Category Archives: Album Review

ALBUM REVIEW: KELTIKON- ‘The Black Boar’ (2020)

An hour of original Celtic-Folk-Punk Keltikon songs and Irish and Scots traditionals. Thrilling tales of pagan creatures, esoteric TV, sea bound ships, orphans, boozers, rocky roads, atomic submariners, traveling people and Italian partisans as told by a band who combine the present and the ancient with ease.

It’s been quite a while since Keltikon graced these pages properly. You have to go right back to May, 2014 to find our review of Agenbite Of Inwit. These may have been early days for the London Celtic Punks Web-Zine but we recognised the quality and later in 2014 it made the Top Twenty Albums Of The Year in a year marked out for some outstanding releases. Agenbite Of Inwit was the bands debut release and is an old-English phrase meaning in modern terms, a crisis of conscience. Formed in 2012 in the Swiss city of Pfäffikon, not far from Zurich, they are the leading band in the Celtic scene in Switzerland playing mainly their own original songs as well as traditional Irish and Scottish jigs, reels and ballads, injected with Heavy Rock, Folk, Punk and Folk-Punk. Skilled musicians with decades of experience between them, not only of Scottish and Irish traditional music, but also the added attraction of Rock, Ska, Folk and Baltic all together creating Keltikon’s unique sound.

Keltikon have since their inception toured relentlessly and did an extensive tour of Ireland in 2018 that they were set to repeat this year till the dreaded ‘clampdown’ but their appearance at the Mary from Dungloe Festival 2020 has only been delayed and they are all set to play next years re-arranged Fest. The Black Boar plays just like a live Keltikon set with everything from maudlin ballads to high energy Celtic-Punk rockers but always with a link to something ancient.

Most of the original Keltikon songs here have been written by guitarist and vocalist Olaf Ohl and to say he delves into the past with his songs is an understatement. The album begins with the title song and  ‘The Black Boar’ and its a belter to kick things off with. Here’s the story behind the song

For old Celts pigs were spirit animals, a sign of courage and power, also a symbol for war and disorder. Tryon was the King of Boars, an giant pagan creature in Irish mythology. The the counterpart could be the Welsh legend Twrch Trwyth, a prince of Wales, who had been cursed and transformed into a wild boar. He was hunted by King Arthur and and after a long hard battle the boar swam out to the sea and disappeared. This more humorous adaption suggests that the boar tricked King Arthur and only hid under the cliff, he’s still among us…

You’ll not hear this kind of lyrics on your normal run of the mill Celtic-Punk album. I’d say it belongs in the world of Horslips or Loudest Whisper but of course with a much harder edge to it.

(The first single from the album. Video concept, filmed and produced by Steve Diener)

‘Once Upon A Time (Star Coins)’ tells of the fairy tale Star Coins written in the 19th century by the Brothers Grimm famous for collecting and publishing folklore and who wrote some of the best children’s stories ever. The music is country influenced Folk-Rock reminding me of the Bible Code Sundays with the acoustic guitar and the catchy tune but with England born Sally’s amazing fiddle leading the tune along. next up is ‘We Have Been (And We’re Still Here)’ and again Olaf digs deep into Celtic history but linking it to modern times. The poor have always been exploited by the greedy but these tyrants in history never last but the little people always hold their ground. The song shows the bands imagination with the Ska beat dominating but plenty else going on. Olaf’s vocals are hard to define sitting on the edge of being both a crooner and a punk. The ached sound emphasising the meaning behoind each song and show what they mean to him. A row of traditional songs now beginning with ‘Donald McGillavry’ dealing with the feats of MacGillavry of Drumglass in the Jacobite Wars in the 18th century when this song could have been written.

“Donald was mumpit wi mirds and mockery;
Donald was blinded wi’ blads o’ property;
Arles ran high, but makings were naething, man,
Lord, how Donald is flyting and fretting, man.”

I’ve heard this song plenty of times and it lends itself well to be played upbeat and is a Celtic-Punk staple but Keltikon do more than enough to stamp their own sound all over it. Something they also do with the English folk song ‘The Lark In The Morning’. Though maybe not a song that you would think lends itself to Celtic-Punk here it is treated with reverence but the Keltikon stamp is firmly stamped and the song, first recorded in 1778, has a real catchy tune only just related to the original air.

Now I’m sure you’re going “not again” and the appearance of ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ had me eliciting the same response but Keltikon give it plenty of oomph and when played with a bit of imagination, humour and flair like how Keltikon do here taking it down a reggae route with Sally taking on the vocals. Another song gaining popularity on the Celtic-Punk scene is ‘Bella Ciao’ an Italian protest folk song that originated among the paddy field workers in the late 19th century. It was sung to protest against harsh working conditions and later the song was adopted as an anti-fascist anthem by the Italian partisans against the Nazi German forces occupying Italy and more recently it has become much more internationally known and popular. 

( Recorded live in concert at Musigburg Aarburg on 15th August 2019)

A couple of originals now penned by Olaf. ‘Chartered’ a sentimental ballad about the hardships of sailors life and ‘The Three Graves’, a tale picked out from the ‘Fenian Cycle‘ and given a cheery Country-Rock sound and again the Bible Code Sundays comes to mind. Another cover next the Scottish Folk song ‘The Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ telling of a rich lady who runs off to join the gypsies and has been recorded by all the giants of Folk and traditional music. Sally takes on vocals again and they play the song pretty straightforward though her fine voice gives the song something extra. A couple more Olaf penned songs with the Poguesy Hells Ditch era ‘Heal My Shakra’, which does drag a bit lasting as it does nearly 9 minutes, and ‘The Diving Dutchman’ one of the earliest Keltikon songs and already featured on Agenbite Of Inwit but tampered with and re-recorded to give it a bit of extra bite and even with the fiddle like guitar work it still ranks as the most Celtic-Punk song of the album and easy to see why the band love playing it. Taking the ancient old mariner’s tale about a ghost ship and turning it into a Dutch nuclear submarine with a similar problem. Only a couple left and ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ is always a good choice telling the tale of a 19th-century Kildare man emigrating to England who arrives in Liverpool only to have to fight his way out. There will never be a version to top Luke Kelly and The Dubliners but Keltikon give a great blast through. The album ends with ‘The Local Boozer’ written by long time friend of London Celtic Punks and a man who does immeasurable good work for Irish music. I give you John O’Donnell Cotter, songwriter, booking agent, radio presenter and resident of county Donegal. Unsurprisingly an lovely Irish air with great humour and a fantastic way to end things putting a smile on everyone’s faces.

So almost an hour of authentic Celtic Rock and Punk. The music itself leans heavily upon the Scots Folk sound but as Keltikon began with a piper rather than a fiddle player that may be why but they certainly have made the major change in the band very smoothly and their exuberant energy shines through here. A band that has crossover appeal and could I am sure find favour with your Irish Nan, your Scots Dad or the inner Punk in everyone. Olaf’s songwriting is some of the best in Celtic-Punk and always has a real story to tell whether with humour or great sadness whether wrapped around a folky, rocky, foot-stomper or a weepy ballad. A unique band that encompasses everything good about the Celtic nations and its people and stories. 

HEAR THE BLACK BOAR HERE

Buy The Black Boar  Here

Contact Keltikon  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

Our very good friend Rob who makes the fantastic blog This Drinking Life has just published a great interview with Olaf from Keltikon. Covering life in Switzerland over the clampdown, the release and the recording of The Black Boar (each song was done in one take. Impressive) and a hell of a lot more. Find out the origins of the bands name too!

THIS DRINKING LIFE

ALBUM REVIEW: 6’10- ‘Carried In Retrospect’ (2020)

The second full length release from Flatfoot 56 off-shoot band 6’10. Tobin Bawinkel began 6’10 to go back to his musical roots in Americana and Folk music. Life can’t be all circle pits and spitting on sweaty crowds! The groups first full length album since 2014 Gerard Mellon finds ten tracks of childhood memories, raising a family, love and social commentary about society toxicity documenting the progression of the 6’10 story. 

What with pandemics, despotic rulers and a lack of football, we almost let this one slip past us. Thankfully Eagle Eye Eddie wasn’t going to let that happen; and who can blame him, as it comes from one of this site’s favourite artists, Tobin from Flatfoot 56 fame. Obviously, it’s from his other project 6’10. The acoustic, more ‘folksy’ sounding group. I think the membership of 6’10 is quite a fluid thing, with different contributors at different times. What is a constant though is Tobin and his good lady wife Vanessa’s, contribution. In fact, this 10 track album features a number of what could be called duets.

The recent addition to Tobin and Vanessa’s family of a baby brings a much more mellow feel to Tobin’s song-writing. Fatherhood has definitely influenced the style and content of this offering. It still contains the clever sometimes whimsical offerings, along with the expert musicianship, but maybe now has an introspective slant. There are pleasant love-songs like ‘She’s the One’ and ‘Vanessa’s Song. There are also deeper songs like ‘Wither’ that somehow carry extra punch when one considers what the world is going through in the current climate. Flatfoot and Tobin could never be accused of lacking a social conscience. (In the traditions of all good Celtic Punk artists!) ‘Weight’ is a great example of this, especially these days when so many are questioning our roles in the new normal.


I think this is one of the great features of Tobin’s song-writing, that it makes the listener think; whether it be the large faith/religious aspects of some songs, or the intimate closeness of others. These are universal feelings that we all can relate to and perhaps share. Vanessa takes the lead in a couple of tracks, notably ‘Come Home’ and she plays a major role in the whole feel of the album.

(No ‘proper’ videos of any of the songs released yet so you’ll have to go on Gerry’s word but 6’10 did perform a couple of songs from Carried In Retrospect on their recent Live Stream set on Facebook)

The whole feel of this album is different to 6’10’s previous offerings, without calling it downbeat, it just feels slower, less impactful than the Humble Beginnings of a Roving Soul. Maybe it’s the post production or the recording process, but the “feel” is pared back, fewer instruments are involved in the final sound. It harkens back to the America of the dustbowl and the 30’s, when the content of a song seemed to be more important than production effects. You can imagine Tobin and Vanessa touring this album as a complete family unit, with no razzamatazz. Genuinely good music with honest emotions and good intentions. Perhaps this is what we’ve got to look forward to over the next few years.

Buy Carried In Retrospect  Download-Here  CD- Here

Contact 6’10  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW- QUINTESSENTIAL QUARANTUNES (2020)

Six bands, three from Ireland and three London based. No longer able to play their trade due to government lockdowns either side of the Irish Sea have been virtually brought together by one man – Phil Parsons and one pub – Frostys Bar, Kenton to create a lockdown album like no other. With a mixture of Celtic Rock, Traditional Irish Folk and Rebel music, this is your must buy album of 2020.

Released just last week Quintessential Quarantunes is a compilation album of six bands. Three from London and three from across Ireland. There’s twelve songs in total with two each carefully chosen by the bands themselves. The music is mainly of the Irish folk ballad kind. Think along the lines of The Wolfe Tones. All the bands here are gigging musicians meaning its the sole income for many of them so for a tenner you can support Irish music at home and abroad for less than a pound a song.

THE BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS

With over twenty years worth of experience The BibleCode Sundays have performed live on many TV shows and played extensively throughout Europe and the USA. They have played on the pitches of Celtic Park on Champions League night, Twickenham Stadium for Heineken Cup Finals and for many years at London Irish Rugby Club. They have performed at Glastonbury music festival and supported Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon and his band Public Image Ltd on several occasions as well as The Cranberries, Thin Lizzy, The Sawdoctors and Christy Moore. They have also supported American punk band The Dropkick Murphys in both the US and the UK and recorded with Russell Crowe, Elvis Costello and Shane MacGowan to name but a few.

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BLACKSTAIRS REBEL

Formed in 1997 after a sing song on a bus home from a Wexford hurling match. PJ, Kevin and Ollie, later joined by Miss Carol Cooney on accordion. They soon built a reputation for the sessions they put on and were helped along with support slots for The Wolfe Tones, Dublin City Ramblers and Brendan Grace. The band write an occasional song but their real passion is playing live and for the past 23 years they have made many new friends along the way. A highlight of 2019 was playing Crawley Irish Festival. Meeting people, making new friends, having a few beers, eating kebabs, getting on ferries and planes, cars breaking down and belting out Irish folk, ballad, trad and rebel tunes where ever we go, for that’s what we love, that’s what we do and thats what we will continue to do for as long as people are still enjoying it.

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THE REELS

The Reels came together in late 2006. We all met through various music lessons growing up as kids or at sessions in many an Irish pub! With Gavin on vocals and guitar, Leanne on vocals and mandolin, Antonia on the fiddle, Mikey on the bass and Mad Kieran on the drums. Mixing traditional Irish music into more modern songs and taking the old Irish classics and making them more appealable to the younger second generation Irish in London. Already in popular demand to play the London circuit we will continue to belt out the music for as long as you’ll listen to us.

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CATALPA

Catalpa are a 3 piece band who are the resident band for The Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs and play before every home game in The Lansdowne Rugby Club. They traveled to France in 2016 for the Euros to play for the fans in La Rochelle. toured the USA, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Spain playing their brand of Irish ballads. Catalpa have played in The Aviva Stadium the famous Barrowlands in Glasgow and have supported The Wolfe Tones, The Dublin City Ramblers and Hermitage Green at various gigs and festivals. Catalpa have released three CDs to date and one CD in particular being a Charity CD for the John Giles Foundation.

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CELTIC STORM

Celtic Storm is a solo performer who hails from Co. Carlow. With over two decades of musical experience having performed in the USA, Europe and extensively throughout Ireland he is a highly sought after entertainer. He has played the famous Barrowlands on numerous occasions, most recent been the memorable night with his good friends Catalpa. Celtic Storm has one album to date and the ‘ballad bug’ is still as strong as ever.

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THE PEPPERED ACES

The Peppered Aces are a three piece Irish folk/rock band from London. Founded in 2015, the band have featured in festivals, international sporting events and have appeared on national radio. An annual event for the band sees them travel to NYC to perform at the St. Patrick’s festival. They are a developing band and have just commenced recording a selection of covers which prominently feature in the live set. Looking forward, The Peppered Aces plan on exploring their own original content and applying their unique sound and experience gained from playing together over the years.

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(Download or stream Quintessential Quarantunes from the Bandcamp link below)

Download Quintessential Quarantunes  From Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS- ‘Dogs on the Leash’ (2020)

Germany and Celtic-Punk go together like Guinness and chips and there’s no better purveyors there than the wonderful O’Reillys And The Paddyhats. Our man Anto Morra runs the critical rule over their enjoyable fourth album.

This record opens with the title track, which is a craic’r and appears to have it all, just what Dr Folk Punk ordered. A song written from the perspective of those in charge wanting to keep the people drunk, drugged up, calm, quiet and brilliantly concluding

‘We won’t back off, We will free ourselves from the leash’.

“Here it goes again” levels the class playing field with the clever observation that no matter how financially wealthy or poor, we all go through the motions of endless struggle or celebration, to the point at which it becomes mundane. So the chorus wisely informs us to ‘Get out of your castle get out of your shack, It’s not Groundhog Day so leave the bloody track’ and all with a great punky reggae party feel.

An exquisite fiddle and banjo leads us into “James Brian” for a bit of Celtic mysticism. The story of a man that mysteriously vanishes from the bog because he worked into the night, this is a great arrangement with hints of klezmer and The Levellers springing to mind at times.

“Captain Without A Ship” kicks of with a brilliant twinned guitar harmony part in the style of Thin Lizzy, continues to rock out the middle 8, and ventures into Status Quo playing Oi -if you can imagine that! After another rousing chorus, we are treated to a fine bit of plank spanking from Jan, that’s not unlike the great solos of Kane Roberts on Alice Cooper’s Constrictor album.

“Millions” ‘How many millions do you need to say that you succeed?’ an appealing sentiment, big chorus with a Klezmer crescendo- what more do you need? Sounds like a recipe for success to me.

“Ferryman” is a lament that if it was wearing a different outfit could be described as a power ballad, the arrangement is perfection. Thankfully, because Franz does not sing like Bruce Dickenson, it works beautifully with the low whistle and other trad instruments, which keep it flowing, grounded and not at all laboured.

“From Dublin To Moscow” is a superb tale of five courageous 17th century adventurers whose only fear is running out of beer. It is at the same time a clever doff of the hat to the Irish traditional songs, like the ‘Blarney Stone’ and ‘Star Of The County Down’, that mention many place names as comfortably possible to appeal to everyone from those places. Of course, I was delighted that London got a mention!

“Overtime Work” is just over 3 minutes of more fun than I’ve ever had doing overtime, but I think I could have spent time as a CEO of the company supplying this overtime.

The strength of “Hobo Of Mitchelstown” is the fact it can not really be compared anything, while at the same time sitting comfortably in the folk punk genre. The heavy rock guitar sound could place it, dare I say, in the folk rock genre.

“Beautiful Fear” is a terrific song, full of romantic imagery, but the humour is not far away. I feel as this is an anthem for people like myself that suffer dreadfully from FOMO (fear of missing out). This track could also be called “Beautiful Fiddle” as the solo is just spot on.

In true punk style they appear to have stolen this Bobby Sands/Gordon Lightfoot classic “Back Home In Derry” with no credits on the sleeve notes. It’s a very fine version with a different member of the band on each verse, and that enchanting fiddle playing again. The last verse is reserved the great face of the band Benny, ending with a huge chorus which without missing a beat goes seamlessly into “Shoe Shine Boy”. If you weren’t paying attention when you hit the chorus, you may think you were still back home in Derry, but this is a wonderful song about a wise shoe shine boy and an arrogant rich man. ‘Things change farewell, farewell my friend’ – “Farewell” is just a joyous closing track. ‘We are drinking lots of beer, we’re not asking our livers’ is my favourite line!

The O’Reillys and The Paddyhats succeed where so many celtic folk punk bands fail, is with the quality of singing. Franz has a great strong engaging voice, and Tim adds the aggressive rasp that is essential in punk and rock music. The song writing is intelligent, witty and at times a little comical, but never novelty or flippant- if their musicianship wasn’t top notch they would not be able to successfully execute the humour they do! This is their rockiest offering so far, but they have not lost any of their German Irish charm. Just go and buy it because it has been a joy to review.

Buy Dogs On The Leach  CD/Download- FromTheBand

Contact The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

Album Discography (Click for review)- April 2016 Seven Hearts One Soul * February 2017 Sign Of The Fighter * September 2018 Green Blood *

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London Irish, Punk Folk singer, songwriter and artist Anto Morra lives in East Anglia and is a regular performer on the Norfolk Folk Roots and acoustic music scene as well as the London Celtic Punks scene. He’s even second cousin to Morrissey!  he did a special Live Stream London Celtic Punks show on June 5th and no it wasn’t suppose to be sideways!!

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DEAD MAGGIES- ‘More Than Just Ghosts’ (2020)

Tasmanian devils The Dead Maggies are back with a new album recorded last year in Indonesia while on tour.

Stories of tragic Tasmanian folklore swashbuckling adventures of bush pirates and convict rebels set to upbeat toe-tapping thigh-slapping Cowpunk Folk-Punk, exploring the links between the past and present in their music and lyrics.

The Dead Maggies usually sing about dead people. In fact that is not just a statement of fact but also the name of their debut album! Founded in Tasmania in 2013 and taking their name from the then recently deceased, and much loved(!), ex-Prime Minister of Britain Margaret Thatcher. Tasmania is the island at the bottom of Australia 150 miles to the south of the Australian mainland. Half the country is still in exactly the same state it was when the British invaded in 1803 and christened the island Van Diemons Land. Tassie, as its known to its residents, was used primarily as a natural prison state to house convicts brought from Britain and Ireland convicted of crimes that ranged from murder and assault to stealing sheep or even bread. It’s this history that gives rise to the subject matter that The Dead Maggies find so fruitful.
(debut album The Dead Maggies Sing Songs About Dead People is available as a ‘Name Your Price’ download. This is the 2014 re-issue. Remixed and remastered with added violin)
and as you will tell from that debut album ‘The Dead Maggies do indeed Sing About Dead People’. Only seven songs which tell the history of the various sad endings of colourful characters from Tasmania’s history. Perfect Celtic-Punk subject matter. Taking the past and completely bringing it to life through song. Putting flesh and bones on figures from Tassie’s olden days and ensuring their legend lives on.

They followed that album up with 2015’s Well Hanged and again the past is presented up to us. Twelve tracks exploring the lives, battles, deaths and loves of ordinary people. The people whose history is being written out of the books and just the kind of history that children don’t learn at school but should do. The album was extremely well received featuring in all of that year’s end of year Best Of polls reaching #7 on our Best Of, #12 for Paddy Rock Radio (USA) and #18 for McSlons Irish Pub Radio.

In among these releases were extensive tours of Europe including a visit to these shores which took them from one end to the other in a ramshackle tour culminating in one hell of a night at Tottenham Chances in 2014. They made a great compilation video of the tour that features some footage from that hot and sweaty night in North London and if you look closely you’ll spot some familiar faces in the crowd too. They continued their prolific output in 2017 with two EP’s released in quick succession with Wild Dogs And Flannies coming out in April and The Wild Folk in June both again focusing on stories set in the early days of Tasmania. They would return to these shores later that year with a couple of London dates sandwiched in between appearances at two of Britain’s largest festivals, Outcider and Boomtown. One of the scenes (they prefer to call themselves Folk-Punk) most traveled bands that became, as far as I know, the first Western Celtic/Folk-Punk band to tour Vietnam and then Indonesia. A country well known for its love of Irish music and Celtic-Punk. Whilst there they played with some of that country’s best bands (watch this space for The Cloves And The Tobacco’s new EP!) and also took the opportunity to record and mix More Than Just Ghosts. A truly international effort across the 5,566 km between Bandung, Java and Hobart, Tasmania.

The Dead Maggies left to right: Hannah Morrell – Fiddle * Teresa Dixon – Banjo, Mando, Flute, Vocals * Gruf Mongrel – Guitar, Clarinet, Vocals * Mark Downie – Double Bass, Vocals * Sam Wellings- Drums

The album came out just as the Covid clampdown started to bite meaning The Maggies had to cancel four months of touring and festivals all booked up. Rest assured though they will be rescheduling so keep an eye on things for new dates when all ‘this’ is over. For the first time here on More Than Just Ghosts the Maggies, more famous for writing their own material, have included traditional songs in among their original hard hitting Folk-Punk kicking off with the the trad ‘Mad Tom Of Bedlam’. Dating from early 17th Century England Bedlam in the title is the notorious London insane asylum Bethlam Royal Hospital. Told in three parts through the album its acapello re-telling is reminiscent of The Dreadnoughts. ‘Lacey’s Redemption’ follows directly on from the song ‘Matthew Brady’ as featured on Well Hanged and tells of George Lacey who betrayed Brady and carried the burden of guilt for the rest of his days seeking redemption by campaigning to close Sarah Island, Van Diemen’s Lands most notorious concentration camp or penal colony as it was known at the time.

The video was filmed and edited by Quinton Trembath while with The Dead Maggies in Indonesia and the bands energy is suitably portrayed. Musically its straight up Maggies with a catchy as feck tune with fiddle and banjo accompanied by double bass and even clarinet and Gruf Mongrel’s incredibly rich and powerful and distinctive voice. ‘The Tale Of Martin Cash’ is the tale of a gentleman bushranger. A sort of Robin Hood figure stealing from the rich but whether he gave to the poor is debatable.
“Oh life on the road rarely ends well but if you can’t be rich have a story to tell”
A life rich in legend that he helped himself to forge being one of the few Aussie outlaw figures to die a peaceful death in his bed an old man in 1877.
“This is the man who made the dash, who bashed the fash to save his lass, yes this is the man who dodged the lash, this is the tale of Martin Cash.”
Another rip roarer of a song which takes us into ‘Port Arthur’. A place memorable for being the site of a penal colony in the 1800’s and now a popular tourist destination and also the tragic site of a mass shooting in 1996 in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded when a madman rampaged through the local area.
“And some shores just see more pain than most; Port Arthur is haunted by more than just ghosts”

A heartfelt and incredibly beautiful plea for gun control. The saga of ‘Mad Tom Of Bedlam’ continues before ‘The Diary Of Michael Howe’ tells us of another infamous bushranger. The Yorkshire born Michael was sentenced to seven years transportation for robbery arriving in Van Diemons Land in late 1812. He refused to cooperate with the guards escaping to join a group of other escaped convicts in the bush eventually rising to become their leader. He came to a sticky end having his brains bashed out by a greedy accomplice for as the Maggies point out 
“I led the outlaw community, but makes it hard when they double your bounty”
Teresa takes over vocals for the first time for ‘Flash Mob’ telling of the women convicts who would not submit to servitude while ‘Paradise’ tells of Ephraim Doe transported in 1839. Slow and dirgy the song tells his story and you’d be hard pressed to find an album of recent years with as many lyrics as The Dead Maggies. They fit in poor Ephraim’s life story for example in only five minutes. ‘Mad Tom Of Bedlam’ comes to its conclusion as ‘Fire On The Ship’ blasts through ninety seconds and if its a true story then by God its hilarious!
“Building ships to transport logs, putting trust in convict dogs. They stole the ship they’re sailing away, what should we make the semaphore say? Fire on the ship! But the semaphore’s manned by convicts too, we’re trusting the dogs with a job to do, to our disgust, to our dismay, guess what they made, the semaphore say? There’s no fire on the ship!”
‘Down To The Sea’ is another slow burner with mournful fiddle and a modern story of escape. This is followed by their cover of In The Pines a song you may not know until revealed by its better known name ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’. Dating back to the 1870’s of the Southern Appalachian area of the United States it rose to fame in the modern age when recorded by Nirvana but a far superior version is the one recorded by Blues/Folk legend Lead Belly. It is thought over 160 different variations of the song exist and the Maggies play it pitched somewhere between Nirvana and Lead Belly and nail it perfectly. The final track here is a slow ballad dedicated to Australia’s next door neighbours ‘Indonesia’ and specifically the Javan punks from their recent tour. 
Our opinion on Aussie trad music is well known, there’s a wealth of bands playing such great music and all have that link to the past that the Dead Maggies do. Maybe that is what makes them so special. The Aussie scene shows no sign of slowing down either with bands like Meduas’s Wake, Handsome Young Strangers and Fox’N’Firkin making waves at home and abroad. There are two particularly good sites on Facebook, Aussie Celtic Punk’s and Australian Folk Punk Scene while The Dead Maggies themselves run the record label where I would recommend just about every single bloody release! Folk’Til Ya Punk Records is becoming the main hub to find all things Australian Celtic-Punk, Folk-Punk, Folk, Punk, Gypsy and Bluegrass related and all the artists on its roster are well worth supporting. Also if you’re going to get the album get it from the link provided below so that the band get the maximum amount of money without the vultures taking their cut.
In a human being’s short stint on this earth, no one should have time for death. But it fascinates us, draws us to it. It calls to us, begs us to enter its cold embrace. We worship death in sleep each night, and our band pays homage to it in our songs, as just another aspect of the cult of death.

(you can stream or download More Than Just Ghosts from the Bandcamp player below)

Buy More Than Just Ghosts  FolkTilYaPunkRecords

Contact The Dead Maggies  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK ANEMONE- ‘Chasing The Sun’ (2020)

Celtic-Punk band from Sweden Black Anemone bring even more chaos and mischief to the world with the release of their new album, Chasing the Sun. One of the harder bands in Celtic-Punk to pigeonhole they may draw from the likes of Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys but combine with their own influences to great effect.

Black Anemone have used the power of social media to become one of the better known bands in the Celtic-Punk scene over the last few years. Always there with a supportive comment they have truly embraced the idea of #onecelticpunkfamily to their hearts. Chasing The Sun is the bands third full length studio album and so far they have all been received favourably by the various Celtic-Punk media and even outside, especially with their well produced and clever videos. Coming as they do from very near the river Lagan (not that one but the one in Jönköping in southern Sweden!) it may be no surprise the rocky road these young Scandinavians have taken.

Formed in 2010 and still at school when future vocalist Mattias came up with the idea of mixing “traditional folk music, mostly Irish trad and fusing it with Punk-Rock” and having recruited longtime friends Andy on guitar and Adam on drums they began rehearsals and others soon joined to fill in the gaps. Their first release was a demo the following year and later an EP titled Let The Freak-Show Begin’. In the later part of 2011 Black Anemone started working on their first full length album that would eventually come out in 2013. The album, King Of Kings won several local awards including ‘Best Act’ in their region and would appear in most of that years Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of’s. It would be four years till they followed this up with In It For Life as sadly, in common with a lot of Celtic-Punk bands, line up changes always seem to come at the most awkward moment. It was the first music we had heard of theirs are we were suitably impressed with their “combination of folk and punk and folkpunk all underpinned with the trad sounds of Ireland”.

Opening with the first single from the album ‘Straight Back To Hell’ and its straight into what Black Anemone are best at. Lively, cheering Pop-Punky tunes as catchy as the hell their going straight back to! The video below is a perfect example of their art too. Not showy or overstated but works amazingly well and makes a change from the ‘band playing in a pub’ scenario.

The album takes several twists and turns and they tune on the Gaelic for ‘Drinking On A Sunday’ perhaps the most Irish sounding here. Needless to say its a corker and keeps up the lively approach of the opening song even time for a ‘slapyourhands/stampyourfeet’ interlude. ‘Voices From Bones’ begins with fiddle and banjo standing out while Mattias has a strong voice for both the rocky and more contemplative moments while unsurprisingly able to sing in perfect English. One my favourites here and at four and a half minutes it doesn’t drag its feet either. ‘Scream Of A Banshee’ showcases Stina’s amazing fiddle playing in a song with plenty of ‘Woaaaa’. The first slow track rolls in next sounding for all the world like a off cut from Rum, Sodomy And The Lash. While not quite a ballad ‘Letter To Lorelei’ is slow but still heavy and its Irish core leads nicely into ‘Templehouse Session’ where the Bhoys and Ghirls blast through 160 seconds of brilliantly played fast trad Irish folk. I love it when bands pull this pout of the bag proving to the Irish music snobs purists that Celtic-Punk is more than just songs about drinking and fighting. The same snobs purists were saying the same things in the 1960’s about The Dubliners! Title track ‘Chasing The Sun’ was the albums second single and coming out post-clampdown meant whatever idea they had for the video had to changed but they still manged to come up with something novel that looks great. Accordionist Fredrik takes over on vocals and while he may have the look of a Death-Metal head his voice is achingly tender.

Time now for that ballad and ‘The Willow Creek’ delivers it with gusto. Again its not a gentle thing. Instruments are pounded and the swirl is large. At near five minutes long it does well to fly past so quickly. Definitely a song for holding your pint up to the stage and clinging on to those you love and trust the most. Nearing the end now and ‘Wanderlust’ takes us back into Celtic-Punk territory again while ‘Far Away’ brings down the curtain on a thoroughly enjoyable forty odd minutes of original music.

Black Anemone from left to right: Stina – Fiddle * Andreas – Guitar * Fredrik – Accordion * Mattias – Lead Vocals * Rickard – Bass * Martin – Banjo/Mandolin * Adam – Drums *

Chasing The Sun came out on May Day it was recorded at Distmaskinen, mixed by Alexander Gabara and mastered by Ulf Blomberg. The sound is excellent and very clear and for a band with so many members that is some achievement. Celtic-Punk when played in the right spirit should be a joyous affair (even taking into account the rather dark subject matter of some of the scene’s most popular themes!) and on the evidence here Black Anemone have nailed it yet again.

(stream or download Chasing The Sun from the Bandcamp player below)

Download Chasing The Sun FromTheBand

Contact Black Anemone  Bandcamp  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube  Twitter

They got together in early May to play an acoustic Live Stream on Facebook so have a listen. Its just over a hour long and shows this band have a real talent for Irish Folk music. 

ALBUM REVIEW: BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO- ‘Hermanos De Guerra’ (2020)

Celtic-Punk again shows it’s international appeal as Mexican band Batallón de San Patricio celebrate the release of their debut album. Named in respect of the famed Irish battalion that fought in the America-Mexico War of 1846-1848 these Bhoys are more than just a pretty name.

Here’s a first for London Celtic Punks a review of a Celtic-Punk release from Mexico. The band in question are called Batallón de San Patricio and for those in the know that is Spanish for St. Patrick’s Battalion and something extremely significant in the relationship between Ireland and Mexico. The band chose their name with great care taking their inspiration from the St. Patrick’s Battalion (see our extensive article The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song from the other day). A group of immigrants, mainly of Irish descent, who deserted from the US Army because of anti-Catholic bigotry and went to fight for the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). It’s a tale of great adventure and heroic valour but ultimately it is another sad chapter in Ireland’s history. They are still commemorated today by the Mexican government and its people with a parade featuring a bagpipe troop. Musically the first links were forged by The Chieftains who collaborated with Ry Cooder on their 2010 San Patricio album which combined Irish and Mexican Folk music to great effect to tell the tale of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion. The album featured a long list of guests, including narration by Liam Neeson of a poem in tribute to the San Patricios. Still those of you who read our article earlier in the week The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song will already be well versed in the history of these giants of men.

Batallón De San Patricio from left to right: Juan Alcalá ‘Peludito’ – 5 String Banjo/Backing Vocals * Ricardo Martínez ‘Ricky’ – Lead Vocals/Harp/Tin Whistle * Adrián Flores ‘Kazio’ – Drums * Elias Rubio ‘Ponko’ – Guitar/Backing Vocals * Emanel Muñoz ‘Alan’ – Bass/Backing Vocals * Ricardo Lupercio – Fiddle / Backing Vocals

So at last we move onto the review and I can hear the relief from here! Batallón de San Patricio were formed in July, 2017 in the city of Guadalajara and right from the start the idea was to pay tribute to their namesakes. In many ways the name was a obvious choice for a band whose chief aim was to play Celtic-Punk mixing Irish and Mexican culture. Their first few months were spent practicing and playing covers of you know who (!) and with a few line up changes they were ready to go and began to pay locally and eventually further afield. It’s been a steady procession for the Bhoys with a 6-track demo in 2018, a 2-track single last year and now finally the album has been completed.

The album is titled Hermanos de Guerra (in English Brothers Of War) and was released on May 30th. Recorded at the Bilbao studio  in Guadalajara Mexico by Alex León it’s twelve songs are all sung in Spanish and as I’ve said before I’m a product of the English education system at a time when languages were thought of in the same category as Cooking and Needlework. We had to do them but no care was put into how they were taught. So it is that whatever is being sung about here has, bar a couple of songs, completely passed me by. Not to worry though as the message they spread is a positive one of love, friendship and loyalty. What Celtic-Punk is all about if you ask me.

“We strongly believe in brotherhood, honesty, dignity and respect. Our slogan will always be ‘Family First’. Our music forms part of our life and people around us and to remember those who passed away. We will always step forward on this long hard way making it Green and not forgetting Mexico’s unity with the rest of the world.”

The album begins with the title song ‘Hermanos De Sangre’ and the sound of marching feet soon erupts into a fast and furious Celtic-PUNK number which unless my ears betray tells the story of the St. Patrick’s Battalion. ‘Familia’ featured on their single from last year and unsurprisingly is about the love of family. More folk than it’s predecessor and this will become a common thread throughout the album as they manage record twelve songs that cross all boundaries of Celtic-Folk-Punk and  make an album where each song stands on its own feet. Todo Sigue Igual (in English ‘Everything Remains The Same’) slows things down and the lonesome banjo combined with some beautiful Cowboy atmospheric fiddle and almost verging on Country it threatens to come bursting out the blocks but they quite rightly restrain it when it comes and the song is all the better for it.

It may not be as polished as some releases we review here but those slight rough and ready edges give it a live feel that really works for them. ‘Piratas’ introduces one of my favourite instruments, the harmonica, to the fray alongside banjo, violin, harmonica and Irish flute (which I have only recently realised is what some folk call the tin-whistle) and the usual Punk-Rock instruments of bass, guitar and drums.

Let’s face it it wouldn’t be a Celtic-Punk album without a alcohol song and Después Del Alcohol (- ‘After Alcohol’) begins in an usual way with just bass and banjo but Bhoy is it catchy. El Ultimo Partir (- The Last Leaving) takes the previous songs banjo and turns out a more country-fied song again with excellent fiddle work while ‘Fadir’ even has a bit of an English 80’s Punk vibe around it all be it with the fiddle still fiddling expertly away. As I said they skate round a lot of genres here and I have to admit I am drawn to the less Punky ones and songs like ‘Amigo’ really hit the spot. Catchy, well played and with a nice balance of Punk and Folk. For ‘Viciosa Lujuria’ (- ‘Vicious Lust’) though they return to a classic Celtic-Punk sound with tin-whistle to the fore. The video for ‘Leal’ (- ‘Loyal’) came out on St. Patrick’s Day just gone and is dedicated to all the people who have ever been stabbed in the back by someone they once held dear.

It’s the quickest song here at under two minutes and showcases the banjo admirably as they kick out a straight up Punk number though that doesn’t quite prepare for ‘Asesinos Por Naturaleza’ (- ‘Natural born Killer’) which turns the guitar up to 11 and a heavyness and energy we haven’t seen so far. A cracker of a song and one that will no doubt get the dance floor heaving once a few beers have been downed. The album ends with ‘Trotamundos’ (- ‘Globetrotter’) and a slow funereal end to proceedings.  The Bhoys harmonise together over a gentle tune with only occasional fiddle over the quiet banjo, bass and drums. A quality end indeed.

So there you go and it’s been an enjoyable forty minutes. To be honest this is the kind of album that I would normally buy regardless of what the music sounded like. The very idea of a Mexican Celtic-Punk band and one based inn such noble Irish history just ticks all my boxes. That the music is also pretty damn good is a bonus. Definitely one for our Spanish speaking readers but don’t be dismayed as this is a thoroughly pleasurable album for non speakers too. A great album for all! 

(you can stream or download Hermanos de Guerra on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Hermanos de Guerra  TotemRecords

Contact Batallón De San Patricio  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Batallón De San Patricio played a Live Stream on Facebook last weekend and although tremendous good fun and a brilliant watch they suffered the same fate as we did recently when we featured Callum Houston doing his. That of the dodgy internet connection!!! Well worth persevering with so here’s Part One, Part Two and Part Three. I think I have them in the right order!

ALBUM REVIEW: CelKILT- ‘The Next One Down’ (2020)

French band CelKIlt have long established themselves as one of the Celtic-Punk/Rock scenes heavyweights and here they return with their seventh album The Next One Down.

Trad Celtic-Rockers CelKIlt are back with their seventh album, recorded in Italy, France and Switzerland over several months, its time has unfortunately come in the middle of the clampdown doing away with any chance of decent promotion and it would be tragic if this album were to pass people by because of that. Reviewing CelKilt’s last album in 2017 I made the bold statement that “I’ve had to promote CelKilt up to the Premier League of top celtic-punk bands” and their new album hasn’t changed my opinion much either. They might be famous to a lot of London Celtic Punks readers for their song ‘Everyday’s St Patrick’s Day’ which kicks off the #1 Celtic-Punk compilation (still free and now at well over 1,500 downloads!) Irish Pub Songs- Celtic Punk Sampler.

CelKilt are a five piece Celtic-Punk band from Roanne, near to Lyon, which is pretty much bang in the middle of France and have been together since 2011 what is quite remarkable is that The Next One Down makes it seven albums in only nine years. I know a band who got together in 2010 and are still on one. Not mentioning any names!?!? Their releases include a whole album of Christmas themed originals titled Kiltmas Songs from 2015 as well as a Live album and on top of over 500 live shows they have even toured the USA not once, not twice but an amazing three times!!! They have been invited to play Shamrock Fest twice and in 2018 they returned to the States to play the Flogging Molly Salty Dog Cruise in 2018 (the lucky bastards!). Now not many Euro bands get the chance to go ‘Stateside’ so if you do then that means an awful lot. Last week we reviewed the new album from Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, who also toured the USA, and I would very much class CelKIlt as being in the same league.

Their last album, the excellent Stand, made the Top Thirty Best Celtic-Punk Album of 2017 and when I reviewed it I hadn’t quite realised that their was such a thing as Google Translate so some of the bands history passed me by still it made me concentrate much more on the music than I would perhaps would do for an ‘Irish’ band. A superb mix of AC/DC hard rock, Celtic/Irish melodies and even Pop-Punk and ballads it is a brilliant album and one that I still play regularly. The Next One Down begins with the title track and some heavy and atmospheric piping from new team member Iain are joined by loud guitar before Titou’s great rock vocals come in. He sings in English and it’s clear as crystal and rather ‘theatrical’ in the style I can only describe as Freddie Mercury-esque. The music is more Rock style than Punk influenced but they make up for that next on ‘The Best I Can’ and a straight up Celtic-Punk masterpiece. Lyrically it’s about the environment but not preachy. In fact the opposite in saying it’s good enough to try our best and not make things worse. The song is only just over two minutes long and new band member Iain is much in evidence.

A great video which gets across the energy of the band and considering it’s their live performances that are mainly responsible for winning them their legions of fans it’s done a good job of portraying that. ‘Dig Around’ has some amazing piping and the more rocky sound reminds me of Fiddlers Green or the American bands Seven Nations and the Young Dubliners. Titou’s vocals throughout are another instrument for a band that you’d be amazed consists of only five members. ‘People Are Crazy’ dips it’s toe into some catchy ska/reggae but all the time firmly anchored in Celtic music.

‘Carry On’ is the albums longest song and I suppose a type of bombastic rock ballad. The Celtic side of things on The Next One Down is more subdued than on previous albums I would say but it still makes for a fantastic album given that they always had more of a Celtic spirit than 95% of bands in the scene anyway! The first of the album’s two instrumental is next and while ‘Their Wasabi’ may not be the massive free for all you’re expecting it is extremely well played and as catchy as hell. A word for the cracking video too a perfect example of ‘necessity breeds ingenuity’. The foreboding start to ‘The Road That Takes Me Home’ does not disappoint with its great gang chorus and heavy beat and clever and poignant lyrics.

‘Your Hand’ is the albums most accessible song to ‘outsiders’. The type of song that would appeal to everyone from Celtic-Punk extremists like me right up to your Mam! The Celtic takes a back seat except for Ana’s, as ever, amazing fiddle playing and has traces of Celtic-Rock from bands like U2, Simple Minds or even The Alarm. ‘Dewey’ is the second of the instrumentals here and at only ninety seconds it’s pipe heavy with a hard rock feel. Only a couple to go and both standout tracks with ‘Can’t Go Back’ the fastest song here taking in US style Pop-Punk as well as Calypso too. It’s all here folks!! The curtain comes down with the glorious singalong ‘Whaole’. A modern take on a sea-shanty and bloody brilliant and set to become a crowd favourite I would bet my shirt on.

CelKIlt continue to push the boundaries of Celtic music and with The Next One Down are right to be considered one of the scenes leading lights and internationally acclaimed. The album was mastered by Howie Weinberg, famous for his work with the Dropkick Murphys and other such giants such as Nirvana, Jeff Buckley and Deftones, and it cannot be understated what an amazing job he has done. The album is as close to perfection as you can get. The Celtic base to every song gives CelKilt the chance to spread their wings a little compared to their last LP but doesn’t detract from the overall feel. A great album and in this time of clampdown a ‘goodfeel’ album we desperately need.

Buy The Next One Down  Download  CD-FromTheBand   Vinyl-FromTheBand

Contact CelKilt WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube 

ALBUM REVIEW: UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS- ‘The Men Beyond The Glass’ (2020)

It’s been quite the year for Italian Celtic-Punk so far and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards prove once again that they are ‘Premier League’ with their third album all set to light up the Celtic-Punk world yet again!

Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are without doubt one of the world’s best Celtic-Punk bands. There I said it. It’s out of the way now. One of the most authentic bands in the scene they have a unbelievable crossover appeal to both Punks and Folk fans though they themselves think that they’re

“Too rock for the Folkies and too folk for the Rockies. The Bastards could please or disappoint almost everyone.”

Formed back in 2007 and based in the north of Italy most of the band have lived or spent time in Ireland and have fallen in love with Irish music and culture, playing a completely unique blend of Folk-Rock and Traditional Irish Music. In fact it’s safe to say that Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are unlike any other Celtic-Punk band.

The Men Beyond The Glass is the Bhoys third album and both their previous albums have scored enormous success across the Celtic-Punk world. Debut album Get The Folk Out came out of nowhere to hit #1 as the London Celtic Punks album of the year for 2014 while their follow up album Handmade made #13 in 2017 in what has since been considered the strongest year for Celtic-Punk in recent times. These albums were good enough to earn them a slot at the Dublin Irish Festival, the United States most important Irish music festival, in Ohio in 2019 where they went down a storm and made many friends. Besides the US the band has toured internationally and played more than 400 gigs worldwide, including several times supporting Celtic-Punk legends The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly as well as world renowned traditional Irish acts like The Dubliners, De Danann, Four Men And A Dog, Beoga and Cùig.

The Men Behind The Glass kicks off with ‘Hey Men’ and the glorious drone of the uileann pipes. Much harder to master than Scottish bagpipes and with a much ‘sweeter’ sound it was originally known as píobaí uilleann which translates literally as ‘elbow pipes’. A sound not heard very much in Celtic-Punk but when it is it moves a band from the same league as Leyton Orient up into Champions League territory. Not only that but Luca has truly mastered the instrument and provides an amazing backdrop for the Dirty Bastards to work alongside. The song was written by vocalist Guido whose aching vocals provide a powerful sound for the opening track. This is followed by the first song released from the album ‘Back On Your Feet’ and a song that is perhaps more usual fare for the band than track one.

Fast and catchy with an unmistakable Irish sound it’s a song with both a dark edge and a real catchiness about them and the band are also known for their intelligent lyrics and positive message.

“We spend a life to make it work
It takes a minute to ruin it all
We spent days, months, years
Trying to make it work
But that bloody one minute was worth it all

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again.
Fail again. Fail better.”

‘If Only He Applied Himself’ carries on in the same vein but with the band embracing the Celtic-Punk sound more and more. Think of them as an acoustic Punk band with Silvano’s understated electric guitar works just right in the barrage of sound here. Not only a master of the pipes Luca also excels on the Irish flute and tin whistle. On an album of such quality it is heartening to see that it is truly a band effort with Lorenzo, tenor banjo and mandolin, this time taking on the words and music for ‘Man Of The Storm’. A slow song but with a heavyness to it.

There’s a wealth of good songs here so hard to pick out the best but ‘Happily Misplaced In This World’ is one with a great singalong chorus and Lorenzo’s lyrics emphasise how much affection he has for that wee island on the edge of Europe.

“It’s springing in Dublin this March
And the crowd for Paddy’s day is gone
As I lay down and wait for the first sun
It’s just me and Charles Parnell”

On ‘Wish’ the song tells of a musician looking out on his audience and dreaming. A slow burner with a lovely Irish air to it provided by Luca Rapazzini on the fiddle and a nice touch with trumpet towards the end. ‘Devils Are All Here’ strays into bluegrass a smidgen but still fast and Celt and another killer chorus. ‘Life’s Grand’ has the best lyric of the album without a doubt and though they have that dark edge it’s undercut with a lovely dark humour too’

“Cause life is grand
Yes life is grand
Even when you step into dog shite
And life’s a curse but could be worse
And we would do it all over again”

‘The Count’ opens with the sound of Irish dancing from Irish dancing duo Perla Davide and Letizia Perin and then some of the albums heaviest guitars but still firmly entrenched in their trademark trad Irish sound. Luca’s pipes reign in the catchy and ‘pop’-ish  ‘The Make-Sense-Law’. A great song and a standout here with a real foot tapping/ thigh slapping beat and that piping to die for. ‘Empty Glasses’ gives the Bhoys a chance to ramp it up and get the audience on their feet. With the energy of a Flogging Molly anthem like ‘Drunken Lullabies’ the song rolls along until album closer ‘Get Some Rest’ and a delicate ballad sees the curtain closes on The Men Beyond The Glass. A beautiful song from Lorenzo that fits Guido voice nowhere better.

The album has several interesting guest appearances with Luca Rapazzini on fiddle, Diego Lambertini on trumpet, Lucia Picozzi on accordion and piano, Andrea Verga on clawhammer banjo and Daniele Rigamonti on bodhran with Andrea Rock and Anthony Hind on backing vocals. It was recorded, mixed and mastered at Greenriver Studio, Cavaria con Premezzo by Tancredi Barbuscia who has done an outstanding job in gathering the bands sound together. The power in even the slower songs and ballads shines through the entire album. I’ve said several times this year that I thought that album of the year had already been decided with the debut release from Norway’s Ogras but now I’m not so sure.

In a scene where it is remarkably easy to fall into the cliches of Irish music everything the Bastards put into their music screams originality. It may seem their isn’t always a lot of room for the boundaries of Celtic-Punk to be stretched but Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are as good as band in the scene at stretching them. Fifty minutes that subvert the usual drinking songs that you usually hear on these pages. From the twelve original songs to the very title of the album The Men Beyond The Glass aims to show something different from just them drinking songs, jolly jigs, reels and sombre ballads. Not that the Bastards can’t turn their hand to those songs as well as these songs welcome you behind the artist and past the drinker to meet the men beyond the glass…

Buy The Men Beyond The Glass  CD- FromTheBand

Contact Uncle Bard  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: T.C. COSTELLO- ‘The Bluebird’ (2020)

With the imminent release of his seventh album next week London Irish Folk Punker Anto Morra gives his view on T.C. Costello’s The Bluebird.

The Bluebird will be launched live on Facebook on Thursday where T.C. will be debuting some new songs and a few auld favourites too no doubt.

The last time I graced a stage in London I had the pleasure of performing a song with T.C Costello so if you’re expecting an unbiased review you’re gonna be outta luck as when I took the second wave Punk oath back in 1978, I’ve been cursed into a life of artistic honesty.

T.C’s voice is a very acquired taste but what it lacks in melodic beauty, it more than makes up for in passion, expression and wild abandonment in a similar way to MacGowan and Strummer. As a musician he is quite remarkable and completely fearless, with strange instruments dropping in and out all over the place. Imaging the first Roxy Music album lead by an accordion with Ferry on a mixture of absinth and amphetamine, Eno tripping his bollocks off in a room full of chimes bells and whistles, and Manzanera’s strat replaced by a bunch of strange acoustic stringed instruments from the four corners of the earth, and you may have some idea of what you’re gonna get on his latest offering.

‘The Bluebird’ is quite a leap sonically from his previous ‘100 Years Ago’ album but has not lost any of the energy or joy. I am quite ashamed to admit I struggle with any singing that’s not in English (Even the French bit in The Beatles ‘Michelle’ gets on my nerves) and so the opening song ‘Saeya, Saeya Parang Saeya’ was quite a shock and most certainly a challenge for me, but when I applied the right head space and put aside my narrow little Englander prejudiced approach, I started to love it in a similar way I love these early Thompson Twins song’s ‘Vendredi Saint’ or ‘Animal Laugh’.

The term ‘World Music’ is always one I’ve hated (simply because all music is world music unless it’s been made in space) making it mean nothing along with ‘Fusion’ a fuckin’ bass and drum is a fuckin’ fusion!!! However Folk Punk, Celtic Punk does not seem to fully pigeonhole TC Costello’s music adequately so I’m gonna describe it as ‘World Punk’ as the influences here are from everywhere. The psychedelic 60’s india is pulled into Eastern European Klezmer moments and wrapped around the odd traditional and Irish songs and delivered in that authentic, warm, Greenville South Carolina USA accent. Traditional Irish standard ‘To The Begging I Will Go’ follows and is a song I easily relate too and this is a remarkable arrangement of it that seamlessly slides into Italian protest classic ‘Bella Ciao/Pizzicarella Mia’ the latter part sounding like a beautiful Italian love song delivered on Red Bull and Vodka.

The next two songs are very familiar on the Folk scene since the 60’s revival. ‘The Old Churchyard’ popularised by The Watersons and ‘Lord Randall’ a tale of a fool poisoned by the Fairies.

‘Malena’ is another I have to plead ignorance about but it’s full of emotion, passion and musical dexterity. This takes us into the exceptionally familiar ‘Matty Groves’ sticking lyrically close to the Fairport Convention version but musically much more adventurous. ‘Tramp Tramp Tramp’ is a great song about prejudice and discrimination that I think may have taken the melody from ‘God Save Ireland.’  ‘They’re Red Hot’ is a fantastic break neck folk Rag and before you know it, TC is informing us with great joy “who we can and canae throw off the bus”. I’ve heard more versions of ‘Haul Away Joe’ than you can shake a stick at, but the arrangement and performance is one of the best. It’s how I imagine someone like Nick Cave would approach it, very dark, very tortured passionate and authentic. ‘The Willow Garden’ closes this record appropriately, as it is a traditional murder ballad.

This is not a record for those who want a traditional song played the way they always have been, but for people that want possibilities stretched. It’s one of them you’ll listen to again and again and always hear something else going on, a complete acoustic psychedelic head fuck with all the discordant beauty of the world smashed together and made coherent by the passionately spewed lyrics and vocal delivery.
If you want to be taken from anxiety verging on a panic attack, to manic joy and laughter, then be dropped off at the nearest watering hole to cry in your beer? You better buy this album.

(The Bluebird is available for download from Bandcamp. Only $10 the album is set for release on June 1st and all Proceeds go to International Medical Corps, who provide medical and related services to 30 countries around the world)

Pre-Order The Bluebird From TC

Contact T.C. Costello  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

I’d like to leave you with this little clip from a couple of years ago, when I last played in my beloved home town and it really is the only way to put a band together; it features the great man himself as well as Brendan O’Prey of brilliant Celtic Punk outfit “The Lagan.”

ALBUM LAUNCH LIVE STREAM ANNOUNCEMENT

Par for the course and ages after everyone else has had a go we are doing a series of LiveStreams. We begin with the album launch for The Bluebird. We sadly had to cancel the TC Costello/Tim Holehouse gig but TC still wants to play for his UK based fans so he will be streaming live from South Carolina while hopefully Tim will fit in a show for us soon afterwards.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1150555188477972/

The 20th May was all set for his 5th triumphant return to The Lamb but fear not his UK and European fans T.C. will go live at 8pm (9pm- Europe) direct into our phones and computers via his page https://www.facebook.com/tccostello2/ and will play till his hands go sore… so that’s about a hour. Tune in there and then and we’ll see you in the comments section.

For more details on our exclusive Live Streams check out here

ALBUM REVIEW: THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS- ‘Life On A Ferris Wheel’ (2020)

Imagine if The Dubliners were around now and in their early twenties… then they may sound just like German Celtic-Punkers The Feelgood McLouds do!!

It is very hard when reviewing to figure out how popular a band is. Sure it’s easy enough if you are seeing that band regularly but when it’s one from abroad you can only go on instinct. The Feelgood McLouds are a band that have never appeared on this site before which seems strange especially as we have all been fans of theirs since their debut self titled album in 2017. That debut album saw The Feelgood McLouds pushing the envelope with both bagpipes and a more Streetpunk/ Oi! sound, both highly unusual for German Celtic-Punk bands. The album though utterly brilliant seemed to bypass the usual media and was completely ignored by us for some inexplicable reason as I can confirm it was a pretty decent debut.

So here we are in May 2020 and I cannot possibly imagine a worse time to release a record with the opportunity to promote Life On A Ferris Wheel almost non-existent. With no sign of the ‘clampdown’ being relaxed it is a refreshing attitude to say “Hey, Life goes on” and say “Damn it!” and just put it out. The boys are a relatively new band, being formed in January 2015 in the city of Saarbrücken in the southwestern German state of Saarland. Now the Germans have taken to Celtic-Punk like no other country in Europe has and they have a wealth of really excellent bands but The Feelgood McLouds do more than enough to make themselves stand out. While most of these bands take a more Folk orientated route the McLouds are unashamedly Punk Rock and you could categorise the difference as being Do Or Die Dropkick Murphys and post- Mike McColgan Dropkick Murphys. That is not to say they are a straight up Punk band as they are most definitely not and they manage to combine that Streetpunk sound with Irish/Celtic melodies and instrumentation really well and authentically. The band themselves describe their sound as

“like NOFX and the Dropkick Murphys are meeting in an Irish pub for an endless party”

which is fair enough but I also feel detracts from their ‘Celticness’ a little.

Life On A Ferris Wheel came out a couple of days ago on Wolverine Records,  one of the best known Punk labels in Germany and one that has seen its fair share of Celtic-Punk releases from bands like Bastards On Parade, Jamie Clarkes Perfect and The Mahones. Released on digipak and vinyl the album runs for an impressive near forty minutes and even more importantly, for us, its all original material with not a hint of a ‘Wild Rover’ or a meadow in Galway. The album kicks off with ‘Spineless Mass’ and if you heard that debut album you  may be expecting more of the Oi!/ Celtic crossover sound but here they have taken a Folky route but without losing any of their trademark speedy delivery and Punk rock attitude. Günther’s vocals are perfect for their sound and on ‘Foggy Days’ they come across as a sort of Flogging Molly/ Street Dogs hybrid with his vocals gruff and coarse and with the rest of the band joining in at intervals it makes the song a high point of the album. The first song released was ‘Moonshiners’ accompanied by a simple but effective and well made video of German bar life surrounded by adoring fans but guys what is it with the head on them beers?

Its a great song and pure Celtic-Punk and while I feel they have toned down their sound somewhat I also feel it is for the better and I’m a person that prefers Celtic-PUNK! Catchy and well played with a killer chorus and some great accordion from Benni. Their are flashes of the auld McLouds with ‘Mad O’Riley’ playing as mostly straight forward Punk but with a nice Irish interlude at several points through the song. In common with a lot of Euro bands they inject a spot of Ska into proceedings and ‘Lovers And Friends’ takes an anti-racist stance without being preachy and po-faced and plays with great humour and cool lyrics. Again the accordion shines here. There is a lot going on in their songs and at times they are banjo led and other times accordion which must make it difficult live as Benni is the man behind both instruments. Halfway through with the country tinged ‘Off The Rails’ and its all first class but not heard a great deal of the much vaunted Bagpipes yet. ‘King For A Day’ is fast and furious at just over a couple of minutes and for the first time since the opening track the pipes get a proper good airing and its well worth it. ‘Last Hurray’ flies by in just over a minute and with the manic banjo plucking reminds me of Mick O’Toole. ‘Drink To All My Friends’ features Valerio guesting on vocals from Berlin based Ska-Punk band The Offenders and was the albums second single release. The Offenders are probably best known for last years single ‘Rose Thorn’ featuring the distinctive voice of the wee legend himself Frankie McLaughlin.

Take a minute or two to check out the fantastic accompanying video which goes to show that even in these testing times a bit of imagination can produce something really good and clever. A great song would be good and that is delivered too with another banjo heavy number. ‘Runaway’ has Eastern influences while Gunthers vocals verge on Death Metal but we are back in traditional Celtic-Punk territory for the final two tracks with the pacey ‘Behind Black Eyes’ and the sad swirling of ‘In Our Pub’.

Twelve tracks all written by the band themselves and not a single duff note among them. The McLouds are making a name for themselves and as is evident from the songs here their live show must be bloody manic. Singalong choruses, catchy rhythms, loads of different influences (which don’t detract from the Celtic feel of things), hard and fast Punk at times and a more trad Celtic at others its a extremely well paced album that, as someone else said in a review it is “never boring” and that is absolutely the truth. The Feelgood McLouds may not be a band on every bodies lips just yet but Life On A Ferris Wheel is hopefully set to change that but anyway the message the bands hope finds its way into your ears is “We drink to all our friends and we’ll never go home!” and to that I can can raise a glass also. Sláinte.

(The Feelgood McLouds live in concert May, 2019 in Cologne, Germany)

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ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Comedies And Tragedies’ (2020)

Since their arrival on the Celtic-Punk scene back in 2013 Black Water County have become one of its shining lights swiftly going from support slots to headline act right across the country. Marv runs the rule over their second album which shows them maturing into an act that is preparing for BIG things.

Back in September 2019 I was lucky enough to spend a day in the studio with Black Water as they were putting the finishing touches to their new album Comedies and Tragedies at The Ranch Production House in Hampshire. It was a lot of fun to spend time with the band and get the skinny on the new album. It was clear from the run-throughs that they were gestating a banging new set of tracks and it was a real pleasure to see it unfold.

As anyone familiar with their evolution will know, Black Water County has gone from strength to strength in the past couple of years. After a couple of EPs, their debut album Taking chances met with almost universal acclaim a couple of year ago. Their brand of fast and uproarious Guinness-and-Cider-soaked mayhem has proven impossible to resist in the grass roots folkpunk live scene. Particularly in the west country but also further afield and their gigs are usually loud, sweaty parties of booze-driven joy. I was at the front for their Bimble Inn debut at Beautiful Days Festival in 2018. Their follow-up Beautiful Days set in 2019 was a glorious party, packed to the 2000-capacity gunnels for a triumphant set of classic BWC before an adoring crowd, all intent on singing and dancing their arses off.

With the new album they have come of age. It’s the same Black Water County we know and love, the same level of hard-working folkpunks songs seemingly designed with the specific intention of putting a grin on your face and movement in your body. However they have upped their game. It’s smoother and yet simultaneously coarser. More complex whilst at the same time retaining their raw and rowdy energy. Vocal duties continue to be shared between Shannon and Tim with lashings of gorgeous harmonies from the rest of the band. Gone are some of the more comedic vocals and themes (brilliant and humorous though they were), to be replaced with more songs of wistful loss, conflicted angst and other contemplative themes, but all pounded together skillfully with blistering drums and musicianship. I even noticed some solo bass runs in there and some screaming electric guitar amongst the manic fiddle, banjo and lord knows what else; it’s all in there! A beautiful cacophony of distilled folkpunk bliss!

The songs are all new of course, yet instantly familiar. If you love Black Water County you will adore this album. There is no let up in the fellowship of the craic (the title of one of their early EPs) a perfect description of their unwritten manifesto. If you want a taster to see if it’s up your alley, find the track Darkest Days, it is both quintessential Black Water County and the perfect showcase of their new raw sound. How the hell did they manage to do that in a single song? It beats me, but I’m too busy wallowing in the glory to question it further.
The Rise and continued Rise of Black Water County; long may it continue.

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Photos courtesy of Marvellous Gig Photography camera for hire!

ALBUM REVIEW: CLOVER’S REVENGE- ‘Truants And Absolution’ (2020)

Based In Sarasota, Florida, Irish Speed Folk trio Clover’s Revenge exist at the dangerous intersection of two great Irish musical traditions: Acoustic pub music and Celtic-Punk-Rock. Their second full length release, Truants And Absolution, came out on Paddy’s Day.

The new album from Clover’s Revenge carries on in much the same vein as their debut release Gotta Get O’Raggednized. Very simple instrumentation with an emphasis on traditional Irish music but done with barrel loads of humour and charm. The review for their debut album declared them very much a pub band and I can still find no disagreement with that after listening to Truants and Absolution as well and just like their debut it is restricted to eight songs and while that may feel a bit on the short side at twenty-four minutes it’s not too bad. The songs are a mixture of well known classic trad and folk songs and some not so well known (but I wouldn’t quite say obscure) and the odd original track.

Clover’s Revenge left to right: Beau Wilberding- Cajon Drum * John Barron- Mandolin * Zach Johnson- Guitar *

Based in Florida I had always thought the area was largely untouched by Irish immigration but a staggering one-in-nine Florida residents are of Irish or Scotch-Irish ancestry. That works out at over two million folks!!! The Florida Irish claim to fame is that Father Richard Arthur, St. Augustine parish priest, started the first public school in America in 1606. Open to children of both sexes and of all races!  Since that time, the Irish in Florida have proudly played and continue to play key roles in the history and heritage of the state. So it is that wherever you find the Irish you will find several bands of hearty folks willing to entertain them and in Florida they don’t come any bigger, or better, than Clover’s Revenge.

Debuting, like many other bands, on St. Patrick’s Day Clovers Revenge first saw the light of day in 2015 and have performed all over the State as well as regular trips back to the ‘homeland’ while 2020 was set to be a BIG year for the Bhoys with a Northeast/Midwest tour booked in June and then in July a series of gigs in Scotland which was also going to see them perform a one-off London date organised by us. As time has ticked on these dates have looked increasingly unlikely to happen sadly but we can but hope. The band were formed by frontman, lead singer and mandolin player John Barron and he is ably backed up by Dr. Zachary Johnson, on vocals and guitar and Beau Wilberding, who also sings and plays the cajon, a box-shaped percussion instrument played with the hands. Taking influence from modern day Irish-American bands as well as the irreverence of The Pogues they manage while not bringing anything particularly new to Irish music certainly they make music that is fresh and appealing and in the right setting (guess where!!) is most definitely enjoyable.

Labelled ‘Irish Speed Folk’ Truants and Absolution kicks off with a song much loved in Irish Folk and Celtic-Punk and no matter how often I hear it I never tire of ‘The Leaving Of Liverpool’, especially when it’s played well like it is here. The song has a natural energy and a great tempo for ‘punking’ it up and Clover’s Revenge give it plenty of oompf. I also love the harmonica at the beginning (a much underused instrument in folk these days) and the song also has a touch of bluegrass/ country at times. Next is the first original and ‘The Maid Behind The Bar’ and John certainly has a voice that fits in perfectly with the sound of the band. It may not be Frank Sinatra but its slightly rough edges are perfect for Irish music. The song is dedicated to the priestesses of fun at the altars of our joy and in particular one Danae Chiaudano from McCabes Irish Pub in Bradenton, Florida who has kept the Bhoys beer glasses over-flowing through the years. It is set to be the albums second single release.

The following is a mashup of two jigs ‘Old Hag You Have Killed Me / Dinny Delaney’ and is absolutely stunning. Amazing in its simplicity and yet sounding like several more people were plucking away rather than just John and Zach. That big sound continues next with another original Clover’s Revenge song, this time written by Zachary and instrumental called ‘The Ahdmor Jig’ which soon morphs into a loud and rowdy version of ‘Tell Me Ma’ and if Leaving Of Liverpool is popular in Celtic-Punk then this has to be the #1 song of all time. Played with reckless abandon the song is irresistible played by most but Clover’s Revenge nail it. The first single from the album was another original and one the lads may go to hell for! ‘The Merry Misadventures Of Sister Mary Margaret’ is fast approaching a healthy 10,000  streams on Spotify and has seen plenty of airplay both within and outside the Celtic scene. Composed by John and arranged by the band it’s a great auld romp about a gambling obsessed Nun. My Mum went to convent school and we had plenty of Nuns teaching at my secondary school and so its hard to get offended ‘cos if you ever actually knew any nuns and while they did have their fair share of hard nosed task-masters their were also ones who loved music and football and the horses!

‘Big Strong Man’ is best known to us as one of the signature tunes of the great Wolfe Tones and with no record of who or when it was written it was the Tones version that claimed it as an Irish-American song helped no doubt by the reference to Irish-American boxer Jack Dempsey. Another well chosen track and in keeping with the high tempo sound of the album and no doubt a live favourite with its catchy as feck singalong chorus.

“He was my brother Sylvest (What’s he got?)
A row of forty medals on his chest (Big Chest!)
Well, he killed fifty badmen in the west
He knows no rest, thinkin’ a man’s hell fire
Don’t push, just shove, plenty of room for you and me
He’s got an arm like a leg
And a punch that can sick a battle ship (Big Ship!)
Well it takes all the army and the navy to put the wind up Sylvest”

The album comes to an end with a epic version of the great American traditional folk ballad, ‘The Lakes of Pontchartrain’. At over six minutes long its quite the departure on an album of short, fast and friskey numbers but I needn’t have worried as the band have interpreted the song into a musical tour-de-force. Again the origins of the song are unknown, though it is thought to have originated in the southern US in the 19th century. The story tells of a man who is sheltered by a Louisiana Creole woman who he falls in love with but when he asks her for her hand in marriage she declines as she is already engaged. The course of true love never runs smooth in Folk music! The highlight of the album for me its a great song owing much to Paul Brady’s version and a utterly superb way to close down the album.

So eight songs (or is it more like ten?) of simple Irish Folk music that the lads don’t mind admitting are heavily influenced by ‘more talented Irish musicians from history’ and their is absolutely no shame in that at all. Like their debut Truants And Absolution is best heard live but they’ve done a wonderful job transferring that live sound onto disc and the album reflects their live performance pretty damn well. A sound we were looking forward to hearing in auld London town in July and while we are still hopeful there’s no guarantees of bloody anything in 2020!

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE BOOMTOWN RATS- ‘Citizens of Boomtown’ (2020)

One of the biggest bands of their generation and fronted by a real larger than life character the first album from legendary Dublin band The Boomtown Rats in thirty-six years is finally out. Gerry Mellon gives us the rundown on the Rats sixth album.

Before I start, I must tell you that when Bob and the lads announced a tour after their big success at the Isle of White festival in 2013, I was one of the first people in the queue for tickets. Their return to London at Camden’s Roundhouse the following year was absolutely fantastic. When they played Rebellion in 2015, Bobs digs at “old bald blokes in black tee shirts and Primark shorts”, showed us he had lost none of his acerbic wit! Many were disappointed, I was delighted. So, when the head Celtic Punk said the Boomtown Rats had a new album out, I was the perfect fella to take a look at it. I was almost as excited as when I heard John Peel introduce Looking After No 1 on his legendary show back in the 70s.

Many of you will have heard Trash Glam Baby, the first single off the album. It’s also the first track on it. The hints toward Bowie and ‘Glam Rock’ are plain to hear and made me wonder what direction this album was going in. It’s not the in your face outpouring of youth angst that the first, self-titled, disc delivered. In fact, the hook line “Another Shit Saturday Night, would seem to apply to a jaded middle aged narrator. The type of person many of us aging punks has become. Anyway, it’s a good, if not exciting, opening track. Sweet Thing is the second track and the minute it starts, you think you’ve heard it somewhere before. It is so reminiscent of Neon Heart from the first album, that if someone else did it the Rats would soon have them in court!! That’s not to say that it’s a bad track, in fact it sounds quite strong and I’d love to hear a live version.

Older Rats left to right: Pete Briquette, Simon Crowe and Garry Roberts, Bob Geldof

Monster Monkeys is the third track, and it’s a flat-out bluesy offering, rhythm runs right through it and it features some great guitar work. You can picture The Nightlife Thugs (the Rats original name) playing this back in the day in Dublin. When an experienced group of musicians and producers get together and really gel, then you get excellent tracks like this. I’m not too sure what it’s about, but it’s a cracker that gets better with every listen. More R’nB follows on track four with She Said No. Old school rhythm and blues played with heart and soul, a sexy blast of fun. This track would be a brilliant live one, getting the crowd to join in with the No No Nos!! Love this one. Track five is Passing Through, an apt title because it’s one of those that after the first couple of listens you just skip passed it! I’m not sure if it’s an attempt at a ballad or a pastiche of those awful 80s cringe songs that used to turn up in shite movies or on Miami Vice! Jayzus lads, but it’s a poor effort from ye! A dirge!

The Ballymun 80s style that spawned “Passing Through”!!

Thankfully track six’s Here’s A Postcard lifts the mood with a sound like a 60s mod band singing about sunny London. It makes me jealous of the London summers now that I’m living on the western edge of the continent. It’s an upbeat song about sunshine, quite poppy, but still well worth listening to. Maybe a summer single? Track seven is another, better, upbeat number called K.I.S.S and this one is brilliant, just plain brilliant! It’s a mishmash of styles from folk to hip hop and it works a treat.

If you remember Billy Joel’s We Didn’t start the Fire, well this is similar, but much more listenable and singable and danceable. A standout track. I’ll have to give it a few more spins to find out what it’s about, but the beginning chorus line of “Oh Shut Your Mouth” had me singing along and thinking of the late great Joe Strummer. (Really good tracks have that effect on me!! Dunno why!!).

Rats plugging the Rats!

Track eight brings us Rock ‘n Roll Ye Ye Ye, a song that will make you think of the great Southern Rock acts from the US like Lynyrd Skynrd. It’s a good rock standard, singing the praises of our own culture. How a blast of good old Rock ‘n’ Roll can cure so many ills. Great backing singers on this and a very good track. Get A Grip is track nine and at the start you think a Pet Shop Boys tribute act are starting, but it soon morphs into a pleasant enough quick beat type of track, the tempo is great and pushes it through really well. The last track is a live favourite, The Boomtown Rats. I’d guess that most of you will have heard it by now, it’s not the best track on the album, but it’s still a glorious sing/shout along number that the band use to introduce their shows.

Happy rats!

So that’s it, ten tracks from Dublin’s finest. I have to admit that I’m pleasantly surprised. Anyone who has listened to some of Bob’s solo work will know he always had that edginess to his writing. Well it’s on display here, although the rest of the band have smoothed down the really hard edges. It’s not A Tonic For The Troops, but is that no bad thing? The band has changed and grown just like the rest of us. There are no real Celtic style songs here, but with any band that hails from Ireland you can feel the Irishness in the melodies and the composure of the music. There are four standout tracks on this album, the rest are way better than average apart from maybe one real turkey of a song that should have been shot the minute it escaped Bob’s lips. They’re doing a tour once this virus has been beaten and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate beating the virus than spending time with The Rats!

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ALBUM REVIEW: KRAKIN’ KELLYS- ‘Burn Your Flag’ (2020)

My favourite Celtic-Punk band in the whole wide world are back with their second album and needless to say it’s another belter to beat up the floor to.

The last couple of years have been out of this world for Belgian band Krakin’ Kellys. Only formed in 2017 they have far and away been the Celtic-Punk critics and fans favourite band. Announcing their arrival on the scene with debut album Promised Land and a series of fantastic videos I even used the phrase I hate the most “this is a must have album!” to end the review! It’s fair to say it bowled me over and at the end of 2018 the album romped home as Best Debut Album of the year and 4th best overall. They cemented their popularity further by winning the London Celtic Punks Readers Pick of the year polling and incredible 32.38% out of 522 votes. Since then they have consolidated their popularity and last year saw them release of the Irish Tribute EP. Six classic Irish folk music tunes beefed up with heavy punk-rock riffs. The songs were an inspired choice with, bar ‘The Irish Rover (!), them avoiding the world of ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and ‘Black Velvet Band’. David’s vocals standing out loud and proud and gruff and smoky against a backdrop of pure Irish Folk-Punk. I ended that review with a very telling quote about them “they show a love and respect for source material that you would not expect for a band from the heavier side of Celtic-Punk” and this is one of the reasons they have gone down so well.

Their third release is Burn Your Flags and came out on this years ill fated St. Patrick’s Day (every single year I am still reviewing Paddy’s Day releases well into May!!!) and like everyone else their album promotional tour fell at the corona virus hurdle. So much thought and planning and thought had gone into making this years even more spectacular than usual only for the day to fall apart as cancellations began in the run up to the 17th eventually taking pretty each everything worldwide. Just to make matters worse the sun was cracking the pavement here in south-west London! Trapped in the house with only Guinness Original and pizza and crisps the day was made better by a handful of things. Among them the stella live stream performances from New Yorkers 1916 and, of course, the Dropkick Murphys and the chance to play Burn Your Flag every opportunity I could. So without any live gigs to promote it the album has had a rather subdued release which we hope to rectify now if only in a very small way.

Krakin’ Kellys from left to the right : Olivier Drèze (Drum) * Stephan Mossiat (Bass) * Pierre-Yves Berhin (Accordion) * David Leroy (Lead Vocals) * Matthieu Hendrick (Guitar) * Rémi Decker (Bagpipes & Whistles )

Burn Your Flag offers nothing new in the Krakin’ Kellys arsenal that is true. Twelve original songs all written by the band that continue in pretty much exactly the same vein as their previous two releases have. Now their is nothing wrong with that at all. After all when you got a winning formula you don’t suddenly start chopping and changing especially when it starts working for you and a winning formula is what Krakin’ Kellys have. They got the formula but have they got the tunes and once again the answer is a resounding YES! The album kicks off with the sound of bagpipes onFreedom And Whiskey’ and Krakin’ Kellys have not only one of the best pipers in Celtic-Punk with Rémi but also one of the best accordion players too in Pierre-Yves who also does the fabulous artwork for the Kellys releases under his ‘business’ name Hamo. Guitarist Matthieu is responsible for much of the leg work in promoting the band and their fantastic videos (more on them in a bit) and also helped record and master the album with Nicola Lomartire. The song drifts along at a fair old pace and is very Celtic but it is only when David’s vocals start that the song become proper Krakin’ Kellys fair. His raspy vocals sit nicely on top of chugging guitars and Punk drums and bass. It’s the sort of song you could play someone and they wouldn’t necessarily get the Celtic aspect of the song. A great fist in the air chorus and as catchy as anything I’ve heard this year it already says to me that Finnegans Hell will have competition for the Best Album Of 2020. I can see I’m going to over-use the word ‘catchy’ doing this review so from now on just assume each song is ca**hy. ‘Bigger Plan’ keeps the energy level to max and tin-whistle adds to the Celtic feel to it alongside, even for them, heavy guitar. The style of Punk I feel they are closest too would be that of bands like Leatherface who could play at 100 mph and still be totally melodic and accessible. Like Leatherface they also possess a wonderful sense of humour like o‘Not A Mermaid’. Another reason for their immediate success in the scene was their brilliant videos (as directed by Matthieu) and they nail again in the video for ‘Today’s The Day’. Seemingly filmed at the last available chance before ‘virus lockdown’ its shows the band members playing their bits at home surrounded by their families. Truly wonderful piece of work and a nice insight into their lives.

Most of the songs here hover around three and a half minutes. Standard in Punk really. Their are no ‘epics’ just speedy Punk Rock with a tonne of Celtic/ Gaelic melodies. On ‘Just Remember’ they also throw a touch of ‘Gallic’ flair too while ‘Payback’ actually at times comes close to trad Irish. ‘The Champ Is Here’ seems like straight forward Punk but those Folk instruments come in and take the song in another direction. These songs are written with the Celtic side very much in mind and though they could probably get away with being just another decent Punk band it is with the addition of those Celtic instruments that they stand out from the crowd. The title song, ‘Burn Your Flag’, is of course one of the highlights and half way through gives Pierre-Yves the opportunity to play a Punk-Rock accordion solo.  ‘Crazy Dancer’, ‘Golden Youth’, ‘No Regrets’ and ‘Cletus The Great’ all follow the same standard. Catchy (their I have said it!) as hell, super energetic Celtic-Punk that manages to keep the songs completely different enough in style so that nothing here sounds the same so the running length of the album never starts to grate on you.

We are nearing the end and ‘We Are The Freaks’ was the albums first single and another outstanding video too. I implore you to take the time out to watch their videos. Their is so much going on that the music only adds to their appeal. The albums ‘curtain closer’ is ‘Scars’ and a positive message played in a fast punk song with a singalong chorus and pint in the air close. There’s a great version of it here on RTBF a French language web-site so foo,ow the link and check that out.

So if you are stuck at home, like you should be, then if you are anything like me it is music that is keeping you sane. It’s no wonder Krakin’ Kellys are considered one of the best bands in Celtic-Punk and it is at times like this we need to support the people who bring us such enjoyment so please consider buying the album and give these guys. This is music to dance your ass off to and though it may be a while before we get the chance to do so together move the chairs back and let yourself go after all we still have beer!!!

(you can stream Burn Your Flag below on the Bandcamp player before you buy it!)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE MAHONES- ‘Unplugged’ (2020)

The Mahones have always been one of Celtic-Punk’s heavyweights and last month celebrated their 30th anniversary in style with another knockout album to add to their ‘Irish Punk Collection’!

The Mahones are well regarded amongst Celtic-Punk fans and recognised indeed as pioneers of the scene. Formed in 1990 on St. Patrick’s Day in Kingston, Ontario as a band for a one-off show their reception was such that they would go onto become one of the most famous DIY Punk bands in the world and one of the hardest working bands out there. Their tours each year take them right across Europe and North America to every nook and cranny. In fact at this moment in time they ought to be on tour in Australia with The Go-Set! With a stack of studio albums behind them as well as Best Of’s, Live Albums, Compilations even tribute albums their back catalogue is second to none in the scene and to add to them now is this compilation of acoustic, mainly original, Mahones tracks taken from throughout their career.

I’m a sucker for albums like this and I’m sure those of you of a certain age will well remember Nirvana’s triumphant Unplugged album that set the scene for many albums of this kind afterwards. The Mahones may be one of the biggest ‘good time’ bands around but these songs given a raw and intimate performance gives them a new lease of life. The Mahones main attraction has always been their songwriting and whether wrapped around a three minute Punk Rock mosh pit filler or a five minute ballad the effect is much the same. Here Dublin born frontman Finny McConnell comes into his own and already famed for his ached and emotional way of singing his voice really suits these songs new arrangements.

The album begins with the romantic ‘Girl With Galway Eyes’ originally recorded for 2010’s Black Irish. Played at much the same tempo like the majority of songs here it becomes a new song played like this. ‘Rise Again’ is from the album of the same name from 1996 and is a bit of a cheat as it was acoustic then too! Still it’s a nice updating. ‘A Little Bit Of Love’ comes from 2006’s Take No Prisoners and Finny is accompanied on vocals by Canadian-Irish singer-songwriter Damhnait Doyle. So far the influence of country has been trying to make it’s presence felt and here it takes over but not in a cheesy way at all. This is followed by a couple of live set favourites with the fiddle heavy ballad ‘London’ and ‘Draggin’ The Days’ both from the early days of the band as well as the next, ‘Cocktail Blue’ and these songs lyrically show The Mahones singing about the Irish emigrant experience of drink, work and loneliness. The days of the Irish student gap-year supported financially by Mammy and Daddy were decades away. Back then the Irish emigrant was almost exclusively working class and like the generations who left before them worked the shittiest jobs and lived in the roughest and toughest areas. Like the best Irish singer-songwriters Finny takes you back to those days and makes you re-live them with him. ‘Far Away’, ‘Night Train To Paris’, ‘Will Ya Marry Me’, ‘100 Bucks’ and ‘Back Home’ also come from those early days and ‘Unplugged’ is becoming a really nice overview of those early albums and it’s even better to hear a few songs that don’t get played anymore. This is the sort of album that will have you re-visiting your record collection to search out the original. I haven’t played The Mahones so much since I started listening to this one!! Next up is arguably their most famous song, ‘Celtic Pride’, and the one that introduced yours truly to The Mahones. The title track for the 1996 film of the same name about two Irish-American Boston Celtics basketball fans starring Dan Aykroyd and Damon Wayans. I remember watching the film and sitting by the telly with a pen and a bit of paper trying to catch the name of the band on the soundtrack! It’s commendable that Finny has recorded an album of mostly originals and also songs from across The Mahones songbook but ‘Hurt’, famously recorded by the legend Johnny Cash towards his final days, is one of the albums highlights here, Finny’s vocals fit superbly and the slow accordion easily nails the sound. Written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails he described the song as being “a track I wrote in my bedroom at a black moment” but it was Johnny’s amazing version that brought the song to the public’s attention. Another highlight is Simon Townshend of The Who providing acoustic guitar and harmony vocals on ‘Stars’ telling the sad tale of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. Convicted of “gross indecency” at a time when homosexuality was illegal, he was imprisoned and died in poverty in 1900 at the tragically early age of 46. One of The Mahones best more modern songs it has a chorus that is out of this world and would I am sure have Oscar looking down with grace and a twinkle in his eye. We are nearing the end and it’s clear Finny writes directly from the heart and on ‘Someone Saved Me’ it can sometimes feel like you’re sitting in on a private conversation. Finny has experienced much tragedy in the last few years which we won’t go into here but if music can save us (the listener) then it can also save them (the performer) too. The curtain call for the album is another in the same style ‘Never Let You Down’ featuring singer-songwriter  Sarah Harmer and her stunning voice is the perfect counterpoint to Finny’s. A slow burner of a song that slowly builds and builds and with the aid of tin-whistle and mandolin it’s the most Celtic sounding song on their last album Love + Death + Redemption from 2018.

So another release from the ever prolific Mahones and for me one of their best in recent years. Their is nothing here that most die-hard Mahones fans won’t have heard before but these new interpretations are worth getting as the often subtle and occasionally overt differences in the songs really make he songs sound fresh and even original. Their is plenty left in The Mahones cannon but this is probably the best imaginable way they could have celebrated thirty years on the road.

(Stream The Mahones Unplugged on the Soundcloud player below)

Buy The Mahones Unplugged  Download- NorthEndRecords  CD- Here Here

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EP REVIEW: BRAVE THE SEA- ‘The Murders Three’ (2020)

The brand new E.P from Newark, OH Celtic Punk band, Brave The Sea sees them take on three traditional folk tunes or as they say “murder them” in the classic Brave The Sea style.

Now the first thing to note is that Brave The Sea don’t actually come from near they sea. That’s not to say they don’t have saltwater running through their veins though. We have to go back to the Summer of 2015 when four friends in the small industrial town of Newark, Ohio decided to get together and form a band with the aim to cover everything from trad Irish tunes to well chosen covers of the more famous Celtic-Punk bands. Originally called A Pirate’s Life and unsurprisingly they played it Pirate style! A year later they had enough material under their belt to release an album and decided to shift course and become Brave The Sea. That album titled A Pirate’s Life in homage to their original roots as a band saw the light of day in 2017. This was followed last year with The Kraken and again highlighted their unique sound and Celtic-Rock riffs.

The state of Ohio, like everywhere in North America, has strong links back to the auld country and their are over 1,500,000 people of Irish descent there. The Irish in Newark are served well by Ohio Irish-American News and the towns multiple Irish bars (the oldest surviving being McGovern’s Tavern opened in 1936 and still thriving) present the most obvious connection. Irish culture and traditions have played an important role in Newark since the Irish first came to the city escaping An Gorta Mór in the mid-nineteenth century settling for its burgeoning industrial connections.

Brave The Sea from left to right: Dennis B.- Drums * Mattie T.- Mandolin/ Guitar/ Vocals *  Will John- Accordion * Vito G.- Vocals * Matt B.- Guitar * R. Boggs- Bass *

The boys were set for a great series of St. Patrick’s shows, including three in the Celtic-Punk capital of Boston, till you-know-what reared it’s ugly head and forced them to cancel everything so the EP’s release has been a bit subdued. Hopefully this wee review will help rectify that, if only in a small way. On their previous releases they have concentrated on their own material but here on The Murders Three they take on (“murder”) three well known traditional songs kicking off with ‘Old Maui’. This has become a bit of a staple among the Celtic-Punk community with it often sung acapello. 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. To be honest I was dreading another acapello version but Brave The Sea steam straight into

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

it and its a fast and furious ride through 180 seconds of fast Celtic-Punk/Metal that sticks closely to the tune despite the furious drumming and Vito’s gruff shouty vocals. Tremendous and a guaranteed floor filler I would imagine. Next up is ‘Bully Boys’ and at first hear it sounds like another mid-19th century sea shanty but is in fact a song written by the Newfie Bros. of Great Big Sea, for the 2010 Russell Crow film Robin Hood. Again the melody remains the same but Brave The Sea throw their all into the song and make it a real foot stamper. The EP ends with the famous Irish rebel song ‘Come Out You Black And Tans’. Normally this the song that the band walk out to at live gigs and here they play a great rabble rousing version with the beautiful voice of local singer/songwriter Bonnie Humble kicking things off and some great mandolin plucking from Mattie. This song has seen a renaissance recently especially in Ireland, reaching #1 in the music charts, as it became the focal point for the campaign against the traitorous Irish government’s bold (!) idea to commemorate both the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police two forces famed for their brutality during the Irish War of Independence. The very idea was soon put to the sword and ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ gained a very welcome second lease of life.

The songs were recorded and mastered by: Tim Waters at Radio City Records and as usual for Brave The Sea the amazing artwork was supplied by Omnigraphicon. In common with a lot of bands with intended releases this month their plans have had to be radically altered and with no gigs to promote the single its up to us and you to help the fella’s out. Send them a couple of quid for the EP and lets keep Celtic-Punk on the one road!

Buy The Murders Three CD’s- Here  Download- Amazon

Contact Brave The Sea  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

ALBUM REVIEW: FINNEGAN’S HELL- ‘Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class’ (2020)

The new album from Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell takes Ramones flavoured Celtic drinking songs and chucks them in the mixer with Hillbilly Country, Folk-Rock, metal, Swedish Folk and even Reggae for an intoxicating brew for St. Patrick’s week!

I first became aware of Finnegan’s Hell when I was exposed to the video for their excellent version of The Dubliners ‘The Molly Maguires‘. Dressed in pit gear and with sooty faces the boys ran threw 2:24 minutes of hyper energetic Celtic-Punk that has long sailed past 1,000,000 views. The boys nailed the song and it has become one of a handful songs that constantly pops up across the media whenever Celtic-Punk is mentioned. Formed in 2010 from members from the Swedish towns of Malmö, Lund and Gothenburg the Bhoys prepared for their debut release by getting in as many gigs as possible. The self titled EP features their YOU Tube hit as well as two traditional Irish Folk standards and a couple of self-penned songs which certainly put Finnegan’s Hell on the European Celtic-Punk map. The following year they recorded ‘The Boys In Green Will Conquer‘ for a competition on Irish TV to find a suitable anthem for the Ireland team for Euro 2012. This led to them being described brilliantly as

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

in the Irish media. The following year they again achieved a internet sensation when they released ‘Drunken Christmas’. Voted #1 ‘Christmas song of the year’ by Swedish music magazine Gaffa the video has passed 300,000 views and led to them signing for Heptown Records. Next up was their debut album and Drunk, Sick And Blue was released to great fanfare. Well received across the Celtic/Folk-Punk media as one of the best Celtic punk releases of the year its ten tracks flew past at only twenty-three minutes. The albums songs were a mix of self-penned, trad Folk covers and some re-recorded tracks including the definitive version of ‘The Molly Maguires’.

Live the band continued to gig relentlessly across Europe and was awarded with being voted “best foreign band” at the huge Woodstock Festival in Poland in 2015. They have played Ireland several times and even visited London back in 2017 unbeknown to us. The next big event in the recording history of Finnegan’s Hell wasn’t to be till four years later in 2018 with the release of their follow up album Life and Death. This time the album contained all self penned tracks based around the theme of life and death. A roller coaster ride from the cradle to the grave and those four years playing the songs live before recording showed a band that had perfected their sound. Since then they have signed for Wild Kingdom Records and this week sees the release of Finnegan’s Hell’s third album the wonderfully titled Work Is The Curse Of The Curse Of The Drinking Class.

Finnegan’s Hell left to right: Reverend Mick Finnegan * Pabs Finnegan * Old Roxy * Ace Finnegan * Cozy Finnegan * San Finnegan *

It is the album’s title song that kicks the album off and ‘Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class’, modestly sub-titled “probably the best drinking anthem in the world”, is a short, fast and downright furious Celtic-Punk belter. Their sound is dominated by the banjo and accordion, a sound that has influenced bands across Europe from England’s Mick O’Toole to the Dutch band Drunken Dolly. It was the unfortunate Irish dramatist and novelist Oscar Wilde,  who famously said “work is the curse of the drinking class” and here Finnegan’s Hell expand on his theory.

“My old man said to me When I was a little boy,
Son, work is over-rated in work there’s little joy
Then he’d pour himself a whiskey and he’d light his favorite cigar
We’d always hear him singin’ as he headed down the bar”

Over 100 years later people still find themselves in situations where their work is interfering with their alcohol consumption!

Alongside the release of Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class is the release of a special Finnegan’s Hell beer (a Porter of course!) in co-operation with a local brewery. The next song up was the first single from the album ‘Six Feet Under’ released in February.

“My throat is dry like the desert sand
My thirst is growing beyond my command
I know that I’m dying, my time’s running out
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me just one more stout”

Another drinking song and ye better get use to them as this album is for the dedicated drinker. No lightweights here. The fastest song on the album just over two minutes long and even though you might want Finnegan’s Hell to take it easy they flatly refuse to.

The video was directed by Swedish filmmaker Michael Ek, who got his inspiration from Jim Jarmusch’s zombie film The Dead Don’t Die. They take a rather odd turn next with their Shane MacGowan tribute ‘Whiskey, Rum, Gin And Wine’. Absolutely bloomin’ hilarious and catchy too. Kind of 60’s-ish but with Metal influences too it’s a great song and shows that you can veer from the Celtic-Punk path if you got the tunes and these Bhoys certainly have the tunes. Their may be no Gaelic blood running through Finnegan’s Hell’s veins but you wouldn’t know it with ‘The Promised Land’. Tin-Whistle starts proceedings and accordion drops in before the gang turn up. The most Irish of the album’s tracks and the story of an immigrant leaving home for a better life. Like the Celts the Swedes know all about the sadness of emigration. In the early 19th and 20th centuries the USA was a magnet for the rural poor all across Europe with about 1.3 million Swedes leaving for the USA and a better life. In 1890 the U.S. census reported a Swedish population of almost 1,000,000. All the songs as you would expect for a Celtic-Punk lean heavily on their Celtic instruments and a healthy dose of humour and ‘Friends And Foes’ is a great example of this. Slower than usual but no less heavy and it’s what passes for the quieter moments here where Finnegan’s Hell Metal influences come to play. ‘King Of The Bar’ is standard Celtic-Punk with tin-whistle leading and a breakneck speed while ‘The Last Dance’ has an Eastern European feel to it and while this is usually provided by fiddle and accordion here it is the banjo that does the job. A testament to their excellent banjo plucker Mick. On ‘Tokyo Town’ they slow it down again and Pabs vocals here are great. Half shouting half crooning. We heading towards the end and ‘Parasite’ tells of a relationship that comes to an end. When Finnegan’s Hell formed in 2010, the band made a vow to only sing about three things: life, death and alcohol and so they have strictly stuck to that pledge. So it is that they end with ‘When I’m Dead’. This is what passes for a Finnegan’s Hell ballad but no surprise at all it’s not yer typical one. Hard and heavy and all the subtleness of a clout round the ear though the change of tempo is great and really rounds the album off well.

Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class does not ‘invent the wheel’ that is true. What it is though is a fun filled half an hour of quality Celtic-Punk that is for getting pissed to and having a laugh and their ain’t enough bands around like that trust me. Music like this is best experienced with others but here the transfer to record is done astoundingly well. The production is perfect and with so many instruments competing that is some achievement.

Buy Work Is The Curse Of The Drinking Class  (CD/Vinyl)- From The Band  Download- Here

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE WILD IRISH ROSES- ‘Full Bloom’ (2020)

The Wild Irish Roses are a true family band.
Mom, Dad and 8 kids. They live in New Paltz, NY
Josie Rose (21) sings, plays banjo
, mandolin, penny whistle, viola. Michael X. (dad) plays guitar. Kristi (mom) sings, plays bass. Hanna (23) plays bodhran. Evelyn(18) sings, plays concertina, accordion,viola. Penelope (16) sings,plays Guitar, and tambourine. Aenghus (13) drums. Lazarus (11) harmonica.

Now this is some band and also the perfect time to review them with St. Patrick’s Day just a few days off. Full Bloom is the fourth album release from The Wild Irish Roses an Irish-American family from New Paltz which is a small town in aptly named Ulster County located in the state of New York, about eighty  miles north of New York City. It’s a small place but with plenty of places to get a cold Guinness and even to learn Irish at the local school it’s a place where the Irish-American community have never forgotten their roots.
The base of the band is a group well known to readers here and that is The Templars Of Doom for it is the Templars singer /songwriter /bassist Mike whose five eldest (of eight!) children make up The Wild Irish Roses. His fellow Templar Scott Benson assists on bagpipes, tin-whistles and flute. Mam (Kristina) and Dad cut their teeth in Brooklyn based post-punk band The Astro-Zombies in the 90’s while during the 2000’s they were in The Brian Wilson Shock Treatment who released 8 albums up to 2010 so music is the blood of this prolific family. On the last Roses album, Fill Yer Boots, Man!, it featured an incredible twenty one songs while here they manage only a paltry seventeen but they continue in much the same vein with songs flying past you as faster than you can keep up with them. The album was recorded in the family’s home studio, their renovated barn, and released on Poe Records.
Full Bloom begins with ‘Garry Owen’ a famous Irish drinking song dating back to Limerick in the late 1700’s. It was adopted by the  7th Cavalry and is said to have been the favourite of General George Armstrong Custer who heard the song among the Irish troops and liked the beat so it was used as a marching song. Mike takes on vocals here giving it a Templars feel while the family supply backing vocals. The album sees three sisters take turns at singing lead and on ‘An Incident At Sea’ it is Josie, who also plays pipes in the Templars Of The Doom, who sings her own composition.

Her voice reminds me of Jacqui McShee from Pentangle while the song also has that 1970’s British folk feel to it. This is followed by a brief tin whistle and flute interlude before we are treated to the song that I feel has given Pentangle a place in music history. ‘Will O’Winsbury’, a traditional Scots ballad dating from 1775, is sung by Evelyn-Marie and while much different to the Pentangle version in fact I think it even improves on it. In conversation with Mike though he says they came to the song through Anne Briggs who in turn got it from Johnny Moynihan of the legendary Sweeneys Men. With three bagpipers in the family it’s no surprise to find the pipes featuring heavily here and the first of three bagpipe reels ‘The Atholl Highlanders’ is next and no wonder it use to put the fear of God into people! Evelyn-Marie returns to sing a beautiful acapella version of ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’, a a traditional folk ballad used to warn young people of the dangers in taking false lovers. First documented in 1689 it’s another link to the wonderful Pentangle’s appearing on their debut album in 1968. ‘The Adventures Of A Young Rose’ is an interesting track sounding in part like an Aussie western song as wellas a Celtic foot stomper. Now their previous albums have been significant (as have the Templars Of Doom) for their use of covers that you just wouldn’t expect and here they throw in Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’ sung brilliantly by Penelope Ann (only 15!). I LOVE Sweet and this versions sure does them justice.

Another instrumental ‘The Gael’ follows. The song written by Dougie Maclean featured in the 1992 blockbuster film ‘Last of the Mohicans’ and is adapted from fiddle to bagpipes and again stirs the blood like no other instrument on earth can. ‘Rumple- Pye The Troll’ sees Mike taking vocals over a silly song about an imaginary (?) friend. ‘Jenny Nettles’ is another pipes instrumental and has a punky feel to it despite is being purely acoustic (the true mark for a LOUD band if you ask me!). ‘A Rogues March’ like most here has an interesting back story being the song played in camp when  dishonoured soldiers were drummed out of camp on their way to punishment. Here the entire Rose family of ten combine to sing accompanied only by the beat of the bodhran. We are back in Celtic-Punk territory next with ‘ICC Home (Hudson Valley Irish Cultural Center)’. The battle to build an Irish centre was a long one but in the end a successful one and here the Roses pay tribute to a place that will provide a warm and welcoming place for all who want to share in the great Irish-American experience. Polly Vaughn’ is an old Irish folk song about a boy out hunting who accidentally kills his true love. We are rounding the bend now and Armstrong’s Last Goodbye’ is better known these days as ‘The Parting Glass’ and contrary to popular opinion is in fact a Scots song. Sung at the end of a gathering of friends and more recently at funerals it’s been recorded by just about every decent Irish artist.

The album (sort of) ends with a cover of the Velvet Undergrounds ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’. Bagpipe heavy and with Josie and Evelyn on vocals it doesn’t disappoint. Well that should be it except for a bonus track which is basically the family Rose three bagpipe players going to town on ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ which also turns out to be one of the album’s highlights.

Well what to say. Besides the obvious achievement of it being so special thanks to it being such a family endeavour it does also stand on its own two feet as well. The music sometimes has the feel of Prog-Rock at times alongside the utter abashed Celtic/ Irishness of the music. Always interesting The Wild Irish Roses have a very unique take on Irish music and on an album full of maudlin sad ballads sat next to full on Irish foot stompers they carry it off with ease. I have revisited this album several times since i first sat down and listened to it and each time I hear something different and I have no doubt that if I was to write this review again in a year it would be completely different.

(you can stream Full Bloom on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Full Bloom  FromTheBand  (CD or Download)

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ALBUM REVIEW: PADDY WAGGIN- ‘Race To The Bottom’ (2020)

The debut release of seven originals and a Pogues cover from Paddy Waggin a new Celtic-Punk Rock outfit straight outta East Vancouver, BC.

Canadian music use to be a regular feature on these pages but has been relatively quiet the last couple of years so it’s great to be able to feature a band that is just setting sale! Paddy Waggin are a gang of Irish-Canadians hailing from Vancouver in British Columbia. East Van, as it is known, has traditionally been known as the first port of call for many immigrant communities from the Irish and Welsh in the early days of settlement right up to the modern day. Historically, it was a more affordable area and the home for mainly working class people thought the rapid increase in housing prices and gentrification that is affecting pretty much all cities is destroying much of the areas character. Still the auld world is still well represented with the WISE (Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English) Hall, The Celtic Connection newspaper and The Irish Sporting and Social Club all thriving alongside the Irish pub scene.

Paddy Waggin left to right: Andrew Whyte- Guitar * Aidan Carroll- Lead Vocals/ Songwriter * Rob Stewart- Percussion * Jonny ‘Needles’ Poliquin – Bass/shrieking *  Philip Meyer-  Accordion * Johnny ‘BBQ’ Jandara – Banjo/ Mandolin/ Harmonica * not pictured Bourton Scott- Fiddle and Lisa Ronald- Tin Whistle *

So a new band kicks off or so we thought. A debut release ought to signify that but Paddy Waggin have been playing on and off for more than twenty years, mainly as singer Aidan’s St Patrick’s day project. Aidan in fact was born in Dublin but grew up in Canada while others in the band come from Irish and Scottish backgrounds and, accordion player, Philip is of Dutch descent. So a long wait to get that debut release out but they have delivered a craicing album of eight songs, all but one an original and a cover of one of the best songs in Celtic-Punk. Race To The Bottom begins with ‘Gilding The Liffey’ a fiddle and banjo led song about an imaginary trip taken by the band to Dublin to play music and party. The music is upbeat and jolly and Aiden’s vocals slip perfectly in alongside.

The Bhoys keep it up with ‘Broken Teeth’ a song telling of the perils of getting old and about the joys of youth and partying till the early morn but those things soon catch up with you and “Now I’m getting on in years” those days are well behind them. The music is still fast paced and only two songs in and you get the impression that Paddy Waggin are a band to kick yer boots to. The video for ‘Broken Teeth’ is utterly fantastic too so be sure to check that out.

‘Davy Jones’ is not dedicated to the sadly missed singer from The Monkees but a tragic tale of lost love. Davy Jones is the name given to the mythical resting place of drowned mariners at the bottom of the sea. The first source that mentions Jones’ locker is in 1803

“…seamen would have met a watery grave; or, to use a seaman’s phrase, gone to Davy Jones’s locker.”

The longest song here at just over three minutes it’s what I would call a thigh slapper! Nice chorus and I’m wracking my mind to find a band to compare them to but I’m coming up short. The Pogues influence looms large but they don’t sound like them if that makes sense. ‘King Of The Faeries is one hell of a tune with a ‘piratey’ edge to it and shows that Paddy Waggin are not just in it for the free drinks with a spot of trad Irish though dedicated to the misfortunes of one of the bands mates who got caught on the wrong side of the law. Another trad influenced song is next up with ‘Paddy Traddy Rad’ about an Irish fella the life of the party. Proper acoustic Celtic-Punk with just Johnny ‘Needles’ bass amplified Paddy Waggin sound like they kick up a hell of a storm.  ‘Race To The Bottom’ is a Country influenced song that is super catchy and as the guys say a “tune for East Van people about East Van” leading into ‘Dirty Looking Up All Night’ which keeps the boots kickin’ about the so called ‘Walk Of Shame’ where people end up staying out (!) after a night on the lash and have to walk home in the morning in their evening finery the next day.

That Pogues influence shows up nicely on Race To The Bottom’s final song the Pogues standard ‘Streams Of Whiskey’. Written by Shane MacGowan about a night out with Brendan Behan the famed Irish writer and drinker… thinker. Paddy Waggin play an outstanding version very very close to the original and I’m sure if they ever need the money another life as a Pogues tribute band awaits them.  

The album’s official release is on St. Patrick’s Day- March 17 but it is already available on the band’s Bandcamp site (see below for link) but if you wish to avail of a hard copy of the CD then you’ll have to contact the band. The great artwork is by Fenix Ashborn and it was recorded at home in East Van by Larry Lich at Eagle Ears studios. Paddy Waggin are definitely a band to enjoy life to. Eight foot stomping songs, mainly original tracks too, to beat the floor up to. Checking out a few songs on You Tube they have a tremendous live show with their own catchy as feck original songs with the odd auld Irish tune thrown in alongside. Their sound is infectious and, I am sure,  more than able to get their audience dancing and singing along. Here on Race To The Bottom they have captured their live sound pretty well and though well rooted in traditional Irish folk their Rock and Punk influences keep them from becoming too safe. A welcome addition to the Canadian Celtic-Punk scene and a band I look forward to hearing a lot more from.

(you can stream Race To The Bottom on the Bandcamp player below)
Download Race To The BottomFromTheBand  DistroKid
Contact Paddy WagginWebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Soundcloud

ALBUM REVIEW: OGRAS- ‘No Love In The City’ (2020)

The second full length studio album from Celtic-Rockers Ogras from western Norway.

Their distinct sound mixes trad Irish music with rock and punk and a twist of Balkan with superb tales of the macabre and the best songwriting I’ve heard in a long time. 

Of all the countries in the world famous for their Celtic-Punk output one of the more surprisingly famous ones is Norway. This is thanks to the legendary Greenland Whalefishers who have taken their particular brand of Pogues influenced Irish-Punk across the globe to every continent in their 25+ year history. It was bound to have an effect on the locals and back in 2009 the seeds were sown for the band that would become Ogras. The band hails from the Romsdal area of Norway, and have just one album behind them, the promising Compadre in 2018. Celtic-Punk can be different to a lot of other genres in that with a few tweaks to the set and the addition of a few covers most bands can find live work every week of the year thanks to the massive Irish pub world. This can mean that bands tend to concentrate less on recording than maybe straight up punk bands do who play live a lot less. Even so two albums in eleven years is pretty slow but admittedly then again two in three is very impressive!

Ogras left to right: Filip Eidsvåg- Drums * Knut Voldset- Electric Guitars, Banjo, Harmonica * Paul Solåt- Vocals, Guitar, Main Songwriter * Pål Elnan- Trumpet/ Keyboards/ Mandolin *  Aleksander Eidsvåg- Fiddle * Thomas Dahle- Bass *

Based where they are they get to play in just about every conceivable kind of venue, especially barns! Starting off as a three piece they soon gathered more members and now their are six of them who can handle up to twelve instruments on stage whilst performing a combination of circus show, revival meeting and drunken Irish-pub night! here on their new full length album, No Love In The City the band have recorded nine original tracks, showing a range of influences from catchy, Celtic and Balkan inspired Punk-Rock, to smoldering folk-ballads and full blown party anthems.

I was going to just do a straight forward review of the album but just as i was about to start the band began releasing a track-by-track description of the history behind each song so I’ll try and incorporate those here as well. The album begins with the title track ‘No Love In The City’ and while we may be looking for a Greenland Whalefishers connection Ogras have much more in common with bands like The Fighting Jamesons or The Young Dubliners and their Irish-American rock sound. This is a band that would go down a storm at Get Shamrocked! Paul’s vocals are spot on and capture that perfect space between ‘Tom Waits’ and showman crooning! No Love In The City tells of the wandered. We weren’t all born to exist in the city and the song is dedicated to travelers everywhere. The next song ‘Showmen’s Rest’ was the third song released here as a single. A fast paced Punk tribute to entertainers long gone and the deadly Hammond Circus Train Wreck of 1918. In a quiet cemetery outside Chicago called Showmen’s Rest lies a mass grave of clowns, strongmen, and acrobats who died in one of the worst circus tragedies in history when 86 circus performers were killed. I love songs like this that tell us of long forgotten history and I’m kind of surprised Chicago folklore extraordinaire Kevin Flynn hasn’t told this fascinating story before. ‘Children of Dust’ carries on in the same vein a catchy foot-tapper telling of the children of those who travel. Ogras love of the macabre and circus life continues in ‘Running Wild’. A wonderful song telling the story of twins, one of whom dies at birth while the other blamed by his mother for his death. A never ending feeling of guilt keeps him running till he eventually finds circus ringmaster Darius, a recurring character throughout the album, but will it be enough for him to stop running. A upbeat rocker with great fiddlework followed by ‘The Mighty Atom’. The Mighty Atom appeared on the cover of Ogras debut album and became a world famous strongman in the early 20th century. Born Joe Greenstein he was small and sickly as a child but he trained and trained to become one of the world’s best known strongmen, bending horseshoes with his bare hands and biting the heads off nails. The song is heavily influenced this time by Balkan music with a Eastern flavoured fiddle and brass.

We slow down a tad for ‘The Devils Dance’, a swirling eastern-ish electric ballad about a women who finally breaks free from her manipulative and violent lover. He continues to hunt for her determined to make her dance the devil’s dance again? Half way through the song speeds up and really comes into its own. ‘Black River Falls’ is the shortest song and possibly the fastest and yet still manages to fit in a well told story into its two and a half minutes! The song is based on the 1973 book ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ by Michael Lesy based on a collection of late 19th century photos and clippings from gruesome times in Black River Falls (Jackson, Wisconsin) in the late 1800′ where unemployment and illness had lead to crime, depression and a high number of unpleasant incidents. Needless to say its a high octane Celtic-Punk romp that leads us nicely into ‘Torture King’ about the current craze for tattoos.

Beginning as a maudlin sad ballad Gaelic fiddle is the catalyst for the band to step it up and go a bit crazy! The album ends with the powerful ‘For Gloria’ the bands tribute to the strong women who spread joy, take care and protect their families. We raise our glasses to you, ladies! A great way to wrap things up and their is something great about hearing a trumpet pop up in the middle of a Celtic-Punk album! A punch bowl of hard hitting Irish folk mixed with electric guitars and that trumpet!

The album was released on St. Valentines day- 14th February and was recorded in the renowned Norwegian recording studio of Ocean Sound Recordings. Though originally on CD and download No Love In The City will be released on vinyl at the beginning of April. No Love In The City came as a complete surprise to me. Expecting wild Poguesy style Irish Folk what we actually get is on of the most imaginative and novel Celtic-Punk records of recent years. With it’s tales of circus strong men and disasters and bleak dark themes all wrapped in music that stays firmly in its own lane with influences from the American scene that we don’t often hear in Europe and from the East that Ogras incorporate into their own sound. A truly magnificent record and one that be can already be guaranteed to be one of the albums of the year.

Buy No Love In The City Here (iTunes, Apple, Spotify etc.,)

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ALBUM REVIEW: PATRICKS- ‘Rocky Road To Ireland’ (2020)

“When we need to escape from reality, and it’s not possible to take a trip to the green land, have a couple of glasses of mead instead and fly inside the head to the land we love so much”
Rocky Road to Ireland is the second full length album from Italian band Patricks does much the same thing!

When this album popped through the letterbox I took one look at the cover and thought “Oh, an Irish band” and on putting on the disc inside I was further impressed by this ‘Irish’ band. Came as quite the shock then to find out that Patricks may play top quality Irish Folk-Rock and have all the attributes of an actual Irish band but they hail many miles from the Emerald Isle in the Italian home of famed doomed lovers Romeo And Juliet- Verona. Formed in 2012 in no short time Patricks had played right across the north-east of Italy bringing their energy to both the big stages of festivals and their warmth and joy to intimate small pubs venues. In 2014 and 2015 they went down a storm at the ‘Ireland In Festivals’ in Bologna and Padua, opening for Cisco (formerly the legendary Modena City Ramblers). Their debut album, Tales From Irish Waves, hit the shops in June 2016 after eighteen months of hard work. Recorded at Verona’s Bass Department Studio the album was very well received and led to them being invited to headline the 2017 Triskell Celtic Festival in Trieste and for the last couple of years the main spot on St. Patrick’s Day evening in the centre of Verona making over 3,000 people dance for two hours! Tales From Irish Waves was a collection of Irish folk favourites like ‘The Rising Of The Moon’, ‘Star Of The County Down’ and ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’ all done in Patricks very own individual manner. With over 150 concert behind them, these Veronese continue to impress and with the release of Rocky Road To Ireland international growth beckons.
The Rocky Road To Ireland carries on from their debut album in much the same way. Ten tracks of popular Irish folk songs but this time the collection has a lot less emphasis on the more popular songs and includes instrumentals and even a couple of originals too. You actually get almost twenty here with songs mashed together in a incredibly seamless way taking it as far away from the realm of cover albums as you could possibly get. The album starts with ‘The Kesh Jig / Blarney Pilgrim’ and while it may not be only be Irish music that has songs instantly recognisable without words not many also come with the ability to cheer. As is common with a lot of Irish/Celtic bands in Europe the flute is to the fore here while the band cheerfully get through both songs in under three minutes. Next up we are introduced to Margot on vocals whose beautiful voice leads us through ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ a banjo heavy tune owing a lot to the Dubliners famous version though it sounds a little odd not having Ronnie Drew’s gravelly voice (or even Mike McColgan!) accompanying the song! Next is ‘Spancil Hill’ one of the saddest (and let’s face it the competition is immense!) of all the Irish emigration songs. The longest song here at over five minutes and played upbeat rather than its usual slow and maudlin. Margot’s voice dominates as is usually the case with Irish music (see bands like Runa and Solas). I still remember listening to this song for the first time. I had heard it 100’s of times growing up but the first time I took care to listen to the words brought a tear to my eye the sadness of it all.
“Then the cock he crew in the morning, he crew both loud and shrill
I awoke in California, many miles from Spancil Hill”
Here though the famous last lines are missing and replaced with a different last chorus I had never heard before. Next a bunch of songs unfamiliar with me on paper, ‘ ‘The Butterfly / Golden Stud / The Man Of The House’, but ‘Golden Stud’ was recognisable at least. Accordion, fiddle and flute pushing the boundaries and while at times you do wish they would really really cut loose they still manage to beat up the floor. The Dubliners influence here is not just confined to the album’s title with ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ played at a steady pace and seeing as i can never quite keep up with the lyrics here Margot does a wonderful job especially in the chorus about bashing up two Liverpudlians! Another song I wasn’t sure I had heard before was ‘P Stands For Paddy’ but on hearing realised i had heard a version of it by German Celtic-Punk band Fiddler’s Green but whether it was this version, a love song, or the one written by Gerry Carney, a bittersweet tribute to the Irish in England that never made it I can’t remember. Here the influences from English Folk-Rock scene of the 70’s are evident with Patricks sounding remarkably like Steeleye Span in places. The Dubs return with a rowdy pub setting performance of ‘Whiskey, You’re The Devil/The Silver Spear/The Mountain Road’ and a professional sets of reels and jigs ‘Glasgow Reel / Aaron’s Key / Banshee Reel’ before we settle down to a modern day Irish folk music classic. ‘The City Of Chicago’ was written by Barry Moore and made famous by Christy Moore the song is a tribute to those who battled all the odds and made it to relative safety across the oceans during the great Hunger.
“Some of them knew fortune
Some of them knew fame
More of them knew hardship
And died upon the plain
They spread throughout the nation
They rode the railroad cars
Brought their songs ant music to ease their lonely hearts”
A fantastic song that that brings the curtain down but NO that’s not it! For they have squeezed in a bonus track at the end!

‘They’re Taking The Hobbits To Isengard / The Fellowship / The Shire’ are songs recognisable from the Lord Of The Rings films and show a sense of humour that has is evident in all the best Irish folk music. So almost forty minutes of quality Irish folk music as interpreted bu one of Europe’s best Irish bands. The album was recorded, mixed and produced by Max Titi at Maxy Sound Studio in Verona for Maxy Sound and if I did have one mixed opinion on the album I would like the band to follow though it is that they should ‘rock out’ a bit more and really go for it but Rocky Road To Ireland is still a fine album and a great way to start March off which is always traditionally our busiest month at London Celtic Punk for obvious reasons!!

Contact Patricks  Facebook  YouTube  Spotify  Instagram

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ALBUM REVIEW: BODH’AKTAN- ‘De Temps Et De Vents’ (2019)

The seventh album of Bodh’aktan from Québec. Seven rogues fusing elements of Celtic, Rock, Trad, Pop and Punk and the music of the Celtic Nations, especially Brittany and Ireland. With bagpipes, flute, accordion, violin and bouzouki and vocals in both French and English they are a force to be reckoned with!

We are well into 2020 now but we couldn’t let last year go without paying homage to one of the best, and most active, bands in the Celtic-Punk scene. This will definitely be the last review from 2019 and what a great way to bid farewell then with a band that really encapsulates everything that Celtic-Punk should be about. A link from the traditions of the past to both the present and the future. On their last album, Ride Out The Storm, they were assisted by the legendary uileann piper Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains and it was not the first time Bodh’aktan have embraced the ‘old world’ of Celtic music.

Bodh’aktan formed in Québec in 2011 and they have released several acclaimed albums. Regular visitors to Europe, especially, of course, France they are yet to visit the Irish and British isles but as their fame spreads I’m sure it is only a matter of time. The vast majority of their releases have been in their native tongue but they have also had the novel idea of re-recording a couple of albums into English for their Anglo fans. Their new album De Temps Et De Vents has been recorded in French or as one reviewer hilariously described it as a

“return to the language of Molière after an incursion in Shakespeare”.

The Québec flag, the Fleurdelisé (Lily-flower)

Québec is a semi-autonomous region of eastern Canada and is home to 8,500,000 residents. The official language is French and is spoken by the vast majority of residents (78%). The region has a totally different feel to the rest of Canada and French dominates every aspect of life. Within this French culture is a strong Breton influence and their are no shortage of Celtic influenced bands both traditional and modern. The French population of Québec stands at around 30% with the Irish and the Scots making up a further 10% so the Celt identity there is very strong! Their have been referendums about independence in 1980 and 1995 that have been defeated (in 1995 by a margin of only 1%!) and so they remain, for the time being, subjects of the British crown. This led in 2006, to the House Of Commons of Canada passing a motion to recognise the “Québécois as a nation within a united Canada”.

So onto the actual album and De Temps Et De Vents is twelve original songs lasting nearly forty minutes that starts off where Ride Out The Storm left us. They have been moving away from the harder rock/punk sound of their earlier days into a much more Folk and trad style that is instantly recognisable in modern day Celtic-Punk. With all the lyrics in French and being a pupil of the English school system my knowledge of the language is pretty damn basic to non existent! With that in mind I can really only review the music here so please bear with me.

The album begins with the short ‘Ouverture’ a Celtic-Punk heavy intro which starts with drums but with the rest of the band joining in at intervals building up and up and leading straight into ‘Capitaine Deux-Cennes’. My first impression is that Alexandre Richard has a fine voice that really jollies the music along during the fast songs but can also wrap itself around a ballad too. The music is reminiscent of Flogging Molly with its high tempo danceable style. For the album Bodh’aktan added a fiddler and Marc-Etienne Richard’s work is pure excellent shining alongside the rest of the band. Hopefully he will become a permanent fixture. Only a couple of songs in and you are already left with the impression this is the type of album that is for celebrating along to. The tempo does change from time to time with ‘L’orage’ for example when the bagpipes add a sorrowful side to the song. It’s the first ‘slower’ song but played with a heaviness that belies its speed. ‘L’amer’ is a straight up rock number and also one of the highlights of the album with a ‘Wo-Ho-Oh’ chorus that is just ripe for roaring along to!

‘Le Jardinier Du Couvent’ (in English ‘The Gardener Of The Convent’) is a slow beautiful ballad which slowly builds into a wonderful song. Despite not knowing the words it seems full of sorrow and sadness with Alexandre wringing every bit of emotion out of it. Hidden away among the Breton/French influenced tunes is the Irish trad ‘Set Béquate’ played to absolute perfection and a great example of a band that can turn it’s hand to anything. From Celtic-Punk rockers to trad tunes like this they know how to fill up a dance floor and the song speeds along at such an intensity that i’m sure by the end many drinks will have been spilt and many ankles turned over!

‘La Tournée’ is a fast and furious (120 seconds) number that takes in bands like Neck and The Tossers. Banjo heavy and over in a flash before ‘Le Retour’, a bagpipe Celtic-Rock number with a definite Scots feel and not just because of the pipes while ‘Le Dernier Bateau’ is a slower number with very much a ‘epic’ feel to the song. We are nearing the end of our voyage and Bodh’aktan see us out with two of the longest songs on the album. ‘Dans Le Bois’ carries on in in the same vein with an acoustic Celtic jolly wee number while the curtain comes down on De Temps Et De Vents with the amazing ‘Tant Qu’il Restera Du Rhum’ (in English ‘As Long As There Is Rum’!). At over five minutes all Celtic-Punk fans will know the kind of song when i say that its the end of the night, drink has been taken and you find yourself in the middle of the dance floor holding onto a stranger with your fist (or pint) in the air belting out the words at the top of your lungs. A slow heavy swirling way to see things out.

There is literally something here to keep everyone happy. When they ‘punk’ it up they are brilliant and when they ‘folk’ it up they are as well. For an album that varies from genre to genre the album flows magnificently (something I have noticed on their previous albums too) and you barely notice that the last song was a punk or folk number. The music is a joy to listen and the band are absolutely fantastic musicians and although the obvious humour here is lost on me this is a band who put out consistently great music and have done it yet again.

Buy De Temps Et De Vents  FromTheBand  Coop Breizh France

Contact Bodh’aktan  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  LastFM  Soundcloud

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

(the brand new video for ‘Mick McGuire’ taken from 2018’s acclaimed album Ride Out The Storm just released on January 9th!)

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: LOUDEST WHISPER- ‘The Children of Lir’ (1974)

Loudest Whisper were an Irish folk rock/progressive folk group formed in the early 1970’s led by singer/songwriter Brian O’Reilly. Best known for their debut album, The Children Of Lir, a folk opera based on the Irish legend of the same name. The original LP release of the album has become one of the most sought after records in Ireland, and ranks among the most rare and sought after records in the world. A glorious mixture of catchy melodies, soaring harmonies and biting acid guitar.

A cult Celtic prog-folk rock band with a theatrical bent, Loudest Whisper started off as another sort of band altogether. Formed in the early 1960’s in the sleepy surroundings of Fermoy, County Cork,  Ireland, by Brian O’Reilly, Michael Clancey, John Aherne and drummer Jimmy Cotter, they were originally known as the Wizards. The Wizards played mostly covers of Beatles, Hollies and Spencer Davis songs and after Jimi Hendrix and Cream hit, the band took a turn into heavier blues territory, changing their name to Loudest Whisper as the 1970’s opened. The band also had some lineup changes, with Cotter leaving and Brendan “Bunny” Nelgian coming in as his replacement on drums. When guitarist Paud O’Reilly joined, he switched over to drums and Nelgian became the group’s lead singer.

Loudest Whisper- Brian O’Reilly, Brendan ‘Bunny’ Nelgian, Paud O’Reilly and John Aherne

It was here that the general direction of the band changed. Brian’s songwriting had always drawn heavily on American folk-rock groups, but he had also been working in amateur musicals staged by a local theater group and finding his attention increasingly drawn to traditional Irish folklore as well. He decided in 1973 to fuse all of these strands and interests together in a Celtic musical based on the legend of the Irish King Lir. The Children of Lir is a famous legend from the Irish Mythological Cycle about the Irish Gods of the Tuatha Dé Dannan. The four children in the tale represent the last of this generation, who are turned into swans by their wicked stepmother. After finally being lifted from the spell they are baptized as Christians before aging rapidly and dying. A sad tale about the love of one family, jealousy, magical spells and a curse of 900 years.

The resulting Children Of Lir premiered in Fermoy on January 7, 1973, as a full-blown stage production, with Ron Kavanagh, a singer and guitarist who had recently joined the band, taking the lead role. With nearly 60 performers involved, Children Of Lir it attracted a lot of attention, leading to the band signing a recording deal with Polydor Records and beginning to record a studio adaptation of Children Of Lir in 1974. Kavanagh left the band midway through the recording of the album version of Children Of Lir, followed by Nelgian’s departure shortly after the LP was released. The U.K. branch of Polydor rejected the LP, so Children Of Lir ended up being released only in Ireland in an extremely limited edition of 500 copies. Further lineup shuffles followed, with Brian taking over more of the singing and Dorgan officially joining as a guitarist and vocalist. Her voice was featured in O’Reilly’s musical, The Maiden of Sorrow, which was staged in 1975. Loudest Whisper toured throughout the late 70’s but recorded very little. Polydor released the band’s second album, Loudest Whisper in 1980, which had an accessible soft rock feel. Again, Polydor did little to support the album and the band issued its next project, Hard Times, which featured a second female vocalist, Bernadette Bowes, privately on the Fiona imprint in 1982.

Loudest Whisper began to dissolve when both Dorgan and Bowes left the group in 1985, although the O’Reilly brothers continued to gig under the name in a variety of configurations, even staging another musical, Buskin’, that same year. A couple of singles followed, but Loudest Whisper were barely active as a band as the 1980s closed. Brian released a cassette album, Spread Your Wings, as a solo project in 1990, with Dorgan helping out on background vocals, and the band was offered a recording deal with the Irish arm of K-Tel Records. Re-recording material from all phases of its career, the band came up with an album called The Collection. A reshuffling at the label led to the album being shelved, however, and it wasn’t officially issued until 1995 on Fiona.

Following the huge success of Riverdance, O’Reilly restaged The Children of Lir with a more folky and Celtic veneer, and a version of this was recorded and released, credited jointly to Brian O’Reilly and Donovan. The Kissing Spell label reissued the original recording of Children Of Lir on CD, following it with the group’s second album, retitled 2, and a near-bootleg quality version of The Maiden of Sorrow drawn from a 1975 live performance. Since the mid-1990’s, Loudest Whisper have been performing on and off with different musicians, including as a trio of Brian O’Reilly (guitar, keyboards, vocals), his brother Paud (drums, backing vocals) and Brian’s son, Oran (double bass). This version of the album is the  CD re-issue released by Sunbeam Records. Tracks 2-14 are the original album while the bonuses include various single B-sides and demos.

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The Band

Brian O’Reilly – Guitars, Piano, Keyboards, Vocals * Geraldine Dorgan – Guitar, Vocals * Paud O’Reilly – Drums, Harmonies * Mike Russell – Bass * Producer – Leo O’Kelly * Engineer – Paul Waldron

Discography

The Children Of Lir (1974) * Loudest Whisper (1980) * Hard Times (1983) * Maiden Of Sorrow (live album recorded in 1975, released in !995) * Our World (2004) * Blue… Is The Colour of Time (2014)

The Children Of Lir

Information On Ireland * Connolly Cove * Irish Myths And Legends * Your Irish Culture

The full story of The Children Of Lir, as read by the late and great Ronnie Drew…

for more like this…

ANTO MORRA’S NEW ALBUM IN HIS OWN WORDS

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

by ANTO MORRA

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

1. NEVER HAD TO SHOUT

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

2. LONDON IRISH

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

3. TALE OF THE SLIGO WIDOW

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

4. TIME

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

5. WRONG PATH

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

6. POETS DAY

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

7. WHERE’S DADDY GONE?

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

8. CHARLEVILLE (RICKY’S SONG)

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

9. BLOOD ON THE SHAMROCK AND THE ROSE

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

10. GREEN, WHITE AND GOLD

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

11. EDITH LOUISA CAVELL

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

12. BALLAD OF EDITH CAVELL

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

13. PATRIOTISM IS NOT ENOUGH

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

14. HALF GOD HALF NELSON

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

15. BALLAD OF ANN BOLEYN AND THE BURGLAR

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

16. ENGLAND

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

17. YOU’RE NOT HERE

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

18. DRAGON

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

19. WRECKED ON LOVE

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

20. THE CONSCIENTIOUS ODD DRINKER

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

Buy Twenty  Vinyl/CD’sFromAnto

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

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2019!

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

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

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

1. THE WALKER ROADERS – Self Titled

2. MICKEY RICKSHAW – Home In Song

3. FEROCIOUS DOG – Fake News And Propaganda

4. GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS – Based On A True Story

5. BARLEYJUICE – The Old Speakeasy

6. THE NARROWBACKS – By Hook Or By Crook

7. McDERMOTTS TWO HOURS – Besieged

8. PIPES AND PINTS – The Second Chapter

9. THE RUMJACKS – Live In Athens

10. SELFISH MURPHY – After Crying

11. TORTILLA FLAT – Live At The Old Capitol

12. FIDDLERS GREEN – Heyday

13. THE RUMJACKS – Live In London Acoustic Sessions

14. THE WHIPJACKS – This Wicked World

15. 13 KRAUSS – Redención

16. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – Craic Agus Ceol

17. AIRES BASTARDOS – Self Titled

18. THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM – Hovels Of The Holy

19. THE FIGHTING JAMESONS – A Moment In California

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

21. THE SHILLELAGHS – Ripples In The Rye

22. HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS – Pub Crawl

23. BODH’AKTAN – De Temps Et De Vents

24. HEATHEN APOSTLES – Dust To Dust

25. SONS OF CLOGGER – Return To The Stones’

26. THE CHERRY COKE$ – Old Fox

27. THE FILTHY SPECTACULA – The Howl Of The Underclasses

28. THE POTATO PIRATES – Hymns For The Wayward

29. TC COSTELLO– Horizon Songs

30. THE TENBAGS – ‘Bags o’ Craic’

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

1. THE LUCKY TROLLS – Self Titled

2. DRUNKEN DOLLY – The Party

3. LORETTA PROBLEM – The Waltz Of My Drunken Dream

4. THE CLOVERHEARTS – Sick

5. KRAKIN’ KELLYS – Irish Tribute

6. THE PLACKS – Rebellious Sons

7. GYPSY VANNER – Five Distilled Celtic Punks

8. THE RUMPLED – Grace O’ Malley

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

10. SHANGHAI TREASON – Devil’s Basement

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

AIRES BASTARDOS– ‘Self-Titled’

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

1. THE DREADNOUGHTS – Into The North

2. CROCK OF BONES – Celtic Crossbones

3. 6’10 – Where We Are

4. BRYAN McPHERSON – Kings Corner

5. CALLUM HOUSTON – Gravities

6. PYROLYSIS – Daylight Is Fading

7. SEAMUS EGAN – Early Bright

8. LE VENT DU NORD – Territoires

9. DONNY ZUZULA – Chemicals

10. DERVISH – Great Irish Songbook

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

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

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

THE CELTIC PUNKCAST

FOLK’N’ROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Nowherebound  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Buy Mourning Glory  Vinyl/T-Shirts DrunkenShipRecords  Download Bandcamp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Aires Bastardos  Spotify  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

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

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

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

Contact Zeta & The Hillbullys  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

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

CELTIC-PUNK ARGENTINO!

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

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

So ends our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have probably still missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally if you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

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

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

BROPHY’S LAW- ‘True Stories’ (Buy)

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

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

Brophy’s Law- Facebook  WebSite  YouTube

DIE DÖDELSÄCKE- Letzte Fahrt (Buy)

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

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

Die Dödelsäcke-  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

HELLRAISERS’N’BEERDRINKERS- ‘Pub Crawl’

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

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

Hellraisers’N’Beerdrinkers  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Soundcloud

PYROLYSIS- ‘Daylight Is Fading’ (Buy)

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

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

Contact Pyrolysis  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

SCHËPPE SIWEN- ‘Wat Bleift’ (Buy/Buy)

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

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

Contact Schëppe Siwen  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Instagram

So ends the second part of our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have probably still missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally if you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

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

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

ROSIER- ‘Self-Titled’ EP

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

THE LUCKY EEJITS- ‘Out Of Time’

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

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

Contact The Lucky Eejits-  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

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

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

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

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

HEATHEN APOSTLES- ‘Born By Lightning’ EP

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

Contact Heathen Apostles  WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

So ends the first part of our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still missed some fantastic music I am sure so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally if you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DREADNOUGHTS- ‘Into the North’ (2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Into The North  FromTheBand

Contact The Dreadnoughts  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

Stoked. A documentary about The Dreadnoughts by Adam PW Smith

|  | 17 November 2017 (Canada)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Live In Athens  iTunes  Google

Contact The Rumjacks  WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube  Soundcloud

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

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

Alt Folk, Irish, Trad, Celtic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Celtic Crossbones  FromTheBand

Contact Crock Of Bones  Facebook  Soundcloud  YouTube  Bandcamp

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

New York Irish Music

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy By Hook Or By Crook  CDbaby  Apple  Amazon

Contact The Narrowbacks  WebSite  Facebook  Instagram  YouTube  Bandcamp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Ripples In The Rye  Vinyl-FromTheBand  Download  Google

Contact The Shillelaghs  Facebook  WebSite  YouTube  Bandcamp  ReverbNation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(You can stream Chemicals on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Chemicals  Vinyl/CD  Download

Contact Donny Zuzula  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We’re heading for the Northern Lights

From town to town with you right by my side

Oh Yeah, Bring me that girl today”

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

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

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

“Subterranean location

Was shattered and prosaic

It earned its reputation

Was full of old posh rakes

With lavish cars and fat cigars

Certain gentry found

I’ll meet you at the serenade

Down in London Town.”

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

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

“My Brothers they said to me,

What happens if we die?

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

And the last words are the chorus:

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

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

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

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

We are the devil’s sons.

While ye lye and the breast of thy own sweet maid

We’ll be running out the guns.”

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

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

She’ll shave her hair, give you the stare

She’s hanging with the punks

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

Piercings of silver rings and green and purple hair

She’s my punk rock girlfriend!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

To something that’s thrilling me

I’m changing things, you were my everything

Ain’t nothing can be the same

‘Cause I’m leaving tonight.”

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

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

Buy Return to the Stones  CD- FromTheBand  Amazon

Contact Sons Of Clogger  WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube

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

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

NICK BURBRIDGE AND HIS TOP TEN INFLUENTIAL ALBUMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bothy Band- ‘After Hours’ (1979)

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

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

Dick Gaughan- ‘Handful Of Earth’ (1981)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolfestone- ‘Unleashed’ (1989)

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

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

Levellers- ‘Levellers’ (1993)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If I’m sometimes cited as an influence on certain others, forced to pick one album that influenced me most, it’s this one. It marks the beginning of a fifty year long journey so far, and whenever I listen to it, even now, I find it impossible to skip through. It represen