Category Archives: Album Review

ALBUM REVIEW: 1916- ‘Far Beyond The Pale’ (2018)

The fourth studio album from one of the best bands in Celtic-Punk, the Rochester, NY based Irish-American band 1916. An explosive concoction of modern day Irish Punk and psychobilly with an original sound all of their very own.

You may scoff at the idea that their is a Celtic-Punk band out there that has an original sound all to themselves! In a scene where the comfort comes from all the bands mining from the same sources of history it is true believe me that one band has managed the seemingly impossible. To stand apart from the crowd but to still be a part of the Irish-American Celtic-Punk scene. Hailing from upstate NY, 1916 take influence from the traditional Irish folk of bygone days and mix in the modern Irish Punk movement but also add in elements from both psychobilly and rockabilly giving them the sound which sets them apart from other bands of the genre.

1916 left to right: Ryan Hurley- Upright Bass * Jon Kane- Mandolin * Steve LaDue- Drums * Billy Herring- Vocals, Guitar *

Their days began as an acoustic duo in back in 2006 with singer Billy Herring and drummer Steve La Due playing the trad Irish ballads of the Dubliners and Wolfe Tones in local pubs in and around their hometown of Rochester. Deciding to name themselves 1916, after the year the uprising in Dublin against British rule took place, to get people interested in Irish history it was in 2010 they took the decision to attempt to turn 1916 into a ‘proper’ band and called in electric guitars, trad instruments and drums. It wasn’t long before they were supporting the Dropkick Murphys and so began a new chapter in 1916 history. 2012 St. Patrick’s Day saw the release of their first studio album, A Drop of the Pure while the following year saw the release of Stand Up & Fight. Each album containing a selection of Celtic/Irish covers and originals that saw the bands sound evolving but it wasn’t until the release of Last Call For Heroes at Christmastime 2015 that the critics went ape. Named in the top half of all the various Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of lists (including our very own one here peaking at #3) 1916 had found their niche and bigger and better things were around the corner for them. As an aside I’ve had their amazing version of ‘Hot Asphalt’ as my ringtone ever since!

Far Beyond The Pale begins with a short instrumental dirge ‘The Risen People’. The sound of chains and a beating drum symbolising stamping feet and the struggle of the Irish race while a mandolin plays a delicate Irish tune. A great start to proceedings as the song becomes the pathway to ‘Some Songs’ and that classic and original 1916 sound is back. Fast and as catchy as hell with bass rumbling away and thrashy guitar nicely understated while Bill tests his lungs with his raspy shouting, though always tuneful, and a great “Woooohh-Woooohhhhhh” bit for us fans to sing along to. 1916 have a knack also for writing some great lyrics too and follow in the tradition of Irish story telling through song. The song tells of the day he fell in love with the music of

“Luke and Ronnie Drew”

and how he has come full circle and I hope Bill realises that he is a direct descendant of these legends and through his music he passes the torch onto the younger generations. Luke and Ronnie would be proud. Next up is the lead single from the album ‘Ophelia’. Bill’s Irish-American brogue and Jon’s mandolin keep the song firmly within Celtic-Punk but it would only take turning up the guitar to take it another level. Saying that I love the guitar on this album. It’s loud and ever present but understated in a way that means it never dominates.

The album title track follows and ‘Far Beyond The Pale’ brings in a slight country influence here but the 1916 rumblin’ is still there. They slow it down slightly but give full reign to Ryan and his upright bass. The phrase ‘beyond the pale’ is well known but what is not so well known is that has a specific Irish meaning. The phrase dates back to the 14th century, when the area around Dublin under English rule was marked by a boundary made of stakes and fences. This became known as the English Pale and to travel outside of that boundary, beyond the pale, was to leave behind all the rules and institutions of English society, which the English modestly considered synonymous with civilization itself. I’m happy to say my family come from many miles Beyond The Pale in Tipperary. They slow it down even further with ‘Guns Of 16’ and maybe I’m getting on a bit but it’s one of my favourite tracks here. A brilliant tune and Bill rolls out the words almost laconically

“Guns of 16 are here
Never have they gone away
Into your deeds they have moved
Keeping the butchers away”

Utterly brilliant. Well so far you have heard a lot about the psychobilly/rockabilly side of 1916 but having stuck fairly closely to the Celtic side of things so far they unleash things for ‘Shake And Roll’ and Ryan’s bass goes into overdrive! There is a saying that “Old punks don’t die they just become rock’n’rollers” and I actually think theirs a bit of truth in that. Having grown up with Rock’n’Roll and Irish music from my Mammy I’ve found myself getting more and more back into over the last few years. I have come to the conclusion its because I’m rather happy in life so don’t want to listen to noisy songs about nuclear war anymore!!!

“We hit the floor together as legion till the end”

Bill shouts out as Jon, Steve and Ryan belt out a real mosh pit filler. The psychobilly influence becomes more of a rockabilly influence for the following song ‘All Outta Whiskey’ and it is absolutely amazing the difference in sound having a upright bass makes when compared to a normal bass. This song is what I would describe as the traditional 1916 sound. First the subject matter (!) then rumbling bass and buzzing guitar with a gang chorus to sing along to and Bill’s laid back vocal style, which is both punky and shouty and trad and folky at the same time, all encompassing a song that straddles punk and folk that is a catchy as feck! The sea features heavily amongst 1916’s repertoire of songs as well as their imagery and no surprise if you read up on how the Irish washed up in north America and the terrible conditions they suffered on board coffin ships supposed to bring them to safety. At least 30% of all Irish immigrants perished on board the ships while many more passed away on arrival. ‘Sticks And Stones’ is another great punky number that rattles along at a fair old pace

“Come all you captains and sailors so bold
and take us through the raging seas of old
Arm yourselves men with your sticks and your stones
and fight against the tide that calls us home”

before taking us into a superb version of ‘Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’. Made famous of course by Cait O’Riordans version on The Pogues second album Rum, Sodomy And The Lash but the song dates right back to the 1880’s and has both Scots and Irish versions. Bills plays with the words a little introducing the line “A tattooer by trade I’m a roving young blade” into the song that speeds up the Pogues version and they nail it by turning it into a 1916 song rather than a Pogues/Dubliners cover. It’s fast, furious, frantic and catchy! We steering up towards the final bend and with ‘Christmas In The Canal’ they have the album standout. The sound is traditional 1916 and is a tribute to those original Irish who fell out of coffin ships and went to work doing the jobs no one else would do. Bill begins the song with the short exclamation

“it was the early 1800’s and the Irish were at the forefront of digging one of the great wonders of the world out of New York state for the Erie canal and despite the harsh conditions they were still able to celebrate”

before the rest of the Bhoys join in with the tale of the Irish digging out the 363 mile canal from the Hudson River near Albany, New York to the Niagara River near Buffalo. Armed with pick axes and shovels, it was backbreaking work, from sunrise to sundown for little pay but it was acknowledged that the Irish were a hard working and hard drinking crew. Not only did the Irish lend their unique work ethic to the canal, they also put their stamp on it in many other ways, including ‘canal songs’, fashioned after popular tunes from home but with new words to fit the environment. And of course, they settled in towns all along the canal route, where today you still find them proud of their Irish roots. The song celebrates them in song just as they sang back in the day and we are still singing now!! A cracking song and one of the elements I have always loved about 1916 is that they do pay homage to those dark days when the Irish in America were on the bottom rung. The album’s second and final cover is up next and the hymn ‘I’ll Fly Away’ is played as a fast folky number. Written by Albert E. Brumley in 1929 it is thought to be the most recorded gospel song of all time and I remember singing it with gusto in my Catholic school days, after all the only way to get the boys to sing was to give them a song that they could shout along to at the top of their voices! It’s already been given the Celtic-Punk treatment on 2012’s Toil by Flatfoot 56 but again 1916 give it their all and come up with something original rather than copied.

“When the shadows of this life are gone,
I’ll fly away.
Like a bird from prison bars has flown
I’ll fly away.”

The curtain comes down on Far Beyond The Pane with the wonderful ‘Going Home’. At over five minutes its by far the album’s longest song and though it starts off plaintive and on the slow side the Bhoys can’t help but go out on a flourish and Jon’s mandolin must have smoke coming off it by the time the end of the songs comes!

This is an album full of life. A celebration of Irish-American identity that is open and accepting to all and is packed to the rafters with passion and energy. The album is available on CD from the band as well as all the usual download sites and the CD comes with a massive booklet entitled Ships Log done in the style of a olde day ships log containing the lyrics of the songs. Mind you Bill’s vocal style renders it useless as you can understand every single word he sings over the album’s forty minutes. 1916’s star is rising all the time and with tours having taken them right across the States and Europe (though sadly not England) and back again and having become an integral part of the #1 event in Celtic-Punk, the  Flogging Molly Salty Dog Cruise, theirs no sign of it dying down just yet. 1916 are easily in my favourite, say, five bands in Celtic-Punk and I defy anyone to not enjoy this band and this fantastic album. With equal measures of humour and seriousness and whiskey it sure is a unique blend alright.

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  • You can read more about the ‘coffin ships’ and The Great Hunger here
  • The history of the Irish and the Erie canal here and here

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HUNGARIAN CELTIC-PUNK WEEK. ALBUM REVIEW #3: JOLLY JACKERS- ‘Out Of The Blue’ (2018)

The last of our album reviews of Celtic-Punk bands from Hungary is the third studio release from one of the scene’s newest bands, Budapest’s Jolly Jackers.

So after the two big hitters of the Hungarian Celtic-Punk scene, Firkin and Paddy And The Rats, were featured these last few days it’s time for one of the lesser known bands and it’s a band that are clearly set for great things in the future. Out Of The Blue is the bands fourth release and sees them take their place alongside the aforementioned big hitters.

Jolly Jackers left to right: Andrea Boncz – Flute/Tin Whistle/Vocals * Enikő Papp: Bass Guitar/Vocals * István Sztivi Faragó: Main Vocals/Guitar * Márk Fenyves: Lead Guitar * Noémi Szentimrei: Violin * Viktor Szepesi: Drums, Percussion

Jolly Jackers are a six piece band that hail from Dunaújváros a working class city in central Hungary famed for its steel production. They formed on New Years Day 2013 and their debut release was the superb five track EP Call The Captain which came out for St Patrick’s Day 2014 and is available for free download at the link below.

They followed this up with their debut album Sobriety in January 2015 which again was mostly penned by the band themselves. Sobriety made the Top Twenty of the London Celtic Punks album of the year (here) back in 2015 with its fast paced original brand of celtic-punk going down a storm. Again Jolly Jackers have made it available for free download so again follow the link below to get your free copy.

Their third release was last year’s eight track album Blood, Sweat And Beer which again hit the streets in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Both their albums so far had sailed it at twenty-six minutes so if you like your Celtic-Punk in short and snappy blasts then Jolly Jackers ARE the band for you. Once again it made our end of year Best Of list (here) and came in a very respectable #22 in a year when every big band in the scene released album’s.

So there you are. Plenty of free music for you to whet your appetite for their new release. Breaking with tradition Out Of The Blue came out at the end of April and seals their place as one of the best bands in Hungary. Clearly inspired by both the giants of the scene at home as well as the international greats

The album begins with the creepily beautiful ‘Blue’ a short half minuter that could come straight out of a Halloween movie but luckily we are back on sounder ground as it soon morphs into ‘Billy the Crook’ and the sound of Hungarian Celtic-Punk fills your ear-holes. The sound is immaculate with Sztivi’s vocals clear as a bell and his English perfect as well and as Jolly Jackers are a story telling band that’s good. The other thing I picked up on straight away was the use of the flute and Rea’s playing was faultless. It’s not an instrument you usually hear within Celtic-Punk but in Europe, especially in Hungary it would seem, it has become an integral part of the band. They follow this up with ‘Rich, Famous & Cool’ and it’s a nod to pop-punk with its lyrics about a musician setting off to become famous but when his partner becomes pregnant he has to sell his guitar.

“I’ve got no longer plans
I’m not rich, famous or cool
But guess what: I’m happy
’Cause I found my place in the world
My place in the world”

A wonderfully positive message and the uplifting music that combines short snappy distorted guitar with fiddle. In a somewhat crowded music scene in their home country it must have been tempting to try a shortcut and emulate one of the more famous bands but that is not Jolly Jackers way and they have managed to come up with a very original take on Celtic-Punk. They add in some trademark jolly-ness next with the catchy foot-tapper ‘See You at The Sea’. A jaunty song that while gentle does sit well in amongst the harder edged songs. They stretch out their influences further with ‘Chameleon’. Beginning with acoustic guitar and Sztivi’s it has a real country edge to it before half way through the song kicks in and they turn it into an anthemic Celtic-Punk rocker. At just over four minutes it’s the albums longest tracks and towards the end the band go to town and thrash it out. I would love to hear this at the end of the night it would bring the house down! They follow this with ‘War’ and heavy guitar and flute dominate the song. Within the song are several fiddle solo’s and changes in tempo that really give it something. My favourite song here.

“Freedom is not about blood in the grass
Not about children without their parents
It’s not about death it is not about gore
You say it’s for freedom, but it’s all about war”

Jolly Jackers turn the mood up for ‘Dancing Shoes’ and it’s a short folksy twee number played fast and with spirit while ‘Lies’ brings out the Celtic-Punk guns in a song about no friends of ours, politicians!

‘Deaf And Dumb’ continues with much the same with the band experimenting with electric guitar and fiddle solo’s and a heavier punk sound then the rest of the album. We are coming towards the end of Out Of The Blue and ‘Demons And Angels’ is the nicely told story of a soldier dreaming of his wife while on the front line. The tune is also a simply played Celtic number but with solid punk backing. They keep the first big surprise till the end and ‘Until We Meet Again’ is beautifully sung traditional Celtic number. Absolutely stunning. The album ends with the instrumental ‘Surprise’ and sure they couldn’t have picked a better song title with its lounge lizard jazzy electric guitar joined half way in by Noémi on fiddle. A very unusual way to bring the curtain down and i’m surprised to hear myself saying that yeah it fitted in exactly right.

From the album’s cover to the music inside it this is an unusual album. The sleeves colourful cartoon of the band members made me realise that most Celtic-Punk imagery is a bit dark and often stacked with meaning so Jolly Jackers attempt to bring a bit of light into things is very much welcome. Out Of The Blue indeed. They have kept the folk melodies of their previous releases but the punkier elements seem toned down but without losing any of their wild abandon. Not prepared to stick to the script it was nice to find Jolly Jackers willing to take chances and even better that they managed to pull them off. Here is an energetic band with great tunes and an ability to write their own songs that seems to me to be in transition. As the saying goes their is plenty here for everyone to enjoy all of it Jolly Jackers very own.

(have a free sneaky listen to the whole of Out Of The Blue for free before you buy it by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for our final part of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week.

If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here

HUNGARIAN CELTIC-PUNK WEEK. ALBUM REVIEW #2: PADDY AND THE RATS- ‘Riot City Outlaws’ (2018)

Hungarian Celtic-Punk week continues with another huge band from the scene. Paddy And The Rats serve up a pirate party with a heavy dose of polka, punk and folk bringing the Irish pub straight into your merry home! 

So we move onto Album #2 of our Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week (be sure to check out #1 here) and it’s another band who are massive both and home and abroad. Paddy And The Rats are possibly the best known of all the Hungarian celtic-punk bands and deservedly so. Hard work and constant touring have paid dividends for the band and these days they are known throughout Europe for their superb records and great live shows. Riot City Outlaws is their fifth studio album following ‘Rats On Board’, ‘Hymns For Bastards’, ‘Tales From The Docks’ and ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’. Formed in 2008 with a love of Irish music, pirates and punk rock they have been going strong and getting stronger ever since. The original celtic-punk sound from their first four albums saw them change track somewhat on their last album but we did note that

“No harm in that. Its called progression and I’d rather they did that than just stick to playing ‘The Wild Rover’ for evermore.”

and it couldn’t be more true. A band can stand still and play the same album year in year out but that is not what Paddy And The Rats are about and thank the Heavens. As they say themselves

“Well, it`s one thing to dream about being Irish”

but this Miskolc-based six piece decided to throw a hefty dose of pirate-isms, polka and gypsy punk onto the Celtic mix!

Riot City Outlaws launches with ‘Aerolites’ and one of the albums stand out tracks straight away. Beginning with piano, acoustic guitar and Paddy’s great rock vocals it soon picks up pace and becomes a catchy feelgood Celtic rocker that’s guaranteed to get you on your feet.

The Bhoys follow this up with another classic song the accordion led ‘Join the Riot’. Like the opening track it switches melody from calm and collected to wild and manic whilst still keeping the feelgood factor. Accompanied by one of their famously excellent videos Paddy And The Rats nail their colours to the mast both figuratively and literally. Another song bound to get the audience beating up the floor at live gigs.

The Rats have always added a healthy dose of pirate to their Celtic-Punk and it’s always worked well for them, especially as pirate-punk/metal has always been seen as more a joke or parody thing. Obviously their roots as a folk-punk band must help and on ‘Black Sails’ those roots shine through with an accordion led track that also hits the heights that is both hard and heavy and ‘pop-punky’ at times. Paddy’s vocals shine throughout the entire album and are both crystal clear and very easy to understand. Having signed to Napalm Records in the summer the powerful production by Grammy award winning producer Cameron Webb, famous for his work with the likes of Motörhead, Megadeth and Social Distortion, lends itself well to Paddy And The Rats with their loud massive choruses and bombastic big tunes. ‘The Way We Wanna Go’ is one such tune with banjo, mandolin, fiddle all fighting each other in a mighty tune. If there is one song here that maybe ventures into parody its ‘Sail Away’ with its drunken bar scene opening and then a rollicking folk-punk tune taking over before ending with a fantastic punk rock/fiddle jig. These are the kind of songs that would go down equally as well in a small hovel of a pub or a stadium full  of adoring fans and Paddy And The Rats are use to both. ‘Blow’ is accordion led along with tin-whistle and chugging guitars it takes a different approach with a really (and a mean really) cool pop-punk sound in the vein of Green Day or Pennywise. they follow this with what passes for a ballad on this album and ‘Castaway’ may be slow (ish) but it’s certainly not dull and is as loud and as brash as the fastest song here. Accompanied by another great video it would be well worth your time to put the kettle on, grab a packet of biscuits, take a hour of your life and clicking on their You Tube channel. A lot of thought and attention has gone into them.

The ocean is the theme of the next couple of songs and both ‘One Last Ale’ and ‘Where Red Paints The Ocean’ are brilliant Celtic/Pirate rockers. Tuneful, catchy anthemic songs that again manage to be both hard and gentle with Paddy showing his vocal range from both hard and gentle as well.

We are steering towards shore and time for another ballad in ‘Another Life’. They know their way round a good song and are equally at home playing anything from Pirate metal to folksy ballads like this with everything rock based inbetween. A great way to slow things down and ‘Bound by Blood’ begins sounding like another ballad before kicking off into the stratosphere and thrashy guitars and another song in the vein of the earlier ‘Blow’. Coming across like the bastard Irish born offspring of The Offspring and The Beach Boys it’s as catchy as it gets. The familiar story of the morning after is taken up next with ‘I Won’t Drink Again’ with acoustic guitar and tin whistle leading the way before turning into a song the Dropkick Murphys haven’t written in years sadly. A happy-go-lucky tune that’s a real foot tapper. The end of the official album comes with ‘Children of the Night’ and needless to say (but say it I will!) it’s an absolute stormer of a song.

The video above may not be exactly the greatest you will ever watch but it again perfectly shows the relationship between Paddy And The Rats and their fans. Paddy before the song starts speaking from the heart but in Hungarian so thanks to Ábel for translating and giving us an insight into the song we wouldn’t otherwise have had.

“My son was born 1,5 years ago and that moment changed my life forever. I was started to think differently and that I wrote that song mostly because he came to the world. I believe there is a very important thing to pay attention to every children. These tiny ‘creatures’ are our future for sure, but in many cases the politicians don’t notice that and they sacrifice them or they parents for the sake of the power, so they remain alone. We think that is so horrible to grow up in this world without parents, who are driving you on your way, and even worse to let them alone. That’s why we wrote that song.”

On an album of high points again Paddy And The Rats do it with a song that contains every element that makes Paddy And The Rats so enjoyable. The bagpipes and fiddle are loud and proud on my favourite song form the album. A real Celtic-Punk classic. So there we have the end of the official album but there are two bonus tracks added that deserve a mention the Irishy ‘Raging Bull’ and celtic pop-punk ‘Summer Girls’. Both great songs that I’m puzzled are tacked on at the end not that I’m not glad they are.

Riot City Outlaws is a real return to form from Paddy And The Rats and when you hear music like this it fills you with its infectious energy and simple happiness. Dark tales make perfect subject matter for Celtic-Punk and theirs loads here wrapped up with them catchy choruses and dynamic up-tempo songs. paddy And The Rats may have returned to their roots here but they are standing still and on hearing this neither will you!

(hear selected songs from Riot City Outlaws on the Bandcamp player below)

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Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for Part 3 and the final part of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. Part 1 here

If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here

HUNGARIAN CELTIC-PUNK WEEK. ALBUM REVIEW #1: FIRKIN- ‘We Are The Ones’ (2018)

Kicking off a week celebrating Hungarian Celtic-Punk we have the new album from Grammy Award-winning Budapest Irish band Firkin. Having played well over six hundred concerts in seventeen countries and it’s no wonder as they are without doubt one of the best live bands on the continent.

When you think of Celtic-Punk the first countries you would think of would be the ones that the Celtic diaspora fled to in times of despair and poverty and oppression. Well maybe that was then but these days Celtic-Punk is a truly international phenomenon and of all the countries outside of the traditional homes of Celtic-Punk no country has embraced the music quite like Hungary has. I’d be hear all day if I was to list all the bands on the scene over there but rest assured that we in England would be jealous of to have but half of them! Why exactly Hungarians have embraced the music to their hearts and ears I do not know. Maybe one of Hungarian friends can let us know. For the following week we are running a special Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week with three of the scene’s best bands all releasing albums then it makes sense to follow up last years (see 2017 here) Hungarian Celtic-Punk week with another one. So stay tuned and visit again in the week for #2 and #3.

One of the things that makes the scene there so special is the bands have all found their own niche within it and the music ranges from full on traditional folk to fast and heavy hardcore punk but today we feature one of the most prominent and internationally well known- Firkin. Formed in 2008 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest by flutist PJ, Firkin have released a whole bunch of albums and toured numerous times including playing an absolutely stunning one-off show in London on New Years Eve 2015. The gig drew in equal numbers of Hungarian ex-pats and London celtic punks that raised the bloody roof off the Dublin Castle! Certainly if putting in the hard work gets you the glory then Firkin have been working overtime to get the attention they deserve. The bands original vocalist Barna left the band amicably after recording the album Finger In The Pie in 2014 but new vocalist Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin have carried on without pause or even catching breath! Firkin have played more than 600 concerts in 16 countries and not just in Europe having toured Canada in 2011. Their debut album, Firkinful Of Beer, hit the streets in May, 2009 and within a year had gone gold. Soon after the album was nominated for a Hungarian Grammy Award, Fonogram 2010, which was followed by two further nominations in 2013 for their third album Igyunk Pálinkát! and in 2014 with their fourth album Keep On Firkin. In 2016 Firkin’s song ‘Focimese’ became the official song of the Hungarian football team for the UEFA Championships which saw Hungary storm the opening group stages before being hammered, like Ireland were, by Belguim in the knock-out round. Last year saw them grace the stage at many of Europe’s leading festivals which brings us up to date with the release of We Are The Ones which will be followed by a huge European headline tour in the Summer.

We Are The Ones is Firkin’s sixth studio album and they continue their quest to take over Europe by introducing the uninitiated to quality Irish-punk rock! Beginning with ‘All Is Well’ and its a fast start from the very first beat and Andy’s great vocals fit right in. The music flits between Springsteen heartfelt rocker and the Irish punk of their early days. ‘One More Pint’ is a tale of life passing you by but there always time for one more pint. Again Andy’s vocals sit nicely. Tuneful and shouty at the same time and in absolutely crystal clear English too! Firkin have always handled a nice ballad well and just as you think ‘Those Irish Punk Girls’ is it it flies off into fast as feck Irish punk with fiddle and flute literally leaving a stream of smoke behind them. As good a song on the album as any and a real blast from Firkin’s past. Another standout track follows with the album’s title song ‘We Are The Ones’.

A great gang chorus of “OH-H-H-H-H’s” in a song where Firkin pay tribute to their fans. Catchy as hell and will grow to be a real fan favourite I am sure.

“We are the ones who will go insane,
go mad when we are in pain.
We are the ones who might be exiled,
we’ll feel at home and smile”

Next up is ‘Lily Of The West’ and believe it or not a song that I could imagine leaving Christy Moore’s lips this one. An old song and not your typical cover version it has a real authentic Irish feel to it with the music at times bordering on trad as well as country. One for your Ma’s this one. Now its ‘Your Odyssey’ and I can’t imagine Christy singing this one! Proper Celtic-Punk with thrashy guitars maybe a little understated but still giving the song plenty of oompf. I was never a fan of the flute to be honest. That was until I saw Firkin live in concert and I was immediately converted. PJ is such an amazing musician and has an incredible stage presence that its hard to stand in awe of Firkin when they let fly. We are back in the pun now with ‘Hold My Beer’ and like a lot of bands Firkin make music to be enjoyed with a jar or two and I’m reliably informed that Hungarians like their beer so a band named after a beer measure ought to have a couple of alcohol friendly songs at least!

As we head towards the end of the album and it’s time for Firkin to dust off a few covers which they begin with the famous Dubliners trad song ‘Nancy Whisky’. A perfect song for Celtic-Punk bands to cover and Firkin serve up a great version and follow this up with perhaps the greatest (and saddest) song ever written about Irish emigration, ‘Spancil Hill’. A real tear-jerker this one and again delivered with style and given an upbeat treatment. Time for an original and Firkin have always dipped their toes into folk-metal while never quite getting their heads wet and ‘Awaken The Iron’ is as far as they venture on We Are The Ones. A great metal-folk-punk song with Andy never sounding more like a pirate in his life.

“Show a leg!
Pirates aboard! Prepare your swords
Pull out the guns and shoot a full load
Release your wrath ‘n aim the mainmast
Fight for the glory till the last breath
Remember the days, the years we fought together
Steered between waves through days and nights
This is the moment we all been living for
Awaken the iron, rats quake in their boots”

The albums fastest song gives way to ‘Galway Girl’ and this song I am sure is played hundreds of times every night on every continent on the planet and I am sure Steve Earle never imagined the hit he had had on his hands but the song is now up there at the very top of popular Irish songs. Nevertheless Firkin don’t do sloppy covers and they stamp the Firkin brand on it and mange the seemingly impossible to make it their own. We Are The Ones comes to an end with the beautiful Irish trad number ‘Flowers’ featuring the absolutely stunning voice of Hungarian folk singer Agi Szaloki. Originally called ‘The Flower Of Magherally’ it dates from 1928 and was most famously covered by Altan.

“I met my love near Banbridge Town,
My charming blooming Sally, O
And she is the crown of County Down,
The Flower of Magherally, O”

Andy shows he can really sing and what a pair of lungs he has as together they belt out a real folkie number that brings down the curtain perfectly.

So another classic Firkin album ends and with twelve songs and seven originals it’s a good balance of their own material and covers too while it steams along at such a nice pace I was surprised it was forty minutes long as it seemed to be over far too quickly. The auld Irish influence may have subsided a wee bit in favour of more typical Celtic sound but theirs no denying that Firkin are at the top of the tree when it comes to Celtic-Punk on this fair continent and long may they continue and they surely will if they continue to put out such great material.

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( A whole Firkin concert from 10th June, 2017 – Open-Air Theatre Budapest)

Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for the rest of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. Part 2 here

Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for Part 2 of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: EWAN MacCOLL and DOMINIC BEHAN- ‘Streets of Song. Childhood Memories of City Streets from Glasgow, Salford and Dublin’ (1959)

Scottish folksinger Ewan MacColl and Irish singer Dominic Behan delve into their childhoods to present the songs and chants of working-class neighborhoods in Dublin, Glasgow, and Salford. Unaccompanied—in keeping with tradition—the 100 songs include rhymes, ditties, counting games, skipping-rope pieces, jibes, taunts, oaths, street ballads, seasonal songs and insults. In between selections, Ewan and Dominic provide context by explaining the circumstances in which the songs were performed.

A fascinating real piece of working class history performed by two legendary figures who have featured on these pages many times. Some listeners may recognize songs from their own childhood their are certainly more than a few I recognise from my younger days on the streets and playgrounds of South Yorkshire. Both Dominic and Ewan spent their lives preserving and archiving music from days past and now almost sixty years later we can present this remarkable album to you. It comes as a free download so feel free to take a copy and enjoy and if you wish follow the link below to get the accompanying booklet that came with the album.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Ewan MacColl- January 1915-October 1989

For nearly 60 years, Ewan MacColl, an activist and left-wing socialist, expressed his views as a playwright, social activist, songwriter and performer. During the course of his lifetime he composed a body of work that ranks among the best in the folk genre. He was born in Auchterarder, Perthshire, Scotland, the son of a Lowland Scots father and a Gaelic-speaking mother. Both parents had an extensive repertoire of Scots folk songs and ballads, and a large part of MacColl’s tremendous repertory was learned from them. After leaving school at the age of 14, he spent the next 10 years working odd jobs between periods of unemployment and one day out busking, he was noticed by a BBC director and given his first radio broadcast in a programme called Music of the Streets. Soon MacColl began to devote an increasing amount of his time writing programmes for the BBC, including his first group of Folklore broadcasts. Included among his many folk music activities have been the collecting of folk songs for the BBC archives and in addition to being one of these island’s leading folk singers Ewan MacColl’s fame lives on in the songs that he both saved from extinction and those he wrote including ‘Dirty Old Town’, ‘Freeborn Man’ and his Grammy Award-winning song ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’, a hit single for Roberta Flack in 1971, which he wrote for his longtime collaborator and life partner, Peggy Seeger. After many years of poor health (in 1979 he suffered the first of many heart attacks), MacColl died on 22 October 1989, in London, after complications following heart surgery

Dominic Behan- October 1928-August 1989

Dominic Behan was born in Dublin, Ireland, having a traditional Irish fiddler as a father and a folksinger as a mother. Born into a family of committed republicans, it was no surprise that even at the age of six he joined Na Fianna h-Eireann (republican Boy Scouts) and by sixteen was an active fighter for the IRA. His activities on behalf of his political convictions resulted in his being imprisoned, in Dublin and in London, four times between 1951 and 1954. Following in the footsteps of his uncle, the noted rebel song-writer Peadar Kearney (who wrote the Irish national anthem) he penned a number of rebel ballads, including the well-known ‘Patriot Game’. During the 60’s and 70’s he wrote almost twenty plays for British TV as well as writing several books though it was as a songwriter that he excelled and had more than 450 songs published during his lifetime. Dominic had well publicised spats with both Liam Clancy and Bob Dylan over use of his songs where lyrics were changed or omitted. He took the view that his work was written to make some form of social, historical or political statement and should either be used as an entire piece of work or not at all. Dominic died at home in Glasgow, aged 60, on 3 August 1989.

Streets Of Song sleeve notes by Kenneth S. Goldstein

Childhood memories of City Streets from Glasgow, Salford and Dublin. The Oral Lore of Children

In listening to this recording, one will find three distinct types of oral children’s lore. First there are the items which have little or no restrictions of national boundary. Some of the pieces recited and sung in this recording are known throughout the English-speaking world, originating, perhaps, in the British Isles and spreading out from there to all of the many countries culturally and linguistically affected by the British and their far-flung empire. Who, in the English-speaking world, for example, has not heard one or another version of the singing-game The Farmer Wants a Wife (heard in a Dublin Irish version on this recording), or Poor Mary Sat A-Weeping (from Salford on this recording). You may know these pieces by other names, and in forms differing quite radically from those presented on this recording, but it will require little imagination or insight to realise the relationship of the versions you know to those presented here.
A second category of pieces found in this recording are those which appear to have strictly national boundaries, being known either only in the British Isles or, perhaps, only in a single country or national group. Such pieces are frequently related to festivals or events which are purely national in character and incidence, or are so dependent upon purely national events or references as to make them almost meaningless outside of the national boundary of the country in which, they may be found. Such pieces include the holiday song Christmas is Coming (item number 67, from Dublin, but known throughout the British Isles), and the Scottish jibe, Wha saw the tattle howkers (item number 62, from Glasgow, but known in other parts of Scotland) among numerous others.
The third category consists of those pieces of a purely local nature, existing almost exclusively in a single community, town or county, but rarely found elsewhere. The reasons for such limitation of tradition are similar to those given for the second category mentioned above, but with considerably more localised references or language. Such piece include Up The Mucky Mountains (item number 64) and Jessie Stockton (item number 68), both from Salford, and Cheer up, Russell Street (item number 56) from Dublin. Into this last category must also go those pieces which are the creative efforts of a moment, in use for only a short period of time, and fading into the world of lost traditions almost before they were born. Occasionally such-pieces fall into the collector’s lap, but the collector (at best, just an accident in time, in such instances) has no way of sorting out these pieces from those which are more than just mere ephemera.
The record contains an even 100 pieces of diverse examples of children’s lore. Here will be found game songs, nonsense rhymes and ditties, counting games, ball-bouncing games and rhymes, skipping-rope pieces, jibes, taunts, oaths, street ballads, seasonal songs, and insults. What is the origin of these pieces? For most of them we cannot even begin to speculate on the question of origins.
Some few can be pinpointed to historical occurrences and personages King Henry, King Henry (item number 12), tells of the affairs of love of a well-remembered English monarch. Others are the breakdown of older traditional ballads and tales; I know a woman, she lives in the woods (item number 23), obviously derives from the ballad The Cruel Mother (Child 20). Some like items 4, 56 and 59, are children’s parodies of recent creations, including music hall and popular songs. Most of the pieces are created out of happenings and sights of everyday life. Because of the universality of their subject matter they might arise anywhere or at almost any time so it is an impossible task to do much more than guess at their origins.
First, we are introduced to the cultural milieu with which we are dealing. Poverty, a proud working-class inheritance, slum conditions, and the everyday, mundane things and occurrences affecting the individuals concerned. Next, we are presented with the oral products of that environment, set off against a train of thought concerning those products, not of the children living, playing and reciting those pieces of lore, but of two adult bearers of this urban tradition whose sensitivity to the setting is expressed in terms of mature afterthought. The opportunity presented by this recording to study the whys and wherefores of urban childhood traditions is the next best thing to working in the field with the children themselves.
One fascinating problem suggested by working with children’s lore, and, even more specifically, with the lore of working-class children, is the question of class boundaries of such lore. Of this question, Dominic Behan has written:
“It can — so far as kids are concerned — be made only by children who own so little other rights to amusement that they must sing and make up songs about themselves and the places they inhabit; tenement house schools, neighbours, and, most and biggest of all, their playground — the streets. Maybe this is not quite true, maybe other classes of folks’ children make up other classes of songs. All I can say is if they do, I have never heard them.”
So much for the songs: what of the games? Are they ‘class’ bound? Do they belong to certain people or are they the property of all? Once again, I don’t know. Once again I will guess, and say all.
The challenge has been issued. It is the duty of folklorists, sociologists, and psychologists to take it up and answer the question. An attempt to do so from a library chair will prove futile; the data are insufficient and largely undocumented in most of the existing works on children’s lore. By utilizing the existing tools of each discipline we can expect to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion. We are fortunate in dealing with children’s lore, to be working in an area which appears to have no beginning or end in time, and while some scholars have bemoaned the dying of oral tradition (such claims have been made for the past century, though I for one prefer to think of traditions changing and evolving rather than dying), none will be so rash as to deny the very vital nature of children’s songs and games. There is no question of the existence of sufficient material for study.

DOWNLOAD STREETS OF SONG

PRESS HERE!

DOWNLOAD THE 8-PAGE INSERT BOOKLET HERE!

Great article on the Life And Work Of Dominic Behan here

 with thanks to Zero G Sound- if you want music like this to light up your life then go find them here.

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

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

(if any links are broken please leave a comment and we’ll do our best to try and fix it)

ALBUM REVIEW: THE MUCKERS- ‘One More Stout’ (2018)

While they do play Irish music Atlanta based celtic-punkers The Muckers blend in  influences from gypsy music, sea shanties, country, rockabilly and anything else they can get their hands on.

One More Stout is The Muckers second album and if their debut was a helluva lot of fun then they have gone and topped it with this one. Their self titled debut album came out in September 2016 and even though they had only recently formed it received excellent reviews from right across the celtic/folk-punk scene and entered the end of year charts of all the ones who did one including ours. We described it back then as

“A great knees up of an album with a grand sense of humour and infectiously good fun and well played”.

and to be perfectly honest we could easily re-use that comment to describe their new album One More Stout as well!

Based in the deep South of America in the city of Atlanta in Georgia they are the only local Celtic-Punk band and had gathered a massive following around them in the city and state among the Irish and their friends. That was back then and it would be safe to say that these days The Muckers are rapidly becoming one of Americas better known ‘new’ Celtic-Punk bands. They are on the face of it a straight up Irish band but dig a little deeper into their sound and you will discover a host of influences from at home and overseas. This is a very real American Irish music that takes the spirit of Ireland and adds in a little something from gypsy, country or even rockabilly to produce something that is an absolute joy to listen to, and I am positive a joy to catch live as well.

The Muckers left to right: Steve Lingo- Drums * Brady Trulove- Guitar * Jeff Shaw- Fiddle/Mandolin * Dave Long- Accordion * Randall English- Bass.

One More Stout kicks off with the opener ‘Let’s All Go to the Bar’ and it has a kind of Gobshites feel to it. A real happy-go-lucky bounce to it accompanied by a feel-good vibe that would be sure to fire any gig/party/barmitzvah off! The Gobshites comparison may be a good one as I later found out vocalist Jeff was an auld Gobshite himself for a couple of years and played mandolin work on their album The Whistle Before the Snap.

Originally penned by Rhode Island roots-punk quintet Deer Tick the song stays fairly close to the original but with a huge injection of celtic-punk attitude with some excellent accordion and mandolin.

“Forget if you’ll regret when the morning comes
We’ll have a heart attack, we’re having too much fun
If the coops show up we ought run, run, run
But we’ll laugh in their faces when they tell us we’re done”

At nearly four minutes it’s the perfect length and a great start to proceedings. Jeff Shaw has a great full voice that belies his wee frame and fits snug into The Muckers style of music. The Bhoys have an obsession with alcohol (fancy that!) and keep it up with their first self-penned number ‘Hellbound’ and Jeff puts down the mandolin to play some pretty damn amazing country style fiddle over this fantastic number. The song ends with a very nice Irish trad flourish and they back this straight up with another original ‘Day Drinking’ and it’s hard to believe they are only a five piece band so large is the sound here.

Not only that but they are almost acoustic except for Randall’s bass. I’m still looking for a word I can use instead of catchy (If you know please tell me!) but that is the word that is stamped all over The Muckers music. This song is again accordion led (even with a tinge of ska!) but with such a fantastic production it never over dominates things and blends right in. Next up is another cover and again they stay fairly close to the original by Californian country/American group The Devil Makes Three. They do of course speed ‘Black Irish’ right up and add some bollocks to it.

“Cuz I, I wanna feel that blood rushin in my veins
I don’t want this night to ever turn into day
If I could only do all them things I wanted to
While that spirit’s rushin now in my veins
Yes If I could only do all them things I wanted to
While that spirit’s rushin in my veins”

At least musically anyway as the lyrics speak for themselves! The fiddle kicks it off before accordion joins in and low and behold there’s an electric guitar thrashing away there! Now this is Celtic-PUNK I tells you. Now its the title track and ‘One More Stout’ is an ode to the famous Black Stuff. Following this is a cover by one of my all-time favourite Celtic-Punk bands the glorious Cutthroat Shamrock. Criminally under-rated they split up last year but I was delighted to see that they had reformed this St. Patrick’s weekend to play some local gigs around Tennessee. ‘Long Gravel Road’ is one of their best songs and I would heartily recommend checking their original version out here from their 2009 album Blood Rust Whisky. The Muckers do the song perfect justice and keep the country-Irish feel of the original intact while still putting their own stamp on it. We take a trip out East now with the Bhoys version of the old Russian traditional folk song ‘Limonchiki’. Of course the accordion is in favour here and Jeff hams it up a bit in a real nice number that is guaranteed to get feet moving! Next is a cover by Canadian Celtic-Rock legends Great Big Sea. You know when a band has reached legendary status when ‘ordinary folk’ start to take notice. In this case it was when my sister-in-law asked me if I knew Great Big Sea and did I have any of their stuff. Yeah only about six hours worth! Anyway The Muckers give ‘Old Black Rum’ a real going over and make it their own while ‘God Save Ireland’ is a old song. Very old. it was written to commemorate the Manchester Martyrs, three members of the Fenian Brotherhood executed in England in 1867 after a successful mission to free a comrade from arrest ended with the death of a policeman. It served as the unofficial Irish national anthem from the 1870s to the 1910s and has been recorded by a multitude of artists. In particular I always remember it raising the roof when The Wolfe Tones play it. Its catchy tune and singalong chorus make it perfect Celtic-Punk fodder and needless to say (but say it I will) Its gets a bloody good airing here. We back in the bar for ‘Whiskey’ and the on-off love affair we have with alcohol. Catchy in a sort of hoe-down country way which leads us nicely onto ‘Drunker’n Cooter Brown’ which takes it a bit further with elements of bluegrass and zydeco sneaking in.

One of the album highlights for me and if the dance floor aint filled up for this then there’s something wrong with the audience! ‘Molly, Pt. 2’ is the sequel to ‘Molly’ that appeared on their debut album and that was one of the standout tracks then so only fitting the sequel is here. The mandolin shines here showing what a great instrument it is in Celtic-Punk. Its delicate, beautiful sound butting up against the rougher edges of the other instruments really does sound wonderful. Finally we have reached the end of One More Stout and we wrap things up with an absolutely stunning instrumental traditional Irish folk reel called ‘Castle Kelly’. The tune is very old and also known The Dark Haired Maid’ when recorded by the Bothy Band, or ‘Mo Nighean Dubh’ if you speak Irish. The Muckers version is a s good as any I have heard. An amazing way to finish things.

As we have stated The Muckers are riding a wave which has seen them take the stage at Shamrock Fest and Dragon Con and they were invited to play the welcome party for what is rapidly becoming the most important event in the worlds Celtic-Punk calendar the famed Salty Dog cruise organised by Flogging Molly. Lucky bastards!! This band is set for the top table of celtic-punk embracing everything that’s great about celtic-punk. Passion and pride in the land of their ancestors but also a willingness to experiment a bit and step away from the confines of Irish folk and inject other cultures and music into what they do. And all the time with a smile plastered across their faces. The obvious fun they have is infectious and if the only thing Celtic-Punk achieves is to make people happy then The Muckers have got a surefire hit on their hands. Get on board before they become massive!

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ALBUM REVIEW: BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN- ‘Drinkin’ To The Dead’ (2018)

Pittsburgh celtic-rockers the Bastard Bearded Irishmen deliver an original, ferocious blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic music, mixed with punk, gypsy and high-energy rock n’ roll on their third album out this week.

Bastard Bearded Irishmen are one of the hardest working bands ON the Irish-American celtic-rock scene and their hard work has paid off with the band now known right across the States and even beyond. Formed back in 2008 the band celebrate ten years together with the release of their third studio album, Drinkin’ To The Dead. Originally planned as a one off tribute for a friend’s funeral, George H. Evans IV, a friend of the band and guitarist who died in a car accident in 2004. George was a big Irish-American guy who loved the Dropkick Murphys and during that one-off show Jimmy Bastard and Ben Jaber decided their passion for Irish music needed a further outlet so after recruiting a couple more local guys and gaining a rather nice sponsorship deal from Jameson’s Irish whiskey the Bastard Bearded Irishmen were born.

Bastard Bearded Irishmen left to right: Jimmy Bastard- Lead Vocals, Acoustic/Electric Guitar, Banjo *  Paul Dvorchak- Fiddle * Danny Rectenwald- Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals * Ryan Warmbrodt- Rhythm Guitar * Dan Stocker- Drums/Percussion * Ben Jaber- Bass, Vocals (Ben has since left amicably and the new Bastard bassist is Sean-Paul Williams)

This is the band’s third album behind their self-titled debut of 2011 and ‘Rise Of The Bastard’ in 2014. That debut trod the well worn path of mostly auld Irish standards and though an excellent album it only left their fans wanting to hear more of their own stuff. They got their wish with Rise Of The… which was an album of solid self penned songs with just three covers chucked in. One of the most pleasing things about the Bastards was their ability to switch from Irish punk to folky trad and though on their new album the rougher edges have been smoothed down this ability still shines through.

Bastard Bearded Irishmen hail from Pennsylvania’s second largest city Pittsburgh located in the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The city is known as ‘The Steel City’ due to its history of steel production and way back in the 1830’s, many Welsh people from the Merthyr steelworks immigrated to the city following the aftermath of the Merthyr Rising. By the 1840’s, Pittsburgh was one of the largest cities west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Great Fire of Pittsburgh destroyed over a thousand buildings in 1845 and the city was rebuilt by Irish immigrants who had arrived in the area escaping The Great Hunger back home. By the end of the century Pittsburgh’s 1,000 factories were consuming 22 million coal bushels yearly with coal mining and iron manufacturing attracting waves of European immigrants to the area, increasingly from southern and eastern Europe, and including many Catholics and Jews fleeing injustice and poverty in their homelands. Today 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.

(the Bastard Bearded Irishmen bhoys discuss their upcoming 2018 album, Drinkin’ to the Dead and the evolution of the group)

So coming from an area with a rich working class history and confident in it’s Irishness the Bastard Bearded Irishmen found much work around the city playing to their fellow Irish-Americans but as has been said hard work and solid graft has seen them voted ‘Best Rock Band in Pittsburgh’ for four years in a row, ‘Best Bar Band’ twice, opening for the Dropkick Murphy’s and Stiff Little Fingers and a whole host of major folk and rock bands while, of course, playing just about every decent Irish music festival including last years mega Shamrockfest. Their third album Drinkin’ To The Dead came out on that most special of days for sc-fi fans, May the 4th, kicks off with ‘Salutations, Memoirs, Denouements’ which was their first single from the album released last February. They seem to have lost none of their bite since 2014’s Rise Of The Bastard and despite promising to have moved away from the Irish punk of the first two album’s I can tell you there’s plenty here to keep fans old and new very happy indeed. As is the way the opener is always one of the strongest songs and no different here with Jimmy Bastard belting out the lyrics about remembering close lost friends and comrades.

” But through the tears (we arise) as we honour the lives of the ones we left behind”

Fast and furious and tuneful with great fiddle work its a brilliant way to start things and I can tell I’m in for a good time here! Drinkin’ To The Dead also sees mando player Danny Rectenwald step up to the plate vocals wise and him and take the lead on a handful of songs here that gives some nice balance to Jimmy.

So if the opener made me think we were in for more of the same ‘No Problems, No Drama’ took me by surprise with its combination of celtic, reggae, klezmer and eastern European tunes all bashing up against each other. At over six minutes long it’s a bit risky but the risk was worth it as the lads take time to build up the song layering each others instruments on top of each other and building the song up to a climax. Maybe not one for live shows but it certainly works here and shows that there is a lot more to the Bastards than drinking songs… though they are pretty fecking good at them too as in next track ‘Let’s Have A Party’. It’s straight up Irish folk-punk though perhaps with just a tinge of country and again Paul’s fiddle is on fire as the band bash through the song as quickly as they can.

It may be overplayed as hell and appeared on every Celtic-Punk band’s play list but lets face it you can’t beat ‘Dirty Old Town’ can you. We have gone into this song so many times here but Ewan MacColl’s song is played so often for a reason and that is because it is such an amazing song. The Bastards play it Dubliners style. Nice and slow with Jimmy showing he’s got a decent set of lungs on him and the band with a nicely subdued backing but then half way through they kick it off and bring it in fast as yer like. Ewan was a bit touchy about this song especially about how Shane MacGowan sang it (apparently putting the emphasis in the wrong place) but sure wouldn’t he happy hearing it still blaring away sixty-nine years after he wrote it. Next up is a solid Irish folk instrumental ‘Harvest’ before the gypsy-punk of  ‘Ya, Ya, Ya’ begins with the familiar sound of a can of beer opening! It’s not all as expected and they can still bring out a few surprises and ‘Moscato’ is a nicely understated gentle tune dedicated to the delights of drinking wine. Just Jimmy’s voice, acoustic guitar, bass and mandolin lead us into another nice drinking song but more in keeping with the Irish tradition. The bittersweet tale of ‘Another Bottle Of Booze’ of realising what the stuff does to you but not be able, or wanting, to stop. A slow song but played tough and a real foot stomper. This is the quieter section of the album and ‘Green Side Of The Hill’ may start off as a ballad before incorporating reggae and gypsy into it. Great words too reinforcing what I have always said about them that their story-telling is an integral part of what they do. Eventually the song bursts out at you and the quiet section is no more and the band whip through the ending. The song is another long one at five and half minutes and never drags and the extra length of some of the songs on Drinkin’ With The Dead is evidence of a maturity that the band have faith in themselves to deliver songs that keep the listeners interest. ‘Drunken’ Drinkin’ is about being drunk and still drinking and the song again doesn’t stick to the Celtic-Punk blueprint and neither does it stick to just keeping it fast either.

We have a lovely Irish folk tune next in ‘Slip (the) Jig’ and a song that’s been around a couple of years now, ‘Pirates Of Three Rivers’ that is classic Celtic-Punk territory. The three rivers, the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio, converge in the city and Pittsburgh owes its existence to them.

We coming up towards the end and ‘What A Life That Would Be’ is a song that maybe shouldn’t work but by hell it does. Shift changes all over the shop and packed with influences from all over the place it on the face of it is all over the place but yeah it still gets you there! Down to the last two songs and they are both called ‘Drinkin’ With The Dead’ and as Jimmy Bastard says

“It’s kind of funny because the name of the album has been around for two years, we just had to get it done. And on the same day Danny said he wrote a song called ‘Drinkin’ to the Dead’ (the second version), I told him I wrote one, too. We thought we couldn’t have two song called ‘Drinkin’ to the Dead’ on the album, but then thought, ‘Yes we can. We can do whatever we want.’”

‘Drinkin’ To The Dead (Prelude)’ is a sad but glorious, thought provoking piano driven ballad dedicated to the friends they have lost. Danny’s voice achingly recalls loved ones.

“Raise a glass to tomorrow and the past
to the ones that we love
down here or above
for this may or may not be the last time we can.”

They follow it up with the second version of ‘Drinkin’ To The Dead’. At near eight minutes long you can bet your arse it’s an epic and rousing way to bring the curtain down on things. Solidly based on Irish folk the words speak of respecting the dead and moving on with your life and making those you loved proud of you. We Irish are obsessed with death though I have always found in a good way. A damn fine way to end things.

Bastard Bearded irishmen logo.jpg

As a band whose whole existence was to commemorate fallen friends and family Drinkin’ With The Dead is a more than just a couple of steps forward for the band. Proof if it was needed that Irish-American music is both inventive and innovative and willing to push the boundaries of what we think of as Irish music. Bastard Bearded Irishmen have stepped it up a notch and though still well grounded in celtic-punk the extra touches they have introduced will I am sure gain them recognition and friends far beyond our narrow little scene and Good Luck to them while they do it!

Buy Drinkin’ With The Dead

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(A mini-documentary on the Pittsburgh based band, Bastard Bearded Irishmen. Created as a senior class project by Rachael Hower. Recorded September 2014-February 2015)

ALBUM REVIEW: MR. IRISH BASTARD- ‘The Desire For Revenge’ (2018)

Mr. Irish Bastard blend the drink infused energy of pure Irish folk with punk rock guitars and a bottle full of attitude. They have toured excessively, played with the Pogues and have graced stages from Tokyo all the way to Kiev.

The beginning of a band are usually quite ordinary and when in 2006 Mr. Irish Bastard set out to shake the world all their band members could hardly all fit on the stages they played on! Today, three studio albums and a good 700 gigs later, including tours of China, Japan, and alongside such celtic-punk giants as The Pogues, Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and The Levellers, Mr. Irish Bastard have become an internationally renowned band and not just within the celtic/folk-punk scene.

The German Celtic punk giants, Mr. Irish Bastard, spring into 2018 with the release of their latest studio album The Desire For Revenge released on Reedo Records. This year so far has been extremely busy on the Celtic punk scene with many bands releasing new materials just before Paddy’s Day. It’s been tough keeping up with all that’s going on but have to say generally the quality of material coming out have been very good and Mr. Irish Bastard have landed us with another good one. The Desire for Revenge comes three years after the bands last album release and it kicks off with a (pre) Christmas themed tune ‘Black Eye Friday’. A high tempo opener paying homage to the traditional festive “bash”. This leads into ‘Oliver Cromwell’s Head’, a song which takes no explanation. This song pulls no punches in the hatred a lot of Irish have for the Cromwell following the cruelty he inflicted on our ancestors.

“and we’ll chop off his head and kill him twice just to make sure he’s blood dead, and we’ll dance around a burning spike around Oliver Cromwell’s head”

‘Darlinka’ (Darling Karlinka) has a very catchy Gypsy Folk beat. This one wouldn’t be out of place on a Gogol Bordello album. In total there are a total of 12 songs on the new album with a few like ‘Mike Malloy’ and ‘Poor Irish Billy’ standing out tunes. It also contains a cover of Cyndi Lauper single ‘Time after Time’. An unusual choice to cover but have to say it works well.

Mr. Irish Bastard are one of the stand out Celtic punk bands on the European stage and with the latest album it is easy to see why. The eight piece outfit continue to consistently churn out top notch material allowing them to go from strength to strength. Long may it continue. If you like your celtic punk fused in whiskey, banjo, mandolin and tin whistle then get your hand on The Desire for Revenge.

The Desire For Revenge was recorded by  Mr. Irish Bastard, Gran.E.Smith on mandolin, banjo and  bouzouki), Beouf Strongenuff on bass and drummer Ivo K’Nivo, guitarists P and Moe Leicester, BB on the accordion and tin whistle expert Kate. A new dimension in sound is added by the violinists Laura Zimmermann and Mona Kaczmarczyk. As Mr. Irish Bastard explains

“The violin is a new timbre in our sound and carries emotions that have not played any obvious roles with us, we celebrate and define our previous history as a band on the new album. At the same time, we also refine our sound, because only those who change will ultimately remain true and remain honest with their listeners. In short, as in any folk interpretation, longings all over the world remain the same. People all need the same thing, friends, something to drink and eat, love. And some now and then also lust for revenge, retribution, guilt and atonement. ‘The Desire For Revenge’ could be their record”

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE RUMPLED- ‘Ashes & Wishes’ (2018)

Dance, scream, jump, sweat, clap hands and wear out your feet. Italian celtic-rockers The Rumpled come wrapped up with heaps of enthusiasm and energy and on hearing this they  will soon have you trapped in their spell!

If you ever think that celtic-punk music is confined only to the Celtic nations and the Celtic diaspora then you couldn’t be more wrong! Those days are long ago, if indeed they ever really existed at all, and these days celtic-punk music is spread literally all over the globe. Today’s review is of Italian band The Rumpled’s debut album Ashes & Wishes and if celtic-punk was designed as a vehicle to take elements of traditional Irish folk and punk rock and blend them together while staying true to both genres roots then The Rumpled have nailed it.

The band was born in 2011 in the northern Italian city of Trento and began with the name Seven Deadly Folk but as is often the way with celtic-punk bands with the coming and going of new and old members the band decided in 2014 to change their name to The Rumpled. This led to the release of a 4-track demo in June 2015 and the change of name did them no harm and in the summer of last year they won the prestigious European Celtic Contest organized during the Montelago Celtic Festival. Having already performed over a hundred concerts at pubs, festivals, on the street and many more unlikely places and with this award under their belt and the release of their album last month they set off later this month on their biggest ever tour of Italy.

(the first demo release from The Rumpled)

The celtic-punk scene in Italy leans very heavily towards the Irish side of things and in bands like The Clan and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards Irish traditional folk music is referenced heavily. Another band I have started to notice being referenced quite often, and for good reason, is Aussie celt’s The Rumjacks. Kicking off with ‘Rumpled Time’ and its catchy, riff laden, accordion led celtic-punk heaven! Its more the folky side of things but still with plenty of bite to it and, in common with the above Italian bands, Marco, the vocalist, has a strong voice and when singing in English is perfectly understandable. Following this is ‘Just Say No!’ and the Irish influence is strong on a song that bounces along with tin whistle leading this time. So far the emphasis has been on good time music but the Bhoys ramp it up for ‘Jig Of Death’ and was the second single released from the album the week after St. Patrick’s Day. According to the video the ‘vocal supervisor’ was one Francis D. McLaughlin so we could have half expected them to singing in broad Scots!

Another thing they have in common with The Clan is their elaborate and well made videos. Take a few minutes to check them out as they are well worth your time. The album carries on with ‘I Wanna Know’ and by know I’m getting the vibe off them that they are very much a live band. Music like this belongs in the public house but they have made a very decent job of transferring it onto disc so well done lads. The Rumjacks connection continues with ‘The Ugly Side’ featuring the Rumjacks themselves. Don’t these guys ever intend returning to Australia?? One of the punkier songs on Ashes And Wishes but without losing any of its catchiness. The bagpipes are loud and proud for next song ‘Don’t Follow Me’ the video of which features the local Celtic interest group Il Clan della Fossa. This was the lead single released last November and sparked up a lot of interest in the band around Europe.

As I already mentioned Italian celtic-punk bands have really embraced the sound of trad Ireland and on ‘County Clare’ The Rumpled take that music and inject it with a healthy dose of punkiness and an energy oft times missing. The song is again led by the accordion and Marco’s voice combine for the album standout for me. The album continues with ‘Bang!’ and a catchy ska beat knocks shoulders with a country folk base and nice wee track with very well played fiddle from Patrizia. We are nearing the end and still no covers just some excellent original celtic/Irish influenced folk punk. ‘Dead Man Runnin’ continues the punkier side of things before ‘Ramblin’On’ brings us back to their more folky side. Again its catchy as hell and finally the album comes to an end with ‘Letter To You’ and if the only thing missing from Ashes And Wishes was a lovely wee ballad then they almost pull it off with this wonderful song that they can’t quite help sticking a jig in the middle of it. The sort of song Springsteen would do if he ever records an Irish themed album.

Ashes And Wishes is a real fun album the sort of music that would see you certain of a good night out among friends and comrades. With the spirit of great Irish bands like The Dubliners, The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly infused here celtic-punk is not a genre built entirely on originality in fact it skates by on a massive dose of nostalgia as much as anything else. In which case it’s sometimes hard to judge bands and with the best place to hear this kind of music being the pub its the feelings it evokes that tell us whether the music is good or bad or in between. What you have here is just plain good old time party music. There is no hidden meaning to it just the wish from The Rumpled for us, the listener, to enjoy ourselves and to forget our troubles.

Which is exactly what I did for thirty-four minutes!!

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ALBUM REVIEW- FINBAR FUREY- ‘Don’t Stop This Now’ (2018)

We rarely use the word legend on this site so when we do then it is only when it is well deserved. Multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter, storyteller and actor, Finbar Furey is celebrated around the world as one of the great folk icons and is a supreme storyteller as well as a versatile and multi-talented artist.

We have often spoken here on what Irish music and culture meant to the children of the Irish growing up in Britain in the 80’s. When The Fureys and Davey Arthur appeared (watch it here) in the middle of the 12th November 1981 edition of the popular music TV show Top Of The Pops featuring the likes of Kool & The Gang, Haircut 100 and Earth, Wind & Fire the effect it had on the Irish community here was gigantic. As Finbar said on the groups entry into the Top Of The Pops studio

When we walked in, people went ‘What in the name of Jaysus is this!’

There had been success for Irish bands but it was years before many of us were born. The Wolfe Tones played to thousands wherever they went and all without press or publicity so when these band of hirsute middle aged Irishmen took the stage playing ‘When You Were Sweet Sixteen’, a beautiful ballad that I’m sure over the years has brought a tear to most Irish peoples eye over a certain age! The band included brothers Finbar, Paul, George and Eddie as well as Davey Arthur. That day it became a defining moment in many a young 2nd and 3rd generation Irish person’s life. I remember it clearly how proud my family were at the bands achievement the smiles beaming across their faces. It would climb to #14 in the singles chart at a time when that meant selling 10’s of thousands a week. At a time with the war raging in the north of Ireland and spilling over onto English streets the Irish were having a bad time of it over here. Suspicion, aggression and bigotry against them was everywhere and countless Irish men and women were being jailed on very little evidence (all later to be cleared of any crime) with the effect that many Irish born people kept their heads down and put up with the abuse. But things were changing. There were around a million Irish born people in Britain in the early 80’s and their children were not going to be silent and act ashamed of our roots. We were still a few years away from The Pogues and Irish culture and accents were never seen on TV or the media except to be ridiculed so when Finbar Furey sang

“Come to me, and my
dreams of love adored
I love you as I loved you
when you were sweet
when you were sweet sixteen”

in front of watching millions it planted something in our minds that would later come to fruition just a few years later when The Pogues would erupt onto the music scene.

The Fureys And Davey Arthur

The band were no one hit wonder and several of their songs like The Green Fields of France and The Lonesome Boatman have gone on to become solid gold Irish classics. Go to any Irish pub on any day of the year in ant part of the world and there’s a very very good chance you’ll hear one of their tunes. Born in Dublin into a Irish traveller family on 28 September 1946 in Ballyfermot, Dublin Finbar came from a highly respected musical family and began playing the uilleann pipes as a child. By his teens he had won just about every medal he could win and his amazing ability had spread across Ireland. IN the late 60’s Finbar and brother Eddie were part of the legendary Irish folk group, The Clancy Brothers with Finbar playing the pipes, banjo, tin whistle, and guitar. The brothers left in 1970 and began to perform as a duo and in 1972 their single, a version of The Humblebums ‘Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway’, was enthusiastically received by John Peel becoming his favourite song of 1972. Peel like many over here fell in love with the glorious sound of the Uilleann pipes (listen to it here) and they more than played their part in the coming celtic-rock phenomenon that was about to shake the music industry at home and abroad. It was though when his other brothers joined the band and they teamed up with Davey Arthur that fame came a calling and they carved out a very fruitful and successful career until in 1997, after almost thirty years in The Fureys Finbar decided to pursue a solo career as a singer songwriter.

Finbar released his first solo album ‘Colours’ in 2013 with a powerful mix of contemporary originals and modern interpretations of classic Irish songs his status as one of Ireland’s most treasured performers was cemented further. The album featured Mary Black and the second-generation Irish Mancunian Shayne Ward and instantly brought Finbar to a whole new audience too young to remember The Fureys in their heyday. Alongside his solo career he also found time to take up acting, appearing in the Martin Scorsese directed feature film ‘Gangs Of New York’ as well as 2004’s ‘Adam And Paul’ and the RTÉ TV series ‘Love/Hate’. In 2014 Finbar was honoured by the City of Dublin with the Lord Mayor praising him for

“Bringing life and laughter to many homes in Ireland”.

He followed that album up with 2015’s The Slender Promise an instrumental album of pipes and flute which brings us bang up to date with Don’t Stop This Now. The album, unsurprisingly, made #1 in Ireland under it’s original name Paddy Dear. Obviously that title was deemed too sensitive for these politically correct times so a new name was chosen. The album begins with ‘Sweet Liberty Of Life’ and the first thing that sprung to my mind was how similar in both delivery and emotion it is to the late great Johnny Cash and his American recordings. The voice is unmistakably the same as one that lit up our TV screen in that tiny living room in England twenty-seven years ago except now its more weathered and one magazine’s description of him as a “played out Dublin born Tom Waits” fits admirably.

Finbar sings of freedom and peace on a song he wrote back in 2010

“Liberty, life and freedom are words that capture the true spirit of humankind in every imaginable way”

At 71 years young Finbar’s voice comes alive and after his near-fatal heart attack in late 2012 in a gentle country-folk number it’s no wonder emotion is evident in his voice. Next is title track ‘Don’t Stop This Now’ and again there’s a strong country feel to proceedings with a string section backing and the first appearance of the uilleann pipes. Finbar’s voice is strong and direct and the wonderful words all present a song that anyone could sing and make a maudlin mess out of it but in his capable hands it becomes the beauty it is. The only downside I found is the annoying ending where they fade Finbar’s voice out rather than just simply ending. We go back to 1994 now with ‘Annabelle’ and the first exercise of the auld tear duct’s. A true story of a homeless woman in the Dublin of the 1950’s. Having lost her love in the Irish War Of Independence Finbar’s auld Mammy befriended her

“I’d often be with them as they’d share a bar of chocolate sitting on the roadside”

It’s a beautiful and simple song and leads us into the tragic story of a family caught up in The Great Hunger in ‘We Built A Home’. Both songs songs show Finbar’s strength is in his storytelling. After the amazing recent release the album ‘Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine’ by Declan O’Rourke (read our review here) this song could easily fit onto that album telling the fact of why The Great Hunger happened.

“To bear witness to heaven’s eye of cold,cold genocide”

Again its a beautiful song this time led by Finbar on the banjo. ‘The Galway Shawl’ follows and is the only cover on this album. Not much is known of the origins of this traditional Irish folk song but it has been covered widely over the years. Telling of a musician who meets the love of his life but has to leave her behind.

“Said she, “goodbye sir”; she cried and kissed me,
But my heart remain with the Galway shawl”

The string section is back for ‘Sarah Waits’ and is the tale of soldiers away at war while their love awaits their return. Linking World War One to today’s the wars continue… even as I write these words. My favourite song here is up next and it’s not even very Irishy! On ‘Co-Exist’ Finbar weaves an Eastern tune out of his banjo and the simple but effective words tell universal truth. Finbar’s daughter Aine Furey accompanies him on the two following songs, ‘The Taxi’s Waiting’ and ‘Hail, Rain Or Snow’, and her wonderful voice brings a sprightly youthfulness to the songs. The first is a catchy folky number while the second is bluesy folk number with a real foot-tapper with a lovely singalong chorus. Not surprisingly their voices are perfect together. On ‘Michael Power’ Finbar tells of a man at sea dreaming of his love at home in Dunmore. On ‘Paddy Dear’ Finbar’s voice is strong and powerful as the strings connect with the tin-whistle in a gentle tune later joined by the pipes.

We are washing up towards the end and for a man who spent so much of his life away from Ireland its a charming song about that scourge of the Irish nation- emigration. On ‘I Was Further Than I Thought I Was’ his voice cracks with emotion as the banjo and whistle lead us gently along with the story known to many of us of a old man thinking of a home he will never see before he dies. Now Irish lads and their Mammies is a story in itself and it’s kind of heartening to know that I’ll still be like this when I’m Finbar’s age! The tear ducts get another airing here and it just goes to show that his wonderful storytelling is a joy to behold.

The album ends with the haunting ‘Lament for John’ an instrumental starring Finbar on flute and uilleann pipes.

An outstanding album showcasing the amazing talent of Finbar Furey. Shane MacGowan had this to say about him recently

“proves he is not just a massive force in Irish music’s heritage, he is a massive force in shaping it’s future as well.”

It may be twenty seven years since he lit up our living room but Finbar has lost none of that sparkle and this album will please not only his own fans but will announce him to a whole new range of fans too. The album is packaged with a free DVD of Finbar in concert performing many of the songs from the album and his better known hits too making this a must have album. As stated at the beginning legend is a word far too often used in this day and age but it belongs far and squarely after the words Finbar Furey have been written.

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ALBUM REVIEW: MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS- ’11 Pints & 3 Shots’ (2018)

And we all thought Muirsheen Durkin had gone off to mine gold in California but would seem he got lost on the way to Amerikay and ended up in Arnsberg and started playing some proper kick-arse Irish-Celtic-Folk-Punk-Rock!

I have a feeling we’ll still be reviewing celtic-punk releases from March well into the Summer at this rate! Here’s another that arrived in time for St. Patrick’s Day and has hardly been out of my ears since. The quality of what we received here at London Celtic Punks Towers has been amazing and when I said I thought Krakin’ Kellys new CD was already the album of the year I hadn’t heard 11 Pints & 3 Shots by this awesome German collective of musicians.

Having known each other for some thirty years it was only a few years back in 2009 that the idea to start something new came up. Wanting a band with its feet based firmly in traditional Irish music and with an emphasis on emigration songs Muirsheen Durkin & Friends was born. Their name comes from the auld song about a happy go lucky Irishman heading off to mine for gold in America during the  California Gold Rush of 1849. The song is unusual in that its a happy song and Muirsheen (a reference to the phonetic pronunciation of ‘Máirtín’ (in English Martin) in the West of Ireland.The feet may be in trad with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle, accordion and two pipers but with the addition of classic rock music instruments the band joined an ever growing scene

” set about re-voicing Irish traditional’s with pulsing bass runs, pumping beats and the use of relatively rare instruments, making it hard to recognize the contemplative shanty or seafaring vocation , Pure enjoyment and a little punk rock is still…”

Modern day celtic music and celtic-punk music has moved away from the areas well known for Irish/Celtic emigration and is now played throughout the world inspired by hundreds of bands throughout the globe. They no longer come from Ireland or London or New York but from Indonesia, Russia, Japan and even China. This is the proud legacy that the Pogues leaves to the world.

11 Pints & 3 Shots is the third release from Muirsheen Durkin with their debut album, Last Orders, hitting the streets back in 2012 and their follow up to that, Drink With The Irish, a four track EP, arriving in 2014 which features ‘The Pogues and Whiskey’ a stunningly great homage to Kings Cross finest. Each release came with mighty press from around the celtic-punk world with everyone from Celtic Folk Punk & More to Shite’n’Onions raving to the high heavens about how good they are.  Formed in the central German town of Arnsberg the band were first revealed to me when they played at the Celtic-St. Pauli football and music festival and loads of fellow Celtic supporters arrived back over here raving about a band they had seen. That was a couple of years ago and with 11 Pints & 3 Shots I finally had the chance to hear them for the first time.

What we have here is fourteen tracks that clock in at three quarters of an hour which includes three instrumentals and and a bunch of songs that you may have probably heard before but done in a style i’m sure not many are accustomed to outside these pages! Mix in some re-workings (updating?) of a couple of songs and a smattering of original compositions and you got yourself one hell of a an album!

So onto the actual review and the fun begins on 11 Pints & 3 Shots from the very off with a great album opener ‘Another Drunken Night’. Self penned by the band this was the song that announced the new release to the waiting public and needless to say it is a corker! Banjo and accordion led with nice drumming it has a definite Rumjacks feel to it but these Bhoys and Ghirls have been around long enough, and on another continent!, to come up with it themselves. A grand song and what a way to start.

The subject matter well have a gander at the video above and you’ll easily work it out. We stay in the pub next for ‘One Whiskey’, another band penned number. The song really evokes an Irish sound to me. This is the Gaelic music music that we grew up here but with plenty more bite to it. Its still folk music but played at a breakneck speed and with a real passion. Vocalist MacRünker was a member of the first Irish folk punk band in the area, Lady Godiva, who released four albums and his voice fits in superbly. Hoarse and raspy but never too much and totally in tune with the music. The bagpipes are out for ‘Itchy Fingers’ and it puts the mental into instrumental. It’s the same tune as The Kilmaine Saints signature tune which I am sure is well known but beyond my feeble memory. A killer of a song and you’d expect it to be from a band with two pipers and where half the rest of the band can pipe as well!

The first totally recognisable cover is the Scots classic ‘Donald Where Your Troosers’. Written by the great Andy Stewart in 1960 while sat on the toilet in a recording studio. The song tells the hilarious story of a kilted Scotsman travelling round London shocking the well heeled residents of London.

“I went down to London town
To have a little fun in the underground
All the Ladies turned their heads around, saying,
“Donald, where’s your troosers?”

This is followed up with another classic Scottish song in ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and make no mistake I tells you this is the best bloody version of it I have ever heard in all my days! Folk music is put aside somewhat for a moment as the band punk it up with a thundering bass and MacRünker and acoustic guitarist Sonja and accordionist Mine kick up a real storm on vocals that captures Muirsheen Durkin perfectly. Talk about catchy this album sounds like there’s about twenty people playing and if i never thought I’d hear a better version than you-know-who’s then i was wrong. Another classic cover up next and its one perhaps made famous by The Dreadnoughts, ‘Old Maui’. The song can be traced to records going back to the mid 19th century and tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling.

“It’s a damn tough life full of toil and strife
We whalermen undergo”

The song is strong as any on the album but doesn’t add much to the Dreadnoughts version for me and for a band that really can stamp their brand onto any song maybe it might have been better to cast their net for a less known song. After a smattering of covers the next couple of songs are self-penned by the band and ‘Peggy The Waitress’takes us back to the auld sod of Ireland and a tin-whistle led instrumental that takes in a variety of tunes some sounding familiar and others not before the banjo takes over and leads us until the accordion takes over and then all kick in before we get ‘Land Of 1000 Mountains’ and its a country/Irish folk crossover and again MacRünker’s voice is exactly what is needed here. The song steams along at a steady pace and you know its gonna take off and when it does it lifts the roof. Another album standout here proving they are not just a brilliant covers band but a brilliant band in their own right. Next up we get another cover and Sonja and Mine again take up the vocals on ‘Botany Bay’ and again it’s a great version but perhaps a bit overdone. For a band so in touch with ‘Irishness’ this would be my only wee complaint here. ‘MacRunkers Junk’ is another belting Irish folk punk instrumental with what could easily pass for a ska interlude if they wanted. The tunes fly at you and once again some familiar and some not but they make for one hell of a song when they all put together. On ‘Drink With The Irish’ Muirsheen Durkin pay tribute to one of Ireland’s best ever bands and one that at times could have got you arrested for just listening to! The Wolfe Tones classic rebeler ‘Erin Go Bragh’ is chopped and changed and adapted with love and respect into a celtic-punk number.

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

Written and arranged by banjo/mandolin player Thomas ‘Lanze’ Landsknecht I bet the tones would whole heartily approve. With the King Of Celtic-Punk’s recent 60th birthday Muirsheen Durkin then pay tribute with ‘Last Of McGee’ written by Shane himself.

“Rope of hemp, around his neck
To hang from an old gum tree
And as he hung
The branch came down, and finished the last of McGee”

You may not have heard it as the song was unreleased and was recorded in 1990 during the recording sessions for the Hell’s Ditch album and produced by Joe Strummer. The song stays fairly true to the MacGowan version and is a timely reminder of the great mans talent. Fast and furious and how could it be anything other than absolutely fecking brilliant!! We are steering up towards the end and the quality hasn’t waned and in ‘When The Pipers Play’ we have what for me is the albums standout track. Originally played by the amazing Black Tartan Clan from Belguim the lyrics are by Muirsheen Durkin and leans heavily on songs as varied as ‘The Water Is Wide’, ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’. If you like bagpipes in yer celtic-punk then this is the song for you. Absolutely stunning pipes from Andre and Simon and arranged into a completely new song.

11 Pints & 3 Shots comes to a glorious end with the hilarious ‘Botany Bay Reggae’ and aye you guessed it is a reggae infused version of everyone’s favourite emigration song. Now I hate reggae but I love this so there! What a way to wrap up the album and the perfect way!

Overall the album has a fantastic sound. Quite a feat with the amount of musicians at work here and thanks are due to Sebastian Levermann of German progressive metal band Orden Ogan who along with the band members has managed to capture the band perfectly. The CD also comes with a very elaborate twenty page booklet with everything you need to know about the album and with some amazing cartoons of the band drawn by Sebastian Kempke. Last year was the year all the giants of celtic-punk released albums and this year may seem quieter because of that but so far we have a handful of albums that must have the giants quaking in their shoes and up at the top of that list is this one!

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE JOHNNY CLASH PROJECT- ‘The Johnny Clash Project’ (2018)

The most novel and interesting covers album you will ever hear! The debut album of The Clash re-imagined as The Man In Black. 1977 punk as boom-chuka-boom-chuka country’n’western with the roots of original rock’n’roll showing.

By some quirk of fate I came across The Johnny Clash Project and purely on the name I decided to check them out. Well to say I was impressed is an understatement. I was further intrigued to read that they would soon be touring the UK so I dropped the lads a message on Facebook to find out if they were playing London and sadly the answer was not. Well a couple more emails and a bit of jiggery pokery and we had landed them to play at the London Celtic Punks show later this month in Leytonstone on Friday 27th April. More on that later but you may now be wondering what was so special as to warrant all this interest well here you go.

Covers are not unknown in the celtic-punk scene and I dare say 95% of celtic-punk releases include a cover or two but The Johnny Clash Project’s debut album is all covers. Not only that they are of the same band, The Clash. It is in fact a song-by-song tribute to The Clash self-titled debut album from 1977. Now there’s two ways to record a cover (three if you include f*cking it up like Ed Sheeran did recently with ‘Fairytale Of New York’) you can either copy it closely or else breathe new life into it and try and record it in a new style. We are used to hearing both here and they both have value as long as they are recorded with love and respect. The Johnny Clash Project have taken the second route and recorded an album that is so God-damn memorable and catchy, its songs haven’t left my brain alone for over a week!!

What they have done is take the songs of The Clash and recorded them in the style of the great and legendary country outlaw Johnny Cash. Yes The Man In Black himself. There’s plenty of elements of blues, Americana, folk and rockabilly but essentially this is country of Johnny Cash of the Folsom Prison Blues era. Songwriter. Six-string strummer(!). Storyteller. Country boy. Rock star. Folk hero. Preacher. Poet. Drug addict. Rebel. Saint AND sinner. Victim. Survivor. Home wrecker. Husband. Father. Son. and more… Johnny Cash the ultimate music villain widely loved and respected by all passed away in 2003  and this is also a loving tribute to him as well.

The Johnny Clash Project formed in January 2013, in Bologna in northern Italy, and stars Lorenzo Mazzilli (voice and guitar), Paolo Cicconi (guitar and banjo) and Zimmy Martini (double bass). All three are active in other bands, The Giant Undertow, Lucky Strikes and Muddy Worries but here they are united in having only one purpose- to take the songs of the one band whose influence in punk has never waned and re-imagine them in the style of the ultimate Country singer-songwriter outlaw, Johnny Cash and to make them their own and this they have done. With several tours of home behind them and a two month tour last year that took in Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and England they have been causing waves and their live show has been receiving plaudits from all and sundry.

Taking the boom-chuka-boom-chuka of Marshall Grant’s double bass and piling on top a voice that is so close to Johnny’s that it will make you do a double take this album is an absolute must have. It all kicks off with ‘Janie Jones’ and it’s one of a handful of songs here that the original tune stays in tact. Most of the album is done in the style of ‘Remote Control’ and ‘I’m so Bored with the USA’ where the tune is completely different and it’s not until the chorus that you start to recognise things. There are several high points but to be perfectly honest from start to finish this album is an absolute belter. ‘White Riot’, ‘London’s Burning’. ‘Career Opportunities’ keep the energy of the originals and the fast tempo while  ‘What’s My Name’ and ‘Cheat’ are played as an emotional ballads and the curtain comes down with ‘Garageland’ and accompanied by Marc Santò on the fiddle and the three female singers from fellow Bologna ska band Le Birrette, Anna, Carlotta and Giulia, it even manages to stand out even more. Fourteen songs and just over forty-five minutes of musical heaven. There is something about knowing the words to a song that brings you closer to the music and here you almost find yourself singing along before you know what the song is!

As said Johnny was the ultimate rock’n’roll outlaw. Had he been born twenty later perhaps he might have embraced punk himself even. Ever faithful to both the spirit of The Clash and the sound of Johnny Cash this is pure unabashed country-folk but would they have got away with it if Lorenzo didn’t sound so much like Johnny Cash? Probably not but so what. Backed by Paolo Cicconi on electric guitar and banjo and Zimmy Martini double bass, they are joined here on the drums by Matteo Dall’Aglio whose simple rhythms and changes of pace take you back to those halcyon days of the 1950’s. The album was released on St. Patrick’s Day eve this year and has been released on Milan label Rocketman Records. The sound is completely authentic sounding and the whole project reeks of care and attention to detail. Normally we come across albums we love with a sense of joy crossed with dejection. Joy at the discovery of music that will warm your soul but dejection at the realisation that you will never (probably) get to see the band in question perform. Well some of you those feelings will remain while for Londoners we can catch The Johnny Clash Project in the flesh in just a couple of weeks time. Don’t miss this great band and while I do have a tendency to wax lyrical about records I love the songs on this album are still swimming inside my head as I write this a week after I first heard it so that has to be the best recommendation hasn’t it?

(listen to the whole of The Johnny Clash Project at the link below)

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The Johnny Clash Project will be joined on Friday 27th April by Dutch celtic-folk-punkers Drunken Dolly, also playing in London for the first time, and London’s #1 celtic-punkers The Lagan. Live at one of East London’s most popular Irish pubs The Plough & Harrow, 419 High Road Leytonstone, London E11 4JU. Halfway along Leytonstone High Road the nearest tube is an easy 8 min walk from Leyton tube. For up to date information join the Facebook event here. Full tour dates- Tuesday 24th April at The New Inn, Canterbury * Wednesday 25th April at The Liver Hotel, Liverpool * Thursday 26th April at the Craft Taproom, Liverpool * Friday 27th April at the Plough & Arrow, London and Saturday 28th at the Fez in Margate.

ALBUM REVIEW: AIRS AND GRACES- ‘Voting At The Hall’ (2018)

With a mix of folk and punk with a dash of country Airs & Graces have that boundless enthusiasm and infectious energy creating a superb medley of melodies, chants and sing-a-longs that will have you howling for more!


Born in 2012 Airs & Graces are the latest in a long line of utterly fantastic German celtic-punk band’s to grace our scene. We have featured many German bands over the years and Germany has always been the country with the third most views every year since we started of (behind the ‘UK’ and the USA). We have a feeling to why celtic-punk is so popular in Germany so if you not tired of hearing it then head over to our review of Ghosttown Company’s debut album here and find out. Just recently we have had reviews of records from Distillery Rats, Restless Feet and The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats and a new review will be coming soon of perhaps the best known of all German celtic-punk bands Mr. Irish Bastard.

Airs & Graces hail from the south-eastern German town of Regensburg but if you like me then you’ll be wondering what a maple leaf is doing as part of their logo. Well it turns out that the bands guitar player Arlyn is Canadian (a native of Saint John, New Brunswick) and has lived in Germany since 2008. She is married to Philipp who plays mandolin and sings lead vocals in the band, Together they were both members of celtic-punk band The Buccaneers till they disbanded in 2012. The Canadian connection does not stop there either with Ayron Mortely and Lindsey O’Connell from Toronto who were also part of The Buccaneers and who also play in Airs & Graces but are not featured on Voting At The Hall but do look out for their other celtic-punk band The O’Deadlys.

Airs & Grace from left to right: Arlyn- Guitar/Back Vocals * Philipp- Mandolin/Lead Vocals * Kerni- Drums * Asche- Bass

Voting At The Hall is the bands first official release after a four track Demo from October 2014, Six Men Were Put On Trial, with Matty from Northern-England folk-punkers The Roughneck Riot contributing vocals on one track and despite not having much of a recording history they certainly have made a name for themselves by word of mouth. A couple of high profile gigs have done them the world of good and with their debut album I’m sure they hoping to further capitalise on their good name. Here we have fourteen tracks and every one an original composition, composed by lead vocalist Philipp and arranged by Airs&Graces.

Starting off with ‘Card’ Voting At The Hall is fourteen tracks that comes in just under forty minutes. From the very off it’s reminiscent of 70’s/80’s English punk but with with some nice Celtic flourishes. ‘Cards’ is in fact one of the best tracks on the album with Philipp’s clear vocals shouting out loud and proud. It has a certain Dropkicks feel to it too with its catchy chorus and driving punk and mandolin. Excellent start. The lyrics deal with the betrayal of workers by their trade union leaders. ‘These Hands Master’ tells of working class life that was taken for granted until they realised that not only can these hands build they can also vote.

“These are the hands that built this cities walls, These are the hands voting at the hall”

Great as it is to hear such things I also like a bit of humour and ‘Ginger Red Bastard’ supplies it. Real foot-tapper this and may be a bit slower than previous and that English punk rock sound is even more clearer here with them reminding me of a band from my youth that I can’t quite put my finger on. It will probably come to after this is published! ‘Four Corners’ appeared on the MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio compilation and was a standout track upon it even though surrounded by the cream of today’s celtic-punk scene.

Telling the story of the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 it’s brilliant to hear history told this way. Never forget the past people. You can get the compilation here. The album continues with ‘Ringing of The Bell’ and it’s short and sweet and over in two minutes but me heads nearly falling off me shoulders before ‘Turn Her Into The Wind’ and you can hear in the songs that if you took away the Celtic instruments then Airs & Graces would still be a very very good punk band. Another standout here is ‘Throat’ with a memorable hook that would get you up on yer feet if you weren’t already and you can see why the band have got such a good reputation as these are songs that were made for the live setting. ‘Straighten Your Back’ is the shortest track here clocking in at dead on ninety seconds and its catchy as hell while they follow this up with ‘A Town So Black’ which is the most Celtic they get so far with mandolin kicking the song off before the rest of the band come clashing in. Seems the band have a score to settle here but that’s all i’ll be drawn on.

(‘A Town So Black’ featuring David De Prest from Boston punkers Continental)

We’re well over halfway now and ‘Refuse To Go’ continues with another solid slab of punk rock. Now you’d expect me to be biased in favour of the more Celtic numbers but my miss-spent youth and embarrassing photos of multi-coloured mohicans are testimony to my love of old school punk rock and that’s in plentiful supply here and on ‘Devil’s Factory’ where Airs & Graces prove they have a stock of catchy songs that are well played with boundless energy and abandon. ‘Three Sisters’ again has a great hook and singalong chorus and ‘bounce’ to it and the words speak of a landmark at sea that welcomes you back to home soil.

‘Never Wanted Trouble’ is another track that sails by in less than two minutes before ‘Pull Me Out’gs down the curtain on Voting At The Hall and a great ending. No slow songs here its just fast and furious celtic-PUNK rock. People I know who I have been lucky enough to catch them in concert remarked on their excellent live show and their it seems that Airs & Graces have managed to capture their live sound rather well here in the studio and that energetic, raucous and ‘shantyish’ punk rock sound has transferred well. They have a grand sense of history too and all working class people should be proud of our labour history. As someone once said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. It seems an obvious thing to say so I will say it but lovers of Dropkicks style celtic-punk would absolutely love Airs & Graces and this album is full of good songs that these days the Dropkicks would love to play! At the moment the album is only available From MacSlon’s shop but will be coming as a download in around 3-4 weeks on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon, Deezer etc so if you can wait that long get in touch with the band.nearer the time.

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ALBUM REVIEW: MALASAÑERS – ‘Footprints’ (2018)

German-Spanish band Malasañers fill the gap between early and late Flogging Molly with whiskey-soaked Irish folk and good auld fashioned rock music. 

Malasañers history is a complicated one and begins back in working-class Madrid where due to the financial crisis at home Carlos del Pino makes the journey across Europe to move to the mid-German town of Bamberg to start a new life. Inspired by his father’s vinyl album’s of Irish and Celtic music Carlos develops an enthusiasm for the music of the green isle and mixed with early influences of the Ramones, Beatles and Elvis the scene is set for the early beginnings of Malasañers. Formed in Madrid in 2012 the band are cheerful and folky taking in influences from Spain as well as broader Rock and Indie music but with the band going nowhere at home and frustrated by the economic crisis Carlos moves to Germany in 2014 reignites Malasañers and gathering around him some of the areas best musicians Carlos burning passion for Irish punk finds a happy home in the beer metropolis of Bamberg with the active music scene.

The celtic-punk quartet take their name from 15-year-old girl Manuela Malasaña, who was murdered on the streets of Madrid on 2nd May 1808 during  the uprising against Napoleon I of France stationed in the Spanish capital during the Spanish War of Independence. Manuela was a seamstress who had had her scissors confiscated by French soldiers leading indirectly to her death. For the band scissors have become the band symbol and the pointless murder continues to exert a shattered fascination on Carlos inspired by the fight against narrow-minded nationalism.

“I am happy about intercultural exchange – this is how people learn to become more open”, as he says himself. “I see the nationalist development that is currently going on in Europe as very dangerous because either they want to rebuild their borders or draw borders there, where they never were.”

Their debut release in 2014 was part of ‘Welcome To The Folk-Punk Show’ compilation album on Wolverine Records. The album features four bands with three songs each that alongside such scene stalwarts as The Mahones, The Porters and The Judas Bunch announced their arrival on the European celtic-punk scene and made many of us sit up and take notice. The following year saw the release of their debut album Spanish Eyes. Forty minutes of self-penned Irish folk-punk that straddled extremely well both the folk and punk sides of celtic-punk. A healthy respect for Irish music throughout the release shines through and sets the scene for their follow up album, Footprints, that is now available having come out on St. Patrick’s eve.

Malasañers left to right: Corni Appun- Electric Guitar/ Vocals * Philipp Renz- Drums * Frau Vau- Fiddle * Carlos Del Pino- Vocals, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Bass

Footprints begins with the awesome single ‘Sell The Night’ and from the off its high energy uptempo classic celtic-punk fast, hard and heavy but accessible as ever and with a catchy as hell chorus.

Banjo and accordion are both kicking arse here and they even throw in a bit of one of my favourite instruments the harmonica on ‘My Time Before I Die’ and again energetic music coupled with those catchy chorus ensure it’s another winner. The second single from the album to be released was ‘Workers On The Run’. A socially conscious track nailing their colours to their mast.

‘But Not Today’ is a little bit out of place but don’t be mistaken it’s a great song it’s just that it moves away from celtic-punk a little into more rock ballad territory. Actually it’s one of my favourite songs from the album and it may not be as heavy as some on Footprints (till the end that is) but it’s still got plenty of bite to it. They celebrated the release of the album with a new video for the fourth track ‘Long Live The Glory’. As is the way with bands on the continent they not happy with just putting together a compilation of live pictures or the like the video here tells a story. Watch it yourselves and take it from me it’s well worth a view. Played as a straight up punk song its a great wee number and the video perfectly conveys the fun the band seem to be having.

One thing I always look for is the amount of original compositions and here I can happily report that they all are! The whole band involved in writing the lyrics and the music mainly by Carlos it’s quite an achievement. So begins a section of the album where the ‘celtic’ takes a backseat and Malasañers concentrate on some kick-arse punk rock numbers with ‘The Stars Are Falling’, ‘Paris Je’taime’ and ‘I just Can’t Stay And Wait’. The album’s title track rolls up next and you can hear why they named the album ‘Footprints’ after it. Elements of country, folk and spaghetti westerns abound but with Carlos voice and that great accordion its unmistakable Malasañers. Again it’s not there typical fare but all the better for it. We nearing the end and ‘To The Border’ slows it down a little losing none of their catchiness and ‘Ghostly Border’ speeds it up with a great punk’n’roll song that Social Distortion would kill for. Carlos recorded the bass for the album such is his immense talent (…the bastard!) and thumping bass kicks off  ‘Fun Has Just Begun’ in a catchy wee number dominated by accordion and a great accordion solo in amongst another great singalonga chorus. ‘Your Wars’ brings the curtain down on Footprints and Carlos croons away on a fantastic folky anti-war song that is a real nice surprise and a lovely way to end proceedings with some truly heartfelt lyrics that tell you all there is to be told about this grand band. 

So thirteen songs and over forty minutes of whiskey-soaked Irish speedfolk that will knock your bleedin’ socks off! Footprints has been produced and mixed by Carlos with Trine Pedersen and is a refreshing addition to the celtic-punk scene and will only go on to increase their popularity.  Malasañers have produced a quality album here that takes in both the traditions of working-class Irish pub music and the anger and passion of punk and rock music. Music to dance to your ass off to and enjoy but with also a serious side. The words promote friendship between nations and international togetherness. In these times where the old politics seem to be making way for something new that no one seems to know where it’s going these are good sentiments indeed.

(you can listen to a couple of tracks from Footprints via the Bandcamp player below)

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Wolverine Records- Saving souls with Rock’n’Roll since 1992!

Germanys finest independent Punk, Psychobilly, Celtic-Punk and Rock’n’Roll label. Featuring such luminaries as The Mahones, The Hellfreaks, and Jamie Clarkes Perfect

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ALBUM REVIEW: CLAN OF CELTS- ‘Beggars, Celts And Madmen’ (2018)

A new(ish!) London band fusing together all their musical experiences and influences ranging from Rock, Metal, Country, Punk and of course traditional Irish. They have created a unique style of original Celtic-Rock and an unmistakable sound that is brought to you with Celtic pride, passion, commitment and respect for our traditional roots.

Clan Of Celts are no strangers to the London music scene with roots dating back over the past 20+ years to many various other bands throughout England and Ireland. March is generally a pretty busy and drunken period in the Celtic punk world but the Clan Of Celts are busy preparing for the launch of their debut album Beggars, Celts And Madmen. All going well it is expected to be launched on Paddy’s Day so if by chance you intend to have a pint then this album is the perfect partner. Stick this CD on in any bar and it will definitely put you in the mood for a decent session. 2016 saw the release of the first song and video from the album ‘Please Don’t Send Me Home’. The video release was a great introduction of the band and is written about the Irish emigrants in London and the craic in the bars and clubs around London.

“They’ll fight about the horses, they’ll fight about the cards
Hold back the fists although they’re pissed, to make out that they’re hard
They may drop a tear for Ireland, and sing their mothers song
You’ll be sure of the craic, when you drink with the pack so
Please don’t send me home”
If you’ve ever lived in London you’ll easily relate to this tune.

‘Please Don’t Send Me Home’ was followed up in 2017 with another video release of the album title song ‘Beggars, Celts And Madmen’. The video features Frankie from The Rumjacks on the whistle. The song is written about the forced emigration of many Irish in 1864 following An Gorta Mór and the hardship they faced upon arrival on foreign shores. Despite everything they worked and toiled to save themselves from starvation and build a better life for their family and friends. A dark period in Irish history which unfortunately is repeated in many parts of the world today.

“This song is dedicated to the memory of those brave Men, Women and Children that made those journey’s, who worked, fought and died to make a better life for themselves and their kin. To Celts all around the world, your hearts are with us.”

The third video release from the Clan of Celts came in January 2018 with the release of ‘Dream Catcher’. This is a more melodic song about the passing of Denis’s (vocalist and guitar) father in 2016. It paints the picture of his dads soul leaving England and returning to his native home in The Curragh, Co Kildare.

An excellent song with an introduction of pipes to set the scene. The video was filmed and edited by Mr. McLaughlin Of The Rumjacks who also features in the video. (Be careful guys I think he’s stalking you!!!)

“I see her reaching far and wide
Beyond my fading eyes
Rainwater resting on the sod
From all the tears I cried
I leave behind my love mankind
And end these months of pain
Cross gripped in hand
Depart this mortal land
And join the souls that glide the Curragh Plains”

Other notable tune on the album are ‘Stacy Lawlor’ which is an extremely catchy tune about the dangers of online dating. I’m lead to believe that this is based on a true experience by one of the Clan (who will remain nameless) so before you go online give this a listen. You have been warned. The album kicks off with ‘Clan Of Celts’ which is a great into to the album and sets the scene. This is quickly followed up by ‘The Boots Are On’ which is another upbeat tune about a night out down the Holloway Road (or County Holloway as it’s known round here!). There’s a good story behind this one but best to ask Denis about that. Not sure I could put it in print!! This is an excellent debut from Clan Of Celts and they are already hard at work on the follow up album. They are also keen to take do an tour with the debut album so jump over to the website and buy the CD to help them hit the road and come to your town. I expect we will be hearing a lot more about these guys in the coming years. Great to see the London Celtic punk scene making progress with excellent bands emerging. Keep up the good work.

Clan Of Celts left to right: Denis Dowling- Vocals, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Strings *  Jim Filgate- Banjo, Accordion *  Grant Wildy Drums, Pots * Billy MacAllister- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar *  Alistair McCaig Bass * Padraig O’Reilly- Fiddle, Whistle

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COMING VERY SOON

Watch this space in the next week or so for a big and beefy interview with Denis from the Clan Of Celts about all things Celtic as well as life in general. To subscribe to London Celtic Punks simply fill out the form either on the right or below depending how you are viewing this page.

ALBUM REVIEW: KRAKIN’ KELLYS- ‘Promised Land’ (2018)

What happens when traditional Irish Folk’n’Roll meets American Punk music? A rather unique blend, courtesy of Belgian Krakin Kellys!

Now dear readers I’m sure you have absolutely no idea how many celtic-punk albums we have to trawl through to give you the best of the bunch. Well let me tell you its loads and its not often that many make me sit up and really take notice. Just recently we have been lucky with the amazing releases from bands like Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Airs & Graces and Irish Moutarde who were all especially good but a rare thing happened in June last year. I got in from work to find a e-mail from Krakin’ Kellys, a celtic-punk band from Belgium I hadn’t ever heard of informing me their new video for a song called ‘One Way’ had just been released. Now nearly without exception the bands that I hear are all pretty decent so I was expecting something good but to say my mind was blown is to put it mildly. What a fecking song!! I must have played it about two-dozen times before replying to the band to tell them how much I loved it and then sharing it on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page for you lot to marvel at too! The song was ‘One Way’ and I’m delighted to say it appears here on their debut album, Promised Land, and it was by far my favourite song of 2017 and even now whenever I’m on YouTube I find myself drawn to it!

Krakin Kellys left to right: – Olivier Dreze- Drums * Stephan Mossiat- Bass * Pierre-Yves Berhin- Acc’ordion * David Leroy- Vocals * Matthieu Hendrick- Guitar * Rémi Decker- Bagpipes & Whistles

Krakin’ Kellys hail from the city of Namur in Belgium. The city is the capital of the self-governing Walloon Region which was created, largely along language lines. Wallonia consists of the French-speaking provinces of Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, Walloon Brabant and Namur. Its elected government has authority over such are as as agriculture, transportation, and public works and has a population of 3,500,000. There is a burgeoning independence movement in Wallonia that seeks to split Belguim into Dutch speaking Flanders in the north and French speaking Wallonia in the south. The area has struggled to recover economically from postwar industrial decline, and there are those in the north who label their French speaking neighbours as spongers and feckless. As is usually the history behind the conflict is complicated so I think I better leave that there!

Formed only last year Krakin’ Kellys have taken the celtic-punk scene by storm without releasing an album so their debut album has been widely anticipated by just everybody. They describe their music themselves as

“taking the opposite line from the genre’s godfathers, Bostonian Dropkick Murphys, Krakin’ Kellys songs begin with punk-rock riffs, which they then unite with Eire-inspired melodies.”

The comparison to the Dropkick Murphys has been made about the band and yes they are definitely on the DKM’s side of celtic-punk rather than say Flogging Molly but this band is not just another Boston clone I can tell you. In fact I’d go so far as to say that there’s virtually no way the Murphys will ever come up with an album as good as Krakin’ Kellys Promised Land ever again. I hope I am proved true and I can only imagine how fecking good that would be!!

Promised Land begins with ‘Anarchy In The Double K’, the albums third single release, and the drone of bagpipes before the accordion kicks in and then the whole band join in with what can only be described as celtic-skate punk! Straight away bands like The Descendents, NOFX and Pennywise spring to mind but with Pierre-Yves amazing accordion and Rémi’s bagpipes Krakin’ Kellys have nailed their tricolour firmly to the celtic-punk ship. It’s fast, catchy as hell and with David’s incredible raspy-punky vocals laden on top international stardom awaits them I am sure!

One of the ways bands without any or few releases can make a splash in the celtic-punk scene, or any scene really, is to make use of YouTube. One great example of this is The Rumjacks whose ‘An Irish Pub’ was sailing towards 75,000,000 views the last time I looked. Krakin’ Kellys have followed this route and all three of their releases from promised Land are accompanied by absolutely brilliant videos. Filled with fun and humour and with a wee story to tell it’s no wonder they have become the to watch out for in 2018. Next up is ‘Bar Fight’ and yeah it’s a drinking song and yeah its a cracker. All the best elements of punk and ‘Celtic’ are here and its so well played too. Next is my second (it would have to be) favourite song of the album, the title track ‘Promised Land’. By the end of this page you going to be sick of how many times I use the word ‘catchy’ if I’m not careful. Accompanied by another great video it has a great tune and aye it’s bloody catchy too.

So three songs in and I have to say that I have never heard better accordion in a celtic-punk band in my life. The sound is perfect and leads the songs along in such a glorious way. Pierre is truly a master of this art wielding his accordion lifting the band to magical heights. And just to prove that God doesn’t deal out talent in a fair and equal way he also did the artwork for the album cover! For many celtic-punk band it’s a background instrument but not here. On ‘Our Pride’ it leads the tune and its many flourishes (could you call them accordion solo’s?) only add to the tune. Of the fourteen songs here most come in around the 3:20 minute mark giving them plenty of time to develop the songs and  even though they are fast as on ‘United’ or ‘The Journey’ they could linger too long and one of the things I’ve noticed about playing this album is that it speeds by so fast. That is a sign in itself that I must be enjoying it. Loads of humour dotted throughout like on next song ‘Kinky Mary’ and it’s great to see a band not taking it all too seriously and obviously enjoying themselves. ‘When I Die’ stops and starts and is guess what… catchy with great singalong chorus. ‘Come And Get Some’ begins a tone heavier but soon settles down into a sorta celtic-metal-rap song while ‘Lovely Jess’ is a nod to the bagpipes and if there’s a song here that could pass for the Murphys it’s this one. Gang vocals, the pipes and measured tribal style drumming combine for a beast of a song that wouldn’t be out of place on last years 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. We are back in cracking form for ‘Hey Bro’ before finally we get to that song and even though I must be responsible for about half it’s views on You Tube it has lost absolutely none of it’s power. ‘One Way’ was without a doubt my favourite song of 2017 and on hearing it I’m sure you will agree. Again accompanied by a fantastic video and again thanks to band guitarist Matthieu Hendrick for his marvellous work. The song could be early Dropkicks but (and I better whisper this) a lot more celtic-punk.

The album is nearly up and still no sign of a ballad here I’m afraid. On ‘Giving Up’ its yet more of the same catchy stuff as we have seen. There isn’t a weak song on this entire album and to prove it they go out with ‘Garry’s Battle’ yet another brilliant trad-infused punk-rock track. A whole album of standout tracks!

So there you go and I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up at the top of the Best Of 2018 polls it is that good. Full of energy and bounce and humour this is downright drinking music. There’s no revelations about politics here and no songs about nuclear war and I can only say thank heavens. Sometimes we need music to take the pressure off us. To take our minds away from the daily grind and that’s where celtic-punk comes in. Its music to drink to, to dance to, to meet folks and make friends and Krakin’ Kellys have delivered unto us the ultimate celtic-punk album. It’s not often I use the words this is a must have album but this is a must have album!

(you can have a *FREE* listen to Promised Land on the Bandcamp player below. Just press play and away you go!)

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The third single of Krakin’ Kellys ‘The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough’ released on 1st September 2017 and written and composed by Cyndi Lauper!

ALBUM REVIEW: IRISH MOUTARDE- ‘Perdition’ (2018)

Quebecois Irish Moutarde are back with their second album with folklore sounds of bagpipes and banjo mixed with punk rock riffs. This album has something for everyone to enjoy.

Back back in the day when this here web-zine was in its infancy one of the very first bands to send us their new album was Irish Moutarde. To say we loved it is a bit of an understatement and so they have always been a band that we have followed and looked out for so we are delighted that they have safely delivered their follow album and it’s an equal, if not better, than their previous one.

Irish Moutarde were formed in 2009 in Quebec city (the French speaking province of Canada) as a covers band playing trad Irish songs but with a punk feel and attitude. It wasn’t till 2012 though that they released their first single, ‘The Bear and the Maiden Fair’ which went on to become an instantaneous hit right across the celtic-punk scene.

This track was based on a song from one of the novels that inspired the hit TV show Game of Thrones. The song coming out a year before the show debuted. This keen interest lead the group to follow up this release with their first album Raise ‘Em All the following year and they have since gone on to become one of North America’s best celtic-punk bands. Combining the usual punk rock instruments with banjo, mandolin and highland bagpipes. On my first listen they reminded me of a celtic-punk NOFX and it is this winning combination that has saw them at the top of all the various Best Of 2012 lists and will do the same for this year I suspect. Sadly as is the way for bands, especially for celtic-punk bands who tend to have so many members, some of the Bhoys and Ghirls fell by the wayside. Irish Moutarde were not beaten though and after recruiting some new blood to the band they began to slower get back in the swing of things. A few shows were played last year to showcase new songs before hitting the studio to record their new album.

Released on the first day of Spring, March 1st, this year Perdition is thirteen songs of pure celtic-punk heaven! The album begins with one of it’s best songs and from the very off I knew I was in for a treat.

‘Prélude En La (Lala)’ begins with pipes and drums and then the electric guitar comes chugging into ear-shot and Irish Moutarde are off. The song is sung in French and rather than run the lyrics through Google Translate I’m not going to try and decipher them. Bagpipes and banjo rule here and the clear and concise vocals are still pretty punk rock as well. Irish Moutarde are that rare thing in celtic-punk in that they have a female vocalist and they are certainly not a novelty act either. The vocals are shared between Andrée-Anne and Tony but both Sébastien and Fred take the lead as well on occasion. On ‘The Poison Trail’ the story revolves around going for a pint with the devil and its another high quality song with the relentless fast pace, except for a bagpipe solo!, and the various instruments accompanying each other rather than drowning each other out. It’s fast and furious and typical Irish Moutarde good fun.

Next is ‘Terre Rouge’ and they speed it up and some rather gruff metal style vocals kick in in a song shared between vocalists. This could almost be two different songs, one a metal thrasher and the other a sweet celtic number. That they manage to fit the two together is testament to how good they are. On their debut album the vast majority, maybe even all, of the songs were sung in English while here they have decided to concentrate on singing in French. It doesn’t, and shouldn’t, detract from the music in fact I would always rather hear a band singing in their native tongue. On ‘Jarrets’ and then ‘Eat, Drink And Be Merry’ it could be a nod to both medieval punk as well as punk as of the NOFX variety. A good fun number and thank heavens for that. Sometimes all you want is a bit of fun and something to make you smile.
“So sing (dance), dance (hey)
Like no one’s watching
Forget those losers talking ‘cause I don’t care about them anyway
Eat (drink), drink (hey) and be merry
And I’ll be here to carry you home
‘Cause I don’t want to leave here all alone”
The most Irish song here without a doubt is the brilliant ‘N’oublions Pas’ beginning with banjo and some gentle piping and another standout track soon takes a turn into wild abandon and on an album of standout tracks it don’t get any better than this. This is the sort of stuff we were expecting (hoping) the last Dropkicks album to be like but turned out to be Dad-Rock. Here especially the shared vocals work a absolute treat. The formula works again for the following few songs with ‘À La Santé de Lucifer’, ‘Only in Your Lies’ and ‘Bientôt’ all rocking out with abundant use of celtic instruments and punk rock. On ‘Old Days’ we get the albums solo slow number and by Christ I love it too. Nice lyrics about meeting up with a old friend and going on the lash knowing well that the days when the next day wouldn’t be spent ill in bed are long gone!
“Tomorrow is not going to be easy
Weakness, headaches, fatigue and thirsty
And you know that this is the price to pay
To have a good night just like in the old days”
We are nearing the end and its time for Irish Moutarde to ramp it up again and they don’t get any faster on Perdition than on ‘Go Away’. The excellent drumming throughout the album is not bettered here and the band keep up just in time. It may be fast but still accessible I am sure to anyone. Next up is ‘Condamnés’ and sees the band determined to not go out slowly and finally Perdition comes to an end with ‘The Bitter End’ and an unusual but simply brilliant way to go out. Fast and slow in alternate moves and all the time as catchy as feckin’ hell!
The album was produced by Sébastien Malenfant and he has done one hell of a job. I always think its one of the particularly hard to produce a record with so many instruments and not just that but that some are relatively quiet compared to say the drums. The music here is mixed perfectly and everything has come out clear as a bell. All the songs on the album have been written by the band and again that’s fairly novel within the celtic-punk scene as well. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that Irish Moutarde would bring out an album that would be as good as their debut, the classic Raise Em All, but didn’t they just go and only bettered it didn’t they! 

(Have a listen to the whole of Perdition for free below )

Buy Perdition

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Two Interesting Whisky-Fuelled Band Facts:
1. The name Irish Moutarde was chosen because it is a pun on the French expression “relish-moutarde,” which the founding band members felt the name was (and still is) humorous, light and expressed their musical quality.
2. The band’s mascot is Olaf the Irish Giraffe, who was created by fans of the band Julie Lévesque and Guillaume Racine. The sixth song on their debut album is a tribute to this whisky drinking, green metal giraffe who sports a long white mane and long white goatee.

ALBUM REVIEW: MARYS LANE- ‘Wild Unknown’ (2018)

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Marys Lanes hail from Cleveland, Ohio and their new album is a diverse collection covering themes of love, life and death, trials and tribulations, religion and of course drinking. Never straying too far from their Irish roots it adds Celtic instincts into an mix of sounds that crash-land somewhere in between rock, pop, bluegrass, Americana and honky-tonk.

Marys Lane.jpg

America is, maybe unsurprisingly, and always has been a hotbed of innovative and original Irish music. Away from the native land Irish musicians in the USA have soaked up influences galore from other cultures and mixed them up with the music of their ancestors to come up with something that is always impressive. Marys Lane are no different and the six-piece band take their inspiration from their Irish and Celtic backgrounds and their musical histories have all been way of the various pubs, clubs, pipe bands around Cleveland. The band met at the Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival but it wasn’t until a year later, they met again, and realized waiting was no longer an option. they needed to start a band.
Last Summer they pulled off a ten date tour of Ireland which saw them play many of Ireland’s famous folk venues including Matt Molloy of The Chieftains at his venue in Westport. With a rake of releases behind them their most successful to date was their collaboration with Martin Furey of the High Kings having met at an Irish Festival in the States. After hearing Marys Lane perform a song called ‘Sleep When I’m Dead’ and after being introduced through a friend of a friend the plan was made to hit the studio and record it the next day and so the Furey Sessions EP was born.

Cleveland St Patrick’s Parade 1935

The story of the Irish in Cleveland has parallels with many other major Irish-American areas. A small number arriving around 1818 they began to arrive in large numbers during the 1820’s during the building of the Ohio Canal starting in 1825.  It was mainly Irish labour that built both the Ohio and Erie Canal. They made their homes on what became known as Whiskey Island. Considered outcasts by fellow immigrants the Irish began to build shanties and saloons and churches there. The Irish population of Cleveland remained around 1,000 until the years of the ‘famine’ and the Irish flocked to many cities across America. Many of these immigrants came from Mayo in the west of Ireland. They did not farm in the Cleveland area, instead becoming labourers who unloaded ships or worked in the steel mills. At the end of the 1800’s, the Irish had a terrible time with Shantytown an open sewer of industrial and human waste.  The area was home to cholera, diphtheria, and scarlet fever and because of continuing Irish immigration, there was simply not enough homes for everyone. The Irish population grew to over 10% of Cleveland’s total population and as the city grew, Irish families moved from the slums into the suburbs and began to build lives for themselves and their descendants.

Danny Greene

The Irish throughout America are famous for fighting their way out of the slums through the clever use of politics although in Cleveland they never quite attained the control they wielded in other places they still managed to have much bigger representation then other larger immigrant groups. The diverse ethnic composition of the city was reflected on the city council, and while certain districts elected Irish representatives, city council never had an unusually large proportion of Irish. Nowadays they say the Irish have assimilated into society but one in six Clevelanders claim Irish ancestry, more than 9%, and Cleveland has one of the longest running and largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in America regularly attracting more than 500,000 people. The Cleveland Irish were catapulted into fame in recent years thanks to the release of Rick Porrello’s book To Kill The Irishman. In the 1970’s proud Irish-American and local folk-hero Danny Greene became one of the most powerful crime figures in Cleveland. Literally a living legend all the stories about Danny you ever heard are all true. He looked after those in his neighborhood who were in most need. A church going, God fearing Irish gangster whose goal in life was to look after his own. The book led to several documentaries and a feature film about him and the many failed attempts on his life. Needless to say it was inevitable Marys Lane would write a song about this most famous of their fellow city men and what a song it is! Danny still has family in the city and ‘Robin Hood Of Collinwood’ has become an anthem for the cities Irish community to rally behind.

So with a decent back catalogue behind them it’s time for their latest release to hit the streets and a couple of weeks back Wild Unknown popped through the letterbox at London Celtic Punks towers. Eleven songs that take in pretty much every variation of modern day Irish music in their own indomitable way. The album starts with a great folk/Irish/country mashup ‘Dead Man Walking’ and its lively, jaunty fast paced acoustic music with a real catchy feel to it. At once the sound of a wee Irish pub and at the same time a massive festival fill yer ears. Vocals on the album are shared between Patrick Mulloy and Michael Crawley and here Patrick shines with a voice perfectly suited to the sound.

‘Rain On My Parade’ slows it down a little and reminds me of a couple of other Irish-American bands I came across at the arse (or should that be ass?) end of last year, Crikwater and Plastic Paddy. Next up is ‘Petronilla’ and again it’s a slowish song but don’t mistake that for dull or boring with an interesting bass line line and drums. While so far the album has shown the multitude of influences that Marys Lane have soaked up on ‘Last Gift’ they give us their first full blown Irish track and blew me away. That word ‘catchy’ pops up again and its a real foot-tapper that you could imagine the dance floor filling up at your local Irish hostelry. We stay firmly on our native shore with ‘Road Less Traveled / Harvest Home’ which brings back the country feel to it with some exquisite fiddle work dominating proceedings. ‘Smoke’ has a feel of another Irish-American band The Young Dubliners and I’m starting to hear a common sound amongst a whole host of bands from across the broad Atlantic. On the blurb that accompanied the album Marys Lane compare their sound to that of the Irish kitchen session.

“Cleveland rock roots but knee deep in the ghosts of Ireland – not maudlin mind you, but in the typical Kitchen Party made so famous by the Irish – everyone comes, everyone joins in, one way or another, and everyone leaves wishing the night would never end”

It’s a great description and better than anything I could say about them.

Not that it will stop me trying! More than halfway through and its time for one them good auld Irish drinking songs and its a belter. We Irish, mostly!, love a drink and ‘Another Round’ can be added to the long list of loving tributes. ‘Box Of Roses’ is their most country song here and yet still has the Irish feel to it and I don’t mean the dreaded Country’n’Irish thing that scared many a young 2nd and 3rd generation Irish kid off music when they were young. If you could imagine a (more) Irish Bruce Springsteen then this is the kind of music he’d serve up, especially in these days when he’s rediscovering his roots. ‘Whiskeytown’ is an ode to their home town and is a beautiful tribute to a city that may have seen better days but like most working-class cities it has heart and a will that will see it return to its days as an American powerhouse. So far the only thing missing has been a jig or two and for the penultimate song we get them both served up in ‘Gypsys Dance / The Kesh Jig’. Now I don’t have much of an ear for remembering trad jigs but ‘The Kesh’ Jig may be an old Bothy Band song and if so the band certainly do justice to it. Wild Unknown comes to an end with the album’s best song I think. The epic sounding  ‘Between The Darkness And The Light’. We are back in ‘Irish Bruce’ territory here and it may again be on the slower side of things but that does not diminish its power and it’s a swirling, twirling monster of a song and a fantastic way to bring down the curtain.

Wild Unknown is that exceedingly rare thing on these pages. An album of all original songs written by the band themselves. Their are four songwriters within the band and all band members contribute to everything they produce. A real team effort. The album was recorded with multi platinum award winning producer Michael Seifert and it certainly shows as the sound is absolute perfection and clear as the proverbial bell without being over produced or ‘fiddle’ with too much. A great album all round and this Irish-American sound is well worth checking out especially if you like your celtic-punk a bit more on the gentler side.

Celtic rock- hard to define, hard to resist, much like Marys Lane.

(you can listen to the whole of Wild Unknown before you download by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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Find out more about the legend that was Danny Greene, an impoverished but charismatic young Irish-American who rises to power as president of the longshoreman’s local union and is charged with corruption but evades serious jail time by becoming an FBI informant. With fearless nerve he joins forces with a Mafia gangster to rise to power in Cleveland’s underworld, gaining the reputation of a Robin Hood-like figure with nine lives as he escapes countless assassination attempts.

Danny Greene: The Rise and Fall of the Irishman

USA | 2011 | 60 min.

Genre: Documentary Director: Tommy Reid

Photographs that have never been seen before and exclusive interviews with the family members of Danny Greene, officials from the Federal government, associates of the Mafia and representatives of Cleveland Police Enforcement make up this documentary examining the life of the legendary infamous Irish-American gangster Danny Greene.

Clint O’Connor of The Plain Dealer writes

“Feeding America’s appetite for mob stories with a grisly slice of Cleveland’s criminal past, spotlights the gangster whose life was famously extinguished by a car bomb in a Lyndhurst parking lot. A fearless hood who grabbed headlines for years in the 1970s, Greene was a colorful character. He dressed in green, drove green cars, and embraced Irish history and Celtic lore. Alternately a union troubleshooter, embezzler, and enforcer, Greene dabbled in racketeering, gambling, and loan-sharking. He excelled at beating the rap, which may have been attributed to his other occupation: FBI informant. Police have long assumed that Greene conspired to take out Shondor Birns, a rival in Cleveland’s numbers racket, and later mafia underboss Leo ‘Lips’ Moceri, whose body was never found”

Kill The Irishman

USA | 2011 | 1hr 42mins

Genre: Action | Biography | Thriller Director: Jonathan Hensleigh

Starring: Ray Stevenson, Christopher Walken, Vincent D’Onofrio

ALBUM REVIEW: EBRI KNIGHT- ‘Guerrilla’ (2018)

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A superb mix of traditional Catalan music and punk-rock.

Ebri Knight hail from the Maresme, a region where the sea and the mountains meet halfway between La Selva and Barcelona in Catalonia. If you have been living under a rock over the last couple of years Catalonia is currently a region of Spain. I say currently as there is a massive groundswell of support from the Catalan people to leave Spain and forge ahead as a nation in its own right.

Catalonia is is located on the extreme north east of Spain and is home to around 7,500,000 people and its capital is one of the worlds greatest cities in Barcelona. They have their own language and culture that is different to that of Spain and the wish to be independent has occupied the minds of many Catalan’s for decades. Back in the general election of 1931 the Catalan people voted heavily for the left-wing Republican government that promised greater autonomy but when Franco’s fascists moved against the democratically elected government causing the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) the Catalan’s sided with the government. Three years of heavy fighting throughout Spain but especially in the republican stronghold of Catalonia led to the devastation of the country and eventually to the defeat of the Republican forces and Franco brought in a dictatorship in which he never forgot the role that Catalonia had played. Franco’s regime banned the use of the Catalan language and all institutions of self-government were abolished. It wasn’t until the death of Franco and the return of democracy that Catalan self-identity was again tolerated and the people were allowed to express their national pride without fear of repercussion. This eventually led to the controversial referendum held last October in which than 2,020,000 voters (91.96%) voted for independence. This led to a crackdown on those the Spanish government considered responsible but the fact is that independence is inevitable and Spain are playing a risky game by denying the people of Catalonia their wish to take their place amongst the nations of the world.

The La Senyera Estelada is used by supporters of Catalonian independence. It was inspired by the stars on the Puerto Rican and Cuban flags, who gained independence from Spain in 1898 and 1902 respectively, Catalan independentists began including stars on their symbols from the early 20th century onwards.

Like most nations struggling for freedom across the world the use of traditional/folk music has been one of both uniting the people and a way to protest. With their language banned for decades it was mainly in song that Catalan was kept alive. Ebri Knight are firmly rooted in traditions that have been known across the streets of Catalonia for centuries. The melodies and traditional instruments that inspired them don’t belong left in the past but need to be brought to the fore again. To take from the past and not change it or reinvent it but add to it something. Music is constantly changing and adapting and Ebri Knight are no different to bands like The Dubliners, The Pogues and Flogging Molly. Three bands that show nearly sixty years of evolving and developing traditional Irish folk music.

Guerilla kicks off with ‘Carnaval’ and like a lot of European celtic-punk bands they love the flute. Not an instrument I was always fond of but over the last couple of years (ever since seeing Firkin from Hungary in fact) I have fallen for in a big way. The song is loud and bombastic with plenty of shouty gang vocals and what we might think of here as Spanish touches but all along have unbeknown to us are actually Catalan ones. The  accordion is particularly good here. Next up is the lead single and title track ‘Guerrilla’ and Ebri Knight nail their colours to the mast and they are RED! The video was directed by Eloi Aymerich and shot on the beach of Callao de Mataró  standing on the horizon of the Mediterranean Sea.

The song is a tribute to self-organization, to those that fight side by side together to overcome injustice and those who perpetuate them and to awaken those who remain alienated in the society in which we live.

“The days of the crumbs have been finished, We have already risen and we will make the executioner fall”

The video ends with a shot of a mother feeding her son wrapped in a red cloth, a symbol of revolt, dignity and the future. The music is catchy as hell, fastly played mainly acoustic and while the Celtic melodies may be missing its not a million miles from celtic-punk and in fact could be described as a next door neighbour. Almost the entire album is sung in Catalan so I can’t explain much about whats going on but its a thoroughly enjoyable album with plenty in it to keep both folkies and punkers happy. Not knowing much about the band previous to this album I can’t say how they have developed over their career but they certainly kick up a storm here and on ‘Venim’ it’s a perfect marriage of punk and folk music. The sort of music that could keep everyone happy but without wimping out. The guitars are turned up loud and the whole song bounces along with an almost Ramones feel to it but totally accessible at the same time. On ‘Rosa De Foc’ they slow it down beginning with just voice and acoustic guitar before the band join and while still keeping it slow(ish) the sound is massive. They can’t help themselves though and then BOOM and they off again and the Bhoys push it to max before slowing down again towards the end. ‘Filla’ is the quickest song here and sounds like a traditional song with vocals dominating over a bongo. A nice interlude and very much a salute to the past. ‘La Nit Encesa’ and ‘Mai Més’ are back firmly within punk territory with the folk instruments loud and proud in the mix with flute, fiddle and accordion competing with chugging electric guitar. If you were to pick a celtic-punk tune from this album then ‘El Nostre Dia’ is the one. A more folky number and the closest here to an Irish song. Slower but still massive as with all their slower songs with a swirling movement that you can imagine would be the pint in the air, arms round your mates on the dance-floor moment of the album. I would definitely suggest a visit to the bands YouTube page as well (link below) as they have obviously put a lot of work into their videos and ‘Vientos Del Pueblo’ is a great example. Using illustrations from the Civil War and the words of Republican fighter and poet Miguel Hernández the video is an incredible and powerful work of art.

Born into a poor family and with little education he published his first book at 23 and gained considerable fame before his death. He fought gallantly through the war before eventually being arrested and sentenced to death but Tuberculosis beat the hangman to it and before his death he scrawled his last verse on the wall of the hospital:

“Goodbye, brothers, comrades, friends: let me take my leave of the sun and the fields”

We are steering up towards the end now and ‘Cridarem’ again has a bit of a celtic-punk feel to it with a great shouty but tuneful chorus with what sounds like the whole band joining in. ‘Tornaria’ is a gentle song which makes me think that it’s the words that are important here. They are that kind of band. The lyrics are more important than the tunes to them but lucky for us that there’s more than enough to enjoy even if you don’t know any Catalan! The album ends with the fine anti-fascist anthem ‘Viva La Quinta Brigada’. Written by the legendary Christy Moore and sung here in English it’s an absolutely fantastic version and not very recognisable with Ebri Knight putting their own stamp all over it and defiantly making it their own. In Christy’s version the words pay tribute to the Irishmen who fought in the Spanish Civil War against Franco but here some lines are missing perhaps they found it too difficult to pronounce the Irish names! Nevertheless an awesome song, an awesome version and a great way to end the album.

Guerilla was recorded and mixed in Terrassa in their home region by Marc Bória and Oriol Bacardit and was released at the beginning of February. Twelve songs and forty-three minutes and as good a production as you will ever hear, as clear as the proverbial bell! We are all lucky that the band have made it available for free download so we recommend that as soon as you finish reading this you follow the link below and get downloading! We all owe bands like Ebri Knight a great service. Bands that keep our traditions alive that keep the songs in our memories that provide a link from the past to the present. Music on its own cannot change the world but it can inspire people to read, to think, to act. Music can rouse a people from its slumber its exactly why those that manipulate us and control us promote music that stops people thinking, reading, acting. Music can have the weight of the people behind it and bands like Ebri Knight have the strength of a people who want to change the world.

That’s why they make the music they do.

(you can listen to Guerilla on the Bandcamp player below)

Discography

Tonades Of Time Ago (2011) * La Palla Va Cara (2013) * Foc! (2015) * Cridarem Foc! (2017)

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ALBUM REVIEW: ALTERNATIVE ULSTER- ‘Pog Mo Thoin’ (2018)

The second full length album from New York’s Alternative Ulster is thirteen songs of Celtic pride, humor and defiance. Powerful and raw and driven by Great Highland Pipes!

The roots of Alternative Ulster begin in March 2015 in NY State’s Catskill’s region. Their debut album, Rebellion, came out in February 2016 and our review ended with

an excellent first attempt by Alternative Ulster. With almost fifty minutes of raw bagpipe punk you won’t be disappointed. I have no doubt that we will be hearing much more from these guys in the future”.

After the release of Rebellion the band sadly split with the excellent Templars Of Doom forming on one side and a new version of Alternative Ulster emerging on the other. The sound of both bands is not too different and can be best described in the words of band bagpiper John McGovern when he said “1916 meets 1977” a reference to both the Irish Uprising and the year Punk Rock exploded onto the streets of London. While it is sad to see bands split at least we now have two excellent celtic-punk bands now instead of one.

Alternative Ulster left to right- Jay Andersen (Guitar, Bass, Backing Vocals) * Todd Henry (Vocals, Drums) * John McGovern (Bagpipes, Bass, Backing Vocals)

Pog Mo Thoin begins with the title track and for many of us that only know the wee snippet of our native language I’d like to bet that this phrase is one of them. Originally chosen by Shane MacGowan as the name for The Pogues he was forced to change it when it became known it was the Irish for Kiss My Arse! The song begins with rousing (what other word could apply?) bagpipes filling the air while Todd spits out a angry and defiant ‘Pog Mo Thoin’ to the Vikings, the Brits, the Yanks and anyone else who crossed the Irish over the years. A thundering bass line kicks in for ‘Drunk As Fuck’ a ramshackle punk rocker with Alternative Ulster paying homage to their mates in the celtic-punk scene with The Go-Set, The Mahones and several others encountered on a pub crawl around their home town. ‘This We Will Defend’ is straight up punk rock with bagpipes and the album is starting to take shape. So far all the songs have come in under two minutes and while the songs aren’t particularly fast they certainly have a punk rock edge to them. The first of the album’s two covers is up next and it happens to be one of my favourites. ‘Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore’ tells the common story of a Irishman forced to leave Ireland and seek a better life in Amerikay. The origin’s of the song are unclear but it’s popularity struck a chord  amongst the Irish diaspora. Here it is played slow and Todd’s haunting slightly off-key vocals giving it the Alternative Ulster stamp. Now over here I doubt many had heard of the Krampus until the recent movie but in the States, thanks to Eastern European immigration, he’s much more wildly known.

A horned, half-goat, half-demon who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved. Here in ‘Krampus’ Alternative Ulster take us back to their childhood

“If you’ve been a little prick,
you’ll get no gifts from Old St. Nick.
If all you do is bitch and fuss,
best beware of old Krampus”

We back in more trad territory next with ‘Ghetto Piper’. Beginning with the pipes belting out the Irish football tune ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ while Todd sings

“I am the ghetto piper
I’m loud, I’m proud, I’m drunk
my mighty drones will rock your bones
when I play Irish punk”

in a tribute to the man who taught John the bagpipes who made no bones about his style of piping. Anyone who has ever been to an Irish funeral will recognise the events in ‘Irish Wake’. It is of course the send off that all Irish people would want and while globalisation wipes out many of our customs some will defiantly survive, the ‘wake’ being one. Funerals in Ireland and in Irish communities abroad tend to be huge social events and it’s not unusual for people to joke and laugh and hug and slap backs. Life goes on. We have wept. We have prayed. We have laid our friend and loved one in the ground. Now we eat. We keep up our strength. We go on. In essence, that is the Irish wake.

The drone of the pipes starts ‘Free Beer Tomorrow’ and the title will be familiar to any barflys out there and celebrates the times we seized upon something too good to be true, and it was. We’re steering towards the end and time for a Scots tune in ‘Haggis’ celebrating that most wondrous of their grub and their resistance to English tyranny. In a album often interspersed with near the knuckle humour it don’t get any nearer than on ‘Self Appointed Kilt Inspector’ on which Jay and Todd tell of the trials and tribulations of wearing a kilt and that the lassie most likely to check if you’re regimental is actually the last one you’d want checking if you’re regimental. ‘Stairway To Reason’ is a Irish punk rock bagpipe racket inspired by the Led Zeppelin song ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and the references in it to The Piper. Almost at the end and ‘Ladies From Hell’ is a rousing memorial to the Highland regiments of World War One. The German soldiers were so terrified of kilted soldiers that they christened them ‘ladies from Hell’ or ‘devils in skirts’. The song begins with a pipe and drum tune over the sound of mortars. Pog Mo Thoin comes to an end with the album’s second cover, ‘Sgt. McKenzie’ and is sung in honour of all first responders and defenders of freedom that will bring a chill to the bone. Joseph MacKenzie wrote the haunting lament in memory of his great-grandfather, Charles Stuart MacKenzie who along with hundreds more from the Elgin-Rothes area went to fight in World War I. Sergeant MacKenzie was bayoneted to death at age 33, while defending one of his badly injured fellow soldiers during hand-to-hand trench warfare.

So we have an album of thirteen tracks that clocks in at just over half an hour and it has to be said this ain’t yer average celtic-punk release. It’s heart is firmly within the Irish/Celtic community of the USA but whether it will appeal to many of them is debatable. While it’s heart may be green its body is firmly punk rock and their unique punk sound is the result of Jay running his guitars through effects pedals of his own design and manufacture. At its core I think this is music designed for the pub and for those looking for a good night out to raise the rafters and their voices. Its raw and ready and maybe a bit rough round the edges but it’s overflowing with a passion I wish a few more celtic-punk bands could reproduce.

Slainte and Pog Mo Thoin!

(treat yourselves to a free listen to Pog Mo Thoin by simply pressing play on the Alternative Ulster Bandcamp player below)

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