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)
The brilliant debut six track EP release from Argentinian Celtic-Punk band Gypsy Vanner. A band dedicated to the fusion of traditional Irish music and rock, with the aim of converting traditional songs to rock and vice versa.
The last couple of years have seen quite a decent Celtic-Punk scene kicking off in Argentina. At the forefront of the scene have been Raise My Kilt with a couple of extremely well received releases behind them as well as newer bands like Aires Bastards who have not long released their debut album and the band we are featuring today Gypsy Vanner. All three bands are located in the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires and, as is typical in the Celtic-Punk scene, they often play and work together to make the scene a welcoming place. As we often say- #OneBigCelticPunkFamily.
Their are many historical links between the Celtic nations and South America but for the Irish it is often Argentina that is held closest to our hearts. It was the place that most Irish settled during the 19th and 20th centuries in a non-English speaking majority country. Added to this the vast amount of Welsh farmers who flocked to the country in the 1860’s. Encouraged by the Argentinian government up to 5,000 people arrived to populate the part of the country on the Southern tip now known as Patagonia. In the early 1800’s, heavy industry, coal, slate, iron and steel, were beginning to take over the Welsh heart lands and rural communities began to disappear. Many Welsh patriots believed Wales was being absorbed into England so many turned to the ‘New World’ in an attempt to preserve Welsh language, culture and traditions. At first these communities struggled to survive in conditions markedly different to those back home but soon the resilience of this remarkable Celtic nation within a nation began to succeed to such a point that the Argentinian authorities felt threatened enough to end the teaching of Welsh within their school system though it always remained, as at home in Wales, the language of the home therefore ensuring its survival. Even now
“Each year in late July and early August, flights arrive at London airports carrying folk from South America. Many of these visitors experience difficulty in understanding the English spoken to them at passport control, however once they have travelled along the M4 motorway and crossed the border into Wales, destined for wherever the National Eisteddfod is being held that particular year, they find that they can communicate fluently with the locals.
The visitors in question have travelled 8,000 miles from the Welsh speaking outpost of Patagonia, on the southern tip of Argentina. The fascinating history of how these visitors from an essentially Spanish speaking country, also come to speak the ‘language of heaven’ dates back to the first half of the 19th century.”
So Celtic traditions and music are not unheard of in Argentina and the Celtic-Punk scene is a vibrant and exciting part of that, especially in the capital. Here on their debut release Five Distilled Celtic Punks the band play a variety of well known Irish classics both old and new alongside a classic of Punk Rock! The EP kicks off with the much maligned, these days, ‘Galway Girl’. Written by alternative Country star Steve Earle in 2000 and tells of meeting a beautiful black-haired blue-eyed girl in Galway. In the intervening years the song has gone stratospheric and has become a regular fixture for every single bloody busker and singer-songwriter in Ireland and beyond! Of course despite being butchered by untold artists it is Steve Earle’s version that is the songs high point and I am glad to say that Gypsy Vanner’s version belongs with the latter in the Celtic-Punk hall of fame. It’s given a real Punk-Rock boost but still manages to keep its Celtic roots intact. Silvio’s vocals are raspy and hoarse and the perfect foil for the music. He also plays the uillean pipes and as anyone into Celtic-Punk will know that always makes for a special kind of music. They follow this song up with a lesser known one ‘True Love Knows No Season’ about an Irish gunman inKansas City in the days of the old west. A beautiful ballad best known for Planxty’s recording but here Gypsy Vanner give it the Dropkick’s treatment and turn into a full blown Celtic-Punk classic. Absolutely brilliant!!! They give it a Country twist for ‘Colours’ with some excellent banjo from Guyon accompanying a pure full on thigh slapper!
We back in familiar territory next with a couple of Celtic-Punk classics beginning with ‘South Australia’ and as you can imagine form my review so far it is putty in their hands and they chuck us out a fantastic version that leads us nicely into ‘The Irish Rover’ and the Bhoys go for it as only this song deserves with the whole band having a good go at the vocals! A sure fire dance floor filler everywhere you go I am sure it’s no different in Argentina either.
Five Distilled Celtic Punks comes to an end with a song from one of my favourite bands, Social Distortion’s ‘Prison Bound’. SD have literally just finished an extensive tour in the States with Flogging Molly and their ‘Country-Punk’ sound has always been popular in the scene. Here Gypsy Vanner save the best for last and turn the song into another full blown Celtic-Punk classic. A utterly brilliant ending and played at much the same speed as the original it has plenty of Gypsy Vanner stamped on it to make it their own.
So there’s my thoughts and I am only gutted to have come across the EP so late considering it was released back in March on St. Patrick’s eve. The production here is absolutely exemplary across the whole EP though no information on who was responsible but I tip my hat! There is at the moment some quite incredible music coming out of the continent of South America and beyond the bands from Argentina we mentioned earlier we are eagerly awaiting the new album from Mexican Celtic punkers Batallón De San Patricio and absolutely anything that Brazil’s The McMiners or Lugh put out so be sure to stay tuned and check them all out soon.
(You can listen to Five Distilled Celtic Punks on Bandcamp before you hopefully buy it!)
Jay Moody is a Native American/Irish folksinger from Pensacola, Florida. He describes his eclectic sound as Creolized Roots Music.Irish folk influenced by swamp blues and pub-rock, with hints of Caribbean rhythms and Celtic melodies.
One of the things we set out to do with this site when we started was to promote new music. When I say new music I mean of course music that had just been released as one glimpse at ‘modern’ music shows it is nothing of the sort. Nothing is new anymore and anyway seeing as Celtic-Punk has one foot in the past anyway the idea of it being ‘new’ seems a little strange to me. So we have a sort of informal policy to only review releases that have recently come out. We have on the rare occasion gone against this policy but only a small handful of times and only when the release is new to us and worthy of a review as is the 2013 debut EP of Jay Moody. Jay has been performing as a singer-songwriter for most of his adult life. Raised in a large, Native American/Irish family, he is a member of the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Tribe, he learnt his first guitar chords at his father’s knee who was also a gigging musician having cut his teeth singing on city streets, beaches, and campfires throughout the Gulf-coast. Raised in a Navy family, Jay’s youth was spent moving around various maritime communities while always returning to his home in Florida.
So it was that back in June, 2013 Jay released this small collection of songs Pub Songs On Palafox, a solo EP that was intended to capture the raw energy and sound from his time busking in the urban setting of his home in downtown Pensacola, Florida. Palafox is the name of the main strip in downtown Pensacola, and that’s why the EP is named as he was singing pub songs on Palafox. Simple really! Four songs recorded in the raw as a live-air production that captures the energy and sound of a solo performance busking downtown in competition with the sounds of a bustling city street. This EP may have been designed as a way to drum up some work but he soon found work getting in the way and so began a few years away from the music biz until recently and Jay has major plans going forward including new music and more releases to come. The EP begins with a couple of songs from the Great Irish Songbook with the great drinking song ‘Dicey Reilly’ kicking things off. The fictional (though no doubt based upon real person!) account of a life ruined by the drink. A song about a alcoholic Dublin prostitute is probably not the sort of thing you’d be wanting children to sing along but I remember well singing along with this as a young nipper. Written by the great Irish patriot and writer Brendan Behan the songs jolliness belies its more serious subject matter and has long been a staple of the Irish folk scene and a firm audience favourite. Jay gives it plenty of ‘oompf’ and sings it straight but with power and no end of passion.
This is followed by another Irish favourite and again ‘Black Velvet Band’ is a dark song about infatuation, deceit and injustice that many would know but not realise the subject matter was so awful. In fact a mate of mine told me his Mammy used to sing this to him at bedtime! Telling of a young man who has the misfortune to fall in love with a thief who tricks him into holding a stolen watch. As this is a Irish folk song he is caught of course and sentenced to seven years penal servitude and sent away to Van Diemen’s Land now known as Tasmania. Again Jay plays it with a power and his strong vocals are the most stand out thing here. Though he sings loud and almost a shout it also a gentleness that keeps it’s feet firmly in Irish folk territory. The pub may be the venue to hear these songs and Jay has the kind of the voice that can cut through the rowdiness and the chatter that sometimes afflicts the solo performer in a Irish pub! Next up is the first of Jay’s compositions and ‘Looks Like Jesus’ shows Jay has a great talent for songwriter. Peppered with imagery from the Southern atmosphere he calls home the rockabilly-blues influences fit perfectly and again its hard sometimes to think its just Jay and a guitar.
The EP comes to an end with the cheeky ‘Miss Constance’, a naughty Caribbean-styled tune about the perils of younger women. A style of music known in Jamaica as ‘mento’ it predates and has greatly influenced ska and reggae music. Known for topical lyrics with a humorous slant sexual innuendos were also common as they are here if you listen closely! So this EP may be an amazing six years old but seeing as Jay has made it available as a ‘Name Your Price/Free Download’ then their is no reason not to get yourself a copy. It may even inspire Jay to get his arse into gear and record some more. It may be six years since Pub Songs On Palafox came out but you can still find Jay performing in intimate venues throughout the Southeastern United States. Deeply influenced by both his Irish and native roots as well as folk, funk, blues, pub rock and Country with more than a touch of Caribbean rhythms to keep the Irish/Celtic melodies company Jay is a original artist and anyone who can breathe new life into songs that are so familiar is a great talent.
(hear Pub Songs On Palafox on the Bandcamp player below!)
Buffalo, New York’s ‘One Man Band’ The Fighting 69th release their tribute to Celtic-Punk’s #1 band. Six songs given an affectionate twist and available as a free download.
We have to go back to 2007 to the origins of The Fighting 69th. Three seventeen year old mates in a friends basement were sick to death of playing pop punk covers and decided to go back to their collective Irish roots and try something radically different. Over the course of the next several years band members would come and go at regular interval, numerous shows were played and even one or two festivals.
(The first album from The Fighting 69th from October 2008 Dublin Calling. Re-released for its 10th anniversary. Eat, Drink, and listen to The Fighting 69th)
The Fighting 69th would eventually throw in the towel and call it a day in 2011. The boys taking a break from the music scene until original band member, and principle songwriter, Raymond Ball decided he missed all the fuss and decided to pick up the flag and carry on from where it fell. Since the bands resurrection Raymond has single handedly carried the band on numerous releases over the last few years including six (!) this year alone. All are available from The Fighting 69th Bandcamp page as Free Download/Pay What You Like donation. This means you can download them all for nothing but if you can afford it then do the decent thing and leave enough for a couple of pints. Among this years releases are tributed to The Pogues and to recently deceased Irish-American musician Joe Dady as well as this one to the Murphys. Six songs that avoid the Murphys greatest hits and see Raymond playing every instrument as he bashes and brawls his way through better known songs such as the title song and ‘Finnegans Wake’ as well as lesser known ones as ‘The Burden’ from 2005’s The Warrior’s Code and ‘Cruel’ from 2011’s Going Out In Style. The other songs are sort of inbetween with ‘Rose Tattoo’ and the Christmas themed ‘The Season’s Upon Us’. It’s all done in an affectionate way and it shines through that Raymond is an enormous fan. The music is definitely from the punky side of things and that will I am sure please DKM’s fans with several instruments on display showcasing Raymonds talent. Bagpipes, tin whistle, drums, bass guitar, electric guitar… and more all played by the man himself including vocals too!
THE FIGHTING 69th
The name The 69th Infantry Regiment, or the ‘Fighting 69th’ embodies the melding of Irish-American Culture, the precious preservation of heritage, the limitless abilities of immigrants and the preservation of a long and distinguished connection between Ireland and the United States. The name The Fighting 69th was bestowed on the Regiment by Confederate General Robert E Lee and embodies epic and legendary actions of the most famed military Regiment to grace the pages of our history books. Honouring the ideals of loyalty, honour and freedom.
The history and world famous achievements of The Fighting 69th illuminates the pages of Irish American history.
Initially an Irish Heritage Unit, comprised of Irish immigrants, who had escaped from an Ireland of vicious hunger, disease, injustices and failed rebellions. People who had lived under the Penal Laws which denied them their rights to freedom in their homeland. They set about a new life in The United States, a land of promise and freedom. These brave men set about supporting the ideals of freedom, a sense of passion for a cause defending the rights of others, an experience they were familiar with defending those who could not defend themselves. The Fighting 69th embodies a greatness of spirit and faith in each other that has forever insured their rightful place as one of the most historic military Regiments in US, and modern world, history. Their proud history is interwoven with that of Ireland, The Fighting 69th embodies its Irish Heritage but also the heritage of all immigrants. They have preserved some of the most wonderful Irish traditions, preserving the eternal bond that is forever enduring and unbreakable between Ireland and The United States. The Fighting 69th are at the tip of the spear of preserving Irish Heritage in the United States, the majority of their traditions and emblems holding a deep rooted connection to Ireland.
(you can listen to Barroom Heroes below on the Bandcamp player but don’t forget it’s a free download so get downloading!)
Sinful Maggie are back with a new release. A 3-track EP of top quality accordion punk rock’n’roll out of Dorset…yarr!
Sinful Maggie disclaimer: It’s not our fault if you’re too much of a moron to see the irony and humour in this song. It’s not designed to be offensive or derogatory to anyone but the members of the band. That said, feel free to take offence, it’s your right as a human…moron or not.
I thought i better start with that just in case anyone has come to this web site by mistake and gets offended by something in this review. Of course our usual readers are made of much firmer stock and are, I am certain, all blessed with a decent sense of humour. Formed in 2014 Sinful Maggie have, especially within the last eighteen months or so, blazed a path through the English punk scene and for once it is truly deserved. Being based right down in the south-west could easily hamper a band with no ambition but instead they have risen to the challenge and can be found on most weekends rolling up and down the motorways of England to play gigs in every corner of the country.
Sinful Maggie left to right: Charlie Draper– Guitar, Lead Vocals * Briony Ireland– Accordion * Ollie Beaton– Drums * Russ Draper– Bass, Vocals.
One of the things that we must also add at this point is that despite having an accordion player in Briony (who also played in the now defunct Dorset band The Devil’s Rejects who raised the flag for celtic-punk in Dorset) they do not see themselves as a Celtic or Folk-Punk band
“we try and avoid the Celtic punk ‘banner’ if you like. Really we see ourselves more as a punk band that opted for an accordion instead of another guitar. We’re not really influenced by folk or anything like that so we try and avoid it so people aren’t misled”
though that’s not to say we wouldn’t accept them to the Celtic-Punk team!!!
The EP starts with the title song and ‘Good Enough For Rock’n’Roll’ and its full throttle from the start and if you have never heard punk accordion then now is your chance. Charlie’s tuneful though punky vocals keep the music flowing with nods to Rancid and even more ancient ’77 style punk bands.
Now here’s where the disclaimer comes in and I got to admit when I first heard this I couldn’t contain myself and nearly spat me kidneys out laughing! Ask any folky band and they will always tell you that they are labelled ‘Irish’ by people (look at Mumford And Sons for heavens sake!) and and called it in adverts despite being as Irish as Tony Cascarino! ‘We’re Not Fuckin’ Irish’ is the perfect riposte to this and will I hope have you laughing along with them. A great song with some hilarious lyrics and again heads down punk’n’roll that flies past in a fury getting faster and faster. Great stuff. I love this song so much I got the words off them so you can sing along to the video.
I was sitting in a bar
Drinking just after a show
When a guy comes up to me and says
“you kids are far from home
See, I used to live in Dublin
And I’d see bands like yours each night
With tin whistles and accordions
Singing The Rare Auld Times”
Now I sit and listen to him
As polite as I can be
But my anger starts to grow
My grip grows tighter on my glass
’til I smash it on the floor and scream
We’ re not fuckin’ Irish!
Sling that bastard out the door!
Russ he’s bass player and he’s stubborn as a mule
He’s had many nights out on the town with Guinness as his fuel
I’ve seen him with a broken heart and suffering from shock
When a girl came up after a show and said “I love your Celtic rock”
Briony plays accordion an Irish instrument you’d say
Well actually it’s German from the 19th Century
And yeah she’s got a temper (fuck off)
See? That’s what I mean
So don’t tell her we sound Irish she’ll rip out your fucking spleen
Ollie is our drummer and he’s loves an Irish jig
He wants to wear a scally cap but his heads too fucking big
He loves an Irish whiskey or shamrock in his beer
He was in the British Navy but he swears that he’s not queer
Charlie’s got guitars it’s the talent that he lacks
I can play like Gary Moore if Gary Moore was high on smack
He’s too fat to be Thin Lizzy, too old for teenage kicks
He’s not as bad a Bono but I still think he’s prick
Call us what you want
We’re not fuckin’ Irish
Call us what you will
We’ll tell you what’s true
I ain’t shippin’ up to Boston
Who the hell is Ronnie Drew
We’re still drunken lazy bastards
But we’re English through and through
Now you might think that we’re racist
I assure you that not true
We love those Irish bastards
Honestly we do
They haven’t had it easy
And to their resilience we will toast
But we’re from fuckin’ Bournemouth
That’s in England on the coast
The EP ends with ‘Lazy Is As Lazy Does’ a reggae infused number again with some funny and insightful lyrics and one thing this band is not in need of is a funny bone. A little over halfway through Sinful Maggie decide to kick out the jams as it were and bring the curtain down with what they are best at. Fast 110mph punk rock. Their may only three songs here but at almost fifteen minutes long it shows a band that’s not afraid to stick to two or three minute blazers but experiment with longer songs giving them much more depth both live and on disc.
Released on 2nd august Good Enough For Rock’n’Roll is now available on Amazon, Spotify, i-tunes, Deezer etc pretty much all of them but if anyone would like a physical copy then you should message the band directly through their Facebook page. All the money from the EP is going into a pot to help them record their next album later in the year so lets see some action folks!
Back again it’s the band with the longest name in Folk-Punk (and possibly the most members) with another release of original music. Dorset’s finest Folky-Americana-Country-Punk band The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show’s new EP is out now on Musical Bear Records.
The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show are back again with their brand new EP and four all new tracks recorded entirely in a barn in North Dorset! Now this being the Summer it’s a wonder they have found the time as this is most definitely their time and one look at their list of gigs past and present the last few weeks shows a band that has crisscrossed the South of England playing just about every festival imaginable! Formed in Dorset in 2016 The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show have steadily grown in stature and popularity over the following years due in no small part to their hectic touring(no mean feat for a band that sometimes has up to ten members!) and they have added to their great reputation as a live band with a well received album and several EP’s of their own original compositions. Their debut album, Weeding Out The Wicked, came out in 2017 and has been followed by three quality EP’s in the following couple of years, Float Your Boat, A Snake’s A Snake and Oh Me Oh Mi. Releases that all capture The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show sound perfectly. American bluegrass and Americana butting heads with quaint auld English folk. A quintessential English folk group that could have been born at the heyday of Folk-Rock in the mid-1970’s and takes in influences from those halcyon days before redefining them and bringing them bang up to date.
The first of the EP’s quintet of songs is the title track ‘They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs’ and follows on in what I now think of as the traditional The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show way. A catchy thigh slapping driving beat accompanied by the sounds of more instruments then you could possibly take in all at once though the duelling banjo and fiddle shine through. The vocals from Mark are as usual strong and powerful and the words talk about how love changes us. Theirs a a nice slow break in the middle which gives the song a chance to build up and come back strong and yeah I really love it!!! They follow this swiftly with the glorious ‘Raise My Glass’ and a hoedown country stomper that is guaranteed to get audiences up and doing that famous dance scene from Seven Brides For Several Brothers! A typical drinking anthem that sees the band really go for it and if I have ever had any criticism of The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show it is that they sometimes are too restrained and ought to just to bloody well go for it like on ‘Raise My Glass’. A heartfelt cry from the heart in praise of all that’s good in a difficult world. They move away from their usual Summery/bouncy style with ‘Hanging The Bells’ which has a much tougher bite to it and comparisons to New Model Army leap out at you with the acoustic guitar and fiddle pushed to the fore over a song about getting away from the drudgery of life, or as singer Mark says
“a song about the impossible, wonderful dream of awakening from the nightmare of history; to a dog’s life away from the grinding forces of politics”.
The EP comes to an delicate end as fiddle player Alison Jay takes over on vocal duties for ‘Teenage Dreams’ for this slow paced number on the danger of surrounding yourselves in nostalgia. The song drifts along beautifully before speeding up ever so slightly towards the end and again the amazing banjo playing and a-plucking shines a light on all the band do.
The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show left to right: Seb Hartley- Harmonica, Mandolin * Martin Giles- Guitar * Steve Wareham- Slapbox * Alison Jay- Violin * Chris Pearce- Keys (back of photo) * Rob Volves- Bass (back of photo) * Olly Hopper Pay- Guitar, Cello (back of photo) * Mark Lyons- Singer, Guitar * Jamie Lynch- Lyrics * Brad Watt- Banjo *
As already stated this band can sometimes reach up to double figures so getting them down on record so vibrantly is no mean feat I can assure you and here on They Say I Don’t Write Love Songs they have the talent of fellow Dorset musician Charlie Draper to thank. Having already featured here on the London Celtic Punks site as vocalist/guitarist of Sinful Maggie (we will be reviewing their new release in the next week or so) Charlie has done a utterly brilliant job of capturing the energy and passion of the band whilst losing none of their trademark knock out Folk-Punk choruses. Though they don’t make it particularly easy to hear them play outside the South-East it might be worth your while YOU seeking them out!
Buy They Say I Don’t Write Love Songsmark1lyons@icloud.com
The EP is released on Friday 16th August and sadly there is no pre-order or links but as soon as they become available on release I will add them here.
Contact The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show Facebook
Acoustic Alternative Folk Rock. Made in Bretagne. Inspired in Ireland.
I first became aware of Callum Houston a few years ago when I was spending another rainy day off work trawling through YouTube and settling again on a couple of hours of videos of my new favourite band The Graveyard Johnnies. Watching away further evidence if it was ever needed that I have indeed turned into my Grandad was my eyes were drawn to their awesome guitarist Callum’s tattoo of an Irish harp on his arm. Grandad could spot an Irish connection at 100 yards and could name any famous person with even the smallest of Irish roots. Not many will know this but my BIG love besides Celtic-Punk is Psychobilly which is the bastard love child of both Rockabilly and Punk and The Graveyard Johnnys are that rare thing in the Psycho scene of being a young band but also massively popular, headlining most of their gigs. Not one to keep this to myself I rushed off a message to the band and found out that indeed Callum was Irish but was also living in Brittany and allied to that The Graveyard Johnnys were based in south Wales it makes them probably the most Celtic band in existence!
Born in Bristol before his family washed up in Carrigaline in Cork when young Callum was the tender age of 4 his formative years were in Ireland before a move back to England at 15 and then a return back to Ireland to Dublin to study Irish music. As he says
“Cork will always be home, it’s not where your born it’s where you grow up and learn about life.”
Callum was back again in England when he read The Graveyard Johnnys were a guitarist down so Callum jacked in his job and moved to Wales, sleeping on the floor in the band practice room for five months till he found somewhere to live. These were wild times with the Johnnys touring non stop all over Europe and it was on one of these tours whilst playing in Paris that Callum met his partner. They would go on to have a child and he moved to Paris to join them. He began playing regular solo gigs in Paris many Irish bars as well as busking on the Metro to earn a living. Later on they moved to Brittany where the standard of living is better (and cheaper!) and the where the culture is very similar to that of Ireland. The Breton people are very proud of their Celtic roots and Callum felt at home. He now performs regularly throughout Brittany and France playing anywhere from Irish bars to Bistros to street corners as well as jetting back and fourth to Wales to play with the Graveyard Johnnys.
Gravities is Callum Houston’s debut release and the striking photo on the sleeve of the EP is not actually of a young Callum at all but of his Grandad on the Houston family farm in Donegal. The record begins with the title track and while their are only slight signs of the Rock’n’Roll and Irish folk that Callum usually plays you can hear in these original compositions how he manages to make his living playing Irish ballads around the bars of Brittany. Here he takes a more contemplative turn and the lyrics like the music are thoughtful and clever. Their may be none of the urgency associated with the music that Callum usually plays but that’s not to say its soft or throwaway. It may be gently played acoustic music but it comes with more than a edge of something a lot harder. Callums acoustic guitar is aided by banjo and what sounds like a cello making a great combination that would more than sound at home across both a busy pub or a quiet intimate bar. These are the kind of songs that cut across the noisy chatter of a pub and demand attention. ‘Sink Or Swim’ takes a similar route and again that menacing edge to it keeps it from sliding completely into the folk section. Callums voice with its gentle Cork lilt is perfect for this and you can see why he’s made a success of playing solo gigs. Catchy and upbeat and perfect for them toe-tapping moments.
On ‘Euroline’ the tale is of travelling back and forth across Europe, of times spent waiting and waiting for trains and coaches. Told with humour and played with gusto the song again hits the spot and over four minutes is allowed plenty time to develop. In fact at fifteen minutes the four songs here fly past much quicker than you may expect and on ‘City Of Lives’ the EP comes to an end with the records standout track. At times dark and slow and menacing before busting into life as a catchy foot stomper.
Gravities was mixed and mastered by Jacky Cadiou At The Movies Studio, Brest and was released at the end of last month. It’s available on download and also as a compact disc that comes with a few free gifts and is only €5. So about a quid a song! Having grown up listening to traditional Irish music and spending most of his adult life touring across the world with Punk and Country bands Callum has developed a unique and original style. A talented songwriter and musician and with fans spanning genres from punk to trad folk it would be a shame if this record somehow fell into the mid way ground between them.
(you can stream Gravities on the Bandcamp player below for free but it’s only £4 to download so put your hand in your pocket Celtic-Punkers!)
The debut release from Crock Of Bones the newest band on the London Irish Folk and Trad circuit.
I first met the Brothers Byrne oh maybe twenty odd years ago. Having not long moved to London from the northern wastelands I was surrounded by Irish at home but the only ‘proper’ Irish I knew were everyone’s Mam and Dads so I was in no way prepared for quite how Irish London was back in the early 90’s. Every pub and street corner seemed on loan from the Emerald Isle itself and as I slowly immersed myself into the London punk scene I found that was no different either. Every band seemed to have an Irish connection and with any Celtic-Punk scene years off it was down to the punk scene for this plastic paddy 2nd gen Irishman to get his kicks. Living in Hackney back then punks were ten’a’penny and it was impossible to just take a wander up to the shop without bumping into someone you knew and their was a good chance that person would be Irish! Among the bands active in north London at the time that were mixing up Irish folk and punk were The Daltons, Brassic Park and Under The Gun but the best of the bunch were Pitful Of Ugly. Featuring Hugh and Mike (the Brothers Bryne) and their drumming Kiwi bus driver mate Jason they played loads round Hackney, especially at the famed Acton Arms, home of punk rock in London for a few years around 1995. Pitful Of Ugly played a few of their own songs in among some classic Irish folk songs and tunes that the Bhoys speeded up and tampered with. It was great stuff (so it was!) and though very popular they didn’t quite get the breaks to take them out of the Hackney punk ghetto. Fast forward a few years and every now and then I’d bump into the Bros. and even bought a CD of Hugh’s new band The Obscuritones, a rockabilly group he was playing guitar in. Next thing I heard was recently when I received a email from a new band LOCKS and there was Mike with his double bass. Once again I was suitably impressed (they are well worth checking out by the way!) and we fell back in contact. So that was it until Mike starting dropping subtle hints about a new project I would be interested in and 2019 has seen it unveiled as the traditional Irish folk band Crock Of Bones and needless to say their record of being in bands I love shows no danger of being overturned!!!
So not having strayed far from Hackney in the intervening years Crock Of Bones were born this year in North London and Nasty, Brutal And Short is the bands debut release. The Bros call it “a description of the Irish we first made friends with when we emigrated to London”. The rest of the groups members, whose backgrounds stretch back to 90’s celtic-punk, gypsy jazz, dark folk and rock, include a fellow member of LOCKS, Marian McClenaghan on fiddle, Jim Wharf from the band Red Eye on banjo and guitar and Lost Revellers Caitlin Roberts on accordion alongside Hugh on lead vocals, guitar and fiddle and Mike on double bass.
Crock Of Bones- Mike Byrne, Marian McClenaghan, Hugh Byrne, Caitlin Roberts, Jim Wharf.
So with a pretty diverse line up what is the new approach that Crock Of Bones can bring? Well as Hugh says
“This time we’re using traditional instruments, fiddle, accordion, banjo, guitar and double bass and three vocals to get the same energy and power as we used to get from distorted guitars.”
and their is a certain unpolished feel to it all and when I say that I in no way at all mean that in a bad way. What I mean is that it’s universally agreed that Irish music is best played down the pub and in that environment a certain amount of ‘ramshackleness’ is not just tolerated but actually required to give it that authentic feel. The five songs here swing from ballads to full-pelt foot-stompers and though their trad numbers are well played its their original numbers that that impressed me the most.
The Nasty, Brutal And Short EP kicks off with the first of the original numbers ‘Just One Of Those Things’ and its a slow swirling number with fiddle and accordion leading the way while Hugh sings of lost love. He’s got a great voice and the Dublin accent now also has a wee bit of a Cockney twang about it! Next up is one of the best songs ever about the Irish on this side of the Irish sea. Written by Ewan MacColl (no stranger at all to these pages!) and made massively popular among the Irish diaspora chiefly by The Dubliners and then The Wolfe Tones. The song tells of the comical goings on among a gang of Irishmen digging the road up in Glasgow and laying the ‘Hot Asphalt’. Somewhere along the way a policeman falls in a pot of boiling asphalt and the gang cover up his death! Played in the same style as the Dubs the song is quick and catchy and dare I say it as almost as good a version as I have heard but for the best version of all time then check out New York cities 1916 and their version here it’ll knock yer socks off!
“‘Tis twelve months come October since I left me native home
After helping them Killarney boys to bring the harvest down
But now I wear the gansey and around me waist a belt
I’m the gaffer of the squad that makes the hot asphalt”
Following this is the EP’s second original number ‘Ferry’ and anyone of a certain age will remember the trip back and forth to Ireland on the ferry from Fishguard or Holyhead over to Ireland in the Summer. Packed to the absolute rafters like cattle we ran around like maniacs till we collapsed on the floor and slept in corridors while our Mams and Dads sat in the bar drinking and, depending on whether we were coming or going, talked of Ireland in either glowing or disparaging terms. Hugh writes a great lyric here about a long distance relationship about a couple saying goodbye at the ferry terminal. It’s a sad mournful song that comes to an end with the great line “waiting for a voice on a landline telephone”. Next they kick up a bit of a storm with two tunes cobbled together nicely ‘Cooley’s Reel/Mountain Road’ and I love these kind of instrumentals. Owing a lot to The Dubliners they are as catchy a tune as has ever been written in music and if you’re looking for full-pelt foot-stompers then this and the EP’s closing track, ‘Follow Me Up To Carlow’, are the ones for you. An old song celebrating the defeat of an army of 3,000 English soldiers by Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne (any relation?) at the Battle of Glenmalure in 1580. The air dates back to then and the words to Patrick Joseph McCall in 1899. Its a great rousing rebeller and Crock Of Bones give it plenty of oompf and i recommend looking up the words as theirs not many more… err… ‘descriptive’ Irish songs and it’s a glorious joy to be belting them out at the top of your lungs believe me!
(You can stream Nasty, Brutal And Short on the Bandcamp player below before you invest your hard earned in this great wee release)
So an amazing addition to the London Irish scene and well worth the cost of the download. The band have plenty of expertise about them but as I said it’s just the right side of being not too professional and it’s all the better for it. This is the same music our Mams and Dads once listened to in smoke filled boozers packed with fellow immigrants a generation or two back but Crock Of Bones have given it a subtle modern twist and the energy and passion is self evident. Be sure to check them out live in concert around London.
Chicago based 6’10 is the acoustic project of Tobin Bawinkel, the lead singer of Flatfoot 56 whose critically acclaimed first full length album, The Humble Beginnings of a Roving Soul came out back in 2014. Gerard Mellon discovers life isn’t just circle pits and spitting on sweaty crowds. Here’s a band that is a little more laid back and thought provoking.
So here we have it, a new EP of six original tracks from Chicago’s 6’10. Many of you will know this band as Tobin from Flatfoot 56 ‘s side gig. This EP follows on from 2014’s The Humble Beginnings of a Roving Soul, and Flatfoot’s Vancouver Sessions where some of the band’s best tracks were reworked utilising traditional instruments and giving the tracks a more ‘folky’ sound. 6’10 were created by Tobin to explore the musical influences that he grew up with, folk, Americana, bluegrass and other ‘traditional’ styles of acoustic music. There aren’t really any other band members, more like regular collaborators and then specialist instrumentalists. This all leads to a more laid-back sound compared to Flatfoot, but still with the heart that we would expect from them.
It kicks off with an ‘intro track’ of Tobin singing solo and with no instrumental backing called ‘The Old Man’. It’s a gentle introduction to the EP with the song being about an old man who wants an audience for his songs. Up next comes ‘Nam’, a livelier tune that probably would fit in on a Flatfoot album (and after all the waffle I spouted in the first paragraph!!!). It’s (obviously?) about Vietnam and tells the story of a nineteen-year-old getting drafted and sent out to fight; he wins a medal but is shunned when he comes home. (Dunno if his name is John Rambo!) Next up is ‘It’s All Been Said Before’, which has a very singalong catchy chorus, but this betrays the seriousness of its message, which basically is telling us to look at things from other people’s points of view instead of just repeating what’s been said before. Next up is ‘The Isle’, a cracking track which has religious undertones and gives Tobin’s voice a great work out. It’s very upbeat and the message (of redemption?) is very uplifting. For me personally, the next track ‘The Promise’ is the standout track of the six (don’t get me wrong they’re all top quality!) but this one is a real gem. It starts with a slide guitar sound that instantly brings you down south (think of the movie Southern Comfort), it’s very atmospheric as it builds up to the vocals first from Tobin and then Vanessa and then both together with the music gradually growing. It’s a love song that I can’t do justice to with writing, so I will just say listen to it! The final track is ‘Just Say Hi’ and it’s a two hander with Tobin and Vanessa singing a ballad about a man who needs to be more decisive if he is going to win a girl’s heart. It has a very intimate sound, just a guitar and the two singers as if it was recorded at home and not a studio, this adds to its appeal and is a warm sound to close out the disc.
This is a cracking little release from Tobin and his friends, that carries-on the great work from the first album. It’s a shame that it is only six tracks (including intro) because I’m sure we all would have welcomed more. I would definitely recommend buying it and encouraging a few live performances on this side of the pond. You can get it through the 6’10 Facebook page where you can also see what they’re up to.
(you can stream Where We Are before you buy it on the Bandcamp player below)
There’s a new Belgian Celtic-Punk band in town! The Lucky Trolls are six friends who play fast Irish folk and punk and they have just released their debut EP.
There’s nothing I like better than a band who announces exactly what they are to the world. Today’s band The Lucky Trolls do just that with the strap line ‘Irish Punk From Liège’ emblazoned across the bottom of their logo, as drawn by the prolific Hanan 1204 of West Java, Indonesia who supplies most of the Indonesian Celtic-Punk scenes bands with logos! (it is also available as a t-shirt and my cheque is already in the post!), it comes as no surprise to find that they play fast energetic punk rock with multiple Celtic influences and some of the best vocals I have heard in quite the while.
They celebrate five years together this year having formed in 2014 but it has taken several band members comings and goings for them to release this their debut EP and on this evidence we are eagerly await more to come. The band hail from Liège in the Walloonia (French speaking) area of Belgium . The area was in the past a working class city being famous for its steel making but recent changes have seen it become more important in education with tens of thousands attending universities in the city. The city is also famous for it’s football team Standard Liège who seemingly in common with many teams from industrial working class areas went into a bit of a slump but happily are again showing signs of a return to their former glories.
The EP begins with ‘Dirty Old Jack’ and straight from the off you know where this band are coming from. It’s fast paced punk music but with folk instruments but they have not just been slapped willy-nilly on top of punk music, they are an integral part of The Lucky Trolls sound and they ROCK! Comparisons to fellow Belgian band The Krakin’ Kellys are inevitable and to be honest their are similarities between the two but seeing as the Kellys have literally taken the Celtic-Punk world by storm in their short time together their are certainly worse bands to be compared to. Beginning with the sound of accordion before the band join in and its fast and catchy and has an air of Mick O’Toole to it as well thanks to some very manic mandolin plucking. Later in the song fiddle and bagpipes pop up and those vocal harmonies… well where to start. I’ve always been a lover of gang and dual vocals and I think it works especially well in Celtic-Punk and here The Lucky Trolls have nailed it! Can’t tell you who is singing what but both voices suit each other perfectly as they belt the tracks out accompanied by the rest of the gang in the chorus. A cracking opening track that I fell in love with instantly. They keep the energy up with ‘Rocking On The Show’ and with the introduction of tin-whistle they keep up the Celtic connection too. Another rockin’ tune with a great chorus and only two songs in and I’m pretty certain we already have a contender for EP of the year here! That thought doesn’t ease up when third song ‘Rise Yourself’ lands in my ears. Another beauty. Bit slower this time but still on the heavy side with Nathan’s great raspy vocal style and the glorious sound of bagpipes! A chorus of ‘Oi Oi’s only endears them to me more and leads us nicely into the final track of the EP, the classic folk tune ‘Dirty Old Town’. We have over the years written plenty on the interesting origins and various covers of this song and its popularity amongst Celtic-Punk bands is second to none. So rather than rake over the past you can type Dirty Old Town in the search bar on the left and read our thoughts yourselves. Anyway for such a well known song all you really want to know is whether it’s any good or not! If you been concentrating then you will know the answer. Yes it is. Fast paced and clearly sung with Nathan accompanied with female vocals from fiddle player Anne-Sophie. Whether or not Ewan MacColl is rotating in his grave is another matter but I’d hope he’d appreciate it that a band in 2019 from Belguim is still paying homage to him via this great song.
Sadly only four tracks but what a fantastic twelve minutes that I cannot recommend enough. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Clinchon and Pompiflet who have done an brilliant job. Bands like The Lucky Trolls may be best heard live but on this EP they have successfully transferred that sound and their energy and passion comes across in every song. I dare say you would not be able to stay still watching them play and that is as big a compliment you can give in music.
(You can sample the whole of The Lucky Trolls EP below on the Bandcamp player)
Italian Celtic/Irish Rockers The Rumpled follow up last years debut album with a digital only 5-track EP. Five different stories about love.
After last weeks review of The Clan’s new 4-track EP, Quattro Giorni Fuori Porta, it’s time for another Italian Celtic-Punk to be featured and another EP as well. The Rumpled haven’t been around as long as The Clan and are in fact one of the newest of the bunch of bands that we consider make up the Italian Celtic-punk scene.
The band were formed in 2011 in the northern Italian city of Trento and began with the name Seven Deadly Folk but as is often the way with bands with so many members it’s hard to keep everyone together and with the coming and going of new and old members the band decided in 2014 to change their name to The Rumpled. Last year saw the release of their debut album Ashes & Wishes for which they also took on a mammoth tour of home that saw them play every corner of Italy. The album was a surefire hit among the Celtic-Punk community and saw the band placed in all the various Best Of’s the scenes media had to offer. In the London Celtic Punks Top Thirty of 2018 they managed a very respectable #14. Not bad at all for a debut album.
In common with bands like The Clan and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards The Rumpled embrace a certain kind of Celtic-Punk sound. It’s neither the Dropkicks or the Murphys but a Celtic-Punk that is very much focused on Irish traditional music. That may sound strange as you may think that is what all Celtic-Punk is but it is in fact quite rare. Irish folk music and Irish traditional music are different things and when Punk is added to it it can sound very different.
Is love an ideal? Is it love we feel for some friends? Can love be also sad or even frightening? Can love become an addiction, a source of pain or even violence? All is answered on this EP titled as a tribute to the legendary Grace O’Malley but more on her in a moment as the disc kicks off with the raging ‘Song Of Ill Repute’, A swift accordion and fiddle led whirling dervish of a song that you can imagine couples swirling each other round a dance floor. The Irish sound is paramount here but with both feet still in Celtic-Punk. It’s kind of untraditional traditional music if you will! This is swiftly followed by a extended version of the title track ‘Grace O’Malley’. Now Grace has become quite famous in the last few years. She was born in Ireland in around 1530 and was a fearless leader over land and by sea, politician and tactician, a rebel, pirate and matriarch, and the ’most notorious woman in all the coasts of Ireland’. Although she was always famous as The Pirate Queen in Ireland and among Irish communities, notorious for their long memories ( I remember being told bed-time stories about her taking on the British Empire’s fleets as a small child) and glee at being able to rely a story in which the Irish didn’t lose to the English for a change! Her life is far too complicated to take up in a review of a single song so take the time to read up on her fascinating and inspiring story. Anyhow back to The Rumpled and the song ‘Grace O’Malley’. The song has racked up an incredible raked more than 50,000 streams in less than a month on Spotify and has been chosen for two of the most important playlists curated by the platform (New Punk Tracks & Celtic Punk).
Great lyrics, with thanks for assistance from Stephen Trollip, and Marco’s raspy tuneful voice telling the tale in English , not that that matters on first listen you’d never be able to tell his first language wasn’t English. Next up is another song that has set the internet alight and on ‘Fearless And Brave’ you may recognise the voice that is accompanying Marco and yes its the fearless Paddy O’Reilly from awesome Celtic-Punk band Paddy And The Rats. A utterly fantastic song with Paddy and Marco sharing vocals to great effect while the Celtic-Punk crosses into Ska but by hell it certainly doesn’t get much more catchy that this I tell you. The story is again dedicated to Grace O’Malley and steams along at a healthy pace that would be totally accessible to both Folk and Punk fans. On ‘Feelin’ Fine’ the song keeps up the same pace and has a ‘piratey’ feel to it with the heavy sound of the accordion while the final track ‘The Maiden’ brings down the curtain on 15-minutes of proper brilliant Celtic-Punk that will only go to further The Rumpled’s reputation.
(the full 5-track ‘Grace O’Malley’ EP by The Rumpled)
The album has been produced by Gianluca Amendolara of Black Dingo Productions (who look after any Celtic-Punk band who hits Italy through being a independent record label, booking gigs and general management) who started his many appearances on these pages as drummer with The Clan before setting sail to join Aussie bhoys The Rumjacks. He has done an incredible job here and a special mention also for our Frankie out of The Rumjacks who has taken The Rumpled under his wing and assisted them throughout their career, who appears here as ‘vocal coaching and supervisor’ which must be a first for a Glaswegian! To celebrate the release of the EP The Rumpled have set sail on another massive tour that will take in Italy, Switzerland and France and will I am sure gain them legions of new fans.
Another release from one of the most productive and popular bands in Celtic-Punk. The Clan from Italy balance high tempo folk and country alongside Celtic-Punk to make one of the best records of the year so far.
It has been a funny week in the world of Celtic-Punk! Fresh from catching the superb Dropkick Murphys live in London last Friday two EP’s land on our doorstep on the same morning from very well respected Italian Celtic-Punk bands. The first was from this band, The Clan. One of the first bands heard and a band that has featured several times on these pages with previous album reviews. The second was a relatively new band The Rumpled who arrived on the scene properly in 2014 but it was with last years highly rated Ashes & Wishes album featuring guest vocals from The Rumjacks Frankie McLaughlin.
But more on The Rumpled later in the week for now we have The Clan. Probably the better known of the Italian bands in the scene. Along with bands like The Clan and The Rumpled, Modena City Ramblers, Kitchen Implosion, Dirty Artichokes and Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards all the Italian bands share a deep love for Ireland and it’s culture and musical traditions. If Celtic-Punk was about taking the folk tradition and the punk tradition , moulding them together but still staying true to those traditions then it is the Italians who do the job best. There is a sort of generic Celtic music that incorporates music from all the Celtic nations and though instantly recognisable as Celtic-Punk it doesn’t belong to one place in particular. The Italian bands are different and has produced a truly unique style of Irish music. The Clan hail from the small town of Muggiò in Lombardy which is in the north of Italy and have been together since 2013. With a bunch of fine albums behind them, three in five years, The Clan in 2014, All In The Name Of Folk in 2016 and last years Here To Stay, here on their new EP they have carried on their progression and taken a new direction to forsake English and decided to record the EP’s four songs in their native language. It’s understandable that bands think they need to sing in English, with the vast majority of Celtic-Punks fanbase in English speaking countries, but we have long been supporters of native languages so sing on Bhoys. We’ll still get it you know.
The title of the EP is Quattro Giorni Fuori Porta which translated into English means Four Days Out Of Door and though it only has four songs they are sung and played with the same passion that The Clan are renowned for. To this par of big Irish ears the words, sung by guitarist/mandolin player Angelo, sound great. Italian is famous for being a beautiful language and it fits the music here perfectly. The music itself flits from Celtic to upbeat Country and Folk and sounds jolly and fun though the subjects contained in the songs are not always! The EP begins with ‘Il Giorno Più Freddo Dell’anno’ (The Coldest Day Of The Year’) which is a song about animal-rights, a subject The Clan have visited before and a cause close to their hearts. The longest song here at over four minutes its sound leans heavily on Francesco’s fiddle and is against hunting as it tells of a day spent with a mother and her puppies out in the wild. The sound sits fairly perfectly between Country and Celtic but as with The Clan they don’t make music to stand still to! They follow this up with ‘Il Giorno Con Te’ (‘The Day With You’) and the bands sound is perfect with Francisco’s fiddle again leading but venturing from manic to melancholy and while it is annoying not to know what the words are about this is only because The Clan have nailed it on their lyrics in the past and I have always enjoyed reading them. Still it’s a small price to pay to hear the songs sung as they should be. ‘Il Giorno Prima Di Morire’ (‘The Day Before Dying’) keeps the tempo right up and is a hymn to freedom. The time we have here on earth is fleeting and we must each make the most of all we have. Catchy, fast and passionate it’s another corker and leads us nicely onto the final track ‘Il Giorno Migliore’ (‘The Best Day’) which, for me, is the standout track here with its upbeat sound that would move even the shyest mans feet!
The Clan have announced their may well be an English version of this EP but for now this is to show their appreciation to their Italian fan base and why not? The balance they have between genres is quite the feat and yet they still remain at heart a Celtic-Punk band more in the acoustic tradition say of Flogging Molly but with a sound all of their own making. The Clan have carved out quite the movement behind them thanks to intelligent lyrics, well made videos, respect for folk tradition and the love of a bloody good time! In common with those previous releases it’s been excellently produced and the whole band shine through. This is a great EP and though part of me is looking forward to hearing the English versions another part wants to leave it like this.
The debut release from The Placks based in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. World champion Pipers and Punk-Rock legends combine to play a concoction of Celtic infused Punk-Rock and Trad-Folk, but with melody, mirth and a message!
One thing that is always levelled at the Celtic-Punk scene is that it is often inauthentic. There are two kinds of people who make this allegation usually. One is the folk music snobs purists who cannot stand to see their music ‘fiddled’ about with and updated. These people are usually happy for ‘folk’ music to remain isolated from the public within their own ghettos where they can remain ‘big fishes in little ponds’. The other kind is those that quite simply do not understand the Celtic diaspora. Many in Scotland and Ireland consider the children of those forced into exile as little more than a joke. I think this is mainly because we share the values and culture of those original exiled people and in modern day Ireland and Scotland this is seen as old fashioned and outdated. Where the children of Ireland may listen to the latest American ‘Grime’ artist those same children if born in Milwaukee or London or Memphis or Brisbane could be learning the traditional folk music of their ancestors or, even better, playing it. Celtic-Punk is a direct link for many of us to what we consider as ‘Home’ but it doesn’t worry me at all that folk back ‘home’ don’t get it. After all it was the same children of the Celtic diaspora at the forefront of the Punk revolution in the late 70’s.
Even so it is always a blessing to discover a Celtic-Punk band from one of the various Celtic nations. From Ramoneurs De Menhirs in Brittany, Ireland’s Blood Or Whiskey, from Wales Anhrefn, in Galicia the Bastards On Parade and Falperrys. All bands that have embraced their local languages and cultures and have, sometimes against the will of many of those snobs purists, dragged it kicking and screaming into a new era. In Scotland that is exactly what Oi Polloi have done with the Scottish language. It is undeniable that in the Celtic nations our languages are in desperate trouble. The tidal wave of globalisation threatens the Celtic nations and the possible damage could be greater than the British (and French) ever did to them. So it makes no sense for the Scottish language community to turn its back on a band that is helping promote the Scots language in a style never before attempted. A band that plays all over the world and sings and releases records in Scottish that is basically shunned by the people who are supposedly in place to help save it. Still they are getting through. From packed gigs in the Highlands of Scotland to having one of the best selling Scots language records of all time maybe the time has come for the Scottish nation to embrace Celtic-Punk and The Placks could be the band to make them do it!
For Oi Polloi it is uncompromising anti-fascist political hardcore-punk that gets the message across but for the The Placks it’s a dynamite mixture of Celtic infused melodic punk rock and folk music. The bands ranks include, alongside guitar, accordion and fiddle, Fraser and Black Jack Rees, two former world champion pipe band members in their ranks as well as vocalist Iain who spent his youth in various punk bands that both helped shape punk rock (Intensive Care) and toured worldwide and were very successful (Beerzone) so you know these guys are a perfect example of the overlap between traditional music and punk. This new EP came about as The Placks were offered a support slot on the recent Flogging Molly European tour. The original idea being to release a four track CD to sell at the concert. Sadly that gig had to be cancelled due to the recent political upheaval over in Paris so the Bhoys decided that the best thing to do would be to release them digitally instead and get the band’s name out there. It’s certainly done them no harm and offers have been flying in from all over the world for The Placks to play and record. The band’s name comes from the Gaelic Scots word Plack which was an ancient Scottish coin worth four Scottish pennies.
So the question is all this is well and good but are The Placks really deserving of the accolade ‘The future of Celtic-Punk comes from Scotland’ as our comrades over at the Celtic Folk Punk site suggest? Well the answer my friends, on the evidence of these four songs, is POSSIBLY! All the elements that float my boat are here. A pride in their country and it’s value and culture that is not hampered by prejudice and bigotry in any way. Joyous uplifting music that sweeps you away but is just ramshackle enough without being too polished. A style of music that would be at home in either the pub or the stadium. The opening track ‘Stealing Bread’ reminds me of 80’s Highlands punk rockers Toxic Ephex with the simple story of of someone being deported for stealing bread. Not much lyrically here to get your tongue round but its a great opening track before the blistering pro-independence ‘Nation In Chains’ erupts and fills your lugholes. Whilst the band are strong believers, as we are too, in Scottish freedom they make it clear they are not anti-English in any way and that it was/is the English ruling classes to blame for the crimes committed against Scotland and the Celtic nations and further afield. Next up is ‘The Mountain Men’ and definitely a trad air to this. Fiddle and accordion lead the way until the music speeds up and certainly gets the blood racing.
Rebellious Sons ends with my favourite track here ‘Let’s Pretend’ and its funky acoustic base tells of the wish for a perfect world away from the reality of what is really happening. Great meaningful lyrics with a novel way of getting them across… and a great tune as well. It bodes well for this great bands next release which is an album (out soon I am promised!). It’s a fantastic four minute history lesson through Scotland’s tragic history away from tartan trousers and shortbread and as I say promises much more of the same I hope. It can be guaranteed that we will be hearing much more from this great band and the chances are that if you live in the States or Canada you may well have the pleasure of seeing them well before me!!
Well I never it’s actually an Irish band from Ireland! The Led Farmers hail from Dublin and their brand new EP features seven absolute Irish folk classics done of course in that special Led Farmers way!
The Led Farmers are four Dublin fella’s who love what they do, playing upbeat Irish folk music and more. Boasting a two-time All Ireland music champion and members who have studied music at University level. Having performed throughout Europe and the U.S. they began their career in 2014 playing beloved Irish folk classics but soon after began to concentrate on writing their own material that may nod to the past but also moves folk along to the present and even the future. They take their name from a quote by Robert Downey Jr.’s character in the 2008 film Tropic Thunder. Recently having toured Italiy they went down a storm with their acoustic traditional folk played with passion and energy. They’ll not be a song here new to even the casual folk fan but these songs have become the mainstay of most pub singers for a very good reason. Speaking for myself I heard these songs at my Mammy’s knee and were among the first songs I ever knew the words to. Each song evokes a memory and experience I look back with fondness and I’m sure most people from the Irish diaspora can relate to that. Irish Folk Out Straight has been mixed and mastered by Eoin Withfield and is seven tracks of classic Irish folk done in their own energetic and fun Led Farmers style.
The Led Farmers left to right: Patrick Widmer- Drums * Ross O’ Farrell- Bass and Vocals * Brendan Walsh- Banjo and Vocals * Conor Buckley- Guitar
Now the songs here were originally and, in most cases, made famous by one or two bands but in the case of ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ it’s a song that stepped out of folk music and actually became better known when recorded by Irish rock band Thin Lizzy. Anyone who hasn’t seen the TV recording of them miming away to it from 1973 had better get on it now (here) for it’s never been bettered. Recorded, of course, by both The Dubliners and The Pogues (they even released a version of it together!) it’s given a new lease of life here as The Led Farmers run through it with a jolly and energetic tune bordering on upbeat country and bluegrass at times with Brendan’s guitar aflame!
“With me ring dum a doodle um dah
Whack for the daddy o
Whack for the daddy o
Theres whiskey in the jar”
The song dates from the 17th century though no one is actually sure when and who wrote it but a cracking way to kick things. A very popular song which folk music historian Alan Lomax in his book The Folk Songs of North America, suggests was because
“The folk of seventeenth century Ireland (and Scotland) liked and admired their local highwaymen where the gentlemen of the roads robbed English landlords, they were regarded as national patriots.”
Now the next song has been recorded by just about every Celtic-Punk band in existence and if you haven’t heard it by at least a dozen bands then you need to seriously sort out your music collection! ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ is without doubt the most popular trad song in Celtic-Punk and with good reason too. It’s a beauty of a song that is perfect for speeding up and getting a crowd going as well as getting a good auld singsong on the go as well. Here it’s mucked about (in a good way) as the boys have fun with it diving in and out of several genres, including reggae, as its ploughed through in just over a couple of minutes. Originally a a children’s skipping song, it’s another song whose origins are a bit obscure but versions were found in parts of northern England and Ireland in the 19th century. Following now is ‘The Rattlin’ Bog’ and The Led Farmers demonstrate they can play a mean bit of trad Irish folk as well as a good party song. No one knows the exact origins of the song except that its about a bog on the grounds of Collon Monastery in county Louth. Traditionally the song gets faster and faster as the song comes to the end and audience participation is a must here with its easy to remember chorus. As with most folk songs it’s been passed on orally through generations and hence many different versions exist out there but the version as sung by The Dubliners seems to have become the standard.
(The first single from the EP and its great video as filmed by Ger O Donnell in the beautiful fields of county Clare. )
This time its given a bit more time to breathe and at over four minutes is the longest track here and with its’s trad folk flourishes it’s the standout song here and well deserving of the hilarious video that accompanies it.
“And in that bog there was a tree, a rare tree, a rattlin’ tree
With the tree in the bog
And the bog down in the valley-o.”
We get another popular Celtic-Punk cover next with ‘Star Of The County Down’ and for once we know it’s date of birth as it was written by Cathal McGarvey who passed away in 1927. The song is set near Banbridge in county Down and The Led Farmers take a rest and play it nice and slow. It’s beautifully played and the addition of some wonderful uilleann pipes from Roman Haller really lifts the song. Another Pogues/Dubs collaboration follows with ‘Rare Old Mountain Dew’ and they stick fairly close to the standard with Brendan’s banjo leading the show and the gang getting in on the “hi di-diddly-idle-um, diddly-doodle-idle-um, diddly-doo-ri-diddlum-deh” chorus! Written in 1882 the song celebrates poitin, the name for illegal Irish alcohol brewed from, what else but, the humble potato and this is what gets my goat (or in English- on my nerves) when people denounce Celtic-Punk with being obsessed with songs about alcohol when here you have a song that has been belted out for 130+ years doing just that. We shipping up towards the end and appropriately its the sea shanty ‘Leaving Of Liverpool’. Dating from the 1800’s it tells of a prospective Gold miner setting sail for California who pledges to his beloved “so fare thee well my own true love; when I return united we shall be”. Whether your man ever did is debatable. Certainly many didn’t giving this song perhaps a bitter sweet edge to its jocularity. So on a mini-album of seven songs the first six have been much loved and much played classic Irish folk tunes so when I saw ‘Drunken Sailor Odyessy’ was bringing down the curtain I expected the bog standard version but The Led Farmers turn the song on its head and deliver a song pitched somewhere between The Beach Boys and some white-bread Hip-Hop! Great fun as Brendan gives it a go rapping as Ross gets a chance to shine on the bass rumbling away while the band chip in and the whole thing is bloody marvellous and worth the price of the EP alone!
So absolutely nothing original here (except the rap version of ‘Drunken Sailor’ I suppose) but that’s hardly the point of a record like this. Maybe it’s to keep their fans happy in between ‘proper’ releases or maybe they know it’s guaranteed press coverage but whats in it for the casual fan or those like me new to the band. Well hard to say exactly but these songs are extremely well played and the fun is utterly infectious and it’s brilliant to hear a band having such great fun playing songs that are sometimes over a couple of hundred years old. The Led Farmers have a back catalogue of great songs of their own so relish the chance to freshen up these classics and it’s worked out well for them.
Sneaked in just before the end of last year was this new EP from local beer-soaked Celtic folk-punk favourites The Lagan and with the Best Of lists due next week no way could we miss out on reviewing it so off went Marv to chat to Brendan and find out what’s what.
Just after Christmas the shiny new and aptly named EP from The Lagan, ‘Let’s Do It Again’, popped through my letterbox with an excited thud. Released in the dying embers of 2018, it concludes five long years since their magnificent debut album ‘Where’s Your Messiah Now?’. The song ‘Same Shite, Different Night’ from that album was responsible, almost singlehandedly, for changing my life. But that’s another (and probably very tedious) story.
I asked Brendan O’Prey, main vocalist and guitarist in the Kingston-on-Thames based band, why they had decided to go for an EP release after so long, instead of a full album.
“I just thought it was time to get something out!”, replied Brendan, “when we started recording the EP it had been five years since we released WYMN. We had to get something out there, but didn’t have the money or material to release a new album. We’re not prolific songwriters and we didn’t have a lot of time in the studio”.
The EP, contains five stunning new recordings, three written by O’Prey, one traditional and one, ‘Home For A Rest’, a masterful cover of song by Canadian folk band Spirit of the West. I was not familiar with the original and was stunned to find it is actually a cover. The lyrics are so perfectly suited to The Lagan lads and lass I was convinced it was written by them!
All five of the tracks are absolute classic Lagan in full flight. With Brendan’s distinctive voice and the signature combination of driving whistle, fiddle, guitar and bass, these could simply not have been anyone else! With one exception they are rip-roaring beer-soaked 100 miles-an-hour glory tunes. If you loved ‘Where’s Your Messiah Now?’ (and if you didn’t then what is wrong with you?!), then you will love all of these. Their one and only flaw is that they are over too soon.
Said Brendan when I asked him about plans for another full album,
“that’s the next step. I’ve never sat down to write an album as one piece of work, but I’d like to. Life gets in the way though, none of us do this for a living and we are always so busy gigging.”
‘A Song For Jim’, the penultimate song of this magnificent EP, isn’t quite as manic as the others. It’s not that it’s slow, it’s just slower by comparison! Written by O’Prey, musically and thematically a recognisable child of ‘Work Away’ from Messiah (my fave track off that album), it is a heartfelt and sorrowful bittersweet requiem for Jim. I don’t know if it’s written from personal experience, the CD liner notes suggests it might be, but my word this is written and sung from the heart. It makes me wish I had known Jim, clearly a singularly special human being. I cannot wait to see this done live, the entire audience will go crazy.
The Lagan: Alex Kidd – Drums * Big George – Bass * Our Morgan – Fiddle/keeping the lads in check * Brendan – Guitar, vocals and anger issues * Andy Mac – Tin Whistles/Hype Man.
Speaking of which, when can we get our next Lagan fix?
“We’re gonna try to hit the festival circuit a bit harder this year, hopefully get out to Europe a bit more. Our first gig of 2019 is at The Fighting Cocks in Kingston on 2nd February. It’s a free show and it’s always a good time down there. so ‘mon down and have a sing-song with us.”
As Brendan says the next Lagan is Saturday 2nd Feb at their favourite haunt The Fighting Cocks in Kingston-Upon-Thames. It’s about twenty minutes from Waterloo on the train and the gig is **FREE** so no excuses especially with a stellar line up of Blues/ Folk/ Country/ RagTime/ Jazz/ Swing from the Swamp Stomp String Band and fellow Kingstonites acoustic folk-punkers Boogedy Smak. All the details are here on the Facebook event. See thee in the moshpit!
They may have the strangest name in Celtic-Punk but Dutch band The Royal Spuds can also play a mean tune as evidenced on their fourth studio production, a brand new EP, titled Unforgotten Lore.
Wherever these guys got their name from I do not know but since their formation back in 2012 The royal Spuds have been pushing their version of Spud-Rock to the masses. It is certainly true that growing up in a Irish household you do come to the conclusion that the potato is king! Both their debut album Wanted Drunk and Alive and It’s A Feckin’ Freakshow were voted into the Top 10 and 20 over at Irish Pub Radio as well as reaching the heights in the Celtic-Folk-Punk site lists as well.
(have a listen to It’s A Feckin’ Freakshow on the Bandcamp player below)
The boys have toured the length and breadth of the Netherlands and played most of the alternative festivals the country has to offer. They have even managed a tour of Ireland in 2015 and in 2017 ventured further afield across Europe and as they say
“just like any salty spud, once you have had a taste of their powerful music, you will be left craving for more”.
The Royal Spuds are of course available for gigs, festivals and concerts in the Netherlands and abroad.
Coming out in the gap between Christmas Day and New Years Day Forgotten Lore may not have been blessed the most perfect release date but they celebrated it well with a bumper sell-out gig in their home town. The EP begins with ‘The Arrival’ one of several songs here penned by lead singer Maarten. It is cut from the same cloth as the recent upsurge in acapello singing of songs like ‘Old Maui’. The sound of chains and the ocean with the boys belting out the chorus of “Unforgotten Lore”. The song comes to an abrupt end and we are straight into ‘I’m Too Old For This’ and some fast paced melodic Celtic-Punk. The bends in Europe certainly love their flute and though I was late to realise that I actually liked it in Celtic-Punk I am most definitely a convert to it now and Mickey’s playing is superb. Chuck in a guitar solo as well as accordion, banjo and mandolin and we off to an absolute flyer. Needless to say Maarten’s vocals are as clear as the proverbial bell and his English as good (indeed better!) as any English speaking band you’ll find. Next up is the EP’s first cover song. The band have chosen well with ‘Johnny Jump Up’, a lively energetic trad Irish folk song that may surprise some in that it only dates from the 70’s. The song tells of an Cork man who gets in a whole load of trouble thanks to drinking too much extra-extra-strong cider. It’s a popular song on the circuit and deservedly so and The Royal Spuds do it justice.
“So if ever you go down to Cork by the sea
Stay out of the ale house and take it from me
If you want to stay sane don’t you dare take a sup
Of that devil drink cider called Johnny Jump Up”
Its played fast but with a style that would impress both folkies and punkers. ‘The Man’ is one of my favourites here and exposes in me what it is so good about Celtic-Punk generally. I find myself drawn to both the folky ballads and fast punk songs and ‘The Man’ is the closest they come to a ballad here, though not really that close really. Catchy and based somewhat, but no means exclusively, on the auld Pogues number ‘I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday’ it’s a great wee number with all the Celtic instruments coming together beautifully with the vocal chords of the band getting a nice work out with the ‘OOOOOhhhhh’ chorus. The song speeds up at the end with a really nice Irish folk flourish showing these guys know wht they about. A more traditional Celtic-Punker follows with ‘Alley In Killarney’ a drinking song about getting lashed in Kerry. Mickey is back with accordion this time, the talented bastard!, and Maarten gives it a bit extra with the vocals. A cracker of a tune.
Too often Celtic-Punk is though to be only about the music of Irealnd and Scotland but their are seven Celtic nations and The Royal Spuds visit there next with the ‘Tri Martolod’. A traditional Breton song dated back to the 1800’s in Lower Brittany. Made famous by it’s recording by the famous Breton harpist Alan Stivell in the 1970’s. The Royal Spuds version is utterly fantastic and the highlight of the album for me. At a whopping six and a half minutes the song is given time to develop and not once do you start to tire of it. Beginning with a 70’s Folk-Rock vibe the song twists and turns even with time to inject a touch of ska into it. All the songs on Unforgotten Lore are sung in perfect in English and while we don’t mind that it’s not something that matters so was nice to hear the story of three young sailors who leave Brittany for Newfoundland and find love sung in it’s absolutely perfect native Breton! The EP ends with the jolly ‘The Last Wild Haggis’ and they go out on another high with a song about that elusive Scots creature the haggis. While the song almost punks out the band rein it in a bit stopping just short but another cracking song and given over five minutes to evolve.
Their has always been a fantastic scene in the Netherlands and while the bands there do share some similarities they are all different enough to survive independently. The Royal Spuds are on the folkier side of things while still having more than enough punk to keep us all happy. An excellent EP that impressed me no end and to have a song in a Celtic language has even impressed me that bit more!
Start Your Engines EP (2012) * Wanted: Drunk ‘n’ Alive (2013) * It’s a Feckin’ Freakshow (2015)
Buy Unforgotten Lore
Download(-Apple/Spotify/Google/Deezer etc.,) For physical CD’s contact the band
With only a handful of last year’s releases to go before we unveil our Best Of lists it dawned on our man in Cavan, Shane, we could present two Aussie bands for the price of one so here are two of the best Celtic-Punk bands rocking it on the underside of the world. Handsome Young Strangers and The Dangerous Folk may play music from the same genre but together they also show the great diversity in the scene.
Handsome Young Strangers. ‘The Bleeding Bridge’ EP.
Sydney based Handsome Young Strangers have just released The Bleeding Bridge mini album which is the ninth release from the band in their almost 15 years of existence. The Sydney bush / folk outfit describe their style of music as Bushranger core. The mini album is release on the Tasmanian Label ‘Folk ‘Til Ya Punk’ who have also signed bands such as The Ramshackle Army, Fox N Firkin and The Dead Maggies. If, like me, you haven’t listened to HYS much before now this is an ideal introduction. I’m not quite sure how or why I haven’t been listening to them more regularly but I will definitely be making up for that. The new mini album contains three new original tracks ‘Coming Home’, ‘The Bleeding Bridge’ and ‘The Rose Hill Packet’. It also features a brilliant version of the Aussie traditional tune ‘Limejuice Tub’ and a cover of the Triffid’s ‘Wide Open Road’. My personal favourite on the mini album is ‘Limejuice Tub’ which have a very distinctive Aussie Folk Punk sound. The band have been touring Australia extensively from coast to coast over the years covering everything from small clubs to the larger festivals. HYS is made up of 6 core members and features regular guests. They have recently added Edward Lawlor (Medusas Wake (Mandolin & Vocals)) to their line up. Special guests on the new release include Jason Walker (Pedal Steel), Ben Pattinson (Squeeze Box), Michael Carpenter (Piano) and Luke Moller (Fiddle). HYS are planning to release a full new album in 2019. If its anywhere nearly as good as ‘The Bleeding Bridge’ then we are in for another treat.
As 2018 drew to a conclusion we received the debut EP from The Dangerous Folk all the way from Brisbane, Australia. Prior to this we had only heard snippets from the band on social media. In 2018 they released a video for the song ‘Shipping it up to Brisbane’ which I suppose drew our attention for obvious reasons. The band has been going for about two years now and their music has been described as Guinness fuelled Celtic Punk. The style of music is definitely more early days Dropkick Murphys than Flogging Molly and is played at a high intensity and tempo. The ep titled ‘One’ features a total of 5 tunes opening with ‘Shipping It Up to Brisbane’. The other songs on the ep are: • ‘Sayeno’ • ‘Inch’ • ‘The Brigade’ • ‘Spike it up’ You’re probably sick of listening to ramble on about Celtic Punk bands from Australia but we can’t help it. They just keep emerging and each one is as good as the last (if not better). The Dangerous Folk are another shining example of what the Aussies have to offer the scene and I have no doubt its not the last we will be hearing from them. If you’re lucky enough to be over that part of the world anytime soon be sure to look them. If not, then get your hands on a copy of the ep ‘One’ and give it a spin. Either way I can safely say you won’t be disappointed.
Every year we are completely shocked by the sheer number of Celtic-Punk releases we receive here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS. As happy as this makes us it unfortunately means that we cannot keep up with everything out there. Sometimes we will receive music that we simply don’t have time to give a review to and others just simply get lost in the ether so every year we have a week at the end of the year to catch up with the ones we missed first time round. We prefer to do 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 in Part One we will be concentrating on releases from the Celtic nations. In a few days time we will head to Europe and then we will focus on the America’s so please be sure to check back.
The older I get the more and more I get back into Rockabilly I have to tell you. Having grown up listening to Elvis and The Dubliners at my Mammy’s knee this hasn’t been too much of a shock to anyone in my family as they are all rock’n’rollers. My Mammy would definitly approve of Craic’n’Roll. Basically a duo of fantastic Irish singer Donna Dunne and London based psychobilly legend Phil Doyle once of legendary Dublin psychos the Klingonz. The Early House is ten songs of mostly gentle rockin’ acoustic rock’n’roll with the odd flash of something a bit harder. Donna’s voice is utterly fantastic and although she is probably sick and tired of being compared to Imelda May its a very favourable comparison I think. The album is a lovely mix of a few well chosen covers and their own compositions of which the Guinness tinged title track about a pub called The Early House, the 50’s style ‘Treat Me Nice’ and the bonus track ‘Arizona Sky’ with full band backing are the highlights.
Donna released one of my favourite albums of last year called Voodoo that I heartily recommend and still play all the time. She’s got one hell of a voice and it gets a good workout here. Donna seems to be always busy juggling several different projects at once and hopefully Craic’n’Roll won’t be put on a back burner and will be back again soon.
Having already milked the Greatest Hits market a couple of Christmasses ago Damien Dempsey has released this unashamed Christmas cash-in album but unlike the sweet and sickly Christmas album’s that we’re use to this does have some redeeming features. Damo hails from the north of Dublin and is, I suppose, as famous for his affected vocals as any song he has written. A renowned singer-songwriter his last couple of albums have left me fairly cold bar one or two songs and here on his latest their are no new compositions just a selection of fourteen of his better known songs or ones he has performed and given a bit of spit’n’polish and recorded with some of the bigger names in the Irish and folk scenes. So we have Damo collaborating with the likes of John Grant on ‘Soulsun’, Kate Tempest on ‘A Child is An Open Book’, Imelda May on ‘Big Big Love’, and even rapper Maverick Sabre on ‘You’re Like the Water’. It’s all strong stuff and each collaboration is worthy of further experimentation as Damo continues his quest to wrap Irish folk around every kind of music possible though we still waiting on that Celtic-Punk number mate! The highlights for me are ‘Singing Bird’ with the legend that is Finbar Furey and as amazing a version of the rebel ballad ‘Kevin Barry’ with Damo accompanied by an understated Seamus Begley.
Back in the early days of his career the Dublin intelligensee scoffed at Damo and his mainly working class audience who not only got what he was singing about but also liked the idea of someone with their accent singing it. He’s become part of the furniture in Ireland now, reluctantly I would guess, but he’s still with the ability to turn a head and if you can release an album like this and have no one question your integrity then that definitly means something.
Proper authentic Celtic Celtic-Punk from the ancient kingdom of Kernow and the small fishing village of Portreath. Pirate Copy were formed in December, 2011 and have featured on these pages a couple of time before with a couple of EP previous releases but now is time for their debut album. Swashbuckle And Swagger is released on the appropriatly named Black Sail Records and is twelve songs of over forty minutes of high octane shouty punk rock about pirates. They may have no Celtic instruments in the band and Pirate Copy are most certainly a punk band but they make use of Celtic/Pirate tunes and arrangements and as it’s as catchy as anything you’ll hear with a mandolin I think its fair enough to grab them for our wee scene!
Pirate Copy: The Admiral – Bass * Ashtiki The Caveman – Drums * Johnny ‘Danger’ Danger – Guitar, Vocals and being crushed underfoot The Captain – Vocals.
Several highlights here including the first single release from the album ‘Reckless Alice’ based on a true story about a drunken lass called Alice who after a night on the lash in Torquay, nicked a ferry, declared herself a pirate then crashed the ferry, trashing everything in sight, and got arrested. Hilarious! The rest of the album veers from songs based on stories from the rich history of the south-west coast of England steeped in smuggling, rebellion and general buccaneering to more modern day tracks like ‘Somalian Pirates Suck’ and ‘Kicked Out The Pub’ all done with tongue firmly in cheek and with bottles of Rum on standby. Vocalist Cap’n Kernow has a strong growl that fits the music superbly and the rest of the band chugg away to their hearts content and while some of the songs may go on a tad too long this is the kind of punk rock that come’s into it’s own live on stage which is where they shine. Feel good punk rock with a wide appeal and hopefully 2019 promises to be a special year for Pirate Copy which will see them come busting out of Kernow over the English border and with appearances at many a festival coming up be sure to keep an eye out for them on the circuit. A dirty dozen ditties that clocks in at forty-two minutes all marinated in rum and ready to pillage your eardrums!
More traditional Celtic-Punk from a somewhat lesser known Celtic nation with the Falperrys second album Nova Abordagem. The Falperrys were formed in 2010 and hail from Vigo in seventh Celtic nation of Galicia. Released in June we only got a copy when one of the band sent us one just like the others here fully deserved a more detailed review but with time was against us. The albums title in English is New Approach but they sound just the old brilliant Falperrys to me! A seven piece fast as feck accordion led Celtic-Punk band. In fact it is the dual sound of Manolo’s accordion and Don Xosé’s thrashy guitar that gives Falperrys their sound. Thirteen tracks here packed with energy and all expertly played. Mostly Falpeerrys own composiotions but with a handful of covers like ‘Nove Crozes’ which is a cover of Irish folk legends ‘Go On Home British Soldiers’ while The Pogues ‘Streams of Whiskey’ and ‘The Irish Rover get a Galician make-over along with the famous instrumental ‘John Ryan’s Polka’. Well known musicians Rubén de Donramiro, Suso Soak, Sime Keltoi!, María de Gaioso, Kg o Boticario and María de Gaioso from the Galician folk and rock scene guest on this brilliant album.
Falperrys know their way round a cover but as is usual it is with their own material they are the strongest with opening track ‘O Meu Alento’, ‘Aboiado’ and ‘Taberneiro’ standing out but my absolute fave here is the album closer ‘Arousa’ which is just pure traditional folk heaven. The lads show they can play their instruments here and knock out one hell of a tune. We nearly brought them over to play in LOndon a few years ago with a friend of ours who was living in London but he returned home to Vigo and the plan never came to fruitition. It is said that Galicia and Ireland in particular have much in common with the weather and music being just two things and their is no mistaking the Galician love of Celtic music and culture. Located Occupied in the green and lush north-west corner of Spain and faces out towards the Atlantic ocean it is also known as ‘the land of the 1000 rivers’. They have their own language which we are proud to say that the Falperrys are one of a small group of Celtic Celtic-Punk bands to use regularly. Celtic customs are embedded in Galician culture with the bagpipesthe national symbol of the country. Gaitas, as the pipes are called locally, rule Galician music and the city of Ourense alone has over 5,000 registered bagpipers. A fantastic album and I am sure they are a belting band to see live too. The album is available as a Pay Whatever You Want download which means the band would like you to have it for free if you don’t have much money but please leave enough for a Guinness or two if you do.
So ends the first part of our 2018 Round-Up’s and 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.
A Snake’s a Snake is the brand new EP from Dorset’s finest ramshackle Americana-Country-Folk-Punk band The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show released on Musical Bear Records.
The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show formed in 2016 and have rapidly become firm favourites on the south coast music festival scene in a short time. Described as ‘Heartfelt, Ramshackle Country Punk’ they have built up a good following and are becoming known for their riotous live shows. They released their debut album ‘Weeding Out The Wicked’ last year but as far as I know didn’t really escape their home base. This year they have released two EP’s ‘Float Your Boat’ and, this one, ‘A Snake’s A Snake’ and are aiming to begin 2019 with another. Things are definitly on the move for The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show so be sure to watch out for them next year.
The EP begins with the title track, ‘A Snakes A Snake’, and from the off it bounces along with a catchy air to it. It’s very much a product of the part of England they come from with an abundance of bands playing this kind of folky-catchy-country-punk. They are what I use to call a ‘Festival Band’ back in my youth. Dorset seems to churn out bands like this willy-nilly while the rest of the country barely manages a couple per town! I mean you count the number of bands in London on one hand. The song is pure great stuff. The kind of track that is guaranteed to get you up off your arse and bouncing around a field somewhere near the South-West coast. Influences galore mashed together and with a staggering eight members they sure cook up an interesting sound. Banjos, acoustic guitars, accordion and violin compete nicely for your attention while vocalist Mark explains his views on the deceitful world of the bastard and ethics.
‘Flood’ is up next and if I was to pigeonhole this band then perched somewhere between The Levellers and New Model Army would perhaps be it. Mark’s vocals are perfect and it’s great that he doesn’t ry too hard with them delivered in a completely natural way. The band have a bit more bite in this song and even an electric guitar can be heard though it’s not exactly thrashing! Still another great song that leads us into the gentle ballad ‘Sick And Tired’ where the band take it down a notch while fiddle player Alison Jay takes over on vocals to sing tenderly about the break-down of a relationship. A lovely song that shows the great diversity in this bands sound. Now this where most of the reviews Of A Snakes A Snake end but we were sent one with a bonus track, ‘Putting On A Show’. It’s another gentle rocker with Mark back on vocal duties and again its beautifully understated.
The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show show perfectly on this EP what they are all about. At times threatening to burst your eardrums in that way only an eight-piece acoustic Folk-Punk band can and at others so gentle and tender you shouldn’t really be listening to the same band but you know you are.
Buy A Snakes A Snakes
Contact the band via email@example.com or you can buy their debut album here
Contact The Two Man Travelling Medicine Show Facebook
Get your **FREE DOWNLOAD** of Austrian Highland Punk-Rockers Scotch debut EP!
Far too often bands from outside the Celtic diaspora seem to think that Celtic-Punk is solely down to the influence of the Irish when in fact every Celtic nation should be credited. Today’s band give it away in their name where they get the majority of their sound from. Scotch hail from the small town of Weyer in Upper Austria and and have been together since 2013. Their debut album, Scotch The World, hit the streets on 8th March, 2013 and was twelve tracks of nearly all original Scotch songs with Scottish bagpipes and Irish tin-whistle put to dynamic punk rock beats. You can hear that debut album below on the Bandcamp player.
New release Last In The Bar kicks off with the auld sea-shanty ‘Bully In The Alley’ but brought bang up to date from it’s 17th century roots in Africa. The ‘bully’ of the title refers to being shitfaced as we might say today. The song begins as a group acapello version before the music kicks in and we end with a fast and furious 105 seconds of bagpipe driven punk rock. Gégé’s vocals are absolutely crystal clear and sound so authentically American I had to double check where they were from! Second track is ‘Tough Punks’ and Scotch tear into punk bands that are play at being punk. Great, funny lyrics that remind me of oh so many bands I have known over the years.
There is a new breed of European Celtic-Punk that really knows how to promote themselves through You Tube and Scotch are one of them. Take a look at the video for ‘Generation Fun’ and you’ll see what I mean. A hilarious story to accompany as finer a slab of Celtic-Pop-Punk as I’ve heard in a while. Imagine NOFX or Pennywise but with a bangin’ bagpiper and your almost there.
The fun continues with ‘Liar, Liar’ with more of the same melodic punk rock and pipes, except with the added distant sound of reggae, before title track ‘Last In The Bar’ hits the waves. Another cracking video for you to watch and the Bhoys pull out all the stops here with rumbling bass and wailing pipes.
And so we come to the final track on this EP and ‘Keep Rolling’ is a great way to go out. An epic sound that builds and builds and tells a good story too. Twenty minutes of original Scotch material that is over far too early and I am already looking forward to a full album.
Last In The Bar was released on 5th October 5 this year and was recorded, mixed and mastered by Matthias Reithofer at Far Beyond Recording studios. He has done a grand job as the EP is absolutely faultless. Musically It would appeal to fans of the Dropkick Murphys style of music from a decade ago with the mix of pipes and punk. The band have christened their style as ‘Highland Punk Rock’ and yeah that sounds about right! Now the interesting bit for you simply click on the link below and be directed to a free download of Last In The Bar. Yes, free!!! So don’t delay get to your lap-top and get downloading…
One of the biggest pullers on the London Irish scene Celtic-folkers The Craicheads are back with an 4-track EP the follow up to their debut album and a taster for their new studio album due next year!
There are two Irish communities living in London. The Irish and the London-Irish. The Craicheads are London-Irish through and through. A product of their environment on the working-class streets of London where the Irish ran everything. Nowadays London is a multicultural place where every nation in the world has rocked up to and the presence of the Irish in it has diminished in a couple of ways. For decades the public face of the Irish was the pub. Only a decade ago Irish pubs dominated the high streets of the capital but gentrification and changing demographics and the ever increasing need to build flats for young yuppies professionals has seen 100’s and 100’s closed over the last few years. On top of that, the ageing population has sadly seen many of the Irish who arrived in the glory days of Irish emigration from the 50’s through to the 80’s either pass away or move back home in retirement. Nevertheless their is a rich vein of Irishness still alive and kicking in the capital and it wouldn’t be unusual to go to an Irish pub these days and find the Irish born well outnumbered by the Irish not born in Ireland!
Music has played an enormous part in this and yeah bands like The Pogues did truly represent us back in the day but more modern bands like The Bible Code Sundays continue the trend. All over London, and other parts of England, Wales and Scotland, the foreign born Irish celebrate their ancestors and their roots listening and singing along to fellow foreign born Irish bands and singers. Into this category we can add the wonderful Craicheads. Formed a decade ago the Bhoys are in constant demand playing in and around the capital and at functions and festivals throughout the UK and abroad. Performances on ITV’s This Morning, at Trafalgar Square for the 2016 St Patrick’s Day festivals, The Irish Post Awards and at The Rugby World Cup too, as well as a residency at one of London’s largest and most well known Irish bars, O’Neills in the west end. They have one release behind them, ‘Brewed In London’, which was basically an album of Irish folk and country tinged covers which was well played and enthusiastically received but it was the two original Craichead compositions on the album that stuck out for me. ‘Take Me Back To Harrow’ and ‘Sligo Shore’ showed exactly what they can do and I never stopped hinting to Mick the bands singer when I would see him that they ought to concentrate on some original material. Well I have gotten my wish!!
The Craicheads from left to right: Sean Douglas- Bass * Ben Gunnery- Fiddle/Whistle/Flute * Mick O’Beirne- Guitar/Lead Vocals * Martin Stewart- Drums * Tim Eyles: Lead Guitar/Mandolin *
It’s a wee bit of a change of direction for them and I can honestly say its for the better. Watching them in O’Neills, as I have done countless times, you come away knowing a couple of things. 1) That you have had a bloody great time and 2) that these guys are wasted on the London pub scene! The songs here are still tinged with folk, country, blues and even good old fashioned rock’n’roll but there’s a bite to these songs that was missing before. Maybe its a bit of punk attitude but as a taster for the upcoming Craicheads second album this will certainly get the juices flowing.
Greetings From Another Land was recorded many miles from London at the Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Cymru. The studio has in the past played host to such legends as Oasis, Joe Strummer, The Stone Rose’s and Queen. In fact it’s was here where Freddy Mercury wrote the epic song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’! The EP kicks off with the rousing title-track ‘Greetings From Another Land’ where Mick’s voice sits snugly between fellow London-Irishmen Johnny Rotten and Shane MacGowan but still completely tuneful! The song takes the form of a message from one generation to the next about their experiences and the struggles they faced in emigrating to these shores.
“No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish was the sign upon the wall, It’s hard now to believe it but it happened to us all”
Times were tough for those Paddies and Biddies we must never forget. The song itself takes in a ska/reggae beat, appropriately enough, alongside some fantastic fast trad Irish. The Irish lived side by side with the West Indian communities on arrival here in London’s poorest areas and many of their children still do.
A cracker of an opener with more than a hint of the Bible Code’s Celtic-Rock but lifted by the influences from around London. All the required instrumentation is here and played, as you’d expect, absolutely note perfect. They follow this up with ‘The Ballad Of John Joyce’, a song about vocalist Mick’s Grandad John Joyce from Connemara. Arriving in England from the Gaeltacht (where only Irish was spoken) with no English he got a job working down the coal mines in Wales, then to London and starting work and raising a family. It’s down to such legends in our lives that we are Irish. Here The Craicheads give it some Country’n’Irish with a snappy, catchy tune with Ben’s fantastic fiddle and tin-whistle moving it along nicely. It’s hard to imagine what he must have gone through to leave the green fields of home to go to work two miles underground. It literally must have seemed like another planet. On ‘Larry’s Song’ Mick tells the story of a man he worked with many moons ago. Like many of these long gone Irish over here, they all had a story to tell. A great hurler from Gort, Co Galway he helped the young Mick figure out what life was all about. His advice be sure to chase your dreams is truly good advice. The slowest song here though not quite a ballad but some lovely Irish folk played under Mick’s voice who proves he can still hit the notes when needed. A beautiful song with a strong and positive message. Class.
We’re rolling up to the end and the curtain comes down on Greetings From Another Land with ‘Leave Me Alone’ and The Craicheads go out in style with a knockabout Poguesy Celtic-Punk number. Telling the story of a man looking for a bit of peace and quiet away from it all down the boozer who won’t be left alone. Yeah there is still a trace of country still in there but its fast and furious and a great way to end things. Four new songs that are knocked out with power, passion and pride and it would be criminal if The Craicheads were confined to the pubs of London town. We will keep you posted as to when the full length album will be delivered but we must never forget that we built the roads, schools, hospitals (and staffed them too), tubes and plenty more besides in London and we have a not too shabby musical legacy to be proud of as well.
Combining Gypsy rhythms and punk energy, ska grooves and folk storytelling, The Brandy Thieves have created a sound that is uniquely their own, a sound that has stolen the hearts of all of whom that have seen them perform. Stephen Francis Bourke was at the release party at the Soundhouse Leicester for London Celtic Punks.
Already renowned as one of the Midland’s best live acts, The Brandy Thieves gypsy rhythms and punk energy, ska grooves and folk storytelling create a sound that is uniquely their own. ‘Raucous’ ‘Infectious’ ‘Enthralling’ ‘Captivating’ and ‘Sweaty’ are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the alcohol stealing gypsy punks. Now they have taken a new direction, embracing grass roots Americana in the form of new EP ‘The Devil’s Wine’.
Chatting to the punters ahead of the EP, ‘The Devil’s Wine’ launch at the Soundhouse in Leicester it became clear that I was in for “a hellava good show!”. The Brandy Thieves have a varied local fan base from punks that are old enough to remember seeing The Clash at Granby Halls, now a car park for The Tigers Rugby ground, to ska fans who had been encapsulated by the Two Tone launch just up the M69, through to ex-ravers disillusioned by the commercialisation of the scene, bearded lovers of country folk and exuberant students.
In a week when the City had come together in grief following the tragic loss of the football club’s beloved chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha they needed something to celebrate, felt when Demarai Gray’s strike put the winner in for the club on Saturday, felt on this Friday night. In short, there was a lot of love in the room.
This was more than a gig. We had a magician compère, fortune telling, belly dancers and free shots of brandy. Having already appeared on Monday at a London Celtic Punks show TC Costello, self proclaimed punk folk accordion player and part time Brandy Thief entertained the crowd with his highly entertaining solo slot, The Splitters supported with their tight, edgy rock/ska sound with added sound effects, like the embodiment of Mick Jones’ mind somewhere between the Sandinista album and Big Audio Dynamite. They played their way right through a blown amp!
Then we had the main event.
The Brandy Thieves are a live band, first and foremost. They told me that when they write the songs Andrea and Cain bring the lyrics to the rehearsal and the arrangement is done by the whole group. The first album ‘Old Tattoos’ has that live feel, ‘ The Devil’s Wine’ demonstrates just how in tune with one another’s mood the Brandy Thieves must be.
Photos by Philip Vernon
So how does the collection of new songs fit in? – Well the lyrical themes of earlier songs continue. A folk lore devil is ever present, right down to the title of the EP. He’s a curse to the protagonists of the ballads and an ever present feeling that the ‘old one’ may well have the best tunes. ‘Down the River’ is a personal lament of battling demons inside. The track was an early taste of the forthcoming EP and works well as a bridge from the old ska/punk folk beats of the first album ‘Old Tattoos’ towards the new cooler sharper sound of ‘Devils Wine’ by providing a gospel blues feel with the more familiar reggae beats.
For the new EP marks the Brandy Thieves anew. Like they took the Chattanooga choo choo, picking the grapes and grain of Americana music on the way and distilling a spirit of their own into ‘The Devil’s Wine’.
Andrea’s vocals are just as powerful but smokier and melodic throughout. Listen to her scat on jazz blues inspired ‘Midnight Circus’ and all of their voices come through the intro of the EP, an untitled drinking song in the form of a spiritual for the 21st Century, reminding us, in Brandy Thieves style, of our own mortality.
Joe’s trumpet and Sebastion’s banjo have been let off the leash of the rhythm section to offer encapsulating melodies and freestyle solos. Hear the horn sing with TC Costello’s accordion on ‘Midnight Circus’and the hauntingly restrained banjo, echoing southern gothic on ‘ This Mountain’, while Chris’ tight drum beats and Cain’s waking bass riffs have taken up their rightful role as the heartbeat of the band, saying “keep cool, we’ve got this”. the aforementioned ‘Midnight Circus’ is as rhythmically rolling as a Stray Cat Strut.
Gone on ‘The Devil’s Wine’ are the runaway mixed tempos of ‘Old Tattoos’ although they still went down well during the show, taking the crowd from swaying folksy singalongs and then distinctively upping the tempo in a ‘1,2,3,4!’ punk/ska rhythm to get them jigging and pogoing with abandonment. Whether that was ‘Didikai Lee’; The hurdy-gurdiness of ‘Broken Record’ or title track of the first album itself; ‘Old Tattoos’ this was the case tonight. The exceptions are ‘Molly Malone’ a swaying murder ballad reminiscent of the classic traditional song ‘Rose Connelly’ and on the night an acoustic version of ‘Blackbird’ that had loyal fans singing along, both these tunes will, I imagine, be mainstays of the band whatever direction they take.
The Brandy Thieves have evolved away from ska. This was acknowledged midway through the gig when they covered Toots and the Maytals’ ’54-46 Was My Number’ saying that this would, probably, be the last time their Leicester faithful would hear it, and then playing it with the gusto of saying goodbye to an old friend. Now we have a sound that is just as comfortable for the listener at home or played in the car as it is live. ‘Girl from the Black County’ with a clear acoustic guitar, plucking banjo and singing accordion wouldn’t sound out of place blasted on the eight track of a classic 1970’s Chevy pick up as it kicks up dust from the road on the way to see Billy Jo Spears at the Whiskey River.
The Brandy Thieves are bringing their sweaty, dancing, skanking frenzy to London on Saturday 17th November at the Hootananny in Brixton. Plenty of bands on so check the Facebook event herefor details. Its free to get in before 10pm and gig ends at 3am. Hootananny Brixton, 95 Effra Road, Brixton, London SW2 1DF.