Category Archives: Album Review

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS 2022 READERS CHOICE WINNER

We finally wave goodbye to 2022 with the announcement of who you the beloved readers of this site have chosen as the best of ’22.

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018 – KRAKIN’ KELLYS 169 votes  (524 total)

2019 – MICKEY RICKSHAW 94 Votes  (476 total)

2020 – THE GO-SET 281 votes  (1105 total)

2021 –  FEROCIOUS DOG 430 votes (1576 total)

The response to this year’s poll has been incredible. Almost every year the poll has run, the number of votes has increased dramatically. This time, by nearly 200 votes to 1,726. From the very start this year it was a two horse race between England’s own Ferocious Dog and Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell with both way ahead of newcomers to the Celtic-Punk scene Reina Roja from Madrid. For the first time ever the artist with the winning number of votes hasn’t been an album but still an excellent show from Finnegan’s Hell. A mention here for Yorkshire banjo Punks Shanghai Treason too finishing in sixth place. There were over 600 votes in the ‘other’ section which I had to count individually and then go back and double check as some results were very close. Over here we believe in getting things right when people vote (!) so that’s why it’s taken a couple of days to tally up the final scores but here at last they finally are. Congratulations to everyone and cheers and beers to all who voted!

We have had such a diverse group of artists to win this award and this years winners Finnegan’s Hell are no different. We could see the writing on the wall with all the people from Sweden voting. Not that their fan base is reserved to their home country. They’re pretty popular in Hackney too! Reina Roja have done exceedingly well for a new band to these pages, coming in second place. In the Murphys Vs Mollys competition it was Flogging Molly who won easily winning over their Boston rivals in both the official London Celtic Punks Best Of 2022 awards and the 2022 Readers Choice.

1. FINNEGAN’S HELL – One Finger Salute

2. REINA ROJA – Hooligan Folk

3. FLOGGING MOLLY – Anthem

Usually it stands to reason that most votes will go to the ones that were actually listed on the poll but this year Ferocious Dog stormed away with the title with 455 votes. A record for our Readers Poll which they already held from last year! Only two other EP’s gathered any significant votes with loads more getting only single figures.

1. FEROCIOUS DOG – Too Late

2. BRICK TOP BLAGGERS – Obey The Tyrant

3. THE DEAD IRISH – Four Corners Of Hell

Thanks dear readers for taking part in the poll and congratulations to Finnegan’s Hell and Ferocious Dog. The further away we move from the covid lock downs the more it seems like some dystopian nightmare. Those days could have destroyed the Celtic-Punk scene, but on the evidence of last year’s releases the scene has bounced back and is as strong as ever. Our dream is that 2023 will bring these bands the recognition and success they richly deserve. Thanks to you for supporting London Celtic Punks and we ended ’22 with our highest yearly readership of all time, so expect good things from us too! Why not consider subscribing and never miss a post (the box is on the left when viewed on your lap top) or send us your email through the Contact Us page.

PREVIOUS READERS CHOICE – 201820192020 * 2021

EP REVIEW: MORGAN’S BLUFF – Chaser (2023)

New Year’s Day saw the release of a 3-track EP from Arizona based Celtic rockers Morgan’s Bluff, sadly featuring the last recordings with the late great Patrick Fowler, band accordionist, tin whistle player and vocalist.

Arriving on our doorstep just after its release on New Years Day we were originally delighted to hear from Morgan’s Bluff that they had a new release out. This was tempered though when we looked into the email and found out that it was the last recordings from their awesome accordion player (and more!) the late great Patrick Fowler. Poor Patrick was murdered last October in a indiscriminate shooting in Phoenix and was an innocent bystander. We hope that his murderer is caught soon and sees the justice he thoroughly deserves.
Morgan’s Bluff were formed by friends Paul Allen and Chris Sheridan and after several attempts and even more band members they were beginning to run out of patience that the band would never really get going That was till one day Chris got a call from Patrick saying he wanted to come to a band practice and see what happens. Having met together at one of the guys homes they began setting up when Patrick asked “what instrument do i play?”.  No one had yet set what instruments each of them were to play so Patrick pulled out his accordion and the band kicked off. It soon came to an abrupt end though when about an hour later the next door neighbour banged on the door and said “if you don’t stop i’m calling the police”. Still the band had finally began and after several more practice locations and unfortunately more members, Morgan’s Bluff were finally a band and they all knew what instruments to play!
Their debut album, the self titled Morgan’s Bluff, was released in November, 2020 and was seven original tracks that covered all the bases of Irish-American Celtic-Punk rock. From the accordion led opening track ‘Brutality’ with it’s bouncy Ska base to the closing track ‘Home Tonight’ the influences don’t stop and start with Celtic-Folk with the full American immigrant experience her somewhere!
The EP opens with ‘Fading Away’ and you can hear Patrick’s accordion loud and proud in a song that reminds me of the Dropkick Murphys at their most contemplative. Slow and swirling but filled with attitude and ballsy as hell. The second of the three songs is ‘One More Round’ and the obligatory drinking song. More traditional Celtic-Punk from its Irish Folk opening to glorious subject matter. Working your fingers down to the bone and never getting your full due it’s a celebration of blue-collar working class life and working for the weekend. Something that many of us do and aren’t ashamed of it. The EP ends with ‘Lost In Hoboken’ and another upbeat number with Patrick’s accordion pushed to the fore. A great way to end things with a tale of  great night out when you shouldn’t have stayed for that final pint but the lure was just too strong.

Chaser is a fantastic release and my only problem is that their isn’t more of it. We are pleased to hear that Morgan’s Bluff are carrying on. It is, I am sure, what Patrick would have wanted and this is a great legacy for his friends and family to remember him by.

(Chaser is only available on Bandcamp at the moment. You can stream the EP in its entirety and download Chaser for just $2 via the Bandcamp player below)

Contact Morgan’s Bluff  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

Buy Chaser  Bandcamp

We are very pleased to be able to publish a tribute to Patrick in the following few days from his bandmates in Morgan’s Bluff.

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2022!

It’s that time of year again for the London Celtic Punks annual Best Of list. Has it really been a year since The Peelers waltzed (or should that be jigged) off with album of the year? It’s been possibly the best year for Celtic-Punk since we started doing this site and this was easily the closest it has ever been in that time. Pretty much all the big hitters, with one or two one notable exception (The Tossers where were you!), released records and on top of that a bunch of debut albums that were top class too.

so without further ado…

CLICK ON THE GREEN LINK TO BE FORWARDED TO REVIEW

2022’s #1 was the amazing new album from THE MAHONES. That they are as prolific as they are and yet can still put out quality like this 30 + years on is incredible. Well done Finny & co. FLOGGING MOLLY won the battle of the big Celtic-Punk 2 with the DROPKICKS and were also the best gig of the year for me personally (August in Dublin with Ferocious Dog). THE LUCKY TROLLS followed on from their Best EP award from 2019 with the highest place for any ‘outsider’ this year while Scandinavian stalwarts SIR REG gave us possibly their best album yet. REINA ROJA from Spain were another highly placed new band and their were several others among the Top 30. Their were also a handful of albums that didn’t qualify for the chart but were worth noting including a couple of greatest hits albums THE REAL McKENZIES Float Me Boat and UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS The Story So Far that were both superb introductions to the bands, the second volume of the Black 47 covers compilation AFTER HOURS VOL. 2 and finally the HEADSTICKS 10th anniversary album of the best songs of their career to date re-recorded.

1. THE MAHONES – Jameson Street

2. FLOGGING MOLLY – Anthem

3. DROPKICK MURPHYS – This Machine Still Kills Fascists

4. THE LUCKY TROLLS – Raised Fist And Rebel Songs

5. SIR REG – Kings Of Sweet Feck All

6. REINA ROJA – Hooligan Folk

7. FINNEGAN’S HELL – One Finger Salute

8. REAL McKENZIES – Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea

9. HOIST THE COLOURS – When Daylight Breaks

10. SHANGHAI TREASON – Shanghai Treason

11. PADDY’S PUNK – With Full Horse

12. THE TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN – Regressive Folk Music

13. ZECKYBOYS – Dirty Brands

14. THE MOORINGS – March On

15. THE MULLINS – Gold In Our Hands

16. PADDY AND THE RATS – From Wasteland To Wonderland

17. SYRSentinel 

18. MAN THE LIFEBOATS – Soul Of Albion

19. THE GROGGY DOGS – Still Groggin’

20. WHISKEY’S WAKE – Wake Up Whiskey

21. JAMIE CLARKE’S PERFECT – Monkey See Monkey Do

22. O’HAMSTERS – From Green Hills To Raging Sea

23. SLAINTE – Up Down 95

24. THE ENDINGS – Completely Pickled

25. THE CUNDEEZ – Geez It

26. THE ROYAL SPUDS – Roots Of Life

27. THE DREADNOUGHTS – Roll And Go

28. THE SCARLET – Freedom Call 

29. TEMPLARS OF DOOM – Rising Of The Doom!

30. DRUNKEN FIGHTERS – Someday

Bubbling over: THEIGNS AND THRALLS – Theigns And Thralls 

As funny as it may seem the Best Debut Album award for 2022 was decided way back in January last year when the long awaited self titled debut album from Yorkshire banjo Punks SHANGHAI TREASON arrived in the post. Eleven original songs of high tempo energetic Celtic-Punk with some of the best banjo we heard all year long! On top of that later in the year they released a 3-track EP of songs that didn’t make the album that was also superb!  That’s not to say it was a easy choice as by the end of the year REINA ROJA, THE LUCKY TROLLS and ZECKYBOYS all put out albums that challenged the Treason and in any other year could easily have won the award themselves.

A well deserved top two for THE RUMJACKS and their new singer Mikee. The split EP with FLATFOOT 56 in particular was absolutely flawless! Their were fantastic debut releases from THE DEAD IRISH, THE GALLOWGATE MURDERS and THE RAMSTAMPITS out of the Celtic nations of Ireland and Scotland that completely blew us away and were eagerly anticipated. A word here for BOG IRON from California who I found completely by accident and been playing ever since.

1. THE RUMJACKS / FLATFOOT 56 Split EP

2. THE RUMJACKS – Brass For Gold

3. THE DEAD IRISH – Four Corners Of Hell

4. THE GALLOWGATE MURDERS – ‘ Dead, Gone And Living On’

5. BRICK TOP BLAGGERS – Obey The Tyrant

6. BOG IRON – Star Of The County Down

7. DISTILLERY RATS – We Are Rats

8.  THE KILLIGANS – Dread Naught

9. KRAKIN’ KELLYS – Old Ways New Days

10. THE RAMSTAMPITS – Light The Beacon

Bubbling Under: THE CLOVERHEARTS – Still Pissed / JAMESTOWN BROTHERS – Just Is

In what is usually the hardest category to choose from we actually had a very easy choice this year with the new album from Boston singer-songwriter BRYAN McPHERSON never off our play list all year long. The great news is that Bryan is heading to these shores in the Summer and we are very happy to be helping out. Dundalk’s THE MARY WALLOPERS were busy all year round and ended 2022 with a sell out London show and a debut album in December. The debut album from THE WINTER CODES saw a welcome return to the wider music scene for Barney the original vocalist for Blood Or Whiskey. Some may be surprised to find the first solo album from MARCUS MUMFORD listed but it really was a great album both musically but especially lyrically. 

1. BRYAN McPHERSON – How To Draw Everything

2. THE MARY WALLOPERS – The Mary Wallopers

3. OYSTERBAND – Read The Sky

4. IAN PROWSE – One Hand On The Starry Plough

5. PRONGHORN – Welcome To Pronghorn Country

6. BODH’AKTAN – Valcourt Sessions

7. BURBRIDGE AND BOOTH – Icons

8. THE WINTER CODES – Set The Darkness Reeling

9. THE ALT – Day Is Come

10. MARCUS MUMFORD – (self-titled)

A new section this year and the first winner is THE OUTCAST CREW out of Laois in the Irish midlands. A new single and video directed, filmed and edited by Thomas Moyles that came out at the end of the Summer. Laois is famous for an abbey, some gardens, a castle and a couple of lakes and now a kickarse class Celtic-Celtic-Punk. They won the 2020 Celtic Punk debut album of the year and it’s about time we heard some more guys!

The competition for best Celtic-Punk video of the year was incredible so next year (which will be our 10th anniversary) we will make a bit more effort and maybe even include you in the decision!!

There were several people involved in the collation of these results and so it is that some of those people may not have heard every album listed or released through the year. If you’re album is not listed maybe you didn’t send it us or not all the folks here heard it so couldn’t give a opinion so really don’t feel too put out. We’re not perfect but we do try our best.

This is the ninth year we’ve been doing these Best Of lists. It seems incredible looking back at some of the previous winners and also-ran’s just how many bands are still with us from Year 1. Have a look for yourselves just click on the year below to redirect.

*  2013  *  2014  *  2015  *  2016  *  2017  *  2018  *  2019  *  2020  * 2021 *

THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS SHOP

If you like what we do then why not visit our  shop where you can buy all manner of Celtic-Punk tatt including t-shirts, badges, stickers, CD’s, fridge magnets, patches, Celtic nations flags and we just got in new for ’22 some bobble hats and polo shirts.

https://the30492shop.fwscart.com/

Alongside the Best Of polls we also run a special Readers Choice poll where you get to pick your favourite release of the year. This will be the fifth year it’s been running with Krakin’ Kellys, Mickey Rickshaw, The Go-Set and Ferocious Dog our previously champions! Last year we had well over 1500 votes (the most ever!) so remember the auld Irish adage ‘Vote Early – Vote Often’. There is only room on the form to list the Top Ten albums but there is an option for YOU to write in your favourite release (album or EP) of the year.

Poll will run until midnight on Tuesday 31st January 2023. You can vote twice. If the release you want to vote for is not listed then you can write it in.

Keep up to date with London Celtic Punks web-zine for all the latest news, record reviews, features and plenty more. Find all our social media here

https://linktr.ee/londoncelticpunks

to subscribe to the web-zine email londoncelticpunk@hotmail.co.uk

The poll will close at midnight on Tuesday 31st January 2023 with the result to be announced soon afterwards.

Dedicated to our good friend Scott Chrystal

Slainte, The London Celtic Punks Bhoys – January 2023

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SCUNTZ – Fall Apart Gang

The second album from The Scuntz a ever changing collective of alcoholic hillbilly punks from Belfast.

Thriving in despair, they patiently await the rapture, charged with entertaining the unwashed masses left behind.

Sneaking out just a couple of days before Christmas was the second album from Belfast Punx The Scuntz. Not giving us much time to digest it before reviewing it follows on from Appetite for Distraction which came out on New Year’s Eve 2020. Their debut passed us by and even though it is available to download for free I haven’t had a chance yet so I don’t know if it’s more of the same or a whole new direction but The Scuntz deliver a fourteen track album of original songs that sweep past in a brief but busy 22 minutes.

The first track off the album to see the light of day was ‘Ballad Of The Barrick’ which came out in April and the band describe as “The unholy trinity of Punk, Folk, and cider”. Produced and mixed by drummer Ben Simpson it lurches across several genres in it’s short time (only 137 seconds) starting of reminiscent of ancient style Celtic before crossing into dirgey metally Folk before speeding up and ending with an almighty racket of screaming Punk Rock. Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea but as much as we love a bit of 70’s Prog-Folk this a Celtic-PUNK site so expect some noisy bastards occasionally.

Kicking off with ‘S.T.D’ a catchy as hell Punk number followed by a Hillbilly/Celtic crossover ‘Murderin’ In The Swamp’. The singer’s Belfast accent is clear and powerful as the band stomp through a selection of classic Punk Rock with the occasional Folky interludes but all the time laced with black humour. ‘The Dark Third’ reminds me of a Punk-Rock Rumjacks who let’s face it are already pretty Punk. The harmonica pops out for ‘Drunk Talkin’ as they chuck it all into a blender. ‘We’re Really Good…’ is a brilliant song with a great tune but only lasts 33 seconds! Stick ion a double bass and the brilliant ‘Cousin Lovin’ could easy grace any Psychobilly album.

The albums last handful of songs see them go out in Folk-Punk style with ‘Punk & Anal’, ‘Big Blue Dot’ and the album’s swansong and triumph the title song ‘Fall Apart Gang’. After everything that went before it takes you by surprise in both style and lyrical content as the band get both serious and show they can hammer out much more than fast, furious Punk-Rock bangers. A great way to end things.

I love Bandcamp and while they are vultures just like any other company that makes money out of other peoples labour and ideas and music. It’s easy to embed on the site and many bands simply offer their music for free therefore depriving Bandcamp of their share. The Scuntz are one such band and Fall Apart Gang is available as a ‘Name your price’ download from the link below. As the fella’s say “Pay what you like or not at all, we don’t do this for money but it definitely helps us be able to travel and record tunes”. To be honest I haven’t had a chance to listen to this album as much as I would like when reviewing but I loved it from the very first listen and I’m busy making up for that now!

(Stream / download Fall Apart Gang via the Bandcamp player below)

Download Fall Apart Gang  Bandcamp

Contact The Scuntz  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: DROPKICK MURPHYS – ‘This Machine Still Kills Fascists’ (2022)

Unsurprisingly whenever the release of a new Dropkick Murphys album is announced the internet glows white with reviews and promotions so now two months after the release of This Machine Still Kills Fascists Ray Ball gives it a listen and our last post of 2022 sees if it does indeed live up to the hype.

So here’s the disclaimer. This isn’t what we expect Dropkick Murphys album to sound like at all. Al has been on leave for a bit now taking care of his family, and I know we call commend him for that and wish the best for the Barr family.

But here’s also what I learned. The Murphys have been in contact with the Guthrie family for about a decade. “Shipping Up To Boston” was originally a few Guthrie scribbles. Guthrie’s daughter had recently given an all access pass to her fathers materiel he never used or recorded.

Nora Guthrie with her father Woody “I collected lyrics on all kinds of topics…lyrics that seemed to be needed to be said – or screamed – today. Ken Casey is a master at understanding Woody’s lyrics, which can be complicated, long, deadly serious, or totally ridiculous. DKM is capable of delivering them all.”

So you’ve got Guthrie lyrics. While, as Ken stated in an interview, it wouldn’t be right to put out a regular album without Al, this was a good chance to put out this years in the making project. Instead of giving you a list of radio singles or hidden gems B-Sides, pick up a copy. Discover the stuff you like about the album. It’s all but completely acoustic, but straight up balls to the wall Americana at its best in nearly if not over half a century in my opinion.

Dropkick Murphys founder Ken Casey explained, “The project has been a long time in the making. Nora Guthrie thought her father would’ve got a kick out of us, would’ve liked us, that we were somewhat kindred spirits so to speak, which to us was a huge honour.”

So if you want to hear something tried and true other than “Fairytale” this holiday season grab a copy. Discover your favourites. This album is true- no deadline / record company profit marketing whatever / has to have a radio single track album.
 
There is no Al. God bless him and his family right now, but it’s a great piece. Give it a listen for something truly unique. Cheers guys!

Dropkick Murphys  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

Back in September when This Machine Still Kills Fascists came out we took a look at the life of Woody Guthrie and offer you the opportunity to download a great double album containing all of his greatest work for free. The link is still available so click below to be re-directed.

WOODY GUTHRIE – Dust Can’t Kill Me

Thanks to Ray 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 coverswas one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board our 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.
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2022 ROUND-UP: BRITAIN & IRELAND – THE MARY WALLOPERS, GALLOWGATE MURDERS, DIRTY OLD FOLKERS, HEADSTICKS

Four great album releases including three bands who released their debuts in 2022 and one celebrating their 10th anniversary all get the London Celtic Punks treatment. Ranging from Celtic-Punk to Irish-Folk to Punk these are the bands that make our nights out special. 

Hoping you all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. After everything we’ve all endured (politicians excepted!) we all deserve it. it’s been a excellent year for Celtic-Punk. After the drought of recent years we’ve been caught in a deluge of music we tried our best but found hard to keep up with. Any regular reader know we prefer to do detailed reviews and even though we can’t give these albums the justice they deserve here we simply had to get them in somehow before the end of the year.  Each one impressed us immensely and all are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. We begin with artists from Britain and Ireland.

THE GALLOWGATE MURDERS – ‘ Dead, Gone And Living On’

A booze fuelled gang of Celtic bastards, immigrant vagabonds and travelling rovers, boasting male and female fronted duel vocals the Gallowgate Murders blew onto the stage supporting The Rumjacks on their extensive pre-Covid UK tour and almost stole the show impressing every lucky fecker I met who had seen them. See I was ill and missed the London date but I was sure it wouldn’t be long and then the dreaded lockdown struck and a full stop was put to their march for the next two years. Needless to say I still haven’t seen them and am looking for a ‘sugar daddy’ to pay for them to come down and play here again if anyone is interested in the role. They did manage to put out this self titled six track EP as soon as the lockdown was lifted and I still find it hard to believe that we never got around to doing a proper review at the time. Apologies for that guys and gal. Dead, Gone And Living On certainly deserved one.

One of the EPs highlights is ‘Scáthach’, the tale of a powerful mythical Scottish Warrior Queen. A legendary martial arts teacher who trains Irish hero Cú Chulainn and the Celtic goddess of the Dead ensuring the passage of fighters killed in battle to Tír na nÓg, The Land of Eternal Youth. Another great song here is ‘Only The Bastards’ a catchy Celtic-Punk number that has a Irish-American style to it (I listen to a LOT of Celtic-Punk!) but the whole EP is superb. The EP comes in at over 22 minutes so the six songs get plenty of room to develop and we have reviewed much shorter albums over the years.

 

Contact The Gallowgate Murders  Facebook  YouTube  

THE MARY WALLOPERS – The Mary Wallopers

We were lucky enough to catch Dundalk’s The Mary Wallopers just a couple of weeks ago at a sold out show at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. A raucous celebration of Irish music but not without it’s more serious and poignant moments too. That gig is replicated with ease on their self titled debut album which came out at the end of October and heralded a huge tour of Ireland and its neighbouring island. Propelled into the spotlight during the pandemic by a series of hilarious live streams where they would chat, joke about and play good old fashioned Poguesy / Dubliners-ish Irish music. Expanding from the original 3-piece of the 2 brothers , frontman Hendy, banjoist Andrew and guitarist Seán McKenna to a seven piece was a stroke of genius and can only see them continued success. The sold out show in Camden has already led to a headline gig at the Kentish Town Forum in May. Highlights include ‘Building Up And Tearing England Down’ which laments the spilt blood of the Irish working class who rebuilt post war Britain and received nothing but the minimum of wages along with scorn and ridicule for doing so and the haunting ballad ‘John O’Halloran’ about the Irish experience of immigrating to England.

“Ah! the weary months in search of work, I tramped through street and road,
A shake-me-down in Camden town, it was my first abode.
No friendly glance to cheer my heart, no man to to take my hand,
No easy gold, only rain and cold in this god-forsaken land.”

The Mary Wallopers are well aware of the relationship the Irish diaspora over her have with the place we grew up in and luckily for them their is a rich vein of songs for them to mine from.

The gig like the album is a series of covers that contain the famous and critically popular, one or two overplayed ones and even a few me auld Mammy would have a hard time remembering. The jewel in the crown though judging from the reception it got in Camden is their cover of ‘Orange Juice And Cod Liver Oil’. Originally written by Ron Clark and Carl Mac Dougall it was made famous by Scottish Folk singer-songwriter Hamish Imlach (please also check out the original it’s long been one of my favourite songs) who like The Mary Wallopers had a terrific sense of humour and was quite the rebel in more ways than one.

An outstanding album packed with great songs and it’s very hard to record a album of covers and expect the punters to just take it but The Mary Wallopers really stamp their brand all over each song and you can forget that they were ever recorded before. This band is going to be massive and while the press will continue to label them the new Pogues we’d have to see some originals to prove them true but I think these fellas could just do it!

Contact The Mary Wallopers  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

DIRTY OLD FOLKERS – Will Dance For Cash

We try and cover all the new bands we come across in one or another and sometimes it gets to the point where I think we’ve covered everyone and everything and then I find out that I am massively wrong and what we have covered is in fact just the tip of the iceberg. Great examples this year have been The Endings and Twelve Sullivans both bands I really am looking forward to seeing. Another is super-charged folk ensemble Dirty Old Folkers from Birmingham in the West Midlands. Once a powerhouse of the Irish diaspora the city has gone through a transformation but the Brummie Irish remain and while the council is determined to rid the city of all it’s famous hostelries and replace them with flats the Irish continue to play their part in Midlands life. Thinking of themselves, rather marvellously as “a Viz comic, being narrated by the Pogues” Dirty Old Folkers debut album is a window into 21st Century Birmingham life containing Irish and English Folk music with comedy, cabaret and political satire.

The Bankers’ Bonus system and the Coalition Government of a few years ago get a verbal kicking making me think that some of these songs here have been laying around in the Dirty Old Folkers set-list for quite a while. Influences range from Irish and English Folk, Bluegrass, Blues, touches of Jazz and Classical Music and even a nod to fellow Brummies Black Sabbath.

Contact Dirty Old Folkers  WebSite   Facebook   YouTube 

HEADSTICKS – 10 Years Without Killing Each Other

Ten years is quite the milestone for any band and to reach that milestone with the same members is highly unusual. Most Celtic-Punk bands go through more members than The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra do, so for them to remain friends and comrades through the decade I really love. It’s seven years since we first reviewed them on the London Celtic Punks site for their album Muster and we’ve followed them ever since, right up to last years release of their fourth studio album C.O.W. So it is that we know all fifteen songs included here like the back of our hand even though the band have taken the songs and re-recorded and re-jigged them for this release. Hailing from Stoke in Staffordshire, once famed for it’s industry, it’s still an area with a proud working class and trade union tradition and where Headsticks get their passion and influences from. Since day one they have championed the ordinary folk in the street while writing lyrics that tell real stories and even when they are at their most polemic it still doesn’t feel like you’re being bashed round the head with a newspaper unlike some other bands I could mention.

Singer and songwriter Andrew Tranter leads us through the album sometimes coming off like Jello Biafra and other times soft and tender but always passionate. More Bob Crow than Jeremy Corbyn! In their early days comparisons were made to New Model Army but as they have evolved their sound has become much more their own and while it’s a shame that the songs here aren’t the originals so you can see for yourself the re-recordings have given them a uniformity of the same power.

This may not be the kind of album that readers here are use to but these round ups give us a chance to share with you, via artistic license, to include releases that we loved during the year and 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 more.

Contact Headsticks  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

WATCH OUT FOR PART 2 AND 3 COMING THIS WEEK!

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ALBUM REVIEW: FIDDLER’S GREEN – Seven Holy Nights (2022)

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, shepherds are washing their socks, Batman smells and beware of yellow snow!i

Another Christmas themed album out this year from German Celtic-Punk band Fiddler’s Green that manages to pack in a song from every Christmas genre imaginable!

Last Sunday we featured the first of a duo of Christmas themed album’s released this year from Pittsburgh’s Bastard Bearded Irishmen and today is is the turn of German Celtic-Punk legends Fiddler’s Green to spread some yuletide cheer. This time two years ago we were reviewing their 30th anniversary greatest hits album 3 Cheers For 30 Years packed to the rafters with classic German Celtic-Punk.

Just like everything that comes out of the Fiddler’s Green camp Seven Holy Nights is everything you would expect from Fiddlers Green. Polished, well played, catchy Irish music played through the filter of people from outside Ireland but with a love of its music and culture. The vast majority of songs here will be well known to most of you but it’s no surprise that one of the album’s stand out tracks is a self penned number. Of the covers here you’ll hear most of them played through the speakers in your local supermarket but as always it’s how you interpret them that counts. To breathe new life into common or popular songs and this is something Fiddlers Green have no problem achieving.

The album begins with the first of a dozen stonewall Christmas classics. ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ was a big hit in 1985 for the Welsh Elvis himself. Shakin’ Stevens was a superstar in our house growing up with my Mum adoring him and my brother such a big fan his nickname at school was Shaky! The youngest children of 13 children he’s still performing now aged 74. Next is the #1 Christmas song, Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’. I think it’s between this and Wizard and though both are great people always go with Slade. The band keep to the main tune and style throughout the album of the originals but add so much more to them than just replaying the songs with a fiddle. They sound like they had a great time doing it and play with all the passion we expect from Fiddler’s Green. Wings ‘Mull Of Kintyre’ slows things down a wee bit and then it’s time for a series of proper traditional Christmas carols with ‘I Saw Three Ships’, ‘Twelve Days Of Christmas’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’ and ‘Lord Of The Dance’. All played respectfully and with great beauty. Next up is the Oscar winning ‘White Christmas’. The version of which by Irish-American Bing Crosby is the world’s best selling single that has sold in excess of 100 million. It is one of my Uncle Pat’s favourite stories how he searched every store he could find trying to buy it for my Nan and had no luck and had given up but then on Christmas Eve he found a lone copy left in Woolworths. ‘Danny Boy’ is up next and included not because it’s a Christmas song but because it’s brought a tear out of many a poor immigrant over the festive period. You sometimes forget what an amazing song it is as it is so overplayed but Fiddler’s Green version is simply outstanding and I think I have something in my eye…

Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop The Cavalry’ follows and with it’s apt anti-war message and given a bit of Celtic-Punk oompf is very timely. Now it’s time for a couple of silly songs and ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer’ steer us towards the end. So after a dozen fiddled about with Christmas classics it’s time to say goodbye with the self penned and title track ‘Seven Holy Nights’. Describing a Christmas celebration that begins in traditional style before bursting into more traditional Celtic-Punk.

With a line of merchandise that would make Ferocious Dog jealous the band themselves have sold out of CD’s but their are some still available at the various links below and you can still get the vinyl version from them (on green vinyl of course!) and the special ‘Limited Fan Edition’ with advent calendar, memo game, gingerbread, Christmas ornament and cloth bag sold out ages ago. A great Christmas romp and perfect for those who would rather spend their Christmas Eve in the pub than with Aunt Erna or Uncle Willi under the Christmas tree but then I think Aunt Erna and Uncle Willi would get a huge kick out of Seven Holy Nights as well.

Buy Seven Holy Nights  From The Band (Vinyl)

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ALBUM REVIEW: BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN – A Very Bastard Christmas (2022)

Out of ‘Steel City’ Pittsburgh its our auld mates the Bastard Bearded Irishmen and they bring some Christmas cheer with their new Yuletide album.

The Bastard Bearded Irishmen first came to our attention way way back in the early days of the site with the release of 2014’s Rise Of The Bastard. One bright day a package appeared all the way from Pennsylvania’s second largest city of Pittsburgh. Famous for its largely working class communities of Irish, German and Eastern Europeans the city was built upon steel making and has been a home for Europeans fleeing injustice and poverty since the 1800’s. The Irish still number 16% of the cities population and the Saint Patrick’s Day parade is second only to New York in the whole of the USA so it was no surprise that Bastard Bearded Irishmen (from now on to be referred to as the Irishmen or this review will be all bastards and that doesn’t seem very Christmassy!) had the Irish-American ‘thing’ absolutely nailed. A good time band much in demand at festivals they began as a temporary thing but soon realised demand outstripped supply in the local Irish pub scene and so fourteen years later the guys are still at it and loving every second.

It’s been four years since we got to hear last album Drinking To The Dead but as is common with the rest of the Celtic-Punk / Rock scene the pandemic saw a couple of years of enforced quiet but the Irishmen were busting to get back on the circuit and the last few months have seen them returning to many of their old haunts much to the joy of their many fans.

The last few years have seen Christmas move clear of anytime else in the Celtic-Punk calendar, after a certain day in March that is! Last year we had to make a special feature of all the singles released and even then we still missed a bunch of them. While other genres might be too cool to celebrate Christmas we love a bit of cheese and its any excuse to get the sherry and the mistletoe out.  The Irishmen’s new album titled rather subtlety as A Very Bastard Christmas came out just after Thanksgiving Day and they’ve spent every available minute plugging it since.

The album opens with a track written by the band one of a handful here. in fact they are evenly-ish split between classics and originals which is always a good start for a reviewer.  ‘Must Be Santa’ comes with a suitably adult video featuring all of the obscenities you would expect from a Bastard Santa and a few more! Fast paced and catchy with the lyrics nice and easy to follow and hear its the Irishmen winning combination of Irish, Country and Punk / Rock straight out the traps. ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ is another original and they slow it down and keep the cursing down to a minimum making this one for the Nans. ‘Christmas In Killarney’ is one of the most famous specifically Irish-American songs written in 1950 by the songwriting team of John Redmond, James Cavanaugh and Frank Weldon and given a good thrashing here.

Next up is the Christmas Carol / nursery rhyme ‘I Saw Three Ships’ celebrating the return of ships sailing back home from long voyages on Christmas Day followed by a hilarious version of ‘Santa Baby’ where the ghost of Eartha Kitt lives on in the Irishmen. Now it’s time for the ultimate Christmas song, ‘Fairytale Of New York’, and one unfairly targeted by Christmas killjoys for censorship so sad to hear the Irishmen fall victim to it as well and change the lyrics which admittedly they have done a lot of to the covers on this album. It’s played pretty much the standard Pogues way and then we hop across the Irish sea next for a Punk-Rock ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

The albums last song is a bunch of edited together ‘Extended Outtakes’ of drunken ramblings titled ‘Hangin’ Out’ tacked on as a bonus track. Had a right laugh at this and fits in nicely at the end of the album. Only eight songs on the album and it flies past at 22 minutes making it a quick way to celebrate Christmas. It’s just longer than my train journey home for work!

Buy A Very Bastard Christmas  FromTheBand – CD

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(Check out the Irishmen’s excellent set on the main stage on both days of 2022’s Niagara Celtic Festival. This is Saturday night’s performance which featured less rain, brighter lights, and a crowd more willing to hang out until the bitter end where the amps failed and the show carried on without them.)

EP REVIEW: THE DISTILLERY RATS – We Are Rats (2022)

German Celtic-Punks The Distillery Rats are back after a five year break with an EP packed full of stories and high-energy songs where they manage to infuse their energy onto their record and immediately get you craving to see one of their infamous live shows.

The Distillery Rats are one of a number of German Celtic-Punk bands who loudly proclaim their Celtic-Punkness to the world. Where as here in England bands hide their genre bending under a rock and the rather vague title of ‘Folk-Punk’ Celtic-Punk is the label of choice for bands on the continent. Formed in the German wine making area of Heilbronn the Distillery Rats have been playing their own brand of Irish Punk since 2005. Regular readers will know that we have our theories about why in Germany Celtic-Punk, Irish / Celtic music and Irish / Celtic culture are so widely celebrated but they certainly love all things Irish over there and the Rats are another in a long line of bands who have managed to take punk rock and Irish folk and unify them together into what we all know to be the ultimate good time music.

The Distillery Rats left to right: left to right: Marcy Mahoney- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Mr. Firebeard- Accordion, Drums * Matt O’Killian- Banjo, Mandolin, Whistles, Pipes * Phil McMorning- Vocals, Bass, Accordion, Banjo, Guitars * Josey DiCilento- Accordion, Piano * Toby McWire- Electric Guitar * Mike McMorning- Drums, Percussion * George McGorgeous- Guitars, Backing Vocals *

Formed as 4-piece originally called Commerzpank, The Distillery Rats have played and continue to play all over Germany in pubs, clubs and at festivals large and small. That four piece has grown to include two vocalists, guitars, drums and bass and on the Folk side of the band banjos, mandolin, accordion, piano, bouzouki, whistles and even uilleann pipes. 

Their recording career began with the now long sold out five-track EP Back On The Road in 2010 and it was a full seven years before they followed this up with Tales From County Whiskey in 2017 an excellent album that would make that years Celtic-Punk Top Thirty. So that makes the five year gap between then and the brand new The Distillery Rats release the EP We Are Rats seem small by comparison. The EP starts off with ‘Back On The Road’ and we are back in familiar territory if you are a fellow fan of #ratsstyle Fast and heavy Celtic-Punk. For the rest of you The Distillery Rats are a unique band within the scene as they somehow manage to simultaneously sound like both the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly so something here for even the slightest of Celtic-Punk fans! After two + years of forced retirement its a joyful celebration of returning to playing live. This is followed up by the title song ‘We Are Rats’, with pounding drums and accordion led The Distillery Rats set forth their manifesto!

“You’re praising yourself; you achieved that much goals, you’re strong and surely you are tall.
No matter how you act, in Fact you’re a rat, oh, that isn’t so bad, not at all.
If you would know wherever to go, if you knew who you want to be
Then cats turn to rats, and foes turn to friends,  tonight you’ll all sing with me.”

The Celtic influences are many on We Are Rats and ‘Going Down’ is no different taking in elements of hard Rock on top of everything else alongside some blazing fiddle work and amazing banjo playing. A contender with the next track for the EP’s standout song. The first half of ‘Ratstyle’ takes Celtic-Punk into the territory of The Exploited before settling into more trad Celtic-Punk before returning to fast and heavy! As an aside Wattie out of The Exploited collapsed on stage this week and the band have been forced to cancel all their forthcoming gigs so good luck Wattie and get well soon. Though being a Hearts fan I can be fairly sure he doesn’t read this site! The EP ends with the Country-Irish ‘Workers And Drinkers’ and a song about dreaming of a well earned pint (or two!) at the English working classes favourite pub chain, JD Wetherspoons.

“I think it’s actually unfair
That there are beggars and there are millionaires
I guess some fifteen pints should take me elsewhere”

Starting off with acoustic guitar the song is a nice counterweight to the power of the rest of the EP as The Distillery Rats see us out with a gentle singalong.

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NEW SINGLE: MADIGAN’S WAKE LEADING THE NEW WAVE OF AUSSIE CELTIC-PUNK

Australian Celtic-Punk band, Madigan’s Wake, have done it again, this time in blistering fashion. In a breakout year for them where their self-titled their debut single made waves throughout the Celtic-Punk scene their third single ‘Thunderbolt’ promises to round off an amazing year, and positions them as one of many Australian Celtic punk bands to watch out for in 2023.

Captain Thunderbolt was the last of the professional bushrangers in New South Wales. Frederick Ward (his real name) had become something of a folk hero due to his gentlemanly behaviour and his tendency to avoid violence. Nonetheless he went on a crime spree through New South Wales and often took his wife (Mary Bugg) and children with him on his journeys. A spree in Dungog, Stroud and Singleton from November 1863 to January 1864 involved the entire bushranging family. He was given the nickname, Captain Thunderbolt, after he startled a customs officer from his sleep by banging loudly on the door. The startled officer is claimed to remarked,

“By God, I thought it must have been a thunderbolt”.

After being caught and imprisoned at Cockatoo Island he escaped and continued his robbing spree. Ward was eventually shot by Constable Walker (an off-duty policeman) in 1870 after a dramatic showdown in swamp land near Uralla, NSW. Hundreds flocked to see his body on display and, for a shilling, you could buy a postcard of his bullet-ridden body.

A statue of Ward was commissioned at the intersection of New England Highway and Thunderbolts Way, Uralla, New South Wales. This statue has divided the community and raised the debate as to whether he was a villain or an anti-authoritarian convict hero who, in a gentlemanly way, fought against the oppressive establishment. In any case Madigan’s Wake continues to tell his story without judgement or prejudice.

THUNDERBOLT – THE GENTLEMAN OUTLAW

Freddy Ward was born in 1835
In Wilberforce and Windsor he was raised
Son of convict Michael Ward, the youngest there of ten
He started stealing horses as his trade
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
He tried the straight and narrow working stations in New South
His horseman skills they duly made his name
But nephew Johnny Garbutt did convince him otherwise
To use his skill to make unlawful gain
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
You can’t outrun the law and eventually they were caught
And sentenced to ten years at Cockatoo
But Freddy did escaped and fell in love with Mary Bugg
And the two of them together they shot through
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
And so it’s true eventually complacency sets in
He dropped his guard for everyone who saw
And as he tried to get away a trooper chanced upon
And with one shot he rode into folklore
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
And so it’s true my friends
That Freddy got his whack
But he never shot, or killed or stabbed or maimed
Though he stole and pillaged
His demeanour never changed
The gentleman outlaw he will remain
And if you pass Uralla
On the New England Highway
You’ll see a statue there that says it all
For there is no rhyme or reason
Why a good man does go bad
By the grace of God go us until we fall
By the grace of God go us until we fall
By the grace of God go us until we fall
Yeah yeah, yeah yeah, Thunderbolt
Another fantastic track from Madigan’s Wake. Fast paced, chaotic and blending both Irish and Australian folklore. The band are planning to come over and join us for a few gigs in the UK in the first half of next year. We await their debut album which has already been recorded. Mixed by Brent Quirk and mastered by Tony Mantz from Jack the Bear’s Deluxe Mastering in Melbourne. Release date is set for February 2023 and will be simply titled Madigan’s Wake. We’re really looking forward to this one as should any serious Celtic-Punk supporter or indeed Fan of Irish music.

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Buy the single from https://ingrv.es/thunderbolt-the-gent-fqd-o

ALBUM REVIEW: FINNEGAN’S HELL – One Finger Salute (2022)

Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell have created a new branch of Celtic-Punk by adding influences from Hard Rock, Hillbilly Country and Swedish Folk.
The band that the press called the kings of The New Wave Of Swedish Celtic Punk focus on melody and singalongs on new album One Finger Salute.

The Finnegan’s return with a new album and just like The Ramones they are not related and also just like The Ramones everything they do is golden! It barely seems like five minutes since their top three album Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class when it is in fact a couple of years. So more than enough time for this prolific bunch to get new album on the decks.

Now well into the second decade the Bhoys from Malmö, Lund and Gothenburg have had plenty of success along the way and one look at some of the live performances on their You Tube channel will tell you how popular they are as well. They even found time to record ‘The Boys In Green Will Conquer for the Ireland team for Euro 2012. This led to them being described in the Irish media as

”They’re hard to describe, but just imagine a blend of Metallica and the Kilfenora céilí Band and you’d be about right.”

Everything they release gets a thumbs up from the Celtic/Folk-Punk media and they are fairly unique in the scene as they tend to receive plenty attention from the wider music press and, again, always very positive.

The album begins with ‘What Have You Got In The End?’ a short sharp burst of fiery tin whistle led proper Celtic-Punk in a tribute to all workshy Celtic-Punk rockers everywhere who question the benefits of working hard. The excellent video was produced and directed by Michael Ek, like all the videos featured here, who dug deep into the Swedish National Archives to find suitable images of Swedish life to illustrate the message behind the song. As with everything Finnegan’s Hell put their name to their attention to detail is incredible. ‘One Finger Salute’ was the first single to come out from the album and again accompanied by a fantastic video, the song with it’s infectious chorus is sure to evoke a sea of audience middle fingers when played live. The third song to be released prior to official release date was ‘Mickey Finn’ and by now we getting the taste of what this album is all about. Fast, furious bursts of energetic Punk-Rock but played through a filter of traditional Irish Folk music. Now a ‘Mickey Finn’ is a alcoholic drink laced with drugs given to someone without their knowledge. Named for a late 19th-century Chicago-Irish bartender and pickpocket who was notorious for drugging people’s drinks. Many of us, not me mind (!), have blamed their obnoxious drunken behaviour on being “slipped a Mickey”!

Only ten songs on the album is a wee bit of a gripe but Finnegan’s Hell are very careful to make sure only quality makes it on board so maybe that’s why. Next up is ‘Read My Lips’ and from here on these songs are all new to me and their fans. If I thought the previous songs were pacey then I wasn’t prepared for this which comes out like a Motorhead where Lemmy was influenced by the Dubliners rather than Nazi Germany! I’ve often said that to be a top draw Celtic-Punk band one of the things you have to master is the ballad and Finnegan’s have always turned out a great one. Here it is ‘Godforsaken Town’ with the lyrics setting the scene brilliantly of a town dying on it’d feet as people flee for better opportunities. Reverend Mick never sounds better on this album while the music is sparse giving Mick’s vocals all the more emphasis. Tin whistle leads us into ‘Run Boy Run’ and we’re back on more familiar territory with a tale of a life gone bad leading into ‘Comin’ After You’ and the excellent banjo and accordion in a dark fist in the air singalong. Less serious matters see us out starting with ‘I’ll Make It Up To You’ a trad Irish romp and the darker ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ which between them tell the breakdown of a marriage albeit with plenty of humour. The curtain comes down on One Finger Salute with  ‘Oh Death’ and a Nick Cave / Tom Waits / Celtic-Goth number that sees them go out in style.

Finnegan’s Hell from left: Ace Finnegan – Drums * Pabs Finnegan – Lead Vocals / Guitar * Cozy Finnegan – Percussion / Backing Vocals * Mick Finnegan – Banjo / Tin Whistle / Vocals * San Finnegan – Bass / Backing Vocals * Old Roxy – Accordian * Photo by Lars Brundin *

Back in Sweden, Finnegan’s Hell are lazily labelled ‘The Swedish Pogues’ by a music press that only thinks of The Pogues when it comes to Celtic and Irish music. It’s always going to be something that Celtic-Punk bands will have to put up with (I even saw the Dropkick Murphys compared to The Pogues once!) but at least they share the same kind of infectious melody and straightforward lyrics even though Finnegan’s Hell have cranked up the volume and the tempo. They may not be about re-inventing the wheel but what they are about is taking Celtic-Punk and wringing every single bit of fun out of it and they achieve that mightily on One Finger Salute. Tip of the hat to you Bhoys.

Buy One Finger Salute  Sound Pollution Records 

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ALBUM REVIEW: O’HAMSTERS – From Green Hills To Raging Sea (2022)

Delayed, delayed and delayed again the fourth album from O’Hamsters, Celtic-Punk band from Kyiv, Ukraine, finally sees the light of day. Not even a full-scale Russian invasion can stop Celtic-Punk! Ireland, women, alcohol, football hooligans, pirates and genitalia, reflections on the Ukrainian-Russian war, the brotherhood and unity of the Celtic-Punk scene and a daring story of prisoners’ escape from jail all feature on this great album. 

The release of From Green Hills To Raging Sea has been on the cards for a while now. First along came the Covid pandemic and then came the Russian invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. With no end to the war in sight O’Hamsters have decided to put the album out and raise awareness of the invasion and to raise money for HMV.UA, a group of volunteers lead by friend of the band Alex Sedov who aid the Ukrainian army. One of the many tragedies around the war in Ukraine is that the first time I heard of O’Hamsters was on the compilation album Ex-USSR Tribute To Dropkick Murphys, which featured eighteen Celtic, Punk, Celtic-Punk, Hardcore and Oi! bands from Russia and Ukraine. The album is still available for free download and is heartily recommended. So their existed a very friendly relationship between bands from both countries and whatever happens in the future I really hope that this friendly relationship can survive.

From left to right: Anton Skvortsov (top, looking somewhere far away) – vocals, acoustic guitar *  Ruslan Viter (bottom) – guitars, backing vocals * Andriy Ganzevych (top) – mandolin, whistle, backing vocals * Volodymyr Mazur (bottom) – accordion, piano, backing vocals * Denys Zhukowsky (top) – drums, backing vocals * Maksym Sokolov (bottom) – bass, backing vocals

O’Hamsters have been together for twelve years and have well over 200 gigs under their belts from playing across Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Belarus. Their previous releases include Alcophilosophy (2011), Kyiv /Dublin /Alcohol (2014)2014 and Wherever We Go (2017) and two EP’s Sassenach, Go On Home (2010) and Kiss My Irish Ass (2015) as well as contributing songs to the compilation albums Ex-USSR Tribute To Dropkick Murphys (2013), see above, and the Worldwide Tribute to The Pogues (2016).

The album begins with ‘Cath Ghleann Molúra’ and the rat-a-tat-rat beat soon explodes into full on accordion led Punk slammer. From the first notes you get the idea of where O’Hamsters are going and its great! The tune is dedicated to the Battle of Glenmalur from 1580, when a united army of Irish clans defeated the English army in the mountains of Wicklow setting the mood for the rest of the album. They have in the past sung mainly in their own language but on ‘Black Sails’, their first video in almost five years, it is also the first time they have sung in English. Dating from five years ago it shows how long the planning for this album has been and tells of the fate of James McGraw aka Captain Flint, renowned pirate from the book Treasure Island and the 2014 television series Black Sails.

“As a kid you dreamed of leaving a port town you’ve grown up in 
And you saw yourself a captain like your dad has always been 
Years later you are smiling, standing firmly on the deck 
Famous storm of seas and oceans sailing under the black flag”

Both the lyrics and the context of the songs and adjoining history is superb and instilled with meaning.  ‘Пісенька про Капітана Бена Лаферті / Captain Ben Lafferty Song’ is a song of two halves kicking off as a mental instrumental before bursting into the story of a brave seaman. Anton on vocals has a voice that rivals Ronnie Drew himself for its gruffness. Ronnie was once described as having a voice “like the sound of coke being crushed under a door” and Anton is not far behind! For a band that rocks so heavily Irish Folk melodies still play an enormous part in everything they do and ‘До Ірландії / To Ireland’  tells of an Irish rebel dying in Brixton Prison who asks of the priest who comes to hear his confession if his soul will have one last journey to Ireland. It’s an unusual song here in that it is quite mellow but filled with symbolism. ‘September’56’ features Eugene Tymchyk, vocalist from Ukrainian bands Septa, The Nietzsche and others. It is no surprise that the war dominates this album and O’Hamsters borrow from the Irish rebel songbook next with a updated Celtic-PUNK version of ‘Mій Армалайт / My Little Armalite’ with a Ukrainian fighter taking on the Russian army with the help of his Armalite rifle. Next up is ‘Rocky Road to Odesa’, a song recorded originally by a O’Hamsters side project. ‘Пагорби Дніпра / Dnipro Hills’ springs along spiritedly almost Ska-ish at times but most definitely catchy as hell at all times in a love song to their home city! Finny McConnell has been a busy man of late popping up on these pages in the last few weeks guesting on the recent Paddy Waggin’ single ‘Life On The Booze’ and then when his band The Mahones released their outstanding album Jameson Street last month. Here he is again guesting on vocals for the next song here, ‘Together As One’. The song is one of the albums highlights and was the second single to come out. The video is a tribute to everyone who has supported O’Hamsters over the years. Former members, bands they have played with, the fans and crew.

“In these difficult times, when an army of barbarians is trying to conquer Ukraine, it is more important than ever for us to be Together As One”

Like us O’Hamsters see the link between football and Celtic-Punk and ‘За Свій Клуб / For Your Club’ is for everyone who fights for their team. Lots of “Oi! Oi!” gang vocals and another standout. This is so bloody catchy!! ‘Пеггі Летермор / Peggie Lettermore’ short but fast tune telling of a man whose life was made a misery by the aforementioned Peggie. The fiddle here is played by ex-O’Hamster Dmytro Danov. Like many European countries many, many people left their homes for an uncertain future in north America and elsewhere. Over a million Americans declare themselves of Ukrainian descent many of whose ancestors arrived escaping from ‘the red terror’ after the events of 1917. My industrial home town in northern England, like many others nearby, has a thriving Ukrainian Centre for example. ‘Наш Дім / Our Home’ is the story of those Ukrainian immigrants who sailed West to start new lives. The curtain comes down on Green Hills To Raging Sea with‘П’яний Скрипаль / Drunken Fiddler’ featuring Anatoliy Khomenko of fellow Ukrainian Celtic-Punk band ShamRocks on fiddle. A uttely superb way to end things witha swirling heavy but gentle (!) Celtic-Punk pint (or fist?) in the air moment. Speaking of nostalgia for youth, friends that have left us and music that is capable of creating utter joy. A time for unity and a time to contemplate what these poor guys are going through at this exact moment in time.

The album was recorded during March 2021 – September 2022 at PystelnukArt Studio, Kyiv. It was mixed and mastered by Dmytro Bastanov and the excellent artwork is from Oleksii Demianiuk. I’ve always loved O’Hamsters partly because of the uncompromising way they refuse to soften their sound and stick to their principals of playing it loud and proud. These are extremely talented musicians and capable of playing Irish-Folk that would make any homegrown band swoon. What these Folk-Punk folk, and the rest of their nation, are going through at the moment we can only imagine but we send our love and best wishes to them and while it may sound like some kind of ‘worthy’ review but this is seriously a contender for album of the year. I guess that’s what recording it for four years does!

(You can stream / download From Green Hills To Raging Sea from Bandcamp)

Buy From Green Hills to Raging Sea  Bandcamp

Contact O’Hamsters  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube

I’ll leave the final word to the band themselves

As for our plans – right now most of the plans of most Ukrainians look like this: survive and win. That includes us 🙂 We constantly ask for support for our army, which gives us the opportunity to make music. You can do this following the links below

https://savelife.in.ua/en/donate-en/ 

https://prytulafoundation.org/en/home/support_page 

https://linktr.ee/hmvua 

ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McKENZIES – Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea (2022)

After a couple of years of misery for Celtic-Punk fans 2022 has been something of a special year with the biggest and best the scene has to offer all releasing albums and The Real McKenzies even releasing two! 

Here Ray Ball checks out Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea out everywhere today. Packed to the gills with roaring sea shanties and bagpipe-fuelled highland anthems.

So, how to start this…I think I first stumbled on to The Real McKenzies with Clash of the Tartans. I was just getting into Celtic punk, I think Blackout and Within a Mile of Home were fresh on the record shelves. “Dropping Like Flies” and “Smokin’ Bowl” we’re staples of my 2000-something on my iPod nano.

Needless to say it was a good time to be a Celtic punk listener.

Sure, as we all know, the Pogues first combined the two genres. They hold their time and place in history. What I didn’t realize, or maybe appreciate, was the kick that came out of the Northwest in the early 90s. McKenzies formed in 1992, four years before DKM formed and not long but before “Alive Behind the Green Door” came out as a Flogging Molly live album.

I did some looking into it and dug up that a lot of the bands then and there sang in Gaelic, and put more of the punk and harsh edge into the music coming out of that part of the US and Canada.

I’ve listened to a lot of it over time but the McKenzies have always stood out to me. Paul, the rotating crew, the crazy pipes. They seem to have as much fun with it as we do. That’s important.
In “Songs of the Highland Songs of the Sea” McKenzies they bring their sound a little truer to maybe “Westwinds” than “Beer and Loathing”. Not that the latter was bad at all, it just felt a bit heavier than normal.
Don’t expect much in the way of new materiel in terms of songwriting here. From sea shanties to Robbie Burns, there’s a lot of great takes on standards to make an excellent album. Some I’ve even covered before in a punk way, and it’s different. But their take on it is different as Scottish Canadians than my Irish American.

I know Scotland the Brave and Leave her Johnny have already been released and are good indications of where the record goes. A must listen track is “Ye Jacobites by Name”, an 18th century set of lyrics set later to music and then given a do over by Paul and crew. I won’t spoil anything, you’ll hear some familiar Melodies if you go to local sessions or hear pipe bands often.

But, it’s a refreshing album I think we all need. They truly keep it up and going and there’s no objection to the bands ability to put out quality music at a rapid pace.
So row on ye bastards, and get a copy.
Buy Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea
Contact The Real McKenzies  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram
Thanks to Ray 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 the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board our 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.
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The Real McKenzies are on tour in Europe during January and arrive on these shores on the 23rd playing Blackpool, two nights in Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Derby and then the New Cross Inn in south London on the 28th. For the smoke keep an eye on the Facebook Event for support acts, set times and ticket news.
It was also recently announced that they have been added to the bill at Rebellion festival in Blackpool next August doing two sets – a full band set and on the the ‘Almost Acoustic’ stage. This means the good news is they will be back around again next Summer.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE MAHONES – Jameson Street (2022)

Love, drinking, fighting, hope are the topics that occupy Celtic-Punk giants The Mahones on their brand new album Jameson Street. Their first studio album in three years.

Probably the most prolific of Celtic-Punk bands whether it comes to recording and releasing new material or indeed playing in your local neighbourhood it’s the welcome return of The Mahones. A while ago lead singer and main man Finny McConnell announced on Facebook that The Mahones were going to forego major touring and from now on only play prestige and local gigs. Well I thought who can bloody blame them. We have all recently seen the effects that constant touring can have on a band and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody so if a break was needed then they made the right decision… but the clamour to get back on stage was too great and soon enough the announcement came of another massive tour and the release of this album, Jameson Street.

The Mahones Promo 2019

What to say about The Mahones then? Well not a lot I suspect that the vast majority of you don’t already know. They are one of the world’s most popular and successful Celtic-Punk bands with a career stretching back over thirty years to the 17th March 1990. What once  began as a one-off band for a St. Patrick’s Day party, quickly became a global touring phenomenon and a figure head for an entire genre. The Mahones have since gone on to release fifteen albums, including 2020’s 30th Anniversary double album This Is All We’ve Got To Show For It.

Jameson Street is their first studio album since 2019 and the list of friends and ex-band members who have popped by to take part is massive. The core of the band remains the same with Nicole Kaiser on fiddle, Finny on guitar, Michael O’Grady on tin whistle and Sean ‘Riot’ Ryan on bass but an astounding seventeen other musicians are listed on the sleeve notes so some of whom will have to forgive us for not mentioning them so here’s just a select few – Dave Barton of The Peelers, Nicholas Smyth of The Dreadnoughts and the Crash Test Dummies Stuart Cameron! With such a prolific output you may expect The Mahones to be running out of steam by now but low and behold this ranks up there with their very best albums from their early days. 

The album begins with the title song and ‘Jameson Street’ takes the pub céilí sound out the pub and into your living room. The origins of this song can be found on a short You Tube video recorded live at Sir John Eh’z Nose Ring Circus two-day music festival in 1993. A couple of minutes of pure unadulterated speedy trad Irish Folk peppered with shouts and “yaarrrrs” before leading into a classic Mahones style song of ‘Rise Up (Be Strong)’. Finny has always used his writing to uplift folk and while he may have sometimes put his foot in it over on that damn Facebook he did say

 “Jameson Street is meant to make you feel like you’re having a night out. No politics, no religion, just good times, and everybody having fun. Unity is the underlying message.”

Written with Greg from Husker Du who Finny has recently been playing, recording and touring with in the Punk band Ultrabomb , along with the UK Subs Jamie Oliver. A full-blooded rousing anthem of which their is one or two more to come!

“Let’s get along, no-one gets left behind, the healing has begun”

Now I don’t know who wrote the blueprint for Celtic-Punk but every album needs a drinking song or two and The Mahones open up with ‘A Devil In Every Bottle’ and are joined by Dave Barton of fellow Canadian-Irish Celtic-Punks The Peelers on vocals. It’s unmistakable Mahones, jolly and jig-worthy and a tribute (of sorts) to Irish whiskey. ‘Freeway Toll’ takes it down a bit with a more Folk-Rock approach that gives Finny a real chance to stretch them vocal chords. A song that you’d not be surprised to see picked up by someone of mega-star status later on. It’s a nice song that slots in well among the Irish-Punk and Trad. ‘Watch Me Fall’ steams past in 130 seconds before one of the album highlights the instrumental ‘Lonesome Boatman’. Now I think for most of us we first heard this song on a compilation album More Green Velvet that we bought for our Mums in the early 80’s. Hidden away in between Dana and Philomena Begley belting out the best of Irish in Country’n’Irish style was The Fureys And Davey Arthur playing ‘Lonesome Boatman’ and it fair blew my mind as a young angry Punk-Rocker. An incredible song that passed by unnoticed for many years until it finally began to receive its due plaudits. Picked up by the Dropkick Murphys after a couple of Euro Celtic-Punk bands had already recorded it The Mahones play a version that sits nicely in the middle of the Fureys and the Dropkicks. Holloway Road in north London use to be the epicentre of north London Irish life and it’s still called by many County Holloway. Not sure if  ‘Holloway Jack’ has anything to do with that but it does feature lyrics by the late Paddy Cuncanon, an old friend of the band and they have turned his words into an evocative stirring sea shanty. ‘Fiddle On Fire’ is the albums second instrumental and unsurprisingly, from the title, Nicole lets her fiddle do the talking with a speedy fast as feck Irish hoe-down. We are coming up towards the end and there’s been no filler here as we continue with ‘She Comes For Love’. Finny has always worn his heart on his sleeve even when it’s perhaps been questionable but it’s one of the reasons we still love him. ‘Last Call At The Bar’ sees the sound drop into ‘Country-Irish’ and we just don’t mind. A singalong that will have bartenders across the world giving a wry smile.

“It’ is a song that bartenders can relate to – that feeling you get when you tell everybody to bug off and go home. It’s a fun song that sticks in your head, and it fits the Jameson Street theme.”

The album ends with a bonus track a boisterous live version of what Finny says is his favourite Pogues song ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’. Recorded live at the Horseshoe Tavern In Toronto 2003 The Mahones are joined on stage by the legendary Phil Chevron and Terry Woods of The Pogues. It’s the first time they have even recorded / released a Pogues track, astonishing considering how often they are compared to the Celtic-Punk pioneers. 

Well if Jameson Street was meant to make you feel like you’re having a great night out then they have certainly achieved that. Like has been said it’s one of the best Mahones releases for a long time. From the start to the finish I love this album striking a chord with me that I’m sure will also with even the most casual of Celtic-Punk fans. The album has been released on True North Records as well as every streaming site you can think of but really you should order from the label to not only ensure they have the money to continue but to put out more Celtic-Punk releases and, especially, from The Mahones!

(Stream Jameson Street but don’t buy from vultures. Get it from the record label below)

So, Jameson Street awaits, and there’s a drink at the bar with your name on it. Go for it!

Buy Jameson Street  True North Records (CD / Download)

Contact The Mahones   FacebookPage  FacebookGroup YouTube  Instagram

NEW ALBUM: THE MULLINS – ‘Gold In Our Hands’ (2022)

Smashing debut album from The Mullins. Celtic Folk’n’Punk from southern France

One of the best things about Celtic-Punk is that bands don’t tend to rely on anyone but themselves and their fans when it comes to putting out releases. The amount of DIY albums that have come out this year has been incredible and The Mullins are another one having raised the necessary readies by crowdfunding for Gold In Our Hands and actually raising more than they asked for! This is their debut album though they did have a EP out in 2018 and with what went on in the years in between they can be forgiven for the delay. The Mullins live in and around the coastal city of Arles in the Provence region of southern France, famed for inspiring the paintings of Van Gogh wouldn’t you know! The band have all known each other for years through previous bands and even school but share the same passion for music, Celtic culture, and hops!

The Mullins

Gold In Our Hands is a mix of a handful of songs redone and re-recorded from that 2018 EP and a whole load of new original Mullins compositions. The album kicks off withStreams Of Guinness’ and though I much prefer a pint of Beamish myself it’s a great opener. It’s the perfect taster for the album with crashing drums and Elsa’s loud fiddle leading in a song about getting tiddly in Galway. ‘Tough Love’ kicks off with some great banjo from Sébastien and combined with the fiddle gives the album a unmistakable Irish sound. Only two songs in and Elsa takes over on vocals before the albums title song ‘Gold In Our Hands’ which was the first single from the album to be released accompanied by a brilliant professionally filmed video. Vocals are shared through the band which I really liked as they all sound different with Sébastien’s growl a perfect foil for Elsa and Raphaël.

In the auld days of Celtic-Punk all anyone wanted to know was are they like the Murphys or Mollys and that still applies but now with the emergence and popularity of The Rumjacks another dimension is added. If anything The Mullins don’t sound like any of them yet but on comes ‘Breaking News’ and the intro is pure Rumjacks. Raphaël is the bands main vocalist with the lions share of the songs. Strong and powerful and clear as a bell in English with a French accent their is no need for a lyric sheet here! It would seem that the property developers war on the pub is worldwide and ‘The Ghost Of The Public House’ is an autobiographical loving tribute to their long gone local. The music here is fast and ‘punky’ but not so that most people would think it too fast or too punky. The ability of Celtic-Punk bands to make things completely accessible without compromising on the sound never ceases to amaze me. Just as I think I’ve heard a great Punk album my Mammy will say “Whose that? They sound good”. ‘I Won’t Miss You’ has a more poppy and with Elsa’s great vocals a song you could easily imagine hearing on the radio. ‘Slainte’ is one of the standout tracks here with heavy backing and great use of the vocals too. On an album that is as catchy as hell I hate overusing the word catchy but often their is no better word, especially on songs like ‘Lighthouse In The Dark’. ‘9 To 5’ is a cracking drinking song about getting out of work after a rubbish day of and dreaming about that first pint of Kilkenny. ‘Walk The Plank’ tells of a young man leaving to set sail and not knowing when or if he’ll ever return. Another great song and again you can hear a slight Rumjacks influence without any trace of trying to copy them.

We are nearing the end of the album and the old sea shanty ‘Santiano’ is the only cover here of a very infamous French song from 1961 sung by Hugues Aufray, a famous French folk singer. I am what is known as a fanatic when it comes to Celtic-Punk and even though I don’t mind covers at all I do prefer them to be either rare or unusual or relevant to the band and by choosing this over another ‘Drunken Sailor’ or ‘Fields Of Athenry’ I am as happy as can be! The curtain comes down on Gold In Our Hearts with the great ‘The Lights In The Sky’ and Elsa gets another chance to shine as she opens a song that embraces Irish Folk and country in a swirling beautiful number that brings to mind the pub lights going out and the door being locked on you. A fabulous way to end things.

The album’s twelve songs come in at ever so slightly over forty minutes and was recorded and mixed during February and March 2022 by Sebastien Camhi from Studio ArtMusic in the south of France and mastered by Kai Stahlenberg at Kohlekeller Studio in Germany. The production here is perfect with the different and varied musical instruments all easily recognised along with the many vocal styles. I thoroughly enjoyed Gold In Our Hands a young band with lots and lots of talent and some amazing songs.

Hope you got to drink and enjoy the Kilkenny folks!

Buy Gold In Our Hands Spotify Amazon

Contact The Mullins Facebook YouTube Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE ENDINGS – ‘Completely Pickled’ (2022)

We have discovered a new English Celtic-Punk band from Telford in the Midlands and The Endings have only been together for twelve years! Today we review their recently released new album of Celtic-Folk-Punk with an Irish flavour. 

The Endings are a new band. Well new to me but not I dare say to the good people of Telford in the English midlands. Telford was conceived only in 1963 as part of post-war reconstruction. A time that saw a succession towns built from scratch. Named after road builder, civil engineer and architect Thomas Telford who, contrary to popular belief, was not responsible for Ironbridge Gorge, which gave its name to the World Heritage Site beside the River Severn, but he was Shropshire’s Surveyor of Public Works in 1787, which seems a long stretch to name the town after him! So all in all a fairly typical English town. A town like many across England that it’s residents are proud of. So proud indeed are The Endings that they nearly also get a mention as The Endings Telford. In these times where any sort of love of place or home is written off as chauvinism I love the idea of The Endings showing this pride in where they come from.

The Endings left to right (top): Verna – Drums / Vocals * Paul Mandolin / Banjo / Vocals * (bottom) Harry – Fiddle / Vocals * Rob – Guitar / Lead Vocalist * Kev – Bass / Vocals *

As I say The Endings may be new to me but they have been around over a decade playing the pub circuit around Shropshire and occasionally a little further afield. New blood in the band and a bit of inspiration has the last couple of years though seen them spending most weekends on the road gigging and with regular performances at festivals the opportunity to support bands such as Ferocious Dog and Mad Dog McCrea has arrived. They play their own style of uptempo Irish music that is designed purely only to keep the dance floors occupied. They have one previous release, Coda from 2019, which marked the start of their move away from being purely background noise for busy pubs into a band that people will aim to go and watch. Even so 2 albums in over 10 years may sound mean but isn’t unheard of when bands are caught in the cycle of gig-gig-gig-gig. If you want to show yourselves off to the bigger world then you do need to make time to record but then you also need to make those recordings available and these days that means making downloading an option. These are things that The Endings need to think about as their music deserves a much bigger audience and with more than half the readers of this site from overseas it’s a must-do.

Completely Pickled (an English euphemism for being drunk in case you didn’t know) opens with ‘Gemini’ and tells the story of a night out on the lash at the 1970’s-80’s Shropshire nightclub Gemini. If anyone remembers our review of Pronghorn (“Kings of Cowpunk”) a few weeks back then this isn’t too dissimilar except with a definite Celtic edge to it. Catchy and with a real foot tapping beat to it. Next we have ‘Time & Tide’ and the song carries on in the same vein with some excellent musicianship on display. Rob’s vocals are clear and precise and sit on the fence between Punk and Folk where he can shout if he likes but also do a wee bit of ‘proper’ singing as well! Next up is ‘Water Gypsy’ and a number about the Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood who said his families generation was the first to be born on dry land with a lineage dating back to the 1700’s of working on the water.  His family were English ‘‘bargees’ (river or canal barge workers) and Ronnie affectionately referred to them as ‘water gypsies’.

(‘Water Gypsy’ Live at Farmer Phil’s August 2021)

The mandolin here leads the way as Rob introduces us to a little known part of Ronnie’s life and I hope he gets to hear the song. ‘Press Ganged’ is a standout track here as it introduces a couple of other influences to the mix as it reminds me of The Men They Couldn’t Hang at their peak in the 80’s in both style and subject matter. This could so easily have made Waiting For Bonaparte especially when the song suddenly speeds up halfway through. Next up is a song close to my own heart with ‘Importance Of Guinness’ and a proper good auld instrumental Irish romp in tribute to the black stuff. Truth be told though Guinness doesn’t hold a candle to Beamish!

(‘Importance Of Guinness’ Live September 2022)

‘New Lands’ is a about buying a one way ticket to Australia, another subject that The Men touched on. Stories of the sea are quite the feature of Celtic-Punk and The Endings seem to be fond of them too with ‘Raise The Sails’ up next. I must say though that it’s been quite the while since a more ‘folky’ album landed with all original compositions and I’m motre than happy not to have to sit through another version of ‘Drunken Sailor’, as good a song as it is! While a lot of the songs here could be decades old (‘against modern football – against modern music’) on ‘Ragged Man’ the sound is more recent but if I did have one point to make on the album it would be that the sound here could have been beefed right up. With the pounding beat it needed a more heavy touch. ‘Madness’ tells of the er.. well er… madness of those couple of years where the world closed down. Looking back now it seems like such a long time ago.

(‘Juggling Time’ Live September 2022)

‘Smuggler’s Cove’ starts with some rather nifty mandolin and I think this where I keep getting TMTCH in my head while I’m listening. Another great song with a real thigh slapper / head nodder of a beat. We are nearly at the end and ‘Juggling Time’ and while I find juggling quite an amazing spectacle I also find jugglers very irritating so it’s a good job this isn’t about juggler then! This I think could just about be the albums standout track with its catchy danceable sound. ‘Gallons Of Pale’ is another tribute to alcohol this time to the wonders of Pale Ale. The CD rounds off with what is described on the sleeve notes as a bonus track, with an excellent instrumental version of ‘Juggling Time’ and then the curtain comes down.

(You can hear the whole of Completely Pickled via the You Tube play-list below)

Completely Pickled was recorded and produced by Tom Carter at The Riff Factory just up the road from them in Stoke and singer-songwriter Jess Silk supplied the album artwork. Like their debut album it has been produced and self-funded by the band themselves though I’m sure they open to offers. Their are bands like The Endings in many English towns and cities fusing Irish / Celtic music and English Folk and Rock and Punk influences and while many are content to simply drift from pub gig to pub gig playing covers its great to see a band like The Endings trying to develop their sound, write their own songs and reach out. The success of bands like Ferocious Dog and the bands that have followed in their wake over the last few years show their is an audience for music from the likes of The Endings and with a decade long start over most then they ought to be near the top of the list to listen to.

 Buy Completely Pickled  Spotify

Contact The Endings  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: MULHOLLAND – ‘Irish Viking’ (2022)

Their are some very talented bastards out there in the Celtic-Punk scene! One such is Colin Mulholland who has written, composed, performed, recorded, mixed and produced his own material for a few years now. Ray Ball checks out his new album featuring loads of distorted guitars and vocals played at breakneck speed about Irish and Irish-American history.

First of all let me say that I’ve known Colin “Mulholland” for a couple of years-pre covid. He is a character and then some. “SHARP” (skinheads against racial prejudice), married to a wife that must be tough because she keeps him in line, straight edge, never touched a sip or toke of nothing. He works his fingers down to the marrows as a mechanic. Blue-collar, tough, hardworking guy. He has recently released “Irish Viking” as his latest album.

The recordings are raw. Like, something you’d expect out of a true 80’s straight edge band. But, having read the lyrics they are as poignant as raw. Though he doesn’t work a lot with traditional instruments there’s definitely the Celtic themes and Melodies in the music.  Part of me likes my refined audio whatever but part of me also loves this coming through in mono.

There’s definitely no shortage of energy here. Old school punks will love this. Maybe not your average ‘Shipping Up To Boston’ Celtic-Punk but for true believers. Even I’d you only check out only one song, listen to ‘Cross To Bear’. It’s what I’d have put out as a single. Catchy without being cliché, well produced. Scally cap is off to you Colin. Well, very well done.

The album is only available to hear through the You Tube play list below but feel free to contact Mulholland at the links provided

Contact Mulholland  Facebook   YouTube   BigRaysWritings
Thanks to Ray 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 the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board our 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.

NEW ALBUM: ZECKYBOYS – ‘Dirty Brands’ (2022)

Hot on the heels of their debut single comes the debut album from raucous and rowdy Italian Celtic-Punkers Zeckyboys.

After the success of their debut single a release I have been looking forward to hearing was the full length album from Zeckyboys (there is no ‘The’). With a winning combination of trad Irish Folk and full throttle Punk Rock they are the latest in a long line of Italian Celtic-Punk bands that fully embrace the trad side of the genre. It helps then that the members of the band are all experienced musicians with long histories of touring and playing varied musical styles. Put them together and you have Zeckyboys!

Zeckyboys left to right: Beppe – Fiddle / Backing Vocals * Enzo – Guitar / Backing Vocals * Max – Diatonic Accordion / Backing Vocals * Mastro – Lead Voice / Guitar / Irish Bouzouki * Bill – Drums / Backing Vocals * Ricky – Accordion / Backing Vocals * Franz – Bass / Backing Vocals * (Photo by Michele Piccinini)

The album kicks off with their debut single ‘Damned Purple Bus’ and in the last few weeks their has been a run of great videos and add this to the list. Telling the tale of being late for work behind a bus that keeps stopping and that you can’t get past the frustration is described perfectly and with great humour and the music… well the music! Starting off with a mix of Folk’n’Punk the song soon slides into thrashy HxC Punk but then towards the end the Bhoys give us a touch of Ska before then turning into a trad Irish Folk band and ‘The Swallowtail Jig’. Awesome and from what I have seen made quite an impact on the Celtic-Punk scene. The music is has a heavy touch but is far from tuneless having an appeal I think to many non-Punky types too. Next song ‘The Dance Of The Passed Away’ is a good example of that played with a hardness but with a great Folky edge and sense of humour. On ‘Horsefield’ the emphasis is switched to Irish Folk but they keep the hard Punk edge and as can be witnessed on the video below they certainly get the audiences on the move!

(POV of Zeckyboys playing at the Bundan Celtic Festival 23-07-2022)

‘Seamus’ touches on medieval style music but again with that Punk edge. ZeckyVün’s vocals are pure Punk Rock so that even during the quieter moments, of which their are many, they can’t escape their Punk side. Loud and growly like a MacGowan / Waits hybrid he hits all the right notes for this aging Punk especially up next on ‘A Bit Of Punk’ which even amongst the hardcore squeezes some trad Irish in! On ‘Hold A Stone’ ZeckyMax and his diatonic accordion holds sway as his old fashioned intro leads into a song where the accordion is pushed to the fore and given full reign to rule. Zeckyboys concentrate on writing their own material and the album’s only cover is next up with a Dropkick Murphys influenced ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’. First published in London in 1867 and written by English born second-generation Irish songwriter and performer Joseph B. Geoghegan it has become deservedly one of the most popular ant-war anthems in existence. A solid version that is always timeless and always received well by audiences. A Metal influence is evident in the sludgy ‘Wonder Boy’ that again turns into raucous trad Folk romp that is the albums longest song at 5 and half minutes before the album’s final track the great ‘It’s A Conspiracy’.

(Zeckyboys recorded live at Drunk in Public 04-03-2022)

The Italian Celtic-Punk scene is large and very talented and friendly. It’;s only a few weeks since we hosted the amazing Dirty Artichokes here in London and plans are afoot for Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards to pop over to see us too. Both absolutely amazing bands and wonderful people. Thanks to the pandemic it took Zeckyboys two years before they could actually play live so these songs have been perfected before being released into the world and they are playing like a band trying to make up for lost time. With nine songs clocking in at nearly 40 minutes the way they switch from Punk to Trad is both astounding and seamless with them somehow managing it without you even noticing at times. This is a band with a lot to offer and sitting as they do on both wings of Celtic-Punk they will have a lot of appeal to fans of the genre at home and abroad.

Buy Dirty Brands  Spotify  www.zeckyboys.com 

Contact Zeckyboys   Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: WOODY GUTHRIE – ‘Dust Can’t Kill Me’

With the release of the new Woody Guthrie themed Dropkick Murphys album due in a couple of days we thought we would take a look at the life of this amazing artist and offer up the opportunity to download a great album of his for free. 

“A folk song is what’s wrong and how to fix it or it could be
who’s hungry and where their mouth is or
who’s out of work and where the job is or
who’s broke and where the money is or
who’s carrying a gun and where the peace is.” – Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie was the most important American folk music artist of the first half of the 20th century, in part because he turned out to be such a major influence on the popular music of the second half of the 20th century, a period when he himself was largely inactive. His greatest significance lies in his songwriting, beginning with the standard ‘This Land Is Your Land’ and including such much-covered works as ‘Deportee’, ‘Do Re Mi’, ‘Grand Coulee Dam’, ‘Hard, Ain’t It Hard’, ‘Hard Travelin’, ‘I Ain’t Got No Home’, ‘1913 Massacre’, ‘Oklahoma Hills’, ‘Pastures of Plenty’, ‘Philadelphia Lawyer’, ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’, ‘Ramblin’ Round’, ‘So Long It’s Been Good to Know Yuh’, ‘Talking Dust Bowl’ and ‘Vigilante Man’. These and other songs have been performed and recorded by a wide range of artists.


With his guitar and harmonica, Guthrie sang in the hobo and migrant camps, developing into a musical spokesman for labour and other left-wing causes. These hardscrabble experiences would provide the bedrock for Guthrie’s songs and stories, as well as fodder for his future autobiography, “Bound for Glory.” It was also during these years that Guthrie developed a taste for the road that would never quite leave him.

This land is your land and this land is my landFrom California to the New York islandFrom the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream watersThis land was made for you and me
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As I went walking that ribbon of highwayI saw above me that endless skywaySaw below me that golden valleyThis land was made for you and me
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I roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footstepsTo the sparkling sands of her diamond desertsAll around me a voice was soundingThis land was made for you and me
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When the sun come shining, then I was strollingAnd the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rollingThe voice was chanting as the fog was liftingThis land was made for you and me
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This land is your land and this land is my landFrom California to the New York islandFrom the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream watersThis land was made for you and me
*
When the sun come shining, then I was strollingAnd the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rollingThe voice come a-chanting and the fog was liftingThis land was made for you and me

*

In 1937, Guthrie arrived in California, where he landed a job with partner Maxine ‘Lefty Lou’ Crissman as a radio performer of traditional folk music on KFVD in Los Angeles. The duo soon garnered a loyal following from the disenfranchised ‘Okies’ living in migrant camps across California and it wasn’t long before Guthrie’s populist sentiments found their way into his songs.

In 1940, Guthrie’s wanderlust led him to New York City, where he was warmly embraced by leftist artists, union organisers and folk musicians. Through fruitful collaboration with the likes of Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger and Will Geer, Guthrie’s career blossomed. He took up social causes and helped establish folk music not only as a force for change, but also as a viable new commercial genre within the music business. Guthrie’s success as a songwriter with the Almanac Singers helped launch him into the popular consciousness, garnering him even greater critical acclaim. The ensuing fame and hardships of the road led to the end of Guthrie’s marriage in 1943. A year later, he would go on to record his most famous song, ‘This Land is Your Land’, an iconic populist anthem which remains popular today and is regarded by many as a kind of alternative national anthem.

That old dust storm killed my baby,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
That old dust storm killed my family,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
That old landlord got my homestead,But he can’t get me, Lord,And he can’t get me
*
That old dry spell killed my crop, boys,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
That old tractor got my home, boys,But it can’t get me, LordAnd it can’t get me
*
That old tractor run my house down,But it can’t get me down,And it can’t get me
*
That old pawn shop got my furniture,But it can’t get me, Lord,And it can’t get me
*
That old highway’s got my relatives,But it can’t get me, Lord,And it can’t get me
*
That old dust might kill my wheat, boys,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
I have weathered a-many a dust storm,But it can’t get me, boys,And it can’t kill me
*
That old dust storm, well, it blowed my barn down,But it can’t blow me down,And it can’t blow me down
*
That old wind might blow this world down,But it can’t blow me down,It can’t kill me
*
That old dust storm’s killed my baby,But it can’t kill me, LordAnd it can’t kill me
*
By the late 1940s, Guthrie began to show symptoms of the rare neurological disease Huntington’s Chorea, which had killed his mother. The extremely unpredictable physical and emotional symptoms Guthrie experienced shook him deeply, so he decided to leave his family to hit the road with his protégé, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Guthrie arrived in California, and began living in a compound owned by activist and actor Will Geer, populated largely by performers who had been blacklisted during the Red Scare of the early Cold War years. Soon, Guthrie met and married his third wife, Anneke Van Kirk, with whom he would have his eighth child, Lorina Lynn.
Woody’s health continued to deteriorate in the late 1950’s, and he was hospitalised until his death in 1967. His marriage to Van Kirk collapsed under the weight of his disease, and the couple eventually divorced. During the last years of his life, Guthrie’s second wife, Marjorie, and their children would visit him in the hospital regularly, as would Guthrie’s most famous heir in the world of folk music, Bob Dylan. Dylan moved to New York City to seek out his idol and eventually Guthrie warmed to the young singer, who would later say of Guthrie’s music,
“The songs themselves were really beyond category. They had the infinite sweep of humanity in them.”
While Guthrie passed away of complications from his Huntington’s Chorea on October 3, 1967, his musical legacy remains firmly cemented in American history. A generation of folk singers inspired by Guthrie in the 1950s and 1960s went on to fuel some of the most dramatic social change of the century. Despite his folk hero status, Guthrie was modest, and was known for playing down his own creative genius.
“I like to write about wherever I happen to be, I just happened to be in the Dust Bowl, and because I was there and the dust was there, I thought, well, I’ll write a song about it.”
Today’s free download is the compilation album Dust Can’t Kill Me. It comes with one link but features two discs of 23 and 25 songs. Disc 1 showcases Woody Guthrie as a solo artist while disc 2 features him in collaboration with his contemporaries such as the blues harp player Sonny Terry and fellow Folk rebel Pete Seeger, as well as tracks recorded with the Almanac Singers and many others. American Folk music wasn’t invented by Woody Guthrie. It’s been around for 100’s of years but he did invent modern American Folk music and everything since can be traced straight back to him and these songs.

DUST CAN’T KILL ME FREE DOWNLOAD

This is no bandwagon for London Celtic Punks and our interest and love for the music of Woody Guthrie pre-dates the start of this zine and you can find a wealth of more music by Woody and indeed his contempories and those he inspired over on the Steppin’ Stones page. Just click below to be redirected.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE WINTER CODES – ‘Set The Darkness Reeling’ (2022)

Debut album from The Winter Codes an Irish Folk duo formed by David Walshe and Barney Murray who found fame as the original, and distinctive singer, of legendary and ground breaking Celtic-Punk band Blood Or Whiskey.

Back in June we posted a review announcing the debut single from Irish band The Winter Codes. The song was utterly fantastic and instantly made me think ” Jeez, that sounds like that fella from Blood Or Whiskey” but as the press release made no mention of it I thought no more. After all if you were the singer in one of the most popular and influential Celtic-Punk band in history surely you’d give it a mention? Well it seems the guys were just being modest and it was indeed Barney from Blood Or Whiskey! For The Winter Codes Barney has teamed up with virtuoso musician David Walshe, brother of the late Paul who was also a founding member of Blood Or Whiskey, and a handful of guests to record their debut album, Set The Darkness Reeling.

The Winter Codes are based in Tullamore, the county town of Offaly in the Irish midlands. The town is famous above all else for the wonderful Irish whiskey Tullamore Dew, which since 2010 is being produced in the town again after decades away. Offaly also have the nicest shirts in Gaelic games which is why I had their pictures on my wall as a kid despite having no connection with the county! With Barney’s unmistakable voice it will come as no surprise that comparisons to Blood Or Whiskey come easy but we will try our best to avoid them, after all this is a Winter Codes review not Blood Or Whiskey.

Originally planned as as a five track EP but when the creative juices began to flow it soon developed into the full length album Set The Darkness Reeling. The duo recorded at the famous Grouse Lodge studio, which once housed Michael Jackson where he recorded and lived for a time! The album begins with ‘NCR’, short for North Circular Road which could be Dublin or London or maybe it could be anywhere but is packed with imagery about a terrible relationship and the bitterness that comes with it. Spicing up the song with mariachi trumpets alongside some cool Irish trad and we are in the same territory that Barney left us with with his old band but how he hits them low notes is beyond me!

“rather die all alone in a bedsit room on the North Circular Road than go back to you”

‘Long Time She’s Been Gone’ is a catchy number that again talks of regret though this time in a lost love way. ‘Troublesome Girl’ stars Irish Folk singer Lisa Loughrey on vocals and after recording originally with Barney the bhoys thought it needed something different so asked Lisa to recommend someone and that person ended up being Lisa herself! A soft-poppy Folk/ Country number her voice fits perfectly. The title of the album from a line in the song.

The music is definitely Irish Folk but comes with a pop edge to it that brings in elements of Country too. Barney flexes his vocal chords next on the moving ’30 Years Of Tears’ a poem half sung/ half half spoken with no accompaniment that really makes you sit up and listen. For Barney it is the next song ‘Friend In Tullamore’ that means the most. Moving from his home town Leixlip to Tullamore after leaving Blood Or Whiskey and years of relentless touring and almost burnt out he settled in easily

“I feel that it was the town that gave me a second chance and maybe the song is my way of saying thanks for that.”

‘Erin’s Lovely Lee’ is a Rebel song whose origins are a bit obscure despite having been recorded by Willy Clancy in the mid-60’s. The story tells of a Irish immigrant arriving by boat in New York in 1863 who are met by Americans who curious and want to know more about important figures of Irish rebellion like the Manchester Martyrs, Wolfe Tone’s, Captain Mackey and Michael Dwyer. He then thinks “to float a Fenian boat down Erin’s lovely Lee”. One of the album’s highlights.

‘Satellite Town’ is another moving song about a young girl moving from home in search of fame and glory. The album has a mournful feel to it and, of course, Barneys voice is the perfect fit for such songs. Maybe it’s not surprising seeing as the album is an emotional tribute to the late Paul Walshe who is immortalised within the album that even features him on banjo on several of the tracks thanks to some rough demos of the songs that Sean Montgomery Dietz was able to adapt and mix into some of the tracks. ‘Dublin Girl’ rings of The Pogues track ‘London Girl’. We’re back in Rebel territory again with ‘Ovidstown’. Not sure if this is a cover or not, it certainly has an ancient ring to it. The song tells of the battle of Ovidstown, between Irish forces and the during the 1798. It took place at 19 June 1798 at Ovidstown Hill not far from Barneys hometown of Leixlip in County Kildare.

His home town pops up again next in ‘Last Night In Leixlip’ and another standout track. With electric guitar (could been a bit louder) and then them trumpets again make for a great song., The trumpets reminding me of ‘Ring Of Fire’ ironic considering the hilarious name check Johnny Cash gets in the song! The album has a great choice of covers and ‘Skibereen’ is no different. Thought to originate from the 1880’s the songs tells of a son asking his father why they had left the village of Skibbereen, in County Cork to live in America. The father tells him of the hardship he faced at home. Of An Gorta Mór / The Great Hunger and of the oppression the British rained down on the Irish after the Young Irelander rebellion of 1848. The song ends with the son promising his father

“O father dear, the day will come when vengeance loud will call,
And we will rise with Erin’s boys to rally one and all.
I’ll be the man to lead the van beneath our flag of green,
And loud and high will raise the cry ‘Revenge for Skibbereen”

Next up is the track that announced The Winter Codes to the Celtic-Punk world back in June and ‘Too Sly To Die’ went down a storm. The video was filmed in the landmark Dublin pub The Cobblestones, located in one of Dublin’s oldest neighbourhoods and famous for hosting traditional Irish music for decades. A rousing number that we went into detail back in June if you care to look up. ‘Dearthairin O Mo Chroi’ (Irish for brother of my heart) written and recorded originally by Pauline Scanlon it’s a beautiful ballad which leads us onto the album’s final song, fittingly, ‘And Then No More’.

Sadly The Winter Codes have no intention of ever playing live. In a recent interview this was put down to

“The problems with playing live is that you are at the mercy of the local sound person. If they are good then the gig might go well but if not the whole night is ruined. In a studio, you have almost complete control and that’s the way I like it.”

I’m done with gigging so he says but I hope he changes his mind. Maybe they can be persuaded to do a live stream or something but it’s still absolutely fantastic to hear those dulcet tones again taking me back a few years when everything was a lot simpler. Thanks for the memories but it’s time to make some more now fella’s.

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ALBUM REVIEW: FLOGGING MOLLY – ‘Anthem’ (2022)

What a year this is going to be for all you Celtic-Punk aficionados out there with the two major players in the scene both releasing new albums within just a few weeks of each other. Later in the month sees the Dropkick Murphys but today our man back on the auld sod Shane O’Neill runs the rule over seven piece Irish-American giants Flogging Molly and their first album since 2017’s Life Is Good.

lIt’s been a long hard five years since we have had a new album from the Celtic punk institution that is Flogging Molly. Was it worth the wait – Most definitely!! We have been lucky to get a preview with the release of singles such as These Times Have Got Me Drinking / Tripping Up the Stairs which is the opening track on the album. This sets the scene nicely for the upbeat hard-hitting theme of the album.

The second song on the album, A Song of Liberty pays tribute to the gallant men who fought the British Empire in Ireland at Easter 1916. This isn’t your traditional Irish rebel song but delivers the message effectively illustrating the determination and fight displayed by the volunteers to seek the liberation of our country.

(Flogging Molly have joined forces with renowned Ukrainian animators/filmmakers, The Mad Twins, for the band’s ‘A Song Of Liberty’ video. The clip highlights humanity’s ongoing struggle against oppression, from Ireland’s Easter Uprising through several 20th century moments including both World Wars, to the current occupation of Ukraine.)

Anthem is a bit different (in a good way) to any of the bands previous releases. They have unleashed a new sound and reached back to the more traditional Irish music such as The Dubliners and The Chieftains whilst maintaining the kick arse punk edge. The more traditional sounds are evident on The Croppy Boy and (Try) Keep The Man Down. It can be difficult to cross genres like Irish Traditional music and punk while keeping original but Flogging Molly have hit the target on Anthem. Musically, I think the band have gone from strength to strength.

Some of us from the London Celtic Punk crew were lucky enough to catch the bands last gig of the European tour in Dublin a few weeks ago….. What a performance. We were treated to a few tunes from the Anthem album which were very well received. Every time we see them, we think they it’s the best performance ever, yet they continue to impress. Just like an old wine, improving with age. It took almost a week for my body to recover and get my hearing back, but it was worth every single bruise and cut. We did manage to sneak in backstage after the gig but that’s a story for another day!!!! Anthem is the bands sixth album coming 22 years after their debut release Swagger. We’ve been listening to it since it was released earlier this week and cannot find fault with it at all. To pick the best song on the album is a difficult task however if pushed I think The Croppy Boy, A Song Of Liberty and Life Begins and Ends (But Never Fails) are up there with the best Celtic Punk tunes out there. This is the type of album you can stick on anytime and it will lift your mood.

Hats off to Flogging Molly for this album and hopefully we don’t have to wait another five years for the next one. “These Croppies Wont Lie Down.”

Buy Anthem  CD/ Vinyl/ Tape – From The Band

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ALBUM REVIEW: REINA ROJA – ‘Hooligan Folk’ (2022)

Debut album from Spanish Celtic-Punk hooligans Reina Roja. Seven songs and a song or two you’ve never heard done quite like this!

Back when we started doing this Spain was a major player in the Celtic-Punk scene but over the years things have gone a little quiet. Their are still some great bands and releases (this years album from Drunken Fighters for starters) but I think the decision to retire the Spanish based web-site Celtic Folk Punk And More had a knock on effect. The bands are still there but we hear less from them and about them. One of the bands out there that are new to us have actually been together for eight years! Reina Roja formed in 2014 in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, a suburb of Madrid in central Spain. Their name means ‘Red Queen’ and though many faces have changed in the band from those early days the commitment to Hooligan Folk remains the same. Their style of music perfectly captures the traditional melodies of Folk and Celtic music but played fast and hard and with a freewheelin’ Punk-Rock attitude that the band themselves label as Hooligan Folk.

“the festive atmosphere and full of attitude that is generated in a neighbourhood party, after a game of the local team or at the bar of a bar. An atmosphere of celebration, but that does not forget the daily problems and that underpins the consciousness of the working class.”

The album kicks off with the spirited ‘Dragón Verde’ and instantly the tune goes into ‘Drunken Sailor’ but then veers off again. Plenty of gang vocals and that stop-start Hardcore approach that I particularly love. The fiddle and tin whistle is amazing and put to such great use too. The lyrics are all in Spanish, something we don’t mind at all. Bands shouldn’t be afraid to sing in their own languages. These days Celtic-Punk is international but bands still prefer to song in English despite by it’s very nature the English language being a foreign language in the very places where Celtic music comes from. Still it does make things easier for me when it comes to reviewing! The catchy ‘Sigue Luchando’ sees Agnes, vocalist of Lilith y Miss October, starring alongside Gonzzz on vocals. Their is a certain way Spanish Punk bands sound making them instantly recognisable even when not sung in Spanish and Gonzzz’s voice is strong and shouty but still tuneful and able to hit them notes well. ‘Tensión’ comes from their earliest days as a band and hits all the right catchy as f*”k buttons. Chugging guitars and pounding bass and drums all combining for one hell of a sound. ‘Johnny. ¿Qué Ha Pasado?’ is trad Celtic-Punk with a real Irish tinge to the first half showing a real talent for Folk music that you must have to be a successful Celtic-Punk band and ending with a cool terrace chant! ‘Banshee’ flits along between Metal and Punk but still with the Celtic influence leading. Reina Roja are joined for a second time here on guest vocals for ‘Lo Que Nunca Fuimos’ by Fernando Madina of Reincidentes and Ángel of Envidia Kotxina and is in much the same vein. Fast,catchy, tuneful, spirited Celtic-Punk party music. Hooligan Folk comes to an end with ‘Barriles de Revolución’ and this may, or may not, be a drinking song as the English translation is ‘Barrels of Revolution’! They save the fast till last and go out in a blaze with the same winning formula.

Only seven songs but 25 minutes of music means the songs all have time to develop and Reina Roja use the time well. Punk songs tend to be short and even at three minutes bands tend to wrap it up as soon as possible so it’s nice to hear longer songs that still keep the attention. As amazing as it was to only just hear of a band that had been together as long as this the biggest surprise was that this was their debut release. What have you been doing guys? The album was recorded and produced at the Corleone studios by Mr. Chifly the guitarist of Habeas Corpus and he has done a grand job capturing things especially the Celtic instruments. Hooligan Folk is a great album capturing the spirit of Celtic-Punk perfectly.

(Stream / download Hooligan Folk from the Bandcamp player)

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ALBUM REVIEW: PRONGHORN – ‘Welcome To Pronghorn Country’ (2022)

Undisputed Kings of Cowpunk and the hardest banjo/fiddle action you’ll ever come across. Pronghorn have been kicking around since 1992, and this summer the band celebrates 30 years of drinking warm Stella and eating late night garage food with a brand new album, Welcome To Pronghorn Country.

Those of you old enough to remember 1992 will recall that it was all about grunge. A few bands though went against the grain and 1992 was also the year Pronghorn emerged out of Dorset. Starting off busking outside Debenhams in Bournemouth leading to their first gig in Charminster and then onto more salubrious locations like busking at Amsterdam Central Station or in Copenhagen Homeless Hostels to name but two. As the band’s sound evolved with Punk, Country, Folk and Rockabilly they were soon labelled with their very own genre ‘Cowpunk’. In the States a fair more aggressive genre ‘Country Punk’ developed around the same time but it was the English version that was more true to it’s Country musical roots which lay in the southern English rootsy Folk movement of the 80’s. This was a time that spawned The Pogues along with the Boothill Foot Tappers, Cropdusters, Shilleagh Sisters and Men They Couldn’t Hang. Many could claim to be the Kings of Cowpunk but for me their is only Pronghorn. The line up has seen many changes over the years but founder members, Toni Viagra and Lamma are still there, along with newbies(!) Ffi, Krusty, Gypo, Aussie Mike and Andy Law- who’ve only done the last fifteen years or so.

As this year sees them doing 30 years on the road together and recording twelve albums you would imagine it would have taken it’s toll but as Fifi admits

“After all this time Pronghorn is still the same band, but now we have to get babysitters’”.

The album kicks off in great manner with the ‘Psycho Ceilidh’ and what a way to make a splash and exactly whet you would think a song called psycho ceilidh would sound like. An absolutely wonderful Country-Folk-Celtic hoedown that ought to be the genre’s anthem! Imagine a Punk Rock barn dance with folk clad in tartan work shirts swirling around smashing into each other with massive smiles on their faces and you’re in the right ball park.

‘Spud Face’ sees Lamma recalling the days when they put on one of the best festival’s Dorset had ever seen that the name of sadly escapes me (editor- EnDorset Festival… and it’s coming back!) but i intended to go every year it ran but never actually made it! Fiddler Joe takes over vocals for ‘Reubens Train’ while battling it out with the bands other fiddler Fifi. This is speed fiddling at it’s finest. It’s an old Folk song and I must admit I always love to see the words ‘trad. arr’ on a bands album sleeve. ‘Dead Wood’ sees them slow it down a bit for the first time and a dark and mysterious song is aided by some class accordion. The accordion giving it a Eastern flavour as they sing of cutting out unnecessary burdens. The popularity of acapella singing has been around in Celtic-Punk for quite a while and the old Folker ‘Shady Grove’ begins as such and even though the band kick in eventually it might have been a good opportunity for the band to test their vocal chords together. ‘Jed Jones 2’ is a sequel of sorts but as I’ve not heard part 1 it’s hard to tell you the story beyond it has a cowboy theme and maybe a song we could claim as Celtic-Punk(-ish)! ‘Devils Daughter’ continues in the same vein lyrically inspired by the blood and guts of spaghetti westerns. ‘Cuckoo’ is another trad. arr. song and the last of the albums three and sees the bhoys spilling over into jigs and sure I heard almost a reel in there too. ‘Dirty Motel Blues’ may start off with acoustic guitar but ends up an (almost) acoustic song that out Motorheads Motorhead! Joe returns for vocal duties on ‘Ghost Train’ the most TMTCH-ish song here on first listen though their is a lot more to them than that though even though that is far from an insult.

(Recorded at Barnstomper Festival, Cerne Abbas Brewery – 4th September 2021)

‘Soldiers Tale’ sees them delving into history and a saucy song that turns the catchy up to 11 and adds plenty of their trademark humour to boot. The album’s only instrumental ‘Swamp Winch’ sees Bayou styled fiddling accompanied by a dizzying amount of hollering and howling whipping the band up into a Country-frenzy. Outstanding and near impossible to keep your feet attached to the floor. The album wraps up with ‘Bone’ and another stand out track that sees them in contemplative mood but without letting up one bit. Superb! An outstanding album but again the bands honesty gets the better of them as Aussie Mike says

“These days, recording an album comes with a short shelf-life – record, release, tour, repeat. But for a band who has been around as long as Pronghorn have, Welcome to Pronghorn Country is more about documenting a chapter of the band. It’s also something different to sell to drunks after a gig”.

The beauty of a band like Pronghorn is the joy they bring to people with their live performances. Sometimes bands like that can find it difficult to transfer that sound and emotions onto record but Pronghorn are blessed here with a perfect sound engineered by David White and mastered by Stefan Krakovic. It’s over 20 years since I saw them play here in London and my overriding memory of that night was the fun we all had and coming out near a stone lighter. They haven’t lost it and just like me their all a bit older and a bit heavier so treat seeing them as the best exercise you will ever have! Welcome To Pronghorn County is out this week on the fantastic independent label Lunaria Records and if we did give marks out of ten then this a bloody 9 1/2 I’m telling you.

(Stream or download Welcome To Pronghorn County below on the Bandcamp player)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THEIGNS & THRALLS – Theigns & Thralls (2022)

The new project from Skyclad vocalist Kevin Ridley Theigns & Thralls sees the release of their self titled debut album and while it may divide Metal fans it’s one that should get Celtic-Punk fans very excited.

Theigns & Thralls is a new band formed by vocalist and songwriter Kevin Ridley. Kevin has been a long time member of the English heavy metal band Skyclad who always played with strong Folk influences throughout their music. The plan for Theigns & Thralls was to be a somewhat ‘occasional band’ for the times when Skyclad were inactive. With the pandemic though the idea took on a new lease of life and became a collaborative recording project. Calling on his many friends in the music scene across Europe, twenty-five musicians from bands like Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, Cruachan, Waylander, Celtibeerian and Metal De Facto as well as a handful of solo musicians contributed. Everything from drums, bass, guitar, violin, whistles, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy and vocals were covered and the result was the first Theigns & Thralls single, ‘Drinking’, in February this year.

I think you can divide the album into three parts with the the first few songs leaning more into Celtic-Punk territory before becoming more Metal / Rock influenced while the last few songs, mainly the bonus tracks are more folky / experimental. The album kicks off with ‘Procession’, a short bagpipe intro that builds and builds and leads straight into album title track ‘Theigns & Thralls’

“from Magna Carta to the age of reform,
suffrage is still not the norm for one and all,
still theigns and thralls.”
which gives us a chance to explain the name ‘Theigns & Thralls’ which means masters and servants in Shakespearean era English. While many of the Metal style flourishes are left the pacing of the song is classic Celtic-Punk which ought to please fans of both. Kevin Ridley says about the song:

“I decided early on to have an eponymous album, so the album had the same name as the band, but I also thought to go one stage further and add a song with the same name. As it is the opening song, I wanted it to up-tempo and be anthemic as it also conveys some of the band’s underlying philosophy, in terms of its socio-political stance. Again, Dagda’s pipes helped to lift the song and I really enjoyed adding a bit of old-school harmony guitar here.”

As mentioned above it was the song ‘Drinking’ that really set things off for Theigns & Thralls. The album version is longer than the video and contains the ‘drunken guitarist’ intro. A anthemic song unlikely based on a 17th century poem by Abraham Cowley with a multitude of players on it, including Emilio Souto on guitar, Jonne Järvelä on mandolin and Dave Briggs on whistle. Band founder Kevin adds:

“I came across an old poem called ‘Drinking’, I thought folk-metal and drinking, what could possibly go wrong? Again, this song has a big chorus and I thought it would be good to ask all the people playing on the album to add some backing vocals and do a little video of themselves recording it so we could make it into a video.”

A great song that encapsulates the fun side of Theigns & Thralls. Catchy and with the most perfect pint / fist in the air chorus I’ve heard in a good while.

Next up is the first version on the album of the fiddle led ‘Strive’ with its thudding and ominous bass followed by ‘The Lord Of The Hills’ which has a 70’s English Folk ring to it. ‘Life Will Out’ is another song that has two versions her. This one significantly better than the one that closes things. Female vocal from guest appearances from Celtibeerian accompanies Kevin (using a voice transformer) with bagpipes and chugging guitar giving it a dark feel. ‘The Highwayman’ begins with a rather cheesy spoken word intro before tearing into a rockin’ version of the 1906 poem by Alfred Noyes. Set in 18th-century rural England, the highwayman is in love with Bess, a landlord’s daughter. Betrayed to the authorities, the highwayman escapes ambush when Bess sacrifices her life to warn him. Learning of her death, he is killed in a futile attempt at revenge. However, their souls reunite after death. Speaking of love, courage, and sacrifice, perfect themes for Theigns & Thralls. ‘Today We Get To Play’ is the most Celtic-Punk track here and actually reminds me of a handful of bands from the scene in it’s upbeat-ness!

‘The New Folk Devils’ touches on serious subject matter of judging people on their looks from Mods and Rockers then to immigrants today. Slow enough to take in Kevin’s vocals it’s followed by ‘Flora Robb’ an instrumental Folk number with excellent piping. The album part of Theigns & Thralls ends with ‘Not Thru The Woods Yet’ and a superb catchy song which brings to mind Flogging Molly. The first of the bonus tracks is ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ and ought to be familiar to people on this side of the pond due to it’s time being used as the theme song for the classic British TV series Sharpe starring the king of Yorkshire himself, Sean Bean. Performed again in that 70’s English style. ‘The Queen Of The Moors’ is, I think, the only Skyclad song here featuring on their 2017 album Forward Into The Past. To close out the album the last three songs are a a acoustic version of ‘Strive’ followed by the shorter video version of ‘Drinking’ before the curtain comes down with a Electronic / Industrial remix of ‘Life Will Out’ that I’m afraid didn’t interest me at all at first but I rather got into after a few plays!

The album seems to have divided fans of Folk-Metal in that many were expecting the album to be a lot heavier than it is. I don’t understand though why these folk would imagine the point of setting up another Skyclad when the original is still running! We on the other hand absolutely love it and why not it’s a steady mix of Celtic-Punk, Folk, Folk-Metal and classic rock! Saying that at just under a hour it is far too long and some of the bonus tracks are a bit unnecessary. Perhaps it might have been better to release them independently as a EP. Now that the album is out Theigns & Thralls have put also become a ‘touring band’ in their own right but as of going to press gigs are mainly in Europe excepting a short tour her in December taking in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Kent and Lancaster.

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CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: FOLK FRIENDS 1 (1978)

The latest in our series of reviews of albums from the past that deserve to be aired again! Folk Friends was two volumes of music released in 1978 and 1980 featuring a wealth of Folk music artists live in session in Germany. Almost four hours of music and all available to download for free. The first volume is presented here with Volume Two to follow next week. 

FREE DOWNLOAD

Folk Friends was a series of two albums recorded live in Germany and featuring a broad selection of artists from Ireland, Germany, England, Scotland and the USA. The music here takes in traditional Celtic Folk, American Blues-inspired Folk and even some German traditional music. Both volumes of the albums were recorded at Hannes Wader’s home and studio, Windmühle ‘Fortuna’, Struckum near Husum, North Friesland, which was a renovated windmill. The sessions would produce two 90-minute double vinyl albums with the first volume released in 1978 and then Volume 2 appearing two years later. While most compilation albums of this type would feature songs from different times and releases this is a historic record of all the artists playing either solo or together over a few days and is a truly unique recording of these sessions of outstanding musicians and friends.

FOLK FRIENDS ONE

Folk Friends One are:
Guy Carawan * Candie Carawan * Derroll Adams (USA) * Alex Campbell (Scotland) * Wizz Jones (England) * Finbar Furey * Davey Arthur (Ireland) * Werner Lämmerhirt * Hannes Wader * Jörg Suckow * Matthias Raue (Germany)

Alex Campbell (left), Davey Arthur (top centre), Finbar Furey (bottom centre)

The first album was recorded during six days in June 1978 and was produced by Carsten Linde and recorded and mastered by Günter Pauler.

Tracklist : 1. Werner, Jörg & Matthias – Six Days on the Road 0:00 2. Finbar, Hannes, Alex, Jörg & Davey – Night Visiting Song/Dat du min Leefste büst 05:13 3. Guy, Werner, Finbar & Davey – Planxty Irwin 8:17 4. Derroll & Wizz – I’m Sad and I’m Lonely 10:34 5. Finbar, Werner & Jörg – Lonely One 13:38 6. Guy, Candie & Matthias – The Trail of Tears 18:25 7. Hannes & Jörg – Willst Du Dein Herz mir schenken 21:48 8. Wizz & Davey – Night Ferry 24:10 9. Guy, Candie & Werner – I Remember Loving You 28:57 10. Finbar, Alex, Davey, Jörg & Derroll – Derroll in the Rain 32:23 11. Guy, Hannes, Davey, Matthias, Derroll, Finbar & Werner – Who Will Sing for Me? 37:13 12. Werner, Guy & Candie – Walking Down the Line 41:42 13. Wizz, Guy, Finbar & Davey – Old Molly Hare 44:53 14. Hannes & Guy – Brüder, seht die rote Fahne/Hold The Fort 46:12 15. Alex, Finbar & Davey – One Day We’ll See Them 49:52 16. Derroll & Wizz – Black Jack Davey 53:31 17. Wizz & Hannes – New National Seven 56:15 18. Alex, Guy, Candie & Derroll – Aragon Mill 58:59 19. Derroll, Hannes & Davey – Pay Day At Coal Creek 1:02:40 20. Finbar & Jörg – John of Dreams 1:07:05 21. Finbar – Alex’s Dream/Ned Walsh’s Jig 1:10:48 22. Hannes, Guy, Werner, Finbar, Davey, Candie, Alex, Susanne, Wizz & Derroll – When The Fiddler Has Played His Last Tune For The Night 1:12:45

ALBUM LINER NOTES

Singers, guitarists, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bagpipe and dulcimer players from several European countries and the USA, who had been friends with Hannes and each other for many years, met here in Hannes’ windmill.
From the American south, Guy and Candie Carawan brought oppressed minority songs, timeless new songs and their hammered dulcimer. Guy and Hannes met for the first time in 1968 at the Waldeck Castle festival and have since met whenever Guy is on tour in Germany.
The American banjo player Derroll Adams traveled from Belgium. He knew Guy Carawan from the USA in the 1950s before he emigrated to Europe himself. In the years that followed, Derroll had a significant influence on the development of the folk scene in France and England as a street musician and through guest appearances in clubs.
His friend Alex Campbell from Glasgow – who had also lived as a street singer in Paris in the early 1960s and is still a role model for many folk singers – was now sitting in the windmill, as was Wizz Jones, guitarist and songwriter from London, who had been a singer since the 1960s works as a professional singer-songwriter.
Finbar Furey had come from southern Ireland and as a bagpipe player he cannot be overestimated for the more recent development of Irish folk music. He had brought his many flutes, new songs of his own and his friend Davey Arthur, who was causing a sensation in Finbar’s band “The Fureys and Davey Arthur”.
Werner Lämmerhirt, one of the leading folk guitarists in this country, was also there. He had toured with Hannes Wader between 1971 and 1973 and recorded with Alex Campbell, Guy Carawan and Hannes Wader before beginning his own successful career.
And finally Hannes Wader, the host himself. Without his encounter and involvement with Anglo-American folk, his development as a German singer-songwriter and folk singer would have been different. His roots in German folk music, which has been broken several times, and his musical talents form the point of reference to all these fellow musicians who have been shaped in living traditional folk cultures.
Jörg Suckow and Matthias Raue also come from Germany, bringing in their skills on cello and fiddle and taking on choral parts.
Martin and Gertrude Degenhardt, who have been involved with the folk scene in Germany since the first Waldeck festivals, were involved throughout the entire recording time at the Mühle. They observed and sketched the musicians, the cover illustration is the result of their impressions.
Günter Pauler, who recorded the music and kept it up day and night with concentration and good humor, used a Nagara IV S and a TEAC 80-8 eight-track machine with dbx and Sennheiser and AKG microphones. Mixing was done on a Nagara IV S.
Hannes, Guy, Derroll, Alex, Wizz, Davey and Werner had met by chance in recent years when their paths crossed on tours or at festivals. Sometimes, on the fringes of the action or backstage, they would unpack their instruments and play songs and melodies they liked. From time to time they also held sessions and found that they got along well not only musically but also personally. Out of this friendly relationship, they finally met in the mill – regardless of their “market value” or exclusive ties to agencies or record companies – and started making music together without much ado. Much of that friendly, laid-back vibe echoes in the music and songs on this album. The enthusiasm to sing and play together in different groups and to be able to try out new musical possibilities can be heard atmospherically and as a feeling in every song. All songs and instrumentals are audio recording premieres in the changing combinations of the Folkfriends.
The artists involved chose the titles they ultimately wanted to record, in consultation with one another, and arranged their music and songs together. With no pressure to produce their music as a usable product within a set time, they held their sessions in the garden and in the large room of the mill right in front of the microphones.
Such a living room – even in the “seclusion” of a rural environment – is not a soundproof studio with noise-absorbing floor coverings and the warning red light “Caution, recording!”. The farmers’ tractors drove past Hannes Mühle and the dogs from the neighborhood fought in front of her. Occasionally such noises penetrated through the closed doors and windows and thus got onto the tape. However, all of them deliberately regarded these atmospheric noises as secondary if a recording seemed unrepeatable and unique in its feeling (eg on Derroll’s “Pay Day At Coal Creek”).
It wasn’t about making recordings as they are possible “clean” in costly recording studios – albeit in a sterile environment, often in forced isolation of the musicians and only with the help of playback methods. These recordings are genuine “live” recordings. They were created in the congenial interaction of all participants with very few exceptions without playback. Because musicians are people whose feet tap the rhythm of their music, whose fingers sweat and then produce overtones when running fast on the guitar strings and because their breath can be heard when blowing flutes, these noises were deliberately recorded. No attempt was made to filter them out using technical means, as is normally done.
Musicians are not machines whose products are subject to a predetermined or even external norm, but sensitive people who express their sensations and feelings as essential design elements in their songs and melodies. Seen in this way, the recordings of the “Folkfriends” reflect a free, very personal atmosphere that dispenses with technical refinements. And seen in this way, folk music is direct and easy for everyone to understand and do without much complex technology.

Carsten Linde, 1978

For your free download click below

FolkFriends1

ALBUM REVIEW: THE CUNDEEZ – ‘Geeez It’ (2022)

The brand new album from The CundeeZ. Pure Dundee scheme Rock’n’Roll wi bagpipes!

It does literally seem like just the other day that Dundee band The Cundeez released anything. Geeez It is the boys 6th studio album and follows swiftly on the heels of Teckle An Hide which made #4 in the London Celtic Punks Best Celtic-Punk Album of 2020. On that album the only criticism I saw anywhere was that their was too much of it and they could maybe have cut a couple of songs from the sixteen  (!) presented. Too much of a good thing perhaps. Anyway it was a fantastic album and an album that won them many new fans and praise. In the meantime they released a Scotland football song for the European Championship and have carried on post-Covid where they left off – touring, touring, touring.

Here for Geez It they have confined it to only ten songs but the running time is till almost forty minutes and for a Punk band that is some length. Now a lot of Punk albums could really drag at that but The Cundeez mix of genres, passion and tongue in cheek humour keep it fresh throughout. They also manage to continue confusing those us not use to the Dundonian accent that even scientists say is more like a foreign language.

The album kicks off with ‘Bog o Riffs’ and an absolutely f’ing brilliant instrumental. With a menacing air and Goth/ Post-Punk feel it’s a great start and Gary’s fantastic bagpiping is out of this world. Seriously one of the best pipers in the Celtic-Punk scene. I love it when The Cundeez do these instrumental’s of which their are many dotted through their back catalogue. ‘Geeez It !’ is more straight up Cundeez fair. A Punk Rock number with no frills just catchy shouty chorus leading into ‘East Meets West’ and a song that steers directly into port with a tale of sea-bound deeds and mis-deeds and even ends with a clip from the beloved kids TV show ‘Captain Pugwash’ if I’m not mistaken.

As I’ve said many times when reviewing them they cover plenty of ground, and they always have done, but ‘Rockabilly Revolution’ was a bit of a surprise as the guys go full on Rock’n’Roll with a song wouldn’t disgrace any R’n’R band on the circuit. Joined by their mate Calum ‘Boydie’ Macleod from Peat & Diesel. A hilarious great video (you can only watch on Facebook) sees the lads dressed up ala Russ Abbot all it’s missing is the double bass. Geez It is mostly original numbers but they have a habit, alongside their more traditional ones, of chucking in some unlikely instrumentals and this time it’s a superb bagpipe and keyboard heavy version of Martha And The Muffins 1980’s smash hit ‘Echo Beach’.

“I know it’s out of fashion
And a trifle uncool
But I can’t help it
I’m a romantic fool”

We’re ploughing through and ‘On The Ran Dan’ sees the boys on the pish around Dundee. Drinking songs are must in Celtic-Punk and don’t forget these guys are just ordinary working class Scottish guys so there’s gonna be no niceties here and definitely not any safe spaces! Now The Cundeez have a fantastic relationship with the band Peat & Diesel and I guess this is partly due to their love of the island of Stornaway in the western isles. With a population of just under 7000, according to the 2011 Census, 43% of still speak Scottish Gaelic. ‘The Stornaway Stomp’ is another straight up Punk number with them paying tribute to all things ‘western’.

 

Not sure who the song ‘CG McGeddon’ is named after but here the guys rock hard while Gary speaks of the danger of loneliness and isolation. It’s the modern curse especially among young men.If you’re feeling the pressure their are people out there to talk to.

The summer of 2021 saw a rare outing for the Tartan Army when they qualified for the European Championships. The Cundeez celebrated with the release of ‘Kilts On Taps Aff’ by far the best of a slew of football songs released at the same time. Dismissed by the English media they gave the fancy-dan English millionaires a real fright and could have easily won the game between the two if they had only had a wee bit of luck. The Scottish fans also made many friends with their joyful exuberance (pissed) celebrations.

The curtain comes down with ‘The Old Forge’, a bagpipe heavy instrumental specially written in recognition of the small and extremely remote Inverie community in western Scotland, who successfully took control of the local pub in a community buy-out scheme. The Western Isles boat that takes you there is called The Old Forge CB.

Having safely sailed past their 10th anniversary a couple of years ago they have settled on while not just a sound but a whole host of genres that make that sound. Never afraid to mix it up The Cundeez show once again that they are so much more than just a Punk band. That’s a label that they are unashamedly proud of, and rightly so, but underneath the initial first glimpse theirs a real depth to the band and they do it all with a sense of humour and humility most new Punk bands don’t have a clue about. A band with a mission and a night out with The Cundeez is guaranteed to wear out the soles of your feet and I can testify that they are perfect house guests as well!

To buy the CD of Geez It contact The Cundeez directly

or download via Amazon

Contact The Cundeez  Facebook  YouTube  Spotify  Twitter

ALBUM REVIEW: PADDY’S PUNK – ‘With Full Horse’ (2022)

German band Paddy’s Punk play Irish Folk-Punk, classic Irish Folk and Celtic-Rock and have been on our radar for a couple of years now. With the odd video and song sneaking through it’s been a long wait for their debut album With Full Horse. 

Paddy’s Punk were founded in 2017 in the area of Dessau / Leipzig in what use to be East Germany before unification with the West in 1990. I have spoken before on this site about the affinity between Germany and Celtic music and culture but especially with that of Ireland. Time and time again when I have met German folk I have been impressed by their knowledge of Irish culture, music and history. That Celtic are by far the most popular foreign team among German football supporters is testament to that affinity. There are several theories for this but my guess is that the Germans love a drink, … err …. how do I put this … don’t support England and love a good party so it has got to be between us and the Mexicans. And we are closer!

I’ve always met Germans in Ireland and I remember many years ago as a kid having a conversation about the Wolfe Tones with a German tourist while waiting on a train at Limerick Junction. The folk from Paddy’s Punk are no different and made numerous visits across the Irish sea before deciding to combine their love for Irish music and their musical roots (from bands such as Faust, Die Tornados and Red Point DC) as Paddy’s Punk. It’s been four years since their first release Sláinte Mhaith. A six track EP that came out on vinyl and CD and was released by Hoehnie Records. Five of their own compositions and one cover of raw, melancholic and melodic tracks. It stood out at the time for having female vocals and while we never like to labour issues like that it made a refreshing change not only because they were female but, more importantly, because they were also bloody good. The EP is still available (on green vinyl) from Hepcat Records.

Paddy’s Punk left to right : Torsten – Piano / Keys / E Pipe / Flute / Vocals * Acki – Electric Guitar / Banjo / Vocals * Ori Tom Paddy – Drums / Vocals * Alina – Front Vocal / Acoustic Guitar / Electric Guitar * Franze – Bass Guitar * Hannah – Violin / Vocals *

So the time has come for their first (of many I hope!) full album With Full Horse. Fourteen new tracks released on their new label Smith And Miller Records kicking off with the title track ‘With Full Horse’an instrumental that wouldn’t sound out of place in any Irish pub across the world even when the electric guitar starts chugging along!

The main single for the album was ‘Five Points’ which popped up on You Tube back in March to announce the forthcoming album. The song is named after the 19th-century slum neighbourhood in New York City. At it’s height it was home to the New York Irish escaping An Gorta Mór (the great hunger) and only London’s East End vied with it in the western world for disease, infant and child mortality, unemployment, violent crime and other examples of ‘white privilege’. Alina’s vocals are a treat and in that typical European way her English is absolutely perfect and she even gives it a slight Irish tinge. The music is kind of laid back Punk-Rock with Folky interludes. The kind of music that crosses over several boundaries and I’m sure would see the band at home at Punk and Folk gigs. ‘Hangover’ is the album’s first drinking song. A necessary staple of German Celtic-Punk bands. Catchy, foot tapping stuff for the oldies or get in the pit and have a bounce round for the young guns. ‘Evening Rise’ was another single and video released just this week.

Paddy’s Punk have never overly relied on covers so they can be forgiven for ‘Fields Of Athenry’. It may be a tad overdone in the Celtic-Punk scene but it is a great song and I never get tired of hearing bands trying to give it a new twist. Alina’s vocals are fittingly beautiful while the band rock it up but stick to the tried and tested formula but still give the recently deceased Pete St. John’s song their own stamp. ‘Irish Friends’ slows things down and tells of the band’s visits to Ireland and the friendships they made.  ‘Paddy Wagon’ sees the band turn up the Irish to 11 with one of the album’s standout tracks.

The band are covering all the required bases here and next up is a proper shit-kicking expertly played Irish instrumental, ‘Spirit Of Lettermore’ named for a village in county Galway. ‘Pictures’ is another standout. A cracker with dual vocals, chugging guitar and amazing fiddle. ‘Mairi’s Wedding’ is a Scottish Folk song written in the 1900’s and is perhaps most famous these days after being recorded by Ferocious Dog and is one of their live favourites. Paddy’s Punk play it brilliantly not straying too far again from the usual sound but I still bloody loved it. ‘Waiting For Someone’ sees them swirling and waltzing away while ‘Need A Drink’ sees them sounding not too unlike The Pogues (the only time on this album I can compare them to anyone else) until the guitars and drums come crashing through the door! Only three covers out of fourteen which is highly commendable as they manage to take some well known songs and make them their own. ‘Danny Boy’ sees them playing this most treasured of Irish songs leading us into final track the hauntingly stunninginstrumental ‘Drommeland’.

Paddy’s Punk are a excellent band with some brilliantly crafted songs and that ability to be just Punk enough for the Punks and Folk enough for the Folkies. While it is the great vocals that really stand out here they are but one thing and you do need the songs and the musicians to match them and on With Full Horse they most certainly do.

Buy With Full Horse  CD- Smith And Miller

Contact Paddy’s Punk  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DREADNOUGHTS – ‘Roll And Go’ (2022)

The folk-punkers from Vancouver are back, with a new collection o’ songs to get ya up and dancing. Following our review of 2019’s Into The North, we now present some o’ the finest moments from the band’s latest offering, Roll And Go. Let’s get into it!

Roll And Go by The Dreadnoughts. Out on Stomp Records, home to most of the band’s material.

In case ye don’t know ’em so well, The Dreadnoughts are a 6-piece band hailing from the West coast of Canada. They refer to their brand of Celtic punk as “world-core cluster folk”, and these humorous songs are brought to you by a cast of musicians with equally humorous nicknames. Examples include Wormley Wangersnitch on fiddle, Drew Sexsmith (aka. Dread Pirate Druzil) on mandolin and banjo, and – perhaps best of all – The Stupid Swedish Bastard on drums. I wonder what fellow Celtic punkers Sir Reg would make of that one…😁

On a more serious note, The Dreadnoughts have toured and recorded pretty relentlessly since they started out in 2006. This new record gives the band another chance to showcase their experience. We kick off with “Cider Jar”, a short and unnerving intro complete with glockenspiel, of all things, and a bastardisation of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”. This is, of course, only the quiet before the storm.

Soon, we’re launched into “Cider Holiday”, which kinda speaks for itself 🍺 Everything that the Celtic punk fan knows and loves is on offer here – the 2/4 polka rhythm, the band’s street punk attitude, a chorus singalong and – of course – a nod to the ol’ West Country influences (i.e. Bristol way, to anyone outside the UK). Sean Astin pulled off a decent West Country accent in Lord of the Rings. In my estimation, these North American dudes aren’t too bad at it either.

Track #2 “Cider Holiday”. Gets the record going and the fans dancin’.

Problem?

One of the standout tracks on Roll And Go has to be track #4 “Problem”. Not to be confused with the Sex Pistols song of [almost] the same name, the band get the klezmer/polka punk out here, and to brilliant effect. Slow Ride’s accordion and Wangersnitch’s fiddle link up well, and the lyrics are witty, funny, and very catchy. So call some mates, get some drinks in, and get dancing round the room to this one. There’s a “trippy” break in the middle of the song, if you need to catch your breath!

Don’t forget to check out the official YouTube video to this song too. In contrast to the energy of polka punk, this clip features the band doing absolutely nothing 😁 Fortunately, the fans in the video more than make up for it.

The official video to track #4 “Problem”. Try to stay in your seat – how the band managed to is beyond me.

“Battleford 1885” is more of a straightforward, hard rock song. It does have its Celtic influences, however, and I quite enjoyed this number meself. For those of us interested in history, the song refers to a wee town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It was looted in the late 19th century by a party of Cree Native Americans, who were short on food supplies at that time.

Love music…with a difference

To sample the band’s own polka-powered take on a love song, try “Vicki’s Polka”. This is a touching, but bouncy tune with some sweet accordion passages to break it up. The Dreadnoughts regularly perform as a trad polka band at certain festivals, under the name of Polka Time. This song is a nod to that factor. Next time you’re thinkin’ of ideas for a date, don’t take your other half to a club. Go polka with them ☘️ As we all know, it’s a barrel o’ fun and you’ll both love it.

“Scrumpy-O” is a different kind of, er, love song, as it’s another dedication to the band’s favourite beverage. Scrumpy, for those who ain’t sampled it yet, is a cider originating in the good ol’ West Country of England. An angry-sounding bass intro by Squid Vicious (great name there) leads us into another Celtic punk thrash rhythm, complete with a West Country “Cider!” growl. I quite fancy a trip back to Bristol and a pint in the pub after listenin’ to this one. Make mine a Guinness though, please, my wife’s the cider fan 🍻

The loveliest song of all, though, is saved till last (well, second from last). Track #12 is the band’s take on traditional sea shanty “Bold Riley” – or “Reilly”, by their own spelling. Many a musician has covered this one, from Kate Rusby to fellow Canadians The Wailin’ Jennys. The ‘Nought’s rendition is similarly beautiful, while a soft percussive tap keeps time. One of my favourites on the album, and a song that puts me fondly in mind of “John Kanaka”, another sea shanty.

Track #12 “Bold Reilly”. Brings a tear to the ol’ eye.

Roll And Go

Last of all, we’re treated to the epic title track. The band pack everything they’ve got into this finale: a quiet acoustic intro, a build-up on drums, and then the heavy guitars to kick our ears into gear. The klezmer-polka influence makes a final return during the instrumental breaks. But it’s interesting how the band dial back the typical 2/4 thrash rhythm on this one. A well-worked ending to a well-worked album, and The Fang’s closing lyric made a particular impression upon me:

I’ve never known a better bunch of bully lads than you. And we’ll be back some fine and lucky day.

– The Dreadnoughts, “Roll And Go”

Give the title track a spin here:

“Roll And Go”, the title and closing track to the album.

So…

What The Dreadnoughts have delivered here is a strong collection of songs, with clean and crisp mixing and mastering values. The six-piece continues to show its experience, but they’ve lost none of their Celtic punk grit on this latest offering.

Now…to support the band directly, buy yourself a copy of Roll And Go on the band’s Bandcamp page. If your CD or vinyl player’s long been consigned to the ocean floor (or the local dump), then you can get the album in digital format as well, from the same link above. If streaming’s your thing, then listen to it on Spotify or via Apple Music.

Last of all, communication is key as they say, so stay in touch with the band on their social media channels. They’ll tell ya what’s next, and when they’ll be appearin’ in your neck of the woods. Find ’em on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Folk on, me hearties!

Andy x

CELTIC-PUNK Q AND A: ATLE FROM GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS

As we celebrate the ninth birthday of our first post our special feature continues. Based on the feature that use to appear in the football magazines of my youth it’s just a short series of questions about stuff’n’nonsense as me auld Nan would have said.

Today we welcome Atle to our select club. Guitarist from Norwegian Celtic-Punk band Greenland Whalefishers. The word legendary gets thrown around a lot but these guys are the real deal. Older than both the Murphys and the Mollys they took what the Pogues legacy and gave it a proper good shake.

Name / Nickname : Atle-Hjørn Øien

Age (Estimate allowed!) : 43 years

Birthplace / Nationality / Ancestry : Norwegian

Occupation : Currently Station Manager for a car rental company at Bergen Airport for the 10th year.

First job : factory, working on assembling windows

A job you would have loved to do : Actually starting a new job this autumn as leader of a community center, and really looking forward to that.

What / Who makes you laugh : Jimmy Carr and Jack Dee

Favourite movie star : Robert De Niro

Favourite film / TV show : The Godfather movies and 8 out of 10 cats does Countdown .

Favourite band/s : The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, David Bowie, Kiss, The Gaslight Anthem, Madness, Rancid.

Favourite Celtic-Punk band : The Pogues

Up and coming Celtic-Punk band to watch : Ogras from Norway. Released their second album in 2020 called No Love in the City. Great band!

First and last record you bought : I believe the first was KISS the Ace Frehley solo album and the last was a reissue of The Gaslight Anthems´ 59 Sound.

How many instruments can you play : drums, guitar, bass, and a touch of the piano.

How many bands have you been in : Hard to remember all projects, especially those way back in the early years. These are the 6 I can remember at the time being: Storebrors Danseband (swing and dancehall entertainment music), Car Crash (Rock and Punk), pSyndromatik (goth electronic punk-pop), The Foggy Few ( celtic pop-rock), Plasterwork ( 70s sound inspired by the E-street band) and Greenland Whalefishers .

Favourite venue played : It has to be ” Chemie Fabrik ” in Dresden Germany. A former factory, concrete buliding with terrible accoustics, but the crowd was insane and the venue was littearly steaming! The humidity was so high that the walls were wet with condense. Also a crazy guy were running around blowing flames with a torch. Also a big blast when we play an outdoor gig in Las Vegas on St. Patrick’s Day. And always great playing in London hooking up with the London Celtic Punks-team!

Most embarrassing moment : When we went to the USA and our gear was delayed being left behind in Frankfurt, so we had to go and buy the bare necessities. I bought a cheap badly litt tuner. So when I tuned the bass I accidentally tuned it one half note too high. So when we hit the stage in Hollywood, I went out high and flying sounding like total shit the first song through.

Favourite song you’ve been involved in: That´s hard to say as there are so many and they all have been a favourite at the time they were made.

Favourite song and why : Impossible to say as I guess that changes every week I think. At the moment I’m heavily into Madness and also The Specials which I saw live in Bergen a few weeks ago. Really love the 2tone bands from UK in the late 70s.

Favourite album and why : Two albums that I revisit on a regular basis are Revolver by The Beatles and the self titled first album by Rage Against The Machine. Revolver has a kind of pop-rock feel to it that never bores me. Rage Against The Machine is a very unproduced album, just plain and loud in your face, both albums never goes out of style and are very interesting in their own way.

Biggest influence on career : Brian Jones

Your five dream dinner guests : David Bowie, Shane MacGowan, Ace Frehley, Brian Jones and Patti Smith

Anything to plug : Support your local live venue!

A documentary about the iconic irish punk album Loboville by Greenland Whalefishers. 2001’s album Loboville opened the world for Greenland Whalefishers. By 2021 the band has toured 13 countries on 3 continents, released 10 studio albums, one live album, an uncountable amount of split releases with other bands, a documentary movie, a live in concert movie, an Ireland tour movie, a live corona-concert movie and several music videos. http://www.greenlandwhalefishers.com

ALBUM REVIEW: THE TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN – ‘ Regressive Folk Music’ (2022)

Celtic-Punk-Grass played by some Hillbilly Irish. The Tan And Sober Gentlemen explore the Gaelic roots of North Carolinian music, and to play it with as much energy as possible. Their new album out this week sees their sound developing into something really special.

Since we reviewed The Tan And Sober Gentlemen’s debut album Veracity four years ago I reckon we have received maybe 400+ releases here so I don’t get the chance to regularly revisit albums once they are reviewed. Veracity is one of a handful though that often gets a play. We described it back then as

” Raw and unfiltered, a blend of hard-driving, danceable roots delivered with a punk edge and whisky-fuelled abandon they call ‘Celtic-Punk-Grass’.”

Recorded in the woods of Chatham County, North Carolina, Veracity is a riotous take on ‘Scotch-Irish hillbilly music’. North Carolina has a rich history of Irish, Scotch and Scotch-Irish history going back generations and the Tan And Sober Gentlemen are rightly proud of their state’s Celtic musical heritage. Musically they embrace the glorious foot stomping sound of their home while welding to it Irish and Scots tunes and melodies. Totally acoustic this is the kind of wide-open-throttle, no-holds-barred band that could drown out most Punk bands with their passion, energy and sheer ruggedness.

So four years on and with just a couple of singles inbetween it’s hard to keep a track of bands over there from over here but they have kept plugging away and playing whenever they could do or were allowed to. Founded in Snow camp their music is Irish-folk-music-meets-the-American-South sound of the North Carolina backcountry where  they were born and raised. The State has over a quarter of a million people of Scotch-Irish ancestry (second only to Texas) and coupled with those of just Irish ancestry the number is almost a million residents. The States traditional Folk music can be traced right back to those who started arriving in North Carolina long before the ‘famine’ and to those who came in it’s aftermath. And The Tan And Sober gentlemen play it with as much energy as humanly possible!

Regressive meaning “returning to a former or less developed state; characterised by regression” kinda sums up the sound of The Tan And Sober Gentlemen and they even downplay what they do

“You know our deal-we ain’t lighting the world on fire with songwriting or anything, we’re just a bunch of rednecks that like playing fiddle music real dadgum fast.”
but the truth is that music is a major way for people to find their identity and to keep culture alive and their are times when I think the Yanks are doing a better job at doing it then modern Ireland is.
The fella’s raised the necessary to record and release Regressive Folk Music with a very successful Kickstarter campaign where they sailed past their target. The album kicks off with ‘Kelly Sullivan’ and bursts through the speakers at you. Fast and furious from the very start and utterly brilliant too! The fiddle work is amazing and being a bit of a auld rocker I really enjoyed the sound of the thump-thump of the double bass too. The Celticness of the tune is unmistakable while next they play the first of a handful of covers. They turn to their local roots for ‘Corn Likker’, also known as ‘Old Corn Liquor’, a song that’s roots are obscure but found favour in the early days of recording in the repertoire of African-American musicians. On ‘Happiness Ain’t Happening’ they get the first chance to properly combine both traditions and chuck in some great humour and the song infectious tune would see the stiffest Joe clapping along and stamping his feet. After three songs it’s time for a breather and ‘All The Time’ sees Courtney take on vocals with a tender and tuneful song. It’s fair to say that the best Celtic-Punk bands out there, no matter how Punky they are can also knock out some great slow songs and ballads and I’m always a bit disappointed to hear an album without one. I thought on first listen this was the album high point and while I have changed my mind a little I think it is still up there. Another cover is up next and the Irish war song ‘The Foggy Dew’ has become very popular these days on the Celtic-Punk scene and several band shave already recorded it this year already. Set during the 1916 Easter Rising when a small group of Irish rebels rose against the might of the British Empire. The rebellion was crushed and it’s leaders executed but the event lit a fire in the hearts of the Irish people that would see them rise again only a few years later.

Unusually the song is delivered with female vocals and the rather un-straight forward version is uplifted by Courtney’s beautiful and emotional vocals. As impossible as it would seem to breathe new life into a song you’ve heard a 1000 times it’s managed here. An outstanding version. ‘Banks Of The Roses’ is dates from 18th century Ireland and is an perfect opportunity for Eli Howells to really let fly on the fiddle. Eli was born and raised in the hills of Burke County, North Carolina, and learned from master fiddlers such as Jane Macmorren at an early age. Honing his skill at fiddlers’ conventions, barrooms, and back porches across the state. His distinctive Scotch-Irish fiddle stylings provide the core of the Tan and Sober sound. ‘Mickey’s Grave’ and ‘Heart Is Haunted’ highlight their two wings with the former a rowdy shouty Irish Larkin-esque riot while the latter is a jolly uplifting County-ish / Bluegrass romp. Along with the slow songs another thing I look for is a bit of trad Folk. ‘Miss Shephard’s / The High Drive’ is a chance for the whole band to flex their collective muscles and prove to detractors that Celtic-Punk does have some real musicians in it and is even helping keep trad music alive and relevant. ‘Barbed Wire’ takes the Country route again and some quite stunning banjo leading into Courtney’s delivery of the Rockabilly swing of ‘You’ll Never Know’. We nearing the end and next up is the popular ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’. Again it’s roots go back much further than the first time it was recorded but it has became part of Irish musical history. There’s no way of course it wouldn’t find favour in the Celtic-Punk scene as well with a chorus that has always cried out to be turned up to 11 and belted out at the top of your voice.

Played as expected with wild abandon and absolutely guaranteed to make you lose your voice with all the band getting a chance to solo their instruments, it really does rock your socks off!  Only a couple more left and ’30 Years Of Farming’ is up now. Written by Fred Eaglesmith, who as a teenager, hopped a freight train to western Canada and began his career as a musician. Specialising in ‘twist’ songs, where there’s a twist in the tale in the final verse ranging from “tear at your heartstrings” to tongue in cheek. This song is the former. A real tear jerker.  The curtain comes down on Regressive Folk Music with ‘Samhain’s March’ and a beautiful lament played led mainly by Eli on fiddle and Tucker’s banjo picking. The best album ‘outro’ I’ve heard in such a long time and with a album packed with so much energy a very clever way to end things.

Another triumph for The Tan And Sober Gentlemen and their legendarily rowdy live shows will be winging it back across the broad Atlantic, from whence their forefathers left, in the Summer with the band looking forward to playing some Irish festivals and club shows. We will include dates and infos in our month Odds ‘n’ Sods Celtic-Punk news round up so be sure to subscribe (you need to do this on a laptop).  A riotous encapsulation of the band’s Irish roots and it’s members ancestry. Hard- driving, danceable roots music delivered with Punk edge and wild abandon. They are quite simply the best drinking and dancing band in Celtic-Punk.

Buy Regressive Folk Music  Bandcamp   EverywhereElse

Contact The Tan And Sober Gentlemen  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: PADDY AND THE RATS – ‘From Wasteland to Wonderland’ (2022)

Hot on the heels of gaining a double over hapless England, Hungary has even more to shout about like the 6th full length studio album from Paddy And The Rats. A pirate party fuelled by heavy doses of Punk, Polka and Irish Folk and a worthy tribute to accordion player Bernie who passed away not long before the release of this album.  

It’s hard to begin this review without mentioning the sad loss the band suffered at the beginning of this year when their friend and fellow band mate Bernie Bellamy (Bernát Babicsek) sadly passed away.

“Speaking about the new song, the band says, “this album became very important to us because this is the last thing that Bernie recorded in his life. We’d like to dedicate the first single of the album to Bernie and to express all our emotions through the song we release first. That’s why we’ve chosen After The Rain. It’s a sad song but it also has a fully positive vibe. Sadness and desperation are there through the whole song, but meanwhile, you can feel something powerful when the pipe and the accordion come in at the drop. It conveys the feeling that you have to be strong and you have to move on. The last line in the chorus says: ‘After the rain, sunshine will never be the same’. I think this is the essence of the song. The absence of Bernie will be more endurable with time, but nothing will ever be the same without him.”

An awful thing to happen and we send our love to Bernie’s family and friends.

Bernie’s sad death dominates the album in more ways than one. Beside the tracks written especially for him the themes visited here can also be attributed like the sudden death of a friend,the loss of faith, misery but their are also uplifting songs with more irreverent themes like the obligatory drinking and pirate ones. Their recent albums have seen them a slight shift away from the Celtic-Punk that made them one of the biggest live acts in their home country but on From Wasteland To Wonderland they return fully to form but still manage to squeeze in several unexpected influences and flourishes.

Only a few weeks after bemoaning how long it had been since the Hungarian Celtic-Punk scene reared it’s head both The Scarlet and now Paddy And The Rats land on the pages of London Celtic Punks. Now one of the things that made the scene their so great was the diverse nature of the bands with none of them sounding even remotely alike and all and any variation of Celtic-Punk covered. Formed in Miskolc in the industrial northeast of Hungary in 2008 they have become popular outside Hungary and have toured all over Europe.

For the new album, the band teamed up once again with long time producer Zoli Baker who has done an outstanding job. From Wasteland To Wonderland is exactly that with the opening track titled ‘Wasteland’ right up to the final track ‘Wonderland’. Thirteen  songs and forty-five minutes later! The opener was one of the first tracks written for the albium and is classic Rats with Celtic-Punk flavoured with a little Eastern promise alongside hard riffs, playful fiddle solo and catchy melodies. The next couple of songs see them flip into pirate mode with ‘Ship Will Sail’

To the end of the world I’ll ride
For you, no place to hide
Till’ I hunt you down
Our ship will sail”

and then ‘Party Like A Pirate’. Two swashbuckling knees up that would have Captain Sparrow jigging like a right one. Seeing how recently vindicated Johnny Depp is a big Celtic-Punk fan this may be no surprise!
“Dressed up for the party
A one-eyed gent of elegance
My wooden leg is stuck in the lower deck
My freshly polished eye rolled down my neck”

Released as a single with an exciting accompanying video. The band said of the video –

“We shot the video in Tenerife in famous places like the Volcano Teide and the classic pirate village in Maska. The story starts on a pirate ship where a bunch of pirates have a party and bully a witch who curses the pirates to wake up in the present. They try to understand the modern world which leads to very funny situations. The song is a typical Paddy And The Rats party song – causing the urge to dance in everyone who listens to the catchy melody.”

The first single from the album was ‘After The Rain’. It’s a song we featured on release as it was a moving tribute to their friend and comrade Bernie. ‘Northern Lights’ takes in some thrashy Metal along the way adding some Scandinavian touches too by way of the lyrics, like Northern Lights or the girl with the shiny green hair.. Never afraid to try something different ‘Matadora’ sees some Mariachi-style trumpets while the haunting ‘Standing In The Storm’ slows things down. While we expect the unexpected from Paddy And The Rats ‘Everybody Get Up’ was still a bit of a shock with it’s fiddle intro and then straight into some Hip Hop ala Beastie Boys or Run DMC but still with the irreverent lyrics we do expect!

We wanted to visualise it, so we are wearing absolute different style clothing in the clip, summoning the New York hip hop and hardcore bands outfit of the 80’s. We made a very cool and funny mood video that can’t be taken serious, at all. So many bad things happened to us recently that we needed some happiness, at last. So we took our teenage ourselves out again and were just fooling around.”

‘Hometown Kid’ sees the lads channelling Green Day while lamenting the auld days as better. Which they were obviously. ‘Heartbreaker’ is pretty straight forward Hard Rock but with fiddle while ‘Rumble Outta Here’ plays like old old Paddy And The Rats. The lyrics tell of a long relationship, where you’ve been humiliated and leave and realise what you really need is your friends and a good drink in your favourite pub. They save the best for last and I bloody loved ‘The Last Hunt’. A great fast tune with the whole band giving it plenty in the chorus. The album ends, of course, with ‘Wonderland’ and appropriately enough a ballad. 2022 has not been a great year for them but hopefully they can put the first half of the year to bed now.

Comparisons to Alestorm are inevitable I suppose (the artwork designed by Jill Colbert, who also works with Alestorm, doesn’t help!) but these guys were at this a long time before Alestorm. They show enough here to prove they could blow Alestorm away in front of their own audience but still keep both feet in the Celtic-Punk camp. All of a sudden it feels like the Hungarian scene is back with a bang and the worldwide Celtic-Punk scene is all the better for it.
(Listen to selected tracks and download the album via the Bandcamp player)

Buy From Wasteland to Wonderland  CD / Vinyl   EverywhereElse

Contact Paddy And The Rats  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Spotify

Discography  Rats on Board (2009) * Hymns for Bastards (2011) * Tales from the Docks (2012) * Lonely Hearts’ Boulevard (2015) * Riot City Outlaws (2017) * From Wasteland to Wonderland (2022)

ALBUM REVIEW: HEATHEN APOSTLES – ‘Bloodgrass Vol. 3 & 4’ (2022)

The Los Angeles-based dark roots and gothic country band Heathen Apostles continue their (very dark) interpretation of Bluegrass, Country and Blues. They have just compiled Volumes 3 and 4 of their collection of songs together under the title Bloodgrass. 

Occasionally I’ll start a review along the lines of “not technically not a Celtic-Punk band” which usually means that that the band that I go on to review are not a Celtic-Punk band but are utterly brilliant and have a fiddle /accordion / banjo in them. Well welcome to the Heathen Apostles. A dark (very dark) Country-ish band with their very own genre’s – ‘Doombilly’ and ‘Bloodgrass’. Heathen Apostles do to Country / Bluegrass music what the bands we all love here do to Celtic music but they also add on a dash of Goth as well. They may be based in LA but they sound like they’re from the Appalachian’s harkening back to a bygone chapter of American history while firmly keeping one foot planted in the present-day. The band features ex-members of Radio Noir (Mather Louth), The Cramps (Chopper Franklin), Kings of Nuthin’ (Thomas Lorioux), and Christian Death (Stevyn Grey) in their ranks. In fact it’s amazing the sound that only four folks can wring out. They have already started their biggest (yet!) European tour (mainly Germany) so be sure to check out the tour dates squeezed in here somewhere and move heaven and earth to get to one of their shows and then let me know how it was!

We have already reviewed Bloodgrass Volume 3 last September but here it comes with an extra five songs labelled as Volume 4 and in an attempt to tie in with the Euro tour we are more than happy to re-visit the whole album. The album begins with ‘Bad Patch’ and fiddle, banjo and mandolin accompany Mather’s beautiful voice as she sings of the tragedy of the 1930s Dust Bowl. Severe dust storms wreaked havoc on the mid-west prairies during the 1930’s causing untold misery to those poor unfortunates. Trying to survive through those times “by the skin of their teeth”. Great lyrics and one hell of a catchy tune with the bands dark side kept at arms length.. at least musically anyway.

The next song is much more Apostles at heart. ‘Careful What You Pray For’ tells of the danger of religious dogma and while not dissimilar to the opening track it has that much darker feel to it. Mather’s amazing voice is put to great use here. What we must beware is that people don’t replace the dogmatism and fanaticism of some religions with divisive ideologies. These days notions such as original sin, atonement, ritual and excommunication are as likely to come from secular groups as they are from religious institutions. ‘Black Hawk’ was the lead single for the EP and I’ll not pretend to have any idea what the lyrics are about except the band say it tells “of transformation by shedding the darkness in order to welcome in the light” so there.

One band we always sneak a mention in when we review the Heathen Apostles is the fantastic The Phantom Of the Black Hills. Along with sharing many similarities music wise, they also share a record label (Ratchet Blade Records), a producer, the Apostles, Chopper Franklin and a love for telling entire stories in their intricate videos. So if you like what you hear go back settle down and check on their older videos. ‘Demi Monde’ is a slow song shrouded in occult imagery paying homage to the fires of Beltane while ‘Tall Rider’ brings down the curtain down on what was Volume 3. Catchy as hell and a reminder of the possibility of healing through love. With their roots in the ‘Folk tradition’ the music mangles up several genres while all the time adding much to the final sound.

What follows are the five songs that make up Volume 4 that begins with the catchy ‘Roots Run Deep’ and not unexpectedly continues in the same vein. The best of this side of the album is ‘Into The Wild’ where moments of Mather’s primal snarl and swagger run parallel along some of her most beautiful singing on the whole album. A beast of a song that sees them at their thigh slapping foot stomping best. ‘No Peace’ was written in response to recent cases of police brutality. Despite the subject matter the song bounces along rather nicely. ‘Solitary’ speaks of following one’s own path in life, no matter how lonely the road it may seem at times. Meaningful words given even more meaning through Mather. The album closes with the amazing ‘Shadow Of The Crows’ with it’s hybrid of several genres, mixing Middle Eastern and borderline psychedelic sounds with the band’s distinctly gloomy bloodgrass. The CD which comes out at any time contains an extra song I’ve not heard yet. A cover of the late Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan’s song ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’.

(Full live set from a gig at La Brasserie De Framont in France 8/9/2021 from last years European tour. If anyone knows of any promoters or venues able to help get them over to the UK please get in touch. PLEASE!)

The music here is exemplary throughout. Catchy as hell and heading there very happily! The various elements are once again handled expertly through the excellent production of master producer Chopper Franklin. With their roots in the ‘Folk tradition’ they mangle up several genres while adding much to the final sound and as you can imagine a band with their own genre it is virtually impossible to compare them to anyone else! The excellent artwork was done by their good friend Stephanie Inagaki, who also did the cover art for the previous Bloodgrass Vol. 1 & 2 album and EPs.

(You can stream / download Bloodgrass via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Bloodgrass Vol. 3 and 4  Bandcamp  OtherSites

Contact Heathen Apostles  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

THE POGUES LIVE IN LYON 1986 THIRTY-SIX YEARS AGO TODAY!

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I’m not a massive fan of live recordings but really enjoyed this one of a Pogues concert recorded for Radio-Bellevue in Lyon, France. I then realised the 36th anniversary was only days away so the perfect time to share this free download with you.

I tried to dig up some information for you and there wasn’t a lot out there but I did find some. The concert was recorded for a radio station, Radio-Bellevue, and took place at the ENTPE (Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’État). This is not what is called an actual ‘traditional’ music venue but was in fact a school gymnasium. Neither a good place to play or watch a band I imagine. Still 1200 Pogues fans sold out the venue and enjoyed a fantastic show from the boys and gal. The original recorder of the concert went on to add some technical information
“For mixing the show, I’ve used soundboard outputs mixed on-the-fly (headphones) on Sony TCD5M with a couple of additional ambiance mikes (Sennheiser) standing in front of the PA. Some traditional mixing errors for the beginning….as usual.”
By the time of the concert the wheels on The Pogues juggernaut were beginning to wobble. Cait would soon leave the band, Stiff Records would go bust and Shane’s er… personal issues were beginning to take over but by the following year they would release If I Should Fall From Grace With God their most rounded and critically popular album and all would be ok for a while yet. None of the songs here though come from that and this is The Pogues in all their youthful vigour. The sound isn’t perfect by any means but neither is it at all bad but then Celtic-Punk has never been about perfect sound quality. Embrace the music and go back in time…
1. Intro
2. The Sick Bed Of Cuchulainn
3. Streams Of Whiskey
4. Billy’s Bones
5. Repeal Of The Licensing Laws
6. Transmetropolitan
7. The Old Main Drag 
8. Dirty Old Town
9. Wild Cats Of Kilkenny
10. Sally MacLennane
11. I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday
12. Greenland Whale Fisheries
13. Dingle Regatta
14. The Body Of An American
15. Poor Paddy
16. Waxie’s Dargle
 
Encore 1:
17. Haunted Cait vocals
18. Waltzing Matilda
 
Encore 2:
19. Jesse James
20. The Parting Glass
Shane MacGowan – Vocals * Spider Stacy – Tin-Whistle * Phil Chevron – Guitars / Vocals * Terry Woods – Guitars / Vocals * Jeremy ‘Jem’ Finer – Guitars / Vocals * James Fearnley – Accordion / Vocals) * Cait O’Riordan –  Bass / Vocals * Andrew Ranken – Drums
You can stream the concert here on You Tube

or download for free here

ALBUM REVIEW: THE LUCKY TROLLS – ‘Raised Fist And Rebel Songs’ (2022)

I love a band that says what they are. None of that Folk-Punk or Folk-Rock messing about for Belgium’s The Lucky Trolls. It says right across their t-shirts  and hearts “Irish Punk From Liège”.

It finally seems that things are returning back to normal thank Heavens! I spoke just the other day how great it was to know that bands like The Scarlet had survived the pandemic and were releasing their first material since before the nightmare began. The very same can be said of The Lucky Trolls who shot to fame back in March, 2019 with the debut release of a self titled 4 track EP capturing the #1 spot as that years London Celtic Punks Best Celtic-Punk EP. Twelve fantastic minutes where their energy and passion comes across in every single song of fast Celtic-Punk with often dual vocals from Nicolas and fiddle player Anne-Sophie.

The Lucky Trolls left to right: Fabrice Van Bever – Bass / Vocals * Anne Sophie Sauvage – Violin / Vocals * Gilles Bruneau – Drums * Romain André – Guitar / Vocals * Nicolas Fréson – Guitar / Vocals *

The band hail from Liège in Walloonia which is the French speaking part of Belgium. Once a centre for working class industry, especially steel making, it has in recent years become important for education with tens of thousands attending universities in the city. Also world famous for it’s football team Standard Liège who in common with many teams from similar industrial areas had gone into decline but are happily showing signs of a return to their former glories. The five members of The Lucky Trolls have all played previously in well respected Belgian alternative and Punk-Rock bands – Radio 911, Chump, We Are Minutes and Young Enough. Pre Covid they had racked up 50+ shows within two years and had opened shows for everyone from fellow renowned Celtic-Punkers The Real McKenzies to Folk-Rock artists like Jethro Tull.

The album begins with the great ‘City Of Iron’. A track we previewed on it’s release so impressed were we. The song tells of corruption in the town of Seraing where several members of the band live. It is located in the province of Liège where the accompanying video was also shot. Seraing is called ‘the city of iron and coal’ and their are many such places around the world where local politicians have feathered their nests at the expense of the people. The Lucky Trolls challenge Seraing’s administration “Gimme some reasons to stay in this town”. They follow this with ‘To All Broken Souls’ and it has a sound similar to Black Water County, who had ‘punked’ it up when I saw them live recently. Drummer Gilles says of the album

“It’s not heavy metal, nor punk rock that tears. It’s scales of Irish chords, melodies that you could hear in an Irish pub, on which we add more traditional instruments and not only big punk guitars.”

The underlying Celtic melodies are there and even though the music can be hard and certainly fast at times I can’t help but agree with Gilles that is does have an accessibility to it that would, I’m sure, please anyone with decent musical taste and get them up on the feet. ‘Second Wind’ is one such song that slows down again and again for some Celtic interludes before bursting into life again. I love the chugging guitars throughout and the use of fiddle as on ‘Better Way’ is superb.

On ‘Faded Sheets’ they are joined by Titou MacFire of the great French band CelKilt, who they are playing with soon in their home town, on vocals for a song that finds itself struggling to contain itself. The rapid drumming adds to its fast and furious feel even getting faster towards the ending! Most of the songs here are originals with the first cover being of the auld Irish rebel song ‘The Foggy Dew’. The song begins in traditional ballad style before springing into action a third of the way in. A really great version sung beautifully by Anne-Sophie. I hear this song a lot as it has become very much a Celtic-Punk standard but this is a version I really, really loved. Parts of the album are influenced by ‘Pop-Punk’ as you can hear sometimes the influence of Yank bands like NOFX as on ‘Streets’ but it is by no means over powering. This leads us to the second and final cover and another popular song in the scene. A shame they couldn’t have found some less well known covers but I’m guessing these have been included as they are popular played live so we can forgive them. Theirs enough cheesy and cringey versions of ‘Galway Girl’ out there but not here. Chugging guitars and loud fiddle steer it well clear of anything embarrassing. Almost at the end and can’t tell you much of the meaning of ‘The Flooded Roads Of Kent County’ but a cracking song never the less before the curtain comes down on the album with the trad Celtic-Punk sounding ‘Again’. A grand way to end things.

(The Lucky Trolls 2021 Saint Patrick’s live stream at the Cultural Centre of Beauraing in Belgium. The four songs includes three songs from Raised Fist And Rebel Songs – ‘Flooded Roads Of Kent County’, ‘Faded Sheets’ and ‘Streets’)

The album came out just a couple of weeks ago and already the band have had several shows to promote it’s release. It was recorded at Big Dog Recordings in Antwerp and produced by Tim Van Doorn. The Lucky Trolls style of Celtic-Punk is definitely in the Punk camp but their catchiness and fantastic tunes ensures that even though I find myself less and less enamoured by Punk music over time The Lucky Trolls debut album only add to my love of them.

(You can stream and / or download Raised Fist And Rebel Songs via the Bandcamp player below)

Download Raised Fist And Rebel Songs  Bandcamp  OtherSites

Contact The Lucky Trolls  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram  Spotify

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SCARLET – ‘Freedom Call’ (2022)

⚓ Brand new album from The Scarlet. Folk-Punk crazies from Hungary 🇭🇺

Their was a time, and it wasn’t all that long ago that the Celtic-Punk scene in Hungary was without doubt the best in the whole of Europe. We even once ran a feature on the scene there called The Who’s Who: Top Ten and celebrated Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week back in 2018. Since those days we have of course had the pandemic so it’s always great, and an enormous relief, to hear that our Celtic-Punk bands have survived and have continue to release some great music.

you can feel that we are fed up with the confinement and anxiety all over the record

The Scarlet were formed in the Hungarian capital Budapest in 2012 and Freedom Call is their follow up to their 2017 debut album Hardcore Shanties which itself followed a Demo EP and the excellent Midnight Avenue, six songs of self penned Dropkick Murphys influenced Celtic-Punk blessed with plenty of pirate ‘Yo-Ho-Ho’s’ and Metal guitar riffs.

The Scarlet left to right: Aurel – Bass * Juli – Flute * Daniel – Vocals * Dominika – Violin * Gabor – Drums * Hubi – Guitar *

The work for the album actually began before the pandemic with two songs released back in those carefree days that would lead to Freedom Call. The album kicks off with ‘Now Once And For All’ and the welcome return of thrashy Metal guitar coupled with some stunning fiddle work from Dominika is a reminder of The Scarlet’s sound. Dániel’s vocals are clear and focused and the slight accent is reminiscent of many of the other Hungarian bands who also mostly sing in English,. The schools over there must be excellent. A great opener with all the required boxes – catchy danceable fun.

‘Rebel Inside You’ takes the Celtic-Punk of the opener and adds a slight Ska / Reggae tinge while also injecting the sound of Pirate-Punk as well. Fast and catchy again and it’s good to see that with some new members on board they seem to have slotted in well. Like fellow countrymen Firkin, The Scarlet use the flute to great effect. I wasn’t too overly keen on this instrument until we were lucky enough to put on Firkin one special New Years Eve in London a few years back and their manic flautist PJ stole the show completely. Since then I have grown to love it and coupled here with the fiddle it ensures that the ‘Celtic-ness’ is never left out. Longest track ‘Storm Earth And Fire’ tells of pirate life and begins with acoustic guitar and is perhaps the perfect combination of Celtic and Metal while still remaining kind of pretty traditional Celtic-Punk. These are not your usual band and their songs take several paths but always in a interesting way. Of several standouts here ‘Urban Buccaneer’ is my favourite. Take it for granted that all these songs are catchy as hell and guaranteed to get your feet moving. ‘Back To The Pub’ sees the compulsory beer song ticked off with the Punkest song here! ‘On My Way’ was the first single from the album and was a great way to announce their return. Another high point for Freedom Call.

The songs here have an amazing quality about that in that I feel they could be completely accessible to anyone. The underlying Folk tunes and sometimes harder Rock riffs fit together very well and could easily please anyone fortunate to come across the band. ‘Serve The Dark’ chugs along at a lovely pace while ‘Little Sister (Of Your Pal)’ sees The Scarlet ‘Irish’ it up with a song with a nice sense of humour. Not a band you hear a lot of covers from they see out Freedom Call with ‘Country Medley’ with The Scarlet treatment given to several famous Country-ish songs (‘Country Roads’, ‘5000 Miles’, ‘Cotton Eye Joe’) and while it could have easily slipped into cheesyness it manages to just stay on the right side though perhaps that is exactly what they were going for.

The album was again mixed and recorded by Zoltán Cs.Szabó, of the Hungarian garage rock band The Trousers, at the Artist Factory studio in Budapest who has done a brilliant job. He has also worked on their previous releases and has always got the maximum out of The Scarlet. Their are only nine songs here but it does last just over half an hour and the songs never outlast their welcome. Another great album from The Scarlet who deserve to be heard a lot more from outside their own borders. Me and the good lady are looking forward to visiting Hungary sometime in the near future and I intend to be arranging it to coincide with The Scarlet playing so expect a glowing gig review when I get back!

(You can stream the whole of Freedom Call below on You Tube)

Download Freedom Call  Various Sites Here

Contact The Scarlet  Instagram  Facebook  YouTube

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: RAY & COLLUNEY – ‘Tyrants Of England’ (1971)

The latest in our series of reviews of albums from the past that deserve to be aired again! An extremely rare English Folk album from Ray & Colluney a duo using sparse guitar, mandolin and banjo but with flagolet on a few tracks helping to add atmosphere.

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Every time I hear a outstanding Folk album I think that would be just perfect for the Classic Album Series. First thing to do is to sort out a safe download link and then after that look up the album and the people who recorded it and write up a wee history of the album. Today we have chosen an album that is an amazing 50 (fifty!) years old this year and yet I could hardly find a thing about it. I was drawn to the Ray & Colluney album Tyrants Of England because it was likened somewhere else to another album, the Irish duo Callinan-Flynn’s Freedom’s Lament, was featured in the very last Classic Album Review in October. With similar instrumentation and vocal styles and even recorded around the same time the similarity is definitely there. The early 70’s were halcyon saw in the Folk clubs of the British (and Irish) isles with them bristling with duos and artists singing tales and songs of the auld days. I did read that at the time Ray & Colluney were considered pretty standard Folk club fare but in this day and age when this style of music is much less common we can look back and see it for how good it actually was.

“You tyrants of England! Your race may soon be run.
You may be brought unto account for what you’ve sorely done.”

So what scant details did I find out about this album then? It was recorded in 1971, with only 200 vinyl copies issued and it was the first album released on the highly collectable Westwood Records which has since become a bit of a cult label with releases now reaching £50+. It was engineered By Alan Green and manufactured by Folk Heritage Recordings in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire.

“‘Tis advertised in Boston, New York and Buffalo,
Five hundred brave Americans, a-whaling for to go, singing
Blow, ye winds in the morning, And blow, ye winds, high-i!
Clear away your running gear, And blow, ye winds, high-o!”

Several of the songs featured here are pretty much Folk standards of the time and you may recognise a handful made popular by The Dubliners but under different song titles. The title song ‘Tyrants Of England’ is also known as ‘The Hand-Loom Weaver’s Lament’ and dates from the beginning of the industrialisation of the textile trade in Lancashire. It tells of the black period when supply outstripped the market due to increasing mechanisation. This caused a scarcity of jobs for the weavers and a decline in wages for those still fortunate enough to be employed. Ian Robb and Hang the Piper recorded the song in 1979 and Ian wrote of the song on the sleeve notes.

“The ‘gentlemen and tradesmen’ of the song followed the official propaganda line in blaming the Napoleonic wars and Bonaparte himself for much of the starvation and hardship which resulted. Apparently, however, the working men and women of the factories and mills were not so easily taken in, and many of them, seeing little decline in the comforts of the ruling and merchant classes, held a sneaking respect and admiration for ‘Boney’, whom they regarded as a champion of the poor.”

This is exactly the reason why we run this series to remember albums that are slowly passing out of memory. If anyone knows more about this album or what became of Ray and Trevor we’d love to hear.

1 Tyrants Of England – 3:21

2 Bogies Bonnie Belle – 2:22

3 Jack Hall – 2:44

4 Rambling Soldier – 1:58

5 Blow Ye Winds – 3:24

6 Calico Printers Clerk – 3:30

7 Cock Fight – 2:16

8 To The Begging – 2:28

9 A Sailor’s Life – 3:51

10 Farewell Nancy – 3:50

11 Rakish Young Sailor – 3:17

Ray Haslam – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Trevor Colluney – Vocals, Banjo, Mandolin

with Malcolm McDonald – Bass and John Hampson – Flageolet

flageolet, wind instrument closely related to the recorder. Like the recorder, it is a fipple, or whistle, flute—i.e., one sounded by a stream of breath directed through a duct to strike the sharp edge of a hole cut in the side of the pipe. The name flageolet—which comes from the Old French flageol, meaning ‘pipe’ or ‘tabor pipe’—was applied to such flutes at least from the 13th century, but from the late 16th century it has referred most specifically to a form of the instrument developed at that time in Paris.

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“In Manchester, fine city of cotton twist and twills,
There lived the subject of my song, the cause of all my ills.
She was handsome, young and twenty, her eyes were azure blue
Admirers she had plenty: and her name was Dorothy Drew.”

ALBUM REVIEW: THE ROYAL SPUDS – ‘Roots Of Life’ (2022)

The second album from Dutch bhoys The Royal Spuds is a bit of Punk, a pinch of good old Rock music and whole lot of Folk and they’re pretty damn good at it!

The Royal Spuds hail from Leiden in the south Netherlands and maybe that’s the equivalent of Lincolnshire here which explain why such the odd name? Anyone who grew up in a Irish household will find it hard to dispute that the potato is king! Odd name or not The Royal Spuds have slowly been becoming one of the best bands on the continent with a steady stream of releases over the last few years including over the Covid lock downs. We came close to seeing them live on stage over here at the famous Dublin Castle in Camden but again Covid put paid to that (though we haven’t given up all hope of it being re-arranged someday) and their tour with fellow Dutch band Pyrolysis was unfortunately cancelled.

The Royal Spuds left to right: Maarten – Lead Vocals / Banjo / Mandolin * Dave – Bass * Milan – Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals * Michael – Accordion / Flute / Backing Vocals * Mark – Drums * Robin – Rhythm guitar / Backing Vocals *

It’s been four years since their full length studio album Unforgotten Lore was reviewed on these pages but a few singles, sessions and the odd track or video here and there have kept them in our thoughts so was great news to receive Roots Of Life and see what The Royal Spuds have got up to this time. The album begins with ‘Festival Grooves’ and a tight Ska is the backdrop to this lively opener. A cracking start and a mention for Maarten’s great vocals. A perfect fit for The Royal Spuds his English is perfect and he even comes across North American at times to me. A whole host of instruments all compete without drowning each other out and one guaranteed to get the party rocking. Not uncommon to hear Celtic-Punk bands embracing the Ska sound and certainly Celtic instruments seem to manage it with ease. Next up is a smash hit sea-shanty ‘Haul Away Joe’, a song that has become so popular these days that it has become synonymous with the very term sea-shanty. First commercially recorded by Huddie ‘Leadbelly’ Ledbetter in the 1940’s, it originates from the 18th century and has been performed by every Folk singer ever including many Celtic-Punk bands. Saying that though The Royal Spuds version is fantastic and played mid tempo but with some aggressive guitar and nice gang vocals. ‘Take Me Back’ kicks off with great banjo and accordion in a urgent song that takes Celtic-Punk and gives it a good twist. The musicianship is excellent throughout the album as well as the production which gives it a clean crisp sound without any hint of over doing things.

‘Where’s Your Future’ sees the Ska return and as I’ve said before on these pages I’m not the biggest Ska fan but the bhoys add in plenty of thrashing guitars and clashing drums to please me. Next up is for me the album’s standout track ‘Steelworkers Lament’ and it’s fair to say I’m a sucka for any song with a good working class theme. What a tune! Catchy as fecking hell with some high speed banjo and a great beat with the band on absolutely top form here with even the chorus amazing. Musically it takes in The Dreadnoughts and English band Mick O’Toole and the lyrics are clever and positive to boot.

“Giving up will be the last thing I do”

Only a couple of covers on this album and even though they have been extensively covered by other bands The Royal Spuds versions both stand pretty high. With ‘Back Home In Derry’ the album takes in a breather for a moment with a song written by Irish POW Bobby Sands who died on hunger-strike in 1981 and who was elected MP (member of the British parliament) just weeks before he died it’s a beautiful song with a lot of symbolism and here it is handled perfectly while the band add in some wonderful strings and wind instruments creating a calm moment on the album.

 

‘Aliens’ was originally released last year as a single during Covid and while it isn’t illegal yet to have a laugh but you never know in these strange times! Pure energetic accordion driven Punk-Rock from start to finish with a sense of humour. ‘Vultures’ sees the album out and begins with the not uncommon (on Celtic-Punk releases anyway) sound of the ocean which soon gives way to some slow flute and then some Metal-ish flourishes in a song where we hear the full range of The Royal Spuds talents with even the flute taking in some ‘ancient’ Folk influences.

Yet another great release from The Royal Spuds. A diverse and lively record that really shows their craftsmanship. The album’s artwork is absolutely stunning too and it would be a real shame if it didn’t one day adorn a vinyl release of Roots Of Life.

(You can download / stream Roots Of Life via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Roots Of Life  FromTheBand  (CD / Download)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McKENZIES – ‘Float Me Boat’ (2022)

It’s about time we did another Real McKenzies write-up. This time, you’re gettin’ the full whack; the kilted Canadian legends have a best-of album, the aptly titled Float Me Boat. It floats ours sure enough, and were sure youll feel the same. Lets get into it.

Float Me Boat. The very best of The Real McKenzies.

The Real McKenzies’ music could be described as waking up with a hangover, but getting up anyway to fight the day. With their short-and-fast, nae-nonsense approach, this band has always put the “punk” into Celtic punk. I first heard of them while living in Berlin, and believe me, the Germans quite like these guys too.

We kick things off with opening track “Chip”, taken from 2008’s Off The Leash. True to form, the band let their trademark sound loose on us, a bagpipe rock style fronted by Paul McKenzie’s unmistakable vocal. Paul may have founded the McKenzies in 1992, almost a decade after The Pogues came about, but he’s played a key role in popularising Celtic punk, shaping it into the genre we all know and love. It also proves again that you don’t need to be in Scotland or Ireland to feel the fervour of the music, start a band and light shit up.

“Smokin’ Bowl” and “‘Cross The Ocean” make early appearances on the record too. The former is primarily a punk track, with the bagpipe takin’ a back seat for most of it. “Ocean”, meanwhile, is that riff-led romp that’ll get ya dancin’. A foray into pirate rock with humorous verses and some singalong in the choruses. I particularly enjoy givin’ this one a spin, but then I’m an Alestorm fan, so go figure 🏴‍☠️

To put the flag up even higher for my now-home of Scotland, “Scots Wha’ Ha’e” also makes a welcome entrance in the first half of the album. The McKenzies’ take on it doesn’t quite feature the original lyrics by Rabbie Burns 😉 But having said that, it’s as rousing as ever. Another one I can recommend.

Official video to “Scots Wha’ Ha’e”. Gives ye a feel for the McKenzies’ live show.

Firm favourites

“Spinning Wheels” is one good choice for the latter half of the record. The band get the banjo out for this one, and tell us about their relentless gigging experiences around the world. The shout of “Prost!” gives the nod to Germany, my home of six years and one of THE countries for any Celtic folk/punk band to go to.

Soon after, we get to “The Big Six” – or at least that’s what I like to call ’em 😉 Here the band lines up six songs that are firm favourites, ranking among the best McKenzies anthems ever recorded. We start with “Bugger Off”, a song that leaves nothing to the imagination with its ferocity, including a delightfully un-PC use of the word “cunt” 👍🏼 “The Tempest” follows up, and I like this one because it’s longer than yer average McKenzies song. A fine example of a seaman’s shanty.

“You Wanna Know What” brings the speed back. The tin whistle leads the way here, and Paul delivers a strong vocal take to match. “Culling The Herd” is the interesting one – a clean guitar riff fighting the vocals in the verse, giving the song a mystical twist as only the McKenzies can do it. “Due West” boasts another gallant McKenzies riff in what is generally a gallant McKenzies song, and of course, we can’t leave out “Barrett’s Privateers”. This is the band’s own tribute to Mr Stan Rogers, a Canadian folk music legend. It’s a shame the band’s rousing take on “Northwest Passage” wasn’t included as well, but better one Stan song than none at all. We’ll include it below for ya.

“Northwest Passage”, as interpreted by Paul an’ the boys.
A live version of “Bugger Off”, played to an enthusiastic Amsterdam crowd.

Drink some more

Last but by no means least, we reach track #23, and “Drink Some More”. A final hurrah to an epic best-of that looks back over 30 illustrious years, and will have ye playin’ your air bagpipe for many a day to come. All in all, not a bad achievement, given that Paul once claimed he only started the band to “get revenge” on his family, who dressed him in a kilt as a youngster and made him sing and dance to Scottish music! 😉 They planted a seed, and the best results can be yours on this CD.

To get a copy and support the band, buy Float Me Boat online; various outlets have got it, one place for UK fans to get it is HERE. If ye ditched your CD player a while back in favour of streaming, then you can listen on Spotify, Apple Music or (hello French readers!) Deezer. And be sure to show the band some love by stoppin’ by their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Now…you’ll get nae more this article, so you’d better bugger off 😉

Andy xx

ALBUM REVIEW: AFTER HOURS VOLUME TWO – BLACK 47 TRIBUTE COMPILATION (2022)

Thirty years on from the release of Black 47’s eponymous first album and a year after Volume One comes the second part of a trilogy of tribute albums celebrating this popular and most controversial of Celtic-Punk bands of whom Time magazine wrote in 1993

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

Celebrating the songs of Larry Kirwan and Black 47 with Finbar Furey, Barleyjuice, Jonee Earthquake Band, Finny McConnell, Bangers And Mash, The PoguestrA and The Muckers and once again produced by Peter Walsh of The Gobshites and Larry Kirwan himself.

While not strictly a Celtic-Punk band their influence on Celtic-Punk, especially in the States, is immeasurable. A New York band made up of Irish expatriates playing a mixture of several genres but with traditional Celtic and Irish Folk music at its very core and led by the distinctive and talented songwriting of Larry Kirwan.

Taking their name from the year 1847 which was the worst period of An Gorta Mór / The Great Hunger when blight wiped out the potato crop the staple of the Irish working class diet. This blight caused famine in the land while all the time the British army escorted Irelkand’s numerous other crops, under armed guard, to the docks and away from Ireland. A conservative estimate puts the number killed between 1845 and 1850 as way more than the official figures of one million people and another two million forced into exile with most of them washing up to North America.

THE JONEE EARTHQUAKE BAND – ‘Who Killed Bobby Fuller?’

Punk-Rock pirates hailing from the  Boston, Massachusetts playing a crazy mix of Surf, Country-Punk and Rockabilly… and whatever else they feel like playing! ‘Who Killed Bobby Fuller?’ was originally released by Black 47 on their second album, Home of the Brave, in 1994. Bobby was an American singer-songwriter best known for ‘Let Her Dance’ and his cover of the Crickets’ ‘I Fought the Law’ who was found dead in his car in Los Angeles in 1966 at only 23. One of the great unsolved Rock’n’Roll mystery songs!

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FINBAR FUREY – ‘Mychal’

Finbar Furey needs no introduction except to reiterate what a true legend of Irish music he really is. His song is ‘Mychal’ perhaps the highest emotional peak Black 47 ever reached. Written as a tribute to Father Mychal Judge a Franciscan friar and Catholic priest, who served as chaplain of the New York City Fire Department. On September 11, 2001 Fr. Mychal entered the North Tower of the World Trade Centre alongside other firefighters and rescue personnel. As the South Tower collapsed, debris flew through the North Tower lobby killing many including Fr. Mychal.  Though many had perished before him, he was given the solemn honour of being designated Victim 0001 – the first recorded casualty of 9/11.

When Larry asked me if I would sing this song, I told him I  would be honoured. Mychal was a wonderful human being who did so much for the people of New York and never left their side in their darkest hour. A beautiful song for a beautiful man.

BARLEYJUICE – ‘Celtic Rocker’

Barleyjuice are a nationally-known Celtic Rock band from Philadelphia who play mainly original but also a few traditional Irish music. Their songs over seven albums have been heard in movies, TV and radio programmes for over twenty years.

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FINNY McCONNELL- ‘I Got Laid On James Joyce’s Grave’

Another legend of Irish music Finny has been making music with premier league Canadian Celtic-Punk knock-outs The Mahones since 1990 over a dozen studio albums plus several other full players. Finny finally branched out on his own last year recording his first solo album The Dark Streets Of Love.

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BANGERS AND MASH – ‘Izzy’s Irish Rose’

Formed in 2003 in Suffolk County, New York Bangers And Mash have a personal recommendation from Larry Kirwan- “If you’re looking for a band with strong songs who can rev up the party and get punters dancing, you should have Bangers and Mash on your menu. Guaranteed to go well with Guinness and good times!”

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THE POGUESTRA – ‘Green Suede Shoes’

The PoguestrA is a group of musically diverse musicians from across the world united by a love of The Pogues playing together remotely. Tending to usually only record Pogues related material here they branch out to take in another of Black 47’s more popular and well known songs. Always on the lookout for new members feel free to contact them and join the gang.

THE MUCKERS – ‘Five Points’

After Hours 2 comes to an end with another of the Celtic-Punk scene’s favourite bands The Muckers. A five-piece Celtic-Folk-Punk band from Atlanta. With a strong emphasis on Irish music, the band also blends influences of Gypsy music, sea shanties, Country, Rockabilly, and plenty more!

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Another top notch production from Valley Entertainment and we await Volume Three eagerly. Their are links included for a variety of places to order from but if possible get it from the label directly instead of funding vultures who make money out of other peoples hard work and risks.

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.

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AFTER HOURS VOLUME ONE COMPILATION

Volume 1 of the trilogy featured 7 more songs from Larry Kirwan and Black 47 by Celtic Cross, Pat McGuire, Screaming Orphans, The Gobshites, Rory K, Gary Óg and Martin Furey. 

Further Recommended Reading:

Let Ireland Remember

Irish National Famine Memorial Day

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

Irish Holocaust –Not Famine: The Push To Educate In Facts

EP REVIEW: BOG IRON – ‘Star Of The County Down’ (2022)

California’s Bog Iron celebrate their 16th anniversary with their first studio release in years featuring a winning combination of classic Folk and hard rocking Trad!

We are ingratiated to you readers sometimes for your recommendations for that is how we came across today’s band Bog Iron. We do have writers far and wide but still need you to point us in the right direction sometimes and it really does show the wealth of bands in the USA that a gem like Bog Iron can lay undiscovered by us till they are in their 16th year!

The early days! from 2010 (left to right : Patrick Golden, Steve Lenard, John Michael, Peter Sheehan

This is in no small part due to them being a gigging band so recording hasn’t been a major priority till now it would seem with two releases in 2022 and it only being April! The first release wasn’t exactly new but a recently re-discovered recording of a gig from the Summer of 2019 at the Midsummer’s Fairytale Celtic Ren Faire in Plymouth, California and recently mixed and mastered by band guitarist Patrick R. Golden. It is a superb album that really gives you a shake. For a start their is no Celtic instruments but the music is unmistakably Irish and even at times when the music takes a harder Rock turn it could still considered totally accessible to even the most hardcore of finger-in-the-ear Folkie. Discovered in a Dropbox folder from the festival’s sound engineer in early March it took a marathon session of auditing, mixing, and mastering but 36 hours later the album was ready for Bandcamp Friday (when the vultures forego their usual massive cut!) and the album was out. It really is a mad mix of Irish Folk songs given the Hard Rock treatment with great vocals and the production is note perfect. The banter with the audience is also a treat showing a band in love with what they do. The highlight of the album is the final song ‘The NIght Pat Murphy Died’ a near nine minutes epic that drifts off into the stunning ‘Those Were People Who Died’ by f’ed up Irish-American writer Jim Carroll. Live Bog Iron ll is only available for download at the moment via Bandcamp but you can listen to it via the player below.

Formed in Monterey, California, Bog Iron have been together since early 2008 formed from the session players on Dún Laoghaire born lead singer John Michael’s solo album. John and Patrick are the remaining two founding members but are joined by Kerry native Peter Sheehan on bass and local Bhoy Keith Wieland on drums. So it was that in the search for inspiration for a new studio release that the tapes for Live Bog Iron ll were found so we can grateful they put in the work. Star Of The County Down remains, and always will, a firm favourite on the Irish music scene but also among Celtic-Punk bands too. A song like many Irish Folk classics that is perfect for adapting to something a bit harder. The EP begins with the title song and yeah it ‘s trad Irish but stripped right back and re-assembled as an aggressive gem of Hard Rock energy. Incredibly all instruments here are played by Patrick with only backing vocals on ‘Star’ provided by John Michael. He even produced it too at Blood Crow Studios. The remaining three songs are all instrumentals though all wildly different. I’m finding it hard to put into words (for the first time in nine years!) for this review as on the face of it ‘Maggie And The Priest’, ‘Kerns And The Gallowglasses’ and ‘The Jig Of Liam Fitzmurderhorse’ are all pretty similar. That hard Rock sound but that clear presence of the underlying Celtic tunes makes each a completely unique transporting Irish folk into the present—and beyond!

The band claim to “put on a fierce live show” and if our only evidence is their live album then we can completely agree. It’s a shame that even though both releases are very good they are also both quite different. I am such a fan of the live album that must admit to a bit of disappointment on first hearing the EP but several listens in and it has grown on me immensely and I’m only impressed with Patrick’s (virtually solo) work. Their may be no wild sing-along choruses as before but it is still a superb piece of work channelling rock giants of Sabbath, Quo and AC/DC but also the the Folk genius of Horslips and the sadly largely forgotten and little known English band You Slosh. With these releases the first since 2018’s Echos From The Cliffs Of Mohere, itself a re-master/re-release of their 2008 debut album, with eight previously unreleased tracks. It is hoped a reinvigorated Bog Iron is in the traps and raring to go and do some catching up on the recorded side of things!

(You can stream  / download Star Of The County Down below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: BRIGADE 77 – ‘Rebellion’ (2022)

The fight against the British Empire by the Irish has long been an inspiration for many and this time for a Celtic-Punk album from Sweden! What better time to feature this album than Easter week. The time when in 1916 a small band of patriots rose up against the full might of the most powerful Empire in history.

Any regular readers will know that the sound of Celtic-Punk is now an international one. The reasons are many but above all it’s the love of the Celts and especially the Irish internationally that has made it so. Ireland’s 700-year struggle for independence from colonial rule has been the inspiration across the world for peoples fighting for their freedom so it is that it’s not uncommon to hear the odd rebel song thrown into many Celtic-Punk bands set-list. Rebel songs in Ireland date back to the first time a Irishman picked up a stone. It’s beyond doubt that English control over Ireland has been a bloody and a despotic one leading to genocide at it’s worse and the starvation of up to two million people and well over another million leaving for other lands, taking their anger and grievances with them.

Brigade 77 is the brainchild of Micke Ström, journalist and musician in Eskilstuna, Sweden. Active in the Punk scene for over 30 years he has always had an interest in Irish music and culture and was the tin-whistle player in a band called The Barcrawlers. The Barcrawlers were one of the best Celtic-Punk bands of their generation around the 00’s and were one of the first Scandinavian Celtic-Punk bands. It was from their ashes that the present day Sir Reg have arose. Brigade 77 is a solo project and Rebellion is the debut release including songs from different eras of the Irish fight for independence.

The album begins with the brooding ‘Intro’. A slow mournful dirge taking in the ‘Star Of The County Down’ that is followed by ‘Viva La Quinta Brigada’, the amazing tribute to those Irish members of the International Brigade, called the Connolly Column, who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War from 1936-1939. Written by Christy Moore it’s become a staple on the Irish pub scene and names many of the people who left to fight in solidarity with the Spanish people.  It’s sung pretty much how youd expect to hear it sung by a one-man band in any pub (well maybe not every pub!) in Belfsst or Derry or Glasgow. This is followed by  ‘Fighting Men From Crossmaglen’, a more modern song again in tribute to the area of South Armagh that was perhaps the most staunchly Republican during the ‘troubles’. Again played mainly on keyboards its missing some crunching guitar but we get that next in the humorous ‘Sam Song’, a song dedicated to the use of surface-to-air missiles. Written by Gerry Ó Glacain in the late 1980’s during a time of high activity during the war. Black And Tans’ has become one of the more famous Celtic-Punk covers from this genre. Easily switched from Folk to Punk like here it has a chorus where it is seemingly impossible not to wave your fist about. Brigade 77 give it plenty of oompf and maybe could have turned up them guitars up a bit. ‘Irish Citizen Army’ is a song recently recorded by the Dropkick Murphys and tells of the life of the great James Connolly. He spent his entire life fighting for the rights of the poor and the workers and ended it executed while sitting tied to a chair while mortally wounded after the failed 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. A recent song it was written by The Blarney Pilgrims but made internationally famous by Black 47’s recording. Only a couple left and ‘Fields Of Athenry’ has in recent years usurped all others to become the most famous of all Irish rebel songs. Sadly the writer Pete St. John passed away just before St. Patrick’s day so the song is tinged with sadness at his passing. Rebellion finished with an instrumental ‘The Lonesome Boatman’, and the second song that the Murphys have covered. It’s a truly beautiful tune and The Fureys incredible version will be never be mastered but here is done with great spirit and is a great way to bring down the curtain.

(You can hear the whole of the album below via You Tube)

You hear on Rebellion influences as varied as Shane Macgowan, Gary Og, Shebeen, The Wolfe Tones but all mixed with Punk and naturally many different Celtic-Punk bands. Micke says

“My rebel songs are a bit different compared to those artists I am influenced by, but I wanted to take another path, or… maybe it’s because I’m not that great guitarist like Gary Og and the other rebel musicians =)”
Rebellion is unsurprisingly the first rebel album from Sweden. All songs are recorded and produced by Brigade 77 and despite being recorded in his garage the sound is more than adequate. Hard copies of the album are available from Micke by email and praise to be heaped upon him for bringing these glorious songs to a wider audience.

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE GROGGY DOGS – ‘Still Groggin’ (2022)

Spanish pirates The Groggy Dogs are back with their second album of trad Irish melodies and sea shanties with a spicy touch of Punk, Ska and Metal.

These guys more quickly and no sooner than Grog O’Clock land on our doorstep their second album arrives too. That debut album, Grog O’Clock was a front-runner for the London Celtic Punks debut album of the year, narrowly losing out to The Outcast Crew but it did make the Top Twenty of the best Celtic-Punk album’s and was well received across the internet. It’s available for only a single Euro and it really is a great album with some great covers and a couple of absolutely killer instrumentals.

Album #2 carries on it was will become I am sure the signature Groggy Dogs way. Covers, originals and instrumentals all paying homage to songs of the sea and the poor sailors that sailed them and sang those songs many years ago.

April sees only the bands second anniversary and if Covid can be thanked for one thing then it is the forming of The Groggy Dogs and since the ending of the lock down they have sprung out of the traps playing live at every single opportunity. Mauro, already a veteran of several Seville based Celtic projects wanted to play Celtic music with a bit more forceful sound and soon joined by the rest of the band and, no doubt the ‘Sea-Shanty’craze from a couple of years back on Tic-Tok, they settled on the idea of Prate-Celtic-Folk-Punk! AS we have said before their is no more than a fag paper between Celtic-Punk and Pirate-Punk with it overlapping constantly so it was no wonder that they soon came to our attention.

Still Groggin’ begins with ‘To Sea Once More’ and the familiar sound of the ocean and tolling bell. A fiddle led lament slowly drifts along before it erupts into a cover of the seafaring classic ‘Old Maui’. The song has become a bit of a staple among the Celtic-Punk community with it often sung acapello. Traced back to the mid-19th century it tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling.

“once more we sail with a northerly gale through the ice and wind and rain”

Canadian legend Stan Rogers released the best version I have ever heard but the song was made famous in our circles by The Dreadnoughts on their early album Legends Never Die. The Groggy Dogs stick closely to the Dreadnoughts version but add a fun video where the pirate quintet bring us a funny story about a robbery attempt adds to the song’s legacy. Their are so many sea-shanties ready for The Groggy Dogs to mine I was hoping to hear some more obscure covers and ‘Leave Her Johnny’ fits that bill perfectly. In sailor folklore ‘Leave Her Johnny’ was always saved for the very last duty of voyage. It dates back well before it first appeared in print in 1917 and exists in several forms but none quite as different as this one! Knowing you would soon be home would put the crew in great cheer so I’m sure their souls would well approve of the half-Ska/ half-Punk cheerful, bouncy tune given it here.

On their debut album I was especially impressed by the couple of instrumentals and am again here, starting with ‘Grog Party’. A true measure of a decent Celtic-Punk band is the ability to turn their hand to a trad song and here you would think them a Ceili band except for the thrashy guitar and Ska breakdown. Excellent stuff that would be welcome in any Irish public house in the world! The two pre-release singles for the album were ‘Old Maui’ and ‘The Dreadnought’. Another unusual sea-shanty classic and not one I had heard before. Telling of the true story of the ship of the same name, a clipper, built in 1853 in Massachusetts that was the fastest of her time until she sank while in Cape Horn in 1869. The band sing it kinda slow and sound incredibly like the band of the same name here.

Time for another of The Groggy Dogs ace instrumentals and ‘Grog’s Reel’ is another great mash up of trad Irish/ Celtic and more modern sounds without losing any of its old charm. We almost near the end and time for a more familiar song with ‘Katie Bar The Door’. The exact origin of the phrase, meaning ‘watch out, trouble is on its way’ is unknown but it originated in the southern United States and one possible explanation is it was taken from a Scottish ballad called Get Up and Bar the Door published in 1776. The lads be big fans of The Dreadnoughts album Legends Never Die as this another from it that sadly doesn’t differentiate too much from their version. The album’s curtain comes down with their third instrumental ‘The First Grog’ and again it is bloody marvellous. Mashing up the trad Folk melody with Punk, Metal, Ska, Reggae and still leaving it sounding like the song is from the 19th century!

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

A truly talented group and another great album from them. If I did have one slight criticism it is that they need to stamp themselves much firmer on the more popular covers but even these are excellent versions that more than give the band I have mentioned a run for their money. The production for the album is top class and the many Folk and Rock instruments merge together perfectly. The Groggy Dogs are definitely one to watch especially for those who prefer the ‘folkier’ side of Celtic-Punk but still with plenty of oompf to go along with.

Download Still Groggin’

Contact The Groggy Dogs WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: SIR REG – ‘Kings of Sweet Feck All’ (2022)

Swedish-Irish rockers Sir Reg are back with a new album, due out on April 1st. Anyone who loved 2018’s The Underdogs won’t be disappointed, as Brendan & Co. stay true to their solid reputation. Here we get yer tastebuds wet (have a Guinness to tide you over).

Kings of Sweet Feck All. Album #6 by the formidable Sir Reg – out April 1st 2022.

Not every Celtic punk band can sing about supermarkets, COVID-19, iPhones and fake news and get it to work. But one band that can, almost effortlessly, is Sir Reg. The upcoming album, entitled Kings of Sweet Feck All, boasts the band’s slick Celtic punk sound but is relentlessly modern at the same time.

Surprisingly then, the opening track is about history. “The Kings of Sweet Feck All” takes us back to the British rule that pervaded all of Ireland for many centuries. And yet, it comes at it from an unusual perspective – compassion. The band explain in the YouTube video description (see below) that some soldiers really were “the kings of sweet fuck all”, because they didn’t want to be there in the first place, and they knew what they were doing was wrong. But as the song says, if they’d stepped out of line, they’d have been treated just like their victims.

Lyric video to “The Kings of Sweet Feck All”, the title track.

After the opening track, the album takes a giant leap into the present day with “Goodbye To All Your Freedom”. With references to the coronavirus and pandemic, it’s pretty clear what loss of freedom Brendan Sheehy’s singing about here. He’s also encouraging the listener to sift through the fake news and make up their own mind. During a health crisis that’s shaken society right up, the amount of misinformation being banded about as truth was disappointing to see. Fortunately then, it’s not all doom and gloom as the choruses to this song give the listener a lift.

Another reaction – albeit more fun – to the pandemic is track #3 “Open The Pubs”. This was the first song from the new album to be revealed. It starts off slowly, before jumping into a rhythm that reminds me of The Real McKenzies’ “Bugger Off”…which is ironic, because “Open The Pubs” is trying to get people in the pub rather than out 😁 But how many Celtic folk/punk singers can sing about Netflix and get away with it? Well frontman Brendan, armed with his unmistakable voice, can. The band made a video for this one too, with a humorous quality to it, so check it out below if ye don’t know it yet.

“Open The Pubs”, track #3 from the new album. Liking the green violin, Karin! ☘️

Let down (and hangin’ around)

The band’s humour continues to show with the strangely titled “Tosspot City”. Another thrasher in A minor, the interplay between the drums and instruments is well done here, especially in the choruses. This lends the song a rhythm and beat that reminded me of another Reg favourite, 2018’s “Giving It Up (The Drink)”. Things then quieten down a wee bit for “Thank You For Your Lies”, led by the tin whistle and Karin Ullvin’s fiddle. The line We’re killin’ time and sippin’ wine, and prayin’ for this nightmare to go away seems to be about COVID again. But the song also laments the fact that various people – from online influencers to certain government figures – have let the people down during the pandemic.

This theme of “abusing the people” continues on heavier track #6 “This Coming Regime”, and this is a song that stands out. With an interesting use of samples, and another uplift that shifts the chorus up a few semitones, this was one of my favourite listens from the album. It’s definitely one of the more experimental, interesting tracks on the new record.

Teamwork

If the album hasn’t had enough o’ the drinking songs for your taste yet, then wait no longer: “Sober Up To Drink” is next 🍺 The Celtic instruments make a welcome return here, with the tin, fiddle and mandolin combining to form a strong team. Add to that a dose of the usual humour, with lines like Singin’ a song to a big crowded room, and I don’t think I know all the words / I fall off the stage and I piss me own jocks. A nightmare for any live musician 😂

Next, we come to the other song for which a video was made on YouTube, namely “Kick Out The Scum”. This one boasts another quality Sir Reg riff, one that reminds me of “FOOL (Fight Of Our Lives)”, one of my personal favourites by the band. Filip Burgman and Karin team up again on the mandolin and fiddle, and the band invites the listener/crowd to join in on a singalong chorus. Check out the video below, which boasts too much energy for society to handle 😁

“Kick Out The Scum”, track #8 and the third song for which a video was made.

Looking out for the little man

We round the album off with a few tracks more sombre in nature. “The Stinking Mattress” discusses supermarkets and homelessness, and a man who loses his job and his life to end up out on the streets. Keeping it relentlessly modern? Yep. On the penultimate track, the band aren’t telling people to give up the drink, but to “Give Up The Drugs”. And unlike “Giving It Up (The Drink)”, this song is deadly serious, with a clear message: find the help you need. Stay away from the people who deal and supply / They don’t give a rat’s ass if you live or die. Brutal and true.

One last ballad rounds the album off, in “The Story’s Been Told”. Sheehy’s lyrics about working-class life take us back to the roots of Celtic punk – and to Dublin in the ’80s as well. Modern technology gets another swipe (no pun intended!) here on the line We didn’t have iPhones, we played in the fields, and the title “The Story’s Been Told” seems to be lamenting how formulaic life can be these days, especially on social media. People nowadays have a lot compared to what they had in the past, and there are advantages to that. But as Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath once put it, “everybody knew each other in the street [when I was young] and everybody used to help each other out.” You don’t always get that nowadays, and life isn’t much better for it. So always acknowledge the little man, and keep looking out for him.

Line ’em up: Sir Reg, photo courtesy of Johan Lundsten.

11 pieces o’ gold

With explosive riffs, clever lyrics and plenty of the usual underdog spirit, Sir Reg emerge from the pandemic with a vengeance. Watch out for Kings of Sweet Feck All when it drops on April 1st, via Despotz Records. We’re sure you’ll enjoy these 11 pieces o’ gold. To get it, head to the band’s official webpage HERE. Or you can drop ’em a message on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter if ye have any questions or just want to chat to the band.

If money’s a bit tight at the moment (thanks, energy prices), then the album will also be available on the band’s Spotify, where they’ve built themselves an impressive following since their 2009 inception.

Sláinte! 🍻 Or as they say in Sweden, släng dig i väggen 😉

Andy x

ALBUM REVIEW: ROUGHNECK RIOT – ‘Burn It To The Ground’ (2022)

UK Folk-rockers Roughneck Riot return from a 4-year break with a loud and angry new album Burn It To The Ground.

Roughneck Riot have returned from an extended pandemic induced siesta to hit us with their latest album release Burn It To The Ground. This is the first release from the Warrington based hardcore folk punk outfit since Out Of Anger was released in 2014.

The past few years have been tough on us all and here at London Celtic Punks HQ we are delighted to see the influx of new music coming from every angle. We have taken this as a sign of normality returning. Burn It To The Ground certainly marks the return of Roughneck Riot to the scene.

The band are known for their hardcore edge whilst keeping touch with the folk punk sound. The album is well balanced, and the results are impressive. The album opens with the suitably titled tune “We’re Still Here” reminding us that they haven’t gone away y’know!! With a total of 12 tracks the album has something for everyone. The stand out tracks are “Cognitive Dissonance”, “No Cure For Us” and the title track “Burn It To The Ground”.

Often when bands take a break it’s hard to gauge what will happen on the other side. Roughneck Riot have come through their four year intermission sounding as good as ever. They are back on the road and no doubt we will be hearing much more of them. Hopefully we don’t have to wait 8 years for the next release.

TRACK LISTING

1. We’re Still Here
2. Stay Awake
3. A New Day Is Dawning
4. Don’t Count Me Out

5. Lampedusa
6. Cognitive Dissonance
7. Burn It To The Ground
8. Tired Eyes
9. We’ve Already Lost
10. The Reckoning
11. No Cure For Us
12. Fucks Sake

Burn It To The Ground is available on all streaming platforms and available to order in CD and vinyl wherever you are. It has been released on SBAM Records and is also available from them.

Buy Burn It To The Ground  FromTheBand

Contact The Roughneck Riot  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube 

ALBUM REVIEW: DRUNKEN FIGHTERS – ‘Someday’ (2022)

The debut album from Catalonian Celtic-Punk band the Drunken Fighters formed out of the ashes of the Drink Hunters!

Was a few years back that Barcelona based Drink Hunters began to make waves in the Celtic-Punk scene with three absolutely stunning albums from 2013-2016. The best being Lurking Behind The Woods which gathered some excellent reviews. What became of them to become Drunken Fighters we won’t speculate on here but I’m happy to see that things have moved on and those talented musicians and songwriters have found a new home for their music.

Formed in 2018 even without the pandemic it’s taken the band a good while to get some songs down on disc but the wait has been waiting for. With the band named Drunken Fighters and beer-drinking considered a national sport in Celtic-Punk it comes as no surprise to hear the album kick off with the sound of a tin of beer being opened. Straight away in ‘Fight’ you can hear influences from fellow Spanish band Brutus Daughter and not just in that they also have a powerful female singer in Alex. The strong Punk Rock sound is accompanied by excellent flute, fiddle and mandolin giving it that unmistakable Celtic edge. On ‘Germs’, the first single from the album, the band take on the far-right and in a country that in living memory existed as a fascist dictatorship the danger is ever present.

“A disease of hate reminds of the seventies”

The songs are all sung in English and while at times it’s a little heavy going the lyrics are all available at the Bandcamp link below. One of the album highlights is ‘I’ll Be Free Someday’ a catchy fast number with some great changes in tempo that only add to the song. The fiddle here is superb and the song cracks on at a good pace. The energetic ‘Friends’ and even faster ‘Like Today’ incorporate sounds from newish bands that themselves crossover genres like Ska-Punks The Interupters. ‘Voice of the Sea’ is perhaps more trad Celtic-Punk than the rest of the album beginning with acoustic guitar and it’s ocean theme.

“When the only ones sailing my coasts were old sea wolves and all stories about me were drunk of too much rum everything was better, It’s breaking my heart As years go by humans go back”

This is followed by the albums second single ‘Je$u$’ and then ‘Be Lost To Be Found’ another great track here. The next couple of songs rattle through in much the same vein with the utopian ‘Requiem’ and ‘LRK’ (shortened from Lost Rebel Kids) continuing with fast guitars, great fiddle and flute and nice tempo changes. The album closes with ‘Monday Dawn’, the longest song here, and some great lyrics about the ‘dignity of work’ and finishing work on a Friday until ‘Monday Dawn’. If a song on Someday was crying out for a bit of humour then it was this one with it’s upbeat melodic tune the seriousness of the lyrics sit a bit awkward.

So if you are more inclined towards the more folkier side of Celtic-Punk then Someday may perhaps not be for you but even then I would hope that listeners could recognise the skill and musicianship of those involved here. Eleven songs, all written by the Drunken Fighters themselves that clocks in at a very respectful forty minutes, which for a ‘Punk’ album is on the long side. Produced by the band and recorded and mixed by Xavi Escribano at EM Estudi Someday is a great debut album and one for those that miss the early days of Celtic-Punk and like a bit more ‘oompf’ with their fiddle!

(You can stream and download Someday via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Someday  Bandcamp

Contact Drunken Fighters  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: SLAINTE – ‘Up Down 95’ (2022)

Sláinte (slahn-chuh): Irish for cheers. 

Slainte offer a fresh take on trad Irish folk music, medlying classic ballads with modern favourites, and marrying traditional Folk instruments with Rock ‘n’ Roll electric guitar.

Boston, Boston, Boston, Boston but there’s a very good reason why its features so much on these pages. The Irish, Whitey and the Irish mob, Charlestown and South Boston, the Kennedys, the Celtics and finally our heroes of great fame the Dropkick Murphys. Sadly just like in London in recent years gentrification has all but wiped out the traditional working class Irish areas of Boston but the Boston Irish community lives on. Their are obvious reasons why yuppies prefer Irish areas of the city to others but like a virus everywhere they move they soon destroy the very reasons that made them want to move there in the first place.

One of the most important fronts in the battle against gentrification is culture. To keep alive the traditions, spirit and customs of where you come from. Of course this doesn’t just apply to the Irish but to everyone but for the Irish our biggest weapon is music. Where else could a band like the Dropkick Murphys have come from and then grown to become one of the biggest in the world?

Slainte from left to right: Andrew Rodriguez – Vocals, Electric Guitar * Mike Perillo – Vocals, Bass Guitar * Steve Smith – Vocals, Electric Guitar * Brady Conley – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * James Harrington – Harmonica, Tin Whistle * Jon Harrington – Fiddle * Zack Bolles – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Ed Cardenas – Percussion * Stephen Sunshine – Vocals, Tenor Banjo, Organ, Lap Steel Guitar * Not Picured (still inside the pub perhaps?) – Pat O’Donovan – Mandolin, Accordion * Kevin Smith * Percussion *

Last year the arrival of Shadows Of Boston dominated the Celtic-Punk scene and just this week the latest album to land on our doorstep is also from Boston from the band Sláinte. Formed at Boston college in 2013 the Bhoys have been a regular fixture on the Boston and New York pub scene ever since. Featuring 11 (eleven!) members making them the largest band in Irish history! While not strictly Celtic-Punk, their music owes much to the likes of well established bands like The Pogues, The Dubliners and The Saw Doctors as well as bands of today like The BibleCode Sundays and NY’s The Narrowbacks. When their founding member and lead singer moved to New York City in 2016, the remaining members decided that rather than fold or look for a new singer from then on the band would not only let everyone sing but they would cast their net further than Boston and Providence and start to play New York as well. In the years since they have added five new band mates, spent a fortune on petrol, played some untold amount of shows and shared a ton of laughs.

Nine years to make your debut release is a long time but not overly uncommon in a scene where playing live is the priority. Up Down 95 is the name given to their album and a tribute to the last few years together while looking forward to the future. Recorded by the lads themselves in various garages, basements, parking lots and fields throughout the Northeast, Up Down 95 is a completely independent DIY release and features original Sláinte material as well as some classic and contemporary Irish and American covers.

Beginning with the title song ‘Up Down 95′. It’s a rollicking rockin’ ‘country-ish’ number with lashings of harmonica.

“when the bar man asked for Galway Girl we said nay nay never no more”

The kind of song to get those with a bit more youth in their tank up on the bar while the rest of us be slapping our thighs and tapping our feet. The title of the song and album is the highway that connects NYC, Providence Rhode Island, and Boston, the three cities they have spent all their time traveling between over the last few years.

A nod to Celtic-Punk next with a straight up cover of the Molly’s ‘Drunken Lullabies’ which only goes to show how far Celtic-Punk has permeated Irish-American life. Next up is the stunning ‘Grace’ written by Sean And Frank O’Meara in 1985 it was first popularised by The Dubliners and sings of the doomed marriage of rebel leader Joseph Plunket and Grace Gifford just mere hours before Joseph was executed by the British for his part in the 1916 Easter Uprising in Dublin. An incredibly moving song it received a major boost in popularity when it was adopted by supporters at Celtic football club. Since then it became many a bands staple and was even recorded by life long Celtic supporter Rod Stewart. The phrase, “the blood upon the rose” comes from one of Joseph’s poems. Performed beautifully by the band they follow it up with a couple of their own compositions. ‘Ember’ is some classic-Rock and shows the bands ambitions go further than just playing other people’s songs. One of the album highlights, while on ‘Irish Whiskey’ Zack Bolles is joined by special guest Annie Cheevers on vocals for a simple yet boisterous song full of banjo, mandolin, fiddle and I’m sure plenty more. By now one of the bands I’m hearing being channelled here is London’s very own BibleCode Sundays. Not so much in sound but more in that they know people and more specifically their own people and what they want. A bit of an unusual cover next of ‘Atlantic City’ from Bruce’s acclaimed acoustic album Nebraska from 1982 (40 years!). Played straight tune wise they add plenty along the way giving it the Sláinte stamp. Now any Irish pub bands can just coast by with the covers but the real sign of a good band is the ability to knock out a good trad tune and (in common with both the Bible Code’s and the Narrowbacks) Sláinte come up with the goods on the excellent ‘The Musical Priest’ where they play it far from straight and inject a bit of Horslips styled meandering into the tune. Another highlight and another to get the young guns up on the bar! The Saw Doctors ‘Joyce Country Ceili Band’ is followed by an original song ‘Boston Girl Who Fled to New York’ and no idea if it’s autobiographical or not but a cracking ballad with some beautiful meaningful lyrics and a superb tune. Up Down 95 comes to an end with a cover of ‘Streams Of Whiskey’ where Shane MacGowan sings of going on the piss with legendary Irish drinker writer Brendan Behan and while no doubt a great version I would have liked them to have thrown caution to the wind a wee bit and gone out in proper wild abandon Pogues style but still a great version and way to wrap things up.

The album was produced, recorded, edited, and mixed by Zack Bolles and Stephen Sunshine of Slainte and mastered by Ian Blanton of Empirical Dynamics in Boston while the cover artwork was done by Bot Roda. A great album but it only goes to show that the best place to hear Irish music is in the pub and while they’ve done a brilliant job of transferring that sound onto disc it’s an eternal battle that Irish bands will always fight. Sláinte are playing all over Boston for St.Patrick’s week so be sure to check them out if you lucky enough to come from Boston!
(You can stream / download Up Down 95 via the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Up Down 95  Bandcamp (also itunes, apple, spotify, amazon, youtube)

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