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)
The new second solo album from Nova Scotian Brad Lannon taking time off from highly thought of Celtic-Punkers Black Matilda.
Back in 2021 we featured the self titled EP from Black Matilda. Based in the Celtic heartland of Nova Scotia in Canada (go read that reviewfor some history on the region and it’s links to Ireland and Scotland). The EP would later go on to land a #10 in that years Best EP of the the year and, even better, the runner-up spot in the Readers Choice best of 2021.
Black Matilda accordion player Brad Lannon has struck out on his own here with this years Dark Waters a follow up to his debut album Batten Down The Hatches from 2020. Ten tracks that Brad wrote entirely during February of this year.
It’s a little self-challenge that encourage you to write and record music in the month of February. Nothing like a deadline right? I try to do it every year, often times coming no where close to finishing the 10 song or 35 min requirement. Usually you’ll find something in there that’s a gem though. Which is where a few of the Black Matilda songs came from.
Kicking off with the short intro of ‘Hi’ before ‘Underneath The ‘Ol Blind Tree’ and it reveals itself to be gentle wistful Folk music akin to the likes of Papa M or whatever Will Oldham is up to. ‘Footprints’ brings in piano and at 5 and half minutes is Dark waters epic. Next is ‘At The Dusk Hour’ and somewhat surprisingly the accordion is not loud in the mix which is a shame as I’m a accordion nut but it’s catchy and laid back with a multitude of instruments all complementing each other. Now a instrumental and ‘The Wild Wind Blew’ sounds like a track we can expect to be given the Black Matilda treatment in one way or another. Of course being a Nova Scotian the ocean is a theme that comes up again and again and ‘Calm After The Storm’ is a nice wee ballad giving Brad a chance to air that accordion as well as vocal chords!
(Their are no videos of Brad playing any of the songs here so here’s Black Matilda with their incredible video to ‘I Must Sail Away’ from their debut EP which was created by Brad!)
‘In The Tick Of It’ is over in pretty much a flash and the piano led ‘Night In The Woods’ is a creepy number that’ll give you the shivers before another instrumental, this time the piano led ‘Go To Bed Out Of it!’ that leads us nicely into the final song ‘Am I Dreaming?’. Recorded at home with friends popping by from Black Matilda the ideas for the songs came from Brad’s recent time spent in the back woods.
“I find it great for self-work especially during stressful times where I can just hang out in nature and enjoy the many deer paths. You know, using the forest as a mental health tool. Which is all great until you encounter an evil being of sorts! haha”
Black Matilda were a band that I was expecting BIG things from and then the blasted Covid came along and Canada like everywhere else went insane. Brad informs me they are back with new material and have already trialled it at gigs and gotten a fantastic response so already looking forward to that forthcoming studio album but Dark Waters is a very interesting ride through the creative spirit and it’ll be interesting to see how and if these songs end up for Black Matilda.
(You can stream and download Dark Woods via the Bandcamp player below)
One Islander, one Newfoundlander, two Miramichiers and one party just waiting to happen!
There’s not too many places where Irish culture has left such an indelible mark as Canada’s New Brunswick. Such a place where Celtic music is already thriving throws up another great band and though new to us Raglan Road have already established themselves in the hearts of the provinces Celtic music fraternity. Here they release the first single from their forthcoming new album.
New Brunswick is located on the eastern coast of Canada. It is bordered on one side by Maine in the United States and on the other Quebec and has more than sixty lighthouses would you believe. Don’t be surprised to find a fellow Celtic-Punker if you’re ever visiting as about 42 per cent of New Brunswickers can trace their heritage to Celtic origins. This includes both francophones and anglophones, with ancestors hailing from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. Those immigrants washed up on Canada’s shores escaping hardships and oppression mainly during An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger) in 19th century. The ‘famine’ of 1847, in particular, drove one of the largest waves of immigration into the province’s history. The undeniable spirit and resilience of the Celtic people allowed them to establish strong roots in their adopted home, and the culture is still alive and thriving today.
Raglan Road from left to right: Corey MacDonald – Drums * Jason Martell – Rhythm Guitar / Vocals * Jamie Craig – Bass / Keyboards / Vocals * Gary Gosse – Lead Guitar / Mandolin / Vocals *
With members from Prince Edward island, Newfoundland and Miramichi city Raglan Road have supported many of the scene’s biggest and favourite bands that have passed through their region and have become one of the most talked about acts in eastern Canada. Starting off as a duo with Jason Martell and Gary Gosse they were joined by Corey MacDonald and Jamie Craig of The Durty Nellys and soon released their thirteen track self titled debut album to much critical acclaim. A winning mixture of Country influenced Celtic-Rock originals and traditional’s as well as a couple more modern Irish rockers.
Rollin’ out on Saturday
The lads just called, they’re on their way
We’re getting’ on the go tonight it seems
No fancy drinks or pricey grub
We’re headin’ down to the Irish Pub
Tonight my dear we’re blowin’ off some steam
We saddled up boy to the bar
The lassie sets a row of jars
Says “What’s your poison?” like she doesn’t know
No wine or shots and nothing pink
There’s only one choice for the drink
The only thing to get us on the go
Pour it black! (Pour it black!)
Pour it black! (Pour it black!)
Ahh from St. James Gate right to my hand
Pour it black! (Pour it black!)
Pour it black! (Pour it black!)
Well a pint of plain is your only man
A pint of plain is your only man
It’s clear this evening won’t be cheap
The boys already six pints deep
And not a sign that they’ll be slowin’ down
Out in the streets they watch the fights
But back inside the band is tight
We might just drink this pub into the ground
Two more hours its getting hazy
MacDonald’s eyes are getting lazy
He always seems to get a second wind
Another round and then one more
I think they wanna lock the door
We might commit all seven deadly sins
(You can stream / download the debut album from Raglan Road via Bandcamp below)
Chris Barry fromGrass Mud Horse has been a very busy man since we last heard from him. Starring in several movies (or at least appearing in several movies!) and then re-locating back to his adopted home in Canada. From one totalitarian state to another !! Well he has a new single out this week and here’s the story behind it.
Well it has been a while since we featured Grass Mud Horse and it’s great to see them back and back on top form too. ‘Pissed it All Away?’ is the first single since ‘Johnny Todd’ a collaboration with Frankie McLaughlin in June 2021 and while that may not seem long for most Celtic-Punk bands for Grass Mud Horse it’s an eternity! The song was the first that Chris wrote for the band and is based on a auld mate’s story about his Grandad back in Glasgow. We’ll let Chris take it from here
” The story went that by all accounts his Grandad was a great Goalie, but also a great drinker. Celtic scouts had taken an interest and arranged to meet with him and his Mum and Dad after he finished work. All he had to do was swerve the pub after work and go straight home. Sadly his mates twisted his rubber arm and he went down the pub, and the opportunity to try out for Celtic went down the drain. He quite literally, pissed it all away.
I realised, as I’d hit my 30s I had more and more mates with similar stories about their own opportunities that they’d pissed away, in one way or another. In actuality there’s was more than one opportunity that I’d pissed away myself. So from all that I wrote the first Grass Mud horse song. “
He coulda been a keeper For Celtic it was said He coulda done so many things
But he was always off his head
He coulda been the president Or an artist they would say But hed rather drink than write or think So he pissed it all away ☘ He had an eye for business
He was always in the know
When making new investments He was the man to go Well I heard he made a million
And I heard they made him pay
When he shot the lot on booze and pot And pissed it all away ☘ Pissed it all away He coulda done so many things If from drinking he could stay And its another night another fight As they carry him away Well they shake their heads put him to bed
Who pissed it all away
☘ He coulda been the champion He coulda ruled the ring He coulda won the belt Yeah he woulda been a king But he vowed to throw in the towel
If it ever got in the way
For his love of booze hed gladly lose And piss it all away ☘ Pissed it all away He coulda done so many things If from drinking he could stay And its another night another fight As they carry him away Well they shake their heads put him to bed
Who pissed it all away
☘ On karaoke night Hed always steal the light He could barely stand But his voice was grand In between him talking shite An I assure you its no fluke
He was in an indie group
But he drank the advance on a tour of France And pissed it all away
He coulda been the champion He coulda ruled the ring He coulda won the belt Yeah he woulda been a king But he vowed to throw in the towel
If it ever got in the way
For his love of booze hed gladly lose And piss it all away ☘ Pissed it all away He coulda done so many things If from drinking he could stay And its another night another fight As they carry him away Well they shake their heads put him to bed
Who pissed it all away
What happened to the last two albums?
“China and Covid. The situation there became too much and one by one the original line up of Grass Mud Horse got out. For the first two years the borders where closed and we effectively couldn’t leave, then it opened a little but flights where incredibly expensive. So we where waiting to see if China eased up, or flights became more reasonable.
We’ve all left except Josh who is seeing out a contract and then I think he will leave too, so that should tell you which happened first. I still have family there and will maybe go back one day, so I won’t say too much more.
It became very stressful, months without work, sometimes on rations and I have a 4 year old so the stress and anxiety made finishing the albums the least of priorities.
Well me and my daughter are in Canada now, where my parents emigrated to years ago. My plan is to put together a new Grass Mud Horse line-up to play live and slowly get back to recording. This (Pissed it All Away) single was about ready to go, so I decided to get it out as sort of celebration that I’m free and able to get back to what I love doing. The other two albums will come in time”
So what else is in the future for you and Grass Mud Horse?
“Well I write and record all our original stuff myself, so Grass Mud Horse is just a matter of me finding people I gel with to perform the material together live. I’ve found a bass player and will keep looking for others.
At some point I will return to the Pirate songs and Sea Shanties album and I think Pieces of My Heart will eventually come out as a collection of the singles to date as well as a couple of unheard tracks.
Right now though, I’m looking forward to putting together a band, getting out there again live…that hasn’t been an option for a few years, so that will be enjoyable. And of course Pissed it All Away comes out on the 25th which is the first single since back in like spring 2021, when we did Johnny Todd with Frankie. So for me it’s an important one.”
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.
Love, drinking, fighting, hope are the topics that occupy Celtic-Punk giants The Mahones on their brand new album Jameson Street. Their first studio album in three years.
Probably the most prolific of Celtic-Punk bands whether it comes to recording and releasing new material or indeed playing in your local neighbourhood it’s the welcome return of The Mahones. A while ago lead singer and main man Finny McConnell announced on Facebook that The Mahones were going to forego major touring and from now on only play prestige and local gigs. Well I thought who can bloody blame them. We have all recently seen the effects that constant touring can have on a band and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody so if a break was needed then they made the right decision… but the clamour to get back on stage was too great and soon enough the announcement came of another massive tour and the release of this album, Jameson Street.
The Mahones Promo 2019
What to say about The Mahones then? Well not a lot I suspect that the vast majority of you don’t already know. They are one of the world’s most popular and successful Celtic-Punk bands with a career stretching back over thirty years to the 17th March 1990. What once began as a one-off band for a St. Patrick’s Day party, quickly became a global touring phenomenon and a figure head for an entire genre. The Mahones have since gone on to release fifteen albums, including 2020’s 30th Anniversary double album This Is All We’ve Got To Show For It.
Jameson Street is their first studio album since 2019 and the list of friends and ex-band members who have popped by to take part is massive. The core of the band remains the same with Nicole Kaiser on fiddle, Finny on guitar, Michael O’Grady on tin whistle and Sean ‘Riot’ Ryan on bass but an astounding seventeen other musicians are listed on the sleeve notes so some of whom will have to forgive us for not mentioning them so here’s just a select few – Dave Barton of The Peelers, Nicholas Smyth of The Dreadnoughts and the Crash Test Dummies Stuart Cameron! With such a prolific output you may expect The Mahones to be running out of steam by now but low and behold this ranks up there with their very best albums from their early days.
The album begins with the title song and ‘Jameson Street’ takes the pub céilí sound out the pub and into your living room. The origins of this song can be found on a short You Tube video recorded live at Sir John Eh’z Nose Ring Circus two-day music festival in 1993. A couple of minutes of pure unadulterated speedy trad Irish Folk peppered with shouts and “yaarrrrs” before leading into a classic Mahones style song of ‘Rise Up (Be Strong)’. Finny has always used his writing to uplift folk and while he may have sometimes put his foot in it over on that damn Facebook he did say
“Jameson Street is meant to make you feel like you’re having a night out. No politics, no religion, just good times, and everybody having fun. Unity is the underlying message.”
Written with Greg from Husker Du who Finny has recently been playing, recording and touring with in the Punk band Ultrabomb , along with the UK Subs Jamie Oliver. A full-blooded rousing anthem of which their is one or two more to come!
“Let’s get along, no-one gets left behind, the healing has begun”
Now I don’t know who wrote the blueprint for Celtic-Punk but every album needs a drinking song or two and The Mahones open up with ‘A Devil In Every Bottle’ and are joined by Dave Barton of fellow Canadian-Irish Celtic-Punks The Peelers on vocals. It’s unmistakable Mahones, jolly and jig-worthy and a tribute (of sorts) to Irish whiskey. ‘Freeway Toll’ takes it down a bit with a more Folk-Rock approach that gives Finny a real chance to stretch them vocal chords. A song that you’d not be surprised to see picked up by someone of mega-star status later on. It’s a nice song that slots in well among the Irish-Punk and Trad. ‘Watch Me Fall’ steams past in 130 seconds before one of the album highlights the instrumental ‘Lonesome Boatman’. Now I think for most of us we first heard this song on a compilation album More Green Velvet that we bought for our Mums in the early 80’s. Hidden away in between Dana and Philomena Begley belting out the best of Irish in Country’n’Irish style was The Fureys And Davey Arthur playing ‘Lonesome Boatman’ and it fair blew my mind as a young angry Punk-Rocker. An incredible song that passed by unnoticed for many years until it finally began to receive its due plaudits. Picked up by the Dropkick Murphys after a couple of Euro Celtic-Punk bands had already recorded it The Mahones play a version that sits nicely in the middle of the Fureys and the Dropkicks. Holloway Road in north London use to be the epicentre of north London Irish life and it’s still called by many County Holloway. Not sure if ‘Holloway Jack’ has anything to do with that but it does feature lyrics by the late Paddy Cuncanon, an old friend of the band and they have turned his words into an evocative stirring sea shanty. ‘Fiddle On Fire’ is the albums second instrumental and unsurprisingly, from the title, Nicole lets her fiddle do the talking with a speedy fast as feck Irish hoe-down. We are coming up towards the end and there’s been no filler here as we continue with ‘She Comes For Love’. Finny has always worn his heart on his sleeve even when it’s perhaps been questionable but it’s one of the reasons we still love him. ‘Last Call At The Bar’ sees the sound drop into ‘Country-Irish’ and we just don’t mind. A singalong that will have bartenders across the world giving a wry smile.
“It’ is a song that bartenders can relate to – that feeling you get when you tell everybody to bug off and go home. It’s a fun song that sticks in your head, and it fits the Jameson Street theme.”
The album ends with a bonus track a boisterous live version of what Finny says is his favourite Pogues song ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’. Recorded live at the Horseshoe Tavern In Toronto 2003 The Mahones are joined on stage by the legendary Phil Chevron and Terry Woods of The Pogues. It’s the first time they have even recorded / released a Pogues track, astonishing considering how often they are compared to the Celtic-Punk pioneers.
Well if Jameson Street was meant to make you feel like you’re having a great night out then they have certainly achieved that. Like has been said it’s one of the best Mahones releases for a long time. From the start to the finish I love this album striking a chord with me that I’m sure will also with even the most casual of Celtic-Punk fans. The album has been released on True North Records as well as every streaming site you can think of but really you should order from the label to not only ensure they have the money to continue but to put out more Celtic-Punk releases and, especially, from The Mahones!
(Stream Jameson Street but don’t buy from vultures. Get it from the record label below)
So, Jameson Street awaits, and there’s a drink at the bar with your name on it. Go for it!
There’s a price that you pay living life on the booze! The newest tune from Vancouver’s Paddy Waggin’ featuring neighbour Finny McConnell from The Mahones.
‘Life On The Booze’ dates back to 2020 and was written by Aidan Carroll (AKA Paddy) after celebrating his birthday bash. Left feeling the worse for wear and with unusually high levels of hangxiety.
“I penned it all in one go upon waking. Then strummed out the chords in the afternoon as sort of a cathartic therapy for my aching head.”
It seemed like a good way to spend the day recovering and when introduced to the rest of the band they began working on it straight away and plans were made to record it. With it all set to go the opportunity for Paddy Waggin’ to play with Finny McConnell from legendary fellow Canadian Celtic-Punks The Mahones on his solo tour. Finny jumped at the chance to sing guest vocals along with Aidan with everyone sharing backup vocals and choruses and the song was recorded by Larry Lich @ Eagle Ears studios.
Paddy Wagon left to right: Andrew Whyte – Guitar * Aidan Carroll – Vocals * Rob Stewart – Drums * Jon Poliquin – Bass * Philip Meyer – Accordion * Johnny Jandara – Mandolin/ Banjo (plus Bourton Scott on fiddle not in picture)
For the end of year ‘Best Of’ awards we will be introducing a new category for Best Celtic-Punk video and ‘Life On The Booze’ will be a strong contender for #1 spot! The brainchild and creation of Paddy Waggin’ drummer Diamond Dick who sadly missed the recording through illness forcing the band to use a drum machine for the track. Needless to say he wasn’t too happy about being replaced by a drum machine so as part of his healing he took it upon himself to get his revenge by turning the band into cartoon characters! He then created a dancing metronome robot to represent the drum sounds he despised and then destroys it at the end of the video.
No Irishman were hurt in the making of this video.
All characters are purely fictional and not intended to represent real people
I saw Paddy today
And how he was bragging
Swearing about how he’s on the wagon
It’s enough to make
A grown man cringe
When you’re waiting for
Your next last binge
This time it’s true
I’ve had enough drink
To sink this, ship and its crew
I’m capsized I’m drowning
Down here in this brew
There’s a price that you pay
Living life on the booze
I saw Paddy today
And he wasn’t drinking
Swearing about his new way of thinking
Its enough to make
A grown man cry
As he shoots back a shot
With his guilt in his eyes
I saw Paddy today
And he wasn’t on the lash
He swore never again
To drink one little splash
But before I congratulate him on the task
He leans back and takes a big swig from his flask
I saw Paddy today
He wasn’t in the cups
Swearing how he
Never touches the stuff
But before I could say
Good job there old man
He took out his knife
And he shotgunned a can
I saw Paddy today
And he wasn’t bragging
Taken away in the Paddy Wagon
Your under arrest!
The Mahones have a fabulous new album out called Jameson Street and Paddy Waggin are delighted to have been asked to open for The Mahones on their 30th Anniversary Jameson Street tour. Two shows October 20th and 21st at The Fox Cabaret in Vancouver and expect to hear Life On The Booze’ performed live with Finny.
The folk-punkers from Vancouver are back, with a new collection o’ songs to get ya up and dancing. Following our review of 2019’s Into The North, we now present some o’ the finest moments from the band’s latest offering, Roll And Go. Let’s get into it!
In case ye don’t know ’em so well, The Dreadnoughts are a 6-piece band hailing from the West coast of Canada. They refer to their brand of Celtic punk as “world-core cluster folk”, and these humorous songs are brought to you by a cast of musicians with equally humorous nicknames. Examples include Wormley Wangersnitch on fiddle, Drew Sexsmith (aka. Dread Pirate Druzil) on mandolin and banjo, and – perhaps best of all – The Stupid Swedish Bastard on drums. I wonder what fellow Celtic punkers Sir Reg would make of that one…😁
On a more serious note, The Dreadnoughts have toured and recorded pretty relentlessly since they started out in 2006. This new record gives the band another chance to showcase their experience. We kick off with “Cider Jar”, a short and unnerving intro complete with glockenspiel, of all things, and a bastardisation of “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”. This is, of course, only the quiet before the storm.
Soon, we’re launched into “Cider Holiday”, which kinda speaks for itself 🍺 Everything that the Celtic punk fan knows and loves is on offer here – the 2/4 polka rhythm, the band’s street punk attitude, a chorus singalong and – of course – a nod to the ol’ West Country influences (i.e. Bristol way, to anyone outside the UK). Sean Astin pulled off a decent West Country accent in Lord of the Rings. In my estimation, these North American dudes aren’t too bad at it either.
One of the standout tracks on Roll And Go has to be track #4 “Problem”. Not to be confused with the Sex Pistols song of [almost] the same name, the band get the klezmer/polka punk out here, and to brilliant effect. Slow Ride’s accordion and Wangersnitch’s fiddle link up well, and the lyrics are witty, funny, and very catchy. So call some mates, get some drinks in, and get dancing round the room to this one. There’s a “trippy” break in the middle of the song, if you need to catch your breath!
Don’t forget to check out the official YouTube video to this song too. In contrast to the energy of polka punk, this clip features the band doing absolutely nothing 😁 Fortunately, the fans in the video more than make up for it.
“Battleford 1885” is more of a straightforward, hard rock song. It does have its Celtic influences, however, and I quite enjoyed this number meself. For those of us interested in history, the song refers to a wee town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It was looted in the late 19th century by a party of Cree Native Americans, who were short on food supplies at that time.
Love music…with a difference
To sample the band’s own polka-powered take on a love song, try “Vicki’s Polka”. This is a touching, but bouncy tune with some sweet accordion passages to break it up. The Dreadnoughts regularly perform as a trad polka band at certain festivals, under the name of Polka Time. This song is a nod to that factor. Next time you’re thinkin’ of ideas for a date, don’t take your other half to a club. Go polka with them ☘️ As we all know, it’s a barrel o’ fun and you’ll both love it.
“Scrumpy-O” is a different kind of, er, love song, as it’s another dedication to the band’s favourite beverage. Scrumpy, for those who ain’t sampled it yet, is a cider originating in the good ol’ West Country of England. An angry-sounding bass intro by Squid Vicious (great name there) leads us into another Celtic punk thrash rhythm, complete with a West Country “Cider!” growl. I quite fancy a trip back to Bristol and a pint in the pub after listenin’ to this one. Make mine a Guinness though, please, my wife’s the cider fan 🍻
The loveliest song of all, though, is saved till last (well, second from last). Track #12 is the band’s take on traditional sea shanty “Bold Riley” – or “Reilly”, by their own spelling. Many a musician has covered this one, from Kate Rusby to fellow Canadians The Wailin’ Jennys. The ‘Nought’s rendition is similarly beautiful, while a soft percussive tap keeps time. One of my favourites on the album, and a song that puts me fondly in mind of “John Kanaka”, another sea shanty.
Roll And Go
Last of all, we’re treated to the epic title track. The band pack everything they’ve got into this finale: a quiet acoustic intro, a build-up on drums, and then the heavy guitars to kick our ears into gear. The klezmer-polka influence makes a final return during the instrumental breaks. But it’s interesting how the band dial back the typical 2/4 thrash rhythm on this one. A well-worked ending to a well-worked album, and The Fang’s closing lyric made a particular impression upon me:
I’ve never known a better bunch of bully lads than you. And we’ll be back some fine and lucky day.
– The Dreadnoughts, “Roll And Go”
Give the title track a spin here:
What The Dreadnoughts have delivered here is a strong collection of songs, with clean and crisp mixing and mastering values. The six-piece continues to show its experience, but they’ve lost none of their Celtic punk grit on this latest offering.
Now…to support the band directly, buy yourself a copy of Roll And Go on the band’s Bandcamp page. If your CD or vinyl player’s long been consigned to the ocean floor (or the local dump), then you can get the album in digital format as well, from the same link above. If streaming’s your thing, then listen to it on Spotify or via Apple Music.
Last of all, communication is key as they say, so stay in touch with the band on their social media channels. They’ll tell ya what’s next, and when they’ll be appearin’ in your neck of the woods. Find ’em on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
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 😉
St.Patrick’s is, unsurprisingly, our busiest time of year and we get inundated with albums, EPs and singles from bands left, right and centre from right across the world. Normally we try our best to get round to reviewing as many as possible and it’s not unusual for us to be still ploughing through them a couple of months later. This year we decided we will group the best of the singles together and then take our time with the bigger releases. So a week on here’s the pick of the Celtic-Punk scene single releases from St. Patrick’s week.
SIR REG – ‘Kick Out The Scum’
Our first track is from Scandinavian Irish rockers Sir Reg and once again the subject of politicians comes up for them and you can possibly guess their take on the matter from the songs title – ‘Kick Out The Scum’! Written by lead singer Brendan it is the third single from their upcoming new album of the same name and set for release in April on Despotz Records.
“When will people learn and stop voting in the same useless shower of twats year after year?!! Let’s all stand together and do something about it once and for all! “
THE DREADNOUGHTS – ‘Cider Holiday’
With over 80,000,000 streams on Spotify they like to think of themselves as “the biggest band you’ve never heard of”! Formed back in 2006, they’ve been on a cider-fuelled bender ever since bringing their furious brand of Celtic-Polka-Punk-Klezmer mayhem across the globe. They recently announced some home show dates in Vancouver for St. Patrick’s and also the release of ‘Cider Holiday’ on the big day itself. The song is the first single from their upcoming 5th album Roll And Go on Stomp Records, and hearkens back to Flogging Molly’s finest material and a Celtic-Punk tribute to real farmhouse cider.
THE FOGGY DUDE – ‘Bella Ciao’
Our favourite Czech Republican Celtic-Punk band released a special Foggy Dude version of the classic great Italian song favoured by partisans during the 2nd World War but first sang by sung in the late 19th century by workers in protest against the harsh working conditions in the paddy fields of northern Italy. The timing is impeccable!
MAGGIE’S FLOCK – ‘The Serpent (Oh St. Patrick)
Now a song from Maggie’s Flock that really got into the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day and a tale of the good man ridding Ireland of snakes. If you would like to learn more about the life and times of St. Patrick have a look at our feature from the 17th. Released on the day itself we are looking forward to another great year from these Dutch Celtic-Folk-Rockers.
SHANGHAI TREASON – ‘Failure To Launch’
A early contender for album of the year Shanghai Treason continue their rise with a track taken from their upcoming ‘B-sides’ E.P release which features 3 tracks which didn’t quite make it onto the bands debut album which goes to show f’ing good it was if this never made the cut!
FLATFOOT 56 – ‘Mud’
We end this feature with the band I’m most excited about, Chicago’s pride, the wonderful Flatfoot 56. One of the most down to earth and grounded bunch of guys you’ll ever meet in the music biz. The song itself is, of course, utterly brilliant and is the lead single for their half of a split six-track EP with The Rumjacks out at the beginning of May.
So their you go six bands with wildly different styles and approaches to Celtic-Punk. Contrary to popular belief not all bands in the scene sound like the Dropkick Murphys! While you are here a word to check out the recently updated Celtic-Punk Playlist from London Celtic Punks columnist Andy @The Celtic Punk Author.
The Stab Rovers have a strong connection to the Atlantic. Born and raised in the Maritime Provinces, and now calling Nova Scotia home these maritime boys play a mix of Trad and original Celtic and Folk inspired tunes, reimagined in a high energy format.
The Irish outside Ireland outnumber those at home many many times. For instance in the mid-70’s it was estimated their were more people from Mayo in Leeds than in the capital of Mayo itself! The children of those Irish are now fathers themselves and so the Irish diaspora continues to grow and hopefully flourish. Now some places just roll off the tongue when discussing the Irish diaspora, Boston, Liverpool, New York and London but their is nowhere as proud of their Gaelic roots as Nova Scotia is. The very name Nova Scotia translates as ‘New Scotland in both Scots and Latin and the Irish have been calling the area Talimh An Eisc (‘The Land of the Fish’) for centuries. With over 25% of residents ticking the Irish ethnicity box on recent census and many doing likewise with ‘Scottish’ it’s no surprise to find out that wherever Celtic music is you’ll also find Celtic-Punk too.
Formed as a trio in 2014, The Stab Rovers have since grown to include 5 members. The band members possess decades of experience playing in alternative rock and punk bands all over Eastern Canada. Their self titled debut album was released in 2018 and included several traditional tunes but all with original Stab Rover arrangements.
“We like to think that the songs sound much more interesting when re-imagined as if performed by rowdy pirates.”
During the pandemic, the Stab Rovers used their time in the studio to write and record and after two years without live performances The Stab Rovers are happy to be back playing before the masses! Their new single ‘Off To War’ reflects back on the strong military and naval traditions that are so important and engrained here in the Maritimes. It also paves the way for many more forthcoming releases.
The Stab Rovers left to right : Reece Baird – Mandolin, Guitar * Allan Muir – Guitar, Whistle, Vocals * Alden Huskins – Drums, Bass * Kory Wade – Bass, Guitar, Vocals * Cameron Strong – Banjo, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals *
We like to think we have our collective finger on the pulse of Celtic-Punk but occasionally a band will slip through and we’ll wonder how on earth we hadn’t heard of them. When we first heard of The Stab Rovers we had thought they had disbanded years ago but were delighted to find out we were wrong. It may have been a few years since their debut album but it’s not that unusual with Celtic-Punk bands who tend to concentrate more on playing live than recording. That debut album is available for download at the link below.
So absolutely great to have The Stab Rovers back in the fold and we look forward to hearing lots more by them in the near future.
Finally the last of the 2021 releases to review. Black Matilda’s debut release came out just before Christmas and shows their Gaelic / sea-faring roots. Hardly surprising for a band from Nova Scotia.
While many places across the world are rightly proud of their Irish connections. Places like Boston, Liverpool and New York are synonymous with Ireland and it’s even thought up to 1 in 10 Londoners has a Irish grand-parent but their is nowhere outside the Celtic nations that has a Gaelic culture comparable to Nova Scotia in Canada. Well over 25% of the territories residents trace their roots back to Ireland and Scotland and the Scottish language is still spoken regularly across the province though it’s decline in use in use over the generations is perhaps to be expected but their are still speakers in Pictou County, Antigonish County, and Cape Breton Island, and the language is taught in a number of secondary schools throughout the province. The very name Nova Scotia translates as ‘New Scotland in both Scots and Latin and the Irish have been calling the area Talimh An Eisc (‘The Land of the Fish’) for centuries.
So no surprise then that Nova Scotia has thrown up a wealth of Celtic influenced bands over the years and you can add some pretty amazing Celtic-Punk to that list. The Stanfields, The Stab Rovers, East River Rats are all bands that have featured on these pages and the latest to arrive are Black Matilda and they released their self-titled debut EP in the middle of December. Founded in 2019 in Lunenburg, a port town on the South Shore of Nova Scotia it is still reliant on the fishing industry and is home to Canada’s largest secondary fish-processing plant. Back in 1995 the town was designated a World Heritage Site and is considered today the best example of British colonial settlement in the whole of North America as it retains its original appearance from the 1800’s.
So with such a background and wealth of history no wonder Black Matilda have joined the Nova Scotian Celtic-Punk crew! The EP kicks off with ‘Intro’ and the not uncommon start to many releases the sound of the ocean accompanied by a bell ringing in the wind and the mournful sound of an accordion its an atmospheric start that slips gently into the EP’s lead single ‘I Must Sail Away’.
Accompanied by an outstanding stop motion animation video the song is a piece of pure Celtic-Punk joy with the refrain “if heaven is a place it’s a ocean” leaving you with no doubt where they are from. The song leads with some excellent accordion before the rest of the gang join in. ‘Life Of The Party’ reminds me of Hold Fast with tongue placed firmly in cheek and a catchy hard nosed Celtic-rocker. It’s all acoustic but with the sound turned up loud. I’ve seen many a wee Punk rocker get his cobwebs blown away by bands like Black Matilda assuming the sight of acoustic guitars and mandolins means finger in the ear music! ‘Batten Down The Hatches’ is a perfect example, purely acoustic except for a small guitar solo in the middle. Their are only five songs here but plenty of promise too. Their social media is a bit sparce so hopefully they are squirreled away busy writing and recording as I write this. The final song ‘Lost At Sea’ sees the band rock out completely with great spoken/ shouty vocals and a heaviness that eclipses the previous songs and sees the EP going out in real style.
“We are beyond thrilled to share our music we wrote during the pandemic. While in lockdown, we knew people were looking for an escape. This is what we came up with!”
One thing we must all know by now is that the Irish are everywhere but today with globalisation their obvious presence is waning somewhat. No so in Nova Scotia wherever you look you will find the traditions and customs of the people who washed up there over the years and they are honoured today by bands like Black Matilda.
After 30 years of leading renowned Celtic-Punk rockers, The Mahones, Finny McConnell decided that it was time to make an album for himself. Showcasing his intimate songwriting skills, Finny also includes covers of songs with deep meaning to him. The Dark Streets of Love is a collection of his most intimate music, stripped bare.
Earlier this year Finny made an announcement over on The Mahones Facebook page that the band’s days of spending months on end touring round the world were at an end. It didn’t come as much as a shock admittedly as I don’t think it was possible to keep up that level of commitment indefinitely. I mean The Mahones not only covered more miles than any other Celtic-Punk band in a year but I daresay any band!
It must be strange being in a band where you alone are the chief songwriter as well as singer and for all and purposes the leader so where does the urge to go solo come from I wonder? In just the past couple of years The Mahones have recorded an acoustic album where much of the ground covered on The Dark Streets Of Love is covered. But this album is much more than just a Mahones album in Finny’s name you feel. The songs he has chosen, and among them are a few of his composition, are obviously very close to his heart. Finny has always been one for wearing his heart on his sleeve and it’s rare that a performer can come across so honestly especially at a time when honesty is at a premium.
Of the eleven songs presented here seven are covers the rest by Finny. To a causal observer though it would seem like they were all covers such is the quality of Finny’s songwriting. Whether writing about going on the piss in north London, basketball, Irish history, loss or love or unrequited love he put’s the same passion into everything. That with other people is sometimes their undoing though Finny seems to thrive on it. The Dark Streets Of Love kicks off with a song by everyone’s favourite Irish-German-American and The Bosses ‘Atlantic City’. From the opening few seconds even before Finny comes in you know you’re onto a winner here. When he does come in he sings with a sort of weariness that even Bruce didn’t achieve. Gentle accordion adds to the atmosphere only coming into the open during the musical sections and so taking none of the spotlight away from Finny’s voice. ‘Someone Save Me’ is from a recent Mahones album, The Hunger And The Fight Pt. 1 from 2014. Co-written with his now ex- wife Katie I thought it was a beautiful song then but now… Gina Romantini’s beautiful fiddle lends subtle support to Finny’s voice just as Kevin Hearn’s accordion did during the opening track. A magnificent tribute to love and such is the passion expressed it can sometimes feel like you’re sitting in on a private conversation.
‘Stars’ is again from the same Mahones album as ‘Someone Save Me’ and again was co-written with Katie. A loving tribute to the life of Oscar Wilde. A sad tale of the famed Irish poet and playwright convicted of “gross indecency” at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He was imprisoned and died in poverty in 1900 at the tragically early age of 46. One of The Mahones better ‘modern’ songs it has a fantastic chorus and Finny tells the story with grace. Finny has always had a bit of a Shane drawl and puts it to good use on ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’. Even among the stone cold classics Shane MacGowan penned this song is one of a handful that tower above even them. Fellow Mahone Michael O’Grady adds haunting tin-whistle and Glenn Milchem drums as Finny sticks closely to the original. Maybe a bit too closely at the end!! On a album that is so tender ‘New York City’ seems a bit out place with its Glam-Rock bounce and chunky guitar but then why wouldn’t a solo album follow the same pattern as The Mahones. He never said it was going to be a quiet album. Loud and bombastic and taken from The Hunger And The Fight Pt. 2 from 2015 Finny channels the 1970’s for the next few songs beginning with this tribute to NYC. Maybe the cities best era as despite it’s high crime rate and poverty it wasn’t full of fucking yuppies. The introduction of piano for ‘So Far Away’ is masterful as Finny sounds like he’s chatting someone in a pub in the early hours. Again piano led ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ sees Finny’s gravelly vocal chords giving a simple but stunning rendition of Lou Reed’s original. Though the covers here are great it is Finny’s own material that shines through. On ‘We’re Miles Apart’ he talks maybe about himself and maybe he doesn’t. A sad song about lovers who become friends. I’ve always though Finny was cut from the same cloth as the legendary Tom Waits and on the Waitsy ‘Cocktail Blues’, swishing drums and jazz piano steer clear of ‘Jazz Club’ comparisons thank God. From one of the earliest Mahones albums The Hellfire Club Sessions from 1999 it drops the Gaelic touches and sticks tightly to ‘lounge lizard’ territory. The curtain comes down with a song in tribute to Gord Downie from Finny’s home town of Kingston in Ontario. Gord passed away in 2017 of cancer and is remembered as lead singer and lyricist for the The Tragically Hip’ ‘Fiddlers Green’ is a great tribute and played stripped back with just Finny and acoustic guitar.
As is the way though there’s a bonus track and it’s ‘Back Home’. One of The Mahones best ever tracks taken from Draggin’ The Days from 1994.
“Hey, it’s not long till we get home
Say, you know I hate to drink alone
Did I tell you, you send shivers through my bones
And I wish I was back home with you again”
A great way to end things buy why bother with this ‘bonus track’ hooey!
The album was produced by Finny himself and engineered by Gene Hughes and recorded as live over St. Patrick’s Day 2021, in Toronto. It’s not your typical Mahones album in fact the Irish touches here are far and few between but Finny’s Irish soul shines through. A beautiful and at times heart wrenching journey through one of Ireland’s true musical geniuses.
As suspected you can’t keep a good man down for long and Finny will still need his suitcase and shower cap as he’s now a part of the Punk-Rock trio Ultrabomb with Greg Norton of Hüsker Dü and Jamie Oliver of the U.K. Subs. The guys will be performing a mix of all three bands songs plus material they’ve written for a new album. They have announced a handful of gigs as we to press including Ireland and one here in London at 229 The Venue in the west end. Sadly though we are going to have to wait till April 2022. You can find all the relevant details including ticket information over on the band’s Facebook event.
Ever since Shane and The Pogues knocked our ears into gear in the ’80s, hundreds of bands have followed in their footsteps. Year after year, they bring us exciting Celtic punk songs, albums and gigs to light up a somewhat shit world. But what about Celtic punk stories? Why ain’t there many of them floatin’ aboot?
Maybe there’s more than one way to entertain people. If you’re into Guinness, St. Paddy’s Day and young people embracing the Celtic spirit worldwide, then what we have here will be right up yer alley, ye ken. They say hope springs eternal…and so does folk!
Have you ever wanted to read a short story, or even a novel, about Celtic punk? As if The Pogues, Tossers and Mahones were ready to jump off the page at ya? If that sounds cool, then meet Gus, Lin, Herman and Rash. Four characters from the far-flung reaches of Nova Scotia, Canada. They’re passionate musicians, folkin’ the Irish pubs and refusing to bend to society’s wishes. Below, I give ye four reasons why you should give a shit.
1. They have the bottle of smoke
Yes, that’s a Pogues reference! The Bottle of Smoke is the band’s aptly-named local Irish pub. We kick things off with them playin’ The Smoke mid-week to an appreciative audience; Gus on guitar and vocals, Herman on mandolin, Rash workin’ the accordion, and Gus’s cousin Lin banging the bodhrán (not in a sexual way). Gus is essentially the band’s very own Shane MacGowan; a troubled ratbag who likes a drink or six, but a songwriting genius with a fistful of dreams and a big, beating heart at the centre of it all. And speakin’ of The Pogues, if there’s one band you would automatically compare these four musicians to, then the London Irish legends are it.
As well as playin’ The Bottle of Smoke as often as the pub’ll book ’em, the band are making inroads into the rest of Atlantic Canada as well. They’ve played out west a little, they’re set to play Cape Breton Island on St. Patrick’s Day, and they’re keepin’ their well attuned ears to the ground for more. The stage is quite literally set for a Celtic punk love affair.
Sounds good so far? Read on, ya big bollocks 😉
2. They have ideals
We all realised we weren’t gonna get anywhere in life unless it was through the music. Ozzy didn’t wanna do what his father did for a living, and Tony didn’t wanna do what his dad did. Neither did Bill, and neither did I.
Geezer Butler, Black Sabbath
While Kilmainen (being the band’s name) might not be working-class, backstreet kids from Aston, Birmingham, they ain’t exactly moneyheads either, to use Gus’s own word. Gus himself is a standout example of this, working just 15 hours a week in a music shop. Underpaid, no doubt, but doing something he actually cares about. Cousin Lin is similar, having snubbed the corporate world to go part-time in an artsy café. The band members take the time and energy saved, and reinvest it into the one thing that matters most to them: their music.
The plan is that writing songs together, recording albums, doing interviews, playing gigs and working with other musicians will one day become the quartet’s full-time gig, their sole source of income. That’s certainly what the Austrian-born Herman dreams of, as he spends Sunday afternoons promoting the band’s music online. The biggest dreamer, though, is once again Gus: what you’re about to read is one of the entries he pours into his diary mid-way through the story.
I don’t want to live by society’s rules. It’s boring. I don’t wanna live life with no idea what I want. Society wants you think you’re worthless, and that it’s YOUR fault if you’re unhappy. But I can see through that. I KNOW what my purpose in life is. It’s the best feeling you can get, when people say your music’s helped them. Tell me it’s just a hobby? Bollocks to that. I wanna BE someone in life, change things up.
Guthrie “Gus” Ward, Folk Springs Eternal
I once saw a great film where actress Julia Jentsch said, “I want to live young, wild and free.” Most people will tell you that’s stupid, but her co-star Daniel Brühl said, “that’s not stupid.” He was right, and so is Gus above. There’s nothing wrong with having a dream, with looking at the world and asking questions. Asking whether life can be lived differently, rather than the way it’s spoonfed to us. That’s where the hope lies, my friend. And hope – like I started out saying above – springs eternal, right?
Will folk music spring eternal in Kilmainen’s case, too? Read on, because here’s where it gets nail-biting.
3. They have to fight society
Unless you’re sheltered from the world, or just strike lucky, you won’t follow your dreams without some serious backlash along the way. Numerous examples exist: Mahatma Gandhi, Carl Brashear, Jacinda Ardern, Mark Oliver Everett, the list goes on and on. These people had to battle their way to success, and our four musical heroes are no exception to this rule. We get a glimpse of it in chapter 4, when Rash’s office colleagues disregard his ambition to become a professional musician. “There’s no money in that game,” they tell him.
If that seems quite harmless, wait a little. Lin gets on a bus five days later, and is violently attacked by three youths who don’t like women who think and dress for themselves. “Irish music ain’t cool,” they say, and apparently neither is being a lesbian. Luckily a trip to hospital is averted just in time, BUT: bring on St. Patrick’s Day, where things go from bad to worse. In less than 24 hours, the band is all but over, with their morale and reciprocal support in the gutter.
4. They have to win.
What will become of the band? Will the quartet survive their trial by fire? Or will they fail and self-destruct among the flames? Well that I won’t tell you 😉 I will only promise you that the Celtic punk author doesn’t make a habit of letting people down.
So you have two options, my friend. One: you’re invited to take a wee look around my website, where the story and other cool stuff is available for purchase. Click HERE to check it out. Or two: if you want chapter 1 for free first (plus a free song!), then click HERE instead. I swear by the holy iron which I hold, that I, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser (okay, no), will not pass your email addresses on to any gobshite else.
I hope you enjoyed the read, my friend. Sláinte mhaith! 🥃
A new album from Bodh’aktan to whet your appetite for when live concerts return. Recorded during their last major tour across venues in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Quebec.
Anyone out there remember live gigs? For me it was a great night out in Staines enjoying a very nice evening of culture with Peter And The Test Tube Babies but all seems like a long distant fading memory now. So it seems rather apt now that we are on the verge of a semblance of normality returning that we should be reviewing a live album. The ever prolific Bodh’aktan, this is their eighth album now, recorded all their live shows from their 2019 summer tour and handpicked the best versions of eleven of their most loved songs for this release on their 10th anniversary.
Bodh’aktan formed in Québec in 2011 so eight albums is pretty damn good and judging by their placing’s on the various Celtic-Punk end of year awards they have been pretty well received by all. The songs here come from pretty much their entire back catalogue with four taken from debut album Au Diable Les Remords in 2011. Only their last album De Temps et de Vents is absent no doubt because of the lack of gigs since its release.
The album begins with ‘Nothing But A Game’ the first of a couple of songs taken from the Paleo Festival in Switzerland. From their album of English speaking songs Ride Out The Storm it’s a jolly romp that is made solely for enjoying yourself. Like all the songs here a Bodh’aktan concert is a time to forget yourself and immerse yourself and have a good time. Concerts are the life blood of Celtic-Punk and like no other genre it is all about enjoying yourself. ‘Les Dames Du Large’ is from that debut album and has a slight ‘western’ tinge to it. More thigh slapping follows with ‘La Bonne Journée – La Suite De La Capitale’ and a album standout. Catchy and lyric packed (I can’t tell you what they are saying) Alex’s voice fits superbly. This song is is from a intimate performance on the Magdalen Islands, in the heart of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, a place with much symbolic meaning for Irish-Canadians. The music up to now has been fairly laid back and it can perhaps be forgiven that they haven’t packed the album with their rowdiest Celtic-PUNK songs but ‘Zimmerman’ certainly gets the blood racing. Mostly acoustic the electric guitar is placed behind the acoustic guitar but the still rocks in that way that The Pogues showed us (“the loudest acoustic band in the world”). These fella’s are great musicians and show it off with the traditional instrumental ‘Le Medley Du Mal De Pieds’ with Alain’s lectric guitar allowed to come out of the shadows and enter the limelight along with Marc-Etienne and his fiddle. Breton and Irish influences abound here as the song reels off several reels packed together in just three minutes. The next couple of songs come from a concert in their home of Québec and show the width of the bands talents with ‘Par Chez Nous’ showcasing their stadium skills with the audience singing along to a slow, swirling ballad while ‘La Bouteille Est Agreable’ shows their other side with a rockier/ punky number. The nest three songs come from gigs in Italy, Shamrock Castle in Italy and Celti’Teuillac in France. The fiddle led ‘Ici’, the Newfoundland traditional ‘Heave Away’ and the country-ish ‘Samedi Soir Au Fais Dodo’ all crowd pleasers that continue the romp! The album ends with ‘Le 31 Du Mois D’Aout’ (in English ‘August 31st’) I’m sure it has some important significance so forgive me Québécois for my ignorance. A call to arms perhaps and a pint in the air / arms round your mates ballad to round things off with the obligatory fast ending to send you off into the night sweating and smiling.
Eleven songs may seem like a short album but Bodh’aktan don’t do short songs. Their songs are given a chance to breathe and at almost 45 minutes the album is both entertaining and even on the more lengthy songs never drags. With all the songs taken from different shows you might expect the album to be a bit disjointed but it flows absolutely perfectly. A triumph of the mixing room! A great album all told but then I am a big fan and with their frequent visits to Europe it’s not unreasonable to think I may get to see them live. Certainly on this showing it will be a experience worth saving up for!
Disography Au Diable Les Remords (2011) * Against Winds And Tides (2013) * Tant Qu’il Restera Du Rhum… (2013) * Mixtape (2015) * Bodh’aktan (2016) * Ride Out The Storm (2018) * De Temps Et De Vents (2019)
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
That time of the month again! Odds’n’Sods our regular monthly feature of all the Celtic-Punk news that’s fit to print. Band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., send it into us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Contact Us page. All will get a mention but I need YOU to help if it’s going to work.
Your favourite pirate band from Osnabrück in the Caribbean! MR. HURLEY AND DIE PULVERAFFEN released their 7th album recently and this track is the first single taken from it.
Celtic music has plenty of offshoots and not just Punk Rock. Ever heard of Renaissance Folk? Well its pretty massive in the States and Europe (here I don’t know. Maybe someone can enlighten me?) but the kings of it are BLACKMORE’S NIGHT. Created by the utter legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore founder of Metal icons Rainbow and his Mrs, the American singer Candice Knight. Nature’s Light is their 11th album and their first in 5 years combining Folk music traditions and their love of the Renaissance, inspired by myths and legends of a bygone age.
FIVE LEAF CLOVER from Prague with their new single a vigorous Celtic-Rock ballad about the life of the infamous legendary Irish hero Grace O’Malley, the queen of the sea.
New 14 track album from Bristolians THE SURFIN’ TURNIPS.
“We had considered going more folky as we get older – but no! We have created this album in honour of the old Cider Punk scene, you will hear plenty of new cider punk anthems as well as stories of the olden times when cider was stored down the park er else yer Mum would drink it when you got home, of adventures off to brave new lands where you’d risk hoards of local tribes chopping yer head off and using it as a football. There be some salty songs of the sea, some of the fields and orchards too. So when you listens to this, turnip up loud and get thy dancing boots on, get in the pasties and invite round the neighbours, let the party begin and dance like lunatics! We all bin locked up fer too long! See ya all down the allotment!”
Doesn’t seem like it but it’s been 10 years of THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS. Celebrate with them on their free full band live stream on Saturday 10th April. They also have a really nice set of new merchandise out too. Details on their FB page.
NEVERMIND NESSIE – Another Six Pack Of Drinking Songs EP
MR. HURLEY AND DIE PULVERAFFEN – Seemannsgrab
BLACKMORE’S NIGHT – Nature’s Light
THE DEAD RABBITS – 7 Ol Jerks (review in the next few days!!)
SURFIN’ TURNIPS – Down The Allotment
EBRI KNIGHT – Carrer
remember band folk we can’t review it if we don’t hear it!
This is our feature where we showcase bloomin’ brilliant albums that passed us by when they were originally released. This months ‘Blast’ is from 2018 from Canada and the northern shore of Nova Scotia, a place we have visited many a time and a place steeped in Celtic culture.
“Six passionatemusicians come together to create a unique high energy blend of Celtic rock that has a little something for everyone to enjoy as well as a live presence and performance that will keep you dancing and singing all night long.”
THE EAST RIVER RATS are one of many bands in the region proud of their Scottish heritage and their album is available as a ‘name your price’ download from the link below.
Barcelona band EBRI KNIGHT have a new eleven track album out and it is available as a ‘Name Your Price’ download on Bandcamp.
DONNY ZUZULA of Michigan Celtic-Punk band THE TOSSPINTS has released his first solo music since his well received album Chemicals a couple of years ago. Written for St. Patrick’s D as part of a ‘100 songs in 2021 Songwriting Challenge’.
“Beer, Beer, Beer” a great way to celebrate Paddy’s Day from brilliant Russian Medieval-Folk-Punk band TEUFELSTANZ. A pretty unique band they call ‘Alternative Medieval Music’.
More St. Patrick’s Day releases with WIDACRE from Milwaukee playing a supercharged Punked version of the Irish Folk classic ‘Molly Malone’. Available as a name your price download.
As usual lots of news out the FEROCIOUS DOG camp with a massive new tour announced going right from end of Britain to Scotland! (I fancy Edinburgh birthday weekend myself if they’re watching hint hint!!!). Their new album The Hope is also available on pre-order from Graphite Records.
If you missed the St. Patrick’s Day FLOGGING MOLLY live stream from Dublin like me the pre-show video is now out but no sign of the ‘proper’ show yet. Dave King was interviewed by Folk ‘n’ Rock magazine about it.
After 21 + albums with THE MAHONES frontman Finny will be going it alone for his next release. His first solo album will be coming out on True North Records soon.
All we need to do now is for you to help fill this page with news and remember if you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Also if anyone is interested in helping out on the reviews front then let us know via the Contact Us page.
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
2020 was by and large a shitty year for music. Sure their were a few bright spots… off the top of my head the many Live Streams but it was never going to replace live gigs for the Celtic-Punk scene where live gigs are everything. Even in a year with much fewer releases we still couldn’t keep up with everything! At London Celtic Punks we pride ourselves on giving detailed and extensive reviews but sometimes this isn’t quite possible so here’s the ‘Round-Up’s’ of some of the records we missed first time round.
THE MAHONES – ’30 Years And This Is All We’ve Got To Show For It’
Just a couple of weeks ago we reviewed the 30th anniversary album of German band Fiddlers Green and around the same time was released another album by a Celtic-Punk giant on the other side of the planet celebrating thirty years in the game this time from The Mahones. Yes 30 years. THIRTY. Hard to believe isn’t it? Popular throughout the world they have recorded eleven studio albums, two live albums, an acoustic album and a compilation marking their 25 year anniversary and have covered more miles than British Airways! Here they have carefully chosen nineteen tracks of their best from across the 30 years of their career. The album is available as a ten track vinyl release (on green!) and also on CD and download with nine bonus tracks from True North Records. As for the songs they are everything you would expect. We may have heard them all before but their really is something for everyone here as The Mahones flit from raucous Irish Punk rockers to maudlin and sad ballads. The mix of songs is perfect and the balance between the harder songs and the ballads is as well. For a band that tours as much as The Mahones do 2020 must have been a particularly difficult year for The Mahones but already with dates released for 2021 (see you in London in February!) they are well prepared to take their 31st year by the throat when it arrives.
American Irish ‘supergroup’ Runa are one of the best Irish Folk/Trad bands around. This is due in no small part to the beautiful voice of lead singer Shannon Lambert-Ryan (who also plays quite a mean harp!) and that they also have the ability to weave other influences into their signature sound without you even noticing. Several LP’s in Runa have become famous on both sides of the Atlantic now and continue their path with The Tide Of Winter. Now by rights this ought to have been done pre-Christmas but it slipped the net and we ran out of time. A beautiful, at times haunting and at others spirit lifting, collection of thirteen Christmas themed songs and carols. All the favourites are here (‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Silent Night’) as well as a few new ones including a stunning version of ‘The Wexford Carol’ (also known as ‘Enniscorthy Carol’) recorded in its native Irish Gaelic.
It was in May 2019 that Runa got together for a weekend to get into the Christmas spirit and started working on arrangements for the album. Highlights beyond those already mentioned include the track ‘Instrumental’ which features the songs ‘Hark the Herald / Dixie Hoedown / Red Prairie Dawn / O Come Emmanuel / Road to Cashel’ seamlessly joined together with some amazing musical work from Fionán, Chery, Caleb and Jake. One for next Christmas I suppose but hopefully by then Runa’s joyous album really will be something to celebrate.
From traditional Christmas folk music now to Heavy Metal! Founded in 2004 in Perth, Scotland by Christopher Bowes Alestorm are one of the pioneers and certainly the leading light of Pirate Metal! Basically the combination of Heavy Rock/Metal and Pirate music. Now Pirate music is often confused with Celtic music and for good reason too. The similarities are obvious to anyone with a pair of ears with plenty of the same melodies (and even some of the same songs) criss-crossing the genres. Alestorm have been together for fourteen years and they may have toned down the Metal side of their music a little but their popularity seems set to continue with this their sixth album. Now I don’t claim to know much about this genre but it does seem to be growing and their have been a few high profile gigs in London over the last couple of the years with Alestorm headlining some of the towns biggest venues. Released in May on Napalm Records and recorded in Thailand this is as good a place as any to start if this genre interests you. Songs like ‘Treasure Chest Party Quest’, ‘Fannybaws’ and ‘Pirate’s Scorn’ give you an idea but it is the epic eight minute ‘Wooden Leg Pt. 2 (The Woodening)’ that really stood out for me showing there’s more to Alstorm than gimmick.
The debut release from Dutch Celtic-Folk-Rockers Maggie’s Flock. The six-piece band from Nijmegen / Arnhem that play a style of music that veers from Celtic-Rock to traditional Folk with more than a little Celtic twist. The band had the novel idea to release a video/song a month on You Tube from January 2020 through to December and then compile the songs into an album and release it. We have tracked these videos over the last year and it really is worth checking them (the Party At The Cemetery YouTube play-list) out yourselves as the work the band put into them deserves it. So quite a novel idea in quite the ‘novel’ year! The Netherlands has quite the cool Celtic scene and one of our gigs last year that Covid killed off was a Dutch Celtic-Punk double-header with Pyrolysis and The Royal Spuds. Musically Maggies Flock come across to me as a ‘mature’ Dropkick Murphys. I mean the Dropkicks sound of recent rather than their punky years. Catchy, tuneful songs with chugging guitars and superb whistles and accordion. ‘The album opener ‘The Poguey Club’ is one of the many highlights here and you can tell this album has not been rushed into. The idea of releasing a song a month has worked perfectly here as the balance of songs is great and the music is not solely Celtic veering into more Folk-Rock/Punk at times. Personally I love me Tipp songs so I especially loved ‘Travelling Laddie’ but the fast ‘Bored Beyond Death’ is sure to get the toes tapping.
A lot of effort then and not just in the music with the vinyl version coming in a luxurious fold-out cover with all the lyrics while the CD has an extensive 24 page illustrated booklet.
Drawing in inspiration from sea-shanties, traditional music, Celtic-Rock and Celtic-Punk, Irish-Punk and Folk-Metal, Barbar’O’Rhum inhabit an area that sits somewhere between Alestorm and The Mahones. Founded in 2014 in the South-West Of France the band offer up their own style of music they call ‘Rock ‘n’ Rhum’. The musical style here owes much to theatrics making them more a band you would want to witness live but they have captured the sound of the band here rather well and also the atmosphere too which I would think is a lot harder. From beginning to end it’s an accessibly joyful Punk Rock stomp from album opener ‘Pirate des Champs’ which brings in some offbeat but delightful influences to eight minute epic ‘Freres de Bitte’ which brings down the curtain on the album and manages to capture all the various parts of Barbar’O’Rhum in one bombastic theatrical campy triumph. Yet in a album that lasts over an hour and the majority of the songs are around the five minute mark it’s that opening track that stand outs head and shoulders and one listen to that will tell you all you need to know about whether you would like this album or not. Me I fecking loved it!
So their you go our ‘last’ post of 2020. Apologies to all the bands that we weren’t able to give each album the full London Celtic Punks treatment but was just not possible this time. Remember if you are in a band then we cant do a review if we haven’t heard your release!
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Well that’s it. Christmas is over and done with and hopefully you all had a festively good time despite everything. BUT if you are still in need of some good cheer though then wait no more as we here’s a selection of six brand new 2020 Christmas-ish Celtic-Punk songs for you to delight over.
Craic open what’s left of the Jamesons and enjoy!
ANTI-DEPRESANTS – ‘If It’s Gonna Be Cold’
Anti Depresants are four piece Rock‘n’ Roll band coming from the hills of Armagh in the north of Ireland with a lot of Punk attitude an’ a sprinklin’ of Ska to get your ass movin’, your heart beatin’ and your mind racin’ with their diverse sound embracing heavy rock, reggae, male and female vocals and blistering guitar work.
Possibly the busiest band in Celtic-Punk this year (and definitely the busiest on these pages!!) Grass Mud Horse have been making, and releasing, music throughout the ‘clampdown’ to us lucky folk. Led by award-winning musician Chris Barry, a Scouser living in Qinhuangdao, China. They blend together the traditional Folk sound of Chris ancestors in Ireland with an distinctly raw and untamed Punk-Rock energy. 2020 while being quite the lame year has seen Grass Mud Horse become quite the name on the Celtic-Punk scene with their last single released dually across North America by Paddyrock and Europe by us! The song is available for download over on Bandcamp for next to nothing.
THE FEELGOOD McLOUDS – ‘Driving Home For Christmas’
St. Nicholas is on his way and The Feelgood McLouds have come up with a little present for you. Are you bored of long dark winter nights without pubs and concerts? Then here’s the solution the brand new Christmas song from these fantastic German Celtic-Punkers. Imagine if the Dubliners were only in their mid-twenties, very, very thirsty and had discovered punk for themselves. Then punk rock anthems would merge with bagpipes, banjo, tin whistle and accordion, there would be a good smell of beer and whiskey and sweat would drip from the ceiling. And that’s exactly what The Feelgood McLouds is all about. With their energetic punk rock show, the 6 Saarlanders make every concert room shake and everyone to empty their beer glass. In a nutshell: Sounding like NOFX and the Dropkick Murphys are meeting in an Irish pub for an endless party!
The Stanfields trod a well trodden path to 2020 from the Seahorse Tavern in their hometown of Halifax, Nova Scotia to where they are now. Their trajectory from full on their Celtic-Punk to “the bastard child of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” where their music blends Working Class Hard-Rock with the many strands of Folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland. Here they massacre pay tribute to the great Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers song. Stanfields front man John is joined by his Mrs Shannon on this cheeky number that follows on from our review just a couple of weeks ago of their fantastic new album Welcome To The Ball.
Fusing together all their musical experiences & influences ranging from, Rock, Metal, Country, Punk, Classical and of course traditional Irish. Clan Of Celts have created a unique style and an unmistakable sound that is brought to you with Celtic pride, passion, commitment and respect for our traditional roots. The new team on the London Celtic-Punk scene bring you a classic cheesy Christmas song out now and available to download through Spotify and all decent streaming services. Will they ever complete the interview I sent them? Who knows what 2021 will bring!!!
BATALLON DE SAN PATRICIO – ‘F*ck Merry Christmas And F*ck You’
And finally the new single from Mexican Celtic-Punk newcomers Batallón De San Patricio. Why they got such a downer on Christmas is anyone’s guess but ding-dong merrily on high here it is anyway! It’s been a busy year for these guys with a hit album Hermanos de Guerra under their belts as well as making themselves known right across the Celtic-Punk world. The band’s name comes from the famed St. Patrick’s Battalion (see The Irish Soldiers Of Mexico In Film And Song). A group of immigrants, mainly of Irish descent, who deserted from the US Army because of anti-Catholic bigotry and went to fight for the Mexican Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). It’s a tale of great adventure and heroic valour. Batallón de San Patricio were formed in 2017 in Guadalajara and right from the start the idea was to pay tribute to their namesakes. In many ways the name was a obvious choice for a band whose chief aim was to play Celtic-Punk mixing Irish and Mexican culture.
London Celtic Punks favourites Nova Scotian Folk’n’Rollers The Stanfields have just released the incendiary live album Welcome To The Ball.
The Stanfields trod a well trodden path to 2020 by beginning their career back in 2008 playing cover songs during open mic performances at the Seahorse Tavern in their hometown of Halifax in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. As the years rolled by The Stanfields may sound like have taken some dramatic turns but to any long turn fan (ahem!) it’s been easy to follow their trajectory from full on their Celtic-Punk to where they are now. Influenced by the many many strands that make Canada and the description of them as “the bastard children of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” their music blends Working Class Hard-Rock with the strands of Folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland.
So far the guys have released seven albums, multiple singles, and have toured extensively throughout North America and Europe – sharing the stage with many of the Rock scene’s most popular bands. So, despite the Covid lockdown, they have been especially busy compared to a lot of bands with the release of the critically acclaimed Classic Fadeout, a bunch of great video releases (be sure to check out their You Tube channel) and now they have returned with their second full-length release of 2020, Welcome To The Ball. Band frontman Jon Landry says
“Since Covid-19 has effectively made it impossible for us to play live shows safely, and on our own terms, we thought that the time was right to release a live album. Luckily, we had this performance in the can, it’s fun to see how much the songs have evolved over the years, although it’s been a stark reminder to us of how much we miss our natural habitat.”
Welcome To The Ball documents The Stanfields performance at the 2019 Blacktop Ball and includes tracks from across their career along with an added bonus track. Welcome To The Ball begins with the aptly titled ‘Blacktop Blues’ from their 2012 album Death And Taxes, as do the first three songs.
The first thing to say is that the songs here are well chosen and include not just the fan favourites but also some important songs from the bands history. The other thing is that many of these songs are quite lengthy (notice I said lengthy NOT boring!) with three over seven minutes long! The sound recorded, mixed and mastered by Darren van Niekerk (hats off!!) and is absolutely fecking brilliant. Taking you right into the heart of the mosh pit! Nothing is spared as the band steam along at full pelt with the traditional anti-war Folk ballad ‘Mrs. McGrath’ given the epic Stanfields treatment next followed by ‘The Road to Guysborough’. Now I’ve never been much a fan of live records but when they are done well like here they can be explosive, capturing the very essence of a band. Next up are firm fan favourites ‘Fight Song’, taken from 2015’s Modem Operandi, and ‘Hard Miles’ from 2013’s For King And Country. Both songs saw the band tweak their original Celtic sound and bring in more harder Rock elements.
‘Dagger Woods’ is the first of three tracks here from debut album ‘Vanguard Of The Young And Reckless’ from 2010 and is over eight minutes long and while that may displease the Dead Kennedys it fully deserves the word epic. A fantastic song that literally spills emotion and while it’s not just worthy it’s catchy as hell too. ‘Ship To Shore’ is relatively short at just four minutes while ‘Ghost Of The Eastern Seaboard’ at almost eight returns us to epic territory along with the final song from their set that night, the outstanding ‘Fox in The Heather’ at over eight.
‘Welcome To The Ball’ brings the curtain down as the bonus track and the only new song and sees The Stanfields accompanied by the Hatchet Lake Reverb Choir (Heather Harris, Sasha DeSouza, Brad MacDougall, Craig Eugene Harris, Trevor DeSouza) in a song that fully deserves to be the curtain puller at any future gigs.
“Take a look at the one beside you
Let the power of us provide you
The means to guide you, right beside you
Welcome to the Ball”
Written as a tribute and in the spirit of the Blacktop Festival which was sadly cancelled this year but The Stanfields love for the fest grows and they will return for their annual visit next year. Written as an over the top, 80’s-style Pomp-Rocker it comes with the most brilliant video you really ought not to miss.
The line up for the gig that night was Jon Landry – Vocals, Guitar, Calen Kinney – Fiddle, Vocals, Jason MacIsaac – Guitar, Vocals, Dillan Tate – Bass, Vocals and Mark Murphy on Drums and the show is that kind of rambleshackly perfect that Celtic-Punk bands seem to be perfect at. Their may not be a better band around doing what The Stanfields do. Combining hard rock music with Celtic and Americana in a perffectly acessible way. Not only that be here they proove they can do it in style on the stage too. As they say themselves
“we play what we want, sing what we feel and leave nothing on the table”.
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!)
The Mahones have always been one of Celtic-Punk’s heavyweights and last month celebrated their 30th anniversary in style with another knockout album to add to their ‘Irish Punk Collection’!
The Mahones are well regarded amongst Celtic-Punk fans and recognised indeed as pioneers of the scene. Formed in 1990 on St. Patrick’s Day in Kingston, Ontario as a band for a one-off show their reception was such that they would go onto become one of the most famous DIY Punk bands in the world and one of the hardest working bands out there. Their tours each year take them right across Europe and North America to every nook and cranny. In fact at this moment in time they ought to be on tour in Australia with The Go-Set! With a stack of studio albums behind them as well as Best Of’s, Live Albums, Compilations even tribute albums their back catalogue is second to none in the scene and to add to them now is this compilation of acoustic, mainly original, Mahones tracks taken from throughout their career.
I’m a sucker for albums like this and I’m sure those of you of a certain age will well remember Nirvana’s triumphant Unplugged album that set the scene for many albums of this kind afterwards. The Mahones may be one of the biggest ‘good time’ bands around but these songs given a raw and intimate performance gives them a new lease of life. The Mahones main attraction has always been their songwriting and whether wrapped around a three minute Punk Rock mosh pit filler or a five minute ballad the effect is much the same. Here Dublin born frontman Finny McConnell comes into his own and already famed for his ached and emotional way of singing his voice really suits these songs new arrangements.
The album begins with the romantic ‘Girl With Galway Eyes’ originally recorded for 2010’s Black Irish. Played at much the same tempo like the majority of songs here it becomes a new song played like this. ‘Rise Again’ is from the album of the same name from 1996 and is a bit of a cheat as it was acoustic then too! Still it’s a nice updating. ‘A Little Bit Of Love’ comes from 2006’s Take No Prisoners and Finny is accompanied on vocals by Canadian-Irish singer-songwriter Damhnait Doyle. So far the influence of country has been trying to make it’s presence felt and here it takes over but not in a cheesy way at all. This is followed by a couple of live set favourites with the fiddle heavy ballad ‘London’ and ‘Draggin’ The Days’ both from the early days of the band as well as the next, ‘Cocktail Blue’ and these songs lyrically show The Mahones singing about the Irish emigrant experience of drink, work and loneliness. The days of the Irish student gap-year supported financially by Mammy and Daddy were decades away. Back then the Irish emigrant was almost exclusively working class and like the generations who left before them worked the shittiest jobs and lived in the roughest and toughest areas. Like the best Irish singer-songwriters Finny takes you back to those days and makes you re-live them with him. ‘Far Away’, ‘Night Train To Paris’, ‘Will Ya Marry Me’, ‘100 Bucks’ and ‘Back Home’ also come from those early days and ‘Unplugged’ is becoming a really nice overview of those early albums and it’s even better to hear a few songs that don’t get played anymore. This is the sort of album that will have you re-visiting your record collection to search out the original. I haven’t played The Mahones so much since I started listening to this one!! Next up is arguably their most famous song, ‘Celtic Pride’, and the one that introduced yours truly to The Mahones. The title track for the 1996 film of the same name about two Irish-American Boston Celtics basketball fans starring Dan Aykroyd and Damon Wayans. I remember watching the film and sitting by the telly with a pen and a bit of paper trying to catch the name of the band on the soundtrack! It’s commendable that Finny has recorded an album of mostly originals and also songs from across The Mahones songbook but ‘Hurt’, famously recorded by the legend Johnny Cash towards his final days, is one of the albums highlights here, Finny’s vocals fit superbly and the slow accordion easily nails the sound. Written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails he described the song as being “a track I wrote in my bedroom at a black moment” but it was Johnny’s amazing version that brought the song to the public’s attention. Another highlight is Simon Townshend of The Who providing acoustic guitar and harmony vocals on ‘Stars’ telling the sad tale of Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. Convicted of “gross indecency” at a time when homosexuality was illegal, he was imprisoned and died in poverty in 1900 at the tragically early age of 46. One of The Mahones best more modern songs it has a chorus that is out of this world and would I am sure have Oscar looking down with grace and a twinkle in his eye. We are nearing the end and it’s clear Finny writes directly from the heart and on ‘Someone Saved Me’ it can sometimes feel like you’re sitting in on a private conversation. Finny has experienced much tragedy in the last few years which we won’t go into here but if music can save us (the listener) then it can also save them (the performer) too. The curtain call for the album is another in the same style ‘Never Let You Down’ featuring singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer and her stunning voice is the perfect counterpoint to Finny’s. A slow burner of a song that slowly builds and builds and with the aid of tin-whistle and mandolin it’s the most Celtic sounding song on their last album Love + Death + Redemption from 2018.
So another release from the ever prolific Mahones and for me one of their best in recent years. Their is nothing here that most die-hard Mahones fans won’t have heard before but these new interpretations are worth getting as the often subtle and occasionally overt differences in the songs really make he songs sound fresh and even original. Their is plenty left in The Mahones cannon but this is probably the best imaginable way they could have celebrated thirty years on the road.
(Stream The Mahones Unplugged on the Soundcloud player below)
The debut release of seven originals and a Pogues cover from Paddy Waggin a new Celtic-Punk Rock outfit straight outta East Vancouver, BC.
Canadian music use to be a regular feature on these pages but has been relatively quiet the last couple of years so it’s great to be able to feature a band that is just setting sale! Paddy Waggin are a gang of Irish-Canadians hailing from Vancouver in British Columbia. East Van, as it is known, has traditionally been known as the first port of call for many immigrant communities from the Irish and Welsh in the early days of settlement right up to the modern day. Historically, it was a more affordable area and the home for mainly working class people thought the rapid increase in housing prices and gentrification that is affecting pretty much all cities is destroying much of the areas character. Still the auld world is still well represented with the WISE (Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English) Hall, The Celtic Connection newspaper and The Irish Sporting and Social Club all thriving alongside the Irish pub scene.
Paddy Waggin left to right: Andrew Whyte- Guitar * Aidan Carroll- Lead Vocals/ Songwriter * Rob Stewart- Percussion * Jonny ‘Needles’ Poliquin – Bass/shrieking * Philip Meyer- Accordion * Johnny ‘BBQ’ Jandara – Banjo/ Mandolin/ Harmonica * not pictured Bourton Scott- Fiddle and Lisa Ronald- Tin Whistle *
So a new band kicks off or so we thought. A debut release ought to signify that but Paddy Waggin have been playing on and off for more than twenty years, mainly as singer Aidan’s St Patrick’s day project. Aidan in fact was born in Dublin but grew up in Canada while others in the band come from Irish and Scottish backgrounds and, accordion player, Philip is of Dutch descent. So a long wait to get that debut release out but they have delivered a craicing album of eight songs, all but one an original and a cover of one of the best songs in Celtic-Punk. Race To The Bottom begins with ‘Gilding The Liffey’ a fiddle and banjo led song about an imaginary trip taken by the band to Dublin to play music and party. The music is upbeat and jolly and Aiden’s vocals slip perfectly in alongside.
The Bhoys keep it up with ‘Broken Teeth’ a song telling of the perils of getting old and about the joys of youth and partying till the early morn but those things soon catch up with you and “Now I’m getting on in years” those days are well behind them. The music is still fast paced and only two songs in and you get the impression that Paddy Waggin are a band to kick yer boots to. The video for ‘Broken Teeth’ is utterly fantastic too so be sure to check that out.
‘Davy Jones’ is not dedicated to the sadly missed singer from The Monkees but a tragic tale of lost love. Davy Jones is the name given to the mythical resting place of drowned mariners at the bottom of the sea. The first source that mentions Jones’ locker is in 1803
“…seamen would have met a watery grave; or, to use a seaman’s phrase, gone to Davy Jones’s locker.”
The longest song here at just over three minutes it’s what I would call a thigh slapper! Nice chorus and I’m wracking my mind to find a band to compare them to but I’m coming up short. The Pogues influence looms large but they don’t sound like them if that makes sense. ‘King Of The Faeries is one hell of a tune with a ‘piratey’ edge to it and shows that Paddy Waggin are not just in it for the free drinks with a spot of trad Irish though dedicated to the misfortunes of one of the bands mates who got caught on the wrong side of the law. Another trad influenced song is next up with ‘Paddy Traddy Rad’ about an Irish fella the life of the party. Proper acoustic Celtic-Punk with just Johnny ‘Needles’ bass amplified Paddy Waggin sound like they kick up a hell of a storm. ‘Race To The Bottom’ is a Country influenced song that is super catchy and as the guys say a “tune for East Van people about East Van” leading into ‘Dirty Looking Up All Night’ which keeps the boots kickin’ about the so called ‘Walk Of Shame’ where people end up staying out (!) after a night on the lash and have to walk home in the morning in their evening finery the next day.
That Pogues influence shows up nicely on Race To The Bottom’s final song the Pogues standard ‘Streams Of Whiskey’. Written by Shane MacGowan about a night out with Brendan Behan the famed Irish writer and drinker… thinker. Paddy Waggin play an outstanding version very very close to the original and I’m sure if they ever need the money another life as a Pogues tribute band awaits them.
The album’s official release is on St. Patrick’s Day- March 17 but it is already available on the band’s Bandcamp site (see below for link) but if you wish to avail of a hard copy of the CD then you’ll have to contact the band. The great artwork is by Fenix Ashborn and it was recorded at home in East Van by Larry Lich at Eagle Ears studios. Paddy Waggin are definitely a band to enjoy life to. Eight foot stomping songs, mainly original tracks too, to beat the floor up to. Checking out a few songs on You Tube they have a tremendous live show with their own catchy as feck original songs with the odd auld Irish tune thrown in alongside. Their sound is infectious and, I am sure, more than able to get their audience dancing and singing along. Here on Race To The Bottom they have captured their live sound pretty well and though well rooted in traditional Irish folk their Rock and Punk influences keep them from becoming too safe. A welcome addition to the Canadian Celtic-Punk scene and a band I look forward to hearing a lot more from.
(you can stream Race To The Bottom on the Bandcamp player below)
The Stanfields are a folk punk band from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. On Classic Fadeout they have released six original brand new sons for their sixth release all written and recorded within six months!
The Stanfields have been around now for well over a decade having been formed in 2008 and have a very impressive back catalogue with five very well received albums that each have troubled the top spots of the various Celtic and Folk-Punk end of year Best Of polls including ours. Never being one to accept the label of ‘Celtic’ The Stanfields have always travelled under the banner of Folk-Punk and thus far has served them well. Described rather well i think as “the bastard children of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” their music blends working class hard rock with the strands of folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland. The band started out playing cover songs during open mic performances at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax, Nova Scotia quickly gained notoriety for their rowdy, entertaining performances and with the benefit of a relatively stable line up the boys few years together have seen them traversing the globe even washing up at the Tolpuddle Martyrs festival here in England for a few years in a row.
Their new release Classic Fadeout is six original songs that span the history of The Stanfields throughout their illustrious career. Opening with ‘Southlands’ definitely the most Celtic influenced song here with a song evoking a long distant past. Next up is ‘Born On The Wrong Side Of Town’ is the kind of song that Bruce Springsteen is singing these days. A sort of Country/ Rock/ Folk mash up that streams along at a grand pace and has the feel that it could (does) appeal to a whole multitude of different genres. I love the idea that bands can make music that will reach the young and the old. After all that is how it use to be. When I was a young kid we use to beg Mum to put music on and now decades later I find myself still listening to that music she introduced me to. One subject I like to hear tackled is the scourge of drug addiction and The Stanfields sensitive and beautiful ‘Breakers In The Dark’ does it superbly.
(Shot at Churchill House in beautiful Hantsport, Nova Scotia)
Right across North America young people are falling foul to this terrible affliction and working class communities are suffering.
“Your eyes tonight are little pins
Looking for a friend
And tell a story locked inside of you
Your lips provide a different spin
One to be believed
If we were strangers on an avenue”
We are half way through and ‘Laser Beam’ may be many miles away from the fast folk and roll of their early days but it shows a maturity in their willingness to never to stand still and always keep moving and adapting. I mean who wants to be like The Queers still singing songs about your Mum finding your porno mags when your fifty! Slow and steady and perfectly balanced and accompanied by a video that I don’t think I have ever seen the like of it while writing for London Celtic Punks site.
Definitely take a few minutes out of your time to watch this incredible video. After that we need a bit of a lift and ‘Rules Have All The Fun’ supplies it with another catchy folk-country-Americana blend.A real foot tapper here among a bunch of songs that are perhaps a bit too on the reserved side.
The EP comes to an end with ‘Good Night, So Long, Goodbye’ the longest track here and a real epic to see us out. The emphasis may have changed from Celtic to Americana but the fire in their belly is the same and music with passion and emotion is what we love here. Classic Fadeout is not yer typical Stanfields release (as they say in their press release “predictably-unpredictable”) but another step in the progression of a band that have achieved much more then most in their time together.
(you can stream Classic Fadeout on the Bandcamp player below)
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
Each year the number of Celtic-Punk and related releases we receive here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS continues to amaze us. Now this is great news butit does mean that we cannot keep up with everything we receive. We simply don’t have time to give a review to everything. Each December we have a week to concentrate on catching up with anything we missed the first time round. We like to write detailed reviews so apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in this way. Each and every band featured here are worthy of your time so please be sure to check them out. To start with here in Part One we are concentrating on four releases from North America with the USA and Canada featuring. In a few days time we will head to Europe and then we will focus on the Rest Of The World so please be sure to check back soon.
ROSIER- ‘Self-Titled’ EP
Anyone expecting a pulsating Quebecios folk fusion, in the vein of La Bouttaine Souriante/ Genticorum and such like, will be in for quite a surprise here. Released to accompany a fall tour from Montreal 5 piece Rosier this 4 track EP blends a very lush, dreamlike, multi -layered indie folk organically together with strong Quebecois folk traditions- which while always having a sense of exploration and development, never loses its distinct lightness of touch.
Rosier features the band’s steadfast original lineup: front-woman Béatrix Méthé (lead vocals and fiddle), Colin Savoie-Levac (lap steel, banjo and foot percussion), Sarah Marchand (lead vocals and keys), Éléonore Pitre (acoustic and electric guitar) and Marie Savoie-Levac (bass) while everyone helps out on background vocals. All the songs adapted from traditional and arranged by Rosier, except You Behind, which was written by Béatrix. A very relaxing listen, maybe best as an accompaniment to a wee dram at the end of the night.
Now I was first attracted to The Lucky Eejits thanks to their name and it’s ‘Gaelic’ meaning. Eejit of course being the way an working class Irish person would pronounce ‘idiot’. Playing straight forward punk rock this trio blast high speed and high energy upbeat punk music and their is simply no let up on Out Of Time with its catchy riffs in your face punk rock edge. Based in Oakland California the band began life as a Celtic-Punk outfit featuring six eccentric Irish-Americans but after a change in the bands line up The Lucky Eejits were reborn as a more than solid Punk-Rock band. The album is twelve songs long and lasts just over a half hour. Not bad for a album chockablock with songs played at breakneck speed. From the fast Pop-Punk of opener ‘Get Out’ to the final song, a nod to their Celtic-Punk days perhaps, ‘Warm Guinness’, about the perils of tour life, it’s an album that never lets up. Album highlights include ‘Champion’ and ‘So Far So Good’ which they released as singles with the latter as a pretty damn good official video.
Throughout Out Of Time it is packed with catchy melodies and is a fantastic follow up to 2016’s Do It Again. It’s definitely a fan friendly album with chances galore to join in the singing. This may make them more of a live band to follow but this album is certainly worth hearing too. The message here is one of hope and positivity and lets pray the guys get their hands on a cold Guinness soon!
VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits’
The main problem with albums like this is that everyone on it treats their song as if it’s either the opening or finale of the whole thing and produces something incredibly over the top. A female only tribute to the legendary Tom Waits sounds great on paper but it is rather overblown and judging by Corinne Bailey Rae’s version of ‘Jersey Girl’ they’d have been well to invite Mariah Carey to perform here! Twelve artists of Tom Waits greatest ballads covered by Aimee Mann, Patty Griffin, Rosanne Cash, Phoebe Bridgers, Joseph, Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer, Corinne Baily Rae, Courtney Marie Andrews, Kat Edmonson, The Wild Reeds, Iris Dement and Angie McMahon and yet it’s the oldest artist here Rosanne Cash and ‘Time’ that steals the show for me though the jazz influenced Kat Edmonson’s ‘You Can Never Hold Back Spring’ and the Country and Western singer Iris DeMent’s ‘House Where Nobody Lives’ wring out every piece of emotion from Tom’s majestic words and the album’s final song ends with the overblown (and rightly so this time!) The Wild Reeds version of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’.
Tom Waits has just recently celebrated his 70th birthday though sadly this album adds very little to his canon of work. An opportunity to really re-interpret his work has got lost (largely) under some rather inflated ego’s. For Waits fanatics its worth buying for the Rosanne Cash song alone and also producer Warren Zanes who wrings as much out of the songs as possible and provides some excellent liner notes on his relationship with Tom Waits music.
“He kept writing those songs that burrowed into the broken places inside of us, Waits could regularly deliver that revelation that comes with only the best songs: you may be lonely, but you’re not alone. As the years rolled by, every Waits recording arrived like it had come just in time.”
HEATHEN APOSTLES- ‘Born By Lightning’ EP
So far here we have reviewed a Folk album, a Punk album and a sort of Bluesy compilation album so none of our usual uptake and that doesn’t change with this review of the latest EP from Heathen Apostles. They play a sort of Gothic Americana Blues crossed with alternative alternative country. Born By Lightning comes hot on the heels of their recently released album Dust To Dust, their fifth to date, and five new songs of what one reviewer described as “the bluegrass of Bill Monroe put into the woodshed with the Gothic tendencies of Siouxsie And The Banshees”. Label mates of one of my all time favourite bands Phantom Of The Black Hills they tread much the same path but definitely in a more accessible way to yer average Joe. Fiddle and banjo aplenty here while Mather Louth’s beautiful yet powerful voice shines above all else. Starting off with the slow Country styled Gothic ballad ‘Death Bell Blues’ a tribute to the legendary Howlin’ Wolf before leading into the dark ‘Chosen One’ which shows the Apostles at that catchiest best. The title track ‘Born By Lightning’ sees them back in darker country again with an intense ballad that builds on Mather’s voice with the rest of the band restrained before here. A million miles away from the Grand Ole Opry! The last two songs have a much harder edge, ‘Devil Comes For All Of Us’ is elf explanatory while ‘Scarecrow Blues’ take us far away from traditional Country and into the realm of the ‘murder ballad’ with its tale of a social misfit being burned out of his house only for the vigilantes to burn down the entire town while it slinks and slithers to the beat of the blues! A Country-Bluesy-Punky affair the band have long wanted to do a Blues style release and with Born By Lightning they have managed to stay close to their roots and something that would also appeal to more traditional music fans too. Signed to Ratchet Blade Records which specialises in ‘Dark Roots Music’ where you can find out all you need to about this glorious genre.
So ends the first part of our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still missed some fantastic music I am sure so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally if you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.
Ever since 2007 The Dreadnoughts have been an ‘tour-de-force’ upon the Celtic/Folk-Punk scene. Thrashing their way around the world blending Punk-Rock with a bunch of European Folk traditions with a power and range that few others can match. Now though they have returned to their roots with their fifth studio album Into The North, a collection of traditional and original sea shanties recorded deep in the Canadian hinterland.
Its been a long road for The Dreadnoughts. Not only because they have probably played in more countries than any other Folk-Punk band but that they have a come along way since their singer’s early days in the famed Ontario, Canadian band Siobhan. I say famed but at the time the Celtic-Punk scene was tiny but they still managed to make a name for themselves with their two studio albums The Patron Saints of Debauchery and Welfare State and legendary stage shows. When Siobhan split a couple of years went by before they dived straight back in with The Dreadnoughts. Those early days spent playing in Vancouver’s notoriously seedy Ivanhoe Hotel saw them build up a large and loyal following and later they would be recognized as one of the best live bands in the city. Embracing the old-school destructive chaos of live Punk, their gigs were hot and sweaty and full of joy and went on till the audience was exhausted, happy and pissed to the gills. Fast forward to 2019 and with a host of critically claimed studio albums behind them The Dreadnoughts have again taken us by surprise and have stripped their sound right back and when I say right back I mean right back!!
Always with a fondness for sea-shanties their version of ‘Roll The Woodpile Down’ can be credited for starting a trend amongst the scene for bands in the middle of their sets to lay down their instruments and test their harmonies with an acapello song. The haunting thunder of sea shanties has long been the backbone for The Dreadnoughts sound and on their new album here they have fully embraced the genre for a whole album that is the greatest collection of original and reworked traditional sea-shanties in modern times! Tasked with recording the songs the band decided early on in the process that they didn’t want to go for that slick produced ‘studio’ sound so they
“Holed up for a week in a small wooden cabin with nothing but whiskey in our glasses, four microphones in front of us, and hordes of mosquitoes outside singing along, we belted these damn songs over and over until we had them just right, and the result is the album we’ve always wanted to make.“
With their last album, 2017’s a multi-genre, historically themed concept album Foreign Skies also stepping outside the box, being a raw and emotional ride through the horrors of the First World War it only shows that The Dreadnoughts are without a doubt both a band that is unafraid to take risks and the most innovative bands in our or any other scene. Stories of love and loss, war and strife, redemption and sorrow from a band that up till then only sang songs about gin and scrumpy cider… this was new territory and also a massive success with fans and critics alike.
(see for yourselves by streaming/downloading Foreign Skies on Bandcamp below)
Now first off I have to say that bar a few of the more obvious ones I know not what, if any, of the songs here are originals. You can never be too sure with anything The Dreadnoughts do as their mischievousness could always have you believing the opposite! The album opens with ‘Rosibella’ and considering I was expecting some Folk-Punk fury I was shocked to find in its place a stripped down sea-shanty with only occasional squeezebox to accompany the words. ‘Fire Marengo’ was found by The Young Traditions Royston Wood in an old book called Shanties From The Seven Seas, where a few of the songs here were first documented, and after changing some verses and adding the tune went on to release it on their 1967 EP Chicken On A Raft. Most of the songs here hover around the two minute mark as without the padding of music it’s mainly the vocal harmonies, and a bit of foot stompin’, that rule here. ‘Pique La Baleine’ is a traditional Breton whaling song sung in French and dates back to the early 19th century. Again it is accompanied only by squeezebox while mournful fiddle makes an appearance on the relatively modern ‘Roll Northumbria’ a song about the building of a war ship in the Tyne in 1965. ‘Joli Rouge’ is an Dreadnought original devoted to Cidre Joli Rouge, a company dedicated to the production of real cider not the syrupy, corporate, mass-produced, prison wine that passes for it in most pubs. The company has even made a Dreadnought Cider!
“she’s called the Dreadnought cider
she’s proper and she’s fine
and when the day is over how I wish that she were mine
or in the dark of winter, or on a summer’s eve
one hand giveth while the other doth receive
So you can have a Mangers and pour it over ice
or you can have a Strongbow if it’s sadness that you like
or join us up the river and we’ll set your heart aglow
and how you’ll feel when the real cider starts to flow”
One of the album’s highlights without a doubt! Anyone who has seen them play over the last couple of years will recognise a couple of the songs here and if not then will be familiar with the style of the songs. I’m not sure if I saw them giving ‘Lifeboat Man’ a run through at their outstanding gig at the Cursus Festival last year or not but its familiarity is nice even if they didn’t play it! ‘Shallow Brown’ is pure sea shanty at its best. A typical call and response song with The Fang, otherwise known as Nicholas Smyth, singing the verses while the rest of the band sing the chorus. The song is a sad tale of a man leaving a woman on shore, pretty much a standard subject for a shanty, though this time its the story of a man being sold into slavery.
Sad and mournful and perfect for a good bass voice like Nicholas’. ‘Whup! Jamboree’ is an auld song and like most here no one is sure quite how old. It’s a cheeky number and shows workers at their most risque!
“And soon we’ll see old Holyhead
No more salt beef, no salt bread
I catch my Jinny and it’s off to bed
Come and get your oats me son”
Accompanied by very low key squeezebox and the solitary slow beat of a drum it’s another highlight. A.L. Lloyd sang ‘Whup Jamboree’ in 1957 on his and the great Ewan MacColl’s album Blow Boys Blow. He commented in the sleeve notes:
“Whup Jamboree is one of the wildest and most exultant of homeward-bound shanties. The progress through the English Channel and into London River goes as a fast clip, and all hand are looking forward eagerly to what the girls ashore have to offer. From its references to Blackwell Dock, this shanty, used for work at the capstan, apparently rose among sailors in the Far East run.”
‘Paddy Lay Back’ is probably the best known of the songs here as it has been recorded by many famous Irish artists including The Wolfe Tones (here) and the Dublin City Ramblers (here). It’s earliest date is 1898 and tells of a poor Irish lad who goes to sea to earn his fortune but suffers at the hands of foreign sailors, poor conditions and the long voyage. ‘Dear Old Stan’ is dedicated to the memory of Stan Rogers the acclaimed Canadian Folk singer-songwriter who passed away in 1983 but is till remembered fondly for his Celtic influenced Folk songs many telling of his parents days working off the sea and tales of the lives of ordinary working people.
Some really wonderful lyrics here that fair bring a tear to the eye and explain the high esteem that Stan Rogers is held in Canada and around the world.
“The Yanks have Woodie Guthrie, The British Ralph McTell
The Celts have got the Corries, aye and Ronnie Drew as well
Adge Cuter sings of cider out in the west country
but I am a Canadian, and so I say to thee
Arise and be merry
and sing out while you can
The world will never see the likes
of dear old Stan”
Following this tribute is ‘Northwest Passage’ one of Stan Rogers best-known songs and my favourite song on Into The North. An acappella song, originally released in 1981 it is now considered one of the best songs in Canadian music history.
Take a moment also to watch this tribute to Stan Rogers version here. ‘Sacramento’ is a catchy foot stomper while the only song here that gives a hint of what The Dreadnoughts are famous here are the instrumental trad songs ‘Harper’s Frolic / Bonny Kate’. Showing the bands mastery of traditional Folk and how easily the Bhoys can turn their hand to anything while still be able to give it a distinctive Dreadnoughts stamp. We are near the end of Into The Norths forty-two minutes and ‘Shiloh’ is another up lifting foot stomper while the curtain comes down with ‘Starbuck’s Complaint’, a great song to end with as Drew’s voice and harmony brings the album to a melancholy close and how else could an album of sea shanties end. The work was without a doubt hard and often tyrannical under many a vicious Captain’s rule. The workers would say that “a song is as good as ten men”. The songs were used in the manner of field work song’s and these shanties tell the tales of loneliness, the families these men left behind, the daily hardships of an unkind sea and adventure on the seven seas.
Celtic-Punk is more than just getting your girlfriend to play fiddle over a punk song (just as Folk-Punk is more than a trendy hipster achingly singing over an acoustic guitar). It has a past and that link to the past has to be explored and celebrated. There are certain values I think to be associated to whatever it is that passes as a Celtic-Punk scene and to celebrate the music that inspired it is surely at the top of the list. Here The Dreadnoughts do just that. If you are expecting their breakneck Punk-Folk then you may be disappointed on first listen but by the second or third you’ll come to really appreciate what it is they have done here. In fact I look forward to seeing them placed in our Top Ten Folk and Trad releases of the year rather than their usual spot in the Celtic-Punk Top Ten! Celtic folk music and Punk can form a perfect union and while on Into The North they take a more traditional route with these wonderful songs I’m sure it won’t be long before they’re back breaking stages around the world, scoffing down the ciders and spreading their gospel to anyone and everyone who will listen.
(stream Into The North from Bandcamp below before you buy!)
Stoked. A documentary about The Dreadnoughts by Adam PW Smith
|| 17 November 2017 (Canada)
Vancouver legends The Dreadnought returned from a six year hiatus in 2017 to record a new album. Filmed in the recording studio, and drawing from an archive of photos and film clips that go right back to their second ever live show, this low budget documentary rises above its station with great characters and stories that range from enlightening to hilarious (and occasionally dubious). These liquor soaked musical heroes prove themselves to be thoughtful, as well as entertaining. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Vancouver-based Celtic-Punk band – and perhaps things you didn’t – can now be found in Stoked: The Dreadnoughts Return. Watch the film here.
The Shillelaghs are an Irish-Canadian band hailing from Calgary. With this their second studio album they deliver some hard hitting and original Gaelic tinged Celtic-Punk which takes me back to the glory days of the scene!
If there’s one thing we can’t seem to get enough of its band in Europe with the word ‘Bastard’ in it and in North America bands with the word ‘Shillelagh’!! At least though Bastard is easier to spell as i can think of at least four bands with different variations of shillelagh. It’s got to the point where I’m not sure what the correct spelling is but seeing as these guys and a gal from Calgary are very much in touch with their Celtic roots then I think its easy to presume this spelling is the correct one!
The Shillelaghs from left to right: Lisa Graham – Piccalo * Andrew Shannon – Bass Guitar * Dave Anderson – Vocals * Greg Devine – Accordion * Ryan ‘Van’ VandenBerg – Drums * Kyle Libbus – Guitar
The band took the well worn route to Celtic-Punk having formed out of various local punk bands in 2006 and unusually for a Celtic-Punk band those members are still intact and driving forward. You just cannot beat a settled and established line up. This would lead to the release of their debut album in 2011, Wastedly. It took another four years for them to follow this up and in 2015 the eagerly anticipated Bury Me At Sea landed at shore and gave The Shillelaghs uniformly great reviews across both the Celtic-Punk world and further afield too. Voted into #14 in our Best Of 2015 the album also made the top-ten of the sadly deceased (and buried at sea) Celtic-Folk-Punk site.
(Have a listen yourselves and stream the The Shillelaghs debut album Bury Me At Sea below on the Bandcamp player)
So thirteen years after coming together, and nine after their debut album, the original band are still together and pumping out what I would call ‘traditional North American Celtic-Punk’. Here The Shillelaghs have recorded ten outstanding original tracks for Ripples In The Rye and as vocalist and songwriter Dave beautifully puts it
“reaching out to the past to tell us of it’s struggles, only to find ourselves reflected back – hope and acceptance in the face of loss, and the power to enjoy ourselves in spite of it – being burdened with knowledge, and the internal power to throw off the chains of guilt – the immortal adventure of memory forged with your compatriots by your side, and the journey yet to be written…”
Ripples In The Rye starts with ‘Relentless’ and that’s the sound of classic (or traditional) Celtic-Punk invading your ear. Kicking off with some some pounding drums a piccolo (flute) grabs your attention and chugging guitar before Dave dives in on vocals that may divide some but I love them. On the growlier side of things these are punk vocals for a Folk-Punk band. The song keeps a steady pace except for an interlude broken by Kyle and a wicked little guitar solo. This is Celtic-Punk and so most of the subject matter tends to be of the serious though hidden behind a wall of tomfoolery and shenenigans and a ‘reet good time’ and while that tends to be true there’s always a stream of black humour throughout and The Shillelaghs don’t disappoint on ‘Drunk On A Loading Dock’ which has all the things I just mentioned in a song that flies past in just 123 seconds!! Very nice accordion solo here too (from guest Greg Devine who also helped with the production for the album too. My hat is tipped to ye!) and I would have enjoyed a bit more of that to be honest. ‘From Your Mind’ slows it down a bit with more accordion giving it at times a Cajun feel while the band support with a Ska-ish beat. Dave’s vocals here soar and prove there’s a lot more to it than just shouting in harmony. ‘Old Growth Soul’ begins gently with acoustic guitar before taking off in several directions. Influences galore here to the point that it’s hard to put your finger on them. Punk at times and Folk at others it’s a strange wee number though also strangely familiar. More than half way through and no sign of a ballad yet and ‘Let Me Go’ speeds along very nicely. A song about death is always a surefire hit and it’s the album’s standout track for me as everything combines perfectly for a song steeped in Celtic-ness in both music and lyrics. Another short song of only just over two minutes these Shillelaghs don’t hang about do they!
Released as the bands first ever official video (come on gang you got to keep up) and also the lead single from the album it’s accompanied by a video that is perfect in it’s simplicity. Just a band performing in front of their mates in a bar. That is the perfect Celtic-Punk video. So an album of just over half an hour for ten songs shows they keep it snappy but they take a longer route next on ‘Along The Road’ and it doesn’t disappoint either. The arrangements are a bit more elaborate but aye I agree with you guys keep it punky!! The songs are coming at us now and ‘Pale Horse’ is fast and furious and leans more towards a straight Punk song while ‘Street Pirates’ takes the tune from it’s name and though their are distinct genres of Pirate-Punk and Pirate-Metal it’s almost that ballad I was after but I think I’d have to call it a Pirate-Rock ballad. Cool as ever and catchy as hell with great accordion with a killer chorus that leads us nicely into the last song of Ripples In The Rye and ‘Blackthorns’ takes us out in style with another song of ‘traditional North American Celtic-Punk’. Dave sings achingly and bursting with emotion (as he does throughout the album) while the band come together for a song that is lead beautifully by Lisa on the piccalo.
I have spoken here about a kind of ‘traditional’ album. A traditional sound for a Celtic-Punk band. Well that doesn’t mean the likes of the Dropkicks and the Murphys it means the sound of bands like The Shillelaghs who have distilled the sound of their ancestors with the sound of modern (though not always that modern) music to make something that is both meaningful and to be enjoyed to the upmost. The Shillelaghs are a band that can take the serious and the fun and put them together to give a glorious riot of a good time. Ripples In The Rye is released on November 2nd and is available for pre-sale at the links below so don’t delay and get in there as quick as you can. In fact as quick as a Shillelaghs standout track will do.
(you can stream some of the songs from Ripples In The Rye on the Bandcamp player below)
Well it seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in Mannions in north London totting up the votes for the Best Album Of 2017 over a couple of pints and so here we are again. Everyone loves to give out there opinions and we are no different so for what it’s worth, here’s who we think made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over the last year. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. 2017 saw just about every major player in the scene release an album while in 2018 they left it to many of the lesser known bands to dominate! Remember though this is only our opinion and these thirty album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we figured out how to attach a poll at the end so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2018 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.
We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
So absolutely no surprises here at all. In fact The Rumjacks have pretty much swept the board across the Celtic-Punk scene with what we even thought was their best release since their groundbreaking debut album Gangs Of New Holland. The Bhoys are going from strength to strength and are set to go through the roof in 2019. They remain as humble as ever and downright lovely folk to know which reminds me, congrats from us all here to Frankie and LCP’er Anna on their engagement. Other notables were Sir Reg who even flew over to London to premier their new album The Underdogs before later returning to embark on a successful nationwide tour… while I was on holiday! London-Irish band Clan Of Celts, despite a few teething problems, delivered a fantastic debut album as well as, my personal favourite of the year, Belgium’s Krakin’ Kellys. A dual release of an album and a EP on the same day is a novel approach but it paid dividends for Lexington Field as they were both brilliant. Sinful Maggie have just been getting bigger and bigger all year and we expect this to continue into 2019. Three albums from the Celtic nations with two from Galicia from Falperrys and Bastards On Parade and Cornwall’s Pirate Copy. All together we have bands from twelve countries with Germany with the most placings alongside Australia, USA, England, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, Italy, Galicia, Cornwall and Japan.
I was not the only one at London Celtic Punks Towers to be abso-fecking-lutely blown away by the Krakin’ Kellys debut album. Fast and melodic skater style punk rock with bagpipes that will blow the cobwebs away off off anyone! They made quite a wave in the scene thanks to their brilliant videos so go check them outhere. This section was the easiest one to award by far!
MOSCHE DI VELLUTO GRIGIO- Of Pain And Glory hereand RAISE MY KILT- A New Tartan here
At one point this was heading towards being an Australian #1, #2 and #3 but at the last minute our local favourites The Lagan released Let’s Do It Again at the end of December and wrestled it away from Medusa’s Wake. Their first studio release in a hell of a long time it came out too late to trouble many of our friends ‘Best Of’ lists but their loss is our gain! Besides them and our Aussie friends the list was made up from bands from the USA, Holland, Italy and Austria which goes to show the international nature of the scene. As an aside you can get the brilliant bagpipe punk debut EP from Scotch for free by following the link to their review. For lovers of the McKenzies you’ll not be disappointed!
bubbling under: THE BRANDY THIEVES- The Devil’s Wine here
Always the hardest to do this section as our scope has become fairly wide over the years and gone beyond Celtic-Punk but Irish-American’s Marys Lane managed at once to be a record both me and my Mammy love! Even better the Cleveland based band have made it available to download for free/donation so follow the link above. Scot Louis Rive’s debut album really impressed me and was one of my most played albums of the year and The Craicheads capped a great year with a fantastic single and their lead singer Mick making the papers and the telly for saving a Mum and her babies lives (here). Good on yer Mick. It’s a privilege to know you. More local talent at #4 which ended a year where Man The Lifeboats have gone from first band on to headline shows and a mention for the amazing Finbar Furey who put a most excellent LP at the tender age of only 72.
MERSEY CELT PUNKS
We may be a wee bit biased here but last years winners take it again this year too. 2018 saw them continue to develop the site into an all-round resource for Liverpudlians and further afield. Yeah these guys are always blowing our trumpet we know and we have shared a good few scoops with them, and will again not long after this is published, but we enjoy what they write and it’s all done with an enthusiasm that us auld hacks are constantly jealous of. Plus you are not a major player in the Celtic-Punk scene unless you had your picture took with Elliot! You can also join in their fun and games on their Twitterand Facebookand their Web-Zine. Be sure to subscribe.
So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other celtic-punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
This is our 6th year of us making these lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous Best Of’s then just click on the link below the relevant year.
The new album from the undisputed Kings Of Celtic-Punk hits the decks right across every corner of the globe. I never thought they’d ever come close to their out of this world debut album but as Shane O’Neill shows they have not only made an album to compete with Gangs Of New Holland but possibly even surpassed it!!!
To say we’ve been excited and eagerly awaiting the release of The Rumjacks new album is a major understatement. It’s no secret that we’re big Rumjacks fans (if not a little obsessed) over here at London Celtic Punks. True to form, The Rumjacks didn’t disappoint. This is another absolute crackin’ album – 42 minutes of pure brilliance. I haven’t been able to turn it off since I got my hands on it. Totally addictive! The album, Saints Preserve Us, is released on the tenth anniversary year of the band and what a way to mark the occasion. Originally formed in Sydney in 2008, the band recently set up camp in Europe and have been touring rigorously over the past few years. They have just kicked off their tenth anniversary tour which will be ripping through Europe and Asia over the next few months. The crowds and venues are getting bigger which is down to their hard work and of course the exceptional tunes they continue to churn out. This is their fourth studio album and the third to be released in the last three years. Over the past few weeks the band have been drip feeding with a few tracks to wet our appetite. First up was the title track and video, ‘Saints Preserve Us’.
This track is full of the energy we’ve become used to from the band. There’s also a hint of ska-punk on the track. This was followed up with ‘Bus Floor Bottles’, ‘The Foreman O’Rourke’ and ‘Cold London Rain’. All of this within a week!!! ‘The Foreman O’Rourke’ is a cover of Matt McGinn’s folk tune. It features Paul McKenzie and Troy Zak from Canadian punks The Real McKenzies. And bhoy have they transformed this song…It’s been given a boost a speed with bagpipes thrown in for good measure.
The album features a host of guest appearances from the Celtic-Punk world with Mike Reeves of Mickey Rickshaw popping up again, after a recent spot on German band Kings & Boozers debut album, doing a spot of vocals on the second track ‘Billy McKinley’. The combination of vocals between Mike and Frankie on this track works wonders making this one hell of a tune. Other guests include Maurizio Cardullo (Folkstone – Whistle & bagpipes), Robert Collins (Blood Or Whiskey – Trumpet & accordion), Angelo Roccato (The Clan – Guitar), Francesco Moneti (Modena City Ramblers – Fiddle), Denis Dowling (Clan of Celts – Guitar and backing vocals) and last, but definitely not least, our very own Shelby Colt (London Celtic Punks – backing vocals). Beat that!! The fourth track on the album is a rendition of ‘An poc ar Buile’ (The Mad Puck Goat). I’ve heard some of the traditional versions of this tune before but nothing anything quite like this. The song is almost entirely in Gaelic and played at a high tempo with bagpipes, which works well. I had trouble getting it out of my head a few nights.
It’s difficult to pick the best songs on this album. They’re all feckin’ brilliant. If I was pushed I’d have to say ‘A Smugglers Song’, ‘Bus Floor Bottles’, ‘Billy McKinley’ and ‘Cupcake’ would be the favourites. ‘A Smugglers Song’ is a revisit to The Rumjack’s roots and you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been plucked from one of their early days EP’s. We’ve listened to quite a few Celtic-Punk bands here at London Celtic Punks and The Rumjacks are a tough act to follow. Everything they’ve released to date has been highly acclaimed throughout the Celtic-Punk world and they’re going from strength to strength. It’s widely accepted that their debut album Gangs of New Holland is probably the best Celtic Punk album to have even been released. I never thought another album would get anywhere close to it, however I have to say, Saints Preserve Us is most definitely a contender to knock it off the top spot. So there you go… Drop whatever you are doing and get your hands on a copy of Saints Preserve Us now.
The Rumjacks left to right: Top: Gabriel Whitbourne- Guitars, Vocals * Adam Kenny- Mandolin, Banjo, Bouzouki, Bodhran, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals. Bottom: Johnny McKelvey- Bass, Vocals * Frankie McLaughlin- Vocals, Tin-Whistle, Guitar * Pietro Della Sala- Drums, Vocals.
Also make sure you try to catch The Rumjacks in a town near you.
The second EP release in less than six months from the beer and whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rockers The Grinning Barretts. Delivering more of the same with a range of floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk originals, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems that will sure blow the cobwebs out your ears!
Though formed in 2015 this year has been a very busy one for Vancouver Island Celt-Punk upstarts The Grinning Barretts with the release of The Riot EP quickly following their debut EP from last St. Patrick’s Day. To say we rated it highly is a bit of an understatement and we are also pleased to report that The Riot hits the high spots too.
The Grinning Barrett’s left to right: Bern- Bass * Aaron- Bagpipes, Whistles, Vocals * Dylan-Guitar, Banjo, Vocals * Jeremy- Drums * Lydia- Riot Brewing bartender * Jimmy- badass fan * Pat- Guitar, Mandolin, Lead Vocals. Not in the pic: Kevin- Bagpipes
Hailing from the small ex-mining town of Ladysmith in British Columbia, Canada that debut release saw seven song, including two covers, of pounding anthemic Irish influenced punk rock. Simply played but with a passion missing from many a signed band The Grinning Barretts have a pride in their ancestry as well as their class which shone through in songs like ‘UFS’ (-Union Fight Song) and covers like ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’. Rather than repeat ourselves head over to our review of The St. Padraigs EPhereand find out a bit more about the rich (not in money!) history of where The Grinning Barretts ancestors washed up and the individuals involved in the group.
The Riot EP was released last week and is another step in the right direction for this class band. Kicking off with ‘Armstrong Ave’ and with two pipers they waste no time in getting them involved in a Real McKenzies-ish, who even get a mention, fast paced punk rocker.
“I hear evolution, Fire get’s passed along, I hear the tried and true.
Who still soldier on Good Riddance, McKenzies, Strung Out, NoFX. I listen to Rancid.
I will until I’m deaf”
Punk lives on and each band carries the torch and whose to say there’s not a group of young guns out there listening to The Grinning Barrett’s who will take the torch from them… but not just yet. ‘At The Altar Of Saint Ayn’ is more Irish with vocalist Pat Barrett’s mandolin getting a good work out. The music is fast and punky with the occasional break for some trad folk and it’s all done with a style you wouldn’t often associate with a straight forward punk band. The song is interspersed throughout with chat from England’s own Christopher Hitchens. Look him up if you like and make your own minds up on what he says is all I will say. The song is about the Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand.
“The apostles of St Ayn. Blue blooded time and time again profess the virtues of toil and sacrifice. From offices so high. Bestowed as a birthright and baptized on the altar of St Ayn”
Next up is ‘Last Call’ and is that most dreaded words for any Celtic-Punk fan. We may hate it but what about the poor bar staff trying to shoe horn us out the bleeding door! This song is for them. We have our first and only cover next up with the old and beloved ‘The Rising Of The Moon’. Picked up and sung on occasion by Celtic-Punk bands but by no means common i can only remember it played by US band The Kilmaine Saints and Ukrainians ShamRocks it’s played to the max here and coming in at under two minutes its fast and most unlike any version you ever heard before. Pat’s voice is harsh and gruff and adds plenty punk rock bite to the rest of the proceedings. Aaron and Kevin’s pipes are out again in force and it takes us nicely into ‘IBLD’ a straight up punk number with a nice guitar break from Dylan. No Celticness to admire here just a catchy as hell punk rock number. We are nearing the end and again The Grinning Barrett’s mine (!) their local history for its rich source of material and ‘King Of Scabs’ is without doubt the #1 song on The Riot EP for me. Beginning with the pipes and one hell of a catchy tune and Pat reins in his voice a little and even sings along at times. Its a cracker of a song and for those that don’t know a Scab is the word used to describe a ‘person’ who betrays his brothers and sisters and crosses a picket line. Take some advice from The Grinning Barrett’s and London Celtic Punks- Don’t ever cross a picket line. The song tells the story of miners strike and is important enough I’ll reprint it all here.
“Across a picket line a man with no loyalty walked. Into the mines because his honor had been bought and over bodies he would step to line his bank account. While other men’s families learned to go without.
1887 at Nanaimo #1 an explosion killed 148 Men. Condemned to die by conditions in the mines trying to put food on their plates. On broken strikes and broken backs the King built his castle and he paid a pittance for the lives lost deep down below. The men got locked out of the mines for talk of a better wage.
Roberts greed and Roberts pride would see them all as spaces. He hired thugs and police to harass picket lines until men accepted starvation wages in collapsing mines
(Chorus) Halfway to hell at the morning bell into the mines for coal. While the king of scabs clawed wages back from high in his castle”
The King of scabs in the song is Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant to Vancouver island. He was a union coal miner, but crossed a picket line to scab his fellow workers becoming a wealthy coal baron as a result. He exploited Chinese workers willing to work for less to drive down wages, and was active in keeping safety laws lax. He built Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria that is still there today. The Riot EP ends, appropriately, with ‘Riot Crew’ and its all over in sixty-five seconds of fast Oi!/Streetpunk and we can finally catch our breath. The EP was recorded at the Riot Brewing Co. in Chemainus British Columbia and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea it sure is mine! Fast and agressive Celtic-Punk with the emphasis on PUNK that is played with passion and pride. A great EP and now all they need to do is knock out a Long Player otherwise they going to dominate the Best Of Year EP charts for 2018!
(listen to The Riot EP for free before you buy here on Bandcamp)
Bodh’aktan feature seven characters from vastly different musical trends disembarking to forget the daily grind and all the hassle and leave only good times and a good mood behind them!
To fans of Celtic-Punk music traditional Irish music is part and parcel of why we love it so much. It is rather surprising then their are hardly any links between the ‘old’ world of trad Irish and Celtic music. Sure The Dropkick Murphys did a wonderful collaboration with Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners (see here) and Derek Warfield and his Young Wolfe Tones regularly play with the best Celtic-Punk bands but only in the States. So it was a shock, but a welcome one, to find the legendary uileann piper Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains collaborating with Bodh’aktan on their new album, Ride out the Storm. Many of the legends of Irish folk that we grew up with are no longer with us so its no exaggeration to say that Paddy is truly treasured by everyone and even at the tender of eighty (his birthday was just last week) he has lost none of his brilliance and his contribution here is both faultless and incredible. More on that to come but now on with the review!
Ride Out The Storm is sort of Bodh’aktan’s second album. I say sort of as they have also recorded an album Against Winds and Tides which was basically a collection of some of their own songs re-recorded in French. The band hail from Quebec, the French speaking semi-autonomous region in eastern Canada. The region has a totally different feel to the rest of Canada and French is the only officially recognised language. Within this French culture is also a large Breton influence and their are no shortage of Celtic influenced bands and music coming out of Quebec and to that merry band we can now add Bodh’aktan! The British never like to give up their colonies and in 1980 and 1995 referendums were held on whether or not to leave Canada. Sadly in 1995, the people of Quebec chose to stay in Canada by a 1% margin and so it is they remain subjects of the British crown.
Ride out the Storm came on the 1st of June and features fourteen brand new songs with three trad folk covers and a set of reels featuring three Irish trad instrumental tunes. It begins with ‘About Things To Come’ a short intro of just over a minute that starts off like Hell’s Ditch era Pogues with a Western feel to it and just as you expect the following song to explode out the speakers at you ‘Nothing But A Game’ is a soft and gentle Celtic number. With whistles and acoustic guitar it gallops along at a steady pace. Upbeat and friendly and alcohol infused it’s a cool start to things before it gets rocky with next track ‘Get Loud’. A while ago the AC/DC video for ‘Its A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock’n’ Roll (check it out here!) went viral across the Celtic-Punk world thanks to singer Bon Scott and his bag-piping. Well i had to look and check this wasn’t a AC/DC cover and it isn’t but Christ it could be. Showing the band can turn their hand to more rockier songs its as catchy as hell and I’m sure Bon is looking down with a smile on his approving face!
Again it’s as catchy as hell and leads us nicely onto ‘Heave Away’. A traditional sea shanty from Newfoundland it’s given an upbeat Celtic feel and while it is a complete contrast to the rocky ‘Get Loud’ it doesn’t for a second feel out of place.
“Sometimes we’re bound for Liverpool
Sometimes we’re bound for Spain
But now we’re bound for St. John’s town
To watch the girls a-dancing”
The album’s second cover is next and while ‘The Black Velvet Band’ is not exactly a rare song to be found on a Celtic-Punk bands album it is transferred to a different level by the inclusion of the fore-mentioned Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains. The song itself is as solid a rendition as you could expect but Paddy’s piping is truly remarkable. His contribution to the traditional Irish music scene is immeasurable so hopefully the album may make it into the ears of the folk music purists (or snobs as we call them) and they will see that Celtic-Punk music is a part of the same tradition. It’s a real stormer of a song and one for waving your pint int he air with your hands round your mates. The songs so far while all being fairly obviously Celtic influenced have all actually been quite diverse with everything covered, including Goth if you include the ‘gloomy’ opening intro.
More trad Bodh’aktan can be found next on ‘Ride Out The Storm’ another modern day sea shanty that has a Dropkicks feel to it for me but rocks along in a standard Celtic-Punk way although with perfectly executed vocals. ‘The Bridge’ is next and again that classic sound is there but the influences this time seem to be shared with 70’s era heavy (air?) metal and trad Irish folk. This is followed by a song simply titled ‘Reels’ and shows these guys can certainly turn their ear to a trad song or two. Three tunes are included showing how marvelous their musicianship is while not being afraid to ‘punk’ it up a little too. A song you could both Irish dance and mosh too is a rare thing indeed. It’s fast and furious and proof for those folk ‘purists’ we mentioned earlier that they are missing out on something good. They are cut from the same cloth as those who derided The Dubliners and The Pogues back in their day. They would be more happy if the music died that to have someone respectfully adapt and change it. We may never get through to them. It’s their loss. ‘You Are The Ones’ and ‘Chasing The Wind’ are again classic Bodh’aktan with the music at all times highly charged whether fast or slow. The final cover is of ‘Mick McGuire’, a song that no one really knows how old it is. Recorded by many greats over the years most notably The Clancy Brothers the song tells of a man who pisses away his marriage
“Johnny, come up to the fire, come up, you’re sitting in the draft
Can’t you see it’s old McGuire and he nearly drives me daft
Ah, I don’t know what gets into him, for he’s always on the tare
Arragh, just sit where you are and never you dare to give old McGuire the chair”
The melody was used for the tune to ‘Hot Asphalt’ by Ewan MacColl. Shipping up to the end of Ride OUt The Storm and we get the first version of ‘We Cannot Fail’ recorded by Bodh’aktan. A real singalong with a great chorus, heavy bass line and catchy as feck tune with loads of band chants in the background. ‘While I’m Away’ is a modern day Irish folk song and a beaut of a song before we get the bonus second version of ‘We Cannot Fail’ and if I thought #1 was a belter then this version wipes the floor with it. Aided and abetted on the song by German Celtic-Punk legends Fiddler’s Green it brings down the curtain brilliantly and will get your leg pounding the floor as you listen to it!
So fourteen songs with a small smattering of trad covers all clocking in at literally just under fifty minutes that while tipping their hat to the bigger bands of the Celtic-Punk scene also showcases their original sound and their ability to ceaselessly drift in and out of different genre’s without you even noticing! Everything here is perfection personified with the production top notch without being overdone and in songs that veer from trad folk to heavy metal its quite a feat to capture Bodh’aktan’s sound and massive array of instruments so well. This is an energetic album that comes with thoughtful and thought provoking lyrics in the traditional story-telling way that, thankfully, is quite common in Celtic-Punk. The spotlight may be on Irish folk here and the punk elements more subdued but this is an album for all fans of Celtic music whether it be your Grandad or your young nephew!
30492-London Celtic Punks web-zine is amazingly five years old today. Bloody seems like it too…
After a brief hiatus Celtic-Punk heroes and legends The Mahones have returned and are back with a bang with the first of a four album package slated for release in 2018. With new album Love + Death + Redemption they hit the heights but maybe not so in a way we would expect them to.
Well what to say about The Mahones? If you haven’t heard of them where have you been hiding? Under a rock? Please bow your head and go away and rectify the situation as soon as you finish this review. While the Dropkicks and the Mollys have gotten the glory and the massive stadium gigs and tours there has been only one constant wherever you are 0over the last twenty-eight years and that has been The Mahones. Come rain or shine they have always been there. When I was a young punk rocker in my wee one horse town growing up the first, second, third, fourth etc., punk band I ever saw was the UK Subs as they were the only punk band that would play there. The same can be said of The Mahones and their constant touring. I am absolutely certain they rock up in some towns somewhere where they are the only physical link to the Celtic-Punk scene and that is one of the many reasons they are held in such high esteem. The band means the world to me personally as it was at one of their legendary gigs here in London I asked, and was granted, the hand of my good lady.
Their new album Love + Death + Redemption finds The Mahones in reflective mood. The full on Irish punk is toned down but it is still unmistakable Mahones. Instead the band have gone for a gentler more contemplative album with only brief flashes of Irish punk. The album opens with ”I’m Alive (Save Me)’ and as with most of the tracks here it is written by Finny and if The Mahones had a trademark sound then this song would be it with Finny’s voice straining and aching through a steady beat with the distant ring of the tin-whistle and layered guitar. Joined by the beautiful voice of Priya Panda from the Canadian hard-rock band Diemonds on vocals the words tell, possibly, of the sad break up of his marriage, but not the friendship, to fellow band member Katie. Be prepared to shed a tear here Celtic-Punkers. Throughout the album they are joined by a motley crew of special guests and on this song that also includes fellow Canadian rocker John Kastner on backing vocals and guitar. It’s a great start though not quite the rabble rousing that we are use to it is still powerful in other ways. It sets the standard for the album and they don’t disappoint as they follow this up with ‘Heroes Die’. The tune may be a bit more upbeat but again the words find Finny in reflective mood.
Next they slow it down a bit for ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ and Finny is joined by one of his heroes Johnny Fay of the legendary indie band Tragically Hip. The lyrics of the song are maybe directed by Finny to himself but what do I know I’m just a Catholic Irish boy. It’s a restrained folksy tune and you either get and love his style of vocals or don’t and I have always loved it. Perhaps more on record than live even. The album is beginning to sound like a who’s-who of alternative Canadian music and on ‘Never Let You Down’ the band are joined by singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer and her stunning voice is the perfect counterpoint to Finnys. A slow burner of a song that slowly builds and builds and with the aid of Michael O’Grady’s tin-whistle and Ryan Chopik’s mandolin it’s the most Celtic sounding song on Love + Death + Redemption. Back in October, 2016 Finny’s mother Anne McConnell-Strong passed away in a tragic accident and her loss has been felt heavily by Finny himself obviously but also the wider Irish community in Vancouver and Canada where Anne was much treasured. This explains in full the nature of the album and on ‘Mother, My Angel’ The Mahones pay tribute to this wonderful woman and all she did for others with a dazzling swirling almost psychedelic Celtic number.
Anne McConnell-Strong 1934-2016. Anne Kearney was one of five girls born and raised in a typical thatched-roof cottage in Oranmore, a quaint village in the west of Ireland on the edge of Oranmore Bay, an inlet of Galway Bay. Her sister Mary still lives in the old family home. She studied nursing in England and later, along with first husband Brendan McConnell and the couple’s two eldest children, daughters Ita and Dympna, emigrated to Canada in the 1960s, eventually settling in the Limestone quarter. In Kingston, the McConnells owned and operated the old Frontenac Hotel on Ontario Street and, in time, the Irish pubs Finnegan’s and Muldoon’s, bringing in top-name Irish acts such as the Clancy Brothers and the Irish Rovers In 1978, Anne founded the local chapter of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, was elected chairperson of the Eastern Comhaltas Regional Board in 1988, and spent nearly four decades ceaselessly promoting the development and preservation of Irish traditional music, dance and culture in Canada and the United States. Suaimhneas síoraí tabhair dí, a thiarna, agus go lonraí solas suthain uirthi.
We are back on Celtic territory next with the album’s first cover and it is expertly chosen. From The Waterboys now classic album Fishermen’s Blues which saw them abandoning their pompous rock sound for a mix of Irish and Scots traditional music. The Mahones keep close to the original and do the song more than justice.
“You ain’t calling me to join you
And I’m spoken for anyway
But I will cry when ye go away
I will cry when ye go away”
Again the lyrics tell of the pain Finny and his close knit family has suffered. We are more than half way through the album before we see any sign of the (in)famous Irish punk that The Mahones are (in)famous for and it comes courtesy of guitarist Sean Ryan on vocals for ‘Win Some, Lose Some’ with backing vocals from members of his other band Irish Nails. Its fast, furious and glorious and over in just over ninety seconds and will I am sure fill the moshpits of all corners of the globe. Next up is another cover this time ‘Heroes’ written by another of Finny’s favourites David Bowie with Brian Eno. Again it is played fairly close to the original but with some lovely flourishes and Mahones touches that move the song far beyond just being another bog standard cover. The song tells the story of two lovers, one from East and one from West Berlin and has become one of Rock musics great songs. We are nearing the end of Love + Death + Redemption with ‘Angels’ the last of the original songs here and again its reminiscent of earlier song ‘Mother, My Angel’ with Finny’s voice distorted and detached while the music swirls around his words. It’s not The Mahones we are use to but it’s beauty is undeniable. The curtain comes down with the great Irish classic penned by Pete St. John ‘The Fields Of Athenry’. Over the last decade or two the song has become perhaps the most recognisable of all Irish songs and recorded countless times by artists of all genres. Finny is accompanied on vocals by Canadian-Irish singer-songwriter Damhnait Doyle. I always wonder why so many bands choose this song to record these days but then when you hear it sung with passion and pride it has an affect on your heart and soul that shows exactly why. It is a song we Irish can be proud to give to the world. It ends with the whispered words “Love you Mum”. Leaving us in no doubt who the song is sung towards.
The album was produced by Finny himself and engineered and mastered by Gene Hughes. It was part recorded back in the auld country at The Doghouse Studio in Belfast as well as Red Rhino in Montreal and Telejet Music in Toronto. The production as usual is impeccable, it is well known, after all, what a perfectionist Finny is. Love + Death + Redemption was written for and dedicated to the loving memory of Finny’s late Mother Anne. No Irish boy gets over the loss of his Mammy…
the four upcoming Mahones releases for 2018
So as stated not your typical Mahones release but none the worse for that. The tragic events of the last couple of years have I am sure taken their toll on Finny but here he has managed to put a voice to those emotions and feelings, and maybe his demons as well, and make something that is undoubtedly good for his soul and whats good for Finny is good for us too. A grand album, one to listen to with the headphones on first and catch it all. With another three Mahones slated for release this year Love + Death + Redemption is an incredible start and I can’t wait to hear the others. Glad to have you back with us Finny you were sorely missed.
Draggin’ The Days – 1994 * Rise Again – 1996 * The Hellfire Club Sessions – 1999 * Here Comes Lucky – 2001 * Live At The Horseshoe – 2003 * Paint The Town Red – 2003 * Take No Prisoners – 2006 * The Irish Punk Collection – 2008 * The Black Irish – 2010 * Angels & Devils – 2012 * A Great Night On The Lash – 2014 * The Hunger & The Fight (Part One) – 2014 * The Hunger & The Fight (Part Two) – 2015 *
Beer and Whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rock from Vancouver Island 5 piece The Grinning Barretts who deliver a range of originals from floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems!
The Grinning Barretts hail from the town of Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The area was renowned for coal mining in the early decades of the twentieth century. As would seem to be the way with industrial workers it is coal-miners who have been traditionally the most militant and the area was famed for it’s militancy with many strikes and unrest as the areas miners battled the mine owners in an area at the time thought to be the most dangerous in the entire world. As around the world the bosses realised it is cheaper to import coal dug by children and modern day slaves and so the mines eventually closed but the ides that were forged miles underground by those miners still live on in the closely knit town where Pamela Anderson was born! The band formed in 2015 and after going through several line up changes have finally settled upon a steady line up. The St. Padraigs EP saw the light of day on St. Patrick’s Day just passed and the Bhoys already have a follow up release planned any day soon and a third release for later in the year. Out of the ashes of local ska bands The Kiltlifters and Street Prophets Union, Scot and Pat decided after a decade away from playing live music that the time was ripe and the area was in need of a kick-arse Celtic-Punk band so after roping in recruits from the local Pacific Gael Pipes and Drums corp. as well as from the local rock scene The Grinning Barretts hit the stages around Ladysmith and the rest is history!
The Grinning Barrettts left to right: Jeremy Fiddy- Drums * Bern Kinnear- Bass * Aaron Bergen- Bagpipes/Whistles * Dylan Wickham- Guitar/Banjo/Vocals * Pat Westmacott- Guitar/Mandolin/Vocals * Kevin Dougan- Bagpipes/Whistles
The EP begins with the pounding blue-collar working class anthem ‘Plutocrass’ and it’s hard and fast bagpipe punk from the get go. The sound is in the same vein as Yank bands Templars Of Doom and Alternative Ulster. Yer basic standard catchy as hell punk rock played with superb bagpipes as an integral part of the music rather than just tacked on as an afterthought. The band call it “A shot at the rich bastards who own news outlets, and pay them to lie so they can get richer.”
“Billionaires paying millionaires to tell the middle class to blame the poor
To keep them from our guillotines, torches and pitchforks
Billionaires paying millionaires to lie right thru their teeth
Filling empty heads with ignorance to justify their greed”
I likes it a lot! ‘W&B’ carries on in the same vein with a story of friendship but told in The Grinning Barretts own indeterminable way
“When the pot is getting hotter or you’re only treading water
I’ll be a life boat and ferry you home
Fuck your fair-weather friends I’ll be there till the end
Drinking whisky and pissing on their bones”
It’s great stuff and again catchy as hell and with a real foot slappin’ beat to it. There are no namby-pamby lyrics or feelings here just words as normal working folk would speak them. This is NOT a safe space!! Pat’s growl fits the bill and the chugging guitar accompanies the pipes perfectly here. Next is ‘Kudatah’ and there’s the slightest ever tinge of a ska beat going on. Obviously these guys can’t leave it all behind. It works as well as it so often does in Celtic-Punk.
The only Celtic instrument on display are the pipes but these Grinning Barretts are definitely an Celtic-Punk band. The use of the pipes is so entwined with the music how could they be anything else. Check out their full concert video at the end of the review for further proof. Another great example is their first cover with ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’ as it’s never been played before. Something about this traditional Scots folk ballad just lends itself to Celtic-Punk and quite a few bands have covered it but The Grinning Barretts give it the full on punk rock treatment. They follow this up with a visit to Ireland and another, perhaps overdone, Celtic-punk standard with ‘Black Velvet Band’. The Bhoys adapt it to their own home and give it plenty of oompf and you may suspect a ballad is coming till the cobwebs are well and truly blown away and the song almost veers into metal but its the unmistakable tune of the original that shines through. We coming up to the final bend and its time for my favourite song and its an anthem dedicated to workers everywhere. A union song that would give The Dropkick Murphys a run for their money! ‘UFS’ is not just a union song though its a Join Your Union song. I come from a long line of militant trade unionists myself so love the sentiments here. If only we as workers understood our power is when we are together and that being in a union is a necessity these days. When you buy home insurance you don’t think your house is going to burn down and the same with joining the union you may think the bosses will always treat you fairly but history says your wrong. Do as The Grinning Beggars say and join a trade union today. Beers and cheers go from the band to Brooks Jamison for the superb guitar solo who delivered the goods in only three takes and asked only for beers for the pleasure. Finally The St Padraig’s EP ends with ‘To Your Name’. It’s the longest song here due mainly in part to Aaron Bergen’s fantastic bagpipe solo at the end of a classy punk rock number about always remembering you lost friends and comrades.
“To your name, we raise a glass
To the miles that we walked together”
As I stated these are words from the heart and from the street not the coddled university’s where the pampered offspring of the middle classes turn their fury away from the real enemies and onto the working class who have never profited from anything but have always lost everything.
All together we have seven songs with five originals and some novel takes on a couple of standards that you will never have heard played like that! Not a band for the faint hearted folkie but if you love your Celtic-Punk played with passion and pride in their class and their music then this EP is for you. The Grinning Barretts will drink your beer, and you will like it.
(listen to the whole of The St. Padraigs EP below on the Bandcamp link)