Category Archives: England

EP REVIEW: AND THE WASTERS- ‘State Of Repair’ (2017)

Will Tun And The Wasters carry on exactly where they left off except without Will Tun and with kind of a new name but still with plenty of that explosive folk’n’punk’n’ska rebel rocking they are renowned for!

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We first heard of Will Tun And The Wasters a good few years back when I got a call out of the blue from someone begging me to let their band support The Dreadnoughts and The Lagan at Mannions in north London. They would even do it for free they were so desperate. Music to any music promoters ears so they were booked straight away. They arrived at the venue from universities from right across England and played a blinder, going down an absolute storm. Very young and enthusiastic, their energy was infectious as well as their music bringing with them equal doses of folk, celtic, punk and ska. Fast forward a few years and now mostly settled in Bristol they had become firm festival favourites as well as gigging and touring the length and breadth of these islands. Then all of a sudden vocalist Will Tun announced he was off. Nothing personal but it was time to get a proper job or something. Rather than agonise over what to call themselves they just dropped Will from their name and decided to just call themselves And The Wasters. I love it and think its genius!

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Last year And The Wasters played the main stages at popular English festivals such as Bearded Theory and Boomtown Fair and also completed an extensive tour of Europe. Adding elements of Latin, dub and even jazz to their usual brand of folk, punk and ska played with accordion, trumpet and fiddle. So after a year of playing as And The Wasters this new 5 track E.P State of Repair is their first release post-Will Tun and stands up well next to their album release from September, 2015 The Anachronist’s Cookbook which came out not long before Will’s decision to leave the band.

The EP kick’s off with ‘Lions Share’ and this is proper what we use to call festival music. Catchy ska based music but with hints of something a bit more aggressive below. The trumpet is leading the way and the band gel fantastically well and it’s a grand start to proceedings. Jo’s accordion rears its head towards the end and if we thought they would be hampered by Will’s absence then we were wrong. Next is ‘Small Victories and it’s more of the same. Still catchy and music to get you on your feet.

They may have left their more overt celtic-punk/ folk-punk sound behind but it’s back with a vengeance on the re-cycling anthem ‘Reduce, Reuse, Rebel’ all being it smothered in a rather lovely ska beat with again some great trumpet playing. ‘Bound as One’ adds Balkan folk into the mixture and stirs it about. This band sure do catchy well before the EP wraps up with the slow ‘Intro Dub’. None of the rowdiness of before bit more of a head nodder this one!

The past few years have seen the band taking their feel good music out beyond the usual safe spaces bands normally go. This band would literally play anywhere they can so attached are they to the idea of DIY music. The idea that bands can do it all themselves without the need for managers, publicists or record deals. But don’t be thinking they are just some happy-go-lucky ska-punk band version of The Wurzels though. Their music is only matched by what they have to say. That attachment to DIY only echos their positive message of solidarity, friendship and collective action. The band live by their message and their beliefs, being active within the DIY music scene and by lending support to various good causes.

(have a listen to State Of Repair before downloading it for *FREE* below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Taking Chances’ (2017)

Dorset based six-piece celtic-punk band Black Water County’s debut album for this reviewer is as good as ANYTHING to be released this year.  Music to proper “beat up the floor to” !!

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Sandwiched between album releases by such celtic-punk greats such as the Dropkick Murphys, The Real McKenzies, The Tossers and Flatfoot 56 is this wonderful album by one of the best bands in the English scene Black Water County. Truly it’s no exaggeration to say that Taking Chances will be neck and neck with the aforementioned bands come the end of the year Best Of poll’s. Formed in Dorset, on the English south-coast, back on St Patrick’s Day in 2013 they celebrate only their 4th anniversary this year and in that time they have the folk/celtic-punk scene here alight and with this album hopefully their popularity will spread beyond these shores. Dorset and the surrounding area has been a mecca for celtic style punk bands for well over a decade with a whole host of bands plying their trade. People may think that London is some hot bed of celtic-punk activity but truth be told the real powerhouse is down there on the south coast of England! Most of them are gone now but several fantastic bands are still playing in each others backyards and all support each other with a friendly rivalry that most music scene’s could only dream of.

(debut EP Welcome To The Black County)

With basically the same line up since day one it’s not just the music that holds these Bhoys and Ghirl together but also the bonds of friendship. Famed for their energetic live show and their stout quaffing, banjo breaking, tin whistle mangling music Black Water County ‘s busy schedule seems them gigging away all over the south of England and building up an army of fans that sees many sold out and packed out shows along the way. They have two releases under their belts thus far with their debut EP Welcome To The Black Water County coming out in 2013 and following it up in 2014 with The Fellowship Of The Craic. Both achieved a high level of critical success from the celtic-punk media and around Dorset and has left us all eagerly awaiting Taking Chances to see if it’s as good as we are hoping.

(follow up EP The Fellowship Of The Craic)

The album kicks off with ‘Start Something New’ and right from the very first seconds you know it’s Black Water County. Released as the second single from the album a couple of weeks ago it’s fast, it’s furious, it’s fun and it’s f’ing brilliant as well. Everyone in the band gets a chance to showcase what they do and they do in every single song. Tim’s vocals suit the music perfectly with a voice that can easily switch between the punkier tunes to the more subtle celtic songs with ease.

(video filmed and edited by Marriane Harris)

Andy’s drumming is loud but not obtrusive and keeps the music flowing while the rest of the band swirl around and in between it. ‘The Painful Truth’ is slower but still the drumming gives it that punky edge without being over the top. A track that on the face of it owes much to Flogging Molly but when i really listened to it sounds nothing like them but a whole lot like Black Water County. They definitely inhabit the Molly’s side of celtic-punk rather than the Dropkick Murphys but they have managed to carve out a sound of their own within a scene that does sometimes lack in originality. What have been the Irish musical influences that have seen them get here is a question for another day but BWC haven’t just downed the Flogging Molly songbook and regurgitated it that’s for sure. Shan gets her first chance on the album to shine vocally sharing vocals with Tim on ‘Way Down Low’ and Gavin’s mandolin is the other star of this song. Expertly played and one of the features of this band live is watching his fingers as he plays with steam coming off them!

They don’t let the speed drop off for a second and I can attest that they are like this live as well. No time to breathe as they sweep through. On ‘If Only You Were Here’ Shan sings alone while Bradley and Tim hammer their guitar and bass in the album’s punkest song. Well you think they gonna follow this up with a ballad but the slow start is just a con and before long their thrashing away again with tin whistle dominating ‘Rise and Fall’. We at the half way point now and no sign of ‘The Irish Rover’ either. ‘One More Beer Won’t Hurt’ was the first song to be released from Taking Chances and quite rightly takes it’s place as the standout track of the whole album. Not to say there is much in it as every song here could take that title at one time or another.

Again this is classic Black Water County and they are doing in without sounding like anyone else. Tim’s voice again stands out in this joyful song and the bands lyrics are told in that story telling way we love here in London Celtic Punks. The right mix of humour and seriousness certainly belies Tim’s youth though that beard does make him look older! Re-recorded from the single version I do think it misses Shan on backing vocals but that’s only a minor gripe. Finally we get a ballad with ‘Memories from Another Life’ and it’s long been established that the older celtic-punk fans get the more we like the ballads! Shan is back on lead vocals on the longest song here of five and a half minutes. A country tinged ballad of love and pain and loss. They can’t help themselves and the song speeds up at the end making it something you could imagine Bruce Springsteen 2017 singing. We get a brass section on following song ‘Rambling Johnny’ which chucks in an unexpected ska beat and we are away with what must be a live favourite I’m sure. Had me nodding the head listening to it anyway! ‘No Regrets’ continues with the brass section and the album is getting more and more rockier with a song that could easily get in the set of ska-punk legend’s the Voodoo Glow Skulls.

(not the album version but still great)

We are nearing the end of Taking Chances and it’s been one hell of a ride I can tells you. Penultimate song ‘Under Skies of Black and Blue’ slows it down for about five seconds and they seem to determined to go out fighting with another fast as hell country tinged celtic-punk song. The only band member here who so far hasn’t received a mention is fiddle player Russell and I hope I don’t embarrass him now by heaping ten tonnes of praise onto his shoulders. Simply fantastic playing all the way through this album. Where required the fiddle comes through loud and clear and those other times when it needs to step back again and let other instruments and voices shine it is just perfect. Taking Chances ends with ‘Seeing Is Believing’ and finally the auld fogies among us get that ballad we awaiting. Just Tim and acoustic guitar and some great positive lyrics about picking yourself up and carrying on. Some tin-whistle and understated fiddle joins in but its Tim here who leads.

BWC

Well what to say. Eleven songs that comes in at a very healthy forty-three minutes of original tunes played by a band who haven’t copied or aped anyone to get where they are. Coupled with the fact that these are some of the nicest people I have ever met through the music scene what we have here is the first installment of a band set to go onto legendary status. Yes this album is that good. From beginning to end not a bum note or a tiresome song. Each track is superb and shows a band that works together to achieve such a great sound. There are no leaders here just a bunch of friends working together to bring some of the best Irish/celtic-punk rock to your ears as is possible, despite that competition, in 2017!

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INTRODUCING THE BABES. A NEW LONDON CELTIC PUNK BAND!

Tomorrow seems so far away,

why don’t we live for today?

When yesterday is all said and done,

why don’t we just have some fun?

(directed by Maciej Bąkowski & Lost Data Productions)
Its always great to hear of another London celtic-punk band popping up and when they are as good as The Babes are it’s doubly welcome. The guys met in the IMW sound engineering school in East London. A group of misfits that wanted to play Pogue’s type music that bred in a garage in Twickenham, South West Londonand before too long The Babes were delivered. They play snotty, two fingers in the air Punk Rock with bagpipes. Bringing together Colombian, American and UK backgrounds and featuring ex-members of punk legends Total Chaos and Blitz.
babes

The Babes (Left to Right): Matt Ren Ex: Bass, vocals * Mao Holiday: Bagpipe, vocals * Marvin: Drums * Saul Holden: Guitar

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The Babes Invade Mainland Europe

babes-the-gunners– Feb 11 Bristol,UK @ Chelsea Inn with Disorder
– Feb 13 Paris, FR TBA
– Feb 14 Assen, Holland @ WHPP
– Feb 15 TBA
– Feb 16 Wiesbaden, Germany @ Dotzheimerstarsse 37 65185
– Feb 17 Zwijndrocht, Belgium @ De Smoutpot Cafe. Benefit Party De Vloek, with The End of Ernie, Altered State and Black Heroin
– Feb 18 The Hague, Netherlands @ Verenigging de vinger, Loosduinsekade 725 , 2571 MX
– Feb 19 Schleswig, Germany @ BM Private Party
-Feb 20 Rostock, Germany @ Squad Gig With Hammers of Misfortune, Driller Killer

The Babes also play a headline show next week at The Gunners in north London on Sunday 12th February. The full line up is yet to be finalised but it’s only £3 in and a chance to see the new celtic-punk kids on the block. The Gunners is just a short walk from Arsenal tube station or a slightly longer walk from Finsbury Park tube/rail station. We’ll see you there!

EP REVIEW: MICK O’TOOLE- ‘A Working Class Battalion’ (2016)

A bunch of dirty cider drinkers with one goal. To make you jig and pissed!

O'Toole

With Matilda’s Scoundrels last EP released and reviewed (here) a few weeks ago here’s the only band in the celtic-punk scene here that keep up with them in term of releases, Mick O’Toole. We were suppose to review this a while ago when we ordered ten copies on sale or return but the buggers went on tour to Belguim and sold the lot so I’m reviewing this from the Bandcamp site! Well what to say… I don’t know what they are putting in the cider over in the west country but with this amount of productivity it’s making me think of switching from the ‘black stuff’ just to keep up!

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Mick O’Toole left to right: Matthew Thomas- Banjo/Vocals * Jamie Squires Drums/Vocals * Tyler Shurmer- Guitar/Vocals * Arron Heap- Vocals/Mandolin * Jaseph Skin Greaves- Bass/Vocals

Mick O’Toole got together back in 2012 in the deepest darkest Shire otherwise known as county Wiltshire in a town called Calne.  Bored with heavy metal and with a new found love of Flogging Molly they decided to take a completely different route and get a celtic punk band together. Calling themselves Mick O’Toole after a character in a song from local celtic punk legends The Boys Of County Hell. Mick O’Toole’s sound is a irresistible blend of punk rock combined with traditional folk. Their first EP ‘Deep In Cider’ set the benchmark sky high but they managed to outdo even that with the release last year of ‘1665 Pitchfork Rebellion’. Going on to claim EP of the year at both Celtic Folk Punk And More (here) and here at London Celtic Punks as well (here) in the ‘Best Of 2015’ lists. Now with hundreds of gigs behind them including blowing down the house at the London Celtic Punks 2015 New Years Eve bash in Camden with Hungarian legends Firkin. They followed that up with the release of a single, ‘False Flag Collapse’. that featured the vocal talent of UK Sub Jamie Oliver and garnered rave reviews across the net and they continue despite the sad loss (all the best Guy) of various band members who couldn’t keep up.

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All the songs on A Working Class Battalion are brand new and self penned by Mick O’Toole themselves and you really cannot ask for any more than that. The twenty minute CD kicks off with ‘Still In Cider’ and it never ceases to amaze how different Arron sounds singing then when you’re talking to him. I don’t mean in a Joe Strummer public schoolboy/west lahndoner kind of way but even with the bit of distortion added he sounds completely different. A completely different version from the one they released back in 2013 I guess they couldn’t resist the brilliant pun ion the title! It has everything that Mick O’Toole do so well. Catchy as feck arrangements and a chorus to murder someone for. The trademark O’Toole banjo is loud and proud and the Bhoys have produced a fantastic video to accompany the song.

Up next is ‘Boundaries’ and another one to add that short but ever growing lost of celtic-ska songs. Still with very much of a punky twist to it and this time its the mandolin that shines but always with Arron’s voice leading. ‘A Traitor Born’ follows and there is no let up here either. While some of the music may not be particularly fast it is heavy and those drums and those strings get pounded as hard as any punk rock band do. Wonderful chorus here with the band singing along. How’s this for a song title? ‘What Was Once A Solid Foundation Is Now A Collapsing Empire’. A bit of a mouthful and the fastest tune here. A riot of a tune with some classy stop and start moments that again has a great shouty chorus. This leads us nicely onto the last song, ‘As If It were To End’. The track here that ought to make them its superbly catchy and they’ve added some strings that sound brilliant. Altogether its twenty minutes of some of the best celtic-punk music you will hear and sure to feature high in all the end of year poll’s (including ours!!). They can’t seem to do no wrong at the moment and it’s to be admired that they have withstood the leaving of the old guard and continue to work so well with the new guys in the band.

As the band say themselves

“No egos, no divas just working class men having a good time”

They have that thing where they appeal to all. At their local gigs they play a combination of folk classics and their own material and it all goes down equally well. Whether they are performing with the Anti Nowhere League or playing ‘Dirty Old Town’ in their local boozer they have got something good going on and people want to hear it.

(have a listen to A Working Class Battalion by pressing play on the Bandcamp payer below)

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you can watch this interview we done with the O’Toole lads a while back here. there has been a bit of personnel change since then but explains well the history of the band and what they are still about.

ALBUM REVIEW: STEELEYE SPAN- ‘Dodgy Bastards’ (2016)

With the release of Dodgy Bastards, the 23rd studio album of their career Steeleye Span remain one of the most influential names in music. Pioneers of folk-rock, they changed the face of folk music forever. Taking it out of small clubs and into the world of gold discs and international tours. Steeleye Span have remained at the forefront of the genre they helped to define and 38 years later have become an institution in British music.

steeleye span LP

Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention were two of the most successful and popular British band’s of their generation. Both bands made their mark on the music scene by taking traditional British folk material and adding rock arrangements, something that hadn’t really been done before and both featured female singers, Sandy Denny for Fairport and Maddy Prior for Steeleye. Both mixed self-penned and traditional songs but it can be argued that it was Steeleye Span who went on to have a much more lasting effect on the folk-rock scene and indeed on music in general too. At their peak Steeleye Span’s revolving door of members certainly kept their fans on their toes but the one constant in the band has always been the ethereal voice of Maddy Prior that gave the band their identity at all the different phases of their existence. The major difference between the bands was that Fairport came to traditional folk from a rock background, whereas Steeleye Span arrived from the opposite direction.

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Formed at the beginning of 1970 in in Winchester, Hampshire that original line-up included Ashley Hutchings, at the time bassist in Fairport Convention, who had wanted to pursue a more traditional folk direction and so left them and joined forces with future Pogue Terry Wood, who had been in a trad Irish group called Sweeney’s Men, Maddy Prior, who had been in a folk duo with guitarist Tim Hart and Gay Woods (Terry’s wife) to become the starting line up of Steeleye Span. Lasting only one album Terry and Gay soon left and were replaced by Martin Carthy, one of the most respected artists on the folk circuit. While Bob Dylan fought his own fans and the critics to introduce electric guitar into folk music in the mid-1960’s Martin Carthy was instrumental in taking Steeleye Span in the same direction. They may have played folk music but they played it damn loud! Hutchings and Carthy left by the end of 1971 and while the loss of their two most influential members would cripple most bands the ‘Span not only drove on but actually entered into their most successful stage. Tim Hart was quoted as saying that the group wanted to

“put traditional music back into current musical language — to make folk music less esoteric”

New bassist Rick Kemp became Maddy Prior’s husband and in 1973, they added drums for the first time to the band. With the revolving door of players, artists as famous as David Bowie and even Peter Sellers guested on their albums. Their first major hit came with the Christmas song ‘Gaudette’ reaching #14 in the British music charts and in 1975, they released their huge smash hit ‘All Around My Hat’ which charted all over the world and made them big players everywhere. With the coming of punk and new wave in 1977, they took on even more traditional elements with the return of Martin Carthy, and the addition of John Kirkpatrick on accordion. Sadly though they split the following year. However they periodically reunited while pursuing their own projects and the occasional studio album appeared while the group performed at festivals and toured with enough regularity making it confusing whether they were a band that was together or not. They had a strong and large enough fan base that remained extremely loyal to them ensuring that whatever they did they always had an audience to hear it. Of all the ‘Span members it was Terry Woods who went on to have the most success playing mandolin in The Pogues while Martin Carthy may not have had the commercial success of Terry Woods but certainly commanded great respect

“If the English folk revival of the 1960s had a single “father” and guiding spirit, then Martin Carthy was it”

Maddy Prior’s most notable work was her recordings with the respected folk singer June Tabor. Tim Hart released a handful of notable solo outings before retiring to the Canary Islands, where he sadly passed away after a long battle with cancer in 2009.

steeleye-span-band-2

So all this, and that intro could easily have run into several thousand’s of words (have a look at their Wikipedia page here to see how!), lands us in 2016 and Steeleye Span’s new album. Dodgy Bastards is their 23rd album release is a mixture of self penned songs, traditional songs and some original tunes put to traditional lyrics. The group today consists of Prior, Kemp, drummer Liam Genockey, guitarist Julian Littman, fiddler Jessie May Smart, and Andrew ‘Spud’ Sinclair, who was filling in for six-year member Pete Zorn before Zorn passed away from cancer in April 2016. The main inspiration for Dodgy Bastards is taken from the work of the 19th century American Francis James Child. Starting in 1860 Child began to anthologize over 300 traditional ballads from England and Scotland, and their American variants. Their lyrics and his studies of them were published as The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. The themes were often dark and thought not suitable for the times containing such subjects as diverse as romance and half-human creatures or enchantment and forbidden love. The abuse of authority and the depiction of very real historical events and the boldness of outlaws and folk heroes made these songs dangerous to the authorities.

Dodgy Bastards begins with ‘Cruel Brother’ and from the start we have a song about a man who kills his sister! It’s classic Steeleye and starts with just the voices of the band before it kicks off. It’s certainly gentle and even hard to believe that this was classed as folk-rock back in the day but it’s catchy and extremely well played and Maddy’s voice is still as striking as ever. Lasting almost eight minutes it never outlasts it’s welcome and if you think this was gentle then ‘All Things Quite Silent’ takes it down further. Maddy’s voice dominates over a simple backing of guitar and fiddle. ‘Johnnie Armstrong’ is the story of Scottish raider and folk-hero Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, who was captured and hanged by King James V in 1530. Big and gutsy, again it lasts over seven minutes. This is powerful stuff and the words can be dated to before 1724. This leads us nicely into the only song here I knew before, ‘Boys of Bedlam’. Loud and bombastic and with great fiddle and guitar.

(not the version on Dodgy Bastards but still worth a spin)

Recorded by Steeleye before as a simple folk version above here they give it plenty of welly and show those folk-rock credentials loud and proud even including a rap from Alex Prior, son of Maddy and Rick. Unrecognisable next to the earlier version from 1971 album  Please To See The King. The sleeve notes say of the song

“Priory of St. Mary of Bethlehem at Bishopsgate founded in 1247 became the male lunatic asylum known as Bethlehem Hospital or Bedlam in 1547. In 1815 it was moved to Lambeth in the buildings now housing the Imperial War Museum and in 1931 was moved to Kent. The hospital of St. Mary Magdalen was its female counterpart. During the 16th and 17th centuries the man in the moon was depicted as a bent old man with a staff leading a dog, carrying a thorn bush and lantern”

It’s an album standout for me though that’s hardly surprising I’m sure. On ‘Brown Robyn’s Confession’ recent addition to the band Jessie May Smart takes on the lead vocal before the distinct tones of Maddy joins her during the superb chorus. Another unusual tale this time of a ship’s captain and his men who go to sea and encounter a terrible storm. They cast lots to learn who is to blame, and it is Brown Robyn himself who is thrown overboard with him admitting that he has fathered children with both his mother and sister. Before he drowns he sees the Virgin Mary, who offers to let him come to heaven or return to his men. He chooses heaven. Next is ‘Two Sisters’ a murder ballad recounting the tale of a girl drowned by her sister with a great production as it is throughout the album. Accordion is great here and a real foot stomper of a song with Maddy’s voice soaring. The next song is about the dodgiest bastard of them all! A new song penned by Rick ‘Cromwell’s Skull’ clocks in at nearly nine minutes and with a beautiful fiddle solo from Jessie May Smart in the middle.

So now to the title song ‘Dodgy Bastards’ and folk music is jam packed with them and this jig is a full on tribute to them all. Great guitar work and shows exactly what great musicians they all are. Energetic and full of life which is what music should be. No one dies in ‘Gulliver Gentle and Rosemary’ which reminds me of a few songs that became successful in the 70’s/80’s. Them at their most pop friendly they soon return to darker themes with ‘The Gardener’. Nearing the end we have another new song, this time written by Julian, ‘Bad Bones’ in which Steeleye show their humorous side in a story of a right bastard. A totally unrepentant right bastard! The song includes another spoken word/rap and again it doesn’t feel forced or seem out of place. Not many bands could get away with it I tells you. Dodgy Bastards comes to an end with the epic ‘The Lofty Tall Ship/Shallow Brown’, lasting a serious ten minutes. Beginning as a slow ballad before gaining momentum its a is a traditional Scottish folk song about Henry Martin who turned to piracy to support his family. This develops into a beautiful rendition by Maddy of Shallow Brown a West Indian slave song/sea shanty and this then becomes another instrumental that brings the curtain down on this exceptional album with the highlight saved for the end.

(great half hour sampler of the album below)

The album is appropriately titled with its tales of murder, religion, incest, honour killings and tormented spirits and with their 50th anniversary fast approaching it’s simply unbelievable the quality of their work. Their work rate is incredible with Dodgy Bastards their eighth album in twelve years. The stories here are at the very heart of the what we know as Steeleye Span. The album clocks in at a incredible seventy-one minutes and deservedly so as the themes here are not for the short of attention span. Their audience these days may well be the preserve of the middle aged but they show here that they deserve better than to be pigeonholed like that. Constantly innovative and inspiring and as inspirational as ever they need to be heard and any readers here interested in the development of celtic-punk must make Steeleye Span one of their first stops.

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Peter Knight  Maddy Prior  Gay Woods  Troy Donockley

EP REVIEW: BLACKWATER BANSHEE- ‘Blackwater Banshee’ (2016)

 A cracking new Irish band from Bristol in South-West England and with bands like this the celtic-punk scene is in safe hands!

blackwater-banshee

I came across Blackwater Banshee on Soundcloud a few weeks back but didn’t listen to any of their recordings till last week and what an eejit I was to wait so long. The five piece band are based in Bristol in South-West England and formed earlier this year. The band is made up of Karin Gormley on banjo and tin-whistle who is originally from Derry in Ireland, Richard Chapman is the vocalist and also plays mandolin, Bryn Llewelyn is Welsh and is on guitar and backing vocals and then we have Nige Savage on bass and Richard Underhill on drums. Bryn and Nige played in a classic rock band together and were looking to form a celtic rock band so after seeing his profile on Bandmix showing his background in Irish music they approached Rich and gathered him in. They then found Karin playing in an Irish folk session in Bristol. They soon started rehearsing back in June and recorded the EP in October. With Karin and Rich’s background in Irish folk and Bryn and Nige’s in rock they got the right blend of Irish folkness and rock to fit right into the celtic-punk scene.

blackwater-banshee-2

The EP is only four songs and as such is just a taster really of what they are capable of. All the songs are pretty standard trad Irish covers and concentrate on showing their folkier side. It begins with ‘Nancy Whiskey’ an old trad song that is about the dangers of drink rather than the dangers of women!

“I bought her, I drank her, I had another
Ran out of money, so I did steal
She ran me ragged, Nancy Whiskey
For seven years, a rollin’ wheel”

it’s played straight up and if your looking for comparison try O’Hanlons Horsebox or even the Bible Code Sundays. Its folk-rock designed to be played in an Irish Centre or pub full of 1st, 2nd, 3rd generation Irish and their friends. Their are several different versions and this is the one favoured by Shane MacGowan. Up next is the classic ‘Dirty Old Town’. Written by Ewan MacColl who has featured many times on these pages (have a look here where you can still get some free Ewan album downloads) back in the 1950’s and recorded most famously by himself, The Dubliners and The Pogues. Ewan MacColl actually hated The Pogues version of his song. In an interview Ewan’s wife Peggy Seeger, a renowned folk artist in her own right, contends that when Ewan wrote the line

“We’ll chop you down like an old dead tree”

he was implying improvement of Salford rather than destroying it. While as writer Jeffrey T. Roesgen quite rightly saw it

“In the Pogues performance we have little trouble seeing Shane, with spite seething from his lips, wielding his axe like a banshee, hacking his dismal town to splinters”

Love the tin whistle here at the beginning and the Banshees certainly give it their all. ‘Spancil Hill’ follows and is famous as one of the saddest songs about Irish emigration, and as you can imagine there’s at lot of competition when it comes to that subject. Recorded by Christy Moore with Shane MacGowan, The Wolfe Tones, Johnny McEvoy I’d go so far as to say its been recorded by just about everyone. Written by Michael Considine who was born in Spancil Hill in County Clare and emigrated to America around 1870. He intended to bring his love out to join him but knowing it would not happen he wrote the poem and sent it back to Ireland to his nephew and in 1873 he was dead at only 23 years old. The tragic story of poor Michael’s life only adds to the sadness of the song.

“I dreamed I held and kissed her as in the days of yore
Ah Johnny, you’re only jokin’, as many’s the time before
Then the cock, he crew in the morning, he crew both loud and shrill
I awoke in California, many miles from Spancil Hill”

More than once with a drink in me I have found that last line a bit too much myself… Blackwater Banshee make this their most personal song of the four adding electric guitar and the wonderful mandolin while the drums keep up the beat giving it a real pint in the air feel with Richard belting it out with real conviction. The EP ends with ‘The Leaving Of Liverpool’ and it’s one of the livliest of Irish folk songs. Liverpool was once one of the major sea ports in the world. It was collected by Richard Maitland, a resident of Sailor’s Snug Harbor a home for retired seamen on Staten Island, who learnt it on board The General Knox around 1885. Designed to be shouted at the top of your lungs while banging your pint on the table during the chorus. Here the tempo is high, the energy is up and just listening to it now has got me headbanging away.

So their you have it. Four songs sixteen minutes. Admittedly their is nothing unusual here but what you get is some expertly played Irish trad that promises much much more for the future. When playing live they feature tunes from The Pogues and Dropkick Murphys so there is definitely a punk element to their sound. They are certainly a band to watch as if they can play these standards so well we gotta look forward to some of their own material and soon I hope. For a new band its always hard to get going so give them a like on Facebook and have a listen to the EP and lets awake the world to Bklackwater Banshee!

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ALBUM REVIEW: UNDER A BANNER- ‘The Wild Places’ (2016)

Passionate, powerful and poetic Midlands folk-rock band Under A Banner release their superb third studio album.

under-a-banner-lp

Under A Banner have been on our radar for a couple of years now and apart from an appearance at a free music festival in Croydon they have as yet, as far as I know, not managed to get a gig in London town. This is something we hope to remedy soon and on the strength of this album it will be an absolute pleasure. They are one of a bunch of Midlands bands playing political folk-punk that straddles everything from the celtic-punk of Ferocious Dog to the anarcho-folk of The Silk Road. Under A Banner play an infectiously catchy brand of folk-punk caught somewhere between The Levellers at their softest and New Model Army at their punkest with a smidgeon of Ferocious Dog and youthful Billy Bragg, before he fled Barking to live in Dorset in a massive mansion and vote Lib-Dem.

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Under A Banner left to right Kat Davis- Keysboards * Jake Brooks- Guitars/ Backing Vocals * Si Hill- Bass * Adam Broadhurst- Vocals/ Guitars * Tim Wilson- Drums/ Percussion/ Backing Vocals

Based in Wolverhampton and formed only four years ago they are mostly most famous for their close relationship with their fans and their constant gigging around the country, though not London as we said! The Wild Places came out September 30, 2016 on Bad Elephant Records and has already garnered some pretty amazing reviews across the internet so hopefully they won’t mind another positive one!

The Wild Places was recorded at Park Studios in Birmingham, between March and June 2016 and was produced by Alastair Jamieson and the band themselves and a very nice job they have done as well. The album kicks off with ‘In The End’ and it’s a simple start. Just singer-songwriter Adam above an acoustic guitar and cello from guest Isaac Collier. Adam’s passion flows through the song and out through it into you. This track captures Under A Banner perfectly showing off their folky roots while title track ‘The Wild Places’ has them rocking out and is a perfect example of their rockier side. Two songs in and already their range is staggering. Catchy is a very overblown word used during album reviews and if anyone knows a better one can they please let me know it! Up next is ‘Birdsong’ and a song that slows it down again that soars with an almost Gothic feel to it that reminds me of miserable Leeds sods The Mission. There’s an epic feel not just on next song ‘Sunburst’ but throughout the album due in no small part to the excellent mastering and the aural wizardry of Jon Astley who has famously worked with Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Who among others. The albums longest track is ‘Snow Song and was The Wild Place’s first release. One of the album’s standouts mixing the acoustic and the electric together.

“What a perfect time to celebrate!

Love in a silent world creates another rush of hope;

something is coming”

It’s easy to see why they chose Snow Song as that first release seeing how it showcases everything that Under A Banner do so well. From the catchy (their we go again!) and simply effective tune to the outstanding lyrics this is them. The second release was the following song ‘Nothing’s Ever Really Gone’ and again the folk-rock shines with a briliant chorus that is a sure fire toe tapper at the very least!

The second half of the album begins with ‘About Love’ and is certainly different from the rest of the album but Adam’s voice and lyrics keep it interesting. I maybe didn’t much care for it on first listen but its grown to be one of my favourites.

“There’s nothing wrong with love songs”

Adam sings and the word that springs up here is ‘Hope’ even though it’s not mentioned once within the song! One of the things I hate most in reviewing albums is that if a band isn’t too well known you are forced to bring up better known, not necessarily better though!, bands as points of reference. For instance the band Under A banner are most likend to are New Model Army and on ‘Kill It All’ they sound most like them on this album. From the lyrics attacking consumersism and false religion to the music this is the sort of stuff NMA fans would go potty for. That is not to say of course that Under A banner are merely copying NMA or any of the bands mentioned before. They can proudly stand on their own or alongside any of the bands coming in or out of the folk-rock scene. They proclaim

“There’s more of us than their are of you”

while calling us to the barracades on ‘Legion’ and they continue the rockier momentum with ‘On Top of This Mountain’. Penultimate song ‘Already There’ sees another thing that the band revel in. A simple tune on acoustic guitar while Adam’s voice cracks with passion and the return of the stunningly beautiful cello only adds to the effect.

 “The beauty was already there”

under-a-bannerIf I had a small, tiny in fact, issue with The Wild Places it’s that they don’t quite unleash their power and go for it a little more. That is not to detract from the quality here mind you, it’s just that maybe one or two of the songs could have done with a slightly harder edge to them. It all comes to an end with ‘World of Hope’ and nowhere on else on the album does Adam sound so pissed off and angry. Looking back and wondering what happened to those chances we had to change things. Nostalgia is not only about ancient rockers at Rebellion, long given up on anything they once believed in but the times we had.

Under A Banner’s third studio album certainly hits the spot and will appeal to anyone who likes any of the bands mentioned in this review. They would be only a fiddle player away from being able to call themselves a celtic-punk band so I’m sure it will appeal to our more regular readers as well. With a blend of influences from right across the musical scene while incorporating folk and rock to wrap around Adam’s clever and intelligent lyrics they play with a passion missing from a lot of bands these days. Their is defeat and loss but always with hope and they manage it all with a sincerity that makes you believe they play these songs from the heart and soul and not out of some songbook.

(listen to The Wild Places by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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EP REVIEW – THE SILK ROAD ‘Midnight’ (2016)

Pre-album four track sampler EP from northern English fiddle punk band The Silk Road.
silk-road
The Silk Road are another new band to us here in England playing folk-punk and are coming out of the same sort of scene as older bands like The Levellers and New Model Army and newer ones like Ferocious Dog. All of whom are still packing them in across the country at regular intervals. They come from Chesterfield in northern England an area famous for coal mining and the accompanying militant trade unionism that goes with it. The scene for this kind of music is very much in vogue at the moment. Not played or favoured by fashionista’s or middle class hipsters it comes very much from that sort of old Labour background of trade unionism and old fashioned values like solidarity, compassion and the wish for a better world for all. Things sadly out of fashion at this moment in time. Formed in the summer of 2015 by Tich, Andy and Shaun and going on later to recruit both Jamie and Brian. All the member’s of The Silk Road had extensive histories in local bands going back over twenty years playing a range of traditional folk, punk, ska and metal/rock. The band started from some old demos and some newer recordings that singer/songwriter Tich had recorded in his studio. Working on these as well as adding some new material together, The Silk Road began to take shape. Midnight was released last July and this EP is pretty much a taster for their forthcoming debut album. In fact the boys are in Chesterfields Foundry Studios with Paul Hopkinson at the moment with the album’s release slated for November/December this year.
silkroad

Andy Hardwick- guitars/banjo * Brian Buckberry- drums * Tich Vango- guitars/vocals * Jamie Burney- fiddle/violin * Shaun Haley- bass * Jim Fisher- Harmonica player on EP (not pictured)

silk-road-tattThe EP begins with ‘Boats Come In At Midnight’ which is about modern day smuggling. Like the band they have been most likened to, Folk The System, much of what they play can be traced back to 1980’s anarcho-punk. Very catchy indeed and half way through the fiddle comes in giving it a real nice ending. Track two is ‘Ancient Road / Montagu’s Harrier’ and introduces harmonica into the mix. A instrument I love to hear as it is much neglected in folk/celtic-punk. Over six minutes long with the first half a solid and catchy enough punk tune which is reminiscent of anarcho-punk bands like The Mob or Zounds while the second half has an absolutely stunning traditional folk piece/reel dedicated to endangered bird’s of prey. The Silk Road play English folk here. Not Irish or Scottish folk and labelled English like some bands do but this is the folk music of northern England and will surely get them onto the radar of the band who excel at playing this kind of music and are taking it to the masses, Ferocious Dog. ‘Scars That Remain’ is track three and if The Levellers are the main inspiration for The Silk Road then this is their tribute to them. I’m not a massive fan of The Levellers myself this is excellent stuff. Slow acoustic guitar and fiddle and nice vocals atop brings up to final track, ‘I Don’t Care’ which raises the bar again with some brilliantly catchy fiddle led punk.
Clocking in at just over seventeen minutes its a great EP and I cannot wait to hear more from The Silk Road. This kind of music lends itself more to the live experience so if they are able to capture that in the studio then by St George they will have cracked it.
(Crap sound and not on the EP but here they are in all their glory!)

(you can listen to Midnight by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)
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EP REVIEW: MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS- ‘The Organworks Recordings Session’ (2016)

Matilda’s Scoundrels gear up for their forthcoming new album later in the year by releasing yet another superb EP.
the-organworks-recordings-session

We return again to another new release from our friends Matilda’s Scoundrels. I have lost count of the number of their releases this year so pop along to their Bandcamp page, listed below, and have a look for yourself. Since forming in 2014, (doesn’t it seem longer?) in famed smugglers town Hastings on the south coast of England, the boys had built a solid reputation on the local gig scene but it is in the last year especially that they have began to bring their sound to festivals, bars, pubs and clubs across the UK with an ever increasing army of followers. Having played a bunch of festivals this year including Rebellion, Boomtown and Common Ground, as well as a bunch of tours that have taken them as far as Scotland to support Blood Or Whiskey. It was on one of these trips through the north that the Scoundrels popped into the Organworks Recording Studio in Leeds back in August and recorded a live session consisting of four tracks, two songs from previous EP’s, a cover and a brand new one.

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Matilda’s Scoundrels left to right: Thomas Quinn, James Baughurst, Dan Flanagan, Jason Stirling, Jens Jensen, Jon the drummer.

The EP begins with ‘Beasts In Disguise’ which first saw the light of day last year on the EP of the same name. The production of that EP was a little rough and ready so great to hear it as was intended. Compared to that early version it shows a band with a lot more oompf. Quinn the singer has come on leaps and bounds and spits the words out with a confidence missing from their early recordings. Following is one of my favourite Scoundrels songs ‘Sinking In Their Sins’ which appeared on the split EP they also did last year with The Barracks.

(not the version featured here on this EP but you can hear that below)

Another class song with the band happy to punk it up a bit more than usual with Dan’s guitar a lot more evident. I was of course most interested in their new song and ‘Take This To The Streets’ does not disappoint. Jason kicks it off with his distinctive growl and acoustic guitar but its not too long before its all descended into familiar Matilda’s Scoundrels territory. A ever so slight country feel nestled in there among all the other influences. Soon Quinn joins in and the dual vocals work brilliant especially with Jen’s accordion backing. The final song here is a cover of Dutch punkers Black Volvo song ‘Rockers’. Having not heard the original I wasn’t sure what to expect but its in the same vein as ‘Pissheads Anthem’ and I’m sure regular fans will get what I mean. Fast and messy punk rock but still with that unmistakable Scoundrels sound.

(save £100 and have no negative effect on your local punk scene by watching the Scoundrels performance at this years Rebellion festival below)

The band have achieved something quite amazing. Within a few seconds of each song you know for sure its the Matilda’s Scoundrels so distinctive is their sound and so unlike anyone else I have heard. Hard work and touring can get you places but you need the tunes to go with it and the Scoundrels steady rise just goes to show that a band can make it within being arseholes or selling out or stepping on others to get there. It’s a story of success that has not ended yet and with an album due out fairly soon (the band are intending to play less gigs for a while so they can record it) that success shows no sign of ending yet.

(listen to the EP by pressing Play on the Bandcamp player below)

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“No business carried on in Hastings was more popular and extensive as that of smuggling. Defrauding the revenue, so far from being considered a crime, was looked upon as a laudable pursuit, and the most successful ‘runners’ were heroes. Nearly the whole of the inhabitants, old and young and of every station in life, were, to some extent, engaged in it”

LIVE REVIEW: THE CUNDEEZ IN SOUTH LONDON SEPTEMBER 2016

KEEPIN’ IT OARY DOWN AMONG THE SASSENACHS DAY TWO

by Vincent Mahon

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Fresh from their triumphant London debut at the Gunners in Finsbury Park on Friday, Saturday finds the Cundeez saarf ov ver rivver at the Veg Bar in sunny Brixton as guests of the London Celtic Punks.
The Veg Bar is a vegan restaurant on Tulse Hill, just up from Brixton station. It’s a quiet, unassuming place and certainly not the sort of establishment generally considered home to the kind of mayhem and shenanigans associated with punk rock. However, there is a cellar bar. And that’s where the chaos ensues…

Dissent

Dissent

There’s other bands tonight, all of whom are good at what they do and some more to my taste than others. The stand outs for me were Comrade X, who always delivers the goods, and Black Water County, whose punk-infused folk may invite some obvious comparisons, but they play with enough talent and conviction to mark themselves out as contenders in their own right. I’d definitely be up for seeing them again.
By the time the Cundeez fire up, it’s hot in that little cellar bar. Damn hot. And there’s a pissed-up bunch of good natured yobbos and n’er do wells more than ready for them. The choice of London Calling as an opener is superb. It’s The Cundeez saying hello to their southern friends, and it’s an acknowledgement that wherever we’re from, we share similar tastes, backgrounds and experiences. And that’s what matters.

BWC

Black Water County

A Cundeez gig is a thing of great joy. Like a cross between a benevolent riot and the greatest party you’ve ever been invited to. Every song they play represents what’s great about punk rock when it’s done properly: energy, excitement, anger and humour are all present, wrapped up in killer tunes that hit you full-on and take no prisoners. What marks the Cundeez out from so many of their peers is that even when they are angry (“Austerity,” “Mr Politician” or the magnificently vitriolic “Yer Talkin’ Shite”), there is a sense of positivity and energy that’s sadly missing in so many other bands who generally seem content to just moan and wallow in it. There’s no room for negativity or despondency when the Cundeez are playing because you’re too busy having a bloody good time. Just watch them performing “Roota” and I defy you not to end up grinning from ear to ear and at the very least, tapping your foot.
Cun10Tonight’s crowd need no second bidding to get stuck in and show their appreciation by leaping around like a bunch of loons. The sweltering heat means “taps aaf” is pretty much obligatory. New single, “Rebellion” sounds incredible, and is a definite highlight in a flawless set. The Buzzcocks’ classic “Ever Fallen in Love…” is given a grand shake up, and by the time they hit “Night Boat to Cairo” everybody in the crowd is going ballistic. The energy and excitement this friendly bunch of Dundonians generate in one gig would be enough to power a small town.
Cun11And so the Cundeez came to London and it would be no exaggeration to say that they absolutely smashed it on both nights. For me personally, it meant I got to support a band I’ve been raving about for the last year, and see them twice in one weekend. That’s pretty good going as far as I’m concerned. Not only are they an amazing live band, but they’re also some of the nicest, most decent folk I’ve met on the punk scene. Gary, Stevie, Trotsky and Tez, you’re welcome back anytime. London loves the Cundeez. Keep it Oary!

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Cheers and beers to Dissent, Kilburn Bomb Squad, Comrade X, Black Water County and The Cundeez. Absolutely spot on and all were just brilliant. Ta to The Sweat Box… sorry Veg Bar. I didn’t eat myself but was told the grub was fantastic, to the bar man didn’t catch yer name but you was a star and Assad thanks for the brilliant sound everyone was really happy with it. Hope to catch you at The Go Set on the 30th I hope. To Patrick and Peter who did the door. God bless you both.

Again thanks to you all we love and respect youse all. xx

Thanks to Vincent for the great review. He plays in another great London band worth checking out Morgellions so in the absence of any vid’s from the gig here’s one of them playing the night previous.

Their is a Facebook file with photos from the gig over at the London Celtic Punks page here.

EP REVIEW: SINFUL MAGGIE- ‘Demo EP’ (2016)

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Four piece accordion punk rock’n’roll out of Dorset…yarr!

Sinful Maggie

Here we go again. I say that as we have been down this road many a time over the last few years I can tell you! I refer of course to that hot-bed of celtic-punk the South coast around Devon, Dorset and Cornwall throwing up yet another marvellous young band for us to slap our thighs and tap our toes to here at London Celtic Punks. Not sure what they are putting in the water down there but give me a pint of it! You would think that such a small scene such as ours would mean that any new bands would come to our attention straight away but still they occasionally slip us by and if not for fellow Dorseter’s Black Water County then Sinful Maggie they may still have sailed past unbeknown as well.

First things first though the band see themselves as a punk band and nothing else as Deano, Sinful Maggie drummer, said in conversation to me

“we try and avoid the Celtic punk ‘banner’ if you like. Really we see ourselves more as a punk band that opted for an accordion instead of another guitar. We’re not really influenced by folk or anything like that so we try and avoid it so people aren’t misled”

Still what ever label they want to attach themselves, or none, they are welcome into our little world any time they fancy it… just let us know!

Sinful Maggie

Formed back in 2014 and based in the lovely seaside town of Bournemouth (the nicest beach I’ve ever been to!) in Dorset, Sinful Maggie come from a tradition of music as well as an attitude unique to those part’s of England and Cornwall. In Georgian times, the entire Dorset coast was a smuggling hot-spot and virtually completely lawless and those times and that attitude is still be celebrated as ever in song.

(most of Sinful Maggies set at Chaplin’s Cellar Bar, Boscombe July 2016)
1. Take Out The Sun 2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Prowess 3. Old Dog, New Tricks 4. Mr Know It All 5. Long Walk Home 6. St Mary (Rancid) 7. Shitfaced 8. Everyone I Need 9. Rebel Without A Cause 10. Did You Have A Nice Life Without Me? (Cock Sparrer)

Coming at you definitely on the more punkier side of the fence the EP begins with ‘Lost and Long Forgotten’ and sure enough from the very start its fast and furious punk rock but with the superb addition of the accordion. More than ably played by the wonderfully named Briony Ireland who also played in the now defunct Dorset band The Devil’s Rejects who raised the flag for celtic-punk in Dorset and though they gigged relentlessly around the South-coast never did get a fair crack of the whip around the country. This is something that Sinful Maggie are hoping to change and they are already looking for gig’s in London and further afield. Next up is ‘Nature of Man’ and the highlight of the EP for me. Still got the same punky attitude of the opener and slower without being slow. Great vocals from Charlie that are both clear and shouty and fit a song that bursts between pop-punk, ska and Rancid’ish’ punk but all the time with that great accordion out front. The EP ends with ‘Shitfaced’ and as you’d expect from the title its the most raucous of the three and an ode to our favourite subject here and they certainly don’t let us down. This is the one at gig’s that gets people onto their feet I’d bet. Absolutely superb. Again all the elements are there and Sinful Maggie manage to do it all without aping anyone else or harking back to the past.

Sinful

Three songs and just over ten minutes of solid as feck hardcore folk-punk! The EP is a wee bit rough’n’ready and was recorded to give away to fans clambering for something to listen to. All the songs will be re-recorded and are set to feature on the bands forthcoming album later in the year. Sinful Maggie are a extremely welcome addition to the scene whatever it’s called! The EP is free to download so there is no reason at all not to take a chance and get it and then keep an eye on Sinful Maggie they may be popping up in a town near you very very soon.

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  • learn a bit more about the fascinating subject of smuggling over at Dorset Smugglers here.

INTERVIEW WITH COMRADE X

Hitting home with the force of a police raid on a late night lock-in at the dodgiest South London boozer Comrade X emerges from the rubble of political failure, X Factor and wall to wall mediocrity to raise a pint of Guinness to the spirit of 1977!
Over the last couple of years it has been our pleasure to make the acquaintance of a good few people, who we are extremely proud to say, have become part of the extended London Celtic Punks family. If you have attended a London Celtic Punks gig over the last few years then I am sure you will have witnessed our auld mucker Comrade X starting off proceedings by kicking up a storm with his own unique brand of acoustic-punk. Best described as “one geezer, one guitar, three chords and the truth” and, my own favourite, “Woody Guthrie meets Oi!” he’s just an ordinary bloke with an acoustic guitar and the truth to tell. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about what he does, but what does he think on the important matters of the day? We asked yer man a few questions over a few pints of stout so read on and find out…
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Now Comrade X has been around on the music scene a lot longer than any of us have been so we thought we’d give him a chance to fill us in (not literally!) and give us the benefit of his knowledge. Now there may be a small handful of people reading this who are not aware of your contribution to the world of alternative music so want to enlighten them? What started your interest in music and how long you been playing and what bands you been involved in up to now? I was 14 when the Pistols appeared on Bill Grundy and it just blew me away. Till that point I was wearing tank tops, Oxford Bags and DM’s and fancied myself as a boot boy with an aspiration to be a face on the Shed End at Chelsea. After Grundy I wanted to know more about these punks. I bought New Rose when it came out and that was that – but it was really the first Clash album that shifted everything for me. After that I bought a guitar out of a junk shop in Leatherhead and started rehearsing with my first band Discipline at the Cabin Club down on Longmead Estate in Epsom. That would have been some time in 1977. We had guitars that chopped your fingers off and 5 watt Woolworths’ practice amps – we were dire but a fire had been lit. 

Comrade1Like most Londoners there’s more than just a drop of Celtic blood coursing through your veins. Do you think that has effected or contributed to how you play or why you play or your beliefs? Well, my grandad was from Kilkenny and arrived in Liverpool sometime in the 1890’s before heading to the East End. Of course I never knew him – he was dead by the time my dad was ten years old and he was orphaned and bought up by his older sister. The family name was changed by my grandad and I only know what my dad and his older brothers told me. Grandad sang rebel songs in pubs around Stepney and his favourite was Bold Robert Emmett so I was told. I think there’s a fair drop of that spirit in what I do. What? Singing rebel songs in a pub? I’d say so!!
Having been in bands and played solo yourself which figures or bands do you think have been the important links between the past and the present and folk/celtic/traditional music and punk/rock music? Biggest influence on me is Joe Strummer – his catalogue from the 101ers to the Mescaleros stands the test of time. The Mescaleros picked up some of Joe’s Celtic connections back to his own Scottish roots. He also introduced a lot of us to Woody Guthrie and through that Leadbelly and some of that deep roots Americana which of course all tracks back through the Celtic immigrant trail. I remember seeing the Pogues in their early days and for loads of us with an Irish/punk background lots of bits started dropping into place. Great to see new bands tipping their hat to that pioneering work by the Pogues and the Men They Couldn’t Hang. The Lagan are the tops for me, that might be a Surrey thing, but they are run close by outfits like Matilda’s Scoundrels and Black Water County. Steve Earle deserves a nod here as well – I was lucky enough to get to work with him a few years back. Top fella
 How you find the London Irish scene these days? Obviously the old community has shrunk and the new arrivals seem, to me anyway, not to be interested in Irish music. Maybe I’m reading it wrong. I certainly hope so. Is there still a community out there? So many pubs have closed or changed and communities are much more dissipated. I’m from Epsom where there used to be five big mental hospitals and they were staffed throughout by Irish immigrants working alongside colleagues from across the Commonwealth. My dad worked his way up to managing and inspecting the quality of those NHS services. Those hospitals have all closed but the social clubs in those places were something else. The sense of community was massive. The loss of those big centres of employment has had an inevitable impact.

As I say you’ve been performing for a hell of a long time in bands and now as a solo act but it has been said (and I am in agreement) that being a solo artist is the hardest thing to do. Just yourself on the stage and nowhere to hide. What does it take to be a solo performer. I would say big nuts and a big ego but obviously that’s not right for everyone! Yep, nowhere to hide! That is a bit of a downside but on the upside there’s no one to row with other than yourself and the odd sound man who thinks that every solo artist with a guitar should sound like Cat Stevens.

What bands are you listening to at the moment? Do you follow celtic-punk at all. Any bands out of the scene that you like? I’ve already bigged up The Lagan, Matilda’s Scoundrels and Black Water County but I can add to that Mick O’Toole and of course the old troopers Neck who I’ve know since time began. I pick up loads of stuff from your recommendations from around the globe and I think that the Irish influenced punk/folk scene is healthy as fuck – cant wait to see the Cundeez down in Brixton as well.

Comrade2There’s always been a big debate about celtic-punk and whether or not it is cultural appropriation and politically correct for non-Irish bands singing about the Irish getting pissed and fighting and pubs and what have you. Personally I love it. The idea of the likes of Indonesian or Brazilian bands getting into The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones after listening to the Dropkick Murphys. I mean its not like The Dubliners ever wrote a song about getting pissed is it? I think its just a case of snobbery but do you think it’s ok? I agree. I’m sick of being told what is and what isn’t acceptable and until everything is narrowed down to a tiny spec. I like covering Holy Spook by the Popes – “…I wrecked my life on whisky, bad wives, taking pills and cursing…”. That’s just the blues mate and it doesn’t belong to anyone. This “cultural appropriation” stuff is just more hand-wringing, liberal bollocks.

Now London Celtic Punks have always had the by-line of ‘Folk Punk Football’ and football is very dear to your heart as we know. Obviously the modern game is shite and the only real football fans are to be found in the lower divisions and non-league. That about right? ha ha – no, you are completely wrong and modern football, as invented by Sky TV, is brilliant! What’s the matter with you?
How long you been going to Sutton United? Do you think supporting a team that has never really won anything has made you a better person? Does learning the value of defeat and pride in losing but trying your hardest teach you something that is missing in the Premiership or even society? I’ve been going to Sutton since the early seventies. My old man took me down there to try and wean me off Chelsea and a career as a hooligan. He wasn’t totally successful but I always kept a link with the U’s. About ten years ago I jacked in the Chelsea season ticket and now it’s Sutton home and away. I love it. I meet loads of old punks who see the connection with those old values in the non league game. Never won anything? We won the bloody league last season! And did I ever tell you about the time we beat Coventry City in the FA Cup? 
As well as football you are heavily involved in promoting trade unionism. The decline of the unions is a terrible thing but what do you think can be done to reverse that trend. My own union is a waste of space and I may as well throw my money down a drain but as a good friend of mine (a Scouser of course!) once said joining a union is like having house insurance you don’t expect the house to burn down tomorrow but what do you do if it does. I got involved in NUPE in the early eighties when I lost my job as a sparky and took a job as hospital porter. Brilliant days and we were solid as a rock before everything was ripped apart and privatised. You’ve got to have that strength in the workplace or you’ve got nothing.
With so much music in your life. What are your happiest memories of playing. The best gig or best people… Tolpuddle main stage last week was one of my best ever gigs. Strummercamp and that night at the Water Rats with you lot, Anto Morra and Pogue Traders is up there as well. The rest is just a blur of fast living. 
Comrade4Right you have hinted at this every now and then on stage so lets get the full unabridged story out of you now. How did you manage to get Neck’s anti-racist single ‘Every Bodies Welcome To The Hooley’ into the national charts? Ha, that really was the wide boys revenge mate. I pulled in favours with every journo I know and got the band on BBC prime time TV and radio and we had people targeting the record shops that used to file returns for the official chart. It was some proper old spivery and I am rightly proud of it.
What’s the immediate future hold for Comrade X. Any gigs/ festivals we should be looking out for you at? What about recordings. Ain’t it time you got something down on disc… or vinyl’s coming back you know? I’ve got a mate up in Luton who has built an analogue studio and I’ll be doing some recording up there in the autumn – some great shows coming up very shortly with you lot and the Veg Bar, The Lagan at the Fighting Cocks and Undercover Festival. And I will be helping my old mate Noel Martin from Menace with his bands 40th anniversary bash at the 100 Club. I’m enjoying myself and you can tune in through the Comrade X Facebook page.
 

Thanks Comrade for taking the time to answer a few questions. It’s a privilege to include you as a member of the London Celtic Punks crew and work with you over the last few years, so here’s to many many more!
CundeezVegBarColour (2)
You can catch Comrade X playing live at our next London Celtic Punks gig later this year on Saturday 3rd September on home territory in South London. He will be supporting Dundee based bagpipe punk band THE CUNDEEz on their London debut gig. All starts at 7-30pm sharp and costs just a fiver on the door. You can check out the Facebook event here to find out all the details of the venue and the other support bands or go to our What’s On- Upcoming Gigs & Events here.
Contact Comrade X

ALBUM REVIEW: FOLK THE SYSTEM- Unrest In The Wolds’ (2015)

Thatcher may be gone but the people still need a voice and FOLK THE SYSTEM are back. They’re older, got less hair and slightly cleaner clothes but still folking angry!

Folk The System

Last year we received a CD in the post from deepest darkest Oxfordshire, otherwise known as the Cotswolds and here on this CD as just plain Wolds. Taking in parts of Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Warwickshire and Worcestershire the word Wold comes from the old English meaning ‘forest’. It’s basically what is left of the English countryside and parts of it would rival anywhere in England as the most beautiful spots in the entire country.

Folk The System band

Folk Th System left to right: Maty Tustian – Bodhran/ Vocals * Tony Partner – 6 String Acoustic/ Bass * Johnny Tims – Fiddle * Simon Hill (Pil) – Vocals/ 12 String Acoustic/ Electric Guitar/ Tin Whistle

Based in, and from, the old Oxfordshire town of Banbury Folk The System got together in the early 1990’s and toured the length and breadth of this island from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall and played with all the folk-punk scene’s big hitters of the day before sadly, after years of drinking, dancing and general chaos, deciding to call it a day back in 1996. (The band have put their 1994 demo up for free download here if you want it!) The boys though remained good friends throughout the years and in 2013 all the original members of the band decided to give it another crack. 2014 saw Folk The System return to the stage for the first time in nearly 20 years and this brings us nicely up to date and the release of Unrest In The Wolds. The album is available on download and CD and the the CD comes with a 4 page booklet with the lyrics printed so small you’ll need a magnifying glass to read them!

Though the album came out last year we are finally getting around to reviewing it now due to two things. First off an unreliable mate who said he would write it and secondly I was planning to catch them live on home turf in Banbury supporting Ferocious Dog which I thought would help me write this. Well as they say better late than never and looking at their stall last weekend they still have a few copies of the album left so follow the link at the bottom to get your mitts on one.

Folk The System- ‘Witchfinder Generals’

Bringing together some tracks from the past with some new and unreleased material, the album is ten tracks that clock in at a very respectful forty minutes and just like their live set is over far far too early for my liking. The first impression you get from listening to the album is that their are no drums (they must be followers of the Steve White And The Protest Family philosophy that ‘Drums Ruin Everything’) only a bodhrán and that all the instruments are acoustic. Don’t be dismayed though celtic-punk fans they kick up a right storm and can easily be compared to early 80’s English anarcho-punk bands like The Mob or Zounds. The album begins with ‘Witchfinder Generals’ and its a very familiar Irish/English hybrid folk sound crossed with Simon’s punky vocals and hardcore lyrics about the social services and the power they wield. Starting off slowly it begins to build up and with some bitter and angry vocals its a great start to the album. Next up is ‘Civilisation’ and you may not think it but I found the bodhrán dominating here as the excellently played fiddle flies off the scale. Two songs in and I’m getting a sort of harder version of The Levellers here both musically and politically. Yeah they cover much the same ground as B-right-on’s favourites but I always found them a bit lame so it’s refreshing to hear the anger and passion I always found missing from The Levellers. ‘Lost Land’ again hits the spot with gang vocals and superb fiddling. ‘Death of a Nation’ follows much the same path with the whole band coming together even though the mix could have been a bit louder here. The next song is probably their most popular and if the band had a signature tune then I am sure it would be ‘Enviromentally Friendly’. It got the largest cheers live and also the most audience participation as the crowd sang along to the words about the hypocrites who tell us to recycle while continuing to ruin the environment themselves. Like those green charities who spend your hard earned on massive wages for their bosses or office furniture. Simon spits out the words with a bile that comes from truly believing in what your singing about. A very catchy fiddle tune accompanies this and for certain one of the standout tracks here. ‘To No End’ again hits you in the heart and brain and further confirms the album as one of the best I have heard this year. All the songs here are written by the band and the only instrumental is up next and called ‘Murphy’s Logic’ I suppose in tribute to its Irish sounding tune. While the album is, as I already said a hybrid of Irish and English tunes ‘Murphy’s Logic’ is unashamedly Irish and will leave you breathless as it swirls around you with the band combining on this the albums most trad song perfectly with the occasional shout from Simon it certainly gets the auld feet tapping. It featured on that old demo mentioned earlier and like an old wine has matured and got better with age. Following on and getting towards the end of the album ‘Street Corner People’ takes in the cuts on the National Health Services especially in regard to mental health. Again strong bodhrán and the introduction of tin whistle keep the song going at a healthy pace and at nearly five minutes is the longest on the album. ‘Vanity’ was my favourite song when they played live and here they are at their most anarcho-punk with a song about animal rights and animal liberation. Another song that has survived from that old demo from twenty two years ago and has only got better in time. Unrest In The Wolds come to a sad end with  ‘Least You Deserve’ and Simon’s heartfelt vocals are never better. An extremely strong and dark end to the album that only leaves you wanting to listen  to it all again.

Now after seeing them live and listening to this album I can tell you two things. They may be an acoustic band but they kick up more of a storm than most full on punk bands that I know. Loud and shouty but never preachy with a sound that may remind you of the aforementioned Levellers or more modern bands like Ferocious Dog and I suppose it is a familiar sound but don’t be misled into thinking theirs nothing original here. Folk The System far out date most of the bands in the scene so give them credit for coming up with it in the first place. While bands like The Levellers continue to garner the applause and pundits and sell out venues with their soppy mish-mash of hippyfied folk and punk its bands like Folk The System, and Ferocious Dog, that deserve to sweep them away as the passion here is more than most of The Levellers tie-dyed crowd could probably ever contemplate. The monster that was Thatcher may be gone but the evils of the system that spewed her out are still here and though they be a bit older and cleaner, and have less hair, Folk The System are still folking angry about it. Far be it for us to want to perpetuate the unfair system we are in bu let them remain so if it means they keep playing fantastic music like this.

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Folk The System instruments

EP REVIEW: BALSALL HEATHENS- ‘Life’s Too Short’ (2016)

 Brummie gypsy pirate punk duo with Jock from GBH on guitar and Sam from Contempt on vocals and fiddle.

Balsall Heathens

The Balsall Heathens are a two piece acoustic duo from Birmingham that have been going for a number of years, playing mainly at punk festivals, but have only just recently released their first record. Made up of Colin ‘Jock’ Blythe, founding member and guitarist/songwriter of punk legends G.B.H. and Sam who has played with countless bands in the past and is currently playing in The Alcohol Licks, Contempt, The Dollcanoes and Canar du Jour. Forming in 2007 and taking their name from Balsall an inner-city area of Birmingham in the West Midlands it is home to a diverse mix of working class people and is the location of the infamous Balti Triangle where the amount of curry houses is legendary enough to warrant its own name!

Balsall Heathens 3GBH were one of the wave of original English punk bands that came to be known as ‘UK82’ along with the likes of The Exploited, Discharge and The Varukers. Constantly touring all over the world GBH remain one of the most popular punk bands in existance and they have stayed loyal both to that UK82 sound and their legions of fans worldwide. Obviously this makes Balsall Heathens gigs pretty hard to organise especially with Sam’s busy schedule but their love of the music means they make the time and they actually play a lot more then you would think. Jock plays acoustic guitar and Sam plays fiddle and sings and they describe themselves as ‘gypsy pirate punk’ and began back in the day by playing purely upbeat cover versions of folk and country covers like ‘Whisky in the Jar’ and the ‘Devil Went Down to Georgia’. They began to write some of their own material and so we have the EP ‘Life’s Too Short’, their debut release on Violated Records.

Opening with ‘Whiskey In The Giro’ it’s a re-working of the Thin Lizzy/trad classic ‘Whisky in The Jar’ that I first heard on the B-side of an The Men They Couldn’t Hang single I think. A whopping six and a half minutes long. First impressions are of Sam’s strong female vocals and also her outstanding fiddle playing. Amazingly the song does not outstay its welcome despite its length. This is followed by ‘Life’s Too Short’ and it has a downright country feel to it while telling us to enjoy our lives and to cut the bullshit out as Lifes Too Short. Really enjoyed this track and again Sam’s fiddle is amazing in this anarchist hoedown. The instrumental ‘The River’ comes next and lasts pretty long, over five minutes, for a folk punk song and once again is a joy to listen to. Sounding very celtic its not a million miles away from what we are use to here. They get silly next up with the bluesy ‘Dogfood Blues’ with Jock proving that he can play a mean guitar while the last track ‘Get Jiggy With It’ is not a cover of the Will Smith single (how do I even know that?!?!) but a lovely country folk-punk romp that sped right up till the final second.

Balsall Heathens 2 (2)Recorded in Birmingham and released on Violated Records the EP lasts a decent twenty-five minutes and trots along at a fine auld pace. Needless to say their is nothing particularly groundbreaking but it’s a solid release and impressive that their is only the two of them playing here. The spirit of punk shines through as well as a sense of humour and a superb DIY attitude. They manage to capture the live sound of the band pretty well and it is live that The Balsall Heathens are at their best. Later this year they will be appearing at the Rude Festival in St. Louis, Missouri, the Rebellion Festival in Blackpool as well as touring mainland Europe as well. Currently writing some new material we can expect another release in the coming year so all being well we will be seeing a whole lot more of the Balsall Heathens.

Get The EP

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ALBUM REVIEW: DANNY DIATRIBE- ‘Elevation Illustrations’ (2016)

Elevation Illustrations is the second album release from Danny Diatribe aka Irish rapper Danny Lynch originally from Derry City but based in Manchester.

Danny Diatribe

Now first things first. What I know about hip-hop you could write on the back of a postage stamp to be honest but I do like music of the Irish diaspora and I do own the House Of Pain discography and that has made me the most qualified out of all the London Celtic Punks reviewers to take on the new Danny Diatribe album for you! Danny was born Danny Lynch in Derry city in the occupied north of Ireland but emigrated to Manchester as a young ‘un ten years back. Danny may not be the first celtic-rapper (see our article The Top Seven Celtic Hip-Hop Artists And Bands here) but he is one of only a small handful waving the tricolour in England!

Danny Diatribe 3

Elevation Illustrations is Danny’s follow up album to 2013’s Information Age and though musically a hundred miles away from what I usually listen to I found myself getting proper into it… so i did! With a whole host of guest artists appearing Elevation Illustrations is like a who’s-who of the Manchester rap scene but is most definitely Danny’s work. Kicking off with ‘Towards Balance’ which was released as a single from the album.

Followed by ‘Encounter Philosophical’ and another great video goes with the song this time filmed in Reykjavik, Iceland. In fact one of the things most impressive things about Danny Diatribe is the quality videos that accompany pretty much all of Danny’s songs. ‘Magum Opus’ features Conor McGregor giving out on what is the Irish way while ‘Roses’ features Wile Man. The nightmare of alcoholism is the feature of ‘Ten Green Bottles’
“Emerge from buried history, i never speak in novel tones,
Never do I grovel thrones, I hobble down the cobble stones,
Sunken in the drunkin groans, my thoughts are dim lit alleyways,
Drown my screaming ego, I escape from my reality.Fall into the gutter on theses doom stilts,
Calls for help turns into a spludder as the room tilts,
This is the life for me, cos there is no life for me,
I drown the fuckin sight i see”

and more nightmarish visions follow in title song ‘Elevation Illustrations’ featuring Herrotics and Misc Jockey. ‘South Manchester’ is a gritty slowed down diatribe on an area of Manchester that goes from the footballer-belt right up to the inner-city. ‘Boneshakers’ features Dubbul O and ‘The Vagabond of Babylon’ features Danny in the video wandering round his native Derry.

‘Paddys Cure’ follows and begins with a blast of the Dubliners and is as good a song about Irish emigration as you’ll hear. The song is featuring fellow Manchester Irish rapper D’Lyfa Reilly and the pride and the sadness of leaving Ireland and being Irish is clear.

‘The Void’ features Tony Skank, ‘Bun The System’ features Bill Sykes, Black Josh & Cheech and we’re coming to the end of the album and the last two songs sum up the album perfectly. ‘The Fractal Mind Of Diatribe’ is an extended rant giving Danny’s main philosophies on life.

“I’m Danny Diatribe, chillin on a manny vibe,
The chillin Irish guy that keeps it lit just like a fire fly,
Got more juice than 5alive, but never on the flyer I
Think promoters sleep they’re counting sheep and rapid eye
movement, showing improvement, I’ve been rhyming for a decade,
from mind to pen to tongue my lungs expand under my chest plate,
the Derry native gets creative with his intake
breath controls the central role for meditating stressed states
rippin the microphone cos its the dopest thing i know
gathering up my thoughts and then express it in a flow
I’m academic when i said it and it shows
I kick enlightened poems if you don’t know well now ye know,
but some dont comprehend so they need to be told again
the universe extends every time i hold a pen
don’t follow trends but ye can catch me at the bar with cats
spittin raps till another celebrity star collapse
off the beaten track, only reaching those that’s seeking facts,
leave that heathen chat, your teeth’s in that and what you speak is wack,
no-one believes in your mc-ing get your reason back,
im a seasoned cat, your a cell inside a semen sack,
must be fuckin dreamin, black Irish and we’re up north
the catechism causes craniums to contort,
futuristic, my target market’s unborn,
I speak the celtic flow that makes you want more,

cause an uproar”

The song ends with the great line

“so thanks for listenin, grab a tin with me next of kin,
grippin them and sippin them up on a roof in Withington”

and finally ‘Elevation Illustrations’ comes to an end with ‘Astral Journey’ featuring Legion and the curtain comes down.

The album was produced by Pro P who has been tipped as one of the top 10 UK hip hop producers to look out for in 2016 by the highly influential web site UKHH.COM. Fourteen tracks that nicely bring up both The Clash and Public Enemy in describing Irish immigrant life while raging on the attacks on our civil liberties, Palestine, imperialism, the working class and the gritty side of Manchester life. All are in his cross-hairs and the execution is pure brilliant. Backed by a varied and excellent sets of beats from trip-hop to jungle, to electronica and back again Danny has delivered something that takes the idea of celtic-punk and brings it much much closer to modern culture than we could ever do. Sharp tongued and finely distilled Danny Diatribe is set for important things. Buy the album and tell your friends you got your finger on the pulse of underground Irish immigrant hip hop. You will sound cool as anything!

(you can listen to  by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below before you buy. Go on it’s only a fiver!)

Danny Diatribe 2Buy The Album

FromDanny

Contact Danny Diatribe

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Interesting story regards the old fashioned gent on the album cover. It is not as originally thought Danny pre-beard but his Great-Grandad James Lynch in 1890. He was a protestant that converted to Catholicism to marry and had to be sneaked into church on the quiet. Both him and his brother played football for Ireland and he was given an award by the Royal Humane Society for saving a drowning woman’s life by jumping in the water, punching her unconscious, swimming back to shore with her and resuscitating her on land!

ALBUM REVIEW: DEXYS- ‘Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul’ (2016)

Let the record show that Dexys do Irish and country soul… and do it well too!

Dexys

For those of you not in the know Dexys is the name now used by the band once known as Dexys Midnight Runners who during the 1980’s were quite possibly one of the most popular English pop bands going, having a string of worldwide number one hits, most famously ‘Come On Eileen’ and ‘Geno’. Formed around the West Midlands of England they were together for the years 1978–1986 before reforming in 2003 and shortening their name to Dexys. Their first incarnation produced three classic albums- Searching for the Young Soul Rebels in 1980, Too-Rye-Ay in 1982 and Don’t Stand Me Down in 1985, while their last album as Dexys was called One Day I’m Going to Soar and was released in 2012 and despite the massive 27 year “break” was hailed by fans and critics alike as an outright classic. Two of the things the band became famous for was the never ending line up changes and also musical direction. Formed by Kevin Rowland he has been the only constant throughout the years and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is the main visionary and driving force behind the band.

Dexys2

Rowland began his musical career in the short lived but popular (to me anyroad) punk rock band The Killjoys who were one of the first original punk bands around the Midlands but in 1978 he wrote a soul song called ‘Tell Me When My Light Turns Green’, which went on to become the first Dexy’s song. They got the band name from the nickname of Dexedrine which was popular as a recreational drug among Northern Soul fans at the time which gave you the ability to dance all night hence the midnight runners! Image has always been important to Rowland and he decreed the band buck the trend for the sharp suits that were popular in the ska scene at the time and band dressed in donkey jackets and wooly hats. A look described as

“straight out of De Niro’s Mean Streets”

The music was impeccable and played to absolute perfection and their debut album catapulted them into stardom. The album cover featured a photograph of a young northern Irish Catholic boy carrying his belongings after having had his home attacked during anti-Catholic riots in Belfast. When talking about the photo Kevin said

“I wanted a feeling of unrest. The photo could of been from anywhere but I was secretly glad it was Ireland”
The lad on the cover was working at the Royal Mail, Belfast, at the time of the album release. Kevin Rowland himself though born in Wolverhampton has always been extremely proud of his Irish roots. His parents came from Crossmolina in Co. Mayo and landed in post war England at a time when work was non-existent in Ireland and hundreds of Irish were leaving home. The cities of England became huge ghettos for the Irish and their children and with the war waging in the north of Ireland and occasionally spilling onto English streets Irish people enforced a code of silence. No outright show of support for the republican movement was shown while at home, in the pubs and churches and anywhere Irish people gathered they shared the songs and stories of home. For many of those second generation born here they couldn’t wait to get away from the Irishness of their parents but for some it was embraced and held dear and Kevin Rowland was one of the latter.

Dexys 3With Searching for the Young Soul Rebels soaring high in the charts suddenly, angered over continual personality problems with Rowland, five of the band members then quit leading to the second incarnation of Dexys Midnight Runners. With just Kevin and the Scots descended ‘Big’ Jim Paterson left they nicknamed themselves the ‘Celtic soul rebels’ and they set about recruiting a bunch of fiddle players that he called the ‘Emerald Express’. Out went the donkey jackets and a new look was adopted that included hooded tops, boxing boots, and long hair but just as quickly a new image was seized upon and leather waistcoats and dungarees were the order of the day. It was described as

“a raggle-taggle mixture of gypsy, rural Irish and Steinbeck Okie”

The first single of the second album was the title song ‘The Celtic Soul Brothers’ and the whole album was a mix of soul and celtic folk that again captured the public’s imagination and provided the band with their biggest hit ‘Come On Eileen’. Again though band politics were at play and again band members were to leave citing Kevin as the reason. On the release of  Don’t Stand Me Down in 1985 only Kevin remained of that first line up and this time wearing ties and pin-striped suits the album though popular with fans did not please their record company and eventually in 1987 with the band down to just three members, Kevin Rowland, Helen O’Hara and Kevin ‘Billy’ Adams, and with Rowland and O’Hara’s relationship ended and drug issues appearing the band finally disbanded in 1987.

Dexys4Kevin Rowland left the band and despite issues with depression as well as well publicised financial problems( including a spell on the dole) and drug addiction he released several solo albums though none were particularly well received he stayed well within the media glare remaining a well known public figure, though mainly for his perceived eccentricities like appearing on the cover of his solo album ‘My Beauty’ in women’s underwear! Reforming the band in 2003 Dexys Midnight Runners began to play and tour occasionally but it wasn’t till 2011 and with the band’s name now shortened to Dexys that they began to record new material leading to the release of their fourth and equally brilliant One Day I’m Going to Soar album.

Thus leading us on to here and on St Patrick’s Day this year Dexys announced they were to release an album of Irish songs. It’s an album which Kevin had always wanted to make saying

“We had the idea to do this album in 1984 or 1985. It was to be called Irish and was to feature songs like ‘Carrickfergus’, ‘Curragh of Kildare’ and ‘Women Of Ireland. Dexys broke up not too long afterwards, so it didn’t happen”

Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul features twelve songs and while only half are in fact Irish songs several more evoke ‘Irishness’ in some way and all showcase Kevin’s amazing voice which here is as strong as it has been in decades. This fine album begins with ‘Women Of Ireland’ and slow beautiful fiddle leads onto harmonica and the unmistakable Dexys sound shines through. The song originally titled ‘Mná na h-Éireann’ was written by Irish folk legend Seán Ó Riada (1931–1971) and though performed as a instrumental here does in fact have words. A truly beautiful version that is a great way to start proceedings. And as you will see from the video once again they have gone through a image change and one thing you can’t accuse them off is being sartorially challenged!!

Next up, and to add the country soul of the album title, is The Bee Gees ‘To Love Somebody’. Now for those of you not familiar with The Bee Gees body of work I can guarantee you actually know a lot more than you think. Dexys version begins with some sweeping strings before Kevin’s voice comes out loud and proud and I have to say surprisingly strong and powerful. Not straying far from the tune of the original it is the voice that carries it and carries it well. Another famous song follows in ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’. Written in 1933 by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach it has been covered numerous times but again here Dexys give it their treatment. The sweeping strings are back and a wonderful way to record this wonderful song. It builds up but never loses that swirling sound and again Kevin carries the song through and by now we getting an idea of how the album works. We are back in Ireland next for ‘The Curragh Of Kildare’ which starts with a wee spoken poem before Kevin’s soulful voice is joined by female vocals and the two of them work fantastically off each other.

“The winter it has passed
And the summer’s come at last
The small birds are singing in the trees
And their little hearts are glad
Ah, but mine is very sad
Since my true love is far away from me”

The original was written by Scotland’s poet laureate Robbie Burns.It tells the story of a young Scottish woman whose lover is away soldiering for the Queen in the Curragh of Kildare.

We stay in Ireland next with the Nanna’s favourite ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen’. While I would have preferred some more less known covers their is no denying that Dexys have certainly stamped their brand onto these songs and it must be said this is a song I heard as a very young child so brings back some very happy memories for me and I suppose many of us. Though one of the most popular traditional Irish music ballads it was in fact written by an American of German descent, Thomas Paine Westendorf,  for his wife. Rod Stewart’s ‘You Wear It Well’ is next up for the Dexys treatment and although it didn’t ring any bells I soon realised I know it well (it pops up in the movie version of Porridge!). The only song here I feel that doesn’t stand up to the original but in saying that it still works it’s just that Celtic supporter Rod’s version is the best possible by a country mile. Find it on YouTube here and marvel at the Bhoys amazing voice. Word is it that Johnny Cash on wanting to write a song about his Irish roots stuck a pin in a map of Ireland and filled in the gaps around it. ’40 Shades Of Green’ was the result and provided Johnny with one of his biggest hits. Here Dexys play it straight and only the introduction of a trumpet in parts shows the Dexys influence. In all the review’s I have seen of this album so far it is ‘How Do I Live’ they has stood out for most reviewers and though not my favourite is a great version of Lee Ann Rimes country rock ballad from 1998. The only song here I did not know before so maybe that explains my indifference to it while the rest of the album fills me with warm memories and feelings of family and home this, while a strong version, leaves me a bit cold. ‘Grazing In The Grass’ was an instrumental composed by Philemon Hou and first released as a single in 1968 and the following year with words by The Friends of Distinction. By far the most upbeat track here it sticks closely to the soulful original. We are back with Kevin’s roots again with the important Irish ballad ‘The Town I Loved So Well’. Harp accompanies piano and Kevin’s wondrous voice on this personal lament about the war in the north of Ireland, specifically in Derry city, a republican stronghold. Written by Phil Coulter about his childhood in Derry the song begins by telling of the simple life he grew up with till he emigrated and then returned finding how his hometown had become a major British army outpost and become plagued with violence.

“Now the music’s gone but they carry on
For their spirit’s been bruised, never broken
They will not forget but their hearts are set
On tomorrow and peace once again
For what’s done is done and what’s won is won
And what’s lost is lost and gone forever
I can only pray for a bright brand-new day
In the town I loved so well”

Recorded by many Irish music legends Kevin Rowland can now be added to the list and Phil Coulter while being one of the most important singer-songwriters in Irish history had this to say about The Town I Loved So Well’,

“Derry has a great tradition of music and a very proud history being one of the oldest cities in the country. In recent years it’s suffered more than its fair share of pain and heartache, but there’s something special about the place and the people that has helped them overcome the worst of times. Of all the songs I’ve written, this is the one I’d like to be remembered for. It’s my story but it’s also the story of Derry, the town I loved so well”

Another upbeat classic follows with a brilliant take on Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now’. Kevin’s voice is again let off the leash and allowed to flourish and the result is again fantastic.

Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish And Country Soul ends with ‘Carrickfergus’, another classic Irish folk song. Long one of Kevin’s favourite songs and he’s been performing it for years but finally gets it down on record here for the first time. Named after the town of Carrickfergus in County Antrim in the north of Ireland Kevin’s version lasts near six and a half minutes and epic seems hardly the word to describe it. While the origins of the song are unclear  it has been traced to an Irish language song, ‘Do bhí bean uasal’ which is attributed to the poet Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna, who died in 1745. Recorded by acts as diverse as The Dubliners, Bryan Ferry and Van Morrison this is as good as it gets. Aye your right, quite possibly the best version I have ever heard. A song I have heard a thousand times but never really listened to. Kevin imparts a passion, sadness and sorrow like no other into this version. The feeling of remorse, the lost years is tangible, you can really sympathise with the narrator for the loss of his love (Ireland, as opposed to a partner?).

The first thought that pops into your head when hearing that a band you love have recorded a covers album is one of disappointment. Disappointment that they may have run out of ideas. Well that may or may not be true (I sense not) and here the choice of songs may not be as wild and as full of abandon as you’d expect them to be you can feel Kevin Rowland’s commitment to the songs in every breath he takes. He injects every track with his trademark intensity and what it may lack in originality, is more than made up for by his passionate and heartfelt voice. Growing up this side of the Irish sea we didn’t have many idols to admire. Many ‘famous’ people came from the same backgrounds as us but felt it better for their careers to gloss over it and don’t make a scene. Well Kevin has never stopped making a scene and here he, and Dexys, are right back on track.  He wears his heart on his sleeve and the passion for his ancestral homeland is infectious. A truly amazing album and not just for Dexys fans either.

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE SURFIN’ TURNIPS- ‘Awake The West’ (2016)

Proper scrumpy punkers from old Bristol town. Cult legends in the South West. Fusing The Ramones and The Wurzels in an orgy of fast riffs, cider and marrow dancing!
SurfinTurnips
Now The Surfin’ Turnips been around for a few years now since 1991 (ish!) and though I have heard great things about them our paths have never crossed. They have played a few times in London over the years but things just haven’t connected right for us. So here we are with The Surfin’ Turnips new album Awake The West which was released back in January this year but actually recorded back in the Summer of 2014. The various band members hail from Cornwall, Devon and Somerset but have strong associations with the town of Chipping Sodbury where they met while working, and the areas around Bristol where they currently live. Now one of the long lost and lamented celtic-punk bands of recent years has been The Dreadnoughts from Canada. For a few years their star shone bright as they toured relentlessly from one end of Europe to the other seemingly all year round. Well they may have hung up their fiddle but they did briefly reform for a few gigs back in 2014 and they played a solitary gig in England with The Surfin’ Turnips in Bristol. While over they also played on this recording so if you a Dreadnoughts fanatic, like most of us, then this is for you.
The album begins with ‘Turmut Hoer’ and its straight forward, heads down, classic punk rock with clear vocals and lyrics sung in a broad Bristol dialect and a vocabulary that leaves me baffled most of the time. When I looked up what a Turmut Hoer is it just came up as the name of pub after pub after pub all over the west country!

“I am a turmut hoer, from Wiltshire I were born. Me parents they be workin’ folk.  The fly be on me turmut”

So lyrically I am but lost except I do know that its all a loving tribute to the boys home. ‘The Quaker’ carries on the punk rock and sails into ‘Evenin’ in the Village’ a spoken word tribute to The Surfin’Turnips favourite beverage Cider which is followed appropriately enough by ‘Oh Apple Tree’. Featuring the first appearance here of the accordion

“Pass round the jug and take a supp, Cutler’s name drifts into the night.

Nought could compare with this pasty we share – the souls of the West join the light”

A cover of the sea shanty ‘Eddystone Light’ is up next. Made famous by Scots folk band The Weavers the song is about the lighthouse in Eddystone which kept ships from washing up and wrecking on the dangerous Eddystone Rocks, nine miles south of Rame Head.

While Rame Head is in Cornwall, the actually rocks are in Devon and the song tells of the lighthouse keepers son who meets his mammy, a mermaid.
“From this union there came three, A porpoise and a porgy and the other was me”
‘Ciderman Killed The Radio Star’ is another cider fixated song and it aint the last either!

They keep it local next up with a grand wee folky accordion led track ‘Sampford Peverell Pig Farmers Polka’. Thrashy guitars and that accordion keep the music up tempo and if nothing else this album is rollicking good romp and completely different from the celtic kind of folk punk I am more use to. Another spoken word piece follows and comes with a small dialect guide of west country words to help you through it.
“Gert = Big. Body = person. Axed = Asked. Batch – an areal of rough land. Ee = you. Queer – unexplainable. Shepton Mallet Races – Mid Somerset cider making town. Vleshy = fat. Vlat Voot – flat foot. Ar – Yes”
‘A Cottage On Dartmoor’ keeps the folk punk flag flying and finally Awake The West comes to an end with the traditional song ‘Spanish Ladies’ and for me is the true highlight of the album. Fast tuneful accordion punk rock with a real buzz to it except it doesn’t end there though as there is a secret track at the end that I won’t say anything about ‘cept to say it’s fecking brilliant!
The home of The Surfin’ Turnips the West Country has a proud, diverse and rich cultural, musical and literary heritage. In this time of globalisation and the creeping influence of London across England just as it is important for the celtic languages to survive we must not forget that tradition and language is not just confined to only the celtic countries. Places like the West Country and the northern counties and anywhere who had them also need to preserve their old ways. After all as a wise man once said

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong”

or something like that. West Country renaissance folk-punk aiming, and succeeding, in spreading the word of the West to those in need of apple salvation.
Ar, awake the West!

(you can have a sneaky listen to ‘Awake The West’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below then afterwards for just a measly fiver you can own it by following the link!)

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BLACK WATER COUNTY NEW SINGLE AND FREE DOWNLOAD

Stout quaffing, banjo breaking, tin whistle mangling original music so get ready to folk sh*t up, and get really angry… at the floor!

BWC- One More Beer

People may think that London is some hot bed of celtic-punk activity but truth be told the real powerhouse is down on the south coast of England that’s where the real power in English celtic-punk lives! Several fantastic bands all playing in each others backyards and all supporting each other with a friendly rivalry that most music scene’s could only dream of. One of these bands is the fantastic Black Water County. Don’t be fooled by those fresh faces though they been gigging relentlessly ever since they formed on St Paddy’s day back in 2013 and barely a weekend goes by without my inbox informing me of a new bunch of Black Water County gig’s that I sadly can’t go to!

Based in Dorset around Bournemouth they are a highly original and innovative part of the scene and have played in London a good few times, though not nearly enough for our liking, and gone down an absolute storm each and every time. Who could forgot the time at TChances in Tottenham where half the audience from the Polish punk gig next door ended up in our tiny room bouncing around and jigging like maniacs when they heard the sound of Black Water County coming on!

The bhoys and ghirl have just released a new single ‘One More Beer Won’t Hurt’ and an accompanying video too. It’s made up of exactly the stuff that we love them for. High octane full on Irish punked up folk music to (using their own famous slogan) “beat up the floor to”. Released only yesterday on a Pay What You Want deal you can follow the link below and download for whatever you like, though we’d like to hope you can chuck them a quid or two but if not they won’t hold it against you. Keep an eye on these as they are most definitely one of the up and coming bands of the scene and that will only be cemented I am positive when they release their debut album sometime late in the year. We cannot wait!!!

In the meantime you can catch them supporting top Aussie celtic-punkers The Rumjacks this Sunday coming on the 22nd live Upstairs At The Garage on Holloway Road (nearest tube/train: Highbury And Islington) in North London. Fellow south coaster celtic folk-punk band Matilda’s Scoundrels are also playing so be sure to be on time. Ticket link here.

But if that’s a bit short notice then Black water County will be playing a special London Celtic Punks show dahn Sarf London this time on Saturday 3rd September with The Cundeez down from Dundee and Kilburn Bomb Squad sort of across and down a bit from… well Kilburn. The event page for that is here.

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BWC

LONDON MEMORIAL TO THE GREAT IRISH ‘FAMINE’ OF 1845- 1852

On Sunday 22nd May there will be a memorial event in London to the Irish Famine which many refer to as a genocide! It will take place outside the main entrance of Congress House in Great Russell Street. Speakers invited will be on behalf of the Parvees (Irish Travellers) who owe their roots to this atrocity as many were evicted from their homes in Ireland and the London 1916 Easter Rising Centenary Committee since the Famine fuelled nationalism in Ireland which led to the Rising in 1916, itself. This event is to remember the many Irish people who died in An Gorta Mor and the many who fled to London. It will be over 170 years since An Gorta Mor began to inflict many deaths in Ireland and we have chosen this spot as it is part of the Parish of St. Giles known as ‘Little Ireland’ throughout the 19th century. This area was home to many Irish migrant labourers who lived in overcrowded levels of poverty and squalor. During these times huge numbers of Irish people died due to lack of nutrition and sanitation! The London Memorial to the Irish Famine is hosted by the South East Regional TUC Race Relations Committee who document the history of migrant workers to Britain. Irish workers were instrumental in building the trade union movement and through their mass concentration of cheap labour, their production made Britain the most industrialised nation in the world! It is important that we remember all these Irish people in London as well as the millions who died in Ireland and abroad as well as those forced to leave to survive. May they rest in peace!

LONDON MEMORIAL TO THE IRISH ‘FAMINE’ 2016

SUNDAY 22nd MAY- 12 NOON

CONGRESS HOUSE, GREAT RUSSELL STREET, LONDON WC1B 3LS

(nearest tube- Tottenham Court Road)

26/1/2009. 750 JOBS LOST AT FIRST ACTIVE. Pictured are The Famine statues with Ulster Bank headquarters in Dublin. Ulster Bank Group is to absorb the business of First Active, formerly the First National Building Society, with the loss of 750 jobs. In 2003 First Active was acquired by Ulster Bank Limited, part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. 550 jobs are to go at its operations in the Republic and a further 200 in Northern Ireland. Group Chief Executive said he is confident Ulster Bank can secure 750 redundancies on a voluntary basis. Picture James Horan/Photocall Ireland

The potato is a tuberous vegetable that is native to the Andes of South America. Following the Spanish exploration and exploitation of the South American Indians, the potato was introduced to Europe where it had a profound effect on the diets of Europeans from Ireland well into Russia. It grew well all over Western Europe and Eurasia. A population explosion followed and continued well into the 19th century. The potato grew prolifically in Ireland and was a product grown on every Irish farm. With few exceptions, however, the Irish farmers were tenant farmers and had no rights on the land they farmed. If they grew wheat, barley oats, or raised cattle on their land, that produce was taken by the absentee landlords, most of whom lived in England and placed on English ships for export. The British Empire was maintained by so-called English beef, English wheat and barley, and English pork, all of which was produced in Ireland.

Conventional wisdom has it that the Irish were too stupid to grow anything but the potato, and were barred from planting anything else. Their nutritional status was high because potato skins could be fed to hogs, one or two of which could be kept by a household, as well as chickens. If a farmer was fortunate enough to have a milk cow, their diet, based on the potato was highly nutritious. However, potatoes have predators. One of them is a fungus, the potato blight, which will destroy the entire potato plant from above ground leaves to tubers below the ground. At some point in the mid-1840s, one ship sailing from South America introduced potato fungal spores into Ireland. The result was absolutely catastrophic, with every Irish farm infected with the blight by 1846. With their primary food source cut off, the Irish began starving by the millions. Exports of Irish produce (‘English beef’) continued unabated throughout the (‘so-called famine’) Án Gorta Mór. All over Ireland, the odours of dead potatoes and starving, dead people permeated the countryside.

The potato blight did not just affect Ireland, but extended its reach all across Europe. Potato crops failed in France, Germany, Poland, and Russia but those countries stopped exporting food so they could feed their own people. No such thing happened in Ireland. It took months during 1846 for the news of the terrible condition of the Irish people to reach the United States and other countries. In the states, the Quakers and wealthy Jews from New York collected money and shipped vast numbers of food to the starving Irish. The ships were stopped when they entered Irish ports and were required to be offloaded into English ships, which ended up distributing the food to horses owned by the British Army.

English authorities claim the population of Ireland was 8 million at the time of Án Gorta Mór. A number of Irish writers have claimed that the population of Ireland was 11 million. If that was the case, over 5 million people in Ireland starved to death, cutting their population almost in half. Regardless of what figures you use, the 1846–1847 census ranks as one of the greatest hunger crisis in human history. Nothing today even compares to it.

With few exceptions, the response of English society was one of denial and ridicule. Most people in England viewed it as a superb opportunity to cleanse Ireland of their poor, ignorant tenant farmers. Absentee landlords stepped forward with offer to pay passage to any starving Irish who were willing to emigrate. The ordeal aboard the ships that carried them to the United States were horrendous. The passengers were emaciated, filthy, near death and lice-ridden. Many ships were lost at sea, and the mortality rate aboard the ships reached 20% of all Irish emigrants. Deaths were so common on board that the dead were thrown overboard without so much as a word of prayer or comfort said over them.

When they arrived the exploitation continued as soon as these poor souls stepped off the ships and the misery of those Irish continued many years after they had left Ireland. Eventually the Irish would go on to dominate politics in the United States while here they became the backbone of the growing trade union movement. If you are unable to join us on the 22nd May then we ask you to pause for one minute and spare a thought or a prayer for not just those poor souls lost at home but also those that famine spread out across the globe.

Famine1

The Bridge of Tears (Droichead na nDeor) in West Donegal. Family and friends of emigrants would accompany them as far as the bridge before saying goodbye, while the emigrants would continue on to Derry Port

for an excellent resource on the history of Ireland we recommend you go to the absolutely fantastic web site of Stair na hÉireann (here) a labour of love of Ireland, sharing the history, traditions, folklore, mythology and photography.

“In order to forgive history’s sins, we must first know what they are.”

Famine2

A plaque commemorating The Bridge of Tears, which reads “Fad leis seo a thagadh cairde agus lucht gaoil an té a bhí ag imeacht chun na coigrithe. B’anseo an scaradh. Seo Droichead na nDeor” (Family and friends of the person leaving for foreign lands would come this far. Here was the separation. This is the Bridge of Tears)

Further Recommended Reading:

Let Ireland Remember

Irish National Famine Memorial Day

but the most extensive resource on Facebook about this period is to be found at

Irish Holocaust –Not Famine: The Push To Educate In Facts

we have featured articles on Án Gorta Mór in previous years that you can read here: 2015  2014

  • another interesting event is on the following week on Sunday 29th May with a Historical 1916 Walk in north London so exercise your mind, body and spirit whilst learning about Irish History and Culture.

    Join members of the London 1916 Centenary Committee on a guided walk through the streets of Islington, North London. The walk highlights places of interest where links are made to cultural, social and political involvement. These include the German Gym, Clerkenwell Prison, Suffragette links and IRB places of interest. The walk ends at Pentonville prison where Roger Casement was executed. The walk is approximately two hours long. Meet outside the German Gym at Kings Cross at 2pm sharp. The German Gymnasium is located directly opposite the domestic entrance to St Pancras International Station. Event page here.

SINGLE REVIEW: MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS- ‘Crowleys Curse’ (2016)

Quality celtic folk punk from the smugglers cove of Hastings.

Matilda's Scoundrels

One of the highlights of 2015 was the emergence of a couple of bands who have gone on to become both solid fixtures not only on the celtic-punk scene but also on the wider alternative/punk scene also. I am talking of course about the mighty Mick O’Toole and, the band I am reviewing today, Matilda’s Scoundrels. It seems only five minutes since I was reviewing their last release, the split CD EP with The Barracks, in December. That went down an absolute storm among various punk media and has seen the bands profile rise considerably. Performances at this years Manchester Punk Festival and a short northern tour ending with a support slot to Blood Or Whiskey in Scotland are just the tip of the iceberg and the bands weekends have been spent traversing around England with guitars and tin whistle in hand!

Mat3

left to right: Dan Flanagan- Guitar, James Baughurst- Bass, Jon Gosling- Drums, Jason Stirling- Tin Whistle/ Vocals, Jens-Peter Jensen- Accordion/ Vocals, Thomas Quinn- Mandolin/ Vocals

Matilda’s Scoundrels formed in 2014 and the boys have been building a solid reputation on the south coast gig scene over the last couple of years and have began to bring their sound to festivals, bars, pubs and clubs across the UK with an ever increasing army of followers. Later this year they will perform at Rebellion, Boomtown and Common Ground festivals so plenty of chances for you to check them out. The boys hail from Hastings on the south coast of England. An area once famed for its pirates and smuggling links back in the 1800’s. As one native of the town commented

“No business carried on in Hastings was more popular and extensive as that of smuggling. Defrauding the revenue, so far from being considered a crime, was looked upon as a laudable pursuit, and the most successful ‘runners’ were heroes. Nearly the whole of the inhabitants, old and young and of every station in life, were, to some extent, engaged in it”

The smugglers of Hastings had an ugly reputation. They earned the nickname ‘Chop-backs’ after one of them split the spine of a Dutch sea captain! So in a town steeped in tradition the emergence of Matilda’s Scoundrels is not such a shock and their town’s history looms large in everything that they do. They recently became the first band to play on the newly rebuilt Hastings Pier after the original burned down in 2010.

Crowley

nice hat Al!

So it is then that Matilda’s Scoundrels have delved deep into their towns history again here and written a song ‘Crowleys Curse’ dedicated to one of Hastings most infamous residents, Aleister Crowley aka The Great Beast. Born to a wealthy family (as so many of these type of characters usually are!) he was made notorious in the popular press for his interest in astrology, Satanism and the practice of ‘sex magick’ and other supposedly shocking occult activities. He died in Hastings on 1 December 1947 aged 72 and is, no doubt, looking up and chuckling away at this song in his honour. The curse mentioned in the song is the local legend that Crowley cursed Hastings. The curse means that anyone who has ever lived there will always live there. Famous when I was a child for the Battle Of Hastings when in 1066 King Harold II was defeated by the Norman forces of William the Conqueror in a battle that would shape the future of England for centuries to come. Sadly, recently though the town has become more famous for the social problems the residents face. High drug addition and crime rates had turned the town into a regular feature on ‘poverty porn’ TV programmes. Of course the councils answer to this is to try and gentrify and opening up a art house cinema or selling croissants instead of candy floss on the new pier are not going to help anyone. Still things are improving and a healthy community spirit is developing and as usual the best way to improve things in your community is for that community to do it themselves.

Blending traditional punk instruments with accordion, mandolin, tin whistle and gravelly vocals Matilda’s Scoundrels have again hit the heights and when I described that Split EP as their best release to date I find myself saying it again now! Quinn’s vocals and Jason’s whistle start the song before the rest of the lads join in and even if I can’t see the council adopting it as the towns anthem it ought to be.

“The great beast proved a popular addition to the lonesome town without submission as darkness fell so he woke in the old town of Hastings.

A rancid smell from a molasses pipe sex drive down with all his might lightning strikes into the night in the old town of Hastings”

Slower than usual but unmistakeable Scoundrels. I was lucky enough to see the band play it live for the first time and it has grown on me ever since. They follow this up on side B (remember this is vinyl!) with another live favourite ‘Pissheads Anthem’. A lot faster and plenty of sweary gang vocals and “Hey!” shouts.

“Give me whiskey, give me beer, Get me drunk as fuck and just leave me here”
 Crowleys Curse is being released as a two track vinyl single and in all the years we have been doing this zine we have only ever reviewed one vinyl release and already this year we are on our second release. The other being The Cundeez 7″ ‘Rebellion’. It’s a collaboration between all the following record labels TNS Records, Smegma Records, AWOL Records, Almighty Beard Records and Charlies Big Ray Gun Records so a great project and a perfect example of working together. It certainly warms the heart to see an increase in the popularity of vinyl and see more and more vinyl releases. I keep saying it, and with a Mick O’Toole album due soon, it only remains for a Matilda’s Scoundrels album and international stardom awaits!
Mat 1

Hastings Pier

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