posh rakes

With lavish cars and fat cigars

Certain gentry found

I’ll meet you at the serenade

Down in London Town.”

Once again, this song is driven by electric guitar and the Band’s tight rhythm section, but adds folky vocals and even a bit of mandolin over the main guitar riff.

Next comes ‘Harrignton And Boots’, a punky number a bit reminiscent of The Cockney Rejects, and tells of punks who have gone to serve in the military.

“My Brothers they said to me,

What happens if we die?

Better think about the last words that we’ll say.”

And the last words are the chorus:

“Bury me with me Harrington and Boots.” It’s “The Harrington Jacket and Doc Marten Boots worn by punks past and present,” The band writes, “It’s a soldier’s last wish to be buried in his true identity, not as a soldier, but the true honor of a lifelong punk.”

With the fourth Track ‘Ragged Bear’, the band’s folkiness is unambiguous. Starting with a vocals-and-mandola intro, the full band doesn’t come in until a minute in, and when it does, there’s a big, tin whistle lead with the bands ‘80s punk rhythm section still going strong.

The karmic tale starts with an abused bear, left in a horrible state, only to be healed by the devil, who sent the bear to take revenge on the humans who mistreated him so, and I challenge any listener not to shout “The Bear! The Bear!” along with the chorus. The Into of ‘Running Out The Guns’, blurs the line of ancient and modern a bit more, with an intro powered by a heavily echoed guitar and tin whistle, which gives into a big, tin whistle breakdown a bit reminiscent of Flogging Molly. The hard rocking, seafaring tune covers the tradition of the plight of sailors’ lives:

“We’ll bring ye Hell on the seas’ great swell

We are the devil’s sons.

While ye lye and the breast of thy own sweet maid

We’ll be running out the guns.”

Next comes a trio of love songs. ‘On The Road’ is a guitar effects-heaving ode to long-distance love with a big chorus, and ‘Traveling Fair’ has a haunting, droney arrangement and tells of a collier’s son running away to be with a green-eyed Romani Gypsy girl, which ends with an jig that’s somehow reminiscent of The Clash.

Finishing the trio is ‘Punk Rock Girlfriend’, a hard rocking number that makes me think “hey, i know her!” every time I hear it.

She’ll shave her hair, give you the stare

She’s hanging with the punks

When you see here dancing, she’s dancing near the front

Piercings of silver rings and green and purple hair

She’s my punk rock girlfriend!”

Having met her at a couple festivals, these lyrics as far as I can tell are 100% accurate.

Closing out the album are ‘Beautiful Dream’ and ‘Goodbye’.

‘Beautiful Dream’ is an anti-war song with a nice jangly electric guitar-and-mandola wall of sound. The lyrics seems hopeful but also self-consciously naive with the chorus,

“No more war, Just love / Is a beautiful dream”

‘Goodbye’, the album’s closing number starts with a cinematic-sounding intro, powered by floor toms, spacey keyboards and sparse piano work. It builds to a hopeful song about moving on on life:

“I’m holding on, to something that’s killing me

To something that’s thrilling me

I’m changing things, you were my everything

Ain’t nothing can be the same

‘Cause I’m leaving tonight.”

The band writes “It’s a goodbye to a love that’s lost; it’s a goodbye as in lost life; it’s a goodbye as in leaving drug or alcohol addiction.” A fitting hopeful ending to the album.

‘Return To The Stones’, is an unpredictable journey, full of alluring settings, powerful stories and a colourful cast of characters. If you want folk and punk fused in a way that would even surprise the most loyal readers of London Celtic Punks, look no further.

Buy Return to the Stones  CD- FromTheBand  Amazon

Contact Sons Of Clogger  WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube

2019’s Ragged Bear Festival will be held on the 25th and 26th of October at The Crew and Queen’s Hall, conveniently locked in the same building in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

Cheers to our good friend and comrade T.C. Costello for the review and you can keep up with his antics across the globe by checking him out here Facebook  Bandcamp  Twitter  YouTube

NICK BURBRIDGE AND HIS TOP TEN INFLUENTIAL ALBUMS

To say we are overwhelmed to be able to publish this feature on his Top Ten Influential Albums by the the legendary Nick Burbridge is an understatement! Encompassing everything inbetween Folk to Celtic-Punk it’s a glorious ride through some famous and legendary artists and some little known outside the communities they hail from. Second gen Irish singer-songwriter, Nick has been playing Irish-influenced acoustic music since his teens influencing countless others, including in their own words, The Levellers. His band McDermott’s 2 Hours were among the first to ever think of combining punk and Irish folk so he is a trailblazer among the Celtic-Punk scene but also so much more as well. 

No time to waste so put the kettle on, crack open some biscuits and save the next couple of hours…

Andy Irvine & Paul Brady- ‘Self-Titled’ (1976)

When I was asked to name ten indispensable albums on Facebook some time ago, I decided to work from the late sixties to the millennium, and pick out those most influential on my development as a musician and songwriter, and end where I began, as it were. The first album I chose was this one. It’s a classic of its kind, melding yet never losing the distinctive characters of two of the most innovative and enduring musicians working in the Irish traditional idiom. There’s not a song on it I can’t still recall to memory, give or take a verse here or there, and the quality and range of the musicianship and arrangement, while capturing the essence of Planxty, somehow has an irresistible intimacy the full band doesn’t quite match, though they were perhaps the best of their kind.

(As Andy Irvine says this is Mr. Bradys classic. “Oh, me and my cousin, one Arthur McBride As we went a-walking down by the seaside Now, mark what followed and what did betide For it being on Christmas morning…” )

The Copper Family- ‘A Song For Every Season’ (1971)

This box set was, unexpectedly perhaps, essential listening for the punk-folk band I was in, when we lived in the red light district of Mainz one summer in the mid-seventies. We sang a few Copper songs a capella in our set – the Germans loved them. I spent fifteen years growing up in Rottingdean, Sussex, and I guess that’s as authentic a connection as you can get to this unique family who’ve kept alive a whole tradition on their own initiative, and are rightly recognised for it across the world. Their singing is rough, genuine, heartwarming, and eccentrically tuneful. I’m proud we introduced our audiences to their material, among chaotic jigs and reels and rebel songs. Once again, while I often forget what I’m meant to be doing these days, I can still remember almost every line, such was their influence on me.

(The whole Box-Set of four albums on You Tube. ‘Tater Beer Night- Spring’, ‘Black Ram- Summer’, ‘Hollerin’ Pot’- Fall’ and ‘Turn O’ The Year- Winter’. Nearly three hours long!)

The Bothy Band- ‘After Hours’ (1979)

There are so many unforgettable albums by Irish traditional bands who pushed the form in all directions in the 70s, and influenced countless more to follow suit. I guess The Bothy Band stand in the vanguard, and this album with its driving sets of tunes, and exquisitely sung ballads, live yet virtually faultless, is indispensable to anyone trying to understand just why this music is so effortlessly infectious, exhibiting a musical intensity few others come close to, always ready and able to form the soundtrack to a particular phase in someone’s life. It did mine. It has long been an immeasurable influence.

(You Tube seems to have started allowing whole albums on their site these days. While I’m not too sure of the legality lets just sit back and enjoy)

Dick Gaughan- ‘Handful Of Earth’ (1981)

Dick Gaughan made Handful of Earth on the way back from a major nervous breakdown. And there is something not working within ordinary tramlines here. His errant but extraordinary guitar accompaniments weave their way under an utterly compelling voice, as if to make a world turned upside down both inimitable and unforgettable. The choice of songs is faultless. Gaughan, whatever his fate, will always remain a mighty force. Those who do try to imitate him simply don’t have whatever it is that comes from wherever it does…

(Dick’s folk masterpiece album in full, unabridged on You Tube)

The Pogues- ‘Rum Sodomy & The Lash’ (1985)

By the mid-80s folk and punk had well and truly fused. Much as I think ‘Iron Masters’ by The Men They Couldn’t Hang May may well be my favourite track from the era, I don’t think any such album surpassed this one. Too much academic writing has attached itself to the formidable Shane MacGowan opus, and The Pogues’ irregular but compulsive sense of Irish identity. All I want to say is that I hope their influence on my work hasn’t been too obvious – I’ve tried to pay them the greatest compliment by sowing their seeds as deep as I could in wherever my songs take root, in the hope that what hybrid growth occurred would be as substantial and organic as possible, and not some hasty GM copy of their timeless and outstanding work.

(Which one to choose? How about ‘Sally MacLennane’ from British TV in 1986)

The Waterboys- ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ (1988)

This would probably appear on the all time list of anyone involved in folk-rock music. They call some albums seminal – Fishermen’s Blues epitomises what it means. Like Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks it simply has an originality, authority and impact reserved for those who find themselves, by design or accident, at the cutting edge, and who have the courage to take the task on without flinching. From the monumental to the simply made, tracks etch themselves into the memory. I keep them there, and bring them out from time to time. I always will.

(Absolutely cracking live version of the album’s title track)

Wolfestone- ‘Unleashed’ (1989)

I was travelling to play at Reading Festival when someone put this album on in the van and immediately I realised this band were truly fellow-travellers – and there was much to learn from their blending of traditional music with good original songwriting, where sensitive guitar playing had a central part. They weren’t The Waterboys, but they had the same sense of attack, and an obvious love of what they were doing. Perhaps the least known of the albums chosen, this should need no introduction – it is, in its own way, a classic.

(Nick is right. A band I hadn’t come across before but as this whole feature is about introducing us all to good music I’m glad I found it here. The opening track of ‘Unleashed’ from 1992)

Levellers- ‘Levellers’ (1993)

The band didn’t tell me they were putting my song ‘Dirty Davey’ on this album – but they were well aware of my attitude to ‘folk’ music: it’s common property, as far as I’m concerned, whatever the source. And that isn’t why I chose this record over, say, Levelling The Land. It seems to me a broader, more ambitious production, without losing its roots. It was released about the time my young son made a short film for a BBC Children’s television programme, about how much the band meant to him, and had seen him through some rough years. They were, you might say, at their height. Their legendary Glastonbury headline spot was soon to come. They had successfully entered the mainstream without squandering their gifts. And those gifts are abundant here. I should say I’ve always felt privileged that they cite me as a main initial influence. The fact that they’re still working now says it all.

(Nick Burbridge performing with the Levellers in 2004 live on stage at Buxton Opera House doing his own song!)

Eithne Ní Uallacháin- ‘Bilingua’ (Initial Recording 1999- Posthumous Release 2014)

While she was in the midst of putting down vocals for this album Eithne killed herself. Working with what they had, and eventually fighting through their grief and misgivings, the musicians in her family and others released it fifteen years after her death. It’s an irresistible recording, centred round the most evocative female Irish traditional singer I have ever heard. Whether tackling old Gaelic pieces or fronting tales of her own battles with darkness and her sharp visions of light, it’s impossible to listen to her without being deeply moved – especially if much of her inner torment feels as deeply shared. We should all be indebted to those who loved her at first hand, who have kept her memory alive. It’s not discourteous to say that, through her music, I have found my own love for her. It will not die.

(“But grief can be translated from the light into the darkness; In the belly of the shadow with all its shades digested. Its true colours will unfold.”

(In 1998, Eithne returned to Shaun ‘Mudd’ Wallace’s Homestead studios to record a solo album. Ní Uallacháin’s vocals were completed and much of the music was arranged, but the album was not released. Eithne died in 1999 and her son, Dónal, took residence at Wallace’s studio as an assistant engineer, and during times when the studio was not booked worked with Wallace on the album. Due to contractual issues with the original record label, the album was not released until 2014,15 years after its recording and 14 years after mixing was completed. The album was titled Bilingua and was released with Gael Linn, who released Eithne’s first album, Cosa Gan Bhróga.)

Finbar & Eddie Furey- ‘First And Last’ (1968)

If I’m sometimes cited as an influence on certain others, forced to pick one album that influenced me most, it’s this one. It marks the beginning of a fifty year long journey so far, and whenever I listen to it, even now, I find it impossible to skip through. It represents everything good about Irish music. The instrumental playing is (apart from one or two odd passages) fearless and full of guile; the singing has both a tender and a punkish edge; the arrangements are often ornate and yet always seem gritty and spontaneous; and of course Ted Furey’s sons were born into an authentic travelling family, and it’s immediately audible. I was glad to cross paths with the duo once upon a time in Germany, when side-stage at Ingelheim festival Finbar (rightly, I’m sure) called the band I was in ‘a pile o’ shite’…I took it as a compliment he’d bothered to listen… That a wider family group went on to make a big name covering more commercial, and sometimes questionable material is neither here nor there, in my opinion. Good luck to them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be recognised as a poet, and where songs are concerned, use the idiom of my grandfathers to carry as complex and penetrating a vision as I’ve been able to pursue. But, in contrast to what often seems to masquerade as what it’s not, this is the real thing. The 1968 recording also forms the first half of The Spanish Cloak: The Best of the Fureys (1998) – available on all the usual selling and streaming platforms. On we go…

(Eddie’s first song was written by Scottish TV producer Gordon Smith. The words are set to the traditional Irish air ‘Buchal an Eire’)

Nick continues to produce great music and his last album, under the name of his original band, McDermott’s 2 Hours – ‘Besieged’ was not just featured on these pages but positively drooled over by our man Francis! On the album he is accompanied by members of both The Levellers and the Oysterband and showcases his work as not just a musician but also, in the best Irish tradition, as a poet, playwright and novelist as well. Available as a limited edition two CD set including a Best of compilation, Anticlimactic but you can buy several versions including the download direct from Nick here and also available from all streaming services inc. Spotify, Amazon etc here. You can contact Nick Burbridge over at his WebSite and Facebook. Thanks to Nick for taking his time out to pen this great feature ‘Go raibh maith agat’.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE FILTHY SPECTACULA- ‘The Howl Of The Underclasses’ (2019)

Twisted gypsy punk, revved up pirate shanties, dark folk, ska, punk, dark cabaret, Southern gothic, a bit of steampunk, a bit of darkness, a bit of coarse music hall banter and a lot of drunkenness. The second full-length album from The Filthy Spectacula with thirteen more songs of death, debauchery and drinking that are sure get you dancing.

The story of The Filthy Spectacula begins on a dark and stormy night in late 2014 when a group of vagabonds meet to swap stories, drink absinthe and make music. They were on to something and took to travelling around and making new stories together. Some got left at various ports along the way, but other riff-raff were eagerly waiting in the shadows to join this travelling circus. They released their debut album a couple of years ago Thrup’ny Upright which is available from the band but you can also get a free sampler of the album containing three tracks at the Bandcamp link below.

Details on The Filthy Spectcula are sketchy but having wowed audiences across Britain and played alongside this countries (and Canadas) best Folk-Punk bands as well as having been asked by Ed Milliband to “turn it down please” it seems nothing can slow down this marauding crew of lyrical lunatics. The Howl Of The Underclasses kicks off with the gloriously ramshackle ‘The Dirty Dog’. Fiddle and accordion are shoved up front and Mr E’s vocals lead the way with a eastern flavoured tune that we may call ramshackle but is from it in reality. Tuneful and as catchy as syphilis the album is peppered with references to the sea, death, debauchery and drinking and songs that would get even the stoniest of faces (me) smiling and the leaden of feet (also me!) dancing. Telling of one of London’s dingiest drinking dens.

” We who drown our sorrows in this dirty hole can forget brighter tomorrows”

Next up is my favourite of the album and the Eastern approach has gone for a more traditional folk-punk tune it is UNBELIEVABLY catchy and if catchy is the word that all record reviewers hate the most their really is no alternative . ‘Bedlam Hallelujah’ has such a great but dark ‘ska-ish’ beat it is sure to get you moving. The times that The Filthy Spectacula inhabit are those of Victorian slums and serial killers stalking the London streets and times when everyone drank Gin and did they must to survive. Oh Cynthia’ is a twisted love song and that word from earlier rears its head again. Mr E has a very distinctive vocal style that fits perfectly and the band flit from gypsy to ska to new wave effortlessly. Women And Children First’ is the cry of the shipwreck where men were and are still expected to stay on the sinking ship.

“If it’s you or I I’m going to stay alive”

A very nice accordion solo from The Blacksmith is followed by a fiddle solo from Miss Tea and already a quarter of the way through and every song has been outstanding. What the album lacks for in ‘Celtic-ness’ (this is after all a Celtic music site) does not take away from the album at all and would be up the street of the majority of our readers. ‘Our Dirty Little Secret’ returns to to the East and has a sort of Cossack feel to it and you can imagine men with folded arms bouncing up and down to this song about prostitution and grave robbing. It is thought that roughly 80,000 women were working as prostitutes in London alone during the Victorian era. On ‘Rum’ they pay tribute to the sailors drink of choice. Rum was routinely given to sailors right up to the 1970’s on Royal Navy ships. ‘Casanova With A Social Disease‘ finally sees the band in Celtic-Punk territory and by heavens they rock it. A short, sharp and sweet rocker with a nice bit of black humour

“I’m not loves young dream, I’m not as I seem”

The Hearse Song’ slows it down and that black humour is evident again and with a wee nod to The Pogues too. 

The Filthy Spectaular left to right: Lord Harold- Drums, Red Wine, backing shouting * Miss Tea- Fiddle, herbal teas, backing howling * Mr. E- Lead Vocaliser, Guitar, Absinthe, good looks and talent * Shady H- Bourborn, Bass, backing shouting * The Blacksmith -Accordion, Rum, backing grunting

We are back on the oceans again and Tyrants of the Seven Seas’ is just Mr E and acoustic guitar and tells of the excitement of piracy. For many it was an escape from from the cruel conditions on board merchant and navy ships and a chance to be treated as equals in a time when the working classes were seen as a separate race. One Step Closer’ is a heavier number despite its bouncy ska beat the accordion gives it an appropriate dark feel. She Wants Me (Dead)’ has a Poguesy feel circa Hell’s Ditch with it’s strong accordion lead and dark lyrics. 

Seas of Stupidity’ is another standout and they closing down the album well with the albums rockiest song.. A real foot stomper this one and catchy as hell! So that just leaves Dear Judas’ to bring down the curtain on The Howl Of The Underclasses and at nearly six minutes its the albums epic. A risky strategy seeing as even though the albums songs all hover around four minutes one thing you could say about them is that they are punchy and don’t tend to overstay their welcome. Well the same can be said of ‘Dear Judas’ and they carry on where they left off. On listening it seems much shorter and the punchiness is still evident and ends the album superbly.

The Howl Of The Underclasses is not all what I was expecting and I was very pleasantly surprised and they are now at the top of my list of bands to catch live. Capturing perfectly the filth, smoke and destitution of the city their was no happy ending for many in Victorian London but with a soundtrack of The Filthy Spectacula and an endless supply of Gin and Rum it would ease the pain a wee bit!

Buy The Howl Of The Underclasses CD  Download

Contact The Filthy Spectacula  WebSite  Facebook  Soundcloud  ReverbNation  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: ANGRY McFINN AND THE OLD YANK- ‘Songs of Whiskey, Women & War’ (2019)

Two Finns, A Yank and three Japanese making Irish flavoured tunes in the craziest city in the world.

A group of drunken musician from all over the world who met up in Tokyo to play aggressive Celtic-Folk-Rock telling tales of drinking, relationships and war.

Angry McFinn And The Old Yank were formed in the Japanese capital of Tokyo in May 2014 by Irish-American Dean Lewis. Dean had grown up listening to a sweet mixture of Appalachian country music and The Beatles. From the age of five he was writing poems and songs so fast forward to the adult Dean and he could be found in the famous bars and clubs of the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. Then after a visit to Tokyo and falling in love with the city he turned his back on his old life and packed his bags and set off for a new life. Settling into his new life playing the occasional solo gig he had continued to write songs and so it meant to sense to start thinking of playing them so one night in 2014 near the famous Nihonbashi Bridge, Dean was chatting to an auld friend, a Finn named Petja Marttinen. Now despite knowing Petja for years he had never mentioned before that he was a classically trained musician who had even spent time in Ireland playing jigs and reels in local Irish bands. So as they chatted over a few pints of Guinness Dean asked Petja if he knew anyone interested in playing traditional Irish and American folk music with an attitude? Petja quietly said, “I know someone” and so Angry McFinn The The Old Yank was born that very night. Over the next few years the band grew quickly and with the the band now consisting of a stable and regular line up of Dean Lewis on acoustic guitar and lead vocals, Petja Martinnen on mandolin and fiddle, Yosuke Iwanaga on fiddle, fellow Finn, Petteri Pussinen on electric guitar, Nobu Kimura on bass guitar and Giant Sakimura on drums and bodhran. Regular gigs around the city saw their reputation flourish and so it was time for them to get some recording done and the result has been their debut album Songs of Whiskey, Women And War.

(Opening their set at their spiritual home the What the Dickens pub in Tokyo. May 2018)

The album begins with ‘Seamus’ and from the very off you know what’s coming over the next three quarters of an hour. Gaelic fiddle over fast paced Irish tinged folk music that builds and builds and gives plenty of scope for some audience participation too. I bet this goes down well at live gigs. The song tells of Seamus T. O’Malley a brave son of Ireland from Boston who took his fight to the Germans in WW2 and kicked everyone’s arse but still ended up answering to a French girl in France. Another sad one next with ‘Bitter’ but wrapped again in a joyous romp of a song and told with a bit of black humour of a relationship breakdown. The fiddle is more reserved here leaving the mandolin to take the lead alongside Dean’s great vocals. His love of Appalachian country shines through and here on ‘Bitter’ where the music is clearly influenced by Country music it works absolutely perfectly which is not to say he can’t belt out a Celtic-Punker with the best of them!

The pace returns with ‘Making Whiskey’ and the tale of making the “water of life” again its influenced by Country but the Gaelic is never too far away. It’s catchy stuff and reminds me of fellow Japanese bands The Cherry Coke$ and Royal Shamrock and even though the style of music is different they all play with a wild abandon that is a joy to listen to. That said on ‘Burn’ they slow it right down and as we know no Celtic-Punk album is complete without a couple of sad ballads! Adding in some heavy guitar licks and some fantastic fiddle alongside Deans mournful voice keeps the toes tapping (or thigh slapping in my case) while the songs builds towards the end and ends loud and proud. One of the highlights of the album without a doubt. ‘Never Was Your Friend’ starts off slow but soon kicks into another Celtic knees-up with more bitter tale of life and the shite you have to put up with just to get by. The album’s only cover is up next and is a good choice in the wonderful anti-war song ‘Mrs. McGrath’ with its fantastic chorus. Recently made famous by The Boss himself (here on You Tube) on his 2006 roots album We Shall Overcome. Brought to the USA during an Gorta Mór (the great hunger) in the mid-19th century the song is soon adapted as a marching song by Irish soldiers fighting in the American Civil War.

The version here sails closely to both the Bruce Springsteen version and the more traditional folk standard. An excellent song that portrays the horror of war and its effects with Dean’s voice on the album never better than here. ‘1017’ is next and we are back into the Celtic/Country fusion that has worked so well for Angry McFinn And The Old Yank so far. The mystery of the opposite sex is explored while Dean plays in a bar wondering where all the years have gone. Again its a sad song wrapped up in a real stomper of a tune. One of the outstanding things about this album has been the songwriting and it’s clear that Dean’s experiences across continents has paid dividends. On ‘Sally’ while the song has more than a tinge of Flogging Molly about it to my ear it’s the lyrics that really got me so no excuses for re-printing them all here so you can sing along to the video.

(The video for ‘Sally’ is a early versions of the track on the album. The song here represents the band before fiddle and electric guitar added to the mix)

“Sally, my lovely one, where have you gone? Fair thee well my chosen son, now here’s your gun. We marched all through the winter time. Summer has now come. But Sally, my lovely one is gone. Sally, my chosen one, you’ll not reckon’ me. I’d like to think when we were young that you’d have married me. But a hussar’s blade took away my smile and a dragoon my left eye. Sally, my lovely one, goodbye. Take me away, to the rolling hills of old. Take me away, to where the winter is never cold. Take me away, to the sunlight in her hair. Take me away, take me away from here. Sally, my broken one, I ask one thing of thee. If you’ll do me this one kindness, my soul will be set free. Tell my kin, tell all of them, to drink to me in Hell. Sally, my lovely one farewell. Take me away, to the cherry blossom spring. Take me away, to where my love, she wears my ring. Take me away, to where the guns they ring no more.. Take me away, to where she waits behind my bedroom door. The things I used to do with you, the summer rains, the morning dew. The long walks in the fields of green the way you used to dance and sing. They took away your soft caress, replaced it with a gun and death. They took away my light of day, now only pain and sin remain. So not the part I longed to play, a false flag led me far astray. They took my heart, took my name, and took away every damn thing that day. They took you away.”

We are sailing up to shore and the penultimate song ‘Whiskey & Blood’ is the album’s second ‘ballad’. A it of epic as at just over six minutes it’s the longest song on Whiskey, Women And War but the vast majority of songs here all hover around the four and half minute mark giving them plenty of scope to develop. A slow song that belies it’s length and seems over far too quickly leaving us with just ‘Pirate’s Life For Me’ to wrap the album up. Another one that’s a bit of a epic at five and a half minutes and winds proceedings up nicely with a lively and jolly sea bound number.

Angry McFinn And The Old Yank left to right: Yo Iwanaga – Fiddle * Petja Marttinen – Mandolin *  Dean Lewis – Vocals/Acoustic Guitar * G’ian Sakimura – Drums * Nobu Kimura – Bass * Hubert Benke – Electric Guitar * (electric guitar on album was – Petteri Pussinen)

Loud and brash but often quiet and reflective Angry McFinn And The Old Yank have produced an outstanding debut album and though it makes for an emotional ride it’s also played for fun with I am sure audiences cheerfully singing along and relating to the songs. Watch out for these Bhoys they are going places!

Buy Songs of Whiskey, Women And War  CDbaby

Contact Angry McFinn And The Old Yank  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE WALKER ROADERS- ‘The Walker Roaders’ (2019)

The origins of Celtic-Punk go back to a handful of bands but without a doubt it was the seminal London-Irish band The Pogues that the whole genre owes most to. Here Graveyard Johnnys Callum Houston runs the rule over the most long awaited album in the scene of recent years. Pogues accordionist James Fearnley teams up with members of the only other two Celtic-Punk bands that have come close to The Pogues in both popularity and influence, Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys, to form The Walker Roaders. The pre-album release campaign was masterful but can the album live up to all the hype…

To anyone who is not aware of The Walker Roaders they are a new super group fronted by James Fearnley (accordionist of The Pogues) with Ted Hutt (founding member of Flogging Molly, producer for Gaslight Anthem, Tiger Army, Bouncing Souls etc etc), Marc Orrell (founding member of Dropkick Murphys) and additional musicians Kieran Mulroney (Low and Sweet Orchestra), Brad Wood (producer of Smashing Pumpkins) and Bryan Head (Dick Dale). It’s going to be hard to talk about The Walker Roaders without mentioning The Pogues.

The Walker Roaders were a street gang when James Fearnley was a kid growing up in Manchester who would slit your thumb with a knife if they came across you and felt like it.

The influence is clearly strong yet it is very much welcomed. It just goes to show how much of a contribution James’ playing had on The Pogues sound The album kicks off with “Lord Randalls Bastard Son”. This track is sure to win anyone over on the first listen. The pace is fast, the melodies strong and the words potent. James’ voice is sturdy, bold and northern as they come. He sings with strength and clarity giving every word importance and making sure not one is to be missed.

In the background I can hear what sounds to be the return of the beer tray, a subtle nod back to the early Pogues years. The second track “Seo Yun” is another fast paced number. The minor melody of the old Irish classic “The Foggy Dew” is tastefully borrowed for the verse but not before it jumps into a resolving singalong major chorus. The underlying Polka beat keeps the track turning and it’s heart pulsing. Following that is the first single from the album “Will You Go Lassie Go”. When I first saw the title I thought instantly it was going to be a cover of the traditional Scottish tune of the same name. It is however an original but has all the ingredients of a timeless ballad in it’s own right. The drums are huge, I can hear them echoing for miles through valleys with only the surging chorus of strumming guitars washing over them. This is a perfect festival song.

Before going any further I just want to state that the lyrical content, musical arrangement and production of this album is of an extremely high quality on each track, considering the members involved I would expect nothing less. “The Story” is a prime example of all those components. The accordion takes prominence and the song flows just as it’s title suggests. At “A Meteor at a Time” we reach the middle of the album and by now we are easing into mid tempo. I feel the momentum gets slightly lost here, although it is yet another great song I imagine it maybe more of a slow burner for some people. On my first few plays of the album “Old Tar Road to Sligo” was my first ear worm. It’s lively introduction and 6/8 swing takes me right back to the “If I Should Fall from Grace with God” glory days. The song structure meanders in some interesting directions but it is never far from returning to it’s source. I have to amid I did do a quick search on the price of Winnebago camper vans. “The Blackbird Only Knows One Song” stays in 6/8 timing which is proving to work very well. Here the vocals and lyrics take the helm held a float on waves of heavily reverbed banjo, accordion, guitar and crashing drums. “Here Comes The Ice” has to be my personal favourite. It bears a strong nostalgic feel with wit that will have you smiling and honesty that could almost bring you to tears. The song is joint together nicely with a repetitive catchy guitar riff.
To finish the album off on form we have “Turned out Nice Again”. Kicking straight in with a powerful melody played by the tightly combined accordion and whistle combination once again echoing back to that classic Pogues sound. Could there possibly be the additional of a special guest musician on this track? As a huge Pogues fan I have seen many similar bands pop up over the years but I have rarely been satisfied, there has always been something lacking. This album offers some kind of closure to that void. I really hope that this is just the beginning for The Walker Roaders, I would love to see the band take to the road. The album has been well worth the wait, the sound is timeless and the lyrics read like a novel. I’m sure lots of people will be looking for a hard copy of the album, I too want to keep this forever.
”Walker Roaders came together totally organically, A bit of fun really. The result of James, Marc and myself getting together to hang out and write songs. Then it became a mission to take Celtic music to another level!”- Ted Hutt on how the Walker Roaders came to be
Buy The Walker Riders  Stream or Download
Contact The Walker Riders  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram
Thanks to Callum Houston for the great review and who better to review a banjo heavy album than someone who knows his way round a banjo! Callum’s fantastic debut EP Gravities was released just last month and was reviewed on these pages here. As part of the wonderful Psycho/ R’n’R Welsh trio the Graveyard Johnnys he has played just about every corner of Europe and now resides in Brittany but will be over visiting in December anday d will be doing a select series of shows including a special London Celtic Punks date that you should definitely keep your ears open for!! December tour dates  Thursday 5th- The Anchor, Wingham * Friday 6th- Frosty’s Bar, Kenton, Harrow * Saturday 7th- Seamus O’Donnell’s Bristol * Sunday 8th The Star – Fishponds. Check Callum out on Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE WHIPJACKS- ‘This Wicked World’ (2019)

“We’re The Whipjacks and we’re just having fun”

This Wicked world is the brilliant debut album from a relatively new band to the Celtic-Punk scene. Based in Worcester in the English Midlands and heavily influenced by the major scene greats they are more though than just following others as here they deliver an album of quality high tempo Celtic Folk’n’Punk. 

Pounding drums, driving bass, screeching guitar, melodic mandolin and partial nudity. These are the things that energetic Midlands based five-piece The Whipjacks intend to bring to venues around England and based on their debut album they should be entertaining crowds for quite some time. If they aren’t near you right now, you can be damn sure they are coming… soon!

Their debut release was Scoundrels And Rogues, a 4-track EP, including a radio edit of the title song, which came out in early 2017. Original compositions of high tempo Celtic-Punk with catchy tunes that belies that The Whipjacks are basically a punk band but with a  mandolin player but in the right hands and with the right tunes a folk instrument can transform any band into something much greater. Here Arran’s playing makes that difference.

So just over a year later saw the release of This Wicked World and a catalogue of mishaps here at London Celtic Punks that saw it filed in our spam folder for ages and then lost, along with 100’s of hours of music when my laptop went bonkers. Finally though we are ready to deliver our verdict and I’m guessing that most will have already decided which way I have gone from the over enthusiastic opening paragraph!! Well yes it’s true I absolutely love it and I’m not ashamed to announce it from the rooftops!

Again, as on Scoundrels And Rogues all the tracks here are original compositions. No room for ‘The Wild Rover’ here I am glad to say. The shadow of the ‘Big Bands’ does loom over them somewhat and partly it’s because of their name and similar style to one band in particular but The Whipjacks plough their own furrow and it helps I suppose to be tucked away in a quiet backwater like Worcester to develop their own style and sound. The album opens with ‘Forever Free’ and from the off it grabs you with Tim wielding his guitar in a similar style to how The Skids once did while Dean’s strong vocals are both tuneful and punk rock. It’s a well chosen start to the album with a catchy beat and a song that leads directly into one of the albums highlights with Arran getting his first chance to shine on the mandolin and  ‘Sundown Devil’ has tinges of good auld fashioned country’n’western mixed into proceedings and a great chorus and a nice sense of cheeky humour too.

“She’s a devil when the sun goes down, my friend, I love it when she goes down,

Innocent and sweet when you pass her on the street but a devil when the sun goes down”

‘Push On’ is a short piratey number that still embraces The Whipjacks sound coming across like a punk sea shanty before the album’s title song ‘This Wicked World’ and a real Celtic-Punk epic. Lasting over five minutes the song dives and lifts and swirls throughout and while not quite a ballad it certainly slows the pace nicely. So far it’s been a sort of generic ‘Celtic’ sound The Whipjacks have employed but finally on ‘Hero’ we can nail down a ‘Gaelige’ influence and what a song. Nowhere on This Wicked World does Dean’s voice sound so good as on here and its a mark of the band that my favourite tracks from the album are so diverse but then the Bhoys go for it and finish the song with a real CeltPunk flourish. The next song is the one they chose to release as the album’s single and is without a doubt the #1 song here. I may love a ballad or a trad folk reel or two but give me a foot-stomping fist in the air dance floor filler any day of the week and I’m in heaven. ‘All My Pains (Are Self Inflicted)’ is that song! Catchy as hell and a guaranteed audience favourite I am sure.

With ‘The Ballad Of Jack Cade’ we are set for a bit of a history lesson and I must say how impressed I am with the current trend of bands singing sings like this that don’t just entertain but also tell a tale too. English history is full of such stories and while many of the ‘middle-class left’ would have us self-flagellating ourselves over slavery or some such event from the past they are more than happy to ignore the history of the ordinary people of this island of rebellion and struggle. Jack Cade was the Irish born leader of the 1450 rebellion against King Henry VI. Although put down ruthlessly it led to the War Of The Roses which in turn led to the breakdown of Royal authority. Having been accused of murder and fled to France he returned in 1450 emerging as the leader of a Kentish rebellion. His forces defeated the royal army at Sevenoaks in June and two weeks later he entered London, where he executed the hated Lord Treasurer. Eventually run from the city the government persuaded most of the rebels to disperse by offering them a pardon, but Cade continued his resistance. Wounded and captured near Lewes on July 12, 1450 he died while being transported to London. The song itself is a catchy folk led number that The Levellers would be proud of. One thing the Celtic-Punk scene can’t get enough of is more rap style numbers and on ‘L.S.D’ The Whipjacks deliver. It’s not quite the House Of Pain but again their sense of humour shines through before ‘Song For A Swine’ and a quick barroom ballad played out to the sound of a pub piano with Dean and gang crooning along before the album’s curtain comes down with the energetic  ‘Farewell To The Ladies’ and a song that again raises both a smile and a fist!

So having made themselves a firm fixture on their local music scene and with a ever growing list of gigs further afield it’s now time for them to come to the attention of the wide Celtic-Punk community. With a scene as partisan as the Celtic-Punk scene it’s hard to get people in this country to look beyond the likes of the Murphys and the Mollys but all the time their are bands like The Whipjacks flying the flag for Celtic infused Folk-Punk with shedloads of both attitude and really good songs. This Wicked World is thirty-five minutes of infectious sea bound anthems. Music to forget your vows and bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart as well as pain to the soles of your feet!

Buy This Wicked World  cdBaby  iTunes

Contact The Whipjacks  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Soundcloud

Join the crew of local favourite Roderick the Rambunctious as he looks back on his wrestling career to date.

ALBUM REVIEW: STEVE IGNORANT’S SLICE OF LIFE- ‘Don’t Turn Away’ (2019)

‘Anarcho punk legend’ Steve Ignorant returns with his new acoustic project Slice of Life follow their 2014 debut ‘Love And A Lamp-Post’ with a new collection of eleven songs titled ‘Don’t Turn Away’. Accompanied by Carol Hodge, Pete Wilson and Pete Rawlinson as the Slice Of Life our man Anto Morra discovers Don’t Turn Away may be mellow, but the emotions and feelings are definitely not…

ABOUT STEVE

Steve Ignorant is a singer/songwriter and artist. He co-founded the anarcho-punk band Crass with Penny Rimbaud in 1977. After Crass stopped performing in 1984, he worked with other groups including Conflict, Schwartzeneggar, Stratford Mercenaries, Current 93, and US punk band Thought Crime, as well as occasional solo performances. Steve is also a wood sculptor and volunteer on the Sea Palling Independent Lifeboat, has written his autobiography –All The Rest Is Propaganda- and has worked as a traditional Punch and Judy performer using the name Professor Ignorant.

In 2007 he performed Crass’s entire Feeding of the 5000 album live at the Shepherds Bush Empire and throughout 2010-2011 presented The Last Supper, touring/celebrating the songs of Crass around the globe, ending with a farewell gig at Shepherds Bush Empire in November 2011. In 2013 Steve and Paranoid Visions decided to record an album. The result ‘When …?’,  a hybrid of styles, all with a nod to early 80s anarcho-punk. They now perform live on special occasions. Steve is now performing with his new band Slice Of Life. A far cry from the aggression of Crass, nevertheless compelling with powerful songs delivered in an acoustic style.

Debut album Love And A Lamp-post was released on Overground records in late 2014, surprising many with its honesty and change of style for Steve. A new bassist followed in early 2015, along with new songs and extensive touring all over the UK, as well as dates in Finland, and festival slots at Rebellion, Wickerman and Something Else A Bit North.

The opening title track tells you exactly where Steve Ignorant is coming from, if you don’t all ready know.  A bloke that just wants to walk his dog Evie in a better and more just world than the one run by the ‘dodgy toupee’ wearing war mongers we have at present.  ‘Your Day Will Come is’ a beautifully aggressive delivery to ‘Bully boys & laddies’ that take joy in acts of sadism that Karma will come for them. Oh, how I hope he’s right!

‘The Right Way’ is a joyful rant from the perspective of the pig-headed male we’ve all met down the pub, and occasionally as we get older, believe we may have become.

(“Anyone that has suffered a loss or has to deal with depression and/or despair YOU are not alone”)

I’ll apologise if I have misinterpreted what is being said in the next song ‘S.A.D.’ but it felt to me like quite a cathartic out pouring of grief with an advisory instruction to get bereavement counselling of any sort if required! Steve’s delivery, the backing and melody on this song brought to mind David Bowie, Lou Reed and even a touch of Leonard Cohen.

‘Slaughterhouse’ is a return to the short sharp shock 100% punk Mr Ignorant is known and loved for.  A message to assert yourself, read between the lines and make sure you believe before you commit. ‘The Story Continues’ is a lyrical punch in the guts. Tragically beautiful, depressingly true and perfectly said. ‘Song For Myself’ is a bleak celebration of getting to an age that you’re expecting the bells to toll for you, but hoping they’ll continue to ring out for you instead so you can enjoy home comforts and having another pint. ‘Diffrability’ a statement of what set him apart from the rest.  I think the one word missing in this song is integrity. ‘Stretford Blue’ is a dig at all those that have become masters of marketing revolution,  those Punk icons that have become the very corporate Hippies they told us not to trust. ‘Good Intentions’ this record just gets better. A melody we’ve heard a million times before but with a lyric so refreshing and courageous.  I can’t think of any other artist that could approach the dangerously sensitive subject of gender politics in a song today and treat it with such balance, gentleness and anger in equal measure. ‘Whistle Down The Wind’  the perfect closing track calling us to arms in order to protect our world, our rights and the values we have to hold on to because ‘This is our world’.

Well that’s the lyrical content dealt with. Musically it can be summed up very briefly as beautifully sparse, classy and clever arrangements with fantastic performances and musicianship by all concerned.

Much the same can be said of the sonic quality.  The production values are also second to none.

I don’t get a lot of time to do reviews these days but when the opportunity came up to review Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life’s new album I couldn’t resist.  As I get older I become less forgiving and many of the singers and bands I really looked up to, have become very stale and turned out to be complete arseholes and continue to scratch a living from nostalgia! So that is what gives Steve Ignorant ‘Diffrability’.    Back when I was a youngster Crass were vital, scary and not remotely commercial or easy to listen to.  I was more in love with the idea of them and the graphics they produced, than the music they made and would be much more likely to put Elvis Costello or Stiff Little Fingers on my turntable.

I think Honey Bane’s ‘A Big Piss Off To The Music Buis’ EP was the only record on the Crass label that got played regularly by my teenage self.  I loved it and am pleased to say I still have my original copy.

Steve Ignorant is still fighting the good fight and, unlike almost all of his contemporaries, has not sold out by continuing to tour or churning out the same stuff he was doing 40 years ago.

My older self loves nothing more than hearing songs about stuff that matters and this ticks all boxes. It’s Sleaford Mods meets Dr John Cooper Clarke, for Southerners and The Streets for people bored of those Hip Hop beats.

When I look at the Music Industry today and those Punk pioneers of radical change, it’s like it never happened! So I’m kind of delighted that Steve Ignorant is still here to prove it did happen. It was important and there was much more too it than loud music, screaming, leaping up and down and gobbing at each other  even if that was what was a lot of fun when we were young.

Buy Don’t Turn Away  CD- FromSteve  CD/LP-OvergroundRecords

Contact Steve Ignorant’s Slice Of Life  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

Don’t Turn Away is released on Overground Records which gives us a nice chance to plug Rock’n’Reel ,run by the indomitable Sean Magee, who occasionally works for Overground. It’s the UK’s best selling eclectic music magazine featuring all manner of Roots, singer-songwriter, Folk, Rock, World and Blues since 1988.  WebSite  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DISINCLINED- ‘Sing’ (2019)

The debut album from South-West Londoners The Disinclined, ageing purveyors of folky, punky, gypsy tales.

The debut album from The Disinclined comes hot on the heels of their debut single, Sing And Create, which we gave the thumbs up to last December on these pages. Both the tracks from then are re-recorded here and if anything have been improved upon with a much better production. The Disinclined were formed in 2014 after being recruited to do a few covers at a friends’ wedding. Drummer Dave recruited Tim, who could actually write and sing original material, so along with Dave’s lyrics and the occasional riff from Shea and Matt, they started gigging around South-West London especially Kingston. They’ve all been in many diverse sounding bands since the mid/late 80’s with Dave and Tim playing together in This Wind Thing and Vicious Hippy till they went their separate ways in the early 90’s – with neither picking up their instruments again until the Disinclined came calling. Matt replaced Shea on bass when he was sacked from 80’s Kingston punk band NMBD, so he took up guitar, learnt bar chords and ignored bassists until he joined Riot/Clone and Refuse All in the noughties. These days they all play in other bands including Refuse/All, Lost Cherrees and Mooshwa Pooshwa. So with a wealth of experience in both playing and songwriting it was only to be expected that The Disinclined know their way round a good tune or two and here on Sing they have delivered an album that is chock-a-block full of them.

The Disinclined from left to right: Shea- Guitar * Tim – Vocals, Guitar, Melodica, Uke * Dave – Drums * Matt – Bass

The album begins with ‘Death Is Just A Consequence’ and the unusual sound of the melodica starts a mournful dirge that is soon livened up with a ska beat and chugging guitars and a nice fast pace. It’s a wind instrument with a small keyboard on top that when blown into that makes a sound pitched half where between harmonica and clarinet. Next up is ‘We Have To Pretend To Be Zombies’ with a cool 60’s vibe to it and The Disinclined show that lyrically they can write both clever and tongue in cheek.

“Management is the source of our ills / Compulsory fun. And we have to look thrilled / Idiotic and dumb, they’ve forgotten to think / And the theory they have has started to stink / She turned to me and said / “Have you seen ‘Sean of the Dead’? / We have to pretend to be Zombies” \ Zombies….”

Next is one of their signature tunes ‘For The Good Of Us All’ and its at this point that you realise that even though they may flit from genre to genre they somehow manage to still make it sound like The Disinclined. Quite a feat for a band that manages to avoid any sort of pigeonholing.

( an early version of ‘For The Good Of It All’ recorded at The Cricketers, Kingston)

Rocky and punky in parts and a real toe-tapper as the song morphs into ‘Urban Hermit’ and the first appearance of trumpet and fiddle gives the song a real bite. In fact they are looking to introduce a full time fiddle player into their sound so if you’re interested then get in touch with them. The song is played at a slowish pace with touches of Eastern Europe and the sound is layered upon sound making this my favourite track from the album. A real slow burner of a song that builds and builds into something grand before slowing right down again. Next up is a re-recorded version of ‘Create’ from the 7″. This song has appeared in several forms but every time they take it away and fiddle with it it comes back better than before. The ska beat is back but not of the happy, giddy sort that gets on your wick! ‘No Thanks’ has a certain Anarcho-Punk influence and the, as ever, interesting lyrics speak of the selfishness of man I think.

The Anarcho influence appears again on ‘Just Us’ and the song has some outstanding guitar

“Take your chance and count the cost / Roll the dice, your fingers crossed / See who’s won and see who’s lost / Who’s left standing when the music stops / Who’s left standing when the music stops \ Just Us! Just Us! Just Us! Just Us!”

Time now for the other song from the 7″ to get a re-working and ‘Sing’ again adds something so much more to the original version. Beginning with drums and some crunching bass lines from Matt before Tim joins in with the melodica again and one of the catchiest songs here that I was hoping would explode a bit more but just keeps itself in check. ‘Sing’ is pretty damn catchy and Tim’s laid back vocals fit perfectly (they are The Disinclined after all) as the song builds and builds while the lads still manage to sound super laid back about it all. We are coming towards the end and ‘Jack’ is another great song telling of a ‘lothario’ and what happens when the looks and the charm inevitably fade. This brings us onto what could be called their signature tune and as you can imagine from a band that manages to squeeze the line

“we are disinclined to acquiesce to your request

into one of their songs ‘Disinclined To Acquiesce’ is clever and intelligent music and Sing takes in a multitude of influences from far and wide, from punk to gypsy folk and thrash metal to prog rock, moulding them into some very catchy pop music.

Sing was released just a couple of weeks ago and was recorded at Gravity Shack in London with Jess Corcoran as engineer and producer. The vinyl album is a joy to behold and looks absolutely beautiful with some stunning artwork from good friend of the band Keith Slote. It’s a great album that will appeal to people, and not just fans of the band, on many levels. The different styles and influences loaded onto Sing take nothing away from the band who still manage to make everything sound so natural. For those fans of the band they will be extremely pleased that the songs they recognise from live sets are not just replicated but even bettered but I think Sing is well worth taking a punt on for anyone and sit back and enjoy!

(you can stream Sing on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!)

Buy Sing  FromTheBand

Contact The Disinclined  Facebook  Bandcamp

The official record release gig for Sing is next Thursday at The Fighting Cocks. One of London’s best venues if you have never been before you in for a treat! The Fighting Cocks is at 56 Old London Road, Kingston KT2 6QA. Trains from Waterloo, Clapham and Vauxhall and only a short walk from Kingston station. Admission is a paltry £3 and the evening kicks off at 8pm. Support is from SUCKIN’ DIESEL a new traditional Irish music group headed by Brendan the lead singer from local Celtic-Punk favourites The Lagan. Featuring yer man himself and anyone else he can round up in the meantime. Kicking off the night will be Kingsley Beat. Made in Madchester. Raised in Acton. Generated by Beats. Mad for Melody, Melody Mad. Facebook event here.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: VARIOUS ARTISTS- Rebel Voices. Songs Of The Industrial Workers Of The World

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The Industrial Workers of the World blazed a path in American history and its influence is still felt widely today. The ‘Wobblies’ and music were interwoven helping to build morale, promote solidarity and lift the bleak spirits of the working-class during the bleakest days of American history. Here are twenty of those songs that can still lift our spirits decades later.

Welcoming into the union those that others shunned, the Wobblies from the start were the labour movement’s pioneers and innovators, unionising hundreds of thousands of workers previously regarded as “unorganizable”. The Wobblies, the name given to members of the IWW, at their peak in 1917, numbered near 200,000 but state repression, competition from other unions and the inevitable split led to a decline in membership that has seen this once great organisation become a mere shadow of itself. The IWW organised the first sit-down strike (Schenectady, 1906), the first major auto strike (Detroit, 1911), the first strike to shut down all three coalfields in Colorado (1927), and the first ‘no-fare’ transit-workers’ job-action (Cleveland, 1944). With their imaginative, colourful and world-famous strikes and free-speech fights, the IWW wrote many of the brightest pages in the annals of working class history.

Wobblies also made immense and invaluable contributions to workers’ culture. All but a few of America’s most popular labour songs are Wobbly songs and IWW cartoons have long been recognised as labour’s finest and funniest.

The IWW’s Use of Music

In their struggle to promote these politics, the IWW was a singing union. In the period between 1910-1960 the songbook ‘The Little Red Songbook’, which is still in print, was regarded by many workers as one of their most beloved possessions besides, of course, their red IWW membership cards. The songbook was one of the most important documents and its songs were sung in numerous situations: around hobo campfires, in boxcars, in Wobbly halls, in the streets, on picket lines, at strike rallies, in court, on the way to jail and in jail. The songs were a crucial aid in recruiting new members, and they were important in building a sense of fellowship and in keeping spirits up in hard situations. Paul Garon writes in his book ‘What’s The Use Of Walking If There’s A Freight Train Going Your Way? Black Hobos And Their Songs’ that a mixed group of hobos sitting around a campfire would be more likely to sing Wobbly songs than Blues, Country or Vaudeville songs. This tells us something about the popularity these songs enjoyed.

from ‘Music And The IWW: The Creation Of A Working Class Counterculture‘ by Rudolf TB

Rebel Voices. Songs Of The Industrial Workers Of The World was released on Flying Fish Records formed in the 70’s by Bruce Kaplan. Use to releasing left field folk music the label had split from the more famous Rounder Records who were more reluctant to release leftfield albums like this compilation. The presence of Utah Phillips looms large here. A combination of activist, organiser, songwriter, singer, and storyteller, there are few performers who can put across a song such as ‘The Two Bums’ as well as he could.

The album also combines its participants into various small groupings and a big ensemble finale, an idea that works just as well in an album sequence as it has on many folk festival stages. There are several numbers originating with Joe Hill, needless to say, but also a grand Malvina Reynolds cover by Faith Petric and a terrific take on the classic ‘Hallelujah, I’m a Bum’ by Bob Bovee. Besides delivering its intended messages, this collection also puts the spotlight on some fairly unknown performers in a context that brings welcome thematic strength and emotional power to their work.

Rebel Voices is an amazing collection of stories and songs, that gives a perfect history of working people. The songs call for solidarity is as relevant today as it was when the songs were originally written. The music provides a feeling of being connected, and makes you want to sing along. No matter what your interest, but especially if it’s the history of the labour movement, this is a wonderful and thought-provoking collection of music.

Tracks
1. Preamble to the IWW Constitution
2. Organizer – Jeff Cahill
3. Little Red Hen – Faith Petric
4. Which Side Are You On? – Bob Bovee
5. Two Bums – Utah Phillips
6. Banks of Marbles – Fred Holstein
7. Put It on the Ground – Marion Wade
8. Popular Wobbly – Eric Glatz
9. Song of the Rail – Mark Ross
10. Hold the Fort – Bruce Brackney
11. We Have Fed You All a Thousand Years – Bruce Brackney
12. Ain’t Done Nothing If You Ain’t Been Called a Red – Faith Petric
13. Hallelujah, I’m a Bum – Bob Bovee
14. Boss – Utah Phillips
15. Preacher and the Slave – Jeff Cahill
16. Mysteries of a Hobo’s Life – Mark Ross
17. Stung Right – Fred Holstein
18. Jo Hill’s Last Will – Kathy Taylor
19. Mr. Block – Utah Phillips
20. Power in the Union

The Wobblies impact has reverberated far beyond the ranks of organised labour. An important influence on the 60’s New Left, the theory and practice of direct action, solidarity and ‘Class-War’ humour have inspired several generations of activists and are a major source of ideas and inspiration for today’s too. Indeed, virtually every movement seeking to “make this planet a good place to live” (to quote an old Wobbly slogan), has drawn on the IWW’s incomparable experience. The songs here are from the twentieth century but their relevance to current times invites us to explore the conditions that inspired their creation. In the face of oppression, these songwriters bravely took a stand. Such courage and heroism is immortal, such heroes should be celebrated and their songs can and still do lift our spirits.

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* many many thanks to Zero G Sound for their invaluable help on this album and others in the Classic Album Review series. We have no rivals only friends so be sure to go check out their fantastic site here

 

ALBUM REVIEW: FIDDLER’S GREEN- ‘Heyday’ (2019)

The year is 2019 AD. Musicland is occupied by casting show idols, faceless plastic pop and declining music sales. Well, not entirely… one small band of musicians still hold out. For almost 30 years, Fiddler’s Green have been at the forefront of the resistance. How you say? Playing rocked-up Irish music as a German band!!

Formed in Germany in 1990, Fiddler’s Green have recently released their latest album Heyday. This is their 14th studio album since their inception. As if that wasn’t a massive achievement, they have also released a further five live albums, one EP and four DVD’s during the same period earning them the reputation as one of the best live acts in Germany. They must be one of the hardest working bands on the scene. Heyday was released earlier this year and contain a total of 15 crackin’ tunes.

“This is not an anthem

This is a real rebel song

This is not an anthem I know i’m right and you are wrong

We don’t need your story ‘Bout death or glory

Nothing you believe in

The good old ways

In the bad old days

That’s nothing

Nothing we believe in”

As accordionist Stefan Klug reminisces

“The so-called rebel song is an integral part of Irish culture, and if you want to combine Irish-influenced music with a statement, it’s natural to write a contemporary rebel song. Aside from that, the Irish also cultivate the tradition of drinking songs, which we also feel very close to”.

Fiddler’s Green self-proclaim their music as ‘Irish Speedfolk’ which is a pretty accurate description. Heyday is full of high tempo whiskey infused folk songs from start to finish. Their musical style is fairly unique and I was finding it difficult to draw comparison to other bands within the genre. This of course is a good thing. A few stand out tracks on the album are ‘One Fine Day’, ‘The Freak Of Enniskillen’, ‘Heyday’, ‘Limerick Style’ and ‘Steady Flow’. The pace is slowed down a little on ‘Together As One’ and ‘Better You Say No’ however these are still two excellent tracks. The band is currently made up of: Ralf ‘Albi’ Albers on vocals, acoustic guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and banjo, Pat Prziwara on vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and banjo, Tobias Heindl on violin and vocals, Stefan Klug on accordion and bodhran, Rainer Schulz on bass and Frank Jooss on drums and percussion.

“Cheer up! Cheerie up, the worst is yet to come Cheer up!

Cheerie up, you shall overcome Cheer up!

Cheerie up, ’cause you’re nobody’s fool

It can only get worse, so buck up, play it cool!”

Fiddler’s Green have a very well-established reputation in Celtic Punk / Folk / Speedfolk scene which has been earned through consistent hard work. Here you get fifteen songs lasting forty odd minutes. As long as they keep churning out albums of the same quality as Heyday they can look forward to a bright future also. With Heyday sitting pretty at #7 in the German album charts as I write this then Fiddlers Green can rightfully claim to be one of Germany’s most successful bands. Stefan reminisces again about the band early days.

“Of course we notice what’s happening around us, and there are lots of struggling musicians. We were really fortunate in gaining more and more success over time”

Keep up the good work and hopefully we will be able to catch a show in the UK sometime soon.

Buy Heyday  From The Band

Contact Fiddler’s Green  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube  Twitter  Wikipedia

THE RUMJACKS LIVE IN LONDON- ACOUSTIC SESSIONS

In February 2019, The Rumjacks arrived in London town at the You Tube Space Studio in Kings Cross, and recorded a set of stripped back acoustic versions from their back catalogue. Where once the band would have been at home among the dirt and grime of Kings Cross station where untold amount of Scots disembarked over the years with little more than the clothes on their back it’s now a shiny gleaming soulless example of the new London. The songs were drip fed to us one at a time over the course of the next ten Fridays and here we present them all together. The recordings are now available for download across the usual platforms, links at the bottom.

The Black Matilda

Plenty

A Fistful O’Roses

Bar The Door Casey

My Time Again

Cold London Rain

Kathleen

The Leaky Tub

The Bold Rumjacker

Barred For Life

Director / Producer – Phil MacDonald * Director of Photography – Archie Guinchard * Sound Engineer – Paddy Fitzgerald * Editor – Phil Macdonald

Buy Live In London  Spotify  Amazon  iTunes

Contact The Rumjacks WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube  Soundcloud

ALBUM REVIEW: 13 KRAUSS- ‘Redención’ (2019)

Spanish Celtic-Punk band 13Krauss may be part Dropkicks and another wee part Molly’s but 100% Celtic-Folk-Punk!

Redención is the third studio album (all independent releases) from Zaragoza based Celtic-Punk band 13Krauss. They were delivered kicking and screaming on 8th December 2012 and a year later they released their first demo Atlántida (available here for free download) which they followed up later that year with their debut album Seguir En Pie, which went on to to garner some great reviews from around the worlds Celtic-Punk media. This album was succeeded by The End Is Nigh in and again was met by universal acclaim from the scene and even went on to reach the dizzy heights of #17 in the London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016 awards. Not bad at all in a year when all the big hitters of Celtic-Punk released album’s. The band were formed as a straight up, heads down Punk-Rock band but after attending a concert by the legendary Real McKenzies it was decided to spice things up a bit and with the addition of accordion, fiddle and bagpipes a new Celtic-Punk band was set to hit the streets!

The album kicks off with ‘Dark Times’ and from the very start its fast and energetic Celtic-Punk but still tuneful. It’s a punk of course but Viktor’s banjo leads the song from beginning to end in a way that reminds me a bit of English band Mick O’Toole. 13Krauss tend to slip between English and Spanish in their songs and they do again on Redención with the majority in Spanish but Mario’s vocals are clear as a bell and Punky enough for the music too. On ‘Verte Perder’ Mario is joined on vocals by Pimen Tonazo from the Catalonioan band Milenrama for a punk rock duet and again the energy is in yer face! The pace they set only lets up briefly for the next track ‘Maggie Dickson’. The first release from the album back in March.

The song begins with some amazing fiddle from Guillermo with an Eastern European feel to it before the band kicks in and Mario tells the tale of the execution by hanging of poor Maggie. A cracking song that is one of the album highlights and even includes a bit of local flavour too showing that 13Krauss are not one trick ponies. We love to see bands taking in from influences from home and they are at it again on the next track ‘Años Perdidos’ which includes a nice bit of manic country style fiddle. They need to hang onto Guillermo he is one of the best fiddle players in Celtic-Punk I think. On their first album they were done and dusted in just over twenty minutes while on The End Is Nigh they expanded to just under thirty minutes and I have always thought they have rushed things along too much. Here though they have got the balance perfect with no compromise with the pace of the songs with nearly the whole lot played at breakneck speed but with plenty of room for them to be expanded on and the great news is that with the added depth to the songs they still never get tired. They leave the punk behind now for ‘Love At First Gig’ and a humorous look at a punk rock love affair and a song with its tongue firmly in its cheek with a Hillbilly/C’n’W tune that again shows some real quality in the musicianship of 13Krauss. Outstanding! With ‘Mary Tempestad’ we are back again in Celtic-PUNK territory and the albums longest song. Where once this would have flown by the Bhoys take their time and the song is another album standout. The album’s only cover has been well chosen and is a staple of Celtic-Punk bands around the world and for a good reason as ‘Star Of The County Down’ lends itself very well to being ‘punked’ up. Here the song is of course done brilliantly and I’m sure is a real crowd pleaser when played live. They slow it down again now for ‘El Sendero’ and while I cannot tell you what they are singing about I can tell you it is sung and played with passion and is one of them songs for raising a pint to the air and holding onto your nearest and dearest tightly. The bagpipes from the earlier releases are missing on Redenciónbut the album doesn’t suffer for it as on ‘Voces Quebradas’ where the dual sound of banjo/fiddle more than makes up for its absence. Gang vocals rule and here is a great example of them on my favourite tune here. We are heading towards the end and so far their hasn’t been a single weak song with ‘Mil Pedazos’ another standout kicking off with SLF style guitar before settling into a catchy Celtic influenced punk number before the curtain is brought down with perhaps the Dropkick Murphys influenced ‘Sinners & Liars’. The intro to the song anyway as before too long the song shoots off into traditional Irish folk and what I can say except a song you can well imagine Luke Kelly belting out with The Dubliners.

As usual in Celtic-Punk is it possible for the more folky fans to appreciate Redención and the answer is yes. I may have made it sound like Hardcore Punk but as fast as it is it is always accessible and catchy and the folk is always to the forefront in both melody and instruments. A great album that captures both the essence of Celtic music while never losing their Spanish identity and both work extremely well together. They may have once appealed more to fans of the Dropkicks but as they have progressed through their career 13Krauss have never towed the line and continue to do their own thing and that includes moving away from the more obvious DKM/Celtic-Punk sound to something that is both original and utterly brilliant!

(you can stream Redención on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!)

Buy Redención  FromTheBand  (Download/CD)  iTunes

Contact 13Krauss  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp  Twitter  Instagram

Act I: Slow Down

Act II: Don’t Feed the Goblin

Act III: En mi Ataúd

ALBUM REVIEW: SETH MARTIN AND THE MENDERS- ‘Live At No Country: An Introduction To Seth Mountain’ (2019)

Our close friend TC Costello has toured all over the world and spent quite some time in Korea so he was the perfect person to put pen to paper on the new album from Seth Martin that fuses Americana and American Folk with traditional Korean music. 

Singer, songwriter and folklorist based Seth Martin has been honing a rare sound for the last decade, travelling back and forth between between his native US and adoptive home of South Korea, absorbing Korean traditional music into his already rootsy American sound.  For some time, he’s been hosting shows throughout Korea where he’s strummed his banjo and guitar alongside musicians playing traditional Korean instruments, all while leading bi-lingual singalongs. He works for Seong Mun-Bakk Mountain school, a Korean traditional music school in the mountains nearby Seoul.   He’s even taken his primary school-aged students on a tour of America’s Pacific Northwest.
One of the most memorable nights of music I had in Korea was a concert he organised with his students and some local, mostly American, folk musicians in Seoul.  His students performed, Pansori, Korean drum-and-vocals storytelling music and and samul nori, Korean drum music, which sounds a bit like 100 bodhrans caught in a thunderstorm! We foreign folkies played songs from our backgrounds.  I did some American tunes, an Irish immigration ballad, and tried a Gypsy-Punk reworking of a Korean indie hit.  These shows he organised brought together people of different ages and backgrounds who would otherwise never meet, let alone end up performing alongside one another.  At these occasions, Martin created a melting pot of folk music that was unlike anything else in the massive capital city.

the great Pete Seeger

On the third of May this year, on what would have been Pete Seeger’s 100th birthday, Martin  released a live album, Live at No Country: An Introduction to Seth Martin, and I could imagine no better introduction to Martin nor a more fitting tribute to Mr. Seeger.
The album starts with the Korean folk song ‘Bird, Bird, Blue Bird,’ a lament on the death of Jeon Bung-Jun, a farmer who became a rebel leader in 1894 during  time of growing Japanese influence – though 16 years before Korean became a proper colony – It’s a complicated political situation that I don’t care to get into now. ‘Bird, Bird, Blue Bird’ is a song I’ve known for a few years, but had no idea it was about Mr. Jeon. That’s because much of Korean folk music is heavy in nature metaphors.  Martin fully embraces nature metaphors in his English songwriting on this album, too. The gentle lament features Martin on Banjo and Kim Jungeun on Janggu, an hourglass-shaped traditional Korean drum, as well as a chorus of vocalists. Contrasting with the mellow opening track is Martin’s jaunty rendition of ‘Motion of Love’, set to the tune of the American folk song, ‘Shady Grove’. It is mediation on wanting all the narrators actions to be fore the good of all mankind, a motion of love.  It’s originally by Bill Jolliff and is inspired by John Woolman, a 19th century Quaker, anti-consumer and abolitionist (someone who wanted to end slavery in America as soon as possible). For me, the highlight of the song is a nearly two-minute breakdown during which Martin only bashes out only one chord on banjo with with whooping and hollering that would put Shane MacGowan to shame.  The instrumentation features Kim Jungeun again on Janggu and Zoë Youngmi Blank on violin.

Next, Seth performs a medley of two introspective love songs: ‘I Still Love You’ and ‘Pushmipullyou’. After that, he grabs a another song from Korea’s tragic history with a rendition of ‘Mother, Sister (Let’s live by the River)’ – I added the brackets.  The song was by Kim Sowol, a famous – and famously hard-to-translate – Korean poet and journalist who worked during the Japanese occupation, and he seems to have taken his own life at the age 32. He follows Kim’s poem with the original anti-war song, ‘Feeling so Cold’, telling of a soldier returning home after seeing, and indeed committing, unspeakable wartime atrocities. While it seems to fit the narrative of an American soldier returning after the Korean War or a Japanese solider’s return after the occupation, Martin says it’s not specifically about Korea, though “it fits certainly in that narrative.” After the heavy subject matter, Martin follows with a an another song about returning home, though not without darkness. ‘Winding Down’, is a reflection upon return home and seeing familiar roads, mountains and rivers.

True to Mr. Seeger on his birthday, Martin provokes a full audience sing-a-long, both with ‘da da da’, and the simple refrain of

“I am winding down my old road again. I am winding down.”

True to the theme of nature metaphors, he speaks of the old river:

“And old river, old river, can you still make things new?

And old river, do you remember all the things i said I’d do?”

Next, on ‘Children of Sod’, Martin sings what he describes as “A love Song to the Tancheon River” in Korea.  He asks at the beginning and end of the song:

“Don’t we all feel better when

The smell of dirt clings to our skin

Pervades us, loves us

And waits for us to ask it to come in?”

‘The Ballad of Eric Gardner’ channels the likes of Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, and of course Pete Seeger with a song about Eric Garner, famously choked to death by a New York City police officer after he was allegedly selling cigarettes illegally.  In a hard-to-listen-to but powerful song, Martin sings:

“After Garner stopped resisting, well the cops just stood there watching

they picked his pockets and they rolled him on his side

Several minutes slowly passed

EMTs they came at last

No CPR, they said he still was breathing then

An hour later Garner’d never breathe again”

With ‘Looking for the Leatherwinged Bat’, in a shocking reversal of nature metaphors, Martin takes an old English Folk song about different species of birds’ courtship rituals, and takes most of the birds out of the song.  Instead it becomes a less-than-flattering walk through an America consumed by corruption poverty and pollution, replacing the birds with such characters a bigoted billionaire,  a police officer harassing kids and “the dog at the top of the pile.”

Martin follows this with ‘If I Had my Way’, by Blind Wille Johnson:

“If I had my way

If I had my way

If I had my way, oh lodry, lordy.

If I had my way, I’d tear the whole thing down.”

The closing number of the live show is medley of ‘Arirang’ and ‘Rooster’. ‘Arirang’ is by far the most popular folk song in Korea.  There are countless variations of the song, and Martin uses a version known as ‘Lonely Arirang’, which he describes as

“a celebration of the relationship between the Korean people and the Korean landscapes that have sustained them for millennia.”  But for a more global appeal, Martin calls the song “a challenge to all listeners to not forget this unity that comes from an ancient relationship to the land.”

‘Rooster’ is an original instrumental and, without getting too much into music theory,  has a melody that fits remarkably well with Korean traditional music. The jaunty banjo and “Yap-da badabum” singalong are hard to not smile to.

Following his live album are some songs recorded around Korea, and highlights include Utah Phillips’ ‘Trooper’s Lament’, based on Phillip’s time in the Korea, and ‘God Bless The Grass’, originally by Malvinia Reynolds, which keeps to the nature metaphors:

“God bless the grass that grows through cement.

It’s green and it’s tender and it’s easily bent.

But after a while it lifts up its head,

For the grass is living and the stone is dead,

And God bless the grass.”

Live At No Country: An Introduction To Seth Martin will easily be one of the most unique albums you’ll hear this year.  Many foreign musicians in Korea learn some Korean music while over there, myself included. But with me, It’d be a Korean folk song or a Korean punk cover in the middle of my more-Western set, and I’d describe as nothing more than a Westerner’s version of a Korean song. With Live At No Country, Martin fuses his command of American folk with his love of Korean folk to create something new. This album, while inspired by the old and traditional music, is truly a new and original experience.

(you can stream Live at No Country: An Introduction to Seth Mountain on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Live at No Country  Bandcamp

Contact Seth Martin  Facebook  LastFM  Bandcamp  YouTube

You can catch TC Costello live at the moment over here in the UK as he is doing a bunch of dates with his friends The Brandy Thieves as well as a load of solo dates including a special London Celtic Punks show at The Lamb in Surbiton in SW London. TC will be supported on the night by Suckin’ Diesel a new traditional Irish folk band featuring current and auld members of The Lagan and headed by Lagan front man the mega talented Brendan O’Prey. All happening on Monday 17th June live at the best boozer in the area The Lamb just a couple of minutes walk from Surbiton station which is only 20 minutes from Waterloo. Live music begins at 8pm and ends at 11pm. Entrance is **FREE** you lucky devil’s so you can spend more on the lovely beer on sale at The Lamb.

More details available over at the official Facebook event here.

For TC’s other dates then go check on his Facebook page here.

ALBUM REVIEW: PIPES AND PINTS- ‘The Second Chapter’ (2019)

One of the best known, most popular and most travelled bands in the the Celtic-Punk scene Pipes And Pints from Czech Republic are back with their third album and a radically different sound!

Pipes And Pints are definitely one of the better known Celtic-Punk bands around so it was a bit of a shock when I sat down to do this review that I realised The Second Chapter is actually only their third album release. Their debut album Until We Die coming out in 2009 and the follow up Lost And Found in 2012. So what have the Bhoys been doing during that time? Well the answer is of course touring. One of the busiest bands in the scene a moment never seemed to pass at one point that I don’t see a tour poster packed with Pipes And Pints dates invading my FB timeline. They even made it over to these shores a few times with performances at Rebellion festival and a rather unfortunate (but still pretty damn amazing!) St. Patrick’s Day London Celtic Punks show at Mannions in Tottenham when the tube network went down and their was travel chaos in London like I had never seen before at that time.

Formed in Prague in 2006 the guy whose inspiration got Pipes And Pints started on the road was the self taught bagpiper Vojta Kalina. He had dreamt of a band that would make Punk and Folk its home in equal measures with the idea of combining all the elements of good old fashioned Rock’n’Roll and Punk with the sound of some glorious Highland bagpipes. This combination served them well in the early days as they played all over Europe and at Europe’s biggest alternative music festivals. The pipes were an integral part of their sound and they were not just a punk band with a piper tacked onto them. Their first release, a Demo, back in 2007 took the punk rock sound to the extreme and won over legions of fans at home while their first single the self titled EP from the following year contained the track ‘City By The Sea’ (here) which went viral across the scene and, until The Rumjacks and their multi-multi-million viewed ‘An Irish Pub’, was one of the most watched Celtic-Punk videos on the internet. This set the scene for their debut album and they celebrated the release of Until We Die with a tour that took them across Europe, Russia and the UK for the next two years. This version of the band featured Californian Syco Mike on vocals who had scrapped plans to return home from Austria and moved to Prague with only his dog Tequila to his name just to join them.

Pipes And Pints left to right: Vojta Kalina- Highland Bagpipes * Ondra Balvin- Bass * Travis O´Neill – Lead Vocal/ Banjo * Lukas Vincour- Drums * Ivo ‘Rafan’ Traxmandl – Guitar

The second album Found And Lost was recorded with well known Californian producer Darian Rundall (Pennywise/ US Bombs/ Suicidal Tendencies) and again the heavy sound of the band didn’t neglect Vojta’s bagpipes. Released towards the end of 2012 the album was very well received by both fans and critics alike winning many awards back home and universally applauded within the Celtic-Punk scene too. The years of touring took their toll and following some band changes including Mike moving back to the USA the group took a two year hiatus before returning. The first signs of life of the new Pipes And Pints was the release of a video for ‘Raise Our Flag’ in November 2017 and featured the new voice of the band in Travis O’Neill a singer/songwriter from County Sligo, Ireland who had washed up in Prague as a member of the, now defunct, 5 Foot Assassins. Incidentally Travis also performs as Travis O’Neill And His Cardinal Sins and are well worth checking out in their own right.

So this brings us slap bang up to date and the release last week of their third album The Second Chapter. Yeah I know it don’t make sense to me that either! It may be a new line up but have they still got the same passion and enthusiasm that made them so popular in the first place? Well the first thing I noticed is the sound of the band is much less Punk-Rock. In fact they could easily have been filed in the Hardcore section back in the day so the new melodic more folky sound was still a bit of a surprise despite the slow trickle of videos the band have put out in the run up to the album’s release. The Second Chapter begins with ‘A Million Times More’ and Vojta’s Highland bagpipes fill the airwaves as the band eventually join in and some class gang vocals before Travis takes over and while his vocal style is nothing like Mike its a new beginning from the band so no more comparisons. Travis vocals are strong and perfect for this Pipes And Pints sound. Chugging guitar and a catchy as hell chorus makes this a fantastic opener for the album and only sets the scene for the other nine tracks. Next up they leave you in no uncertainty that they are a Celtic-Punk band on ‘Raise Our Flag’ as they proclaim allegiance to Ireland

“you know I love this Green, White and Gold”

The song was the first that introduced fans of the band to the new line up and owes a lot to the crossover punk/metal influence of bands like AC/DC. Melodic and catchy and packed with Gaelic references and accompanied with a killer video that you must take the time to watch below. The pipes sail along neither dominating or dominated and it’s fantastic to have them back.

The majority of the songs hover around the three minute plus mark and give them plenty of chance to give full reign to exactly what they want. ‘Shadow On Your Wall’ is a slow rock ballad of a song that still comes across as heavy and gives Lukas a chance to shine with some excellent drumming alongside Ondra and Rafan on bass and guitar. ‘Rebel In My Veins’ speeds it up again with some great lyrics about taking the past and conquering it.

“Straight edge x’s on my hands
and old lovers names I don’t regret
Blood red roses, punk rock bands
all are memories we cant forget”

They keep the pace up with ‘Diamonds And Dreams’ a more traditional straight forward Punk-Rock song while ‘Dark Into The Night’ is the classic tale of a man who is left by the love of his life but finds redemption in the arms of his punk rock family. The song introduces us to something I thought I would never say and that is a Pipes And Pints country song! Of course it’s not straight up country and Travis on banjo gives it an extra buzz but the catchyness is still there and though I think that could have gone heavier with the sound it’s still a great tune.

‘Fist Of Defiance’ has more of that punk/metal crossover appeal while on the short ‘We Are The Scene’ they even chuck in a spot of Ska-Pop and a real positive message of acceptance as well.

“Some scenes are pretend, tattoos and t-shirts are a trend,
Stand with me and sing with us friends
we want you to join our celtic rock and roll family”

‘Karma Killer’ is an album standout for me and represents one of many diverse directions that the new Pipes And Pints take us in on The Second Chapter. Influenced by Rock’n’Roll here the pipes shine as the song keeps up a fast pace that show the progression of the band into what Votja says “is a cutting of ties to the past and taking destiny back in our hands”.

“No tear was dry, singing Fields of Athenry
Standing for what I lived and the days gone by
Eireanns soil beneath my fingernails
It don’t mean a thing unless you lived my life twice!”

A fantastic song and a bit of a warning the accompanying video is a bit … er  … risque so watch at your own peril. The album ends with ‘Wait For You’ and we are back in rock ballad territory with the Pipes leading the way throughout a great ‘lighter/pint/fist in the air’ moment to bring down the curtain.

 

So a new direction for one of my favourite bands and do I approve? Well I loved the hardcore-Celtic-Punk sound of the early days of Pipes And Pints but on The Second Chapter they have managed to still convince me they are the same band. They may have replaced hardcore with a much more melodic base but have done it in a way that will not alienate old fans which is always the danger when a band goes in a new direction. It’s a cracker of an album that I have been playing solidly now for three days and show no sign of getting sick of! A fantastic return and will open many doors to them I am sure.

( You can stream the whole of The Second Chapter on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it that is! Its only $7!)

Buy The Second Chapter  Tape/LP/CD- FromTheBand  Download- Here / iTunes

Contact Pipes And Pints  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: BRADLEY PALERMO- ‘Volume 1’ (2019)

Los Angeles-based Folk-Punk Bradley Palermo has released his first album comprised of previously released singles, reworked and remastered to create Volume 1. Folk music doused in punk and Americana influences that bristles with dark humour.

We are certainly lucky to be friends with Bryan McPherson as it was that connection that led Bradley Palermo to chance his arm and dash a copy of his new album across the broad Atlantic to us in hope of a favourable review. When it is deserved we are happy to oblige and Bradley will be pleased to know it has done. Before setting out on his solo folk career, Bradley spent fifteen years fronting the bands The Sudden Passion and Femme Fatality. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri playing in local indie bands while developing an affinity for the alt-country bands that were emerging from the region at the time. Drawing inspiration from Americana his songs are often autobiographical with themes of the open road, free living and mortality. Volume 1 is a reworked and remastered collection of previously released singles and is a result of a successful crowdfunding campaign from last year. The album begins with ‘Tombstones’ and is the perfect balance of folk music and country music without any of the cheese often associated with both genres. Bradley’s voice is perfect for this as it’s just the right side of gravelly. Acoustic guitar is accompanied by a short synthesizer tune popping up throughout the song and some gang vocals towards the end as Bradley sings of life on the road as artist away from the grind of everyday life.

Bradley is joined by several friends on the album one being Reggie Duncan on steel guitar and on ‘I Like Things That Kill’ it hits the spot admirably in this (mainly) bitter song about a ex-lover.

My favourite track on the album is up next with ‘All My Friends (Have Died)’ and is a sober reminder that as we all get older we start to lose our mates along the way and here Bradley sings the praises of those closest to him. Musically its a slow burner with, again, wonderful steel guitar.

“Jeff never had a chance
the dope was there since day one
Tanya was probably murdered
but poor folks rarely see justice
Shane fell in love with himself
and finally died of a broken heart
Dominic lost his war with cancer
but goddamn he fought it hard
good goddamn son you fought that shit hard”

A beautiful song that is sure to get you thinking, as it did to me. After such a heartbreaking song the album takes a somewhat lighter turn with ‘2nd Wind’. Well musically anyway. A tale of redemption through meeting a women who could sort out the mess of a life.

‘The Long Way’ has more of a full band sound and tells of the breakup of Bradley’s first marriage beginning with the lines

“I should have never got married
that first time around
I made a fool of myself
more red flags than i could ever count “

and shows us that even at the worse of times some good can come through. After all it was this marriage that brought him from Missouri to Los Angeles. Again great harmonica here and a very undervalued instrument I think. It’s folk pedigree is enormous. The catchy ‘Deep Valley Blues’ is perhaps a bit too radio friendly for this misery guts ears but trots along at a nice pace and it’s not always a bad thing that you can imagine your Ma loving the same music as you.

‘Lost In August’ begins with the welcome understated sound of accordion from Solbodan Bobo Lekic and another unfashionable instrument the ukulele. It’s become too popular to bash the uke but you’ll not find any of that shite here. It’s got a great sound and is, fairly, easy to play so maybe that’s why musicians slag it off as it is so accessible to people. ‘The High Cost Of Free Living’ is another high point of Volume 1 and for an album that covers some fairly depressing themes its not devoid of humour though it tends to be as black as the hills!

“never amounted to much of nothing
but I’m still here and I still think that counts for something
and I ain’t starving for attention
boy I’ll gnaw your ear right off
about the high cost of free living”

Bradley has a great way of story telling as shown on ‘Trouble To Find’ where he tells of people he has met who have suffered from mental illnesses or have just been plain old aresholes (that’s assholes to you Americans!)

“I hope you get help or struck by a bus
you know something real quick and painless”

Volume 1 comes to an end with ‘Hollywood, Hollywood’ and closes things with another high point as Bradley tells of a place that is not all it’s cracked up to be.

“cause we found California but it’s far from paradise”

I’m glad Bradley Palermo thought to send us this album and while we may have a reputation for preferring the more rowdy side of Celtic-Punk I must also admit a fondness for albums like Volume 1. I have found myself playing it a lot more than necessary to review it which is quite the compliment if you realised the amount of music we receive. Lyrically it is superb and when accompanied by such soulful music I can only see Bradley’s career receiving the attention it most certainly deserves. One review stated that the album plays like a story he might tell you himself at a bar over some drinks and I can’t think of a better way to end this one review too.

(listen to Volume 1 for free before you buy on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Volume 1  Here  Contact Bradley Palermo WebSite  Facebook  Soundcloud  Instagram

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE CHIEFTAINS- ‘Celtic Harp’

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After 57 remarkable years as the world’s most influential and successful traditional Irish folk band, The Chieftains continue to explore new and unusual passageways for Irish music collaborating with some of modern music’s fastest rising artists, reinterpreting for old and new generations alike, what the music means today while hinting where it might lead tomorrow. Here on Celtic Harp they lead a tribute to the work of Edward Bunting with the Belfast Harp Orchestra.

The Chieftains are a traditional Irish band formed in Dublin in 1963, by Paddy Moloney, Sean Potts and Michael Tubridy. Their sound, which is almost entirely instrumental and largely built around uilleann pipes, has become synonymous with traditional Irish music and they are regarded as having helped popularise Irish music across the world. They have won six Grammys during their career and they were given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2002. Some music experts have credited The Chieftains with bringing traditional Irish music to a worldwide audience, so much so that the Irish government awarded them the honorary title of ‘Ireland’s Musical Ambassadors’ in 1989. The band’s name came from the book Death Of A Chieftain by Irish author John Montague. Assisted early on by Garech Browne, they signed with his company Claddagh Records. They needed financial success abroad, and succeeded in this, as within a few years their third album’s sleeve note section was printed in three languages.

Paddy Moloney came out of Ceoltóirí Chualann, a group of musicians who specialised in instrumentals, and sought to form a new band. They had their first rehearsals at Moloney’s house, with David Fallon and Martin Fay joining the original three. The group remained only semi-professional up until the 1970s and by then had achieved great success in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In 1973, their popularity began to spread to the United States when their previous albums were released there by Island Records. They received further acclaim when they worked on the Academy Award-winning soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick’s 1975 film Barry Lyndon, which triggered their transition to the mainstream in the US. The group continued to release successful records throughout the 1970s and 1980s, and their work with Van Morrison in 1988 resulted in the critically acclaimed album Irish Heartbeat. They went on to collaborate with many other well-known musicians and singers; among them Pavarotti, the Rolling Stones, Sinéad O’Connor and Roger Daltrey.

In 2012, they celebrated their 50th anniversary with an ambitious album and tour. The album, Voice Of Ages, was produced by T-Bone Burnett and featured the Chieftains collaborating with many musicians including Bon Iver, Paolo Nutini and The Decemberists. It also included a collaboration with NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman playing the flute aboard the International Space Station as it orbited the earth.

The Chieftains- Kevin Conneff- Bodhrán, Vocals * Paddy Moloney- Uilleann Pipes, Tin-Whistle, Button Accordion, Bodhrán * Matt Molloy- Flute, Tin-Whistle *

Paddy Moloney is the band’s leader, and composes or arranges most of the band’s music. While the band’s members changed numerous times in the band’s early history, the membership solidified in 1979 when Matt Molloy replaced Michael Tubridy. From then until 2002, members included the current band of Paddy Moloney, Matt Molloy and Kevin Conneff and also Seán Keane (fiddle, tin whistle), Martin Fay (fiddle, bones) and Derek Bell (Irish harp, keyboard instruments, oboe). In 2002, Fay retired from active membership. In the same year, Bell died due to complications following a minor operation. Fay died on 14 November 2012. The band continue to play regularly around the world and are one of the headline acts at this years Liverpool Feis alongside such great and diverse acts as Shane MacGowan, Flogging Molly and The Undertones.

The Celtic Harp was released in 1993 and produced by head Chieftain Paddy Maloney. The Celtic Harp is essentially a showcase for the very talented harpist Derek Bell who handled all of the arrangements, as well as contributed harpsichord and tiompan to the proceedings. Fine solos from flute God Matt Malloy (‘Parting of Friends/Kerry Fling’), vocalist Kevin Conneff (‘Green Fields of America’), and pipe player Maloney (‘T’Aimse ‘Im Chodladh’) give the album a definite Chieftain feel, but The Celtic Harp belongs to Bell, who infuses each note with the subtlety and grace of a true master. Five of the tracks on this album were recorded in Frank Zappa’s home studio before he died with Kevin Conneff’s ‘The Green Fields of America’ being a personal favourite of his. Two months later, the album was completed in Windmill Lane Studios with The Belfast Harp Orchestra with whom they had played and recorded a very successful show in London’s Barbican Centre a few months previously. ‘The Celtic Harp’ won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Traditional Folk Album’ in 1994.

EDWARD BUNTING

Edward Bunting was born in February 1773 at Armagh, the youngest of the three children of a mining engineer at Dungannon colliery in Coalisland. In 1782 he went to live with his organist brother Anthony in Drogheda, continuing his musical education. In 1784 he moved to Belfast as apprentice to William Ware, organist at St Anne’s. There he rapidly demonstrated his musical talent, becoming deputy organist, and, although still a boy, coached many of Ware’s adult pupils.

Bunting lodged for the next thirty-five years in Donegall Street with the McCracken family. In 1792 a festival of the last of the great Irish harpers was held in Belfast in the Assembly Rooms (later Northern Bank), and Bunting was given the task of copying their music which he eventually published in three volumes. In the early years of the nineteenth century Bunting promoted several successful series of concerts in the town. St Anne’s was the only church in Belfast at that time with an organ, but in 1806 a second Presbyterian Church was built (demolished 1964) and, contrary to the usual practice in Presbyterian churches, an organ was installed. Bunting was appointed as the church’s organist. It was here that in 1813 he organised a great music festival at which a large portion of Messiah was performed for the first time in Belfast. In 1819 he married and moved with his wife to Dublin. He was organist at St Stephen’s, and later also a partner in a music warehouse. In 1827 he secured a well-paid position as organist at St George’s.

Although he was an intimate of the major figures in the Society of United Irishmen of the period, Henry Joy McCracken, Thomas Russell and Wolff Tone, Bunting avoided political entanglements. Without Bunting’s work our knowledge of tunes and techniques would be immeasurably poorer. Bunting’s own musical abilities were considerable. In 1795, on Wolfe Tone’s last night in Ireland, his rendition of ‘The parting of friends’ reduced Mrs Tone to tears. On 21 December 1843, mounting the stairs at home, he suffered a heart attack and died within an hour. He is buried at Mount Jerome cemetery in Dublin.

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THE HARP – NATIONAL EMBLEM OF IRELAND

The harp is one of the oldest musical instruments in the world and also the national emblem of Ireland.

It is believed the harp was introduced to pre-Christian Europe by the Phoenicians who brought it over from Egypt as one of their international trading goods. The oldest surviving Celtic harps date back to the 15th century but the music of the harp has been an important emblem to Ireland since the 10th century.

In the days of the old chieftains harpists were held in high regard. Stories were often told to the music of the harp and it encompassed the spirit of the country. Harpists used to travel the country of Ireland performing their folk songs and stories for the public.

The most famous of these was the blind harpist, Turlough O’Carolan. His compositions are still popular today through the work of groups like The Chieftains and Planxty.

In the 16th century the music of the harp was seen as such a threat that The British Crown attempted to crush the Irish Spirit by ordering all harps to be burnt and all harpists executed. It was almost 200 years before the music of the harp was freely enjoyed in Ireland once again.

In 1792, a festival was set up in an attempt to bring back the almost extinct tradition of the harp. Only 10 harpists attended. A young organist named Edward Bunting was hired to notate the harp music at the festival.

Bunting’s transcripts are the oldest records of traditional Celtic harp music in existence as it was the tradition to hand down the music orally through the generations. Sadly, with the harp being banned for so long, most of the music was lost.

Today the image of the harp as a national symbol of Ireland is almost as well recognised as the shamrock. It appears on the Irish Euro coins and is the logo for Guinness, considered by many to be Ireland’s national drink.

The Chieftains  WebSite  Facebook  LastFM  YouTube

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ALBUM REVIEW: SELFISH MURPHY- ‘After Crying’ (2019)

The band from just about the coolest place in Celtic-Punk are back!

Transylvania natives Selfish Murphy have just released their third album in as many years of mainly acoustic fantastic Irish Folk-Punk. 

Selfish Murphy may hail from Romania but that is not where their hearts lie. Like us 2nd generation Irish here in England they have somewhere else to call home! Coming from Transylvania must be as cool a place for a band to come from but the area is home to over a million ethnic Hungarians so it is for Hungary that the boys from Selfish Murphy would be pulling on the shirt for in the World Cup if they were any good!

Selfish Murphy left to right: Péter Csanád László- Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals * László Zsolt- Drums * Csiki Zoltán ‘Zaza’- Lead Vocals, Violin, Accordion * Pusztai Lehel- Flute, Tin-Whistle, Accordion, Backing Vocals * Martinka János- Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals *

The band formed in 2011 in Transylvania and were the first band in Romania to play Irish music, let alone Celtic/Irish punk rock. In 2016 the band relocated back ‘home’ to Hungary and have since then released a steady stream of albums and EP’s as well touring throughout eastern Europe. They even managed a visit to these shores to play the Gobefest festival in Manchester this time last year celebrating the music, culture, food and drink of Transylvania and the Carpathian Basin.

The last few albums from Selfish Murphy have seen a steady progression from their debut album which was majority covers to the last album which was more or less a 50/50 split between original material and auld Irish folk covers to After Crying which I’m happy to report is all original Selfish Murphy material.

Selfish Murphy left to right: Péter Csanád László- Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals * László Zsolt- Drums * Csiki Zoltán ‘Zaza’- Lead Vocals, Violin, Accordion * Pusztai Lehel- Flute, Tin-Whistle, Accordion, Backing Vocals * Martinka János- Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals *

After Crying begins with a song that sets the standard for the whole album. ‘Brave Men’ begins as a straight forward (all be it pretty damn good) fast acoustic Irish folk tune but then Péter’s electric guitar kicks in and takes it firmly into Celtic-Punk territory. Zaza’s vocals are clear while Pusztai’s flute leads the song along. Keeping the sound going for next song ‘Bone Breaker’ and its Pusztai’s tin-whistle this time that leads. Celtic-Punk bands in Europe tend to favour the sound of the flute while it hasn’t caught on here or in North America it has really grown me (thanks to Firkin) as I myself was late-coming to it’s sound. The music here is definitely rooted in traditional Irish music but that’s not to say that Selfish Murphy don’t take a detour or two and on ‘Break The Silence’ the song begins as a straight rocker of a song before they introduce folky instruments and the song ends up as a real ‘thigh slapper’! On ‘I Live My Life’ the band keep the melodies flying at you and though it’s hardly breakneck speed it’s pacey enough and certainly about right to get people up on their feet and dancing. So far they could be best compared to any longstanding Celtic-Punk band as being of the Flogging Molly wing but on ‘Dignity’ they take a more Murphys turn and one of the highlights of the album with Pusztai again getting a mention here but for his accordion playing this time. A great song with an outstanding singalong chorus. ‘Honey Money’ is a fast number with some great guitar playing and Zaza’s vocals again worth mentioning. Time for the albums title track and ‘After Crying’. A brilliant instrumental kicking off with flute and electric guitar before setting off on a rowdy Irish tune that I’m sure is a real crowd pleaser. The rest of the lads join in and a song that would have plenty Irish music fans convinced that they from the Emerald Isle itself.

On ‘Shades Of Green’ the band play a different sort of ‘traditional’ Irish music and here the sounds of the 70’s Irish Showbands and ballad bands come together. Fast and over in a flash none of the songs here hang around long and if anything are over a bit too fast and the songs could be allowed to develop a little bit longer. With eleven songs the album is only half a hour long but this certainly ensures your interest. ‘To Win Your Heart’ is more of a pop-punk song where the Murphys play a standard rock tune before the flute comes in at the end. The song is one of the best here and shows the band at their ‘rocking’ best. We have to wait till the penultimate song for a song about that most treasured of subjects in Celtic-Punk and on ‘Hangover’ the guys don’t disappoint. It’s fast and catchy and worth the wait. After Crying ends with the albums longest song ‘Back To The Stage’ and at just over four minutes it is a bit of a epic for them. A cracking song that shows the band at their best. The production here is excellent and the music is powerful and Zaza’s vocals too. A great way to go out and I’m certain will please their legions of fans both at home and abroad.

As we said Selfish Murphy headlined a stage at the Gobefest in Manchester last year and this year they are going to do it all over again. The fest goes from May 24 to the 26th and last year’s event saw 17,000 adventurous revellers put their best foot forward to try some traditional folk dancing and listen to some of the regions most popular pop stars so a local band from home playing Irish folk-punk music might not stand out as much as you would think. Góbéfest was established in 2017 to celebrate the culture and traditions of the Székely people, the name for those ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania. A Góbé is a friendly word for a ‘crafty Székely’. Check out the Facebook event for the 3-day fest here and Selfish Murphy are playing on Saturday 25th May.

(listen to After Crying on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!!)

Discography

Cheers- EP (2011) * One Beer Is No Beer- Acoustic EP (2012) * With Or Without Us- EP (2014) * Dirty Bang- EP (2015) * Broad Jump- EP (2016) * Another Fork In The Road (2017) * Broad Jump ReLoaded (2018) * After Crying (2019)

Buy After Crying FromTheBand  Amazon

Contact Selfish Murphy  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Bandcamp  Shop  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: DANNY DIATRIBE- ‘Tales From The Down And Outs’ (2019)

Irish rap vagabond Danny Diatribe from Derry City releases his outstanding third album just a couple of weeks before his debut London gig celebrating the 10th anniversary of the London Celtic Punks. 

Intelligent conscious shit from a drunken Irish perspective!

In the last couple of years I have seen Boston-Irish rapper Slaine play and also went to the House Of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ 20th anniversary tour so I’m not exactly a stranger to the rap and Hip-Hop scene but at the same time I am definitely no expert! Saying that though I don’t believe you do need to know the ins and out of a music genre for it to appeal to you. For it to strike a chord and make you feel something for it. I had that feeling when I first heard Danny’s last album Elevation Illustrations. An album packed with catchy rap anthems that included a song that is still among my most played in the last three years since, the absolutely amazing ‘Paddy’s Cure’ with Manchester Irish rapper D’Lyfa Reilly.

Danny was born Danny Lynch in Derry city in the occupied north of Ireland but emigrated to Manchester as a young ‘un a few years back and it is this background that colours Danny’s work. Describing himself as ‘Hip-Hop, James Joyce style’ Tales From The Down And Outs is loosely based on Joyce’s most famous novel Dubliners. Danny may not have been the first celtic-rapper (see our article The Top Seven Celtic Hip-Hop Artists And Bands here) but he is one of only a small handful waving the tricolour here in England! He has spent the intervening years performing among the thriving Manchester music scene being a regular in Hip-Hop circles and has collaborated with some of the biggest and best names in UK and Irish Hip-Hop. Since Elevation Illustrations Danny has kept busy with a constant supply of recordings and videos (made by himself) and the ambitious plan to record this album which has taken a couple of years from beginning to end. 

Tales From The Down And Outs is a concept album detailing the lives of working class characters based in and around the places where he has lived and still lives in Manchester and Derry. All the songs were written and produced by Danny Diatribe and DJ Cutterz, from the Taste The Diff’rence crew, who collaborated with Danny on the album.

Tales From The Down And Outs begins with a short foreboding intro before the title track comes along and ‘Tales From The Down And Outs’ is accompanied by a fantastic video showing Danny moving through life. The tune is slow and unhurried and Danny’s strong accent shines through.

The most standout thing about Danny is the videos that come with the songs. On Elevation Illustrations the whole album was accompanied by professionally shot and produced videos and he’s slowly working his way through this album too. On ‘Jimmy’s Bets’ it tells of the sad tale of a loser who suffers from what my Ma use to call the ‘Irish disease’, gambling.

On ‘Maggie’ Danny tells of the harmless, except to herself, auld crazy women that inhabit the streets where we live and we pass by in the street. Danny adds story to her life giving her a soul.

“Oh Maggie Oh Maggie Oh Maggie Oh maggie, God will never take you and the devil canny stand you, she’ll go to the grave cold bitter and defiant, the flames of hell wont make her bat an eyelid.”

It’s on ‘Maggie’ that you first get a real sense of why people say rappers are the modern day equivalent of the ancient Irish seanchaí (shan-a-key) who held the key to all Irish folklore, myth, and legend. They were the traditional storytellers and the custodians of history for centuries in Ireland.

The album is packed with soundbites from the likes of Monty Python, The Three Stooges, Noam Chomsky and many more I am sure I have missed. On ‘Compliments To The Chef’ and ‘Seven Oaks’ the tone is lighter thanks in part to the soulful tunes but still the dark underbelly of society comes through. On ‘Hangover On Repeat’ Danny revisits a subject close to his, and many immigrant Irish, that of alcohol abuse but told with more than a wee Irish twinkle in the eye.

Coming up towards the end of the album and ‘Miss Robinson’ and ‘Mrs Robinson’ are two tracks with a similar feel, with the film of the same name getting sound checked throughout them. Great soulful tunes combined with his usual gritty lyricism that leads us onto the final track ‘Pressure Creates Diamonds’. The song features the amazingly beautiful voice of fellow Manc rapper El Ay and I would recommend checking out the video as well. In fact get a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits and settle down to check the whole of Danny’s You Tube channel.

There is great news for London folk, and even further afield, and that is that Danny Diatribe is coming down South to perform for the very first time. Obviously it’s the combination of rude locals, expensive pints and sunny weather that has lured him down to London (it sure aint the money that’s for sure!) to play a special show in the east end of London for the London Celtic Punks 10th anniversary. When we set out on this road a decade ago we wanted to have as diverse gigs as possible and this could just about be the most diverse gig we have ever put on as performing alongside Danny will be the northern Celtic-Punk power house band The Silk Road, who are also making their London debut, and an auld mucker of ours Comrade X who will kick things off with a set of Woody Guthrie inspired Oi! tracks. The important date for your diary is Saturday 4th May at The Beehive in Bow. Literally the epi-centre of Cockney London! You can buy tickets in advance here for just a fiver and check the Facebook event here for any fresh news as it comes out.

So what to say about Tales From The Down And Outs? Well first off I doubt it’s going to make me a bigger fan of Hip-Hop than I already am but that’s hardly the point. Some albums just stand out and it’s Danny’s re-telling of stories from his life of a gritty existence on the war torn streets of Derry city to the grim post industrial working class streets of Manchester that make this album really special. Celtic-Punk as a genre is obsessed with working class life and culture and Danny has taken the ideas behind that, the good , the bad and the ugly, and brought them forward to today. Where as the heart of Celtic-Punk is naturally tapped in the past Danny Diatribe is here and now. If you cannot make the gig then buy the album and proudly boast to your friends that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of underground Irish immigrant Hip-Hop!

(listen to Tales From The Down And Outs on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Tales From The Down and Outs FromDannyDiatribe 

Contact Danny Diatribe WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: ALTERNATIVE ULSTER- ‘Craic Agus Ceol’ (2019)

Energetic Irish-American Celtic-Punk experience fuelled by Irish whiskey, Irish History and Great Highland Bagpipes!

The roots of Alternative Ulster began in March 2015 in NY State’s Catskill’s region. Since then album’s have have been released at regular intervals starting with their debut album, Rebellion. Raw punk rock with Highland bagpipes or as piper John McGovern says ‘1916 meets 1977′. A reference to both the Irish Uprising and the year Punk Rock exploded onto the streets of London. An amazing three albums last year with Pog Mo Thoin, then Boobies, Bagpipes, Banjos & Beer’ and finally the Christmas themed Merry Feckin’ Christmas kept their name in the air and so it is again with the release of Craic Agus Ceol last month which translates quite simply into Fun And Music.

The album starts off where all the other albums have left off. The guitars may not be fast but they are hard, heavy and loud and the same can be said about the pipes too! Though we are in for a shock as the singing starts and Wendy takes over the vocal duties. A strong voice that fits the music well and we not one of those sites that’s going to go mad just because its a women it is still a refreshing change. It was while recording their Christmas album the Bhoys thought it would be cool to get a female voice in for some vocals and so blown away were they that now Wendy has become a full member of the band. 

(hear Merry Feckin’ Christmas below on the Bandcamp player)

On ‘It Took A Lot Of Love (To Hate You The Way I Do)’ the band have a perfect vehicle for their sound in-between the rocking of AC/DC and the Celtic of the Dropkicks when they thrash it out. Next up is a song very close to our hearts. In fact we were the ones that suggested Alternative Ulster might cover it and cover it they have done. They took the simple acoustic folk of Pól MacAdaim’s ‘Justice For The Craigavon 2’ and have turned it into a proper punk rock anthem. Telling the story of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton two innocent guys who were convicted of the Murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll and sentenced to life imprisonment. London Celtic Punks firmly believe that the case was corrupt and the ‘evidence’ used inconclusive, contradictory and discredited. Both men found themselves victims of a system that sought to find scapegoats in the wake of the political and media backlash following the killing. We are doing our wee bit for the lads over on our Bandcamp page where every single penny raised goes direct to the #JFTC2 campaign. 

(you can hear the original version of ‘Justice For The Craigavon 2’ by Pól MacAdaim below for free and download it for a pound)

A rousing and righteous track where this time it’s Todd that spits out the angry words while on ‘Port Of New York’ Wendy returns to vocal duties and again its that heavy rock/punk sound dominates while Johnny’s pipes wail along in the background on a song that tells of the ‘welcome’ the Irish received on arriving in the States.

“We were not welcome
But you feckin got us now!”

is but one of the excellent lines in this song. A fantastic song that really gets the blood pumping and easily as good as any modern day rebel song I have heard. That love of Irish history again rears its head during ‘Battle Lines’ a slower heavy number about Irish people forced to take part in the American Civil War. To fight or starve many were signed into the army as they disembarked ships not knowing what they agreeing to.

Alternative Ulster left to right: Todd Henry- Drums, Vocals) * John McGovern- Bagpipes, Banjo * Wendy Henry- Vocals * Jay Andersen- Guitars, Recording/Mixing/Mastering * Steve Hoelter- Bass *

One of the things I loved on previous albums was Alternative Ulsters choice of unusual covers and they don’t disappoint here either with the Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ with Wendy taking on the role of ‘Scots’ unionist Annie Lennox.

‘Drunken English Punk’ has Todd loudly reciting the angry words over a Celtic-PUNK tune while and ‘Swine Before Pearls’ also takes an different path to the rest of the album. While the rock element of the album has been self evident they take it to another level here with a slow(ish) rock ballad with Wendy’s powerful voice again dominating proceedings. Next up is ‘Punch A Nazi’ and a sentiment we can all agree with especially the band as they all had family members who fought actual Nazi’s in the 2nd World War.

“When I was a lad on grandpa’s knee
This is what he said to me
Because we live in the land of the free
It’s our duty to punch a nazi”

The only thing I would add is not to get carried away and start believing everyone you don’t like is a Nazi. Sadly a trait all too common in America and now stupid ‘identity politics’ are infesting politics over here as well. Short and sweet and to the point Alternative Ulster don’t go in for subtleties! Next up is probably the song that most divides the Irish communities around the world with it being the most popular song in North America but thought of as being among the corniest of Irish songs! Still, here ‘Danny Boy’ is given a face lift that would melt the hardest of faces with Todd and Wendy combining on vocals (something the band should experiment with a lot more as it sounds absolutely brilliant!) while Jay’s chugging guitar, Johnny’s wailing pipes making it one of the highlights of the album. Not something I ever thought i’d say about ‘Danny Boy’ ever. Alternative Ulster play music from both the heart and the head and occasionally the sleeve too as on ‘If It Ain’t Scottish It’s Crap’ which a good Catholic boy like myself cannot tell you what the song is about suffice to say its great craic and the piping here is amazing. We are nearing the end and the last of the self penned tracks ‘Drinking Tonight’ which again takes the rock road but is catchy and a with a great driving tune. All the Alternative Ulster lyrics were written by either piper Johnny or guitarist Jay and the tune put together by the band which leads us up to possibly the best known Celtic-Punk song of all time and well I couldn’t actual believe it when I saw it was a cover of a cover! I must have played and heard ‘Shipping Up To Boston’ 1000’s of times but never did i know it was written by Woody Guthrie!

“I’m sailor peg
And I’ve lost my leg
A climbing up the topsails
I’ve lost my leg”

Sadly I couldn’t find a video of Woody recording it so if you know of one please leave it in the comments. Alternative Ulster give it plenty of oompf and to be honest its as perfect a song as any written and would be impossible to play it any other way than utterly brilliantly!

They surely can’t keep up the pace of three albums a year but even one we’d be happy with! Plans are afoot to bring their raw rock’n’roll bagpipe Celtic-Punk rock over to these shores in the summer and London Celtic Punks will of course be heavily involved in helping out so keep your ear to the ground for more details of that as they come in.

(you can hear Craic Agus Ceol for *FREE* before you buy on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Craic Agus Ceol

FromTheBand  iTunes

Contact Alternative Ulster

Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube  Spotify

To find out more on the Craigavon 2 case please visit either jftc2.com or on Facebook here. Offers of help or donations via PayPal are welcomed at justice4thetwo@gmail.com and check out the London Celtic Punks Bandcamp page here for a list of albums available for download for free or donation to the campaign.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TENBAGS- ‘Bags o’ Craic’ (2018)

Crusty punk troubadours from the middle of England playing Anarcho-Celtic-Punk ballads and rampaging through folk tradition!

Bags o’ Craic arrived at London Celtic Punk Towers towards the end of 2018 on a scruffy home made CDR with a basic photocopied cover and a couple of stickers that wouldn’t play on any of the CD players in my house or my laptop!! So it was with great relief that the band recently stuck it up on Bandcamp so I could finally get round to hearing it. Having checked them out on Facebook they seemed like they were a band i would be into and after a couple of listens this was confirmed!

The Tenbags a true Brummy mix of backgrounds including – Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Indian, Trinidadian, English, Italian, Roma Gypsy and Punk!! From left to right: Neil Harvey – Washboard and Guitar * Johnny (Kowalski) Noblet – GuitBanj and Voice * Niall Singh – Guitar and Voice and Poems * Benedict Davenport- Mandolin and Tenor Banjo * Sam-uendo – Fiddle.

Bags o’ Craic is twelve songs that fly past in an incredibly quick twenty-four minutes. Songs beloved by the folk snobs purists are stripped right down to basics and played without frills or flourishes which for many of these songs that is exactly how they were meant to be played when first written. The roots of The Tenbags lie in Niall and Ben’s meeting at Birmingham art school back in 2009. A shared interest in folk music thanks to Ben’s Irish background and Niall who had grown up obsessed with Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie and The Pogues before getting into Punk. Coming from a half Scottish/half Indian background he ingested the folk music from his Mam’s record collection and the Pogues from Celtic Supporting, Celtic-Rock loving Uncles!

The album kicks off with ‘The World Turned Upside Down’ a song originally penned by folk legend Leon Rosselson which tells the story of the Diggers (English radicals seen as forerunners of anarchism) rebellion on St. Georges Hill in Surrey in 1649.

“The sin of property we do disdain
No man has any right to buy and sell the earth for private gain
By theft and murder they took the land
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command”

It has been recorded by several artists with perhaps Billy Bragg’s 1983 version the most popular. Here it is played fast with sparse backing of acoustic guitar, fiddle and mandolin with Niall’s vocals leading. These days their is such a market for Irish music that the temptation is to perfect and polish everything so that the pub cover gigs keep rolling in. This is a long way from the roots of Celtic-Punk and Shane could never ever have been accused of trying to croon his way through things and it is to Shane’s tradition that Niall continues. This is followed by a cover of ‘The Blackleg Miner/ You Made Your Bed’, a song that has recently been covered by Ferocious Dog and regularly features in their live set. From the mid 19th-century the song is set among the Northumberland pit villages and spits vengeance against strike breakers otherwise known as scabs to the miners and their families. A subject close to Niall’s heart as his family in Scotland were from the mining community, seamlessly flowing into the original track ‘You Made Your Bed. One of the best tracks here is the cover of Tom Paxton’s ‘Johnny Got a Gun’. The heartbreaking tale of a child who is bullied at school so gets the means to defend himself that ends in utter tragedy and contains one of the best lines I’ve ever heard.

“Johnny’s mum and dad still work long hours
And knock on the unit door
They sit with Johnny in the visitor’s room
And his feet don’t reach the floor”

Niall’s voice may not be the polished article but that is far from why The Tenbags are doing this and their is more emotion in this song than many of the albums that have featured on these pages over the years. Do yourself a favour and check out the great Tom Paxton’s version as well here. Next up is a spoken word piece ‘Banned From The Tesco’ where Niall spits out the words at us in just seventy seconds leading into a couple of covers of minor classics starting with the Crass song ‘Securicor’ and followed quickly by The Exploited’s ‘Alternative’ sounding as unlike Crass and The Exploited as you will ever hear. The Tenbags take the songs and breathe a life into them I would never have thought possible. That anarchic punk rock spirit shines through in the spoken word sections. These use to popular in Punk Rock, especially on Oi! compilations, but has all but disappeared these days so the thirty second angry anti-war rant ‘Grandad’ is both a blast to the past in subject matter and its very existence. The covers chosen here sound to me to have been picked very carefully and Bob Dylan’s  ‘When The Ship Comes In’ leads us into another anti-war rant in ‘Warlords’ before the album’s highlight hits the airwaves and in ‘Bella Ciao’ Niall perhaps comes as close here to singing in tune! The Italian anti-fascist anthem dates from the rice fields of the late 19th century but it was revived by the anti- fascist movement active in Italy during the Second World War with it’s lyrics updated. The next song also harks back to Crass in the albums second original track ‘The Man Who Spoke To God’. There follows a couple of minutes of silence which may be a nod to Crass and their problems with the song ‘Reality Asylum’or could be that the final song is meant to be a hidden track! The album comes to an end with the classic Irish traditional lament ‘The Parting Glass’. It was maybe too obvious to cover something that Shane was well known for singing but The Pogues did get round to singing ‘The Parting Glass’ and here The Tenbags keep it simple an play the song as it is meant to be played, slowly.

So an album that you will either be able to get past Niall’s style of vocals or not but as I’ve said we are in a scene where we worship a man who couldn’t sing for toffee so you should never let that put you off. The music is extremely well played and the arrangements sparse with the songs chosen far beyond ‘folks greatest hits’ and with some great and unusual and unexpected punk covers thrown in to. The energy and passion here is evident on every single track and with the band having made the album available for free download you have no excuse not to get a copy. Simply click where it says Buy Digital Album and this will take you to a page where you have the option to name your price where you can simply type in £0.00 and you will receive the link for your freed download.

(listen to Bags o’ Craic for free on the Bandcamp player below)

Download Bags o’ Craic  Name Your Price Download  Contact The Tenbags  Bandcamp  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: BRYAN McPHERSON- ‘Kings Corner’ (2019)

Bryan McPherson, a fiery, folk-playing, a native of Boston Massachusetts was called west to Los Angeles, California back in July of 2010. Bringing blue collared incendiary working class folk music fusing Americana, folk, alternative and punk all over America and Europe.

There’s a very good reason why Bryan McPherson has featured on the pages of London Celtic Punks more than any other artist. This will be his sixth time, after three album and two singles. Kings Corner is in fact kind of old Bryan anyway in that it is a bunch of old songs from Bryan’s past that he never recorded and has only played the odd time at shows for friends so in a way it pre-dates all his previous reviews. Having recorded his last album Wedgewood in 2015 he returned to his home town of Boston, Mass. in 2018 with a plan. That plan was to polish up and record demos of all the songs I had written since Wedgewood and then launch a Kickstarter campaign to bankroll a big time studio record!

Well plans change.

The memories of home and his past kicked in and before he knew it a new completely different album was on the horizon. After tinkering with some old songs, so old in fact that Bryan didn’t even have a copy of them on their original demo!, he thought it would be good to re-record them to give them out at shows and on the internet. Early on in the project though he realised the songs needed some work and that a quick recording session was not going to be enough. Some had to be completely re-written as in Bryan’s own words

“You see most of these songs are well over 15 years old and come from the very early days of my journey into music and songwriting. They come from some of the best and worst days of my life – coming of age and plummeting into the depths of drug and alcohol addiction, while running the streets of Boston in reckless abandon and cutting my teeth as a performer in the open mic scene of Cambridge Massachusetts, a world away from my neighbourhood of Dorchester, at the time.”

Born and raised in the blue collar working-class Irish-American Catholic neighbourhood of Dorchester, in Boston, and inspired as a kid by the energy and angst of punk, as well as the lyrically driven American folk songs of the early 1960’s Bryan has continued to play and record some of the best original music we have had the pleasure to feature. On his arrival home Bryan witnessed again the shocking impact of the opioid epidemic in his hometown. Deaths from addiction have soared over the last twenty years in the Boston area with many blaming the rise on the over prescription of opioids by doctors and as one Dr. Sushrut Jangi said in the Boston Globe

“It took doctors 20 years to help create this epidemic — but if we wake up to changing how we treat pain, we can more quickly contain its toll.”

Inspired to share these songs and a piece of his story Bryan set up some modest home recording gear in his Dad’s attic and got to work. Exactly the same as he had done all those years ago when recording that original demo tape. After listening to a few mixes of the songs by the great Willie Samuels back home in California, and after they were received well by friends he decided these songs needed a proper release so a crowd-funder was organised that Bryan’s fans and supporters rallied round to.

This album is aptly titled Kings Corner, the street corner Bryan and his mates hung out on in their youth spending many a day and night. The album begins with an short intro of Bryan talking about the album to a background of distorted sounds and acoustic guitar that ends with the quizzical line “Where did everybody go?”. We, the listener, can only guess. Bryan McPherson’s music can by no means be described as Celtic-Punk in the traditional sense but does in fact fit our remit exactly. Interesting, alternative music played with a fiery passion by a son of Erin. But that is only half of it. On the real album opener ‘Where Is Jane’ it is just Bryan accompanied by acoustic guitar and the passion that his voice is most famed for spills out into the airwaves and brings you directly into his world. Sadness and grief and the tremendous sense of loss of a dear friend told in ‘Game Over’ make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. The addition of mournful harmonica only adding to the sadness felt. The songs here, as you could expect from such an eventful life littered with both tragedy and triumph, are gritty and beautiful as on the short ‘I Know How You Feel’ as Bryan explores the ghosts from his past and the rough road to recovery. These old songs from his old neighbourhood have come to life again and on ‘Everyday’ he tells of the everyday sometimes mundane life that went on in.
(Directed and edited by Bryan. Shot by Jason Stone and Bryan. Written and performed by Bryan and filmed in Dorchester, in Boston MA.)

The first single from Kings Corner was ‘Ghost Of My Hometown’ and a superb choice of song and the video too is inspired. Shot in plain and simple black and white Bryan takes us on a journey through the streets of his childhood and the ghosts of his hometown are not just the people but the city itself as gentrification has changed Boston making him a stranger and the communities that made Boston most famous have all but been dispersed to make way for the new order. A sad tale but told by all urban working class communities across the world. The horror of addiction is told again through ‘Mass Ave Story’ with just his guitar and a voice that is passionate and heartfelt and emotional and frail and powerful and uplifting all at the same time. His music is a very real journey through his own personal demons and is altogether mesmerising. Sometimes, as on ‘Living In The Red’ his words can chill you to the bone as he dissects American working class life. Never one to avoid difficult subjects Bryan tackles one of the most tragic episodes in American history next on ‘Jumper 9/11’ as he places himself in the shoes of someone on floor 102 of the Twin Towers on that terrible morning of 11th September, 2001. As the fire consumes the building and he has to make the stark choice of how he will perish. A song that could be in poor taste is anything but in the hands of Bryan McPherson as he portrays some of what may go through your head in those shoes. Beautiful. We nearing the end and the album’s longest song ‘See Me Fall’ with a lovely delicate guitar tune and harmonica and ends on a somewhat positive note as Bryan dedicates the song to all the friends and family that helped get him through to this point in his life. That’s not the end mind as ‘Chihuahua’ is tacked onto the end and a sly psychobilly-ish guitar track which despite the harshness of the previous thirty minutes will leave you smiling.
Street life, politics, addiction, prison, gentrification, the plight of the working class, broken dreams, discrimination litter the alleys of Bryan’s songs. Their are also moments of beauty and clarity as this modern day folk-punk troubadour brings us on the journey with him. Once again Bryan manages to come up with something that is gritty and heartfelt as well as beautiful, passionate and inspiring. As we have said before it may not be a fun roller coaster ride but the words are as honest as they are urgent. Come on every second counts!

(you can stream and listen to Kings Corner on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Kings Corner Cd’s, Vinyl. Downloads- From Bryan  iTunes

Contact Bryan McPherson WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube Twitter Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: McDERMOTT’S 2 HOURS Vs. LEVELLERS & OYSTERBAND- ‘Besieged’ (2019)

Second generation Irish singer-songwriter, Nick Burbridge, has been playing Irish-influenced acoustic music since his teens influencing countless others, including in their own words, The Levellers. His band McDermott’s 2 Hours were among the first to ever think of combining punk and Irish folk and his new album Besieged sees him accompanied by members of both The Levellers and the Oysterband and showcases his work as not just a musician but also, in the best Irish tradition, as a poet, playwright and novelist as well.


When writers wax lyrical about the rugged Celtic beauty that came to fruition with The Pogues and Shane MacGowan, they often seem to suggest that time has stood still and that Irish music had been sitting,waiting, since the mid-sixties ballad boom of The Dubliners et al for something suddenly to connect the urgency of punk with the heart and soul of traditional music. But out in the rough and ready bars of Hamburg and a hundred other German hostelries a band was carving out and whittling its own take on the beauty of Irish folk music; adding fire, vitality and punk-style energy while handling the travails of fights and frolics, women, dark streets and drink.  The band morphed into McDermott’s 2 Hours in 1986 (named after a wonderfully unexpected happening on pirate radio during the Battle Of The Bogside as recalled in Eamonn McCann’s War And An Irish Town) ‘being Irish and in the wrong place and at the wrong time’ – to paraphrase MacGowan. In the pubs and clubs of Brighton and London they built a reputation for their incendiary live performances that have become legend. Among their wild and youthful admirers were a gaggle of friends who, a few years down the line, influenced by the spirit, fire and camaraderie of Nick Burbridge and McDermott’s 2 Hours, would strap on guitars and call themselves The Levellers. Those in the know realise that Nick Burbridge has been, and continues to be one of the best songwriters in the Anglo-Irish tradition. He fashions songs that, as well as perfectly capturing the gritty underbelly of the Irish experience in 60s/70s mainland UK, beautifully capture the longing for home and reality of the Troubles with all the evocative magnificence of Beckett or Joyce.

But that was then and this is now.

Besieged is not so much a final curtain as a magnificent encore, serving as the last instalment of a magnificent career. Singer, songwriter, poet, playwright and frontman with folk, rock, roots and punk outfit McDermott’s 2 Hours, Nick Burbridge has released his final album with the band. Besieged sees Nick again team up with members of The Levellers (Jeremy Cunningham and Simon Friend), Oysterband (Dil Davies and Al Scott), Ben Paley (son of the late folk music giant Tom Paley), plus Tim Cotterell and friends, for the album’s twelve tracks. Released via The Levellers On the Fiddle Recordings. Given the artists involved in this album it is of no surprise to hear contemporary folk music of the itinerant outsider, travelling through Europe delivering great tunes and hard hitting poetical lyrics that stand out and are clear. All this amongst the traditional melodies expertly delivered . Fans of the artists will be delighted with the blood sweat and tears gone into this production, but this is no compilation of hits gone by,  but something new and fresh, so even if you come to’Besieged’ as an innocent abroad, looking for an anecdote to the monotony of apolitical electronica or a die hard folkster extending their collection, listen up and be inspired.

This album has everything you’d want from a folk album, laments of the itchy footed; murder ballads; the loss of young lives; drinking songs; anti establishment reeling and railing and a call to join the march of protest. Yet while the tunes are heavily rooted in tradition the lyrical content oft recounts tales of modern society, forgotten tales of the tragic loss of young life in contemporary Ireland. This theme is particularly stark in ‘This Child’, ‘Forlorn Hope’ and ‘All That Fall’.

‘This Child’ like so many a folk song laments the loss of young life, gunned down for being in “the wrong place at the wrong time.” But this is not a song of 17th century highway robbery or even a tune of the innocent Irish during the troubles. This is a song of South Manchester’s Moss Side in the 80s. The time is emphasised by electric jarring chords that blend so well with the rest of the strings, that, incidentally, give us a haunting solo in the middle eight, and a good old fashioned punky 4×4 drum beat.  This is a song of a time when the press dubbed the area ‘Gunchester’ a killing field on our doorstep when young Jesse James, the lads rightly don’t dwell on the irony of this young kids name, was shot while innocently riding his bicycle across a piece of wasteland. All this told clearly and melodically with enough rock guitar to bring on  a crescendo end of the echoing tones of feedback. ‘Forlorn Hope’ rocks us to Portadown and asks us to jig to the tale of a town divided by sectarian violence, where a night on the gear  may be followed by a morning of throwing rocks at the Orange drumming bands, where any attempt at peace was thwarted by those whose interest it was to keep communities apart. The female protagonist of the piece seems to survive but could have easily met the fate of Alice McLoughlin, shot in the back of a Portadown police car or poor Catholic Bernadette Martin shot down while sleeping in bed with reformed Protestant Gordon Green. No wonder our song’s heroine here ends up  high in Camden town. All this to growling guitars across the verses with singing violin instrumentals.

It is the first side of the album that is particularly steeped in modern day tales of tragedy and track 6 is no exception. ‘ All That Fall’ is an uplifting ballad told from the perspective of the victims of abuse that have risen to have a life now “looking back in hope, not in anger”. These “daughters of Mayo” stride history and geography and could be many a farm girl or boy abused in a barn with a sack upon their head or even daughter of Mayo, Mary Ann, kidnapped and abused with a pillowcase on her head in Reading 2005. The tune is acoustic and clear like a Christy Moore ballad that leads us to hum along, the chorus strong that anybody shaking the dust from their feet to live again will feel and the female vocals at the end soft on our ears and full of hope.

The opener of side one ‘Firebird’ gets us in a great mood and sets the tone with fiddle and guitar delivering a folk rock and reel of a Phoenix rising from the ashes with a strong vocal and sing along chorus. This is quickly, it seems,  followed by ‘Erin Farewell’ a swaying anthem for the inevitability of the natural roamer leaving behind the toil of the fields of home and the bed of his marriage under the pretence of chasing a better life in the big smoke. It reminds us of many a navvie or brickie’s song whether that come from Ian Campbell, The Fureys or indeed The Pogues. The worker here admits that it is not just the money but  the excitement and camaraderie of like minded men in a strange land he seeks. Like so many of us his yearning ping pongs him from ‘over there’ to the warmth of home, it is a lucky man who has an understanding wife. Side one also includes a rallying call to protest, ‘The Last Mile’  “Lets take it in the old style, that’s your arm through mine” they cry to an Anglo folk rhythm that has uplifting strings and drums that send a tingle right through you.

Side two  content eases us into historical ground. ‘Warrior Monk’ with strong bass, marching guitar riff and somewhat Arabic strings, walks us to the time of Crusades from the fall of Jerusalem in the 12th century to its’ Moorish reinstatement under Saladin. The song has a crusader’s bastard Moor son of the east ending in battle with his other Christian son of the west. A timely reminder of the futility of war when many a brother fights with another, we are, after all, Christian, Jew or Muslim, sons of Abraham! The jarring electric chord at the end reminds us that this is a song of now as well as then. The songwriters knowledge of history and how it weaves its way through our DNA and indeed a curse upon all our houses continues with title track, ‘Besieged’ . A wonderful trip from fortresses of 17th century Rheinfels to monastery walls, Irish tenement houses right up to date through Cornish fisherman’s houses to the so easily kicked over castles in the Sand. A lyrical metaphorical trip through the history of life and love like Bob Dylan gave Al Stewart a large dram and they wrote a song together. ‘Crossed lovers’ brings us into a timeless familiar territory of a familiar lovers quarrel “How can you hear me if you won’t listen” brought to us by two voices in a slow melodical ballad.  This is juxtaposed by  the raucous drinking song of ‘Damned Man Polka’ backed with reels and military marching drums.

This wonderful album’s penultimate song is a kick in the teeth to the abuse that taints the Church with hard hitting ‘All in your Name’ a duel tempo choppy guitar with bouncing verse and drawled accusational chorus before once again calming us down with the final track, ‘ The Ring’. A traditional sound, a beautiful song of love, land and nationhood with string, flute and voice as crisp as snow underfoot reminding us who we are, “here, now and always”.
Every listen of ‘Besieged’ is indeed time well spent.

Buy Besieged 

Limited edition two CD set released 8 February includes the Best of compilation, Anticlimactic but you can buy several versions including the download direct from Nick here

Also available from all streaming services inc. Spotify, Amazon etc  here

Contact Nick Burbridge-  WebSite  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: VISCERAL NOISE DEPARTMENT- ‘Distant Banging’ (2019)

Sarcastic Folk-Rock band from Glasgow, eclectically influenced by folk, grunge, psychedelic rock, metal, glam rock, blues and doom. Our man in South Carolina TC Costello ran the rule over their new album Distant Banging of which they plan to spend any profits on cheap drink and Gaffer Tape.

After playing an acoustic show with Glasgow’s Visceral Noise Department last year they left no doubt in my mind that they were the queen and kings of happy songs with sad lyrics. Their smile-inducing folk rocky tunes with tight harmonies were a joy to listen to until I paid attention to the lyrics. Then the songs were still a joy despite the songs’ stories of poverty, environmental destruction and poor mental health.

The first time I opened for them, however, they were a sloppy folk-punk band that insisted on singing harmonies they couldn’t quite hit. Why the asymmetry? I must admit that it was entirely my fault. I have a song called ‘Whiskey/Whisky,’ during which i encourage the audience play a drinking game in which they take a drink every time i say the I say ‘Whiskey’. I utter eponymous word 44 times in the two-minute song. No audience on the planet drinks throughout the entire song… except in Glasgow. The volume of alcohol and the speed at which they drank it needless to say did not enhance their musical abilities.

So the second time I played with them, they made the responsible decision of scheduling me after Visceral Noise Department’s performance. The band was tight, talented, and had no difficulty with harmonies. So, as my first experience with them was a trainwreck, the second experience was a damned good show, and my third was their new album ‘Distant Banging,’ I can honestly say VND gets better every time.

The album ventures to hard-rock, folk-rock, psychedelia, country, grunge, and even spoken word. This may sound a bit all-over-the-place, and it is. But by pacing the album, they make it work.

The opening song, ‘Gold Medal in Mental Gymnastics’, is a catchy hard rock number a bit reminiscent of Thin Lizzy, complete with a harmonised guitar solo. The lyrics are sharp, sarcastic, and anything but subtle. The opening line ‘I love having a boss and a landlord; It feels great’! leaves no ambiguity. Unless you don’t understand sarcasm, I suppose. Other things the narrator ’loves’ are ’being considered a cripple’, ’rats in the ceiling’, and ’having no choice in the matter,’ The song ends with the singalong: “Lalalalalalalalala. I’m a Happy Man!”

The second number, “Venus,” is a psychedelic folk-rock song about environmental destruction, and once again has a straight-to-the-point from the start: “It’s hard to write a country song when the country side is gone’. Nor is there any confusion in the chorus: ‘Burn it all, burn it all again. Let’s go live in Hell’.

The title of the song, seems to be reference to environmental conditions on the planet Venus, as its atmosphere is full of carbon dioxide, and even has acid rain. ‘Venus’ and the third song, ‘Semi-Educated Delinquent’, a folk-rock number about a child left behind by the education system, features some stellar fiddle work by members of Glasgow bands The Trongate Rum Riots and Sloth Metropolis.

A third of the way through the album goes in unexpected direction. And that direction is straight to early ‘90s Seattle. While listening to songs tracks that reflect what on traditional marriage and what it means to struggle I’m also filled with fond memories of when I learned to play guitar, bashing Nirvana riffs on my old Stratocaster knockoff.

The sixth song, ‘Made my Bed’, is reminiscent of some of Soundgarden’s more psychedelic work and tells the story of someone stuck in where they are in life.

Another psychedelic track, ‘A Warm Place’, comes next and features spacey guitars and eerie backup vocals and even a spoken-word poem by Jenny Tingle, the band’s drummer. It focuses on mental health issues.

‘Daddy’s Dole’ is a hard-rocking blues rock number with goofy lyrics that tell the story of someone living off their father’s employment benefits. Then their father loses the benefits then the narrator has to find a job. It features some nice blues harmonica by Kris Dye from Glasgow blues rock band Multistory Lover.

With ‘Middle Class Hero’, a folk-rocky song focusing on privilege, Visceral Noise Department further proves they want you to know what their songs are about:

“Two men faced off in the colosseum,
One raised his father’s sword,
the other raised his fists,
Now if I was a gambling man,
I’d tell you where I’d bet,
I won’t put down my fathers sword tonight”

The chorus, with the line

‘Don’t call it meritocracy, that really makes me laugh’

, further cements the far from vague nature of their lyrics.

The band venues back to psychedelia with ‘Utopia’ and the album gets a reprise of the its grunge phase with ‘Modern City Blues’. With the closer, ‘Maybe It’ll be Alright (The Ambulance Song)’, the band manages to combine nearly all their influences into one song.

Throughout the song, Visceral Noise Department features spooky harmonies evocative of Alice in Chains’ grunge, the combination of drums with acoustic guitar is reminiscent of the ’60s folk rock revival, and the spacey lead guitar and multi tracked violin and cello create a psychedelic effect. A perfect ending to the album.

While not a Celtic-punk album, (though Visceral Noise Department are Scottish and active in the punk subculture, so maybe it is) ‘Distant Banging’ is certain to appeal to fans of the genre. Much of their grunge errs on the punkier side of it, the lyrics touch on themes common in punk and Celtic trad, and I defy you to find a better-paced album

(you can hear Distant Banging on the Bandcamp player below before you buy! The download is only a bargain £3!!)

Buy Distant Banging  FromTheBand

Contact Visceral Noise Department  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

the irrepressible TC Costello makes another welcome return to our shores this June with a month long run of dates that will take him the length and breadth of the British and Irish isles! Watch out for two dates at The Lamb in Surbiton, south-west London. The first as part of the pub’s special Lamb Fest and the other a special show put together by London Celtic Punks that will feature some local legends and special guests.

Contact TC Costello  Facebook  Bandcamp  Tumbler  ReverbNation  Twitter  YouTube

EP REVIEW: DRUNKEN DOLLY- ‘The Party’ (2019)

Dutch Celtic-Punkers Drunken Dolly must have had a pretty good St. Patrick’s Day judging by the title of the opening track on their new EP! 

Drunken Dolly hail from the working class port city of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and in the last 2-3 years have gone from being a band that only people in their own country know of to being one of the most well known Dutch bands around. Despite only having a couple of releases they have managed to ride a wave with England’s own Ferocious Dog that has seen them become one of the Hellhounds (Ferocious Dog’s most loyal group of followers) favourite bands with not a single FD gig passing by without a couple of people in the audience with Drunken Dolly t-shirts. They have even managed to to play over here a handful of times with headline gigs in London and some choice support slots (Rock City!) with FD cementing their popularity.

Formed in 2004 they briefly split up but forged with a love of Irish and Celtic music and punk rock they soon realised they missed the drunkenness and debauchery involved in being in a Celtic-Punk band so re-united in 2014 and decided to take things a wee bit more seriously. Well that or they just wanted to play music, drink beer and party! Their debut release was Drunken Dolly And The Dead Mans Curse. An EP of four self penned songs lasting only ten minutes but made even of an impact to surge to the top of the Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of lists for 2015. This was followed up a couple of years later with the release of their brilliant debut album Alcoholic Rhapsody and again, as their name suggests, beer drinking influences a lot of their lyrical themes. The music was fresh faced, fast and super catchy with a knowing sense of humour that has endeared them to everyone who comes across them.

So can they keep up this record of only producing absolutely fantastic records. Well the answer is of course and there’s no sign of it letting up either! The Party begins with the opening track ‘Let’s Get Fucked Up’ which is near six minutes of some of the best Celtic-Punk this side of the Atlantic. Batten down the hatches and let these shipbuilding folk burst yer eardrums and possibly even make you fall over a wheelbarrow in your back garden and end up with a cartoonish black eye for a fortnight!  Anyone familiar with our own Mick O’Toole will recognise some similarities with the duo banjo/mandolin sound but its the vocal harmonies that set Drunken Dolly apart with some 60’s style crooning straight off The Beach Boys greatest hits album. Michael and Randy share vocals throughout the EP and even though they couldn’t be more different they fit together brilliantly on The Party and its not often a six minute song flies by so quickly either.

They follow this up with the blatantly named ‘Alcohol’ and Michael takes over to sing about his one and only true love. Simple words of love are often the most tender! Pop-punk in the style of NOFX and Blink 182 connects with Irish folk and the result is super catchy and a definite crowd favourite I would think. A song with a chorus of just “Alcohol Alcohol Alcohol” is sure to get them pints in the air! The Party theme continues with ‘Until The Bottles Are Done’ and Randy sings as a punk rock Brian Wilson about the party never ending till all the beer is drunk! Only two songs to go and ‘Without You’ is the shortest track here at just under three minutes and compared to the speed that everything flew by on the debut EP it’s refreshing to hear them not rush things and take their time… even if the songs are still played at breakneck speed!

The Party ends with ‘Never Too Late To Party’ and it’s fair to say that every song here is pure class. Twenty minutes of solid and catchy Celtic-Pop-Punk which has elements of punk bands such as NOFX and Blink 182 as well as the usual suspects of the Dropkick’s and the Molly’s but its those fabulous Beach Boys harmonies that give Drunken Dolly the edge. One hell of a band and as their star rises we going to have more and more chances to see them over here so be sure to catch them when you can.

(In the days leading up to the release of Drunken Dolly’s ‘The Party’ EP their video diary sees them being interviewed on Bang Your Radio and then going off to see Nick Parker live at the Viking Sports Bar in Leiden)

Buy The Party

Contact the band or at their shop here shortly

Contact Drunken Dolly 

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(Drunken Dolly playing their bloody amazing awesome mega hit ‘Hold On’ at Bevrijdingsfestival Zuid Rotterdam 2018)

NEW FILM. A REBEL I CAME- THE STORY OF ÉIRE ÓG LIVE AT THE BRAZEN HEAD

In 1997 Éire Óg released their Live At The Brazen Head album, one of the most iconic rebel album of its generation. This film, produced by The Rebel Collective podcast, brings together some of the original members of the band and many other prominent musicians from the rebel/folk scene to discuss how the band and album came about, its impact and legacy more then twenty years later.

Many of the best rebel bands of the modern era hail from Glasgow. Among them Saoirse, Athenrye, Shebeen, Mise Éire and Pádraig Mór but the foremost was the legendary Éire Óg who led the way inspiring all around them. Formed in Glasgow, Scotland in the early 1990’s, they toured throughout Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Europe and the USA extensively during their time together.
What made them unique was their introduction of the marching drums to their music, a style that has subsequently been copied by many bands ever since. It gave them an unmistakable and uncompromising sound that became the soundtrack of an entire generation during a period of civil strife prior to the IRA ceasefire of the late nineties.
The band was led by Irish republican supporter, Glasgow-born folk rock singer Gary Og, who is now a successful solo artist and we recommend checking him out here.

The video is viewable for free but we would appreciate if you could donate to: 
https://angortamorglasgow.com

An Gorta Mór Glasgow

 We’re Building a Famine Memorial in Glasgow

Between 1845 and 1855 over one million people fled starvation conditions in Ireland. Around 100,000 made their way to Glasgow. Coiste Cuimhneachain An Gorta Mór (Great Hunger Memorial Committee) has been formed to build a permanent memorial to those who died of starvation or were forced to emigrate, including those who came to our city during ‘An Gorta Mór’.

We need to have a monument worthy of the memory of our ancestors who were forced to leave Ireland and those who were starved to death by the British government and the British ruling class, so please give generously. There is an online shop where you can buy goods with the An Gorta Mor logo. All profits go to the fundraising plot. Thank you. We are building it!

THE REBEL COLLECTIVE

The Rebel Collective podcast is a monthly music based podcast that features various guests of a rebel nature. We will be getting to know some of their favourite songs and the songs that helped shape the artist they are today, and hopefully gaining a bit of insight into their background and influences.

Podcast  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter

BUY LIVE AT THE BRAZEN HEAD CD HERE

ALBUM REVIEW: TORTILLA FLAT LIVE AT OLD CAPITOL (2019)

Full blooded Highland bagpipes and chugging punky guitars from one of Europe’s greatest Celtic-Punk bands. The new album from Switzerland’s Tortilla Flat is a special dual CD and DVD release of their concert in Langenthal at this refurbished beautiful old cinema.

A week after we reviewed our first live album in over a year lo and behold another one lands on our doorstep. While The Fighting Jamesons album was recorded at a outdoor festival Tortilla Flat have chosen their headlining gig at the exquisite Old Capitol music venue from 4th November, 2017. Taking their name from the John Steinbeck humorous novel of the same name about a bunch of Californian outsiders who want to own nothing and get drunk, Tortilla Flat formed in 1991 and have at their core Chris, Ritchie and Lexu who at various times are joined by the The Independent Pipers who keep up a steady supply of expert bagpipers whenever they are required. For a lot of bands in the Celtic-Punk scene the priority has always been the live show and so for a lot of bands their releases don’t quite tally up with how long they have been together but Tortilla Flat have never neglected the recording side of things and this will be their eighth album release during their eighteen years together. Their last release being 2018’s tribute to the vinyl single The 45rpm accompanied by garage-surf-punk legend Jorgen Red Westman which we featured here.

Here’s a band that easily sits slap bang on the line between Celtic and Punk and in a scene where most bands naturally try to sound like the two biggest bands in the scene, the Murphys and the Mollys, here though is a band that tries to steer their own path. Also rather unusually they take the Celticness of Scotland rather than Ireland as their major influence. That’s not to say that a few Irish tunes don’t show up but that it’s Scotland calling the shots here.

Tortilla Flat left to right: Ritchie: Bass, Harp * Tom MacFly- Bagpipes * Lexu- Drums, Acoustic Guitar * Violin- Christine * Accordion- Asi MacHasi * Rob Highlander- Bagpipes * Chris- Electric Guitar, Lead Vocals

The album kicks off in style with a duo of great songs with the traditional ‘Scotland The Brave’ and Tortilla Flat penned number ‘The Great Escape’ getting things started. It’s the roar of the pipes that gets you going here so if you’re one of that rare breed of Celtic-Punk fans who don’t like bagpipes then this band isn’t for you. On the other hand if you love bagpipes then you will bloody love Tortilla Flat! After all their are not many bands in the scene with two pipers at its core and sometimes they have been known to have even more!

Straight away it has to be noted that the sound here is absolutely perfect. No surprise I am sure after all why bother if it didn’t but it as well as the perfect sound it also manages to portray transfer their live in concert sound to disc. Live At Old Capitol is great value with twenty-three songs and a running time of a very impressive seventy-two minutes which is almost the maximum you can fit on a compact disc. Alongside a collection of great tracks from their back catalogue such as the brilliant ‘1946’  as well as ‘Don’t Ask Why’ and ‘Tough Love’ from their debut album. On a album that’s split roughly 50/50 between covers and originals it’s the self penned tracks that stand out for me but these lads know their way around a fair traditional tune tune too with a bunch of Scots and Irish tunes that the band have been playing since their early days. Rare Old Mountain Dew’, I’m A Rover’, ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘The Rising Of The Moon’ are among the highlights and ‘Amazing Grace’ may only be ninety odd seconds long but would give the Dropkicks more than a good run for their money and even better as it morphs into the albums standout track, the wonderful, ‘F.U.C.K.U.’! The album ends with a great run of songs from last years tribute to the punk rock 7″ vinyl single ‘The 45 rpm’ to a spirited version of  ‘Auld Lang Syne’ that sounds more like Dropkick Murphys trying to sound like AC/Dc than you could ever imagine possible. The Hank Williams Country classic ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ sees the band cast their net further than the Celtic nations and a great version though I would recommend checking out the original as well (here) before the curtain comes down with the song that burst Celtic-Rock into the mainstream Whiskey In The Jar’. When Thin Lizzy stormed the charts with it back in 1973 they were one of a handful of bands that would begin the process that leads right up to where Tortilla Flat and contemporaries sit today.

So a whopping seventy odd minutes of full on classic bagpipe’n’roll that is full of warmth and absolutely great music. The sound as as we said is perfect so a big hats off to the band and Mauro Grossud who produced it. Tortilla Flat are a Celtic-Punk band that fully embraces the culture and sound of the Celtic nations and while their are moments when you can compare their sound to others on the whole they have ploughed their own furrow and managed to come up with something that stands on its own feet. Tortilla Flat’s sound has wide appeal and it’s completely in the spirit of Celtic-Punk that their music would appeal to both punks and traditional music fans alike.

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO OF THE CONCERT

HERE

Discography

In The Grip Of The Grape (LP- 1996) * As Usual (LP- 1999) * All Hail (7″- 2002) * Dirty Old Town (EP- 2004) * At The Tavern (LP- 2005) * From Vine To Wine (LP- 2008) * A Trainload Full Of Stout (LP- 2009) * The Great Escape (LP- 2013) * Today (Single- 2013) * Forward To The Past (LP- 2017) * The 45rpm (7″-2018)

Buy Tortilla Flat Live At Old Capitol

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Contact Tortilla Flat

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

dialogue from “TORTILLA FLAT” by John Steinbeck, 1935

ALBUM REVIEW: THE FIGHTING JAMESONS- ‘A Moment In California’ (2019)

The Fighting Jamesons deliver a live recording from last year’s Get Shamrocked Festival. Traditional style Irish music but with an aggressive and energetic modern-day approach.

With two solid studio album releases behind them The Fighting Jamesons have chosen their fantastic live set from Get Shamrocked 2018 as their next album to hit the stores. Hailing from the resort town of Virginia Beach in California they have quickly gained a strong presence on the East Coast with their constant touring and great relationship with their fans. Formed in 2010 they play a style of Celtic-Punk akin to Flogging Molly in that they are almost acoustic but still mange to kick up a racket. As we said in our review of Every Day Above Ground back in 2014

“Heads down and fast as humanly possible is how The Fighting Jamesons like it and we have to say we bloody love it too!”

and as they are a band that earns their bread and butter on the live circuit it’s no surprise that A Moment In California is more of the same in a extremely tight set of 50% well known and loved trad Irish folk covers and 50% of their own material.

The live set was recorded at Get Shamrocked Festival which, now in its seventh year, has the whole Celtic-Punk community salivating every year when it’s line up is released! Much like Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog festival it’s sadly something most of us will only ever watch via You Tube but with its mix of Celtic-Rock and Punk alongside Folk, contemporary and traditional music it’s definitely on my To-Do list when i win the lottery. Started in 2012 by second generation Irishman Paul Little the festival is held in California attracting thousands to watch some of the best bands around as well as international bands such as The Go-Set and Sir Reg in recent years.

The album begins with one of The Fighting Jamesons most famous of their own tracks ‘How I Ended Up This Way’ but starts with a touching tribute to the parents of 17 year old Irish-American Cullen Connolly who tragically died in a car crash in 2015 caused by a drunk driver. A huge baseball and Celtic-Punk fan who loved The Mahones, Gaelic Storm and The Young Dubliners among others. Cullen lived with neuro muscular disorder but never let it affect him and he lived a full and enjoyable life surrounded by loved ones before it was snatched away. One of the stages at the festival has been named after him. A really nice touch from the festivals organisers.

(the opening song from The Fighting Jamesons 2016 set at Get Shamrocked)

The album begins with the Jamesons original ‘How I Ended Up This Way’ telling of life in an Irish-American family and a day on the lash that gets out of hand! The Fighting Jamesons play hard and fast but in a completely accessible way and I’m sure half the audience would think they are Celtic-Punk while the other half Celtic-Rock! Great tune, catchy as hell with great lyrics and a band at the top of their game. Listening to this first song you can see why they chose to release it as the production (hats off to Chris Kendrick) and sound is absolutely perfect.  Plans are afoot for them to have their set at this years festival properly recorded and maybe released so keep an eye out for that among other things in The Fighting Jamesons camp. Next we have, without a doubt, the most overplayed cover in Irish history, Drunken Sailor! They do a good job of it is all I can say. The next couple of songs were my favourites off Every Day Above Ground starting with ‘What Does It Mean?’ and show what great songwriters they are. It remains a favourite again here in no small part to its absolutely fecking great chorus. Jeffrey’s fiddle and Miles accordion really come into their own here. Again the song is fastly played but still firmly with its feet in the folk camp despite George’s thrashy guitar and Justin and Vince on drums and bass giving it that extra ‘punky’ bite. ‘Year Gone By’ lulls you into the belief it’s going to a slow dirge of a sea shany before exploding in yer ears and we get more catchy full throttle Irish music that is made equally at home in the intimate pub or any big festival.  We earlier compared them to Flogging Molly but the comparison is to the Molly’s at their best.

Next up is the Irish-American classic ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’. Made most famous in Celtic-Punk by The Dropkick Murphys who never fail to play it in each live show. An anti-war anthem for each generation since it first appeared in 1867. Like the band the song’s roots are in Ireland but it’s only with the added American experience that it became a real American folk classic. They play the first half slow before the second half comes blasting out. Superb. ‘An Irish Medley’ is arranged by the band and is a bunch of well known Irish folk songs (‘Fields Of Athenry’, ‘Streams Of Whiskey’, Seven Drunken Nights etc.,)  bashed out in that certain Fighting Jamesons way. Next is ‘Tell Me Ma/The Last Thing I Remember’ and beginning with the famous folk song before morphing into their self penned tragic tale of alcohol abuse. The well known tale of a life lost in alcohol and oblivion. On the album this song is slow and angry but here is played with an urgency that tops the version off Every Day Above Ground.  There but for the grace of God…

“Every day not wasted is a wasted day”

Next up is a rather interesting cover of ‘Eleanor Rigby’ by The Beatles. Now The Beatles were an Irish band without any doubt (check out our feature The Beatles And Ireland here for proof) but it’s still came as a bit of a shock to find this classic Lennon/McCartney song sat in the middle of The Fighting Jamesons set. The bhoys kick it off with a short rap with is no doubt from small massive worldwide smash that sold a billion copies but completely passed me by! It’s a spirited version and you can’t go wrong with such great material to start with though it does show the bands versatility. ‘One More Drink’ is the last of the original material and again and one to grab your mates and let loose at the end of the night. ‘A Moment In California’ is not a song but band vocalist and banjo player Mike Powers giving a nice shout out to the bands fans and hands out some goof plain old advice we could all do with listening to. The curtain comes down on A Moment In California with perhaps the traditional Irish folk song most suited to be turned into a Celtic-Punk rocker!! ‘The Irish Rover’ has been around for donkey’s years but most outside the Irish community will remember it for the brilliant Pogues and Dubliners collaboration back in 1987. That version still gets plenty of airtime and still earns the fella’s and their families a pretty penny I am sure! Here The Fighting Jamesons give it plenty of oompf go off road a couple of times before going out on a really energetic high and I can imagine on a line-up of memorable acts at last years festival The Fighting Jamesons were one on the most memorable!

The Fighting Jamesons left to right: Jeffrey McLaughlin- Backing Vocals, Fiddle * Miles Hoyle- Accordion * George Bauman- Lead Guitar * Mike Powers- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo * * Justin Conner- Drums * Vince Kafigian- Bass *

2019 will see the band hitting the studio again later this year to record their third full length studio album and even some distant plans to cross the broad Atlantic so keep an eye upon what they are up to. A Moment In California is officially released tomorrow, and will be available on almost all big music streaming outlets ie. iTunes, amazon music, Spotify Microsoft music etc. We don’t get a lot of live recordings to London Celtic Punks and on hearing this I can only regret their aren’t more. Nearly a hour of fantastically played fast Irish folk with very wide appeal from a band who though polished come across as sincere and heartfelt in all the right places and funny and ramshackle too. A great band and if they they ever come near where you live then move heaven and earth to go see them as on the evidence here you are guaranteed a night to remember.
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Cullen’s Mam and Dad have set up a charity in honour of their son- Cullens Claddagh. You can check that out here and they would especially like to hear from any bands wishing to donate merchandise they could raffle off to raise money for the charity.

(raise a glass to Cullen this St. Patrick’s day. We’ll remember you in London mate)