Over ten years promoting Celtic-Punk as a unofficial Celtic supporters club for drunx, punx 'n' vagabonds!
The Kilmaine Saints are back! One of the best Celtic-Rock bands Irish-America has ever produced with a seven track acoustic EP that includes two new songs and five re-imagined Saints classics.
This explosive, high-energy Celtic rock band from Central PA will lift your hearts, your spirits, and your pint when you’re not looking!
“I suffered to get here and I’m not going to leave
And if you knock me down, you’d best be sure I’m dead
‘Cause when I get back on me feet, and I promise you that I will
I’ll steal your life and use your blood to paint Paradise Square!”
friend, musician and father who on February 5, 2018, lost his nearly four-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His energy, humor, generosity, love and friendship will be deeply missed by the multitude of people who have been lucky to know him. He made everyone he met feel like they mattered to him, and they truly did. He gave everything he had to family and friends. Those who loved him have set up a foundation the Eddie MacGowan Foundation so please take a look. Funds raised through their activities will be donated to organizations that supported Eddie through his illness and that continue to support patients with similar disabilities. A sad loss for the Irish in America. Another beautiful choker of a song and following this we are back again to their last album for ‘Pennsylvania’s Finest’ what you might call a ‘American Rebel Song’. Again the original was a barnstormer of a song fast, furious and full of righteous anger, rousing the masses to remember the War Of Independence.
“And all the world shall know, Americans are free
Nor slaves nor cowards we will prove, And England soon shall see
We’re Pennsylvania’s Finest,And we will proudly fight our hearts are strong our aim is true,We’ll stand up for our rights”
“Don’t waste another night, getting lost in your pint
Wasted memories of wasted yesterdays
Get up off the bar stool Get your boots on the ground
You’ll never reach the top at the bottom of a round
‘Cuz age is just a number not the sum of our mistakes
Always search for new tomorrows Always hope for better days”
The EP ends with ‘Golden Pen’ and a perfect way to leave with another great song Liz wrote about the death of a friend’s Mother. A great EP that shows the amazing talent of a band that is not resting on its laurels and hopefully new material will be following soon. The Celtic-Punk scene needs The Kilmaine Saints.
(Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos- not the acoustic version as featured on Off The Wagon but what the hell you get the drift and I bloody love this song!)
Buy Off The Wagon Acoustic Sessions FromTheBand
The Kilmaine Saints cross the broad Atlantic later in the year to play a series of gigs in the auld country taking in some of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions. Sadly they won’t be coming to Ireland’s 33rd county (London) so my wait to see them goes on. You can still join them as a fan if you’re in America I think but best to check with them and if you in Ireland or going to be there at the same time (April 18-25) then be sure to find out where they are playing and get along!
The Kilmaine Saints performed the whole of Off The Wagon EP live on Facebook on Saturday 29th February and its a wonderful hour+ of the Saints talking about all manner of stuff and playing the songs. Well worth the watch.
“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!
“Then the cock he crew in the morning, he crew both loud and shrill
I awoke in California, many miles from Spancil Hill”
“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”
Buy Rocky Road To Ireland FromTheBand
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”.
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.
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!)
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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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’
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Sick came out at the beginning of last month on the Italian record label, Black Dingo Records and has six new songs all written by Sam and the band themselves. The EP begins with ‘Always Monday’ which was the first single and shows how much those Europeans love their ska. I’m not such a big fan myself preferring sad tearful songs about hunger, famine and forced emigration to happy-go-lucky joyful bouncy Ska like this! I know this all makes me somewhat of a pariah. “How can anyone not like Ska” has been said to me many a time. Luckily this song has a tough edge to it and threatens to turn Punk at any moment meaning that I can just about tolerate it. Basically a song everyone else will love and enjoy so just ignore this miserable bastard.
So there you go the debut EP from a band that has only been together for a blink of an eye and already one of my favourite releases of the year. We always delight in the arrival of another new band on the scene and its unusual for a band to come straight out the blocks and find their niche straight away but The Cloverhearts have done just that. They may be influenced by others in the scene (who isn’t?) but they have come out with an EP that has their individual sound stamped all over it. Highly recommended!
Celtic Skate Punk, beer and bar fight !
What happens when traditional Irish Rock n’Roll meets American Punk music? Here the Krakin’ Kellys take six Irish folk music classics and unite punk-rock riffs with Gaelic-inspired melodies. Angry microphones, greasy bass lines meet bagpipes, flutes and accordion for a drunken party which will leave everyone pumped up!
“It’s not often I use the words this is a must have album but this is a must have album!”
Krakin’ Kellys hail from the city of Namur in Belgium. The city is the capital of the self-governing Walloon Region which was created, largely along language lines. Wallonia consists of the French-speaking provinces of Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, Walloon Brabant and Namur. There is a burgeoning independence movement in Wallonia that seeks to split Belgium into Dutch speaking Flanders in the north and French speaking Wallonia in the south. As is usually the history behind the conflict is complicated so I think I better go on with the review and leave the controversial stuff alone!
The EP begins with possibly the best known Irish song of all time, ‘The Wild Rover’. The song is about a utter wastrel of a man who spends his life drinking and carousing before coming to the realisation he has wasted his life and returns to the home of his parents and promises to reform his ways. The origins of the song are vague and thought to originate via Ireland, Scotland or from the fishing industry but there’s no arguing that it is indeed the most popular Irish song of all time. The Kellys play it as a rock ballad with the amazing chorus the highlight. Pierre-Yves’s accordion and Rémi’s bagpipes supply the Celtic instrumentation while the rest of the band keep the heavy sound of their previous releases intact while still playing a glorious homage to this wonderful song.
As I have mentioned recently sometimes the best of videos are recorded in pubs (the natural home of all Celtic-Punk) with a crowd of friends enjoying themselves and ‘The Wild Rover’ fits the bill perfectly. Take a couple of minutes to check it out as it’s another in Krakin’ Kellys long line of great vids. See how many band t-shirts you can spot. I lost count at a dozen! Next up is ‘The Foggy Dew’ a song about the glorious 1916 Irish uprising against British rule in Ireland. The song has become pretty popular in the Celtic-Punk scene of late due in main to its Celtic-Punk friendly air. Again its done very much in the Krakin’ Kellys style and David’s vocals may divide people along the lines of those who are expecting someone crooning but KK are a Punk band at the heart and I think they fit perfectly. Raspy and semi-shouty they are nothing if not passionate. Time for a more ‘trad’ approach next as the Bhoys mix up three songs you may not know by their names but will from the airs. Of course Thin Lizzy made ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ a international smash hit back in 1973. The song morphs into ‘The Kesh Jig’, an old traditional Irish tune. It’s popularity is attributed to The Bothy Band who recorded the song on their debut album in 1975 and then another traditional song ‘Morrison’s Jig’. Here the band push their trad side to the limit while still remaining at heart the skate-punk band they are. Here again Pierre-Yves proves he’s one of the best accordion players in the business. Half way through now and it’s time for a couple of Dubliners songs starting with ‘Free The People’. Although performed and released by The Dubiners the song was in fact written by Phil Coulter and relates to the struggle for racial equality in the USA and the struggle in the northern 6 counties of Ireland against British occupation and discrimination against Catholics.
“What does it profit him
The right to be born
If he suffers the loss of liberty?
Laws were made for people
And the law can never scorn
The right of a man to be free
We are the people
And we shall overcome”
The Kellys play the song as normal but with a heaviness that belies whatever version you have previously heard before. Next is a mention for a familiar name here on the London Celtic Punks site, that of Ewan MacColl the writer of ‘Champion At Keeping Them Rolling’. The Dubliners recorded the song in 1972 and perhaps because it was the last recordings of the original line up the song is often thought to be written by them but Ewan was a master of songwriting and telling the story and tribulations of working class life.
“I am an old-timer, I travel the road, I sit in me wagon and lumber me load”
The song speaks of a long distance lorry driver and contains everything you need to know about Ewan. Humour, anger, social injustice and more humour. Again it’s not a song that needs much doing to change it to a Celtic-Punk song, none of the songs The Dubliners recorded do! So onto the last song and the second song from Phil Coulter. ‘The Town I Love So Well’ was written by Phil Coulter, renowned musician, songwriter and record producer about his childhood in Derry city, a place at the centre of Irish resistance to British rule. The song begins with the simple tale of his upbringing in a place filled with warmth and love before ‘The Troubles’ began and Derry became a place plagued with violence. The songs final verse includes a message of hope for a “bright, brand new day”, saying “They will not forget but their hearts are set / on tomorrow and peace once again”. Phil Coulter is also responsible for one of the most beautiful songs ever written, ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’ about the birth of his first daughter with Down’s Syndrome and later died aged four. Take another minute or two to check out the song here as sung by Luke Kelly. Anyway back to the Krakin’ Kellys and they go out on a high! Beginning as a acapello version with the band led by David bagpipes come in and it soon erupts into as class a Celtic-Punk song you will ever hear. Fast and furious and full of passion.
Six songs and over twenty minutes of one of the very best bands around in the scene at the moment. Krakin’ Kellys are an interesting band for a number of reasons. Their output is regular and of a very high standard alongside their videos which are always worth several viewings and here they show a love and respect for source material that you would not expect for a band from the heavier side of Celtic-Punk. One of the favourite (if not my actual favourite) bands of the assorted London Celtic Punks collective we are all gagging to see them live and hopefully appear alongside them in one of their fantastic videos!!
(You can stream Irish Tribute on the Bandcamp player below)
Buy Irish Tribute FromTheBand
Back again for more it’s Celtic-Punk’s most prolific artist the Buffalo, New York based ‘One Man Band’ The Fighting 69th release their second tribute to Celtic-Punk’s #1 band this year. Five more songs given an affectionate twist and again available as a free download.
Was only in September we reviewed Volume 1 of the Fighting 69th tribute EP to the Dropkick Murphys and already hot on its heels lands Volume 2! Again the songs chosen are a mix of the more famous and perhaps some lesser known songs as well and give Raymond ample opportunity to show off his amazing musicianship for he plays every instrument here including piano, bagpipes, tin whistle, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar… all played by the man himself including vocals too!
We went into how the band first formed back in 2007 in our review of Volume one here and even a bit of history of who the original Fighting 69th were and where the band took their name from. So rather than repeat ourselves head over there and read up on some proud Irish-American history and also grab yourself the first Volume of this series for free. The EP starts with ‘Paying My Way’ from the rather cooly received last album 11 Short Stories Of Pain And Glory. On reflection the album has grown on me and ‘Paying My Way’ has gone onto become a staple of their live shows, as well as ‘Blood’, so perhaps it’s worthy of another listen. Next up is ‘Ten Years Of Service’ from the Murphs second studio album The Gang’s All Here (this is also the album that featured the Bhoys version of The Fighting 69th). It was Al Barr’s first album with the group and ‘Ten Years Of Service’ was the first big exposure of him as the new lead singer. I think Ray tries a bit too much punk rock snarl here on his version but there you go.
“Who’s gonna save us from this lonely picket line,
10 years of service but I’m still not worth your time.
And I’ve seen men give their lives,
and heard the stories that they tell of how they labored
for this company which sold it’s soul to hell”
Not strictly a Murphys song but they did record ‘The Green Fields Of France’ on their best selling album The Warriors Code from 2005. Graced by just about every Irish artist worth their salt it was actually written in 1976 by Scottish folk singer-songwriter Eric Bogle, reflecting on the grave of a young Irishman who had died fighting in the First World War. A sad song and suitably played here. Now to perhaps the fans most favourite Murphys song ‘Kiss Me, I’m Shitfaced’. Played at every gig since they wrote it it’s usually the start of their encore and the beginning of bringing the curtain down on a sweaty night of Celtic-Punk rocking! Featuring on Blackout the fourth studio album released in 2003. The EP comes to an end with another song from their last album and its another live favourite in ‘Blood’ and it’s a pretty decent cover of the original with plenty of piping! The Fighting 69th show that none of the Murphys songs are beyond them and end on the EP on a glorious high!
(You can listen to Famous For Nothing below on the Bandcamp. It’s available as a free download but chuck a price of the ‘Black Stuff’ over if you can afford it. Now get downloading!)
Spanish Celtic-Punk band 13Krauss may be part Dropkicks and another wee part Molly’s but 100% Celtic-Folk-Punk!
Redención is the third studio album (all independent releases) from Zaragoza based Celtic-Punk band 13Krauss. They were delivered kicking and screaming on 8th December 2012 and a year later they released their first demo Atlántida (available here for free download) which they followed up later that year with their debut album Seguir En Pie, which went on to to garner some great reviews from around the worlds Celtic-Punk media. This album was succeeded by The End Is Nigh in and again was met by universal acclaim from the scene and even went on to reach the dizzy heights of #17 in the London Celtic Punks Best Of 2016 awards. Not bad at all in a year when all the big hitters of Celtic-Punk released album’s. The band were formed as a straight up, heads down Punk-Rock band but after attending a concert by the legendary Real McKenzies it was decided to spice things up a bit and with the addition of accordion, fiddle and bagpipes a new Celtic-Punk band was set to hit the streets!
The album kicks off with ‘Dark Times’ and from the very start its fast and energetic Celtic-Punk but still tuneful. It’s a punk of course but Viktor’s banjo leads the song from beginning to end in a way that reminds me a bit of English band Mick O’Toole. 13Krauss tend to slip between English and Spanish in their songs and they do again on Redención with the majority in Spanish but Mario’s vocals are clear as a bell and Punky enough for the music too. On ‘Verte Perder’ Mario is joined on vocals by Pimen Tonazo from the Catalonioan band Milenrama for a punk rock duet and again the energy is in yer face! The pace they set only lets up briefly for the next track ‘Maggie Dickson’. The first release from the album back in March.
The song begins with some amazing fiddle from Guillermo with an Eastern European feel to it before the band kicks in and Mario tells the tale of the execution by hanging of poor Maggie. A cracking song that is one of the album highlights and even includes a bit of local flavour too showing that 13Krauss are not one trick ponies. We love to see bands taking in from influences from home and they are at it again on the next track ‘Años Perdidos’ which includes a nice bit of manic country style fiddle. They need to hang onto Guillermo he is one of the best fiddle players in Celtic-Punk I think. On their first album they were done and dusted in just over twenty minutes while on The End Is Nigh they expanded to just under thirty minutes and I have always thought they have rushed things along too much. Here though they have got the balance perfect with no compromise with the pace of the songs with nearly the whole lot played at breakneck speed but with plenty of room for them to be expanded on and the great news is that with the added depth to the songs they still never get tired. They leave the punk behind now for ‘Love At First Gig’ and a humorous look at a punk rock love affair and a song with its tongue firmly in its cheek with a Hillbilly/C’n’W tune that again shows some real quality in the musicianship of 13Krauss. Outstanding! With ‘Mary Tempestad’ we are back again in Celtic-PUNK territory and the albums longest song. Where once this would have flown by the Bhoys take their time and the song is another album standout. The album’s only cover has been well chosen and is a staple of Celtic-Punk bands around the world and for a good reason as ‘Star Of The County Down’ lends itself very well to being ‘punked’ up. Here the song is of course done brilliantly and I’m sure is a real crowd pleaser when played live. They slow it down again now for ‘El Sendero’ and while I cannot tell you what they are singing about I can tell you it is sung and played with passion and is one of them songs for raising a pint to the air and holding onto your nearest and dearest tightly. The bagpipes from the earlier releases are missing on Redenciónbut the album doesn’t suffer for it as on ‘Voces Quebradas’ where the dual sound of banjo/fiddle more than makes up for its absence. Gang vocals rule and here is a great example of them on my favourite tune here. We are heading towards the end and so far their hasn’t been a single weak song with ‘Mil Pedazos’ another standout kicking off with SLF style guitar before settling into a catchy Celtic influenced punk number before the curtain is brought down with perhaps the Dropkick Murphys influenced ‘Sinners & Liars’. The intro to the song anyway as before too long the song shoots off into traditional Irish folk and what I can say except a song you can well imagine Luke Kelly belting out with The Dubliners.
As usual in Celtic-Punk is it possible for the more folky fans to appreciate Redención and the answer is yes. I may have made it sound like Hardcore Punk but as fast as it is it is always accessible and catchy and the folk is always to the forefront in both melody and instruments. A great album that captures both the essence of Celtic music while never losing their Spanish identity and both work extremely well together. They may have once appealed more to fans of the Dropkicks but as they have progressed through their career 13Krauss have never towed the line and continue to do their own thing and that includes moving away from the more obvious DKM/Celtic-Punk sound to something that is both original and utterly brilliant!
(you can stream Redención on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!)
One of the best known, most popular and most travelled bands in the the Celtic-Punk scene Pipes And Pints from Czech Republic are back with their third album and a radically different sound!
Pipes And Pints are definitely one of the better known Celtic-Punk bands around so it was a bit of a shock when I sat down to do this review that I realised The Second Chapter is actually only their third album release. Their debut album Until We Die coming out in 2009 and the follow up Lost And Found in 2012. So what have the Bhoys been doing during that time? Well the answer is of course touring. One of the busiest bands in the scene a moment never seemed to pass at one point that I don’t see a tour poster packed with Pipes And Pints dates invading my FB timeline. They even made it over to these shores a few times with performances at Rebellion festival and a rather unfortunate (but still pretty damn amazing!) St. Patrick’s Day London Celtic Punks show at Mannions in Tottenham when the tube network went down and their was travel chaos in London like I had never seen before at that time.
Formed in Prague in 2006 the guy whose inspiration got Pipes And Pints started on the road was the self taught bagpiper Vojta Kalina. He had dreamt of a band that would make Punk and Folk its home in equal measures with the idea of combining all the elements of good old fashioned Rock’n’Roll and Punk with the sound of some glorious Highland bagpipes. This combination served them well in the early days as they played all over Europe and at Europe’s biggest alternative music festivals. The pipes were an integral part of their sound and they were not just a punk band with a piper tacked onto them. Their first release, a Demo, back in 2007 took the punk rock sound to the extreme and won over legions of fans at home while their first single the self titled EP from the following year contained the track ‘City By The Sea’ (here) which went viral across the scene and, until The Rumjacks and their multi-multi-million viewed ‘An Irish Pub’, was one of the most watched Celtic-Punk videos on the internet. This set the scene for their debut album and they celebrated the release of Until We Die with a tour that took them across Europe, Russia and the UK for the next two years. This version of the band featured Californian Syco Mike on vocals who had scrapped plans to return home from Austria and moved to Prague with only his dog Tequila to his name just to join them.
The second album Found And Lost was recorded with well known Californian producer Darian Rundall (Pennywise/ US Bombs/ Suicidal Tendencies) and again the heavy sound of the band didn’t neglect Vojta’s bagpipes. Released towards the end of 2012 the album was very well received by both fans and critics alike winning many awards back home and universally applauded within the Celtic-Punk scene too. The years of touring took their toll and following some band changes including Mike moving back to the USA the group took a two year hiatus before returning. The first signs of life of the new Pipes And Pints was the release of a video for ‘Raise Our Flag’ in November 2017 and featured the new voice of the band in Travis O’Neill a singer/songwriter from County Sligo, Ireland who had washed up in Prague as a member of the, now defunct, 5 Foot Assassins. Incidentally Travis also performs as Travis O’Neill And His Cardinal Sins and are well worth checking out in their own right.
So this brings us slap bang up to date and the release last week of their third album The Second Chapter. Yeah I know it don’t make sense to me that either! It may be a new line up but have they still got the same passion and enthusiasm that made them so popular in the first place? Well the first thing I noticed is the sound of the band is much less Punk-Rock. In fact they could easily have been filed in the Hardcore section back in the day so the new melodic more folky sound was still a bit of a surprise despite the slow trickle of videos the band have put out in the run up to the album’s release. The Second Chapter begins with ‘A Million Times More’ and Vojta’s Highland bagpipes fill the airwaves as the band eventually join in and some class gang vocals before Travis takes over and while his vocal style is nothing like Mike its a new beginning from the band so no more comparisons. Travis vocals are strong and perfect for this Pipes And Pints sound. Chugging guitar and a catchy as hell chorus makes this a fantastic opener for the album and only sets the scene for the other nine tracks. Next up they leave you in no uncertainty that they are a Celtic-Punk band on ‘Raise Our Flag’ as they proclaim allegiance to Ireland
“you know I love this Green, White and Gold”
The song was the first that introduced fans of the band to the new line up and owes a lot to the crossover punk/metal influence of bands like AC/DC. Melodic and catchy and packed with Gaelic references and accompanied with a killer video that you must take the time to watch below. The pipes sail along neither dominating or dominated and it’s fantastic to have them back.
The majority of the songs hover around the three minute plus mark and give them plenty of chance to give full reign to exactly what they want. ‘Shadow On Your Wall’ is a slow rock ballad of a song that still comes across as heavy and gives Lukas a chance to shine with some excellent drumming alongside Ondra and Rafan on bass and guitar. ‘Rebel In My Veins’ speeds it up again with some great lyrics about taking the past and conquering it.
“Straight edge x’s on my hands
and old lovers names I don’t regret
Blood red roses, punk rock bands
all are memories we cant forget”
They keep the pace up with ‘Diamonds And Dreams’ a more traditional straight forward Punk-Rock song while ‘Dark Into The Night’ is the classic tale of a man who is left by the love of his life but finds redemption in the arms of his punk rock family. The song introduces us to something I thought I would never say and that is a Pipes And Pints country song! Of course it’s not straight up country and Travis on banjo gives it an extra buzz but the catchyness is still there and though I think that could have gone heavier with the sound it’s still a great tune.
‘Fist Of Defiance’ has more of that punk/metal crossover appeal while on the short ‘We Are The Scene’ they even chuck in a spot of Ska-Pop and a real positive message of acceptance as well.
“Some scenes are pretend, tattoos and t-shirts are a trend,
Stand with me and sing with us friends
we want you to join our celtic rock and roll family”
‘Karma Killer’ is an album standout for me and represents one of many diverse directions that the new Pipes And Pints take us in on The Second Chapter. Influenced by Rock’n’Roll here the pipes shine as the song keeps up a fast pace that show the progression of the band into what Votja says “is a cutting of ties to the past and taking destiny back in our hands”.
“No tear was dry, singing Fields of Athenry
Standing for what I lived and the days gone by
Eireanns soil beneath my fingernails
It don’t mean a thing unless you lived my life twice!”
A fantastic song and a bit of a warning the accompanying video is a bit … er … risque so watch at your own peril. The album ends with ‘Wait For You’ and we are back in rock ballad territory with the Pipes leading the way throughout a great ‘lighter/pint/fist in the air’ moment to bring down the curtain.
So a new direction for one of my favourite bands and do I approve? Well I loved the hardcore-Celtic-Punk sound of the early days of Pipes And Pints but on The Second Chapter they have managed to still convince me they are the same band. They may have replaced hardcore with a much more melodic base but have done it in a way that will not alienate old fans which is always the danger when a band goes in a new direction. It’s a cracker of an album that I have been playing solidly now for three days and show no sign of getting sick of! A fantastic return and will open many doors to them I am sure.
( You can stream the whole of The Second Chapter on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it that is! Its only $7!)
is funny way to explain the situation of Irish folks born outside of Ireland. Stephen Gara, a friend, musician who plays in Neck, and who currently lives in the Hudson Valley was born in London to Irish parents. He told how the English referred to him as “the Irish Bastard.” But when he went back ‘home’ as they called Ireland, the folks there called him “the English Bastard.” But more on Stephen and his interesting story later!
While talking to Eddie of London Celtic Punks, we decided it might be interesting to write an article about the Irish who are outside of Ireland and their experience. Like the London Celtic Punks, we’ve also got the American Irish, world famous and well known now. New York and Boston are probably the most famous cities for their Irish immigrants. But New Orleans was the third most popular destination for Irish immigrants at one time.
This story will focus on where I live, the Hudson Valley, New York, USA and the Irish who live here. It is about 2 to 3 hours north of NYC up the Hudson River and would include the cities of Peekskill, Newburgh and Kingston.
The population of Ireland is a grand 4.8 million or so as of 2017 (*1). The UK Irish Population is 869,00 as of 2001. 6 million people live in the UK who have an Irish Grandparent (10% of the population)(*2.)
Irish-Americans number 34.5 million, or 7 times the population of Ireland. Irish is the second most common ancestry of Americans, just behind German. (3.) 10% of the USA population is of Irish Descent (4.) The city of Boston has the highest Irish percentage, 21.5%, followed by Philadelphia at 14.5%. (5.) 126,000 people born in Ireland live in the USA.
The highest concentrations of Irish descent in America are the Mid-Atlantic States and New England. Mid- Atlantic includes Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey. The New England region is Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine. By population they should rightfully call the region New Ireland, not ‘New England’.
New York has the highest sheer number of Irish by descent in the USA, 2.5 million excluding California which has 2.6 million. (6.)
And lest we forget, Ireland’s first president Eamon de Valera was born in NYC in 1882.
The First New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was on March 17, 1762, 14 years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Homesick Irish serving in the British Army organised it and played the pipes, wore green, and spoke Irish, all of which were forbidden at the time in their native homeland. (7A)
In 1837, John Joseph Hughes, nick-named ‘Dagger John’ because he signed his name beginning with a cross, was made Archbishop of the NYC Archdiocese. Born in County Tyrone in 1797, he emigrated with his family to America in 1816 to escape persecution by Orangemen. (7B)
In May and June of 1844, Nativist riots in Philadelphia led to Irish- American homes being attacked and burned. More than 30 homes were burned and the militia was called out. (7C) After 2 Catholic churches and a seminary in Philadelphia were torched by Anti-Catholic Protestant mobs, Archbishop Hughes put armed guards with brickbats at Catholic Churches and he invoked memories of Russia before Napoleon’s troops, saying “If a single Catholic church is burned in New York, the city would become a second Moscow.” (7C) New York City leaders believed him, and the Anti-Catholic Nativist Protestant march was not allowed to happen.
The land for the present Saint Patrick’s Cathedral had been acquired by the diocese in 1810. In 1853, Archbishop John Joseph Hughes intends to build the present day Cathedral on it. Building was begun in 1858 and completed in 1879. By then , Archbishop Hughes had died in 1864. (7D)
I interviewed four people Stephen Gara, Terry McCann, Jim Carey and Bill Kearney to get their personal stories and unique points of view. They represent a broad assortment of Irish immigration waves. Stephen, Terry, and Sean are musicians and Jim and Bill are the President and Vice-President of the Ulster County AOH respectively. For those unfamiliar, the Ancient Order of Hibernians is a charitable fraternal organisation formed by Irish Catholics to protect churches from destruction by Protestant mobs and to aid widows and orphans.
Over a course of a coupla-three-four pints at a break in a T. McCann Band gig in Kingston, I spoke with Stephen Gara and Terry McCann.
First generation Stephen Gara is the newest Irish comer to the Hudson Valley. He played with the London Irish Punk band Neck for many years, recorded three albums with them, and toured Ireland with them opening for Black 47. When forced to pick, his favourite Neck album is Sod ‘Em & Begorrah. He is master musician on the tin whistles, uilleann pipes, and highland Bagpipes. He is the newest immigrant to the Hudson Valley coming here to live with his wife in Peekskill, NY. They met when she toured Ireland on a Black 47 tour that brought “busloads of Irish-Americans around Ireland” on their tour. They fell in love and the rest is history. He moved to Amerikay to be with her and they now have a young son named Paddy. His parents were born in Donegal. Though born in London, he proudly only has, and has only ever had, an Irish passport. He told me how he was surprised to see American flags hung with papal flags on the altars of Catholic churches in America. Yes, well they wouldn’t put the Union Jack up in a Catholic church in England!
Stephen points out that there are more bagpipe bands in New York State than in all of Scotland. He also marches with the Firefighter McPadden Pipes and Drums. The band is named after a fire fighter who lost his life on 9/11/01 in NYC. Many NYC firefighters live in the Hudson Valley as it is a relatively short one hour commute to NYC to work.
Stephen Gara now plays uilleann pipes and tin whistles with T. McCann in the Terry McCann Band.
Terry McCann is a multi-talented musician who’s alto voice can hit the highest of notes when he’s strumming his mandolin. The leader of the T.McCann Band, he often breaks out into a jig set on a special wooden stage when playing. This is a real treat. Terry lives in Red Hook , NY on the “other side” of the Hudson River (the Connecticut or east side). By day he teaches Math to surly Middle Schoolers in Kingston when not running Marathons. They have their first album out, a recording of Irish Trad songs called “All for the Grog.” Terry’s personal fave from the album is “The Curr of Kildare.” Third-generation Terry was born in Kingston NY and Grandparents came from County Derry but had first migrated to Glasgow, Scotland. There Terry’s grandfather met his grandmother and they ended up in the USA working in sand and gravel pits in Long Island. Terry’s Dad Dennis, is the youngest of 11 kids. Terrence is named after his uncle, Terrence Michael.
Jim Carey and Bill Kearney are the President and Vice-President respectively of the Ulster County AOH, Ancient Order of the Hibernians. They are both fifth generation or so Irish immigrants. They revitalised the organisation in about 2002 when, Jim says, everyone in the AOH at the time was “Older than dirt!” Jim and Bill were elected as officers and the first they did was start up a bagpipe band., The Ulster County AOH Pipe and Drums. This brought in lots of new and younger members, and lessons were and still are free. You get set up with a kilt and all the gear, and sometimes even a loaner set of pipes if there’s one left about. The first parade the pipe band did in 2002 they only knew 2 songs, The Minstrel Boy and the Marine Corp Hymn. They played those two songs over and over during the 3 mile parade. The laughingly said they were lucky cuz the crowd never knew as they just kept marching along to fresh audiences along the route.
Jim and Bill both tell that their relatives came over in the 1850’s straight to the Hudson Valley area to build the D&H Canal. The Delaware and Hudson Canal was a very big deal up here. It moved coal from deep in Pennsylvania to Kingston, NY where it was then shipped down the Hudson River to heat NYC.
Later the canal was used to ship some of the best naturally occurring cement in the world, Rosendale Cement, from Rosendale, NY, which is just south of Kingston, down to NYC to build the Brooklyn Bridge in the 1860’s. The Canal was closed in 1898. Yet the D& H Canal was open for 60 years, starting in 1828. Kingston’s first Catholic Church, St. Mary’s on Broadway opened in 1835, and later St. Joseph’s in Kingston in 1868.(8) Today, St. Mary’s is the home of a large stone Celtic cross that is the basis of a memorial to the great hunger in Ireland. It was erected on the Church grounds by the Ulster County AOH.
Jim Carey’s great-great paternal grandfathers Carey and Tully, came from County Tipperary in 1850’s. His maternal great-great grandfathers Cooney and Eagan came at the same time. Before the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Jim tried the Knights of Columbus but being run by Italians, they told him to ‘Beat it’! Since that time Jim says he’s
“swung over to the Olive Branch of the Family tree”
by marrying an Italian, the lovely and gracious Fran Carey, the first time a family member has left the Irish enclave since 1850! She puts up with the Pipe Band and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade with charm!
Bill’s Great-grandfather James Kearney was one of eight children and came over in 1860 from County Meath. Bill’s wife’s uncle re-started the then defunct Ulster County AOH in 1969. Bill’s father wanted him to join as a young man, but it was only for the very old and a boring operation at that time.
Bill and Jim, besides starting the pipe band set up a great Irish Festival in 1998 with the help of Bill Yosh another AOH member and local legend. For many years Bill has hosted a famous local Irish music radio show. They started what is called the Hooley in Kingston and it draws about 20,000 people per year. It is always the Sunday before Labor Day, which in America is the first Monday on September and a National holiday. Sponsored and produced by the Ulster County AOH, The Hooley has hosted such acts as Black 47, and Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones. The Irish Ambassador, based in NYC, is normally in attendance. Guinness is a sponsor and the beer follows freely. The Ulster County AOH Pipe and Drum band performs several sets and there is a National Stage and a Local Talent Stage. Where I have been lucky enough to performed for several years with my family band, The Wild Irish Roses. They have recently added a Trad Stage which features performers from Ireland who perform mainly in the Irish Language.
The Ulster County AOH has broken ground on a grand Irish Cultural Center in Kingston New York, the county seat. Referred to as the ICCHV (Irish Cultural Center of the Hudson Valley) It is to be a grand hall for the Irish overlooking the Hudson River access of Kingston. The concept for the ICCHV was born in 2011, when a group of well established residents and business leaders set their minds on creating and celebrating the passionate community that is the Irish-American experience.
I first saw Blood or Whiskey when I did not know it or expect it. In 2001 I returned from a trip to Ireland with a great new CD in hand. Picked up in a music shop, The Record Room in Sligo, it was Blood or Whiskey’s first album, produced by Kim Fowley. Little did I expect to see them on the cover of the local Hudson Valley newspaper when I returned to the USA! They were actually playing near me that weekend in Middletown, NY at a punk rock fest at a bar called the Celtic Horse. The festival was organized by the guys in The Anti-Socials who were huge Blood or Whiskey fans, Los Jimbos and Jimmy Pogo, who I didn’t know at the time, but have become great friends with since. About 4 great punk bands played and BoW headlined the show. They were in the States touring , promoting the album No Time To Explain which was just out. The Anti-Socials, The Nogoodnix were two of the supporting bands opening up for BoW and they were great. Years later, about 2011, I met James Pogo again through his new band The Armedalite Rifles, who I now play bass for, when sharing the bill at a local club. I was fronting in a Heavy Psych band called The Brian Wilson Shock Treatment at the time.
And me? I’m third generation, my grandfather Joseph Patrick Michael Mullally being born on St. Patrick’s Day in Kilross, County Tipperary. March 17, 1913. World War I broke out, and with German subs sinking neutral ships, he did not see his parents until he was 5 years old in 1918 when the war ended. At the age of 5, he emigrated through Ellis Island with an aunt and his name is on the wall there. Three of my daughters and me play bagpipes and march with the Ulster County AOH Pipe and Drum Band. My son Aenghus is a snare drummer. The Templars of Doom, my Irish Punk band has our second album out Hovels Of The Holy. We’re looking forward to travelling to Toronto to play our first ‘international’ gig in May and hope to make it over to London sometime soon. Say “Hello!” and we’ll share a pint if we meet! Slainte! – Michael X. Rose
1. Eurostat via Google
2. Irish Diaspora Wikipedia
3. Washington Post, 3/17/2013
4. 2016 US Census.
6. US Census Bureau vis mongabay.com 7A. here
7B. NY Times , Don’t Mess with Dagger John, March 7, 2018
7D. Wikipedia, “John Hughes, Archbishop of New York
Huge thanks to Mike for writing this great article and with good folk like himself the Irish-American community will continue to go from strength to strength. Here’s a few links for you to check out his most excellent band The Templars Of Doom.
(you can hear the new Templars Of Doom album Hovels Of The Holy for free -before you buy it!- on the Bandcamp player below)
Energetic Irish-American Celtic-Punk experience fuelled by Irish whiskey, Irish History and Great Highland Bagpipes!
The roots of Alternative Ulster began in March 2015 in NY State’s Catskill’s region. Since then album’s have have been released at regular intervals starting with their debut album, Rebellion. Raw punk rock with Highland bagpipes or as piper John McGovern says ‘1916 meets 1977′. A reference to both the Irish Uprising and the year Punk Rock exploded onto the streets of London. An amazing three albums last year with Pog Mo Thoin, then Boobies, Bagpipes, Banjos & Beer’ and finally the Christmas themed Merry Feckin’ Christmas kept their name in the air and so it is again with the release of Craic Agus Ceol last month which translates quite simply into Fun And Music.
The album starts off where all the other albums have left off. The guitars may not be fast but they are hard, heavy and loud and the same can be said about the pipes too! Though we are in for a shock as the singing starts and Wendy takes over the vocal duties. A strong voice that fits the music well and we not one of those sites that’s going to go mad just because its a women it is still a refreshing change. It was while recording their Christmas album the Bhoys thought it would be cool to get a female voice in for some vocals and so blown away were they that now Wendy has become a full member of the band.
(hear Merry Feckin’ Christmas below on the Bandcamp player)
On ‘It Took A Lot Of Love (To Hate You The Way I Do)’ the band have a perfect vehicle for their sound in-between the rocking of AC/DC and the Celtic of the Dropkicks when they thrash it out. Next up is a song very close to our hearts. In fact we were the ones that suggested Alternative Ulster might cover it and cover it they have done. They took the simple acoustic folk of Pól MacAdaim’s ‘Justice For The Craigavon 2’ and have turned it into a proper punk rock anthem. Telling the story of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton two innocent guys who were convicted of the Murder of PSNI constable Stephen Carroll and sentenced to life imprisonment. London Celtic Punks firmly believe that the case was corrupt and the ‘evidence’ used inconclusive, contradictory and discredited. Both men found themselves victims of a system that sought to find scapegoats in the wake of the political and media backlash following the killing. We are doing our wee bit for the lads over on our Bandcamp page where every single penny raised goes direct to the #JFTC2 campaign.
(you can hear the original version of ‘Justice For The Craigavon 2’ by Pól MacAdaim below for free and download it for a pound)
A rousing and righteous track where this time it’s Todd that spits out the angry words while on ‘Port Of New York’ Wendy returns to vocal duties and again its that heavy rock/punk sound dominates while Johnny’s pipes wail along in the background on a song that tells of the ‘welcome’ the Irish received on arriving in the States.
“We were not welcome
But you feckin got us now!”
is but one of the excellent lines in this song. A fantastic song that really gets the blood pumping and easily as good as any modern day rebel song I have heard. That love of Irish history again rears its head during ‘Battle Lines’ a slower heavy number about Irish people forced to take part in the American Civil War. To fight or starve many were signed into the army as they disembarked ships not knowing what they agreeing to.
One of the things I loved on previous albums was Alternative Ulsters choice of unusual covers and they don’t disappoint here either with the Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ with Wendy taking on the role of ‘Scots’ unionist Annie Lennox.
‘Drunken English Punk’ has Todd loudly reciting the angry words over a Celtic-PUNK tune while and ‘Swine Before Pearls’ also takes an different path to the rest of the album. While the rock element of the album has been self evident they take it to another level here with a slow(ish) rock ballad with Wendy’s powerful voice again dominating proceedings. Next up is ‘Punch A Nazi’ and a sentiment we can all agree with especially the band as they all had family members who fought actual Nazi’s in the 2nd World War.
“When I was a lad on grandpa’s knee
This is what he said to me
Because we live in the land of the free
It’s our duty to punch a nazi”
The only thing I would add is not to get carried away and start believing everyone you don’t like is a Nazi. Sadly a trait all too common in America and now stupid ‘identity politics’ are infesting politics over here as well. Short and sweet and to the point Alternative Ulster don’t go in for subtleties! Next up is probably the song that most divides the Irish communities around the world with it being the most popular song in North America but thought of as being among the corniest of Irish songs! Still, here ‘Danny Boy’ is given a face lift that would melt the hardest of faces with Todd and Wendy combining on vocals (something the band should experiment with a lot more as it sounds absolutely brilliant!) while Jay’s chugging guitar, Johnny’s wailing pipes making it one of the highlights of the album. Not something I ever thought i’d say about ‘Danny Boy’ ever. Alternative Ulster play music from both the heart and the head and occasionally the sleeve too as on ‘If It Ain’t Scottish It’s Crap’ which a good Catholic boy like myself cannot tell you what the song is about suffice to say its great craic and the piping here is amazing. We are nearing the end and the last of the self penned tracks ‘Drinking Tonight’ which again takes the rock road but is catchy and a with a great driving tune. All the Alternative Ulster lyrics were written by either piper Johnny or guitarist Jay and the tune put together by the band which leads us up to possibly the best known Celtic-Punk song of all time and well I couldn’t actual believe it when I saw it was a cover of a cover! I must have played and heard ‘Shipping Up To Boston’ 1000’s of times but never did i know it was written by Woody Guthrie!
“I’m sailor peg
And I’ve lost my leg
A climbing up the topsails
I’ve lost my leg”
Sadly I couldn’t find a video of Woody recording it so if you know of one please leave it in the comments. Alternative Ulster give it plenty of oompf and to be honest its as perfect a song as any written and would be impossible to play it any other way than utterly brilliantly!
They surely can’t keep up the pace of three albums a year but even one we’d be happy with! Plans are afoot to bring their raw rock’n’roll bagpipe Celtic-Punk rock over to these shores in the summer and London Celtic Punks will of course be heavily involved in helping out so keep your ear to the ground for more details of that as they come in.
(you can hear Craic Agus Ceol for *FREE* before you buy on the Bandcamp player below)
Buy Craic Agus Ceol
Contact Alternative Ulster
To find out more on the Craigavon 2 case please visit either jftc2.com or on Facebook here. Offers of help or donations via PayPal are welcomed at email@example.com and check out the London Celtic Punks Bandcamp page here for a list of albums available for download for free or donation to the campaign.
The debut release from The Placks based in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. World champion Pipers and Punk-Rock legends combine to play a concoction of Celtic infused Punk-Rock and Trad-Folk, but with melody, mirth and a message!
One thing that is always levelled at the Celtic-Punk scene is that it is often inauthentic. There are two kinds of people who make this allegation usually. One is the folk music
snobs purists who cannot stand to see their music ‘fiddled’ about with and updated. These people are usually happy for ‘folk’ music to remain isolated from the public within their own ghettos where they can remain ‘big fishes in little ponds’. The other kind is those that quite simply do not understand the Celtic diaspora. Many in Scotland and Ireland consider the children of those forced into exile as little more than a joke. I think this is mainly because we share the values and culture of those original exiled people and in modern day Ireland and Scotland this is seen as old fashioned and outdated. Where the children of Ireland may listen to the latest American ‘Grime’ artist those same children if born in Milwaukee or London or Memphis or Brisbane could be learning the traditional folk music of their ancestors or, even better, playing it. Celtic-Punk is a direct link for many of us to what we consider as ‘Home’ but it doesn’t worry me at all that folk back ‘home’ don’t get it. After all it was the same children of the Celtic diaspora at the forefront of the Punk revolution in the late 70’s.
Even so it is always a blessing to discover a Celtic-Punk band from one of the various Celtic nations. From Ramoneurs De Menhirs in Brittany, Ireland’s Blood Or Whiskey, from Wales Anhrefn, in Galicia the Bastards On Parade and Falperrys. All bands that have embraced their local languages and cultures and have, sometimes against the will of many of those
snobs purists, dragged it kicking and screaming into a new era. In Scotland that is exactly what Oi Polloi have done with the Scottish language. It is undeniable that in the Celtic nations our languages are in desperate trouble. The tidal wave of globalisation threatens the Celtic nations and the possible damage could be greater than the British (and French) ever did to them. So it makes no sense for the Scottish language community to turn its back on a band that is helping promote the Scots language in a style never before attempted. A band that plays all over the world and sings and releases records in Scottish that is basically shunned by the people who are supposedly in place to help save it. Still they are getting through. From packed gigs in the Highlands of Scotland to having one of the best selling Scots language records of all time maybe the time has come for the Scottish nation to embrace Celtic-Punk and The Placks could be the band to make them do it!
For Oi Polloi it is uncompromising anti-fascist political hardcore-punk that gets the message across but for the The Placks it’s a dynamite mixture of Celtic infused melodic punk rock and folk music. The bands ranks include, alongside guitar, accordion and fiddle, Fraser and Black Jack Rees, two former world champion pipe band members in their ranks as well as vocalist Iain who spent his youth in various punk bands that both helped shape punk rock (Intensive Care) and toured worldwide and were very successful (Beerzone) so you know these guys are a perfect example of the overlap between traditional music and punk. This new EP came about as The Placks were offered a support slot on the recent Flogging Molly European tour. The original idea being to release a four track CD to sell at the concert. Sadly that gig had to be cancelled due to the recent political upheaval over in Paris so the Bhoys decided that the best thing to do would be to release them digitally instead and get the band’s name out there. It’s certainly done them no harm and offers have been flying in from all over the world for The Placks to play and record. The band’s name comes from the Gaelic Scots word Plack which was an ancient Scottish coin worth four Scottish pennies.
So the question is all this is well and good but are The Placks really deserving of the accolade ‘The future of Celtic-Punk comes from Scotland’ as our comrades over at the Celtic Folk Punk site suggest? Well the answer my friends, on the evidence of these four songs, is POSSIBLY! All the elements that float my boat are here. A pride in their country and it’s value and culture that is not hampered by prejudice and bigotry in any way. Joyous uplifting music that sweeps you away but is just ramshackle enough without being too polished. A style of music that would be at home in either the pub or the stadium. The opening track ‘Stealing Bread’ reminds me of 80’s Highlands punk rockers Toxic Ephex with the simple story of of someone being deported for stealing bread. Not much lyrically here to get your tongue round but its a great opening track before the blistering pro-independence ‘Nation In Chains’ erupts and fills your lugholes. Whilst the band are strong believers, as we are too, in Scottish freedom they make it clear they are not anti-English in any way and that it was/is the English ruling classes to blame for the crimes committed against Scotland and the Celtic nations and further afield. Next up is ‘The Mountain Men’ and definitely a trad air to this. Fiddle and accordion lead the way until the music speeds up and certainly gets the blood racing.
Rebellious Sons ends with my favourite track here ‘Let’s Pretend’ and its funky acoustic base tells of the wish for a perfect world away from the reality of what is really happening. Great meaningful lyrics with a novel way of getting them across… and a great tune as well. It bodes well for this great bands next release which is an album (out soon I am promised!). It’s a fantastic four minute history lesson through Scotland’s tragic history away from tartan trousers and shortbread and as I say promises much more of the same I hope. It can be guaranteed that we will be hearing much more from this great band and the chances are that if you live in the States or Canada you may well have the pleasure of seeing them well before me!!
Read a interview with The Placks Clan Chief MacPlack here from Transceltic from last month.
Well it seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in Mannions in north London totting up the votes for the Best Album Of 2017 over a couple of pints and so here we are again. Everyone loves to give out there opinions and we are no different so for what it’s worth, here’s who we think made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over the last year. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. 2017 saw just about every major player in the scene release an album while in 2018 they left it to many of the lesser known bands to dominate! Remember though this is only our opinion and these thirty album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we figured out how to attach a poll at the end so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2018 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…
4. KRAKIN’ KELLYS- Promised Land here
5. THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS- Green Blood here
6. SIR REG- The Underdogs here
7. TIR NA OG- From The Gallows here
8. FIRKIN- We Are The Ones here
9. THE MAHONES- Love + Death + Redemption here
10. THE MUCKERS- One More Stout here
11. BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN- Drinkin’ To The Dead here
12. HOLD FAST- Black Irish Sons here
13. LEXINGTON FIELD- Dreamers here
14. THE RUMPLED- Ashes & Wishes here
15. TAN AND SOBER GENTLEMEN- Veracity here
16.THE KILLIGANS- Dance On Your Grave here
17. ALTERNATIVE ULSTER- Pog Mo Thoin here
18. PADDY AND THE RATS- Riot City Outlaws here
19. IRISH MOUTARDE- Perdition here
20. BASTARDS ON PARADE- Cara a Liberdade here
21. MR. IRISH BASTARD- The Desire for Revenge here
22. PIRATE COPY- Swashbuckle & Swagger here
23. SINFUL MAGGIE- S/T
24. JOLLY JACKERS- Out Of The Blue here
25. MUIRSHEEN DURKIN AND FRIENDS- 11 Pints And 3 Shots here
26. THE CHERRY COKE$- The Answer
27. THE CLAN- Here To Stay here
28. KINGS & BOOZERS- Still Got The Booze here
29. FALPERRYS- Nova Abordagem here
30. AIRS & GRACES- Voting At The Hall here
bubbling under: MALASANERS- Footprints here
So absolutely no surprises here at all. In fact The Rumjacks have pretty much swept the board across the Celtic-Punk scene with what we even thought was their best release since their groundbreaking debut album Gangs Of New Holland. The Bhoys are going from strength to strength and are set to go through the roof in 2019. They remain as humble as ever and downright lovely folk to know which reminds me, congrats from us all here to Frankie and LCP’er Anna on their engagement. Other notables were Sir Reg who even flew over to London to premier their new album The Underdogs before later returning to embark on a successful nationwide tour… while I was on holiday! London-Irish band Clan Of Celts, despite a few teething problems, delivered a fantastic debut album as well as, my personal favourite of the year, Belgium’s Krakin’ Kellys. A dual release of an album and a EP on the same day is a novel approach but it paid dividends for Lexington Field as they were both brilliant. Sinful Maggie have just been getting bigger and bigger all year and we expect this to continue into 2019. Three albums from the Celtic nations with two from Galicia from Falperrys and Bastards On Parade and Cornwall’s Pirate Copy. All together we have bands from twelve countries with Germany with the most placings alongside Australia, USA, England, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, Italy, Galicia, Cornwall and Japan.
I was not the only one at London Celtic Punks Towers to be abso-fecking-lutely blown away by the Krakin’ Kellys debut album. Fast and melodic skater style punk rock with bagpipes that will blow the cobwebs away off off anyone! They made quite a wave in the scene thanks to their brilliant videos so go check them out here. This section was the easiest one to award by far!
4. THE DANGEROUS FOLK- One here
5. LEXINGTON FIELD- Modern Times here
6. SCOTCH- Last In The Bar here
7. TULLAMORE- Déš An Pr’i Strà, Déš An Int ál Bar here
8. THE GRINNING BARRETTS- The St. Padraigs here
9. IN FOR A PENNY- Sometimes Its Better To Not here
10. THE ROYAL SPUDS- Unforgotten Lore here
At one point this was heading towards being an Australian #1, #2 and #3 but at the last minute our local favourites The Lagan released Let’s Do It Again at the end of December and wrestled it away from Medusa’s Wake. Their first studio release in a hell of a long time it came out too late to trouble many of our friends ‘Best Of’ lists but their loss is our gain! Besides them and our Aussie friends the list was made up from bands from the USA, Holland, Italy and Austria which goes to show the international nature of the scene. As an aside you can get the brilliant bagpipe punk debut EP from Scotch for free by following the link to their review. For lovers of the McKenzies you’ll not be disappointed!
4. LANKUM- Between Earth and Sky here
5. MAN THE LIFEBOATS- Man The Lifeboats here
6. SLIOTAR- Voyage
7. CLOVER’S REVENGE- Gotta Get O’Raggednized here
8. BLACKBEARDS TEA PARTY- Leviathan here
9. THE LED FARMERS- Irish Folk Out Straight
10. FINBAR FUREY- Don’t Stop This Now here
bubbling under: THE BRANDY THIEVES- The Devil’s Wine here
Always the hardest to do this section as our scope has become fairly wide over the years and gone beyond Celtic-Punk but Irish-American’s Marys Lane managed at once to be a record both me and my Mammy love! Even better the Cleveland based band have made it available to download for free/donation so follow the link above. Scot Louis Rive’s debut album really impressed me and was one of my most played albums of the year and The Craicheads capped a great year with a fantastic single and their lead singer Mick making the papers and the telly for saving a Mum and her babies lives (here). Good on yer Mick. It’s a privilege to know you. More local talent at #4 which ended a year where Man The Lifeboats have gone from first band on to headline shows and a mention for the amazing Finbar Furey who put a most excellent LP at the tender age of only 72.
We may be a wee bit biased here but last years winners take it again this year too. 2018 saw them continue to develop the site into an all-round resource for Liverpudlians and further afield. Yeah these guys are always blowing our trumpet we know and we have shared a good few scoops with them, and will again not long after this is published, but we enjoy what they write and it’s all done with an enthusiasm that us auld hacks are constantly jealous of. Plus you are not a major player in the Celtic-Punk scene unless you had your picture took with Elliot! You can also join in their fun and games on their Twitter and Facebook and their Web-Zine. Be sure to subscribe.
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 6th year of us making these lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous Best Of’s then just click on the link below the relevant year.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
Now here’s a new feature. Pick your own favourite below! The Poll will end on the final day of the month!
remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2019
Every year we are completely shocked by the sheer number of Celtic-Punk releases we receive here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS. As happy as this makes us it unfortunately means that we cannot keep up with everything out there. Sometimes we will receive music that we simply don’t have time to give a review to and others just simply get lost in the ether so every year we have a week at the end of the year to catch up with the ones we missed first time round. We prefer to do 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 in Part One we will be concentrating on releases from the Celtic nations. In a few days time we will head to Europe and then we will focus on the America’s so please be sure to check back.
The older I get the more and more I get back into Rockabilly I have to tell you. Having grown up listening to Elvis and The Dubliners at my Mammy’s knee this hasn’t been too much of a shock to anyone in my family as they are all rock’n’rollers. My Mammy would definitly approve of Craic’n’Roll. Basically a duo of fantastic Irish singer Donna Dunne and London based psychobilly legend Phil Doyle once of legendary Dublin psychos the Klingonz. The Early House is ten songs of mostly gentle rockin’ acoustic rock’n’roll with the odd flash of something a bit harder. Donna’s voice is utterly fantastic and although she is probably sick and tired of being compared to Imelda May its a very favourable comparison I think. The album is a lovely mix of a few well chosen covers and their own compositions of which the Guinness tinged title track about a pub called The Early House, the 50’s style ‘Treat Me Nice’ and the bonus track ‘Arizona Sky’ with full band backing are the highlights.
Donna released one of my favourite albums of last year called Voodoo that I heartily recommend and still play all the time. She’s got one hell of a voice and it gets a good workout here. Donna seems to be always busy juggling several different projects at once and hopefully Craic’n’Roll won’t be put on a back burner and will be back again soon.
Having already milked the Greatest Hits market a couple of Christmasses ago Damien Dempsey has released this unashamed Christmas cash-in album but unlike the sweet and sickly Christmas album’s that we’re use to this does have some redeeming features. Damo hails from the north of Dublin and is, I suppose, as famous for his affected vocals as any song he has written. A renowned singer-songwriter his last couple of albums have left me fairly cold bar one or two songs and here on his latest their are no new compositions just a selection of fourteen of his better known songs or ones he has performed and given a bit of spit’n’polish and recorded with some of the bigger names in the Irish and folk scenes. So we have Damo collaborating with the likes of John Grant on ‘Soulsun’, Kate Tempest on ‘A Child is An Open Book’, Imelda May on ‘Big Big Love’, and even rapper Maverick Sabre on ‘You’re Like the Water’. It’s all strong stuff and each collaboration is worthy of further experimentation as Damo continues his quest to wrap Irish folk around every kind of music possible though we still waiting on that Celtic-Punk number mate! The highlights for me are ‘Singing Bird’ with the legend that is Finbar Furey and as amazing a version of the rebel ballad ‘Kevin Barry’ with Damo accompanied by an understated Seamus Begley.
Back in the early days of his career the Dublin intelligensee scoffed at Damo and his mainly working class audience who not only got what he was singing about but also liked the idea of someone with their accent singing it. He’s become part of the furniture in Ireland now, reluctantly I would guess, but he’s still with the ability to turn a head and if you can release an album like this and have no one question your integrity then that definitly means something.
Proper authentic Celtic Celtic-Punk from the ancient kingdom of Kernow and the small fishing village of Portreath. Pirate Copy were formed in December, 2011 and have featured on these pages a couple of time before with a couple of EP previous releases but now is time for their debut album. Swashbuckle And Swagger is released on the appropriatly named Black Sail Records and is twelve songs of over forty minutes of high octane shouty punk rock about pirates. They may have no Celtic instruments in the band and Pirate Copy are most certainly a punk band but they make use of Celtic/Pirate tunes and arrangements and as it’s as catchy as anything you’ll hear with a mandolin I think its fair enough to grab them for our wee scene!
Several highlights here including the first single release from the album ‘Reckless Alice’ based on a true story about a drunken lass called Alice who after a night on the lash in Torquay, nicked a ferry, declared herself a pirate then crashed the ferry, trashing everything in sight, and got arrested. Hilarious! The rest of the album veers from songs based on stories from the rich history of the south-west coast of England steeped in smuggling, rebellion and general buccaneering to more modern day tracks like ‘Somalian Pirates Suck’ and ‘Kicked Out The Pub’ all done with tongue firmly in cheek and with bottles of Rum on standby. Vocalist Cap’n Kernow has a strong growl that fits the music superbly and the rest of the band chugg away to their hearts content and while some of the songs may go on a tad too long this is the kind of punk rock that come’s into it’s own live on stage which is where they shine. Feel good punk rock with a wide appeal and hopefully 2019 promises to be a special year for Pirate Copy which will see them come busting out of Kernow over the English border and with appearances at many a festival coming up be sure to keep an eye out for them on the circuit. A dirty dozen ditties that clocks in at forty-two minutes all marinated in rum and ready to pillage your eardrums!
Contact Pirate Copy- Facebook Bandcamp YouTube
More traditional Celtic-Punk from a somewhat lesser known Celtic nation with the Falperrys second album Nova Abordagem. The Falperrys were formed in 2010 and hail from Vigo in seventh Celtic nation of Galicia. Released in June we only got a copy when one of the band sent us one just like the others here fully deserved a more detailed review but with time was against us. The albums title in English is New Approach but they sound just the old brilliant Falperrys to me! A seven piece fast as feck accordion led Celtic-Punk band. In fact it is the dual sound of Manolo’s accordion and Don Xosé’s thrashy guitar that gives Falperrys their sound. Thirteen tracks here packed with energy and all expertly played. Mostly Falpeerrys own composiotions but with a handful of covers like ‘Nove Crozes’ which is a cover of Irish folk legends ‘Go On Home British Soldiers’ while The Pogues ‘Streams of Whiskey’ and ‘The Irish Rover get a Galician make-over along with the famous instrumental ‘John Ryan’s Polka’. Well known musicians Rubén de Donramiro, Suso Soak, Sime Keltoi!, María de Gaioso, Kg o Boticario and María de Gaioso from the Galician folk and rock scene guest on this brilliant album.
Falperrys know their way round a cover but as is usual it is with their own material they are the strongest with opening track ‘O Meu Alento’, ‘Aboiado’ and ‘Taberneiro’ standing out but my absolute fave here is the album closer ‘Arousa’ which is just pure traditional folk heaven. The lads show they can play their instruments here and knock out one hell of a tune. We nearly brought them over to play in LOndon a few years ago with a friend of ours who was living in London but he returned home to Vigo and the plan never came to fruitition. It is said that Galicia and Ireland in particular have much in common with the weather and music being just two things and their is no mistaking the Galician love of Celtic music and culture.
Located Occupied in the green and lush north-west corner of Spain and faces out towards the Atlantic ocean it is also known as ‘the land of the 1000 rivers’. They have their own language which we are proud to say that the Falperrys are one of a small group of Celtic Celtic-Punk bands to use regularly. Celtic customs are embedded in Galician culture with the bagpipesthe national symbol of the country. Gaitas, as the pipes are called locally, rule Galician music and the city of Ourense alone has over 5,000 registered bagpipers. A fantastic album and I am sure they are a belting band to see live too. The album is available as a Pay Whatever You Want download which means the band would like you to have it for free if you don’t have much money but please leave enough for a Guinness or two if you do.
So ends the first part of our 2018 Round-Up’s and 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.
December is usually the time when all the various Celtic-Punk media begin to compile and release their Best Of charts. There’s already been a couple and we are no different with ours traditionally released in the first couple of weeks of January. Our stablemates over at The Celtic Punkcast have just put out a special episode featuring the best song from the ten best Celtic-Punk albums of 2018 and I can tell you it’s a good one.
Hi everyone, I thought I’d drop a little something extra this year for December in addition to the Christmas Special, it’s my top 10 albums of 2018 as judged by me and my old kelpie Banji. Some fantastic music came out this year and I swapped a lot of these artists albums positions around many a time before settling on the final rankings. Rankings are always suggestive so if you disagree with my list then feel free to let me know yours. Here’s the rankings/playlist:
10: ALTERNATIVE ULSTER – ‘No Queen, No Crown’ from BOOBIES BANJOS BEER AND BAGPIPES
9: THE LANGERS BALL – ‘No Irish Need Apply’ from HARD TIMES IN THE COUNTRY
8: THE O’RIELLYS AND THE PADDYHATS – ‘Green Blood’ from GREEN BLOOD
7: BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN – ‘Pirates Of Three Rivers’ from DRINKIN’ TO THE DEAD
6: MR. IRISH BASTARD – ‘Oliver Cromwells Head’ from THE DESIRE FOR REVENGE
5: KRAKIN’ KELLYS – ‘Anarchy In The Double K’ from PROMISED LAND
4: SIR REG – ‘Don’t Let Go’ from THE UNDERDOGS
3: MEDUSAS WAKE – ‘Hobart Sailor’ from RASCALS AND ROGUES
2: THE RUMJACKS – ‘The Foreman O’Rourke’ from SAINTS PRESERVE US
1: THE MUCKERS – ‘Black Irish’ from ONE MORE STOUT
So there it is. Any thoughts send them to me on Twitter, Facebook or via email and I look forward to more great music in the new year.
Muer ras, Gareth & Banji
Last In The Bar was released on 5th October 5 this year and was recorded, mixed and mastered by Matthias Reithofer at Far Beyond Recording studios. He has done a grand job as the EP is absolutely faultless. Musically It would appeal to fans of the Dropkick Murphys style of music from a decade ago with the mix of pipes and punk. The band have christened their style as ‘Highland Punk Rock’ and yeah that sounds about right! Now the interesting bit for you simply click on the link below and be directed to a free download of Last In The Bar. Yes, free!!! So don’t delay get to your lap-top and get downloading…
Download Last In The Bar
From The Gallows is the fourth album from German Celtic folk punk band Tir Nan Og. Released in January 2018 according to Marvey Mills it delivers an instant slab of authentic folk punk loveliness from the opening song to the very last drop of the fourteenth track.
It is necessary, when reviewing an album, to draw comparisons with others of the genre in order to locate it in the broad and diverse spectrum, for the delight and delectation of the reader. I have found that many European Celtic folk punk bands tend to focus on a few keys themes; drinking, fighting and wenching, wrapped up in fast aggressive tunes with the distorted guitar turned up to 11 and the drummer beating out a rhythm like a runaway train. Songs you might imagine singing along with at the top of your voice, pint of booze in one hand and the other clenched in a fist punching the air in defiance of the oppressive overlords of the past. From the Gallows is not one of those albums. Think of a combination of Black Water County, The Biblecode Sundays and Mad Dog Mcrea with a little of the whimsy of Merry Hell thrown in for good measure and you will get somewhere close. Don’t get me wrong, all those good old familiar party themes are well represented here, but the musical underpinning is layered, sophisticated, varied, skilfully delivered and occasionally surprising.
The opening track, “O’ Hanlon’s Last Words”, sets out the stall for the album and I knew by twenty seconds in that I would love the whole album. Leading from the front with some capering-pace solid fiddle licks and acoustic strums it melds seamlessly into the opening lyrics. Robert Meyer, the most Irish sounding German voice I have ever heard, delivers “Bless me Father for I have sinned done quite an evil deed”. His gravelly tones supported by dancing flute riffs, you know instantly where this track is going. He is joined on vocals by Sarah Kucharek, sounding for all the world like Shannon from Black Water County, in some fabulous backing harmonies as the song build pace.
Loosely themed, naturally enough, around the struggles of life and death with the shadow of the gallows ever-present, the album keeps up a blistering pace, throwing in the ubiquitous tin whistle, flute and some alternative percussion I could not quite identify, as it romps from song to song. By track three, Sarah takes over on lead vocals on the excellent “Firestorm” with scaffolding ably provided by some growling fiddle, droning pipes (maybe!) and backing harmonies from the rest of the band. The thoughtful fourth track “Monster (In My Mind)” dials down the pace a little and is pushed along by interwoven flute and whistle harmonies, with a beautiful flute and fiddle breakdown towards the end.
Sarah returns on haunting lead vocals for my personal favourite track on the album, ‘Last Farewell’, telling the sorry tale of Myles Joyce, one of three men wrongfully convicted and hanged in 1882 for the murder of a local family on the border between Mayo and Galway after a shameful trial by British authorities. “Toll for me the Angelus bell, let it ring let it sing my last farewell”.
The pathos is punctured admirably by the next two tracks “Three Nights in Town” and “Shaun O’Malley”. Riotous and ribald romps documenting the misfortunes of drinking too much when seeking romance and of being mistaken for the ne’er-do-well Mr O’Malley wherever the author turns. The latter being the perfect song for spinning and reeling audience participation at any whiskey-fuelled gig at a certain point in the evening! I am looking forward to being in that crowd one day, screaming “Who the fuck is Shaun O’Malley” along with the band onstage.
The fun doesn’t end there though. Seven more tracks complete the album, including two bonus tracks, with the instrumental “Bastard Reel” being a standout joyous and fiddle-driven reel, with one of the final songs sung in the band’s native tongue. The final track “Johnny Pirate”, with alternating English and German verses, is happy pirate rock documenting the life and times of Johnny Depp!
Tir Nan Og’s music is familiar, even on the first listen. Authentic and eclectic in its influences it draws on a pantheon of instantly recognisable themes. This absorbs you, quickly and completely. But just when you think you know where it is going, the band changes tempo, drops in a change, adds a different instrument or goes in a new direction. That is one of things I really enjoyed about this album, it never seems to get complacent or relies on regurgitating that which has gone before. Skilled and layered musicianship expertly woven together with glorious vocals and harmonies create dynamism and energy exhibited by the best that Celtic folk punk has to offer. I like this band so much I am off to purchase their first three albums and I will be looking out for them eagerly on the gig and festival circuit.
Ardacris (2016) * Jack Of Folk (2015) * Bitter Brew (2012) * After Work (2019) *
Buy From The Gallows
Contact Tir Nan Og
London Celtic Punks have teamed up with The Celtic Punkcast to bring you the best in Celtic-Punk, Celtic rock and folk punk from around the world so be sure to check out their November episode.
G’day everyone! The new podcast from our partners The Celtic Punkcast is up for November. The featured band are New York’s The Gobshites but listen out for new tunes from American bands Alternative Ulster and Lexington Field, Germany’s Kings And Boozers and Italians Mosche Di Velluto Grigio making up the hour long programme alongside music from such Celtic-Punk greats as The Real McKenzies, Shambolics, Captain Jacks Army, The Sunday Punchers, The Gentlemen, The Barley Hops, Bastard Bearded Irishmen and heaps more.
Check out our interview with Gareth the ‘Podmaster’ here and find out what possessed him to join the #OneBigCelticPunkFamily. The next post will be a special article written by Gareth especially for people who haven’t yet experienced the joys of Celtic-Punk so check back in a few days for that.
You can listen to the latest November episode of The Celtic Punkcast at the link below. Simply click for just over an hour of the best Celtic-Punk of the past and the present.
The new album from the undisputed Kings Of Celtic-Punk hits the decks right across every corner of the globe. I never thought they’d ever come close to their out of this world debut album but as Shane O’Neill shows they have not only made an album to compete with Gangs Of New Holland but possibly even surpassed it!!!
To say we’ve been excited and eagerly awaiting the release of The Rumjacks new album is a major understatement. It’s no secret that we’re big Rumjacks fans (if not a little obsessed) over here at London Celtic Punks. True to form, The Rumjacks didn’t disappoint. This is another absolute crackin’ album – 42 minutes of pure brilliance. I haven’t been able to turn it off since I got my hands on it. Totally addictive! The album, Saints Preserve Us, is released on the tenth anniversary year of the band and what a way to mark the occasion. Originally formed in Sydney in 2008, the band recently set up camp in Europe and have been touring rigorously over the past few years. They have just kicked off their tenth anniversary tour which will be ripping through Europe and Asia over the next few months. The crowds and venues are getting bigger which is down to their hard work and of course the exceptional tunes they continue to churn out. This is their fourth studio album and the third to be released in the last three years. Over the past few weeks the band have been drip feeding with a few tracks to wet our appetite. First up was the title track and video, ‘Saints Preserve Us’.
This track is full of the energy we’ve become used to from the band. There’s also a hint of ska-punk on the track. This was followed up with ‘Bus Floor Bottles’, ‘The Foreman O’Rourke’ and ‘Cold London Rain’. All of this within a week!!! ‘The Foreman O’Rourke’ is a cover of Matt McGinn’s folk tune. It features Paul McKenzie and Troy Zak from Canadian punks The Real McKenzies. And bhoy have they transformed this song…It’s been given a boost a speed with bagpipes thrown in for good measure.
The album features a host of guest appearances from the Celtic-Punk world with Mike Reeves of Mickey Rickshaw popping up again, after a recent spot on German band Kings & Boozers debut album, doing a spot of vocals on the second track ‘Billy McKinley’. The combination of vocals between Mike and Frankie on this track works wonders making this one hell of a tune. Other guests include Maurizio Cardullo (Folkstone – Whistle & bagpipes), Robert Collins (Blood Or Whiskey – Trumpet & accordion), Angelo Roccato (The Clan – Guitar), Francesco Moneti (Modena City Ramblers – Fiddle), Denis Dowling (Clan of Celts – Guitar and backing vocals) and last, but definitely not least, our very own Shelby Colt (London Celtic Punks – backing vocals). Beat that!! The fourth track on the album is a rendition of ‘An poc ar Buile’ (The Mad Puck Goat). I’ve heard some of the traditional versions of this tune before but nothing anything quite like this. The song is almost entirely in Gaelic and played at a high tempo with bagpipes, which works well. I had trouble getting it out of my head a few nights.
It’s difficult to pick the best songs on this album. They’re all feckin’ brilliant. If I was pushed I’d have to say ‘A Smugglers Song’, ‘Bus Floor Bottles’, ‘Billy McKinley’ and ‘Cupcake’ would be the favourites. ‘A Smugglers Song’ is a revisit to The Rumjack’s roots and you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been plucked from one of their early days EP’s. We’ve listened to quite a few Celtic-Punk bands here at London Celtic Punks and The Rumjacks are a tough act to follow. Everything they’ve released to date has been highly acclaimed throughout the Celtic-Punk world and they’re going from strength to strength. It’s widely accepted that their debut album Gangs of New Holland is probably the best Celtic Punk album to have even been released. I never thought another album would get anywhere close to it, however I have to say, Saints Preserve Us is most definitely a contender to knock it off the top spot. So there you go… Drop whatever you are doing and get your hands on a copy of Saints Preserve Us now.
Also make sure you try to catch The Rumjacks in a town near you.
For more on The Rumjacks check out the following articles Album Review: ‘Sleepin’ Rough’ (2016) here
Album Review: ‘Sober And Godless’ (2015) here
Back again with their third album it’s New York’s Alternative Ulster with another, lucky for us, thirteen songs of punk rock driven energetic Celtic pride, humor and downright defiance.
Almost six months to the day that previous album, Pog Mo Thoin, hit the streets New York’s Alternative Ulster are back again with another album of rough’n’ready Irish-American Celtic-Punk to stir the spirits and drink them too! Boobies, Bagpipes, Banjos & Beer follows on from that album with more of the same humour, politics and fun that made Pog Mo Thoin such a hit.
Alternative Ulster sprung into action in March 2015 in New York State’s Catskill’s region releasing their debut album, Rebellion, in February 2016. That album received unanimous praise from across the worlds Celtic-Punk media but sadly soon after the band split into two factions with one continuing as Alternative Ulster and the other becoming the excellent Templars Of Doom. Both bands can be best described in the words of band bagpiper John as ‘1916 meets 1977’ and tread similar paths in the Celtic-Punk scene.
So have Alternative Ulster changed at all in the six months since their last album? Well the answer is a resounding NO! Why change a winning formula and while it may still be a tad too punky for some traditional Celtic-Punk fans it still sits nicely within the scene. Todd is again bashing bloody hell out of the drums while barking the lyrics over Jay’s fantastic guitar work and the superb bagpipes of scene celebrity John McGovern drones loud and proud. The album kicks off with the punk rebel song ‘No Queen, No Crown’ and is in defence of the kilt and its history.
“Don’t call it a dress,
or you’ll be a mess.
You call it a kilt,
to honor blood spilt”.
These Bhoys take their Celticness very seriously!
Yeah its more of the same and ‘Boobies, Bagpipes, Banjos & Beer’ kicks off with a ‘Duelling Banjos’ style intro between bagpipes and banjo before breaking off into a song celebrating the things that real men love! If anything the music has gotten even more punk rock than previously. Its the sound of UK punk from around 1977. Think Sex Pistols rather than The Clash. On ‘The Sheep Pretend’ John also weighs in with a thundering bass that gives the song a post-punk feel while Todd still shouts the words in a eighty cigarettes a day rasp. Next up is the song that inspired their name all that time ago. On St. Paddy’s Day 2015, original guitarist Jerry came up with the idea inspired by The Stiff Little Finger’s classic song. Their version of ‘Alternative Ulster’ is straight up two fingers in the air punk rock. Played at breakneck speed and with bagpipes its a class song.
‘Sail Home British Soldiers’ is up next and is a American civil war rebel song. The first time the British Empire ever had its arse kicked was by the Americans and feelings still run high even though Alternative Ulsters ancestors were still living in Ireland at the time. The song has a real bite that makes The Wolfe Tones sound like Foster And Allen and a thumping beat that’s a sure fire mosh pit filler.
“Neither collar nor crown,
shall this patriot wear.
You can’t have my musket,
You’ll die if you dare.
So fuck off you fucking fucks,
and fuck you as well.
Before I bow once,
I’ll see you in hell”.
In part inspired by Ted Nugent’s ‘Homebound’ and if you like that then you’ll recognise the beginning of ‘Bonnie Little Scott’ up next. The song is a tribute to Bon Scott of every punk rockers favourite Heavy Metal band AC/CD and borrows heavily from their hit ‘Thunderstruck’. The story of Bon’s short life is told in song by Jay and with Alternative Ulsters usual humour. More of that next in ‘Dudelsack’ and while I don’t know what a dudelsack is I resisted the urge to look it up and can only assume it is part of a Bagpipe. Next is my album highlight and you’d have to be a right misery not to find ‘Spilt Upon Me Kilt’ absolutely hilarious. Set on St. Patrrick’s Day or actually the aftermath of St. Paddy’s Day and where the stains on their kilts tell the story of debauchery, alcohol and many bad decisions. All set to the traditional Christmas Carol tune ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’. Catchy and a song to really involve the crowd it made me spit my tea out when I first heard it.
‘Chuck It In The Fuck-It Bucket’ and ‘Counting Other’s Sins’ show Alternative Ulster at two different angles with the straight punk morphing into a punky-reggae tune while both songs are still dominated by the pipes of John. Another album standout is up next with the autobiographical ‘McGoverns Bar And Grill’ telling of John’s Mam and Dad and the working class Irish pub they ran in Tolentine Hill. Opened by John’s Grandad when he arrived in the States from America the pub was by the Tolentine cathedral at the heart of the big Irish parish in the Bronx.
“While on the bar sat a can for NorAid,
not to buy books, but guns and grenade.
My pint of black stuff was really just Coke,
all the old men laughed, it was a fine joke”.
The song gives just a sense of what it means to be Irish-American and for this album at least is as close to a ballad as they come. A tremendous song full of passion and if ‘McGoverns Bar And Grill’ showed the trio have got more in them than just rowdy punk rock then the album’s second version of ‘Alternative Ulster’ proves it. With John joining in with Todd’s shouty growl with banjo, shuttle pipes and tin-whistle while mate of the band Scott Benson rocks up with the bodhran. The album comes to an end with ‘Crawl Back In Your Shithole’ and the boot is suck firmly into President Trump and his ilk. Seemingly over in a flash its a great way to end the album and bring things to an end.
Boobies, Bagpipes, Banjos & Beer came out last week and was recorded, mixed and mastered by band maestro Jay Andersen at Operation-Audio/ Bohemosphere in Saugerties, NY. The amazing album cover art was by the talented Gail Benson. Now it would be absolutely pointless telling you that this album will appeal to everyone as it quite obviously won’t. My Mammy may love most forms of music but I guarantee that she’d think this is one Unholy mess!! Still I don’t think that will matter much to the Alternative Ulster bhoys. The music keeps flowing out of them as they take their rightful place on the punkier side of Celtic-Punk. Alternative Ulster are happy to keep it lit and as they say somewhere on here
“When the day is done, we just want to have fun,
And we will for year after year”.
Buy Boobies, Bagpipes, Banjos & Beer
Contact Alternative Ulster
The second EP release in less than six months from the beer and whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rockers The Grinning Barretts. Delivering more of the same with a range of floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk originals, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems that will sure blow the cobwebs out your ears!
Hailing from the small ex-mining town of Ladysmith in British Columbia, Canada that debut release saw seven song, including two covers, of pounding anthemic Irish influenced punk rock. Simply played but with a passion missing from many a signed band The Grinning Barretts have a pride in their ancestry as well as their class which shone through in songs like ‘UFS’ (-Union Fight Song) and covers like ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’. Rather than repeat ourselves head over to our review of The St. Padraigs EP here and find out a bit more about the rich (not in money!) history of where The Grinning Barretts ancestors washed up and the individuals involved in the group.
The Riot EP was released last week and is another step in the right direction for this class band. Kicking off with ‘Armstrong Ave’ and with two pipers they waste no time in getting them involved in a Real McKenzies-ish, who even get a mention, fast paced punk rocker.
“I hear evolution, Fire get’s passed along, I hear the tried and true.
Who still soldier on Good Riddance, McKenzies, Strung Out, NoFX. I listen to Rancid.
I will until I’m deaf”
Punk lives on and each band carries the torch and whose to say there’s not a group of young guns out there listening to The Grinning Barrett’s who will take the torch from them… but not just yet. ‘At The Altar Of Saint Ayn’ is more Irish with vocalist Pat Barrett’s mandolin getting a good work out. The music is fast and punky with the occasional break for some trad folk and it’s all done with a style you wouldn’t often associate with a straight forward punk band. The song is interspersed throughout with chat from England’s own Christopher Hitchens. Look him up if you like and make your own minds up on what he says is all I will say. The song is about the Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand.
“The apostles of St Ayn. Blue blooded time and time again profess the virtues of toil and sacrifice. From offices so high. Bestowed as a birthright and baptized on the altar of St Ayn”
Next up is ‘Last Call’ and is that most dreaded words for any Celtic-Punk fan. We may hate it but what about the poor bar staff trying to shoe horn us out the bleeding door! This song is for them. We have our first and only cover next up with the old and beloved ‘The Rising Of The Moon’. Picked up and sung on occasion by Celtic-Punk bands but by no means common i can only remember it played by US band The Kilmaine Saints and Ukrainians ShamRocks it’s played to the max here and coming in at under two minutes its fast and most unlike any version you ever heard before. Pat’s voice is harsh and gruff and adds plenty punk rock bite to the rest of the proceedings. Aaron and Kevin’s pipes are out again in force and it takes us nicely into ‘IBLD’ a straight up punk number with a nice guitar break from Dylan. No Celticness to admire here just a catchy as hell punk rock number. We are nearing the end and again The Grinning Barrett’s mine (!) their local history for its rich source of material and ‘King Of Scabs’ is without doubt the #1 song on The Riot EP for me. Beginning with the pipes and one hell of a catchy tune and Pat reins in his voice a little and even sings along at times. Its a cracker of a song and for those that don’t know a Scab is the word used to describe a ‘person’ who betrays his brothers and sisters and crosses a picket line. Take some advice from The Grinning Barrett’s and London Celtic Punks- Don’t ever cross a picket line. The song tells the story of miners strike and is important enough I’ll reprint it all here.
“Across a picket line a man with no loyalty walked. Into the mines because his honor had been bought and over bodies he would step to line his bank account. While other men’s families learned to go without.
1887 at Nanaimo #1 an explosion killed 148 Men. Condemned to die by conditions in the mines trying to put food on their plates. On broken strikes and broken backs the King built his castle and he paid a pittance for the lives lost deep down below. The men got locked out of the mines for talk of a better wage.
Roberts greed and Roberts pride would see them all as spaces. He hired thugs and police to harass picket lines until men accepted starvation wages in collapsing mines
(Chorus) Halfway to hell at the morning bell into the mines for coal. While the king of scabs clawed wages back from high in his castle”
(listen to The Riot EP for free before you buy here on Bandcamp)
Buy The Riot EP
Contact The Grinning Barretts
Bodh’aktan feature seven characters from vastly different musical trends disembarking to forget the daily grind and all the hassle and leave only good times and a good mood behind them!
To fans of Celtic-Punk music traditional Irish music is part and parcel of why we love it so much. It is rather surprising then their are hardly any links between the ‘old’ world of trad Irish and Celtic music. Sure The Dropkick Murphys did a wonderful collaboration with Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners (see here) and Derek Warfield and his Young Wolfe Tones regularly play with the best Celtic-Punk bands but only in the States. So it was a shock, but a welcome one, to find the legendary uileann piper Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains collaborating with Bodh’aktan on their new album, Ride out the Storm. Many of the legends of Irish folk that we grew up with are no longer with us so its no exaggeration to say that Paddy is truly treasured by everyone and even at the tender of eighty (his birthday was just last week) he has lost none of his brilliance and his contribution here is both faultless and incredible. More on that to come but now on with the review!
Ride Out The Storm is sort of Bodh’aktan’s second album. I say sort of as they have also recorded an album Against Winds and Tides which was basically a collection of some of their own songs re-recorded in French. The band hail from Quebec, the French speaking semi-autonomous region in eastern Canada. The region has a totally different feel to the rest of Canada and French is the only officially recognised language. Within this French culture is also a large Breton influence and their are no shortage of Celtic influenced bands and music coming out of Quebec and to that merry band we can now add Bodh’aktan! The British never like to give up their colonies and in 1980 and 1995 referendums were held on whether or not to leave Canada. Sadly in 1995, the people of Quebec chose to stay in Canada by a 1% margin and so it is they remain subjects of the British crown.
Ride out the Storm came on the 1st of June and features fourteen brand new songs with three trad folk covers and a set of reels featuring three Irish trad instrumental tunes. It begins with ‘About Things To Come’ a short intro of just over a minute that starts off like Hell’s Ditch era Pogues with a Western feel to it and just as you expect the following song to explode out the speakers at you ‘Nothing But A Game’ is a soft and gentle Celtic number. With whistles and acoustic guitar it gallops along at a steady pace. Upbeat and friendly and alcohol infused it’s a cool start to things before it gets rocky with next track ‘Get Loud’. A while ago the AC/DC video for ‘Its A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock’n’ Roll (check it out here!) went viral across the Celtic-Punk world thanks to singer Bon Scott and his bag-piping. Well i had to look and check this wasn’t a AC/DC cover and it isn’t but Christ it could be. Showing the band can turn their hand to more rockier songs its as catchy as hell and I’m sure Bon is looking down with a smile on his approving face!
Again it’s as catchy as hell and leads us nicely onto ‘Heave Away’. A traditional sea shanty from Newfoundland it’s given an upbeat Celtic feel and while it is a complete contrast to the rocky ‘Get Loud’ it doesn’t for a second feel out of place.
“Sometimes we’re bound for Liverpool
Sometimes we’re bound for Spain
But now we’re bound for St. John’s town
To watch the girls a-dancing”
The album’s second cover is next and while ‘The Black Velvet Band’ is not exactly a rare song to be found on a Celtic-Punk bands album it is transferred to a different level by the inclusion of the fore-mentioned Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains. The song itself is as solid a rendition as you could expect but Paddy’s piping is truly remarkable. His contribution to the traditional Irish music scene is immeasurable so hopefully the album may make it into the ears of the folk music purists (or snobs as we call them) and they will see that Celtic-Punk music is a part of the same tradition. It’s a real stormer of a song and one for waving your pint int he air with your hands round your mates. The songs so far while all being fairly obviously Celtic influenced have all actually been quite diverse with everything covered, including Goth if you include the ‘gloomy’ opening intro.
More trad Bodh’aktan can be found next on ‘Ride Out The Storm’ another modern day sea shanty that has a Dropkicks feel to it for me but rocks along in a standard Celtic-Punk way although with perfectly executed vocals. ‘The Bridge’ is next and again that classic sound is there but the influences this time seem to be shared with 70’s era heavy (air?) metal and trad Irish folk. This is followed by a song simply titled ‘Reels’ and shows these guys can certainly turn their ear to a trad song or two. Three tunes are included showing how marvelous their musicianship is while not being afraid to ‘punk’ it up a little too. A song you could both Irish dance and mosh too is a rare thing indeed. It’s fast and furious and proof for those folk ‘purists’ we mentioned earlier that they are missing out on something good. They are cut from the same cloth as those who derided The Dubliners and The Pogues back in their day. They would be more happy if the music died that to have someone respectfully adapt and change it. We may never get through to them. It’s their loss. ‘You Are The Ones’ and ‘Chasing The Wind’ are again classic Bodh’aktan with the music at all times highly charged whether fast or slow. The final cover is of ‘Mick McGuire’, a song that no one really knows how old it is. Recorded by many greats over the years most notably The Clancy Brothers the song tells of a man who pisses away his marriage
“Johnny, come up to the fire, come up, you’re sitting in the draft
Can’t you see it’s old McGuire and he nearly drives me daft
Ah, I don’t know what gets into him, for he’s always on the tare
Arragh, just sit where you are and never you dare to give old McGuire the chair”
The melody was used for the tune to ‘Hot Asphalt’ by Ewan MacColl. Shipping up to the end of Ride OUt The Storm and we get the first version of ‘We Cannot Fail’ recorded by Bodh’aktan. A real singalong with a great chorus, heavy bass line and catchy as feck tune with loads of band chants in the background. ‘While I’m Away’ is a modern day Irish folk song and a beaut of a song before we get the bonus second version of ‘We Cannot Fail’ and if I thought #1 was a belter then this version wipes the floor with it. Aided and abetted on the song by German Celtic-Punk legends Fiddler’s Green it brings down the curtain brilliantly and will get your leg pounding the floor as you listen to it!
So fourteen songs with a small smattering of trad covers all clocking in at literally just under fifty minutes that while tipping their hat to the bigger bands of the Celtic-Punk scene also showcases their original sound and their ability to ceaselessly drift in and out of different genre’s without you even noticing! Everything here is perfection personified with the production top notch without being overdone and in songs that veer from trad folk to heavy metal its quite a feat to capture Bodh’aktan’s sound and massive array of instruments so well. This is an energetic album that comes with thoughtful and thought provoking lyrics in the traditional story-telling way that, thankfully, is quite common in Celtic-Punk. The spotlight may be on Irish folk here and the punk elements more subdued but this is an album for all fans of Celtic music whether it be your Grandad or your young nephew!
Formed only a couple of years back by Cole and Drunk Dave Hold Fast hail from Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, home of a flourishing Irish rock and punk scene with the The Kilmaine Saints at the very top of it ably supported by other local bands in the Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Punkabillys , Lucky Lad Green and The Tradesmen. In fact piper Jon also pipes for the Kilmaine Saints. The Saints have been very instrumental in helping Hold Fast get on the scene and get their name out there.
Black Irish Sons is their debut album and features ten tracks, eight original tunes and two covers, one rather overexposed and one that is much less well known. The album begins with ‘Gangway’ and the sound of bagpipes fills the air and then the sound of a pub before the band join in and when the banjo comes out the song instantly reminds you of a rather famous Dropkick Murphys song. They follow this up with ‘Drunken Irish Bastard’ and lead singer Cole has that unmistakable Irish-American twang to his vocals and a clear voice that sounds like he smokes 60 a day! The band cite trad Irish ballad bands like The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones as influences and they do sound quite a lot like a punked up version of these bands rather than The Pogues folkier version of them.
Cole’s voice is very much to the fore throughout the album and on crowd favorite ‘The Banshee Wail’ it is given full reign to go from shouty to soft but always tuneful. An album standout the music veers from hard to gentle with Cole accompanied by a understated mandolin most of the time until the song comes to a tremendous end with the music not getting faster just louder. Any Celtic-Punk worth a sniff these days needs a few ingredients to make the correct mix and one of these is a decent sense of humour which Hold Fast certainly have and ‘My Girl Is A Singer In A Punk Rock Band’ is evidence. Played as a straight up punk song with tin-whistle its got energy and bite and gives Cole a good opportunity to test those vocal chords. We love our Celtic-Punk here but we also love a good auld ballad and Hold Fast deliver a beauty with ‘Cthulhu’. Named after the monster created by writer H. P. Lovecraft that would drive any sailor who looked upon it insane. Never read any of his books though I did try once and found it a heavy going with very very tiny print but the song conveys the terror of the being quite admirably. The album’s first cover is titled ‘Belle of Belfast’ here but is much better known as ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and is rapidly heading to the #1 spot of covered classic Irish tunes. Have to say I do roll my eyes soon as I see the song listed on a new album but there’s a great reason for it being covered by so many and that’s because it’s such a fantastic song and perfect for a Celtic-Punk re-tune. Done and dusted in seventy-five seconds Hold Fast certainly don’t hang about! Next up is the rowdy title track and ‘Black Irish Sons’ takes the Black Irish theme onwards and chugging guitar and loud vocals makes for a perfect singalong.
“Because all day long whiskey and shenanigans
Every bastard that we meet turns out to be another friend
You can pour another round and we’ll raise a pint again
Cuz we’re the Black Irish sons of Erin”
You get the feeling that the band play their instruments with one hand while the other holds a beer! We are back in ballad territory again next and it’s another Hold Fast beauty with ‘Curse of the Drinking Class’ with Cole’s voice nicely reigned in and sounding never better. Accompanied by acoustic guitar and restrained accordion and tin-whistle it’s a great song. We get another alcohol laden track now and it’s to the seas me Bhoys as ‘Pour Me Grog’ hits the deck. A great banjo sound and gang vocals make this one of my favourites here. The album ends with one of my all-time favourite sons ‘Big Strong Man’. The writer of the song remains unknown but if not for the Wolfe Tones I fear the song would have been lost for forever. The date the song was written can be guessed from the references to the actress Mae West, the ‘Jeffries-Johnson’ boxing match of 1910, the famous Irish-American boxer Jack Dempsey, whose career began in 1914 and to the RMS Lusitania briefly the world’s largest passenger ship, the ship was sunk on 7 May 1915 by a German U-Boat off the southern coast of Ireland at the cost of almost 1,200 lives. The Hold Fast version punk up The Wolfe Tones version (check out the Tones version here) somewhat but keeps the tune intact and the hilarious lyrics keep the tune afloat. One for the crowd to go wild too and a cracking way to bring the curtain down on the album.
At only twenty-eight minutes long it’s over far too quickly but that’s what makes Black Irish Sons such an interesting album. Moments of fast punk rock and slow and gentle ballads mixed together to make an album that is laid out perfectly and at a ideal pace. The bands Irish roots are stamped all over things and they may look to the past of the Tones, Clancy’s and Dub’s but are not stuck there and have added their own stamp to everything they do. The more I hear of bands like Hold Fast I begin to realise the importance of Celtic-Punk to the Irish-American community.
Hold tight, hold steady, Hold Fast!
(listen to the whole of Black Irish Sons for free before you buy by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. Enjoy!)
Buy Black Irish Sons
Contact Hold Fast
Here To Stay the third studio album from the Milan based Irish rockers The Clan. Celtic rock band formed 2013 from a group of musicians coming from diverse musical directions but with the same deep love for Ireland and its unique sound.
Back in 2016 The Clan were one of the first bands on the site that had been reviewed a second album. Time marches on and here we are now reviewing third third album and if we ranted and raved about the previous two then prepare yourselves for some more of the same as this album rates up there with both of them! The Clan hail from the small town of Muggiò in the province of Lombardy in the north of Italy and have been playing music together since 2013. The relationship between Italy and Ireland has in my own experience been a happy one. At my Catholic school here in England the two communities got on well while in the States, as far as I know, there has always been a high degree of inter-marriage. Plenty of Italians have passed through Ireland over the decades and more than a few have passed the other way with pretty much all of my Irish relations having chosen Rome for their honeymoon destination! We are both sitting out the World Cup too!! The Celtic-Punk scene in Italy is also quite unique as the scene is so bound up with the music of Ireland. There is a sort of generic Celtic music that incorporates music from all the Celtic nations and though instantly recognisable as Celtic-Punk it doesn’t belong to one place in particular. The Italian bands are different. The music from bands like The Clan, Modena City Ramblers, Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, Kitchen Implosion, The Rumpled and Dirty Artichokes (coming to London in August!) all have the same deep love for Ireland, it’s culture and musical traditions. That love dominates their music throughout and has produced a truly unique style of Irish music.
As we have said many a time it’s no good expecting the best Celtic-Punk bands out there to have Celtic blood in them as you will be sorely disappointed! The Clan come from a beautiful place and play beautiful music that fills your heart with cheer and will surely plant a smile right across your face. Here To Stay begins with a kick-arse tune from the very off with ‘Pocket Money Heroes’ and it may start as if it’s heading down the hard’n’heavy route but before you know it’s completely changed track and your listening to a high energy poppy punk song with reggae interludes and great bagpipes and fiddle that change the direction of the song on arrival. A massive gang chorus of ‘whoah’ the opener covers everything and shows their songwriting abilities from the first beat. The Clan to more trad territory next with ‘Glory Waits’ and one of the standout tracks here for me.Mandolin and tin-whistle and one hell of a folk rocker with a dead nice country feel to it. Catchy as hell and just what we came here looking for. The next song up is ‘Jail Times’ and I have to say it’s not my cup of Barry’s. It’s well played and will especially appeal to fans of bands like Rancid with even a organ interlude! We are back on more solid ground next with ‘Rebel Town’ and finally the Irish influence comes spilling out. Now this is Irish-punk music with a brilliant singalong chorus and a foot stomping beat that will fill the dance floor. That a band can take two such diverse genres like punk and trad folk and then mix them into something so infectious it would get even the most miserable onto their feet is always something that never ceases to amaze me. The bagpipes open for ‘Johnny’ along with the drums giving its a Scots feel before the ‘whoahs’ start again and it’s a catchy punk number with Angel’s voice given full range and his gravelly strained tones portray a passion for what he’s doing. ‘Rat Race’ again takes the standard Celtic-Punk weapons of tin-whistle and mandolin and teams them with punk and comes out with a real beauty of a track. This is followed by the album’s title tune and ‘Here to Stay’ is a lively upbeat reggae infused number that’s duel vocals give it a Black Water County feel. There’s more of a punk rock influence here then before but it still sits within the Rancid description I think. The pipes are back again for ‘Prodigal Son’ and Chiara’s playing is immaculate as The Clan throw out yet more ‘whoahs’ making for a great audience song where arms are flung aloft and lungs are loosened and beer is no doubt spilt. Catchy as hell as is the whole album The Clan have an ear for a good tune. ‘Seize the Day’ is the album’s nearest tune to a ballad with Angel accompanied for most of the song only by a frantically strummed acoustic guitar though later Frisco joins in with some exquisite fiddle playing. Finally we reach my favourite song of the album, the western influenced, in style and content, ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and if I was to make a Top Ten Celtic-Punk videos then The Clan would feature heavily so don’t pass by without watching the great video below. The music like the video is heavily influenced by both western and country but with that unmistakable Clan Irish-punk feel to it.
We are nearing the end and ‘Vesuvius’ is up and the album’s only instrumental and takes Irish music to another level. You may hear stuff like this every now and then but rarely, i repeat rarely, do you hear it so well played and executed like this. It takes all the best elements of The Clan and exploits them to good use especially Chiara this time on the tin-whistle. Brilliant Irish folk music played by Bhoys from Milan. One to get up the noses of the folk snobs! Absolutely fantastic. The album goes out though on ‘Easy Roller’ and The Clan love a heavy metal song and here they sound like the band they love, AC/DC, thrashing it out with the bagpipes. There were a couple of bonus tracks on my download and the earlier track ‘Johnny’ is re-recorded in Italian as ‘Johnny Non Parla’ and finally Here To Stay comes to an end with another Italian version of the album’s opening track this time called ‘Rievoluzione’ and the band are accompanied by Cippa and Paletta of the Italian punk band Punkreas.
Fourteen original songs that rocks in at just under fifty minutes Here To Stay was released last St. Patrick’s Day eve on the 16th March 2018 on Black Dingo records. It’s a fantastic album and, as others around the world’s Celtic-Punk media have written, a definite contender for those end of year Best Of polls. The Clan have been one of the best bands within the scene for a few years now coming to the fore on the strength of a handful of excellently produced videos but have managed to keep up the quality and prove they are no novelty outfit. While the posh wankers can whinge and groan about so-called cultural appropriation bands like The Clan take Irish music and play it with a love and respect for the past while keeping an eye to to the future.
(Here’s that video. Yes that one!)
Buy Here To Stay
Contact The Band
Black Dingo Productions Facebook
For more on Italian Celtic-Punk then join the IRISH/FOLK/CELTIC PUNK ITALIA! Facebook group here
With the Swiss taking the World Cup by storm here’s a band that’s been around for quite a while and have released a bunch of cracking Celtic-Punk records. ‘The 45rpm’ is a vinyl 7″ release of chugging punk rock with full blooded bagpipes roaring throughout.
Taking their name from John Steinbeck’s novel of the same title Tortilla Flat are from Langenthal in Switzerland and play Celtic-Punk heavily influenced by both Scottish and Irish melodies. This is a band that easily sits slap bang on the line between Celtic and Punk/ A band that anyone with the slightest interest in either would love I am sure. Therefore it’s a mystery to me why they don’t get a bit more press. They thoroughly deserve to. We are at fault as any as despite owning a couple of Tortilla Flat CD’s they have never properly graced these pages despite having a total of seven album releases and a couple of singles in their back catalogue. Well hopefully this will go some way to redressing the balance with the release of a vinyl only 7″ single. I have noticed vinyl making a bit of a comeback generally but more importantly there has been a good few recent Celtic-Punk releases too.
Where folklore meets stirring punk attitude, there’s something for everybody. An invitation to dance and sing, or maybe just to shout along but these Bhoys are enjoying the ride
“because it’s both a soundtrack for party nights and comfortable evenings with friends; because it makes rainy days sunnier and brings you a holiday on the islands within reach during the summer heat.”
Tortilla Flat have at their core three good friends in Chris, Ritchie and Lexu and are supported at various times by the The Independent Pipers who supply a good dose of Celt whenever it’s needed. The music you hear first maybe punk rock but there is no denying that it’s Celtic melodies, mainly Scots, that run things here with the pipes always leading the way.
The single kicks off with the title song ‘The 45rpm’ and its a 1977 Brit punk style number with some wonderful bagpipes. The song features Jorgen Red Westman on vocals and he has a great voice, hardly surprising as he has just celebrated thirty years as the frontman of the legendary Swedish garage-surf-punk band Psychotic Youth. The song moves at a great pace with a catchy beat akin to those early punk bands. Not too fast but miles away from slow!!! The song first appeared, in a different version, on their seventh album from last year Forward To The Past.
Next up we have classic Tortilla Flat fodder where they take the song ‘A Man’s A Man For A’That’ written over 220 years ago by the great Scottish poet and nationalist Robbie Burns. A poem that promoted Burns political and moral views. Published anonymously in The Glasgow Magazine for fear of arrest, it is thought the song is proof of his support for the Revolution in France. The song was recorded live in concert at the stunning Klostersommer Rueggisberg, not that you would know it as the quality is far and above any live recording I have heard in years!
The guitars chug, the bass thumps and drums beat while the pipes pipe. A bloody brilliant song and a real foot stomper too. Originally recorded for The Great Escape from 2013 the brilliant video was recorded, filmed and mixed by Benny Wyder of Swiss Music Service
“Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a’ that,)
That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
It’s coming yet for a’ that,
That Man to Man, the world o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that”
This is followed up with the Irish folk classic ‘The Wild Rover’recorded during the same set again it is clear as crystal and could almost pass for a studio recording of not for the clapping and cheering from the audience. Played by everyone at some point there is no denying its popularity among the punters at gigs and I remember it being one of only a small handful of songs we (the boys) use to really enjoy singing at school as we were allowed to stamp our feet and clap our hands during the chorus. It makes for a perfect Celtic-Punk song with plenty of punk rock attitude and Folk history. Tortilla Flat do a grand job keeping it fast and catchy. The single comes to an end with a alternative version of ‘The 45rpm’ again featuring Jorgen and also Chris on vocals. The lyrics tell of how much better music on vinyl is than on CD or download. I’m afraid people I have to concur. I have never quite given up on vinyl in all my years and it is true when Jorgen sings
“you were born too late and you will never understand”
what it meant to you when you had saved up enough money to go and buy a record. A feeling that modern day music just doesn’t, and won’t ever, compare to. The single is released at the end of this week but you can pre-order the single via mail-order from MacSlon’s and Outsider at the links below. The 7″ vinyl version is limited to just 300 copies but will be available as a digital download as well.
Buy The Single
Contact Tortilla Flat
If all the dew were diamonds”, Pablo said, “we would be very rich. We would be drunk all our lives”. But Pilon, on whom the curse of realism lay uneasily, added: “Everybody would have too many diamonds. There would be no price for them, but wine always costs money. If only it would rain for a day, now, and we had a tank to catch it in”. “But good wine”, interjected Pablo, “not rotgut swill like the last you got”. “I didn’t pay for it”, said Pilon. “Someone hid it in the grass by the dance hall. What can you expect of wine you find ?”
dialogue from “TORTILLA FLAT” by John Steinbeck, 1935
Hungarian Celtic-Punk week continues with another huge band from the scene. Paddy And The Rats serve up a pirate party with a heavy dose of polka, punk and folk bringing the Irish pub straight into your merry home!
So we move onto Album #2 of our Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week (be sure to check out #1 here) and it’s another band who are massive both and home and abroad. Paddy And The Rats are possibly the best known of all the Hungarian celtic-punk bands and deservedly so. Hard work and constant touring have paid dividends for the band and these days they are known throughout Europe for their superb records and great live shows. Riot City Outlaws is their fifth studio album following ‘Rats On Board’, ‘Hymns For Bastards’, ‘Tales From The Docks’ and ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’. Formed in 2008 with a love of Irish music, pirates and punk rock they have been going strong and getting stronger ever since. The original celtic-punk sound from their first four albums saw them change track somewhat on their last album but we did note that
“No harm in that. Its called progression and I’d rather they did that than just stick to playing ‘The Wild Rover’ for evermore.”
and it couldn’t be more true. A band can stand still and play the same album year in year out but that is not what Paddy And The Rats are about and thank the Heavens. As they say themselves
“Well, it`s one thing to dream about being Irish”
but this Miskolc-based six piece decided to throw a hefty dose of pirate-isms, polka and gypsy punk onto the Celtic mix!
Riot City Outlaws launches with ‘Aerolites’ and one of the albums stand out tracks straight away. Beginning with piano, acoustic guitar and Paddy’s great rock vocals it soon picks up pace and becomes a catchy feelgood Celtic rocker that’s guaranteed to get you on your feet.
The Bhoys follow this up with another classic song the accordion led ‘Join the Riot’. Like the opening track it switches melody from calm and collected to wild and manic whilst still keeping the feelgood factor. Accompanied by one of their famously excellent videos Paddy And The Rats nail their colours to the mast both figuratively and literally. Another song bound to get the audience beating up the floor at live gigs.
The Rats have always added a healthy dose of pirate to their Celtic-Punk and it’s always worked well for them, especially as pirate-punk/metal has always been seen as more a joke or parody thing. Obviously their roots as a folk-punk band must help and on ‘Black Sails’ those roots shine through with an accordion led track that also hits the heights that is both hard and heavy and ‘pop-punky’ at times. Paddy’s vocals shine throughout the entire album and are both crystal clear and very easy to understand. Having signed to Napalm Records in the summer the powerful production by Grammy award winning producer Cameron Webb, famous for his work with the likes of Motörhead, Megadeth and Social Distortion, lends itself well to Paddy And The Rats with their loud massive choruses and bombastic big tunes. ‘The Way We Wanna Go’ is one such tune with banjo, mandolin, fiddle all fighting each other in a mighty tune. If there is one song here that maybe ventures into parody its ‘Sail Away’ with its drunken bar scene opening and then a rollicking folk-punk tune taking over before ending with a fantastic punk rock/fiddle jig. These are the kind of songs that would go down equally as well in a small hovel of a pub or a stadium full of adoring fans and Paddy And The Rats are use to both. ‘Blow’ is accordion led along with tin-whistle and chugging guitars it takes a different approach with a really (and a mean really) cool pop-punk sound in the vein of Green Day or Pennywise. they follow this with what passes for a ballad on this album and ‘Castaway’ may be slow (ish) but it’s certainly not dull and is as loud and as brash as the fastest song here. Accompanied by another great video it would be well worth your time to put the kettle on, grab a packet of biscuits, take a hour of your life and clicking on their You Tube channel. A lot of thought and attention has gone into them.
The ocean is the theme of the next couple of songs and both ‘One Last Ale’ and ‘Where Red Paints The Ocean’ are brilliant Celtic/Pirate rockers. Tuneful, catchy anthemic songs that again manage to be both hard and gentle with Paddy showing his vocal range from both hard and gentle as well.
We are steering towards shore and time for another ballad in ‘Another Life’. They know their way round a good song and are equally at home playing anything from Pirate metal to folksy ballads like this with everything rock based inbetween. A great way to slow things down and ‘Bound by Blood’ begins sounding like another ballad before kicking off into the stratosphere and thrashy guitars and another song in the vein of the earlier ‘Blow’. Coming across like the bastard Irish born offspring of The Offspring and The Beach Boys it’s as catchy as it gets. The familiar story of the morning after is taken up next with ‘I Won’t Drink Again’ with acoustic guitar and tin whistle leading the way before turning into a song the Dropkick Murphys haven’t written in years sadly. A happy-go-lucky tune that’s a real foot tapper. The end of the official album comes with ‘Children of the Night’ and needless to say (but say it I will!) it’s an absolute stormer of a song.
The video above may not be exactly the greatest you will ever watch but it again perfectly shows the relationship between Paddy And The Rats and their fans. Paddy before the song starts speaking from the heart but in Hungarian so thanks to Ábel for translating and giving us an insight into the song we wouldn’t otherwise have had.
“My son was born 1,5 years ago and that moment changed my life forever. I was started to think differently and that I wrote that song mostly because he came to the world. I believe there is a very important thing to pay attention to every children. These tiny ‘creatures’ are our future for sure, but in many cases the politicians don’t notice that and they sacrifice them or they parents for the sake of the power, so they remain alone. We think that is so horrible to grow up in this world without parents, who are driving you on your way, and even worse to let them alone. That’s why we wrote that song.”
On an album of high points again Paddy And The Rats do it with a song that contains every element that makes Paddy And The Rats so enjoyable. The bagpipes and fiddle are loud and proud on my favourite song form the album. A real Celtic-Punk classic. So there we have the end of the official album but there are two bonus tracks added that deserve a mention the Irishy ‘Raging Bull’ and celtic pop-punk ‘Summer Girls’. Both great songs that I’m puzzled are tacked on at the end not that I’m not glad they are.
Riot City Outlaws is a real return to form from Paddy And The Rats and when you hear music like this it fills you with its infectious energy and simple happiness. Dark tales make perfect subject matter for Celtic-Punk and theirs loads here wrapped up with them catchy choruses and dynamic up-tempo songs. paddy And The Rats may have returned to their roots here but they are standing still and on hearing this neither will you!
(hear selected songs from Riot City Outlaws on the Bandcamp player below)
Buy Riot City Outlaws
Contact Paddy And The Rats
Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for Part 3 and the final part of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. Part 1 here
If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here
Beer and Whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rock from Vancouver Island 5 piece The Grinning Barretts who deliver a range of originals from floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems!
“Billionaires paying millionaires to tell the middle class to blame the poor
To keep them from our guillotines, torches and pitchforks
Billionaires paying millionaires to lie right thru their teeth
Filling empty heads with ignorance to justify their greed”
I likes it a lot! ‘W&B’ carries on in the same vein with a story of friendship but told in The Grinning Barretts own indeterminable way
“When the pot is getting hotter or you’re only treading water
I’ll be a life boat and ferry you home
Fuck your fair-weather friends I’ll be there till the end
Drinking whisky and pissing on their bones”
It’s great stuff and again catchy as hell and with a real foot slappin’ beat to it. There are no namby-pamby lyrics or feelings here just words as normal working folk would speak them. This is NOT a safe space!! Pat’s growl fits the bill and the chugging guitar accompanies the pipes perfectly here. Next is ‘Kudatah’ and there’s the slightest ever tinge of a ska beat going on. Obviously these guys can’t leave it all behind. It works as well as it so often does in Celtic-Punk.
The only Celtic instrument on display are the pipes but these Grinning Barretts are definitely an Celtic-Punk band. The use of the pipes is so entwined with the music how could they be anything else. Check out their full concert video at the end of the review for further proof. Another great example is their first cover with ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’ as it’s never been played before. Something about this traditional Scots folk ballad just lends itself to Celtic-Punk and quite a few bands have covered it but The Grinning Barretts give it the full on punk rock treatment. They follow this up with a visit to Ireland and another, perhaps overdone, Celtic-punk standard with ‘Black Velvet Band’. The Bhoys adapt it to their own home and give it plenty of oompf and you may suspect a ballad is coming till the cobwebs are well and truly blown away and the song almost veers into metal but its the unmistakable tune of the original that shines through. We coming up to the final bend and its time for my favourite song and its an anthem dedicated to workers everywhere. A union song that would give The Dropkick Murphys a run for their money! ‘UFS’ is not just a union song though its a Join Your Union song. I come from a long line of militant trade unionists myself so love the sentiments here. If only we as workers understood our power is when we are together and that being in a union is a necessity these days. When you buy home insurance you don’t think your house is going to burn down and the same with joining the union you may think the bosses will always treat you fairly but history says your wrong. Do as The Grinning Beggars say and join a trade union today. Beers and cheers go from the band to Brooks Jamison for the superb guitar solo who delivered the goods in only three takes and asked only for beers for the pleasure. Finally The St Padraig’s EP ends with ‘To Your Name’. It’s the longest song here due mainly in part to Aaron Bergen’s fantastic bagpipe solo at the end of a classy punk rock number about always remembering you lost friends and comrades.
“To your name, we raise a glass
To the miles that we walked together”
As I stated these are words from the heart and from the street not the coddled university’s where the pampered offspring of the middle classes turn their fury away from the real enemies and onto the working class who have never profited from anything but have always lost everything.
All together we have seven songs with five originals and some novel takes on a couple of standards that you will never have heard played like that! Not a band for the faint hearted folkie but if you love your Celtic-Punk played with passion and pride in their class and their music then this EP is for you. The Grinning Barretts will drink your beer, and you will like it.
(listen to the whole of The St. Padraigs EP below on the Bandcamp link)
Buy The St. Padraig’s
Contact The Grinning Barretts
(full concert from last year at Logans in Victoria B.C. and as they say “Apologies for poor sound and dark lightning but it is a punk bar”)
Teufelstanz are a Russian band that performs medieval music in modern times.
In Teufelstanz they play medieval bagpipes supported by various rhythms of the drums with deep resonant percussion. A unique sound they call ‘Alternative Medieval Music’.
If one of the aims of this site is to introduce people to new music then I can safely sit back with my feet up after this one I think. I can’t remember how i was introduced to Teufelstanz but I got a message just this morning from Bandcamp that they had a new release out. I rushed off my $ (yes one dollar) and sat back to take it all in.
Teufelstanz were formed in Moscow in the summer of 2009 when the drummer Konstruk-Thor left his previous band and gathered around him a bunch of musicians well known upon the Russian folk scene. Jaroz and folk-hero piper Haldavan took part in the new project and after a handful of gigs they expanded taking on two more pipers in the ‘great and horrible’ Bergtroll and Minoss as well as a drummer. Since those early days Teufelstanz have shared a stage with many of the best bands to pass through Moscow like the Dropkicks Murphys and Irish celtic-metallers Cruachan. They have released a bunch of singles and three albums, the last of which, XIII, came out last December but sadly passed us by.
(you can listen/buy all the three previous Teufelstanza album’s here and help to keep this great band on the road)
Their new EP, Carmina Tristia, was released last week and was recorded and mixed by Bergtroll from the band and an awesome job he has done. It must be hard to get the sound right for one bagpiper but three!!! How to describe this band. Now I haven’t dived too deeply into their back catalogue but on Carmina Tristia the bands own description of themselves as ‘alternative medieval music’ is spot on but I’d maybe go so far as to call them celtic-goth as well.
The EP begins with the title track ‘Carmina Tristia’ and unlike a lot of their previous work its on the slow side of things. Medieval group chants over pipes and drums its a great song and the added bonus of a string section all makes for something very special and a must have for any pipe fans. The words are in Russian but the title means ‘The Dire’ and tells of a country that has lost in war with some pretty downright and suitably gloomy lyrics.
“Our rivers are poor in water,
Our windows do not see the day,
Our morning looks like a night,
Well, and the night is for me”
The second song is ‘The Rains Of Casta Mere’ and again its a total surprise. Done almost entirely on piano with McArrow’s accompanying voice. It’s a emotional ride and beautifully done.
“Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall,
And not a soul to hear”
It may be familiar to some of you in that it’s taken from the TV series Game Of Thrones and has appeared several times throughout it’s run. The final track here is the instrumental ‘Der Finne’ and only further cements this EP’s place in my brain as ‘celtic-goth’ as its performed on that most Gothic sounding instrument of all- the cello. The song was originally performed by the similar German band Varius Coloribus as a bagpipe song (check it out here). The song once again is beautifully done and with the backing of a string section and is wonderfully understated.
So only three songs to report on and apart from that title track perhaps not much to interest your average celtic-punk rocker but there’s plenty here to intrigue and to whet your interest to check out their back catalogue as well. Any band with three bagpipers is bound to be worth looking out for and with the EP available for just one measly dollar its well worth a shot in the dark.
(listen to Carmina Tristia first before you buy at the Bandcamp link below)
Buy Carmina Tristia
FromTheBand (Download only $1!!!!)
And we all thought Muirsheen Durkin had gone off to mine gold in California but would seem he got lost on the way to Amerikay and ended up in Arnsberg and started playing some proper kick-arse Irish-Celtic-Folk-Punk-Rock!
I have a feeling we’ll still be reviewing celtic-punk releases from March well into the Summer at this rate! Here’s another that arrived in time for St. Patrick’s Day and has hardly been out of my ears since. The quality of what we received here at London Celtic Punks Towers has been amazing and when I said I thought Krakin’ Kellys new CD was already the album of the year I hadn’t heard 11 Pints & 3 Shots by this awesome German collective of musicians.
Having known each other for some thirty years it was only a few years back in 2009 that the idea to start something new came up. Wanting a band with its feet based firmly in traditional Irish music and with an emphasis on emigration songs Muirsheen Durkin & Friends was born. Their name comes from the auld song about a happy go lucky Irishman heading off to mine for gold in America during the California Gold Rush of 1849. The song is unusual in that its a happy song and Muirsheen (a reference to the phonetic pronunciation of ‘Máirtín’ (in English Martin) in the West of Ireland.The feet may be in trad with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle, accordion and two pipers but with the addition of classic rock music instruments the band joined an ever growing scene
” set about re-voicing Irish traditional’s with pulsing bass runs, pumping beats and the use of relatively rare instruments, making it hard to recognize the contemplative shanty or seafaring vocation , Pure enjoyment and a little punk rock is still…”
Modern day celtic music and celtic-punk music has moved away from the areas well known for Irish/Celtic emigration and is now played throughout the world inspired by hundreds of bands throughout the globe. They no longer come from Ireland or London or New York but from Indonesia, Russia, Japan and even China. This is the proud legacy that the Pogues leaves to the world.
11 Pints & 3 Shots is the third release from Muirsheen Durkin with their debut album, Last Orders, hitting the streets back in 2012 and their follow up to that, Drink With The Irish, a four track EP, arriving in 2014 which features ‘The Pogues and Whiskey’ a stunningly great homage to Kings Cross finest. Each release came with mighty press from around the celtic-punk world with everyone from Celtic Folk Punk & More to Shite’n’Onions raving to the high heavens about how good they are. Formed in the central German town of Arnsberg the band were first revealed to me when they played at the Celtic-St. Pauli football and music festival and loads of fellow Celtic supporters arrived back over here raving about a band they had seen. That was a couple of years ago and with 11 Pints & 3 Shots I finally had the chance to hear them for the first time.
What we have here is fourteen tracks that clock in at three quarters of an hour which includes three instrumentals and and a bunch of songs that you may have probably heard before but done in a style i’m sure not many are accustomed to outside these pages! Mix in some re-workings (updating?) of a couple of songs and a smattering of original compositions and you got yourself one hell of a an album!
So onto the actual review and the fun begins on 11 Pints & 3 Shots from the very off with a great album opener ‘Another Drunken Night’. Self penned by the band this was the song that announced the new release to the waiting public and needless to say it is a corker! Banjo and accordion led with nice drumming it has a definite Rumjacks feel to it but these Bhoys and Ghirls have been around long enough, and on another continent!, to come up with it themselves. A grand song and what a way to start.
The subject matter well have a gander at the video above and you’ll easily work it out. We stay in the pub next for ‘One Whiskey’, another band penned number. The song really evokes an Irish sound to me. This is the Gaelic music music that we grew up here but with plenty more bite to it. Its still folk music but played at a breakneck speed and with a real passion. Vocalist MacRünker was a member of the first Irish folk punk band in the area, Lady Godiva, who released four albums and his voice fits in superbly. Hoarse and raspy but never too much and totally in tune with the music. The bagpipes are out for ‘Itchy Fingers’ and it puts the mental into instrumental. It’s the same tune as The Kilmaine Saints signature tune which I am sure is well known but beyond my feeble memory. A killer of a song and you’d expect it to be from a band with two pipers and where half the rest of the band can pipe as well!
The first totally recognisable cover is the Scots classic ‘Donald Where Your Troosers’. Written by the great Andy Stewart in 1960 while sat on the toilet in a recording studio. The song tells the hilarious story of a kilted Scotsman travelling round London shocking the well heeled residents of London.
“I went down to London town
To have a little fun in the underground
All the Ladies turned their heads around, saying,
“Donald, where’s your troosers?”
This is followed up with another classic Scottish song in ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and make no mistake I tells you this is the best bloody version of it I have ever heard in all my days! Folk music is put aside somewhat for a moment as the band punk it up with a thundering bass and MacRünker and acoustic guitarist Sonja and accordionist Mine kick up a real storm on vocals that captures Muirsheen Durkin perfectly. Talk about catchy this album sounds like there’s about twenty people playing and if i never thought I’d hear a better version than you-know-who’s then i was wrong. Another classic cover up next and its one perhaps made famous by The Dreadnoughts, ‘Old Maui’. The song can be traced to records going back to the mid 19th century and tells the story of a whaling ship returning to Maui in Hawaii after a long season of whaling.
“It’s a damn tough life full of toil and strife
We whalermen undergo”
The song is strong as any on the album but doesn’t add much to the Dreadnoughts version for me and for a band that really can stamp their brand onto any song maybe it might have been better to cast their net for a less known song. After a smattering of covers the next couple of songs are self-penned by the band and ‘Peggy The Waitress’takes us back to the auld sod of Ireland and a tin-whistle led instrumental that takes in a variety of tunes some sounding familiar and others not before the banjo takes over and leads us until the accordion takes over and then all kick in before we get ‘Land Of 1000 Mountains’ and its a country/Irish folk crossover and again MacRünker’s voice is exactly what is needed here. The song steams along at a steady pace and you know its gonna take off and when it does it lifts the roof. Another album standout here proving they are not just a brilliant covers band but a brilliant band in their own right. Next up we get another cover and Sonja and Mine again take up the vocals on ‘Botany Bay’ and again it’s a great version but perhaps a bit overdone. For a band so in touch with ‘Irishness’ this would be my only wee complaint here. ‘MacRunkers Junk’ is another belting Irish folk punk instrumental with what could easily pass for a ska interlude if they wanted. The tunes fly at you and once again some familiar and some not but they make for one hell of a song when they all put together. On ‘Drink With The Irish’ Muirsheen Durkin pay tribute to one of Ireland’s best ever bands and one that at times could have got you arrested for just listening to! The Wolfe Tones classic rebeler ‘Erin Go Bragh’ is chopped and changed and adapted with love and respect into a celtic-punk number.
“I’ll sing you a song of a row in the town,
When the green flag went up and the Crown flag came down,
‘Twas the neatest and sweetest thing ever you saw,
And they played that great game they called Erin Go Bragh”
Written and arranged by banjo/mandolin player Thomas ‘Lanze’ Landsknecht I bet the tones would whole heartily approve. With the King Of Celtic-Punk’s recent 60th birthday Muirsheen Durkin then pay tribute with ‘Last Of McGee’ written by Shane himself.
“Rope of hemp, around his neckTo hang from an old gum treeAnd as he hungThe branch came down, and finished the last of McGee”
You may not have heard it as the song was unreleased and was recorded in 1990 during the recording sessions for the Hell’s Ditch album and produced by Joe Strummer. The song stays fairly true to the MacGowan version and is a timely reminder of the great mans talent. Fast and furious and how could it be anything other than absolutely fecking brilliant!! We are steering up towards the end and the quality hasn’t waned and in ‘When The Pipers Play’ we have what for me is the albums standout track. Originally played by the amazing Black Tartan Clan from Belguim the lyrics are by Muirsheen Durkin and leans heavily on songs as varied as ‘The Water Is Wide’, ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne’. If you like bagpipes in yer celtic-punk then this is the song for you. Absolutely stunning pipes from Andre and Simon and arranged into a completely new song.
11 Pints & 3 Shots comes to a glorious end with the hilarious ‘Botany Bay Reggae’ and aye you guessed it is a reggae infused version of everyone’s favourite emigration song. Now I hate reggae but I love this so there! What a way to wrap up the album and the perfect way!
Overall the album has a fantastic sound. Quite a feat with the amount of musicians at work here and thanks are due to Sebastian Levermann of German progressive metal band Orden Ogan who along with the band members has managed to capture the band perfectly. The CD also comes with a very elaborate twenty page booklet with everything you need to know about the album and with some amazing cartoons of the band drawn by Sebastian Kempke. Last year was the year all the giants of celtic-punk released albums and this year may seem quieter because of that but so far we have a handful of albums that must have the giants quaking in their shoes and up at the top of that list is this one!
Buy 11 Pints & 3 Shots
Contact Muirsheen Durkin
All the way from Argentina it’s the new EP from Raise My Kilt. Celtic-Punk that is 100% attitude and 100% fun!
Well what can we say except that its become common these days for bands in the celtic-punk scene to schedule their releases around St. Patrick’s day and 2018 has been no different and we have been overwhelmed here at London Celtic Punks with both the number and the quality of recent releases. One such band is relatively new to me. Raise My Kilt hail from Buenos Aires in Argentina and are one of a handful of bands ion that country playing celtic music. Last year they self-released their debut EP, Gaitas And Tanos, which received a great review over at Celtic Folk Punk And More which brought them to many people’s attention and thank Heavens they did. The title of the EP refers to Gaitas which is a local Argentinian word for people from the celtic nation of Galicia and also the word for Bagpipes while Tanos is the local word for Italian people and as the band are all of Italian and Spanish descent.
Their new EP, A New Tartan, consists of six songs and similar to that debut has a fine balance of traditional folk songs and original compositions. While some may roll their eyes at some of the bands choice of covers its important to remember that not everyone has grown up on these songs and while I may have first heard ‘Dirty Old Town’ in the womb I respect everyone who chooses to do their own version of it. As long they inject it with a bit of life and a bit of their own personality then Good Luck to them. Its also worth remembering that this is not for our market here it’s for their own country where many wont have heard them before.
Raise My Kilt have trodden a similar path to many of their contempories in the celtic-punk scene in that a bunch of friends in the Buenos Aires punk and hardcore scene had started to listen to some traditional folk music and before they knew it an idea to start a band had formed. To take the trad folk of Irish legends like The Dubliners and The Chieftains and to mix in the energetic and raucous sounds of Celtic-punk legends like the Murphys, McKenzies and Mollys. That was October 2013 and little more than a year later the band played their debut show. With over three years of shows behind them we would much rather be reviewing an album but I suppose a EP will have to do… for now!
The EP kicks off with the title track, ‘A New Tartan’, and if you like bagpipes then this is the band for you. Obvious comparisons to major league hitters like The Real McKenzies and Pipes Or Pints but these guys have their own take on things too. The drone of the pipes begins the song and its a sound that fills my heart. You can hear why the sassenach would often run from it in battle or why you would follow it into battle. The band chip in half way through and run it down as an instrumental trad punk number. Now I was expecting more of the pipes’n’punk but ‘New Arcadia’ takes me by surprise and is a much more trad folk-punk number with the banjo leading and some ace gang vocals. To top they close out the track with ‘John Ryan’s Polka’. This song may have been a better choice to close the EP but what the hell do I know. No pipes in that number but they are back for a healthy version of ‘Dirty Old Town’. Chugging guitars and them wonderful pipes give it the Raise My Kilt stamp and yeah it may be done to death here but fecking hell when it’s played this good you’ll forget you ever heard it before. After all Ewan MacColl who wrote the song hated The Pogues version so whose to say anything! Again they surprise you with ‘1982’ up next. Played as a a straightforward punk rock number with the pipes coming in and out its catchy as hell and a real foot tapper. A great song and shows the bands versatility in the different strands of celtic-punk on display. Nearing the end and we get a celtic cover of the Cock Sparrer favourite ‘We’re Coming Back’. The banjo and pipes accompany on a song that I’m sure will have any dance floor filling. The EP comes to an end with a fast and furious version of the Scottish anthem ‘Scotland the Brave’ that would have many a other band diving for cover.
With the recent retirement and somewhat resurrection of Black Tartan Clan and bands like Krakin’ Kellys and The Clan raising the pipes throughout Europe it would seem that Bagpipes in the celtic-punk scene have not gone away. Some would say that the sound may be an acquired taste but when you have band’s that really care about how they use the instrument in their songs it really makes a huge difference. These are not just punk bands with a piper attached playing along to the tune these are songs where the pipes are an integral part of the song every bit as much as say the drums or guitar are. Raise My Kilt are a solid addition to the worldwide celtic-punk scene and as one of only a handful of bands in the South American continent playing Celtic-Punk we ought to get behind them and show them our support. Here they have only whetted our appetite for a full length release and I for one cannot wait to hear it.
Buy A New Tartan Amazon
We called In For A Penny the hottest new Celtic-punk band of 2017 and with their new EP that came out for St. Patrick’s week they only cement that view in our eyes!
One of the highlights of 2017 amongst all the album releases from the ‘superstars’ of celtic-punk was the discovery of a new band out of Savannah in Georgia in the USA. In For A Penny hadn’t been going very long and both their releases of 2017 both featured high in the upper echelons of our Best Of Albums and EP’s of the year.
So it was then could they keep it up? Well on the evidence of their EP which hit the streets of Georgia last week then the answer is a resounding yes. With their previous release they have trodden a similar path with sometimes an equal amount of Irish standards and self -penned songs. Needless to say I much prefer their own songs. While they do play the standards in their indomitable way I much prefer to hear bands play and record their own material. A perfect example is their last album One More Last Hurrah! which has the perfect mix of covers and originals. You can still download the album for free or as the lads put it
“Don’t wanna pay nuthin? Cool, download it and enjoy. Think you wanna toss us a couple of bucks to help support our Irish punk habit, great. Want to give us one million dollars… well, you get the idea”.
A fantastic album recorded in just 7 (seven!) hours in in the back room of The Sand Bar on Tybee Island, GA. Not that you’d notice mind as the sound is fantastic and if you need to know anything just think that in a year of album release from the Murphys, Mollys, Flatfoot, Tossers, McKenzies and many more established and well known bands we placed it as #8 in the years album releases.
Here on Sometimes It’s Better To Not the band do not disappoint and all the songs are written by the band themselves. Irish-American Sean McNally is both songwriter and lyricist for In For A Penny and in him they have found someone who has his finger right on the nations Irish-American community. Hard to believe he first picked up a mandolin in anger in 2014 but after only a few open mic performances Sean soon realised that the response he was getting to stripped down cover’s of The Dubliners and The Dropkick Murphys on just mandolin and vocals was so great then the next step must be to form a band. Roping in old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums and Jeremy Riddle on guitar and Sean’s son Bryce on bass In For A Penny took their home state by storm and judging by the wider celtic-punk media they have taken everywhere else by storm too.
This EP, Sometimes It’s Better To Not, is only four tracks long but sails in at nearly twenty minutes long. In For A Penny while they don’t go in for short songs they also know when to bring the curtain down so the EP never drags on. Sean’s gravelly yet distinctive voice again shines through and it’s incredible to think that the whole thing started off as just a jam but within a few days the band had taken Sean’s melodies and turned them into what we have here. The EP begins with ‘Before The Devil’ and it’s unmistakable In For A Penny. For a band with such a short time span they have really nailed their sound. With Bryce, bassist and Sean’s son, having moved to Colorado Matthew Price has been filling in and opens the EP off nicely before the band join in and it’s a fast, danceable number catchy as hell and as pretty the template for celtic-punk to these big ears. A story of redemption and trying to steer clear of you know.
(the bands submission for last years The Salty Dog Cruise)
On ‘Broken’ Bryce returns for a song with him recording his bass bits at home and then sending it on to Sean to mix. Bryce played their recent St. Patrick’s shows so maybe they could go all Ned’S Atomic Dustbin and have two bassists! With a opening that sounds like a Irish rebel song it soon changes to into a track telling the tale of ‘every man’. The homeless, lost and broken in society. A brilliant track that ends on a positive note of hope. Great words and music. The EP’s epic is ‘Dancing With The Stars’ at not far off six minutes! A slower song than usual but with an intensity that makes it seem faster. The song builds and builds and amazing to think theirs only four fella’s playing here. A real foot-tapper and at times could veer off in metal but they keep it subdued and in my opinion just right.
The EP ends with the standout track next ‘Your Claddagh Heart’. Johnny Piper of London Celtic Punks faves Alternative Ulster guests on bagpipes on this one and really makes the song shine. Sending his pipe track over to Sean from New York like Bryce did making this EP certainly wasn’t a easy process. Dedicated to Sean’s Mrs it’s a lovely song and though it’s sentimental as feck it’s not gushing and I reckon the kind of song we’d all secretly like to write for our loved ones.
“when I said I love you, I meant forever”.
Johnny’s pipes are perfect and again it’s a fairly lengthy (for celtic-punk anyway) song at just a few seconds under five minutes but still the only thing i got left to say is the EP ends all to quickly. So there you go, yet another contender for our Best Of charts from these extremely talented Bhoys from Georgia. Sadly Sean is working away from home for a few months after St Patrick’s is over so this will be the last we hear of them for a while but plenty of plans are afoot on their return so don’t let this great band slip from your thoughts. They will be back!
(you can listen to the whole of Sometimes It’s Better To Not before you buy on the Bandcamp player player before you buy. G’wan it’s only 5 bucks!)
Buy Sometimes It’s Better To Not
Contact In For A Penny
The Bhoys over at Mersey Celt Punks beat everyone to the first review of Sometimes It’s Better To Not and is well worth looking at for another opinion. It’s a great site and well worth subscribing to so check it out here
What happens when traditional Irish Folk’n’Roll meets American Punk music? A rather unique blend, courtesy of Belgian Krakin Kellys!
Now dear readers I’m sure you have absolutely no idea how many celtic-punk albums we have to trawl through to give you the best of the bunch. Well let me tell you its loads and its not often that many make me sit up and really take notice. Just recently we have been lucky with the amazing releases from bands like Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Airs & Graces and Irish Moutarde who were all especially good but a rare thing happened in June last year. I got in from work to find a e-mail from Krakin’ Kellys, a celtic-punk band from Belgium I hadn’t ever heard of informing me their new video for a song called ‘One Way’ had just been released. Now nearly without exception the bands that I hear are all pretty decent so I was expecting something good but to say my mind was blown is to put it mildly. What a fecking song!! I must have played it about two-dozen times before replying to the band to tell them how much I loved it and then sharing it on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page for you lot to marvel at too! The song was ‘One Way’ and I’m delighted to say it appears here on their debut album, Promised Land, and it was by far my favourite song of 2017 and even now whenever I’m on YouTube I find myself drawn to it!
Krakin’ Kellys hail from the city of Namur in Belgium. The city is the capital of the self-governing Walloon Region which was created, largely along language lines. Wallonia consists of the French-speaking provinces of Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, Walloon Brabant and Namur. Its elected government has authority over such are as as agriculture, transportation, and public works and has a population of 3,500,000. There is a burgeoning independence movement in Wallonia that seeks to split Belguim into Dutch speaking Flanders in the north and French speaking Wallonia in the south. The area has struggled to recover economically from postwar industrial decline, and there are those in the north who label their French speaking neighbours as spongers and feckless. As is usually the history behind the conflict is complicated so I think I better leave that there!
Formed only last year Krakin’ Kellys have taken the celtic-punk scene by storm without releasing an album so their debut album has been widely anticipated by just everybody. They describe their music themselves as
“taking the opposite line from the genre’s godfathers, Bostonian Dropkick Murphys, Krakin’ Kellys songs begin with punk-rock riffs, which they then unite with Eire-inspired melodies.”
The comparison to the Dropkick Murphys has been made about the band and yes they are definitely on the DKM’s side of celtic-punk rather than say Flogging Molly but this band is not just another Boston clone I can tell you. In fact I’d go so far as to say that there’s virtually no way the Murphys will ever come up with an album as good as Krakin’ Kellys Promised Land ever again. I hope I am proved true and I can only imagine how fecking good that would be!!
Promised Land begins with ‘Anarchy In The Double K’, the albums third single release, and the drone of bagpipes before the accordion kicks in and then the whole band join in with what can only be described as celtic-skate punk! Straight away bands like The Descendents, NOFX and Pennywise spring to mind but with Pierre-Yves amazing accordion and Rémi’s bagpipes Krakin’ Kellys have nailed their tricolour firmly to the celtic-punk ship. It’s fast, catchy as hell and with David’s incredible raspy-punky vocals laden on top international stardom awaits them I am sure!
One of the ways bands without any or few releases can make a splash in the celtic-punk scene, or any scene really, is to make use of YouTube. One great example of this is The Rumjacks whose ‘An Irish Pub’ was sailing towards 75,000,000 views the last time I looked. Krakin’ Kellys have followed this route and all three of their releases from promised Land are accompanied by absolutely brilliant videos. Filled with fun and humour and with a wee story to tell it’s no wonder they have become the to watch out for in 2018. Next up is ‘Bar Fight’ and yeah it’s a drinking song and yeah its a cracker. All the best elements of punk and ‘Celtic’ are here and its so well played too. Next is my second (it would have to be) favourite song of the album, the title track ‘Promised Land’. By the end of this page you going to be sick of how many times I use the word ‘catchy’ if I’m not careful. Accompanied by another great video it has a great tune and aye it’s bloody catchy too.
So three songs in and I have to say that I have never heard better accordion in a celtic-punk band in my life. The sound is perfect and leads the songs along in such a glorious way. Pierre is truly a master of this art wielding his accordion lifting the band to magical heights. And just to prove that God doesn’t deal out talent in a fair and equal way he also did the artwork for the album cover! For many celtic-punk band it’s a background instrument but not here. On ‘Our Pride’ it leads the tune and its many flourishes (could you call them accordion solo’s?) only add to the tune. Of the fourteen songs here most come in around the 3:20 minute mark giving them plenty of time to develop the songs and even though they are fast as on ‘United’ or ‘The Journey’ they could linger too long and one of the things I’ve noticed about playing this album is that it speeds by so fast. That is a sign in itself that I must be enjoying it. Loads of humour dotted throughout like on next song ‘Kinky Mary’ and it’s great to see a band not taking it all too seriously and obviously enjoying themselves. ‘When I Die’ stops and starts and is guess what… catchy with great singalong chorus. ‘Come And Get Some’ begins a tone heavier but soon settles down into a sorta celtic-metal-rap song while ‘Lovely Jess’ is a nod to the bagpipes and if there’s a song here that could pass for the Murphys it’s this one. Gang vocals, the pipes and measured tribal style drumming combine for a beast of a song that wouldn’t be out of place on last years 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory. We are back in cracking form for ‘Hey Bro’ before finally we get to that song and even though I must be responsible for about half it’s views on You Tube it has lost absolutely none of it’s power. ‘One Way’ was without a doubt my favourite song of 2017 and on hearing it I’m sure you will agree. Again accompanied by a fantastic video and again thanks to band guitarist Matthieu Hendrick for his marvellous work. The song could be early Dropkicks but (and I better whisper this) a lot more celtic-punk.
The album is nearly up and still no sign of a ballad here I’m afraid. On ‘Giving Up’ its yet more of the same catchy stuff as we have seen. There isn’t a weak song on this entire album and to prove it they go out with ‘Garry’s Battle’ yet another brilliant trad-infused punk-rock track. A whole album of standout tracks!
So there you go and I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up at the top of the Best Of 2018 polls it is that good. Full of energy and bounce and humour this is downright drinking music. There’s no revelations about politics here and no songs about nuclear war and I can only say thank heavens. Sometimes we need music to take the pressure off us. To take our minds away from the daily grind and that’s where celtic-punk comes in. Its music to drink to, to dance to, to meet folks and make friends and Krakin’ Kellys have delivered unto us the ultimate celtic-punk album. It’s not often I use the words this is a must have album but this is a must have album!
(you can have a *FREE* listen to Promised Land on the Bandcamp player below. Just press play and away you go!)
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FromTheBand Pre-order of the album. You get 3 tracks now and the complete album the moment it’s released on March 17, 2018 with some exclusives bonus items!
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The third single of Krakin’ Kellys ‘The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough’ released on 1st September 2017 and written and composed by Cyndi Lauper!
The second full length album from New York’s Alternative Ulster is thirteen songs of Celtic pride, humor and defiance. Powerful and raw and driven by Great Highland Pipes!
The roots of Alternative Ulster begin in March 2015 in NY State’s Catskill’s region. Their debut album, Rebellion, came out in February 2016 and our review ended with
“an excellent first attempt by Alternative Ulster. With almost fifty minutes of raw bagpipe punk you won’t be disappointed. I have no doubt that we will be hearing much more from these guys in the future”.
After the release of Rebellion the band sadly split with the excellent Templars Of Doom forming on one side and a new version of Alternative Ulster emerging on the other. The sound of both bands is not too different and can be best described in the words of band bagpiper John McGovern when he said “1916 meets 1977” a reference to both the Irish Uprising and the year Punk Rock exploded onto the streets of London. While it is sad to see bands split at least we now have two excellent celtic-punk bands now instead of one.
Pog Mo Thoin begins with the title track and for many of us that only know the wee snippet of our native language I’d like to bet that this phrase is one of them. Originally chosen by Shane MacGowan as the name for The Pogues he was forced to change it when it became known it was the Irish for Kiss My Arse! The song begins with rousing (what other word could apply?) bagpipes filling the air while Todd spits out a angry and defiant ‘Pog Mo Thoin’ to the Vikings, the Brits, the Yanks and anyone else who crossed the Irish over the years. A thundering bass line kicks in for ‘Drunk As Fuck’ a ramshackle punk rocker with Alternative Ulster paying homage to their mates in the celtic-punk scene with The Go-Set, The Mahones and several others encountered on a pub crawl around their home town. ‘This We Will Defend’ is straight up punk rock with bagpipes and the album is starting to take shape. So far all the songs have come in under two minutes and while the songs aren’t particularly fast they certainly have a punk rock edge to them. The first of the album’s two covers is up next and it happens to be one of my favourites. ‘Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore’ tells the common story of a Irishman forced to leave Ireland and seek a better life in Amerikay. The origin’s of the song are unclear but it’s popularity struck a chord amongst the Irish diaspora. Here it is played slow and Todd’s haunting slightly off-key vocals giving it the Alternative Ulster stamp. Now over here I doubt many had heard of the Krampus until the recent movie but in the States, thanks to Eastern European immigration, he’s much more wildly known.
A horned, half-goat, half-demon who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved. Here in ‘Krampus’ Alternative Ulster take us back to their childhood
“If you’ve been a little prick,
you’ll get no gifts from Old St. Nick.
If all you do is bitch and fuss,
best beware of old Krampus”
We back in more trad territory next with ‘Ghetto Piper’. Beginning with the pipes belting out the Irish football tune ‘Olé, Olé, Olé’ while Todd sings
“I am the ghetto piper
I’m loud, I’m proud, I’m drunk
my mighty drones will rock your bones
when I play Irish punk”
in a tribute to the man who taught John the bagpipes who made no bones about his style of piping. Anyone who has ever been to an Irish funeral will recognise the events in ‘Irish Wake’. It is of course the send off that all Irish people would want and while globalisation wipes out many of our customs some will defiantly survive, the ‘wake’ being one. Funerals in Ireland and in Irish communities abroad tend to be huge social events and it’s not unusual for people to joke and laugh and hug and slap backs. Life goes on. We have wept. We have prayed. We have laid our friend and loved one in the ground. Now we eat. We keep up our strength. We go on. In essence, that is the Irish wake.
The drone of the pipes starts ‘Free Beer Tomorrow’ and the title will be familiar to any barflys out there and celebrates the times we seized upon something too good to be true, and it was. We’re steering towards the end and time for a Scots tune in ‘Haggis’ celebrating that most wondrous of their grub and their resistance to English tyranny. In a album often interspersed with near the knuckle humour it don’t get any nearer than on ‘Self Appointed Kilt Inspector’ on which Jay and Todd tell of the trials and tribulations of wearing a kilt and that the lassie most likely to check if you’re regimental is actually the last one you’d want checking if you’re regimental. ‘Stairway To Reason’ is a Irish punk rock bagpipe racket inspired by the Led Zeppelin song ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and the references in it to The Piper. Almost at the end and ‘Ladies From Hell’ is a rousing memorial to the Highland regiments of World War One. The German soldiers were so terrified of kilted soldiers that they christened them ‘ladies from Hell’ or ‘devils in skirts’. The song begins with a pipe and drum tune over the sound of mortars. Pog Mo Thoin comes to an end with the album’s second cover, ‘Sgt. McKenzie’ and is sung in honour of all first responders and defenders of freedom that will bring a chill to the bone. Joseph MacKenzie wrote the haunting lament in memory of his great-grandfather, Charles Stuart MacKenzie who along with hundreds more from the Elgin-Rothes area went to fight in World War I. Sergeant MacKenzie was bayoneted to death at age 33, while defending one of his badly injured fellow soldiers during hand-to-hand trench warfare.
So we have an album of thirteen tracks that clocks in at just over half an hour and it has to be said this ain’t yer average celtic-punk release. It’s heart is firmly within the Irish/Celtic community of the USA but whether it will appeal to many of them is debatable. While it’s heart may be green its body is firmly punk rock and their unique punk sound is the result of Jay running his guitars through effects pedals of his own design and manufacture. At its core I think this is music designed for the pub and for those looking for a good night out to raise the rafters and their voices. Its raw and ready and maybe a bit rough round the edges but it’s overflowing with a passion I wish a few more celtic-punk bands could reproduce.
Slainte and Pog Mo Thoin!
(treat yourselves to a free listen to Pog Mo Thoin by simply pressing play on the Alternative Ulster Bandcamp player below)
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So welcome to 2018 and the first post of the year and the last of our round-ups from 2017. We simply could not keep up with the volume of releases we keep receiving so rather than completely neglect them here’s some much shorter reviews that will at least give you a taste of what they are about. We much prefer to do really detailed reviews but these are still worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out and apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in. This week we concentrate on bands hailing from the Celtic nations or the Celtic diaspora. You can still catch up with our North America (here) and European (here) round-up’s.
Described by the band as being made by accident we, and they, should be thankful for such unexpected delights. This is an album of thirteen glorious tracks covering themes of loss and longing and hope that show the Bhoys reaching new heights, musically and lyrically. Tracks, such as the fun filled ska beat ‘Disorganised Crime’ leap out of the speakers in a joyous racket that simply defies not being danced to and then there’s ‘Stand Up And Fight’, a collaboration with New Yorks finest Da Ded Rabbits, that punches it’s way through in a hard hitting pounding track that will be a surprise to some fans. Never fear the Bible Code sound is still evident as are other influences including an Oasis tinged ‘You Got Me On The Run’ but the title track, ‘Walk Like King’s’, is pure Bible Codes, a majestic thumping track full of defiance and pride for 2nd and 3rd generation Irish immigrants who weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. Guests abound on this release – Elvis Costello, Matt McManamon, Brian Kelly… All adding to an eclectic mix of an album on which every track is worthy of your attention, be it the ethereal ‘America’
“Why we leave behind family, to a foreign land for to roam”
or the haunting beauty of ‘Snow Falling On Fire Escapes’ or the MacManus family collaboration ‘Willie Redmonds Volunteers’ all the tracks show a band at the top of their game and this is one that all London Celtic Punkers will want to check out. It has been a tough year for the band but this album is one thing that they can look look back on with fond memories and pride, let’s hope for more, someone once sang ‘accidents can happen, but only once…’ may the Bible Code Sundays fall into more.
“We face out, chest proud, In this town we walk like kings”
More celtic-punk for you now but in the sense that this is a punk and from the Celtic nation of Brittany! The music scene in Brittany is very strong and is reflected in the growth of ‘Celticness’ and the resurgence in the Breton language. The Decline! are a five piece punk rock band from Rennes who formed in 2009. Their first EP, ‘An Old Indian Cemetery’, was released in the middle of 2010, and showed what proper genuine music today should be all about. They followed this up with their debut album ‘Broken Hymns For Beating Hearts’ the following year and was a mix of punk rock and acoustic folk tunes. 2014 saw the release of ’12a Calgary Road’ which saw the and branching out into celtic melodies but ploughing much the same furrow while taking on varying tempos with ease. This new album released in May may not have the asolute urgency of previous releases but more than makes up for it with it’s catchy singalonga punk rock. Kevin’s strong and distinctive voice and rumbling rhythm section certainly gets your blood pumping and while ‘Someday Somehow’ could pass for bleak post-punk maybe even Gothic in places the following track ‘Joyfull Thrill’ would make the early Dropkicks jealous.
We have to wait till track seven for the first signs of anything acoustic and it’s well worth the wait ‘We Love Our Scars’ hits the spot both lyrically and musically too. Its all very well done and very well produced too and while it may be possible to mistake this for an American punk release The Decline! are proud members of the Breton music scene. If catchy as feck melodic punk rock is yer thing then here’s the band for you.
Formed in November 2008 in Carabanchel, a suburb of Madrid as a straight forward punk rock band before they added Asturian bagpipe and fiddle and one of the most original bands in celtic-punk was born. This is the bands third album and, as usual, comes with songs written in Castilian, English and Asturian. As one of only a tiny handful of bands in the scene with female vocals they certainly stand out and with a defiantly anti-fascist message to boot. The music is fast and loud and punky but there is an undeniable hardcore traditional folk edge to it as well. Elements of their own countries as well as Celtic are merged together very successfully. As said I don’t understand much of the album but the sleeve notes speak of the endangered languages of the Celts, Celtic mythology and defending the underprivileged. The punk side of this reminds me of the Spanish punk music I use to hear in Hackney squats over the years but the folk influence is strong and comes out in reels and jigs throughout the album.
Only nine songs and twenty-eight minutes long but played at breakneck speed from the opening bars of the instrumental punky trad folk of ‘De Hueso Y Madera’ to the English language ‘Brazen’, the album moves at a great pace and its them pipes that really dominate here, holding it all altogether. Vocals are shared around the band and the standard gang chorus works very well especially on tracks like ‘Carretera’, for me the high point here with its catchy chorus while ‘Unidad’ is bass heavy and rumbles along nicely while the fiddle and pipes work overtime. ‘Carcel’ is another high energy number that offers up more of the same. Here’s a real Celtic band that is something quite apart from the herd. Alex voice is harsh and strong and fits the music perfectly. They are a lyrics heavy band so it’s a shame I can’t catch most of it as I am sure they have something important to say. Here’s a proper punk band playing proper punk rock songs that are littered with jigs and reels and a sea shanty about to break out at any moment. The hidden song here is the real folk gem though proving they can really play their instruments and you can find out yourselves for *FREE* yes you read that correct the album is available for sweet F.A from the link above.
Well what to say about Two Devils Will Talk? How it managed to escape a decent review is beyond me seeing how popular this awesome and is. Up there with The Mollys and the Murphs the Real McKenzies have been going an amazing 25 years and this, their tenth, is up there with the est I kid you not. I wasn’t overly enamoured with 2015’s Rats In The Burlap but here they have returned with fourteen rousing tracks of pure, unabashed Canadian-Scots celtic-punk mayhem. From the opening anthemic ‘Due West’ to a fantastic re-working of early McK song ‘Scots Wha Ha’e’ its absolutely brilliant. Once again they missed out of playing here so we never got to see them live but we can’t wait till they do darken these shores again. Punk, folk, acoustic, electric with pipes throughout weaving in the Celtic influence for which the band is best known. ‘Seafarers’ is one hell of a stand out tune. You can’t change how the waves roll only how you roll through them. The sense of humour they are famous for is riddled throughout the album and nowhere better than on the laugh out loud ‘Fuck The Real McKenzies’ where the band take the piss out of themselves, and everyone else too! They find room for a cover of Stan Rogers ‘Northwest Passage’ that only adds to this great song. Originally sang as an acapella song the McKenzies do it justice as you would expect. The album ends with my favourite McK song of all and plenty of rebellious, Scottish charm and wit here on an album that shows a band who are still capable of hitting the high notes even after a quarter of a century. A defiant return to form for one of the Premier League bands of celtic-punk.
The Real McKenzies on 25 years of Canadian Celtic punk rock here.
This debut album from talented multi-instrumentalist Vince Cayo has been bouncing around London Celtic Punks towers for a good six months now without making much of an impact until I decided to revisit a few albums for these round-ups and I can only think I didn’t listen to it properly as it is absolutely fecking brilliant. Not so much celtic-punk but def in the country-punk realm of things and Vince has a very strong voice that growls out at you like Tom Waits lashing it up with McGowan backed by The Street Dogs. Opening track ‘Wasteland Blues’ is a great start to proceedings with fast rock’n’roll country and harmonica shining out and Vince putting McGowan to shame! Vince says his influences range from the cream the celtic-punk but most importantly Flogging Molly, and the title track takes this adulteration to epic proportions, alongside such luminaries as Social Distortion, Billy Bragg, The Gits, Tim Barry, Bob and Dylan and they are all in there but with a bit of good auld Yorkshire grit and determination.
Not afraid to take a risk either with the epic ‘Folk The World’ seven+ minutes of heavy and hard hitting folk music that builds up and up into a real anthem of a tune with fiddle and mandolin taking it recklessly close to celtic-punk territory Vince! ‘Turn It Up’ is classic catchy punk rock that doesn’t seem out of place here at all and in fact slots in nicely among the folkier tunes. ON hearing this properly I though I could imagine him sharing a stage with the likes of Matilda’s Scoundrels so was no surprise to read after that he already had done. When I hear album’s like this I wonder if this is the start of something new. Well I say new but what I mean is a resurgence of folk and country music but with a modern interpretation. The album’s dozen songs wraps up the absolutely awesome country rock’n’roller ‘The Garbageman’ and ‘You Wont Be Marching Alone’. Great songs and a great production make Bound For Glory as good a debut album I heard in 2017 and I will be looking him up for any London dates I can tell you.
Our final review comes from the land of Oz. A place I am constantly telling you and telling you is where the best Celtic-punk scene is and where the best Celtic-punk bands hail from. Why this is so is anyone’s guess. Perhaps one of these great Aussie bands would like to give us over here on the other side of the world a bit of an insight? The Bottlers come from that world and are a hard playing, nine piece (yes, nine!) celtic-punk band hailing from the capital city, Sydney. They may be city dwellers but you get the feel of the country off these Bhoys and Ghirl. Kicking off with ‘Hades Way’ its a rollicking good stroll through Irish folk-punk as filtered through the Aussie experience. Drawing from not only the vast rural reaches of the Australian nation but also the city and suburban streets with a solid tip of the hat to the folk, punk and folk punk pioneers that have traipsed and trekked the trails well before them.
This is both Australiana AND celtic-punk so intertwined are the two. ‘Take Back The Streets’ is a call to arms to the nations poor in a swirling waltz of anger and beauty. Only three songs on this EP and the curtain comes down with ‘Up She Rises’ and The Bottlers go out with a song that has a nod toward to 70’s English folk-rock in there somewhere amongst the rabble.
“The Bottlers believe folk based music should progressively speak of the times it exists in whilst hearkening back to it’s past, to the true heart of folk music, people. Because you truly can’t get where you’re going till you know where you’ve been”
and you can’t get better than that. In fact we may put it on a London Celtic Punk sticker.
So ends Part 3 and our final part of the 2017 Round-Up’s. Again apologies to all the bands as each and every release fully deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. 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.
Proper authentic Celtic celtic-punk from the masters of the genre!
With more than 50,000 sales and over 600 gigs on the clock the Menhir Chimney Sweeps are one of the scene’s best and biggest bands, and they deserve that fame to spread beyond Brittany too.
There really is nothing like a Celtic celtic-punk band. By that I mean one from the celtic nations and I don’t just been anyone either but a campaigning radical Celtic celtic-punk band and their really is no one in the world to compare to Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs. Their are tonnes of great bands out there playing music inspired by their ancestors but their are only a tiny handful that sing in their native Celtic language and most of those come from Brittany. The north-west corner of what some know as France is in fact an ancient Celtic nation with its own customs, traditions and language. All of which the French government have for centuries tried to destroy. In common with all the other Celtic nations this has been resisted and in Brittany the Breton language is having a revival due in no small part to the wider community being so accepting of modern trends. Where as in Scotland the leaders of the Gaelic speaking community would rather it die out than mention that anarcho-punk band Oi Polloi sing in Gaelic. The reverse is true in Brittany as celtic-punk has been embraced and used as a weapon to push French away from the lips of Breton youth.
Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs were founded in 2006 and its members include Éric on the bombard, Richard on the bagpipes, traditional vannetais singer Maurice Jouanno and Loran, famed guitarist from Bérurier Noir. Their first album Dañs an Diaoul (The Dance Of The Devil) came out the following year. The famous Breton singer Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician, guests on several songs on the album and has accompanied them throughout their career often playing with them live or on their records. We tried to get them over to these shores before but it was just too expensive sadly. If anyone out there fancies subsidising a wee tour drop us a line. They did play these shores before in early 2008 they played in Scotland with Oi Polloi and Na Gathan. Since then they have played 100’s of gigs and released two other album’s, Amzer An Dispac’h! in 2010 and Tan Ar Bobl in 2014. That LP was voted into 4th place in the 2014 London Celtic Punks Best Album list and deservedly so with it’s blend of hardcore punk accompanied by celtic instruments and shouty gang choruses and vocals. Guests from across the musical spectrum were asked to perform and did freely showing the lack of snobbery within the Breton folk/language scene. They choose to embrace Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs (not that it’s always been plain sailing) while as we have said Oi Polloi are put down and, even worse, ignored by their Scots compatriots despite all the positive work they are doing to promote Gaelic in Scotland.
Having got into them via a couple of Breton friends it really is amazing the sound that they can garner from trad Breton instruments and it was with no little shock and a wry smile that I only just found out what the band name means. It is Breton for chimney sweeps and a Menhir is the Breton equivalent of a Stonehenge style standing stone. These stones are found all over the Celtic nations as well as England and France. It is estimated that their are about 50,000 in these areas with over 1,200 in Brittany. The largest surviving menhir in the world is located in Locmariaquer, Brittany, and it is known as the Grand Menhir Brisé. Once nearly 68 foot high, today, it lies fractured into four pieces, but it weighed near 330 tons when intact. It is placed third as the heaviest object moved by humans without powered machinery. It seems apt that the band take their name from these ancient monuments as their music is so firmly rooted in Breton history and tradition.
To us the idea of a punk band playing with ancient instruments does not seem strange but outside our small but perfectly formed scene it is different but the Chimney Sweeps of Menhirs have won over everyone from young punks to their Grandad’s and Nannies and everyone in between. You may think it an exaggeration to say they are an institution but just about everyone in Brittany has seen or heard of this band that combines bombards and bagpipes with punk and is accompanied by and respected by some of the biggest names in traditional music.Using their music as a weapon to promote Breton independence it’s not too far fetched to say Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs are not just a band they are a movement and their new album Breizh Anok (Coop Breizh) is again a call to arms both literally and figuratively. You get ten songs clocking in at forty-six minutes that carries on their tradition of chugging, choppy guitar and Celtic pipes and whistles. They have always been a band that captures perfectly their live sound and here they have done it again. On Breizh Anok they are accompanied in part by the Bagad Bro Kemperle (a Breton traditional group comprising up to forty members). They joined the band on stage at Hellfest 2017 their whole performance is captured below but be careful it will bring out the Celtic warrior in you.
Now as much as it bugs me that I can’t understand what the songs are exactly about you can get a decent idea overall. Their is still no bassist and only a drum machine but by Christ can these Bhoys whip up a racket. Kicking off with ‘Dir Ha Tan’ the sound of the ocean is soon accompanied by the bombard, a sort of Celtic trumpet!, and soon we are off to that legendary Des Menhirs guitar sound and it’s fecking excellent. The drums are harsh as only a drum machine can be with its military style precision it makes sure you pay full attention. We get more like that until ‘Sucks’ rolls in and the band give the Crass song a real ear bashing with its anti-religion message. originally from the Feeding Of The 5000 album in 1978 its given a tweak here and there and
“Do you really believe in the system? Well O. K.
I believe in anarchy in Brittany.
Is it alright really? Is it alright really?
Is it working?”
The songs are given plenty of time to develop but they know when is enough as none drag on, despite a couple of songs lasting over six minutes and most well over four. Next up is the famous partisan song ‘Bello Ciao’ called here ‘Bell’ A.R.B.’. Written during the 1944/45 winter when Italians fought against German Nazis and fascists of their own country. Simple lyrics straight from the heart and more popular now than ever again it’s given a tweak and sang in part as a tribute to the ARB who were the Breton version of the IRA. I’m not afraid to say that a lot of this album has gone over my head and I have definitely, I’m sure, missed several really important bits but it’s far more important that they sing in their own language. The album ends with a bunch of songs that nail their colours to the wall like ‘Fuck The System’ a straight up punk number. Their are no ballads here but the amazing Louise Ebrel pops up on ‘Pach Punk’ and shows that age don’t matter just so long as you got spirit. The album ends with ‘Oy! Oy! Oy!’ and goes out with a bang.
What to say here. It is powerful in music and I daresay in lyrics too. A band doesn’t get to where they are without meaning an awful lot to a lot of people. To be listened to with a free spirit as they will I promise you release that Celtic warrior inside us all. Now if only London Celtic Punks can find that sugar-Daddy (or Mammy! we not sexist) that will help us get them over here to play!
Irish style celtic-punk from Brazilian band The McMiners.
Yet another example of the international status of celtic-punk for you now with a great band hailing from Belo Horizonte in Brazil. It’s the sixth largest city in the country and in a country the size of Brazil that means its bigger than most counties over here! With over 2,500,000 in the city and over 5,000,000 in the surrounding area it stands to reason that their must be a bunch of celtic-punk fans with the talents to start a band and so in early 2012 The McMiners were born.
My previous knowledge of celtic-punk in Brazil has been confined to the absolutely brilliant band Lugh, who are in fact one of my favourites in the entire scene. To check them out why not go here and treat yourself! Both the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly take in Brazil whenever they set sail to south America so the interest is there and seems to be growing. Their is a large Celtic diaspora of mainly Welsh and Irish in neighbouring Argentina and Uruguay that is well documented and Irish soldiers like William Brown in Argentina, Bernado Higgins in Chile and the St Patrick’s Brigade in Mexico played major roles in freeing their respective adopted countries from colonialism and gaining independence. Che Guevara, whose grandmother’s surname was Lynch, was another famous member of this diaspora. Guevara’s father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, said of him
“The first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels”
Whether or not the interest in celtic-punk is linked to any of this is debatable and it’s more likely the love of a good auld time and a few beers plays its part as well. It is safe to say though the Irish in South America are very proud of their roots and their history is one that should be known by all.