Hungarian Celtic-Punk legends and trailblazers Firkin release their seventh studio album.
Pretty much a year to the day when their last single came out Firkin have released their new album Spice It Up! Moving on from the, amicable, loss of singer Andy to be replaced by a good friend of the band for many years Ákos. Not be the first time Firkin have changed singers but the spirit of the band outlasts any individual members and a whole new era began with the aptly named single ‘Still Alive’.
One of the most prominent and internationally well known European Celtic-Punk bands Firkin formed in 2008 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest by expert flutist PJ. Since then they have put out dozens of releases and toured pretty much every inch of Europe, including playing a stunning one-off show, that we’ll never forget, in London on New Years Eve 2015. Now on their third vocalist after Barna left in 2014 and then Andy they have risen to the challenge using the change in personal to their advantage. With more than 700 concerts in 17 countries they have had gold albums, been nominated for a Hungarian Grammy Award, their song ‘Focimese’ became the official song of the Hungarian football team for the 2016 UEFA Championships and these are just a small selection of highlights in their illustrious career. With Covid closing down the music industry for a couple of years it’s taken some bands a while to get back on their feet but Firkin have constantly looked to the future and currently they are working on a symphonic orchestral production as well as a full length children’s theatre due to premier next year.
So time to review Firkins new album, their seventh. Released on St. Patrick’s day just gone and the album begins with the superb and catchy ‘The Drunken Angels’ Club’ and the guys don’t just deliver a great opener but a very clever one about an unsuspecting bar and a message that you don’t need alcohol or drugs as a solution to the problems of life.
“Little did I know, One day the innocent cherub, Would end up in, The Angels’ Club”
The album has twelve songs of which four are covers beginning with the next three and a tremendous Celtic-Punk re-interpretation of the sea shanty ‘Santiana’. The song dates from at least the 1850’s and is inspired it is thought by events during the Mexican–American War. This is followed by ‘Donald MacGillavry’. Now some trad Folk songs are ripe for beefing up a bit with electric guitars and drums and this is one of them. Keltikon released a great version a few years back which I’m sure helped put the song on a few bands radars. Firkin’s trademark flute gets the song moving and Ákos voice is strong as well as his accent! A song that links the Scottish and Irish Folk traditions. This is followed by another cover and ‘Step It Out Mary’ is an old traditional Irish song about a beautiful girl called Mary whose father is one day asked by a wealthy countryman for her hand in marriage. She was promised all the gold and silver she could ever want and a wedding date was set. Mary though was not interested and at around midnight on the day of her wedding she was found dead drowned with her lover in a nearby stream.
‘Still Alive’ came out April last year and announced Ákos arrival in the band and a fresh start for Firkin. The video would garner six international film awards, including Best Music Video at the London Independent Film Awards and six other nominations. They speed it right up for ‘Ticktack’ and here the undercurrent of Metal is very obvious but at all times it never overpowers Firkin’s music. That they can play relatively heavy music while remaining totally accessible it some achievement. PJ gets to show off his considerable talent next in the amazing ‘Haiku’. An instrumental of modern day Irish Folk with drums clashing and drums crashing. Again its heavy background is disguised just enough to make you not realise you’re banging your head along to it! They slow it down for ‘How We Love’ an acoustic number where Ákos vocals shine accompanied by plaintive fiddle and acoustic guitar. The first single released to announce the imminent arrival of the album was ‘For A Life’. A song where you can sense the relief at the end of the pandemic and a chance of a fresh start. The excellent video was supported by the Hungarian National Cultural Fund and directed, photographed and edited by Köge.
We are nearing the end and the last of the covers is ‘Finnegan’s Wake’, a raucous Irish-American song which tells of a hod-carrier named Tim Finnegan, who was born “with a love for the liquor” who falls from a ladder and breaks his skull and is thought to be dead until he is revived at his wake meaning whiskey was the cause of both his death and resurrection! The song was first published in New York in 1864 and perhaps is best known as a staple of both the Dropkick Murphys and the Dubliners although it’s never been quite played like this with a smoky backroom jazzy opening before it erupts into the song so beloved by many. ‘Stir It Up!’ is a lively Irish rocker and pretty standard Firkin while the curtain comes down on Spice It Up! with ‘The Boys Are On The Loose’ and there’s an old Hungarian saying ”Only the Donkey drinks alone!”. A fantastic Celtic-Punk anthem to see us out. Fast and furious and one to beat up the floor to that includes the line that many of us utter to ourselves “Ooo, I’ll never drink again… Only this weekend”.
A great album and a great return to form for Firkin and demonstrates Ákos has slotted in perfectly. For those new to the Celtic-Punk scene it may surprise some that Hungary is pretty damn famous for it’s Celtic-Punk. The scene there is one of the best in Europe and it’s my ambition to get over there and sample some of it live. It’s no shock that all the bands in the scene pay homage to Firkin for their inspiration and help and with their incredible work ethic it surely won’t be long before they achieve international glory.
Get Spice It Up! https://bfan.link/spice-it-up-1 GoldRecords