The debut EP from highly rated South Yorkshire based Celtic-Punk band Shanghai Treason has hit the airways!
Shanghai Treason are a band we have been championing ever since they first popped up on the Celtic-Punk scene last year (and not just because they’re from South Yorkshire!) with the release of their debut single ‘Devils Basement’ in November. A song that captured the Dropkick’s at their prime with the passion and speed of Punk. It even made the LCP Top Ten Of 2019 the only time a single song has ever made the Best Of lists in seven years.
Here on It’s Treason they bring together their three singles released over the last six months with three new tracks kicking off with that debut song and over 40,000 views across social media certainly saw them arrive in style. ‘Devil’s Basement’ is a song that the Dropkick Murphys would kill to write and saw the band picking up fans across the world. Fast and furious a fierce firecracker of a debut! Shanghai Treason are at heart a Punk band but with banjo (and occasional accordion) supplied by Hardy whose a bit of a mutli instrumentalist who can also play mandolin, accordion, bouzouki…even bagpipes which gives the band plenty of options for the future. It’s not just tacked onto a random Punk song though with their songs built around the sound of the banjo. Their sound lies somewhere between early Murphs and South-Western band Mick O’Toole (who make a appearance in the video if you look closely!). ‘Rats Get Fat’ is the first new one and they’ve lost none of their bite with a song about home giving Huddersfield a name check and Sams vocals coming over particularly good with a ‘operatic’ Punk style that fit perfectly.
‘Can’t Even Hang A Man Right’ carries on with the anthemic Celtic-Punk. Loud and raucous and with us finally on the verge of leaving the EU at last a rallying cry against political dirty tricks at Westminster with the great chorus “You can’t trust the rats by the river”. This is an EP for anyone into LOUD music but if you’re a fan of the banjo then this is definitely for you and again on ‘Drowning Heart’ the mix is done perfectly and the balance between the banjo and everything else is great.
‘The North Will Rise Again’ is dedicated to the music venues of the North of England and hopefully they’ll be some left to watch Shanghai Treason in at the end of all this! A video was released on Facebook in support of the Music Venue Trust’s campaign to #SaveOurVenues featuring some of the bands favourite boozers. Foot stamper ‘Green Cove’ brings down the curtain on It’s Treason and we are treated to Hardy and his accordion and the song has a bit more of a Celtic air to it, no doubt due to the accordion, but it still powers along.
Shanghai Treason left to right: Joel Hughes – Bass * Tom Hardy – You name it. Just about anything he can get his hands on * Sam Christie – Vocals * Tom Jackson – Guitar * Alex Fell – Pots and Pans *
The band were riding the crest of the wave when the clampdown came along and I can’t think of a single band whose momentum has been damaged more. Having shot onto the scene and in six months risen to where they are it’s a real shame. Still plans are already afoot to get back on the road as soon as they are able with a intensive UK tour on the table and some supports to bands I must not mention. Shanghai Treason may inhabit the darker, heavier side of Celtic-Punk but for anyone that misses Mike McColgan era Dropkick Murphys than mourn no more and get treasonous!
Highly rated and future A-Listers South Yorkshire based Celtic-Punk band Shanghai Treason release their third single today and you can watch the video exclusively here!
Let’s Shanghai Treason!
The Buzzcocks first ever gig supporting The Sex Pistols in Manchester in 1976 at a gig that has entered into music folklaw. Forty odd years later a young bunch of Celtic-Punkers from Sheffield played their debut gig supporting The Buzzcocks in Manchester. That band was Shanghai Treason and they went down a storm with a set of powerful Folk tinged Punk-Rock. Fast, melodic and catchy as hell.
Just before that gig Shanghai Treason released their debut single the rip roaring‘Devil’s Basement’which announced their arrival on the Celtic-Punk and Punk scenes. Premiered on this here site the video soon shot past 40,000+ views with exposure across the Celtic-Punk media. They followed this with a extensive tour taking in shows in Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Liverpool, York. London’s Water Rats (where The Pogues first trod the boards) and the band’s first headline show at Sheffield’s #1 music venue Corporation.
Their second single ‘Drowning Heart’ further helped to cement their loyal local following and more exposure across the Celtic-Punk scene through The Celtic Punkcast and MacSlons Irish Pub Radio that they hope to expand on with their new single ‘Can’t Even Hang A Man Right’. A song about Brexit but released during the corona virus pandemic with the country finally rallying together after a turbulent number of years. Let’s hope we’ve seen the back of sleight of hand dirty politics from Westminster and the beginning of something else but as the lyrics suggest
“You can’t trust the rats by the river”
Video by Ben Parr and Elliot Beese of Quiet Tiger Productions
Johnny Hangman, can ya tighten my noose
Feels a little flimsy I’m afraid i’ll come loose
Johnny Hangman, can you shorten this rope
I’ll likely land on my feet, it don’t give me much hope
Johnny Hangman, don’t want my coffin to shake
Lets tighten this up, get a clean break
Johnny Hangman, heard you hung men in the war who didn’t suffer like this,
what ya playing me like this for
We ain’t got all morning
Don’t fancy purgatory
Can’t even hang a man right
Can’t even hang a man right
Not quite Albert Pierrepoint, more a slow and poisonous snake bite
Can’t even hang a man right
Oh John, you’ve made a reyt old mess of this chief
Let me standing here waiting on death’s sweet release
Oh John, this wait it should be a sin
Pass me the gun, I’ll do it me sen
We ain’t got all morning
Don’t fancy purgatory
Can’t even hang a man right
Can’t even hang a man right
Not quite Albert Pierrepoint, more a slow and poisonous snake bite
Can’t even hang a man right
When the light, it shines in from the cold
No hope left for the young or old
And the fruit you bore has all but become rotten
And i’m left shaking in the cold
We ain’t got all morning
Don’t fancy purgatory
Can’t even hang a man right
Can’t even hang a man right
Not quite Albert Pierrepoint, more a slow and poisonous snake bite
Well here we go again. It only seems like five minutes since I was compiling all the votes into last years Best Of that saw The Rumjacks romping home with Album Of The Year. This year has been a bit quieter on the Celtic-Punk front but as last year was so busy that is perhaps not surprising. That’s not to say their weren’t some fantastic releases as their were plenty and it was still really difficult to come up with the various lists below. Not so many big bands this year so it was left to the lesser known bands to shine but remember this is only our opinion and these releases are only the tip of the iceberg of what came out last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. As a bonus we are adding the Readers Poll again this year so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2019 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.
We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
(click on the green link to go where you will find more information on the release)
How to compete with last year? Every single top band in the genre released an album so things were always going to be a bit quieter for 2019. Top spot this year unsurprisingly goes to The Walker Roaders Celtic-Punk super group! With Pogues, Mollys and Dropkicks making up the team how could they possibly go wrong! Everyone’s ‘next big thing’ Mickey Rickshaw came in a well deserved second and Ferocious Dog took third after releasing their best album, for me, since From Without. Greenland Whalefishers celebrated 25 years on the road with their best album for quite a while and what Best Of would be right without some bloody brilliant Irish-American bands challenging at the top too. Pipes And Pints new album with a new singer received acclaim from across the Punk media and The Rumjacks couldn’t follow up last years unanimous victory despite having two album releases (both sort of live) in the top thirteen. Fiddlers Green continue to make consistently great albums and go into 2020 celebrating thirty years together! Good to see homegrown bands The Whipjacks, The Tenbags, The Filthy Spectacula and Sons Of Clogger making it too. The top thirty was made up of thirteen countries from USA, England, Norway, Czech Republic, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Argentina, Japan, Quebec, Hungary, Spain and Japan.
The Lucky Trolls took #1 spot with their brilliant self-titled EP following on from fellow countrymen the Krakin’ Kellys multi award winning 2018. Trust me it would have taken an exceptionally good release to keep The Party by Drunken Dolly off the top spot but that is what happened. Dolly’s excursions over to these shores this year j=has seen them grown in stature and you can’t go to a Ferocious Dog gig without spotting at least a dozen of their shirts. Loretta Problem wowed us with their single ‘Waltz Of My Drunken Dream’ which took us right back back to The Pogues glory days and what about that accompanying videotoo!! If we had a award for best video then that would have walked it. The Kellys had a quiet year with comparison to ’18 but still managed a respectable #5 and great debut releases from The Placks our sole representative from a Celtic nation (big things are going to happen to this band in 2020 mark my words), Italian/Aussies The Cloverhearts and, from just down the road from my Mammy, Shanghai Treason from Sheffield who only put out one song… but what a song! Eight countries represented from Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Scotland, Argentina, Australia and Yorkshire!
Argentina is becoming a bit of a hot-spot for Celtic-Punk with not only some well established bands but also some new ones starting up too and with this release Aires Bastardos announced their arrival on the international scene too. Not afraid to dive straight into a folk number after a Cock Sparrer cover they veer from standard Celtic-Punk to Folk and back to fast as hell Punk but in that really accessible way that only Celtic-Punk (and maybe Ska-Punk) bands can do.
The Dreadnoughts don’t really think of themselves as Celtic-Punk so I reckon they’d be happier to win this than Celtic-Punk Album Of The Year. A superb collection of sea shanties that is a pleasure to listen to that was always going to be #1. Crock Of Bones representing the London Irish in 2nd with an album of trad folk with punk rock attitude and it’s especially good to hear some originals done in the style of the ‘auld ways’. 6’10 challenged for the top spot as they always do with everything they release and Bryan MacPherson and Callum Houston both produced great releases of singer-songwriter acoustic folk with Irish roots.
Sadly the Celtic-Punk world has shrunk a little regarding Web-Sites. Winners of the last two years the Mersey Celt Punks have been slacking (sort it out lads!) and enjoying their gigs too much to tell us while Shite’n’Onions have been too busy transferring everything onto a different platform and preparing for a bit of a re-launch I expect. Sadly celtic-rock.de have shut up shop after twelve years so it just makes it all the more clear how much we all miss Waldo and his fantastic Celtic-Folk-Punk And More site. As regular as clockwork and all the news that was ever fit (or not!) to print. Closing down the site in its 10th year in March must have been a tough decision to make and so this year we award best Website to Waldo and let it be known that no Celtic-Punk site will ever come close to replacing you. We would certainly not exist without his kind help and inspiration. All the best comrade enjoy your retirement! One welcome addition is Michu and his Celtic-Punk Encyclopediasite from Poland. Worth checking out especially if you are in a band.
We are not alone in doing these Best Of 2019 lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.
So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other Celtic-Punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
This is our 8th year of making these Best Of lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous ones then just click on the link below the relevant year.
Last year we introduced a new feature THE READERS PICK. We had no idea if it would work or not but it was a raging success so we going to do it all again this year. With well over 500 votes cast you lot chose the debut album from the Krakin’ Kellys as a worthy winner. Only the Top Ten albums are listed but there is an option to write in your favourite release or just to send us love… or abuse!
You are allowed to vote twice but not for the same artist.
The Poll will close at midnight on Friday 31st January with the result announced soon after.
remember any views, comments or abuse or slander we would love to hear it…
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2020
Shanghai Treason are a new Yorkshire based Celtic-Punk five-piece who plan to traverse the darker, heavier, side of the genre. Expect breakneck performances complete with banjo, accordion and hard hitting rock rhythm section; fit to inject a jolt of action into any event.
On tour this December playing a series of charity gigs for Musicians Against Homelessness they release their debut single today and you can watch the video exclusively here!
Let’s Shanghai Treason!
Its always a great day at London Celtic Punks Towers when we hear of another band active on the scene. Today we are very happy to introduce you to a cracking band from South Yorkshire called Shanghai Treason. Fast paced Punk-Rock with some of the best banjo you’ll hear this side of the Atlantic. Doffing a cap to Celtic-Punk stalwarts the Dropkick Murphys at their heaviest it’s banjo heavy and all the better for it!
Shanghai Treason vocalist Sam Christie said to us
“It’s a fierce fire cracker of a debut, marking our intent early on. We’ve been working on this project for the best part of a year so to have it come into the light is a total joy!
Lyrically the song is about one of those nights out which get a bit out of hand. Where it feels like anything is possible!”
You can catch Shanghai Treason playing around the country next month on a tour sponsored by Musicians Against Homelessness, a organisation set up by former Oasis guru Alan McGee. Since setting MAH up in 2016 more than 1000 bands have played special MAH benefit gigs in the UK. All money raised goes to Crisis and the excellent work they do especially at this time of year.
SHANGHAI TREASON DECEMBER TOUR
Wednesday 18th Sneaky Petes Edinburgh
Saturday 21st Jakaranda Liverpool
Sunday 22nd West Street Live Sheffield
Saturday 28th The Fulford Arms York
Sunday 29th The Crofters Rights Bristol
(More details and support bands for the gigs can be found on Shanghai Treason’s Facebook page)
Lucky Red Hat is the follow up album to last years Bound For Glory which rocked the collective arses off of the London Celtic Punks in 2017. Vince has I’m sure a bit of Irish blood (apologies if you don’t mate!), many in Yorkshire do, and I’m thinking that influences his style quite a bit. He’s that kind of annoying artist who can play loads of instruments while you’d be happy to know how to bang a tambourine in time! When we reviewed Bound For Glory we described him, pretty accurately as it goes, thus
“Vince has a very strong voice that growls out at you like Tom Waits lashing it up with McGowan backed by The Street Dogs”.
He puts his sound down to his love of good auld Celtic-Punk, especially Flogging Molly as well as Country influenced Punk in Social Distortion and the likes of Billy Bragg. A gritty Yorkshire take on folk and country music but with a modern interpretation. That album was one of my favourites of last year and indeed in ‘The Garbageman’ he has a song that I still play all the bloody time. A utterly fantastic album of countryfied Rock’n’Roll with plenty of Folk-Punk in there too. He has made the album free to download so do yourself a favour and get a copy from here on his Web-Site.
(have a listen to Vince’s debut album here on the Bandcamp player below)
His new album out only yesterday follows on pretty much exactly where Bound For Glory left off and that’s no bad thing I tells ya! Lucky Red Hat begins with ‘Animal Chin’ and Vince’s distinctive smokey growl grabs your attention instantly. It’s more of a full band vibe here with backing from El Vincenzo (hold your breath!) on several differnet guitar’s, harmonica, double bass, accordion, tenor banjo, mandolin, tin whistle, Grant Henderson on drums and Kieran O’Malley on fiddle but still basically Vince on guitar and harmonica. It’s all catchy stuff and its both folk and punk to my ears. ‘Working For The Company’ like most of the tales here is of ordinary working class life. This time of working years and years for the same company without realising where the time went. It’s pretty much the story for all of our folks if they were lucky. If not then our Grandparents. The first track released from the album was the title track ‘Lucky Red Hat’ and Vince chose well. Cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned ‘Garbageman’ imagine a folk song played on electric guitar but with ballsy singing and a nicely aggressive tone to it all.
The second track released form the album was ‘Dockfield Homeward Blues’ and we are in serious finger-in-the-ear folk territory here. Just Vince on acoustic guitar with that trademark voice gently telling us of life in Bradford a once proud Northern town but now in the doldrums.
The influences found here are far to many for me to list them all but trad English folk is accompanied by all sorts including Celtic and Punk but on ‘The Ghost Of Dean Moriarty’ it’s played like a acoustic hardcore punk song. Played as fast as possible but clear too and within a touch of Eastern Europe perhaps among the western imagery. Those Eastern Europe influences much more to the fore in the next track, ‘Deep Into The Night’, as Vince dusts off his accordion before we back to folkieness with ‘Chipping Away The Stone’ where he is accompanied on fiddle giving the gentle song a Celtic feel. On ‘Manningham’ Vince again tells of working class life in the borough of Bradford that at one point was the Jewish and then the German part of town but now is segregated between Asian and white communities. The area houses Valley Parade football stadium, home of Bradford City. In 1985 a fire broke out at the final game of the season against Lincoln City killing fifty-six spectators and injuring nearly 300. This was played out in front of the entire country live on TV and it’s legacy looms darkly upon the city to this day. Riots in 1995 and 2001 further pushed the two communities apart and sadly seems to be still doing so today. ‘Shannon Of Goodbyes’ sails past bordering more Country and Celtic-Punk and is a song worth listening to. I had originally thought it was a song about someone emigrating from Ireland to Bradford but Vince tells me it’s a poem by Mike Lally put to music. He was an Irish immigrant to the USA in the 50’s and the poem tells of him looking back over this decisive move. Vince knew Mike which how this song came into being. A great song nevertheless and again as catchy as hell. We sailing up to port now and if the album has touched and threatened to go full on Celt then ‘Beauty And The Beast’ is the song we were waiting for. Maybe its the tin-whistle into but as Vince is joined on vocals by Marjory Jager, once of the Dutch punk quartet Elusive Disorder, and she is the perfect accompaniment for Vince’s distinctive vocals with her beautiful voice. The albums main theme has been Western and ‘Cayotes And Roadrunners’ continues this with a chorus that took me a couple of listens before I realised the joke(you’ll get it if your over a certain age!) before the album ends with the traditional folk song, and only cover on the album, ‘Hang Me’ and a beautifully gloomy end as Vince gently strums his guitar and regales us of a hard life that ends on the end of a hangman’s noose.
Twelve songs clocking in at an impressive forty-two minutes and again I am very impressed with what Vince has come up. One thing I feel I must add is that it is Vince’s offbeat voice that dominates the album completely and while I love it and feel it fits proceedings absolutely perfectly maybe it aint for everyone but in a scene where Shane MacGowan is revered as a God it shouldn’t matter to anyone and in fact should only add to your enjoyment. After all your not here to hear anything sung perfectly… I hope so anyway. Vince Cayo is an amazingly talented fella and he’s put out another fantastic album that I hope you give some time to.
(you can have a sneaky listen to Lucky Red Hat here on the Bandcamp player but PLEASE use the link below if you choose to buy the album)
Buy Lucky Red Hat
FromVince Download only £3! CD- £8. PLEASE USE THIS LINK
The first new release from Blackbeard’s Tea Party in three years takes traditional songs and folk tunes about the whaling industry and gives them a heavy edge but with a playful arrangement and driving dance rhythms.
Blackbeard’s Tea Party have been together since 2009 and in that time became firm favourites on the English folk scene. An independent band with four albums to their name, Blackbeard’s Tea Party have also completed a number of successful UK headline tours. So it’s been a bit of a mystery as to why they went quiet on the recording front and this is their first release since Reprobates in 2015. They continued to tour and are still as popular as ever but in this game you have to have regular output otherwise there is always another new band waiting in the wings to take your place.
Anyroad they are back now and with this great EP celebrating the history of the whaling industry. Although whaling had existed for thousands of years it was in the 17th century that industrial whaling emerged with organised fleets that by the late 1930’s were killing more than 50,000 whales a year. Communities along the coast around the world have long histories of subsistence whaling and harvesting beached whales. On Leviathan! Blackbeard’s Tea Party play out the history of an industry that once made the fortunes of ports such as Hull, Whitby and Peterhead. Thousands relied upon the practise but it would eventually drive the species to the verge of extinction so much so that in the 1980’s it was banned though many countries still hunt whales under so called scientific purposes.
Blackbeards Tea Party from left to right: Liam ‘Yom’ Hardy – Drums * Dave Boston – Drums * Stuart Giddens – Lead Vocals, Melodeon * Laura Boston-Barber – Fiddle * Martin Coumbe – Guitar * Tim Yates – Bass
Leviathan! is the bands fifth studio release and even though only five songs its a mighty fine way to remind any fans who have lost touch that they are still around! The EP begins with the traditional folk song ‘The Diamond’. Popularised by Scottish legends The Corries (check out their version here) the song first appeared on Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd’s 1957 album Thar She Blows! Lloyd recorded it again in 1967 for his album Leviathan! Ballads And Songs Of The Whaling Trade. I would guess these two releases have been very much influence on Blackbeard’s Tea Party.
On the song A.L. Lloyd commented on the Leviathan! album sleeve notes:
Sad events lie behind this most spirited of whaling songs. By the 1820s the relativity milder northern waters were fished clean, and whalemen were having to search in more distant corners of the Arctic, notably round the mighty and bitter Melville Bay in Northwest Greenland. In 1830, a fleet of fifty British whaleships reached the grounds in early June, a month before they expected. But the same winds that had helped them also crowded the Bay with ice floes and locked most of the fleet in, including the Diamond, the Resolution, the Rattler (not Battler) of Leigh (not Montrose), and the Eliza Swan. Twenty fine ships were crushed to splinters and many bold whalermen froze or drowned. The Eliza Swan was among those that got free and brought the sad news home. Our song must have been made only a season or two before that tragedy for the Diamond‘s maiden voyage was only in 1825. One wonders if the man who made the song was up in Melville Bay, the year of the disaster, and whether he was lost with his ship.
Blackbeard’s Tea Party have always been an innovative band and their version skates through English and Celtic folk music while adding some surprisingly modern touches while Stuart Giddens sumptuous (their description not mine!) vocals ably fit the music. His voice may not be that of a crooner but it is strong and versatile and reminiscent of folk singers of old but without the trademark finger in the ear. They follow this up with the first of two instrumentals and ‘DLFN’, written by the bands Laura Barber and Dave Boston is certainly a bit of a shock. With Blackbeard’s dark bite it chugs along with a real foot slamming beat. The fiddle shines throughout and only adds to the somber mood of the song. Next up is title track ‘Leviathan’, written by Giddens it’s a song that verges (or even passes!) on folk-punk and steams along at a mighty pace with Stuart telling the story of the albino sperm whale known as Mocha Dick that lived in the Pacific Ocean in the early 19th century and went on to inspire the story of Moby Dick by American writer Herman Melville in 1851. This song shows Blackbeard’s Tea Party in all their glory as story-tellers as all the finest folk musicians truly are. The song plays out the excitement of the hunt while never shirking from the blood thirsty reality of a whalers life at sea where these mighty creatures may at any moment strike back and take the ship down. We now have another Boston/ Barber instrumental in ‘The Lost Triangle’. Again the fiddle shines and the darkness of the song evokes the bloody reality of life out at sea. At nearly seven minutes long the song is loud and bombastic and ends with a real doffed cap to the early days of English folk before speeding up again and ending with a real flourish reminiscent of 70’s folk/prog rock.. Leviathan! comes to an end with another traditional folk song, ‘Weary Whaling Ground’. The song is about whaling in Greenland during 1840-50. Again A.L. Lloyd recorded it for Leviathan! Ballads And Songs Of The Whaling Trade and his album notes sum up the feeling of the poor souls aboard ship better than anyone.
“Three emotions dominated the old time whalerman: exultion in the chase, a longing for home, and disgust at the conditions of his trade. This latter mood descended heaviest upon him when the fishing was poor and he became “whalesick” (like homesick, only sick for whales). The man who made the complaint for The Weary Whaling Grounds must have been very whalesick.”
Having added a second drum kit to the band it has given the band a much rougher and tougher edge and with dark material like this it works a treat giving it a doom and maybe even Gothic touch they never had before. Their may be only one new song here with lyrics but the band have turned out two extremely good original instrumentals and have taken two songs from relatively ancient times and breathed new life into them. That new song ‘Leviathan!’ shows the new found power of the band and their flair for storytelling which places them in a direct line from the likes of Ewan MacColl to today. There was a time when the folk purists (or snobs as we call them!) would have approved of Blackbeard’s Tea Party but maybe they are trying to distance themselves from the ‘party approved’ AOR folk of the likes of the Mumford’s but the move into darker territory suits them well.
Leviathan (2018) * Reprobates (2015) * Whip Jamboree (2013) * Tomorrow We’ll Be Sober (2011) * Heavens to Betsy (2009)
For more on the sea why not dip your toe into our Classic Album Series review of ‘Steady As She Goes. Songs And Chanties From The Days of Commercial Sail’. Released in 1976 the album is dedicated to the workers of the sea. Undoubtedly hard and very often tyrannical under many a vicious Captain’s rule. The workers said “a song is as good as ten men” and the songs were used in the manner of field work song’s. These shanties tell the tales of loneliness, the families these men left behind and the daily hardships of an unkind sea and nautical life.
Many of the albums featured in the series (here) come with free downloads.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pre-album four track sampler EP from northern English fiddle punk band The Silk Road.
The Silk Road are another new band to us here in England playing folk-punk and are coming out of the same sort of scene as older bands like The Levellers and New Model Army and newer ones like Ferocious Dog. All of whom are still packing them in across the country at regular intervals. They come from Chesterfield in northern England an area famous for coal mining and the accompanying militant trade unionism that goes with it. The scene for 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. Formed in the summer of 2015 by Tich, Andy and Shaun and going on later to recruit both Jamie and Brian. All the member’s of The Silk Road had extensive histories in local bands going back over twenty years playing a range of traditional folk, punk, ska and metal/rock. The band started from some old demos and some newer recordings that singer/songwriter Tich had recorded in his studio. Working on these as well as adding some new material together, The Silk Road began to take shape. Midnight was released last July and this EP is pretty much a taster for their forthcoming debut album. In fact the boys are in Chesterfields Foundry Studios with Paul Hopkinson at the moment with the album’s release slated for November/December this year.
Andy Hardwick- guitars/banjo * Brian Buckberry- drums * Tich Vango- guitars/vocals * Jamie Burney- fiddle/violin * Shaun Haley- bass * Jim Fisher- Harmonica player on EP (not pictured)
The EP begins with ‘Boats Come In At Midnight’ which is about modern day smuggling. Like the band they have been most likened to, Folk The System, much of what they play can be traced back to 1980’s anarcho-punk. Very catchy indeed and half way through the fiddle comes in giving it a real nice ending. Track two is ‘Ancient Road / Montagu’s Harrier’ and introduces harmonica into the mix. A instrument I love to hear as it is much neglected in folk/celtic-punk. Over six minutes long with the first half a solid and catchy enough punk tune which is reminiscent of anarcho-punk bands like The Mob or Zounds while the second half has an absolutely stunning traditional folk piece/reel dedicated to endangered bird’s of prey. The Silk Road play English folk here. Not Irish or Scottish folk and labelled English like some bands do but this is the folk music of northern England and will surely get them onto the radar of the band who excel at playing this kind of music and are taking it to the masses, Ferocious Dog. ‘Scars That Remain’ is track three and if The Levellers are the main inspiration for The Silk Road then this is their tribute to them. I’m not a massive fan of The Levellers myself this is excellent stuff. Slow acoustic guitar and fiddle and nice vocals atop brings up to final track, ‘I Don’t Care’ which raises the bar again with some brilliantly catchy fiddle led punk.
Clocking in at just over seventeen minutes its a great EP and I cannot wait to hear more from The Silk Road. 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.
(Crap sound and not on the EP but here they are in all their glory!)
(you can listen to Midnight by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)
Today is our birthday. The 30492 – London Celtic Punks blog was born today on the 7th July, 2014 . It’s been an enjoyable slog I must say and it’s been an pleasure to meet so many like minded people. There is plenty more to come from us and we just hope that we can continue to introduce you to good music and good craic for many years to come.
One thing that we have been asked more than any other is how is the word ‘Celtic’ pronounced. For us over here in England it seems pretty natural but I can see how it can be a bit confusing if you are from overseas. During the so-called Celtic Twilight period in the late 1800s and early 1900s both hard c (‘Keltic’) and soft c (‘Seltic’) were used. The word Celt is derived from Keltoi, which isthe name the Greeks gave the ‘barbarian’ tribes along the Danube and Rhone rivers. The Romans borrowed the Greek name, but spelled it ‘Celtae’, and the word entered French in the form ‘Celtes’, from which the English derived Celt. In French the soft c pronunciation is standard for ‘Celtique’, following standard French pronunciation rules. The Irish (‘Ceilteach’) and Breton’s (‘kelt’-ethnicity and ‘keltiek’- language) both use a hard c sound. Modern Breton also has a word ‘Keltia’, meaning the Celtic world.
The Celtic Twilight period was also around the time when many sporting organisations were springing up with the name Celtic in them. Most were based outside of Ireland and were formed either by first or second generation Irish immigrants. The most obvious being of course Glasgow Celtic in 1888 but their are many other great examples. Dewsbury Celtic Rugby League Football Club (1879) are the oldest Irish sporting organisation outside Ireland. Formed in 1879 when the Irish escaping post-famine poverty and hunger arrived in Yorkshire to work as labourers and in the local mills. They settled in the Irish ghetto of Westtown and formed a rugby club which soon after changed to being a football club before changing again shortly after and returning to rugby. They began life as Dewsbury Shamrocks and changed their name in around 1910 to Celtic. The club today are based in Irish National League Club in Dewsbury and play in the National Division of the Rugby League Conference. The club field a dozen or more youth teams and are doing an absolutely amazing job of keeping alive the ‘Celtic’ spirit and traditions in West Yorkshire.
As more and more Irish flooded into England and Scotland football teams like our very own (1888) and Stalybridge Celtic (1909) or Farsley Celtic (1908) in the north of England were established and then later in America the Boston Celtics Basketball Club (1946). These are all referred to with the soft c pronunciation and the modern convention is to keep the soft c pronunciation to refer only to sports teams.
The use of the hard c version in cultural matters indicated, until recently, that the user was somewhat knowledgeable in these matters. This has changed since Riverdance, Titanic, etc., and also the use of the term ‘Celtic Tiger’ to refer to the improved economy of Ireland and Scotland. Personally I would use the hard k when talking about Celtic culture, language or traditions except when talking about sporting clubs but to be honest both can be ‘korrect’!!
“A loving ode to an unsung band” –LA Times
“Marvelous” – New York Post
“Jubilant” – The Village Voice
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 1982the 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.
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 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)
Fast, ruthless and uncompromising traditional folk music and frantic bluegrass style picking with self penned songs of protest and debauchery!
Johnny Campbell is a name that will be familiar to regular viewers of the London Celtic Punks blog-zine as we have been long time fans of pretty much everything Johnny has come up with over the years. We first crossed paths with Johnny when he played in the excellent Yorkshire celtic-punk band Three Sheets T’Wind but since those days Johnny has spreads his wings and has become a quite successful and well travelled solo artist. After numerous tours and gigs and a EP we now arrive at the release of Hook, Line And Sinker back at the arse end of last year. We did a very interesting interview with Johnny in September just gone (here) so drop over there to have a read and find out lots more about Johnny and his various gig antics across Europe including how ISIS nearly screwed up his tour!
Hook, Line And Sinker is eight songs of stand out traditional folk music lasting just shy of half an hour with Johnny ably supported by Rosie Eade on backing vocals and an old bandmate of Shane MacGowan, Kieran O’Malley on the violin. A story of a journey from York to Middlesbrough begins the album with ‘Hills Of Cleveland’ and name checks places of outstanding beauty along the way. A sort of North Yorkshire national anthem that I am sure sounds mental to anyone who doesn’t know or appreciate ‘Gods own country’.
“Sneck Yate over Hambleton it’s where we made good time
The smog caresses Middlesbrough you could see it to the Tyne”
This is followed by ‘Johnny McGhee’ a comedy song that came about after a night out on the lash and with a gut full of ale and arriving home and after listening to the great Irish balladeers like John McCormack and The Clancy Brothers Johnny decided to write a traditional old school folk song with the emphasis on the lyrics and using different volumes of the voice when singing. Play the song below and you’ll understand instantly what I mean.
“Rambling and roving and smoking and courting
And drinking black Porter as fast as you feel
In all your days roving you’ll find none more jovial
As the wondrous wanderer Johnny McGhee”
‘Blue Mountains’ is a fast paced instrumental with great fiddle work from Kieran and as close as this album comes to the sound of Three Sheets T’Wind. Personally I think the album would have benefited from a few faster paced numbers but that is not Johnny’s shtick here. Waking up hungover on a boat to Denmark with no money, no phone, no bank card and no wallet was the inspiration for ‘Copenhagen’ and having to busk for three days for food and money just to get to the airport providing the background for the story. ‘Complaint’ was written in mind about those affected by the Bedroom Tax and forced out onto the street and put to a very old traditional Irish tune. The romanticism of tramping the high roads belies exactly how difficult and traumatic it can really me. Like anything it’s simple with a safety net but there’s not many of us who will ever find ourselves with no other option. There are too many songs in the folk genre romanticising the idea of living a homeless life and glamorising the idea of being a wanderer without commitment or troubles. The ‘roving minstrel’ image portrayed in folk song about travellers and gypsies having a carefree life just isn’t true when weighed up against all the daily shit and blatant discrimination traveller families have to put up. Next up is ‘The Death Of The Public House (skit)’ and that witch Maggot Thatcher snarls out at you from the speakers. Many of you will have no idea or will have forgotten what she was like so remind yourself with her spouting the miserable anti-human claptrap she was famous for. Hook, Line And Sinker’ was wrote with Woody Guthrie in mind and the legendary American folk pioneer will be smiling down from above on hearing this. The song steers clear of preaching and has a real catchy foot tapping way about it. References to the optimism of the radical movements in the US and UK that haven’t come to full fruition as well as religion and the two party political system.
‘Jock Stewart’ is the famous song made famous I suppose by The Pogues as sung by Cait O’Riordan. Originally an Irish ballad it was shortened and adapted to an Aberdeenshire drinking song. And what a song it is!
“So be easy and free,
When you’re drinkin’ wi’ me,
I’m a man you don’t meet every day”
If you’re a fan of traditional folk music and folk singer’s like Christy Moore and Paul Brady then you will love this record. Passionate and straight from the heart Johnny takes his music very seriously and his commitment is amazing. A record that is evocative of the past but is rooted very firmly in the here and now. Fans of celtic-punk music deserve to give artists like Johnny a go. The music he plays is where the music we all love comes from and is living proof that the soul of celtic-punk belongs firmly in the past.
(you can have a free listen to the whole of ‘Hook, Line And Sinker’ before buying by pressing Play on the Bandcamp player below)
A beacon of good, old fashioned, no frills celtic-punk music.
The policy on 30492-London Celtic Punks blog is to only review music from the current year. We have broken this maybe once or twice tops over the years but I had no hesitation in doing it again when I heard this release from Leeds based celtic-punk band The Hydropaths. I must admit that until the band posted something on our Facebook page I had never heard of them but that soon changed very quickly!
The Hydropaths play their first gig in north London in six years on Wednesday 11th November at The Unicorn, 227 Camden Road, London NW1 9AA. Click on the gig flyer to go to the Event page.
‘Wailing Away’ is the first official release from the band though they also have a five track release called ‘Basement Demos’ which is also available for Pay What You Like so click on the record sleeve to go to the download page. The band rose out of the ashes of a great Leeds punk band The Dead Pets that I had the pleasure of seeing quite a few times. They were famous for great energetic live shows and raucous punk rock cabaret so it seems kind of natural, to me at any rate, that they should have morphed into a celtic-punk band. ‘Wailing Away’ was recorded in the summer of last year in Leeds and is a real gem.
click to be directed to the download page
Leeds is without a doubt the most Irish place in Yorkshire with emigrants drawn to the city from the time of the Great Hunger onwards. It was in the forties and fifties though that Irish emigration to Leeds, and England, hit its peak. By the early seventies the Irish community numbered well over 30,000 and in fact, in 1971 there were more Irish per square kilometre in inner-city Leeds than in Co. Mayo! Irish culture, sport and traditions are alive and well in the city and have been throughout the subsequent decades and are still flourishing now. The story of the Irish in England is often neglected and the children and grandchildren of those immigrant Irish who grew up in working class communities with the children of other immigrants do have a unique take on life. Dismissed as either English or ‘plastic’ many of us turned to punk and/or politics and its certainly not unusual to find multiple Irish backgrounds in punk bands (maybe its something to do with our Catholic education?!?!). The Hydropaths vocalist Joe explains how his Irish background influenced him as a lyricist
“Growing up listening to traditional songs like The Rising Of The Moon and Kelly, The Boy From Killane had a huge impact on me as a writer. It’s about story telling”
The band was formed way way back in 2006 when The Dead Pets broke up but only lasted for four years till the band split. They reformed last year for a four gig tour with fellow Leeds band Kleine Schweine and are now embarking on a tour from November 8th-15th. They play Sun 8th 0The Union Bar Hastings, Weds 11th Unicorn in Camden, Thurs 12th The Parish in Huddersfield, Fri 13th Corner House in Cambridge, Sat 14th McGuires in Liverpool and finally their home town for the Pie Race Festival on Sunday the 15th. Check their Facebook page for more details.
The EP begins with the title track ‘Wailing Away’ and the mandolin begins the tune before the band join in and Joe’s distinctive voice starts up and its classic celtic-punk we’ve got here. The shitty state of the country for the working class is their concern and how nothing changes by just talking about it. A great song and superb all round production with the mando out loud and clear but all the multitude of instruments as clear as anything. ‘Where Have All The Good Men Gone?’ is again a fantastic tune with, again, Joe’s voice and words dominating proceedings. If I had to declare a band as a comparison I think The Tossers would be close but as for anyone here in Blighty their sound is their own. The song name checks Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly and Joe’s dad among others. ‘Long Gone Feeling’ is my favourite song here with the accordion giving it a Poguesy feel and once again the superb lyrics reminding me of MacGowan.
‘Another Night In Hell’ is about six stories in three verses including spending the night in a police cell or how the Bhoys put it
“a working class hotel”
Fast paced, as the whole EP has been so far, and no let up for ‘In Romance’ either. The song slows down a little but as you can imagine that aint saying much and finally ‘Wailing Away’ ends with I suspect with the song closest to The Hydropaths hearts. ‘To Sinners And Saints’ is the story of the lads ancestors leaving the green of home and coming to West Yorkshire to live and die and survive. The story is familiar to all of us who come from similar backgrounds. ‘To Sinners And Saints’ ends the record on a real pint (or fist) in the air/ arms round your mates moment that the The Pogues or The Tossers would be proud of.
So what you get here is over twenty minutes of absolutely brilliant Irish influenced folk-punk with plenty of rabble rousing with not much room for many ballads but a whole lot more than you’d imagine from this great band. The EP is available to download for whatever you want to pay so whether you think its worth £20 or 20p get it downloaded and be sure to make your way to Camden town for November 11th. Its my birthday so I may even let you buy me a drink and I can think of no better way to spend my 21st (ahem!) birthday than seeing The Hydropaths for the first time. I am positive it will be the first of many.
(you can listen to the whole of ‘Wailing Away’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. To get the album follow the link below the player)
A fast, ruthless, uncompromising sound with influences from far and wide. Material that embraces traditional music and sometimes frantic Bluegrass style picking with self penned songs of protest and debauchery.
We are extremely happy that Johnny took time out from megabussing it around the country from gig to gig to do a little interview for us.
The obvious one to get us started so can you tell us how long you’ve been playing music and what bands you have been in before?
Johnny- I’ve been performing live for a decade now, and for the last couple of years as a solo performer. Before those ten years I was playing a battered classical guitar to Bad Religion live albums pretending I was in Bad Religion.
You have played in a celtic-punk band before with Three Sheets T’Wind so how do you see the celtic-punk scene here and abroad?
Johnny- I haven’t performed in other bands to any full-on level of commitment, apart from numerous and humorous side projects and filling in space for musicians who couldn’t make shows…and once trialing for The Popes as a fiddle player but that was a long time ago… I personally feel the scene in the UK is much broader, encompassing Anti-Folk, Alt-Folk and other offshoots. Though across the underground in The Netherlands for example, there are a number of fantastic ‘Folk-Punk’ bands using Banjos, Mandolins, Accordions that you couldn’t label as ‘Celtic-Punk’. It is great to see people’s horizons to ‘Punk’ don’t just start and end with an Electric Guitar.
I would like to think so but does it follow that celtic-punk fans also listen to folk from the past or present?
Johnny- For me yes. Right back to Planxty, Hank Williams or even contemporary folk like Julie Fowlis. The ‘Celtic-Punk’ fans I’ve come across like their fair share of Tom Waits and other artists that are hard to define by genre. I think if you’re into niche music, as in ‘Celtic-Punk’, you’re probably going to be listening to some other interesting styles!
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?
Johnny- Obviously The Pogues…but I think we all know that. The Tossers are in my opinion, the logical progression from The Pogues taking influence from Behan and Joyce and managing to create it in their own American sound. Silly Wizard (possibly Scotland’s Planxty) manage to create an equally ‘rocky’ feel to their sound which leads neatly onto artists like The Horslips, Thin Lizzy and Moving Hearts.
Bit of an odd question this but how would you describe what you do on stage?
Johnny- I describe myself in my write up as an ‘Alt-folk’ musician. This is about as broad as I could make it. It isn’t a musical ‘style’ it is simply a way of saying ‘It is folk music…but a bit different.’ Some have said that shows can differentiate from stand-up comedy to thoughtful political song. I’ll do traditional Irish Anti-war songs like Arthur McBride to A Cappella songs about getting blind drunk and catching STDs from ladies of the night.
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!
Johnny- There’s a certain amount of balls/ego in there to get up and ask people to listen to what you’ve got to say for an hour, definitely. If you manage to fuck up the set, then it really is your own fault. That’s something that is pretty daunting but a challenge to relish I suppose, as the credit (if there is any to give out) is all yours.
At the moment there is a big ‘folk-punk’ thing happening in the UK that seems to have a lot in common with celtic-punk like the politics and aspirations but without major celtic influences. Have you noticed this at all?
Johnny- Because the genres are getting broader and ‘Folk-Punk’ is the easiest umbrella to put yourself under if you perform anti-authoritarian/alternative Folk music… I think that is how it is coming about. Celtic/Irish music has transported well as there is a mythology built up around the Irish. But also the way we can consume music nowadays, we can search for Mongolian Political Folk Punk on Youtube and get an instant response. Which is broadening our intake very quickly. I speak for myself here when I say 10 years ago, when I was 18, the only Folk-Punk you could really find was Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues, and anything else on a major label as you had to go to the local (if you had one) independent record shop. Now we are blessed with so much choice, which is generally free which brings its own negative impacts like de-valuing a product and other factors.
It would seem sometimes, and there is certainly a history of it in England (the band that must never be mentioned!), that bands who play Irish/celtic tunes won’t label the tunes as Irish/celtic and would instead categorise it as English folk (so as to not be seen as Irish I suppose) but do you see this as cultural appropriation or not? it sometimes reminds me of Prince Charles roaming round his billion acre estate in Kernow/ Cornwall wearing a kilt!
Johnny- Hmm, it is an interesting one. I don’t think anyone would get offended if you said a tune was English when it was an Irish tune if you believed it was initially. I think it is important to try and research a song or a tune and find out its origins and to recognise it. I can also see some cultural appropriation in there as it is a small way of denying heritage by simply taking is as your ‘own’. I think we must be more concerned with things like the far-right using traditional folk music and making a patriotic gesture with the songs.
You have a new album due out soon I hear. What’s the latest on that? Is it purely yourself or will you be aided and abetted?
Johnny- It’s been a long process, I haven’t released something with new material for about three years. I’ve had writer’s block for a while and since I’ve been on the road the last couple of years I’ve picked up new influences which has come out on the record. I am aided by Kieran O’Malley, a violin player from Leeds who performs with Spirit of John and many other acts..he’s also performed on a Shane MacGowan’s release ‘Rockier Road To Poland’ and backing vocals from Exeter singer/songwriter Rosie Eade. http://www.rosieeade.co.uk/ It will be released early October.
You seem to be on a non-stop tour of anywhere and everywhere so where does the future take you and do you think you will be able to keep it up more importantly?
Johnny- I’m sure I’ll be able to carry on for a few more years as long as my legs still carry me. I only use public transport and we managed to get from Istanbul from Yorkshire in 28 days on public transport on the Summer European tour with James Bar Bowen and Cosmo. We hit squats and social centres through eight countries and the final show in Istanbul got cancelled as the promoter had left to go and fight against fascist ISIS and didn’t tell us! We had about five days to waste in Istanbul because of the cancellation. This was during Ramadan which is an amazing spectacle. We decided to imbibe the culture by visiting mosques, walking the streets and eating kebabs. As long as the gigs keep being interesting, I still have some life left!
Thanks Johnny for taking time out of your busy touring schedule (where are you as you write this?) so all that’s left is for you to plug plug plug and is there anything else you want to add or anyone you want to thank?
Johnny- I’m currently in the South West for a week between shows and getting ready for the release of my album ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ which will be released on my website and Bandcamp in early October! I will be doing a UK and USA East Coast tour in March 2016 with Tim Holehouse www.timholehouse.com (UK tour) and James Bar Bowen https://jamesbarbowen2014.wordpress.com/ (USA tour) but in the meantime I have shows across the UK and The Netherlands with Rob Galloway http://www.theyallayallas.com/rob-galloway which can all be found on my website! Cheers and beers! x
(you can listen to Johnny Campbell’s debut solo EP below)
The first in a series of EP’s from Johnny Campbell, the lead singer of Yorkshire celtic-punk band Three Sheets T’Wind. With the band currently dormant for now Johnny has gone back to his Scot’s roots and recorded this five track EP which consists of four songs in which Johnny has put music to the words of famous Scottish poet Robbie Burns plus one original song, The Hills Of Cleveland, written by Johnny. Since Three Sheets Johnny has began a solo path performing new, old and traditional material from a wide repertoire, mostly original. Including Scottish, Irish, Norwegian traditional folk music, mixing it with a punk edge and punk spirit.
Encompassing influences as wide ranging as Bob Dylan to Bobby Sands and Charles Bukowski to Ewan MacColl it instantly reminded me of the amazing Scottish legendary folk singer Hamish Imlach. A fast, ruthless, uncompromising sound you can have a listen to via Bandcamp below.