We rarely touch upon Folk-Metal on the site but when we do we tend to love it and Swede’s Rådarna have a new 3-track EP out now. Several Metal genres and even a touch of Celtic-Punk make this an EP well worth checking out.
Outside of the Celtic diaspora in places like north America, Australia and the UK Celtic music has always been popular but in a strict ‘Folk’ style but in the Scandinavian countries they have married that traditional Folk sound to their own native music and to Heavy Metal music rather than Punk with bands like the Finnish bands Finntroll and Korpiklaani. The sound spread to Ireland with Cruachan drawing inspiration from Black Metal with the Folk music of Ireland. These days Folk-Metal has become popular throughout the world and thrown up bands that play music with various influences including Folk, Celtic Folk, Pirate and Medieval influences. All of which crisscross at regular intervals and sometimes barely a cigarette paper can be found to separate them.
Today’s review is of the Swedish band Rådarna and while not really a band as such and more of a collaboration group of musicians founded by Rikard Falk with José MiguelMartinez who came together to write an album. That album, 2021’s The Fomorian Horde was very well received and even won Best Debut Album of 2021 on the excellent Folk-Metal web-site Folk-Metal NL. As Rikard says
“it’s sort of like the Frankenstein monster, he was just the monster but since everyone called him Frankenstein you eventually have to give in and be like, yes that’s Frankenstein! I and Jose Miguel Matinez write the music. Alexander VanTrue, Felipe Gruber, Salpien & Hector Ruano does the recording under my supervision.”
They have followed on from that album in pretty much the same vein with the new release, a 3-track EP called Heavenly Demons. On first track ‘The Braggarts Ballad’ everything that made the album so popular is in place. Mythology, drinking and plenty of dark humour bounce off each other and I’m sure Folk-Metal purists won’t mind me saying that it can be quite a humourless genre but Rådarna nail it without falling into parody. Various Metal styles are invoked here plus their are moments where they stray into Celtic-Punk too and it’s that mix of influences that gives the EP such a winning touch. Not having heard a great deal of the band Finntroll but it is to this bunch of Finns that Rådarna owe their sound they say and if you can get over the harshness of the vocals at times then for the typical Celtic-Punker it’s worthy of a listen.
Title track ‘Heavenly Demons’ follows and switches pace throughout and swirls around your head while Alexander Van True grunts and growls and occasionally croons over hard and brutal Metal accompanied by some wonderful accordion and fiddle. The EP ends with ‘Ballybog Boogie’ and if it makes sense – ‘more of the same but different’.
The EP will be a preview for our next album which will be thirteen tracks long and while that may be a bit much for the casual London Celtivc Punks reader for some like be it will be well worth waiting for.
New 4 track EP from Irish based Celtic Punk / Rock Band The Cardinal Sins.
I had to check right back through the London Celtic Punks index to find The Cardinal Sins previous appearance on these pages and its from way back in December, 2017. Aye almost five years since we featured their new single ‘Straight Left, Right Hook’ of a which a new version stars on this EP.
Formed in 2013 around the counties of from Laois and Offaly in Ireland they have always played a combination of high energy covers and originals with a passing nod to the Celtic-Punk ‘Holy Trinity’ of Pogues / Dropkicks/ Mollys. Success at home led to a multitude of festival appearances followed by several European tours of Italy, Denmark and one famous trip to Germany to co-headline the Volmarstein Folk Festival with Irish music legends De Danann. I may be out of the loop with the band but we’ve not heard much since the single so great to see them again. They have become very popular in Germany (good taste them Germans) which has led to MacSlons Irish Pub Radio releasing a collection of new merchandise for the band.
So Hate The Sin Love The Sinner begins with a newly re-recorded version of that 2017 single ‘Straight Left, Right Hook’ dedicated to local bhoy the Portalington MMA fighter Philip ‘the honey badger‘ Mulpeter and ‘Straight Left Right Hook’ became his walk on tune. It’s a bit rough for this gentle soul and Philip has by the looks of it retired but the song lives on. An usually thing here is that the vocals for each song are shared with guitarist Wayne taking the lead on song one, a riotous romp pitched halfway between simple Irish folk and pounding fist in the air punky rock music. Bass player Steve takes on the vocals for ‘Ferryland Sealer’ which again takes a hard Rock approach but with the trad Folk shoved up in your face giving the impression that they are more Folk than Rock. Quite an achievement. It’s another single that came out first a couple of years ago. Only four songs so we’re halfway through when ‘Maggie May’ comes on. Now this was always been a cool song but I remember as a kid getting the Pogues ‘White City’ 12″ and they had a live version on the B-side that literally blew me away. I must have played it a 100 times in a row. Here banjo player John sings vocals and the Cardinal Sins version is much closer to that than the original Rod Stewart one but what a song it is! The curtain comes down for the EP with ‘Devil Spoke’ and they concentrate on the Folk to see us out. A lovely song that though obviously different from the rest of the EP fits in well. It has a certain Mumford And Sons feel to it and while some snobs purists may see that as an insult I bloody loved their first album which is where I can hear ‘Devil Spoke’ with it’s almost tribal drums and great vocals from mandolin player Bernadette.
The EP has been produced by Stephen Youster at Echo & Wave Studio in Kildare, Ireland. I get the feeling that the kind of music we are all here for is getting more and more popular at home in Ireland and it has always been big in Germany so with just those two options the future looks bright for the Cardinal Sins.
(You can stream / download Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner via the Bandcamp player)
Stunning debut release of Celtic-Punk direct from the Celtic Heartlands. Six tracks from The Ramstampits full of power, originality, melody, anthemic choruses and variation, performed by some of the best Folk and Punk rock musicians anywhere.
The Ramstampits is a bit of a mouthful and a rather odd name for a band until you find out what it means. It’s old Scots for ‘brawling, hoormongering rogues’ and in that case it makes perfect sense! Lead singer Iain fresh from the success he found with his previous band The Placks decided that his, and partner in crime Andy MacChainsaw, next band would all be friends of his. This is after all how the majority of bands start out but things don’t always go that simple. So The Ramstampits begin the rocky road with members/ex-members of The Rumjacks, The Exploited, Sham 69 and The Placks – some pedigree I’m sure we can all agree. With a revolving line up the idea is that whenever they are booked to play their will always be enough of them ready and able to play.
So far the band have played a couple of low key acoustic gigs at festivals, namely Punk On The Peninsula and Rebellion Festival. They were well received at both and more recently got their first airplay on Isles FM in Stornoway in the Western Isles on the Celtic Set show which is also syndicated to Canada and Germany. Singer-songwriter Iain certainly knows his way round the music biz especially the DIY / alternative scenes and he brings some great ideas along. The plan was to record these songs as side 1 of the album and then record gentler tracks for side 2 making one powerful side and one folky side but with the release of Light The Beacon plans for the album have been adapted. With the wait for vinyl releases has now reached 6-8 months vinyl and with an album of new material planned as well it was decided to release an EP and get the name out there among fans of the genre.
Light The Beacon opens with a cover of ‘I Fought The Law’ and we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for the release of the video so we could publish this review. Well it was certainly worth the wait and one of the best Celtic-Punk videos of the year hit the internet only yesterday. The video is a great romp (not sure about the dreadlocked copper mind!) filmed in the picturesque town of Inveraray at the Georgian Inveraray jail which is now a museum and the song itself is played more similar to The Clash version rather than the Country / Rockabilly version popularised by the Bobby Fuller Four in 1966. The song was written and first performed by Sonny Curtis of Buddy Holly’s backing band The Crickets way back in 1958. ‘I Fought The Law’ is the only cover on Light The Beacon and The Ramstampits intend to concentrate on writing new material in the future. So the rest of the EP is all originals and up next is ‘My Country’ with its old fashioned céilí sample intro and then into a Celtic-Punk barnstormer full of love for Scotland. After several listens there’s not a world of difference between the two! ‘For Land And Girls And Rum’ has a sea-shanty feel to it and an interesting start where the song completely changes tack and just when you’re expecting a bit of Folkiness the song explodes into a Celtic-Punk Rock powerhouse with fiddle, pipes and accordion all pushed to the front. The pace changes again for ‘No Place Like Home’ and again you are taken by surprise by a total about turn within the song. ‘Fourteen Days’ kicks off with some Spanish guitar and a hilarious tale of a trip to Spain that takes in some ace accordion, castanets, Johnny Cash style trumpets and a huge singalong chorus. Love it! The EP ends with the short ‘A Song Of Hope’ and takes the EP up to almost 20 minutes. A song destined to be a end of set classic with its positive message firing out a song of hope. One of those songs in Celtic-Punk that draws us all together before the end of the night and we go our separate ways.
Light The Beacon is now out and is available from both Mainstage Merch for CD and Bandcamp for download. The Placks were never happy with the production on any of their releases so here they have pushed the boat out here and while I’ve never let the production spoil music for me it is true that if you are willing to invest in what you believe in and pay for a studio, you do get what you pay for. A quite brilliant debut for The Ramstampits and full steam ahead for the long player soon!
(You can download/ stream Light The Beacon via the Bandcamp player)
Buy Light The Beacon MainstageMerch(also Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes)
The new EP from Austin, Texas Folk-Punk band Fire Ant Season. Half-hearted melodies, full-hearted tragedies, self-loathing and stuff.
Delivered to my inbox months ago and missed first time round Fire Ant Season nearly slipped through our net until on looking for something else I re-discovered them. See we do check everything we get sent (we get sent all sorts from Metal to dance to indie) for any virtue whatsoever and a space on the site. Not everything get’s past that step but occasionally some gems do sneak in.
Fire Ant Season hail from the ‘artsy’ capital of Texas – Austin. Famed for it’s amazing music scene over the years and ‘relaxed’ lifestyle. It seems word got out about Austin and an influx of hipsters and Californians has caused massive over-crowding, increased homelessness and crime and sky-rocketing housing costs. The sad thing is that gentrification eventually always destroys the very thing that made these yuppies in Vans trainers interested in moving there in the first place!
The guys celebrate their 10th anniversary next year and have released a handful of low-fi EP’s and one album, Shit-Eating Grin, back in 2017. You can get all their back catalogue via Bandcamp as a ‘name your price’ download.
Fire Ant Season is a two piece with Nate on guitar, synth and vocals and Tim on mandolin. Here on Bad Habits they are assisted on a couple of songs by friends but it’s all very much themselves alone. The EP begins with ‘Get A Life’ and from almost the first sounds Nate bursts into a diatribe about life in general and expectations put us by ourselves and others. The lyrics read more like a short story but are sung in a great style so that they fit the music perfectly. The music is fiercely strummed guitar and some very well played and tuneful mandolin so very simple but extremely effective. The vocal style generally stops short of being shouty but not always but Nate has a strong voice that handles the shouty bits very well. They are joined on ‘Depression Is One Hell Of A Drug Imbalance’ by Corbin Young on drums and while the title is a bit (!) of a mouthful it is again handled well with almost spoken word style and a few seconds of acoustic mayhem. Next up is ‘Privilege Blues’ and the highlight of the EP. I’m usually instantly “oh no!” and my eyes roll into the back of my head on first sight of the word ‘privilege’ but not this time. All the elements of the EP are at play but never do they work as well. Fire Ant Season’s style of music is not usually the most, for want of a better word, ‘catchy’ but they certainly managed it on ‘Privilege Blues’.
“Please pardon my mess as I verbally shit on each and every one of you, I empty my bowels by using consonants and vowels and yet some stay the whole set through. We’ve all got problems, we’ve all got issues and who am I to complain? I hold no reservations to extrapolate the reasons why I feel like shit today. And so that doesn’t excuse for me singin’ the blues when I don’t really have it that rough. I seem to confuse that my own self-abuse is just a way of being self-conscious. It’s a tired topic, as trite as always, but I can’t seem to get away from self-deprecation, but who am I kidding, I don’t have much else to say.”
Another friend Andy Chang joins them on banjo on ‘D.I.D. I Do That?’. The shoutiest song on Bad Habits and nice to hear some humour in amongst all the angst.
“When my only pastime is getting angry at coworkers in my head or sitting on the toilet for extended duration’s and I know that old adage, the rhyme, where the boss makes a dollar and I, a dime, but therein lies the caveat; that I’m still the one sitting on the pot.”
The EP wraps up with ‘Anhedonia’ and Nate gets all shouty to see us out. The song deals with the inability to feel pleasure or joy. Not happy music you would think but the music drifts along in that Folky but also Punky way that belies the darkness of the lyrics. The band said
“While we try our best to do things that we think are good for us, sometimes they can end up hurting us in the end. This EP addresses those bad habits and captures them in a sort of catharsis to hold them responsible for their actions to hopefully learn and grow from them.”
The artwork for the cover was by Grace Wilson (@trashcandollarts) and I’m very happy that I found this intelligent wee EP. The lyrics are clever and in these times when people have a tendency to ram things down your throats I find Fire Ant Season’s approach on Bad Habits a 100 times better and a 1000 times more original than that approach.
(Listen / stream / download Bad Habits via the Bandcamp player below)
With the original and traditional melodies of Celtic-Folk and the power of Punk-Rock Orange county Celtic-Punks Brick TopBlaggers have been winning over die-hard fans since 2009 and are set to win over more with the release of their new EP.
The Brick Top Blaggers have never been given a proper airing on this site over the years. Not out of any kind of malice I hasten to add. I consider them one of the top American Celtic-Punk bands it’s more that their releases came out at the wrong time or somehow passed us by. It’s been over a decade now since we first heard Coaster, a ten track album of classic, almost traditional American Celtic-Punk. Two years later came, appropriately, Two Years Enough and a rougher harder edged new sound. The band were then quiet until 2017’s six track EP The Fury. New band members slotting in just right and a now instantly recognisable Brick Top Blaggers sound.
American bands dominate Celtic-Punk and not always deservedly. Their are several countries now whose bands are equal but less numerous but it’s more than fair to say that Brick Top Blaggers bridge the gap between traditional Irish Folk music and Punk in a way that others can only dream of. For example both the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly have found their niche of concentrating on one or the other and are happy therein. For the Brick Top Blaggers though their has always been progression from Coaster right up until this months Obey The Tyrant they have never stood still somehow always pushing the boundaries of Celtic-Punk and releasing memorable music again and again. Formed in 2009 in Orange county, California the band has seen many changes but always the same amazing fiddle with roaring guitars, passionate vocals and rock-solid bass and drums.
The first of the EP’s six songs is ‘Preamble’, a instrumental with pounding tribal drums and mournful fiddle that builds slowly up into ‘Hope Fiend’. English born Steve Almond (B-right-on) is still at the helm and listen very closely and you can hear the odd English pronunciation slipping in! His vocals and songwriting are superb and he manages to convey exactly what his songs are and they say a lot. All the songs here are well over the standard length with ‘Forgotten Generation’ the longest but also the EP’s standout track. Telling simply the story of men conscripted and sent off to fight and for many to die for the freedoms we take for granted. Next up is the title track and ‘Obey The Tyrant’ sees them speeding things up though always keeping it firmly in the Folk camp. Karin’s excellent fiddle helps of course as does Steve’s vocals that sit just right between ‘nice’ Folky singing and ‘shouty’ Punk singing. Now is the foot stomper ‘Invisible Man’ is a loving tribute that cracks along at a fair old pace. We first heard ‘Denial’ on St. Patrick’s day last year and here it brings down the curtain. The Punkiest track of the EP
Obey The Tyrant is out on acclaimed San Diego, CA label Mannequin Vanity Records who specialise in Folk, World and Punk music just like us! The band is not resting on their laurels and already writing and recording material for a new album slated for release in the spring.
A new EP from The Jamestown Brothers. A high energy foot stomping original indie Folk band that tells real stories of real people with a huge sound that mine the rich history and social tapestry of Great Britain and Ireland.
When we first reviewed The Jamestown Brothers back in 2020 for their debut album Rebels, Rogues And Regrets and we reasonably expected that within a short time we would have the pleasure of seeing them live but it was not to be. Two years later and we are still eagerly awaiting seeing them live but with things returning to normal now I’m sure it won’t be long, especially as these folks love to play live and every weekend sees them flying around the south of England from pub to festival to ‘proper’ music venues. We just need them to stretch their wings a wee but further as we are getting old and lazy!
The Jamestown Brothers formed in Somerset in 2017 and gathered up some great reviews and a fair bit of fanfare before the dreaded pandemic but have bounced back since the pandemic’s end with a new EP of all original material and continue to tour, tour, tour, tour so I’m sure we’ll get to see them soon enough. An incredible eight piece band that includes guitars, trumpet, piano, bass, drums, fiddle, recorder and trombone they certainly can kick up a right old racket considering they are almost acoustic.
Just Is kicks off with ‘Big Parade’ and the song is big in every sense. A hand of friendship is offered after two years when the act could only be symbolic. Catchy and energetic and a choice chorus this is definitely one for the festival masses to get on board once they had a few liveners! Singer-songwriter Colin Batchelor leads the band with distinct and clear vocals in a song that is easy to follow and the brass instruments leading the way. ‘Jimmy James’ tells the story of the larger than life 18th century piper James Allen. Born sometime in the 1720’s in the wilds of Northumberland, Jimmy came from a family of border gypsies. An army deserter and adventurer, who travelled to far off foreign lands and an escapee from more than one prison whose one redeeming feature was his skill with the Northumbrian small pipes. Bellows-blown bagpipes as to mouth-blown Scottish bagpipes that have provided the North-East with a musical identity for centuries.
“folk punk was born to the land”
To fit the entirety of Jimmy’s life into a song is some achievement. Again the brass is put to extensive use and fits perfectly. Several listens and i’m still trying to pick out the individual instruments. ‘Billy Boys’ tells of the early 20th century razor gangs of Glasgow especially the fascist sympathisers of the protestant Billy Boys gang. Led by Billy Fullerton who would be awarded a medal for scabbing during the 1926 General Strike and formed a Glasgow branch of the British Union of Fascists. The gang are still remembered at Ibrox Park today with a song named after them in which the line “up to our knees in Fenian blood” led to it’s banning as it was undeniable that “fenian” in the context of the song meant Roman Catholics. Real history that leads me to think of the one band that The Jamestown Brothers can be compared to – The Men They Couldn’t Hang. They share not just a love of forgotten working class history but also a novel approach to Folk music that sees them trying many things that always come from. ‘Sunlight In The Morning’ sees the band tackling the subject of homelessness but as I’ve said in a real human way without cliche or lecture. Catchy, as are all the songs here, and well produced Country-Folk with more than a touch of Celtic about it it’s music for the outside and dancing around to (or tapping your thigh as I do). ‘This Is War’ about the life of ‘Jutland Jack’ John Travers Cornwell the youngest recipient of the Victoria cross following his brave action aboard HMS Chester in 1916 is full on Celtic-Folk-Punk historical stomp just as I like it. The curtain comes down on Just Is with the brilliant ‘Lower Us Down’ is a worthy addition to the coal-miner’s extensive musical canon. A life of unimaginable hardship and danger right up until the 2nd World War. These songs always remind me of me Dad but especially Ian Porter an old friend who was only 19 when he was killed down Rossington pit. Serious subject matter sure but sang with gusto and conviction.
Coming from an area of England with a rich working class tradition has not done The Jamestown Brothers no harm and I’m a fan of musicians who make political music without ramming it down the listeners throat or resorting to cliche. Story telling lyrics and a desire to re-tell stories of the past have made them festival favourites, especially in the South West of the country, and the other bits will follow I am sure.
The Dead Irish formed during the pandemic in Dublin and describe themselves as Irish trad/punk band based in Dublin. Their brilliant debut single just came out and is four songs of original proper Irish styled Celtic-Punk.
The most surprising development in Celtic-Punk since the end of the Covid lockdowns seems to have been that the Celtic nations have finally got Celtic-Punk, if only in a small way. Bands from the various Celtic nations have been slim on the ground but three bands have popped up recently – Gallowgate Murders from Scotland and The Outcast Crew and, today’s band, The Dead Irish from Dublin.
The first ‘proper’ track we heard from The Dead Irish was ‘Lost In the City’ which was also the lead single for the EP accompanied by a great video filmed in and around Dublin. It’s a great song based around the old Irish Folk song ‘The Spanish Lady’ but is given a great chorus and a 1970’s style Punk rock backing but feet remain firmly entrenched in Irish Folk. A catchy number that will I am certain prove Punk enough for the Punks and Folk enough for the Folkies. A real crowd pleaser for sure.
They follow this up with the instrumental ‘Morrisons Jig’ which will be familiar to many Celtic-Punk fans as the ‘Swallowtail Jig’ which for some reason has become pretty popular of late in the scene. It’s a great tune and perfect for speeding up and punking up. It’s not a easy song to pull off and even harder to give it the Punk treatment and still remain true to the songs Irish trad roots. I’ve heard plenty versions of this but this is seriously one of the best. Next onto ‘Ballad Of The Working Man’ and more traditional music but this time trad Punk. A bog standard Punk-Rock tune and absolutely fantastic. The tin whistles are put away this time for saxophone and the tale of working-class life strikes a chord in these tough times as the protagonist sees not much solidarity around him. David was lead singer of Irish Punks Hooligan who featured many times on these pages and his vocals are still as strong and powerful and here backed up by Rachel Lally on vocals is a great contrast.
For the last song we turn to Hooligan again and a cover of their great song ‘No Blacks No Irish No Dogs’. If Hooligan are remembered for anything then it should be this song. Recalling the anti-Irish racism of the 1950’s that newly arrived working class Irish immigrants found when arriving in England, especially the major cities, to work. Some play this down, even staggeringly In Ireland as it destroys their silly notions of ‘white privilege’, but talk to any Irish of that era or look up what they had to say and they’ll tell you.
(You can stream ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’ on the Bandcamp player below where it is also available to download as ‘name your price’)
Sadly that generation are in the main no more. Many moved back home and others passed away but we can be thankful for them. They were the people who fought and struggled and lived their lives so that one day the Irish as a race here could live in peace. The song rattles along in that accessible way The Dead Irish seem to have with chugging guitars and thumping drums and bass with plenty ‘whoops’ and mandolin keeping it well lit!
I was a huge fan of Hooligan back in the day (though I’m not sure if they are officially no more?) so it’s great to hear David back again. He has a real knack for writing superbly catchy and accessible music that is neither weak kneed or cliched. On top of that The Dead Irish have found a fresh approach to Celtic-Punk that will gain them plenty of fans. The band are doing something pretty novel for both the Irish Punk and Folk scenes and surely to God their must be market for it back on ‘the auld sod’ as I’m pretty sure their is over here!
CD’s of Lost In The City are available via the bands Facebook page
Barefoot and acoustic, Pyrolysis play stormingly fast-paced and energetic songs perfect for any tavern brawl, but also some darker ballads that speaks of rainy days.
Pre-Covid we had one hell of a gig lined up for you lucky Londoners starring two of the best Dutch Celtic-Punk bands the Netherlands has to offer. Heading off to play a festival somewhere down in Devon the bands were lured to north London (by promise of fame and fortune!) and Pyrolysis and The Royal Spuds were all set to blow the roof off the infamous Dublin Castle in Camden. Sadly, like a lot of other planned London Celtic Punks events, the gig bit the dust and all our hard work in the end went for nothing. So moving on two + years later and its great news to hear new music coming out from both bands recently with The Royal Spuds new album Roots Of Life reviewed on these pages just last month.
Formed in 2012 in Zaltbommel (also known as Bommel) in the Netherlands as Pyrolysis and the first thing to get out the way is their weirdly interesting name.
the application of heat to chemical compounds in order to cause decomposition
chemical decomposition of compounds caused by high temperatures
The band are famous for playing barefooted but don’t be fooled into thinking these folks are just a bunch of laid back hippies playing acoustic music as they have always showed they could rustle up both wings of Celtic-Punk with some super catchy Celtic-Folk and, like on their debut album’s final track, ‘Lets Do It Now’ that showed they can turn their hand to trad Punk as well as trad Folk music. In 2020, the band used the lack of festivals and gigs to record and release the Alotslse EP as well as two singles, ‘Leave Me’ and ‘Rest van de Dag Vrij’ which are both included here.
‘The Whaler’s Lantern’ begins with the title song and was the EP’s first single released accompanied by a stunning animated video by Black Galley Media, who also just happens to be Tim the bands Irish Bouzouki player (You can find his visual work at https://blackgalleymedia.nl/). The video follows the main character, the whaler, as he’s judged for his greed and blood thirst by storms and whales alike. This is the fourth song written about the ‘lantern man’, who they have named Neil, who has appeared on a bunch of their album covers. Intelligent and infectious, fast paced Celtic-Folk of the sort that would have even the most miserable of folk up on the dance floor or at the very least tapping their legs in tune.
“The waters show the harvester the nature of his crimes
A hunter on the run, my terrain has called my time
Final tears come pouring, there’s no way I’ll win the fight
This poor old whaler’s lantern truly is the final light”
The accordion leads and they manage to get a sound that you’d find was only four members. Great production without over doing it. Next up is ‘Path Of The Flame’ which has a ‘eastern’ feel to it. Due in no small part I think to the prominence of the accordion again. The fiddle gives it a Celtic edge but it especially reminds me of the English Folk-Rock bands of the 70’s. Previous releases (according to memory as I lost all their back catalogue when my old computer went kaput! a few years ago) combined a mixture of classic Folk covers, traditional reels and original compositions but here all the music and lyrics are by Pyrolysis. Next up is the EP’s only instrumental the catchy as hell ‘Rest Van De Dag Vrig’ and gives the band the chance to really excel themselves. I really enjoyed it.
During the last CeltCast fantasy awards Pyrolysis had the honour of playing live on stage ‘Peace Bells’ that they wrote during the lock down about keeping hope that one day life will blossom again. A slow song, not quite a ballad and sung by the talented Rikke whose beautiful voice really gives the song meaning. The curtain comes down with the final song ‘Leave Me’ and a great song to end things.
“You have given me shadows
It’s all I’ve ever known
Now I light my torch and guide myself
To a place that I call home”
The EP was recorded at Dearworld Studio and mixed by Fieke van den Hurk and mastered by Sander van der Heide. The sound as mentioned is perfect and you will find it hard to believe that it’s only Tim, Stan, Rikke, Laurens and Joshua. The beautiful artwork was done by the bands fiddler Rikke Linssen. If you are in the London area then Pyrolysis finally make their debut on a London stage on Friday 15th July at The Troubadour on Old Brompton Road, London SW5 9JAL with renowned London Pagan-Celtic band PerKelt. A great night is in store and we look forward to seeing you there but don’t be dropping any safety pins about the place!!
(Download or stream The Whaler’s Lantern via the Bandcamp player below)
“It’s been a great ride. Thanks for coming along. So long and thanks for all the drinks”.
Savannah Rowdy Irish Music
Back in 2016 In For A Penny rode into the Celtic-Punk scene and really left their mark. All the Celtic-Punk media went ape over them and for a couple of years they released plenty of great music before a combination of events combined that left the various members dispersed and the lead singer in lurrve but the guys are back with one last hurrah – ironically also the name of the bands last album from 2017!
Founded by Irish-American Sean McNally and aided and abetted by old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums, Jeremy Riddle on guitar (replaced here by Matt Price) and Sean’s son Bryce on bass the boys came together in 2016 only two years after Sean first picked up a mandolin which he plays so masterful here. A handful of solo shows persuaded him that their home town of Savannah, Georgia needed a Celtic-Punk band to compliment the Irish-American bar scene. Their releases thus far (all available for download via Bandcamp) have followed much the same path of equal mix of trad Irish Folk classics and Sean’s original compositions. It is, of course, those original songs that made In For A Penny so special and ensures that they will live on within the scene.
The EP begins with the title song ‘In Memory Of’ and its great to hear Sean’s raspy vocals belting out across a lovely number sung for those who are no longer with us. Just Punk enough to keep everyone happy with sounding at all wimpy and plenty of Celtic-ness injected throughout. ‘Old Man Murphy’ tells of what we call here a ‘unlucky alf’. The archetypal In For A Penny sound of fantastic and intelligent lyrics and catchy and original Celtic-Punk music.
No trad covers this time but a fantastic cover of ‘Mad World’ by Tears For Fears follows and they stamp their name on it. If you going to make an attempt at covers like this then listen to this one and do it like this. The EP comes to an end with ‘To You My Friends’ and a sung very much in the spirit of ‘The Parting Glass’. A sung you can imagine being played at anything from funerals to weddings to the end of a night when the barman is trying to rid his pub of the last few remaining drunken stragglers!
In Memory Of is a very respectful fifteen minutes – not bad for just four songs. In typical In For A Penny style the EP was recorded live in just one night, with only a couple of vocal overdubs and some little tweaks added later, at The Wingmen, Savannah Motorcycle Club by Jody White a couple of days before St. Patrick’s Day and released last month. It’s a great way to end In For A Penny – if indeed it is the end. We shall see as the promise of more hometown St. Patrick’s gigs next year is surely to come but we are grateful whatever happens and that they gave us such great music that will go down in Celtic-Punk fame and I’ll be playing them for years to come I know that.
(Stream / download In Memory Of via the Bandcamp player below)
Bagpipe strangling, vocal chord mangling, gormandizer uplifting, Riot Brew imbibing, Vancouver Island Celtic-Punk Rock.
“It’s as if their music was a horde of Irish warriors from the 1800’s running at you in black studded jackets and mohawk hair”
A new 4-track EP released for St. Patrick’s Day just gone it appears here in a rather disjointed way as the band uploaded the tracks individually to Bandcamp. Having released two well received EP’s back in 2018 that would both feature in that year’s Top Ten Celtic-Punk EP’s and they have gone on to release new music sporadically over the following few years. Formed in 2016 in the town of Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, an area renowned for coal mining in the early decades of the twentieth century. The area was famed for it’s militancy with many strikes and unrest as the areas miners battled the mine owners for better conditions and more pay in the most dangerous coal mines in the entire world. The mines are now gone (coal is now dug by children and modern day slaves in the 3rd world) but the communities and closely knit towns still exist.
Out of the ashes of local ska bands The Kiltlifters and Street Prophets Union, Scot and Pat decided after a decade away from playing live music that the time was ripe and the area was in need of a kick-arse Celtic-Punk band so after roping in recruits from the local Pacific Gael Pipes And Drums as well as from the local rock scene The Grinning Barretts hit the stages around Ladysmith. After going through several line up changes have finally settled upon a steady line up. The St. Padraigs EP saw the light of day on St. Patrick’s Day 2018 and a couple of months later The Riot EP.
‘Hope Like Hell’
‘Star Of The County Down’
‘The Foggy Dew’
Four tracks, two originals and two covers. The EP’s title track leads things off and for the standout track of the EP catchy bagpipe heavy Punk Rock is the order of the day. Includes the word “metastasizing” and this is followed by ’10 Teraohm’ and like “metastasizing” I had to look up what it meant! Teraohm is a unit of electricity apparently. Lots more big words and then the covers, starting with a pretty decent and straight forward ‘Star Of The County Down’ and the EP’s finale the famed Irish rebel song ‘The Foggy Dew’ telling of the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916. Done fast, loud, aggressive and shouty. The EP is over in a flash… well in less than ten minutes anyway which is how The Grinning Barretts do things. All their releases are all still available with many as ‘name your price’ downloads from Bandcamp meaning you pay as much as you like (or can afford!).
California’s Bog Iron celebrate their 16th anniversary with their first studio release in years featuring a winning combination of classic Folk and hard rocking Trad!
We are ingratiated to you readers sometimes for your recommendations for that is how we came across today’s band Bog Iron. We do have writers far and wide but still need you to point us in the right direction sometimes and it really does show the wealth of bands in the USA that a gem like Bog Iron can lay undiscovered by us till they are in their 16th year!
The early days! from 2010 (left to right : Patrick Golden, Steve Lenard, John Michael, Peter Sheehan
This is in no small part due to them being a gigging band so recording hasn’t been a major priority till now it would seem with two releases in 2022 and it only being April! The first release wasn’t exactly new but a recently re-discovered recording of a gig from the Summer of 2019 at the Midsummer’s Fairytale Celtic Ren Faire in Plymouth, California and recently mixed and mastered by band guitarist Patrick R. Golden. It is a superb album that really gives you a shake. For a start their is no Celtic instruments but the music is unmistakably Irish and even at times when the music takes a harder Rock turn it could still considered totally accessible to even the most hardcore of finger-in-the-ear Folkie. Discovered in a Dropbox folder from the festival’s sound engineer in early March it took a marathon session of auditing, mixing, and mastering but 36 hours later the album was ready for Bandcamp Friday (when the vultures forego their usual massive cut!) and the album was out. It really is a mad mix of Irish Folk songs given the Hard Rock treatment with great vocals and the production is note perfect. The banter with the audience is also a treat showing a band in love with what they do. The highlight of the album is the final song ‘The NIght Pat Murphy Died’ a near nine minutes epic that drifts off into the stunning ‘Those Were People Who Died’ by f’ed up Irish-American writer Jim Carroll. Live Bog Iron ll is only available for download at the moment via Bandcamp but you can listen to it via the player below.
Formed in Monterey, California, Bog Iron have been together since early 2008 formed from the session players on Dún Laoghaire born lead singer John Michael’s solo album. John and Patrick are the remaining two founding members but are joined by Kerry native Peter Sheehan on bass and local Bhoy Keith Wieland on drums. So it was that in the search for inspiration for a new studio release that the tapes for Live Bog Iron ll were found so we can grateful they put in the work. Star Of The County Down remains, and always will, a firm favourite on the Irish music scene but also among Celtic-Punk bands too. A song like many Irish Folk classics that is perfect for adapting to something a bit harder. The EP begins with the title song and yeah it ‘s trad Irish but stripped right back and re-assembled as an aggressive gem of Hard Rock energy. Incredibly all instruments here are played by Patrick with only backing vocals on ‘Star’ provided by John Michael. He even produced it too at Blood Crow Studios. The remaining three songs are all instrumentals though all wildly different. I’m finding it hard to put into words (for the first time in nine years!) for this review as on the face of it ‘Maggie And The Priest’, ‘Kerns And The Gallowglasses’ and ‘The Jig Of Liam Fitzmurderhorse’ are all pretty similar. That hard Rock sound but that clear presence of the underlying Celtic tunes makes each a completely unique transporting Irish folk into the present—and beyond!
The band claim to “put on a fierce live show” and if our only evidence is their live album then we can completely agree. It’s a shame that even though both releases are very good they are also both quite different. I am such a fan of the live album that must admit to a bit of disappointment on first hearing the EP but several listens in and it has grown on me immensely and I’m only impressed with Patrick’s (virtually solo) work. Their may be no wild sing-along choruses as before but it is still a superb piece of work channelling rock giants of Sabbath, Quo and AC/DC but also the the Folk genius of Horslips and the sadly largely forgotten and little known English band You Slosh. With these releases the first since 2018’s Echos From The Cliffs Of Mohere, itself a re-master/re-release of their 2008 debut album, with eight previously unreleased tracks. It is hoped a reinvigorated Bog Iron is in the traps and raring to go and do some catching up on the recorded side of things!
(You can stream / download Star Of The County Down below)
New music just keeps on coming from Australian / Italian Celtic-Punk band The Cloverhearts. One of the scene’s more prolific bands its quality over quantity though and always incredible how they transfer their catchy melodies, tin-whistle ear-worms and energetic live performances into the recording studio.
From their debut EP in 2019 The Cloverhearts have never stopped! At a time when 95% of the Celtic-Punk scene went into lock down they carried on and continued to release music throughout those horrible times. Since Covid’s somewhat miraculous disappearance (!) they have carried on in much the same way. So far 2022 has seen the band record and release an acoustic version of their debut album, The Sick And The Sacred, a couple of singles (only one of which is included here) and three professional looking videos plus a successful tour of Italy and Czech Republic over St. Patrick’s weekend.
Live in Prague – 19.03.2022 * Photo – @crishfoot
Still Pissed came out on March 31 and is five original tracks written by the band themselves. They kick proceedings off with ‘You’ve Got A Friend’ and while their Punk side may owe much to the popular ‘Pop-Punk’ sound and not just in Aussie Sam’s distinctive vocals but also in their positive message. AS you can imagine the song is a joyous bagpipe driven 4-minute romp guaranteed to fill up any dancefloor.
The second of the five track’s was also released as the first single from the EP and ‘Whatshername?’ takes us off to a chance meeting at a Dropkick Murphys show as Sam searches after a elusive women he has taken a shine to and then lost. This time they let Ska take completely over and is reminiscent of the Ska scene’s most popular band at the moment, The Interrupters. Full blown Ska ain’t really my thing but I like this it must be said. Not one for a slow song usually but the Celtic-Punk 10 Commandments does state that you should have a ballad on every release and they do it pretty damn good with ‘Go Quiet Now’. A simple song but beautiful. They turn it up again next for ‘Pennies’ about as Punk as they get and as catchy as anyone could get. Fully embracing the ‘Pop-Punk’ of bands like Green Day, NOFX, Blink 182 (all in their cocky prime of course) and while their Celtic side takes a rest it is still recognisable as The Cloverhearts. The curtain comes down on ‘All My Friends Are Alcoholics’ and they save the best for last with a Celtic-Punk monster of a song. The celebration of booze and drinking it finishes off a great EP on a real high. We have a funny relationship with the glorification of alcohol in the scene with the criticism it receives from outside more to do with the dislike of working class culture than anything else. Drink or not, drunk or not it’s all about celebrating life and you need to escape the shite sometimes and if drinking and Celtic-Punk is your thing then I’ll have a drink with you anytime.
Always innovative and unafraid to try new things The Cloverhearts will always have at their heart that Celtic base but their sound opens up opportunities to cross over into other genres ensuring their popularity both in and out of Celtic-Punk. Never a band to take themselves totally serious they cover some interesting topics from alcoholism, fist fights and love and loss, Still Pissed has it all. Fast, loud and with what has become the trademark Cloverhearts sound it’s also highly original in a scene that for most of the time prefers uniformity to be honest.
(You can download / stream Still Pissed via the Bandcamp player below)
Wake up, folks! It’s nearly time for Paddy’s Day ☘️ With THE day for Irish music just around the corner, we’re proud to feature a band whose new EP drops on March 11th, just in time for the celebrations. Grab yer favourite drink, put this one on and turn the volume up.
Today’s band goes by the name of Whiskey’s Wake. A self-described “Celtic-leaning rock band” from Salt Lake City, Utah, these six friends play a mixture of modern drinking songs, friendship anthems, and songs about…zombies 🧟🧟♀️ They’ve been inspired by the Misfits, the Dubliners and Rancid to name but a few. The boys actually made their first record a long time ago, when they were in their teens. But then life and school got in the way, and the band was on and off for many years. It wasn’t until the pandemic happened that they decided to take the band more seriously again – and we’re very glad they did 👍
On the EP, entitled Wake Up, Whiskey, we get right into the action on opening track “Whiskey Back”. This energetic song welcomes the listener with the familiar romp of Celtic rock/punk. With a week to go until March 17th, lead vocalist Adam Blair sings some very appropriate lyrics about enjoyin’ yer favourite drink. The sense of community spirit in this song is palpable too, as we continue to emerge from the pandemic and enjoy some real parties again! Let’s make some fucking noise, you say? I’ll drink to that 🥃
Music we enjoy
“We like to write music we enjoy, and think is worth listening to,” the band’s guitarist Patrick Reimherr told me. “And we do try to write songs that would make for fun live shows.” The latter statement certainly shows on track #2 “He’s Alive”. This one boasts more o’ those shout-out-loud barroom moments. The band put the song out ahead of time as a single, and I like how it moves effortlessly from chord to chord, underpinned nicely by Joel Pack’s slick basslines. The doo-wop singing towards the end made me grin as well 😁 More importantly, the song is proof of how hard the band worked on the EP as a whole, achieving a clean sound where the instruments all have space to breathe. So give “He’s Alive” a spin, ye lovable fecks:
Red Haired Mary
“You Don’t Have to Run” is another energy-laden one, with a slower and more experimental passage halfway through. The rhythm section of Andreas Petersen (accordion), Danny Houpt (banjo) and Derek Julio (drums) combines to good effect here, making for a generally enjoyable listen. The standout track in the latter half of the EP has to be the band’s dynamic take on “Red Haired Mary”, though. We start off slow, before the pace builds for the rest of the song. The band are especially stoked about this modern rock version of the Irish standard, so be sure to check it out when the record drops this week!
All in all, Wake Up, Whiskey is a welcome return to Celtic music for the Wake, as the band nickname themselves. It’s a well-produced record, with the instruments working nicely together, and there are signs of more to come. “We actually have lots of material ready to go,” Patrick confirmed. “And we hope to release another, longer album this year.” Bring it on. Some shows could also be on the cards, so keep yer eyes peeled, especially if you live in the Intermountain region (that’s Utah, Nevada and Idaho to anyone who doesn’t know).
So where can I hear the record?
You can get the EP when it drops tomorrow, on March 11th! Follow the band on Instagram or Facebook, they’ll tell you where it’s available. If money’s a wee bit short, there’s also the band’s Spotify or Apple Music profiles, where you can even hear the band’s early high-school material if ye like.
A year after the tragic death of founder member Cush The Men They Couldn’t Hang show they intend to troop on with their first release since May, 2020’s album Cock-A-Hoop.
The shock of the sudden death of Cush was widely felt and his presence, songwriting skills and voice will be forever sorely missed. The Men They Couldn’t Hang began their days back in 1984 when Cush, then a roadie for The Pogues, formed the group with songwriter Paul Simmonds, Cush’s fellow vocalist Phil ‘Swill’ Odgers and his brother Jon and Shane MacGowan ex and member of The Nips Shanne Bradley. They were lucky to count the late John Peel as a fan and it was his championing of the band on his Radio show that led to their debut single, Eric Bogle’s ‘Green Fields of France’ (sung brilliantly by Cush) becoming a big top hit in the UK Indie charts and inclusion in Peel’s festive top 50. With their fame growing it was around this time that I first heard them on the radio while on a caravan holiday in Withernsea. It was 1984, my Dad was on strike, rebellion and revolution was in the air and in the charts and Janice Long had also took to playing the hit on her radio show, ensuring that as soon as I got home I searched all the local stores till I found it and soon later their debut album Night Of A Thousand Candles. Around the same time The Pogues were going from strength to strength and while often put down as Pogues copyists nothing could be further from the truth. It had more to do with the fact this music was so unusual that they were grouped together. The Men were eventually labelled ‘cowpunk’ with their mainly acoustic-electric-Folk owing much to the energy of Punk while oftentimes they crossed over completely.
Success led to them signing to MCA Records and several more outstanding albums including How Green Is the Valley the following year and in 1988 Waiting for Bonaparte. Their fame and popularity was beginning to rise though that never quite transferred into the record sales their label demanded and so they moved on to Magnet Records recording a trio of brilliant albums Waiting For Bonaparte, Silvertown and 1990’s Domino Club before they called it a day.
Retirement didn’t last very long and within a few years The Men were back and even recording again. Not a band to rest on past glories a bunch of albums followed with original material that fans eagerly lapped up. With 20+ releases (and far too many to number side projects) a collection of studio, live and compilations it’s hard to navigate for the new fan but those first five albums are without doubt among the finest Celtic-Folk-Punk albums of all time. So it was with great shock we heard the news of the death of Stefan Cush on February 8th last year after suffering a heart attack. We were privileged to be able to publish a touching tribute to his memory written by his friend and photographer Marvey Mills.
The Men and the various members of the band when releasing their own material have always utilised crowd funding as a way to keep control and releases independent and Red Kite Rising has been no different. The 4-track EP came out last week, on St. Valentines Day, and is hoped that it will help fund their next album which they be working on this through the spring/summer/autumn. The EP begins with the title track ‘Red Kite Rising’ penned by Paul Simmonds and a celebration of the life of Stefan Cush. Loved and respected by all it’s typical The Men. Catchy. jaunty and folky it’s a great tribute as is the songs title with the Red Hawk being his favourite bird. The next couple of songs were first recorded during the sessions for their last album Cock-A-Hoop in 2020. First up is ‘Reeling And Railing’ and again typical men with a nod back to their ‘cowpunk’ days. Imagine a bunch of young men in tartan work shirts swinging each other round and it could be the 80’s again. The Men could always bash out a dramatic ballad, in fact my favourite songs are ballads like Scarlet Ribbons, Green Fields and the amazing (and packed with so much meaning for me personally) ‘Company Town’ and while it’s maybe not quite ballad territory ‘Hanging On’ is the slowest here. The EP ends with ‘The Rose Of England’, a cover of a song by Nick Lowe that first appeared on the album of the same name in 1985.
“For her feckless boy
She did weep and wail
Saying, Lord have mercy where did I fail?
Out my belly, then pick up a gun
And fall for the Rose of England”
A fantastic song sung with such passion and firmly made into a Men song. Their are no videos to accompany this release but you can hear the whole EP at the link below and we are already looking forward to that forthcoming album.
R.I.P. Cush but The Men They Couldn’t Hang live on…
(You can stream / download Red Kite Rising on the Bandcamp player below)
Finally the last of the 2021 releases to review. Black Matilda’s debut release came out just before Christmas and shows their Gaelic / sea-faring roots. Hardly surprising for a band from Nova Scotia.
While many places across the world are rightly proud of their Irish connections. Places like Boston, Liverpool and New York are synonymous with Ireland and it’s even thought up to 1 in 10 Londoners has a Irish grand-parent but their is nowhere outside the Celtic nations that has a Gaelic culture comparable to Nova Scotia in Canada. Well over 25% of the territories residents trace their roots back to Ireland and Scotland and the Scottish language is still spoken regularly across the province though it’s decline in use in use over the generations is perhaps to be expected but their are still speakers in Pictou County, Antigonish County, and Cape Breton Island, and the language is taught in a number of secondary schools throughout the province. The very name Nova Scotia translates as ‘New Scotland in both Scots and Latin and the Irish have been calling the area Talimh An Eisc (‘The Land of the Fish’) for centuries.
So no surprise then that Nova Scotia has thrown up a wealth of Celtic influenced bands over the years and you can add some pretty amazing Celtic-Punk to that list. The Stanfields, The Stab Rovers, East River Rats are all bands that have featured on these pages and the latest to arrive are Black Matilda and they released their self-titled debut EP in the middle of December. Founded in 2019 in Lunenburg, a port town on the South Shore of Nova Scotia it is still reliant on the fishing industry and is home to Canada’s largest secondary fish-processing plant. Back in 1995 the town was designated a World Heritage Site and is considered today the best example of British colonial settlement in the whole of North America as it retains its original appearance from the 1800’s.
So with such a background and wealth of history no wonder Black Matilda have joined the Nova Scotian Celtic-Punk crew! The EP kicks off with ‘Intro’ and the not uncommon start to many releases the sound of the ocean accompanied by a bell ringing in the wind and the mournful sound of an accordion its an atmospheric start that slips gently into the EP’s lead single ‘I Must Sail Away’.
Accompanied by an outstanding stop motion animation video the song is a piece of pure Celtic-Punk joy with the refrain “if heaven is a place it’s a ocean” leaving you with no doubt where they are from. The song leads with some excellent accordion before the rest of the gang join in. ‘Life Of The Party’ reminds me of Hold Fast with tongue placed firmly in cheek and a catchy hard nosed Celtic-rocker. It’s all acoustic but with the sound turned up loud. I’ve seen many a wee Punk rocker get his cobwebs blown away by bands like Black Matilda assuming the sight of acoustic guitars and mandolins means finger in the ear music! ‘Batten Down The Hatches’ is a perfect example, purely acoustic except for a small guitar solo in the middle. Their are only five songs here but plenty of promise too. Their social media is a bit sparce so hopefully they are squirreled away busy writing and recording as I write this. The final song ‘Lost At Sea’ sees the band rock out completely with great spoken/ shouty vocals and a heaviness that eclipses the previous songs and sees the EP going out in real style.
“We are beyond thrilled to share our music we wrote during the pandemic. While in lockdown, we knew people were looking for an escape. This is what we came up with!”
One thing we must all know by now is that the Irish are everywhere but today with globalisation their obvious presence is waning somewhat. No so in Nova Scotia wherever you look you will find the traditions and customs of the people who washed up there over the years and they are honoured today by bands like Black Matilda.
The missing link between The Levellers and the Dropkick Murphys!
Cornish Sea-Punk Pirate band Jolly Roger just released their latest rum-fuelled five track EP Ship Or Bust inspired by loss, lockdown, mental health and tales of piracy!
We recently said that their was often no more than a fag paper between Celtic-Punk and it’s little offshoot Pirate-Punk. The same melodies, the same instruments and often the same songs and above all the need to have a good time and often with lashings of alcohol. There are several bands in the UK that play Pirate themed music and several more that often stray into the genre, the MIA Matilda’s Scoundrels for one and Black Water County for another. It’s no mistake that both these bands come from the South coast from areas with long histories of smuggling and rebellion both quiet and not-so-quiet! It can be said that the widespread smuggling trade in the 18th century along the South coast has led to a disrespect for the law. A disrespect that while it doesn’t see riots on the streets it manifests itself in ignoring any laws that the locals don’t agree with!
Jolly Roger hail from Penzance in Cornwall. A town world famous for pirates now for over 200 years and also as I’m sure you know one of the Celtic nations with strong links to both Brittany and Wales in both custom and language. The band like to think that they ‘fall somewhere between the sound of The Dropkick Murphys and Levellers’ but I think that’s just advertising flannel and no harm in that. We’re masters at it after all but their sound is much more laid back while being raucous at the same time. Coming from Penzance they couldn’t fail to be be inspired by the sea but these guys are not stuck in the 18th century even though they do sometimes sound like it. Nautical metaphors and pirate history and songs about serious issues like mental health but done in a light hearted vein alongside more standard fare like drinking songs and enjoying the better things in life.
Jolly Roger left to right: Jony The Plank – Drums / Flute * Samantha – Lady of the Sea – Mandolin / Guitar / Vocals * Kynan – Bosun Two Toes Smooth – Electro/Acoustic Bass / Vocals * Jae – Captain JR – Guitar / Ukulele / Vocals*
The band have just completed a successful ‘Kickstarter’ campaign where they raised the necessary readies to buy a new band van so hopefully we’ll be seeing them around the place in the coming months now that it seems gig restrictions have been lifted. This past Summer has seen them take the stage at various local festivals as well as the Plymouth Punx Picnic.
‘’Quitting our jobs to start a pirate band and live our dreams is worth it every day. If you haven’t already tried this, we thoroughly recommend’’
but they have already racked up an incredible 300+ gigs sine they formed in 2019 and this despite the lockdown! They have a few releases out there all available on their Bandcamp page and all very reasonably priced too. I think they may have been one of the busiest bands of 2020! A year that saw the release of Turns Out, We’re Swingers... where Jolly Roger took three of their favourite songs and re-imagined them in ‘swing’ style and shortly after came yet another EP Silent Mountain and after that their self-titled debut album came after and then just six months later saw another EP Jolly For All. Phew!!! This year they have done bugger in comparison so I’m sure they happy to see new EP Ship Or Bust hit the shops yesterday and we are very happy to be one of the first to run our rule over it.
The EP begins with ‘King-Fisher’ and yep it’s super high-energy from the off. Almost all acoustic except for bass with guitars loud in the mix and flute. The opening song starts off as a bit of a mish mash before settling down into a giddy wee number not a million miles away from 70’s ‘Psych Folk’. ‘We Rise’ is the bands ‘covid’ song and as they say
“we were not all in the same boat throughout these last 2 years, but we sure were weathering the same storm”.
It’s a great song and you can hear those Celtic-Punk influences clear as a bell. I daresay a bit of Punk-Rock electric guitar would just move them over but these Pirate bands are stubborn! The next song is for me the EP’s standout track and bejaysus they don’t come any catchier than this.
‘Aboard!’ was the lead single of the EP and was released on Cornwall’s national day, St Piran’s Day on 5th March. Simply marvellous and sure to give your feet a good work out on hearing it. All the songs here are highly contagious and incredible catchy but it’s the simple arrangements that give it that bit extra. There’s no frills they are not needed as on ‘Michael The Menace’ where the band just seem to do their thing naturally. The EP’s ends with ‘Reach Out’ and they even went so far as to record a simple video with Lady Of The Sea chatting about the meaning of the song. Dedicated to all fellow shipmates in a gently beautiful well meaning song. They acknowledge that it’s because of their fans that they couldn’t do what they do and while it’s obviously a great thing to see that the relationship between bands and fans seems to be closing bands should always remember that we the fans get far more out this relationship then they do.
(A live performance of ‘Reach Out’ recorded in Bristol at the end of last year)
Jolly Roger formed in 2019 with absolutely zero previous experience in music but have sailed the waters of the South-West music scene admirably with their eclectic mix of shanty vibes, humour and dare I say it Celtic-Punk all done with a metal head mentality. Now with a (fairly) new van they are looking to get out and about and have big plans for a nationwide busking tour so get in touch if you want them washing up in your town. We were a bit late to the Jolly Roger party not that they noticed as they were doing pretty damn good without us but it’s time for them to cut the strings and start going national and these songs are crying out to be heard to be live.
(You can stream, download or buy the CD of Ship Or Bust from the bands Bandcamp page and don’t forget to check out their previous releases while you are there!)
(Back when everyone was doing Live Streams Jolly Roger were no different and here’s their patched together live stream recorded at the Rock Bottom Bar in Plymouth. A few minor glitches but real music isn’t suppose to be perfect!)
Hello and welcome to Green Guard. Pretty damn good Celtic-Folk-Punk from Moscow, Russia with bagpipes… and heart!
Russia has seen a fair few Celtic-Punk bands come and go so it’s always great to be able to report on these pages a new band. I say new but that is only to us and they’re been around since 2017 (which in this scene still makes them babies!). They released their debut album, Green Noise, in 2018 which was followed up by a couple of singles and the 10-track Ulster Girl album last year. All are available on the band’s Bandcamp player for just a few dollars. All their previous releases like their new one are exclusively new material. This is a completely free covers zone! Devil’s Lung came out digitally last March in the run up to St. Patrick’s Day but finally saw the light of day as an actual CD just last week.
Devil’s Lung begins with ‘Lights Of Morning’ and the first thing to notice is the female vocals placing Green Guard in a very select group of bands within Celtic-Punk. Whether by accident or design female involvement seems on the main to be restricted to fiddle and accordion with some of the scene’s best but it’s by no means uniform with Brutus Daughter and Toxic Frogs bucking the trend. Green Guards music is best described as urgent. A sort of Gothy Punk-Rock played at breakneck speed with Valeria’s vocals both clear and powerful accompanied by highland bagpipes, flute and bouzouki giving them a very distinct Celtic sound. No attempt is made at Celtic melodies just glorious catchy as hell Punk-Rock that happens to be played with Celtic instruments. ‘Raindrops’ is a great song. Balanced between Metal, Punk and Medieval Folk it’s again a catchy number and again Valeria’s vocals stand out giving the bands sound a delicate edge. ‘Hell As Home’ sees chugging guitar and pipes before it’s time to slow it down and ‘Devil’s Lung’ does just that, but only for a bit before the guitars and drums come crashing down and soon a nice wee bagpipe solo takes over. One of the best tracks here it shows the amazing depth of this band and the multitude of influences they inject into each song. It comes as no surprise that members of Green Guard are also involved in Metal bands given the influences here and ‘Pain’ was indeed written by guitarist Anton for a metal project. Using piano and vocals to tell the tale of addiction and the high price that that addicts (and those around them let’s not forget) have to pay. The first time Green Guard performed ‘Pain’ was in the Spring of 2020 while in Covid quarantine. It became the first single from the EP in May of this year and it is a slightly undated version that appears on the album here. Valeria sings in perfect English with dramatic effect. Think of Kate Bush as a Punk-Rocker! Only a couple more songs to go and ‘Share Me So Light’ showcases Marina’s outstanding piping before the final song ‘Summer’ ends on a positive note with a song that bounces off the walls. Musically it could easily fit into the American Pop-Punk scene with it strong catchy and melodic tune and Valeria’s note perfect vocals.
Only eight songs which places it to me right on the fence between album and EP. There’s no science (or logic!) involved really but it’s the album’s length at almost thirty minutes that finally convinced me that Devil’s Lung belongs among 2021’s albums. I really enjoyed this album but it did raise a couple of questions. There doesn’t seem, to my ear anyway, to be any Celtic melodies here but the band contains more Celtic instruments than most Celtic-Punk bands do. On top of that they are proud to label themselves a “Celtic Folk Rock Punk band” so is it still Celtic-Punk or just Punk with bagpipes? Have a listen and see what you think. Whatever you decide the one thing we can agree on is that it’s pretty damn good!
(You can stream and download Devil’s Lung on the Bandcamp player below)
One of Australia’s finest Celtic punk exports are back with their first EP since 2016’s ‘Whitewashed Graves’. Have they still got it? Make no mistake: these guys pack a punch, and they always have.
The Ramshackle Army kicked the Celt-folk door open way back in 2010. Quickly, they proved they could deliver exciting, fast-paced performances to rival the best of ’em. While they’ve obviously been influenced by The Dropkick Murphys, and have a core sound reminiscent of 2000s-era punk rock, the band is much more than a mere Dropkicks tribute, let me tell ya that!
The Army have toured the US several times, supportin’ top names like The Tossers and The Dropkicks themselves, and sharing festival stages with Flatfoot 56 and The Mahones. The Army (as I shall refer to them from now on) have described their music as “the sounds of punk rock, with a dose of the Celtic folk”. And that, my friend, is precisely what we have here on ‘Highflyer’. And damn, it’s good to see these guys the other side of lockdown.
To the EP itself: this 5-track record is a thrasher, from start to finish 🙂 It also showcases some of the band’s punkiest moments to date. From the minute the title track “Highflyer” kicks in, we know we’re in for another good ride. Singer Gaz Byrne treats us to the catchy, Cockney-tinged vocal melodies we’re used to from him. The sound again immediately provides that homely feeling that Celtic music always summons in the listener. With lines like “Where is the line in the sand? / Why do highflyers sink so low?”, the song takes a critical swipe at the business success but lack of moral principles embraced by some “highflyers”, wrapping it up in a hopeful and powerful chorus. A strong opener, and one that brings back memories of “Protest Songs” from the aforementioned ‘Whitewashed Graves’ EP, or indeed 2012’s classic “Rue The Day”, the video to whichis currently nearing 50,000 views on YouTube.
Tracks #2 (“Bend Don’t Break”) and #3 (“Rise and Fall”) allow the band’s rock sound into the foreground, with the fiddles and mandolins taking more of a back seat. However, this takes nothing away from the musicianship of these songs, and our favourite Celtic instruments make a strong return in the interestingly-titled “The Also Rans”. If you’re looking for the band’s signature “woah-oh!” singalong moments, then await the chorus patiently 😁 For me, this is the second strongest song on the record only to title track “Highflyer”, but you might feel differently, so crank the volume 😉
You’ll want to keep the volume up for closer “Old Weapons”, too. I’m pretty familiar with The Army’s back catalogue, but they’ve hardly ever sounded heavier or faster than they do here. A desperate burst of energy to emerge from the terrible pandemic that’s wrecked people’s lives, perhaps? Maybe. Either way, this one’s sure to be a firm singalong at the band’s gigs in support of the EP, supplying 1 minute and 49 seconds of untempered energy.
Anyway, enough from me…to feast yer ears on this fine piece o’ work, click HERE or try Spotify.
The Los Angeles-based dark roots and gothic country band Heathen Apostles release their third volume collection of songs at once as timely as they are timeless.
Imagine bands doing to Country / Bluegrass music what the bands we all love doing to Celtic music? Add on a bit of Goth and you’ve got the Heathen Apostles. A LA based band featuring ex-members of Radio Noir (Mather Louth), The Cramps (Chopper Franklin), Kings of Nuthin’ (Thomas Lorioux), and Christian Death (Stevyn Grey) in its ranks. They have been on these pages before but not for a in-depth review Mather, of course, was recently on these pages as co-vocalist on the new album from fellow ‘Doom-billy’ merchants The Phantom Of The Black Hills. An album that still holds the #1 spot in my heart of all 2021 releases. Though she had recorded with the Phantom before this time her input was a lot more than just a great voice with her assisting with writing and lyrics.
Sadly this review is going to be published after their tour of mainland Europe comes to an end so any new fans who may have had the chance will have missed them. Their tour of Europe was cancelled twice times as the music industry ground to a stop because of the Covid pandemic but it did mean the Heathen Apostles were gifted time. Time that they were not expecting due to their busy schedules and while some bands were happy to rest upon their laurels they channeled the turbulent year’s events and its complex emotions into their music. It was only last month that they released a 3-track EP as featured in Lorin Morgan-Richards Western animated series The Goodbye Family, a fictional family of undertakers based on a comic book. The show is available on You Tube and features the Heathens music throughout.
The third volume of Bloodgrass follows on from one and two released in 2017 and 2018 respectively and Bloodgrass #3 is a worthy follow up to the two previous volumes both available on the bands Bandcamp (link below).
So Volume three arrives and begins with ‘Bad Patch’ and continues their dark interpretation of Bluegrass, Country and Blues. Fiddle, banjo and mandolin accompany Mather’s beautiful voice as she sings of the tragedy of the 1930s Dust Bowl. A series of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology of mid-west American prairies during the 1930’s. Besides the great lyrics the song is musically a bit more ‘radio friendly’ Heathen Apostles while ‘Careful What You Pray For’ is more the dark Gothic-Americana they are known for. The song tells of the danger of religious dogma and cements Mather as having one of the best voices in alternative music… or just music. ‘Black Hawk’ was the lead single for the EP and I’ll not pretend to have any idea what the lyrics are about except it’s a a tale of transformation by shedding the darkness in order to welcome in the light.
Yeah that is from the press release as if you didn’t know but be sure to check out the video as along with their label-mates The Phantom Of the Black Hills their videos tell entire stories and are as far from our usual fare as you can get. Despite being closely linked in many ways to the Phantom the Heathen Apostles have a very definite and original sound. There is no one else who resembles them making it hard to review them as it’s so original. Rooted in the definition of ‘Folk’ they mangle up several genres while adding much to the final sound. ‘Demi Monde’ is a slow song dominated by all the usual elements and shrouded in occult imagery paying homage to the fires of Beltane. ‘Tall Rider’ brings down the curtain on the EP on a positive note. I mean even the Sisters of Mercy were sometimes upbeat (ish!). Catchy as hell and a reminder of the possibility to heal through love. Great fiddle throughout that does lead a lot of the time but without dominating thanks in no small part to the excellent production of master producer Chopper Franklin.
The EP may only be five songs long but it’s length at almost twenty minutes in is almost as much as some albums we hear. Their recent tour took in mainly Germany (the Germans are good at spotting American bands) but I can’t see how this band with a bit of luck and the right promotion it won’t be long before their a name on everybody’s lips and they’ll be back touring in your country too.
(You can stream or download Bloodgrass Vol. 3 on the Bandcamp player below)
Amid the ashes of the Boston music scene burns an ember. A glowing promise of the raging fires that used to burn. The keepers of the flame are SHADOWS OF BOSTON.
A new Celtic Street Punk band band formed out of ex-members of Boston Punk bands Dropkick Murphys, Toxic Narcotic and The Blue Bloods. Raymond Lloyd Ball was among the first to hear the Shadows Of Boston debut release, a 4 track EP that has already set the Celtic-Punk scene alight, and here lets us know what all the fuss is about.
Did anyone believe a band out of Boston would be playing a mix of rock, punk, folk, and Celtic music? Of course you do. We all know and love the Murphy’s. And I’ll happily buy their records, merch, etc. because they’re something I grew up loving and shaped my musical trajectory.
I read in a review of the last album that it was “dad rock”. And it’s true. We can’t all be 20-something or younger pisspots forever.
For me, it’s a bittersweet pill to swallow, but that’s for another day. Fast forward to August 2021. I caught some random post that there was a new group coming out of Boston with ex-DKM piper “Scruffy” Wallace.
Shadows Of Boston left to right: Eric – Bass * Benny – Accordion, Banjo, Harp (yes feckiing harp!!!, Bagpipes * Tim – Drums, Bagpipes * Tony – Vocals, Guitar * Al – Lead Guitar, Vocals * Herb – Mandolin, Guitar, Bagpipes * Scruffy – Vocals, Whistles, Bagpipes *
I didn’t pay a whole ton of attention at the time. Much like the Street Dogs and the Walker Roaders, I didn’t want to think of them as a cool offshoot of DKM.
While each of said groups I love, my skepticism is always there. How can we really keep reinventing the wheel? Frankly we can’t. In the words of the McKenzies- “It’s all been done before”. But that sure as hell doesn’t mean we can’t revisit it.
Enter “Shadow of Boston”. They released a four track demo EP just days ago. Skeptic or not, the rumblings of Celtic punk out of Boston was enough to make me get a copy.
I was floored. Hard. Brash. Unrefined. In-your-face punk music with a Celtic twist. To those of us who still listen to “Sing Loud, Sing Proud” or “Do or Die”, or at least spent our youth doing so-this album is for you.
Part of the beauty of it is it’s format. It’s not squeaky-clean overproduced. It’s rough around the edges. I would love to delve into lyrics and styles but I can’t. And that is awesome. Other than the titles, I can’t make most of it out. And unless you google them, I can’t make a damn word out of a DKM record until “The Gangs all Here”. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. But to old, curmudgeonly bastards who have heard not only the Murphy’s, but important bands from the late-90s / early-00s Celtic punk-download a copy of this. It’s a diamond in the rough of a million bands playing the same thing. Not to knock anyone-and I’ve already talked about that other Boston Celtic band more than I wanted. But for those who remember Far From Finished or Righteous Jams – older Boston punk bands that didn’t make it past an album or two. This record is for you. Forget the connection with that other band. Yeah, ex members, great. But for everyone who’s complained over the groups of this era losing their edge – shut up and download the record. It’s truly a breath of fresh air you didn’t even realize you needed.
(Download or stream the Shadows Of Boston EP from the Bandcamp player below)
SOB Demo on all platforms!! ..Spotify, itunes Tidal…etc.etc but free on Bandcamp
Scruffy and Benny sat down with Mistress Carrie and did The Mistress Carrie Podcast at the end of 2020. Scruffy spoke of his time in The Dropkick Murphys, touring the world, learning the bagpipes and Punk-Rock, while they both talked about their time deployed in combat (would love to hear what they think of the current situation!), what makes Boston the city that it is and all things Shadows Of Boston.
Thanks to Raymond Lloyd Ball for the great review. He has already featured on these pages as the driving force behind The Fighting 69th from Buffalo. The review of his 2-volume set of Dropkick Murphys coverswas one of the most viewed of the year. One of the most prolific and diverse artists in the Celtic-Punk scene we are proud to have Raymond on board the London Celtic Punks team. Writer, artist, musician he is a credit to the American-Irish community and you can find a wealth of his material available at his Bandcamp site .
Pync Roc efo dylanwadau Celtaidd. Weithiau acwstig, weithiau ddim, wastad pync.
One man Welsh Punk Rock with Celtic influences. Sometimes acoustic, sometimes not, always Punk
The Odds Are Stacked Against is the second release from Welsh one man band Owen Crawford in the guise of No Murder No Moustache. It seems to be the trend these days that any wishy-washy drip of a student armed with an acoustic guitar gives themselves a grandiose name with a bit of edge (to make up for the music having none I suppose) and a place at a local NHS benefit gig is assured! No Murder No Moustache hail from the Welsh capital Cardiff and don’t play wishy-washy music. This is what I think generally passes ‘Folk-Punk’ these days. Go to any Ferocious Dog gig and they will have something not a million miles away as support. The lyrics are nearly all politically driven with not even a single drinking song. Though their is one sung in Welsh so maybe that’s it? It’s not all po-faced and serious though and the music is upbeat and dare I even say jolly.
Their debut release came out in the Summer of last year and ‘Hold My Beer’ was a welcome release at a time when the Celtic-Punk scene had become a near desert! The title track would eventually go on to win 2020 track of the year on the HRH radio Punk show. Since then a bunch of singles have followed, including a couple of Christmas themed ones that are available for free download on the No Murder No Moustache Bandcamp site. (link below) all in much the same vein. The Odds Are Stacked Against is a collection of seven songs of ‘punkishness’ played on fiddle, ukulele, accordion and banjo but with a strong Folk influence. While the ‘Celtic’ touches here are not quite as prevalent as on Hold My Beer their are several moments where it does come to the fore.
The EP kicks off with the title track ‘The Odds Are Stacked Against’ and starts with some nicely placed news dialogue before speeding off into Celtic-Pop-Punk territory. Upbeat, fist in the air music to jig around to as Owen sings about the dispossessed. If I had one criticism it would be that it lacks a bit of oomph. The mix is a wee bit quiet and while Owen’s voice is as powerful and as clear as a bell (no need for a lyric sheet here) the guitar could have done with beefing up a bit. ‘Sing! Fight! Run! Survive!’ is pure Celtic-Punk. Fast and fun (think Black Water County) and with a bit to skank along to too or even “beat up the floor” as BWC call it. This is the only song where Owen is accompanied by anyone else with Chris Hopkins stepping in on bass. ‘Since The War Started’ is a slow ballad. The sort that you might hear from the New Model Army or Alarm. The song does get louder later on as Owen delivers an anti-war ballad either of those mentioned would be proud of. ‘A Million Whispers’ takes us back to fast’n’fun and they manage to pack quite a punch in just forty-four seconds. The last three tracks here are my favourite beginning with ‘Let The Anger Into Your Heart’, one of the more Celtic sounding numbers with great use of the ukulele, a much much maligned and under-rated instrument, especially in Celtic-Punk. My favourite song here is ‘Sut Tyfodd Y Gath Mor Dew?’ which according to the translate button is ‘How Did The Cat Grow So Fat?’ in Owen’s native Welsh language. I never tire of hearing Punk sing in Welsh. A love that first began when I heard Punk-Rock legends Anhrefn on Snub TV back in the late 80’s. Accompanied by a bunch of mates on backing vocals it does sound remarkably like Black Water County which is to Owen’s credit rather than any criticism. The EP comes to an end with ‘Feels Like Home’ and a mish-mash of influences soon comes together in a call to arms but done in that style of No Murder No Moustache with Owen sounding an awful lot like Justin Keenan of Aussie Celt-rockers The Go Set.
The EP is released on Smash Mouse Records, a collective based DIY label based in Cardiff, Wales. The seven songs run in at just under seventeen minutes so as you can imagine things rattle along at a fine auld speed with most songs around the two minute mark and Owen is certainly a very talented musician. A great release with my only quibble being that it lacks a little in the mix. With words and music like this it needs to have a big background and sometimes that is lacking. Music like this is best heard in the pub and it is notoriously hard to transfer that sound or feeling onto disc and with No Murder No Moustache being a one man band I can imagine it’s even harder. Still this shows Owen’s sound developing and I look forward to hearing more from him soon.
One of 2021’s best Celtic-Punk releases so far The Black Clover are an innovative and somewhat unusual band that may take a listen or two before you fall for them… but I promise fall you will do!
This is the second appearance The Black Clover have made on these pages. Back in 2017 they released an excellent five track EP, From Sailor To Hobo, and they return four years later with another five tracker to thrill us. Founded in 2016 from the ashes of the short lived (but bloomin’ brilliant!) Seagulls Are Drunk who released one excellent EP before disbanding. The Black Clover hail from Grand Est in France and have, like their predecessors, a very unique take on Celtic-Punk. Their debut release touched on all the various wings of Celtic-Punk from Folk to trad to Punk while all fitting seamlessly together …and all with a really nice Tom Waits-y twang.
Veterans now of hundreds of shows playing every conceivable kind of venue they bring that ‘live’ sound to this recording and you can sense the enjoyment in the air as they play. Just Another Pub kicks off with a classic drinking song ‘We Drink So Much’ and the much missed sound of a pint glass filling up before fiddle and chugging guitar fills the air. Seb chimes in with that Waits-ish (perhaps not as pronounced as before but still there) voice before organ unexpectedly joins in and we’ve a right catchy wee number. A really enjoyable thigh slapper!! ‘El Poco’ takes another turn and I have to say I’m finding the organ here really great fun. A western style Tex-Mex rocker that sounds much better in French than it would in English I wager. The halfway point in the EP is reached with ‘Tonight In Dublin’ and a sort of laid back Jazzy, Folky, Poppy mash-up that once again stretches the boundaries of what The Black Clover play. These lot could give us ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and we’d fail to recognise it. ‘Tonight In Dublin’ was the lead single for the EP and the video, released at the height of the ‘clampdown’, consists of the guys playing in their own homes ‘isolating’ from each other.
‘Sloggy Trip’ whisks us back to the Celtic lands and again Seb’s vocals are in French and have a lot more bite to them in what sounds remarkably like a battle song. It’s a slowish swirling number with trademark brilliant fiddle playing from Nicolas who quite rightly is pushed to the fore throughout this EP. We end where we came in on a classy, pure thorough-bred Celtic-Punk drinking song! ‘Pure Whisky’ hits the spot but this time it is Olivier’s accordion taking the lead and the sort of song to get even the most reluctant of dancers to slap that thigh and be punching the air.
All in all a fantastic release my only disappointment being that it is only eighteen minutes long which while that isn’t bad for a EP I do find myself wanting to hear an whole album from the guys. lust like on that debut release they have a canny knack for bringing in lots of different influences but still managing to make it sound like a Black Clover song. This may have been a thin year for Celtic-Punk releases so far but this is definitely one of the very best of 2021. Now for them to get writing that album!
(You can stream and download Just Another Pub on the Bandcamp player below)
New 4-track EP of high adrenaline Celtic-Punk and Alternative Rock from the South West of England’s Liddington Hill.
It was only in February that we featured Liddington Hill for the first time. As surprised as we were that their was a band out there in southern England playing brilliant kick-arse Celtic-Folk-Punk that we had not come across we decided straight away that we had to do something. Without any new releases at the time we advertised that their back catalogue was available for free (they still are if you follow the link!). Free Downloads From Liddington Hill the articles title shouted out at you and by the look of it plenty of you did too. This time we are pleased to say that the music is new having been released only yesterday as I write this review.
Liddington Hill: Front- Tamzin – Vocals / Bass * Left to right – Ethan – Rhythm Guitar * Liam – Lead Guitar / Vocals * Chris – Drums * Matt – Fiddle / Vocals *
Formed in 2015 when Matt and Emily began performing traditional Celtic and English folk songs around their local area and taking their name from an ancient hill in Wiltshire. As is par for the course in Celtic bands the sound changed and members came and went before eventually moving away from the more trad sound to a heavier darker approach. A shadowy mix of Celtic and Folk tinged Metal and Punk giving them a rather unique sound for these days, added to which the dual male / female vocals gives them a further range than most bands we hear. Not that it’s downbeat but if you like this is more Joy Division and The Pogues rather the usual Clash and Pogues we get to hear.
Well in common with every band the months of C***d lockdown had a dramatic effect on the band abut rather than just sit around and mope they decided to concentrate on the music and finally they got to finish Cow their new EP. Two original songs and two traditional songs recorded at Evolution Recording Studio in Oxford, by Nick Moorbath. Cow is the first recordings from the new line up of Liddington Hill and one the band have preparing for throughout lockdown. Cow begins with the sea-shanty ‘Whip Jamboree’. Described by A.L. Lloyd who performed the song on the 1957 album Blow Boys Blow as “one of the wildest and most exultant of homeward-bound shanties” and here its played fast as hell and the sound and subject matter reminds me of Yorkshire band Blackbeard’s Tea Party. The second of the four tracks is the original ‘Pub Crawl’, written about a night out the band had around Oxford. Again here the fiddle dominates as the sights and sounds of a night on the lash are conveyed to us. It’s been a while so memories need refreshing! The third track is ‘Marshlands’ and the darkest song here both lyrically and in tone. Much heavier than the rest of the EP which ends with a spirited version of the anti-war song ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’. This song needs no introduction I am sure as by now its been covered by all and sundry but Liddington Hill manage to convey the horror of war suitably enough and ensure their version loses none of the originals power. The fantastic artwork for the EP was the brilliant work of Rob Warren from Paper Plane Consulting and the sound is also excellent though sadly distorted on the Spotify player below. So please don’t judge the EP on these snippets of song.
A island nation with a great seafaring tradition and history of invasion and occupation that became a republic two years after Ireland. Why Indonesia of course and one of the leading lights of the Celtic-Punk scene are The Working Class Symphony.
Over the years that this site has existed we have reviewed many Celtic-Punk releases from Indonesia. In fact I’d go so far as to say that the scene there rivals Germany in it’s number of bands away from the traditional Irish/ Celtic diaspora communities. Tenholes, Black Rawk Dog, The Cloves And The Tobacco, Rain In Summer, Dirty Glass have all graced these pages but it was the magnificent Wind From The Foreign Land compilation that really exposed the Celtic-Punk scene to many outside the region. Featuring fourteen bands it is still one of the best compilation albums I have ever heard. Of course todays band The Working Class Symphony were one of the highlights and have gone on to feature here several times subsequently, the last time being August last year.
Founded in 2010 in Surakarta, in central Indonesia, a couple of good friends (one a drunk and the other a musician!) were working together in an internet cafe listening to Irish pub song compilations. Inspired by the music it sparked an idea to get together with some other friends and play similar music. When this became a solid group shortly afterwards they decided to take the name The Working Class Symphony to reflect their roots and positive attitude.
Life in this country is already very difficult, if it still has to be added by listening to mainstream music as it is today … Really it will be FORGETTING..There is no other way than making music that can be uplifting … God Save The Working Class !!!!!
So having missed their 10th anniversary due to the Covid lockdown they see in their 11th with the new EP Mulat Sarira Hangrasa Wani. Recording did actually begin last year at the Biru Solo Studios but were delayed until recently. For those of you not too fluent in Indonesian the phrase translates roughly as “brave with sincerity to see one’s shortcomings”.
The Working Class Symphony in no particular order: @alby.moreno – Guitar/ Vocals * @andreaspyex – Lead Vocals * @mistergomz – Bass * @ami.ragil.sagita – Bagpipes * @erwin_ardz – Tin Whistle * @bimoaryp – Banjo/Mandolin @dannyfvckinshit : Drums @tuan.duaempat : Violin
Their are six songs here. Four new ones a previously released single and a cover. The EP begins with ‘Wani Perang’ and the drone of bagpipes soon gives way to the rest of the band and this is top quality Celtic-Punk. It owes a lot to the sound of Oi! (another genre popular in the underground music scene there) with its catchy rockin’ tune, gang vocals, great hooks and the pure ‘pint in the air’-ness about it! Several elements at play here that all work great together.
Next up is ‘Alerta Song’. This came out as a single last year and is a tribute to Cornel Simanjuntak an important figure in the development of Indonesian music. The song includes many of Cornel’s words and still inspire many today.
The Working Class Symphony dedicate this song to Cornel. With straightforward lyrics, as a picture of the reality that is happening here. Finally, keep on loving our country no matter what happens until the end of closing of your eyes… Freedom.
‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’ sees the Symphony take a much more Punk/ Hardcore route but still with their trademark sound intact. Not a band to stand still and without the confines of a more traditional Celtic-Punk band The Working Class Symphony show their not afraid to get a bit heavy at times. We can only guess at the lyrics but I’m sure from the title we can all agree. A lot of the island’s Celtic-Punk bands play more Trad Folk based Celtic-Punk while The Working Class Symphony have always edged towards that early Dropkicks sound but on ‘Lelaki Bekarja Dan Kemaki’ they show they can do the trad Folk sound too. They continue in this style with ‘Sahabat Yang Telah Pergi’ and every Celtic-Punk release needs a ballad and this is this ones and it is terrific. Sung with passion and gusto it really does soar and it needed worry you that you can’t understand the words. Wrapping up the EP is a cover of ‘The Holy Ground’ and what a fantastic cover it is too. On hearing it I am actually a bit surprised it hasn’t been covered by more Celtic-Punk bands as it has the perfect chorus for shouting and banging tables! Made famous by The Dubliners and Luke Kellyand his dulcet tones here the guys give it the pub feel with plenty of oomph among the “fine girl you are” chorus. The best song here for me but I love the whole EP so I’ll probably change that to something else by the time this comes out. Lyrically The Working Class Symphony usual staples are that of hard work, football and the real events that surround them. To close with The Holy Ground is a real good touch and I’m sure Luke is looking down with a twinkle in his eye at a bunch of young Indonesians paying this tribute to him and Irish music.
The EP artwork is by good friend of the band Jahlo Gomez from Belukar and those with an interest in Indonesian Celtic-Punk will recognise his artwork from other bands releases and logos. It is great to hear from the band that for this release many people were asking for a physical release and has been not only across Indonesia but the entire world. All the great things about Celtic-Punk are present here. Think of the Claddagh ring and its motto of friendship, loyalty and love. That is The Working Class Symphonys message and I’ll leave off with their words
“We hope that this can be the embryo of the rebirth of the punk spirit with its various variations.
Keep on trying, towards infinity and beyond.”
For the moment contact TWCS to buy the CD via Instagram/Facebook
A new five track EP of original top class Celtic-Punk from German band The Feelgood McLouds.
Before all this Covid nonsense March use to be the busiest month for us by far. We would still be reviewing St. Patrick’s releases into April and May but as with everything else normal service is suspended. Luckily their are a places where gigs are allowed and even better that some bands have still managed to get releases out in these strange times. So with the light of the end of the tunnel not a upcoming train for the first time in over a year we can only hope the bands we love can return to the stager and the recording studios soon.
The Feelgood McLouds were formed back in January 2015 in the city of Saarbrücken in the southwestern German state of Saarland. More than any country in Europe the Germans have embraced Celtic-Punk and with the scene there and number of bands it’s hard to make yourselves stand out but The Feelgood McLouds have managed it with ease. Most of the German Celtic-Punk bands take a more traditional route while the McLouds are unashamedly Celtic-PUNK ROCK! You could maybe categorise the difference as that between Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys. Their combining of an authentic Streetpunk sound with Irish/Celtic melodies and instrumentation works really well. Make no mistake they sacrifice none of their Celtic side to be a Punk band and everything revolves around their Celtic instrumentation. So far they have released two long-players, their debut self titled album in 2017 and the well received Life On A Ferris Wheel from last year.
Saints And Sinners is released on Wolverine Records, one of the best known labels in Germany that is home to several Celtic-Punk bands (Bastards On Parade, Jamie Clarkes Perfect, Malasaners) alongside some of Europe’s best Psychobilly, Rockabilly, Ska and Punk bands. Saints & Sinners is four new original McLouds songs (plus a bonus acoustic number) released just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. The EP begins with ‘Dirty Bastards’ and the dual sound of bagpipes and banjo played expertly by Woll and Benni before Gunther’s vocals kick in. I would describe him as a ‘gruff’ singer. You know the sound of Tom Waits when he was a heavy smoker!! It works very well in Punk usually and here among the fast paced Celtic sounds it does as well. The recording is brilliant and the various Celtic instruments at play here compliment each other perfectly. They folk it up next with a bit more than a tinge of country with ‘Tales Of Snotty Nosed Sam’ introducing accordion to the EP. Thrashy guitars come in eventually but the catchiness doesn’t stop and even the mouth organ appears (one of my favourite instruments and sadly underused in Celtic-Punk) at one point. A talented band with very good musicians. Sally is the lass as featured on the EP’s cover as well a as on the next song too. ‘The Ballad Of Sally And Sam’ has a Celtic opening before again the thrashy guitars erupt and they have by now carved out a typical McLouds sound. One that even though the songs have different styles and tempos you would recognise. Time for the title track and ‘Saints & Sinners’ doesn’t disappoint. A fast, catchy track to beat the floor up to with some smoking banjo work. The highlight here but all the songs are high quality and absolutely no sign of the ‘Fields Of Athenry’! Take away the Celtic-ness and you would still have a decent enough Punk song but its thanks to that Celtic-ness that The Feelgood McLouds are lifted into something really special. The EP comes with a bonus track the acoustic ‘Cheerio (dirty pub version)’ and a nod to traditional Celtic-Punk with a catchy folky drinking song that ends proceedings nicely and fits just right.
The EP is available direct from the band and Wolverine Records and is available in a couple of different packages so support the band and get the CD, patch, stickers, buttons and McLouds beermats. Not a great time to release anything that is obvious so we should do our best to those that are helping to keep the Celtic-Punk ship afloat during these troubled times.
Influenced by local hero Springsteen and countless other country troubadours, Sean Tobin grew up in the New Jersey bar scene and oweshis high-energy performances to his time spent busking on the streets of Galway. With a handful of releases behind him his excellent new EP celebrates his Irish roots and St. Patrick’s Day.
Born and raised on the New Jersey shore, Sean Tobin was influenced by Folk-song troubadours like Guy Clark, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, as well as high-energy rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger and Tom Petty. Self-taught and trained by the New Jersey bar scene, Tobin owes much to his time spent busking on the streets of Galway, Ireland throughout 2015 and 2017. After graduating college in 2017 and uncertain of which direction to take he undertook the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trail through Spain, with his guitar tied to his pack. Upon completion, the future became obvious and on returning to New Jersey he worked hard to fund his music. He released his first album, This Midnight, in the summer of 2018, and in 2019 he played Frank Turner’s Lost Evenings III Festival at the House of Blues in Boston and soon after quit his day job.
In July 2019, Sean released ‘Dreams & Black Caffeine,’ a four-song EP recorded in Ocean, NJ with his band, The Boardwalk Fire. The group played several shows promoting the work, and had planned a tour for the summer of 2020, but were forced to cancel due to the Covid lockdown. The last year has seen the release of ‘East Coast Artifacts’, a compilation of his first EP, various tracks recorded through lockdown and three new songs.
“We’ve all played together as duos or trios in the past, but St. Patrick’s Day Forever really fortified us as a band,” said Tobin. “I just wish we could play live. That’s what we’re best at.”
Well he has a lot of catching up to do and on his new 4-track EP, accompanied by his band The Boardwalk Fire, he has made a pretty good start.
Released at the end of February, 2021 the EP features two originals and two covers and kicks off with the title track, a fast paced Irish trad influenced Celtic-Punk song about the lockdown and it’s first anniversary in New Jersey. It was after all the cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day events around the world that set the scene for what was going to follow. Lively, upbeat and catchy as hell Sean Tobin tells a great story with a brilliant accompanying video too!
‘St. Patrick’s Day Forever’ by Sean Tobin And The Boardwalk Fire
Directed by Jarrett Allen * Edited by Sean Tobin
It was winter 2020, we were playing on the roof,
Jack was slapping stand-up to another song by Bruce.
A mere twenty hours later, we heard it on the news:
the Jersey Shore’s in lockdown, so stock up on your booze!
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
Not long later it was Easter, I was sippin’ on some stout.
I’d horded fifty cases out of fear that they’d run out,
but I couldn’t taste a drop ’cause I gave it up for Lent.
So come Easter, fifty cases, up the field they went!
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
Murphy! Your laws are screwin’ me!
But frankly, I don’t blame you. If it’s what we gotta do,
to keep people from dyin’, then I’ll stay home for you.
I just miss my friends…and the bar…
So now it’s comin’ up on summer, and I’m still drinkin’ stout.
I would be switchin’ to Corona, but I don’t think that’s allowed…
So instead I’ve got a toucan on one can, three cans, five.
If Guinness makes you stronger, I’m the strongest man alive!
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
Now it’s one, two, three fuckin’ months inside this house.
There’s not too much I need, but I need fuckin’ out.
So I make my way down Main Street, the flag’s on every door–
it’s St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore,
St. Patrick’s Day forever on the Jersey Shore.
The EP’s other original song is titled ‘Ode to Anna Liffey’s’ a bittersweet love song to the now closed Irish bar Anna Liffey’s in New Haven, Connecticut. As with all of Sean’s songs and in common with Irish music in general the songs tell intricate stories and at over six minutes the song gives him plenty of scope in telling his story of days spent propping up the bar there. A swirling gentle song with Sean’s strong voice backed by accordion and percussion that soon enough gets faster and faster with Sean’s guitar and Sean-David’s fiddle smoking! A real Irish tinged bluegrass/country floor filler that ends on a sad note (especially for us Irish!) with the last chorus going out to all the bars that are forced to close but “go down swinging”.
Ending with two covers, the first ‘Dirty Old Town’ has seen it’s fair share of Celtic-Punk records but here Sean strays from the well trodden Pogues/ Dubliners versions and keeps it upbeat and catchy even, in fact the perfect speed to be belting it out at the top of your lungs in the pub or Celtic Park or just your living room. The EP ends with the traditional Scottish ballad ‘The Parting Glass’ and Sean keeps it simple with just his voice and acoustic guitar. Two popular covers with new life breathed into them. Obviously a difficult thing to achieve with such popular songs. The record was recorded, mixed and mastered by David Patiño at Tannery Studios and, as with everything here, is absolutely perfect. Sean has severl live streams planned over March but you can still catch his most recent stream from Watermark in Asbury Park, NJ on February 20th to celebrate the EP’s release via Sean’s Facebook page. A fantastic start to the Celtic month of March and can only say we glad he went to Spain!!
From France it’s the Toxic Frogs. 5 girls and 2 Fiddles. Six fantastic new original songs with the Mahones Finny McConnell guesting on lead single ‘Thank You Humanity’.
The last thing we were expecting was a flurry of new releases to land at London Celtic Punk Towers in the first couple of weeks of 2021. With releases down to the bare minimum during the latter part of last year we were surprised and delighted to receive them and will be giving them all the LCP treatment in the following weeks! So far we have 1916, The Feelgood McLouds, Jason Stirling and Tir Nan Og to catch up with but first this six-track EP from the French band Toxic Frogs.
The most obvious place to start with the review is that they are Celtic-Punks only all female band (I had quite a good rant about the idea of segregating bands into female/male ones when we reviewed their last release The Mermaids Song so I will spare you that this time!) and with an EP and an album, Kill The Devils, behind them they have kept up a steady stream of well produced videos to keep them in the Celtic-Punk public’s eye. As I say to bands all the time a good way to keep your profile up when you are not actually recording is to put out videos. Toxic Frogs ones are always entertaining and well produced and they have become one of the better known Celtic-Punk bands through them. Formed in the east-central French city of Lyon in September 2014 it was Ella who came up with the idea of an all girl Celtic-Punk band so started to advertise and soon enough a team of girls was ready. Having already played fiddle for the excellent French Celtic-Punk legends Celkilt she already knew the scene well and as soon as they hit the practice rooms something gelled. The name is an obvious dig at the friendly nickname the English give to French people (well don’t they call the English “rostbif”!!) and within a few years they had made quite the name for themselves with their energetic and passionate live performances and soon developed their own musical style as well.
My Lucky Own is released today and the EP starts with ‘Beginning’. A short intro of wailing eastern style fiddle soon giving way to the EP’s first single the superb ‘Thank You Humanity’. Chugging guitars and I’ve always been a big fan of dual vocals and they are used expertly hear with Ella dueling with no other than Mr. Mahones himself Finny McConnell. Finny has been as busy as pretty much any musician alive during the various lockdowns and it’s really nice to see him helping out other bands. The vocals are quiet, almost whispered in parts and it fits perfect the song and it’s story of leaving your homeland to go on an adventure.
The lyrics are all in English here and Ella certainly has a great voice and you can barely hear her French accent at times. The two fiddles give them a pretty unique powerful sound and having added banjo to the groups sound giving them a more ‘gaelic’ sound than before especially on ‘My Lucky Own’. Tribal drumming and again rather subdued musically and not the raucous free-for-all we have been use to with previous Toxic Frogs releases but that is soon sorted out with ‘The Shamrock’s Jig’ instrumental and a full throttle Irish throwdown with fiddles flying and smoking I am sure! These girls can certainly play and top marks for making it all themselves. No ‘I’ll tell Me Ma’ here you know! The EP really gets into its stride with the final two songs and they Punk it up with ‘Bestie Life’ while ‘Go Back Again’, for me the album’s standout track, is about as close as they come to a Celtic-Punk ‘standard’. Tuneful and catchy with great vocals and them fiddles and banjo with gang “Hey Hey’s” and a brilliant chorus and a great way to end proceedings.
The EP is sadly only sixteen minutes long but I’m afraid we will have to get use to the idea that at the moment bands will find it much easier to record shorter releases and full length albums will I fear be thin on the ground throughout 2021. On top of all that is the much reduced opportunity to promote anything via live gigs and tours. Thankfully though new music is coming out albeit sporadically and we are lucky to receive My Lucky Life. The girls have recently signed to Otbox Productions ( a French record label and tour promoting agency) so hopefully those of us further afield will have a chance to see them play live at some point in the future. This EP shows Toxic Frogs are much much more than just a ‘all girl band’ and can quite rightly take their place among the continents best Celtic-Punk bands.
Well here we go again. It seems an awful long time since we were compiling all the votes into 2019’s Best Of. Last year saw The Walker Roaders triumph but with this year being a lot quieter on the Celtic-Punk front thanks to the lockdowns around the world bands have found themselves unable to tour and promote new releases so have held onto them till things got better. Still that’s not to say it was a complete wash out and as you can see from below their have been some absolute knock-outs during the year.
Remember this is only our opinion so feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. The Readers Poll is back again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2020 yourself. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(for more information click on the release title in green)
Was very close between the top three this year but Ogras seem to have been not only our favourites but also most of the Celtic-Punk medias too. A lot less albums may have come out during the year but still plenty more that didn’t make the cut. Don’t be down hearted if you are one of them it could just be that one of the judges hadn’t heard that album. Again if we don’t hear your album we can’t review it so the massive majority here are ones that were sent in to us. We only need a download link (NO Spotify!) and we’re happy. Out of the 30 albums 18 countries were represented including 2 from the Celtic nations Scotland #4 and Brittany #13 and our first from Hawaii!
Several bands have taken the chance during the lockdown to release compilations of sorts. While it would be a little unfair to include them in the main ‘Best Of’ section they still deserve a mention. Among these were two 30 year celebrations from two of Celtic-Punks most successful and popular bands in THE MAHONES – This Is All We Got To Show For It and FIDDLER’S GREEN – 3 Cheers For 30 Years. Both fully deserve a round of applause, a raise of the pint and a tip o’ the hat! Band compilations included ANTO MORRA – Twenty, THE DEAD RABBITS – The Dead Rabbits, LEXINGTON FIELD – Here’s To You Ten Years Of Fiddle Rock and LQR – Barrel-Aged. A couple of live albums THE STANFIELDS – Welcome To The Ball and ShamROCKS – FCP Livewere both well received, you may have heard that a little known band THE POGUES put out a new album of previously unreleased materialBBC Sessions 1984-86andQuintessential Quarantuneswas a 6-band compilation released in the Summer featuring the Bible Code Sundays and The Reels. MacSlons Irish Pub Radio also released volume 5 of Raise Your Pints the best Celtic-Punk sampler around of 19 of the Celtic-Punk scenes best bands.
You have to go back to the beginning of January for 1916’s release and though many more would challenge it stayed top of the pile all year long. Some great debut releases here from bands that will I am sure go on to bigger things. This time last year I was crowing about Shanghai Treason and how much I was looking forward to seeing them play… well I still am!
This year’s winner of Best Debut Album comes from a continent where Celtic-Punk appears to be booming! The South American scene has been dominated in the past by bands from Brazil and Argentina (last years winners in this category were Aires Bastardos from Argentina) but with Batallón de San Patricio from Guadalajara in Mexico things are changing with several bands popping up over the last couple of years. The last twelve months have seen Batallón de San Patricio garner favourable reviews from various singles and live streams. Hermanos De Guerra/ Brothers Of War is delivered entirely in Spanish and spans the length of Celtic-Punk from trad Irish up to Celtic-PUNK making it fully deserving of the award.
Always the hardest list to compile as it covers so much ground. Some of these bands play Trad Folk with a Punk Rock heart like Clover’s Revenge while others didn’t quite fit as Celtic-Punk releases but the winners are the Rose family from NY state otherwise known as The Wild Irish Roses. An album that took us by surprise and managed to please everyone.
Now this section is tinged with sadness. There is no question which site has the biggest impact on the Celtic-Punk scene over the last year and while not strictly a web-site the CELTIC PUNK, FOLK AND ROCK FANS group on Facebook fully deserved this years award. Sadness because the group founder Mike Kilroe very sadly passed away at the beginning of the month. Created back in February 2019 it was around the time of last years ill fated St. Patrick’s day and the subsequent Dropkick Murphys live stream show that membership of the group exploded and has now passed over 8000 members. If on Facebook they should be your first port of call, alongside us of course! We had a great interview with the founder of the group Mike back in May that you can find hereand of course our thoughts go out to his family and friends.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2020 lists in fact all the major players in Celtic-Punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we have never pretended to be the final word on things in fact have a look at the other Celtic-Punk media’s Best Of’s and I’m sure they are all pretty different. Our Best Of’s, as usual, cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page and then tallied up over a few pints in Mannions in north London. One important thing to note is that not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
Nine years we’ve been doing these lists now. It seems incredible looking back at some of the previous winners and also-rans how so many bands are still with us from Year 1. If you would like to check for yourself then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Alongside the Best Of polls we also run a special Readers Poll where you get to pick your favourite release of the year. This will be The Readers Poll’s third year with Krakin’ Kellys and Mickey Rickshaw previously champions! There is only room to list the Top Ten albums but there is an option to write in your favourite release of 2020. You are allowed to vote for up to two releases but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Sunday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2021
Penniless Tenants are a five-piece from Liverpool, playing traditional and Irish Folk music and probably the best Irish Music in Liverpool. No Folking About.
The Irish community in England is supposedly shrinking I hear but only just a couple of weeks after we reviewed the debut release of Luton Irish band Missing The Ferry we have the pleasure of doing the same for another new band to us Penniless Tenants. The band hail from another hotbed of Irishness in Liverpool. Their is plenty written on the history of the Irish in Liverpool and unsurprisingly immigration from Ireland to Liverpool has been ongoing since the year dot and the city could possibly even lay claim to being the most Irish city in England.
With no shortage of Irish bars in the city a band playing Irish music would be pretty damn busy except for this poxy clampdown but Penniless Tenants have responded perfectly with a EP of five self written songs (with a few varied influences!) unsurprisingly titled Lockdown Sessions. They did actually already release a few songs over on Soundcloud way back in 2013 called the Penniless Tenant Sessions of a few covers of Irish Folk standards made famous by The Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, Christy Moore and The Dubliners among others. Their they keep it respectful and played the songs close to their origins so nice to her them let loose a bit on the recent release. Like all the best bands they are too proud to play anywhere and they have from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral to the Baltic Market and St George’s Hall to the corner of Pilgrim Street!
Lockdown Sessions begins with ‘The Hare And The Fainleog’ and a slow fiddle led mournful Irish tune which soon becomes a bit of a foot stamper and in Benjamin Hughes they certainly have a highly talented fiddler player. Superbly played leading us into ‘Green And Red Paper Planes’ which, while keeping in line with the Irish theme of the EP, expands beyond the opening few lines taken from another well known second-generation Irish band and takes us on a surprising, though bloomin’ brilliant, direction taking in modern Pop with a song that I must have heard a 100 times but I’ve no idea who sings it. It’ll probably come to me 10 minutes after this review is published. These Bhoys got a knack for an unusual cover in a way that reminds me of their London counterparts The Bible Code Sundays. ‘Jiggin’ Up To Boston’ is another fiddle led trad Irish tune until the half way point and BANG in comes the banjo and mandolin and we get the full Dropkicks style Folk version. This is followed by the Eric Bogle penned ‘My Youngest Son Came Home Today’. Eric is perhaps most famous for writing the well known anti-war ballads ‘The Green Fields Of France’ and ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ two absolutely stunning songs covered by The Pogues and the Dropkicks, among others, in their time. Here the theme is visited again except in a more modern setting in a tale of a young man killed during the war in the north of Ireland.
“My youngest son came home today
His friends marched with him all the way
The pipe and drum beat out the time
While in his box of polished pine
Like dead meat on a butcher’s tray
My youngest son came home today
And this time he’s home to stay”
Penniless Tenants play it slow and respectful and Billy Hughes voice portrays exactly the right amount of emotion this great song needs. The EP comes to an end with the Country/ Bluegrass influenced ‘Trouble In Yer Mind’. Fast and furious Banjo plucking and fiddling and more foot stampin’ to see the EP out the door.
Penniless Tenants: Benjamin Boo – Fiddle * Billy Skank – Laud and Vocals * Dr Rosa – Flute and Whistle * Jay G – Tenor Banjo * JDillon – Bass * Paulie O’Riley O’Hanrahan – Banjolele * Tom Jones (not that one) – Bodhran * REGFX – art * (actual lineup may vary)
Lockdown Sessions was released on November 10th and was recorded live at the Liverpool Irish Centre (suitably social distanced of course!) a and mastered by Jeff Jepson. It’s available on Bandcamp and can be got as a ‘Name Your Price’ download meaning you can pay anything from a fiver to the cost of a couple of cans to sod all if you would like but with the way things are it would be nice to throw a few coppers their way. The music here is totally acoustic but just going from what I heard here I reckon they can tear it up when required too so lets not forget The Pogues were once called “the loudest acoustic band on the planet”. They have a new EP, A Penniless Christmas, out very soon in time for Christmas and they promise “festival mashups and winter warmers”.
(Stream or download Lockdown Sessions on the Bandcamp player below)
A new band on the Celtic-Punk scene Beaver Secret Handshake from Finland may have formed at an awkward time but their excellent debut release a 4-track EP manages to capture both their energy as well as their great live sound.
The days are long gone when anyone would be shocked by a band from Finland playing Celtic-Punk music. Yes their was a time when only the offspring of the Irish diaspora felt the need to affix traditional Folk music to Punk Rock to express their identities. Even a country like Finland, where the sole public face of the Irish diaspora is the Finnish defender Daniel O’Shaughnessy, who plays his football in the land of his birth but also would have qualified for Ireland through his Irish father, has while not quite a thriving Celtic-Punk scene but a very good one nevertheless. Bands like Loretta Problem and & Stout Clan represent both ends of the Celtic-Punk scale and are both pretty active (when they are allowed to be!). The new band on the Finnish scene then is the rather interestingly named Beaver Secret Handshake who hail from the country’s capital Helsinki. I was tempted to ask them where they got their name from but I think a bit of intrigue does no harm at all. This four-track self/titled EP is the band’s debut release and was recorded at the end of 2019 at Sonic Pump Studios in their hometown. The band were gigging regularly right up until clampdown with a lengthy set made up of originals and Irish themed covers.
Beaver Secret Handshake left to right: Samppa Salminen – Guitar * Perttu Ruotsalainen – Lead Vocals, Mandolin, Banjo * Jukka Polvi – Bass, Backing Vocals * Petra Vedenpää – Fiddle, Backing Vocals * Olli Ruotsalainen – Drums, Backing Vocals. Photo – Kuutti Haapanen
The EP begins with ‘Captain John’ and its high tempo dancing music from the off. Fiddle led but not too in yer face it’s produced excellently with all the instruments complementing each other. Perttu’s vocals are clear and sit nicely between the Punk and Folk styles. This is music to get down to and in ‘Sins Of Our Fathers’ a slight Country influence is added and the song while slower still has enough of a bounce not to empty any dancefloor. Nay ballads here and ‘Walk Of Shame’ takes us to the embarrassing world of going home in your clubbing clothes after spending the night ‘out’. The music has that Irish/Country feel but not an Irish Country feel. That last sentence may only make sense to anyone who grew up listening to Brendan Shine, Margo or Big Tom! The EP comes to an end with the rather Poguesy ‘Last Day Of The Summer Sun’ and perhaps the EP’s standout track for me. Catchy as hell and reminiscent of not just The Pogues but also The Levellers and more recent English Folk-Punk bands like The Jamestown Brothers. The whole release is a foot-tappers dream and after several listens I get the feeling that it is pretty much how they would sound live which as you know in Celtic-Punk that is not a bad thing.
All in all an outstanding first release and just a pity it’s confined to just four songs and thirteen minutes. Beaver Secret Handshake are very much and a band that I will be checking out in the future when normality returns. Scandinavia has produced more fantastic Celtic-Punk bands than I care to mention and already this year Ogras have captured my ear and now I can add another one to the list too.
Now to find out what their name means???
(You can hear the EP in its entirety on the Soundcloud player below)
Formed in 2009, hundreds of shows, three national tours, five albums and a whole bunch of EP’s and singles, Lexington Field from San Diego, CA is Rock music but with an Irish fiddle right in the epicenter!!
“Don’t let the little things bring you down. Rise up, fight, and Win the Day!”
On a list of bands that have graced these pages the most Lexington Field would be high up on that list. Maybe even at the top. Now this is not just because they are a prolific band when it comes to recording but also because they are one of our favourites and while the music may not be strictly Celtic-Punk anymore, or even Celtic-Rock, it still fits on these pages absolutely perfect.
Lexington Field from top left to right: Bryan Hane – Electric Guitar * Cami Smith – Fiddle * Beau Gray – Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Nick Freeling – Bass * Jon Berghouse -Drums, Percussion
Formed in 2009 the band from the sunny climes in California release their latest EP, Win The Day, in just a few days time and the record follows quickly the release of their greatest hits compilation Here’s To You- Ten Years Of Fiddle Rock (including a couple unreleased tracks!) earlier this year which gathered together the best songs from their five albums and four EP’s in one place. A busy band they spent 2018 recording the dual release of an album, Modern Times, and an EP, Dreamers, on the same day (#13 and #5 in 2018’s Best Of list). The band label what they do as Fiddle Rock and it’s a good moniker for them as the fiddle is integral to what they do and in Cami Smith they have one of the best players in the scene. While their early releases were full of Irish spirit and led the wave of American Celtic-Punk bands of their era subsequent releases have shown their progression to a band that is unafraid to bring in influences from across the board and unlike most bands around their message is always a positive one, even if I do sometimes hark back to the wild abandon of songs like ‘Tracy Boys Fight The World’ from their debut album.
Here on, as on all their releases, the production is second to none with Sean Tolley down at Clarity Recordings in downtown San Diego in charge of all recording and mixing. The EP opens with the title track ‘Win The Day’ and as is the Lexington Field way it’s all incredibly tuneful and Beau and Bryan have written some fantastic lyrics that leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling but sometimes the lyrics have a much deeper and darker meaning than you would imagine from the joyous music accompanying them.
“I wonder if I’m right to question everything
I need a special someone to break it down to me
Tell me I am wrong
Give me a second chance
To face my inner demons and try to take a stand
This is my moment to shine”
‘Dear Sorrow’ is abit of a throwback to their olden days but with the ‘wild abandon’ reigned in somewhat. Chugging guitars and loud drums at first give the song a Punky feel but the influence of Folk and Americana loom large and you would be forgiven for considering that the song was Folk or Punk on alternate listens.
Not many can capture the true meaning of the phrase Folk-Punk. It is after all a hell of a lot more than music students playing acoustic guitar with fake working class accents. While on the surface it is held together by Beau’s distinctive vocals and Cami’s brilliant fiddling the whole band work seamlessly together. One must is to check out the video above. Recorded on iPhones and edited together by mate of the band Rick Romero. A true example of the DIY spirit. As someone once said “necessity breeds ingenuity” F**K Covid! ‘Turns’ is the EP’s first slow song but Bryans guitar gives it a heavier feel and needless to say they can’t help giving it bit of pace after a while. Probably my favourite song here the catchiness is unbearable and had me tapping me toes while I tap away at the keyboard writing these words! ‘Steps’ is another rocker that will leave you with a glow and sore feet!!!
“Alone in my thoughts once again
Anxieties are never the same
Turn up the music to ten
Depression will not win the day”
We coming up towards the end and one thing Lexington Field always supply and that is value for money. Here their six tracks last twenty-three minutes which is just as long as plenty of albums I have to listen to. ‘Fake Paper Money’ is another slow burner though it’s not quite what you would call a ballad. The song slowly builds up and Beau’s aching vocals giving it a real passion. At almost five minutes the EP’s closing song ‘Alive’ brings down the curtain on Win The Day and its countryfied opening leads us into classic Lexington Field territory with a song that sits nicely on the fence between rocker and ballad. A grand way to see things out with a especially poignant outro.
Beau says of the EP
“We spent 2019 writing a collection of songs as a follow-up to our uplifting, optimistic, double release Dreamers/Modern Times. We wanted to tap into the reality of our current lives, some past experiences, while still capturing that true fiddle rock sound. We kept with the catchy theme throughout the record, and found a really good balance throughout all six songs. We are so lucky to continue writing fiddle rock songs and performing them on stage for over 11 years. We are very proud of Win the Day and can’t wait to share it with the world!”
and it is heartwarming to hear a band who have lost none of their joy at playing together. The band has been a constant throughout the existence of this site and we look forward to them accompanying us into the future. As they say in ‘Steps’
“Embrace what is next, A new day has just begun”
(Stream or download Win The Day on the Bandcamp player below)
Lexington Field performed a acoustic set during the Paddyrock ‘Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day’ Live Stream all-dayer on 19th September and despite some sound issues played an excellent set. It’s now available on You Tube and features the whole days line up. Eight hours in total of superb Celtic-Rock and Punk but if you just want to jump to Lexington Field they come on stage (!) at three hours seven minutes.
You can also catch Beau alone this time chatting to Timmy D on the recently aired Timmy D And The Industry pod-cast about the new EP.
Hailing from a small town just east of Pittsburgh, PA, Lucky Lad Green take Punk Rock, Hardcore, and old school Rock’n’Roll and make into a Celtic jigger that’s best served straight on a Saturday night at the local pub!
Now technology ain’t my thing anyone can tell you and London Celtic Punks always arrived on a new social media platform a good while after everyone else has discovered it and got bored. So it was with Instagram but it was on that platform I first discovered Lucky Lad Green and their always interesting posts. So it was I had to wait a short while to see if their posts matched their music and they prove it amply with this short ten minute long three track EP.
Like all bands it’s been a difficult time but that they ever recorded at all can be laid at the door of the fellow Pittsburgh-based Celtic-Rockers the Bastard Bearded Irishmen! Formed in early 2013 Metalheads Ryan and Eric were friends who had just been kicked out of left a local Rock band and were jamming a few songs celebrating Ryan’s Irish roots. Interest in what they were doing grew and before too long a band had fully developed and in November of 2013 after a summer full of writing, Lucky Lad Green landed their first show in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania at The Castle. Regular shows followed and they developed a decent following too leading to their debut release, a four track self titled EP. I can’t say much about it as I have just downloaded it myself but it is available as a ‘Name Your Price’ download so grab a copy yourselves at the link below.
It was after this release that things began to fall apart beginning with drummer Bret leaving and in 2016 after a show with the Real McKenzies the band called it a day. That was until the Bastard Bearded Irishmen rolled into Pittsburgh and saw the guys reunite for a photo that went viral and led to the reformation of Lucky Lad Green and the new EP. I say new but we are a bit late as the EP touched down at the beginning of March which unfortunately coincided soon after with the ‘clampdown’ as we call it here! So with a host cancelled gigs and festival appearances all cancelled we are very glad to hear that the Bhoys have performed a few intimate shows in the last couple of weeks.
(There’s nay videos out there of them performing songs from the EP so enjoy this one from St. Paddy’s Day which shows them pretty damn well!!)
Get There Somehow begins with the powerful ‘Through The Door’ and chugging electric guitar and accordion and we have ourselves a rather nifty little number here. Catchy as hell and superb musicianship and great vocal too from new band member Andrew.
“And I can’t hold on to you anymore, I’m moving on, I’ve got one foot through the door.”
The song stays at the same pace throughout thanks to that guitar chugging away but has a very interesting arrangement that is hidden slightly behind the guitar/accordion but adds to it magnificently. ‘Chase The Snakes’ takes a far more ‘rocky road’ but again Jim’s accordion is given a starring role in a song chock full of fist in the air moments and a guitar solo at the end. The song ends with ‘Irish Eyes’ and unsurprisingly the guys go Gaelic with a song that shows 2020 American Celtic-Punk still knows where its roots are. Love Shane’s drums on this song. I suspect he was allowed to whack ’em as hard as he liked so the song has a much more Rock feel to it than the song would have otherwise.
Lucky Lad Green from left to right: Shane Boyer – Drummer * (top middle) Ryan McDonald- Mandolin and Guitar * (bottom middle) Jim Vizzini – Accordionist, Jim Berkin – Bass * Andrew Roberts – Vocals and Rhythm Guitar *
All in all a great start to Lucky Lad Green Mk.2 and even though it s over in a flash things look pretty good for their future and with things getting back to normal the guys look to have the ability and drive to produce some fantastic music and I for one cannot wait.
(Hear the whole EP by streaming Get There Somehow on the Bandcamp player below)
Anti-establishment inclusive Punk Rock with Celtic influences. Sometimes acoustic, sometimes not, always Punk.
Pync Roc efo dylanwadau Celtaidd. Weithiau acwstig, weithiau ddim, wastad Pync.
Not that sure when the trend for solo artists to give themselves names more akin to groups started but it is a trend I find quite irritating! It gives off an air of being a bit high-and-mighty that doesn’t sit well with me in the down and dirty world of DIY Punk Rock. Still No Murder No Moustache may be forgiven as on first listen and without that information you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a full band.
The EP opens with ‘Hold My Beer’ and the sounds of a busy pub which may be familiar to one or two of you! It’s played as fast as hell and despite being all acoustic is definitely a Folk Punk number. Owen Crawford is the man behind No Murder No Moustache and plays all the instruments and also wrote all the songs. He has been plying his trade in a number of Metal, Punk and Rock bands based around South Wales and toured all over the UK and Europe. Lyrically it’s a hard hitting expose of society and how some people share not an ounce of compassion but are totally weighed down with greed. The words fly at you fast and the accompanying music does too but Owen has a clear and distinct voice where you catch every word.
Fast frantic acoustic guitar strumming is the key to the music here but backed up with drums and mandolin. The drums are a bit subdued and if louder would have given the EP a bit more bite but only a minor quibble. ‘Fragile Society’ definitely has some New Model Army influences knocking about with Owen sounding remarkably like Justin Sullivan at times. ‘Lose Myself To The Dark’ starts off with a traditional Irish air to it before the pace takes off and the addition of tin-whistle cannot but help! My favourite of the songs here. Some dark lyrics about hopelessness but played in a real upbeat manner meaning the jolly backing belies the subject of the song but that is the beauty of Folk music.
‘Only Lies So Far’ is the EP’s mellow song but still manages to pack a bit of a punch towards the end. The song tells of the current (hopefully as every day goes by it gets less so) crisis and the way that it has been handled and politicised for point scoring while the rest of us just try to get by.
“Forced to put our trust in the people we don’t trust How can we know truth when its been only lies so far”
The real gem here is the final song ‘Cyn Mae’r Byd Yn Cael Ei Ddinistro’ and the Welsh language has a proud history in modern music especially Punk. Anhrefn, known as the Welsh Clash, were trailblazers for a language spoken by over 20% of the population of Wales recording six albums and touring the world singing only in Welsh. The song here translates to ‘Before The World Is Destroyed’ and the mandolin is given top billing while the song sees the EP out on a slightly poppier side but still links up to the previous songs rather nicely giving the EP a perfect flow I think.
Hold My Beer was released on June 26th and Owen was the man responsible for everything from the music to the production so this is serious DIY music! Alongside the EP Owen has produced Hold My Beer twelve page fanzine that also includes a download code for just £3. Thirteen minutes or so of decent one man band Celtic-Punk then so def one to read with a cuppa while Hold My Beer plays in the background.
(Download or Stream ‘Hold My Beer’ on the Bandcamp player below)
Debut release from new Czech Republican Celtic-Punk band. Mostly original songs and all available as a Free Download.
Foggy Dude are a relatively new arrival on the Celtic-Punk scene having formed in Summer, 2017. A bunch of friends studying engineering at Strahov (technical university) in the Czech Republic capital of Praguue got together to form a Celtic-Punk band. Beginning as a 8-piece they played gigs around the local student/punk scene in Prague (Vagon Rock club, 007 club Strahov and their spiritual home the Block 10 Pub). At the end of 2019 they recorded part of their show there which has now become their debut EP. Five songs recorded live during the Ďesítka Festival on 6th December 2019 in Pub 10, mixed and mastered by Štófi and turned into Pub Life 10.
Foggy Dude EP line-up left to right: Cába – Mandolin * Joe – Acoustic Guitar * Zuza – Tin Whistle * Pe’ta – Drums * Sam – Lead Vocals * Štofi – Electric Guitar * Ilia – Violin * Jirka – Bass *
Five songs clocking in at just under fifteen minutes and from that you can gather that Foggy Dude don’t hang about. Opening song ‘Fight Pit’ shows a real urgency with pirate style vocals and a mandolin and fiddle mix. The sound is definitely live but it’s a clear recording and portrays, as you would expect, Foggy Dudes live sound pretty authentically. This is followed by ‘Soldier Boy’ and sounds to me like a Punk band playing Folk instruments as they say in their bio
“in our music you hear traditional Folk instruments, which for the most part try to drown out the punk ones.”
So if you could imaging Flogging Molly crossed with a proper hard English Punk band from the 1980’s you wouldn’t be too far wrong. Instrumental ‘Castle Kelly’ has been recorded loads and loads of times so the tune may be familiar but I doubt you’ve ever heard it kick-ass like this version. Steaming through in just 73 seconds it demonstrates these guys know their way round a trad song. ‘Mountain God’ begins with a slow mando solo before soon turning into a piratey tune. There’s a fine line sometimes between Celtic-Punk, Celtic-Metal and Pirate music and this song treads it finely even finding time to fit in some trad Folk too. The EP comes to an end with ‘Ochi Chyornye’ a Folk-Punked cover of the Russian love song ‘Dark Eyes’. First published in 1843 it’s another song that is probably familiar and Foggy Dude kick it out the park with Ilia’s fiddle particularly good.
The bands line-up has changed a little since the EP as some people have graduated, so now we don’t with both Zuza and Sam leaving but as any regular readers will know Celtic-Punk band members do have a habit of moving on and imagine trying to keep eight people together! Prague is of course home to the internationally known bands Pipes And Pints and Cheers so there is a appetite for Celtic-Punk over there so hopefully soon as ‘clampdown’ is over we will be qable to hear a bit more from Foggy Dude and on this showing it will be well worth waiting for.
The debut EP from highly rated South Yorkshire based Celtic-Punk band Shanghai Treason has hit the airways!
Shanghai Treason are a band we have been championing ever since they first popped up on the Celtic-Punk scene last year (and not just because they’re from South Yorkshire!) with the release of their debut single ‘Devils Basement’ in November. A song that captured the Dropkick’s at their prime with the passion and speed of Punk. It even made the LCP Top Ten Of 2019 the only time a single song has ever made the Best Of lists in seven years.
Here on It’s Treason they bring together their three singles released over the last six months with three new tracks kicking off with that debut song and over 40,000 views across social media certainly saw them arrive in style. ‘Devil’s Basement’ is a song that the Dropkick Murphys would kill to write and saw the band picking up fans across the world. Fast and furious a fierce firecracker of a debut! Shanghai Treason are at heart a Punk band but with banjo (and occasional accordion) supplied by Hardy whose a bit of a mutli instrumentalist who can also play mandolin, accordion, bouzouki…even bagpipes which gives the band plenty of options for the future. It’s not just tacked onto a random Punk song though with their songs built around the sound of the banjo. Their sound lies somewhere between early Murphs and South-Western band Mick O’Toole (who make a appearance in the video if you look closely!). ‘Rats Get Fat’ is the first new one and they’ve lost none of their bite with a song about home giving Huddersfield a name check and Sams vocals coming over particularly good with a ‘operatic’ Punk style that fit perfectly.
‘Can’t Even Hang A Man Right’ carries on with the anthemic Celtic-Punk. Loud and raucous and with us finally on the verge of leaving the EU at last a rallying cry against political dirty tricks at Westminster with the great chorus “You can’t trust the rats by the river”. This is an EP for anyone into LOUD music but if you’re a fan of the banjo then this is definitely for you and again on ‘Drowning Heart’ the mix is done perfectly and the balance between the banjo and everything else is great.
‘The North Will Rise Again’ is dedicated to the music venues of the North of England and hopefully they’ll be some left to watch Shanghai Treason in at the end of all this! A video was released on Facebook in support of the Music Venue Trust’s campaign to #SaveOurVenues featuring some of the bands favourite boozers. Foot stamper ‘Green Cove’ brings down the curtain on It’s Treason and we are treated to Hardy and his accordion and the song has a bit more of a Celtic air to it, no doubt due to the accordion, but it still powers along.
Shanghai Treason left to right: Joel Hughes – Bass * Tom Hardy – You name it. Just about anything he can get his hands on * Sam Christie – Vocals * Tom Jackson – Guitar * Alex Fell – Pots and Pans *
The band were riding the crest of the wave when the clampdown came along and I can’t think of a single band whose momentum has been damaged more. Having shot onto the scene and in six months risen to where they are it’s a real shame. Still plans are already afoot to get back on the road as soon as they are able with a intensive UK tour on the table and some supports to bands I must not mention. Shanghai Treason may inhabit the darker, heavier side of Celtic-Punk but for anyone that misses Mike McColgan era Dropkick Murphys than mourn no more and get treasonous!
Yet more brilliant Italian Celtic-Folk-Punk has arrived on the London Celtic Punks doorstep. The new seven track EP from the Rumpled is here! “Are you ready to face fate? Are you going to accept your destiny or will you challenge it? Toss the Coin!”
The last month has seen a resurgence of Italian Celtic-Punk with several releases around St. Patrick’s Day of bands like PatricksandThe Cloverhearts who have both featured on these pages in the last few weeks (and not only that but probably the best band in the scene Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards have a new album due out very very soon!!). The Rumpled have appeared on these pages several times and although only formed in 2013 have long become a solid fixture on the Italian Celtic-Folk-Punk scene. Based in northern Italian city of Trento they have a steady collection of releases behind them including their debut album Ashes And Wishes in 2018 recorded and produced by Gianluca Amendolara of Black Dingo Productions. Last year saw the well received release of Grace O’Malley, a 5-track EP based on the story of the Irish pirate Queen that made the Top Ten Celtic-Punk EP’s Of 2019 on this here web-zine.
The Rumpled from left to right: Michele Mazzurana- Drums, Backing Vocals * Davide Butturini- Guitars * Patrizia Vaccari- Fiddle * Marco Andrea Micheli- Lead Vocals * Luca Tasin- Bassman, Backing Vocals * Tommaso Zamboni- Accordion *
Toss The Coin continues The Rumpled story with seven self penned original songs that maintains The Rumpled way of fresh and original Celtic-Punk. As I have stated before the Italian scene in particular has very strong links to Ireland and Irish music and culture and this comes across in their Celtic-Punk music. Toss The Coin begins with ‘Stand Up’ and sees the band once again accompanied by the Bold Rumjacker himself Frankie McLaughlin. The Rumjacks influence on the Italian scene is immense and allthough many of the bands take inspiration from The Rumjacks sound you won’t find many ‘covers bands’ here! Singing in English and accordion led they blast through the longest song here (only 3 and 1/2 Minutes) in a fast and breezy way with Frankie doing what Frankie does best and his unmistakable voice. The song tells of the time when it doesn’t matter which side of the coin falls. ‘Take A Drop’ has an Irish air but has still plenty of Punk Rock energy. Again the accordion is the fore and Tommaso is certainly a very very good player. ‘The Gipsy Dancer’ was the first single to be released from the EP from back at the beginning of March (seems a lot longer!!) and one thing that is quite common among Italian Celtic-Punk bands is the quality of their videos and The Rumpled like to make theirs interesting and The Gipsy Dancer’ is no different so be be sure to check it out.
Again it’s the story of tossing a coin. Head or tails? Fate speaks to us and while the coin spins there is the illusion that anything is possible. Next ‘The Road’ and for me the EP’s high point. Less ‘traditional’ or maybe more modern sounding Celtic-Punk that combines elements of Ska it’s a great song and I always love a bit of group ‘Woah-Woah-Woahh’ gang vocals. ‘One Love’ features another guest this time on banjo from Andrea Verga from fellow Italian Celtic-Folk-Rockers Folkamiseria from western Piedmont. A more Folk orientated song and catchy as hell while ‘Broken Romances’ has a harder edge to it and Marco’s vocals shine here. All the songs are sung in English and very easy to understand. My guess is we will be seeing a lot more videos like this but even with the restrictions imposed them they still manage something interesting and worth a view. The Bhoys go full out for the last song and ‘Patty’s Jig’ is the perfect way to bring the curtain down on an album of class Irish Punk. Accompanied again by Andrea and this time by Jacopo Ventura from Folkamiseria on bouzouki here they show they can go full on traditional with a self penned Irish Folk tune that could have been written a hundred years ago!!
The EP came out in St. Patrick’s week and was set to be followed by a massive series of dates across Europe labelled the ‘2020 Saint Patrick’s Tour’ similar in size to their 40 (!) date ‘Ashes And Wishes” tour which was them hitting 60+ stages and festivals. They were set to be joined on stage at several of those gigs by their friends The Rumjacks and the last I heard most of these have been re-arranged for later in the year so check the press for details.
The second EP from one of the brightest new bands in the Celtic-Punk scene has descended! The Cloverhearts follow a great tradition of Italian bands that capture perfectly what Celtic-Punk is about.
Only a few months after their debut release The Sick took the Celtic-Punk scene by storm The Cloverhearts return with another blockbuster EP. Like their debut its six original tracks that pull in influences from around the scene and their obvious affiliation to The Rumjacks sound is not just down to Sam their Australian singer but one that doesn’t overpower their own sound. The Sick came a very respectful 4th in the London Celtic Punks Top Ten EP’s/Singles Of 2019 for last year. Not bad at all for a release that had only been out a matter of weeks before the Poll took place.
(you can stream The Sick on the Bandcamp player below)
So The Cloverhearts stick to exactly the same format for The Sacred. Six songs all original compositions and they even come in at virtually the same length of time (only one minute short!). The EP begins with the single ‘Caught Ya In A Lie’, basically a ‘Pop’-Punk song with some fantastic bagpipes laid on top. When you have a piper that is good as Chiara is then it makes perfect sense to fit the songs around her piping. The Folk melodies are left at the dock as The Cloverhearts concentrate on their harder edge and Punkier sound. Catchy as hell melodic Punk and definitly the right choice to lead the EP.
A song about people trying to get the better of you and the consequences of lying. A great start to things that they follow up with the pipes heavy ‘Drunk Tank’ where Sam tackles that most prevalent of Celtic-Punk subjects! On ‘I’ll Be Home Soon’ they showcase a whole raft of genres with Celtic and Country among others. The most folky of all their songs so far but still that melodic Punk attitude. Sam’s vocals are great and unusually for Celtic-Punk he makes absolutely no attempt at a Shane MacGowan drawl but croons away magnificently! A very personal song for Sam about never feeling at home after a lifetime spent living in Australia, Singapore, England and Italy. They return to harder material on ‘Walk’ with plenty of band “Wo-Oh” chants and chugging guitar and a cool chorus it’s a class song that at four minutes has plenty of time to develop. It leads us nicely into ‘Gutters To Graves’ another catchy number and though I may be making it sound like I’m reviewing the same song six times The Sacred is a very diverse sounding EP. It all revolves around the tight melodic Punk sound with Sams clear as crystal vocals and Chiara’s excellent piping. I wouldn’t come to The Sacred perhaps as a lover of Celtic music but if you like your Punk well played and gimmick free then The Cloverhearts are a band that you will love. The last song here ‘Where Did We Go Wrong?’ just goes to show how wrong I can be with a song that revisits the Celtic/Country sound from earlier but much more blatantly and I bloody love it!!
So another successful release but tempered with the sad news that their most ambitious tour to date has had to be cancelled due to the current medical crisis in Italy. A tour that would have took them to Germany, Czech Republic, Austria and around Italy so hopefully it will be re-scheduled soon. Their are some utterly fantastic Italian bands around and its good that The Cloverhearts have found their niche among them. A bunch of bands that fit nicely together with all them sounding just that bit different from each other. A while back I went to a Psychobilly all-dayer and it got a bit boring but a all-dayer starring The Cloverhearts, The Rumpled, The Clan, Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, Tullamore and Dirty Artichiokes would be one hell of a gig. Any millionaires out there give me a shout!!
(Stream The Sacred before you buy it on the Bandcamp player below)
The Kilmaine Saints are back! One of the best Celtic-Rock bands Irish-America has ever produced with a seven track acoustic EP that includes two new songs and five re-imagined Saints classics.
This explosive, high-energy Celtic rock band from Central PA will lift your hearts, your spirits, and your pint when you’re not looking!
Well what to say about the Kilmaine Saints? One of my favourite bands and one that all the writers here would agree is and has been one of the best and not only that but it is widely agreed that when the definitive history of Celtic-Punk is put to paper then the Kilmaine Saints will have one or maybe two of the best Celtic-Punk albums and maybe even a third as well!
Formed in Central Pennsylvania when two members of the Harrisburg Pipe & Drum with a mutual love of the flourishing Irish-American Celtic-Punk scene decided to kick something off with the aim of getting them free beers at local St. Patrick’s Day shows. Well from small acorns they have blossomed into a band that has always stood just a small step away from Celtic-Punk stardom. One of only a few American bands whose fame has translated into overseas success and it’s no surprise to occasionally spot a Saints shirt at gigs over the years. Others in this league would be The Tossers, Mickey Rickshaw or Flatfoot 56. One of the scenes most consistently good bands they have released four albums, a live album and a couple of EP’s with the most outstanding of all being their debut in 2010 The Good, The Plaid, And The Ugly which Paddyrock called “the BEST Celtic Rock release of 2010 hands down!” and introduced me, and many others, to the Kilmaine Saints thanks to the now long gone Paddy Punx web site.
This was followed up a couple of years later with Drunken Redemption which made the top ten of all four leading Celtic-Punk web-sites for 2012. Five years of intensive gigging led to the release of their last studio album and Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos really exploded the Saints back onto the national scene. With over seventeen songs they managed not a single duffer and from the first seconds to last dirge of the bagpipes it remains, along with The Good, The Plaid, And The Ugly, one of the albums any Celtic-Punk fan must seek out.
Now a band needs a good set of releases to achieve this level of attention but in their beginning it is their live shows that sees people coming back for more and even though separated by hundreds of miles of ocean one of the things I have consistently read about is the Saints and their high-octane, blistering, high-energy live sets that keep people singing along, stomping their feet, lifting their pints and shouting for more. So the two come together and top of that the people in the band have always taken an interest in the scene and not just in how it can help them which is something that we here appreciate especially.
So history lesson delivered and what does 2020 give us? Well another drawback to being so far away from the main home of Celtic-Punk is bands can go quiet on you and you don’t always get to realise why so with a couple of years of quiet I was delighted to receive Off The Wagon from band guitarist Rich. Quickly adding it to my phone I played the EP’s seven songs about a dozen times and then sat through the whole Kilmaine Saints back catalogue at the weekend to remind me what a utterly fantastic band they are. Their albums have tended to be a solid mix of amped up Irish and Celtic classics with extremely good compositions of their own thrown in as well. It has to be said though you can be a great band playing covers, and especially if you do something with them rather than being just a standard cover, but to go further you need strong songs of your own and this is what sets The Kilmaine Saints apart. Here though on Off The Wagon they have gone for a acoustic setting. Not that it doesn’t still mean it can be as noisy and raucous as most thrash metal bands but that the progression of the Kilmaine Saints is far is far from over yet!
Kilmaine Saints left to right: Bill Brown- Pipes, Whistle, Bouzouki * Jon Heller- Bass/Pipes * Tommy Leanza- Drums * Liz Mallin- Fiddle * Rich Lipski- Mandolin, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar * Brendan Power- Vocals * Erich Arndt- Guitar *
The EP’s seven songs consist of five older tracks re-imagined and two completely new ones. The EP begins with a new one the title track ‘Off The Wagon’. With a tune flitting from a Walt Disney favourite to an Irish jig the song flies through in just over two minutes and is typical Kilmaine Saints. These guys can write a serious song and have done many times but its the love of a good time that dominates and their sense of humour shines through here. Next up is a song where the serious nature of the lyrics (the poor Irish arriving in the USA during the Great Hunger and the prejudice they received) belies the jaunty tune that accompanies it. Something you often find in Irish music. ‘Painting Paradise Square’ first appeared on their debut album and was written by former band member and multi-instrumentalist (tenor banjo, bass, mandolin) Frank Aponte.
“I suffered to get here and I’m not going to leave
And if you knock me down, you’d best be sure I’m dead
‘Cause when I get back on me feet, and I promise you that I will
I’ll steal your life and use your blood to paint Paradise Square!”
‘With Regrets’ is next up from Drunken Redemption and while the original was a full throttle Celtic rocker about a wastrel of a man and attempting to make sure his son doesn’t follow the same roads as him. The song is a beautiful ballad with great mournful fiddle work from Liz. Great heartfelt lyrics and Mayo born vocalist Brendan’s great voice is accompanied by Liz to great effect. A real choker of a song. ‘MacGowans Wake’ is not a tribute as I had originally thought to the Godfather of Celtic-Punk but a loving salute to a friend of the band Eddie McGowan.
Eddie was a very proud Irish-American born in Baltimore, Maryland and was a founder member of Celtic-Rock band Dublin 5 who shared many’s a stage with the Kilmaine Saints. Eddie MacGowan was a
Eddie MacGowan 1969-2018 RIP
friend, musician and father who on February 5, 2018, lost his nearly four-year battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). His energy, humor, generosity, love and friendship will be deeply missed by the multitude of people who have been lucky to know him. He made everyone he met feel like they mattered to him, and they truly did. He gave everything he had to family and friends. Those who loved him have set up a foundation the Eddie MacGowan Foundation so please take a look. Funds raised through their activities will be donated to organizations that supported Eddie through his illness and that continue to support patients with similar disabilities. A sad loss for the Irish in America. Another beautiful choker of a song and following this we are back again to their last album for ‘Pennsylvania’s Finest’ what you might call a ‘American Rebel Song’. Again the original was a barnstormer of a song fast, furious and full of righteous anger, rousing the masses to remember the War Of Independence.
“And all the world shall know, Americans are free
Nor slaves nor cowards we will prove, And England soon shall see
We’re Pennsylvania’s Finest,
And we will proudly fight our hearts are strong our aim is true,
We’ll stand up for our rights”
The English making friends wherever they go since 1776!! Played here with with an ever such slight ska-ish beat but with much the same tempo of the original. Their last album provides the last two tracks here with the marvellous ‘Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos’ leaping out at you as the standout track. A superb song carefully crafted and here presented in such a beautiful way. The lyrics are amazing and a positive call to sort ourselves out.
“Don’t waste another night, getting lost in your pint
Wasted memories of wasted yesterdays
Get up off the bar stool Get your boots on the ground
You’ll never reach the top at the bottom of a round
‘Cuz age is just a number not the sum of our mistakes
Always search for new tomorrows Always hope for better days”
The EP ends with ‘Golden Pen’ and a perfect way to leave with another great song Liz wrote about the death of a friend’s Mother. A great EP that shows the amazing talent of a band that is not resting on its laurels and hopefully new material will be following soon. The Celtic-Punk scene needs The Kilmaine Saints.
(Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos- not the acoustic version as featured on Off The Wagon but what the hell you get the drift and I bloody love this song!)
The Kilmaine Saints are equal parts Irish swagger, Scottish pride and whiskey. Their usual explosive Celtic-Rock has taken a back seat for now but is sure to return. The scene in America is still standing strong and bands like the Saints have now begun to influence a new breed of band setting out and it’s fair to say that there’s not much better bands to take that influence from. The Kilmaine Saints have become over the years a focal point for not just their local Irish-American community but nationwide too. A band that captures what it is to be Irish in America today. A symbol for a community that isn’t just there so that TV executives can make gangster programmes about them or TV series taking the piss out of their religion. The Irish community is still very much alive just like, thank heavens, The Kilmaine Saints.
The Kilmaine Saints cross the broad Atlantic later in the year to play a series of gigs in the auld country taking in some of Ireland’s biggest tourist attractions. Sadly they won’t be coming to Ireland’s 33rd county (London) so my wait to see them goes on. You can still join them as a fan if you’re in America I think but best to check with them and if you in Ireland or going to be there at the same time (April 18-25) then be sure to find out where they are playing and get along!
The Kilmaine Saints performed the whole of Off The Wagon EP live on Facebook on Saturday 29th February and its a wonderful hour+ of the Saints talking about all manner of stuff and playing the songs. Well worth the watch.
The Stanfields are a folk punk band from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. On Classic Fadeout they have released six original brand new sons for their sixth release all written and recorded within six months!
The Stanfields have been around now for well over a decade having been formed in 2008 and have a very impressive back catalogue with five very well received albums that each have troubled the top spots of the various Celtic and Folk-Punk end of year Best Of polls including ours. Never being one to accept the label of ‘Celtic’ The Stanfields have always travelled under the banner of Folk-Punk and thus far has served them well. Described rather well i think as “the bastard children of AC/DC and Stan Rogers” their music blends working class hard rock with the strands of folk that make up traditional Canadian music with much of it heavily influenced by Scotland and Ireland. The band started out playing cover songs during open mic performances at the Seahorse Tavern in Halifax, Nova Scotia quickly gained notoriety for their rowdy, entertaining performances and with the benefit of a relatively stable line up the boys few years together have seen them traversing the globe even washing up at the Tolpuddle Martyrs festival here in England for a few years in a row.
Their new release Classic Fadeout is six original songs that span the history of The Stanfields throughout their illustrious career. Opening with ‘Southlands’ definitely the most Celtic influenced song here with a song evoking a long distant past. Next up is ‘Born On The Wrong Side Of Town’ is the kind of song that Bruce Springsteen is singing these days. A sort of Country/ Rock/ Folk mash up that streams along at a grand pace and has the feel that it could (does) appeal to a whole multitude of different genres. I love the idea that bands can make music that will reach the young and the old. After all that is how it use to be. When I was a young kid we use to beg Mum to put music on and now decades later I find myself still listening to that music she introduced me to. One subject I like to hear tackled is the scourge of drug addiction and The Stanfields sensitive and beautiful ‘Breakers In The Dark’ does it superbly.
(Shot at Churchill House in beautiful Hantsport, Nova Scotia)
Right across North America young people are falling foul to this terrible affliction and working class communities are suffering.
“Your eyes tonight are little pins
Looking for a friend
And tell a story locked inside of you
Your lips provide a different spin
One to be believed
If we were strangers on an avenue”
We are half way through and ‘Laser Beam’ may be many miles away from the fast folk and roll of their early days but it shows a maturity in their willingness to never to stand still and always keep moving and adapting. I mean who wants to be like The Queers still singing songs about your Mum finding your porno mags when your fifty! Slow and steady and perfectly balanced and accompanied by a video that I don’t think I have ever seen the like of it while writing for London Celtic Punks site.
Definitely take a few minutes out of your time to watch this incredible video. After that we need a bit of a lift and ‘Rules Have All The Fun’ supplies it with another catchy folk-country-Americana blend.A real foot tapper here among a bunch of songs that are perhaps a bit too on the reserved side.
The EP comes to an end with ‘Good Night, So Long, Goodbye’ the longest track here and a real epic to see us out. The emphasis may have changed from Celtic to Americana but the fire in their belly is the same and music with passion and emotion is what we love here. Classic Fadeout is not yer typical Stanfields release (as they say in their press release “predictably-unpredictable”) but another step in the progression of a band that have achieved much more then most in their time together.
(you can stream Classic Fadeout on the Bandcamp player below)
Bryan McPherson, a fiery, folk-playing, native of Boston Massachusetts was called west to Los Angeles in 2010. Bringing with him blue collared incendiary working class folk music fusing Americana, Folk, alternative and Punk.
One of the highlights of doing this here site is that you can push artists that really made a difference in your life. I first came across Bryan MacPherson when a fellow London Celtic Punk gave me a handful of bootleg CD’s to listen to. To be honest I didn’t give them much of a chance and dismissed them early on as a wee bit lame. How wrong I could be I would learn later. Bryan toured England in 2015 and eventually wound up in London playing at the Goth bar The Devonshire Arms in Camden. It was free so a bunch of us went along and wow I can honestly say I was blown away by both the power and the passion of Bryan’s music. The gig came along after some particularly bad news so it was also a timely reminder to pull my socks up, hold my head up high and get on with it. The night could have gone a lot better with ‘technical’ difficulties mucking up most of the set but I came away that night with a warm feeling of hope and a new favourite singer-songwriter!
“Bryan sings like, we’re lucky he doesn’t own a gun.” -Filter Magazine
Here on his new single Bryan digs into his distant past and releases three tracks from when he first arrived in California around 2010. A decade on they still sound as relevant as ever and incredibly up to date. The opening song ‘East Bay Train’ has never been released before and was recorded with the help of the great Willie Samuels in a session where they were just trying some stuff out. Bryan has the amazing ability to inject into every song his heart and his voice just exudes passion. The following two tracks were both recorded in the shed of Jason White from the Californian bands The Big Cats and Pinhead Gunpowder. He is also a touring guitarist in a little known pop combo called Green Day! Well he must have a better shed than me because both songs sound immaculate. The first of the songs is an early version of ‘Born Again American Blues’. Telling the tale of travelling across the States playing music
“I got a sleeping bag I take it with me wherever I go. I always got a bed. I always got a home. I got the sky for my sky light. Don’t worry mama I’m alright. ‘Cause I was born at night. I was born born born to fight with shadows on the wall.”
The single ends with ‘I See A Flag’ and it’s no exaggeration on my part to say this is one of my all-time favourite songs. At almost seven minutes it’s a song that perfectly captures Bryan McPherson it all his glory. A story told of life- both sordid and hopeful- and love and hate and politics. A world where something better is possible.
“There ain’t no easy way to end this song. I ain’t got no answers ‘cept mountains and fog cuz I seen the buildings built and I watched them crumble. I seen a nation of braggarts stumble humbled I seen money come and go, people live and die, people giving up, standing up to try and all I can hope for is a better today cuz life’s right now and its here I’ll stay. Its here I will sing and here I will pray to a billion gods I hope they all get their way. So lets just tear it all down we can start from scratch. Keep our faces forward don’t ever look back. A place where everybody’s clothed and everybody’s fed and nobody’s dying from a lack of medicine. I don’t understand. I see a flag lowered in the wind”
It don’t get much better than this. Bryan is attempting to survive on the meagre portion that a full time DIY musician makes so he occasionally comes up with novel ways to support himself. This time he has made up bootleg numbered tapes of the single with hand painted covers by Bryan. They are selling quickly and you can pick one up here.
(you can stream Berkeley Demos on the Bandcamp player below)
Hailing from upstate NY, Celtic rockers 1916 are an explosive concoction of the modern Irish Punk movement with an original mix of psychobilly which gives 1916 a sound that stands apart from other bands of the genre.
Kicking off on New Years Day with a new EP big fan of 1916 Marv was among the first to buy it and has been listening to it ever since so here’s our first review of 2020!
A couple of years ago on these very pages I first came across the band 1916 from Rochester, New York, when praise was rightly heaped on their last album ‘Far Beyond The Pale’. I immediately ordered their entire back-catalogue on CD, which while talking a little while to cross the pond, has since never been far from my playlists. If you are not familiar with their work (unlikely I know!) then I advise you put that right as quickly as you can. Their cover of ‘I’ll Fly Away’ is one of my all-time favourite tracks along with ‘Ordinary Man’ and ‘Nothing Left to Lose’ from the 2016 album ‘Last Call for Heroes’
Roll forward to late 2019, just before Christmas, and welcome news was received via the auspices of Facebook that 1916 would soon be releasing a new single. True to their word it went live on all digital platforms on 1st January. Now that’s how you start off a new year!
So here we have the new three-track single, every note classic 1916 from first to last. The title track of the single is ‘Meant To Be’ – Full of everything we love from the raw overdriven guitar, the solid drumming driving the track along maniacally, and Billy Herring’s gravelly wistful voice snarling through the words and harmonies.
With hardly time to catch your breath the tempo knob is cranked up a notch and ‘Khaleesi’ follows. Yes it is THAT Khaleesi. This is the condensed story of the mother of dragons from Game of Thrones with a monumentally singalong chorus:
“And it is no, no, NO! Khaleesi
Run those dragons nice and easy!
Far away, when you go far away…
And you will go, go, GO! Khaleesi
Run those dragons nice and easy,
Through the towns of Westeros today.”
Bloody hell. This is a CRACKER of a song. The energy, like most everything 1916 produces, just explodes out of the speakers. It must be an absolute belter live.
The final track is a curious cover and mashup of the old standard ‘Show Me The Way To Go Home’, a song I am only really familiar with due to my dear old mother singing it in a faux drunk slur to indicate she may be very slightly tipsy. Bless her. However, that being said, I prefer the 1916 version all day- thumping upright bass and frenetic drums with soaring guitar work and mob vocals for backing when needed.
(Check out The 1916 Shop for all their merchandise plus the chance to buy their complete discography for $35)
So there you have it, the best way to start a new year. Shake off the Christmas flab and the dire state of the political situation here in the UK. Press play on ‘Meant To Be’, crank the volume up to max lose yourself in a nine minute slab of rollicking psychobilly-tinged folk punk. Completely and undeniably 1916 on top form, I pray it heralds a new album in 2020 as much as I pray that the boys will somehow, sometime, make it across the pond to our shores so we can bask in their glory.
Well here we go again. It only seems like five minutes since I was compiling all the votes into last years Best Of that saw The Rumjacks romping home with Album Of The Year. This year has been a bit quieter on the Celtic-Punk front but as last year was so busy that is perhaps not surprising. That’s not to say their weren’t some fantastic releases as their were plenty and it was still really difficult to come up with the various lists below. Not so many big bands this year so it was left to the lesser known bands to shine but remember this is only our opinion and these releases are only the tip of the iceberg of what came out last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we are adding the Readers Poll again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2019 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.
We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(click on the green link to go where you will find more information on the release)
How to compete with last year? Every single top band in the genre released an album so things were always going to be a bit quieter for 2019. Top spot this year unsurprisingly goes to The Walker Roaders Celtic-Punk super group! With Pogues, Mollys and Dropkicks making up the team how could they possibly go wrong! Everyone’s ‘next big thing’ Mickey Rickshaw came in a well deserved second and Ferocious Dog took third after releasing their best album, for me, since From Without. Greenland Whalefishers celebrated 25 years on the road with their best album for quite a while and what Best Of would be right without some bloody brilliant Irish-American bands challenging at the top too. Pipes And Pints new album with a new singer received acclaim from across the Punk media and The Rumjacks couldn’t follow up last years unanimous victory despite having two album releases (both sort of live) in the top thirteen. Fiddlers Green continue to make consistently great albums and go into 2020 celebrating thirty years together! Good to see homegrown bands The Whipjacks, The Tenbags, The Filthy Spectacula and Sons Of Clogger making it too. The top thirty was made up of thirteen countries from USA, England, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Quebec, Hungary, Spain and Japan.
The Lucky Trolls took #1 spot with their brilliant self-titled EP following on from fellow countrymen the Krakin’ Kellys multi award winning 2018. Trust me it would have taken an exceptionally good release to keep The Party by Drunken Dolly off the top spot but that is what happened. Dolly’s excursions over to these shores this year j=has seen them grown in stature and you can’t go to a Ferocious Dog gig without spotting at least a dozen of their shirts. Loretta Problem wowed us with their single ‘Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ which took us right back back to The Pogues glory days and what about that accompanying videotoo!! If we had a award for best video then that would have walked it. The Kellys had a quiet year with comparison to ’18 but still managed a respectable #5 and great debut releases from The Placks our sole representative from a Celtic nation (big things are going to happen to this band in 2020 mark my words), Italian/Aussies The Cloverhearts and, from just down the road from my Mammy, Shanghai Treason from Sheffield who only put out one song… but what a song! Eight countries represented from Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Argentina, Australia and Yorkshire!
Argentina is becoming a bit of a hot-spot for Celtic-Punk with not only some well established bands but also some new ones starting up too and with this release Aires Bastardos announced their arrival on the international scene too. Not afraid to dive straight into a folk number after a Cock Sparrer cover they veer from standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in that really accessible way that only Celtic-Punk (and maybe Ska-Punk) bands can do.
The Dreadnoughts don’t really think of themselves as Celtic-Punk so I reckon they’d be happier to win this than Celtic-Punk Album Of The Year. A superb collection of sea shanties that is a pleasure to listen to that was always going to be #1. Crock Of Bones representing the London Irish in 2nd with an album of trad folk with punk rock attitude and it’s especially good to hear some originals done in the style of the ‘auld ways’. 6’10 challenged for the top spot as they always do with everything they release and Bryan MacPherson and Callum Houston both produced great releases of singer-songwriter acoustic folk with Irish roots.
Sadly the Celtic-Punk world has shrunk a little regarding Web-Sites. Winners of the last two years the Mersey Celt Punks have been slacking (sort it out lads!) and enjoying their gigs too much to tell us while Shite’n’Onions have been too busy transferring everything onto a different platform and preparing for a bit of a re-launch I expect. Sadly celtic-rock.de have shut up shop after twelve years so it just makes it all the more clear how much we all miss Waldo and his fantastic Celtic-Folk-Punk And More site. As regular as clockwork and all the news that was ever fit (or not!) to print. Closing down the site in its 10th year in March must have been a tough decision to make and so this year we award best Website to Waldo and let it be known that no Celtic-Punk site will ever come close to replacing you. We would certainly not exist without his kind help and inspiration. All the best comrade enjoy your retirement! One welcome addition is Michu and his Celtic-Punk Encyclopediasite from Poland. Worth checking out especially if you are in a band.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2019 lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other Celtic-Punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
This is our 8th year of making these Best Of lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous ones then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Last year we introduced a new feature THE READERS PICK. We had no idea if it would work or not but it was a raging success so we going to do it all again this year. With well over 500 votes cast you lot chose the debut album from the Krakin’ Kellys as a worthy winner. Only the Top Ten albums are listed but there is an option to write in your favourite release or just to send us love… or abuse!
You are allowed to vote twice but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Friday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020
We continue in our vain attempt to catch up with the Celtic-Punk and related releases we missed throughout the year! Each year the number of releases we receive here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS continues to amaze us. Now this is great news butit does mean that we cannot keep up with everything we receive. We simply don’t have time to give a review to everything so each December we have a week to catch up with any we missed first time round. We like to write detailed reviews so apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in this way. Each and every band featured here are worthy of your time so please be sure to check them out. Today in Part Two we have five releases from Germany, Holland, Luxembourg and a sort of Euro collaboration between Scandinavia and the British Isles! To check out Part One which featured North America then visit here. Our final part will be in a few days when we round up the rest of the world! So please be sure to check back soon.
The perfect place for Brophy’s Law seeing as despite being based in Copenhagen they actually contain members from Cornwall, England, Scotland and Denmark. They came to prominence last year as they embarked on a UK wide tour with Swedish Celtic-Punk heavyweights Sir Reg as The Neil Brophy Band. A year later and a new name to reflect the full band sound and a new album of thirteen self penned songs spanning the Folk-Punk genre. The album touches on themes as diverse as world travel, revelry, small-town England, record collecting, refugees, propaganda, vikings, lucky people, fishing and homecoming. Their single from the album, Nice To Know, released on Record Store Day received plenty of favourable press and airplay most notably from Steve Lamacq on the UK’s favourite alternative music station BBC6. The song reflects on Neil’s return to his home town of Northampton after a few years away. Life in the city may seem to change fast to us but the reality is at local community level some things never change. As Neil sings: “my country, my heritage will remain!”
Other album highlights are the acerbic politically charged ‘Fear Of Fear’ with it’s raw, brash Celtic soul sound and poetical social commentary, the fun filled C’n’W tinged ‘Bears Go Fishing’ and the lovely ballad ‘Far Away’. Prominent use of the harmonica and banjo always wins bonus points with me! As we have said the music throughout spans several genres of folk including Country, Celtic, and Americana. They are tailor made for the new generation of music festivals aimed at a slightly older sort of festival goer. Where people look after the bogs and the music finishes at midnight! The band go by the motto of ‘Whatever Happens-Happens Whatever’ and in these uncertain times that’s a good way to think.
Die Dödelsäcke are a German band from Mülheim and are not a band I have been previously aware of. This is a shame as this EP of seven songs is their swansong and the band officially split up in September after playing a gig in Oberhausen. Not only that but they have chosen to split up on what would have been their 30th anniversary together making them one of the oldest Punk bands in Germany. Even stranger is that they have a massive discography going right back to 2002’s Durst 609 and a reputation as being ‘The Kings Of German Bagpipe Punk’. An affinity with Scotland is evident on this album despite all the songs being sung in German. The band has eight members combining your traditional punk rock instruments alongside bagpipes, mandolin, banjo, flute and tin whistle. Vocalist Andel McGoy has the perfect voice for Celtic-Punk being just the right side of hoarse! The first single from the EP was ‘Letzte Fahrt’ which wraps up proceedings on the EP and is a great example of the German style of Celtic-Punk.
Heavy on the mandolin and also the vocals its a great romp and catchy as hell while still being as Punk As Feck! The rest of the EP is just as good with notable tracks being the excellent bagpipe heavy ‘Far Far Away’ with its chugging guitar, gang vocals and rather slow build up as well as ‘Küss Mich Mit Whisky’, probably the most ‘Celtic’ song here. Fast and furious the song would stand on its own as a Punk song. ‘Jokers Billardzimmer’ begins slowly with the dirge of the bagpipes before kicking off and picking up the pace. I’ve not a clue what they are singing about here but you do hear the word ‘Whiskey’ dotted throughout the EP so that should give you a clue. Like a Celtic version of Peter And The Test Tube Babies this is a brilliant release and I’m only sad that I discovered them too late.
Taking their name from a 1980 release by rockers Motorhead Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers are a band that also hail from Germany and the small town of Schwäbisch Gemünd. This is their second album after 2016’s Folk’s Gaudi. They play a style of Celtic-Punk that is more Folk related but with a Punk Rock attitude. Most of the songs are sung in English bar a couple in their native German but with a name like Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers you can kinda guess that this band is in it for the kicks and throughout it’s dance able Irish influenced folk music but with loads of other influences thrown into the mix like the excellent reggae and metal enthused ‘Gaudium Fürs Folk’. They lay claim to be the original purveyors of ‘Gaudi Folk’. Now I’m not sure what this is and whether it relates to the geezer who designed all the wacky buildings in Barcelona is anyone’s guess. With mandolin, banjo and accordion as well as double bass the boys have quite an original sound with the songs ranging throughout the Folk-Punk genre starting with another album high point the opening track ‘Honkytonk’ which brings in elements of Country and Americana. ‘1000’ is another great track with the words sung in immaculate English and its positive message dedicated to rebels everywhere. Slow starting but building up throughout.
The albums ends with three outstanding songs that are all completely different and showcase the range of Hellraisers And Beerdrinkers. The first of the trio is a story of being trapped in a pub. The pub in question is also the title of the song and the bands local. ‘Piston’s Pub’ is accordion led and proper catchy tune that is followed by ‘Abserviert’ a slow waltzy type number sung in German and shows that despite their name they know their way round a good tune. The album ends with their ode to that most Celtic-Punk of subjects- ‘Beer’!!! A fast and furious accordion led tune with a distinct ‘pirate’ style. Ten self-penned songs that clock in at a very healthy thirty-five minutes that manages to cover so much ground but still keep its feet firmly in Celtic/Folk-Punk.
The fourth release from Pyrolysis (all are available on Bandcamp) and happy to say they are still pumping out fast-paced and energetic acoustic folk alongside the odd dark and intense ballad and all the time still not wearing any shoes! Completely acoustic (well except for the bass!) and with a bodhrán (Irish hand held instrument) instead of drums they manage to kick up quite a din and the music would definitely be classed as Celtic-Punk if there was an electric guitar in there. Their music ranges across the Folk genre with Punk, Gypsy and even Pirate music getting a nod but it’s their energy that gives them that Celtic-Punk feel. Founded in 2010 in the small Dutch town of Zaltbommel Celtic-Folkies Pyrolysis have been a regular fixture in their home countries festival scene over the years but have also made it over to these shores too. Daylight Is Fading is twelve songs, mostly originals but with a few traditional Folk covers, that comes in just shy of fifty minutes. The opening track is a short instrumental setting the scene for the storming ”The Pace’ which may sound like an electric guitar but you are wrong. The song is as Punk as you can get without electric and the Celtic tinged number rattles along at a grand old pace while main songwriter and lead vocalist Tim has that rather typical Dutch accent where he sounds completely English! In common with a lot of Folk (and Celtic-Punk too) his voice is just another instrument here and used to great effect. They can also turn their hand to a mean traditional song like the instrumental ‘Cooley’s Reel’ or a real foot stomper like the auld Scots classic ‘Donald McGillavry’ as well which leads nicely up to ‘Never Fade’ an album highlight and we are fortunate that they have just released a pretty damn good video to accompany it.
This is one band I would have really loved to have done a detailed review of as they are such an interesting band. They may look a bit ‘hippie-ish’ and that may be so but their music reminds me in style, not content, of those 70’s Irish Folk bands like The Bothy Band, Planxty or 1691 whose innovation lay the groundwork for much of what came afterwards on the island. It can definitely be traced to what we now call Celtic-Punk. I said before in a review of their second album ‘‘On Mountains I Stand‘ that the band I am most reminded of here was The Whisky Priests who flamed very brightly cross Europe in the 90’s with their unique brand of Geordie (Newcastle) English folk-punk music and you can still hear that a lot in what Pyrolysis do especially as the accordion is at the forefront of so much. ‘This is How’ begins as a sorrowful song about a sailor with amazing fiddle work in an Eastern European style. ‘Captain Cray’ has an somewhat English feel to it apart from the Celtic fiddle and the album is coming to an end and you can always tell a good band when they play a really long song that holds your interest. Here it’s ‘Rainy Road’ at seven minutes that closes the album and it’s a real masterpiece with fiddler Rikke taking over the vocals and her beautiful voice matching well the beautiful music. The slowest song here but the most dramatic and my absolute favourite. A great album. One the best I have heard this year so highly recommended.
Here’s a first for London Celtic Punks. We thought we had covered just about every country in Europe and then this little beauty arrived on our doorstep all the way from the wee country of Luxembourg. Famous in my youth for always finishing bottom of their European Championship group I knew very little more about them. Joined these days by even smaller countries they have at least risen to second bottom these days! With a population of just over 600,000 with only just over half the population being Luxembourgers with the other 44.5% made up of mainly Portuguese, French and Germans. So it’s a small country but perfectly placed between Belgium, Germany and France. Perfect indeed for a Folk-Punk band looking for gigs! Schëppe Siwen were founded in December 2009 and released their debut self titled album three years later and the follow up Sprëtztour in 2016. These passed us by but not this years Wat Bleift. Mixing Folk, Rock, Pop, Reggae, Punk and Ska and proudly eschewing the opportunity to sing in either French or German they proudly sing in their native Luxembourgish. Of course these means two things. 1) that we really admire them and 2) that we haven’t a clue what the songs are about! Still anything that involves a trumpet is bound not to be too downbeat. Here we have ten songs that clock in at 33 minutes and all original material. Like Pyrolysis I would have really liked to get my teeth into this review as their is so much going on in here but alas I just have to do my best. The album starts with bar talk followed by accordion and then trumpet. The olde world of Folk comes crashing together with more modern sounds and before long the song is hurtling through your ears. With eight members and an astonishing three trumpet players alongside the aforementioned accordion as well as fiddle with yer more traditional rock instruments keeping it all ticking along. An instrumental that leaves you not quite knowing what you have just listened to but in a good way. The influences are all here and play alongside each other nicely creating a danceable happy sound. ‘Looss Alles Zreck!’ sees the album turn almost full on punk but they reign it in and while Jojo’s gruff vocals may sound punkish to us here the style is more common in Europe and they give the music a bit of bite. With a more conventional singer the temptation would have been to go a bit lightweight but I’m glad they keep well away from that. Their are several outstanding tracks here and while none could be described as Celtic it sits snugly within the Folk-Punk genre or maybe a new genre Folk-Ska.
The title track gives it some old school ska (video above) while ‘Heif Deng Fauscht’ sees the album pause for its first breath with a slower track while ‘D’Auer Leeft’ is another instrumental that again takes all the influences imaginable blending them together. The bands earlier heavier days have been replaced with a love of ska but ‘De Klenge Männchen’ sees a return to form and opening with some classic Rock guitar they sound almost Californian for a minute. Jojo’s voice comes into it’s own here and the band deliver one hell of a tune. Catchy as hell and a real foot stomper. They quickly dust of the Folk instruments for ‘Fett Ewech’ while the album closes with two songs, ‘De Leschten Danz’ and ‘Starenhimmel’, that show the breadth of what the band can offer. From almost Tex-Mex-Ska-Folk-Punk to a heartfelt ballad accompanied by a children’s school choir. An album I thoroughly enjoyed and while I’m not sure of where Schëppe Siwen have come from musically I can safely say that on Wat Bleift they have delivered an album of pure originality where the traditional meets contemporary but still seems perfectly in time with both. There’s an excellent interview with the band about the album and the recording process in Tough Magazine just remember to run it through Google translate.
So ends the second part of our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have probably still missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally if you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.
Each year the number of Celtic-Punk and related releases we receive here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS continues to amaze us. Now this is great news butit does mean that we cannot keep up with everything we receive. We simply don’t have time to give a review to everything. Each December we have a week to concentrate on catching up with anything we missed the first time round. We like to write detailed reviews so apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in this way. Each and every band featured here are worthy of your time so please be sure to check them out. To start with here in Part One we are concentrating on four releases from North America with the USA and Canada featuring. In a few days time we will head to Europe and then we will focus on the Rest Of The World so please be sure to check back soon.
ROSIER- ‘Self-Titled’ EP
Anyone expecting a pulsating Quebecios folk fusion, in the vein of La Bouttaine Souriante/ Genticorum and such like, will be in for quite a surprise here. Released to accompany a fall tour from Montreal 5 piece Rosier this 4 track EP blends a very lush, dreamlike, multi -layered indie folk organically together with strong Quebecois folk traditions- which while always having a sense of exploration and development, never loses its distinct lightness of touch.
Rosier features the band’s steadfast original lineup: front-woman Béatrix Méthé (lead vocals and fiddle), Colin Savoie-Levac (lap steel, banjo and foot percussion), Sarah Marchand (lead vocals and keys), Éléonore Pitre (acoustic and electric guitar) and Marie Savoie-Levac (bass) while everyone helps out on background vocals. All the songs adapted from traditional and arranged by Rosier, except You Behind, which was written by Béatrix. A very relaxing listen, maybe best as an accompaniment to a wee dram at the end of the night.
Now I was first attracted to The Lucky Eejits thanks to their name and it’s ‘Gaelic’ meaning. Eejit of course being the way an working class Irish person would pronounce ‘idiot’. Playing straight forward punk rock this trio blast high speed and high energy upbeat punk music and their is simply no let up on Out Of Time with its catchy riffs in your face punk rock edge. Based in Oakland California the band began life as a Celtic-Punk outfit featuring six eccentric Irish-Americans but after a change in the bands line up The Lucky Eejits were reborn as a more than solid Punk-Rock band. The album is twelve songs long and lasts just over a half hour. Not bad for a album chockablock with songs played at breakneck speed. From the fast Pop-Punk of opener ‘Get Out’ to the final song, a nod to their Celtic-Punk days perhaps, ‘Warm Guinness’, about the perils of tour life, it’s an album that never lets up. Album highlights include ‘Champion’ and ‘So Far So Good’ which they released as singles with the latter as a pretty damn good official video.
Throughout Out Of Time it is packed with catchy melodies and is a fantastic follow up to 2016’s Do It Again. It’s definitely a fan friendly album with chances galore to join in the singing. This may make them more of a live band to follow but this album is certainly worth hearing too. The message here is one of hope and positivity and lets pray the guys get their hands on a cold Guinness soon!
VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Come On Up To The House: Women Sing Waits’
The main problem with albums like this is that everyone on it treats their song as if it’s either the opening or finale of the whole thing and produces something incredibly over the top. A female only tribute to the legendary Tom Waits sounds great on paper but it is rather overblown and judging by Corinne Bailey Rae’s version of ‘Jersey Girl’ they’d have been well to invite Mariah Carey to perform here! Twelve artists of Tom Waits greatest ballads covered by Aimee Mann, Patty Griffin, Rosanne Cash, Phoebe Bridgers, Joseph, Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer, Corinne Baily Rae, Courtney Marie Andrews, Kat Edmonson, The Wild Reeds, Iris Dement and Angie McMahon and yet it’s the oldest artist here Rosanne Cash and ‘Time’ that steals the show for me though the jazz influenced Kat Edmonson’s ‘You Can Never Hold Back Spring’ and the Country and Western singer Iris DeMent’s ‘House Where Nobody Lives’ wring out every piece of emotion from Tom’s majestic words and the album’s final song ends with the overblown (and rightly so this time!) The Wild Reeds version of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’.
Tom Waits has just recently celebrated his 70th birthday though sadly this album adds very little to his canon of work. An opportunity to really re-interpret his work has got lost (largely) under some rather inflated ego’s. For Waits fanatics its worth buying for the Rosanne Cash song alone and also producer Warren Zanes who wrings as much out of the songs as possible and provides some excellent liner notes on his relationship with Tom Waits music.
“He kept writing those songs that burrowed into the broken places inside of us, Waits could regularly deliver that revelation that comes with only the best songs: you may be lonely, but you’re not alone. As the years rolled by, every Waits recording arrived like it had come just in time.”
HEATHEN APOSTLES- ‘Born By Lightning’ EP
So far here we have reviewed a Folk album, a Punk album and a sort of Bluesy compilation album so none of our usual uptake and that doesn’t change with this review of the latest EP from Heathen Apostles. They play a sort of Gothic Americana Blues crossed with alternative alternative country. Born By Lightning comes hot on the heels of their recently released album Dust To Dust, their fifth to date, and five new songs of what one reviewer described as “the bluegrass of Bill Monroe put into the woodshed with the Gothic tendencies of Siouxsie And The Banshees”. Label mates of one of my all time favourite bands Phantom Of The Black Hills they tread much the same path but definitely in a more accessible way to yer average Joe. Fiddle and banjo aplenty here while Mather Louth’s beautiful yet powerful voice shines above all else. Starting off with the slow Country styled Gothic ballad ‘Death Bell Blues’ a tribute to the legendary Howlin’ Wolf before leading into the dark ‘Chosen One’ which shows the Apostles at that catchiest best. The title track ‘Born By Lightning’ sees them back in darker country again with an intense ballad that builds on Mather’s voice with the rest of the band restrained before here. A million miles away from the Grand Ole Opry! The last two songs have a much harder edge, ‘Devil Comes For All Of Us’ is elf explanatory while ‘Scarecrow Blues’ take us far away from traditional Country and into the realm of the ‘murder ballad’ with its tale of a social misfit being burned out of his house only for the vigilantes to burn down the entire town while it slinks and slithers to the beat of the blues! A Country-Bluesy-Punky affair the band have long wanted to do a Blues style release and with Born By Lightning they have managed to stay close to their roots and something that would also appeal to more traditional music fans too. Signed to Ratchet Blade Records which specialises in ‘Dark Roots Music’ where you can find out all you need to about this glorious genre.
So ends the first part of our 2019 Round-Up’s and again apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still missed some fantastic music I am sure so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. We are also always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. And finally if you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.
From false friends, to (temporary) sobriety, to lovable junkies and the world’s worst public transport however you like your Celtic Punk’n’Roll – the debut release from The Cloverhearts will have you covered!
No country in the world had had such a relationship with Ireland and the Irish as Italy. From the poverty stricken roots of our mass migration to the new world and then living side by side in American slums to the eventual ‘coupling’ of their communities to the influence of a shared religion that dominated every strand of life back home and that they also helped spread around the world. When I was a kid on holiday back in the ‘auld country’ it was pretty common to bump into foreign travellers and in my experience the Italians always outnumbered everyone else. Even these days its common to meet young Italians experiencing the real Ireland away from gentrified Dublin. These links have now gone full circle and we have those same Italians going back home with a love of Irish culture and music (that many sadly in Ireland no longer have) and re-inventing it. To that end no countries in Europe have adopted Celtic-Punk as Germany and Italy have. With The Rumjacks Italy has took them to their bosom and several bands have hit the streets with an obvious affiliation with The Rumjacks sound.
The Rumjacks sound is a good place to start here as both they and The Cloverhearts have a very unusual thing in common. The Rumjacks have a Italian drummer and The Cloverhearts have a Australian singer in Sam Cooper not only that but Sam and Italian tin-whistle/bagpipe extraordinarie, Chiara de Sio first met at a Rumjacks show in Manhattan, New York fresh from Chiara’s departure from fellow Italian Celtic-Punkers, The Clan. Fast forward and joined by guitarist JJ Bassi, bassist Stefano ‘Cione’ Becce, and drummer Christian Amendolara The Cloverhearts have unleashed their first record alongside two recent high profile support slots with (them again!) The Rumjacks. So considering the band have only been together for just a short time their rise has been meteorically and this new EP is a great way to start.
The Cloverhearts left to right: Cione Becce – Bass, Backing Vocals *Christian Amendolara – Drums, Percussions * Chiara De Sio – Tin Whistle, Bagpipes * Sam Cooper – Vocal , Songwriter * Luigi JJ Bassi – Guitar, Backing Vocals
The Sick came out at the beginning of last month on the Italian record label, Black Dingo Records and has six new songs all written by Sam and the band themselves. The EP begins with ‘Always Monday’ which was the first single and shows how much those Europeans love their ska. I’m not such a big fan myself preferring sad tearful songs about hunger, famine and forced emigration to happy-go-lucky joyful bouncy Ska like this! I know this all makes me somewhat of a pariah. “How can anyone not like Ska” has been said to me many a time. Luckily this song has a tough edge to it and threatens to turn Punk at any moment meaning that I can just about tolerate it. Basically a song everyone else will love and enjoy so just ignore this miserable bastard.
I’m in much more favourable territory next with what I consider the EP’s standout track, ‘Black Eyes And Broken Hearts’. Kicking off with chunky loud guitars and bagpipes the music has the same sort of Pop-Punk air to it as Dutch Celtic-Punk band Drunken Dolly or more famous bands like NOFX or Blink 182. Catchy as hell with great lyrics smothered in black humour and Sam has a great voice too for this. I was also a big fan of Chiara and her piping while with The Clan and here again it is absolutely note perfect. This leads us onto ‘Drinking Songs’ and with its tin-whistle opener it is more yer typical standard Celtic-Punk song. Played fast and with passion this is a sure fire dance floor filler leading us onto ‘Fuck Trenitalia’, a story about Italy’s national rail way service. Funny enough I first heard this while waiting for a train that was running late whilst in deepest Surrey so can sympathise 100% with the sentiments expressed. I’m guessing a lot of people in Italy would as well as within ten days the video had amassed a staggering 170,000+ views on You Tube!
(Warning- “this video may be unsuitable for some”)
Loads of ‘effing and blinding’ throughout this exceedingly catchy number. Again played at full throttle and plenty of The Cloverhearts usual humour. No time for any ballads on The Sick and ‘Junky’ keeps the pace going. About a junky friend of the band and we should remember that inside everyone cursed with this terrible addiction is a real person who needs support to rid themselves of it. Anyone immersed in the punk scene will know a person who has lost everything to addiction and the sentiments in ‘Junky’ are beautiful. Not a bad song either and the catchiness keeps coming at you with the EP’s final track and a return to some Ska with ‘No Time For False Friends’. No lecture from me this time as the whole EP (including the Ska-ish) tracks have grown on me and it’s an excellent song to bring the curtain down. Veering from Ska to Punk and back to Ska again the whole band sound magnificent. The bagpiping sounds fantastic and though the bagpipes don’t appear on every track you can hear that the songs have been written with the pipes in mind and they haven’t just been tacked onto any old song.
The Cloverhearts opening up for them Rumjacks recently in Bergamo
So there you go the debut EP from a band that has only been together for a blink of an eye and already one of my favourite releases of the year. We always delight in the arrival of another new band on the scene and its unusual for a band to come straight out the blocks and find their niche straight away but The Cloverhearts have done just that. They may be influenced by others in the scene (who isn’t?) but they have come out with an EP that has their individual sound stamped all over it. Highly recommended!
What happens when traditional Irish Rock n’Roll meets American Punk music? Here the Krakin’ Kellys take six Irish folk music classics and unite punk-rock riffs with Gaelic-inspired melodies. Angry microphones, greasy bass lines meet bagpipes, flutes and accordion for a drunken party which will leave everyone pumped up!
Since forming in 2017 Krakin’ Kellys have its fair to say taken the Celtic-Punk scene by storm. Their debut album from last year was a double winner in the London Celtic Punks Best Of 2018 lists romping home with the Best Debut Albumand the Best Album Readers Pickas chosen by the readers of the Blog (nearly 39% of the total vote!). It was a breath of fresh air to the scene with its energetic blend of punk rock and accordions and bagpipes. Allied to this was a bunch of absolutely fantastic videos that the band released that showcase a band at the very top of their game. In fact we only said
“It’s not often I use the words this is a must have album but this is a must have album!”
about one album in 2018 and it was the Krakin’ Kellys Promised Land. Full of energy and bounce and humour. There’s no revelations about politics here and no songs about nuclear war and I can only say thank the heavens. Sometimes music needs to take our minds away from the daily grind. Music to drink to, to dance to, to meet folks and make friends and on Promised Land Krakin’ Kellys delivered us quite a unique Celtic-Punk album.
(You can download/stream Promised Land at the Bandcamp link below)
Krakin’ Kellys hail from the city of Namur in Belgium. The city is the capital of the self-governing Walloon Region which was created, largely along language lines. Wallonia consists of the French-speaking provinces of Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, Walloon Brabant and Namur. There is a burgeoning independence movement in Wallonia that seeks to split Belgium into Dutch speaking Flanders in the north and French speaking Wallonia in the south. As is usually the history behind the conflict is complicated so I think I better go on with the review and leave the controversial stuff alone!
Krakin’ Kellys from left to the right : Olivier Drèze (Drum) * Stephan Mossiat (Bass) * Pierre-Yves Berhin (Accordion) * David Leroy (Lead Vocals) * Matthieu Hendrick (Guitar) * Rémi Decker (Bagpipes & Whistles )
The EP begins with possibly the best known Irish song of all time, ‘The Wild Rover’. The song is about a utter wastrel of a man who spends his life drinking and carousing before coming to the realisation he has wasted his life and returns to the home of his parents and promises to reform his ways. The origins of the song are vague and thought to originate via Ireland, Scotland or from the fishing industry but there’s no arguing that it is indeed the most popular Irish song of all time. The Kellys play it as a rock ballad with the amazing chorus the highlight. Pierre-Yves’s accordion and Rémi’s bagpipes supply the Celtic instrumentation while the rest of the band keep the heavy sound of their previous releases intact while still playing a glorious homage to this wonderful song.
As I have mentioned recently sometimes the best of videos are recorded in pubs (the natural home of all Celtic-Punk) with a crowd of friends enjoying themselves and ‘The Wild Rover’ fits the bill perfectly. Take a couple of minutes to check it out as it’s another in Krakin’ Kellys long line of great vids. See how many band t-shirts you can spot. I lost count at a dozen! Next up is ‘The Foggy Dew’ a song about the glorious 1916 Irish uprising against British rule in Ireland. The song has become pretty popular in the Celtic-Punk scene of late due in main to its Celtic-Punk friendly air. Again its done very much in the Krakin’ Kellys style and David’s vocals may divide people along the lines of those who are expecting someone crooning but KK are a Punk band at the heart and I think they fit perfectly. Raspy and semi-shouty they are nothing if not passionate. Time for a more ‘trad’ approach next as the Bhoys mix up three songs you may not know by their names but will from the airs. Of course Thin Lizzy made ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ a international smash hit back in 1973. The song morphs into ‘The Kesh Jig’, an old traditional Irish tune. It’s popularity is attributed to The Bothy Band who recorded the song on their debut album in 1975 and then another traditional song ‘Morrison’s Jig’. Here the band push their trad side to the limit while still remaining at heart the skate-punk band they are. Here again Pierre-Yves proves he’s one of the best accordion players in the business. Half way through now and it’s time for a couple of Dubliners songs starting with ‘Free The People’. Although performed and released by The Dubiners the song was in fact written by Phil Coulter and relates to the struggle for racial equality in the USA and the struggle in the northern 6 counties of Ireland against British occupation and discrimination against Catholics.
“What does it profit him
The right to be born
If he suffers the loss of liberty?
Laws were made for people
And the law can never scorn
The right of a man to be free
We are the people
And we shall overcome”
The Kellys play the song as normal but with a heaviness that belies whatever version you have previously heard before. Next is a mention for a familiar name here on the London Celtic Punks site, that of Ewan MacColl the writer of ‘Champion At Keeping Them Rolling’. The Dubliners recorded the song in 1972 and perhaps because it was the last recordings of the original line up the song is often thought to be written by them but Ewan was a master of songwriting and telling the story and tribulations of working class life.
“I am an old-timer, I travel the road, I sit in me wagon and lumber me load”
The song speaks of a long distance lorry driver and contains everything you need to know about Ewan. Humour, anger, social injustice and more humour. Again it’s not a song that needs much doing to change it to a Celtic-Punk song, none of the songs The Dubliners recorded do! So onto the last song and the second song from Phil Coulter. ‘The Town I Love So Well’ was written by Phil Coulter, renowned musician, songwriter and record producer about his childhood in Derry city, a place at the centre of Irish resistance to British rule. The song begins with the simple tale of his upbringing in a place filled with warmth and love before ‘The Troubles’ began and Derry became a place plagued with violence. The songs final verse includes a message of hope for a “bright, brand new day”, saying “They will not forget but their hearts are set / on tomorrow and peace once again”. Phil Coulter is also responsible for one of the most beautiful songs ever written, ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’ about the birth of his first daughter with Down’s Syndrome and later died aged four. Take another minute or two to check out the song hereas sung by Luke Kelly. Anyway back to the Krakin’ Kellys and they go out on a high! Beginning as a acapello version with the band led by David bagpipes come in and it soon erupts into as class a Celtic-Punk song you will ever hear. Fast and furious and full of passion.
Six songs and over twenty minutes of one of the very best bands around in the scene at the moment. Krakin’ Kellys are an interesting band for a number of reasons. Their output is regular and of a very high standard alongside their videos which are always worth several viewings and here they show a love and respect for source material that you would not expect for a band from the heavier side of Celtic-Punk. One of the favourite (if not my actual favourite) bands of the assorted London Celtic Punks collective we are all gagging to see them live and hopefully appear alongside them in one of their fantastic videos!!
(You can stream Irish Tribute on the Bandcamp player below)
Australian Celtic-Punk band Fox n Firkin have a new EP out onFolk Til Ya Punk Records which i n their own words “fuses traditional Irish instrumentation and melodies into blistering catchy punk rock”
It seems like absolutely bloody ages since we had a release in our greasy mitts all the way from Australia but patience is a great virtue and eventually you know one will roll in… and be well worth the wait to boot! I’m delighted to see Brisbane’s beloved Celtic-Punk rockers Fox n Firkin are back with their first release since their critically acclaimed album No Vacancy from, and it’s hard to believe it was so long ago, in 2016.
‘Hey Ho! We’re Fox n Firkin’ is the bands fourth release since forming in 2012 and as drummer Robbie says of the EP
“The new EP is kind of a tribute to ourselves, giving ourselves a pat on the back for making it this far and not killing each other.”
We rant and rave about the Aussie Celtic-Punk scene and though it seems quiet at the moment you just know that any minute a band is gonna burst out with something that nails the ethos of Celtic-Punk in a way that only the Aussies can do. They have a really original sound that comes I think from having only four members and while Adrian is responsible for most of the ‘Celtic’ sound playing mandolin and banjo fellow band mates Andrew, Leigh and Robbie keep the Punk melodies flowing but with an added unmistakable Gaelic base. Fiercely independent they self released their first couple of EP’s but have recently joined up, and have found the perfect label to support them in, Folk Till Ya Punk Records. The record label run by The Dead Maggies out of Tasmania has become the focal point for Celtic/Folk-Punk in Australia and the list of bands on their rota is impressive by anyone’s standards.
Fox n Firkin left to right: Andrew Boyle – Guitar/Vocals * Robbie Fraser – Drums/Vocals * Adrian Kay – Mandolin/Vocals * Leigh Mitchell – Bass/Vocals
Here on the new EP their may be only four tracks but what a four tracks they are. Kicking off with ‘Falling’ and its a feel good skanktastic start to proceedings as Adrian’s mando gets an early work out to a ska based track that chugs along quite nicely with guitarist Andrew taking on the vocals and I may be the only Celtic-Punk fan around who isn’t a Ska fan but the Aussies do have a good take on it. Think of The Rumjacks various forays.
This is followed by ‘Sail Away’ and to be honest this is what I am here for! Top rank catchy as fecking hell Celtic-Punk played at speed and with good humour. Adrian sings this time and it’s a happy go lucky drinking song designed to get you off your bar stool and on your feet. Music at home in both the pub and the arena. Music to stir the spirits literally!!!
The boys have a much harder edge than the opener would suggest and give it good reign here. The #1 song here though is up next and is Fox n Firkin‘s amazing tribute cover of The Cranberries classic song ‘Zombie’. They love an unusual cover and here they do perfect justice to the well known and much loved song. Released back in 1994 and was written by Dolores O’Riordan in response to the tragic IRA bombing in Warrington in northern England that killed two young children, Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry.
“Another mother’s breakin’
Heart is takin’ over
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken”
The song was undoubtedly powerful and though criticised by some for it’s partial attitude to the war in Ireland at the time the song has gone down in history as without doubt one of music’s most outstanding protest songs. Dolores O’Riordan sadly passed away in January 2018 aged only 46. A tragic loss to the world of music. Here it takes a few moments before you realise what you’re hearing and its the mandolin that gives it away. Andrews sings vocals again and they are again perfect as the Bhoys punk it up but not in an inaccessible way and keep the tune of the original. Utterly brilliant.
Without doubt the EP’s standout song drummer Robbie says of the track
“We just can’t stop ourselves! We end up wasting half of our rehearsals blasting out ridiculous covers that don’t make sense and then before you know it, we are in the studio recording them! This is the 3rd Fox n Firkin record with a cover on it. Zombie is a great song but I’m sure we can all agree it has been butchered many times over. I’m so happy to finally have the opportunity to butcher it ourselves!”
The EP comes to a close with the gloriously uplifting ‘Hey Ho! We’re Fox n Firkin’ and the story of being in a “fooking punk rock rock band” is told in a tuneful catchy mosh pit filling tune that again will have you diving for the dance floor. Thirteen minutes of guaranteed class Celtic-Punk from a band that are not content to sit on their laurels. Let’s just hope they keep turning out the tunes and we’ll forgive them the gap inbetween!!!
Discography To Hell and Back EP (2013) * Roppongi EP (2014) * No Vacancy LP (2016)