Category Archives: Bagpipes

ALBUM REVIEW: BODH’AKTAN- ‘Ride Out the Storm’ (2018)

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!

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ALBUM REVIEW: HOLD FAST- ‘Black Irish Sons’ (2018)

 The debut album from Pennsylvania-Irish band Hold Fast takes both traditional Irish and original material in a blend of Celtic, punk and rock.
Hold tight, hold steady, Hold Fast! 
The term Black Irish is thought by many to originate back in Ireland for the offspring of Spanish sailors shipwrecked on the west coast of Ireland back in 1588. Far more likely is it became a term of abuse for poor Irish immigrants in the latter half of the nineteenth-century. The necessity for these immigrants to take the lowest and most dangerous jobs thought by the more well off classes to be the preserve of Blacks came to see them labelled Black Irish. It came about as a result of English/Protestant prejudices imported to the USA by the early colonists who saw the Irish as uncivilised and Catholicism as anti-everything for which Protestantism stood. In recent years the term has been reclaimed and is now worn as a badge of honour by working-class Irish-Americans who sometimes ‘cross the line’.

Hold Fast left to right: Buzz Klinger- Bass, Harmonica * Michael Parks- Drums, Percussion * Dave Thompson- Tenor Banjo, 5-String banjo, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar, Piano * Cole Brown- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Jon Heller- Accordion, Bagpipes * Kayla Rosencrans- Tin-Whistle *

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!)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE CLAN- ‘Here To Stay’ (2018)

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!)

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SINGLE REVIEW: TORTILLA FLAT featuring JORGEN RED WESTMAN- ‘THE 45rpm’ (2018)

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.

Tortilla Flat as featured on the single from left to right: Tom MacFly- Bagpipe * Rob Highlander- Bagpipes * Chris- Guitar & Vocals * Jorgen Red Westman- Vocals * Ritchie- Bass * Lord Peter of Lochaber- Bagpipes * Lexu- Drums *

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EP REVIEW: THE GRINNING BARRETTS- ‘The St. Padraig’s’ (2018)

 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!

The Grinning Barretts hail from the town of Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The area was renowned for coal mining in the early decades of the twentieth century. As would seem to be the way with industrial workers it is coal-miners who have been traditionally the most militant and the area was famed for it’s militancy with many strikes and unrest as the areas miners battled the mine owners in an area at the time thought to be the most dangerous in the entire world. As around the world the bosses realised it is cheaper to import coal dug by children and modern day slaves and so the mines eventually closed but the ides that were forged miles underground by those miners still live on in the closely knit town where Pamela Anderson was born! The band formed in 2015 and after going through several line up changes have finally settled upon a steady line up. The St. Padraigs EP saw the light of day on St. Patrick’s Day just passed and the Bhoys already have a follow up release planned any day soon and a third release for later in the year. Out of the ashes of local ska bands The Kiltlifters and Street Prophets Union, Scot and Pat decided after a decade away from playing live music that the time was ripe and the area was in need of a kick-arse Celtic-Punk band so after roping in recruits from the local Pacific Gael Pipes and Drums corp. as well as from the local rock scene The Grinning Barretts hit the stages around Ladysmith and the rest is history!

The Grinning Barrettts left to right: Jeremy Fiddy- Drums * Bern Kinnear- Bass * Aaron Bergen- Bagpipes/Whistles * Dylan Wickham- Guitar/Banjo/Vocals * Pat Westmacott- Guitar/Mandolin/Vocals * Kevin Dougan- Bagpipes/Whistles

The EP begins with the pounding blue-collar working class anthem ‘Plutocrass’ and it’s hard and fast bagpipe punk from the get go. The sound is in the same vein as Yank bands Of Doom and Alternative Ulster. Yer basic standard catchy as hell punk rock played with superb bagpipes as an integral part of the music rather than just tacked on as an afterthought. The band call it “A shot at the rich bastards who own news outlets, and pay them to lie so they can get richer.”  

“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 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)

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(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”)

EP REVIEW: TEUFELSTANZ- ‘Carmina Tristia’ (2018)

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EP REVIEW: RAISE MY KILT- ‘A New Tartan’ (2018)

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 (here) 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.

Raise My Kilt from right to left: Mariano Miramontes- Guitar, Vocals * Manuel Magariños- Drums * Damian Giancarlo- Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals * Diego Moreno- Banjo, Acoustic Guitar * Carlos Scelzi- Bass, Vocals * Pablo Gadea- Bagpipes

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.

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EP REVIEW : IN FOR A PENNY ‘Sometimes It’s Better To Not’ (2018)

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!)

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slainte and Pog Mo Thoin!

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

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2017 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART THREE: THE CELTIC NATIONS- BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS, THE DECLINE!, BRUTUS’ DAUGHTERS, REAL McKENZIES, VINCE CAYO, THE BOTTLERS

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.

BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS- ‘Walk Like Kings’  (Buy)

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”

RIP Carlton.

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THE DECLINE!- ‘Heroes On Empty Streets’  (Buy)

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.

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BRUTUS’ DAUGHTERS- ‘Hueso y Madera’  (Free Download)

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.

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THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Two Devils Will Talk’  (Canada / RestOfTheWorld )

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.

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VINCE CAYO- ‘Bound For Glory’  (Buy)

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.

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THE BOTTLERS- ‘The Bottlers’ EP  (Buy)

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.

  • yeah yeah I been reliably informed that Canberra is indeed the capital city not Sydney so congrats to Celtic Punkcast for spotting out deliberate mistake! Australia’s finest celtic-punk podcast. Check them out here or here.

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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.

  • COMING SOON- THE BEST OF 2017! What we thought were the best releases of the year covering Albums, EP’s, Celtic/Folk-Punk, Traditional and more.

ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Breizh Anok’ (2017)

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 with the incredible Louise Ebrel and the Bagad Bro Kemperle

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!

(you can listen to the whole album on You Tube below starting with ‘Dir Ha Tan’)

Buy Breizh Anok
Contact The Band
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email- contact@ramoneursdemenhirs.fr
 

here’s a list of YouTube videos here  well worth trawling through on a quiet night accompanied by a few beers!

easily the best English language web site check out THE BRETON CONNECTION “a portal to the Breton movement for self-determination and cultural rights”.

EP REVIEW: THE McMINERS- ‘Tales of Betrayal and Deceit’ (2017)

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.

The McMiners left to right: Luciano Alvim- tin Whistle, accordion, backing vocals * Nathan Augusto- electric and acoustic guitar, backing vocals * Nicolas Ramos- bagpipes * Gabriel Finnegan Leão- bass, bodhrán, mandolin, lead vocals * Marianna Gray- violin * Guilherme H. Silva- drums, percussion. Special Guests- (not pictured) special guests on the album: Karl Malachy Mooney and Rafael Salobreña.

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.

The first McMiners release was the County Cross EP which came out in April last year.  It has passed me by completely until I came to write this review so I revisited it and have to say I expected it to be a bit on the rough and ready side but it was actually very good. It’s four tracks included a extremely well played instrumental, a celtic-punk version of ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew You’ and a couple of their own compositions, one slow and a fast sea shanty that would befit any ship!

So after having a couple of listens to that debut EP I sat down with a big mug of tea and a packet of biscuits to have a listen to their new release, Tales of Betrayal and Deceit. It’s taken a while to cross the oceans as it came out in April earlier this year but man am I glad that it did do! The EP kicks off with the instrumental ‘No Deal’ and if you were expecting something slow and traditional then you were as wrong as i was! It’s fast and manic and dominated by Nícolas great bagpipes. This is the kind of trad music to wake up the masses!

(here’s a acoustic version of ‘Left Behind’ rather than the one on the EP)

In ‘Left Behind’ McMiners bring out both accordion and fiddle and the pace is still right up there. The lyrics speak of the poverty in their country and the ones left behind while obscene wealth is being made by some.

“We are the ones
They don’t care
We are the ones
They forgot about
We are the ones
Hopeless and f’-d up
We are the ones
Left behind”

The first release from the EP was ‘Behead The Captain’ for which they put out a great video and the pipes and fiddle are out again in force for this really catchy number.

Great lyrics as they are throughout the EP with no sign whatsoever that English isn’t their first language. Like Lugh they sing in English and while this no doubt helps reviewers like me I really don’t think it matters. Ironically last week we reviewed the new album from London band The Babes where Mao the Singer/bagpiper sings several songs in Spanish! The next song ‘A Prologue / The Jack and the Black’ begins with the sound of the ocean and seagulls and Karl Mooney, accompanied only by a distant acoustic guitar, the Dublin born native and singer of fellow local celtic band The Celtas (here) reads a short piece about two brothers one of whom becomes a priest and the other a soldier before suddenly the band storm in kicking down the door and launch into a lovely big slice of celtic metal with chugging guitar and vocals that would put the fear of God into you. Again intelligent and interesting lyrics and an obvious step above the usual ones about drinking. The EP ends with another instrumental ‘The Clauss’ and while the opening instrumental was classic celtic-punk this is much more of a traditional Irish folk number. The song was originally an improvised session recorded on a phone with Luciano on tin Whistle and the band’s former piper Ernst on the accordion when Ernst left Brazil and moved to Ireland. Still close the band decided to record the song as a way to tell him they missed him. At the very end you can actually hear the original phone recording of the song! Two bodhráns are joined by accordion and tin whistle and shows the folk purist snobs that they can both play their instrument and write an exceptional traditional song too. Here is another band that Brazilians can be proud of and believe you and me a triumph of quality over quantity!

(you can have a listen to Tales of Betrayal and Deceit before you buy it for free below on the Bandcamp player)

Buy Tales of Betrayal and Deceit

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE POURMEN- ‘Rise & Shine’ (2017)

A bunch of hedonistic, lapsed-Catholic, Dorchester-Irish cowboys and whalefisher men, pissed on cheap whiskey with a soundtrack of punk, Irish, sea-shanties, outlaw country and Americana.

The Pourmen formed in January 2013 and played their first gig not long after on St Patrick’s Day and have in a short time become one of the bands to watch out for in the celtic-punk world. They hail from the famous town of New Bedford in the state of Massachusetts. The town is nicknamed ‘The Whaling City’ due to it’s prominence in the 19th century as one of the most important, if not the most important, whaling ports in the world. Up until the time of the Great Hunger in Ireland the town of new Bedford, not unlike the rest of America, was largely a town of Protestant origin with communities of English, Scottish, Welsh, and Dutch origin. It was around this time that the first waves of Irish Catholic immigration began with the first of many Irish churches, St. Mary’s built in 1918 and the Irish Aid Society was formed to help those who were down on their luck. Later immigrants from Portugal began to arrive, attracted by jobs in the whaling industry. With the industries decline New Bedford continues to be the leading fishing port in the USA. The seminal event in Irish-American history was the Great Hunger. Now you may know that as the Irish Famine brought on by a disease causing blight to wipe out the potato crop that the poor Irish almost entirely existed on. Well over a million people died of hunger in the late 1840s, on the doorstep of the world’s richest nation. The truth though are ever is much darker and was more akin to genocide. Comparison with other modern and contemporary famines establishes beyond any doubt that the Great Hunger which killed nearly one-eighth of the entire population and sent two million into exile, was proportionally much more destructive of human life than any in modern times. An attempt to wipe out the troublesome Irish Catholic was the ideology that saw food exported from Ireland at gunpoint while the starving lay dying in the streets. The people of New Bedford rallied to the aid of the starving irish and in 1847 alone, 118 ships loaded with provisions sailed to Ireland, led by the USS Jamestown, which made it across the Atlantic in just 15 days. Those that fled a Ireland of poverty and death has resulted in 22% of the population of Massachusetts being of Irish ancestry.

The Pourmen come from that community that has strong firm against the years and still today revels in its culture and traditions and Irish flags still litter the rows of little old houses in the outskirts of the state. Today’s modern Irish-American community still harks back to the old ways but is in no way confined to them. The community has taken to ‘celtic-punk’ as an expression of it’s identity but the music has always blended in influences from country and Americana as well as punk to produce the perfect immigrant music. The band has played countless pubs, festivals and other venues across New England from Boston to Portland, Maine and Providence, Rhode Island, encouraging folks to sing along to their tall tales and have shared a stage with all the best bands in the scene.

The Pourmen’s debut release was the album Too Old To Die Young which came out in July 2014. Thirteen tracks of uptempo Irish folk-rock with a smattering of self penned numbers and folk covers. Elements of trad Irish and Celtic, country, bluegrass and even rockabilly, as on the album highlight ‘Irish Girl’, combine with the energy of punk and rock’n’roll to make for a heady mix. Their humour shines throughout the album and cemented their place as one of the most promising bands in the USA celtic-punk scene.

They followed this album up the following year with Pour Another and yes it pretty much follows the same alcohol soaked path as before with the music soaking up influences from everywhere but that Irish backbone a constant throughout. As on their debut album The Pourmen show they can compete with any trad band with a couple of instrumentals of absolute fantastic Irish folk as well as some well chosen and well played covers. The album made the Top Ten of Paddyrock’s Top 30 Celtic Punk Albums of 2015 and

And so we are now in 2017 and the release of their brand new album on St Patrick’s Day, when else!, Rise & Shine. Here we get only seven songs and with a running time of 22 minutes Rise & Shine it’s debateable whether what we have here is either a long EP or a short LP. Nevertheless it’s an outstanding release and has been coming out my speakers since I got it a fortnight ago. The album kicks off with ‘Day Drinking’ a short, less than two minutes, blast of fast and furious Irish folk-punk with electric guitar buzzsaw and brilliant piping and and mandolin. Over before you know it and we are into ‘I Got Nothing’ and Rick’s voice fits perfectly with the just about of punk rock sneer and ‘croon’! Catchy as hell (if anyone knows a better word for ‘catchy’ then please leave it in the comments!) and those elements of country at play here though the songs Irish roots are clear for all to hear. This time its the fiddle that stands out and The Pourmen certainly have a wealth of talent at their disposal. We are back soaked in alcohol again next with the country ‘Sober Heart’. A broken relationship and it’s perfect county material with a laid back tune with a cracking guitar solo towards the end, not often you hear an auld punk rocker saying that. ‘The Rising’ begins with Sluggo piping the chorus of ‘Rising of the Moon’ before the band jump in and turn the whole thing into a celtic-punk racket of Irish punk rock with updated lyrics and a tribute to their friends and their home of New Bedford. Now i may be an auld punk rocker’ but it’s no surprise to me that my favourite track is ‘Cultivator’. The longest song here at just over four minutes and by Christ it’s (sorry) catchy. The country and bluegrass here takes over and is simply brilliant. The song tells of the tale of poor Billy whose tongue gets him into trouble and makes him pay the ultimate price. The fiddle again is outstanding and a real story told in song in the old Irish way. Coming up to the end and finally we have a song about the local industry with ‘Ice On The River’. Again it’s country tinged and (groan!) catchy. Folky and acoustic, I think, and a superb foot tapper for those of us who are a bit shy without a few pint’s in us leading us into the final track ‘Prodigal Son’. Sluggo again gives us some great piping with the tune from ‘Kelly The Boy From Killane’ before the music takes a swerve and we are in classic celtic-punk territory with the band turning it on and leaving us with an absolutely brilliant story of setting out on your own two feet and it’s all over far too quickly and if this was a gig I’d be shouting myself hoarse yelling “MORE”.

Rise & Shine saw the light of day in March of this year and though it took a while to reach us we are certainly glad that it did. The album was produced and arranged by The Pourmen themselves and vocalist Rick was behind the music and lyrics with contributions from all the band members. This is a fantastic release with the only criticism that I can offer up that it wasn’t even longer so as you can see not really a criticism at all!! Seven songs that more than make up for its brevity with some absolute brilliant (last time i promise) catchy and extremely well played Irish folk-punk that would soften the heart of the greatest punk rocker in town. The crossover appeal of bands like The Pourmen explains celtic-punk’s success at capturing the heart of Irish-America. While the music appeals to all whether young or old, or punk or folk the values its extols are the values that made the Irish the Irish. Love, friendship, faith, loyalty and the love of a glass or two of something strong!

(listen to Rise & Shine for free before you purchase on the Bandcamp player below)

Buy Rise & Shine

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(The Pourmen getting in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day 2017 on their local TV station)

HOW TO BECOME AN AUTHENTIC IRISH-PUNK BAND!

irish-instrument1The Irish are quite rightly famed for their music. Whether or not this would be so if the country and it’s inhabitants hadn’t had such a tragic past is debatable but traditional Irish music has been around centuries and has had an influence on many different forms of music, most notably in American bluegrass and country. By the High and Late Medieval era, the Irish annals were listing musicians and in County Wicklow a set of wooden pipes were discovered that date even further back to the Stone Age to prove it. There’s just something about the pipes and the melodies of an Irish song that brings out so many feelings and emotions in people.

So there you are sat at home thinking of starting up an authentic Irish folk-punk band but what instruments do you need to include. Sure you got your drums and guitar and bass but what about the ones that will transform you from just a run in the mill punk rock band into the next Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly. You may be surprised at actually how few of them originated in Ireland but here are the traditional folk instruments that you will find in celtic punk bands that Irish musicians have been blowing, strumming, picking, plucking and thumping for a very long time indeed.

Bodhrán

bodhran

Imelda May

Pronounced ‘bow-rawn’ this handheld goatskin drum is certainly easier to get around and less trouble than a drummer! The name ‘bodhran’ is an Irish word that derives from the word bodhar which means deaf or dull. Known as the heartbeat of trad music for good reason this large drum is covered with stretched animal skin and struck with a stick that was traditionally made from double-ended knucklebone to provide our music with a pulsating beat that turns listeners into dancers with ease. It’s speculated that the instrument served a double purpose as a husk sifter and grain tray. We prefer it as a drum. For a taster of what the bodhrán has to offer, re-watch Riverdance for the thousandth time.

Uilleann Pipes

uilleann-pipes

Liam O’Flynn

Now most celtic-punk bands that have pipes have the Highland bagpipes rather than the uilleann pipes. This is mainly down to the uilleann pipes, which means ‘pipes of the elbow’ because of their pump-operated bellows, taking years to master and that the Highland bagpipes are much much louder. The bag of the pipes is inflated thanks to a set of bellows fastened around the waist and right arm of the musician. The bellows are able to relieve the musician from putting in the extra effort required to blow into a bag to maintain its pressure. These ancient pipes have been mesmerising listeners with their haunting tones since the 5th Century but it was two County Louth brothers, William and Charles Taylor, who developed the modern version after emigrating with the instrument from post-Famine Ireland to the United States. The pipes are different from several other bagpipes with regards to their tone and wider range of notes. With a distinct structure, which sounds much sweeter and quieter than other bagpipes. The pipes are almost always played while sitting down and it is thought one of the reasons that the pipes were invented was to compose music for dancing.

Tin Whistle

Almost all primitive cultures had a type of tin whistle with a possible Neanderthal flute found in Slovenia dating from 81,000-53,000 B.C.,a German flute from 35,000 years ago and a flute made from sheep’s bone in West Yorkshire dating to the Iron Age. Known also as the penny whistle, since it could be bought for a mere penny, the tin whistle has six holes, a mouthpiece, and is played by blowing air into it and using your fingers to cover different holes to produce different notes. British entrepreneur Robert Clarke began manufacturing the modern tin whistle in the early 1900’s and it became extremely popular and soon made it’s way over to Ireland. Nowadays found in most celtic-punk bands it has and become indistinguishable from Celtic music and is a beloved instrument of Celtic musicians and fans alike.

fiddle

Fiddle

Arr now this is the classic debate that is had in all kinds of folk music circles! Is it the violin or is it the fiddle? Well looks can be deceiving as they both look absolutely identical. Take the Irish fiddle, for example, this essential traditional instrument may look the same as a violin, but its unique playing style and sound set’s the two apart. Probably the most common traditional instrument found in celtic-punk bands the high-pitched and expressive fiddle is often heard above all else, and can be both euphoric and heart-breaking in equal measure. In Ireland the counties of Sligo and Donegal in particular both have rich fiddling traditions and have been redefining the sound of this sweet instrument for centuries.

Irish Bouzouki

irish-bouzouki

Donal Lunny

Adapted from a Greek instrument and brought to Ireland in the 1960s, the Irish bouzouki is the latest addition to our traditional music arsenal. Looking not unlike a giant mandolin, the instrument was popularized by Irish folk legend Dónal Lunny from Tullamore, County Offaly, who used one in seminal trad folk band Planxty. With such a rich and bright sound its no surprise we stole the idea and made it our own.  Bouzoukis are now regulars at many a traditional music session. Another instrument we stole and is played with such regularity in celtic-punk band’s it second only to the banjo, originally brought to America by African slaves it was adopted by Celtic emigrants and became associated with country, folk, Irish traditional and bluegrass music.

Concertina

heaven-hellDeveloped in England and Germany in the early 18th century and spread to Ireland late in the 19th century. The concertina, also known as the squeeze box, was known in Germany as a lower-class instrument used mostly by workers to perform music on the streets while the English concertinas developed an air of bourgeois respectability with the upper classes enjoying the exact same melodies. The concertina has buttons and bellows on both ends and when pressed, the buttons move in the same direction as the bellows. The piano accordion became highly popular during the 1950’s and has flourished to the present day in céilí bands and for old time Irish dance music.

Celtic Harp

Now this is a long shot as I know of no celtic-punk band out there that has a harpist. If you do please let me know in the comments section. The only time I can remember seeing one played is at Wolfe Tones gigs in the 80’s. Anyhow you know an instrument has reached iconic status when it appears on the currency. The Celtic harp is that very instrument. Variations of the triangular, gut-stringed-instrument have been plucked in Ireland since as long ago as the 10th Century, when nomadic harpists would travel around Ireland performing songs for food or a warm bed. In 1792, the Belfast Harp Festival saw the best players competing for prizes. And today, the ornate and ancient Brian Boru harp can be viewed in Trinity College in Dublin. So if you are looking for something to set your celtic-punk band apart then why not get yourself a harpist!

Folk The System instruments

Folk The System

So there you go all you need to start a band. Finding the players you need is a different matter though but with Ireland’s trad music attracting more and more listeners and more and more people of all nationalities taking up the instruments it hopefully shouldn’t be too hard. With our music schools, concerts and pub sessions, there’s no shortage of opportunists to learn either so if you fancy taking up any of the instruments mentioned follow the links below.

Link1  Link2  Link3  Link4  Link5  Fiddle  TinWhistle  Guitar

EP REVIEW: BORN AGAIN HEATHENS- ‘Born Again Heathens’ (2017)

Celtic punk rock from Raleigh, NC bringing a swift kick in the pants to Celtic Music. Something different, something rude, something drunk, something crude!

Rocking away out of Raleighthe capital city of the state of North Carolina, Born Again Heathens play absolutely amazing kick-ass UK82 style punk rock with bagpipes. Born out of the ashes of the areas only celtic-rock band My Three Kilts the drummer and bassist from said band fancied something with a much heavier edge to it and so Born Again Heathens were delivered.

“Someone born into the world with no religion, who gets baptized as a child, learns about or experiments with other religions as an adult and then declares all region to be BS. This person may or may not still believe in a higher being”

Like most cities in the States the local Irish-American community is flourishing again after some rather lean years. The city boasts the popular Raleigh GAA Club which plays both football and hurling, a massive Irish festival, a branch of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Irish dance and traditional music classes and enough Irish bars to give you blood poisoning if you attempted a pint in each one!

So it’s no surprise then that wherever you find the Irish community in America you will also find some top quality celtic punk bands and Born Again Heathens are one of the best I’ve heard of late. All the band are from Scots/Irish backgrounds like Andy the drummer whose Grandad came from the Shetland Islands. Now I do love my folk music and I love all kinds of celtic-punk from the more trad based to the hardcore versions, or you could say the Murphys to the Mollys even, but sometimes the folkier stuff just won’t cut it and your in the mood and need something to bang your head to. Well you can go ahead and place this EP in the latter section.

Kicking off with ‘Irish Goodbye’ it’s great old fashioned fast punk rock but just as you start to think what’s it doing in the celtic-punk section the pipes start up and you nod your head knowingly to yourself. That’s why. The pipes are played expertly as all the other instruments and the production here is quality too. Now a ‘Irish Goodbye’ is not something I knew much about before I saw it mentioned on an episode of The American Office. It means leaving a pub without saying goodbye. Now I’ve been known to do this myself but sadly without realising like the time I went to the toilet and came straight out the door and went home leaving my coat and bag behind me in the middle of winter!

Fast and furious with a real catchy feel to it with the bagpipes feeling really natural. This isn’t just a punk band with a bagpiper this is a band where the pipes are an integral part of what Born Again Heathens are doing. We are in for more of the same with ‘McIntyre’s Lament’ and the headbanging continues. More tales of the pub and a mate who can’t hold his drink. Even room for some fecking great metal guitar! ‘Wild In The Streets’ comes with a really well produced video and the songs sounds pretty damn good too. Most celtic-punk bands liken themselves to some sort of cross between The Clash and The Dubliners but here we have something a bit more different. Imagine if you would a hybrid of Manchester punk/Oi! trailblazers Blitz and Scots folk legends Silly Wizard and you’ll be much nearer the mark.

The vocals are sung in a sort of English accent which makes the Blitz comparison even more true. ‘Brass Tacks’ is the most traditional folk sounding song here. The pipes are pushed to the fore and lead the band along. I have rarely heard piping as good as this in celtic-punk and in ‘All My Friends Are Drunks’ the longest song here the Bhoys really get to drop the hammer. An absolutely superb song with influences washing in from metal and southern rock with chugging guitars and them wonderful pipes. The longer song really gives the band a chance to get into it and was I thought as good as it could get here till the even better ‘Stagger Alley’ came waltzing into my lugholes. Proving they aren’t just a two dimensional band they give us, for me anyway, the album standout. The catchiest of catchy choruses helps of course! The EP comes to an end with another great song ‘Sadie Hawkins Slam Dance’. In the states a ‘Sadie Hawkins’ dance is where a woman asks the man to dance with her, instead of the traditional way of man asking the woman. I found a hilarious explanation of the origins of the dance here.  This could become the Born Again Heathens anthem I think.

So there you are. Seven songs that fly past at breakneck speed in just twenty three minutes. I think any longer and we, the listener, may not make it through! I been listening to a lot of folk music recently and after playing this two dozen times I’ve decided its time to dig out the punk music again. Seven songs written by the Born Again Heathens that have plenty of scope and influences from outside celtic-punk that only add to the sound. They are starting to make a name for themselves outside of North Carolina and they certainly deserve to if they can keep songs like these coming. Now wheres that album Bhoys?

Born Again Heathens left to right: Scott Ervin- bass,vocals * Mōg- bagpipes, whistles, vocals * Bryan Swinson- guitar, vocals * Andy Pacheco- drums, vocals

Get The EP

FromTheBand  CDbaby

Contact Born Again Heathens

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North Carolinian’s pride themselves on their knowledge of the history and culture of ‘North Cackalacky’ but when it comes to this unusual nickname no one seems to know where in the world it came from!

ALBUM REVIEW: FLATFOOT 56- ‘Odd Boat’ (2017)

Playing positive-natured hardcore-tinged celtic-punk Chicago heavyweights Flatfoot 56 released their new album, Odd Boat, last week with Sailor’s Grave Records. Produced by Matt Allison in Chicago and featuring twelve songs that blend their unique blend of traditional Irish folk music and surging punk rock.

by  Gerard Mellon, 03/2017.

flatfoot-56-odd-boat

So, it’s been five long years since we had a new album from Flatfoot 56, although in that period we had an acoustic album from 6’10, a punk/oi album from Brick Assassin (both bands featuring members of Flatfoot 56), and an EP, featuring a couple of new tracks, split between 6’10 and Flatfoot 56. But a new release from the Chicago Celtic punkers, has been a long time coming! It is called Odd Boat, and comprises a dozen tracks, it runs for 37 minutes.

(Justin has since been replaced on drums by Conrad)

And what a cracking half an hour or so it is! The punk and folk factions in the band blend so well together, giving us a sound so unique to Flatfoot 56 that places them right at the heart of Celtic Punk. These lads get it, they really do! Their last offering Toil was a superb album and this follow up is equally as good. Although it’s not a clone of Toil, far from it! The production on Odd Boat gives it a rawer sound, maybe it’s a bit more punk influenced. There is still the musicality and excellent instrumentation there, but it’s a bit like aggression or power has been added. Perhaps this disc is more related to the wonderful Jungle of the Midwest Sea album from 2007. Anyway, whatever tweaks that have been made over the past five years, they work very well.

Flatfoot 56 formed in the summer of 2000 as a three-piece punk band. The three original members, who are brothers (Tobin, Justin and Kyle), started writing songs in mid-2000 and by the Christmas they were playing their first gig. The following January they band added Josh Robieson to the lineup and the band began including the Highland bagpipes into its sound and Flatfoot 56 had began their rise as one of America’s most popular celtic-punk bands. Countless TV appearances and remember that series of Sons Of Anarchy involving the IRA that played them throughout the whole series! We even had the pleasure of seeing them live in London back in 2010 I think it was. They were first band on at 8pm and maybe twenty people tops there in the Hope And Anchor basement. Didn’t realise it at the time but this gig was the direct inspiration to start the London Celtic Punks! 

f56-band

Flatfoot 56 from left to right: Kyle Bawinkel – Bass, Vocals * Brandon Good – Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals * Conrad – Drums, Vocals * Eric McMahon – Bagpipes, Guitar, Bass Drum * Tobin Bawinkel – Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar

The opening ‘Ty Cobb’, is about a famous Detroit baseball player who was renowned for diving in (“studs up” in our London parlance!) at the bases, is a fast paced, up-beat intro that draws you in and lets you know that you’re in for something special. From the following track ‘Stutter’ through ‘Penny,’ ‘Odd Boat’, ‘Englewood’, ‘Forward’, ‘The Crippled’, ‘Curtains’, ‘KPM’, ‘PS’, ‘The Trap’ to the final track, ‘A Voice’, you feel that you have heard something special! ‘KPM’ is a ballad like track that leans toward acoustic. ‘The Trap’ goes the other way and is a much more punk/oi sounding track. Many people will have heard ‘Penny’ already and so will know just how good this new material is. The final track ‘A Voice’ is a mid-tempo spiritual song that signs off the album beautifully.

(the first single off Odd Boat featuring guest vocals from an artist named IL Neige)

I honestly could have sat here and gone through each track individually and told you all how good they are, but that would be crazy and still wouldn’t do the album justice. The only way you’ll be able to see how right I am is by going out and buying it! Then if you’re anything like me you’ll play it, then play it again and again. It’s an absolute pleasure having to review albums like this, but what I’d like to do and what many more people would like, would be an opportunity to review a live show! It must be time for the band to come over and play a few gigs in the Ireland and Britain!! I mean, even if they have to sail over in an Odd Boat!!!

Buy Odd Boat

SailorsGraveRecords  iTunes

Contact Flatfoot 56

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Discography

Rumble of 56– 2002 * Waves of War– 2003 * Knuckles Up– 2006 * Jungle of the Midwest Sea– 2007 * Black Thorn– 2010 * Toil– 2012

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