Four great album releases including three bands who released their debuts in 2022 and one celebrating their 10th anniversary all get the London Celtic Punks treatment. Ranging from Celtic-Punk to Irish-Folk to Punk these are the bands that make our nights out special.
Hoping you all had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. After everything we’ve all endured (politicians excepted!) we all deserve it. it’s been a excellent year for Celtic-Punk. After the drought of recent years we’ve been caught in a deluge of music we tried our best but found hard to keep up with. Any regular reader know we prefer to do detailed reviews and even though we can’t give these albums the justice they deserve here we simply had to get them in somehow before the end of the year. Each one impressed us immensely and all are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. We begin with artists from Britain and Ireland.
THE GALLOWGATE MURDERS – ‘ Dead, Gone And Living On’
A booze fuelled gang of Celtic bastards, immigrant vagabonds and travelling rovers, boasting male and female fronted duel vocals the Gallowgate Murders blew onto the stage supporting The Rumjacks on their extensive pre-Covid UK tour and almost stole the show impressing every lucky fecker I met who had seen them. See I was ill and missed the London date but I was sure it wouldn’t be long and then the dreaded lockdown struck and a full stop was put to their march for the next two years. Needless to say I still haven’t seen them and am looking for a ‘sugar daddy’ to pay for them to come down and play here again if anyone is interested in the role. They did manage to put out this self titled six track EP as soon as the lockdown was lifted and I still find it hard to believe that we never got around to doing a proper review at the time. Apologies for that guys and gal. Dead, Gone And Living On certainly deserved one.
One of the EPs highlights is ‘Scáthach’, the tale of a powerful mythical Scottish Warrior Queen. A legendary martial arts teacher who trains Irish hero Cú Chulainn and the Celtic goddess of the Dead ensuring the passage of fighters killed in battle to Tír na nÓg, The Land of Eternal Youth. Another great song here is ‘Only The Bastards’ a catchy Celtic-Punk number that has a Irish-American style to it (I listen to a LOT of Celtic-Punk!) but the whole EP is superb. The EP comes in at over 22 minutes so the six songs get plenty of room to develop and we have reviewed much shorter albums over the years.
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THE MARY WALLOPERS – The Mary Wallopers
We were lucky enough to catch Dundalk’s The Mary Wallopers just a couple of weeks ago at a sold out show at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. A raucous celebration of Irish music but not without it’s more serious and poignant moments too. That gig is replicated with ease on their self titled debut album which came out at the end of October and heralded a huge tour of Ireland and its neighbouring island. Propelled into the spotlight during the pandemic by a series of hilarious live streams where they would chat, joke about and play good old fashioned Poguesy / Dubliners-ish Irish music. Expanding from the original 3-piece of the 2 brothers , frontman Hendy, banjoist Andrew and guitarist Seán McKenna to a seven piece was a stroke of genius and can only see them continued success. The sold out show in Camden has already led to a headline gig at the Kentish Town Forum in May. Highlights include ‘Building Up And Tearing England Down’ which laments the spilt blood of the Irish working class who rebuilt post war Britain and received nothing but the minimum of wages along with scorn and ridicule for doing so and the haunting ballad ‘John O’Halloran’ about the Irish experience of immigrating to England.
“Ah! the weary months in search of work, I tramped through street and road,A shake-me-down in Camden town, it was my first abode.No friendly glance to cheer my heart, no man to to take my hand,No easy gold, only rain and cold in this god-forsaken land.”
The Mary Wallopers are well aware of the relationship the Irish diaspora over her have with the place we grew up in and luckily for them their is a rich vein of songs for them to mine from.
The gig like the album is a series of covers that contain the famous and critically popular, one or two overplayed ones and even a few me auld Mammy would have a hard time remembering. The jewel in the crown though judging from the reception it got in Camden is their cover of ‘Orange Juice And Cod Liver Oil’. Originally written by Ron Clark and Carl Mac Dougall it was made famous by Scottish Folk singer-songwriter Hamish Imlach (please also check out the original it’s long been one of my favourite songs) who like The Mary Wallopers had a terrific sense of humour and was quite the rebel in more ways than one.
An outstanding album packed with great songs and it’s very hard to record a album of covers and expect the punters to just take it but The Mary Wallopers really stamp their brand all over each song and you can forget that they were ever recorded before. This band is going to be massive and while the press will continue to label them the new Pogues we’d have to see some originals to prove them true but I think these fellas could just do it!
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DIRTY OLD FOLKERS – Will Dance For Cash
We try and cover all the new bands we come across in one or another and sometimes it gets to the point where I think we’ve covered everyone and everything and then I find out that I am massively wrong and what we have covered is in fact just the tip of the iceberg. Great examples this year have been The Endings and Twelve Sullivans both bands I really am looking forward to seeing. Another is super-charged folk ensemble Dirty Old Folkers from Birmingham in the West Midlands. Once a powerhouse of the Irish diaspora the city has gone through a transformation but the Brummie Irish remain and while the council is determined to rid the city of all it’s famous hostelries and replace them with flats the Irish continue to play their part in Midlands life. Thinking of themselves, rather marvellously as “a Viz comic, being narrated by the Pogues” Dirty Old Folkers debut album is a window into 21st Century Birmingham life containing Irish and English Folk music with comedy, cabaret and political satire.
The Bankers’ Bonus system and the Coalition Government of a few years ago get a verbal kicking making me think that some of these songs here have been laying around in the Dirty Old Folkers set-list for quite a while. Influences range from Irish and English Folk, Bluegrass, Blues, touches of Jazz and Classical Music and even a nod to fellow Brummies Black Sabbath.
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HEADSTICKS – 10 Years Without Killing Each Other
Ten years is quite the milestone for any band and to reach that milestone with the same members is highly unusual. Most Celtic-Punk bands go through more members than The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra do, so for them to remain friends and comrades through the decade I really love. It’s seven years since we first reviewed them on the London Celtic Punks site for their album Muster and we’ve followed them ever since, right up to last years release of their fourth studio album C.O.W. So it is that we know all fifteen songs included here like the back of our hand even though the band have taken the songs and re-recorded and re-jigged them for this release. Hailing from Stoke in Staffordshire, once famed for it’s industry, it’s still an area with a proud working class and trade union tradition and where Headsticks get their passion and influences from. Since day one they have championed the ordinary folk in the street while writing lyrics that tell real stories and even when they are at their most polemic it still doesn’t feel like you’re being bashed round the head with a newspaper unlike some other bands I could mention.
Singer and songwriter Andrew Tranter leads us through the album sometimes coming off like Jello Biafra and other times soft and tender but always passionate. More Bob Crow than Jeremy Corbyn! In their early days comparisons were made to New Model Army but as they have evolved their sound has become much more their own and while it’s a shame that the songs here aren’t the originals so you can see for yourself the re-recordings have given them a uniformity of the same power.
This may not be the kind of album that readers here are use to but these round ups give us a chance to share with you, via artistic license, to include releases that we loved during the year and that we feel you will love too. Headsticks have always been one of those bands and their constant innovation and evolving sound deserves to be heard and loved by more.
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WATCH OUT FOR PART 2 AND 3 COMING THIS WEEK!
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