Category Archives: Folk-Punk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And you know how the story ends”

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

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

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

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE KILLIGANS- ‘Dance on Your Grave’ (2018)

The Killigans are a Celtic-Punk band from Lincoln, Nebraska. Now over a decade young, they are honed and steeled for action. Glass-raising anthems for tenacious underdogs, lonely vagabonds and anyone who’s just trying to make it in this world. 

Born in a filthy garage in 2004 The Killigans have gone through various personel changes in their time together but have kept at their core a set of foot-stomping beer-loving raucous anthemic numbers drawing from traditional Celtic music along with streetpunk, gritty rock’n’roll and working class country music. Having become one of the most popular bands in the Nebraskan music scene they have gained a rapidly growing army of fans across the States and overseas as well. One of the highlights of their early career came in 2010 when their song ‘Lessons from the Empty Glass’ was used on the soundtrack to the big budget Universal Studios hit move Robin Hood. Dance On Your Grave is The Killigans fifth album and their development over the years is plain for all to see. From the rough and ready Irish folk-punk of 2006’s Brown Bottle Hymnal to 2010’s Honor which saw them shift towards a more stripped down punk sound and then to their last album Another Round For The Strong Of Heart from October 2012 which saw them raise the bar with their best release to date with a collection of songs that took the catchy Irish Celtic-Punk of their early days and the anthemic punk of Honor and combined the two for something particularly special that will go down as one of the best album’s that the Celtic-Punk genre has ever produced. Not bad for a bunch of working-class blokes from flyover country!
Dance On Your Grave was five years in the making with some of these songs three or four years old. The Bhoys admit to having lost motivation and to having run of steam. After all their lives had changed from young raggamuffins to being middle aged family guys 
“We never meant for the music to stop, and it has shaped us and our families along the way.  Its just been a lot more difficult for us to make new music happen.  I like to think we have a lot more to offer in the way of songwriting than a couple 22 year old punks who have been on their own for a couple years.”
The Killigans have endured a lot of life and one thing that has always shone through with their releases is their utter honesty. A straight up band that has always played a straight deal. Dance On Your Grave carries on from where Another Round for the Strong of Heart left off. Hardly surprising as that era is from when many of the songs here were written or first imagined with old drummer Ben Swift starting the writing process that new drummer Mikey Elfers would help finish by coaxing the band into actually finishing the album! 

The Killigans left to right: Trevor- Bass * Brad- Vocals, Accoustic Guitar * Mikey- Drums * Pat-  Accordion, Mandolin, Trumpet, Organ * Greg- Guitar * Chris- Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin, Harmonica, Trombone *

The album saw the light of day on  April 28th this year and kicks off with Throw It Away’ and shows a maturity that comes with middle age but the Bhoys still play with a wild abandon that brings to mind early Flogging Molly. The era when they combined folk and punk perfectly and had their audiences both slam dancing and jigging away. It’s fast and furious and with lyrics that show The Killigans may not have stayed still but know what we love in the Celtic-Punk scene and are more than willing to give it us! Second song ‘Peducah’ was the first release of the album and begins with an accordion gypsy flourish before trumpet and trombone come in adding a somewhat ska’ish sound while the pace never slows. Even more surprising is that they are not guest musicians but brothers Chris and Pat who play a multitude of instruments for the band including mandolin and accordion. Third brother Trevor plays bass in the band. Its trad Celtic-Punk and it don’t get any better!

The songs are short and snappy and played at breakneck speed like ‘One Angry Voice’ which could easily fit in any punk rock play list. The words decry the way has become a fashion and the values and spirit of why it exists are fading. When punks would rather spend £30 to go to a gig or £100 to go to a festival rather than a local pub down the road then I’m afraid punk has a terminal disease. Putting on gigs here in London it is something I noticed get worse over the years as promoters and bands struggle to get people to come a gig for £3 or a fiver when everyone is up the road watching some reformed old fogie punks at £30+ a ticket.

“Fact is I’m getting older but if the honest truth be told

There’s something changed about punk rock

What does it stand for?

Is it a t-shirt and a drug scene? A hairdo and a piercing?

We think it’s more!

It’s the kid awake at midnight, living life how it feels right

Though his parents are concerned and think him strange

And at school the students shun him, and the teachers make fun of him

But he knows in the end he’s gonna make a change!”

The album takes a folky turn with ‘Burn It Down’ and I’m a bit of an old fogie myself as these days its the folkier songs that i like more than the punky ones. Not to say it don’t have a punk edge and it speeds up nicely mid-way. The accordion and brass instruments make for a great combination and Brad’s vocals fit perfectly beside the music. The Dropkicks rear their ugly heads for ‘Fight Today (Knock Them Down)’ with a killer chorus the Bostonians would die for. Over far too quickly its a beaut of a song loud and proud and aggressive. We back in Molly territory for the next bunch of songs with ‘The Best Words’ played like FM on speed and with ‘Bartender’ you get another song that plays like fast FM but are in fact two quite different songs. I don’t like to compare a band too much to others and you would be wrong to take away from this review that The Killigans are just a Flogging Molly band as their sound is completely their own and if you go back and trace their trajectory from their early days its easy to see where they have come to. For ‘Particle Board’ the band put their heads down and plough through a fast punk number and on ‘All Good Men’ they play to their strengths with fast paced Celtic influenced punk with Brads voice strong and clear. ‘Cracked Rear View’ is one of the songs they began after last album way back in 2012 and begins with a thundering bass before the band join in and we soon end up with my album favourite. Elements of pop-punk and it sure is catchy enough to call it that. A cracking song and the Celtic takes a back seat for a couple of minutes. We are nearing the end of the album and ‘Realty Bites’ is a right proper anthem for the American working class.

“This gentrification is necessary good

A complete revitalization of your neighbourhood

A lonely puddle in  a cracked brickmavenue

Throw up a LED street light it’s as good as new”

and ends with

“This district

You’re no longer part of it”

At a time when the American left have turned their backs on the working classes by adopting the poison of identity politics its a timely reminder that they are still here and still fighting. Its another speedy song and leads into ‘Artificial Hip’ where we get thirty-six seconds of punk rock oompf before we arrive at the final and title track ‘Dance on Your Grave’. This is the bands big sound with accordion and brass coming together to wrap things up wonderfully for a sure fire dance floor filler about everyone who wronged Brad including school bullies and ex-girlfriends getting their just deserts!

So The Killigans are back with a bang and maybe not one for the more folk inclined it certainly rocks along and if you miss the early days of Flogging Molly then this is the album for you. Sometimes maturity doesn’t make you a better band but here The Killigans have soaked in influences from all over and come up with something that will have you wearing out your shoe leather while also giving your heart and (Celtic) soul a workout too.

(you can have a *FREE* listen to Dance On Your Grave on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!)

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if you live in Europe then please check out MacSlons shop here for their new CD, back catalogue and other merchandise.

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HUNGARIAN CELTIC-PUNK WEEK. ALBUM REVIEW #1: FIRKIN- ‘We Are The Ones’ (2018)

Kicking off a week celebrating Hungarian Celtic-Punk we have the new album from Grammy Award-winning Budapest Irish band Firkin. Having played well over six hundred concerts in seventeen countries and it’s no wonder as they are without doubt one of the best live bands on the continent.

When you think of Celtic-Punk the first countries you would think of would be the ones that the Celtic diaspora fled to in times of despair and poverty and oppression. Well maybe that was then but these days Celtic-Punk is a truly international phenomenon and of all the countries outside of the traditional homes of Celtic-Punk no country has embraced the music quite like Hungary has. I’d be hear all day if I was to list all the bands on the scene over there but rest assured that we in England would be jealous of to have but half of them! Why exactly Hungarians have embraced the music to their hearts and ears I do not know. Maybe one of Hungarian friends can let us know. For the following week we are running a special Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week with three of the scene’s best bands all releasing albums then it makes sense to follow up last years (see 2017 here) Hungarian Celtic-Punk week with another one. So stay tuned and visit again in the week for #2 and #3.

One of the things that makes the scene there so special is the bands have all found their own niche within it and the music ranges from full on traditional folk to fast and heavy hardcore punk but today we feature one of the most prominent and internationally well known- Firkin. Formed in 2008 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest by flutist PJ, Firkin have released a whole bunch of albums and toured numerous times including playing an absolutely stunning one-off show in London on New Years Eve 2015. The gig drew in equal numbers of Hungarian ex-pats and London celtic punks that raised the bloody roof off the Dublin Castle! Certainly if putting in the hard work gets you the glory then Firkin have been working overtime to get the attention they deserve. The bands original vocalist Barna left the band amicably after recording the album Finger In The Pie in 2014 but new vocalist Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin have carried on without pause or even catching breath! Firkin have played more than 600 concerts in 16 countries and not just in Europe having toured Canada in 2011. Their debut album, Firkinful Of Beer, hit the streets in May, 2009 and within a year had gone gold. Soon after the album was nominated for a Hungarian Grammy Award, Fonogram 2010, which was followed by two further nominations in 2013 for their third album Igyunk Pálinkát! and in 2014 with their fourth album Keep On Firkin. In 2016 Firkin’s song ‘Focimese’ became the official song of the Hungarian football team for the UEFA Championships which saw Hungary storm the opening group stages before being hammered, like Ireland were, by Belguim in the knock-out round. Last year saw them grace the stage at many of Europe’s leading festivals which brings us up to date with the release of We Are The Ones which will be followed by a huge European headline tour in the Summer.

We Are The Ones is Firkin’s sixth studio album and they continue their quest to take over Europe by introducing the uninitiated to quality Irish-punk rock! Beginning with ‘All Is Well’ and its a fast start from the very first beat and Andy’s great vocals fit right in. The music flits between Springsteen heartfelt rocker and the Irish punk of their early days. ‘One More Pint’ is a tale of life passing you by but there always time for one more pint. Again Andy’s vocals sit nicely. Tuneful and shouty at the same time and in absolutely crystal clear English too! Firkin have always handled a nice ballad well and just as you think ‘Those Irish Punk Girls’ is it it flies off into fast as feck Irish punk with fiddle and flute literally leaving a stream of smoke behind them. As good a song on the album as any and a real blast from Firkin’s past. Another standout track follows with the album’s title song ‘We Are The Ones’.

A great gang chorus of “OH-H-H-H-H’s” in a song where Firkin pay tribute to their fans. Catchy as hell and will grow to be a real fan favourite I am sure.

“We are the ones who will go insane,
go mad when we are in pain.
We are the ones who might be exiled,
we’ll feel at home and smile”

Next up is ‘Lily Of The West’ and believe it or not a song that I could imagine leaving Christy Moore’s lips this one. An old song and not your typical cover version it has a real authentic Irish feel to it with the music at times bordering on trad as well as country. One for your Ma’s this one. Now its ‘Your Odyssey’ and I can’t imagine Christy singing this one! Proper Celtic-Punk with thrashy guitars maybe a little understated but still giving the song plenty of oompf. I was never a fan of the flute to be honest. That was until I saw Firkin live in concert and I was immediately converted. PJ is such an amazing musician and has an incredible stage presence that its hard to stand in awe of Firkin when they let fly. We are back in the pun now with ‘Hold My Beer’ and like a lot of bands Firkin make music to be enjoyed with a jar or two and I’m reliably informed that Hungarians like their beer so a band named after a beer measure ought to have a couple of alcohol friendly songs at least!

As we head towards the end of the album and it’s time for Firkin to dust off a few covers which they begin with the famous Dubliners trad song ‘Nancy Whisky’. A perfect song for Celtic-Punk bands to cover and Firkin serve up a great version and follow this up with perhaps the greatest (and saddest) song ever written about Irish emigration, ‘Spancil Hill’. A real tear-jerker this one and again delivered with style and given an upbeat treatment. Time for an original and Firkin have always dipped their toes into folk-metal while never quite getting their heads wet and ‘Awaken The Iron’ is as far as they venture on We Are The Ones. A great metal-folk-punk song with Andy never sounding more like a pirate in his life.

“Show a leg!
Pirates aboard! Prepare your swords
Pull out the guns and shoot a full load
Release your wrath ‘n aim the mainmast
Fight for the glory till the last breath
Remember the days, the years we fought together
Steered between waves through days and nights
This is the moment we all been living for
Awaken the iron, rats quake in their boots”

The albums fastest song gives way to ‘Galway Girl’ and this song I am sure is played hundreds of times every night on every continent on the planet and I am sure Steve Earle never imagined the hit he had had on his hands but the song is now up there at the very top of popular Irish songs. Nevertheless Firkin don’t do sloppy covers and they stamp the Firkin brand on it and mange the seemingly impossible to make it their own. We Are The Ones comes to an end with the beautiful Irish trad number ‘Flowers’ featuring the absolutely stunning voice of Hungarian folk singer Agi Szaloki. Originally called ‘The Flower Of Magherally’ it dates from 1928 and was most famously covered by Altan.

“I met my love near Banbridge Town,
My charming blooming Sally, O
And she is the crown of County Down,
The Flower of Magherally, O”

Andy shows he can really sing and what a pair of lungs he has as together they belt out a real folkie number that brings down the curtain perfectly.

So another classic Firkin album ends and with twelve songs and seven originals it’s a good balance of their own material and covers too while it steams along at such a nice pace I was surprised it was forty minutes long as it seemed to be over far too quickly. The auld Irish influence may have subsided a wee bit in favour of more typical Celtic sound but theirs no denying that Firkin are at the top of the tree when it comes to Celtic-Punk on this fair continent and long may they continue and they surely will if they continue to put out such great material.

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( A whole Firkin concert from 10th June, 2017 – Open-Air Theatre Budapest)

Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for the rest of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. Part 2 here

Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for Part 2 of Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here

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

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

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

 

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

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

“Power in the wrong hands”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only One Team In East London

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Fake News From Nowhere

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

Facebook event here

NEW FILM- STOKED: THE DREADNOUGHTS RETURN

Stoked. A documentary about The Dreadnoughts by Adam PW Smith.

|  | 17 November 2017 (Canada)

Vancouver clusterfolk legends The Dreadnoughts have returned from a six year hiatus to record a new album. Filmed in the recording studio, and drawing from an archive of photos and film clips that go right back to their second ever live show, this low budget documentary rises above its station with great characters and stories that range from enlightening to hilarious (and occasionally dubious). These liquor soaked musical heroes prove themselves to be thoughtful, as well as entertaining. Everything you ever wanted to know about the Vancouver-based celtic-punk band – and perhaps things you didn’t – can now be found in, Stoked: The Dreadnoughts Return.

After a few years away The Dreadnoughts announced their arrival back on the circuit with a utterly brilliant new album and now also a documentary film.

The 40-minute film by Adam PW Smith looks at the 10-year history of the band. It features rollicking music accompanying a mix of old and new footage, including tongue-in-cheek, sometimes raw tell-all biographies of the band members, past and present. The documentary delves into the band’s temporary hiatus and return with last November’s release of  Foreign Skies.

The film contains what some might consider inappropriate language and if you of a delicate disposition then viewer discretion is advised!

The Dreadnoughts
WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube
Adam PW Smith
WebSite  Facebook

You can also still buy ‘This Place Is Awesome’ – a Dreadnoughts tour diary written by the director of this video. It’s 2009 and music photographer Adam PW Smith flies to England to spend a week touring with The Dreadnoughts in the middle of their first European tour. Smith was in the thick of it, suffering all the standard indignities but one. The result is a book that reveals much about life as a young, touring band who bring real meaning back to the DIY ethic, and a few things about what it’s like to be a 43 year old trying to survive in that environment. Available on amazon.com http://goo.gl/Q9Cdk

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

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

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

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

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS REVIEW OF FOREIGN SKIES (DECEMBER 2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discography

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

Buy Foreign Skies B Sides

FromTheBand  Bandcamp

Contact The Dreadnoughts

WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: RED OR DEAD- ‘Trotsky Waltz’ (2018)

The self-produced and self-financed debut album from a bunch of socialist folk-punkers from North Wales who will bring down the system or fall asleep trying!
So we can safely say we are into the new year in full swing with this our first review of 2018. Released on new year’s day it’s not yer typical celtic-punk but seeing as how Red Or Dead hail from the Celtic stronghold of north Wales it certainly justifies its place here. While musically its from the same sort of path as ‘festie’ bands like The Levellers, Folk The System or even Ferocious Dog it sticks pretty much to the more modern standard of what passes for folk-punk and while I think it could benefit from a few celtic flourishes it’s fine as it is! The band formed only a couple of years after meeting while protesting outside a UKIP conference. Folk has long been a way for people to push for change and in fact the folk scene could do with a real dose of it now.

Red Or Dead left to right: Dave Sunerton Burl- Bass, Guitar * Rob Murray- Guitar, Mandolin, Vocals * Gala Elvira- Vocals * Emma Sunerton Burl- Cajon/Percussion

Trotsky Waltz begins with ‘I Am The Fire’ and if they weren’t indeed Welsh then I would be bringing the names of some classic English folk-rock bands into the equation. The most stand out thing after first listen is the use of a cajon which is one of those wooden boxes that people sit on and tap and thump instead of having a drummer. This means that it doesn’t ever really fly off into punk remaining solidly within folk. It’s a rousing start to proceedings though and its always sensible to start with a standout track I think. Lyrically its all a bit right on but does at least manage not to fall into cliche, or even worse parody. Robs vocals are strong and with Gala’s backing the two of them work brilliantly together. The following two tracks first appeared on their debut EP from last year and both have been improved on significantly. ‘No One Is Innocent’ sees Gala take over on vocals and she has a certain anarcho-punk sound to her voice reminding me of early Chumba’s perhaps. Looking back I think lot of what we called anarcho-punk back in the day would now be classed as folk-punk. Back when I first going to pubs when I was just a young spotty punk rocker the pubs and clubs use to be full of socialist folky bands, or at least the ones I went to, and how Red Or Dead would have loved those days. 
(listen to their debut release below)
‘Watch It Burn’ is like the rest of the album a call to arms, or at least the street and I will try not to overuse the word ‘catchy’ here though it is going to be hard. Gala belts out the angry ‘In America’ and its on songs like these that the band could benefit from a drummer to give the songs a bit of extra bite. Nevertheless it still trips along nicely until Rob chimes in with
“Land of the free? Fuuuuuck Off!  Land of the rich white man”
bawled out and follows a rant about the state of the nation over there in the USA. I do wonder though how Obama fits into this narrative of the “rich white man” seeing how many dead bodies he was responsible for around the world? ‘Colin Cambridge’ slows it all down and chucks in something you don’t often hear in modern day music of any genre… whistling!
(here is ‘Colin Cambridge’… minus the whistling though!)

In a song that is crying out for tin whistle I suppose you got to go with what you got in a song about privileged people who go on to do nothing with their lives. The best song since the opener is up next with ‘Steeltown’ and is a simple track beginning with acoustic guitar and mandolin and Rob singing over the top about the decimation of the working class and their industries. Coming from a coal-mining family myself I can only agree that it was the Tories and Labour who share the blame for screwing the working class. Its often been said that the Conservatives defend their class and Labour hate theirs. Wales is owed a hell of a lot by the Labour Party for a loyalty that was never deserved. ‘A New Day’ is yer standard victory is in sight song but wishful thinking methinks. While the left is obsessed by poisonous identity politics we are going absolutely nowhere.

‘Never Again’ is a well cliched song title but the song manages to be both angry and gentle and I love that they name check Jimmy Reid the old Scots trade unionist.
“Never again will I bow down to a false ideal or a faded crown”
‘All The World’ plays more of the same and for once the politics take a bit of a back seat. With influences from across punk you can hear The Clash loud and proud within ‘Travel Home’ which comes over as a tribute to ‘Armagideon Time’ and in the following song, ‘Strummer And Burnel’, Rob pays his debt to the heroes who inspired him into a life of music. Bemoaning, and quite rightly, the quality of both today’s music and today’s protest.
Students they don’t march no more the middle class won that war”
Catchy and thoughtful and with a nice bit of electric guitar that threatens to rock out but just resists. We are coming up towards the final bend and ‘Living In A Life’ is another standout number here and I feel they could certainly rock out more on numbers like this. Would still be a real foot tapper live but just in need of a little extra oomft! The album comes to an end with ‘Make A Stand’ and is the perfect way to end things with a ‘lighter waving in the air’ song.
So a whopping thirteen songs that come in at a also whopping forty-five minutes and if I’m being honest then I would say the album may have benefited from being maybe two or three songs shorter. While the cajon is absolutely fine live it does get a wee bit thumpy on disc and dare I say it monotonous. The music is catchy and solid and lyrics are straight from the heart and sometimes burn with passion making you wish the music was a bit up there too. The major criticism people have of folk-punk is that it is boring but Red Or Dead steer well clear of that and the album is very well paced and recorded with a clear and crisp production too. Unashamedly left-wing and idealistic they are the sort of band that would appeal to fans of all the usual suspects of festival bands and may well pop up playing at a political benefit near you at anytime soon.
(you can listen to the entirety of Trotsky Waltz for *FREE* below on the Bandcamp player)
Buy Trotsky Waltz
Contact Red Or Dead

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2017!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25. CELKILT (France)- ‘Stand’ here

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

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

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

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

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

Just bubbling under:

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

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

BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Taking Chances’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. CRIKWATER- ‘Crikwater’  (here)

4. BEOGA- ‘Before We Change Our Mind’

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

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

7. DAMIEN DEMPSEY- ‘Soulson’

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

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

10. ANTO MORRA- ‘From The Vaults’

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

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

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

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

CARLTON HUNT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ladies and Gentlemen, on drums.. Mr Carlton Hunt

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

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

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

FOLK’N’ROCK

PADDYROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

SHITE’n’ONIONS

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

CELTICPUNK.PL

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

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: FEROCIOUS DOG- ‘Red’ (2017)

In every musical scene every now and then a band comes along that is so good they threaten to break out and become the next big thing. That band is Ferocious Dog and that they have got to where they are solely on their own merits and without any sort of backing is simply incredible. Ferocious Dog are on the brink of something special and their new album Red will only speed them there.

Where to start with Ferocious Dog? I first came upon their name a few years ago whispered quietly upon the internet. They were formed way back in the day but for some reason they raised few eyebrows on the celtic-punk scene despite playing some of the best kick-arse celtic-punk rock you are ever likely to hear. Maybe they were missed because they were tucked away up north or we had them pigeonholed as a punky Levellers or a folky New Model Army and while those comparisons may be true there’s a whole lot more to the Ferocious Dog phenomenon than that. Originally formed back in 1988 as a duo with Ken on vocals and acoustic guitar and Dan on fiddle it wasn’t until 2010 that they took the step to becoming a full band.

It was the famed, and sadly now defunct, Paddy Punx website that first brought FD to my ears. The web site that upset every Celtic band in history by providing free links to pretty much every release by anyone that ever called themselves celtic-punk. Their description of the band as ‘English celtic-punk’ is not an oxymoron trust me and was enough to get me scurrying to my laptop and start downloading their self-titled debut album. From the very first play I knew I had to track this band down. That was back in early 2013 and you knew you were listening to something special straight away. Here was a band that bridged perfectly the folk and punk/rock scene’s perfectly. Since those days their star has risen higher and higher with the release of their acclaimed second album From Without and a bunch of absolutely brilliant EP’s and singles.

For Ferocious Dog it was the year 2015 that saw their promotion to the Premier League of alternative music. The release of From Without accompanied by two awe inspiring singles, ‘Ruby Bridges’ and ‘Slow Motion Suicide’, and a near sell out tour that went from one end of this sceptred isle to the other and across again culminated in a sell out performance in their, near, home town of Nottingham at the famed Rock City venue. The first time in that esteemed venues 35 year history that a unsigned band had sold out the venue in advance! One fan explained

“For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years. It feels like this gig was the moment things might change, they have integrity and strength and a loyal following”

Headline spots at Glastonbury followed and in the years since they have become a de-facto headliner for festivals to fight over. Any festie appearance guaranteeing bums in wigwams. Constant touring has helped to cement their position even if it did mean saying goodbye to two of the original Hounds who helped them on their way, Scott Walters and Ellis Waring.

Ferocious Dog: John Leonard- Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Bouzouki, Tin-Whistle, Uilleann Pipes, Accordion and shouting! * Ken Bonsall- Lead Singer/Acoustic Guitar * Les Carter- Lead Guitar * Dan Booth – Fiddle * John Alexander- Bass * Scott Walters- Drums

All this and without even a tiny bit of support from the record industry… and not for the want of either. Ferocious Dog are that rare thing. A band with integrity and belief. Yeah you read that right these guys have been courted by the industry and they have chosen the DIY route. No one controls the bark of this dog! The punk scene is notorious for having bands within it making all the right (on) sounds but the moment any interest is shown they are off like a shot with any principals and convictions left chucked to the floor in the haste to get on board the gravy train. None of that holds any sway for Ferocious Dog and they continue to plough their way through the alternative music scene gathering up more and more fans as they take England (and now the Netherlands!) by storm.

With new members on board, Les Carter, from indie Gods, Carter USM, multi-instrumentalist John Leonard and drummer Alex Smith, and all now firmly bedded in, Ferocious Dog have just released their third and latest album to the world. Titled Red it continues where From Without left off with more of their punk rock infused folk/Celtic sounds but with a more mature feel to it. Everything seems a progression in the FD camp from their gigs to their records and even their merchandise! The six piece band take in elements of punk, rock and reggae and mix it up with Irish and Celtic folk music and biting social commentary that comes from the ‘shop-floor’ not university lectures. The band hail from around Nottinghamshire, a working class area that once was famed for its industry and among the areas most important was coal-mining. In the famed 1984-85 miners strike the majority of Nottinghamshire’s miners sided with the government against their own trade union causing splits among friends, family and work-mates and it’s no exaggeration to say that civil war was breaking out in many mining communities across Britain. My own father worked at a coal mine across the border from Notts in South Yorkshire and never spoke to his strike-breaking brother again, not even attending his funeral. Real life experiences that shape and change minds and whole communities. The politics on Red are from the heart and from the working class. From where real politics come from.

One of the things that has enabled Ferocious Dog to achieve what they have done is the high degree of loyalty they bring out of their fans. Known as ‘Hell Hounds’, taking their name from a song from their debut album, its not unknown for fans to follow the band around the country from gig to gig and its a loyalty that is well deserved. A friendly bunch who make every gig an event and their lively mosh pits are welcome to all. Having seen them play now countless times I can assure you that the Hell Hounds make sure every gig is different and while it is, and always will be, better to see them in a small venue it doesn’t get better than seeing this wonderful bunch live! The first time I saw the band in a packed Half Moon in South London I still managed to have a quick chat with two of the band members after the gig they seemed to know the entire audience by name! Always accessible and available and with a real interest in what’s going on in the scene few bands have the following that Ferocious Dog deserve to have. 

Ken and Dan- original Hell Hounds

Red begins with ‘Black Gold’ and there’s no holds barred from the very beginning with this song telling of the role of the British Empire in slavery. Kicking off with some amazing mandolin before fiddle and electric guitar announce the arrival of the whole band into the fray. Ken has a very strong voice that is clear and precise and his northern accent shines through. I’ll try not to mention that word (catchy) too much in this review but as that word could have Ferocious Dog next to it in the dictionary it may be hard! This is followed by ‘American Dream’ and a bit of a first here in that I think it may be the first song that a proper video was shot for.

This is where the real celtic-punk kicks in. The first few songs remind me of San Diego celtic-rockers Lexington Field and it comes together perfect with superb fiddle driving the song along. ‘Spin’ is up next and begins as a straight up Irish trad tune with tin whistle and fiddle and is a real lyrics heavy track about the state of the country as Ken puts the boot into the Tories. One of the things that Ferocious Dog are famous for is their own compositions but they always throw in a couple of well placed covers and the first here is a version of Steeleye Span’s ‘Black Leg Miner’ that fair raises the roof. It first appeared on their album Hark! The Village Wait back in 1970 and the lyrics spit bile and give an insight into the contempt felt by striking miners and their communities to the weasels who stabbed them in the back.

“Across the way they stretch a line
To catch the throat, to break the spine
Of the dirty blackleg miner.
They grabbed his duds, his picks as well,
And they hoy them down the pit of hell,
Down you go, we pay you well”

The songs origins lay in the Durham coalfields of the 19th century and Ferocious Dog with a sense of their own history have certainly chosen well here. It’s perfect FD fodder with its slowly sung verses and frantic and manic chorus giving the audience plenty of chance to singalong before the moshing starts!

The next track up is ‘Together we are Strong’ and will soon I am sure become a firm live favourite. Catchy as hell and a real fist in the air shoutalong rather than singalong. Pleading for unity among the poor and dispossessed it’s not one of my favourites here but I’m sure the Hell Hounds will lap it up. It just seems a bit formulaic for me still it’s an upbeat number that is designed for the dance floor not critics tapping away on their laptops! So five songs in and the pace has been relentless with the band refusing to let up for a second so we were due a slower song but ‘A & B’ still came as a bit of a surprise. The change in pace is not unexpected but what a song! Up there with the best that they have ever recorded. Fiddle player Dan takes over on the vocals with simple but effective backing from John on acoustic guitar in a beautiful song about “the hardest story to be told”Inspired by visits to Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps in Poland the song has few lyrics but packs more in than any on this album. Ending with mournful fiddle that brings the song to an end.

We are back in proper FD territory again with the next song ‘The Enemy Within’ and again its a song dedicated to the miners and the strike. For a year the miners held out against a government determined to not only break them but to smash them. The miners went from “saviours of a nation” to, as Thatcher christened them, The Enemy Within. In France as the last coal mine close the miners were lauded as they rose from the depths of the earth. They were feted on live TV and the whole French nation paid tribute to these brave hard working men who faced death every time they left home for work. Here as the pits closed they simply threw the miners and their families onto the scrapheap and did absolutely nothing for the communities that relied so heavily on the industry.

I look around and all the mines are gone, I felt the need to put my feelings into song, You dare to tell me now the miners were all wrong and yes I am your enemy”

So yes a lot of anger and rightly so. Starting with military drumming it soon turns into a potted history of mining over a typical FD mosh friendly Celtic rocker. We are rolling up towards the end now and ‘A Place I Want To Be’ is a bit of a shocker with Les taking on lead vocals and having always been a huge fan of Carter USM it really made my day when they first announced he was joining the band. The song begins slow and gentle with Les picking away on an acoustic guitar before it explodes into action and any tale of a relationship breakdown deserves a bit of passion before it returns to just Les and his guitar. Now many seasoned celtic-punk fans may give a little sigh at seeing ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya’ on the track listing but to be fair it’s possibly not a song that well known to the FD fan base. While many celtic-punk bands have given it a whirl (none have bettered the ‘rebel’ version by Easterhouse by the way here) it’s not particularly well known outside our circles. I’ve a tonne of family in Athy and spent many a summers day there escaping farm work and trust me they never shut up about this song! Here they start off gentle with the Celtic instruments to the fore but its not long before the band have all joined in and turned it into the celtic-punk dance fest its always destined to be. This is followed by ‘Small Town Hero’ and by Christ it’s the album standout for me. A chugging bouncy punk rocker with some lovely fiddle work. Despite Ken’s accent it has a feel of early Dropkicks to me. Maybe its the gang chorus of ‘Heys’ but it’s a real belter of a song and sure to be another live favourite with pints and fist thrust to the air. We have arrived at the end and the curtain comes down on Red with a real surprise number. FD have often flirted with reggae but here they go for a seven minute epic bastard of a song titled ‘Class War’. Now I’m not the biggest reggae fan. Twenty-five years of living in Hackney and listening to selfish bastards playing it out their windows at 3am has turned me right against it but I can appreciate it here and the change of pace is nice but the laid back vibe doesn’t last for long as FD can’t help themselves and before long it speeds up out of the blue and we are off again. Class war is indeed raging on the streets of England but it is not a war between the classes but a war against the working class and our very identity and culture. A great way to finish the album and so ends forty minutes of pure unabashed celtic-punk fun.

So there you have it and this is the longest album review to have ever appeared on these pages and  all written in just a couple of go’s with no notes. Obviously the inspiration flows out of Ken and the Bhoys into us all! The production on Red deserves a mention and Phil Wilbraham at the Electric Bear Studios in Mansfield has done an exemplary job here capturing the sound and feel of FD perfectly. The release comes in both vinyl and CD and the CD comes with a massive 28 page booklet featuring photos and lyrics. As is usual with all FD releases is has been recorded in tribute to Ken’s son Lee Bonsall.

LEE BONSALL

Pivotal to the ethos and drive of Ferocious Dog is the sad fate of Ken’s son Lee. Lee served in Afghanistan from the age of 18, and upon rejoining civilian life took his own life in 2012 at the age of just 24, unable to overcome Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from seeing one of his friends being shot dead by a sniper. Lee is commemorated in the Ferocious Dog songs ‘The Glass’, ‘Lee’s Tune’ and ‘A Verse For Lee’. This gave rise to The Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund which raises money and awareness for various causes close to the bands heart. Lee’s story was featured in a BBC documentary Broken By Battle in 2013. It was Lee that actually named the band as a child.

This third studio album from Ferocious Dog shows a band at the top of their game but they seem to have been at the top of their game for so long now that you could regard it as a usual state of affairs for them. It’s hard to see where their progression has come from as they haven’t radically altered their sound from their debut album but the difference from other bands comes from the quality of their songwriting and lyrics. Here three different members of the band take the mic and each excel on songs that range from full on fast celtic-punk rock to soft and gentle tear jerkers while all the time playing with a sincerity that would alien to most bands. I simply cannot state how much respect and love I have for this band and to prove it I am even giving up the heady delights of St Patrick’s Day in the capital with the London Irish to go see them in Oxford so see you there. I’ll be in the middle of the dance floor!

Discography

Ferocious Dog (2013) * Ferocious Dog 3 Piece Acoustic (2014) * From Without (2015) * From Without Acoustic (2017) * Red (2017)

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Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund

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  • If you are at all interested in the world of Ferocious Dog, and why wouldn’t you be?, then a very good place to hook into is the Ferocious Blog. A fans eye view of everything a potential Hell Hound would want to know in the FD orbit. Here!

2017 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S PART THREE: THE CELTIC NATIONS- BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS, THE DECLINE!, BRUTUS’ DAUGHTERS, REAL McKENZIES, VINCE CAYO, THE BOTTLERS

So welcome to 2018 and the first post of the year and the last of our round-ups from 2017. We simply could not keep up with the volume of releases we keep receiving so rather than completely neglect them here’s some much shorter reviews that will at least give you a taste of what they are about. We much prefer to do really detailed reviews but these are still worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out and apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in. This week we concentrate on bands hailing from the Celtic nations or the Celtic diaspora. You can still catch up with our North America (here) and European (here) round-up’s.

BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS- ‘Walk Like Kings’  (Buy)

Described by the band as being made by accident we, and they, should be thankful for such unexpected delights. This is an album of thirteen glorious tracks covering themes of loss and longing and hope that show the Bhoys reaching new heights, musically and lyrically. Tracks, such as the fun filled ska beat ‘Disorganised Crime’ leap out of the speakers in a joyous racket that simply defies not being danced to and then there’s ‘Stand Up And Fight’, a collaboration with New Yorks finest Da Ded Rabbits, that punches it’s way through in a hard hitting pounding track that will be a surprise to some fans. Never fear the Bible Code sound is still evident as are other influences including an Oasis tinged ‘You Got Me On The Run’ but the title track, ‘Walk Like King’s’, is pure Bible Codes, a majestic thumping track full of defiance and pride for 2nd and 3rd generation Irish immigrants who weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. Guests abound on this release – Elvis Costello, Matt McManamon, Brian Kelly… All adding to an eclectic mix of an album on which every track is worthy of your attention, be it the ethereal ‘America’

“Why we leave behind family, to a foreign land for to roam”

or the haunting beauty of ‘Snow Falling On Fire Escapes’ or the MacManus family collaboration ‘Willie Redmonds Volunteers’ all the tracks show a band at the top of their game and this is one that all London Celtic Punkers will want to check out. It has been a tough year for the band but this album is one thing that they can look look back on with fond memories and pride, let’s hope for more, someone once sang ‘accidents can happen, but only once…’ may the Bible Code Sundays fall into more.

“We face out, chest proud, In this town we walk like kings”

RIP Carlton.

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THE DECLINE!- ‘Heroes On Empty Streets’  (Buy)

More celtic-punk for you now but in the sense that this is a punk and from the Celtic nation of Brittany! The music scene in Brittany is very strong and is reflected in the growth of ‘Celticness’ and the resurgence in the Breton language. The Decline! are a five piece punk rock band from Rennes who formed in 2009. Their first EP, ‘An Old Indian Cemetery’, was released in the middle of 2010, and showed what proper genuine music today should be all about. They followed this up with their debut album ‘Broken Hymns For Beating Hearts’ the following year and was a mix of punk rock and acoustic folk tunes. 2014 saw the release of ’12a Calgary Road’ which saw the and branching out into celtic melodies but ploughing much the same furrow while taking on varying tempos with ease. This new album released in May may not have the asolute urgency of previous releases but more than makes up for it with it’s catchy singalonga punk rock. Kevin’s strong and distinctive voice and rumbling rhythm section certainly gets your blood pumping and while ‘Someday Somehow’ could pass for bleak post-punk maybe even Gothic in places the following track ‘Joyfull Thrill’ would make the early Dropkicks jealous.

We have to wait till track seven for the first signs of anything acoustic and it’s well worth the wait ‘We Love Our Scars’ hits the spot both lyrically and musically too. Its all very well done and very well produced too and while it may be possible to mistake this for an American punk release The Decline! are proud members of the Breton music scene. If catchy as feck melodic punk rock is yer thing then here’s the band for you.

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BRUTUS’ DAUGHTERS- ‘Hueso y Madera’  (Free Download)

Formed in November 2008 in Carabanchel, a suburb of Madrid as a straight forward punk rock band before they added Asturian bagpipe and fiddle and one of the most original bands in celtic-punk was born. This is the bands third album and, as usual, comes with songs written in Castilian, English and Asturian. As one of only a tiny handful of bands in the scene with female vocals they certainly stand out and with a defiantly anti-fascist message to boot. The music is fast and loud and punky but there is an undeniable hardcore traditional folk edge to it as well. Elements of their own countries as well as Celtic are merged together very successfully. As said I don’t understand much of the album but the sleeve notes speak of the endangered languages of the Celts, Celtic mythology and defending the underprivileged. The punk side of this reminds me of the Spanish punk music I use to hear in Hackney squats over the years but the folk influence is strong and comes out in reels and jigs throughout the album.

Only nine songs and twenty-eight minutes long but played at breakneck speed from the opening bars of the instrumental punky trad folk of ‘De Hueso Y Madera’ to the English language ‘Brazen’, the album moves at a great pace and its them pipes that really dominate here, holding it all altogether. Vocals are shared around the band and the standard gang chorus works very well especially on tracks like ‘Carretera’, for me the high point here with its catchy chorus while ‘Unidad’ is bass heavy and rumbles along nicely while the fiddle and pipes work overtime. ‘Carcel’ is another high energy number that offers up more of the same. Here’s a real Celtic band that is something quite apart from the herd. Alex voice is harsh and strong and fits the music perfectly. They are a lyrics heavy band so it’s a shame I can’t catch most of it as I am sure they have something important to say. Here’s a proper punk band playing proper punk rock songs that are littered with jigs and reels and a sea shanty about to break out at any moment. The hidden song here is the real folk gem though proving they can really play their instruments and you can find out yourselves for *FREE* yes you read that correct the album is available for sweet F.A from the link above.

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THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Two Devils Will Talk’  (Canada / RestOfTheWorld )

Well what to say about Two Devils Will Talk? How it managed to escape a decent review is beyond me seeing how popular this awesome and is. Up there with The Mollys and the Murphs the Real McKenzies have been going an amazing 25 years and this, their tenth, is up there with the est I kid you not. I wasn’t overly enamoured with 2015’s Rats In The Burlap but here they have returned with fourteen rousing tracks of pure, unabashed Canadian-Scots celtic-punk mayhem. From the opening anthemic ‘Due West’ to a fantastic re-working of early McK song ‘Scots Wha Ha’e’ its absolutely brilliant. Once again they missed out of playing here so we never got to see them live but we can’t wait till they do darken these shores again. Punk, folk, acoustic, electric with pipes throughout weaving in the Celtic influence for which the band is best known. ‘Seafarers’ is one hell of a stand out tune. You can’t change how the waves roll only how you roll through them. The sense of humour they are famous for is riddled throughout the album and nowhere better than on the laugh out loud ‘Fuck The Real McKenzies’ where the band take the piss out of themselves, and everyone else too! They find room for a cover of Stan Rogers ‘Northwest Passage’ that only adds to this great song. Originally sang as an acapella song the McKenzies do it justice as you would expect. The album ends with my favourite McK song of all and plenty of rebellious, Scottish charm and wit here on an album that shows a band who are still capable of hitting the high notes even after a quarter of a century. A defiant return to form for one of the Premier League bands of celtic-punk.

The Real McKenzies on 25 years of Canadian Celtic punk rock here.

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VINCE CAYO- ‘Bound For Glory’  (Buy)

This debut album from talented multi-instrumentalist Vince Cayo has been bouncing around London Celtic Punks towers for a good six months now without making much of an impact until I decided to revisit a few albums for these round-ups and I can only think I didn’t listen to it properly as it is absolutely fecking brilliant. Not so much celtic-punk but def in the country-punk realm of things and Vince has a very strong voice that growls out at you like Tom Waits lashing it up with McGowan backed by The Street Dogs. Opening track ‘Wasteland Blues’ is a great start to proceedings with fast rock’n’roll country and harmonica shining out and Vince putting McGowan to shame! Vince says his influences range from the cream the celtic-punk but most importantly Flogging Molly, and the title track takes this adulteration to epic proportions, alongside such luminaries as Social Distortion, Billy Bragg, The Gits, Tim Barry, Bob and Dylan and they are all in there but with a bit of good auld Yorkshire grit and determination.

Not afraid to take a risk either with the epic ‘Folk The World’ seven+ minutes of heavy and hard hitting folk music that builds up and up into a real anthem of a tune with fiddle and mandolin taking it recklessly close to celtic-punk territory Vince! ‘Turn It Up’ is classic catchy punk rock that doesn’t seem out of place here at all and in fact slots in nicely among the folkier tunes. ON hearing this properly I though I could imagine him sharing a stage with the likes of Matilda’s Scoundrels so was no surprise to read after that he already had done. When I hear album’s like this I wonder if this is the start of something new. Well I say new but what I mean is a resurgence of folk and country music but with a modern interpretation. The album’s dozen songs wraps up the absolutely awesome country rock’n’roller ‘The Garbageman’ and ‘You Wont Be Marching Alone’. Great songs and a great production make Bound For Glory as good a debut album I heard in 2017  and I will be looking him up for any London dates I can tell you.

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THE BOTTLERS- ‘The Bottlers’ EP  (Buy)

Our final review comes from the land of Oz. A place I am constantly telling you and telling you is where the best Celtic-punk scene is and where the best Celtic-punk bands hail from. Why this is so is anyone’s guess. Perhaps one of these great Aussie bands would like to give us over here on the other side of the world a bit of an insight? The Bottlers come from that world and are a hard playing, nine piece (yes, nine!) celtic-punk band hailing from the capital city, Sydney. They may be city dwellers but you get the feel of the country off these Bhoys and Ghirl. Kicking off with ‘Hades Way’ its a rollicking good stroll through Irish folk-punk as filtered through the Aussie experience. Drawing from not only the vast rural reaches of the Australian nation but also the city and suburban streets with a solid tip of the hat to the folk, punk and folk punk pioneers that have traipsed and trekked the trails well before them.

This is both Australiana AND celtic-punk so intertwined are the two. ‘Take Back The Streets’ is a call to arms to the nations poor in a swirling waltz of anger and beauty. Only three songs on this EP and the curtain comes down with ‘Up She Rises’ and The Bottlers go out with a song that has a nod toward to 70’s English folk-rock in there somewhere amongst the rabble.

“The Bottlers believe folk based music should progressively speak of the times it exists in whilst hearkening back to it’s past, to the true heart of folk music, people. Because you truly can’t get where you’re going till you know where you’ve been”

and you can’t get better than that. In fact we may put it on a London Celtic Punk sticker.

  • yeah yeah I been reliably informed that Canberra is indeed the capital city not Sydney so congrats to Celtic Punkcast for spotting out deliberate mistake! Australia’s finest celtic-punk podcast. Check them out here or here.

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So ends Part 3 and our final part of the 2017 Round-Up’s. Again apologies to all the bands as each and every release fully deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

  • COMING SOON- THE BEST OF 2017! What we thought were the best releases of the year covering Albums, EP’s, Celtic/Folk-Punk, Traditional and more.

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2017. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

Each December we pick the best Christmas themed song we’ve heard that year to showcase in our end of year message and this year the runaway victors are from just up the road from us in Berkhamsted. We give you Flatcaps & Fisticuffs and their wicked version of ‘Good King Wenceslas’. The EP it’s from is availanble as a free download from here.

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

According to long standing theory, the origins of Christmas stems from pagan winter festivals. One main reason early Christians were able to spread their religion across Europe so quickly came from their willingness to embrace celebrations already common among regional populations. One such example is the Celtic ‘Alban Arthuan’, a Druidic festival that took place around December 21st. the Winter Solstice. This traditional fire festival celebrated the re-birth of the Sun. Although a celebration of the Son’s birth replaced that of the Sun’s, still a number of ancient Celtic Christmas traditions remain today.

Christmas

As we look across the Celtic nations, it is interesting to note some similarities among Christmas traditions that cross geographic boundaries. They include, for example: Holly (a symbol of rebirth among Pagan Celts, but also of hospitality—it was believed fairies sought shelter inside the evergreen leaves to escape the cold); Mistletoe (believed to have healing powers so strong that it warded off evil spirits, cured illnesses and even facilitated a truce between enemies); fire and light (most notably the Yule log or candles placed in windows to light the way for strangers and symbolically welcoming Mary and Joseph); and door-to-door processions, from wassailing to Wren Hunts.

Each of the seven nations possesses its own variations of Celtic Christmas customs. Surrounding cultures and local identify shape theses practices as well.

SCOTLAND

Flag ScotlandChristmas was not officially recognized in Scotland for nearly four centuries. The Puritan English Parliament banned Christmas in 1647 and it did not become a recognized public holiday in Scotland until 1958. However, according to Andrew Halliday, in his 1833 piece Christmas in Scotland, Scots were not discouraged from celebrating Christmas. Halliday wrote

“We remember it stated in a popular periodical, one Christmas season not long ago, that Christmas-day was not kept at all in Scotland. Such is not the case; the Scots do keep Christmas-day, and in the same kindly Christian spirit that we do, though the Presbyterian austerity of their church does not acknowledge it as a religious festival”

Halliday’s 19th century account went on to describe festive sowens (sweetened oat gruel) ceremonies, “beggars” (actually “strapping fellows”) singing yule song, dances and card parties and children’s teetotum games. Despite Puritan rule, some long-time Christmas traditions are preserved. These include burning the Cailleach (a piece of wood carved to look like an old woman’s face or the Spirit of Winter) to start the new year fresh; or on Christmas Eve burning rowan tree branches to signify the resolution of any disputes. The Celtic tradition of placing candles in windows was also done in Scotland to welcome “first footers” (strangers, bearing a small gift) into the home. Traditional dishes also continue to be featured at Christmas lunch and throughout the holidays, including Cock-a-Leekie soup, smoked salmon, beef or duck, Clootie dumplings, black buns, sun cakes, Christmas pudding and Crannachan.

Because Christmas was not an official holiday until the late ‘50s it is no surprise that today, for some Scots, Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) is the most important event of the season. Arguably, locals ring in the new year with much more gusto than any other place on the planet.

IRELAND

flagAn Autumn clean up was a common practice in Irish homes to prepare for Christmas. Women looked after cleaning the interior, while men took care of the outdoors, including whitewashing all exterior surfaces. Then holly, grown wild in Ireland, was spread throughout the house with cheer. Contemporary Ireland also highlights this clean-up ritual; once complete, fresh Christmas linens are taken out of storage.

Other customs include the Bloc na Nollaig or Christmas Block (the Irish version of the Yule log), candles in the window (perhaps one for each family member), and leading up to Christmas, ‘Calling the Waites’ where musicians would wake up townspeople through serenades and shouting out the morning hour. Christmas Eve Mass is still a grand affair; a time for friends and family to reconnect. It is not uncommon for churchgoers to end up at the local pub after service to ring in Christmas morn. On Christmas Day, traditional dishes include roast goose or ham and sausages, potatoes (such as champ), vegetables (such as cabbage with bacon) and plum pudding, whiskey, Christmas cake and barmbrack (currant loaf) for sweets. Traditionally on December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, Wren Boys with blackened faces, carrying a pole with a dead bird pierced at the top, tramped from house to house. Today the custom sometimes sees children caroling throughout the neighbourhood to raise money for charity. It is also quite common to go out visiting on this day.

WALES

Flag WalesMusic was and still is a major part of Welsh holidays. Plygain is a Christmas day church service, traditionally held between three and six in the morning featuring males singing acapella in three or four-part harmonies. While today this may be mainly practised in rural areas, Eisteddfodde (caroling) is abundantly popular in homes, door-to-door and as part of annual song-writing competitions.

Dylan Thomas’ story ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ is renowned around the world. An excerpt offers a glimpse of a traditional Welsh festive season:

“Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang ‘Cherry Ripe’ and another uncle sang ‘Drake’s Drum’… Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-coloured snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night”

Other intriguing Welsh traditions include toffee making; drinking from a communal wassail bowl of fruit, spices, sugar and beer; children visiting homes on New Year’s Day looking for their Callenig gift; and Mary Lwyd (Grey Mare) featuring wassail singers going door-to-door carrying a horse’s skull and challenging residents in a contest of mocking rhymes.

ISLE OF MAN

Flag Isle Of ManCarolling also holds a special place in Manx Christmas celebrations, but traditionally an unconventional twist characterized it. On Christmas Eve, large numbers attended church for Carval. While the congregation sang, all of a sudden women would begin the traditional food fight, having peas on hand to throw at their male counterparts! Accounts from the 1700s and 1800s describe 12 days of non-stop Christmas celebrations where every barn was filled with dancers accompanied by fiddlers the local parish hired. The Reverend John Entick recorded in 1774

“On the twelfth day the fiddler lays his head on one of the women’s laps, which posture they look upon as a kind of oracle. For one of the company coming up and naming every maiden in the company, asks the fiddler, who shall this or that girl marry? And whatever he answers it is absolutely depended on as an oracle”

As in Celtic fashion, Hunting the Wren processions occurred on the Isle of Man and today the practice is going through a revival, characterized by costumes, singing and dancing.

Other Manx customs include Mollag Bands, wearing eccentric clothing, swinging a mollag (fishing float) and demanding money (a practice since outlawed); the kissing bush (a more elaborate ornament than a sprig of mistletoe); and Cammag, a sport that originated on the Isle of Man traditionally played on December 26th and/or Easter Monday. In older times but even as recently as the early 20th century, Christmas decorations were not taken down until Pancake Tuesday (when they were burnt under the pancake pan). Now holiday décor tends to be packed away on Old Christmas (January 6th).

CORNWALL

Flag CornwallAs a result of Oliver Cromwell banning Christmas, authentic holiday carols began to fade through much of Britain. However, throughout the 1800’s, Cornish composers and collectors sparked a revival of local Christmas song.Certain carols well-known around the world, such as Hark the Herald Angels and While Shepherds, are credited to Cornish origins.

“Contrary to the effect Methodism might have had on the English carollers, in Cornwall its impact was to stimulate song,” states the Cornwall Council (Cornish Christmas Carols – Or Curls, 2011). “In those areas where Methodism was strongest, music and signing had their greatest appeal, and notably so at Christmas. The singers would practice in chapels and school-rooms, some of them walking miles to be there”

Today, Cornwall erupts in festivals, fairs and markets during the holidays. The Montol Festival in Penzance (named for Montol Eve on December 21st) is a six-day celebration highlighting many Cornish traditions. These include Mummers plays, lantern processions, Guise dancing (participants dress in masks and costume, such as mock formal dress, to play music and dance).

Montol is also the time for burning the Mock (yule log). A stickman or woman is drawn on the block of wood with chalk. When the log burns, it symbolizes the death of the old year and birth of the year to come.

BRITTANY

Flag BrittanyBrittany boasts a wealth of folklore and supernatural beliefs around Christmas time. Christmas Eve was known as a night of miraculous apparitions from fairies to Korrigans, and at midnight, for just a brief moment, waters in the wells would turn into the most sweet-tasting wine. It was also at midnight, when families were either at mass or in bed, that ghosts would surface; traditionally food was left out for deceased loved ones just in case they visited.

During the holidays, Christmas markets come alive in many Breton towns vending hand-made crafts and toys, baked cakes and bread and ingredients for Christmas dinner. You can also buy Gallette des Rois at stalls, as well as bakeries, which is traditionally eaten on January 6th(Epiphany). A tiny figurine (the fève) is hidden inside the puff pastry cake; the person who finds the figurine in their piece gets to be king or queen for the day and wear a crown. Another special tradition through all of France is a meal after Christmas Eve’s midnight mass, called Réveillon. Specifically in Britanny, the traditional dish for this occasion is buckwheat crêpes with cream.

GALICIA

Flag GaliciaGalicia has its own unique Christmas gift-bearer that pre-dates Christianity. He is called Apalpador, a giant who lives in the mountains. For Christmas, he descends into the villages below to make sure each child has a full belly. He brings treats, such as chestnuts, and well wishes for a year full of delicious sustenance. While Apalpador may not be widely observed in Galicia, his legend is seeing a revival.

Food is very important during the Galician holidays, featuring at least two feasts (on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Not surprisingly, seafood is on the menu, including lobster, prawns, shrimp, sea bass, and cod with garlic and paprika sauce. Other culinary delights consist of cured meat, cheese and bread, roast beef with vegetables and for dessert tarta de Santiago (almond cake), filloas (stuffed pancakes) and turrones (nougats). The children of anticipate the coming of the Three Kings or Magis by filling their shoes and leaving them outside on Epiphany Eve, January 5th. Many Galician’s communities also parade on the 5th.

So there you have it the old traditions just like the traditional music we all love live on…

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

Nollaig Shona Dhuit agus Bliain Nua Fe Mhaise (Irish Gaelic)

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

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

Now go have a drink…

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

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

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

(as filmed in one take!)

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

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Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download Raspberry Cheesecake

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Contact Fisticuffs & Flatcaps

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

ALBUM REVIEW: GHOSTTOWN COMPANY- ‘FolkRock’ (2017)

An original German band with their debut album a mix of modern day folk-rock but steered by traditional influences of Irish-Celtic music and American country music.

Not long ago in the summer of 2015, as tends to be the way with these things, two mates with an interest and a background in both folk and rock bands decided they wanted to combine the two and get a band together. With a handful of shows booked they set out on the search for fellow enthusiasts and having quickly agreed on the name Ghosttown Company they roped in a few acquaintances and the search was completed in October 2015. The band’s name describes the places left behind by the Irish during ‘The Great Hunger’ in the mid 19th century when millions were forced to leave Ireland in search of survival and a better life. Rehearsals soon followed culminating in a successful debut local gig in Saarbrücken. Not wasting any time at all the Bhoys took to the recording studio making their first Demo and after a further run of accomplished gigs the band signed a contract with Prosodia publishing company and so it has been a short journey to their debut album the rather aptly titled FolkRock, released in July this year.

Now celtic-punk and all things Irish are incredibly popular in Germany and we have gone over this several times including recently with reviews of albums by Restless Feet, Pitmen, Jamie Clarke’s Perfect The Distillery Rats and The Crooks And The Dylans. Here in England the celtic part of celtic-punk is often underplayed and many bands while actually playing celtic-punk and using Irish and Celtic tunes persist in calling their music folk-punk or attribute the said Irish tunes as English. This special affinity that German’s hold for the Irish means they don’t fall for such bullshit and hypocrisy and they completely go for the Irish/Celtic part and this makes the German scene one of the best in the world. Time and time again when I have met German folk I have been impressed by their knowledge of Irish culture, music and history. That Celtic are by far the most popular foreign team among German football supporters is testament to that affinity. There are several theories for this but my guess is that the Germans love a drink and a good party so it makes perfect sense for them to team up with the Irish. That and maybe perhaps a grudge against a certain nation as well has brought us together?

Ghosttown Company are not unusual among the German celtic-punk scene in that they play mostly acoustic folk music. Yes with the spirit of punk but this is celtic-punk played under the influence of Country, Americana and rock whilst butting shoulders with traditional Irish and Celtic songs. The album starts with ‘Shooting Star’ and they kick off with the album’s top song. Catchy is surely the most overused word when reviewing things so instead of repeating it throughout just assume every song is ‘catchy’ it will save us both time. The European celtic-punk bands love the flute and I am a late comer to the brilliance of this instrument (thank Firkin for my conversion) and it works wonders here. ‘Far Away’ is up next and is a more solid rock number with saxophone and chugging guitar driving it along. Now I’m not sure if the world needs another version of a famous folk trad classic and here it is ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ that gets the folkpunk treatment. Since the advent of recorded music the same songs have popped up for a reason and it’s a little rich to slate modern day celtic-punk bands for it when my Mammies record collection from the 50’s/60’s/70’s must have a thousand different versions of maybe 5 or 6 songs in it. More Dubliners than Thin Lizzy needless to say it’s a great cover and the Bhoys do it justice playing it with a hoe-down twist with added “Yee-Hars” and pub soundtrack. So far the band that is in the back of my head are The Men They Couldn’t Hang and on ‘Plastic World’, the LP’s longest song, you can hear it as well as feel it with the lyrics of the song. That ‘English’ influence continues with next track ‘Clowns In A Game’. One of the album highlights is the outstanding ‘Greenlands’ which takes us on a mesmerising journey through Ghosttown Company’s musical abilities. The music swirls and twines building up and up before relaxing again and repeating. The whole band plays their part and this must surely be a huge live favourite. While they can cut loose you also get the feeling that some songs like the following, ‘Going Down’, would benefit from the same and bit of ‘anarchy’. Another celtic-punk classic next with ‘Black Velvet Band’ and bands love this as it’s slow build up gives them a chance to go f**king mental when the chorus comes along. Not here though and the song is quite restrained with some excellent mournful saxophone and again the band take’s trad material and manages to do something a little different with it to give it their own stamp. The accordion and the mandolin lead us into ‘Hell You Know’ and another standout song that flows magnificently along. This is music that is perched halfway between folk and rock and the past and present and while it won’t scare your Grandparents it is still thoroughly thigh slappingly great. A visit to Ireland is recalled next in ‘Island Of The Green’ and the autobiographical story of how Ghosttown Company frontman and songwriter Chris fell in love with Ireland and all things Irish things on their first visit to Dublin. Music, alcohol and good times in the four corners of Ireland put to catchy (sorry!) country tinged Irish folk’n’roll. The last cover is ‘Spanish Lady’ and one of my favourite songs of all time. Now I can only remember this being covered in the celtic-punk world by Shane MacGowan And The Popes. It may be a tad restrained compared to that version but again they nail it and the thigh slapping continues unabashed!

The curtain comes down on FolkRock with ‘A Lost One’s Ballad’ and its a great way the close down. Slow and delicate and proof these guys can play a tune. Every celtic-punk album needs at least one of these songs and I have seldom heard better.

These Bhoys are brand new to the celtic-punk stage and are a more than welcome addition to it. As with many, many bands out there there is no stereotyping here (well maybe just a tiny little bit!) just a love of all the things that make us as humans great. These are things that the Irish are famous for but by no means solely confined to the Irish race. Generous, kind, faithful, hospitable, passionate and devoted while at the same time managing to be pretty well f**ked up as well and I get the sense that Ghosttown Company here are wise to that. The traditional songs here are solid renditions but gone are the days when celtic-punk bands were judged on their covers and with nine of the album’s twelve songs penned by the band themselves it bodes very well for them. Although here what I have done is actually pigeonhole them they were a band I found quite hard to do so. Now unique is not a word bandied around in celtic-punk circles very often, after all a lot in the scene does sound a bit ‘samey’ to put it mildly, Ghosttown Company have managed to come up with something different and show they are never just another Irish covers band and with this great debut behind them they are set for a great future.

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HEAR THE NEW MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS ALBUM STREAMING EXCLUSIVELY HERE FOR ONE WEEK ONLY!

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS EXCLUSIVE!

You can listen for free to the fantastic new debut album from Matilda’s Scoundrels right here for one week only. Due for release on Friday 8th September 2017 on TNS Records so have a listen and then follow the links at the bottom to order the album.
(update- the pre-release is over so follow the links at the bottom to buy As The Tide Turns) 
One of the most noticeable things on As The Tide Turns is that while most celtic-punk bands find it easy to stick to making folk songs or punk songs Matilda’s Scoundrels play songs best described as the embodiment of folk-punk. Each self-penned song comes folk and celtic tunes wrapped round them and never once does it sound forced or out of place. It says a lot about this band that they spurned other much more better known web-sites to showcase their album on this small DIY one. Thanks Bhoys.

Bow to the Powers is the first single taken from ‘As The Tide Turns’

This fantastic album shows that Matilda’s Scoundrels are destined for great things, that much is beyond dispute, and its their ability of making everything they do totally recognisable as them yet without sounding repetitive that has helped them enormously. Their songs contain it all. Enough folk for the folkies and enough punk for the punkers and they’ve got this far on their own bat as well and now with the backing of the awesome DIY independent record label TNS things are only going to get better for these Hastings Bhoys.

Read our full review of As The Tide Turns here

Order As The Tide Turns

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(pre-order. official release date September 8th)

Contact Matilda’s Scoundrels

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TNS Records

A not-for-profit DIY punk and ska label based in Manchester. We also put on gig, release a fanzine, have a distro and put out a podcast as well.

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

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

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

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

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

ALBUM REVIEW: MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS- ‘As The Tide Turns’ (2017)

The debut album from celtic-punks ‘great white hope’ Matilda’s Scoundrels!

“It’s an album we feel is about the times we live in right now and about the opportunity to change the direction that all this crazy stuff is going into a positive future which is what inspired the album name which itself we felt was the feel of the album from the songs we have written for it over the last 2 years. We hope you all enjoy it as much as we did writing it all and we can’t wait for you all to hear it!”

Not long after this web-zine was started we came across a fantastic new band from the south of England who were literally just starting out as well. I can’t now remember what it was that brought Matilda’s Scoundrels to our attention but I’ll be eternally grateful that something did. Since then they have featured often on these pages due to their more than regular gigs and releases. With a bunch of EP’s behind them, including a live one and a compilation of their first 2 now out of print EP’s, they have kept our reviewers both busy and happy, with a stream of extremely well received releases. From that very first review we wrote that we were looking forward to the inevitable album release and low and behold that day has arrived and to say we are happy is a massive understatement.

For a band that only formed in 2014 Matilda’s have crammed an awful lot in to a relatively short time. Gigs around Britain have been followed with appearances at many of the best music festivals around as well as a successful European tour earning them a growing legion of fans. They come from the famed old smugglers town of Hastings on the south coast of England and this connection can be felt in their music.

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

Though they are not strictly speaking really a celtic-punk band they have embraced the scene and are big fans of the bands within it, supporting many of the best groups that pass through England or London. Their sound has embraced elements of celtic-punk and this was certainly not harmed when Jason learnt to play the banjo! One of the things about Matilda’s Scoundrels is that within a few seconds of each song you will recognise who it is. It is quite the achievement to have so distinctive a sound and to be quite so unlike anyone else. You need good songs though and despite their regular recording they have managed to produce ten songs specifically for As The Tide Turns and each one would stand alone as a Matilda’s classic.

Matilda’s Scoundrels (from top left to right) James- Bass * John- Drums * Quinn- Mandolin/ Vocals * Dan- Guitar * Jens- Accordion/ Vocals * Jason- Acoustic Guitar/ Tin Whistle/ Banjo/ Vocals.

So enough about then what about today’s release. Well for a start you get ten self penned tracks that clock in at a pretty decent forty-six minutes which is plenty of value for any fellow Yorkshiremen out there! The album begins softly with ‘Burn It Down’ and Quinn’s mandolin before the music takes an upturn with Dan’s thrashy guitar and Jens accordion. Quinn shares vocals with Jason throughout the album and they accompany each other perfectly well. Quinns ‘raspyness’ and Jason’s loud shouty vox fit their sound and the music is in turns both folky and punky with moments of absolute calm as well as absolute uproar!! ‘Take It To The Streets’ begins with accordion and Jason takes the lead on vocals and the album is really flowing now. Catchy is oft used, especially by me, in the celtic-punk world and there is no better word but by Christ they have nailed it here.This is music to nod your head frantically to, to tap your leg to and at the same time, if you are young enough, stage-dive!

Quinn takes over for ‘Shackles & Bones’ and its accordion here that stands out. Sometimes live the accordion is not always ‘loud and proud’ but the production here is spot-on and so the folky instruments are all clear as anything. ‘Bow To The Powers’ seems to have been in their set for ages but this is their first proper recording of it and once again its fast and catchy and infectious. All the songs on As The Tide Turns would be ‘ear-worm’ material but ‘Mr.Martyn’ was a real pleasant surprise for me. The most celtic-punk song of the album so far it lasts well over five minutes and the real trad folk beginning fades into some trademark Dan Flanagan thrashy guitar before the song leads into some amazing folky punk with Quinn’s voice shining through. As usual the lyrics are well thought out and positive in a way that not too many bands are. This is kind of a serious album though and that is the only thing missing so far. Matilda’s have a great sense of humour and they are not adverse to singing a song about getting pissed so ‘Bottle Of Rum’ comes along at just about the right time.

(‘Take It To The Streets’ recorded for Sham City Roasters Acoustic Session)

One of the albums best tracks is up next and on ‘Friends Of Mine’ they knock out a song that is destined to be stuck in your head for the few days. Jason’s tin-whistle giving it that certain Irish/Celtic feel while they put the punk to one side and concentrate on producing a classic modern day sea-shanty. We are nearing the end and on this record they have been given a great chance to write songs they want to. This album shows they don’t have to cram too much in and with the longer running time and a average length of (gulp!) four minutes they can elaborate on their songs and they manage it without them feeling too long or too fancy. ‘War On Drugs’ is the album’s punk song but even then it still has a certain folkiness stamped all over it by a Doc Martin boot. We are back on the ocean again next with the penultimate song ‘Godforsaken Sea’ before finally the album’s closing track and also it’s best one. Lasting over six minutes ‘Into The Fire’ really, really shows the Scoundrels at their best. Tin-whistle and mandolin leads us into a proper Scoundrels epic. Mostly played at breakneck speed and with a catchiness that even outdoes the previous nine songs. The foot is tapping and the head is nodding and if I had a pint in my hand it would be raised above my head to the heavens. A great gang chorus and a tune to die for it’s as good a song as they have ever put to Bandcamp. One of the most noticeable things on As The Tide Turns is that while most celtic-punk bands find it easy to stick to making folk songs or punk songs Matilda’s Scoundrels play songs I would best describe as the embodiment of folk-punk. Each song is so much more than just that though with self-penned folk and celtic tunes wrapped round everything and never once sounding forced or out of place.

This fantastic album shows that Matilda’s Scoundrels are destined for great things, that much is beyond dispute, and its their ability of making everything they do totally recognisable yet without sounding repetitive that has helped them enormously. Their songs contain it all. Enough folk for the folkies and enough punk for the punkers and they’ve got this far on their own bat as well and now with the backing of the awesome DIY independent record label TNS things are only going to get better for these Hastings Bhoys.

  • North and South Londoners who are new to the Matilda’s Scoundrels sound are lucky to have two flippin’ fantastic gigs just around the corner. They are supporting The Dead Maggies on tour from Tasmania, Australia. The Dead Maggies are story tellers and music makers weaving Van Diemen’s Land’s dark and turbulent folk history with fast, powerful, toe-tapping, foot-stomping, wild folk music that makes you dance, shout and folk till you punk. This raucous combination of folk and cow-punk, with double bass, fiddle, banjo, guitar, clarinet, heavy drums and gang vocals rolls into Kingston (here) on Thursday 10th August and Hackney (here), north London on Friday 11th August. Entry is £5 on the door and music starts at 8pm both nights. Check our What’s On page for more details.

Order As The Tide Turns

(pre-order. official release date September 8th) FromTheBand  TNSrecords

Contact Matilda’s Scoundrels

WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  Twitter  Soundcloud  YouTube

TNS Records

A not-for-profit DIY punk and ska label based in Manchester. We also put on gig, release a fanzine, have a distro and put out a podcast.

 WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Bandcamp  Spotify

(Matilda’s Scoundrels set from Zoo at Manchester Punk Festival 2017)

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SILK ROAD’ ‘S/T’ (2017)

Infectious and catchy throughout the debut album from northern English celtic-folk-punkers The Silk Road has more than enough punk to keep the punks happy and plenty of folk to keep the oldies like me happy!

Here’s an album we have been waiting for here at London Celtic Punks with baited breath! Those with a good memory will remember way back last October we reviewed the four track pre-album sampler from The Silk Road and back then we were very impressed

“This kind of music lends itself more to the live experience so if they are able to capture that in the studio then by St George they will have cracked it”

and I am pleased to say they haven’t let us down either!

The Silk Road hail from Chesterfield in the north of England an area famed for it’s industry and for the militant trade unionism that goes with it. Their music reflects this. Their is no pretense or ‘virtue signalling’ here. Their beliefs were learnt at the knee of older generations who lived through times they did not want to see repeated. Formed in 2015 all the band have played music locally going back some twenty years ranging from folk to punk to ska so plenty of experience involved here. Taking some old demos that singer/songwriter Tich had recorded in his studio as a base The Silk Road began to take shape and after adding some new material The Silk Road’s debut album began it’s story.

Musically The Silk Road are cut from the same cloth as three bands who are still regularly packing them in at gigs across the country all year round. The Levellers, New Model Army and Ferocious Dog are the main bands that represent a broad mixture of scenes from folk-punk to celtic-punk to English-folk. The music while it may sound like celtic-punk to some is actually the music of the north of England. Their has always been a strong tradition of folk music among the working class and just as with celtic music it was in the early 80’s that young bands began to change, add and adapt it with hard rock and punk music. For me there is no better example of this than the first two album’s from Billy Bragg. He may be a bit of a wanker now on his farm in Devon lecturing us on how to vote and still pretending he lives in Barking but those albums are an incredible mix of politics and passion that captivated us and I still regularly play them. Armed only with a cheap electric guitar Bragg stormed the Singles charts of the day with his rough but passionate voice and a way of writing straight from the heart. His best songs were always about the mysterious interactions between men and women rather than his left-wing polemics but this was urban folk at it’s finest. Now some 20+ years later The Silk Road take their place on the same path and I’m sure they won’t be moving to Devon the first chance they get!

This self-titled album is thirteen original compositions by the band and though it’s very much a team effort it’s in no small part down to the vision and drive of lead vocalist Tich. A tattooist by trade it was his idea to use the symbol of the silk road as the bands logo. Yes it may look Celtic/Irish but the three hares with interlocking ears is actually from the far east where the silk road was the ancient trade route linking Asia to the West. The album cover itself was designed by no other than celtic-punk’s leading lady Katie ‘Kaboom’ McConnell of The Mahones.

The album begins with ‘No Revolution’ and it’s a loud start. I was expecting something a bit quieter so was pleasantly surprised. Quite a basic 80’s punk sound here which I absolutely love. The fiddle may have been worth turning up a bit but its got harmonica so that’s me happy for the next forty-eight minutes! Tich’s vocals are clear as crystal and so easy to understand, and get, that there is literally no point in putting them in the CD booklet. ‘Find A Cure’ follows the same road except with a short reggae interlude before a great punk rock Irish jig takes over. Great chorus here that will have you singing it in your head long after you’ve heard it. One of the highlights is ‘I Don’t Care’ with it’s snotty punk rock base but with the fiddle in charge and Tich’s great vocals laden over the top. It’s all been very punk rock orientated so far and just as i was settling in ‘Elizabeth Rose’ comes on and by Christ I’m in celtic-punk heaven with this Irish trad punk jig. The fiddle leads the way with the rest of the band pushed to the background and a real foot tapper that I’m sure is a live favourite and gives Tich a chance to rest his lungs. They slow it down next with ‘Scars’, the first song here that featured on that Pre-Album Sampler, and sounds to me not too far from The Levellers. Not a much of a fan of them myself but this is excellent stuff with slow acoustic guitar and fiddle and nice vocals. The welcome sound of the banjo kicks off ‘Master Race’ with what sounds like spoons! Harmonica is top dog here and I love it. A instrument I always feel suits celtic-punk but is criminally underused. ‘Still Breathing’ seems to me a bit out of place here. Hard to say why exactly but its upbeat and jaunty sound perhaps. Not to say it’s not a great song as its class fiddle led punk rock. ‘Breaking Down The Laws’ keeps the music flowing with Brian’s solid drumming. ‘Ancient Road’ leads directly into ‘Montagu’s Harrier’ and while the first three minutes are reminiscent of 80’s anarcho-punk bands like The Mob or Zounds the second half is an absolutely stunningly traditional Irish folk piece/reel dedicated to an endangered bird of prey.

The bodhran is out and it’s not long before the whole band have gate crashed the song and take it another level. These two songs are a perfect introduction to The Silk Road and showcase brilliantly whet they are capable of. We are coming towards the end of the album and it’s clear by now that the band wear their politics on their sleeves and no better than in ‘City Under Siege’. Back in October I wrote

“this kind of music is very much in vogue at the moment. Not played or favoured by fashionista’s or middle class hipsters it comes very much from that sort of old Labour background of trade unionism and old fashioned values like solidarity, compassion and the wish for a better world for all. Things sadly out of fashion at this moment in time”

and while ‘Corbyn’ and the Labour Party’s revival hasn’t completely convinced me I do see hope for my class where once I saw none. Another album high point up next with ‘Boats Come In At Midnight about modern day smuggling. Very catchy indeed and half way through the fiddle comes in giving it a real nice ending. The album ends with ‘On Ya Way’ and maybe it’s a sign of mellowing with age but I really love this song. My favourite track. Tich belts it out from his heart and harmonica and acoustic guitar steer it in a direction that reminds me of Ferocious Dog a little when they slow it down.

Overall this is a great debut from The Silk Road and will win them legions of fans from the trinity of bands I mentioned above. Infectious and catchy throughout with more than enough punk to keep the punks happy and folk to keep the oldies like me happy. Its always brilliant to welcome another celtic-punk band into the scene and even better when they have trodden their own path. Haven’t seen them yet but will be making it my mission to catch them over the summer and I really hope they play ‘On Ya Way’ when I do.

Buy The EP
Contact The Band
(full concert from last year)

NEW SINGLE FROM FINLAND FOLK-PUNKERS LORETTA PROBLEM

 Finnish celtic-punks Loretta Problem have been together for over twenty years and are happy to offer up London Celtic Punks readers a free download of their fabulous new single ‘Welcome To The Circus’.

Not one of the most prolific bands in the celtic-punk scene but certainly one of the more interesting. Loretta Problem hail from the death-metal loving fjord’s of Finland and are the sole representative’s of celtic-punk in their country. Like the other Nordic countries there are well established and popular punk and metal scene’s so should come as no surprise that celtic-punk would make an appearance. Loretta Problem have released one album and two singles in their time together which admittedly is not a lot to show for over twenty years together but for over a decade Loretta Problem took a back seat while the various band members were working on other projects like families or in other bands. They still got together to play at a select handful of gigs and festivals every year but regrouped about 2-3 years ago, and have reached the point now where they are ready to fully relaunch the band.

Their new single ‘Welcome To The Circus’ was released a few weeks back but we were waiting on the accompanying video to give it a well deserved plug so here it it. Sounding better than ever the single moves away slightly from their earlier stuff which had a certain metal influence toward a more folky sound akin to what I use to call festival folk. These days that sound is represented by the likes of The Levellers, New Model Army and Ferocious Dog. Well played anthemic punk rock with great fiddle from Tarja throughout. Clear vocals sung in English that completely suit the music but don’t waste time listening to me just have a listen I’m sure you won’t be disappointed! The celtic tone still remains, as well as big hearted punk attitude with fistful of middle fingers!

Loretta Problem have been together now since 1994 and have never stood still but instead have had constant development as a band. You won’t hear the Fields Of Athenry here but instead you will get some great folk’n’punk which takes Celtic music and even celtic-punk and puts a different spin on it. A fantastic single catchy and full of energy and life that leaves us only wanting more. You can hear their back catalogue over at their Spotify account here but follow the link below to get a free download of Welcome To The Circus.

Download The Single

FromTheBand

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  • We reviewed an earlier single from Loretta Problem back in 2015 which you can find here.

EP REVIEW: RAIN IN SUMMER- ‘Discordant Anthem From The Gutter’ (2017)

Formed from a grain of sand on baladewa streets in early 2008!

Indonesian celtic-punk of the punky variety.

Without going too far into the history of celtic-punk it can be said that the genre was back in the day originally a product of the Irish diaspora living in England and mainly in London. With the worldwide popularity of The Pogues it very soon spread across the Atlantic to north America to the Irish communities there and from there we had a couple of bands who went on to become absolutely massive and helped spread the modern day celtic-punk scene into every corner of the globe. In just the last few weeks on this site for instance we have published reviews of records from Hungary, France, USA, Netherlands, Belarus, Germany and Galicia  and now we have a band from one the biggest and best celtic-punk scenes in the world- Indonesia.  Yes it may seem strange and even unbelievable but the Indonesians have embraced celtic-punk and seem to have taken to it completely. Rather than go into the various bands of the scene you’d be better off checking out ‘Wind From The Foreign Land- Indonesian Celtic Punk Compilation’ from 2014. An album of fourteen tracks from fourteen different celtic-punk bands from across Indonesia. From folky almost traditional folk to celtic-Oi! and hardcore it’s all there and is one of the best album’s I have ever heard (here). Out in the Indian ocean and a thousand or two miles from Australia Indonesia gained independence from Holland after the second world war. The country itself has a population in excess of 230 million and comprises nearly 13,500 different islands and for a country that is 87.2% Muslim the scene has adopted one or two of celtic-punks better known subject matters, if you know what I mean…

Rain in Summer have been going almost a decade having formed in 2008 and this is their second release. It came out in a short run of 100 CD’s for Record Store Day in May just gone. That first release was a 6 track EP titled Untuk Kutaku which you can hear below on the ReverbNation player.

Discordant Anthem From The Gutter begins with ‘Suara’ and it sounds like about two dozen musicians locked in a pub! At least three singers giving it welly with electric guitar keeping time but with the sound (suara) of tin whistle, mandolin and fiddle throughout giving it that unmistakable celtic sound. A catchy as hell wee punky number to begin with. ‘Are You Okay?’ is up next and starts off in a kind of trad celtic-punk style before going punky and then returning, thanks to tin whistle, back into celtic-punk. The vocals are brilliant throughout and while it may not be polished it sounds all the better for it. Growing up listening to DIY punk releases means I can overlook some things and appreciate the rawness of others and the passion here shines through. Lyrics this time are sung in English while the rest of the EP is in Indonesian. ‘Semua Terekam Dalam Media’ follows and is a fast paced punk number with throaty vocals and mandolin. ‘Kita Semua Saudara’ is next and slows it down not that most will notice though. The electric guitar is still there as well as the gang vocals and heavy drums. It’s one of those moments when played live that you reach for the sky and grab your mates and your loved ones. A swirling and catchy as hell three minutes of perfection. ‘Eksploitasi’ (‘Exploitation’) is another fast paced punk song which slows down a couple of times only to get faster again. The EP is all over in less than twenty minutes. It grabs your attention and then just as quickly is gone. We are now onto the last song ‘ Warrior’ and straight from the off its reminiscent of Belfast punkers Stiff Little Fingers. For me the standout track of the EP with its perfectly paced fast punk rock and the celtic instruments just nicely accompanying. Again the tin whistle, fiddle and mandolin are all over this song and place the band firmly within celtic-punk. The production on the last song seems a bit clearer too to these big ears as well.

The EP was released on WLVR Records who not only released the Indonesian Celtic-punk compilation mentioned above but also fantastic records by The Cloves and The Tobacco, which we reviewed here, and Dirty Glass, here. Discordant Anthem From The Gutter places them firmly on the punkier side of celtic-punk and with a sound that straight away informs you they are a part of that blossoming Indonesian celtic-punk scene. As already stated it’s not polished but too many releases are tinkered with and all that manages to do is to remove that live feel that is crucial to any celtic-punk release. Here listening to this you could almost be in the pub sweating away with the lads on stage. Six songs of catchyness that will have you headbanging away and anyone planning on a holiday to Indonesia be sure to contact some of these bands as I get the feeling a concert out there would be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

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Contact wlrv.record@gmail.com

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

  • There is a fantastic Facebook group called ‘Indonesian Celtic Punk’ (here) we recommend you join. The Cloves And The Tobacco are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Indonesian celtic punk so invest a bit of time and find out a bit more about this great scene.

INTERVIEW WITH WOLVES FOLK-PUNK BAND UNDER A BANNER

With just over a week to go before their biggest ever London date London Celtic Punks interviews Under A Banner. Purveyors of passionate, powerful and poetic folk-rock and with a new album to plug and a headline tour we wanted to find out a bit more about them.
First things first can you give us a history of the band? The who, what, why and how? Were any of you in any other bands previously and what happened to suddenly make the leap to forming Under A Banner?
Under A Banner began as a duo around 6 years ago and other musicians were steadily gathered to fill out the sound and make the band a more viable proposition for recording and performing the music I always envisaged the band making. I am the only original member of the band now. I started the whole thing as I desperately wanted to return to performing original music live. I’d previously played in a fairly short-lived band called Approach and have also played acoustic covers in pubs; the termination of the latter course of action triggered a visceral response to what I saw as virtually non-existent local scene for original music. Although I hail from Wolverhampton, the five of us live in three different counties.
You’re from Wolverhampton in the West Midlands. Can you tell us a bit about what its like there to be in a band round there. Is there much of a music scene? What about for celtic music?
The unfortunate demise and subsequent closure of Wolverhampton’s Varsity venue hit the local live scene quite hard. We still have the Newhampton Arts Centre, The Slade Rooms and, a little further down the road, Bilston’s popular Robin 2 venue. Each of these regularly play host to both tribute/cover and original music. Without deriding the former too much, it seems that original music (in particular folk infused genres) is once again spearheading a palpable fight back against the nostalgia or copycat music market in the Midlands.

How would you describe yourselves. Folk-punk, English-folk, celtic-punk? Do you think it matters in particular. Who has been your biggest inspiration for Under A Banner?
When asked about Under A Banner’s genre we normally plump for ‘alternative folk-ish hard rock’. This is because we fit into a number of brackets and exist outside of them simultaneously. We draw our inspiration from a very far-ranging and eclectic pot of music. The single unifying genre is metal, which presumably explains the heaviness of a lot of our material, but my own personal influences include New Model Army, Tori Amos, Loreena Mckennitt, Tool, Ambrozijn and Alestorm – to name but a few. Other sources for inspiration include Opeth, Rush, Iron Maiden, Clannad, The Stranglers and Thin Lizzy. A number of these bands and artists have made significant contributions to the continuing popularity of music with a Celtic flavour.
I think it’s fair to say that you are a part of the same scene of big ‘folk-punk’ bands like New Model Army and The Levellers and more recently Ferocious Dog but do you think it’s more important to connect with their fans or get away from the folk-punk ‘ghetto’ altogether and get your music out to new people? What has been the reaction from their fans so far when you have played with them? Do they give you a fair crack of the whip or are they only interested in seeing the headliners?
We were fortunate recently to support TV Smith (formerly of punk heroes The Adverts) and a week later New Model Army. It’s often been noted by fans, reviewers and bloggers that we belong in the ‘Celtic folk/punk’ ‘club’. However, we’ve picked up as many new fans playing to rock and metal crowds. We went down well with the New Model Army crowd, in spite of an incipient chest infection which had begun to weaken my voice a couple of days before the gig. I managed to sing over and through the congestion and got the audience- quite a number of whom at least knew who we were- singing along. I have always known that followers of long standing cult bands like NMA are very devoted to their favourite bands, so, under the circumstances I think we did rather well.
Traditional folk music obviously influences Under A Banner so which individuals or bands do you think have been the important links between rock and traditional folk music in the past?
 In my opinion bands like Steeleye Span and Oysterband did wonders for the synthesis between folk and rock. Speaking personally, I prefer it when bands step out of genre boundaries so frequently that critics can’t pigeonhole them.

What themes do you write about for Under A Banner? Do any of you have backgrounds in folk music and if so does this influence your writing and performing? The folk music scene is very stuck in the mud in my opinion and not very open to change so how has the folk scene been towards Under A Banner?
When writing new songs (I pen the lyrics and chordal skeletons of our songs) we draw upon a number of themes. Not all of our songs are agit-socio-political commentary, and not all are angry. I suppose we write about the same things (life, the universe and everything) as a lot of other bands do; the trick is in being able to express these ideas and abstractions in new and original ways. We at least try. Regarding the repetition of themes on the folk or folk-rock ‘circuit’, there’s something of a tradition within these genres to rage against the system, whatever that actually means.
One thing I have been very impressed with is the connection the band has with it’s fans. Do you think its important to foster a sort of family relationship? 
It would appear that in today’s musical climate, the most successful of bands – especially those without significant financial backing of major labels or other benefactors – are those who foster an ongoing two-way conversational relationship with their fans. This is something that we are acutely aware of and happy to participate in. We make regular use of both a Facebook band page and a gig group as well as Twitter (which appears to be on the decline actually) and a mailing list. The maintenance of each of these is key keeping people abreast of the band’s plans. We have made quite a few friends this way, so it doesn’t feel too arduous.
Now Wolverhampton is a very working class town and like most of the industrial parts of England outside the south-east has suffered under both Labour and Tory governments over the last few decades. How has this changed the town. It’s still massively pro-Labour and was pro-Brexit but what is the town like. Has regeneration achieved anything for the ordinary man and woman in the street. What is their that makes you proud to be from Wolves?
As I previously touched upon, being from Wolverhampton is a mixed blessing. The city doesn’t have such an active and enthusiastic live scene for original music as other places we’ve played, although metal bands seem to have plenty of opportunities to combine forces and work with local promoters. Having said this, Wolverhampton is far from a cultural dead zone. The resurgence in the popularity of real ale and craft beer here has begun to improve the city’s nightlife experience, with several new real ale bars and micropubs springing up in and around the city centre. When these venues host open mic nights at least some small gesture is made to revive part of the live music scene. The recent regeneration projects in the heart of the city’s shopping complex are also beginning to gentrify my hometown. The expected and ubiquitous giants of commerce are still very much the major players, but while some smaller independent retailers have given up their long-held plots under the hammer of ever increasing ground rent, some have clung on and continue to flourish. Metamorphosis has to happen in cities, whatever their size; there are of course winners and losers in this process. On the whole I’m happy to be part of it all. If we, as a band, can make more of a mark with what we do then I could definitively say that Wolverhampton has played its part; it is, after all, where we draw our largest crowds outside of festivals and big support slots.

Now the question that’s caused more rows on the London Celtic Punks Facebook page than the “who hates Maggie Thatcher the most” one. What do you think of Frank Turner? Folk-punk troubadour or spoiled posh brat who hangs around with the royal family?
In answer to your Frank Turner question, from what I’ve heard he’s done quite a lot to give less wealthy musicians a platform. I do like some of his music too. I think it would be churlish to dislike someone on the grounds that they may or may not have had a ‘leg up’ in their chosen cultural or artistic field, that is, if their own brand of art is worth taking heed of. I do, however, have a problem with vapid and vacuous celebrity, especially when its derived from equally facile junk TV shows. Now there’s something to kick against!
That’s it then Under A Banner. Anything you would like to add and people you would like to thank…
 Under A Banner have just embarked on a Spring tour with folk/punk comrades Headsticks. We are also playing festivals right up to Autumn and will continue to write new material. As ever, massive thanks to all the people who’ve connected with us and travelled to see us play live. See you out there.
(have a listen to the latest album from Under A Banner ‘The Wild Places’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)
Contact Under A Banner

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

The Dead Maggies are a folkpunk band from Tasmania. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Wild Dogs And Flannies

FolkTilYouPunkRecords

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

Aussie Celtic Punk’s and Australian Folk Punk Scene

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

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

Australia’s folk-punk troubadour!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a line. I love it.

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

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

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

(listen to Song For Absent Friend here for free before you buy)
* Benny Mayhem will be playing at Rebellion festival in Blackpool on August 4th so look out for dates across the country around then in what will be his fifth visit to these shores.
Buy Song For Absent Friend
Contact Benny Mayhem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GET STATE OF REPAIR

FromTheBand  RiotskaRecords

CONTACT THE BAND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 REVIEWS ROUND-UP PART ONE. PINT KILLERS, THE MUCKERS, NOWHEREBOUND, HOIST THE COLOURS, SKILTRON, BAY STREET BASTARDS

Every year we have been doing this has got better and better for celtic-punk releases. As happy as we are that this is so it also means that we just cannot keep up with everything out there. We haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 1 of our 2016 Round Up where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but it has been impossible to keep up so here’s a few quick ones just to catch up and get 2016 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. This time round we head to the America’s. Well four from the USA, one from Canada and one from Argentina!

PINT KILLERS- ‘Boston Brewed’ EP (CDbaby)

pintkillersYeah I know we are hardwired to like ANYTHING that comes out of Boston but this is some killer street punk right enough. Only founded earlier this year Pint Killers feature ex-members of Nowhere USA, Dot Rats, Third Knuckle, The Struggle and the Pug Uglies. “Boston Brewed Punk Drinking Songs And Anthems” they call it and fair enough that’s exactly what you get. Their shared Irish ancestry looms large over everything they do in this four track EP about celebration, drinking, friendship, and brotherhood. The songs flash by in… well a flash of only eight minutes. Fists in the air and heads down working class punk rock, or blue collar as the Yanks prefer to put it. All the songs burst with energy but it’s the longest track ‘Around The Hood’, all of two and a half minutes!, that tick’s all the boxes for me. It may not have bagpipes but so what! And what a great name too…

 THE MUCKERS- ‘The Muckers’ LP (iTunes  GooglePlay)
the-muckers-2016The Muckers are coming at you from Atlanta city in Georgia in the deep south of America. The city rose from the ashes of the Civil War to become a major city and later on in the decades following the Civil Rights Movement, during which the city earned a reputation as too busy to hate for it’s progressive views compared to other cities in the deep south, attained international prominence. The band take their name from the word ‘mucker’, a colloquialism meaning good friend used in main by the Irish and people from Yorkshire in England. The Muckers are Atlanta’s only Irish rock band with a massive following in the city among the Irish and their friends. A five-piece folk-rock band that as well as a strong emphasis on Irish music also blends in influences of gypsy music, sea shanties, country, rockabilly and anything else they can get their hands on. Eleven songs( and a mental hidden track!!) lasting well over forty minutes and what you get is exactly what is outlined above. Kicking off with a short accordion intro it soon launches into the superb ‘There is A Time’ with very much a bluegrass feel. Other notable songs here include both ‘Molly’ and ‘Eddie Connors’ which were originally recorded by a couple of The Muckers old bands but given a real lease of life here. A few self penned numbers and some standard Irish covers make up the rest of the album. A great knees up of an album with a grand sense of humour and infectiously good fun and well played.

NOWHEREBOUND- ‘Hearts And Arrows’ LP  (Bandcamp)
nowhereboundWe have been long time fans of Texan band Nowherebound and while they may not be a celtic-punk band, or even a folk-punk band, but they are simply fantastic so deserve their spot here. If you can imagine a fast and heavy punk rock band that somehow manages to squeeze enough folk melodies into their songs then that’s them. A folk band in all but their music! Coming out of the same camp as punk bands like Social Distortion, Rancid, and Gaslight Anthem but with their cap tipped firmly in the direction of the Murphys or The Pogues. Much more straight up punk rock then their previous releases have been they toured Europe again in 2016, for the umpteenth time, but unfortunately have not made it to Blighty yet. From hard rock in-yer-face to pop punk melodies to raise-your-glass-and-sing-along-anthems Nowherebound that hit you in both the heart and the head.
HOIST THE COLORS- ‘Mourners’ LP  (FromTheBand  iTunes)
hoistthe-colorsOne of the better known of the North American celtic-punk bands Hoist The Colors come from the urban metropolis Los Angeles. They play a blend of punk rock, trad Irish, Americana and bluegrass that is as original as the city they call home. Now this is one album I would have loved to have gone into real detail about but it only landed in LCP Towers a few days ago so I am having to write this on just a handful of listens. And my first impression is the same as my tenth. It’s a fecking masterpiece! A wonderful LP that really shows the depth of the scene and the willingness to push the boundaries of what is celtic-punk. From first track ‘Little Rebel’ right through to ‘Something More Than This’ their is not a single bad track on Mourners. The title track was the first song released from the album and came with a superb video. Excellent use of the mandolin and the punchy punk rock keeps the toes a tapping.

The second release from Mourners was ‘Rainier’ and for me was the album standout. Fast paced, punk rock that is accessible without being at all lame and again some excellent mando to keep the celtic among us happy. The rest of the album flows as smoothly as a pint of Guinness with the music uptempo and catchy as hell. Twelve songs and a running length of almost fifty minutes of non-stop quality celtic-punk that would surely be loved by anyone from you’re studs’n’spikes nephew to your auld Nanna.
and from South of the border we have

SKILTRON- ‘Legacy Of Blood’ LP  (From The Band  iTunes)

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At the forefront of the Folk-Metal genre, though really it is in fact Celtic-Metal, Skiltron were formed in 2004 and come from Argentina. Now thats not so strange as it may appear as plenty of Celtic people emigrated there back in the day mostly Irish and Welsh. In 2016 they embarked on an epic European tour taking in an amazing nineteen countries in under two months. I missed their London date as it was my brothers wedding unfortunately but was absolutely stunning from other people told me. We have touched on metal a few times here and there seems to be a quite a scene growing out of what was once a handful of bands. We even have a London based celtic-metal band worth checking out Isamos (here). Legacy Of Blood is only eight songs long but as you can imagine it’s all quite epic and the songs take their time. The longest track is also my favourite, ‘Sawney Bean Clan’, about a clan of Scottish  murderers who reportedly killed and ate over 1,000 people anywhere between the 13th and 16th centuries.

It’s fast metal music with two bagpipes at times and the sound is quite incredible. The whole album is brilliant and if you like the sound of bagpipes then open your mind and get on board here. Fast as feck with rapid drumming and Scottish topics with clearly sung lyrics. No growling or grunting here!! I love it and seeing as how we have recently made friends with the people who put the gig on in London we hope to be bringing some more of this interesting scene to London soon.

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BAY STREET BASTARDS- ‘Small Batch’  (Bandcamp)
baystreetbastards
The Bay Street Bastards from the wonderful sounding Thunder Bay in Ontario in east-central Canada. The band proclaim their influences on their Facebook page as
“Canada, hockey, metal, punk, beer”
and listening to this corker of an EP that figures! WE caught their debut album in last years Round-Up’s here and if they keep releasing things in December then we’ll never get the chance to do a proper one! Anyhow that was bloody brilliant and this EP continues where they left off. Small Batch begins with ‘Hooligan Crew’ and its fast paced accordion led celtic-punk rock with some great dual vocals, which I always think works well. This is followed by ‘Blood, Sweat & Teeth’ and things speed up with a song that is significantly different from the opener but carries all the same elements. ‘Ships of November’ slows it down a tad and just as you think you’ve a lovely ballad coming along ‘Bang’ and we’re back into celtic-punk territory. ‘Slappywag’s’ appeared on that debut album and has been re-recorded here. It was the standout track then and it’s the standout track here as well. A ton more energy and a ton more oompf where you thought it would be impossible to add but they done it.  Where the fiddle held court last time here it’s the mando and the accordion in charge in a brilliant song about the Bastards favourite boozer. The EP comes to an end with ‘Private Reserve’ and another beauty of a song. Less manic than the previous songs and perhaps the closest they come to sounding like the Dropkick’s. So what you get here are five songs that is over and done in a fast and frantic seventeen minutes. Every song here stands up on it’s own and the Bastards show they ape no one with their subtle changes of style. One of the many things that made their debut album stand out was their innovative style and they have lost none of that here. This isn’t just music for beer swillin’, foot stompin’, mosh pittin’ Canadians it’s music for beer swillin’, foot stompin’, mosh pittin’ wherever you come from!
So ends Part 1 and we are sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full on London Celtic Punks treatment. Apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved the full treatment. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy. Anyhow more to come in Part 2 so check back after Christmas Day and catch up with some more of our favourite 2016 releases from around the world this time. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

EP REVIEW: HANDSOME YOUNG STRANGERS- ‘Battle Of Broken Hill’ (2016)

From backyard barbie to the biggest stages in Australia, Handsome Young Strangers play 100% colonial bush folk-punk !

bobh-cover

It’s an absolute pleasure to pretty much see out 2016 at pretty much where we came in, raving about Australian celtic-punk bands! It’s been another outstanding year for the Aussies with both The Rumjacks and The Go-Set continuing to tour like crazy all over the world leaving nothing but good wishes and lot’s of new fans in their wake. Well hopefully we can soon add Handsome Young Strangers to that list as it would be criminal plain wrong to not tour this, especially in London! Now Handsome Young Strangers are not a new band they actually formed way back in 2004 as a sort of loose collective and it wasn’t until 2007 they recorded for the first time, the Shane Warne EP in honour of the hard drinking and hard living Aussie cricketer. This was followed by another EP, Melbourne Town, in 2009 and in 2011 their debut album Here’s The Thunder Lads! hit the streets and the following year another EP, Thunderbolt, was their last release till now. They could quite rightly consider themselves some sort of super group given the amount of talent in their ranks including past and present members of, among others: Sydney City Trash, The Rumjacks, Roaring Jack and The Bottlers.
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Handsome Young Strangers L-R:  Drizabone D: Vocals, Mandola * Adam Young: Vocals, Guitars * Looch: Drums * Browny: Acoustic Guitar * Jim Mongrel: Bass * Mark ‘Na-Na’ Hyland: Vocals, Guitars Adam Kenny (currently on tour with the Rumjacks): Bazouki

The EP begins with the raging self-penned number ‘The Battle Of Broken Hill’ and it tells a very strange story indeed. As with most Aussie bands they dig deep into their countries rich and tragic history and come up with a real belter of a song that shows that the modern scourge of religion based terror attacks are not a new thing. Over 100 years ago at Broken Hill in New South Wales two Muslim men supposedly working for the Ottaman Empire opened fire on a train full of tourists. In the ensuing gun battle and subsequent siege four people were murdered and the killers themselves were shot down in a final dramatic shoot out. The Go-Set’s Lachlan McSwain guests on bagpipes and the song sounds not unlike the Rumjacks most folkier songs. A real thigh slapper and more than a touch of countryn’western all over this great opener.

I couldn’t figure how to group the songs together so though this would be the best way so read about the song and then play the song. Simple. Next up is ‘Mrs Jones’ a song written by one time Handsome Young Stranger Andrew ‘Fredo’ Donkin who sings vocals on the song. More of a rocky number with the folk instruments pushed to the back but still there. A nice bit of Hammond organ too, ably played by Michael Carpenter, who mastered the EP. A real catchy chorus here.


Now it don’t take a genius to suss out what ‘Poor Ned’ is about. I was brought up on folk stories about the great Ned Kelly. Being the son of Tipperary this Aussie outlaw featured quite high in my bedtime stories of him taking on the British army while helping the poor and needy and fighting back against anti-Catholic and anti-Irish discrimination rampant in the colony. If ever their was a symbol of Australian celtic-punk than itn is Ned Kelly.

“You know they took Ned Kelly
And they hung him in the Melbourne gaol
He fought so very bravely
Dressed in iron mail
And no man single-handed
Can hope to break the bars
It’s a thousand like Ned Kelly
Who’ll hoist the flag of stars”

Written by Trevor Lucas it was first recorded by Fothringay and released as a single and was used as title track of the Tony Richardson film Ned Kelly starring Mick Jagger. Also performed by Fairport Convention (here) and Adelaide 1970’s folk-punk band Red Gum (here) Handsome Young Strangers give it a real blast through. A really good version with the Strangers stamp all the way through.


The longest song on the EP follows with ‘I, Argonaut’ clocking in at over six minutes. Another self -penned number written by DrizoBone D it’s the slowest song on the EP though that doesn’t matter much in the world of celtic-punk.


‘Maxine’ follows and is a unusual cover of the New Zealand born singer-songwriter Sharon O’Neill (here) smash hit in Australia and NZ from 1983. The song tells the sad story of a prostitute in Kings Cross, the red light area of Sydney.

“Maxine, you’re not the only one
To take the whole world on
But no one’s ever won
Maxine, Case 1352
A red and green tattoo
Eyes cold steel blue”

Well done to the Bhoys for choosing such an unusual song and certainly not one I ever heard before. It’s played as a straight up rock number and fits in perfectly with the EP.

The EP ends with ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ and what exactly can you say about one of the most popular and recogniseable celtic songs ever written. The Waterboys track became a ‘classic’ a long long time ago and I’m sure has kept Mike Scott plenty warm in clover over the years. Here the Strangers keep pretty much to the blueprint but again add just enough to make it their own. Superb fiddle here which adds a touch of country to the celtic.

The Battle Of Broken Hill is the fourth release from the simply amazing Tasmanian record label ‘Folk ‘Til Ya Punk’ and is available in physical and digital formats as well as iTunes but before you give your hard earned to those tax dodging bastards please check out the record label’s store. They are wholly independent and I daresay run on a shoestring, but nobody is doing more at the moment to promote new music within the celtic-folk punk scene.  A real labour of love!. Folk ‘Til Ya Punk will be going on to release their new album in early 2017 and I truly cannot wait to hear it.

Australiana (I love that word!) bushpunk stalwarts Handsome Young Strangers are an institution in the Sydney folk-punk scene and deservedly so too. Here they have delivered a quality EP of almost half an hour of great Aussie music. Seriously I’ve been reviwing LP’s all year with smaller running times than that! Six songs, three of their own and three well chosen and polished covers. It won’t surprise anyone to hear I loved this and that I’m sure anyone with the smallest appreciation for any of the bands mentioned will as well.

Buy The EP

FolkTil’YaPunk  iTunes

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Folk Til ‘Ya Punk Records: Our roster contains what we some amazing and upcoming Australian folk-punk, folk, punk, folk-rock, celtic punk, gypsy and bluegrass artists. WebSite  Facebook

ALBUM REVIEW: STEVE WHITE AND THE PROTEST FAMILY- ‘Protest For Dummies’ (2016)

Protest For Dummies is an unashamedly political album that doesn’t hector or bully or lecture but will make you laugh, cry, tap your foot and sing along.

stevewhiteprotestfamily

Welcome one and all to the third studio album from one of London Celtic Punks favourite bands Steve White & The Protest Family. It’s been two years since the release of last LP, This Band’s Sick and it’s been a long two years for anyone of a socialist persuasion. The Tories election win, Brexit, Trump and the increasing scourge of the poison of identity politics have ravaged the left and has not seen us so seperated from the working class in decades. It’s hard to be left-wing at the moment and certainly there is no joy in being so… except that is for Steve White And The Protest Family! New release Protest For Dummies is that rare thing in left-wing circles. It’s a laugh and a bloody good one at that too. Growing up I use to hear this kind of music in the working men’s clubs around where I was born. Satirical folk music that was bawdy, risqué and near, and sometimes well over, the knuckle, most definitly not ‘PC’ but was also solid, full of pride and fiercly socialist. Those days are gone sadly and X Factor all but dominates, folk and punk music has gone soft and the real left are demoralised with the only possible ray of light being Jeremy Corbyn for all he’s worth. I’m as down as the rest are but soon as I slipped Protest For Dummies into the stereo I felt that fire burning up in me and by half way through I was ready for the picket line!

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Steve White And The Protest Family (left to right): Steve White- Vocals/Guitars/Harmonica/Percussion * Funky Lol Ross- Guitars/Mandolins/Melodica/Percussion * Doug E.Harper- Bass/Vocals * Russ Chandler- Banjo/Vocals

The album begins with ‘God Save The Queen’s Speech’ and your first impressions are of a Cockney rhyming away over some laid back acoustic folk and no drums! Yes they have no drummer. Never had and never will for as they announced on their debut album ‘Drums Ruin Everything’. Its all humorous and tongue in cheek on the surface but their’s an anger raging underneath.

“She lives in the biggest council house I’ve ever seen”

Next up is ‘Tag Team Time’ and if you’re looking for a wrestling metaphor involving Jeremy Corbyn that this is the one for you. ‘George Of The Jungle’ starts off with that much under used instrument in celtic-punk the harmonica. The song tells of Saint George, the patron Saint of England who was thought to be born in Syria on 23rd April 303 and imagines him being stuck in the Calais refugee centre, nicknamed the Jungle, trying to get out.

‘Cheer Up Mate’ brings out some electric guitar while trying to get us to blame the real enemy not some

“poor bloke running from the bombs”

while ‘Victoria Says’ namechecks some right-wing media commenters while taking the P out of UKIP parliamentary candidate Victoria Ayling who last year asked the question

“what happens when renewable energy runs out?”

‘Hardwork’ leaves the instruments behind and the band go it acapello with each band member sharing the singiong and instantly reminds me of Attila The Stockbroker. ‘IDS Land’ is about that most unpopular of Tory politicians Iain Duncan Smith. He’s the MP for Chingford and Woodford Green on the East fringe of London. Before him was Thatcher’s rottweiller Norman Tebbitt and before him Winston Churchill. It was also the birthplace of such notables as David Beckham, Carry On star Leslie Phillips and guitarist Steve Hillage and it’s also where The Kray twins are buried. hard to fathom how the people there could be conned into voting for these scumbags but their you go. Some more electric guitar and I get the feeling someone in the band is an old rocker! ‘None Of The Above’ is next and refers to the possibility of putting none of the above on the ballot paper at elections. One thing you can say about Protest For Dummies is that its all very lively and with Steve’s vocals as clear as a cockney bell it doesn’t matter there’s no lyrics included on the CD cover. These songs are very London-centric and close to the bands heart as they live on the eastern fringe of London themselves in Walthamstow. I use to work there and loved the area but slowly the yuppies are closing in. ‘Pop-Up Punx’ rips the piss out of that punk sacred cow Johnny Rotten among others. How the establishment is now getting into punk and the true conservative (little ‘c’ and big ‘C’) nature of the old time punks who are now trying to deny the things they once said (and never really) believed in. All a joke. I love ‘The Side Of The Fox’ as it’s one of the rockiest off the album. Fox hunting is still happening and Steve and his bandmates are on the side of the fox against the Cameron’s and the Clarkson’s of this country.

They turn their hands to a bit of blues-rock next with ‘Sniffin’ Gluten’ about those said yuppies that are on the march to E17 (Walthamstow’s post-code) to take over the shops and the close down the pubs. The album comes to an end with the sweary epic ‘A Song For Sonja’ with the words written by a dear friend and comrade of the band who died last year. That is not the end though as the real end comes shortly after with a song I fecking love and have been waiting for a reference to for the entire album. A little clue to what I mean can be found in the review we did of This Band Is Sick here.

Steve White And The Protest familyAnd that is that. Twelve songs clocking in at forty-six minutes and right up their with their previous releases though I can’t help feeling that if they weren’t so concerned on getting their message across they could properly ROCK-OUT a bit. The lyrics are multi-layered in the same way a band like Half Man Half Biscuit’s are in that you may listen as close as you can but you’ll always discover a line you never heard before that will raise a smile or two. Musically they occupy the space that’s neither punk nor folk but at the same time both. Is it just for grizzled, working class, left-wingers who drink real ale and watch lower league (soon to be the top echelons of non-league perhaps…) football like me? Well yes and no. It could well be the soundtrack to our lives but if I thought that good music like this didn’t have the power to go beyond the converted then I think I would chuck my lot in with the X-Factorists and that must never happen!

(have a listen to Protest For Dummies below before you send them your fiver)

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

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

O'Toole

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

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

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

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

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

As the band say themselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What a perfect time to celebrate!

Love in a silent world creates another rush of hope;

something is coming”

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

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

“There’s nothing wrong with love songs”

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

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

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

 “The beauty was already there”

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

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

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

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EP REVIEW: MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS- ‘The Organworks Recordings Session’ (2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIVE REVIEW: THE CUNDEEZ IN SOUTH LONDON SEPTEMBER 2016

KEEPIN’ IT OARY DOWN AMONG THE SASSENACHS DAY TWO

by Vincent Mahon

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

Dissent

Dissent

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

BWC

Black Water County

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sinful Maggie

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

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

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

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

Sinful Maggie

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

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

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

Sinful

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

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

INTERVIEW WITH COMRADE X

Hitting home with the force of a police raid on a late night lock-in at the dodgiest South London boozer Comrade X emerges from the rubble of political failure, X Factor and wall to wall mediocrity to raise a pint of Guinness to the spirit of 1977!
Over the last couple of years it has been our pleasure to make the acquaintance of a good few people, who we are extremely proud to say, have become part of the extended London Celtic Punks family. If you have attended a London Celtic Punks gig over the last few years then I am sure you will have witnessed our auld mucker Comrade X starting off proceedings by kicking up a storm with his own unique brand of acoustic-punk. Best described as “one geezer, one guitar, three chords and the truth” and, my own favourite, “Woody Guthrie meets Oi!” he’s just an ordinary bloke with an acoustic guitar and the truth to tell. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about what he does, but what does he think on the important matters of the day? We asked yer man a few questions over a few pints of stout so read on and find out…
Comrade3

Now Comrade X has been around on the music scene a lot longer than any of us have been so we thought we’d give him a chance to fill us in (not literally!) and give us the benefit of his knowledge. Now there may be a small handful of people reading this who are not aware of your contribution to the world of alternative music so want to enlighten them? What started your interest in music and how long you been playing and what bands you been involved in up to now? I was 14 when the Pistols appeared on Bill Grundy and it just blew me away. Till that point I was wearing tank tops, Oxford Bags and DM’s and fancied myself as a boot boy with an aspiration to be a face on the Shed End at Chelsea. After Grundy I wanted to know more about these punks. I bought New Rose when it came out and that was that – but it was really the first Clash album that shifted everything for me. After that I bought a guitar out of a junk shop in Leatherhead and started rehearsing with my first band Discipline at the Cabin Club down on Longmead Estate in Epsom. That would have been some time in 1977. We had guitars that chopped your fingers off and 5 watt Woolworths’ practice amps – we were dire but a fire had been lit. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

SINGLE REVIEW: BRYAN McPHERSON- ‘Born Again American Blues’ (2016)

A fusion of Americana, folk, alternative and punk this Irish-American guy is a whole lot more than even this.

Bryan

Now I didn’t quite get the music of Bryan McPherson straight away I must admit. My fellow founding member of the London Celtic Punks had spent a couple of years previous trying to indoctrinate me and although I did really like what he did I was far from thinking he was the genius I now consider him. This all changed one summer Bryan MacPhersonevening in Camden last year when I saw Bryan perform live in a shitty rock venue with the crappiest PA ever and a even crappier sound man. Suddenly it all clicked into place and he has been a solid feature on my stereo ever since. Bryan was born and raised on the mean streets of Dorchester, a blue collar working-class Irish-American Catholic neighbourhood in Boston, that was also home to half the members of the original Dropkick Murphys. He was inspired as a kid by the energy and angst of punk, as well as the lyrically driven American folk songs of the early 1960’s. His first gigs were on street corners, at house parties and subway stations in Boston’s inner city. In 2001 he burst onto the acoustic music scene but then Bryan took a break from performing to address some personal issues and vanished from the scene. Since his return he has played the length and breadth of North America and more recently further afield as a solo artist. This is powerful passionate, acoustic-punk from the heart.

I got the born again american blues blues blues blues.

Playing another show down in Santa Cruz Cruz Cruz.
Up to Portland and Seattle, all the way from Syracuse.
And I’m playing like there’s nothing left to lose.
What do you want from me my lady of the sea?
You want to wash me toss me drag me wash me away.
I got the finger picking sticking love love love in my vein.
And I got an answer to all the other answers that will take your pain away.
I want to live forever on Friday.
When there’s always a check in the mail and I’m always paid.
What do you want from me my lady of the breeze?
I got a western wind blowing down on me.
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.
7 years since last call, but there’s a soul dying somewhere tonight.
What do you want from me my lady of the street with your broken bottles and sewer caps forlorn?
I want 50,000 people to clap your hands right on time.
We can all sing in rhythm and we can all sing in rhyme.
The engineers will struggle to keep us all in time.
We’re all life-long prisoners of this time.
In these dark dark dark dark dark dark scary times.
We walk walk walk walk walk walk fine lines between ever present death and ever lasting life.
What do you want from me my lady of belief?
She says faith is a god damn motherfucker to keep.
Harmonica.
She said she’s never coming back again.
She said she’s never coming back again.
She said I’m as gone gone as your western wind.
You’re never ever ever ever ever gonna see me here again.
But then baby baby baby baby baby baby please come home.
You left me left me left me left me left me left me all alone.
And these eastern winds are blowing so god damned cold.
Look at us we’re growing so god damn old.
What do you want from me boy of the breeze?
She said you’re blowing like a broken tornado.
The End.

Released on July 18th, 2016 and is performed and was written by the man himself Bryan MacPherson and recorded by Bryan Dobbs in Atwater Village, Los Angeles, California and mixed and mastered by Willy Samuels at Nutone in Pittsburgh California.

Bryan McPherson

With just a guitar and a harmonica and a passionate and heartfelt and emotional and frail and powerful and uplifting voice. Bryan’s music can chill you to the very bone as he dissects American working class life. When those pampered and privileged members of the middle classes want to lecture us about so-called ‘white privilege’ then maybe they ought to have lived a moment in Bryan McPherson’s shoes. Just a moment. Street life, politics, addiction, the prison system, class war and discrimination litter the alleys of McPherson’s songs. Don’t despair though as amongst it all shining through are moments of beauty and clarity that are as beautiful as ever was committed to paper. The music of Bryan McPherson may not be an altogether fun roller coaster ride but you will get untold pleasure hearing it.

Download The Single

Bandcamp (only $1!!)

Contact Bryan

Facebook  WebSite  Bandcamp  Twitter  YouTube

  • Bryan is a bit skint so if you are feeling generous you can get all ten of Bryan’s available previous releases for just $20.22 (that’s about £13). That’s Born Again American Blues (2015), Street Lights (2009), Live at Artaban Hall (2013), Wasted World- Live At A Campfire In Nedrow, NY. (2015), American Boy / American Girl (2012),Wedgewood (2015), Live at The Milestone (2014), Kelly Thomas (2014), Originally From Dorchester (2013) and Live at Club Passim 2004 (2004). That’s over 50% off so help a buddy out here.

OBITUARY: REMEMBERING ERIK PETERSEN

by Dave Hughes

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

Erik 2

Folk punk can get a bad rap. Out on the internet there are thousands of bad recordings of badly sung and badly played songs about Things That Are Bad (™). Songs that lack nuance, metaphor and melody. Then there was Erik Petersen. He was different, he was the master of crafting a song around an ancient melody, turning a phrase, and constructing a tale full of metaphor, life, death and everything in between. It breaks my heart to be writing an obituary for Erik, he was one of my heros, he was a friend, and above everything else he was a genius.

Erik was a long time player in the Philadelphia punk scene. His band The Orphans split up in 2000, but not before writing some amazing slices of hardcore (check out The Government Stole My Germs CD from their Raise The Youth anthology). Near the end of The Orphans, a shut down show might mean Erik grabbing an acoustic guitar and playing some unplugged songs instead. There is a show on Youtube from a veterans hall, a young Erik sits on a chair in the middle of a room of punks playing early versions of songs that would go on to be Mischief Brew. Erik, himself, had commented that this scratchy footage was the start of Mischief Brew.

Erik 1Between The Orphans and Mischief Brew there was the Kettle Rebellion. The Kettle Rebellion was a tight three piece of Erik, Jon Foy on Bass and Chris Doc Kulp on drums. They played a style that could be described as Medieval Folk Punk, the kind of hardcore that you’d hear while you strolled through a renaissance fair. An eight track LP was recorded in 2002, but before it could be released, the master tapes were stolen and leaked to archaic MP3 sharing sight Soulseek. In response, Erik scrapped the project. Years later, he stumbled across a version of the master tapes and decided to put it out. In 2013, the Kettle Rebellion LP was finally released through Fistolo on Vinyl, and my own record label, Different Circle Records, on CD.

Erik and Mischief Brew were DIY to the core, and before going on with the story, I have to introduce Denise. Denise was Erik’s wife and partner in crime for over 20 years. Emails sent through to Fistolo would invariably be responded by Denise. She’s a wonderful small package of vibrancy, smiles and energy. There’s also the Pugs, a Mischief Brew article is not complete without bringing up the Pugs. The Petersens rehomed many pugs through the years, and they were a common feature at their American shows. Check out the early recording of Erik playing at a PunX Picnic and you’ll hear one of them, perhaps Garcia, yelping along to Erik’s genius. Up the Pugs.

Erik 4In 2003, Erik released a split record with Robert Blake entitled Bellingham/Philadelphia, and also a more electric EP known as Bakenal. These were the start of the Mischief Brew sound that the underground world would associate with Petersen. It was on the Bakenal EP that the anthem “Roll Me Through the Gates of Hell” first appeared, with it’s rally cry of “I am a leader but you will not follow me” providing the spit and sawdust that anarcho-folk had been looking for. Lyrics from this song would be sprayed across walls around the world, most prominently across the outer wall of the Squat-cum-Social-Centre Knoflook in Den Bosch, Netherlands. Footage of Erik standing on the bar at Knoflook (during their last Europe Tour in 2008) singing Jawbreaker’s Boxcar can be found on YouTube. It’s a moment of pure joy, and testament to how he could command a room with his guitar.

Mischief Brew had a few line-up changes through the years, finally settling on a three-piece core of Erik, Shawn St Clair on Bass and Erik’s brother Chris Petersen on drums. Occasionally they’d be joined by Kettle Rebellion’s drummer Doc on percussion and second guitar duties. They released albums infrequently, but at a pace that was slowly increasing in recent years. The initial full length, Smash The Windows, was released in 2005, with its smash the system electric folk punk featuring guest spots from Stza from Leftover Crack and Franz Nicolay (solo artist and past member of The Hold Steady). Featuring a reworked Kettle Rebellion track called A Liquor Never Brewed and a full band Roll Me Through The Gates of Hell, this is the place to start with Mischief Brew.

From there we got Songs from under the sink (an acoustic collection of ‘forgotten’ old songs), The Stone Operation (a European influenced carnaval of a record) and the latest This is Not For Children (their punk rock roots coming to the fore). In between there was a smattering of EPs, the greatest of these being Eriks side of Photographs from the Shoebox (a split with Joe Jack Talcum). On this EP, you will find Labour Day Massacre, one of the prime examples of Erik’s socially conscious political songwriting.
Erik 3Mischief Brew played a lot of shows in America. From small cafes with acoustic guitars in front of a close crowd,  to an audience of thousands at the NYC Bowery Ballroom with The Hold Steady. They toured Europe twice, the last time in 2008 and were about to start another visit here next week. Youtube is a library of live performances, but that only gives you an impression of what it was like to be there.

I’ll finish this with a story about the last time I saw Erik, Denise and Mischief Brew. I found myself living in Brooklyn in 2013 and feeling quite homesick. Mischief Brew had a show booked at a dive bar called Grand Victory which I had frequented a few times. I went along, expecting a small turn-out and to hear some of my favourite songs belted out. I hadn’t seen them since 2008 when they had played in Glasgow (on borrowed guitars due to a fuck-up by the airline), but soon bumped into Chris and Shawn as if it had been yesterday.

There must have been around 200 showing up to this bar show, DaysNDays and Absinth Rose supported, and it was life affirming. From opening with Children Play with Matches to the closing anarchy of Roll me Through the Gates of hell, I was sweaty, hoarse throated and absolutely elated. I headed to the merch desk to buy a vinyl copy of the Stone Operation, and when hearing my thick scottish accent, Denise automatically recognised who I was and the night truly started. I sat at the end of the bar, unending stream of whisky, with Erik, Denise, Shawn, Chris, Doc and Maria (Denise’s sister). They invited me back to Maria’s flat with them for more drinks and merriment. Erik and Shawn drove ahead with the gear and we stayed at the bar to finish our drinks.

Erik 5By the time we arrived at Maria’s, Erik and Shawn were asleep on the sofas with three pugs dancing around the apartment. The rest of us stayed up a while in the kitchen, drank fruit flavoured beer, and I felt like I truly belonged. I went to sleep on the floor with a pillow that was given to me, but awoke with a blanket over me and a pug on my head. Once we were all awake, we sat around and chatted about life, music, and plans. We ordered burgers, ate, and bid our farewells as I ventured out in the hot Brooklyn sun. I’d lost a day, but gained a life time.

I’m sitting writing this in a flat in Paisley, Scotland, with my Mischief Brew T-shirt (bought at the show in Brooklyn), my “May All We Do Be All For Our Delight” tattoo on my arm, trying to comprehend where we go from here. Erik Petersen soundtracked my last 10 years, gave me inspiration for my own songwriting and journey, bonded me with some of my closest friends, and gave me something to strive towards. No Gods, No Masters, No Setlists.

Fair Well Good Fellow, the tape has slowed down, but the music won’t stop.

Find out more about Erik’s great legacy of songs and other work by following the links-

Facebook  WebSite  MySpace  Twitter  YouTube  Bandcamp

STOP-PRESS

Friends of Erik have set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for his wife and family to help get them through all this without the added worry of funeral expenses and to help them get by in this tough time. All of the money raised will be given to his wife, Denise. The campaign can be found here so donate if you can and if you can’t then please share.

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

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

Folk The System

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

Folk The System band

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

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

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

Folk The System- ‘Witchfinder Generals’

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

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

Buy The Album

FromTheBand (CD)  CDbaby  iTunes  (Digital copy)

Contact The Band

Website  Facebook  Reverbnation  Soundcloud  Bandcamp  YouTube

Folk The System instruments

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

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

Balsall Heathens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quality celtic folk punk from the smugglers cove of Hastings.

Matilda's Scoundrels

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

Mat3

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

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

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

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

Crowley

nice hat Al!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hastings Pier

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FILM REVIEW: THE REVENGE OF THE MEKONS (2013)

“the band that took punk ideology most seriously”

Directer: Joe Angio    Release Date: November, 2013  Running Time: 99 minutes

“A loving ode to an unsung band” – LA Times
“Marvelous” – New York Post
“Jubilant” – The Village Voice

Revenge-of-the-Mekons

Emerging soon after the first blasts of UK punk rock, the Mekons went from being a group of socialist art students with no musical skills to the prolific, raucous, rabble rousing progeny of country legend Hank Williams. Formed in Leeds by Jon Langford, Kevin Lycett, Mark White, Andy Corrigan and Tom Greenhalgh they were from the outset highly principled stating

”That anybody could do it; that we didn’t want to be stars; that there was no set group as such, anybody could get up and join in and instruments would be swapped around; that there’d be no distance between the audience and the band; that we were nobody special”

They took the band’s name from the Mekon, an evil character from the Dan Dare comic strip in the popular 1950’s comic The Eagle which briefly resurfaced when I was a kid in the 80’s. Their first single, released in 1978, was ‘Never Been in a Riot’, a piss take of The Clash’s ‘White Riot’ and was a masterpiece of simplistic DIY punk, rock and roll.

The band carried on for several years playing their noisy brand of post-punk rock releasing singles on a variety of labels and their first album, The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strnen, was recorded using a friends bands instruments. Due to an error by the record company art department the cover featured pictures of, fellow Leeds band, Gang of Four by mistake. After The Mekons Story compilation in 1982 the band called it a day, with Langford forming The Three Johns.

They soon returned and began pumping out album after album again on a multitude of labels and even at one time making it onto a major though the resulting album was a commercial flop and though it was loved by the fans they were soon dropped like the proverbial hot potato and cut adrift again.

mekons mekons mekons

click for download link

Over the years and as the band have learnt to play their instruments their musical style has transformed and The Mekons are now as famous for playing country and folk music as well as brief forays into rock and even dub reggae. With around twenty albums to their name plus untold amount of singles and EP’s as well appearances on dozens of compilations they have a massive discography so a good place to start would be Mekons, Mekons, Mekons which you can download by clicking on the record cover on the right. It covers the years 1987-1992 which includes both their punkier days and their transformation into a post-punk, cowpunk or alt-country band (or whatever label the press give them at that moment in time).

Around 1985’s brilliant Fear And Whiskey the first signs of a full on change in style began to show. Taking the outlaw country’n’western of Hank Williams/Johnny Cash rather than the cowboy hat and glitter of Nashville and The Mekons successfully reinvented themselves. Joe Angio’s exuberant film ‘Revenge Of The Mekons’ documents the unlikely career of this genre-defying collective. Following their improbable history- a surprising and influential embrace of folk and country music, forays into the art world and consistent bad luck with major record labels. Featuring interviews with fans, from musician Will Oldham, author Jonathan Franzen to film director Mary Harron and comedian Fred Armisen, ‘Revenge Of The Mekons’ reveals four decades into an ever-evolving career how The Mekons continue to make bold, unpredictable music while staying true to the punk roots.

Mekons at the Poetry Foundation July 2015

Mekons circa 2015 left to right: Lu Edmonds, Tom Greenhalgh, Steve Goulding, Sally Timms, Jon Langford, Susie Honeyman, Rico Bell (not pictured: Sarah Corina)

Critically and cultishly adored The Mekons deserve to be much more well known and this film reveals how, four decades into a still-evolving career, the Mekons continue to make original, genre-defying music while staying true to the punk ethos.

(Q&A and performance with band members Jon Langford and Lu Edmunds following the screening of Revenge of the Mekons in 2015)

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The Mekons On The Web

The 10 Best Mekons Songs here * LastFM * AllMusic * The Mekons Blog here * The Mekons discography reviews here  A Skeptic’s Guide To The Mekons here * Toppermost here