Category Archives: EP Review

EP REVIEW: MAN THE LIFEBOATS- ‘Man The Lifeboats EP'(2018)

London based five piece Man the Lifeboats play raucous, upbeat folk music. Their debut EP is four songs of full-throttle, upbeat contemporary folk music to drink, dance and sing along to…

Now before i start have to admit that I never really got the Skinny Lister thing. While all around me people and friends were renting and raving about how brilliant they are I remained marooned on my desert island a lone voice against the many. Maybe it was their unbridled cheerfulness or that in the early days all their merchandise was festooned with the ‘Butchers Apron’ but I may have to have a re-think though as relatively new band on the London scene Man The Lifeboats cite them as their main influence and therefore there has to be something I am missing out on.

Man The Lifeboats left to right: Harvey Springfield- Mandolin, Electric guitar, Harmonica, Backing vocals * Rich Quarterman- Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Daniel Gilroy- Fiddle, Stroh Violin, Penny Whistle, Backing Vocals * Sam Barker- Bass, Stompbox, Backing Vocals * David Vaughan- Drums, Percussion.

Formed in the wake of seeing Skinny Lister live in concert in 2016 this is the debut EP from Man The Lifeboats. It was recorded at Soup Studios on a floating lightship studio on the river Thames – where else! – and was produced, engineered and mixed by Ed Ripley who has worked extensively with the oft mentioned Skinny Lister.

The EP begins with ‘Doomed’ and its bouncy upbeat fast paced folk music from the first beat. Harvey’s mandolin is the most ‘in-yer-face’ instrument along with Rich’s vocals and it works perfectly. Perhaps Daniels fiddle could have been louder but that is a very minor gripe on a song that fits together perfectly. The lyrics belie the jollyness of the song as it repeats that we are doomed with the rising of the sea levels and pollution but done with lashings of humour that will raise a smile or two.

“We’re all doomed
The four horsemen are coming, we’re marooned
Time to go and colonise the moon
This is the sound of impending doom

The video for ‘Doomed’ was released last May and was the first sign that Man The Lifeboats were on the way.

This is followed up by ‘A Wasted Life’ and this song reminds me a little of my favourite bands The Housemartins. Massive at their time in the mid-80’s they are completely forgotten about now but as well as their superb agit-pop they also wrote some great ‘folk’ tunes. Again Harvey’s mandolin is to the fore and the fiddle is louder here too and with the addition of one of the most under-rated instruments in Celtic-Punk the harmonica its a great tune and with clever and insightful lyrics about the common theme, the havoc that over indulgence in alcohol can wage against us.

“Yeah
Why should I care?
I’m going down the drink
I’ll see you there
And I wouldn’t be pretending I was Hemingway or Reed
If I could write a happy ending
To this wasted life I lead”

All the songs here are written by the band but the lyrics are by Rich the vocalist and he is very much in the tradition of a singer-storyteller. The songs have an auto-biographical feel to them and all are interesting in many different ways whether he’s trying to make some political point or excuse some drunken escapade in the dark past of days gone by. On ‘My Westferry Sweetheart’ he sings of the time

“I had a sweetheart who lived down on Westferry Road
On the banks of the Victorian Thames”
The music is soft and gentle and drifts along and as Rich sings it all sounds just about perfect as it could be till he leaves us with the line

“And you know how the story ends”

Letting us know how it all ended. The EP comes to an end with ‘Molly’ and again its a story of doomed and lost love upon the streets of London. This time the music begins with the harmonica and an Irish tune which soon morphs into a straight up folk ballad with more of what will, I am sure, become well known as their trademark humour. The words fit snugly together with a series of hilarious rhymes like “But I won’t be sailing like Sir Michael of Palin”.
(live version of ‘Molly’ recorded as a three piece last year)

Its a great song and brings down the curtain on a debut EP that is a credit to them. Very London-centric and nothing wrong with that at all. London is a big place and gives plenty of scope for stories about pretty much anything. In a city of millions of people its still hard to connect with people and even harder to hang onto those we love and cherish. 

The EP came out just a couple of weeks ago on the 22nd June and the Bhoys played the EP launch party to a packed audience at the Nambuca in north London. With great tunes and a catchyness about everything they do Man The Lifeboats have their fare share of problems with band members but with a settled crew on board now they look set for further and better things. With lyrics that tell stories about real heartfelt events that raise a smile and a hackle, when needed, along with some beautiful fiddle and mandolin melodies and a stomping beat Man The Lifeboats have created a sound that is pretty unique among the London folk and punk , and folk-punk, scene. Put it all together and you are sure of a blistering live experience. You can catch Man The Lifeboats soon playing as main support to those lovable Aussie Celtic-Punk rogues The Rumjacks at the New Cross Inn in South London on Monday 6th August (check out the Facebook event for that gig here). As someone said a ‘tonic for these troubled times’.

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EP REVIEW: PADDY’S UNDERGROUND PARTY PEOPLE- ‘Tell Your Ma’ (2018)

The debut release of pure, unadulterated Irish folk music from Norway’s Paddy’s Underground Party People. 

To most people on the ‘outside’ it would probably sound a bit strange to have a Irish/Celtic folk band in Norway but to those of us who follow the Celtic-Punk scene it’s no surprise at all as Norway is already home to one of the best, one of the most popular and one of the longest running Celtic-Punk bands in existence with The Greenland Whalefishers. The Whalefishers may have formed ten years after the Pogues, in 1994, but with their style of Celtic traditional music combined with British punk they are considered to be one of the founders of the modern day Celtic-Punk scene. So with that in mind it’s no coincidence that Paddy’s Underground Party People tip their hat in the Whalefishers direction with this their debut release. Formed in 2011, and with the current band members together since 2015, they hail from the southeastern city of Hamar. An interesting connection to England is that the diocese of Hamar was founded in 1152 by Nicholas Breakspear, who later went on to become Adrian IV the first only English Pope but that’s where any connection to England ends, for this band play good time old fashioned Irish music!

Paddy’s Underground Party People left to right: Jens Haugan- Guitar * Tove Brovold Vassaasen- Bass * Sindre Vikhagen Halvorsen- Mandolin, Vocals * Gaute Smestad Pedersen- Vocals * Bård Uri Jensen- Tin-Whistle, Vocals

The EP begins with ‘The Ballad Of Susan Grey’ and from the off its acoustic guitar and flute give it an Irish air while the song has a Irish air too. Many olden Irish songs often had dark subject matter but the jolly music meant the lyrics were over looked. The song tells of Susan Grey a serial killer of her many husbands who meets a grisly end. It follows in that Irish tradition with a jaunty tune and singalong chorus and while Gaute does have a strong Norwegian accent its sung perfectly well in English and he even manages a bit of an Irish twang.

The first of the EP’s two covers is ‘Star Of The County Down’. Recorded many’s a time from within the scene and in the larger folk scene it’s a well known song and dates back to the end of the 17th century. Written by Cathal McGarvey (1866–1927) the song is set in the Irish town of Banbridge in County Down, and tells of a young man infatuated with a beautiful young cailín (Irish for girl) and who is determined to marry her.

“From Bantry Bay up to Derry’s Quay,
From Galway to Dublin Town,
No maid I’ve seen like the fair cailín
That I met in the County Down.”

Paddy’s Underground Party People play it as a straight Irish folk cover and it’s a well decent stab at it. To be honest you can’t go wrong with this song and I’m sure it fills the dance floors of Hamar and beyond. Gaute is joined on vocals by Bård and his five year stint studying in Glasgow stands him in good stead as I originally thought it was a Scottish singer! The other cover follows and is ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’, another Irish pub standard known throughout the world these days. It’s another old song with no exact date of origin. Also known as ‘The Belle of Belfast City’ the song is believed to have originated as a children’s skipping song, or street song.

“I’ll tell me ma when I get home,
the boys won’t leave the girls alone;
They pulled me hair and they stole me comb,
but that’s all right till I go home.”

Again the Bhoys give it a hearty rendition though the music is a bit subdued in the mix it’s still ticks all the boxes and with that chorus leave all who hear it shouting and singing along with Bård expertly played flute. The final track of the EP is the excellent folky ‘Trekkspellterroristen’ and I had to check with the band what this meant as the song is sung in Norwegian. Thanks to Gaute for explaining that the word trekkspell is Norwegian for accordion and that the song is about when fighting breaks out at parties in rural parts of Norway it is broken up by ‘the accordion terrorist’ who gets people to forget the fighting and start singing and dancing. The Irish is toned down here but still comes through and I was right to sense it’s not a particularly serious song going by the tune!!

So a very nice start to the band’s career. It’s not unusual at all for a Celtic-Punk band to have a few covers on their debut release and as I’ve said before there’a very good reason why new bands outside of the Celtic diaspora tend to record from the same group of songs and that is because they are so God damn popular! I’ve been to enough nights in Irish pubs to know that it’s only when the band gets out the Dubliners songbook that the party really gets going! It’s four songs and twelve minutes of Irish folk as filtered through the folk traditions of Finland and further proof if it was ever needed that people around the world know a good tune when they hear it and I hope we hear much more from Paddy’s Underground Party People in the near future.

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EP REVIEW: BLACKBEARD’S TEA PARTY- ‘Leviathan!’ (2018)

The first new release from Blackbeard’s Tea Party in three years takes traditional songs and folk tunes about the whaling industry and gives them a heavy edge but with a playful arrangement and driving dance rhythms.

Blackbeard’s Tea Party have been together since 2009 and in that time became firm favourites on the English folk scene. An independent band with four albums to their name, Blackbeard’s Tea Party have also completed a number of successful UK headline tours. So it’s been a bit of a mystery as to why they went quiet on the recording front and this is their first release since Reprobates in 2015. They continued to tour and are still as popular as ever but in this game you have to have regular output otherwise there is always another new band waiting in the wings to take your place.

Anyroad they are back now and with this great EP celebrating the history of the whaling industry. Although whaling had existed for thousands of years it was in the 17th century that industrial whaling emerged with organised fleets that by the late 1930’s were killing more than 50,000 whales a year. Communities along the coast around the world have long histories of subsistence whaling and harvesting beached whales. On Leviathan! Blackbeard’s Tea Party play out the history of an industry that once made the fortunes of ports such as Hull, Whitby and Peterhead. Thousands relied upon the practise but it would eventually drive the species to the verge of extinction so much so that in the 1980’s it was banned though many countries still hunt whales under so called scientific purposes.

Blackbeards Tea Party from left to right: Liam ‘Yom’ Hardy – Drums * Dave Boston – Drums * Stuart Giddens – Lead Vocals, Melodeon * Laura Boston-Barber – Fiddle * Martin Coumbe – Guitar * Tim Yates – Bass

Leviathan! is the bands fifth studio release and even though only five songs its a mighty fine way to remind any fans who have lost touch that they are still around! The EP begins with the traditional folk song The Diamond’. Popularised by Scottish legends The Corries (check out their version here) the song first appeared on Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd’s 1957 album Thar She Blows! Lloyd recorded it again in 1967 for his album Leviathan! Ballads And Songs Of The Whaling Trade. I would guess these two releases have been very much influence on Blackbeard’s Tea Party.

On the song A.L. Lloyd commented on the Leviathan! album sleeve notes:

Sad events lie behind this most spirited of whaling songs. By the 1820s the relativity milder northern waters were fished clean, and whalemen were having to search in more distant corners of the Arctic, notably round the mighty and bitter Melville Bay in Northwest Greenland. In 1830, a fleet of fifty British whaleships reached the grounds in early June, a month before they expected. But the same winds that had helped them also crowded the Bay with ice floes and locked most of the fleet in, including the Diamond, the Resolution, the Rattler (not Battler) of Leigh (not Montrose), and the Eliza Swan. Twenty fine ships were crushed to splinters and many bold whalermen froze or drowned. The Eliza Swan was among those that got free and brought the sad news home. Our song must have been made only a season or two before that tragedy for the Diamond‘s maiden voyage was only in 1825. One wonders if the man who made the song was up in Melville Bay, the year of the disaster, and whether he was lost with his ship.

Blackbeard’s Tea Party have always been an innovative band and their version skates through English and Celtic folk music while adding some surprisingly modern touches while Stuart Giddens sumptuous (their description not mine!) vocals ably fit the music. His voice may not be that of a crooner but it is strong and versatile and reminiscent of folk singers of old but without the trademark finger in the ear. They follow this up with the first of two instrumentals and ‘DLFN’, written by the bands Laura Barber and Dave Boston is certainly a bit of a shock. With Blackbeard’s dark bite it chugs along with a real foot slamming beat. The fiddle shines throughout and only adds to the somber mood of the song. Next up is title track ‘Leviathan’, written by Giddens it’s a song that verges (or even passes!) on folk-punk and steams along at a mighty pace with Stuart telling the story of the albino sperm whale known as Mocha Dick that lived in the Pacific Ocean in the early 19th century and went on to inspire the story of Moby Dick by American writer Herman Melville in 1851. This song shows Blackbeard’s Tea Party in all their glory as story-tellers as all the finest folk musicians truly are. The song plays out the excitement of the hunt while never shirking from the blood thirsty reality of a whalers life at sea where these mighty creatures may at any moment strike back and take the ship down. We now have another Boston/ Barber instrumental in The Lost Triangle’. Again the fiddle shines and the darkness of the song evokes the bloody reality of life out at sea. At nearly seven minutes long the song is loud and bombastic and ends with a real doffed cap to the early days of English folk before speeding up again and ending with a real flourish reminiscent of 70’s folk/prog rock.. Leviathan! comes to an end with another traditional folk song, ‘Weary Whaling Ground’. The song is about whaling in Greenland during 1840-50. Again A.L. Lloyd recorded it for Leviathan! Ballads And Songs Of The Whaling Trade and his album notes sum up the feeling of the poor souls aboard ship better than anyone.

“Three emotions dominated the old time whalerman: exultion in the chase, a longing for home, and disgust at the conditions of his trade. This latter mood descended heaviest upon him when the fishing was poor and he became “whalesick” (like homesick, only sick for whales). The man who made the complaint for The Weary Whaling Grounds must have been very whalesick.”

Having added a second drum kit to the band it has given the band a much rougher and tougher edge and with dark material like this it works a treat giving it a doom and maybe even Gothic touch they never had before. Their may be only one new song here with lyrics but the band have turned out two extremely good original instrumentals and have taken two songs from relatively ancient times and breathed new life into them. That new song ‘Leviathan!’ shows the new found power of the band and their flair for storytelling which places them in a direct line from the likes of Ewan MacColl to today. There was a time when the folk purists (or snobs as we call them!) would have approved of Blackbeard’s Tea Party but maybe they are trying to distance themselves from the ‘party approved’ AOR folk of the likes of the Mumford’s but the move into darker territory suits them well.

Discography

Leviathan (2018) * Reprobates (2015) * Whip Jamboree (2013) * Tomorrow We’ll Be Sober (2011) * Heavens to Betsy (2009)

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For more on the sea why not dip your toe into our Classic Album Series review of ‘Steady As She Goes. Songs And Chanties From The Days of Commercial Sail’. Released in 1976 the album is dedicated to the workers of the sea. Undoubtedly hard and very often tyrannical under many a vicious Captain’s rule. The workers said “a song is as good as ten men” and the songs were used in the manner of field work song’s. These shanties tell the tales of loneliness, the families these men left behind and the daily hardships of an unkind sea and nautical life.

Many of the albums featured in the series (here) come with free downloads.

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

 Beer and Whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rock from Vancouver Island 5 piece The Grinning Barretts who deliver a range of originals from floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems!

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

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

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

“Billionaires paying millionaires to tell the middle class to blame the poor
To keep them from our guillotines, torches and pitchforks
Billionaires paying millionaires to lie right thru their teeth
Filling empty heads with ignorance to justify their greed”

I likes it a lot! ‘W&B’ carries on in the same vein with a story of friendship but told in The Grinning Barretts own indeterminable way

“When the pot is getting hotter or you’re only treading water
I’ll be a life boat and ferry you home
Fuck your fair-weather friends I’ll be there till the end
Drinking whisky and pissing on their bones”

It’s great stuff and again catchy as hell and with a real foot slappin’ beat to it. There are no namby-pamby lyrics or feelings here just words as normal working folk would speak them. This is NOT a safe space!! Pat’s growl fits the bill and the chugging guitar accompanies the pipes perfectly here. Next is ‘Kudatah’ and there’s the slightest ever tinge of a ska beat going on. Obviously these guys can’t leave it all behind. It works as well as it so often does in Celtic-Punk.

The only Celtic instrument on display are the pipes but these Grinning Barretts are definitely an Celtic-Punk band. The use of the pipes is so entwined with the music how could they be anything else. Check out their full concert video at the end of the review for further proof. Another great example is their first cover with ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’ as it’s never been played before. Something about this traditional Scots folk ballad just lends itself to Celtic-Punk and quite a few bands have covered it but The Grinning Barretts give it the full on punk rock treatment. They follow this up with a visit to Ireland and another, perhaps overdone, Celtic-punk standard with ‘Black Velvet Band’. The Bhoys adapt it to their own home and give it plenty of oompf and you may suspect a ballad is coming till the cobwebs are well and truly blown away and the song almost veers into metal but its the unmistakable tune of the original that shines through. We coming up to the final bend and its time for my favourite song and its an anthem dedicated to workers everywhere. A union song that would give The Dropkick Murphys a run for their money! ‘UFS’ is not just a union song though its a Join Your Union song. I come from a long line of militant trade unionists myself so love the sentiments here. If only we as workers understood our power is when we are together and that being in a union is a necessity these days. When you buy home insurance you don’t think your house is going to burn down and the same with joining the union you may think the bosses will always treat you fairly but history says your wrong. Do as The Grinning Beggars say and join a trade union today. Beers and cheers to Brooks Jamison for the superb guitar solo who delivered the goods in only three takes and asked only for beers for the pleasure. Finally The St Padraig’s EP ends with ‘To Your Name’. It’s the longest song here due mainly in part to Aaron Bergen’s fantastic bagpipe solo at the end of a classy punk rock number about always remembering you lost friends and comrades. 

“To your name, we raise a glass
To the miles that we walked together”

As I stated these are words from the heart and from the street not the coddled university’s where the pampered offspring of the middle classes turn their fury away from the real enemies and onto the working class who have never profited from anything but have always lost everything.

All together we have seven songs with five originals and some novel takes on a couple of standards that you will never have heard played like that! Not a band for the faint hearted folkie but if you love your Celtic-Punk played with passion and pride in their class and their music then this EP is for you. The Grinning Barretts will drink your beer, and you will like it.

(listen to the whole of The St. Padraigs EP below on the Bandcamp link)

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(full concert from last year at Logans in Victoria B.C. and as they say “Apologies for poor sound and dark lightning but it is a punk bar”)

EP REVIEW: UNDER A BANNER- ‘Riot’ (2018)

Fine purveyors of passionate, powerful and poetic folk-rock Under A Banner unveil their brand spanking new EP this week. 

Under A Banner have featured on these pages several times over the years and strangely, for a English band, they have managed to get here on the strength of their many releases rather than their live performances. Not to say they aren’t bloody brilliant live but that they have hardly ever played in London. We helped put them on once at the legendary Water Rats (where The Pogues played their debut gig) but i couldn’t make it leaving my only Under A Banner gig at a festival in Croydon a couple of years back. Needless to say they outstanding and I’ve tried several times since to catch them but to no avail.
The band hail from the West Midlands town of Wolverhampton and began life as a duo before slowly adding to the roster of musicians until they had gathered around them the core of what would be Under A Banner for quite a while. A heavy touring schedule and a very healthy relationship with their fans (one look at the bands social media shows how much love flows from the band to their fans and back again) has seen their star rise and rise all the time becoming more and more popular. The folk-punk scene in the Midlands has also played a large part in their popularity with bands like Ferocious Dog leading the way and others like The Silk Road, The Whipjacks and Headsticks who all know and support each other. Further proof, if needed, that while the Celtic/Folk-punk scene may not be massive in numbers the people who make it up are the best. Solidarity me Bhoys and Ghirls! With several releases under their banner (ahem!) including a bunch of singles and EP’s as well the albums The Ragged Rhythm of Rain in 2012, Close To The Clouds in 2014 and Wild Places in 2016. We reviewed Wild Places here and  most of their previous releases are available as Pay What You Like downloads on Bandcamp at the link at the bottom if you want to check them out.

 

So with a new band member in tow, new bassist Richard Corry formerly of The Whiskey Syndicate, Under A Banner returned in February this year with a new single and video for ‘Light Breaks Through’. The video was directed and edited by Nick J. Townsend and announced the unveiling of a Crowdfund campaign to raise the necessary readies to pay for the EP’s release. The bands fans came running and here all ready and delivered is the new five track EP which while sounding like the old Under A Banner hasn’t stood still and has taken the band into a much bigger sound.
At the head of it all are the words spun by singer/guitarist Adam
“We always seek to bring passion and power with what we do, although sometimes we just love to spin a good old yarn”
and therein lies the secret of Under A Banners success so far. It’s their ability to combine catchy tunes and stories (with bands like these I prefer to call them stories rather than lyrics as lyrics make them sound trivial at times) that have captured the folk-punk public.

The EP kicks off with the title track ‘Riot’ and with feedback and Richards pounding bass and its a heavier and harder hitting Under A Banner while still keeping their folkier sensibilities. They are constantly compared, especially by us, to New Model Army in the past but the new EP brings in influences as diverse as Anarcho-Punk and bands like The Stranglers, The Cult and Rush. We have said before that they are only a fiddle away from being the next great celtic-punk band but here Kat 70’s and 80’s inspired synth more than makes up for that. At a length of over six minutes the song never runs out of steam and on my first couple of listens I couldn’t believe it was that long as it sounded so short and snappy to me. Next is ‘The Wrong Hands’ and the sound is massive with one of many anthemic choruses on view here giving us all plenty of chances to stick our fists in the air!

“Power in the wrong hands”

Hard rock and synth launch ‘We Want Hope’ and here its the harder edged NMA that springs to mind and more great fist pumping choruses and words that reach you brain as well as your feet. The EP continues in the same vein with ‘Last Orders’ and the quality hasn’t waned and another corker with a all too brief folk/blues interlude before it rocks back into action. The EP ends with possibly Under A Banner’s greatest ever moment (so far!) with the amazing ‘Light Breaks Through’ and here they sound most like the old Under A Banner. Now this is what Folk-Punk should sound like people. Great meaningful lyrics that actually mean something accompanied by a mix of rock and folk that leads into yet another catchy chorus and a real foot/head tapper that should have the dance floor full when they play it. They may be compared to others but Under A Banner have only ever followed themselves.

The EP does have one extra song a radio friendly edit of title track ‘Riot’ at a shorter length of only five minutes. I prefer the longer version!
So what to make of the new direction? I love it! The harder and louder edge suits them and you still hear their folk influences throughout and I’m sure will signal the start of a new era in the band’s history. They are embarking on their most extensive tour to date taking in venues and festivals across the UK throughout the Spring and Summer so be sure to check out their web-site for tour dates, to be announced imminently! Anthemic, loud and heavy it’s the same Under A Banner only bigger and better!!

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  • We interviewed Under A Banner last year and it makes for a great read so check it out here and find out a bit more about the bands origins and influences

EP REVIEW: STEVE WHITE- ‘Fake News From Nowhere’ (2018)

Local folk-punk hero Steve White is back but without The Protest Family this time to cement his reputation as one of East London’s finest sweary guitar playing lefties!

This EP had almost slipped my memory when I bumped into Steve in the Leyton Orient Supporters Club bar. Trust me you’d need a drink after watching us this season! Anyway it reminded me that Steve had released a five track solo release and I promised him I’d get my thoughts onto here soon as I could.  Steve is the vocalist of one of London Celtic Punks favourite bands Steve White & The Protest Family. They have featured here a couple of times with album reviews and having played a few of our gigs but its been well over a year since the release of Protest For Dummies so something has been long overdue for this prolific band. Since that review the left has further entrenched itself in the backwardness of identity politics and the divide between the left and the class it’s suppose to represent has never been bigger. As I said then “It’s hard to be left-wing at the moment and certainly there is no joy in being so…” but that was before Jeremy rode over the hill on his white horse to save us. I’m not convinced but there you go. It’s a small light at the end of the tunnel and any hope is better than no hope. In a scene characterised by too serious po-faced lefties and hand wringing earnestness it’s heartening to find Steve White and his merry band still kicking out against the powers than be with their very own brand of bawdy, satirical, revolutionary socialist punk-folk-folk-punk music!

Steve has a certain knack for hitting home his points without that earnestness that puts so many people off. Not to say that the songs on here don’t make serious points or are even told in a serious manner as most are but its the way they are delivered that makes the difference and Steve White knows it.

Fake News From Nowhere was released the week after St. Patrick’s Day on 22nd March and has been released as a ‘Name Your Price’ download, more on that later but what better incentive do you need to get this? With several releases as Steve White And The Protest Family and couple as a solo artist Steve has been active on the London scene for a good few years and somehow finds the time away from his job as a firefighter.

Only One Team In East London

Fake News From Nowhere begins with ‘The Death Of Facts’ and the new modern way of media that sees facts making way for feelings and rumours. If people can still lose the argument while using facts than something is seriously wrong. On ‘Don’t Look Down’ the lyrics tell of the ‘I’m alright Jack’ way society has been moving for decades. Steve’s accent is propa Cockney here while the music is gentle. Like a lot of the bands songs the gentle front often hides a passion and call to arms. ‘If The Queen Had A Hammer’ is I think a full band song. It certainly sounds like it. Again the music has a gentle side to it while Steve hammers home a anti-monarchy message while still acknowledging that the Queen is still a human being.

“If the Queen had a hammer, would she hammer in the morning?
Would she hammer on the rich or on the poor men?
Would she hammer for change or for the status quo?
Would she hammer to remain or hammer to go?
Would she hammer with her head or hammer with her arse?
Would she hammer for the patriotic working class?
Would she hammer with her head or hammer with her feet?
Would she hammer on the metropolitan elite?”

Steve is a wonderful songwriter and the high point here is ‘Children In The Crosshairs’ with lyrics dealing with school shootings but not in as direct a way as you would maybe imagine. An intelligent and sensitive song that makes it’s point loud and clear. The final whistle on EP is for ‘A Song For St. Patrick’s Day’ and absolutely no surprises that it’s my favourite track here. Round every 17th of March English people are found bemoaning the fact that the Irish here celebrate St. Patrick’s Day while St. George’s (the patron Saint of England) Day shuffles by without anyone really doing anything. It turns out that St. George was in fact from the Middle-East so was in fact a refugee from his homeland.

“Each year on this day of March seventeen
A bigot will make a complaint
That in England no man of Irish descent
Will honour his host’s patron saint”

A great wee ditty that sees Steve accompanied on mandolin and will raise a smile I am sure. So another fine disc out of East London and from supporters of the best team in East London too. Five tracks that come in at a rather good twenty minutes and buzzes along nicely sitting. While the folk-punk scene does have a habit of espousing politics in a kind of virtue signalling way you just know that Steve and his merry band both live and breathe their beliefs. Some may not agree with everything they say but I’m sure we can all admire a band that not only packs a punch but also tickles your funny bone while doing it.

(you can have a listen to Fake News From Nowhere below on the Bandcamp player but seeing as its’s ‘Name Your Price’ why not just download the bloody thing!)

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You can catch Steve White And The Protest Family live in London this the weekend!

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

Teufelstanz are a Russian band that performs medieval music in modern times.

In Teufelstanz they play medieval bagpipes supported by various rhythms of the drums with deep resonant percussion. A unique sound they call ‘Alternative Medieval Music’.

If one of the aims of this site is to introduce people to new music then I can safely sit back with my feet up after this one I think. I can’t remember how i was introduced to Teufelstanz but I got a message just this morning from Bandcamp that they had a new release out. I rushed off my $ (yes one dollar) and sat back to take it all in.

Teufelstanz were formed in Moscow in the summer of 2009 when the drummer Konstruk-Thor left his previous band and gathered around him a bunch of musicians well known upon the Russian folk scene. Jaroz and folk-hero piper Haldavan took part in the new project and after a handful of gigs they expanded taking on two more pipers in the ‘great and horrible’ Bergtroll and Minoss as well as a drummer. Since those early days Teufelstanz have shared a stage with many of the best bands to pass through Moscow like the Dropkicks Murphys and Irish celtic-metallers Cruachan. They have released a bunch of singles and three albums, the last of which, XIII, came out last December but sadly passed us by.

(you can listen/buy all the three previous Teufelstanza album’s here and help to keep this great band on the road) 

Their new EP, Carmina Tristia, was released last week and was recorded and mixed by Bergtroll from the band and an awesome job he has done. It must be hard to get the sound right for one bagpiper but three!!! How to describe this band. Now I haven’t dived too deeply into their back catalogue but on Carmina Tristia the bands own description of themselves as ‘alternative medieval music’ is spot on but I’d maybe go so far as to call them celtic-goth as well.

The EP begins with the title track ‘Carmina Tristia’ and unlike a lot of their previous work its on the slow side of things. Medieval group chants over pipes and drums its a great song and the added bonus of a string section all makes for something very special and a must have for any pipe fans. The words are in Russian but the title means ‘The Dire’ and tells of a country that has lost in war with some pretty downright and suitably gloomy lyrics.

“Our rivers are poor in water,
Our windows do not see the day,
Our morning looks like a night,
Well, and the night is for me”

The second song is ‘The Rains Of Casta Mere’ and again its a total surprise. Done almost entirely on piano with McArrow’s accompanying voice. It’s a emotional ride and beautifully done.

“Yes now the rains weep o’er his hall,
And not a soul to hear”

It may be familiar to some of you in that it’s taken from the TV series Game Of Thrones and has appeared several times throughout it’s run. The final track here is the instrumental ‘Der Finne’ and only further cements this EP’s place in my brain as ‘celtic-goth’ as its performed on that most Gothic sounding instrument of all- the cello. The song was originally performed by the similar German band Varius Coloribus as a bagpipe song (check it out here). The song once again is beautifully done and with the backing of a string section and is wonderfully understated.

So only three songs to report on and apart from that title track perhaps not much to interest your average celtic-punk rocker but there’s plenty here to intrigue and to whet your interest to check out their back catalogue as well. Any band with three bagpipers is bound to be worth looking out for and with the EP available for just one measly dollar its well worth a shot in the dark.

(listen to Carmina Tristia first before you buy at the Bandcamp link below)

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

All the way from Argentina it’s the new EP from Raise My Kilt. Celtic-Punk that is 100% attitude and  100% fun!

Well what can we say except that its become common these days for bands in the celtic-punk scene to schedule their releases around St. Patrick’s day and 2018 has been no different and we have been overwhelmed here at London Celtic Punks with both the number and the quality of recent releases. One such band is relatively new to me. Raise My Kilt hail from Buenos Aires in Argentina and are one of a handful of bands ion that country playing celtic music. Last year they self-released their debut EP, Gaitas And Tanos, which received a great review over at Celtic Folk Punk And More (here) which brought them to many people’s attention and thank Heavens they did. The title of the EP refers to Gaitas which is a local Argentinian word for people from the celtic nation of Galicia and also the word for Bagpipes while Tanos is the local word for Italian people and as the band are all  of Italian and Spanish descent.

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

Their new EP, A New Tartan, consists of six songs and similar to that debut has a fine balance of traditional folk songs and original compositions. While some may roll their eyes at some of the bands choice of covers its important to remember that not everyone has grown up on these songs and while I may have first heard ‘Dirty Old Town’ in the womb I respect everyone who chooses to do their own version of it. As long they inject it with a bit of life and a bit of their own personality then Good Luck to them. Its also worth remembering that this is not for our market here it’s for their own country where many wont have heard them before.

Raise My Kilt have trodden a similar path to many of their contempories in the celtic-punk scene in that a bunch of friends in the Buenos Aires punk and hardcore scene had started to listen to some traditional folk music and before they knew it an idea to start a band had formed. To take the trad folk of Irish legends like The Dubliners and The Chieftains and to mix in the energetic and raucous sounds of Celtic-punk legends like the Murphys, McKenzies and Mollys. That was October 2013 and little more than a year later the band played their debut show. With over three years of shows behind them we would much rather be reviewing an album but I suppose a EP will have to do… for now!

The EP kicks off with the title track, ‘A New Tartan’, and if you like bagpipes then this is the band for you. Obvious comparisons to major league hitters like The Real McKenzies and Pipes Or Pints but these guys have their own take on things too. The drone of the pipes begins the song and its a sound that fills my heart. You can hear why the sassenach would often run from it in battle or why you would follow it into battle. The band chip in half way through and run it down as an instrumental trad punk number. Now I was expecting more of the pipes’n’punk but ‘New Arcadia’ takes me by surprise and is a much more trad folk-punk number with the banjo leading and some ace gang vocals. To top they close out the track with ‘John Ryan’s Polka’. This song may have been a better choice to close the EP but what the hell do I know. No pipes in that number but they are back for a healthy version of ‘Dirty Old Town’. Chugging guitars and them wonderful pipes give it the Raise My Kilt stamp and yeah it may be done to death here but fecking hell when it’s played this good you’ll forget you ever heard it before. After all Ewan MacColl who wrote the song hated The Pogues version so whose to say anything! Again they surprise you with ‘1982’ up next. Played as a a straightforward punk rock number with the pipes coming in and out its catchy as hell and a real foot tapper. A great song and shows the bands versatility in the different strands of celtic-punk on display. Nearing the end and we get a celtic cover of the Cock Sparrer favourite ‘We’re Coming Back’. The banjo and pipes accompany on a song that I’m sure will have any dance floor filling. The EP comes to an end with a fast and furious version of the Scottish anthem ‘Scotland the Brave’ that would have many a other band diving for cover.

With the recent retirement and somewhat resurrection of Black Tartan Clan and bands like Krakin’ Kellys and The Clan raising the pipes throughout Europe it would seem that Bagpipes in the celtic-punk scene have not gone away. Some would say that the sound may be an acquired taste but when you have band’s that really care about how they use the instrument in their songs it really makes a huge difference. These are not just punk bands with a piper attached playing along to the tune these are songs where the pipes are an integral part of the song every bit as much as say the drums or guitar are. Raise My Kilt are a solid addition to the worldwide celtic-punk scene and as one of only a handful of bands in the South American continent playing celtic-punk we ought to get behind them and show them our support. Here they have only whetted our appetite for a full length release and I for one cannot wait to hear it.

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

We called In For A Penny the hottest new Celtic-punk band of 2017 and with their new EP that came out for St. Patrick’s week they only cement that view in our eyes!

One of the highlights of 2017 amongst all the album releases from the ‘superstars’ of celtic-punk was the discovery of a new band out of Savannah in Georgia in the USA. In For A Penny hadn’t been going very long and both their releases of 2017 both featured high in the upper echelons of our Best Of Albums and EP’s of the year.

So it was then could they keep it up? Well on the evidence of their EP which hit the streets of Georgia last week then the answer is a resounding yes. With their previous release they have trodden a similar path with sometimes an equal amount of Irish standards and self -penned songs. Needless to say I much prefer their own songs. While they do play the standards in their indomitable way I much prefer to hear bands play and record their own material. A perfect example is their last album One More Last Hurrah! which has the perfect mix of covers and originals. You can still download the album for free or as the lads put it

“Don’t wanna pay nuthin? Cool, download it and enjoy. Think you wanna toss us a couple of bucks to help support our Irish punk habit, great. Want to give us one million dollars… well, you get the idea”.

A fantastic album recorded in just 7 (seven!) hours in in the back room of The Sand Bar on Tybee Island, GA. Not that you’d notice mind as the sound is fantastic and if you need to know anything just think that in a year of album release from the Murphys, Mollys, Flatfoot, Tossers, McKenzies and many more established and well known bands we placed it as #8 in the years album releases.

Here on Sometimes It’s Better To Not the band do not disappoint and all the songs are written by the band themselves. Irish-American Sean McNally is both songwriter and lyricist for In For A Penny and in him they have found someone who has his finger right on the nations Irish-American community. Hard to believe he first picked up a mandolin in anger in 2014 but after only a few open mic performances Sean soon realised that the response he was getting to stripped down cover’s of The Dubliners and The Dropkick Murphys on just mandolin and vocals was so great then the next step must be to form a band. Roping in old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums and Jeremy Riddle on guitar and Sean’s son Bryce on bass In For A Penny took their home state by storm and judging by the wider celtic-punk media they have taken everywhere else by storm too.

This EP, Sometimes It’s Better To Not, is only four tracks long but sails in at nearly twenty minutes long. In For A Penny while they don’t go in for short songs they also know when to bring the curtain down so the EP never drags on. Sean’s gravelly yet distinctive voice again shines through and it’s incredible to think that the whole thing started off as just a jam but within a few days the band had taken Sean’s melodies and turned them into what we have here. The EP begins with ‘Before The Devil’ and it’s unmistakable In For A Penny. For a band with such a short time span they have really nailed their sound. With Bryce, bassist and Sean’s son, having moved to Colorado Matthew Price has been filling in and opens the EP off nicely before the band join in and it’s a fast, danceable number catchy as hell and as pretty the template for celtic-punk to these big ears. A story of redemption and trying to steer clear of you know.

(the bands submission for last years The Salty Dog Cruise)

On ‘Broken’ Bryce returns for a song with him recording his bass bits at home and then sending it on to Sean to mix. Bryce played their recent St. Patrick’s shows so maybe they could go all Ned’S Atomic Dustbin and have two bassists! With a opening that sounds like a Irish rebel song it soon changes to into a track telling the tale of ‘every man’. The homeless, lost and broken in society. A brilliant track that ends on a positive note of hope. Great words and music. The EP’s epic is ‘Dancing With The Stars’ at not far off six minutes! A slower song than usual but with an intensity that makes it seem faster. The song builds and builds and amazing to think theirs only four fella’s playing here. A real foot-tapper and at times could veer off in metal but they keep it subdued and in my opinion just right.

The EP ends with the standout track next ‘Your Claddagh Heart’. Johnny Piper of London Celtic Punks faves Alternative Ulster guests on bagpipes on this one and really makes the song shine. Sending his pipe track over to Sean from New York like Bryce did making this EP certainly wasn’t a easy process.  Dedicated to Sean’s Mrs it’s a lovely song and though it’s sentimental as feck it’s not gushing and I reckon the kind of song we’d all secretly like to write for our loved ones.

“when I said I love you, I meant forever”.

Johnny’s pipes are perfect and again it’s a fairly lengthy (for celtic-punk anyway) song at just a few seconds under five minutes but still the only thing i got left to say is the EP ends all to quickly. So there you go, yet another contender for our Best Of charts from these extremely talented Bhoys from Georgia. Sadly Sean is working away from home for a few months after St Patrick’s is over so this will be the last we hear of them for a while but plenty of plans are afoot on their return so don’t let this great band slip from your thoughts. They will be back!

(you can listen to the whole of Sometimes It’s Better To Not before you buy on the Bandcamp player player before you buy. G’wan it’s only 5 bucks!)

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The Bhoys over at Mersey Celt Punks beat everyone to the first review of Sometimes It’s Better To Not and is well worth looking at for another opinion. It’s a great site and well worth subscribing to so check it out here

EP REVIEW: TULLAMORE- ‘Déš An Pr’i Strà, Déš An Int ál Bar’ (2018)

Italian Celtic-Punk from the swamp influenced by the Dropkick Murphy’s, Flogging Molly, The Tossers, beer and a certain brand of Irish whiskey!

Tullamore EP

Tullamore were founded in northern Italian city of Pavia in 2007 and this EP is released to celebrate their tenth anniversary together. The EP’s title translated to English means ‘Ten Years On The Streets, Ten Years At The Bar’ and is pretty apt for a band named after one of Ireland’s premier whiskeys! The original idea being to bring together the traditional folk of the Celtic nations with good old fashioned Italian punk rock. The first incarnation of the band were together three years and released their first demo in 2010. Four songs that included the first song the band ever wrote, ‘Sogno l’Irlanda’ (‘I Dream Of Ireland’), the first song that Tullamore ever wrote and which these days they end all their concerts. As is the way with most bands members come and go and with a few changes in personnel it was decided that the band should move towards a more powerful celtic-punk sound with Albe abandoning electric guitar in favour of the mandolin and Iora becoming the bands vocalist leaving the bass in the hands of Sandrone, and at the end of 2011 Perni joins the band on electric guitar. In January 2013 Tullamore released their first EP of seven songs that showed the band’s potential and hit the streets running. Fast celtic-punk sung in Italian that got a great reception on release and is now available as a Free Download/Pay What You Want on Tullamore’s Bandcamp page- link below.

More band members came and went and the band began to play and tour a bit more often and started to make a name for themselves outside their home area. In October 2016 the band released their debut album titled ‘Palude’ (-‘Swamp’) and again it received plaudits from across the celtic/folk-punk scene. Now with a fiddle player added to the mix and even the odd song in English the LP is a successful mix of fast but not too heavy punk rock and trad Irish tunes. With a strong anti-fascist sentiment throughout the album the band pay tribute to freedom fighters around the world and produced a very good album of celtic-punk with their own sound.

And so the Tullamore adventure continues and at the beginning of 2017 original member Misu leaves  leaving Perni on guitar and Bert is recruited on accordion. Today’s Tullamore are raring to go and to celebrate ten years on the road they have recorded this EP of five songs with three unreleased collaborations with friends, a cover and a re-recording of that first ever song.

Déš An Pr’i Strà, Déš An Int ál Bar begins with that original song ‘Sogno l’Irlanda’ and accordion kicks us off before the band jump in and its fast and furious music made for the dance floor. The balance between celtic and punk is just right and they are quite right to be proud of their first ever song. They follow this with the first of their collaborations with Bebe of Livorno based streetpunkers Urban Vietcong taking over on vocals but with a fantastic gang chorus of

“30 years old, another victim here’s to you, fire of freedom”

with the whole band singing along. The song is about the life of Mairéad Farrell. She was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army who was executed in Gibralter in 1988 during a British Army operation aimed at preventing the bombing of the ceremonial changing of the guard. A fitting tribute. A documentary well worth checking out is Fourteen Days which examines the events that began with the SAS operation in Gibraltar that left three members of the IRA unit dead, including Mairéad and the chain of events that followed leaving a further nine people dead and more than 50 injured. The film is on YouTube here but for how long is anyone’s guess. The series of events would go on to define the war in Ireland for generations to come.

Next up is ‘Pronti ad Offendere’ (-‘Ready To Offend’) and features Alex Alesi on vocals and shows, like all the best celtic-punk bands, a more gentler side to Tullamore before the band launch into more spirited and manic celtic-punk. While the bands music has seen a softening Iora’s vocals remain firmly embedded in the punk scene giving Tullamore a much harder edge than many fellow celtic-punk bands. Rowing towards shore we have ‘Ribelle Senza un Perché’ (-‘Rebel Without a Why’) which again features a guest vocalist with Giulio from fellow Italian punk’n’Oi! band 5MDR. It’s all great fun and made for the dance floor before the Bhoys wrap it up with a cover of the auld Irish rebel song ‘Come Out You Black and Tans’. Sometimes it takes a non-Irish band to inject some life into a song and Tullamore certainly do that here. The song may be nearly 100 years old and covered by many in the folk scene but here its given a lift with Perni singing the verses with the band joining in the chorus over the snap of the drum to keep beat and get your Irish blood pumping! The lads have been over to Ireland countless times including last years celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising making friends young and old. A inspiring band!

Tullamore standing from the left: Fra (fiddle), Teo (bass), Santo (drums) and Perni (guitar). Crouched from the left: Bert (accordion), Iora (vocals) and Albe (mandolin)

Released last week this is a fantastic EP and a great way to celebrate your anniversary. As everywhere these days there are some fantastic Italian celtic-punk bands and the one thing I have noticed is that they all manage to bring their own sound to the genre and Tullamore are no different. Brilliant band with sound politics and one to mark out for greater things.

(you hear all of Tullamore’s great  EP for **FREE** before you buy by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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EP REVIEW: THE DREADNOUGHTS- ‘Foreign Skies B Sides’ (2018)

Four songs from one of the most original bands around that didn’t make it onto last years album but were still good enough to put out as an EP.

As their by line goes The Dreadnoughts are one part roaring sea shanty, one part haunting folk melody, and a solid chaser of gut-crunching street punk and that is as good a description of them as you could ask for! The Dreadnoughts are truly one of the biggest and most popular folk-punk bands in the world and they built up their audience and reputation from years of absolutely constant touring and four stunning album’s that only cemented their place in our hearts. Formed in the Downtown Eastside area of Vancouver,  British Columbia, Canada in 2016 from the ashes of popular Irish-punk band Siobhan they changed and adapted their range of influences and soon they had become one of the cities best live bands. After taking on their home town and then Canada it was then time to spread their wings and they soon became a regular feature on the European gig circuit playing everywhere from England to Russia and in between. They didn’t quite leave behind their Irish roots but as the albums flowed it became less of the focus on them and from Legends Never Die in 2007 to Foreign Skies last year they have added the traditional folk music of just about every European country they have visited to the mix and while they still play with the wild abandon of the old days their is much more to them now than just celtic-punk.

Foreign Skies came out at the beginning of last November and takes all those musical influences and again mixes them all up but this time presents them in a concept album about the First World War that is both moving and poignant but, dare I say, also great fun to listen to. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes acapello even with Irish, English and Eastern European folk and polka’s throughout. It could certainly be described as epic in my view.

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS REVIEW OF FOREIGN SKIES (DECEMBER 2017)

This year gave us the ambitious ‘concept’ album, Foreign Skies, from Canada’s own Dreadnoughts. It was released to mark the 100th anniversary of the first world war (yeah, I know, the Great War ran from 1914-1918, so that includes 1917!), and features twelve original tracks all based on events, people and places that were part of that war. There are a few standout tracks, notably; ‘Daughters of the Sun’, ‘Anna Maria’, ‘Jericho’ and ‘Black Letters’. The rest is all good with the usual fantastic musicianship we’ve come to expect from the Dreadnoughts. The subject matter does make it a rather sombre listening experience, and while the feeling/belief behind the album is admirable, there is no getting away from the subject matter. An interesting work, but it won’t get too many airings at parties over the festive season.

The album shows a side of The Dreadnoughts we had never seen before. You wouldn’t think their last album was called Uncle Touchy Goes To College would you? Have they matured? Well on this certainly but I very much doubt we have seen the last Dreadnought song about apple love and cider drinking.

Here we have four songs released on January 10th that didn’t quite make the cut on Foreign Skies. The band give no explanation as to why except to say they “still think they are pretty good and so we are sharing them with you”. Having listened to them the one thing I can report is that they weren’t dropped because of their quality they are as good on anything on the finished article but I suppose they were dropped to not fitting the scope of the album.

We start of with ‘Top Of The Hill’ which is the follow up to ‘Bay of Suvla’ from the album. Written by guitarist Nicholas Smyth it’s a five minute epic of a song taking in many of those influences already mentioned. A driving forceful rock number that is breathlessly typical Dreadnought territory.

“Faces down, eyes to front
you’ll get what you need boys
You’ll get what you want
fingers hard on biting steel
till theirs nothing left to feel
Summer rain gonna set you free
bury the ashes under the sea
and the dawn will break across your skin
And wash away your sin”

It is set during the Battle of Gallipolli. The battle took place only a few miles from the site of the ancient city of Troy but the horrors unleashed in that battle rivalled anything seen then or since. Imagine spending eight months in a trench dug under some cliffs at constant risk from snipers, suffering from dysentery spread by flies hopping from decomposing bodies to your food. The battle was fought in modern-day Turkey but in 1915 it was part of the Ottoman Empire who were fighting alongside Germany. The plan was to land at Gallipolli and take the capital Istanbul. The plan did not work. In fact it was a disaster leaving over 200,000 Allied casualties with many deaths coming from disease. The number of Turkish deaths is not clear but it is generally accepted that they far exceeded 200,000. Next up is ‘Poor Michael’ a song about two blackbirds singing to a soldier ion France. The song is sung acapello without backing. This is something The Dreadnoughts can claim credit for within the celtic-punk scene with many bands now following their lead and including one or two tracks within their sets. As you can imagine it’s a beautiful song with strong voices and even more powerful words.

‘Cold Rain And Snow’ is up next and its a fast and catchy number written by the bands lead singer Drew Sexsmith who was always known as the Dread Pirate Druzil on previous albums. Like on the album the lyrics belie the upbeat music and I’m sure it will take a few listens for the words to penetrate. The EP comes to an end with ‘The Best Of ‘Em’ again written by Nicholas Smyth and its simply Drew accompanied by piano and a faint accordion. The song is a tribute to the best of them. Those that didn’t come home. I can certainly see why The Dreadnoughts put this EP out. They are four excellent songs that deserved a release but they must come accompanied by the album so if you haven’t got it yet then I suggest you get onto it as soon as possible!

(listen to the whole EP below on the Bandcamp player)

Discography

Legends Never Die- July 2007 (Golden Tee Record) * Victory Square- June 2009 (Stomp Records) * Polka’s Not Dead- October 2010 (Stomp Records) * Uncle Touchy Goes To College- 2011 (Bellydrop Records) * Foreign Skies- November 2017 (Self Released)

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LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2017!

Yes I know it only seems like five minutes since the last one but it’s that time of year again when we give you, for what it’s worth, our opinion on who made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over 2017. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. So read on to find out who came #1! Remember though this is only our opinion and these thirty album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

1. FLATFOOT 56 (Chicago)- ‘Odd Boat’  here

2. THE TOSSERS (Chicago)- ‘Smash The Windows’  here

3. THE BIBLECODE SUNDAYS (London) – ‘Walk Like Kings’  here
4. THE PEELERS (Canada)- ‘Palace Of The Fiend’ here
5. FEROCIOUS DOG (England)- ‘Red’  here

6. BLACK WATER COUNTY (England)- ‘Taking Chances’  here

7. THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS (Germany)- ‘Sign of the Fighter’  here

8. IN FOR A PENNY (USA)- ‘One More Last Hurrah’ here

9. LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS (Brittany)- ‘Breizh Anok’  here

10. MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS (England)- ‘As The Tide Turns’  here

11. KILMAINE SAINTS (USA)- ‘Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos’  here

12. ORTHODOX CELTS (Serbia)- ‘Many Mouths Shut’  here

13. UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS (Italy)- ‘Handmade’  here

14. THE SILK ROAD (England)- ‘S/T’ here 

15. FLOGGING MOLLY (USA)- ‘Life Is Good’  here

16. THE LUCKY PISTOLS (USA)- ‘Where The Orioles Fly’  here

17. THE REAL McKENZIES (Canada)- ‘Two Devils Will Talk’  here

18. DRUNKEN DOLLY (Netherlands)- ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ here

19. CASSIDY’S BREWERY (Serbia)- ‘One Brew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’  here

20. CRAIC (USA)- ‘Sounds Of Vandemark’  here

21. THE MOORINGS (France)- ‘Unbowed’ here

22. JOLLY JACKERS (Hungary)- ‘Blood Sweat and Beer’ here

23. THE SCARLET (Hungary)- ‘Hardfolk Shanties’ here

24. THE DISTILLERY RATS (Germany)- ‘Tales From County Whiskey’ here

25. CELKILT (France)- ‘Stand’ here

26. DROPKICK MURPHYS (Boston)- ’11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’  here

27. O’HAMSTERS (Ukraine)- ‘Где бы мы ни бывали’  here

28. SONS OF O’FLAHERTY (Brittany)- ‘The Road Not Taken’  here

29. THE BABES (London)- ‘Greetings From London’  here

30. CHEERS! (Czech Republic)- ‘Daily Bread’ here

Just bubbling under:

THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM (USA), GHOSTTOWN COMPANY (Germany) McSCALLYWAG (Netherlands)

No surprise here at all as all four admins voted #1 for Flatfoot 56 and their utterly brilliant ninth album. Not only that but we also all gave second spot to The Tossers, making it a Chicago #1 and #2! The year began with news of two new Dropkick Murphys albums coming but we only got the one and it met with, well quite a muted response to be honest. Saying that they were fantastic live and they certainly added a new dimension to these new songs when played in the flesh. The list leans heavy towards the bands from these shores it has to be said but it was always going to be with bands we get to see live regularly. It’s especially fitting to see The Bible Code Sundays in there too. In a year when every ‘big’ celtic-punk band released an album the competition was great so well done to all. Keep them coming. If you are not here then it just means we didn’t all agree or even all hear it and maybe we didn’t receive it too. The amount of debut albums from loads of these bodes well for both the scene here and internationally with a great mix of bands from thirteen countries.

BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Taking Chances’

This was a very hard category to fill with so many new bands arriving on the celtic-punk scene this past year. Soooo many to choose from but in the end we pumped for our very own Black Water County who just pipped Cassidy’s Brewery and In For A Penny to the title!

1. BLACK ANEMONE (Sweden)- ‘In It For Life’  here

2. RAIN IN SUMMER (Indonesia)- ‘Discordant Anthem From The Gutter’  here

3. IN FOR A PENNY (USA)- ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’  here

4. THE BOTTLERS (Australia)- ‘The Bottlers’  (here)

5. BLACK RAWK DOG (Indonesia)- ‘Suburban’s Folk Stories’  here

6. BogZH CELTIC CATS! (Brittany)- ‘Kazh al Lagenn’  here

7. THE CRAZY ROGUES (Hungary)- ‘Rebels’ Shanties’  here

8. THE McMINERS (Brazil)- ‘Tales of Betrayal and Deceit’  here

9. BORN AGAIN HEATHENS (USA)- ‘Born Again Heathens’  here

10. THE DEAD MAGGIES (Australia)- ‘Wild Dogs And Flannies’  here

Stand out winner here from Sweden’s Black Anemone which none of us were sure was either a big EP or a small album so we gave it the benefit of the doubt and placed it in here. Outstanding! Two representatives of Indonesia’s fantastic celtic-punk scene made up for no album releases from there last year and one band from a Celtic nation with the BogZH Celtic Cats! The Bottlers sneak in as they only sent it to us the week before Christmas. Glad they did though.

1. DECLAN O’ROURKE- ‘Chronicles Of The Great Irish Famine’  (here)

2. ShamROCKS- ‘Ye Ould Chariot’ EP  (here)

3. CRIKWATER- ‘Crikwater’  (here)

4. BEOGA- ‘Before We Change Our Mind’

5. FOLLOW THE CROWS- ‘West is East’ EP  (here)

6. PLASTIC PADDY- ‘Lucky Enough’  (here)

7. DAMIEN DEMPSEY- ‘Soulson’

8. GALLEY BEGGAR- ‘Heathen Hymns’  (here)

9. I DRAW SLOW- ‘Turn Your Face To The Sun’

10. ANTO MORRA- ‘From The Vaults’

Absolutely no question who romped home here. from the first time I ever heard Declan O’Rourke’s monumental album Chronicles Of The Great Irish Famine I was simply blown away. I simply cannot recommend it enough. Go and acquire a copy now. A mix of folk and trad makes up the rest of the list with a special mention for Ukrainian band ShamROCKS who play Irish folk as if they were naturals! We would like to feature more trad and folk on these pages in the future hopefully. Also Vince Cayo had a fecking brilliant album but was neither celtic-punk nor folk. Was tempted to make a separate list just for him!

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

This use to be the Celtic Folk Punk And More Best Celtic Punk Web-Site award so often did they use to win but last year it went to the new kid on the block, our good mates over at Mersey Celt Punks. Well we were in a bit of a quandary about who would win this week but then in the last few weeks of the year the Mersey Bhoys upped their game and won a unanimous vote. They finally started to use their Web-Site (here) and published a whole host of great reviews and things like a events/gig section. You can also join in their fun and games at Twitter and Facebook and we heartily recommend you do.

So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other celtic-punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the four admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up over several pints of Guinness in Mannions. Not all of us heard the same albums so like all Best Of’s ours is subjective.

CARLTON HUNT

Of course we cannot go any further without mention of the saddest news of the year. That of the passing of Carlton , the drummer of The Bible Code Sundays. A friend of London Celtic Punks and an absolute diamond stand up guy he will be forever sadly missed by all who met him. We are grateful To Ronan for penning a few words for him.

We lost Carlton on 3rd November 2017 unexpectedly and it has left a massive hole in our family. Carlton joined The BibleCode Sundays some twelve years ago when we were still called Slainte.

His work ethic was second to none, he even dragged us into the studio to record our first CD, he did a lot of pushing in the early days and the Lord knows we needed it!

He was always the first to say yes to any gig, whether it was a small Irish pub like The Old Crown in Hayes or The Shawl or whether it was some of our bigger gigs. Over the years we played some fantastic gigs and venues, such as The Royal Albert Hall, New York’s Beacon Theatre, The House of Blues in Boston, Shepherds Bush Empire, The Roundhouse, Glasgow Barrowlands, Indigo at The O2, Glastonbury Festival, Finsbury Park, London Irish, on the pitch at Twickenham Stadium and at Celtic Park (the night Celtic beat Barcelona). We’ve played with Elvis Costello, The Dropkick Murphys, The Wolfetones, John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd, the Saw Doctors and he even got to realise a dream when we shared a stage with Thin Lizzy. They were minus legends Phil Linnot and Gary Moore but this mattered not to Carlton, his hero Brian Downey was still behind the drums. Carlton got to meet his idol and even got some Thin Lizzy drumsticks as souvenir, he was like an excited little kid that night. We did TV appearances on Sky Sports, BT Sport and even a live St Patrick’s Day performance on BBC’s The One Show.

We got to travel around on trips and tours all around the UK and Ireland as well as Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA to mention a few. This was all just topping up the stamps on his passport that he had accrued in his days with Bad Manners, Feast of Fiddles and The Melody Fakers and many more as he spent so many years on the London Irish music scene.

Not many would know that he also wrote poetry and song lyrics, they are very clever with pun-tastic wordplay and generally came out sounding like Bernard Cribbins songs with titles like ‘Breakfast Epiphanies’ or the Brighton-themed song ‘All Things Brighton Beautiful’. He used to always say

“I try to be serious but the humour always takes over”

He did, however, manage to pen two of the best songs on our latest album, he was very proud of his songs ‘Disorganised Crime’ and the beautiful ‘Clouds’. Drummers writing songs?! Whatever next?! He truly was the engine room of the band, a quiet and gentle man off stage who turned into a one man wrecking ball when he was sat behind his drum kit.

Things will never be the same without him but he would want us to and we will carry on making music and playing his songs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on drums.. Mr Carlton Hunt

This is the 5th year of us making these lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous Best Of’s then just click on the link below the relevant year.

We are not alone in doing these Best Of lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

FOLK’N’ROCK

PADDYROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

SHITE’n’ONIONS

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

CELTICPUNK.PL

remember any views or comments we would love to hear them…

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2018

EP REVIEW: FLATCAPS & FISTICUFFS- ‘Candy Cane’ (2017)

Twas only a couple of weeks ago that we reviewed Flatcaps & Fisticuffs debut EP and low and behold straight after another one lands on our doorstep. This time it’s a Christmas themed romp and it’s also available as a *FREE* download!

We kind of compared them to Matilda’s Scoundrels in our review of their debut EP Raspberry Cheesecake (here) but releases in a month is even beyond Matilda’s level of prolificness! Poor Bing will be rotating in his grave as the Bhoys annihilate the old-school Christmas banger ‘White Christmas’ as your starter, lay into ‘Good King Wenceslas’ as the chicken-in-turkey mains and then shock us all, especially me, with a cover of Run-D.M.C.’s ‘Christmas In Hollis’ bringing down the curtain as the classic Christmas Pudding dessert. A trio of tunes that will be sure to get your nan swinging from a low-hanging branch of the Christmas tree!

(as filmed in one take!)

You can download Candy Cane for free from SoundCloud or the Flatcaps & Fisticuffs website but you can play it using the Soundcloud player below.

Download Candy Cane

*FREE* FromTheBand *FREE*

Contact Fisticuffs & Flatcaps

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Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

GET IN THE FESTIVE SPIRIT WITH THIS CHRISTMAS CELTIC PUNK TOP-TWENTY!

EP REVIEW: FLATCAPS & FISTICUFFS- ‘Raspberry Cheesecake’ (2017)

*FREE* download of the debut release of delicious country Folk-Punk from Flatcaps & Fisticuffs from the town of Berkhamsted!
Ukulele, mandolin, guitar, cajon, trumpet and a fragrant hint of rap!
You know when you have made it as a band when you find other bands being compared to you and so it is with Matilda’s Scoundrels and Flatcaps & Fisticuffs. They are by no means clones but I think you could easily bracket them in the the same style of folk-punk with a bit of celtic-ness! I literally found out about them this week so made the short leap to the free download and bloody loved it so thought I’d get in touch with the guys and find out what’s the score with them. Long, long ago is how it usually starts but not this time! Duncan the mandolin player had just arrived in England from South Africa and on meeting Ben the guitar player in a pub and over a few (!) beers it was suggested they start a band. The hardest thing about starting a band, I’m reliably informed, is to find a drummer but they already knew one so it wasn’t too long before they progressed from playing open mic gigs in pubs around Hertfordshire to making their own folk punk sound with uke, mando and other standard band instruments.
The band hail from Berkhamsted, a historic market town in Hertfordshire in the south of England. Now any new appearance of a band in England even remotely sounding just a little celtic-punk is a joyous event to us and so we were more than a little excited to press play and see if they warranted all this excitement.
…well I am glad to say it’s a blooming excellent EP and you’d have to be a right mug not to take them up on their fantastic offer of a free download of it.

Flatcaps & Fisticuffs left to right: Ben- Guitar / Backing vocals * Duncan- Mandolin / Vocals * Adam- Uke / Vocals * Ben- Drums * Will- Percussion / Vocals * Tom- Bass

Raspberry Cheesecake begins with ‘Socks’ and it’s right up my alley with this ode to yer man’s socks hitting all the right notes for me.

“My socks, my socks, without them I’d be lost”

Fast paced with plenty of slow bits and a lovely gang chorus that’s easy to singalong to. It’s a bit daft but hey-ho give me the Toy Dolls over The Subhumans any day of the week. As stated already it has a tinge of Matilda’s Scoundrels about it with classic English folk and punk colliding and almost very nearly spilling over into celtic-punk.

On ‘Capo On A Jew Harp’ it’s more of the same if not punked up a bit but just as accessible and as catchy. The lyrics take a harder edge while still keeping the fun element. Politically directed lyrics but with a good sense of humour thrown into the mix is always going to be a winner. Bland virtue signalling has had its day and with the world seemingly on the brink every couple of months we want our politics to lift us don’t we? The final song here is a cover of the, frankly annoying, New Zealander Lorde’s debut single ‘Royals’. While her version is ok Flatcaps & Fisticuffs blow her away with the cobwebs with the catchiest little number here. The uke stands out loud and proud and it all has a bit of a celtic-ska thing going on. Seriously a fantastic number and enough here to keep fans of about five different genres delighted!

Raspberry Cheescake (where on earth did they pluck that name out of??) was released only last month and so we have been lucky to have found it so quickly. Flatcaps & Fisticuffs have made it available for free so just follow the link at the bottom of this review and I am absolutely certain you will be extremely glad you did. In this country we don’t have a wealth of bands playing this style of music so when one comes along its always a bit of an event and even better when they deliver something so special. So now that we have found them our next step is to get them on the short road to a London Celtic Punks gig. So here’s what to do… download the EP, find them and then like them on Facebook (link below) and lastly keep an eye out for them playing very, very soon. Enjoy!

Download Raspberry Cheesecake

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Contact Fisticuffs & Flatcaps

WebSite  Facebook  Soundcloud  Twitter  YouTube

While plans are afoot to bring Fisticuffs & Flatcaps for a London Celtic Punks show you can catch them at The Horn in St Albans on 18th of January, Nottingham on the 27th of January for a Homeless charity fundraising gig (TBC) and in London for somebody else at the Finborough Arms in Kensington on the 3rd of February. See you at the bar!

EP REVIEW: HEADSTICKS featuring STEVE IGNORANT- ‘Lies, Lies, Lies’ (2017)

The new four track EP from northern England folk-punk powerhouse Headsticks featuring the legendary voice of Mr. Crass Steve Ignorant.

On first listen to this you may wonder why its being reviewed on these pages. After all we pride ourselves on being celtic-punk and covering (or trying to cover) every aspect of the Celtic music diaspora. While this has seen us feature everything from trad to metal to hip-hop the one kind of music that we haven’t really gone into is what I use to describe as ‘festival music’. The sort of alternative folk-rock pumped out for the last few decades by the likes of New Model Army or The Levellers. But they do own, much like everyone in England!, some rather special Celtic credentials too with the bands roots firmly in the ashes of two much loved, and sadly long gone, celtic-punk bands ‘Tower Struck Down’, who were one of first English celtic-punk bands back in 1985, and Jugopunch.

Headsticks (not The Headsticks) hail from the once proud industrial town of Stoke once amed for the manufacture of pottery (the area is known as The Potteries), coal mining and steel making. All of the areas main industries are long gone having been decimated by successive governments of Labour and Tory who care nothing for the working class while they chase the votes and follow the whims of the urban ‘chattering’ classes. They have featured on this site before with reviews of their debut album, Muster and their follow up Feather And Flames. Both albums were very well received and have seen the bands star rise with each release and having graced the 0161 Festival in Manchester among others and even reached London several times, each time with a growing number of fans.

While there is nothing particularly ‘Celtic’ going on within this EP what you do get is four songs of expertly played catchy as hell and in-yer-face folk-punk with a biting and still humorous at times social commentary which takes well aimed strikes at those who blight our lives with their misrule while all the time knowing exactly who their music is aimed at.

“It’s a social commentary that the working classes can easily relate to…..we aim to make people stop and think with our songs and it does seem to do that! It’s not so much about smashing the statues and setting fire to the government buildings, but more of asking people to look outside their own bubble, basically to start giving a shit before it’s too late!”

The band describe themselves as “where folk and punk collide” and is as perfect a way to sum them up in five words as could be imagined. The songs start side 1 and ‘Big Game Hunter’ and features the unmistakable dulcet tones of the one and only Steve Ignorant of seminal English anarcho-punk band Crass. We have all seen the photos on Facebook of these utter shits standing next and smiling over the corpse of some amazingly beautiful animal they have shot from safety while on safari. While our hope is that they turn the tables on these monsters it rarely happens and ‘trophy hunting’ only seems to be getting more and more popular among the rich and powerful. Maybe one day they will doing it to us? The song has managed to catch both the typical sound of Headsticks and a couple of Steve’s better previous bands pitched somewhere between Schwartzeneggar and the Stratford Mercenaries.

“Arrogance personified, the abuse of wealth and power”

Side 1 comes to an end with ‘Dying For A Lie’ which gives its name to the record. The sad tale of war criminal Tony Blair and the lies. lies, lies that he told to bring us to war in Iraq. The song is catchy and a real head nodder for those of us well past our moshing days. Like a lot of their previous stuff there are touches of country music here and there and it all makes for an enjoyable romp with a nice fist in the air chorus to shout along to.

Flipping over we have side 2 and we are off with the fantastic folk-punk anthem ‘Soaps & Costume Drama’. The recent fad of fancy BBC dramas is a world away from the lives of most people and nowhere on this EP do the words resonate so powerful.

“She escapes into another costume drama, as she waits for her knight in shining armour”

Absolutely classic Headsticks and it sees the welcome introduction of one of my favourite instruments the harmonica too. The disc comes to an end with ‘You’re Killing Me America’, both a band and a crowd favourite re-recorded from the Muster album. It’s brought slap bang up to date beginning with Donald Trump’s voice starting the song off and I would say the rough edges are gone but I don’t think the old version had any but they have added something to it besides a few samples but its kind of hard to put your finger on it. It may have only acoustic guitar and harmonica as ‘folk’ instruments but Headsticks have an unmistakable traditional English folk sound that I’m sure would appeal to all fans of celtic-punk.

(a live version and without the samples and harmonica and extra flourish of the version on the EP but just to give you a wee taster!)

The whole thing comes in a package of a 10″ record on red vinyl that is quite possibly the most beautiful package we have ever received at London Celtic Punks towers. You don’t just get the record either with a whole bunch of stickers, postcards, lyric sheet and download code included. Having been around a bit I’m more than happy to see the resurgence of vinyl even if I do personally listen to most of music on my mobile! The band have also released a live album recently and we will be getting round to that soon but the urgency and honesty and just plain good old fashioned folk’n’roll from their album’s is still very much in evidence and while they may be heavy on the mind they are also light on their feet. An EP of four superbly crafted songs that reflect perfectly what the band represent- the place “where folk and punk collide”.

Buy Lies, Lies, Lies

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Contact Headsticks

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Tower Struck Down WebSite here

EP REVIEW: BogZH CELTIC CATS!- ‘Kazh al Lagenn’ (2017)

Celtic celtic-punk and rock, rage and Celtic swing from Naoned.

Rearranged and adapted Breton rock, trad Irish and Scottish Celtic rock’n’roll punk-folk.

Released last month this is the debut release form the latest Breton celtic-punk band to grace these pages. Earlier this year we published a review of the great debut album from Sons Of O’Flaherty. In that review we told a faction of the history of Brittany so rather than go over it again hightail it here and learn a little of the story of this proud Celtic nation. The Breton’s have embraced the celtic-punk revolution with open arms and bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs, The Maggie Whackers and Sons Of O’Flaherty use their Celtic heritage and music to push for more civil rights and recognition for their language.

BogZH Celtic Cats! were formed in late 2014 out of the ashes of famed Breton rock band Daonet by three of their former members. Daonet were a rock band playing dynamic rock music with celtic rock melodies with lyrics mostly in Breton embodying the image of a free, conscious and future-oriented Brittany. Hervé and Gilles were drummer and bassist in the Daonet and were playing in a rock and blues band Bogzh until they were joined by JJ, blues harp player and singer and Hervé’s brother, Fabien who also played in Daonet and Gilles son Gwenolé on both bass guitar and upright bass though not at the same time! The band started off with a repertoire of celtic-punk classics from the likes of the Dropkick Murphys and the Real McKenzies as well as adapting some traditional folk songs of Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and singing in a combination of Breton, English and French. Kazh al Lagenn is the bands first release and came out last September. Self produced and distributed by the band themselves it’s truly a DIY release and a sign of the healthy celtic-punk scene in Brittany.

The EP begins with ‘Ye Jacobites By Name’ a traditional Scottish folk song written in 1791 by the legendary Scots poet Robert Burns. The Jacobites were Scots rebels trying to return James II, the last Catholic British monarch,  to the throne after he had been deposed by Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The series of battles took its name Jacobitism, from Jacobus, the Latin form of James. With the defeat of the Jacobite army at the battle of Culloden in 1746, the union of England and Scotland was sealed, and this song is a call to the Jacobites to take up Scottish independence but with a more anti-war outlook. Recorded untold times through the years it’s a song that lends itself well to celtic-punk and BogZH Celtic Cats! give it a good seeing too playing with a heap of gusto with strong performances from all.  Starting off with some lovely western overtones before the band jumps in and harmonica, pipes, electric guitar, bass and drum taking us firmly into celtic-punk territory. Fast and catchy before slowing down and speeding back up again before ending on a flourish. Gilles’s voice is powerful and backing vocals from the rest of the band are equally as strong. Next up is the EP highlight for me the extremely brilliant ‘An Avel’ ( meaning ‘The Wind’). I love harmonica and wish it was more widely used in celtic-punk circles. Sang in Breton the song is catchy as hell and harks back to the days of Daonet with a song fit to grace any rock bands set. We are in Ireland next for a song covered by just about everyone in the scene and it takes a lot to get much of a rise out of me for ‘Star Of The County Down’ these days but BogZh Celtic Cats! keep it slowish and rocky rather than punky and yeah it’s fine and faithful to the original.

Does the scene need another cover of this admittedly great song? Probably not but there’s a very good reason why songs like these are so popular and while we may be a little jaded on hearing it we have to realise that to fans of BogZh Celtic Cats! it’s quite possibly a new song to them. The pipes are the standout on the next track ‘Kenavo Da Viken Ma Breur’ (meaning ‘Farewell My Brother’) and in the longest track on the EP the Bhoys really go for it and at times it could drift off into Goth or Post-Punk but always Celt.

Dropkick Murphys ‘Prisoner’s Song’ from their Signed And Sealed In Blood album is given a faithful and if anything outCelts the Murphys on this great track. The EP ends with the lads version of the traditional Breton folk song ‘Son Ar Chistr’ and those elements are out in force again and it’s a winning combination for me. As a punk with a few Goth tendencies I love that that they aren’t just a straight up punk band but something a little different. Vocals on the EP are shared between JJ, Gilles, Gwenolé and Fabien and work extremely well.

A great way to start their recording history and another welcome addition to the Breton scene. With bands like this the Celtic revolution is in safe hands. While they may not be as celtic-punk as say the Sons Of O’Flaherty they have taken the rock sound of Daonet and embraced punkier elements to it and come up with something that actually sounds quite fresh to these ears. The only problem being that five songs is not enough and we want to hear a lot more from these.

BogZH Celtic Cats! from left to right: JJ- Harmonica, Vocals * Maxime- Bagpipes, Vocals * Corentin- Tin Whistle * Gwenolé- Bass Guitar, Upright Bass, Vocals * Fabien- Folk/Electric Guitars, Vocals * Hervé- Drums * Gilles- Tenor Banjo, Guitar, Vocals.

(you can listen to Kazh al Lagenn for *free* on the Bandcamp player player below before you buy. Available as download or CD)

Buy Kazh al Lagenn

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Contact BogZH Celtic Cats!

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You should also check out THE FOLK’N’PUNK BRIGADE which is a local celtic-punk collective similar to London Celtic Punks. A group of friends and musicians from French bands The Moorings and Saints and Sinners and Breton bands The Maggie Whackers and Sons Of O’Flaherty- Facebook

The Celtic League is an inter-Celtic political organisation, which campaigns for the political, language, cultural and social rights, affecting one or more of the Celtic nations- Facebook  WebSite

Gilles from the band also runs an extensive Blog featuring both Daonet and BogZH Celtic Cats! as well as heaps of Breton and Celtic music so check that out here- WebSite

EP REVIEW: HOOLIGAN featuring CHRISTY DIGNAM- ‘(Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel’ (2017)

Legend of the Irish music scene Christy Dignam of Aslan teams up with Dublin punk band Hooligan on a new 4-track single released this week.

The moments when you meet your heroes stay with you forever and it was a chance meeting between Irish folk-rock legend Christy Dignam and a young David Linehan at one of Christy’s band Aslan’s gigs that has led to the release of this fantastic collaboration between Irish folk and Irish punk over twenty five years later. Meeting again recently David reminded Christy of the time when fresh back in Dublin after a stint squatting on the the Loughborough Estate in south London when David and a mate walked into a rehearsal studio in Great Strand Street, an alleyway near the Halfpenny Bridge, where unbeknownst Christy, who had not long left Aslan, was rehearsing with his new band. From being away David had noticed that the music scene in Dublin was far more snooty and elitist than in London

“imagine my surprise at instead of being told to feck off he said “c’mon in lads” and allowed them to stay watch them play a few songs. I was struck both by how friendly he was and the warmth and kindness of the man”

Christy asked if they had a band and said if we didn’t we should form one because if nothing else they looked the part! Just the kind of confidence boost any budding young artist needs.

Left to right: Eoin Page, David Linehan, Paul Price. Front: Christy Dignam

‘(Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel’ is a cover of the much loved paean to the late 1970’s tale of familial teenage angst, originally released by northern Irish punk rock legends The Outcasts. Formed in war torn Belfast in 1977 The Outcasts were three brothers and two mates who came up with the name after being banned from local venues. Releasing their debut single ‘Frustation’ on It Records in May, 1978 they soon after signed to the Good Vibrations label who released “Just Another Teenage Rebel” in November 1978. The single rose to the top of the Alternative charts and the band received much radio  airplay. The band imploded in the mid-80’s but with the sad death of founder member Colin Cowan the band got back together in 2011 and are still going strong now.

Approved by the two surviving Outcasts brothers, Martin and Greg Cowan, it’s a great choice of track and is part of a four track EP released on Reekus Records, home of Dub legends The Blades, who incidentally also released This Is which was the first record by Aslan over 30 years ago in 1986. Aslan are often thought of as

“the band to follow in the footsteps of U2 in conquering America”

and they certainly blazed high taking the Irish music scene by storm with their brash interpretation of Stones style rock’n’roll all be it with a very Irish twist. Formed in the working class northside of Dublin they seemed to be on the verge of worldwide fame and fortune before tragically imploding on the very day their debut single was due to be released in the USA in 1988. Dublin at the time was in the midst of a terrible heroin epidemic and young Christy was not immune to the same pressures as others in his home city. Unceremoniously fired from the band due to a spiralling heroin addiction that would haunt him for decades Christy left the band and though they tried to soldier on without him it wasn’t long before Aslan were no more. Silent for five years they returned and their music had become more refined and influenced by folk melodies. Fame again awaited them but as has been the Aslan way it’s been a rocky road intersperced with long periods of inactivity but always sustained by their loyal and large fan base. The band have released six studio albums as well as two ‘best of’ albums and have a list of smash hits that have topped the charts as long as yer arm. Aslan have forged a legacy that has seen them become one of Ireland’s most popular and enduring musical acts and as the bands motto goes “the lion is still roaring”.

So it was that shortly after meeting again all these years later David contacted Christy and sounded him out about the possibility of performing on the next Hooligan record. Christy jumped at the chance and ‘(Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel’ was born.

Hooligan have made a name for themselves releasing a pile of fantastic critically acclaimed EP’s over the years. Formed in Dublin in 2009 the band has been beset by member comings and goings but at last things are more settled and founder and guitarist/singer David Linehan is joined by the brand new rhythm section of Eoin Page on bass and ex- Paranoid Visions drummer Paul Price. ‘(Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel’ is yer basic classic 77 era punk rock. Chugging guitar and thundering bass with Christy’s distinctive voice driving it along. The following tracks are more of the same with Upstarts/Clash/SLF comparisons inescapable on ‘Generation On Fire’. Guitar driven anthemic Irish punk that leads us soon after into the tribute to Uncle Joe himself. The Clash influence is in overdrive with ‘Calling Joe Strummer’ with the spirit of everyone’s favourite public schoolboy coursing through it’s 200 seconds. The album ends with ‘Gang War’ and here Hooligan are at their best for me. Loud and brash and in your face with a catchy chorus and a killer punk tune that’s over before you can think what a great song it is.

Another fantastic EP to add to the Hooligan EP collection and you will be pleased to know that they will be making one of their regular appearances in London in a couple of weeks at the New Cross Inn dahn Sarf London supporting Splodgenessabounds on Saturday 4th November (Facebook event here) with a tonne of other bands including a rare capital show by London Celtic Punk faves Headsticks. The gig starts at 5pm and Hooligan will take the stage at 8-30pm so don’t be late!

Buy (Justa Nother) Teenage Rebel

Reekus Records (available as download or CD with vinyl coming soon!)

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  • A fantastic overview of The Outcasts can be found here via Spit Records.
  • Great interview with Hooligan here from ‘Louder Than War’

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

Irish style celtic-punk from Brazilian band The McMiners.

Yet another example of the international status of celtic-punk for you now with a great band hailing from Belo Horizonte in Brazil. It’s the sixth largest city in the country and in a country the size of Brazil that means its bigger than most counties over here! With over 2,500,000 in the city and over 5,000,000 in the surrounding area it stands to reason that their must be a bunch of celtic-punk fans with the talents to start a band and so in early 2012 The McMiners were born.

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

My previous knowledge of celtic-punk in Brazil has been confined to the absolutely brilliant band Lugh, who are in fact one of my favourites in the entire scene. To check them out why not go here and treat yourself! Both the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly take in Brazil whenever they set sail to south America so the interest is there and seems to be growing. Their is a large Celtic diaspora of mainly Welsh and Irish in neighbouring Argentina and Uruguay that is well documented and Irish soldiers like William Brown in Argentina, Bernado Higgins in Chile and the St Patrick’s Brigade in Mexico played major roles in freeing their respective adopted countries from colonialism and gaining independence. Che Guevara, whose grandmother’s surname was Lynch, was another famous member of this diaspora. Guevara’s father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, said of him

“The first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels”

Whether or not the interest in celtic-punk is linked to any of this is debatable and it’s more likely the love of a good auld time and a few beers plays its part as well. It is safe to say though the Irish in South America are very proud of their roots and their history is one that should be known by all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Tales of Betrayal and Deceit

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EP REVIEW: ShamRocks- ‘ Ye Olde Chariot’ (2017)

Founding fathers of Ukraine’s celtic-punk movement and the originators of ‘Stout Rock’. A blend of Irish, Scottish, Breton and Finnish folk with a variety of rock and metal styles.

Born in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev only a few years back in 2009 Ye Olde Chariot is the second release from ShamRocks and combines all the parts that made their first release so enjoyable. We waxed lyrical at how much we loved Captain’s Log. A mutual love of traditional Irish and Scottish music, Finnish polkas, ancient sea shanties and good old fashioned punk rock and metal that has introduced the people of Ukraine to some out of the best modern adaptations of classic folk songs out there. Taking traditional melodies played on the violin, mandolin, flute and accordion and mixing them up with head-banging riffs that are both heavy and danceable at the same time. That debut album was a collection of the best of ShamRocks songs since they were formed from their first demo to their last studio sessions mastered brilliantly to give it that ‘crowded pub’ feel. It was voted into 4th place in our end of year London Celtic Punks Top Ten Folk/Trad releases but could just have easily made the celtic-punk Top Ten as well!

(listen to their first release Captain’s Log below)

What we had to say then stands the test of time

“There is plenty here to upset the folk purists (or snobs as I prefer to call them) but these people would like to keep the folk music of our people locked up in a box. Put away and kept out of the hands of people who (in their opinion) don’t respect or cherish them as much as they do. Their way is noble yes but is also a surefire way to kill off folk music. They attacked the Dubliners and then The Pogues in their time and now fawn longingly over the bands they once called sacrilegious. ShamRocks have taken a bunch of songs and added so much more to them than by simply folking it along. That they are Ukrainian adds another dimension to them. An absolutely stunning album with the only tiny criticism I may have is that their’s not enough ShamRocks own self-penned songs and to that end they have already began work on a EP that may or may not develop into a LP and I for one can’t wait to hear it!”

Well a full album is still in the works so in the meantime ShamRocks offer up this five track EP for us and again to say it is very good would be a massive understatement.

Ye Olde Chariot begins with the sound of an ocean before morphing into, appropriately, an olde sea-shanty, ‘Roll The Old Chariot’. Originated as an African-American spiritual it was used as a ‘stamp-and-go’ or ‘walk away’ meaning the sailors would hold on to the line and walk with it creating a steady pull. The song starts off in an acapella style before the mandolin is introduced and just as you are lulled into the gentleness of the song BANG ShamRocks launch into the celtic-punk version and the cobwebs are well and truly blown away!

Fast and carefree the song still maintains, as is ShamRocks style, very much the original folk song despite some great touches like a ska ‘ish’ beat at the beginning and the trumpet towards the end. Simply breath taking and easily the best version I have ever heard. Can’t tell you much about the next song titled ‘Пияка-Гультяй’ ‘cept it’s in Ukrainian and is fast and has a Eastern European sound. No matter how fast  they play or how much punk or metal they inject into it it’s amazing that so much of the original folk songs survives. We are only three songs in and ‘Der Stern Der Grafschaft Daun’ is yet again a real eye opener and when I say that I’m a little jaded after hearing yet another celtic-punk version of ‘The Girl From The County Down’ I mean it. But this is different and as the band say themselves it’s

” an all-time favorite folk song frankensteined into an industrial metal number”

Well that was until I heard ShamRocks version. I thought I’d heard it played every which way imaginable but I was wrong! Yeah a metal version but once again never straying too far from that original.

Next up we have a instrumental called ‘Topor Polka’ and it’s extremely well played with great fiddle work and accordion alongside the driving electric guitar, bass and drums. I daresay this is a real fans favourite live and it may steer more towards their own side of the world rather than Celtic but we don’t hold a monopoly on the best music and I love to see bands adding their own influences into the mix. Ye Olde Chariot comes to an end with ‘Kiltartan Cross’ and it’s a beautifully ballad based on the poem ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ by the famous Irish writer and nationalist W.B.Yeats. The words are worth repeating so here they are.

“I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death”

Though he may be fighting for Britain the airman’s heart is at home in his Irish village of Kiltartan. Written not long after the end of the First World War where many Irishmen died fighting for the British Empire their lives would have been better served fighting at home. Serge’s vocals are mournful and timeless. They convey the emotion of the words perfectly and the band’s backing is perfection too with the flute taking the lead through most of the song and so the EP ends very much on a high note.

Now there are many bands out there who steer clear of the usual well worn covers and prefer to do some research or delve back into their childhoods for inspiration and we always love that but most of the time these bands hail from within the Irish/Celtic diaspora. The amazing thing about ShamRocks is that they don’t. They don’t and yet the respect and affinity they have for Irish music is clear to anyone. As mentioned no matter how hard they rock out there is still the unmistakable sound of traditional folk music behind them. They have produced here eighteen minutes of exactly what I think of when I think of celtic-punk. Modern music but with both feet firmly planted in the past and there are many many modern Irish bands who could do well to learn from ShamRocks example.

(have a free listen to Ye Olde Chariot on the Bandcamp player below before you purchase. It’s only $3 which is super good value believe me!)

Buy Ye Olde Chariot

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FOLK-PUNK BAND CASCABEL FROM SLOVAKIA TOUR OF IRELAND AND ENGLAND 2017

Cascabel’s European tour sees them heading to London, Liverpool and Ireland (as well as Germany and Belguim) in just a few days so be sure not to miss this fantastic celtic influenced folk-punk band playing live in or near your town!

Anyone out there remember seeing the great Mickey Rickshaw play on their European tour in January earlier this year? Well I only mention it as the stripped down band that made it over this side of the Atlantic from their home in Boston, Mass sound remarkably similar to this bunch of Slovaks on their second EP Blood, Wood & Rats. Five songs of beautifully played acoustic punk rock with some of the most amazing fiddle you will ever hear on a band featured within these pages. Released just last month Blood, Wood & Tears is Cascabel’s second release after their debut Coffee Tellers and on listening you can hear they have got better and better as a band every step of a road that has taken from their home in Banská Bystrica in Slovakia in the heart of Europe.

This entertaing five piece band already have a extensive tour history under their belt, including almost every European country, and now they are ready to wash up here with their quality upbeat folk punk music. Their mix of fast chords and catchy melodies is all performed solely on acoustic instruments with folk melodies and plenty of punk rock attitude.
Though they are far removed from any of the Celtic nations their music has an indefinable celtic air to it. As I said it reminds me a lot of the stripped down Mickey Rickshaw that played a short European tour earlier this year and not just that but singer Lukas doesn’t half remind me of Mikee from Mickey Rickshaw as well. Extremely catchy and real foot tapping country-Irish-folk from a band we must support while they are over this side of Europe. Their tour takes them to Ireland, England, Germany and Belgium and with gigs in Liverpool and London I’m sure the London (and Mersey) Celtic Punks will rally round. Their full tour dates are above but they come to us in the capital at The Bird’s Nest in Deptford, South London on Monday 4th September and the good news is that it’s free admission and Cascabel will take the stage about 9pm but check on the Birds Nest FB page (here) nearer the time or the FB event (here).

I’m sure I don’t have to tell London Celtic Punks how hard and expensive it is for a band to tour round Europe so take a good look at the tour dates and get onto your friends and share it with them or even get them to share it.
We are not a massive scene but we are certainly a good one with good people. We are a small family but we support each other like the best families do.
Contact Cascabel

EP REVIEW: BLACK RAWK DOG- ‘Suburban’s Folk Stories’ (2017)

Another top quality Indonesian celtic-punk band belt it out of the ball park with their new EP! Black Rawk Dog continue the Indonesia love in…

Just a couple of days ago we reviewed a great EP from an Indonesian celtic-punk band (here) and low and behold just like buses up rolls another one five minutes behind! As with Rain In Summer we first came across Black Rawk Dog on the absolutely superb Indonesian celtic-punk compilation ‘Wind From The Foreign Land’ from 2014. Fourteen tracks from fourteen different celtic-punk bands from across Indonesia and from right across the whole celtic-punk spectrum from folky traditional folk to celtic-Oi! and hardcore it’s all there and is definitely one of the best album’s I have ever heard. We described Black Rawk Dog then as

“fast paced fiddle and mando punk played at breakneck speed with gang vocals”

and on the basis of Surburban’s Folk Stories I can see no reason to change that!

(The EP teaser a collection of videos by friends of the bands showing them hanging)

The Black Rawk Dog story begins at the end of 2010 when a group of Sidoarjo friends become interested in and decide to take up an unlikely form of music for youths in their country. It takes a while to get going and in November, 2011 they begin their journey playing with another of Indonesia’s celtic-punk greats Skarockoi! They began to invite some of the other great bands from around the country to play in Sidoarjo and soon enough they were being invited to play around the country as well leading to their performance at the Jogja Celtic Punk Night. BY now the band had set out to find more about traditional Irish music and the wider celtic music scene in Indonesia and Black Rawk Dog were now firmly on their way to transform from a punk band with folk instruments to a fully fledged celtic-punk band. A skinhead mate suggested ‘Black Dog Conspiracy’ as a band name and somewhere along discussions they ended up as Black Rawk Dog and set out to take Indonesian celtic-punk to the masses!

Surburban’s Folk Stories was sent to me by an old mate on Facebook Jr Miko from the record label that released this and pretty much everything Indonesian celtic-punk related. The first thing that strikes you on listening to this EP is how much energy the band has. If it’s possible to tell how much fun a band has through listening to them on record then here is the best example I have heard it quite a while. They roll out all the celtic instruments to kick start ‘Brand New Day’ the opening track.

Tin whistle, bango, fiddle all leading the song with vocals shared among the band and a real Dropkick Murphys singalong going on. Now the band sound more like Flogging Molly than the Murphys but the songs do remind me of them more somehow. A fantastic start to the EP and the sound of quality Irish folk music fills the air on the second track too. ‘Work Proud’ is again sung in English and is nice and clear and just on the right side of punky gruffness. Again its fast but without losing the folky sound and the ‘Woah Woah’ gang chorus is great. The celtic instruments are out in force again but the whole band is on top form here with nice drumming and guitar. Now regular readers will know how i wax lyrical about the most under-rated instrument in celtic-punk, the harmonica. My uncle Pat bought me a mouth organ when I was a kid and though I never did quite master it I still love the sound. ‘Still One’ slows it all down a little and the harmonica kicks it off until more gang ‘Woah Woah’s come in and beautiful guest female vocals take the song slowly up in tempo into a fast and frantic hardcore celtic folk punk number. The song ends with a high kicking blast that comes with a tinge of country included. More than half way through the EP and I am absolutely loving it. Play this in a bar in Dublin, London or NYC and tell the regulars these are a local band and you’ll get no argument I am sure. In fact the way that Black Rawk Dog have taken to Irish music would put most Irish bands on the island of Ireland to shame. Indonesia is a 80% majority Muslim country so great to hear ‘Rumble In The Bar’. Celtic-punk as our header states is music of rebellion and resistance and great to hear Indonesian’s playing it as well as anyone else, and sometimes better. Starting off with banjo it all turns into a massive ceilidh and like some sort of Irish-punk-celtic-hoedown with more gang vocal chorus and fiddle to die for. Super production here on all the songs and the music is flowing as the beer is flowing out and sadly the EP comes to an end with ‘The Old Man Stands Alone’. Expecting a slow maudlin ballad Black Rawk Dog kick out the best song on the record that takes me right back to to the days of The Pogues. Whoever is sharing their record collection with these guys is doing a fantastic job and I’m left wanting to hear more from this great band.

All the songs here are penned by the band themselves and if I had any criticism it would be that it’s only twenty minutes as I am now desperately wanting to hear more from them. This EP is a perfect example of what can be done with a bunch of extremely talented musicians and a wish to move beyond playing bog standard punk music. This is easily as good as anything I have heard this year and I only wish that bands like Flogging Molly or The Murphys would put their hands in their pockets and get some of the bands from Indonesia over to the States for some exposure. How about getting them on the next Salty Dog cruise Flogging Molly?

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WLRV Records is a Yogyakarta based independent record label, focusing on celtic punk and punk. Started by YK Mass in 2012 we are here to support Indonesian Celtic Punk / Irish Folk Punk / Paddy Punk movement.

EP REVIEW: FOLLOW THE CROWS- ‘West is East’ (2017)

London based Celtic folk rock/Irish/bluegrass band with hard-driven vocals fused with guitar and mandolin mayhem, underpinned by riotous folk rhythms of rebellion, redemption and downright recklessness!

Formed in August, 2012 Follow The Crows are the latest in a growing line of bands playing in the London Irish-folk scene that have embraced some of celtic-punk’s harder edges. They have been playing regularly around London for a good while but so far apart from coming across them on Facebook we haven’t had the opportunity to check them out live in person as it were. Then this arrived on the doorstep, their new EP released last January and after just a couple of listens they have swiftly risen to the top of the list of bands I want to see.

Follow The Crows (left to right): James Cannon- Vocals, Guitar * Ben Sumner- Mandolin, Banjo, Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals * Dan Ferguson- Fiddle * Lawrence McNamara- Bass, Backing Vocals * Karl Hussey- Drums, Percussion

East Is West is Follow The Crows debut release and begins with the kind of song that our description at the top of this review fits exactly. ‘Lay It Down’ starts with the sounds of the ocean before slowing morphing into a song combining elements of trad Irish, bluegrass and Americana that makes this EP a real winner. Catchy as hell and a real foot tapper.

Extremely well played by very good musicians and while there are no thrashy guitars, or even drums, it’s given that bit of edge by singer, James raspy vocals.

“Freedom songs don’t say anything
When you’re out on you’re own
With those big wheels turning
Those bridges burning
West is east high is low”

They follow this with the soft rock edged ‘As The Night Comes Falling’. Threatening at any minute to go flat out, and part of me does wish they would, but they reign it in and keep it nicely subdued. Coming off here as part Tom Waits- part Mumford with a dash of rock’n’roll it’s another great number. Third track here is ‘Black For The Crows’ and if you’ve ever heard the Murder Ballads album by Nick Cave then that’s the territory we are in here. Great song and though underpinned by Irish/celtic music influences seep in from everywhere.

“They rose up their banners for glory on high
Sounded the bugle beneath the blue sky
‘Freedom will follow when the day is o’er”

The EP comes to an end with ‘Quiet Land Of Erin II’ and for me they save the best for last. Ever so reminiscent of The Waterboys here I think. With James sounding a real ringer for Mike Scott. The vocals are almost whispered while the Crows get plenty of guests in to give the song a real full band sound once it gets going. More proof that Follow The Crows are fantastic musicians and with the songs to match to bring the curtain down.

“Oh father now she said
The curlew and the cuckoo’s fled
Troubled is the heart that you’re hearin’
Oh father now she said
They buried you among the dead
On the quiet, quiet land of Erin”

At the moment East Is West is only available as a digital download for now and priced at a very reasonable £3. It’s a great introduction to the band and if they want to stray away from the London pub circuit then a follow up album of more like this is a necessity and will surely achieve it.

(listen to East Is West by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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EP REVIEW: THE DEAD MAGGIES- ‘Wild Dogs And Flannies’ (2017)

The Dead Maggies are a folkpunk band from Tasmania. 

Hear tragic tales set to a lively toe-tapping hoedown of music that will make you dance, yell and folk till you punk.

Now here’s another chance for me to wax lyrical about the quality of of music coming down to us from the heights of the Australian celtic/folk-punk scene. Regular readers know my views but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate them again every now and then so here we go. The best music in the world comes from the Australian celtic-punk scene of that there is no doubt. We have been fortunate enough in London to have hosted The Dead Maggies before and fellow Aussies The Rumjacks and The Go-Set have blazed their paths through London several times each leaving behind a ever growing army of fans each time they play.

They formed in Hobart on the day of Margaret Thatcher’s death when a bunch of punk and folk musicians were celebrating and started jamming songs accompanied by plenty of home brew. It wasn’t long after that they were up on stage playing with some of the biggest names in Australian celtic-punk. This EP is the third release from The Maggies and follows in the footsteps of their amazing debut mini-album The Dead Maggies Sing About Dead People.

Released in April, 2014 it’s a fantastic way to begin with seven original songs/stories that tell the tale of Tasmania in a way that not many bands could do. Tragic tales set to a toe-tapping lively folk punk hoedown. The above is a link to the re-issue that is the same except with added fiddle. After this release they toured Europe including a week long tour here that took them as far north as Scotland and as south as London where they fair set the TChances stage alight with a set that had the sweat dripping off the walls! They followed this up with their debut full  length album Well Hanged in November, 2015. We ranted and raved about this LP and it even mad #7 in the 2015 London Celtic Punks Album Of The Year (here). We ended that review with these words that are worth repeating

“Twelve tracks that explore the lives, battles, deaths and loves of ordinary people. The people whose history is being written out of the books. The history children don’t learn at school. History that is an embarrassment to the people who rule us and who are scared stiff of the inspiration it could once again provide to the ancestors of the original folk these stories are written about. Music to dance to, love to, cry to and rejoice. The Dead Maggies provide all this in spades and by telling of the dark and oppressive past of Tasmania that history will never leave us. Bands like this should be an inspiration to us all in the celtic-punk scene. Story telling is at the very core of our music. We have a glorious past and if indeed our music has any connection to the past we are forced to retell it in song. Thanks to The Dead Maggies for doing that and doing it so well”

So then what they got to offer in 2017? Well the year started with discussions about a Dead Maggies follow up tour of England which is now definitely happening people (but more on that later!). So with the band busier than ever and looking forward to the rain they released Wild Dogs And Flannies last week on Tassie record label Folk ‘Til Ya Punk Records.

It would seem on Wild Dogs And Flannies they have taken a break from tales of convicts and bushrangers and given us five tracks that deal in the here and now. The EP begins with ‘When I Die’ and its heavy stuff but put to a great ‘cow-punk’ back beat. Starting off slowly before the band kick in and give it us in spades. The subject of assisted suicide is not yer typical celtic-punk fare but that’s exactly why the Aussie scene is so well loved by us all. Never afraid to take on serious subjects or open their hearts. They follow this up with another serious subject dealing with domestic violence on ‘She’. Released last November with all proceeds from the song going to Tassie group SHE (Support, Help, Empowerment).

“One day will come liberty
But for my children, I would die to be free”

I love The Dead Maggies for their raucousness and unabashed celebration of dark things and here they show they can still put out a tune that makes you think. Show your support for SHE by downloading this song here for just one Aussie dollar.

They keep up the serious theme of the EP with ‘Goodbye Gondwanaland’ a slow acoustic number telling of the dangers of the coming (or has it already arrived?) environmental disaster. A beautiful song again designed to make you think and given that GTMongrel has one of the most distinctive voices you will hear in any genre its an emotional song given that added depth by his wonderful vocals. Gondwanaland was one of the two ancient super continents from about 200 million years ago. ‘Wild Dogs And Foxes’ is classic Maggies beginning with acoustic guitar and fiddle before the tempo shifts and we are back in  the celtic-hoe down territory that we love. The curtain comes down and they finish with a flourish and a light hearted fast paced track ‘All My Flannies Are Broken’ with the whole band having a go at vocals. A flannie is a Aussie term for them tartan button up long sleeve flannelette shirts. A lovely ditto about getting them ripped in the moshpit. A superb end to proceedings.

So there you have it. Another masterpiece from The Dead Maggies. Five songs that stretch what they do in every direction possible. This is a band that can really make you think and while that is not always what you want (lets face it music is an escape from the trials and tribulations of life) you could always instead switch off your brain and just enjoy the excellent music!

The Dead Maggies deserve to be massive and while they are half way there in Australia you will get a chance to check them out on these shores this summer. The dates of the tour are yet to be finalised but they are booked to play at Outcider festival on Sunday 6th August and Boomtown on Saturday the 12th. The inbetween bits are being sorted now and in there will be dates in London and Kingston (provisional dates are Thursday 10th and Friday 11th) so if you want to be kept up to date check out the London Celtic Punks Facebook page and subscribe to our Events here and we will see you at the bar!

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Since we last reviewed The Dead Maggies there has been an explosion in Aussie sites concentrating on Celtic/folk-punk. Well two anyway. So if you absolutely obsessed with the Australian scene like me do yourself a favour and head over there now.

Aussie Celtic Punk’s and Australian Folk Punk Scene

You can find a host of other amazing Australian bands on the ‘Folk ’Til Ya Punk Records’ web site which has some of the best Australian folk punk, folk, punk, folk rock, celtic punk, gypsy and bluegrass artists around on its roster so well worth supporting.

EP REVIEW: BENNY MAYHEM- ‘Song For Absent Friends’ (2017)

Australia’s folk-punk troubadour!

Just a few days before we review the new EP from Tasmania’s premier folk-punk outfit The Dead Maggies and it’s more of the same with more Aussie fare from Benny Mayhem. Not a name known to us till recently it would seem that Benny has blessed Europe quite a few times before as both a solo artist and as the shirtless, writhing front man of kick-arse smart alec punk rock party band Project Mayhem. He tours as both solo and with a band and if plans go to plan he will return to England with both in 2017 while inbetween Benny will be studio-bound applying the finishing touches to his latest LP.

From his home base on the west coast of Australia in Perth, Benny Mayhem has toured the world as a wandering troubadour and in England has gone from busking outside tube stations to the festival circuit in only two years. The EP begins with the title song ‘Song For Absent Friends’ and is an ode to the multitude of people that have helped Benny on his journey’s around the globe delivering folk-punk to the masses. It was in the Fuelled By Cider Studio in Somerset that Benny realised the three original songs delivered here needed the backing of a full band to realise their full potential. Returning to Australia he set about mixing the songs and gathering the right musicians for the job.

“Now I’m sitting in my room,
Thinking of times I shared with you,
And I wouldn’t be me today…
If it wasn’t for you”

He wrote the opener in a hotel room in the Austrian Alps and its poppy’ness’ and Cali-punk style belie its snow laden roots! It may not have much in common musically with The Dead Maggies but the Aussies seem to have cornered the market in great song/story writing.

(acoustic version of the full band song on the EP)

Benny and his acoustic guitar start the show next with the amazing ‘Mother Nature Will Have Her Revenge On Old Fatty’. Great well thought and inspiring lyrics as well as a great sense of humour. Listening to this song especially you can tell it would have worked as just Benny and that guitar but the band takes it into a different territory and will I am sure open many more doors for him.

“You’ll watch the jungle close in
Just as it always has before…
And the waters will rise
Just as they always have before…”

‘Bulwer Street Waltz’ is next and again it’s mostly Benny and his guitar with minimal but crucial backing from the band. A tale of mis-spent youth that ends with the absolutely fantastic line

“We were glared at in clubs
But we didn’t care
My only regret is that I didn’t dance”

What a line. I love it.

Song For Absent Friends ends with a class acoustic version of the Stiff Little Fingers standout ‘Suspect Device’. Jake Burns spits the original out with real bile while Benny plays it much calmer. Perhaps taking inspiration from Anto Morra who did an amazing job with SLF’s ‘Wasted Life’ proving you can do an angry song without an angry voice (here) Benny nails it regardless.

“Inflammable material, planted in my head
It’s a suspect device that’s left two thousand dead”

You can file Benny Mayhem in the folk-punk section with fellow Aussies like The Rumjacks and The Go-Set but just don’t be expecting the same celtic fuelled raucousness of said bands but more hook laden, catchy and contemplative songs from an artist whose journey has only just started. Whether that journey will lead him away from his trademark folk-punk sound who can tell but wherever it does end up you can be sure Benny will be delivering it straight from his heart.

(listen to Song For Absent Friend here for free before you buy)
* Benny Mayhem will be playing at Rebellion festival in Blackpool on August 4th so look out for dates across the country around then in what will be his fifth visit to these shores.
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EP REVIEW: TOXIC FROGS- ‘The Mermaid’s Song’ (2017)

French celtic-punk chicks band!
Four Girls Two Fiddles

Toxic Frogs are quite the anomaly within celtic-punk circles it has to be said. As much as i hate the idea of segregating bands into male and female it is refreshing to see a all-female band in the scene and standing tall too. Most of the time it seems to me that when ‘female’ music is brought up we are suppose to like it whether or not we do actually like it or not. The failed and discredited identity politics that handed the American election to Trump have ensured that people can no longer have an opinion on ‘certain’ things without being shouted at and labelled by hysterical bigots with no actually basis in fact. Anyway rant over and my point is that as a music reviewer my job is review music not ‘virtue signal’ to you all how right on I am by giving good reviews to bad or mediocre music just because the band fit someone else’s ideological pigeonhole. I don’t not have to worry about any of that shite here mind you as The Mermaids Song is abso-fecking-lutely fantastic!

I have heard plenty about Toxic Frogs in the short time they have been together without actually hearing an awful lot of what they have put out so far. Always on my list of bands to find out more about I just had never gotten round to it. Their 2015 album Kill The Devil somehow passed me by except for this review from Celtic Punk Folk And More here but they have kept up a steady stream of excellent videos that have at least introduced them to the wider celtic-punk scene if not me personally!

Toxic Frogs left to right: Lucianne Wallace- Guitar * Elvina Lynn- Bass/ Fiddle * Lydie Dupuy- Drums * Ella Beccaria- Fiddle/ Lead Vocals

Formed in the east-central French city of Lyon in September 2014 Ella came up with the idea of staring an all girl celtic-punk band so started to advertise the idea and soon enough the team of girls was ready. Having already played fiddle for French celtic-punk legends Celkilt she knew the scene and as soon as they hit the practise rooms something gelled. Taking their name from the not so friendly nickname the English give to French people they began to make waves in the celtic-punk scene almost straight away but the question everyone wanted to know was did the band deserve the hype and the answer listening to The Mermaid’s Tale is undoubtedly a resounding yes!

The EP begins with the instrumental ‘Scott Is Back’ and what a start to proceedings. The band consists of electric guitar, bass and drums and some almighty fiddle playing. The music sits nicely on the fence between celtic-rock and celtic-punk and many a time could fall into each within a single song and the standout here is that amazing fiddle playing though that’s not to say the rest of the band don’t play their part equally as well. The song begins with a Scottish feel to it I think because of the Scottish style drumming before a more traditional Irish sound comes in. The songs builds to a breakneck speed and ends with a fantastic flourish. There are a couple of bands in the scene that have female singers like Irish Moutarde and Brutus Daughter but most of the the ladies are confined to backing vocals or taking the lead on ‘Fairytale Of New York’! The band sing in English and ‘Criminal’s Heart’ is pure pop-punk heaven. Much more of a folk-punk number until near the end when the celtic fiddle kicks in and leads the song until the end.

Title track ‘The Mermaid’s Song’ is up next and there’s some blatant metal overtones here which remind me of all girl punk legends L7. Again the fiddle comes in well after the song has established itself showing that Toxic Frogs could easily get away with being just a run of the mill rock band as well. Again the fiddle brings the last curtain down on the last couple of minutes. We are in celtic-punk territory with ‘Toxic War’ and the girls go about their job with a frantic fast paced song with plenty of gang vocal “Hey, Hey” going on.

Last year Katie out of The Mahone put down her accordion for five minutes to record the now infamous ‘F*** You’ for the Hunger And The Fight Part Two album and now Toxic Frogs can add to that with their own ‘F**k You’. At just over six minutes long its a bit of an epic and begins with a slow and soaring guitar rock solo. Ella comes in with her vocals and the music lifts and then all of a sudden we back with the more trad Toxic Frogs sound. A great song that never drags and a brave song to record knowing that celtic-punk fans much prefer short n snappy songs …unless they are ballads and then you can go for as long as you like. Shades of grunge are back in ‘Go!’ with the chugging guitar and the EP ends with the majestic ‘Violins and Hammers for Ever’. Yeah they save the best for last in my humble opinion. Like I said just a few lines ago I am a absolute sucker for a well played ballad and here Toxic Frogs manage it in spades. A beautiful song where Ella’s voice on this EP never sounds better. The best way to bring the curtain down at the end of a celtic-punk record without a doubt.

So an excellent record and good enough for me to leave you in a minute to go and check out their back catalogue as well. Seven great songs that clock in at over thirty minutes so probably long enough for us to call it a album seeing as it is longer than a few other 2017 album’s. Their is talk from our fellow London celt’s Urbankelt about bringing Toxic Frogs over to play so hopefully that will come off as they deserve to be seen far and wide.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

EP REVIEW: UNION BLOOD- ‘Working Class Pride’ (2017)

From the land of pipes and drunx comes this new EP of streetpunk and Oi! from Galician band Union Blood.

union-blood-ep
Bit of a departure for London Celtic Punks with this EP from the newly formed Street punk band Union Blood. Formed last Summer in A Coruña in Galicia now that city may ring a bell for celtic-punk fans as it is the home town of famous celtic celtic-punk band Bastards On Parades. As it goes Union Blood began last year as a side project but as Bastards On Parade announced on their Facebook page
“Hey! We wanted to let you all know that we are taking a break for a while. Different circumstances don’t let us keep the rhythm of traveling and tours we used to, so we will wait for the right time to come back as this band deserves.
See you soon you bastards!! Cheers”
Now Bastards On Parade, who took their name from the Dropkick Murphys song and played with them numerous times, worked their collective arses off over the years with their touring and even washed up over here a couple of times including a short and not particularly well organised tour (by us!) with The Lagan. So they are deserving of a break but what has stepped into the breach in the meantime you ask? Well what we have here is Union Blood’s first release and it has all the influences of Oi! bands past and present that you would expect flowing through it. Now I never been a skinhead but use to be a big fan of Oi! and one of the things about Oi! is that it was/is the British sound that completely dominates. Bands like The 4-Skins, Cock Sparrer and the Rejects seem to influence every band no matter where they come from and Union Blood are no different.

from left to right: Ruper, Arenga, Dopi, David

The EP begins with ‘Working Class Pride’ and its straight forward skinhead rock with David’s welcome, and familiar, voice rasping his way through a fast and catchy as hell number about having pride in your background. In a world where the working classes are hated by the elites (to be fair they always have been) for not voting the way they are told or being coarse or unruly and for simply not doing as we are told we only have each other. With the left around the world hellbent on destroying itself by the adoption of lunatic and poisonous identity politics a new left is needed that in the words of someone who should know is a new left that is
“from the class, for the class, of the class”

‘Reckless And Bones’ is up next and the chugging guitars are still evident but also the catchy gang chorus and “whoa whoa” too. Traces of Bastards On Parade here and with a piper in there we would be away!
The best song on the EP for me is the anti-fascist anthem ‘Blood On The Streets’ and cor blimey guv’nor it is a cracker. I won’t stray in cockney rhyming slang I promise but this song is an almighty foot tapper and fist shaker. Slightly slower and a lot heavier than previous tracks but by God it’s a class song.

The EP ends with the song ‘Brawlers’ which is another great song and dedicated to the Bhoys football team Deportivo de La Coruña. So there you have it songs about brotherhood, football, drinking and fighting the good fight. All played in such a way that if you were a fan of Bastards On Parade you would love this too. Great songs with interesting and well thought out lyrics and, most importantly of all, extremely good and catchy songs!
(you can have a listen to the EP below but only two songs feature so to get the whole four tracks you will have to buy the vinyl single)
Get The EP
Download- FromTheBand (First two track)  For Vinyl- USA: CrowdControlMedia  Europe: Oi!-Punk  Spain/France: CROM Records
Contact Union Blood

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!

and-the-wasters

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!

atw-1

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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HUNGARIAN CELTIC PUNK WEEK! EP REVIEW: THE O’NEILLS- ‘Chapter One’ (2017)

ireland-hungarySo welcome to you to our third and final part of Hungarian Celtic Punk Week. After two fantastic celtic-punk bands in The Crazy Rogues and Firkin we calm it down a little with The O’Neills and their debut EP. We can be quite parochial in celtic-punk sometimes and tend to stick to bands we know or have heard of but there’s an absolute wealth of music out there begging to be heard and some of it may be from countries you wouldn’t expect. If the only thing this blog does is gain some of these bands a tiny bit of recognition then we are succeeding in what we set out to do. Leave your misconceptions at the door and take off your pub shoes and dip your toes into the celtic-punk scene worldwide and what better place to start off in than Hungary!

chapter-one-album-cover

The O’Neills formed in April, 2013 and hail from the Hungarian capital city of Budapest. Where as the first two bands we featured this week both play celtic-punk that sees the folk and punk in equal measures The O’Neills are much more of a Irish folk band in the traditional sense. Formed for a one off occasion The O’Neills success led them to be asked to perform on the Irish Stage of the Sziget Festival some months later. The huge impact gave the five-piece group the bit of push they needed to become th regular session band playing traditional acoustic Irish music at Jack Doyle’s Irish Pub. After two years, they tried different pubs and bars in the inner city of Budapest, changing their gigs to an unique show each time. By January 2017 it had led them to become one of the most sought after bands in Budapest and they recorded this debut EP at the Artist Factory studio. As its title they chose ‘Chapter One’ with the band planning to release subsequent chapters annually. Here we get as Chapter One three songs of excellently played music that perfectly evokes the spirit of Ireland.

oneills-1

The EP begins with the Irish rebel song ‘Down By The Glenside’ and is beautifully sung by Krisztina. One of the best known and also saddest of the Irish folk song repertoire it dates back to the time of the 1916 Easter Rising. Written by Peadar Kearney, an Irish Republican and composer who also wrote numerous other rebel songs, including ‘The Soldier’s Song’ (‘Amhrán na bhFiann), which would go on to become the Irish National Anthem. Kearney was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, popularly known as the Feniansand the song stands as a call to arms for a generation of Irish people who were used to only political nationalism.

“Some died by the glenside, some died mid the stranger
And wise men have told us their cause was a failure
But they stood by old Ireland and never feared danger
Glory o glory o to the Bold Fenian Men”

The O’Neills version starts slow and maudlin. Just as it should be before speeding up with military style drumming and tin whistle. Never in a thousand years would you guess that this wasn’t an Irish band! The EP dips into more poppy territory with ‘Avicii’ next. The song is a mash-up of three of the house DJ Avicii’s three biggest hits done in a folk style. Again Krisztina’s voice is prominent, and why not when its this good, with the bands instruments wrapped around it. The song is mid-paced and is a catchy as hell foot tapper. Later on Dániel joins in on vocals and is the perfect foil for Krisztina.

“One day my father—he told me,
“Son, don’t let it slip away”
He took me in his arms, I heard him say,
“When you get older
Your wild life will live for younger days
Think of me if ever you’re afraid.”
He said, “One day you’ll leave this world behind
So live a life you will remember”

The EP ends with ‘Country Medley’ and is exactly what it says on the bottle. A compilation of Irished up excerpts of country (ish) classics. Daniel leads the bands on vocals with what must be a sure fire live favourite proving that these Bhoys and Ghirls can certainly play their instruments.

oneills-band

The O’Neills from left to right: Tamás Kaposvári- Cello * Dániel Fekete-Szűcs- Acoustic Guitar, Vocals * Krisztina Hajdu- Vocals * Sophia Lajgút- Fiddle * Júlia Seres- Flutes

All over and done and dusted in just over ten minutes its a great first chapter and though it may not appeal to all celtic punk fans I’m sure there’s plenty out there willing to give a band from the more folkier side of things a chance.

( you can hear the whole of Chapter One below on You Tube)

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So all in all a very impressive start for our Hungarian celtic-punk week. Check back in a couple of days for part two of three. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and if you got any sense you better be) the best place to find it is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here

HUNGARIAN CELTIC PUNK WEEK! EP REVIEW: FIRKIN- ‘Into The Night’ (2017)

Our Hungarian Celtic Punk week continues with the second of our three reviews and this time it stars the wonderful Firkin. As they say on their press “Firkin should not be seen, Firkin must be experienced! Firkin is good, firkin’ good!” and for once when talking about European celtic punk I can agree! For the final installment check back in a couple of days.

firkin-into-ep

Well here’s the second part of our Hungarian triple header. An EP released by one of the more prominent and internationally well known of the Hungarian celtic-punk bands. Firkin’s appeal doesn’t just stop with celtic-punk fans and they are one of the biggest bands in Hungary full stop and these days quite a draw across Europe too. Formed in 2008 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest they have released a bunch of albums and toured numerous times including playing an absolutely stunning one-off show in London on New Years Eve 2015. The gig drew in equal numbers of Hungarian ex-pats and London celtic punks that raised the bloody roof off the Dublin Castle! Certainly if putting in the hard work gets you the glory then Firkin have been working overtime to get the attention they deserve. Their original vocalist Barna left since recording their last album, which we reviewed here, but new singer Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin have carried on without pause or even catching breath!

firkin-band

Into The Night starts off with the title song ‘Into the Night’ and you can spot from the very off the different approach Firkin have to celtic-punk than The Crazy Rogues, who we reviewed the other day here. A far heavier sound erupts from the speakers and they manage to have both a trad Irish and punk sound going on at the same time. Their are some similarities though. The fiddle leads the way and also flute which is used a lot here to great effect. One of my favourite memories of that London NYE gig was PJ’s playing. You just couldn’t take your eyes off him so amazing was he to watch. For an instrument that sounds so Irish it does surprise me that not more bands use in it the scene especially when you hear bands like Firkin utilising it so well. Andy also sings in English and has a very strong and clear voice and again there is a very clear story telling way of writing song lyrics going on here. If they get off to a storming start to the EP they follow it up with the more Irish trad folk based ‘Flowers’. A beautiful song that shows Andy’s voice can easily manage both the folk and punk side to Firkin. Hey I tells you if your mammy wouldn’t like this this song then she got no taste! A song that swirls around Andy’s voice which is used another instrument alongside the flute here. Originally known as ‘The Flower of Magherally’ it has been recorded in the past mainly by the Irish trad community so was unknown to me but what a bloody good version this is I straight away thought.

We have a much more widely known cover up next with ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’. Mainly famous in these circles I would have thought for the Dropkick Murphys recording that Firkin stick fairly close to. A fast paced punky song with shouty chorus and fiddle lead. First published in 1867 and written by Joseph B. Geoghegan it remained popular in Britain and Ireland and the United States into the early years of the 20th century but it was when it was recorded by The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem in 1961 that lead to a renewal of its popularity. An anti-war song that was used to great effect to stop Irishmen joining the British Army the story tells of an Irish woman who bumps into her former lover near Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland. He is badly disfigured, losing his legs, his arms, his eyes and his nose and is now begging. The woman though is happy to see him and the implication is that she looks after him so for once a happy ending in an Irish song! The EP comes to an end with a bonus song that I have heard before. ‘Focimese’ was the song that Firkin wrote for the European Football Championship last year to support the Hungarian football team. It’s a rollicking great tune with plenty “La, La, La, La La’s” to keep the fans happy and a chugging guitar that accompanies the fiddle. A song that inspired the team to top their initial group before sadly losing to Belgium 4-0 in the Round Of 16. Four great tunes that show exactly why Firkin are so sought after across Europe. A absolutely perfect mix of Irish and punk rock with a real story telling way to them and on top of that a really good live show as well.

Buy The EP  FromTheBand  iTunes  Amazon

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So all in all our Hungarian celtic-punk week gets another thumbs up. Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for our final installment. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here.

HUNGARIAN CELTIC PUNK WEEK! EP REVIEW: THE CRAZY ROGUES- ‘Rebels’ Shanties’ (2017)

ireland-hungaryAnyone remember 2015? That was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk record. A whole host of bands coming together in a perfect storm and absolutely completely dominating the scene that year. Loch Nesz, The Jolly Jackers, The Crazy Rogues, The Scarlet, Firkin and Paddy And The Rats all featured in the London Celtic Punks end of year ‘Best Of 2015’ charts and all received glowing critical praise galore. What quite happened to them all last year is a mystery but the Hungarian celtic-punks are back with a fecking bang! So for one week we are running a Hungarian celtic-punk special. Three reviews in seven days from three amazing EP’s from three equally amazing bands who all have completely different styles of celtic-punk.

crazyroguesepThe Crazy Rogues are from Veszprém in mid-Hungary and were formed in 2014 making them among the earliest of the second wave of Hungarian celtic-punk bands.With two EP’s behind them, one of Demo versions and another called Chapter 1 which we reviewed back in 2015 here giving it a massive thumbs up. They have named their style as ‘Rogue ‘N’ Roll’ taking in elements of punk, country and bluegrass as well as Irish and Celtic. The EP begins with ‘And Then the Sky Fell’ and its fast fiddle led celtic-punk with good ole’ fashioned punk rock drumming and punk rock guitar playing in the background at times pushing the fiddle forward. ‘Fleet’ is up next and is a bit more traditional celtic-punk of the Flogging Molly kind. One of the things I liked on The Crazy Rogues previous releases is how they can switch from their folkier side to their more punky side with ease. They slow it down next with the sad tale of ‘The Sad Leprechaun’. A leprachaun is a mischievous mythical creature that roams the Irish countryside playing tricks on humans. Many though think they are real, including my Grandparents! Again the fiddle is the lead here and Verrasztó’s vocals are suitably angsty as he tells us of the life of these solitary creatures. The flute appears here and like a lot of Hungarian bands in particular it’s used to good measure.

They speed it up next with the fast paced punky song ‘Mutineers (must DIE)’ and though it does seem funny to call something a ‘traditional punk rock’ song this is it! Shouty gang choruses and fast guitar and then all of the sudden banjo pops up and we get a short blast of each band members individual talents before it ends. Short and sweet and snappy as hell and then we drift into ‘Silver Hair’ which reminds me of the sort of bluesy country folk that Shane MacGowan and The Popes were so f’ing brilliant. Superb mandolin here from Fellegi and I have to say that the mando and the banjo have been a bit low in the mix thus far so great to hear it dominate on this track. Well that is until right out the blue it suddenly switches to a ska song and the song ends with an absolute flourish with electric guitar helping it speed to a finish. The absolute standout track here for me. Can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this song! The EP ends with the song ‘Rebellion’ and is a tribute to the Easter Rising of 1916 when a small band of Irishmen and woman declared war on the British Empire. They took over several important buildings in Dublin and held them for a week against far superior British forces and many died during that week until the rebels were forced to surrender. The British executed the leaders of the rebellion and this led to a wave of sympathy which would eventually lead to full scale war across Ireland that would in the end see freedom for the 3/4’s of the country. Verrasztó’s voice is clear and loud and stamps out where The Crazy Rogues stand. A perfect celtic-punk tune with everything that makes celtic-punk great. Story based lyrics with a solid punk rock base embellished with Irish instruments especially the fiddle again. Songs to get you both thinking and dancing is what celtic-punk is all about!

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So six Crazy Rogues composed songs that clock in at a very healthy twenty-five minutes and not a single sign of a cover version. All sang in English with a multitude of musical styles thrown into the celtic-punk mix and with very thoughtful lyrics about a multitude of subjects that are very easy to understand. Rebel’s Shanties is an excellent EP and The Crazy Rogues continue to forge ahead to make a name for themselves in celtic-punk circles. Like both their previous releases Rebel’s Shanties is available for ‘Name Your Price’ download which basically means pay nothing if you got nothing and a couple of pounds (or more) if you got a couple of pounds. This EP is certainly worthy of it.

(listen to the Rebel Shantie’s EP for free by pressing play on the player below)

Download The EP  Bandcamp

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So all in all a very impressive start for our Hungarian celtic-punk week. Check back in a couple of days for part two of three. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and if you got any sense you better be) the best place to find it is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here

EP REVIEW: IN FOR A PENNY- ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’ (2016)

Rowdy Irish folk punk from Tybee Island, Georgia in the southeastern United States
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The first Irish may have rowed ashore in Savannah (Georgia’s largest city) way way back in 1734 but it has taken over 280 years for an Irish band to pop up. Fortunately the wait was worth it. There’s a rich and deeply held Irish-American heritage in the Savannah with the area holding one of the oldest, and second largest in the world!, St Patrick’s Day celebrations but until 2014 it was nigh on impossible to find some local rowdy live Irish music… that was until In For A Penny came around. 

savannah-irishThe original Irish that arrived in Georgia were descendants of the Calvinist Scots who had been planted in Ulster in the 1600’s. These Irish made their living trading, trapping and soldiering. They included Sergeant William Jasper who was mortally wounded leading the charge to retake Savannah from the British in 1779 but the main chapter in local Irish history began in the 1830’s like it did with so many other Irish towns across America. With the arrival of the railway the owners needed a plentiful supply of workers willing to do the back breaking hard labour required, and that is where the Irish came in. According to ‘Irish History in Savannah, Georgia’ here

“The story goes that Irish were employed on the railroad because, unlike slaves, their bodies had no commercial value and could be worked to exhaustion with impunity. A second wave of Irish immigration followed two decades later when the ‘potato famine’ in the old country forced many to seek new shores.”

savannah-irish-festThese Irish on arrival suffered prejudice and discrimination but it was that willingness to do the dirty, dangerous and low-paid work that made them important to Savannah’s economy. As in other parts of America the Irish soon realised the best way to raise their collective lot was with political clout and they soon became, and remain still, major players in Savannah society.

Sean McNally only began playing the mandolin in 2014 after taking a few years away from the music scene but a few open mic performances and a regular solo spot which was dubbed ‘Monday Mandolin Mayhem’ and after responding to an audience request to play the Dropkick Murphys Sean realised something. If he can get such a great audience reaction to a stripped down cover song on just mando and vocals the next step was to form a band. Gathering around him old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums and Jeremy Riddle on guitar and like a celtic-punk Van Halen the last member of the band is Sean’s son Bryce on bass.

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This is In For A Penny’s second release after last years debut album, The Guardian Angel Sessions. We missed that but the good folk at Celtic Folk Punk And More never miss anything so you can read their review of that here. This EP follows pretty much the same route as the album with a handful of Irish standards butting up against a handful of self -penned songs. Needless to say I much prefer their own songs though there is nothing like a song like ‘The Rare Auld Mountain Dew’ to get the blood pumping and the ales flowing. In For A Penny have that age old problem for Irish/Celtic-punk bands. They could quite easily just keep singing the standards and the bookings would still roll in and they would keep everyone happy but every musician must have the urge to get some of their own material out and when it’s as good as In For A Penny’s then I’m afraid it is a necessity!

in-for-a-penny-skullOn Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day you get five tracks, two covers and three originals that clock in at a very healthy sixteen minutes. Its basically a collection of drinking songs with a shed load of energy all done with enough of their own approach to stand it out. The EP begins with ‘The Rare Auld Mountain Dew’ which was around for years before The Pogues and The Dubliners collaborated back in 1987 for a Top Ten hit in Britain and re-introduced it to future generations. Dating from 1882 it has become fairly popular but you’ll not hear a pumped up version like this one too often. Sean has a real strong voice that suits the style of the band completely and errs more towards to the Drew/MacGowan style of singing than the O’Donnells! Another original Whiskey in Heaven’ is up next and Sean introduces the song to his Dad and Bryce’s Grandad who sadly passed away last year. He must be well proud sitting up there with a Jameson’s in hand looking down.

“I’m not ready to go / I’m having too much fun, I’m having too much fun / When it’s my time to go /I hope there’s whiskey in heaven”
The last time he saw the band play they played ‘Whiskey In Heaven’ so seems apt to dedicate this to him. Great songwriting and  I recently heard the phrase (from a non-Irish person) about drinking songs and “racial stereotyping”. Well I can think of no better words to reply than what a load of fecking bollocks. The Irish drink. Obviously not all but it is part of our culture and if you don’t get it then keep your opinions to yourself rather than try and score points off the celtic-punk scene.
(here’s a live version with the sound quite low so get it turned up!)

Another original up next which was the first release from the EP. ‘Stumblin’ Home’ is the standout for me here with a seriously great singalong chorus and the addition of some great fiddle from one of the bands mates. You need to get this fella signed up Sean. It’s the slowest of the songs so far, or so it seems, but Sean’s vocals keep the energy right up there.

The band released the class video for ‘Stumblin’ Home’ above, which was filmed over the course of two days at various pubs, Sean’s flat and on their home streets of Tybee Island, Georgia. Have a watch and tell me you not been there too… Love the tricolour and The Rumjacks t-shirt by the way Sean!
in-for-a-pennyNext up is the bhoys St Patrick’s Day anthem ‘Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day’ and you can breathe a sigh of relief as these guys know full on well it’s not St Patty’s! Now can you just tell the rest of America for us. A bit of tin whistle comes in here and adds to the sound and as anthems go its a good ‘un. We’d all love it to be true but our livers would disagree but whens the last time we gave them a word edgeways. A great riproaring trek through Irish-America’s good and bad bits about our patron Saints feast day in which they reveal the major reason they think ‘Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day’ is that they would never be short of a place to play! The EP comes to an end with the other standout for me. ‘The Parting Glass’ was made famous by The Clancy Brothers and is the perfect way to end any record. Sean plays mandolin and sings along and I don’t know why but I find it absolutely brilliant. We all have our own reasons to like this song and usually it’s to do with someone close to us and I’m no different. Sean’s reigns in the energy and instead lets emotion come out and his hoarse raspy vocals do indeed do the song perfect justice.
If I was local to these boys then I just know we would be great mates and no doubt great drinking buddies too. In For A Penny are not pretending to be anything they’re not it’s just good old fashioned Irish music with an injection of punk rock spirit that will keep the flames alive for the next generation of Irish down Savannah way.
Get The EP
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LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2016!

Yes I know it only seems like five minutes since the last one but it’s that time of year again when we give you, for what it’s worth, our opinion on who made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over 2016. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. So read on to find out who came #1! Remember though this is only our opinion and these twenty-five album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

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TOP 25 CELTIC PUNK ALBUMS

1. THE RUMJACKS (Australia)-‘Sleepin’Rough’  Review

2. THE NARROWBACKS (New York)- ‘Arrogance & Ignorance’  Review

3. THE CLOVES AND THE TOBACCO (Indonesia)- ‘Across The Horizon’  Review

4. MICKEY RICKSHAW (Boston)- ‘Behind The Eight Ball’  Review

5. THE WAKES (Glasgow)- ‘Venceremos!’  Review 

Absolutely no surprise here at all. For the first time we had an unanimous vote from all the admin’s that sees The Rumjacks sail away with the #1 spot for the second year running. It’s been an outstanding year for the Bhoys and with an American tour on the horizon they about to take another giant step in their campaign of world domination! Other notables were NYC’s Narrowbacks whose second album really showed the depth of their songwriting and could just have easily won the folk/trad best of too! The Cloves And The Tobacco deserve plaudits galore in another fantastic year for Indonesian celtic punk bands while Mickey Rickshaw could probably be said to have won the ‘unified title’ across all the various celtic-punk sites. In all we have twenty five bands from fourteen countries including USA x 6, Australia x 3, Indonesia x2, Germany x2, Netherlands x2, Catalonia x 2, Scotland, Italy, Sweden, Brazil, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia and Belarus with The Wakes being the only Celtic country based band which goes to show how international the scene has become.

6. THE CLAN (Italy)- ‘All In The Name Of Folk’  Review

7. HOIST THE COLORS (USA)- ‘Mourners’  Review

8. SIR REG (Sweden)- ‘Modern Day Disgrace’  Review

9. FOX n FIRKIN (Australia)- ‘No Vacancy’  Review

10. FIDDLER’S GREEN (Germany)- ‘Devil’s Dozen’  Review

11. LUGH (Brazil)- ‘Histórias Do Mar’  Review

12. JAY WARS AND THE HOWARD YOUTH (Australia)- ‘Love In The Time Of Fear’  Review

13. BUNCH OF BASTARDS (Netherlands)- ‘My Drinkin’ Ain’t Done’  Review

14. SIGELPA (Catalonia)- ‘Rabant Original’  Review

15. TENHOLES (Indonesia)- ‘Loyalty’  Review

16. THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS (Germany)- ‘Seven Hearts One Soul’  Review

17. 13KRAUSS (Spain)- TheEnd Is Nigh’  Review

18. DRINK HUNTERS (Catalonia)- ‘Shameless’  Review

19. PIRATES OF THE PUBS (Czech Republic)- ‘Drunken Forever’  Review

20. THE MUCKERS (USA)- ‘The Muckers’  Review

21. LQR (Netherlands)- ’10 Pinter’  Review

22. THE Пауки/THE PAUKI (Russia)- ‘La Isla Del Muerto’  Review

23. Всё CRAZY (Belarus)- ‘По Морям’  Review

24. RUSTY NAIL (USA)- ‘Bitter Ale, Bitter Heart’  Review

25. THE LANGER’S BALL (USA)- ‘Whiskey Outlaws’  Review

A special mention here to the ever prolific and always a pleasurable experience The Mahones who released a greatest hits entitled The Very Best: 25 Years Of Irish Punk which couldn’t be included in the Top 25 but if it did would have given The Rumjacks a run for their money!

TOP TEN CELTIC PUNK EP’S

1. MICK O’TOOLE (England)- ‘A Working Class Battalion’  Review

2. THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY (Australia)- ‘Whitewashed Graves’  Review

3. DRUNKEN FAIRY TALES (Russia) – ‘Пьяные Сказки’  Review

With The Rumjacks returning a year later to sweep the Album Of The Year it’s no surprise then that Wiltshire lads Mick O’Toole follow up last year’s win in the EP Of The Year awards to do the same thing. A great year for them that has seen them play less and less within the celtic-punk scene and really start to make waves outside of it. A foreign tour and more support slots to various punk rock legends than most bands play in a lifetime and all in the space of twelve months. The Ramshackle Army EP got lost in the post leaving us to do a rush-job review and given time I’m sure they may have given the O’Toole’s a run for their money. Drunken Fairy Tales impressed everyone and Matilda’s vinyl only release deserve a mention as well Mick O’Toole grabbing the 5th spot too.

4. MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS (England)- ‘Crowleys Curse’  Review

5. MICK O’TOOLE (England)- ‘False Flag Collapse’  Review

6. BAY STREET BASTARDS (Canada)- ‘Small Batch’  Review

7. LEXINGTON FIELD (USA)- ‘Redwood’  Review

8. HANDSOME YOUNG STRANGERS (Australia)- ‘Battle Of Broken Hill’  Review

9. MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS (England)- ‘The Organworks Recordings Session’  Review

10.  BALSALL HEATHENS (England)- ‘Life’s Too Short’  Review

TOP TEN FOLK/TRADITIONAL RELEASES

1. ANTO MORRA (London)-’16’  Review

2. THE LOGUES (Ireland)- ‘Comin’ Of Age’  Review

3. MICKEY RICKSHAW (Boston)- ‘Wild Atlantic’  Review

Possibly the hardest Best Of List of them all to do is this one as so many releases cross over the genres between rock and punk and folk and trad but our good friend Anto Morra, the ‘London Irish folk-punker’, just edging it from The Logues with his superb tribute to the 1916 Easter Rising. Mickey Rickshaw swept to third with their specially recorded acoustic EP that came out for their European tour and ShamRocks put out an album of high quality and original Irish folk with imagination galore. A special mention for Blackwater Banshee whose EP came out later in the year and shows enormous promise and one or two original songs would have seen a much higher position I am sure.

4. ShamRocks (Ukraine)- ‘Captain’s Log’  Review

5. LARKIN (USA)- ‘A Toast To St. Jude’  Review

6. FOLK THE SYSTEM (England)- Unrest In The Wolds’  Review

7. SHAMBOLICS (Australia)- ‘Riot On Race Day’  Review

8. CLEAR THE BATTLE FIELD (USA)- ‘Set Me Free’  Review

9. SOLAS (USA)- ‘All These Years’  Review

10. BLACKWATER BANSHEE (Bristol)- ‘Blackwater Banshee’  Review

TOP CELTIC PUNK WEB-SITE

Now this has over the years become the Celtic Folk Punk And More Top Celtic Punk Web-Site award so often has that esteemed site walked away with the top spot but there’s a new kid on the block and this year we are happy to award top spot to our good mates over at Mersey Celt Punks. They only kicked off the site a few months ago but super regular postings on all manner of celtic-punkness has seen them triumphant. You can join their fun over at Twitter and Facebook and we heartily recommend you do. A special mention here also for Viva La XV another new kid on the block which looks amazing but sadly as none of us can read Spanish we can’t tell if it’s as good as it looks! We’re sure it is and you can check it out for yourselves at the Blog or over on Facebook.

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Right now the details. The Best Of lists were cajoled and bullied out of the four admins on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The various scraps of crumpled paper were received and then tallied up over several pints of Guinness in Mannions in north London while watching the football on the telly.

We are now in our fourth year of doing these Best Of lists so if you would like to have a look at the previous years best in celtic-punk then click the link below the relevant year.

all the major players in celtic-punk do Best Of lists so click below to check out what they thought

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

PADDYROCK

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

CELTIC-ROCK.DE

remember any views or comments we would love to hear them…

Only one more thing to mention about 2016 and that is to remember here Erik Petersen the lead singer of the influential folk-punk band Mischief Brew who sadly passed away earlier this year. I still find it hard to believe that he has gone but he will always be commemorated.

“So tattoo our arms and raise our glasses, call out your name at New Year’s Eve, maybe next time we kneel at a casket, we can say at least the story’s complete”

Read our obituary for Erik here and raise a glass the next time you get the chance to.

 Rest In Peace comrade.

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2017

SHIPPING UP TO LONDON! MICKEY RICKSHAW ON TOUR. 7th-9th JANUARY IN LONDON

Heading to these shores for the first time ever in January 2017. Ten days and counting! These awesome Boston celtic-punkers are coming to London, Kingston and Woking as part of their European tour.

We need your help in spreading the news of these gigs to anyone you know. Join the Events on Facebook and share and invite your mates. We know it’s hard trying to get people to watch relatively unknown bands but with your help lets make this tour a success for the Boston Bhoys!

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Well well well we all know that The Dropkick Murphys can’t go on for ever and with Boston’s place secured in celtic-punk folklore then who then will take on their mantle when they have retired to the great celtic-punk in the sky? Well I know a band that is more than capable and are ready and waiting in the wings to take over. That band are fellow Bostonians Mickey Rickshaw. A team of young fired up, blue collar, Irish Americans in touch with both their working class American lives and their roots back in the auld country. With Boston’s revered place in the history of punk, especially of the hardcore variety, and its massive, and vocal, Irish population its only natural that celtic-punk should have caught on so well among the Boston Irish community like nowhere else. Traditional celtic folk and punk rock aggression equals the 100% perfect sound for the Boston Irish and if the Murphys invented celtic-punk post Pogues then they have done their job well to hand the baton on to bands like Mickey Rickshaw that will take the sound on for the next generation.

With an Demo EP behind them from 2013, 16 Down and Back Again, it was their critically successful album, No Heaven For Heroes, from last year that saw Mickey Rickshaw’s name explode onto the celtic-punk scene with universal great reviews and plaudits heaped upon them from all corners of the globe. Reaching the top echelons of all the major celtic-punk Best Of lists, including #9 in the London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Of 2015 here.

So this brings onto that new album,  Behind The Eight Ball, again Mickey Rickshaw have hit the jackpot. Eleven tracks of blistering celtic-punk rock that I can’t honestly imagine anyone from yer finger in the ear folkie to yer crustie auld punk not loving the hell out of it. Whizzing past at you at just under half an hour it’s a frenetic sprint to the finish and bar a couple of moments is fast as hell celtic punk rock to be mentioned in the same breath as the Dropkick Murphys so good is this album. Celtic Folk Punk And More web site seem to have already crowned it album of the year here!

And so it is that Wild Atlantic lands across our desk. Indeed the Bhoys from Mickey Rickshaw will be crossing the said ‘wild’Atlantic’ very shortly and bringing their original and brand of celtic-punk to several cities across Europe during January 2016. With four songs, two taken from No Heaven for Heroes, one from Behind The Eight Ball and a new track all done in the stripped down acoustic style they shall be touring with it certainly loses none of its power by being acoustic and if anything proves the old adage right about you know a band is loud when they out punk an electric band with a banjo and a accordion! It’s available for free download at the link below but be warned. Once listened to you will not want to miss their gig/s I can guarantee it!!

MICKEY RICKSHAW TOUR 2017

rickshaw-stagsheadSaturday 7th January 2017 Opening night of the tour at The Stags Head, 55 Orsman Rd, Hoxton, London N1 5RA. Local bus routes include 149, 242, 243, 67. The pub borders Hoxton, Shoreditch, Dalston and Islington. 7-30pm start and admission is £5. Supports from Hastings folk-punkers MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, local female fronted Anarcho’s REFUSE/ALL, that man again COMRADE X and GREENFORD BHOY- DJ  Venue here Facebook event here

lcp-kingstonSunday 8th January 2017 at The Cricketers, 20 Fairfield South, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2UL. An absolutely fantastic venue that is only ten minutes walk from the rail station and the music venue is upstairs. Support comes from MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, post-punk band with a Celtic twist PHOENIX CHROI, a solo set from BRENDAN O’PREY from local celtic-punk legends The Lagan and GREENFORD BHOY- DJ. It’s a 7-30pm start and admission is just a paltry fiver. Venue here Facebook event here

lcp-wokingMonday 9th January 2016 at The Phoenix Cultural Centre, 27 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6JT. Just a very short walk from Woking bus and rail stations. Come and say goodbye to the Bhoys and send them on their way to Europe with a smile in their hearts and with raging hangover’s! No bar in the centre only tea and coffee. Only joking it’s BYOB. Yes that’s right it’s BRING YOUR OWN BOOZE… and on a school night too! Support from COMRADE X and one more to be confirmed as well as GREENFORD BHOY- DJ. Live music from 7-30 until 10-30pm and admission is £4. Venue here Facebook Event here

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2016 REVIEWS ROUND-UP PART TWO. KORRIGAN’S CELTIC ROCK, MICK FLANNERY, ACROSS THE BORDER, TENHOLES, THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY, KING OF THE TRAVELLERS

Every year we have been doing this has got better and better for celtic-punk releases. As happy as we are that this is so it also means that we just cannot keep up with everything out there. We haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 2 of our 2016 Round Up where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but it has been impossible to keep up so here’s a few quick ones just to catch up and get 2016 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. Last week we featured releases from the America’s (here) so this time we will try to fit in the entire rest of the world taking in Ireland, Indonesia, Germany, France and good auld Australia!

KORRIGAN’S CELTIC ROCK- ‘Tournée Générale!’ EP  (Bandcamp)

korrigansThere is quite a strong and vibrant celtic-punk scene happening in France at the moment and by France I mean France and not Brittany which as you should know is a completely different country! One of these bands are Korrigan’s Celtic Rock who were formed in 2007 in Franche-Comté in eastern France and released their debut EP, Tournée Générale!, earlier this year. They take their name from the mythical creatures who were opposed to Christianity when the Apostles came to convert Brittany. The EP kicks off with a rocking start with tin whistle that AC/DC would be proud of. Next up is ‘Hypocrisie’ with more of a ska beat and the bombarde is introduced. I love the sound of this instrument and will be familiar to fans of the Breton legends Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs. They add bagpipes too into ‘Putain De…’  and this is my favourite track of the EP. The title track ends the EP and is straight up celtic-punk rock. A quarter of a hour well spent. These guys cover all the angles and we are destined to hear much more from them in 2017.

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MICK FLANNERY- ‘I Own You’ LP (iTunes  TowerRecords)

mick-flannery-2016Mick Flannery comes from county Cork in the south of Ireland and funnily enough the artist he reminds me of the most is also from Cork, Cathal Coughlan of the excellent Microdisney/Fatima Mansions. This is Mick’s fifth album and the first I’ve heard properly. There may not be much here for the traditional celtic-punk fan except that if you love good music then you will also love this. From what I have read this album is much darker than his previous releases and the excellent Tom Wait-esque title track is based on the idea of class inequality and told as a poor man breaking into a rich man’s house. Dark and foreboding and downright bloody brilliant!

Thought you heard something on the way home, was that a rustle, was that my belly rumblin?”

Elements of rap and dance music alongside the dark folk and even darker pop here and the songwriting is compelling and worthy of hearing just on it’s own. On ‘Cameo’ Mick’s famous introspection comes out.

But if I’m so happy/ why do I lie awake at night?/ Why am I angry all the time?”

Though often found with an electric guitar its still very much based on folk melodies and the comparison to Bob Dylan and his change to electric guitar himself is not so odd.

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ACROSS THE BORDER- ‘Calling 999’ EP  (Bandcamp)
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Formed in Remchingen in the South of Germany not far from the French border Calling 999 is their first release since they reformed having split up back in 2012 having been together since 1991! It sure is good to have them back as on the basis of this EP they right are back on form. With a stack of LP’s and EP’s behind them this stands up there with the best of them. A mainly accordion led band, very popular in their home country, this EP begins with the title track and its catchy punk folk throughout with distinctive vocals from Jochen with the lyrics sung in English. ‘Rob, The Man’ is a hilarious romp showing a good sense of humour with a good auld Irish twist with plenty of fiddle this time. The EP ends with the sad but lovely ‘Sometimes’ and your nine minutes is up with a real Tom Waits-esque bar-room ballad accompanied with piano and accordion. This is the song it would be worth getting your lighter out for! A great release but far too short. We want more!
TENHOLES- ‘Loyalty’  (Juno)
tenholesFormed in 2004 in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta Tenholes are a working class Oi! band with celtic music influences. Loyalty is their second album and their best yet. ten songs and thirty-five minutes of punk rock’n’roll from the streets that reminds me of those first couple of Flatfoot 56 albums for energy. An absolute stunner of an album. Great production and comes bursting out the speakers at you from Track One. We have featured Indonesian bands several times before when we reviewed Dirty Glass (here), the great Indonesian celtic-punk compilation Wind From The Foreign Land (here) and the review of The Cloves And The Tobacco last album (here) so go there to find out more about this fantastic scene. So much to recommend here but for certain if you favour the Dropkicks/Flatfoot then this album is for you. I give you a guarantee you WILL love it! You can hear plenty of music at their Facebook page under the Band Profile tab including some songs from Loyalty. Anthems for the working class with stories of urban life, stories about them and us!

KING OF THE TRAVELLERS- ‘Pros & Cons’  (Soundcloud)
king-of-the-travellers-2The third release from Fremantle seven-piece King of the Travellers. Blending elements of folk, punk, ska and gypsy music to create a hoe-down of epic proportions! With instruments as diverse as the French horn and clarinet they are not your run-of-the-mill folk punk band but there experimentation does remind me of fellow Aussies the Dead Maggies even if their music aint too similar. With a reputation as a raucous live music act how well did they manage to transfer their sound to disc? Well the answer is pretty damn well. First track ‘Another Day’ has brass and a catchy ska-ish beat to it and kicks off these six songs in style. They speed it up for ‘Travel Away’ and then slow it down for ‘First Thought’ and again its all catchy as hell with the many instruments blending very well together thanks to the spotless production. Gypsy/Eastern Europe flavours the next song ‘Curly’ and on ‘Trenches’ the mando is back in charge for this anti-war song which sounds to me like something Stiff Records may have come out back in the day.

The EP comes to an end with ‘Curly Reprise’ which is of course the earlier track ‘Curly’ slowed down but with extra flourish. The clarinet works surprisingly well and could maybe have done with popping up a bit more often. Overall a solid EP. Not a weak song here just catchy punky folk music with a stack of influences from all over the place and spat back out by a bunch of Aussie’s. Now that is recommendation enough surely!
THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY- ‘Whitewashed Graves’ (Bandcamp)
ramshackleAnd our final review of 2016 is also one of the best we reviewed and no surprises that it’s another Australian release! Just released earlier this month this is the first new record from The Ramshackle Army since the beginning of 2014 but they have certainly been busy if not recording then touring right across the globe! The band began in the pubs and bars of their home town Melbourne but The Ramshackle Army have gone on to become one of the leading lights in the Australian celtic-punk scene and in a scene that is chock-a-block with great bands then that ought to be recommendation enough. Hampered by line up changes they have now got a settled team so lets hope it leads to a new album soon. Here we get six songs and just under twenty minutes of high tempo, catchy as feck traditional celtic-punk. The standout track gotta be the single ‘Foreign Soil’ but it could easily have been any of them such is the quality of this fine EP.
“Imprisoned by our plight and desperate acts faith,
They enter battles in our name and battle cry our pain,
Just keep me sane and welcome my escape”
All the songs are self penned and its an absolute stunning return to the scene from one of the best bands in it. Heavily influenced by the story-telling style of the Aussie folk/celtic-punk tradition that bursts with  the live energy of an Ramshackle Army live gig. Highly recommended!

So ends Part 2 of our Round-Up’s and we are sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full on London Celtic Punks treatment. Apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

EP REVIEW: MICKEY RICKSHAW- ‘Wild Atlantic’ (2016)

FREE DOWNLOAD

BOSTON CELTIC-PUNK RULES OK!

One month today the hottest young band in Boston and one of the major acts in the entire celtic punk scene set foot in England for a 3-date tour. Be sure not to miss them!

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There’s a band taking the celtic-punk scene by storm, and for once they are NOT Australian! The band are Mickey Rickshaw and they hail from Boston. Not that one, the one in the USA that is the spiritual home of celtic-punk. A crown that did belong to London until The Pogues split up. Anyways we waxed lyrically about them just the other week when we reviewed their absolutely stunning new album Hiding Behind The Eight Ball. You can read that here and rather than re-tread what we already wrote we will let the music do the talking. and also for once we can go on and on about a band raving about how brilliant they are and you can think that’s all well and good but when am I ever going to see them live? Well the good news here is within a few weeks!!

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The EP was recorded in the bedroom of the lead singer Mike, not that you’d notice, by Mike and Shane, who plays tin whistle in the band. It all kicks off with ‘Sapphire Hills’ which appeared on their debut album No Heaven for Heroes.

“Home is where the heart is but my heart is on the road when I’m at home.
The traveler can not sit still in the quiet room.
This road is all I want to know, and I can’t see no use in coming home.
Fly with the winds, change with the tides – keep on moving.

There’s gonna come a time when you’ve gotta choose love or the road.
This time I’m gonna choose the road – not looking back on what I sold.
These ghosts are all I’ve ever known.
It’s time I finally let my spirit roam.
Fly with the winds, change with the tides – keep moving.

You’ll never lose your soul if you take advantage of it while you’re young.
Don’t let it rot, don’t let it rust, don’t let it sit collecting dust.
The road provides you with a home.
It keeps you young and stimulates your soul.
Fly with the winds, change with the tides – keep moving”

Next up is a new track, ‘Rope’, and again shows the versatility of this group. This sounds like acoustic Street Dogs or even the Street Dogs/Dropkicks side project FM359 (here).


‘Monday Warning’ appears on that new album and is perhaps the most irish sounding song on Wild Atlantic.

“I never wanted to grow old,
but when you’re 17, you just can’t face the cold.
And I’ve taken some hits, and felt the heat
from screaming down the road of a dead end street.

And my heroes, they said to me,
“When you fall down, you get back up on your feet.”
And there’s just one thing, that you’ve gotta know,
You can not take it with you when you go.

We said we’d never follow blindly.
We’d never fall behind.
We’d never settle for a life that would leave our souls behind.
Or let them drown in the common troubles of an ordinary life.
We’d keep that fire in our souls alive and burning bright.

And I always said that I’d never change.
And to this day, I still feel the same.
But I look around at what still remains,
And I guess that’s what they call growing pains.

And I fought that clarity.
That lifts the veil and shows you what could be.
Didn’t want to know- didn’t want to see
what happened to that everlasting plea.

We said we’d never follow blindly.
We’d never fall behind.
We’d never settle for a life that would leave our souls behind.
Or let them drown in the common troubles of an ordinary life.
We’d keep that fire in our souls alive and burning bright”

The final song here is ‘No Heaven for Heroes’ which was the title track of that debut album from last year and ends the EP on a high note.

Mickey Rickshaw have released this EP to help promote their forthcoming European tour in January 2017. With work commitments and other stuff it was always going to prove hard to get all the assorted (8 and counting) members of the band over so they are doing the tour acoustic.
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  • Saturday 7th January 2017 at The Stags Head, 55 Orsman Rd, Hoxton, London N1 5RA. Local bus routes include 149, 242, 243, 67. The pub borders Hoxton, Shoreditch, Dalston and Islington. 7-30pm start and admission is £5. Supports from MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, REFUSE/ALL, COMRADE X.  Venue here Facebook event here
  • Sunday 8th January 2017 at The Cricketers, 20 Fairfield South, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2UL. Only ten minutes walk from the rail station and the music venue is upstairs. Supports from MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, BRENDAN O’PREY (The Lagan). 7-30pm start and admission is £5. Venue here Facebook event here 
  • Monday 9th January 2016 at The Phoenix Cultural Centre, 27 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6JT. Just a very short walk from the rail station. Come say goodbye to the Bhoys and send them on their way. Its BYOB. Yes that’s right it’s BRING YOUR OWN BOOZE… and on a school night too! 7-30pm start and admission is £4. Venue here Facebook Event here
You can listen to the whole of Wild Atlantic below for free and if you like what you hear, and I’m positive you will do , then the band are offering the whole EP as a pay what you want download so have no shame. If you got a couple of quid send it on to them but if you’re skint then download away anyway guilt free!

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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.

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.

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

Pre-album four track sampler EP from northern English fiddle punk band The Silk Road.
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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.
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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.
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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”

EP REVIEW: SLAINE- ‘Slaine Is Dead’ (2016)

Irish-American hip-hop artist, lyricist, famous actor, gambler, Bostonian and professional asshole!

slaine-is-dead

Life is hard for some. That much is clear. The story of Irish-America is one of success and how after years of toil and racism and bigotry against them the Irish finally lifted them selves from the ghetto’s and universal success became the order of the day. Well there are two Irish-America’s and Slaine’s, real name George Carroll, is definitly the most interesting. After all it is working class Irish-American life that Hollywood likes to make TV and movies about.

slaineSlaine’s life reads like a novel. Born in Dorchester, home of several past and present members of The Dropkick Murphys and a large Irish community, Slaine got into hip-hop at a early age

“I started writing rhymes when I was nine years old, I use to record on my boom box with a pair of headphones plugged into the microphone jack. I felt they were just words on a page because I didn’t have an outlet to perform them”

and recognising the path to stardom lay in a move to New York he later packed his bags and moved to New York City and enrolled in school. After only seven months, an unfortunate altercation between Slaine and a school employee resulted in his expulsion. He didn’t let this set him back and he remained determined and focused. Surviving on the hard lonely streets of New York City by doing anything he could lay his hand to and eventually it paid dividend and he was introduced to Danny Boy O’Connor of House of Pain. This led to him being signed to a production deal with DJ Lethal of House of Pain which led to the release of ‘The White Man is the Devil’ (‘white man’ being a reference to cocaine, not a declaration of self hate) and touring world-wide. In a very short time he had gone from living in absolute poverty with a drug habit to traveling the globe and working with hip-hop icons such as House of Pain, Cypress Hill and a whole host of others. He became part of the mostly Irish-American hip-hop collective La Coka Nostra alongside Ill Bill and all three members of House of Pain – Everlast, DJ Lethal and Danny Boy. La Coka Nostra’s debut album, A Brand You Can Trust went straight in at #84 in the American Top 200 showing that the group’s brand of blue collar hip-hop was exactly what fans were waiting for. Slaine’s name continued to grow far past his hometown of Boston due to the exposure he was receiving but as his music career grew, so did his personal battle with drugs. Overdoses, hospital visits and a spiral of drugs and violence, continued until he finally checked himself into rehab.

“Everybody had a story to tell. That was where the idea and the hunger for ‘The White Man is the Devil’ was born”

On conquering his addiction, fellow Bostonian Ben Affleck presented Slaine with the chance of a lifetime to make his acting debut playing Bubba Rogowski in the gritty portrayal of Boston-Irish life in Gone Baby Gone. Both a critical and financial success this led to Slaine going on to star in, among others, The Town, The Crack Down and Bad Blood alongside such famed actors as  Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini. While scaling the heights in the acting world he returned again and again to his hip-hop roots releasing several album’s of hard hitting lyrical content and vicious delivery. His last official release was The King Of Everything Else album back in 2014 so we have have awaiting his return with baited breathe.
slaine-king

The EP kicks off with ‘Slaine Is Dead (Intro)’ which is in fact part of the beautiful ‘The Ballad Of Mairead Farrell’ which tells of an IRA volunteer gunned down on active service in Gibralter in 1988. One of the saddest of all rebel songs and nails Slaine’s colours to the mast from the first few seconds. I first heard this song as played by Irish-American band Seanchai and The Unity Squad and you can find their great version here . Slaine Is Dead really starts with the title song next and Slaine’s lyrics come busting straight out of his heart into the speakers at you.

“So many dark days they have ruptured my patience
I’d like to part ways but I’m stuck in the matrix
See I’ve been out of luck, so corrupted and faithless
And now without a buck I’m like fuck it I hate this
So many close calls, all these brushes with greatness
But not enough to power my spaceship
Not enough to persuade the gods right and face where they sit
As they parade the dogs of war off fake cliff
And that’s how It felt from grace, through the winds of sin
I had to go and find my wings again
While the angel of death goes and sings the hymn
As he strangle my breath, tore me limb from limb
Well you let your soul slip to the other side
Will the caterpillar turn into the butterfly?
I can see the pain falling from my mothers eyes
But I keep on falling for these fucking lies
So my mind holding on to the liquor and coke
In my fire room it’s out but there’s a flicker of hope
In these institution walls where they kickin’ the dope
I’m reminded of the power of that shit that I wrote
I walk with the devil, talking to God
Murder stories in this purgatory, coughing up blood
But I will not break, I will not fall
This is just another rhyme that I wrote on my wall

It’s been so long, you see my face
While I come back to plead my case
When I’m gone and time comes to make a leap of faith
There’s no way to keep the secret safe
That Slaine is dead”

In a career where Slaine has achieved heights that others can only dream of his music career has been mostly based on confronting both his demons and his failures. The EP sleeve features the dates 1977-2014. That is the year he was born and the year Slaine finally threw the monkey of addiction off his back and went sober. After years of dependency he was free and music and acting became his way of ensuring he was never going to return to those days. That Slaine is dead.

His life as an addict is depicted further on ‘Nobody Prays For Me’ which features Demrick and this lyrical masterpiece continues. The dictionary definition of an ‘seanchaí’ is of a storyteller

“…were servants to the chiefs of the tribe and kept track of important information for their clan. They were very well respected and they made use of a range of storytelling conventions, styles of speech and gestures that were peculiar to the Irish folk tradition and characterized them as practitioners of their art”

and Slaine is certainly a modern age equivalent of that ancient art. In the first single from the EP ‘Pusher’ Slaine takes us into the dark and dangerous world of the drug dealer. These weren’t the times that he is proud of but he’s presenting them here as a warning to others not to follow the path he trod.

‘Just The Way You Are’ features guest vocals from fellow Mass. rapper Termanology and chronicles both his battles with addiction and the effect it had upon his family and friends. ‘Knocked Down’ features Rite Hook guesting. Rite Hook is a lost son of Massachusetts himself. Years of hard living defined his early career and in 2012, he overdosed and died. His heart stopped completely, and paramedics had to revive him. A survivor in the truest sense of the word he returned to music and like Slaine it came with a newfound focus. On ‘Legendary’ (featuring Ill Bill, Vinnie Paz and Jared Evan) we can begin to see the light, for want of a better word. He’s been to rock bottom and is starting to fight back. His drive to become ‘Legendary’ has been finally achieved so we can witness his salvation on the final track ‘Coming Home’.

slaine-is-dead3

Slaine’s music is hard, dark and aggressive. It always has been. Irish-American life is not always ‘Shamrocks And Shenanigans’. Sometimes its hard. We Irish come from a complicated race and it’s always been true that our worse enemy is within ourselves. Our struggles with alcoholism and drugs are well documented and often are hidden behind closed doors and though the working class life that Slaine and others come from may not be one you are familiar with but it exists. Slaine has fought hard but has never walked away from his roots. He deserves his salvation.

“I love making music that means something to me, I am grateful for all the experiences that I have had- good and bad. I am lucky to be alive, but my past also made me who I am today”

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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.

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.

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