Category Archives: Album Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ray: Awesome answer, I’m AOH Myself.

Bill: As am I…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Revolutions  Amazon  Apple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Stars’ is again from the same Mahones album as ‘Someone Save Me’ and again was co-written with Katie. A loving tribute to the life of Oscar Wilde. A sad tale of the famed Irish poet and playwright convicted of “gross indecency” at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He was imprisoned and died in poverty in 1900 at the tragically early age of 46. One of The Mahones better ‘modern’ songs it has a fantastic chorus and Finny tells the story with grace. Finny has always had a bit of a Shane drawl and puts it to good use on ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’. Even among the stone cold classics Shane MacGowan penned this song is one of a handful that tower above even them. Fellow Mahone Michael O’Grady adds haunting tin-whistle and Glenn Milchem drums as Finny sticks closely to the original. Maybe a bit too closely at the end!! On a album that is so tender ‘New York City’ seems a bit out place with its Glam-Rock bounce and chunky guitar but then why wouldn’t a solo album follow the same pattern as The Mahones. He never said it was going to be a quiet album. Loud and bombastic and taken from The Hunger And The Fight Pt. 2 from 2015 Finny channels the 1970’s for the next few songs beginning with this tribute to NYC. Maybe the cities best era as despite it’s high crime rate and poverty it wasn’t full of fucking yuppies. The introduction of piano for ‘So Far Away’ is masterful as Finny sounds like he’s chatting someone in a pub in the early hours. Again piano led ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ sees Finny’s gravelly vocal chords giving a simple but stunning rendition of Lou Reed’s original. Though the covers here are great it is Finny’s own material that shines through. On ‘We’re Miles Apart’ he talks maybe about himself and maybe he doesn’t. A sad song about lovers who become friends. I’ve always though Finny was cut from the same cloth as the legendary Tom Waits and on the Waitsy ‘Cocktail Blues’, swishing drums and jazz piano steer clear of ‘Jazz Club’ comparisons thank God. From one of the earliest Mahones albums The Hellfire Club Sessions from 1999 it drops the Gaelic touches and sticks tightly to ‘lounge lizard’ territory. The curtain comes down with a song in tribute to Gord Downie from Finny’s home town of Kingston in Ontario. Gord passed away in 2017 of cancer and is remembered as lead singer and lyricist for the The Tragically Hip’ ‘Fiddlers Green’ is a great tribute and played stripped back with just Finny and acoustic guitar.

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

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

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

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

Buy The Dark Streets Of Love  TrueNorthRecords   OtherCorporateBullshitSites

Contact Finny McConnell  Facebook  Instagram  Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Songs From A Haunted Ballroom

Download  Here  Cleopatra Records  CD   or  Vinyl

Contact The Skids  WebSite  Facebook 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Through Dark Valleys  Bandcamp

Contact Seth Martin  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RAISE YOUR PINTS #6

Contact Muirsheen Durkin  WebSite  Facebook  ReverbNation  Spotify  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black Dingo Productions  WebSite  Facebook

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

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

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

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

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

The Phantom and Mather Louth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Time to take a vow and consecrate

Using skin and motion as my bait

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

Lucifer just don’t want to wait…”

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

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

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

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

Buy The Witch  Bandcamp (Download/CD)

Contact Phantom Of The Black Hills  Facebook  YouTube  Bandcamp

Ratchet Blade Records  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

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

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

PHANTOM OF THE BLACK HILLS

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

From the scene. For the scene.

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

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

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

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

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

RAISE YOUR PINTS VOLUME 6

THE MULLINS (France) – ‘Part Of Me’

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

THE CEILI FAMILY (Germany) – ‘Corona Chesay’

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

THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS (Germany) – ‘Dirty Bastards’

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

GRASS MUD HORSE (China) ‘ Absent Friends’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHNNY HASH (Ireland) – ‘Ride On’

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

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

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

MEDUSAS WAKE (Australia) – War Of Independence

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

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

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

AN SPIORAD (Germany) – ‘Carry Me Home’

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

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

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

NEVERMIND NESSIE (Belgium) – ‘Lock Him Up’

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

KILKENNY BASTARDS (Germany) – ‘Be A Bastard’

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

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

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

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

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

LA STOATS (Germany) – ‘Raise Your Pints’

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

MUIRSHEEN DURKIN (Germany) – ‘Riot’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bastion Bhoys of Boston do it again!

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

Anyway, let’s dive in!

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

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

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

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

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

Dropkick Murphys  WebSite  Facebook  Store

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

Dropkick Murphys – Fan Page

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

https://templarsofdoom.bandcamp.com/

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

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

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

29 January 1961:

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

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

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

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

Caspar Llewellyn Smith June 2011

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

Track Listing

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

LINK1   LINK2   LINK3   LINK4*

( * file including artwork, notes, bonus tracks )

WOODROW WILSON ‘Woody’ GUTHRIE (1912-1967)

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

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

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

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

for more like this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Bodh’aktan  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  LastFM  Soundcloud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Bugul Noz  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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

Folk Drunk Folk Punk!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Outlive Death  Bandcamp

Contact The Real McCoys  Facebook  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Headsticks  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The album is also available from Stomp Records

Contact The Peelers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube 

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

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

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

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

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

Our audiences always had a good time!

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

“Alex Harvey auditioning for X-Ray Spex”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selection of Glasgow Tremens releases

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

Cheers, Raymy Tremens

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy 7 Ol’ Jerks  Amazon  Apple  Spotify

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

Contact The Dead Rabbits Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Celtic Cross – ’40 Shades Of Blue’

Pat McGuire – ‘Too Late To Turn Back’

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

The Gobshites – ‘Livin’ In America’

Rory K. – ‘Desperate’

Gary Óg – ‘James Connolly’

Martin Furey – ‘Rockin’ The Bronx’

 

Buy After Hours  Fanlink  ValleyEntertainent  Bandcamp

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

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Nevermind Nessie  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Hestia  (CD/ Download/ Vinyl) Here

Contact The Rumjacks   WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

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

https://www.antomorra.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Sing, Ye Bastards!  Prosodia: CD or Download

Contact Tir Na Og  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW (1970)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Johnny Cash  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  The Johnny Cash Trail  

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

for more like this…

INTERVIEW WITH WU WEI FROM CHINESE CELTIC-PUNK BAND SMZB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMZB – ‘Mao’s Great Famine Official Video

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1/17/21  Michael X. Rose

Contact SMZB  Facebook

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

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

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS 2020 READERS POLL WINNER ANNOUNCED

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

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

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

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

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

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

NUMBER ONE

Buy Of Bright Futures…and Broken Pasts Download

Contact The Go-Set  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

NUMBER TWO

Buy Songs For The Wicked  Bandcamp (CD or Download)

Contact McScallywag  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

NUMBER THREE

Buy Comedies And Tragedies CD- FromTheBand  Download- Spotify  AppleMusic 

Contact Black Water County  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

*

READERS POLL 2018   READERS POLL 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact The New Ruffians  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

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

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

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

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

Contact The Mahones  FacebookPage  FacebookGroup YouTube  Instagram

RUNA – ‘The Tide of Winter’

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

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

Buy The Tide of Winter  CD- FromTheBand  Download- Here

Contact Runa  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ALESTORM – ‘Curse Of the Crystal Coconut’

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

Contact Alestorm  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram

MAGGIE’S FLOCK – Party At The Cemetery

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

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

Buy Party At The Cemetary – Vinyl/CD FromTheBand

Contact Maggie’s Flock  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

BARBAR’O’RHUM – Journal de B’O’R

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

Contact Barbar O’Rhum  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/87dJlpyzIP8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy No Mercy  FromTheBand

Contact Celt And Piper  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Welcome To The Ball FromTheBand

Contact The Stanfields  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Teckle An Hide  TarbeachRecords

Contact The Cundeez  Facebook  YouTube  Spotify  Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Glass To Mouth  CD/Vinyl

Contact The Stubby Shillelaghs  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

TRACKS 

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

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

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

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

Buy The Pogues BBC Sessions  AppleMusic  Amazon  iTunes  Spotify

ALBUM REVIEW: McSCALLYWAY – ‘Songs For The Wicked ‘ (2020)

McScallywag are an Dutch Celtic-Punk band. Influenced by traditional Irish Folk music, sea-shanties and good ol’ Drinking songs their second studio album Songs For The Wicked sees the light of day tomorrow!!

This year has been a tough one on all of us but has hit the music industry particularly hard. Most bands have had their album releases shelved, tours cancelled, and plans for world domination put on hold. It must be an extremely difficult time keeping the band members motivated when there is little chance of live performances or releasing new music. It isn’t easy for bands in the Celtic / Folk Punk genre to release a new album in normal times so to do so in the current climate is an exceptional achievement. Well our friends from the Netherlands, McScallywag have defied all the restrictions, lockdowns and other obstacles to deliver their new album Songs For The Wicked. What a brilliant achievement and what an excellent album!!

McScallywag top left: Ashley Buitenwerf – Electric Guitar * top right: Arian Sikkens – Lead Vocals, Banjo *bottom left to right: Ruud Platje – Drums * Talitha Barelds – Bass * Tom Kootstra – Acoustic Guitar * Frodo Bosma – Accordion *

McScallywag are based in Groningen, a city in northern Netherlands. The band was formed in 2013 when members of the hardcore punk band De Klootviolen decided to go in a completely new direction having fallen head over heels with Irish music. They describe themselves as “Dropkick Murphys meets The Pogues” McScallywag’s songs are full of what you would expect. Obviously the subject of drinking comes up but the band don’t confine themselves to being a stereotypical Celtic-Punk band and they intertwine songs about getting pished with the everyday struggles of staying sane in modern day society. Songs vary from mellow and acoustic to Punky and fast and as evidenced by their You Tube channel they are a pretty explosive live act as well.

Their debut album Dirty Water was released June 2016 their debut album Dirty Water was nine songs and half an hour of high tempo original Celtic-Punk that came out at a time when Celtic-Punk had never been as popular in the Netherlands. Circle J, Bunch Of Bastards, LQR, Drunken Dolly, Pyrolysis and The Royal Spuds are all plying their trade over there and we were even due to host a special Dutch Celtic-Punk night here in London till you know what happened! All these bands exist side by side with a sense of co-operation that ought to exist in every music scene. The music may be fast and furious and though acoustic it still owes much to Hardcore Punk in many ways. McScallywag are one of them Folky bands that plays as loud plugged in as not!

Mc Scallywag are a 6-piece band whose original roots come from hardcore punk but have developed into more traditional celtic folk but keep the raw punk edge. With a mix of guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, cello, drums and accordion Mc Scallywag make perfect drinking music. The accordion on the new album really catches your ear more so than on any other album I can remember. Its exceptional.

All songs written by the band themselves (no ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ here!) and were recorded at Twang Wolf Studio just outside Groningen. The excellent artwork for the sleeve has been done by Steven van Calcar and is crying out to be whacked on a t-shirt (hint hint!).

Although the band is less than 10 years old the new album has a very mature sound. It’s a mixture of high tempo tunes such as The Ballydesmond Polka, Out of Sight Out of Mind and Remember Me along with the slower pace of Run Away and Coming Home. A well-balanced album all round. Unfortunately, due to our current situation it’s not likely we will be able to join the McScallywag guys for a live gig anytime soon which is a real shame. So for now its hat’s off to the guys on the new album and hopefully well be able to catch you at the bar next year.

(you can stream or download Songs For The Wicked via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Songs For The Wicked  Bandcamp (CD or Download)

Contact McScallywag  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DOWNLOAD OPEN UP THE DOOR

LINK1   LINK2(not UK)   LINK3   LINK4

for more like this…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Never Say Die live at Sparta Inn August 2019)

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

Buy Punk Rock Pirates  FromTheBand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Get up and dance and drink all night”

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Paddy Murphy – WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact The Jamestown Brothers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Batten Down The Hatches  Here