Nova Scotia has a special place in Celtic music and especially in Celtic-Punk. Just last week we reviewed the new album by Brad Lannon and today we have another band from the same place the wonderful East River Rats and their second album The Year Of The Rat.
East River Rats are a seven piece Celtic band from the northern shore of Nova Scotia, Pictou County. Pictou is the 6th biggest county in the province with a staggering 50% of Scots descent and a further 20% of Irish descent making this a real part of the Celtic nations. The band were founded by Brian MacKenzie in 2016 expect sing along vocals, guitars, bagpipes, mandolin, accordion, tin whistle, bass and drums all coming together to create a unique high octane style that combines elements of traditional Scottish Celtic rock and gritty Irish punk. They released their debut album When The Cats Away back in 2018. It passed us by at the time but the sadly missed web-site Celtic, Folk Punk And More described them as
“the latest addition to the Celtic rock lineage from the Maritimes. The band is proud of their Scottish heritage and they have been able to establish their own identity as a Celtic rock band rooted on the tradition.”
The twelve track album is available as a ‘name your price’ download meaning you are free to download for as much as you would like to.
Got to come clean and say that we haven’t a lot of information on the band but we’ve been listening to the album for a while (it came out on St. Patrick’s Day) and we’ve really enjoyed it. The Year Of The Rat kicks off with their theme tune and ‘East River Boys’ is a happy, jolly ode to the boys home town while the pipes are out and blazing for ‘Smoke And Cheap Whiskey’ and a catchy rocking number with clear but grizzly vocals. ‘Teigh’s Way’
The Year Of The Rat shows a band that can play totally accessible music that would still appeal to both Punks and Folkies and the East river Rats can both turn it up and turn it down to please both. It could be argued that they would fall into ‘Celtic-Rock’ rather than ‘Celtic-Punk’ but that’s not a distinction we make much of here. Being so close to the sea it’s no surprise to hear a few songs of the sea and ‘Kings Navy’ is one of the highlights here. Again superbly catchy and great lyrics to boot.
Next up is the lead single for the album and one of the more punky tracks ‘Red Roddy’. Chugging guitars and gang vocal chorus and some excellent piping combine for a bloomin’ great song that was accompanied by a great video too. It was directed and edited by Danny Harvie and shot by Danny and Mat Brennan. Another oceanic song now with ‘Maritime Man’ and much more in line with what we would associate as a sea-shantie. ‘All The Way To Amerikay’ is a fast and raucous romp telling of our ancestors long and arduous journey ‘cross the broad Atlantic. It’s often forgotten that many Scots made the same journey as the Irish and for much the same reasons too with hundreds of thousands arriving in Canada since the late 18th century.
‘Way She Goes’ and ‘Mudder And The Neighbour Lady’ don’t stray too far from their acceptable formula. Now these guys look like they know their way round a good auld drinking song and they don’t come more blatant than ‘Pissing In A Kilt’ which is packed with good advice for potential kilt wearers. ‘One More Drink’ is another album highlight and is of the kind that Celtic-Punk bands excel at. An introspective look at ourselves, warts an all. At nearly five minutes long it never gets too much. The curtain comes down with what is described as a bonus track, ‘Last Night’. Just voice and acoustic guitar tell of the night before and the antics of what they got up to. A fitting end to a great album that after all the raucousness fits in absolutely perfectly.
(The full East River Rats 80-minute set from the Wharf Rat Rally House Party from Friday September 4th 2020)
Twelve original tracks which they are to be applauded for. The music was written, arranged and performed by East River Rats with lyrics by Brian MacKenzie and Caleb MacIvor. The album was mixed, engineered and produced by Mark Cosh at the local Shoebox Studios, New Glasgow, Nova Scotia.
(You can stream / download Year Of The Rat via the Bandcamp player below)
Solo musical performance artist Auld Haggis MacMurray plays, writes, sings, records original songs in everything from 60’s Ska to 60’s Surf Rock and has now released an authentic Celtic rocker with some warm, heart lifting powerful lyrics for the Celtic people and their friends.
This is turning out quite the moment for solo artists in the Celtic-Punk scene. Just in the last twelve months we have had London Celtic Punks writer Ray Ball, The O’Maolegain Rake both from the States and Brigade 77 from Sweden all with releases that sound like they have even more members than The Pogues. Today we can add to that list Potbelly MacKraken who performs under the name of Auld Haggis MacMurray. Now one of them may or may not be his real name but similar to the guys already mentioned he plays a multitude of instruments including 6-string and tenor electric and acoustic guitars, baritone ukulele, banjolele, bagpipes, tenor saxophone and vocals but not here and not all at once.
Potbelly takes up the rest of the story here for us
It’s basically about my year in Scotland, 2014 – 15, so a true story, every word of it, down to the cutting myself after slipping in the mud while hiking up the Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh. Wrote the tune probably in 2017 or so after I got back to California where I’m from; I used to perform it locally acoustically before gov. killed my performing career with its 2019 law trying to stamp out independent contractors and then with their COVID tyranny. Finally got around to recording it in the present version this last month; took a few nights to get it all down. It’s home recorded and self-produced. I’m a one-person band and do all the writing, playing/recording, mixing/mastering and artwork myself, as I’m a multi-instrumentalist. So I’m completely self-produced and independent, owning everything I do, tho I hardly make any $ off music as a result. I have Tourette’s Syndrome, so performing has always been hard for me and it’s why I tend to do everything myself as I gotta do take after take after take cuz my Tourette’s constantly interrupts while I’m recording, so I just do it all myself so I can do it my way, the way I’m able to with my disability. So Potbelly is Auld Haggis MacMurray, and both are me. Anyway, hope that suffices.
Well, I’ve never been to Ireland,
but to Scotland I have been,
I imagine the two are similar,
with their cold wet wind and rain
Green rolling hills and mountain crags
Cold ocean fronted towns
For once you’ve been to one of them
You’ve been there all around, oh….
My mother’s side’s from Scotland,
East Lothian side they ran
From Clinton & Cramond towns
My family once began
They moved to grand America
For a free and prosperous life
For America had freed herself
From the English chains and strife
Oh the Celtic lands of the Ires & Scots
And the Welsh and Cornish, too
Each different in their culture
But united in their view
For all have a common history
They’re all now conquered lands
And from their English overlords
Their freedom they demand
I went back to that old country,
To the place where lived my kin
Of ancient times and centuries
Where my bloodline did begin
‘Twas heart warming to see the land
Where my Celtic line did toil
Under cold wet English tyranny And in that muddy soil
I walked her grassy rolling hills
And I viewed her frothy shores,
I studied at her uni,
in Edinburgh’s core I behold her Celtic beauty,
It seeped into my blood
For I cut myself on a rainy day
When slipped in her wet mud
Oooh, the castles and the crofts,
The trees covered in moss
Peat water flowing everywhere.
Wild weathered covered mountains
Spilling rain on down,
To the green, green rolling hills below.
So a year I spent in Scotland,
And I traveled all around
From Avoch and Inverness To Skye and Glasgow ground
I’ll miss the pies and pasties,
And the haggis most of all
But my heart lies back in California
And back to her shores I fall.
(You can stream or download The Auld Celtic Lands for just a measly single dollar via the Bandcamp app below)
The seventh full-length album from Victoria-based Celtic-Punk band The Go Set. The release follows on from their London Celtic Punks voted #1 double-EP ‘Of Bright Futures’ ‘…and Broken Pasts’ from 2020.
The existence of London Celtic Punks is down to two bands, Flatfoot 56 and The Go Set. Playing in quick succession back in 2007 they both played here in London at the famous Hope And Anchor pub in north London and received a pittance for their troubles. Their was obviously a market for Celtic-Punk in the city where it started and a bunch of us at the gigs thought we could do a better job at putting these bands on than those whose only purpose was to make money out of them. So sixteen years later we are still doing it and we’re happy to say we have put on both The Go Set and Flatfoot 56 in the years since and look forward to again at anytime!
Twenty years is quite the landmark for any band but not many still have the power and energy that they started out with. Formed back in 2003 in Geelong, a port city in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria by lead singer-songwriter and guitarist, Justin Keenan, and bass guitarist, Mark Moran. The Go Set have gone on to record eight studio albums and have done extensive tours of Australia, Europe, the UK, New Zealand, Japan and the United States. As Justin states
“We have done it the hard way. I don’t know a band that has slept on as many floors as we have. We have done 1500 shows and played in 27 or 28 different countries, and you are always building from scratch every night when you do that.”
The album kick’s off with the insanely good ‘West Into The Sun’ which was also the album’s first single to be come out. A story of the British navy press gangs that took young men from the streets and villages to fight in foreign wars. Recruitment was hard as everyone knew the conditions on board ship were terrible at the best of times and especially at times of war so the solution was the press gang. A group of 10-12 men would roam the streets searching for ‘volunteers’. Men were knocked unconscious or threatened with violence to coerce them into joining the fleet. From the first bars and the magnificent sound of Lachlan’s pipes you know you’re in for something special. ‘Take Me Home’ follows and whereas the opening song demonstrates their Celtic-Punk side here you hear something different. It’s still unmistakably Go Set but their influences are varied and always make for an interesting ride. On ‘Horizons’ Justin sings a true story of change and of a young couple leaving their country town. The Go Set don’t mind being one of the more serious bands in the Celtic-Punk and although they are not adverse to a song about drinking they always leave you with a lot more than just a hangover. ‘Opportunities’ was inspired by a chat between Justin’s 21-year-old son and his grandad and then it’s the albums BIG song ‘The Warriors Beneath Us’.
“It is about those long-forgotten people of long-ago conflicts who gave their lives to build the things that are part of our lives today. History helps us understand the present and have a more enlightened perspective on the future.”
The second single to come out and and the title tracks from the album their is just something about Australian Celtic-Punk that resonates with people. They just seem to capture the spirit of the past and the beauty of the present.
“They are living in the streets, of the cities and the towns
They are the long forgotten breeze, they are the long forgotten sound
They are our fury and our fight, they are never stepping down
They are rising up inside us from the bones deep underground”
‘Drink To The Night’ starts off with the murmur of a bar and Justin gently sings about much more than just drinking and about the solidarity and camaraderie you find in a bar and in the friends you make there. The next two songs, ‘Raise Your Hands’ and ‘Broken Bones And Hearts’, take us on a road trip about the realities of a Rock’n’Roll life and the sacrifices that have to be made… and be grateful these guys and others do.
“All those shows we have done around the world, being away from those you love, that can be really hard on everyone. Broken Bones and Hearts is about lost time, the strain on friendships, relationships, while you are pursuing this way of life.”
The Go Set have always championed the working classes and their struggles. It helps I suppose that they are from the class they sing about unlike some soft handed radicals who these days have thrown in the towel and adopted liberal identity politics. ‘We Got The Numbers’ is about the power and importance of being in a trade union, inspired by Aussie dockers rising up to protest the sale of Australian iron to Japan before World War II. Don’t think there’s a better Celtic-Punk band out there for this kind of song. It was looking up previous appearances on this site of The Go Set I saw something I hadn’t remembered I’d written. Basically I wrote that even though (or maybe it’s because?) I’m an auld Punk rocker and love the rowdier side of Celtic-Punk when it comes to The Go Set I actually like their slower stuff the best. This only made sense to me when I heard the next track ‘Tomorrow’. Without doubt for me the finest song here. A beautiful ballad about the hopelessness of war and the bravery and tragic deaths of young men many miles from their homes that brings a chill to the bone.
Justin’s has Irish and Scottish heritage through grandparents on both sides and like many of us grew up hearing traditional Folk music at home. Where once we would rebel against the olden’s music by getting into Punk their was a point where we realised their wasn’t much between them. Certainly in England in the Punk years the most rebellious (and dangerous!) thing you could do was go to a Wolfe Tones gig. With us nearing the end ‘Gallows Bay’ is a folk tale dedicated to Scottish resistance. Naturally the pipes are loud on this one and the curtain comes down on the album with its only cover a fantastic spirited version of one of The Pogues most under rated songs ‘Sunnyside Of The Street’. Recorded in one take it’s a brilliant way to end things with a song that most Pogues fanatics would agree is one of their best.
Sounding as good as the first day they set foot on a stage The Go Set continue to squeeze out the sparks from where Rock’n’Roll collides with Celtic Folk. Big guitars, big beats, irresistible choruses and important words and message for us all the while retaining the timeless spirit of the band’s Celtic roots. The final word here I will leave with Justin who sums up the appeal of Celtic-Punk perfectly.
“It always interests me that a kid from Germany or the Czech Republic can connect with our music as deeply as anyone else. There is something primal and invigorating about it that appeals across borders.”
German Celtic-Punkers The Feelgood McLouds are back with a new single – Back In Life – means not just back in life but back on stage, in the clubs, in the backstage rooms and the cramped tour bus together dancing and partying. The world is sad enough so escape with The Feelgood McLouds into their wild Celtic-Punk world for a short while.
After two successful albums and an EP, with thousands sold and millions of streams, after more than 150 concerts at home and abroad, the Feelgood McLouds are back on the road again. Mixing Irish Celtic traditional’s with raucous Punk-Rock sing-a-longs. Sometimes with a edge, sometimes with a good dose of humour, sometimes against thirst but always with a catchy tune. Since 2015, the six Saarlanders have been touring Germany and other European countries with the aim of placing messages in the often monotonous world of Irish Punk-Rock. Anyone can write about ́s singing, dancing and drinking but to connect this at the same time with the serious, the not-good, the bad, the hatred, war, oppression without being too pointy finger hectoring is what distinguishes The Feelgood McLouds from most bands in the scene. With imminent news due soon that will please fans remember their line:
“we don ́t care who you love – as long as you love someone from the bottom of your heart!”.
New York unashamedly Irish-American Celtic-Punk Irish band The Templars Of Doom just released a stunning new video and single taken from their recently released third album Rising Of The Doom.
Coming out of the aptly titled Ulster County in New York state come The Templars Of Doom. Paying homage to the UK82 style of English Punk-Rock bands while adding bagpipes, mandolin and tin whistle and the politics of The Wolfe Tones! Loud, brash and in-yer-face Celtic-PUNK but not without it’s tender moments though they are few and far between! Tales of Irish-American and Irish history the Templars Of Doom tell a fantastic story while also beating up the dance floor!
Templars Of Doom left to right: Rory Quinn – Guitar * Falco Sparvarious – Drums * Josie – Bagpipes / Whistles * Mike – Bass / Vocals * Marty Shane – Mandolin *
Well here the Templars cast their net across the sea and cover some little known Scottish history with a song that is well over 200 years old. Written by by Carolina Oliphant. Lady Nairne, and set to a traditional Scottish folk tune. We asked Mike the bands founder and vocalist for the meaning of the song and this is what he said
“This Song is written about Bonnie Prince Charlie, Grandson of James II who was deposed for being Catholic. In 1534 Henry VIII, murderer of 2 of his 6 wives, founded the Church of England and later, in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie attempts to set things right and restore Scotland. ‘The Butcher’ Duke of Cumberland (Son of George II) defeated the Jacobite (Jacob is Latin for James, the Stewart supporters) at Culloden in 1746. The English tyrants used this as an excuse to exterminate the Scottish clan system, including the banning of wearing of tartan, and playing of bagpipes. My own ancestors, The Roses, were highlanders and fled / banished for Canada at that time, Landing in New Bruynswick, Canada, (Moncton). There you have it. I wouldn’t be here today, in New York without Bonnie Prince Charlie.”
Bonnie Charlie’s noo awa
Safely o’er the friendly main
Mony a heart will break in twa
Should he no come back again
Will ye no come back again
Will ye no come back again
Better lo’ed ye canna be
Will ye no come back again
Whene’er I hear the blackbird sing
Unto the evening sinking down
Or merl that makes the woods to ring
To me they hae no other sound
Many’s the gallant soldier fought
Many’s the gallant chief did fall
Death itself was dearly bought
All for Scotland’s king and lord
Low the Blackbird’s note and lang
Lilting wildly up the glen
And aye to me he sings ae sang
Will ye no come back again
Ye trusted in your Hielan’ men
They trusted you dear Charlie
They kent your hiding in the glen
Death or exile braving
Cheers to Mike and the gang for the great music. Their are three others videos coming soon staggered over the following few months and you will find them here on the London Celtic Punks site. The band footage for the video was shot with two cameras and the battle footage shot from large French and Indian War battle re-enactments at Fort Ticonderoga and Fort Niagara in New York state. The two forts are at opposite ends of New York State, about 8 hour car drive apart. Fort Ticondetoga is on Lake Champlain (East) and Niagara is on Lake Ontario (West) near Buffalo. The footage was originally used in the production of Mike’s horror movie Kaastskill Kannibals , which is available to be viewed for free on Amazon Prime. The track is taken from their album Rising Of The Doom was released in November, 2022. Eleven mainly self penned numbers to inspire and entertain the serious Celtic-Punk rocker. The album is at the moment only available on download at the link below.
After a couple of years of misery for Celtic-Punk fans 2022 has been something of a special year with the biggest and best the scene has to offer all releasing albums and The Real McKenzies even releasing two!
Here Ray Ball checks out Songs Of The Highlands, Songs Of The Sea out everywhere today. Packed to the gills with roaring sea shanties and bagpipe-fuelled highland anthems.
So, how to start this…I think I first stumbled on to The Real McKenzies with Clash of the Tartans. I was just getting into Celtic punk, I think Blackout and Within a Mile of Home were fresh on the record shelves. “Dropping Like Flies” and “Smokin’ Bowl” we’re staples of my 2000-something on my iPod nano.
Needless to say it was a good time to be a Celtic punk listener.
Sure, as we all know, the Pogues first combined the two genres. They hold their time and place in history. What I didn’t realize, or maybe appreciate, was the kick that came out of the Northwest in the early 90s. McKenzies formed in 1992, four years before DKM formed and not long but before “Alive Behind the Green Door” came out as a Flogging Molly live album.
I did some looking into it and dug up that a lot of the bands then and there sang in Gaelic, and put more of the punk and harsh edge into the music coming out of that part of the US and Canada.
I’ve listened to a lot of it over time but the McKenzies have always stood out to me. Paul, the rotating crew, the crazy pipes. They seem to have as much fun with it as we do. That’s important.
In “Songs of the Highland Songs of the Sea” McKenzies they bring their sound a little truer to maybe “Westwinds” than “Beer and Loathing”. Not that the latter was bad at all, it just felt a bit heavier than normal.
Don’t expect much in the way of new materiel in terms of songwriting here. From sea shanties to Robbie Burns, there’s a lot of great takes on standards to make an excellent album. Some I’ve even covered before in a punk way, and it’s different. But their take on it is different as Scottish Canadians than my Irish American.
I know Scotland the Brave and Leave her Johnny have already been released and are good indications of where the record goes. A must listen track is “Ye Jacobites by Name”, an 18th century set of lyrics set later to music and then given a do over by Paul and crew. I won’t spoil anything, you’ll hear some familiar Melodies if you go to local sessions or hear pipe bands often.
But, it’s a refreshing album I think we all need. They truly keep it up and going and there’s no objection to the bands ability to put out quality music at a rapid pace.
Thanks to Ray Ball. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys coverswas one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board our team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site.
The Real McKenzies are on tour in Europe during January and arrive on these shores on the 23rd playing Blackpool, two nights in Edinburgh, Huddersfield, Derby and then the New Cross Inn in south London on the 28th. For the smoke keep an eye on the Facebook Eventfor support acts, set times and ticket news.
It was also recently announced that they have been added to the bill at Rebellion festival in Blackpool next August doing two sets – a full band set and on the the ‘Almost Acoustic’ stage. This means the good news is they will be back around again next Summer.
Stunning debut release of Celtic-Punk direct from the Celtic Heartlands. Six tracks from The Ramstampits full of power, originality, melody, anthemic choruses and variation, performed by some of the best Folk and Punk rock musicians anywhere.
The Ramstampits is a bit of a mouthful and a rather odd name for a band until you find out what it means. It’s old Scots for ‘brawling, hoormongering rogues’ and in that case it makes perfect sense! Lead singer Iain fresh from the success he found with his previous band The Placks decided that his, and partner in crime Andy MacChainsaw, next band would all be friends of his. This is after all how the majority of bands start out but things don’t always go that simple. So The Ramstampits begin the rocky road with members/ex-members of The Rumjacks, The Exploited, Sham 69 and The Placks – some pedigree I’m sure we can all agree. With a revolving line up the idea is that whenever they are booked to play their will always be enough of them ready and able to play.
So far the band have played a couple of low key acoustic gigs at festivals, namely Punk On The Peninsula and Rebellion Festival. They were well received at both and more recently got their first airplay on Isles FM in Stornoway in the Western Isles on the Celtic Set show which is also syndicated to Canada and Germany. Singer-songwriter Iain certainly knows his way round the music biz especially the DIY / alternative scenes and he brings some great ideas along. The plan was to record these songs as side 1 of the album and then record gentler tracks for side 2 making one powerful side and one folky side but with the release of Light The Beacon plans for the album have been adapted. With the wait for vinyl releases has now reached 6-8 months vinyl and with an album of new material planned as well it was decided to release an EP and get the name out there among fans of the genre.
Light The Beacon opens with a cover of ‘I Fought The Law’ and we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for the release of the video so we could publish this review. Well it was certainly worth the wait and one of the best Celtic-Punk videos of the year hit the internet only yesterday. The video is a great romp (not sure about the dreadlocked copper mind!) filmed in the picturesque town of Inveraray at the Georgian Inveraray jail which is now a museum and the song itself is played more similar to The Clash version rather than the Country / Rockabilly version popularised by the Bobby Fuller Four in 1966. The song was written and first performed by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly’s backing band The Crickets way back in 1958. ‘I Fought The Law’ is the only cover on Light The Beacon and The Ramstampits intend to concentrate on writing new material in the future. So the rest of the EP is all originals and up next is ‘My Country’ with its old fashioned céilí sample intro and then into a Celtic-Punk barnstormer full of love for Scotland. After several listens there’s not a world of difference between the two! ‘For Land And Girls And Rum’ has a sea-shanty feel to it and an interesting start where the song completely changes tack and just when you’re expecting a bit of Folkiness the song explodes into a Celtic-Punk Rock powerhouse with fiddle, pipes and accordion all pushed to the front. The pace changes again for ‘No Place Like Home’ and again you are taken by surprise by a total about turn within the song. ‘Fourteen Days’ kicks off with some Spanish guitar and a hilarious tale of a trip to Spain that takes in some ace accordion, castanets, Johnny Cash style trumpets and a huge singalong chorus. Love it! The EP ends with the short ‘A Song Of Hope’ and takes the EP up to almost 20 minutes. A song destined to be a end of set classic with its positive message firing out a song of hope. One of those songs in Celtic-Punk that draws us all together before the end of the night and we go our separate ways.
Light The Beacon is now out and is available from both Mainstage Merch for CD and Bandcamp for download. The Placks were never happy with the production on any of their releases so here they have pushed the boat out here and while I’ve never let the production spoil music for me it is true that if you are willing to invest in what you believe in and pay for a studio, you do get what you pay for. A quite brilliant debut for The Ramstampits and full steam ahead for the long player soon!
(You can download/ stream Light The Beacon via the Bandcamp player)
Buy Light The Beacon MainstageMerch(also Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes)
The new project from Skyclad vocalist Kevin Ridley Theigns & Thralls sees the release of their self titled debut album and while it may divide Metal fans it’s one that should get Celtic-Punk fans very excited.
Theigns & Thralls is a new band formed by vocalist and songwriter Kevin Ridley. Kevin has been a long time member of the English heavy metal band Skyclad who always played with strong Folk influences throughout their music. The plan for Theigns & Thralls was to be a somewhat ‘occasional band’ for the times when Skyclad were inactive. With the pandemic though the idea took on a new lease of life and became a collaborative recording project. Calling on his many friends in the music scene across Europe, twenty-five musicians from bands like Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, Cruachan, Waylander, Celtibeerian and Metal De Facto as well as a handful of solo musicians contributed. Everything from drums, bass, guitar, violin, whistles, bagpipes, hurdy-gurdy and vocals were covered and the result was the first Theigns & Thralls single, ‘Drinking’, in February this year.
I think you can divide the album into three parts with the the first few songs leaning more into Celtic-Punk territory before becoming more Metal / Rock influenced while the last few songs, mainly the bonus tracks are more folky / experimental. The album kicks off with ‘Procession’, a short bagpipe intro that builds and builds and leads straight into album title track ‘Theigns & Thralls’
“from Magna Carta to the age of reform,
suffrage is still not the norm for one and all,
still theigns and thralls.”
which gives us a chance to explain the name ‘Theigns & Thralls’ which means masters and servants in Shakespearean era English. While many of the Metal style flourishes are left the pacing of the song is classic Celtic-Punk which ought to please fans of both. Kevin Ridley says about the song:
“I decided early on to have an eponymous album, so the album had the same name as the band, but I also thought to go one stage further and add a song with the same name. As it is the opening song, I wanted it to up-tempo and be anthemic as it also conveys some of the band’s underlying philosophy, in terms of its socio-political stance. Again, Dagda’s pipes helped to lift the song and I really enjoyed adding a bit of old-school harmony guitar here.”
As mentioned above it was the song ‘Drinking’ that really set things off for Theigns & Thralls. The album version is longer than the video and contains the ‘drunken guitarist’ intro. A anthemic song unlikely based on a 17th century poem by Abraham Cowley with a multitude of players on it, including Emilio Souto on guitar, Jonne Järvelä on mandolin and Dave Briggs on whistle. Band founder Kevin adds:
“I came across an old poem called ‘Drinking’, I thought folk-metal and drinking, what could possibly go wrong? Again, this song has a big chorus and I thought it would be good to ask all the people playing on the album to add some backing vocals and do a little video of themselves recording it so we could make it into a video.”
A great song that encapsulates the fun side of Theigns & Thralls. Catchy and with the most perfect pint / fist in the air chorus I’ve heard in a good while.
Next up is the first version on the album of the fiddle led ‘Strive’ with its thudding and ominous bass followed by ‘The Lord Of The Hills’ which has a 70’s English Folk ring to it. ‘Life Will Out’ is another song that has two versions her. This one significantly better than the one that closes things. Female vocal from guest appearances from Celtibeerian accompanies Kevin (using a voice transformer) with bagpipes and chugging guitar giving it a dark feel. ‘The Highwayman’ begins with a rather cheesy spoken word intro before tearing into a rockin’ version of the 1906 poem by Alfred Noyes. Set in 18th-century rural England, the highwayman is in love with Bess, a landlord’s daughter. Betrayed to the authorities, the highwayman escapes ambush when Bess sacrifices her life to warn him. Learning of her death, he is killed in a futile attempt at revenge. However, their souls reunite after death. Speaking of love, courage, and sacrifice, perfect themes for Theigns & Thralls. ‘Today We Get To Play’ is the most Celtic-Punk track here and actually reminds me of a handful of bands from the scene in it’s upbeat-ness!
‘The New Folk Devils’ touches on serious subject matter of judging people on their looks from Mods and Rockers then to immigrants today. Slow enough to take in Kevin’s vocals it’s followed by ‘Flora Robb’ an instrumental Folk number with excellent piping. The album part of Theigns & Thralls ends with ‘Not Thru The Woods Yet’ and a superb catchy song which brings to mind Flogging Molly. The first of the bonus tracks is ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ and ought to be familiar to people on this side of the pond due to it’s time being used as the theme song for the classic British TV series Sharpe starring the king of Yorkshire himself, Sean Bean. Performed again in that 70’s English style. ‘The Queen Of The Moors’ is, I think, the only Skyclad song here featuring on their 2017 album Forward Into The Past. To close out the album the last three songs are a a acoustic version of ‘Strive’ followed by the shorter video version of ‘Drinking’ before the curtain comes down with a Electronic / Industrial remix of ‘Life Will Out’ that I’m afraid didn’t interest me at all at first but I rather got into after a few plays!
The album seems to have divided fans of Folk-Metal in that many were expecting the album to be a lot heavier than it is. I don’t understand though why these folk would imagine the point of setting up another Skyclad when the original is still running! We on the other hand absolutely love it and why not it’s a steady mix of Celtic-Punk, Folk, Folk-Metal and classic rock! Saying that at just under a hour it is far too long and some of the bonus tracks are a bit unnecessary. Perhaps it might have been better to release them independently as a EP. Now that the album is out Theigns & Thralls have put also become a ‘touring band’ in their own right but as of going to press gigs are mainly in Europe excepting a short tour her in December taking in Edinburgh, Newcastle, Kent and Lancaster.
The brand new album from The CundeeZ. Pure Dundee scheme Rock’n’Roll wi bagpipes!
It does literally seem like just the other day that Dundee band The Cundeez released anything. Geeez It is the boys 6th studio album and follows swiftly on the heels of Teckle An Hide which made #4 in the London Celtic Punks Best Celtic-Punk Album of 2020. On that album the only criticism I saw anywhere was that their was too much of it and they could maybe have cut a couple of songs from the sixteen (!) presented. Too much of a good thing perhaps. Anyway it was a fantastic album and an album that won them many new fans and praise. In the meantime they released a Scotland football song for the European Championship and have carried on post-Covid where they left off – touring, touring, touring.
Here for Geez It they have confined it to only ten songs but the running time is till almost forty minutes and for a Punk band that is some length. Now a lot of Punk albums could really drag at that but The Cundeez mix of genres, passion and tongue in cheek humour keep it fresh throughout. They also manage to continue confusing those us not use to the Dundonian accent that even scientists say is more like a foreign language.
The album kicks off with ‘Bog o Riffs’ and an absolutely f’ing brilliant instrumental. With a menacing air and Goth/ Post-Punk feel it’s a great start and Gary’s fantastic bagpiping is out of this world. Seriously one of the best pipers in the Celtic-Punk scene. I love it when The Cundeez do these instrumental’s of which their are many dotted through their back catalogue. ‘Geeez It !’ is more straight up Cundeez fair. A Punk Rock number with no frills just catchy shouty chorus leading into ‘East Meets West’ and a song that steers directly into port with a tale of sea-bound deeds and mis-deeds and even ends with a clip from the beloved kids TV show ‘Captain Pugwash’ if I’m not mistaken.
As I’ve said many times when reviewing them they cover plenty of ground, and they always have done, but ‘Rockabilly Revolution’ was a bit of a surprise as the guys go full on Rock’n’Roll with a song wouldn’t disgrace any R’n’R band on the circuit. Joined by their mate Calum ‘Boydie’ Macleod from Peat & Diesel. A hilarious great video (you can only watch on Facebook) sees the lads dressed up ala Russ Abbot all it’s missing is the double bass. Geez It is mostly original numbers but they have a habit, alongside their more traditional ones, of chucking in some unlikely instrumentals and this time it’s a superb bagpipe and keyboard heavy version of Martha And The Muffins 1980’s smash hit ‘Echo Beach’.
“I know it’s out of fashion
And a trifle uncool
But I can’t help it
I’m a romantic fool”
We’re ploughing through and ‘On The Ran Dan’ sees the boys on the pish around Dundee. Drinking songs are must in Celtic-Punk and don’t forget these guys are just ordinary working class Scottish guys so there’s gonna be no niceties here and definitely not any safe spaces! Now The Cundeez have a fantastic relationship with the band Peat & Diesel and I guess this is partly due to their love of the island of Stornaway in the western isles. With a population of just under 7000, according to the 2011 Census, 43% of still speak Scottish Gaelic. ‘The Stornaway Stomp’ is another straight up Punk number with them paying tribute to all things ‘western’.
Not sure who the song ‘CG McGeddon’ is named after but here the guys rock hard while Gary speaks of the danger of loneliness and isolation. It’s the modern curse especially among young men.If you’re feeling the pressure their are people out there to talk to.
The summer of 2021 saw a rare outing for the Tartan Army when they qualified for the European Championships. The Cundeez celebrated with the release of ‘Kilts On Taps Aff’ by far the best of a slew of football songs released at the same time. Dismissed by the English media they gave the fancy-dan English millionaires a real fright and could have easily won the game between the two if they had only had a wee bit of luck. The Scottish fans also made many friends with their joyful exuberance (pissed) celebrations.
The curtain comes down with ‘The Old Forge’, a bagpipe heavy instrumental specially written in recognition of the small and extremely remote Inverie community in western Scotland, who successfully took control of the local pub in a community buy-out scheme. The Western Isles boat that takes you there is called The Old Forge CB.
Having safely sailed past their 10th anniversary a couple of years ago they have settled on while not just a sound but a whole host of genres that make that sound. Never afraid to mix it up The Cundeez show once again that they are so much more than just a Punk band. That’s a label that they are unashamedly proud of, and rightly so, but underneath the initial first glimpse theirs a real depth to the band and they do it all with a sense of humour and humility most new Punk bands don’t have a clue about. A band with a mission and a night out with The Cundeez is guaranteed to wear out the soles of your feet and I can testify that they are perfect house guests as well!
To buy the CD of Geez It contact The Cundeez directly
Bagpipe strangling, vocal chord mangling, gormandizer uplifting, Riot Brew imbibing, Vancouver Island Celtic-Punk Rock.
“It’s as if their music was a horde of Irish warriors from the 1800’s running at you in black studded jackets and mohawk hair”
A new 4-track EP released for St. Patrick’s Day just gone it appears here in a rather disjointed way as the band uploaded the tracks individually to Bandcamp. Having released two well received EP’s back in 2018 that would both feature in that year’s Top Ten Celtic-Punk EP’s and they have gone on to release new music sporadically over the following few years. Formed in 2016 in the town of Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, an area renowned for coal mining in the early decades of the twentieth century. The area was famed for it’s militancy with many strikes and unrest as the areas miners battled the mine owners for better conditions and more pay in the most dangerous coal mines in the entire world. The mines are now gone (coal is now dug by children and modern day slaves in the 3rd world) but the communities and closely knit towns still exist.
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 as well as from the local rock scene The Grinning Barretts hit the stages around Ladysmith. 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 2018 and a couple of months later The Riot EP.
‘Hope Like Hell’
‘Star Of The County Down’
‘The Foggy Dew’
Four tracks, two originals and two covers. The EP’s title track leads things off and for the standout track of the EP catchy bagpipe heavy Punk Rock is the order of the day. Includes the word “metastasizing” and this is followed by ’10 Teraohm’ and like “metastasizing” I had to look up what it meant! Teraohm is a unit of electricity apparently. Lots more big words and then the covers, starting with a pretty decent and straight forward ‘Star Of The County Down’ and the EP’s finale the famed Irish rebel song ‘The Foggy Dew’ telling of the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916. Done fast, loud, aggressive and shouty. The EP is over in a flash… well in less than ten minutes anyway which is how The Grinning Barretts do things. All their releases are all still available with many as ‘name your price’ downloads from Bandcamp meaning you pay as much as you like (or can afford!).
It’s about time we did another Real McKenzies write-up. This time, you’re gettin’ the full whack; the kilted Canadian legends have a best-of album, the aptly titled Float Me Boat. It floats ours sure enough, and we‘re sure you‘ll feel the same. Let‘s get into it.
The Real McKenzies’ music could be described as waking up with a hangover, but getting up anyway to fight the day. With their short-and-fast, nae-nonsense approach, this band has always put the “punk” into Celtic punk. I first heard of them while living in Berlin, and believe me, the Germans quite like these guys too.
We kick things off with opening track “Chip”, taken from 2008’s Off The Leash. True to form, the band let their trademark sound loose on us, a bagpipe rock style fronted by Paul McKenzie’s unmistakable vocal. Paul may have founded the McKenzies in 1992, almost a decade after The Pogues came about, but he’s played a key role in popularising Celtic punk, shaping it into the genre we all know and love. It also proves again that you don’t need to be in Scotland or Ireland to feel the fervour of the music, start a band and light shit up.
“Smokin’ Bowl” and “‘Cross The Ocean” make early appearances on the record too. The former is primarily a punk track, with the bagpipe takin’ a back seat for most of it. “Ocean”, meanwhile, is that riff-led romp that’ll get ya dancin’. A foray into pirate rock with humorous verses and some singalong in the choruses. I particularly enjoy givin’ this one a spin, but then I’m an Alestorm fan, so go figure 🏴☠️
To put the flag up even higher for my now-home of Scotland, “Scots Wha’ Ha’e” also makes a welcome entrance in the first half of the album. The McKenzies’ take on it doesn’t quite feature the original lyrics by Rabbie Burns 😉 But having said that, it’s as rousing as ever. Another one I can recommend.
“Spinning Wheels” is one good choice for the latter half of the record. The band get the banjo out for this one, and tell us about their relentless gigging experiences around the world. The shout of “Prost!” gives the nod to Germany, my home of six years and one of THE countries for any Celtic folk/punk band to go to.
Soon after, we get to “The Big Six” – or at least that’s what I like to call ’em 😉 Here the band lines up six songs that are firm favourites, ranking among the best McKenzies anthems ever recorded. We start with “Bugger Off”, a song that leaves nothing to the imagination with its ferocity, including a delightfully un-PC use of the word “cunt” 👍🏼 “The Tempest” follows up, and I like this one because it’s longer than yer average McKenzies song. A fine example of a seaman’s shanty.
“You Wanna Know What” brings the speed back. The tin whistle leads the way here, and Paul delivers a strong vocal take to match. “Culling The Herd” is the interesting one – a clean guitar riff fighting the vocals in the verse, giving the song a mystical twist as only the McKenzies can do it. “Due West” boasts another gallant McKenzies riff in what is generally a gallant McKenzies song, and of course, we can’t leave out “Barrett’s Privateers”. This is the band’s own tribute to Mr Stan Rogers, a Canadian folk music legend. It’s a shame the band’s rousing take on “Northwest Passage” wasn’t included as well, but better one Stan song than none at all. We’ll include it below for ya.
Drink some more
Last but by no means least, we reach track #23, and “Drink Some More”. A final hurrah to an epic best-of that looks back over 30 illustrious years, and will have ye playin’ your air bagpipe for many a day to come. All in all, not a bad achievement, given that Paul once claimed he only started the band to “get revenge” on his family, who dressed him in a kilt as a youngster and made him sing and dance to Scottish music! 😉 They planted a seed, and the best results can be yours on this CD.
To get a copy and support the band, buy Float Me Boat online; various outlets have got it, one place for UK fans to get it is HERE. If ye ditched your CD player a while back in favour of streaming, then you can listen on Spotify, Apple Music or (hello French readers!) Deezer. And be sure to show the band some love by stoppin’ by their Facebook and Instagram pages.
Now…you’ll get nae more this article, so you’d better bugger off 😉
New music just keeps on coming from Australian / Italian Celtic-Punk band The Cloverhearts. One of the scene’s more prolific bands its quality over quantity though and always incredible how they transfer their catchy melodies, tin-whistle ear-worms and energetic live performances into the recording studio.
From their debut EP in 2019 The Cloverhearts have never stopped! At a time when 95% of the Celtic-Punk scene went into lock down they carried on and continued to release music throughout those horrible times. Since Covid’s somewhat miraculous disappearance (!) they have carried on in much the same way. So far 2022 has seen the band record and release an acoustic version of their debut album, The Sick And The Sacred, a couple of singles (only one of which is included here) and three professional looking videos plus a successful tour of Italy and Czech Republic over St. Patrick’s weekend.
Live in Prague – 19.03.2022 * Photo – @crishfoot
Still Pissed came out on March 31 and is five original tracks written by the band themselves. They kick proceedings off with ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ and while their Punk side may owe much to the popular ‘Pop-Punk’ sound and not just in Aussie Sam’s distinctive vocals but also in their positive message. AS you can imagine the song is a joyous bagpipe driven 4-minute romp guaranteed to fill up any dancefloor.
The second of the five track’s was also released as the first single from the EP and ‘Whatshername?’ takes us off to a chance meeting at a Dropkick Murphys show as Sam searches after a elusive women he has taken a shine to and then lost. This time they let Ska take completely over and is reminiscent of the Ska scene’s most popular band at the moment, The Interrupters. Full blown Ska ain’t really my thing but I like this it must be said. Not one for a slow song usually but the Celtic-Punk 10 Commandments does state that you should have a ballad on every release and they do it pretty damn good with ‘Go Quiet Now’. A simple song but beautiful. They turn it up again next for ‘Pennies’ about as Punk as they get and as catchy as anyone could get. Fully embracing the ‘Pop-Punk’ of bands like Green Day, NOFX, Blink 182 (all in their cocky prime of course) and while their Celtic side takes a rest it is still recognisable as The Cloverhearts. The curtain comes down on ‘All My Friends Are Alcoholics’ and they save the best for last with a Celtic-Punk monster of a song. The celebration of booze and drinking it finishes off a great EP on a real high. We have a funny relationship with the glorification of alcohol in the scene with the criticism it receives from outside more to do with the dislike of working class culture than anything else. Drink or not, drunk or not it’s all about celebrating life and you need to escape the shite sometimes and if drinking and Celtic-Punk is your thing then I’ll have a drink with you anytime.
Always innovative and unafraid to try new things The Cloverhearts will always have at their heart that Celtic base but their sound opens up opportunities to cross over into other genres ensuring their popularity both in and out of Celtic-Punk. Never a band to take themselves totally serious they cover some interesting topics from alcoholism, fist fights and love and loss, Still Pissed has it all. Fast, loud and with what has become the trademark Cloverhearts sound it’s also highly original in a scene that for most of the time prefers uniformity to be honest.
(You can download / stream Still Pissed via the Bandcamp player below)
The brand new video from Aussie/ Italian Celtic-Punkers The Cloverhearts. ‘Thorn In My Side’ with a strong message against bullying. Lots of change for the Italian band. A new manager and band members but the same ol’ Cloverhearts sound at heart!
‘Thorn In My Side’ is a bagpipe-driven power anthem about staying true to yourself, and not letting the words of others get you down. In 2021, where the cowardly stalk their prey from behind computer screens, it’s important to remember the words of the weak don’t define who you are.
The Cloverhearts – Thorn in My Side
You were the thorn in my side, You were the thorn in my side.
I’m digging down, to cut you out.
You won’t break my stride.
Oh, the thorn in my side. Oh, the thorn in my side.
Keep diggin’ in, but you won’t win.
Oh, thorn in my side.
You’ve been the thorn in my side,
But you won’t get the best of me,
You won’t get the best of me, Oh no.
Your sticks and your stones,
Won’t break my bones, oh no.
Won’t break my bones, No they won’t.
Your words won’t work, No your words won’t hurt,
You won’t break this soul…
Your words won’t work, No your words won’t hurt,
I’m letting you know…
You’ve been the slap in my face,
But I’m ’a turn the other cheek,
I’m ’a turn the other cheek, I will.
Because your sad little words,
Come from insecurity,
And they won’t get the best of me, Oh no.
Oh, you won’t break these bones.
Oh, with your names.
Oh, you won’t break these bones.
Oh, not today.
Oh, thorn in my side.
Directed by Francesco Agostini Produzioni * Filmed at Spazio Webo
Music and Lyrics by Sam Cooper
The Cloverhearts are a Italian Celtic-Punk band, founded in 2019 – just months before the pandemic hit. From the start, the response towards The Cloverhearts’ music has been overwhelmingly positive! With a year of touring booked for 2020 and beyond, the future of the band was looking bright.
Then, pandemic. And then, nothing.
Now as we see glimmers of hope on the horizon, we’re looking to get back to work. We’re raising funds to pay off minor debts, and to pay for minor expenses such as merch production and travel costs to help us get back on the road in 2022. Coming soon will be an acoustic album supported on Kickstarter. To find out more watch the video where Sam explains the current goings on at Cloverhearts HQ.
Two bands from completely different places and era’s pay homage to the late great John Denver with their version of his classic track ‘Country Roads’ done Celtic-Punk.
Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River. Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze.
* Country roads, take me home to the place I belong. West Virginia, mountain momma, take me home, country roads.
A long time ago now I came across a band on My Space (yes it was that long ago!) and even in the heyday of Celtic-Punk this really stood out. Fast, energetic, authentic Irish-American Celtic-Punk and while most bands talked up The Clash and The Pogues, The Gentlemen took their inspiration from Sham 69 and the Cockney Rejects and The Wolfe Tones! If I can be forgiven for saying they stood head and shoulders above everything the rest the scene had to offer. I think by then they had already split up but they did leave behind two fantastic records in a full length album Stick To Your Guns and an album of early recordings imaginative titled Greatest Hits.
(Both releases are compiled below on the Bandcamp player along with a couple of extra tracks for **FREE** download)
A 9 (yes nine!) piece band from Morgantown in West Virgina it was perhaps inevitable they would turn their hand to John Denver’s classic song but it was with the video that people really sat up and took notice. Capturing the spirit of working class Irish-America they are a band that has never in the intervening years been off my stereo. Over the years we have tried to get in touch with The Gentlemen but to no avail so if anyone knows them send them over.
So it is that almost thirteen years later one of the current leading lights of the Celtic-Punk scene turns their hand to ‘Country Roads’ too. The Cloverhearts formed when Aussie Sam and Italian Chiara first met at a Rumjacks show in Manhattan, New York fresh from Chiara’s departure from fellow Italian Celtic-Punkers, The Clan. Soon joined by guitarist JJ, bassist Stefano and drummer Christian The Cloverhearts have not been slow at releasing new music onto the scene and along with some high profile support slots their rise has been meteorically and they have become one of the Celtic-Punk scenes bands to watch.
With a sound that veers off from Celtic to Ska to Punk and back to Ska again The Cloverhearts are that new breed of Celtic-Punk bands that don’t feel confined by trad Celtic / Irish Folk and just play the music that they want to. They have an new single out next week called ‘Thorn In My Side’ that you can pre-order from here: https://show.co/WHlE5cm
Ironically though the country roads in this song are set in West Virginia, John Denver had never ever set foot in West Virginia! Co-writers and married couple Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert were driving along Clopper Road in Montgomery County, Maryland when the song formed. Later that night they played with Denver and between the three of them wrote the song with Denver saying afterwards he instantly knew it was a hit. It peaked at #2 in the Billboard US charts on release in 1971 and since has gone on to become John Denver’s most iconic song with it being adopted as one of the state anthems of West Virginia and is the theme song of West Virginia University where it has been played at every home football game since 1972.
Hello and welcome to Green Guard. Pretty damn good Celtic-Folk-Punk from Moscow, Russia with bagpipes… and heart!
Russia has seen a fair few Celtic-Punk bands come and go so it’s always great to be able to report on these pages a new band. I say new but that is only to us and they’re been around since 2017 (which in this scene still makes them babies!). They released their debut album, Green Noise, in 2018 which was followed up by a couple of singles and the 10-track Ulster Girl album last year. All are available on the band’s Bandcamp player for just a few dollars. All their previous releases like their new one are exclusively new material. This is a completely free covers zone! Devil’s Lung came out digitally last March in the run up to St. Patrick’s Day but finally saw the light of day as an actual CD just last week.
Devil’s Lung begins with ‘Lights Of Morning’ and the first thing to notice is the female vocals placing Green Guard in a very select group of bands within Celtic-Punk. Whether by accident or design female involvement seems on the main to be restricted to fiddle and accordion with some of the scene’s best but it’s by no means uniform with Brutus Daughter and Toxic Frogs bucking the trend. Green Guards music is best described as urgent. A sort of Gothy Punk-Rock played at breakneck speed with Valeria’s vocals both clear and powerful accompanied by highland bagpipes, flute and bouzouki giving them a very distinct Celtic sound. No attempt is made at Celtic melodies just glorious catchy as hell Punk-Rock that happens to be played with Celtic instruments. ‘Raindrops’ is a great song. Balanced between Metal, Punk and Medieval Folk it’s again a catchy number and again Valeria’s vocals stand out giving the bands sound a delicate edge. ‘Hell As Home’ sees chugging guitar and pipes before it’s time to slow it down and ‘Devil’s Lung’ does just that, but only for a bit before the guitars and drums come crashing down and soon a nice wee bagpipe solo takes over. One of the best tracks here it shows the amazing depth of this band and the multitude of influences they inject into each song. It comes as no surprise that members of Green Guard are also involved in Metal bands given the influences here and ‘Pain’ was indeed written by guitarist Anton for a metal project. Using piano and vocals to tell the tale of addiction and the high price that that addicts (and those around them let’s not forget) have to pay. The first time Green Guard performed ‘Pain’ was in the Spring of 2020 while in Covid quarantine. It became the first single from the EP in May of this year and it is a slightly undated version that appears on the album here. Valeria sings in perfect English with dramatic effect. Think of Kate Bush as a Punk-Rocker! Only a couple more songs to go and ‘Share Me So Light’ showcases Marina’s outstanding piping before the final song ‘Summer’ ends on a positive note with a song that bounces off the walls. Musically it could easily fit into the American Pop-Punk scene with it strong catchy and melodic tune and Valeria’s note perfect vocals.
Only eight songs which places it to me right on the fence between album and EP. There’s no science (or logic!) involved really but it’s the album’s length at almost thirty minutes that finally convinced me that Devil’s Lung belongs among 2021’s albums. I really enjoyed this album but it did raise a couple of questions. There doesn’t seem, to my ear anyway, to be any Celtic melodies here but the band contains more Celtic instruments than most Celtic-Punk bands do. On top of that they are proud to label themselves a “Celtic Folk Rock Punk band” so is it still Celtic-Punk or just Punk with bagpipes? Have a listen and see what you think. Whatever you decide the one thing we can agree on is that it’s pretty damn good!
(You can stream and download Devil’s Lung on the Bandcamp player below)
The bagpipe heavy Swiss Celtic Folk’n’Punk band Tortilla Flat celebrate both their 30th anniversary together as well as their 10th anniversary of playing with The Independent Pipers with the release of their ninth album New Stuff In An Old Barrel.
Tortilla Flat celebrate a amazing 30 (yes thirty!) years together in 2021. This makes them one of the oldest Celtic-Punk bands in the world still going and definitely one of Europe’s (if not the) oldest. Thirty years on since Chris, Ritchie and Lexu sat down together and inspired by Scots and Irish Folk music made plans for a Celtic-Folk-Punk band in their home town of Langenthal in Switzerland. Taking their name from the John Steinbeck novel and movie of the same name about a bunch of Californian outsiders who want to do nothing but get drunk, Tortilla Flat are joined regularly by the The Independent Pipers who keep up a steady supply of expert bagpipers. For many bands in the Celtic-Punk scene the priority has always been the live show, after all it is what pays the bills for many, and so don’t get round to recording as much as bands in other Rock genres would. Tortilla Flat are an exception though as since their debut In The Grip Of The Grape back in 1996 their new album New Stuff In An Old Barrel will be their ninth album alongside plenty of other singles and EP’s as well.
Tortilla Flat live at Stadtpark Aarburg last month.
This is the third time I have had the pleasure of reviewing Tortilla Flat and so I do kind of know what to expect when I hear it. Previous albums have been a mix of bagpipe heavy authentic sounding traditional Folk and ’77 style Punk rockers and no New Stuff In An Old Barrel is not much of a departure from that. The album kicks off with ‘The March Of Bill Carson’ a slow Western style instrumental dedicated to the memory of Bill Carson the character from the film The Good, The Bad And The Ugly who sets the whole shebang off when he reveals that he has buried a stash of gold in a cemetery and then he pops his clogs! This morphs straight into ‘Tobermory Bay’ the first of the Celtic-Punk rockers here inspired by a visit vocalist Chris made to the Isle Of Mull and the accompaniment from The Independent Pipers (Tom MacFly, Rob Highlander and Lord Peter Of Lochaber) is truly amazing. Some Scots inspired Ska up next with ‘Captain Bill McCoy’ with some excellent accordion from Asi MacHasi guesting for the band. The song tells the true story of Scots-American Bill McCoy who the phrase ‘The Real McCoy’ originated from. During the prohibition era (1920–33) McCoy was illegal a rum runner who was known for never watering down his imports; thus, his product was ‘The Real McCoy’.
Tortilla Flat left to right: Asi MacHasi – Accordion * Chris – Guitars and Lead Vocals * Tom MacFly – Bagpipe * Lexu – Drums * Rob Highlander – Bagpipe * Ritchie – Bass and Mandolin * Lord Peter of Lochaber – Bagpipe * Christine Sdiri – Violin and Cello *
The first trad Folk song next and the popular Irish song ‘The Parting Glass’ made famous by The Clancy Brothers and unusually for once isn’t the closing song. Done in every style imaginable now Tortilla Flat play it punky. We all have our own reasons to like this song, usually to do with someone close to us and I’m no different. ‘Stag Night Site’ returns us to some good auld bagpipe Punk and the funny antics of a night before the big day. One of the album highlights now and ‘Cut And Dried’ sees the band joined by old mate Jorgen Red Westman of the Swedish Punk band Psychotic Youth. He previously joined Tortilla Flat on their vinyl single ‘The 45rpm’ a couple of years back. Jorgen has a great voice and the song is as catchy as hell and ought to get plenty of airplay with his faux American accent helping I’m sure. The bagpipes fit right in and sounds a bit like a Celtic Social Distortion! Next we get an simple acoustic number about the Covid lockdown with ‘Baby I’m Bored’ before another Celtic-Punk number ‘Trumped Up’. The last few songs are all outstanding beginning with ‘The Girl With The Rose Tattoo Tattoo’ and hard rocking guitar meets utterly superb bagpiping in a catchy great love song that Angry Anderson would approve of I am sure. The famous ‘Loch Lomond’ returns us to trad Folk and it’s heartening to hear a band that can switch from both ends of the Celtic-Punk scale so easily. Christine Sdiri accompanies the band on cello and once again this is a song that normally closes records. You may not recognise ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ from it’s title but within a couple of seconds it reveals itself as the 1977 novelty Punk-Rock hit from Plastic Bertrand. An long time live favourite it’s finally been put down on disc and it’s fantastic! This leads us finally to the last song on the album and ‘The Rain Over Brodgar’ is a great way to bring down the curtain. A quiet thoughtful somber instrumental. Christine returns to play both cello and fiddle and only a couple of minutes long they could have stretched it out further I think and let it really develop.
The album’s title could have been the smallest review we have ever done. New Stuff In An Old Barrel is exactly that. Even the songs that have stayed faithful to the trad versions still have a modern air to them. The album is a limited release with just 250 copies of the CD available in a numbered box but is also available through all the usual digital channels. Another great release from Tortilla Flat and another band that deserve to be much more widely known. Here’s to 2041 and the half century!
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 ?”
German Celtic rockers Muirsheen Durkin release ‘Riot’ as a tribute to old school indestructible Punk-Rock legend Charlie Harper of the UK Subs.
“Closing down our club for no good reason” A wake-up call after the forced Corona break!
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 feet may be in trad music with mandolin, banjo, tin whistle, accordion and two pipers but the addition of classic rock and Punk sees Muirsheen Durkin as one of the leading lights in the German Celtic-punk scene.
Their latest single is a pretty damn good cover of the UK Subs ‘Riot’. Released in 1997 on the album of the same name which was the first in decades to re-unite original members Nicky Garrett and Alvin Gibbs back together with the Peter Pan of Punk Charlie Harper. Formed in 1976 the UK Subs were one of the original bands in the first wave of Punk in the UK. Famous outside of Punk for their album releases starting with consecutive letters of the alphabet from Another Kind Of Blues in 1979 to Ziezo in 2016. Since then this most prolific of bands have added another two albums and a EP. Born in Hackney and now aged an incredible 77 years old Charlie Harper has been the mainstay of the band throughout the years. Still energetically performing at up to 200 UK Subs gigs a year he is an inspiration to us all.
Inner City life
Is getting me down
Police and gang wars
All over town
Closing down our clubs
For no good reason
Hassle us on the street
Take away our freedoms
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, so sick and tired
Here come the riot squad
They’re closing in
Guns and riot shields
And gas grenades
They see us standing there
All in a line
Black and white unite
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, we’re sick and tired
Oh, oh, leave us alone
They have a justice bill
That’s what they say
Now, they have the power now
To put us away
There were four of us
Minding our own
We’re a riotous assembly
Walking down the road
Oh, oh, we want a riot
Oh, oh, so sick and tired
Oh, oh, we wanna riot
Oh, oh, leave us alone
The song is available on the MacSlon’s Irish Pub Radio compilation album Raise Your Pints #6 – Coronoa Sessions which features twenty bands from eleven countries celebrating (might be the wrong word- editor) the virus lockdowns in Celtic-Folk-Punk style. Every variation of Celtic-Punk is covered from trad to Hardcore and is available from the link below.
After months of planning, organising and fund-raising the compilation album Raise Your Pints #6 has finally been delivered. Twenty bands from eleven countries celebrating (might be the wrong word- editor) the virus lockdowns in Celtic-Folk-Punk style.
Anyone remember the original Celtic-Punk samplers from Shite’n’Onions? I think they stretched to three volumes and came at a time when I had never been on the internet. Yes I was one of the select few who never even had a MySpace account! So to come across these samplers with upwards of twenty bands on and pretty much all new to me (even the English ones) was eye-opening… or should that be ear-opening? Them days are long ago and we can thank Shite’n’Onions for being early pioneers of the Celtic-Punk sampler though they have long passed the baton onto MacSlon’s Irish Radio. Now in their 11th year the radio station brings out the best in Celtic-Rock, Celtic-Punk and trad Irish Folk both modern and ancient(!). They have also for the last few years been a major player on the merchandise front organizing merch for a whole host of bands from across mainland Europe and even the United States.
This is the 6th in the Raise Your Pints series and all the songs have been written and recorded over the last 16 months while the Corona virus has done it’s best to wreck the music industry. We are yet to see what long term damage the lockdown have caused but already here in London, and across England, many music venues have closed their doors permanently and several bands have handed in their guitar straps. The thirst for live music though seems at a all time high but bands are still finding it difficult to book gigs and tours with so much uncertainty around about whether or not the lockdown will return.
So the arrival of Raise Your Pints #6 is to applauded for many reasons but chiefly among them is that the bands will directly benefit from the sales of the CD and with not much else going on it’s a chance for them to remind their fans and followers that they are still here and still fighting.
Reviewing a compilation album is hard enough but one made up of different bands is even harder so I will forego the usual review and just tell you a small bit about each artist and song and link to them so they can tell you more. Of course the best way to find out more is to buy the album!!!
RAISE YOUR PINTS VOLUME 6
THE MULLINS (France) – ‘Part Of Me’
The album kicks off with The Mullins. Hailing from the south of France their song began life before the lockdown but the band took the opportunity to perfect it and even managed to get together inbetween lockdowns to record the cracking video!
THE CEILI FAMILY (Germany) – ‘Corona Chesay’
The album is perhaps a bit top heavy with German bands but that is totally understandable. They do have the #1 scene in Europe you know. The Ceili Familyare one of the better known established bands. The band first stirred back in 1996 and even had a great recommendation from the late Philip Chevron: “Enjoyed listening to the CD, by the way. Always good to see people doing something of their own with the basic idea we invented!”
THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS (Germany) – ‘Dirty Bastards’
More Germans here with The Feelgood McLouds formed in January 2015 southwestern Germany. More than any country in Europe the Germans have embraced Celtic-Punk with the number of bands, gigs and fans far outstripping anywhere else this side of the Atlantic. This track is taken from this years critically popular ‘Saints & Sinners’ EP.
GRASS MUD HORSE (China) ‘ Absent Friends’
Grass Mud Horse only seem to have around a year or two but already have more releases than many more well established bands. Formed when Scouse-Irish musician Chris Barry mover to China the band has had some set backs with members coming and going because of the virus (they are based in Wuhan) but luckily things have settled down and they recently recorded a single with yer man Frankie McLoughlin.
UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS (Italy) – ‘Back On Your Feet’
From playing with ALL the Celtic-Punk superstars to headlining festivals across Europe and even getting to the United States several times Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards are without a doubt one of the select few you could describe as ‘Premier League’ Celtic-Punk bands. ‘Back On Your Feet’ is one of the standout tracks from last years album Men Behind The Glass that the Bhoys have recorded an acoustic version for here. One of many great Celtic-Punk highlights during the lockdown was the Bastards hour long acoustic live stream. Brilliant!
JACK IN THE GREEN (Germany) – ‘Old Maui’
Yeah we may have all heard it a 100 times by now but popular covers are popular for a reason. That we never tire of hearing them! Hamburg’s Jack In The Green play a great acoustic version rather than the ‘choir/acapello’ type I’m more use to hearing. Vocals remind me a lot of from The Whisky Priests who in their day were massive so wonder if they were an influence here.
THE MOORINGS (France) – ‘Champion At Keeping It Rolling’
Cracking version of the Ewan MacColl penned classic about lorry driving from French band The Moorings. Formed in 2011 the band have released several albums and EP’s a Folky version of this song appears on their debut EP Pints & Glory but they have re-recorded it in proper Celtic-PUNK style here. They have just completed a successful crowd-funding campaign for a new album so can’t wait for that.
JOHNNY HASH (Ireland) – ‘Ride On’
Johnny Hash is a bunch of people from various Belfast bands who got together during the lockdown and released a few videos of Irish Folk classics. Christy Moore’s ‘Ride On’ was their first attempt at a video. Still knocking them out months later let’s hope they develop into something more permanent.
THE RUMPLED (Italy) – ‘If I Should Fall from Grace With God’
The Pogues track gets an airing here from the Italian band The Rumpled. Hard to compete with the originals but gutsy to try and they give it a great go. A relatively new band having got together in 2013 in Trento, Italy. Known for fast paced Celtic-Punk, combining Irish Folk, Rock, Ska and Punk. They have a new album out at any moment so watch this space for news on that.
MEDUSAS WAKE (Australia) – War Of Independence
The debut album from Sydney based Celtic-Folk-Rockers Medusa’s Wake hit the top spots in all of 2018’s Celtic-Punk medias yearly ‘best of’s’ and since then they have gone from strength to strength. Writted by Tipperary born Eddie Lawlor, he sings from the heart of the war back home between 1919 and 1921 against the British. Much of that war took part in the fields and villages of the ‘Premier County’ and those of us with Tipp backgrounds grew up hearing of the tales of heroic activities of those ordinary men who took on the worlds strongest army.
HELLRAISERS AND BEERDRINKERS (Germany) – ‘Stay At Home’
Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers may just have the best name in Celtic-Punk but they are a pretty shit-hot band as well. They take their name from a song by rockers Motorhead so should give you an idea about them! Another band that hails from Germany from the small town of Schwäbisch Gemünd. ‘Stay At Home’ is a re-recorded re-jigged new version of a song from their debut album Folk’s Gaudi in 2016.
AN SPIORAD (Germany) – ‘Carry Me Home’
German band that began life as a two-piece band “The Plästik Päddies” in 1997 before changing name to the far more complicated An Spiorad (Scots Gaelic for The Spirit). ‘Carry me Home’ is taken from their recent album Album Dord Na Mara.
SONS OF O’FLAHERTY (Brittany) – ‘The Pack’
More Celtic Celtic-Punk now from Vannes in Brittany Sons Of O’Flaherty formed as a duo in 2010 they soon fleshed out to a whole band due in no small part to the popularity of Irish music in this Celtic nation. ‘The Pack’ is a new song and with it being four years since the release of their last album The Road Not Taken hopefully this signifies some new sounds on the way.
More bastards!! This time from Iserlohn in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Like many German bands their emphasis is on playing live such is the demand for their music so their recording output sometimes doesn’t match up with the age of the band. Kilkenny Bastards are one such band and we look forward to them rectifying this soon!
ALL THOSE EMPTY PUBS (Switzerland) – ’40 Days’
Based up in the Swiss alps ’40 Days’ was the debut release from All Those Empty Pubs (what a great name!) earlier this year. We loved it so much we ran a feature and a small interview with Diego the genius behind this one-man-band. Diego utilises all his talents here with mandolin, flute, acoustic guitar and even Hammond organ alongside your more usual Rock band instruments. It just don’t get more DIY than this.
RAPPAREES (Germany) – ‘Las Vegas (In The Hills Of Donegal)’
Another band from Hamburg Rapparees kicked off thirty years ago in the dive bars before changing their name. A straight up acoustic cover of the Goats Don’t Shave song. A ‘raparee’ was the name given to Irish soldiers who survived the Williamite war with the British in the 1690’s and used guerilla tactics or became highwaymen after the war ended.
LA STOATS (Germany) – ‘Raise Your Pints’
German band La Stoats come from Essenbach in Bavaria in the south-east of Germany and incorporate the traditional tunes and melodies of their Bavarian home into their brand of Celtic-Punk. ‘Raise Your Pints’ is one of the standout songs here with chugging guitar and a real cool early 80’s Punk Rock sound with some superb bagpipes. Definitely a band worth checking out.
MUIRSHEEN DURKIN (Germany) – ‘Riot’
The last of nine German bands on Raise Your Pints features one of the best Muirsheen Durkin And Friends. ‘Riot’ is a bloomin’ brilliant Celtic-Punk cover of a UK Subs song from 1997. The original is superb but here it is mastered with the energy intact and growling vocals and a core of Celtic instruments chugging along.
SEAN TOBIN (USA) – ‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’
The last of the 20th songs belongs to New Jersey Irish singer/ songwriter Sean Tobin. Theirs 2 versions of ‘St’ Patrick’s Day Forever’ and I guess you could call this the ‘radio edit’. Blue-collar, working-class Irish American Folk music and one of the standout tracks on the album to bring down the curtain.
So that’s yer lot. There’s bound to be a load of bands here that you have never heard of. Some are new even to us and the styles of music is varied from Folk and trad right across to Punk but the songs are all totally accessible at all times. This (like the previous five volumes) is essential listening to all fans of Celtic-Punk and we cannot put it any clearer than that! Raise Your Pints #6 is out on July 9th and is available for pre-release order from the link below.
Now the dust has settled and everyone else has had a go and published their reviews of the latest Dropkick Murphys album ‘Turn Up The Dial’ it is our turn. We see our role here as to promote the little known bands in the Celtic-Punk scene but we have always got time for the ‘big-hitters’ too. We are pleased to have guest reviewer Rory Quinn of New York-Irish-Celtic-Punk band The Templars Of Doom to give us a unique insight of the album from a American-Irish perspective.
The Bastion Bhoys of Boston do it again!
After a year like 2020 you have two options for your fans: wallow in the suffering, or present the world a reprieve. Dropkick Murphys have (wisely I feel) opted for the latter. Not particularly a surprise from a band that spent the pandemic raising money for others and offering live-streamed performances to keep people entertained. So before you listen you have to ask yourself? Am I ready to say “forget the nonsense, let’s crank the music!”
Anyway, let’s dive in!
Arrangement wise this album has hooks and riffs for days between the multiple instrumental melodies to the gang vocal chant of chorus’s urging you to sing along before you’ve even finished the first listen! This band is tight, the parts fleshed out, the vocals good and snarky. Really what more could you want from classic Celtic-punk?
The Dropkick Murphy’s have had the means to create sonically fantastic worlds on record for a while now and ‘Turn Up That Dial’ is no exception. Every facet is crystal clear from the roar of the guitars to the lightest folk instruments. What really draws me in is their ability to match the intensity of their legendary live performances. At points I completely lost track of the fact I was listening home alone. I would have sworn I was in the middle of a crowd cheerfully chanting as I picked up the lyric!
Speaking of lyrics DKM are known for a combination of comedic and heartfelt songs with ’Turn Up That Dial’ continuing that tradition. You’ve got classic self deprecating “Middle Finger” vs the longing/sorrow of “I Wish You Were Here.” And of course, the occasional grateful power song as found with the albums namesake. Without explaining every song to you dear reader I believe you’ll get the idea, it’s the DKM, they have a style they love and we love ‘em for it!
We are blessed to be living in an age where the internet allows access to Celtic-Punk from throughout the globe. It’s easy to forget that not long ago this wasn’t so. My first experience with Dropkick Murphys came in the late 90’s. A cousin of mine HAD to show me this new record he got, one that combined Punk with our Irish heritage. I didn’t believe it until I heard it, and my life changed from the first riff. Being Irish was something that (as an American) was celebrated by my family and not much else. Sure the St. Patrick’s Day parade existed but it seemed more an excuse to party than to honor heritage. To hear in that music a shared sense of community opened my eyes to a world in which I firmly belonged, an understanding of family that exists from afar. Every year I hear more people dismiss DKM, maybe because they’re the easy target or because they’ve survived long enough to suffer “It’s not as good as their old stuff” syndrome. My retort is NONE OF THAT MATTERS. Love ‘em or hate them Dropkick Murphy’s opened the door for Celtic-Punk and a celebration of Irish culture all the world over, and for that I am eternally grateful.
If you’re a Celtic-Punk fan lend this album your ear. It’s a prime example of what the DKM have been about for a while, story songs to improve your life from the sheer enjoyment of it all. This collection of 11 songs will have you moving, laughing, forgetting your problems, and most importantly turning up that dial!
The second album from Bugul Noz. Belgian Celtic-Punk with major influences from both Metal and Brittany especially.
Apologies to Bugul Noz as their email somehow ended up in a file I no longer use so when I came across it four months later I dashed off an apology to the Bhoys and settled down to have a listen to their new album with a big mug of tea. The band hail from Namur in Belguim which is the capital of Wallonia one of the three federal regions that make up the country and has a history of coal mining and iron works. The band were formed in 2016 and as is usual their list of Celtic-Punk influences cites all the usual suspects but also bands like Les Beruriers Noirs and Trust and and Celtic music, whether Irish, Breton or Scottish.
Their debut self titled album of thirteen original tracks was released in the Summer of 2017. With the songs split fairly even between French and English it is the opening track that is my favourite even though I don’t speak French! Another great highlight is ‘Fucking Irish Song’ with Metal guitar and over the top vocals. Class! The whole album can be streamed via YouTube here. The Metal influence sometimes outstrips the Punk here but always with both feet anchored by Celtic music. The music does seem to have a Breton edge to it which is hardly suprising I suppose especailly when we learn that the band take their name from a Breton legend.
The Bugul Noz ‘Night Shepherd’ is a fae-like being who lives in the woodlands of Brittany. He is the last of his kind and is said to be incredibly ugly, which causes him distress. His appearance is so awful that even woodland animals avoid him, and he sometimes cries out to warn others nearby of his approach, so that he won’t frighten them and that they will go home. He is called the night shepherd because it is generally not safe in forests late at night. The Bugul Noz is not malicious (indeed, rather kind and gentle), he is always alone because of his hideous visage.
The bands second album was released back in January and no doubt they were expecting London Celtic Punks to be a bit more professional …well now now they know! Still here we are in the end and just a shame I missed out on hearing this earlier. The album is again all original tracks and with the songs split between French and English. I look forward one day to being able to write a review without having to mention the dreaded co*id lockdown but the inevitable delays and problems the lockdown presented don’t seem to have affected the finished article at all an Bugul Noz still managed to work together to get the album delivered.
Chat In The Freezer begins with ‘I’m Not Crazy’ and the familair drone of the pipes. How someone from Belguim decides to learn the bagpipes is a mystery to me but Fred is an excellent player and accompanied here by Candice on fiddle the song soon opens up into a real Celtic-Punk-Rocker. There’s plenty of Metal style flourishes and the song flashes by despite its length at almost five minutes. This is not Celtic-Punk for your Nan this is for the moshpit and shaking the dandruff out your hair. Tremendous!! As Bugul Noz are a brand new band to my ears I literally had no idea what to expect but one song in and I’m already loving it. ‘Ton Opinion’ is a more basic number and I can’t understand but the words are flying out at me as the fiddle leads. Next up is ‘Cat In The Freezer’ and no I haven’t left out the ‘h’. Strange name for a album song and being a cat fan I wondered what was ahead of me. Starting off with a sort of Gothic rumble and a cat meowing it soon develops into a punky chugging guitar classic. My favourite song of the album it builds up and up taking in a multitude of influences telling of a poor cat trapped in a freezer… I think anyway. A couple of songs in French follow with ‘Meurs En Silence’ and ‘Chance D’exister’ and one thing that stands out a mile is the amount of lyrics here. Imagine that chorus of ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ over and over again. The music is fast and furious and I’m stuck somewhere between the Dropkicks and the Mollys here as a way to describe them. Of course they sound nothing like either but have perhaps the power of the Murphys and their Folkier side is more akin to Flogging Molly, To keep the tunes so faithful to Celtic music when ‘punking out’ is quite an achievement. ‘Donald’ begins with a spoken word intro in French so I can’t tell you anymore but the song does have a medieval feel to it, at least until Andy and Gilles come marching in with loud thrashy guitars. ‘From Hell To Freedom’ is, at five minutes, the albums longest track and with the whole album lasting nearly fifty minutes all the songs are given a chance to develop and its good to see the band taking their time. Not that they do here as Fred shouts out Conflict style over a thrashy-hardcore number not for the faint-hearted or them dreaded snowflakes I keep seeing mentioned everywhere. Fred exhibits his superb piping again next on ‘Copier – Coller’ and believe me it is superb.
‘Sunday Morning’ has a more overt Murphys influence as well as 80’s English Punk thing going on. After several months confinement the band took advantage of the temporary cessation of the lockdown to get together to record the video for the lead single of the album ‘No Way’. As with all the songs on Chat In The Freezer the English language tracks take a more Punk approach while the French have a more Celtic feel. Still the bagpipes blare loud as hell and God alone knows how Fred managed to keep up with himself at the rate he does!
They pushed the boat out for the video for ‘Comme Une Licorne (Punk En Kilt)’ a hilarious romp through the Walloon countryside with transvestites, unicorns and drumming horses! The song is all pipes, fiddle, drums, pounding bass and chugging guitar and, of course, Fred and his distinctive vocals. We have reached the end and the decision must have been “shall we go out in style or show the skeptics that Celtic-Punk bands can play a mean traditional tune”? Well ‘Ciao L’ami’ takes both routes starting with with a nice gentle folky tune with gang vocals before the heavens open and they go out in Punk rock style.
So a cracker of an album that came as a very pleasant surprise. As I may have hinted this album is for the rockers out there but the all round musicianship is extremely good and the Celtic instrumentation is particularly good. You won’t be shocked to hear that I have a feeling that it is in the live setting that Bugul Noz really come into their own. Having already reached Moscow it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that London may be on their radar. I certainly hope so!
Immersed in a hotbed of Gaelicculture that smashed head on into a love of whiskey, poetry, footy, debauchery, ska and punk The Peelers may not be the most prolific band on the Celtic-Punk scene but for 20 odd years they have certainly been one of its best!
Sadly for The Peelers the release of their fantastic new album Down And Out In The City Of Saints was overshadowed by the release of the new Rumjacks album. Coming out around St. Patrick’s Day we are normally overwhelmed with releases but it’s understandably been more of a slow trickle so far during 2021!
The Peelers left to right: Scotty Mitchell – Bass * Jonny Mooreman – Fiddle * Steve Creep – Lead Guitar * Dave Barton – Lead Vocals/ Rhythm Guitar * Eric Diamond – Organ/ Irish Whistles * Will Laurin – Drums *
One of North America’s more popular bands The Peelers are celebrating their 22nd anniversary this year after forming in 1999 in a small farmhouse kitchen in North Glengarry County in Eastern Ontario, Canada. Glengarry holds a special place in Canadian Irish history being separated from New York State by the St. Lawrence river it was originally settled by Irish immigrants who chose the name Glengarry in memory of home. It was where, during Án Gorta Mór, the coffin ships sailed to after being refused entry from America. It is thought over 15,000 Irish people are buried on the small island of Grosse Île where a huge Celtic cross now stands as a memorial to their poor souls. Nowadays though The Peelers are based in Montréal, the largest city in the French speaking province of Québec and The Peelers and their fame has long spread beyond Canada.
Their debut album Boots And Suits came out in 2002 followed by Liquordale in 2004 but it was an incredible 13 (thirteen!) years before they released another album with Palace Of The Fiend arriving on January 3rd, 2017. Recorded in five different studios, located in Montreal, Toronto and Morocco it was very well received across the Celtic-Punk world reaching #4 on the LCP Best Of 2017 list that year. So it is that a four year gap is not bad at all for The Peelers! The new album was again recorded in multiple places in Montreal, Dundee and Vancouver (sounds a bit like a version of Del Boy’s three wheeled van!) between December 2019 and June 2020. We can thank Covid for the gap this time with recording and production interrupted for several months while most of the world went into lockdown. The new material again reflects the North American experience of the Irish diaspora
“blending truth and fiction, glory and sport, love and loss, darkness and despair, while introducing composites of individuals, companions, friends and foes met along the punk rock journey.”
Now signed to local record label Stomp Records Down And Out In The City Of Saints begins with ‘Give Us A Roar’ and its Celtic-Punk in it’s purest form. A backbone of Irish music ably joined by Punk and Rock’n’Roll that from the first few notes lets you know what you’re in for here! The title track follows and ‘Down And Out In The City Of Saints’ follows in the same energetic mode of music to beat up the floor to. Lyrically these are not your usual Celtic-Punk fayre of drinking and fighting songs (though their is some of that!) and these songs tell stories in the traditional sense.
“You can drive me to drink, I’ll give you the keys And I’ll chart a path to the sea”
The first track from the album to be released was ‘Prizefight’ and a great decision being the album’s standout track for me with singer/songwriter Dave Barton again coming up tops with a sing that channels both Rancid and The Tossers. Bagpipes appear for the next track on ‘Spirits Seldom Sober’ and if you can keep up with Dave here singing along to the words then hats off to ye. Heavy but not fast it has slower interludes of gang vocals and a brilliant pint in the air chorus.
“In bliss or torment judge him now but it’s not what you are thinking. It was an angel that put it in his hands but a devil made him drink it”
We step into real Irish territory with ‘Stick And Move’ a corker of a Gaelige rocker about Irish boxer Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan, the pride of Cork city! Holder of multiple belts including Irish, WBA and WBO titles he also tread the boards starring in several films. ‘Rakes Around The Point’ carries on in the same Irish vein with a track telling of hoods, gun and gangsters.
The only video to promote the album was for ‘Glad To See The Back Of You’ which came out on St. Patrick’s Day. The song itself was actually a reworking of a demo from 2004 along with the album closer ‘From Here To Halifax’. The band excell themselves next with ‘Last Glass’ a rather beautiful wee gentle number with piano with Dave’s words spilling over with emotion proving again this guy is up there with the best in Celtic-Punk history.
“And what if this is our last glass
Just know I loved you all along
If all we’ve done is all we have
And all I’ve left you is this song”
The boxing metaphors continue on ‘Harder They Fall’ an irish rocker laced with a spirit of rebellion and defiance. The curtain comes down with ‘From Here To Halifax’ and I don’t think they mean the market town in West Yorkshire so it must be Halifax in the overseas Celtic territory of Nova Scotia. A working class fishing port it has long been associated with Celtic culture and immigration. The track is a cracking light hearted drinking song celebrating the town and a real good way to end things.
It may only be their third album in 22 years but isurely a case of quality over quantity! The albums ten tracks last almost forty minutes and has superb production as well as a pretty amazing cover by Canadian / Filipino artist @therealdannyrebel. Hope you guys are getting this knocked up as t-shirt? So St. Patrick’s 2021 did come good in the end and I look forward to still be playing this on next years one too!
(Stream / download Down And Out In The City Of Saints on the Bandcamp player below)
Buy Down And Out In The City Of Saints Download / Vinyl – Bandcamp
A island nation with a great seafaring tradition and history of invasion and occupation that became a republic two years after Ireland. Why Indonesia of course and one of the leading lights of the Celtic-Punk scene are The Working Class Symphony.
Over the years that this site has existed we have reviewed many Celtic-Punk releases from Indonesia. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the scene there rivals Germany in it’s number of bands away from the traditional Irish/ Celtic diaspora communities. Tenholes, Black Rawk Dog, The Cloves And The Tobacco, Rain In Summer, Dirty Glass have all graced these pages but it was the magnificent Wind From The Foreign Land compilation that really exposed the Celtic-Punk scene to many outside the region. Featuring fourteen bands it is still one of the best compilation albums I have ever heard. Of course todays band The Working Class Symphony were one of the highlights and have gone on to feature here several times subsequently, the last time being August last year.
Founded in 2010 in Surakarta, in central Indonesia, a couple of good friends (one a drunk and the other a musician!) were working together in an internet cafe listening to Irish pub song compilations. Inspired by the music it sparked an idea to get together with some other friends and play similar music. When this became a solid group shortly afterwards they decided to take the name The Working Class Symphony to reflect their roots and positive attitude.
Life in this country is already very difficult, if it still has to be added by listening to mainstream music as it is today … Really it will be FORGETTING..There is no other way than making music that can be uplifting … God Save The Working Class !!!!!
So having missed their 10th anniversary due to the Covid lockdown they see in their 11th with the new EP Mulat Sarira Hangrasa Wani. Recording did actually begin last year at the Biru Solo Studios but were delayed until recently. For those of you not too fluent in Indonesian the phrase translates roughly as “brave with sincerity to see one’s shortcomings”.
The Working Class Symphony in no particular order: @alby.moreno – Guitar/ Vocals * @andreaspyex – Lead Vocals * @mistergomz – Bass * @ami.ragil.sagita – Bagpipes * @erwin_ardz – Tin Whistle * @bimoaryp – Banjo/Mandolin @dannyfvckinshit : Drums @tuan.duaempat : Violin
Their are six songs here. Four new ones a previously released single and a cover. The EP begins with ‘Wani Perang’ and the drone of bagpipes soon gives way to the rest of the band and this is top quality Celtic-Punk. It owes a lot to the sound of Oi! (another genre popular in the underground music scene there) with its catchy rockin’ tune, gang vocals, great hooks and the pure ‘pint in the air’-ness about it! Several elements at play here that all work great together.
Next up is ‘Alerta Song’. This came out as a single last year and is a tribute to Cornel Simanjuntak an important figure in the development of Indonesian music. The song includes many of Cornel’s words and still inspire many today.
The Working Class Symphony dedicate this song to Cornel. With straightforward lyrics, as a picture of the reality that is happening here. Finally, keep on loving our country no matter what happens until the end of closing of your eyes… Freedom.
‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ sees the Symphony take a much more Punk/ Hardcore route but still with their trademark sound intact. Not a band to stand still and without the confines of a more traditional Celtic-Punk band The Working Class Symphony show their not afraid to get a bit heavy at times. We can only guess at the lyrics but I’m sure from the title we can all agree. A lot of the island’s Celtic-Punk bands play more Trad Folk based Celtic-Punk while The Working Class Symphony have always edged towards that early Dropkicks sound but on ‘Lelaki Bekarja Dan Kemaki’ they show they can do the trad Folk sound too. They continue in this style with ‘Sahabat Yang Telah Pergi’ and every Celtic-Punk release needs a ballad and this is this ones and it is terrific. Sung with passion and gusto it really does soar and it needed worry you that you can’t understand the words. Wrapping up the EP is a cover of ‘The Holy Ground’ and what a fantastic cover it is too. On hearing it I am actually a bit surprised it hasn’t been covered by more Celtic-Punk bands as it has the perfect chorus for shouting and banging tables! Made famous by The Dubliners and Luke Kellyand his dulcet tones here the guys give it the pub feel with plenty of oomph among the “fine girl you are” chorus. The best song here for me but I love the whole EP so I’ll probably change that to something else by the time this comes out. Lyrically The Working Class Symphony usual staples are that of hard work, football and the real events that surround them. To close with The Holy Ground is a real good touch and I’m sure Luke is looking down with a twinkle in his eye at a bunch of young Indonesians paying this tribute to him and Irish music.
The EP artwork is by good friend of the band Jahlo Gomez from Belukar and those with an interest in Indonesian Celtic-Punk will recognise his artwork from other bands releases and logos. It is great to hear from the band that for this release many people were asking for a physical release and has been not only across Indonesia but the entire world. All the great things about Celtic-Punk are present here. Think of the Claddagh ring and its motto of friendship, loyalty and love. That is The Working Class Symphonys message and I’ll leave off with their words
“We hope that this can be the embryo of the rebirth of the punk spirit with its various variations.
Keep on trying, towards infinity and beyond.”
For the moment contact TWCS to buy the CD via Instagram/Facebook
The long awaited and hotly anticipated new studio album from The Rumjacks is now out and available everywhere. We missed the release date last week as we didn’t get an advance copy for the first time (!) but better late than never and who better to judge it for us than the ‘FolkPunker’ himself Anto Morra.
This arrived just in time to put on while I made my breakfast on St Patrick’s Day, the opening track ‘Naysayers’ had me pogoing around the kitchen and the second ‘Bullhead’ had me attempting to step dance on the tiled floor so that’s a pretty good start I’d say! Both songs have Irish Rebel fury and ‘Bullhead’ not only has a tongue twisting refrain ‘If my will is the wind, then I will die willing and free’ but also borrows the brilliant line ‘I’ll not die ‘till you bury me’ from Shane MacGowan’s song ‘Aishling’ from there it’s straight into the mouth of the craicin’ title track ‘Hestia’ which starts like a sea shanty before bursting into a pure rock wig-out. The celtic sound freely ploughs through but if it wasn’t there you might think you were listening to a hair less Punk band.
I think they must have channeled the late great Ennio Morricone for the intro of ‘Through These Iron Sights’ just over 60 seconds of moody bliss before 15 seconds of metal, then we remember we’re listening to a Celtic-Punk band again. ‘Sainted Millions’ can only be described as an anthemic war cry to the Celtic diaspora and it’s fantastic to hear a really distinctive accent from down under in the shared lead vocal. Here is a great live acoustic version (that makes me wonder is Mick a closet morris dancer with ‘bells on his toes he’ll have music where ever he goes’)
“Sleeping sainted millions, can you tell me what you know? Sing to me a song you wrote beneath your pile of stone.”
“I wouldn’t trade it for another, and I would do it all again.”
It’s a challenge for any band to replace a vocalist when they’re as established as The Rumjacks but the choice of ‘Mickey Rickshaw’s’ Mike Rivkees is a very wise one as he clearly has the range and aggressive delivery needed. This is very different from past offerings but still has the elements we love. More of the same would be… well just the same and bands and audiences need to progress and grow and the Celtic-Punk genre needs this new line up. The musicality is top notch and with a younger singer the energy pours out of the recordings. The generation that saw Punk arrive in ’76 / ’77 and then The Pogues carry a certain amount of baggage that a band like The Rumjacks new line up don’t and that makes them much more confident to lift influences from places us oldies would never dream of.
The Rumjacks left to right: Johnny McKelvey- Bass, Vocals * Pietro Della Sala- Drums, Vocals * Mike Rivkees – Vocals, Tin Whistle, Accordion * Gabriel Whitbourne- Guitar * Adam Kenny – Bouzouki. Mandolin *
Although there is a lot more of heavy rock influence here, it still maintains a celtic charm and punky reggae party feel even if it lacks some of the humour of punk and Irish folk. That is until we hit ‘Tell me what Happened’ which ticks both boxes ‘The girls that carried you home have left you to rot in the bars alone’. There’s a beautiful simplicity to the ‘Rhythm Of Her Name’, it’s catchy and classy and one of those songs that you could do anything to and it would work. I could even imagine The Proclaimers doing it. As for ‘Lizzy Borden’ the folk story telling tradition at it’s gruesome best. ‘Light in My Shadow’ is up there with the best really abrasively catchy with bagpipes to die for.
‘Wunderlust’ is for some reason reflective of something that may have come out on the Two Tone Label in 1979. ‘Goodnight & Make Mends’ is the perfect closer.
In conclusion this is a belting new start for one of the best bands on the Celtic Punk scene. There is not a bad track on it, 14 songs and no dud’s or fillers- what you hear is a band re-invigorated and joyous. They’ll probably hate me for saying some of this but I was hearing all sort through this record so I’ll just list ‘em in no particular order, Big Country, Metallica, Green Day, Madness, Kiss, The Levellers and most obviously The Rumjacks right back on form.
Born and raised in London by immigrant parents from Ireland Anto Morra swapped the Smoke for the Swamp in 1989 and adopted Norfolk as home but still returns often to visit his Mammy and play for London Celtic Punks. At times a pogoing, gobbing Punk, a lazy pot smoking hairy Hippy, a bopping Rock-A-Billy, a sharp dressed Mod and even a Bauhaus loving Goth he’s soaked it all in and none of it and all of it has been an influence on him.
A new five track EP of original top class Celtic-Punk from German band The Feelgood McLouds.
Before all this Covid nonsense March use to be the busiest month for us by far. We would still be reviewing St. Patrick’s releases into April and May but as with everything else normal service is suspended. Luckily their are a places where gigs are allowed and even better that some bands have still managed to get releases out in these strange times. So with the light of the end of the tunnel not a upcoming train for the first time in over a year we can only hope the bands we love can return to the stager and the recording studios soon.
The Feelgood McLouds were formed back in January 2015 in the city of Saarbrücken in the southwestern German state of Saarland. More than any country in Europe the Germans have embraced Celtic-Punk and with the scene there and number of bands it’s hard to make yourselves stand out but The Feelgood McLouds have managed it with ease. Most of the German Celtic-Punk bands take a more traditional route while the McLouds are unashamedly Celtic-PUNK ROCK! You could maybe categorise the difference as that between Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys. Their combining of an authentic Streetpunk sound with Irish/Celtic melodies and instrumentation works really well. Make no mistake they sacrifice none of their Celtic side to be a Punk band and everything revolves around their Celtic instrumentation. So far they have released two long-players, their debut self titled album in 2017 and the well received Life On A Ferris Wheel from last year.
Saints And Sinners is released on Wolverine Records, one of the best known labels in Germany that is home to several Celtic-Punk bands (Bastards On Parade, Jamie Clarkes Perfect, Malasaners) alongside some of Europe’s best Psychobilly, Rockabilly, Ska and Punk bands. Saints & Sinners is four new original McLouds songs (plus a bonus acoustic number) released just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. The EP begins with ‘Dirty Bastards’ and the dual sound of bagpipes and banjo played expertly by Woll and Benni before Gunther’s vocals kick in. I would describe him as a ‘gruff’ singer. You know the sound of Tom Waits when he was a heavy smoker!! It works very well in Punk usually and here among the fast paced Celtic sounds it does as well. The recording is brilliant and the various Celtic instruments at play here compliment each other perfectly. They folk it up next with a bit more than a tinge of country with ‘Tales Of Snotty Nosed Sam’ introducing accordion to the EP. Thrashy guitars come in eventually but the catchiness doesn’t stop and even the mouth organ appears (one of my favourite instruments and sadly underused in Celtic-Punk) at one point. A talented band with very good musicians. Sally is the lass as featured on the EP’s cover as well a as on the next song too. ‘The Ballad Of Sally And Sam’ has a Celtic opening before again the thrashy guitars erupt and they have by now carved out a typical McLouds sound. One that even though the songs have different styles and tempos you would recognise. Time for the title track and ‘Saints & Sinners’ doesn’t disappoint. A fast, catchy track to beat the floor up to with some smoking banjo work. The highlight here but all the songs are high quality and absolutely no sign of the ‘Fields Of Athenry’! Take away the Celtic-ness and you would still have a decent enough Punk song but its thanks to that Celtic-ness that The Feelgood McLouds are lifted into something really special. The EP comes with a bonus track the acoustic ‘Cheerio (dirty pub version)’ and a nod to traditional Celtic-Punk with a catchy folky drinking song that ends proceedings nicely and fits just right.
The EP is available direct from the band and Wolverine Records and is available in a couple of different packages so support the band and get the CD, patch, stickers, buttons and McLouds beermats. Not a great time to release anything that is obvious so we should do our best to those that are helping to keep the Celtic-Punk ship afloat during these troubled times.
We here at London Celtic Punks have a passion for music but what about those who use music to try and achieve a higher goal than just pure enjoyment. The Chinese Celtic-Punk band SMZB are such a band and here Michael X. Rose interviews WuWei their lead singer/ songwriter and reviews their latest album, Once Upon A Time in The East.
Interview with Wu Wei, vocalist and songwriter for SMZB. January 2021.
I was discussing Once Upon a Time in the East, with him, the latest LP from SMZB released in August, 2020. It’s a great album and a fantastic follow up to 2016’s The Chinese are Coming.
If you haven’t heard SMZB before, their sound is a blend of classic Punk- energy and chords- with Celtic rhythms and instruments. They use bagpipes, tin whistle, banjo that give it the Celtic feel. They also add brass trumpets on some which give those songs a kind of totalitarian terror, like the Communists are about to kick down your door.
I asked WuWei about the band name, what does it mean? There is a microphone called an SM7B, was it related to that? I was curious. WuWei replied,
It is the abbreviation of the band’s earliest Chinese name Pinyin SHENG MING ZHI BING, Chinese name means “BREAD OF LIFE” or “BISCUIT OF LIFE.” In 2002, the Chinese name was no longer used, only the acronym was retained, and the band’s logo (attached) was a four-letter acronym, we love it!
Biscuit of Life, there you have it. I love it too!
If you go to purchase the album on Bandcamp, don’t be afraid of the 78$ price tag, that’s in Hong Kong Dollars, and is only about 10$ US/Euro or so.
Many of the songs on Once Upon a Time… are listed on in Chinese, so here are the translated titles, the * means its in Chinese only on the Bandcamp;
1. Red Riot
2. All Red the River *
3. Lumo Road
4. Slap Like Teen Spirit
5. Old Guns *
6. Great Hall of Rock ’N Roll *
7. Brewing Freedom *
8. Get the World Drunk *
9. Emma the River Dolphin
10. Mao’s Great Famine
11. Happiness Camp ( Slavery Manifesto) *
12. A New World Of Misery *
13. Three Women *
First, Thank You for doing this interview. I’m so excited about this. I am a big fan of SMZB ever since I heard The Chinese are Coming.
Red Riot, first song on the album. The siren intro is amazing, it’s like the Bell tolling Doom. You mention several times kids and parents ratting out on each other, and not being able to trust anybody. What is it like to live in a Police State?
My feeling is that there is no safety or dignity in China.
SMZB – Red Riot (Fight Or Die)’ Official Video
There are six members of SMZB, a large group. Where are you all from, is anybody Irish or of partly Irish descent? How did you get into doing the Irish Sound? Personally, I hear a Chinese influence you bring to the Irish Punk, and it fits well and adds a new dimension.
Our band members are from three different cities in China, Wuhan, Beijing and Changsha. None of us have Irish links but enjoy the music from the Pogues and the Dubliners. That began my interest in Irish Punk.
How many LP’s does the band have out? When did you switch from “plain” Punk to Celtic Punk and why? What converted you?
The band has 10 albums. I wanted to do Celtic punk from the beginning but it was difficult for me to find the instruments or the musicians. But in 2005 I met the bands bagpipe player and we toured Europe where I was able to buy some instruments such as the tin whistle. From then on we made the Celtic Punk music.
Who writes the songs, is it collaborative, or separately?
I write the lyric and melody and then work together with the band to complete the songs and get their input.
I hope you don’t mind me asking, your songs are so clearly and strongly against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) which is fantastic, how do you not get arrested? Are you worried about that?
Well so far I haven’t been arrested but my social media and phone is under surveillance. Probably my band is not big enough to cause the CCP much trouble, if I was too famous then perhaps I would be arrested by now. But it doesn’t worry me.
What do you think of the One Child Policy and the deaths that it caused? Is the Common Chinese person fed up with the CCP? Will there be Freedom for the good people of China anytime soon?
The one child policy was scraped a few years ago now, it was a stupid policy and of course had tragic consequences. Most Chinese people are content with the CCP, they don’t question them. I think one day there will be freedom in China but who can say when, although my thoughts and hopes are that it will be soon.
Where is the band from? I think it says Wuhan on Bandcamp, do you still live there? Sometimes it says you are located in Hong Kong. Do you think you need to defect? Where are you located currently?
The band began in Wuhan, at the moment there are two band members still living in Wuhan. I moved to Portugal last year and other band members live in Beijing and Changsha.
How has the Corona Virus impacted you in ways we may not expect? Is Wuhan devastated? Are you aware that it was made in a CCP lab as a Bio Weapon? Is the average Chinese citizen aware that the CCP created this virus?
Thankfully the virus has not impacted me or my family and friends very much. Other than we of course stay home more. Wuhan has recovered very well since last year and the virus rate is low, most daily life is back to normal. I believe the virus was created in the bio lab but most Chinese people do not think this.
Slap Like Teen Spirit, fourth song on the album is such a great song. My reflection on the lyrics is; Do you feel like China is one giant prison camp? Do you know about the Uighur prison camps and their extermination by the CCP? What advice do you have for Westerners now that CCP style censorship has come to the West?
Yes my feeing is that China is a prison camp, I know about the Uighur camps but most Chinese people are not aware of it.
Lyrics: Sit around a table with your classmates, Remember how people fight on the streets, Watch violent videos on your cellphone, No one is your friend, everybody is your enemy.
You can learn nothing, waste time in your school, Make yourself brutal and cold-hearted, Practice abuse, Insult and bully, Laws and rules mean nothing to you.
Stand in a circle, rip off your uniform, Slap each other, then kick kick harder. Spit like a gangster, speak like a rogue, Stare like a killer, hurt like an avenger.
Track 6, Great Hall of Rock ‘N Roll, the chorus musically references an Irish song The Waves Down in the Ocean. I love it. Can you talk about its inspiration?
I hadn’t heard the waves down in the ocean, but the song is inspired by traditional Irish music. This songs title translates to ‘Great hall of rock and roll’.
Emma the River Dolphin (Track 8). You sing a lot about pollution, Communist China is well known as one of the most environmentally polluted countries on Earth. What are your goals here? Can China be saved?
China is developing fast and it is destroying the nature. But nature is strong and it can be saved if things change. I hope they do.
SMZB – ‘Mao’s Great Famine Official Video
The song Mao’s Great Famine. I’m sure many Chinese know how Mao killed over 100 million Chinese and the horrors of the Cultural Revolution. Most Westerners don’t know this history and may even hang paintings of Mao on their wall by Andy Warhol or carry a Little Red Book. Tell me about the Lyrics for Mao’s Great Famine for the Westerners reading this interview.
Most people in China know about the famine but they don’t blame Mao, they have been taught it was a natural disaster.
Song 11, Happiness Camp. This song is so great. There is a slide guitar lead break in it, maybe mixed with a woman’s vocal on the breaks? It’s a very ghostly haunting sound. Can you tell me about the production of this song a little bit?
Track 12,this songs title is ‘Happiness camp’ with the camp referring to the prison camps. The women’s vocal is with the guitar solo, it’s a tribute to Ennio Morricone.
Lyrics: HAPPINESS CAMP(SLAVERY MANIFESTO) Cleanse your brain, or change its makeup, and use your anger as needed at all times. No more extra complaints, no more words, let them play and emasculate you, cooperate with their hand-to-hand combat. You suck what they exhale and eat what they shit, nothing is important, as long as you can flirt. Even the cold will be proud, the hunger will be proud, and it is here that you will have equality and still feel the embrace of God.
Sign this declaration of slavery, there is no bottom line to happiness here. Serve your master with all your heart and soul, and you will be happy in this concentration camp.
Be reluctant to open those doors and windows and let the sun shine in front of you, be infinitely loyal to your leaders and help them move bricks and build walls. You say you are all sober, you are all calm, and say forget those sufferings and enjoy the happiness and peace that you have now.
Sign this declaration of slavery, there is no bottom line for happiness here. Serve your masters with all your heart and soul, there is only happiness in this concentration camp.
Track 12, A New World of Misery. I really like the stripped down songs you do. They remind me of Spaghetti Westerns. This song is so great with just acoustic guitar, tin whistle, and fiddle, it refreshes between full punk blasts. Tell me about this one.
Track 13.This song is called ‘A new world of misery’. It was inspired by a visit I made to villages in the Sichuan province in China 25 years ago which had a huge amount of poverty. What really shocked me was that when I returned to the same area, the situation was the same.
Are there any other great Chinese Irish Punk Bands we should know about?
There are some good Chinese punk bands but no Irish punk bands in China. (Editor – China is a BIG BIG country so a big shout to Grass Mud Horse here!)
SMZB – ‘Happy Concentration Camp (Declaration of Slavery)’ Official Video
What does the band like to drink Guinness? Whiskey? What brand? Or is there a Chinese brand of Stout we should all look out for?
I like Guinness and whiskey, Jameson is my favorite for the price. Recently the craft brewery business is expanding in China, there are now many good craft stout made in China. But Guinness is unique.
Thanks to Wu Wei and the guys and to Michael for the interview. Michael also sings and plays guitar in New York state Celtic-Punk band The Templars Of Doom whose latest album Hovels Of The Holy is still available (and now out on vinyl too).
Ten years old but what a great show. SMZB play their 15th Anniversary Show @ VOX Livehouse, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Christmas Day 2011.
Well here we go again. It seems an awful long time since we were compiling all the votes into 2019’s Best Of. Last year saw The Walker Roaders triumph but with this year being a lot quieter on the Celtic-Punk front thanks to the lockdowns around the world bands have found themselves unable to tour and promote new releases so have held onto them till things got better. Still that’s not to say it was a complete wash out and as you can see from below their have been some absolute knock-outs during the year.
Remember this is only our opinion so feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. The Readers Poll is back again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2020 yourself. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(for more information click on the release title in green)
Was very close between the top three this year but Ogras seem to have been not only our favourites but also most of the Celtic-Punk medias too. A lot less albums may have come out during the year but still plenty more that didn’t make the cut. Don’t be down hearted if you are one of them it could just be that one of the judges hadn’t heard that album. Again if we don’t hear your album we can’t review it so the massive majority here are ones that were sent in to us. We only need a download link (NO Spotify!) and we’re happy. Out of the 30 albums 18 countries were represented including 2 from the Celtic nations Scotland #4 and Brittany #13 and our first from Hawaii!
Several bands have taken the chance during the lockdown to release compilations of sorts. While it would be a little unfair to include them in the main ‘Best Of’ section they still deserve a mention. Among these were two 30 year celebrations from two of Celtic-Punks most successful and popular bands in THE MAHONES – This Is All We Got To Show For It and FIDDLER’S GREEN – 3 Cheers For 30 Years. Both fully deserve a round of applause, a raise of the pint and a tip o’ the hat! Band compilations included ANTO MORRA – Twenty, THE DEAD RABBITS – The Dead Rabbits, LEXINGTON FIELD – Here’s To You Ten Years Of Fiddle Rock and LQR – Barrel-Aged. A couple of live albums THE STANFIELDS – Welcome To The Ball and ShamROCKS – FCP Livewere both well received, you may have heard that a little known band THE POGUES put out a new album of previously unreleased materialBBC Sessions 1984-86andQuintessential Quarantuneswas a 6-band compilation released in the Summer featuring the Bible Code Sundays and The Reels. MacSlons Irish Pub Radio also released volume 5 of Raise Your Pints the best Celtic-Punk sampler around of 19 of the Celtic-Punk scenes best bands.
You have to go back to the beginning of January for 1916’s release and though many more would challenge it stayed top of the pile all year long. Some great debut releases here from bands that will I am sure go on to bigger things. This time last year I was crowing about Shanghai Treason and how much I was looking forward to seeing them play… well I still am!
This year’s winner of Best Debut Album comes from a continent where Celtic-Punk appears to be booming! The South American scene has been dominated in the past by bands from Brazil and Argentina (last years winners in this category were Aires Bastardos from Argentina) but with Batallón de San Patricio from Guadalajara in Mexico things are changing with several bands popping up over the last couple of years. The last twelve months have seen Batallón de San Patricio garner favourable reviews from various singles and live streams. Hermanos De Guerra/ Brothers Of War is delivered entirely in Spanish and spans the length of Celtic-Punk from trad Irish up to Celtic-PUNK making it fully deserving of the award.
Always the hardest list to compile as it covers so much ground. Some of these bands play Trad Folk with a Punk Rock heart like Clover’s Revenge while others didn’t quite fit as Celtic-Punk releases but the winners are the Rose family from NY state otherwise known as The Wild Irish Roses. An album that took us by surprise and managed to please everyone.
Now this section is tinged with sadness. There is no question which site has the biggest impact on the Celtic-Punk scene over the last year and while not strictly a web-site the CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS group on Facebook fully deserved this years award. Sadness because the group founder Mike Kilroe very sadly passed away at the beginning of the month. Created back in February 2019 it was around the time of last years ill fated St. Patrick’s day and the subsequent Dropkick Murphys live stream show that membership of the group exploded and has now passed over 8000 members. If on Facebook they should be your first port of call, alongside us of course! We had a great interview with the founder of the group Mike back in May that you can find hereand of course our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2020 lists in fact all the major players in Celtic-Punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we have never pretended to be the final word on things in fact have a look at the other Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of’s and I’m sure they are all pretty different. Our Best Of’s, as usual, cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page and then tallied up over a few pints in Mannions in north London. One important thing to note is that not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
Nine years we’ve been doing these lists now. It seems incredible looking back at some of the previous winners and also-rans how so many bands are still with us from Year 1. If you would like to check for yourself then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Alongside the Best Of polls we also run a special Readers Poll where you get to pick your favourite release of the year. This will be The Readers Poll’s third year with Krakin’ Kellys and Mickey Rickshaw previously champions! There is only room to list the Top Ten albums but there is an option to write in your favourite release of 2020. You are allowed to vote for up to two releases but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Sunday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2021
Breton Celtic-Punk group Celt And Piper unleash their debut album No Mercy. Eight songs of bagpipe heavy rocking Celtic music!
What could be a more Celtic band name than Celt And Piper I wonder? Answers on a postcard please but this newish band from Nantes in Brittany (NOT France) certainly nail their colours to the wall and their debut release No Mercy has to be one of the most authentic ‘Celtic’ Celtic-Punk releases of 2020.
Most of the band have played together before Celt & Piper so an actual start date is a bit vague but they reckon on October 2018. Put together by lead singer Fabien and his drummer brother Hervé who had both plenty of experience playing in native Breton and Celtic bands. Joined by Alain, Jean Jacques, Maxime and Jonathan the band was not only complete but every base was covered and looking for a name that conveyed ‘celtitude’ that also had a bit of an memorable and original feel to it and so they settled on Celt & Piper. Gig offers flooded in and the Celt & Piper sound was soon heard at home from Nantes to the Côtes d’Armor moors and Penn Ar Bed while also crossing the border into Vendée, Paris and even eastern France. Their march was sadly soon halted by the dreaded ‘clampdown’ and like a lot of bands whose major concern is playing live they decided to record instead and on the evidence here I’m very glad they did and look forward to a few more too.
No Mercy begins with ‘Go Hard Or Go Home’ with AC/DC style guitars followed in quick succession by bagpipes it’s a real foot tapper about a St. Patrick’s Day night out in a Irish pub.
“Go hard or go home you’re all in a Irish pub”
Not clear if this is a Irish pub or Ireland or Brittany but as they are all closed anyway at the moment it don’t matter so much. Fabien’s vocals remind me instantly of Jesse from legendary Baltimore Irish Celtic-Punk band the Charm City Saints. A kind of hoarse growl that gives the music a Punky edge and with the pattern set by the opening track Celt & Piper continue in the vein with firm Irish Folk favourite ‘The Wild Rover’. It’s impossible not to think of this song as a rabble rouser. We use to sing this in school music lessons as it was one of only a handful of songs they could get the boys to sing as we could beat up the desks with our fists in the chorus! Here it’s Jonathan’s fiddle that leads things along as Celt & Piper breathe new life into this well known song.
‘It’s Gone Again’ is up next and you can hear influences from across the Rock scene here with the song taking in several genres. Catchy as hell with some cool chugging guitar work and piping. Title track ‘No Mercy’ is my standout track here though the album is a good mix of covers and originals it’s always the original songs that get my juices flowing and their is of course nothing like the sound of bagpipes to stir the blood and in Maxime they have a superb piper.
‘The Last Day’ starts off as another Dropkicks/AC/DC flavoured but has several Folky interludes along the way. Time for another trad Folk song and the raucous ‘All For Me Grog’ may have started off as a sailor’s song before being adopted by the Irish. Made popular by the Dubliners the song tells of a man who sells everything, and even his wife, to buy drink and tobacco. As is the way in Irish music a man’s life is ruined by drink but the song is celebratory rather than regretful. Celt & Piper play in ‘pub style’ win a ska-ish style. Great fun and nice to hear this standard done in a unusual manner. The pipes reign again during ‘Brace Yourselves’ and No Mercy comes to an end with the brilliant Irish Folk standard ‘The Foggy Dew’. Nowadays quite common on the Celtic-Punk scene (any idea who was the first to record their version of it?) not many songs suit being ‘punked’ up like this one. Celt & Piper again give it a respectful thrashing and once again the superb piping takes it to another level. A great way to end proceedings.
No Mercy came out on November 1st and was mixed at Garage Hermétique in Rezé by Nico and Pierre who have done a fantastic job. Only eight songs but still over thirty minutes, Celt & Piper have produced a great record here though I would like to hear more of their own compositions as they are the standout tracks here for me. For lovers of harder edged blue-collar style Celtic-Punk and bagpipes Celt & Piper have leapt into the list of best European bands with No Mercy and I can’t wait to hear more.
(you can stream or download No Mercy on the Bandcamp player below)
Dundee is a truly unique place in Scotland becoming known as YES City after 57% voted in favour of Scottish independence in 2014’s referendum – the highest proportion of Yes votes in Scotland.
Like their hometown The Cundeez are also unique. Unashamedly Dundonian Working-Class with a fast and heavy sound, straight out of the Punk-Rock tradition, but with pipes and kilts!
The Cundeez are back with their fifth album of Highland bagpipes driven Punk Rock hot off the presses. One of the London Celtic Punk favourite bands they safely saw off their 10th anniversary recently and never ones to rest on their laurels five minutes after finishing Teckle An Hide they began work on their next album!
Teckle An Hide kicks off with the simply titled instrumental ‘Dundee’. The first of a trio of home town dedicated songs dotted through the album. Now every town needs an anthem, one to play as the local football team comes out and with two teams, Dundee and Dundee United, I hope one or both take the opportunity as the song is a belter. Building up slowly (for them anyway!) before Gary’s brilliant piping comes in and you can tell why for years opposition forces on the field of war recoiled in fear as the sound of pipes filled the air. This takes us into ‘Peat & Diesel’ a song dedicated to their friends in Peat & Diesel, a three-piece band from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Highlands of Scotland. They are a young band that have been steadily on the rise over the last couple of years so great to see this solidarity between an experienced band like The Cundeez and a band just setting out. The song itself shows The Cundeez wicked sense of humour as new drummer Shaun Kerr stamps his arrival in the band with fierce tribal drumming while long time members Stevie and Trotsky on guitar and bass supply the perfect backing. At nearly six minutes it’s the albums longest track and sways from Gothic in places to hardcore Punk and back to melodic rock while the pipes are again in evidence.
Never afraid in throw in a bit of Ska and with ‘Teckle’ an obvious comparison here is with early Rumjacks when they were based in Oz. Now we are three songs in and my Dad was Scots but a lot of this is passing even me by! The Dundee accent has a very particular sound and is integral to the band’s identity. The band take their name from the Scots word ‘cundie’, meaning a drain, which comes originally from the French word conduit. Having said that piper and songwriter Gary’s vocals are very clear despite being delivered in trademark Punk Rock shouty sneer. ‘Scooby Dubh’ tells of a serious pub crawl delivered in speedy breakneck form. They follow this with the first of the albums three cover versions and ‘LWTUA’ is a fancy unexpected instrumental Ska version of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ with skanking guitars and piping. Who would have thunk it possible and it may have hardcore JD fans writing to their MP’s but I bloody love it! The Cundeez have always enjoyed themselves and their sense of humour is legendary but they also have a serious side and in ‘Bow To No One’ they take the well trodden Punk path of anti-religion.
They continue the combativeness with ‘Them And Us’ as the band unleash on the divides in society that leave the working classes at the bottom while pumping out a 1981 style UK Punk classic. Another cover next and after two Punk thrashers it’s time for Gary to get out the pipes for ‘Horo’, a cover of ‘Horo Gheallaidh’ by the aforementioned Peat & Diesel. Now this is another highpoint with the catchiest track on the album. Fast, thrashy guitars telling the tale of a night out in the Highlands. Brilliant!
Another hometown anthem next with ‘Made In Dundee’ but perhaps not one for the Tangerines to run out to. A warts an’ all expose of Dundee in all it’s misery and glory wrapped in a dark plodding ‘dub’ number. Next up is ‘Rebellion’. Originally released as a 7″ vinyl single on Urinal Records in early 2016 and at the time The Cundeez were on a bit of a high performing at Punk festivals in England and even travelling all the way down from Dundee to London town for a couple of gigs in north and south London. The single was limited to only 300 copies and sold out in no time so its fair to say it probably passed most fans by seeing as it was just before the return of vinyl as a popular format.
The album continues with ‘Up For The Craic’ a jolly Punk Rock ride that again shows the bands lighter side before they again tackle something a bit darker in ‘I Am Gangster’ about the desperate life of a poor soul destined for jail. Appearing on the album listings as ‘Buzzcocks’ the lads next tear into ‘Ever Fallen In Love’ and it’s another corker of a cover with the pipes lifting it out of this world. We’re steering towards the end and if I was to have one wee quibble it would be that the album is a tad on the long side with sixteen songs with a running time of almost a hour. You certainly get yer hard earned worths but I wonder if the album could have been trimmed a little with the album closing with two reworked versions of ‘Sehturday Night’ from 2011’s ‘Lend Wiz Yir Lugz’ and ‘Gangs O’Dundee’ from 2010’s album Radio Cundee taking us into the anarcho styled curtain closer ‘Austerity’.
Released on the American Punk label Tarbeach Records and recorded at Seagate Studios in their hometown the album is an outstanding success, especially considering that a lot of it was done under the restrictions placed upon the band because of the Covid ‘clampdown’. Make no mistake it may have been very tempting for us to rope The Cundeez in with other bagpipe heavy Celtic-Punk bands but they are no Real McKenzies and, more importantly, have never tried to be. The Cundeez are a Punk band with Celtic roots but even then there is much more to them as they are never afraid to stray off into other genres. Teckle An Hide is possibly their most accessible album to date. It still has their trademark fast, punchy, catchy Punk-Rock and the same shouty vocals delivered in that raw Dundee dialect but their Celtic and Ska influences see them moving into new territory without ever watering down their music or their identity.
(The Cundeez playing a socially distanced Facebook Live Stream from the end of last September. As Gary said afterwards “a crazy surreal experience doing a ‘gig’ all split from band members but thankfully we got there. It was rough and raw and absolutely nerve-wracking.”)
If you want to indulge in Celtic Folk Rock, you will definitely take pleasure in Paddy Murphy. Homesickness, the struggle for freedom, sailor’s yarns, love of the odd drink and the rebellious Irish spirit coming together in a musical whirlwind from Austria!
With the popularity of Celtic-Punk in Germany second to none it’s perhaps no surprise that this love should have spread to their next door neighbours in Austria. Still it’s not a country particularly well endowed with bands with only Scotch from Weyer in Upper Austria making a mark upon the scene (their fantastic debut EP Last In The Bar is still available for free download). In common with the bands from Germany Paddy Murphy (a band not a fella!) don’t just perform straight up Celtic-Punk but rather their own interpretation. An individualist streak that flows through the scene that manages to stop bands being too samey.
In common with Scotch Paddy Murphy also hail from Upper Austria in particular the town of Steyr and though they not be particularly well known this side of the English channel in Europe they have a strong pedigree of touring going back well over a decade. Paddy Murphy have been taking their brand of Irish Speed Folk Rock as they describe it themselves to a multitude of festivals across Germany, France and Switzerland in particular and headlined to tens of thousands at festivals in Italy in Padova and Rasa. Founded in 2008 Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls is Paddy Murphy’s third studio album after 2012’s Dog’s Dinner and 2014’s Coffin Ship. Both of which you can hear on their Web-Site. They also released a handful of singles and EP’s over the last few years (all with absolutely stunning artwork most featuring their logo of a goat!) which has boosted their popularity with a great selection of covers and original material.
Paddy Murphy from left to right: Florian Aufreiter – Drums * Franz Höfler – Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Mandolin, Irish-Bouzouki, Harp, Vocals * Ingolf Wolfsegger – Bass, Vocals * Hermann Hartl – Fiddle, Vocals * Oliver Loy – Electric Guitar, Vocals
Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls was released in early March and came out on ATS Records. It’s been sitting round LCP Towers ever since and due to a mix up over who was going to do it it never got the review it deserved at the time. Still hopefully this will make up for it! Fourteen songs (the CD has a extra two live tracks) in total that comes to just under a hour about that green island, women, whiskey and Guinness! The album begins with ‘We Hoist The Sail’ and bursts with energy out of the speakers and if its top quality Celtic-Punk you are after then you have come to the right place my friends. Echos of fellow German bands The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats and The Feelgood MacLouds but this band have their own style. A great opener and vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Franz Höfler certainly knows his history of Ireland in a song that even uses the popular Irish term ‘Amerikay’. ‘My Dark Foamy Friend’ is a song that has a dual meaning of the sea or the pint but I know which one is preferred! Released as a single it reached over 20,000 listeners within a few weeks on Spotify. I have to say that the fiddle on this album is absolutely brilliant so hats off to Hermann Hartl for his incredible work. It is seriously some of the best fiddle I have ever heard on a Celtic-Punk album and i Happy to hear it used extensively throughout the thirteen tracks. ‘Black Ones Brown Ones Blond Redhead’ is another dual song meaning beer and this time women and this time they prefer women to beer! Fast and energetic and whats that I hear its the harmonica one of my favourite instruments and criminally underused in Celtic-Punk. When I first played this album the next track stood out on its own. Paddy Murphy like their own stuff but are not averse to the odd cover and their ‘Basket Case’ by Green Day done Irish style and it is an absolute belter of a song! Give it a listen and be hooked.
Very clever and highly original it is a great choice of song and makes a change from ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’. If I’ve played this song once I’ve played it a 1,000 times. Another couple of drinking songs follow telling the different sides of life ‘Just One Drink’ is a jaunty wee number while ‘Time to Make Some Changes’ sees a life in turmoil on a visit to Ireland. Slow, sad and swirling in that traditional Irish way that makes you want to put your arms around a complete stranger (even in these strange times!). Who said Celtic-Punk can’t do emotional? We do it better than fecking anyone! Time for a famous song and they don’t come more famous than ‘The Irish Rover’. Known to everyone and covered by just about everyone too. They make a decent job of it nothing particularly special but you know if you heard this down the pub you’d be banging on tables and shouting your lungs out along to it. The Country influenced ‘At Least for Tonight’ is catchy as hell. What I call a thigh slapper.
“Get up and dance and drink all night”
‘American Dreams’ is the albums longest song heading towards six minutes and not for one second outlives its welcome. Franz again opens up and his aching vocals make for a great song. Irish themes abound and one of the standout things about this album is the quality of the lyrics. Pure poetry and proper story telling whether its a pub song’ or a Punk-Rock thrasher. We in Pop-Punk territory next with ‘You’ll Never Bring Us Down’ with the Celtic competing with the Punk. The song ends with being both and will be a real dance floor filler once we’re allowed back on the dance floor that is.
So we’ve had quite the album so far that has taken us around the Celtic-Punk scene and it’s many influences and they may have almost gone ballad in places they deliver it next with ‘The Cliffs of Grey’. A beautiful and touching yet haunting ballad whose depth will shock those here only for the drinking songs. After that the aptly titled ‘Gloomlifter Jig’ shows Paddy Murphy have even more left in their arsenal with a perfect traditional Irish that soon enough sees the electric side of the band coming in and we end up with a song that would have graced any Horslips album. Another catchy as hell number on a album where their is absolutely no filler at all. Each song is of an incredibly high standard and it’s no surprise why when you trawl their photos on Facebook their live gigs are always packed out. The work for Rams, Rebels, Goats & Girls began a whole year before its release and the hard work shows. ‘Epic Scene of Life’ is a perfect example of their sound.
Uplifting and bursting with energy and at all times refreshing in a scene that as I said can be a bit samey. The curtain comes down on the album with a amazing version of Scottish singer-songwriter Eric Bogle’s ‘No Man’s Land’, probably better known as ‘The Green Fields Of France Written in 1976 it’s message is ever lasting sadly and here Paddy Murphy perform one of the best versions I have ever heard. Bagpipes add to the songs emotional roller-coaster and is the perfect way to see the album out.
Irish and Celtic music appeals to people of all ages and nationalities. That is what is really special about it and Paddy Murphy are immersed in that sound and this Austrian Irish Folk-Rock Band is committed to continuing that tradition! Celtic-Punk is often derided or misunderstood by Irish Folk snobs purists who think the artists are more influenced by Sid Vicious than Matt Molloy but this is a direct descendant of the music played in Ireland 100’s of years ago. That they can keep that tradition while also throwing in the Punk/Rock sound they have is testament to the bands outstanding musical ability. Fiddle, banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, bodhran, drums, electric bass, electric guitar and five male voices have made this album what it is and it would be a act of criminal negligence for the Irish music scene and its fans to pass it by.
Their eleventh full-length album Beer And Loathing is a true return to form for Canada’s The Real McKenzies. Dueling guitars double up against soaring bagpipes while Paul regales the listener with epic tales of alcohol soaked debauchery, historic sagas and hard-fought personal battles.
The Real McKenzies need little introduction having founded in 1992 in Vancouver, Canada. They have established themselves as one of the most formidable the Celtic Punk bagpipe bands on the scene. Hard to believe they have been around for almost 30 years!!!!
(Great interview with Paul from The Real McKenzies from April, 2020)
Although they have gone through many line-up changes, Paul McKenzie remains at the helm leading the crew into another decade of Scottish influenced celtic punk and mayhem. The Real McKenzies have kicked off 2020 with the release of their new album Beer and Loathing. Now its fair to say 2020 hasn’t been the best year so far but its not all doom and gloom. Beer and Loathing is guaranteed to take your mind off small matters such the worldwide pandemic, the potential for WW3 etc etc. It’s a crackin album and I must say one of my favourite from the Real McKenzies.
The new album has been released on Fat Wreck Records and contains 12 rockin’ tunes. It opens with a bagpipe lead instrumental The Widow’s Watch but quickly ramps up though the gear to a faster tempo with notable song such as Nary Do Gooder, Death of the Winnepeg Scene and The Cremation of Sam Mcgee. The Real McKenzies stick with the Scottish flavour with Cock up Your Beaver. It’s a slower song which is a version of a Robert Burns poem. Probably not what you were thinking when you read the title first (tut, tut)!!! All in this is a great album and good to have the Real McKenzies back three years after the last release. It’s a reminder why the band have lasted almost 30 years on the scene where others have fallen by the wayside. So grab yourself a wee dram, stick on Beer and Loathing and crank it up to 10. It’s time like this we need music like this to get us through all the other crap in the world !!!
The vinyl for the album is available on swamp green and beer, oxblood and gold!
(Grab a listen to Beer And Loathing on the Bandcamp player below)
(On March 13th, 2020 the Real McKenzie’s live show at the Starlite Room in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada was canceled by Alberta Health Services due to the COVID-19 virus. As to not let the all their fans down, the gig went ahead as a live stream!)
French band CelKIlt have long established themselves as one of the Celtic-Punk/Rock scenes heavyweights and here they return with their seventh album The Next One Down.
Trad Celtic-Rockers CelKIlt are back with their seventh album, recorded in Italy, France and Switzerland over several months, its time has unfortunately come in the middle of the clampdown doing away with any chance of decent promotion and it would be tragic if this album were to pass people by because of that. Reviewing CelKilt’s last album in 2017 I made the bold statement that “I’ve had to promote CelKilt up to the Premier League of top celtic-punk bands” and their new album hasn’t changed my opinion much either. They might be famous to a lot of London Celtic Punks readers for their song ‘Everyday’s St Patrick’s Day’ which kicks off the #1 Celtic-Punk compilation (still free and now at well over 1,500 downloads!) Irish Pub Songs- Celtic Punk Sampler.
CelKilt are a five piece Celtic-Punk band from Roanne, near to Lyon, which is pretty much bang in the middle of France and have been together since 2011 what is quite remarkable is that The Next One Down makes it seven albums in only nine years. I know a band who got together in 2010 and are still on one. Not mentioning any names!?!? Their releases include a whole album of Christmas themed originals titled Kiltmas Songs from 2015 as well as a Live album and on top of over 500 live shows they have even toured the USA not once, not twice but an amazing three times!!! They have been invited to play Shamrock Fest twice and in 2018 they returned to the States to play the Flogging Molly Salty Dog Cruise in 2018 (the lucky bastards!). Now not many Euro bands get the chance to go ‘Stateside’ so if you do then that means an awful lot. Last week we reviewed the new album from Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, who also toured the USA, and I would very much class CelKIlt as being in the same league.
Their last album, the excellent Stand, made the Top Thirty Best Celtic-Punk Album of 2017 and when I reviewed it I hadn’t quite realised that their was such a thing as Google Translate so some of the bands history passed me by still it made me concentrate much more on the music than I would perhaps would do for an ‘Irish’ band. A superb mix of AC/DC hard rock, Celtic/Irish melodies and even Pop-Punk and ballads it is a brilliant album and one that I still play regularly. The Next One Down begins with the title track and some heavy and atmospheric piping from new team member Iain are joined by loud guitar before Titou’s great rock vocals come in. He sings in English and it’s clear as crystal and rather ‘theatrical’ in the style I can only describe as Freddie Mercury-esque. The music is more Rock style than Punk influenced but they make up for that next on ‘The Best I Can’ and a straight up Celtic-Punk masterpiece. Lyrically it’s about the environment but not preachy. In fact the opposite in saying it’s good enough to try our best and not make things worse. The song is only just over two minutes long and new band member Iain is much in evidence.
A great video which gets across the energy of the band and considering it’s their live performances that are mainly responsible for winning them their legions of fans it’s done a good job of portraying that. ‘Dig Around’ has some amazing piping and the more rocky sound reminds me of Fiddlers Green or the American bands Seven Nations and the Young Dubliners. Titou’s vocals throughout are another instrument for a band that you’d be amazed consists of only five members. ‘People Are Crazy’ dips it’s toe into some catchy ska/reggae but all the time firmly anchored in Celtic music.
‘Carry On’ is the albums longest song and I suppose a type of bombastic rock ballad. The Celtic side of things on The Next One Down is more subdued than on previous albums I would say but it still makes for a fantastic album given that they always had more of a Celtic spirit than 95% of bands in the scene anyway! The first of the album’s two instrumental is next and while ‘Their Wasabi’ may not be the massive free for all you’re expecting it is extremely well played and as catchy as hell. A word for the cracking video too a perfect example of ‘necessity breeds ingenuity’. The foreboding start to ‘The Road That Takes Me Home’ does not disappoint with its great gang chorus and heavy beat and clever and poignant lyrics.
‘Your Hand’ is the albums most accessible song to ‘outsiders’. The type of song that would appeal to everyone from Celtic-Punk extremists like me right up to your Mam! The Celtic takes a back seat except for Ana’s, as ever, amazing fiddle playing and has traces of Celtic-Rock from bands like U2, Simple Minds or even The Alarm. ‘Dewey’ is the second of the instrumentals here and at only ninety seconds it’s pipe heavy with a hard rock feel. Only a couple to go and both standout tracks with ‘Can’t Go Back’ the fastest song here taking in US style Pop-Punk as well as Calypso too. It’s all here folks!! The curtain comes down with the glorious singalong ‘Whaole’. A modern take on a sea-shanty and bloody brilliant and set to become a crowd favourite I would bet my shirt on.
CelKIlt continue to push the boundaries of Celtic music and with The Next One Down are right to be considered one of the scenes leading lights and internationally acclaimed. The album was mastered by Howie Weinberg, famous for his work with the Dropkick Murphys and other such giants such as Nirvana, Jeff Buckley and Deftones, and it cannot be understated what an amazing job he has done. The album is as close to perfection as you can get. The Celtic base to every song gives CelKilt the chance to spread their wings a little compared to their last LP but doesn’t detract from the overall feel. A great album and in this time of clampdown a ‘goodfeel’ album we desperately need.
Another EP release this time three original songs from Eastern Finland from a band that deserve a lot more recognition. I give you 7 Stout Clan.
I find it quite hard to fathom how a band that has been together since 2008 has only just released a small handful of recordings! I suppose its quite heartening as it means this is literally a band that are in it for the love of the music. This is the bands fourth release which includes their sold out debut Demo from 2009 and Too Drunk To Punk EP from 2010. Another EP from 2018, Alcohostility, is still available from the band. While this may not be exactly groundbreaking it is bloody great stuff and abso-bloody-lutely perfect music for the pub (especially at a time when the pubs are all closed!). There’s only three songs sadly but each is damn good and significantly different enough from each other to show a band with a great depth.
7 Stout Clan left to right: Elias – Drums * Juho – Vocals, Tenor Banjo, Mandolin * Julius – Guitar, Backing Vocals * Taavi – Vocals, Bagpipes, Tin-Whistle, Mandolin * Kalle – Bass, Backing Vocals *
7 Stout Clan were formed in 2008 in Savonlinna in Eastern Finland and take hard drivin’ Punk and team it with Celtic and Finnish Folk music influences and the result is pretty spectacular. The opening song is ‘Wretch Robert’s Grin’ and theirs a certain UK Punk sound going on here but with a catchy Celtic-Punk style chorus. The pounding bass and tin-whistle combined with Taavi’s breathless vocals make a great combination. Over in just three minutes it seems even shorter such is it’s style.
Like I said only three songs and ‘Good People’ showcases Taavi’s bagpipes well with another catchy as hell Punk Rock number with not just great piping but great use of the pipes within the songs framework also. The UK Punk sound is still evident and the energy here is overwhelming. Even just listening to it on the computer gets the blood racing and the foot tapping. The last song and the whole EP is done and dusted in just three minutes which is a great shame but they go out in style with ‘Pogo Stick’ and the Bhoys crank it up with a great singalonga gang chorus.
“Damn right you’re a lunatic bouncing ’round like a pogo stick
Get your feet off the ground for a while but it ain’t much fun, anyway
Damn right you’re a lunatic treating me like a pogo stick
You should get a new that’ll get you through from this little thing called life”
A fast Punky number that’s a surefire dance floor filler I’d say as all the songs here here. Catchy, Celtic-Punk that is heavy but still accessible but if you’re a fan of the Real McKenzies then 7 Stout Clan is a band you will really get.
“Staying still will get you killed”
The 7 Stout Clan single is only available in digital format at the moment from the links below but I’m hopeful the guys will get a Bandcamp account started soon and get their entire back catalogue uploaded. Hint- Hint!!!
The hardest hitting bands of Finnish Celtic-Punk, 7 Stout Clan and Band Of Shysters are joining forces and this time the good times are brought to you right into your living room via live stream from restaurant Maxim!
7 Stout Clan are joined by Band Of Shysters. Pseudo-Celtic-Savonian folk orchestra from pre-historic fog to cyber punk. Showtime is Saturday 30th May at 8pm (which is 7pm UK time) and their is a Facebook event with all the details you need.
The new single/ video release from one of the best bands around and from a non-English speaking country too! The Working Class Symphony play a brand of Celtic-Punk that is totally influenced by Irish traditional folk music. If only more Irish bands played with this much passion and pride!
The new single ‘Alerta Song’ from one of the best bands in today’s Celtic-Punk scene who also happen to be one of the most under rated too!) The Working Class Symphony. Formed in 2010 in Surakarta, in central Indonesia when a couple of friends were listening to Irish music in an internet cafe in the city. This sparked the idea to start up a band playing similar music and soon after The Working Class Symphony were born!
Life in this country is already very difficult, if it still has to be added by listening to mainstream music as it is today … Really it will be FORGETTING..There is no other way than making music that can be uplifting … God Save The Working Class !!!!!
Their new single is a tribute to Cornel Simanjuntak who is credited with the development of Indonesian music with his heroic and patriotic songs against the occupation of Indonesia. His words still inspire today to inflame the spirit of resistance to fight injustice, fight for rights and for truth. The Working Class Symphony dedicate this song to Cornel. With straightforward lyrics, as a picture of the reality that is happening here. Finally, keep on loving our country no matter what happens until the end of closing of your eyes… Freedom.
Cornel Simanjuntak 1921 – 1946
“Those in power write the history, while those who suffer write the songs.”
so said Frank Harte and by heavens he was right you know. The man that The Working Class Symphony pay tribute to is little known outside Indonesia and even at home his contribution is almost never taught in the schools anymore. Part of Cornel’s song ‘Maju Tak Gentar’ are incorporated into the Alerta Song! A man who fought for Indonesia in every way possible and in the end gave his life for Indonesia’s independence.
THE SMART MUSIC LOVING KID
Cornel was born in Pematang Siantar in 1921. His musical talent has emerged when he attended school and at that time he was already playing guitar and singing western songs that he heard on the radio and watching movies. Around 1937, Cornel went to school in Muntilan and his friends recall he was an intelligent, brave, honest student and never reluctant to defend his and others stand. While there he learnt to play music joining the symphony orchestra playing the work of Beethoven, Bach, Haydn, Wagner and Schubert. One of Franz Schubert’s songs, Ave Maria, became Cornel’s favorite song. Here he discovered the works of Indonesian poets: Amir Hamzah, Sanusi Pane, JE Tatengkeng, and Sutomo Djauhar Arifin and a love of literature becoming familiar with familiar with Goethe, Schiller, Heine and Shakespeare among others.
Cornel would become a teacher in Magelang, Central Java around the time Japanese fascist forces attacked in 1942 leading to the one of his earliest songs ‘Mekar Melatiku’. In 1943 having moved to Jakarta he worked at the Japanese Culture Office where he was assigned to make propaganda songs. Many songs were created: ‘Asia Has Awakened’, ‘Destroy Our Enemies’ and ‘Beware Of Britain And America’. The 1943-1945 period was the peak of Cornel’s creativity making songs simple songs that were easy to understand, but very agitative and able to capture the feelings and spirit of the common person
INTO THE REVOLUTION
In 1945, when the fire of revolution burned the bosom of youth and people everywhere, he chose to go directly into the revolution. Cornel said to a close friend at the time
“If you want to find me, don’t look at home. I am at API headquarters, Menteng 31. For a while I leave music. I now feel free as freely as I can and with the freedom I have gained, I will certainly be able to block my soul. I don’t want that feeling of freedom to disappear. If our independence is taken by people, it will also disappear. Now there is a battle for this freedom. I’m stuck in it.”
He shouldered a rifle involved in battle until he was shot. Not fully recovered, the allied forces conducted a sweep in the hospital he was being treated in and Cornel was hurriedly evacuated by comrades and taken outside the city of Jakarta. From there he was sent to Yogyakarta and it was in this city that his many heroic and patriotic songs were born. ‘Land Of Blood Spilt’, ‘Forward Undaunted’, ‘In Heroes’, ‘Indonesia Remains Independent’ and many others. His body weakened he cared little for his health and continued to work to produce songs of struggle hoping to ignite the heroic spirit of the Indonesian people. On September 15, 1946, Cornel, sadly only 25 years old, breathed his last. He was buried in the Kerkop Cemetery in Yogyakarta. He had given his life to the revolution and to the liberation of his country.
For the best introduction to the Celtic-Punk scene in Indonesia you simply cannot go wrong than checking out Wind From The Foreign Land- Indonesian Celtic Punk Compilation’ from 2014. An album of fourteen tracks from fourteen different and diverse Celtic-Punk bands from right across Indonesia. From traditional Irish folk right up to Celtic-Oi! and ballads to full on rockers its all here and just goes to show why the scene in Indonesia is both wonderful and always interesting. No self respecting Celtic-Punker should not have at least a couple of favourite Indonesian bands in their arsenal so get along hereWind From The Foreign Land is one of the best compilation albums you will ever here. That’s a London Celtic Punks guarantee!
My favourite Celtic-Punk band in the whole wide world are back with their second album and needless to say it’s another belter to beat up the floor to.
The last couple of years have been out of this world for Belgian band Krakin’ Kellys. Only formed in 2017 they have far and away been the Celtic-Punk critics and fans favourite band. Announcing their arrival on the scene with debut album Promised Land and a series of fantastic videos I even used the phrase I hate the most “this is a must have album!” to end the review! It’s fair to say it bowled me over and at the end of 2018 the album romped home as Best Debut Album of the year and 4th best overall. They cemented their popularity further by winning the London Celtic Punks Readers Pick of the year polling and incredible 32.38% out of 522 votes. Since then they have consolidated their popularity and last year saw them release of the Irish Tribute EP. Six classic Irish folk music tunes beefed up with heavy punk-rock riffs. The songs were an inspired choice with, bar ‘The Irish Rover (!), them avoiding the world of ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and ‘Black Velvet Band’. David’s vocals standing out loud and proud and gruff and smoky against a backdrop of pure Irish Folk-Punk. I ended that review with a very telling quote about them “they show a love and respect for source material that you would not expect for a band from the heavier side of Celtic-Punk” and this is one of the reasons they have gone down so well.
Their third release is Burn Your Flags and came out on this years ill fated St. Patrick’s Day (every single year I am still reviewing Paddy’s Day releases well into May!!!) and like everyone else their album promotional tour fell at the corona virus hurdle. So much thought and planning and thought had gone into making this years even more spectacular than usual only for the day to fall apart as cancellations began in the run up to the 17th eventually taking pretty each everything worldwide. Just to make matters worse the sun was cracking the pavement here in south-west London! Trapped in the house with only Guinness Original and pizza and crisps the day was made better by a handful of things. Among them the stella live stream performances from New Yorkers 1916 and, of course, the Dropkick Murphys and the chance to play Burn Your Flag every opportunity I could. So without any live gigs to promote it the album has had a rather subdued release which we hope to rectify now if only in a very small way.
Krakin’ Kellys from left to the right : Olivier Drèze (Drum) * Stephan Mossiat (Bass) * Pierre-Yves Berhin (Accordion) * David Leroy (Lead Vocals) * Matthieu Hendrick (Guitar) * Rémi Decker (Bagpipes & Whistles )
Burn Your Flag offers nothing new in the Krakin’ Kellys arsenal that is true. Twelve original songs all written by the band that continue in pretty much exactly the same vein as their previous two releases have. Now their is nothing wrong with that at all. After all when you got a winning formula you don’t suddenly start chopping and changing especially when it starts working for you and a winning formula is what Krakin’ Kellys have. They got the formula but have they got the tunes and once again the answer is a resounding YES! The album kicks off with the sound of bagpipes on ‘Freedom And Whiskey’ and Krakin’ Kellys have not only one of the best pipers in Celtic-Punk with Rémi but also one of the best accordion players too in Pierre-Yves who also does the fabulous artwork for the Kellys releases under his ‘business’ name Hamo. Guitarist Matthieu is responsible for much of the leg work in promoting the band and their fantastic videos (more on them in a bit) and also helped record and master the album with Nicola Lomartire. The song drifts along at a fair old pace and is very Celtic but it is only when David’s vocals start that the song become proper Krakin’ Kellys fair. His raspy vocals sit nicely on top of chugging guitars and Punk drums and bass. It’s the sort of song you could play someone and they wouldn’t necessarily get the Celtic aspect of the song. A great fist in the air chorus and as catchy as anything I’ve heard this year it already says to me that Finnegans Hell will have competition for the Best Album Of 2020. I can see I’m going to over-use the word ‘catchy’ doing this review so from now on just assume each song is ca**hy. ‘Bigger Plan’ keeps the energy level to max and tin-whistle adds to the Celtic feel to it alongside, even for them, heavy guitar. The style of Punk I feel they are closest too would be that of bands like Leatherface who could play at 100 mph and still be totally melodic and accessible. Like Leatherface they also possess a wonderful sense of humour like on ‘Not A Mermaid’. Another reason for their immediate success in the scene was their brilliant videos (as directed by Matthieu) and they nail again in the video for ‘Today’s The Day’. Seemingly filmed at the last available chance before ‘virus lockdown’ its shows the band members playing their bits at home surrounded by their families. Truly wonderful piece of work and a nice insight into their lives.
Most of the songs here hover around three and a half minutes. Standard in Punk really. Their are no ‘epics’ just speedy Punk Rock with a tonne of Celtic/ Gaelic melodies. On ‘Just Remember’ they also throw a touch of ‘Gallic’ flair too while ‘Payback’ actually at times comes close to trad Irish. ‘The Champ Is Here’ seems like straight forward Punk but those Folk instruments come in and take the song in another direction. These songs are written with the Celtic side very much in mind and though they could probably get away with being just another decent Punk band it is with the addition of those Celtic instruments that they stand out from the crowd. The title song, ‘Burn Your Flag’, is of course one of the highlights and half way through gives Pierre-Yves the opportunity to play a Punk-Rock accordion solo. ‘Crazy Dancer’, ‘Golden Youth’, ‘No Regrets’ and ‘Cletus The Great’ all follow the same standard. Catchy (their I have said it!) as hell, super energetic Celtic-Punk that manages to keep the songs completely different enough in style so that nothing here sounds the same so the running length of the album never starts to grate on you.
We are nearing the end and ‘We Are The Freaks’ was the albums first single and another outstanding video too. I implore you to take the time out to watch their videos. Their is so much going on that the music only adds to their appeal. The albums ‘curtain closer’ is ‘Scars’ and a positive message played in a fast punk song with a singalong chorus and pint in the air close. There’s a great version of it here on RTBF a French language web-site so foo,ow the link and check that out.
So if you are stuck at home, like you should be, then if you are anything like me it is music that is keeping you sane. It’s no wonder Krakin’ Kellys are considered one of the best bands in Celtic-Punk and it is at times like this we need to support the people who bring us such enjoyment so please consider buying the album and give these guys. This is music to dance your ass off to and though it may be a while before we get the chance to do so together move the chairs back and let yourself go after all we still have beer!!!
(you can stream Burn Your Flag below on the Bandcamp player before you buy it!)
The second EP from one of the brightest new bands in the Celtic-Punk scene has descended! The Cloverhearts follow a great tradition of Italian bands that capture perfectly what Celtic-Punk is about.
Only a few months after their debut release The Sick took the Celtic-Punk scene by storm The Cloverhearts return with another blockbuster EP. Like their debut its six original tracks that pull in influences from around the scene and their obvious affiliation to The Rumjacks sound is not just down to Sam their Australian singer but one that doesn’t overpower their own sound. The Sick came a very respectful 4th in the London Celtic Punks Top Ten EP’s/Singles Of 2019 for last year. Not bad at all for a release that had only been out a matter of weeks before the Poll took place.
(you can stream The Sick on the Bandcamp player below)
So The Cloverhearts stick to exactly the same format for The Sacred. Six songs all original compositions and they even come in at virtually the same length of time (only one minute short!). The EP begins with the single ‘Caught Ya In A Lie’, basically a ‘Pop’-Punk song with some fantastic bagpipes laid on top. When you have a piper that is good as Chiara is then it makes perfect sense to fit the songs around her piping. The Folk melodies are left at the dock as The Cloverhearts concentrate on their harder edge and Punkier sound. Catchy as hell melodic Punk and definitly the right choice to lead the EP.
A song about people trying to get the better of you and the consequences of lying. A great start to things that they follow up with the pipes heavy ‘Drunk Tank’ where Sam tackles that most prevalent of Celtic-Punk subjects! On ‘I’ll Be Home Soon’ they showcase a whole raft of genres with Celtic and Country among others. The most folky of all their songs so far but still that melodic Punk attitude. Sam’s vocals are great and unusually for Celtic-Punk he makes absolutely no attempt at a Shane MacGowan drawl but croons away magnificently! A very personal song for Sam about never feeling at home after a lifetime spent living in Australia, Singapore, England and Italy. They return to harder material on ‘Walk’ with plenty of band “Wo-Oh” chants and chugging guitar and a cool chorus it’s a class song that at four minutes has plenty of time to develop. It leads us nicely into ‘Gutters To Graves’ another catchy number and though I may be making it sound like I’m reviewing the same song six times The Sacred is a very diverse sounding EP. It all revolves around the tight melodic Punk sound with Sams clear as crystal vocals and Chiara’s excellent piping. I wouldn’t come to The Sacred perhaps as a lover of Celtic music but if you like your Punk well played and gimmick free then The Cloverhearts are a band that you will love. The last song here ‘Where Did We Go Wrong?’ just goes to show how wrong I can be with a song that revisits the Celtic/Country sound from earlier but much more blatantly and I bloody love it!!
So another successful release but tempered with the sad news that their most ambitious tour to date has had to be cancelled due to the current medical crisis in Italy. A tour that would have took them to Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and around Italy so hopefully it will be re-scheduled soon. Their are some utterly fantastic Italian bands around and its good that The Cloverhearts have found their niche among them. A bunch of bands that fit nicely together with all them sounding just that bit different from each other. A while back I went to a Psychobilly all-dayer and it got a bit boring but a all-dayer starring The Cloverhearts, The Rumpled, The Clan, Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, Tullamore and Dirty Artichiokes would be one hell of a gig. Any millionaires out there give me a shout!!
(Stream The Sacred before you buy it on the Bandcamp player below)
The Kilmaine Saints are back! One of the best Celtic-Rock bands Irish-America has ever produced with a seven track acoustic EP that includes two new songs and five re-imagined Saints classics.
This explosive, high-energy Celtic rock band from Central PA will lift your hearts, your spirits, and your pint when you’re not looking!
Well what to say about the Kilmaine Saints? One of my favourite bands and one that all the writers here would agree is and has been one of the best and not only that but it is widely agreed that when the definitive history of Celtic-Punk is put to paper then the Kilmaine Saints will have one or maybe two of the best Celtic-Punk albums and maybe even a third as well!
Formed in Central Pennsylvania when two members of the Harrisburg Pipe & Drum with a mutual love of the flourishing Irish-American Celtic-Punk scene decided to kick something off with the aim of getting them free beers at local St. Patrick’s Day shows. Well from small acorns they have blossomed into a band that has always stood just a small step away from Celtic-Punk stardom. One of only a few American bands whose fame has translated into overseas success and it’s no surprise to occasionally spot a Saints shirt at gigs over the years. Others in this league would be The Tossers, Mickey Rickshaw or Flatfoot 56. One of the scenes most consistently good bands they have released four albums, a live album and a couple of EP’s with the most outstanding of all being their debut in 2010 The Good, The Plaid, And The Ugly which Paddyrock called “the BEST Celtic Rock release of 2010 hands down!” and introduced me, and many others, to the Kilmaine Saints thanks to the now long gone Paddy Punx web site.
This was followed up a couple of years later with Drunken Redemption which made the top ten of all four leading Celtic-Punk web-sites for 2012. Five years of intensive gigging led to the release of their last studio album and Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos really exploded the Saints back onto the national scene. With over seventeen songs they managed not a single duffer and from the first seconds to last dirge of the bagpipes it remains, along with The Good, The Plaid, And The Ugly, one of the albums any Celtic-Punk fan must seek out.
Now a band needs a good set of releases to achieve this level of attention but in their beginning it is their live shows that sees people coming back for more and even though separated by hundreds of miles of ocean one of the things I have consistently read about is the Saints and their high-octane, blistering, high-energy live sets that keep people singing along, stomping their feet, lifting their pints and shouting for more. So the two come together and top of that the people in the band have always taken an interest in the scene and not just in how it can help them which is something that we here appreciate especially.
So history lesson delivered and what does 2020 give us? Well another drawback to being so far away from the main home of Celtic-Punk is bands can go quiet on you and you don’t always get to realise why so with a couple of years of quiet I was delighted to receive Off The Wagon from band guitarist Rich. Quickly adding it to my phone I played the EP’s seven songs about a dozen times and then sat through the whole Kilmaine Saints back catalogue at the weekend to remind me what a utterly fantastic band they are. Their albums have tended to be a solid mix of amped up Irish and Celtic classics with extremely good compositions of their own thrown in as well. It has to be said though you can be a great band playing covers, and especially if you do something with them rather than being just a standard cover, but to go further you need strong songs of your own and this is what sets The Kilmaine Saints apart. Here though on Off The Wagon they have gone for a acoustic setting. Not that it doesn’t still mean it can be as noisy and raucous as most thrash metal bands but that the progression of the Kilmaine Saints is far is far from over yet!
Kilmaine Saints left to right: Bill Brown- Pipes, Whistle, Bouzouki * Jon Heller- Bass/Pipes * Tommy Leanza- Drums * Liz Mallin- Fiddle * Rich Lipski- Mandolin, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar * Brendan Power- Vocals * Erich Arndt- Guitar *
The EP’s seven songs consist of five older tracks re-imagined and two completely new ones. The EP begins with a new one the title track ‘Off The Wagon’. With a tune flitting from a Walt Disney favourite to an Irish jig the song flies through in just over two minutes and is typical Kilmaine Saints. These guys can write a serious song and have done many times but its the love of a good time that dominates and their sense of humour shines through here. Next up is a song where the serious nature of the lyrics (the poor Irish arriving in the USA during the Great Hunger and the prejudice they received) belies the jaunty tune that accompanies it. Something you often find in Irish music. ‘Painting Paradise Square’ first appeared on their debut album and was written by former band member and multi-instrumentalist (tenor banjo, bass, mandolin) Frank Aponte.
“I suffered to get here and I’m not going to leave
And if you knock me down, you’d best be sure I’m dead
‘Cause when I get back on me feet, and I promise you that I will
I’ll steal your life and use your blood to paint Paradise Square!”
‘With Regrets’ is next up from Drunken Redemption and while the original was a full throttle Celtic rocker about a wastrel of a man and attempting to make sure his son doesn’t follow the same roads as him. The song is a beautiful ballad with great mournful fiddle work from Liz. Great heartfelt lyrics and Mayo born vocalist Brendan’s great voice is accompanied by Liz to great effect. A real choker of a song. ‘MacGowans Wake’ is not a tribute as I had originally thought to the Godfather of Celtic-Punk but a loving salute to a friend of the band Eddie McGowan.
Eddie was a very proud Irish-American born in Baltimore, Maryland and was a founder member of Celtic-Rock band Dublin 5 who shared many’s a stage with the Kilmaine Saints. Eddie MacGowan was a
Eddie MacGowan 1969-2018 RIP
friend, musician and father who on February 5, 2018, lost his nearly four-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His energy, humor, generosity, love and friendship will be deeply missed by the multitude of people who have been lucky to know him. He made everyone he met feel like they mattered to him, and they truly did. He gave everything he had to family and friends. Those who loved him have set up a foundation the Eddie MacGowan Foundation so please take a look. Funds raised through their activities will be donated to organizations that supported Eddie through his illness and that continue to support patients with similar disabilities. A sad loss for the Irish in America. Another beautiful choker of a song and following this we are back again to their last album for ‘Pennsylvania’s Finest’ what you might call a ‘American Rebel Song’. Again the original was a barnstormer of a song fast, furious and full of righteous anger, rousing the masses to remember the War Of Independence.
“And all the world shall know, Americans are free
Nor slaves nor cowards we will prove, And England soon shall see
We’re Pennsylvania’s Finest,
And we will proudly fight our hearts are strong our aim is true,
We’ll stand up for our rights”
The English making friends wherever they go since 1776!! Played here with with an ever such slight ska-ish beat but with much the same tempo of the original. Their last album provides the last two tracks here with the marvellous ‘Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos’ leaping out at you as the standout track. A superb song carefully crafted and here presented in such a beautiful way. The lyrics are amazing and a positive call to sort ourselves out.
“Don’t waste another night, getting lost in your pint
Wasted memories of wasted yesterdays
Get up off the bar stool Get your boots on the ground
You’ll never reach the top at the bottom of a round
‘Cuz age is just a number not the sum of our mistakes
Always search for new tomorrows Always hope for better days”
The EP ends with ‘Golden Pen’ and a perfect way to leave with another great song Liz wrote about the death of a friend’s Mother. A great EP that shows the amazing talent of a band that is not resting on its laurels and hopefully new material will be following soon. The Celtic-Punk scene needs The Kilmaine Saints.
(Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos- not the acoustic version as featured on Off The Wagon but what the hell you get the drift and I bloody love this song!)
The Kilmaine Saints are equal parts Irish swagger, Scottish pride and whiskey. Their usual explosive Celtic-Rock has taken a back seat for now but is sure to return. The scene in America is still standing strong and bands like the Saints have now begun to influence a new breed of band setting out and it’s fair to say that there’s not much better bands to take that influence from. The Kilmaine Saints have become over the years a focal point for not just their local Irish-American community but nationwide too. A band that captures what it is to be Irish in America today. A symbol for a community that isn’t just there so that TV executives can make gangster programmes about them or TV series taking the piss out of their religion. The Irish community is still very much alive just like, thank heavens, The Kilmaine Saints.
The Kilmaine Saints cross the broad Atlantic later in the year to play a series of gigs in the auld country taking in some of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions. Sadly they won’t be coming to Ireland’s 33rd county (London) so my wait to see them goes on. You can still join them as a fan if you’re in America I think but best to check with them and if you in Ireland or going to be there at the same time (April 18-25) then be sure to find out where they are playing and get along!
The Kilmaine Saints performed the whole of Off The Wagon EP live on Facebook on Saturday 29th February and its a wonderful hour+ of the Saints talking about all manner of stuff and playing the songs. Well worth the watch.
“When we need to escape from reality, and it’s not possible to take a trip to the green land, have a couple of glasses of mead instead and fly inside the head to the land we love so much” Rocky Road to Ireland is the second full length album from Italian band Patricks does much the same thing!
When this album popped through the letterbox I took one look at the cover and thought “Oh, an Irish band” and on putting on the disc inside I was further impressed by this ‘Irish’ band. Came as quite the shock then to find out that Patricks may play top quality Irish Folk-Rock and have all the attributes of an actual Irish band but they hail many miles from the Emerald Isle in the Italian home of famed doomed lovers Romeo And Juliet- Verona. Formed in 2012 in no short time Patricks had played right across the north-east of Italy bringing their energy to both the big stages of festivals and their warmth and joy to intimate small pubs venues. In 2014 and 2015 they went down a storm at the ‘Ireland In Festivals’ in Bologna and Padua, opening for Cisco (formerly the legendary Modena City Ramblers). Their debut album, Tales From Irish Waves, hit the shops in June 2016 after eighteen months of hard work. Recorded at Verona’s Bass Department Studio the album was very well received and led to them being invited to headline the 2017 Triskell Celtic Festival in Trieste and for the last couple of years the main spot on St. Patrick’s Day evening in the centre of Verona making over 3,000 people dance for two hours! Tales From Irish Waves was a collection of Irish folk favourites like ‘The Rising Of The Moon’, ‘Star Of The County Down’ and ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’ all done in Patricks very own individual manner. With over 150 concert behind them, these Veronese continue to impress and with the release of Rocky Road To Ireland international growth beckons.
The Rocky Road To Ireland carries on from their debut album in much the same way. Ten tracks of popular Irish folk songs but this time the collection has a lot less emphasis on the more popular songs and includes instrumentals and even a couple of originals too. You actually get almost twenty here with songs mashed together in a incredibly seamless way taking it as far away from the realm of cover albums as you could possibly get. The album starts with ‘The Kesh Jig / Blarney Pilgrim’ and while it may not be only be Irish music that has songs instantly recognisable without words not many also come with the ability to cheer. As is common with a lot of Irish/Celtic bands in Europe the flute is to the fore here while the band cheerfully get through both songs in under three minutes. Next up we are introduced to Margot on vocals whose beautiful voice leads us through ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ a banjo heavy tune owing a lot to the Dubliners famous version though it sounds a little odd not having Ronnie Drew’s gravelly voice (or even Mike McColgan!) accompanying the song! Next is ‘Spancil Hill’ one of the saddest (and let’s face it the competition is immense!) of all the Irish emigration songs. The longest song here at over five minutes and played upbeat rather than its usual slow and maudlin. Margot’s voice dominates as is usually the case with Irish music (see bands like Runa and Solas). I still remember listening to this song for the first time. I had heard it 100’s of times growing up but the first time I took care to listen to the words brought a tear to my eye the sadness of it all.
“Then the cock he crew in the morning, he crew both loud and shrill
I awoke in California, many miles from Spancil Hill”
Here though the famous last lines are missing and replaced with a different last chorus I had never heard before. Next a bunch of songs unfamiliar with me on paper, ‘ ‘The Butterfly / Golden Stud / The Man Of The House’, but ‘Golden Stud’ was recognisable at least. Accordion, fiddle and flute pushing the boundaries and while at times you do wish they would really really cut loose they still manage to beat up the floor. The Dubliners influence here is not just confined to the album’s title with ‘The Rocky Road To Dublin’ played at a steady pace and seeing as i can never quite keep up with the lyrics here Margot does a wonderful job especially in the chorus about bashing up two Liverpudlians! Another song I wasn’t sure I had heard before was ‘P Stands For Paddy’ but on hearing realised i had heard a version of it by German Celtic-Punk band Fiddler’s Green but whether it was this version, a love song, or the one written by Gerry Carney, a bittersweet tribute to the Irish in England that never made it I can’t remember. Here the influences from English Folk-Rock scene of the 70’s are evident with Patricks sounding remarkably like Steeleye Span in places. The Dubs return with a rowdy pub setting performance of ‘Whiskey, You’re The Devil/The Silver Spear/The Mountain Road’ and a professional sets of reels and jigs ‘Glasgow Reel / Aaron’s Key / Banshee Reel’ before we settle down to a modern day Irish folk music classic. ‘The City Of Chicago’ was written by Barry Moore and made famous by Christy Moore the song is a tribute to those who battled all the odds and made it to relative safety across the oceans during the great Hunger.
“Some of them knew fortune
Some of them knew fame
More of them knew hardship
And died upon the plain
They spread throughout the nation
They rode the railroad cars
Brought their songs ant music to ease their lonely hearts”
A fantastic song that that brings the curtain down but NO that’s not it! For they have squeezed in a bonus track at the end!
‘They’re Taking The Hobbits To Isengard / The Fellowship / The Shire’ are songs recognisable from the Lord Of The Rings films and show a sense of humour that has is evident in all the best Irish folk music. So almost forty minutes of quality Irish folk music as interpreted bu one of Europe’s best Irish bands. The album was recorded, mixed and produced by Max Titi at Maxy Sound Studio in Verona for Maxy Sound and if I did have one mixed opinion on the album I would like the band to follow though it is that they should ‘rock out’ a bit more and really go for it but Rocky Road To Ireland is still a fine album and a great way to start March off which is always traditionally our busiest month at London Celtic Punk for obvious reasons!!
The seventh album of Bodh’aktan from Québec. Seven rogues fusing elements of Celtic, Rock, Trad, Pop and Punk and the music of the Celtic Nations, especially Brittany and Ireland. With bagpipes, flute, accordion, violin and bouzouki and vocals in both French and English they are a force to be reckoned with!
We are well into 2020 now but we couldn’t let last year go without paying homage to one of the best, and most active, bands in the Celtic-Punk scene. This will definitely be the last review from 2019 and what a great way to bid farewell then with a band that really encapsulates everything that Celtic-Punk should be about. A link from the traditions of the past to both the present and the future. On their last album, Ride Out The Storm, they were assisted by the legendary uileann piper Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains and it was not the first time Bodh’aktan have embraced the ‘old world’ of Celtic music.
Bodh’aktan formed in Québec in 2011 and they have released several acclaimed albums. Regular visitors to Europe, especially, of course, France they are yet to visit the Irish and British isles but as their fame spreads I’m sure it is only a matter of time. The vast majority of their releases have been in their native tongue but they have also had the novel idea of re-recording a couple of albums into English for their Anglo fans. Their new album De Temps Et De Vents has been recorded in French or as one reviewer hilariously described it as a
“return to the language of Molière after an incursion in Shakespeare”.
The Québec flag, the Fleurdelisé (Lily-flower)
Québec is a semi-autonomous region of eastern Canada and is home to 8,500,000 residents. The official language is French and is spoken by the vast majority of residents (78%). The region has a totally different feel to the rest of Canada and French dominates every aspect of life. Within this French culture is a strong Breton influence and their are no shortage of Celtic influenced bands both traditional and modern. The French population of Québec stands at around 30% with the Irish and the Scots making up a further 10% so the Celt identity there is very strong! Their have been referendums about independence in 1980 and 1995 that have been defeated (in 1995 by a margin of only 1%!) and so they remain, for the time being, subjects of the British crown. This led in 2006, to the House Of Commons of Canada passing a motion to recognise the “Québécois as a nation within a united Canada”.
So onto the actual album and De Temps Et De Vents is twelve original songs lasting nearly forty minutes that starts off where Ride Out The Storm left us. They have been moving away from the harder rock/punk sound of their earlier days into a much more Folk and trad style that is instantly recognisable in modern day Celtic-Punk. With all the lyrics in French and being a pupil of the English school system my knowledge of the language is pretty damn basic to non existent! With that in mind I can really only review the music here so please bear with me.
The album begins with the short ‘Ouverture’ a Celtic-Punk heavy intro which starts with drums but with the rest of the band joining in at intervals building up and up and leading straight into ‘Capitaine Deux-Cennes’. My first impression is that Alexandre Richard has a fine voice that really jollies the music along during the fast songs but can also wrap itself around a ballad too. The music is reminiscent of Flogging Molly with its high tempo danceable style. For the album Bodh’aktan added a fiddler and Marc-Etienne Richard’s work is pure excellent shining alongside the rest of the band. Hopefully he will become a permanent fixture. Only a couple of songs in and you are already left with the impression this is the type of album that is for celebrating along to. The tempo does change from time to time with ‘L’orage’ for example when the bagpipes add a sorrowful side to the song. It’s the first ‘slower’ song but played with a heaviness that belies its speed. ‘L’amer’ is a straight up rock number and also one of the highlights of the album with a ‘Wo-Ho-Oh’ chorus that is just ripe for roaring along to!
‘Le Jardinier Du Couvent’ (in English ‘The Gardener Of The Convent’) is a slow beautiful ballad which slowly builds into a wonderful song. Despite not knowing the words it seems full of sorrow and sadness with Alexandre wringing every bit of emotion out of it. Hidden away among the Breton/French influenced tunes is the Irish trad ‘Set Béquate’ played to absolute perfection and a great example of a band that can turn it’s hand to anything. From Celtic-Punk rockers to trad tunes like this they know how to fill up a dance floor and the song speeds along at such an intensity that i’m sure by the end many drinks will have been spilt and many ankles turned over!
‘La Tournée’ is a fast and furious (120 seconds) number that takes in bands like Neck and The Tossers. Banjo heavy and over in a flash before ‘Le Retour’, a bagpipe Celtic-Rock number with a definite Scots feel and not just because of the pipes while ‘Le Dernier Bateau’ is a slower number with very much a ‘epic’ feel to the song. We are nearing the end of our voyage and Bodh’aktan see us out with two of the longest songs on the album. ‘Dans Le Bois’ carries on in in the same vein with an acoustic Celtic jolly wee number while the curtain comes down on De Temps Et De Vents with the amazing ‘Tant Qu’il Restera Du Rhum’ (in English ‘As Long As There Is Rum’!). At over five minutes all Celtic-Punk fans will know the kind of song when i say that its the end of the night, drink has been taken and you find yourself in the middle of the dance floor holding onto a stranger with your fist (or pint) in the air belting out the words at the top of your lungs. A slow heavy swirling way to see things out.
There is literally something here to keep everyone happy. When they ‘punk’ it up they are brilliant and when they ‘folk’ it up they are as well. For an album that varies from genre to genre the album flows magnificently (something I have noticed on their previous albums too) and you barely notice that the last song was a punk or folk number. The music is a joy to listen and the band are absolutely fantastic musicians and although the obvious humour here is lost on me this is a band who put out consistently great music and have done it yet again.
Well here we go again. It only seems like five minutes since I was compiling all the votes into last years Best Of that saw The Rumjacks romping home with Album Of The Year. This year has been a bit quieter on the Celtic-Punk front but as last year was so busy that is perhaps not surprising. That’s not to say their weren’t some fantastic releases as their were plenty and it was still really difficult to come up with the various lists below. Not so many big bands this year so it was left to the lesser known bands to shine but remember this is only our opinion and these releases are only the tip of the iceberg of what came out last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we are adding the Readers Poll again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2019 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.
We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(click on the green link to go where you will find more information on the release)
How to compete with last year? Every single top band in the genre released an album so things were always going to be a bit quieter for 2019. Top spot this year unsurprisingly goes to The Walker Roaders Celtic-Punk super group! With Pogues, Mollys and Dropkicks making up the team how could they possibly go wrong! Everyone’s ‘next big thing’ Mickey Rickshaw came in a well deserved second and Ferocious Dog took third after releasing their best album, for me, since From Without. Greenland Whalefishers celebrated 25 years on the road with their best album for quite a while and what Best Of would be right without some bloody brilliant Irish-American bands challenging at the top too. Pipes And Pints new album with a new singer received acclaim from across the Punk media and The Rumjacks couldn’t follow up last years unanimous victory despite having two album releases (both sort of live) in the top thirteen. Fiddlers Green continue to make consistently great albums and go into 2020 celebrating thirty years together! Good to see homegrown bands The Whipjacks, The Tenbags, The Filthy Spectacula and Sons Of Clogger making it too. The top thirty was made up of thirteen countries from USA, England, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Quebec, Hungary, Spain and Japan.
The Lucky Trolls took #1 spot with their brilliant self-titled EP following on from fellow countrymen the Krakin’ Kellys multi award winning 2018. Trust me it would have taken an exceptionally good release to keep The Party by Drunken Dolly off the top spot but that is what happened. Dolly’s excursions over to these shores this year j=has seen them grown in stature and you can’t go to a Ferocious Dog gig without spotting at least a dozen of their shirts. Loretta Problem wowed us with their single ‘Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ which took us right back back to The Pogues glory days and what about that accompanying videotoo!! If we had a award for best video then that would have walked it. The Kellys had a quiet year with comparison to ’18 but still managed a respectable #5 and great debut releases from The Placks our sole representative from a Celtic nation (big things are going to happen to this band in 2020 mark my words), Italian/Aussies The Cloverhearts and, from just down the road from my Mammy, Shanghai Treason from Sheffield who only put out one song… but what a song! Eight countries represented from Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Argentina, Australia and Yorkshire!
Argentina is becoming a bit of a hot-spot for Celtic-Punk with not only some well established bands but also some new ones starting up too and with this release Aires Bastardos announced their arrival on the international scene too. Not afraid to dive straight into a folk number after a Cock Sparrer cover they veer from standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in that really accessible way that only Celtic-Punk (and maybe Ska-Punk) bands can do.
The Dreadnoughts don’t really think of themselves as Celtic-Punk so I reckon they’d be happier to win this than Celtic-Punk Album Of The Year. A superb collection of sea shanties that is a pleasure to listen to that was always going to be #1. Crock Of Bones representing the London Irish in 2nd with an album of trad folk with punk rock attitude and it’s especially good to hear some originals done in the style of the ‘auld ways’. 6’10 challenged for the top spot as they always do with everything they release and Bryan MacPherson and Callum Houston both produced great releases of singer-songwriter acoustic folk with Irish roots.
Sadly the Celtic-Punk world has shrunk a little regarding Web-Sites. Winners of the last two years the Mersey Celt Punks have been slacking (sort it out lads!) and enjoying their gigs too much to tell us while Shite’n’Onions have been too busy transferring everything onto a different platform and preparing for a bit of a re-launch I expect. Sadly celtic-rock.de have shut up shop after twelve years so it just makes it all the more clear how much we all miss Waldo and his fantastic Celtic-Folk-Punk And More site. As regular as clockwork and all the news that was ever fit (or not!) to print. Closing down the site in its 10th year in March must have been a tough decision to make and so this year we award best Website to Waldo and let it be known that no Celtic-Punk site will ever come close to replacing you. We would certainly not exist without his kind help and inspiration. All the best comrade enjoy your retirement! One welcome addition is Michu and his Celtic-Punk Encyclopediasite from Poland. Worth checking out especially if you are in a band.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2019 lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other Celtic-Punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
This is our 8th year of making these Best Of lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous ones then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Last year we introduced a new feature THE READERS PICK. We had no idea if it would work or not but it was a raging success so we going to do it all again this year. With well over 500 votes cast you lot chose the debut album from the Krakin’ Kellys as a worthy winner. Only the Top Ten albums are listed but there is an option to write in your favourite release or just to send us love… or abuse!
You are allowed to vote twice but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Friday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020
Barleyjuice out of Philadelphia are back with their seventh studio album with fourteen never before released recordings featuring ‘Juice members old and new!
Drinking, singing about drinking, singing while drinking, drinking while singing. We never drive while drinking, but we do drive while singing drinking songs, which drives others to drink, giving our drinking songs more drive.
Six studio albums in, as well as a Best Of double CD collection, Barleyjuice have, i am reliably informed, become one of the most popular Celtic bands in the USA. As far as I am concerned though this is the first time I have heard one of their records even though I have come across the name of the band several times while writing reviews for this here site. Their music is of the Celtic-Rock variety but with enough bite for it to cross over into our territory at regular intervals! Such is their regard that they have had songs featured in two of my favourite TV programmes in The Office and King Of The Hill as well as the Sly Stallone film, Driven. Barleyjuice were founded in 1998 beginning as a side project for a couple of bagpipers in the Loch Rannoch Pipes & Drums of Pineville, Pennsylvania. The Bhoys are now into their third decade together and if the previous six albums are half as good as The Old Speakeasy then I have been missing out on something!
(a short promo film featuring American celtic rock band Barleyjuice celebrating 20 years of live performances. Edited by Hiu Yau)