ALBUM REVIEW: DRUNKEN DOLLY- ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ (2017)

Happy rocking celtic folk punk party music from Rotterdam!

Drunken Dolly LP

Coming from the Dutch port town of Rotterdam and formed way way back in 2004 Drunken Dolly are one of the best bands around but you can be forgiven for perhaps not knowing them as in all that time they have only got round to two releases! Inspired by Irish and celtic music and their love of punk rock they briefly split up back in the day but missed the drunkenness and debauchery involved in being in a celtic-punk band so got back together in 2014 and decided to take things a wee bit more seriously.

DD Band

Their debut release, the 4-track EP, ‘Drunken Dolly And The Drunken Man’s Curse’ came out in May, 2015. Now that was a full eleven years after they first got together so it had better have been good and we are glad to report it bloody was too. You can read our review of it here but rest assured it may not have been very long at only just over ten minutes long but was as good any EP released that year. Four songs of fantastic celtic-punk that we placed firmly within the Dropkicks camp but with equal appeal to fans of the Mollys too.

So a couple of years on and it’s time for their debut album to hit the streets. Alcoholic Rhapsody came out early last month and is 3/4’s of an hour of solid and superb catchy celtic-pop-punk which has elements of punk bands such as NOFX and Green Day and celtic bands like the the Dropkick’s and the Molly’s but also with harmonies straight off a Beach Boys greatest hits album! Kicking off with ‘Endless Party’ and while we are more use to the punkier elements of celtic-punk to be a bit more hard edged Drunken Dolly serve up something a bit more poppy. What pushed punk through to the mainstream a few years back was a new wave of bands who played their punk with a very distinct 60’s feel to it. Bands like Blink 182 and Rancid as well as the ones already mentioned were massive and opened the door to people wanting to check out the roots of punk. Its all very catchy and some would say somewhat throwaway but one thing is undeniable and that is that it is pure good time party music! The banjo is more prevalent in the next song, ‘No Regrets’ and is the albums first celtic-punk number and what a number. A real high octane celtic-rocker.

“The night at it’s end, as the sun hits the sky.
No money for the rent but no regrets for tonight”

The well worn tale of a night out and bugger the consequences! A great song and proof that they have only got stronger in the years since that EP’s release.

Relationship woes rear their heads in the mandolin and banjo driven ‘Time To Leave’ and the lengthy, over five minutes, ‘Whatsherface’ and while you may struggle to find any Gaelic tune up to now it is most definitely what we would refer to as modern day celtic-punk. ‘Dear Friend’ begins with a Tossers sort of intro before Gydo and his amazing banjo playing leads us in a spirited number about what we need the most in life.

“So if you have a friend like him
Raise your glass and we honour them together
It’s a fact that we all need
A dear friend, so lets honour them together”

By now we getting use to the Drunken Dolly way of doing things. Gang vocals with plenty of “Oh-Oh’s and some super catchy choruses to singalong with and ‘Hold On’ is a perfect example though not as fast as some of the fare here. For a sailor’s town it’s inevitable that we eventually must be due a sailor’s song and ‘Sailor’s Song’ is it. They ramp up the speed after a slowish celtic start and a nice catchy gang chorus ends it on a high before ‘Beware of the Fisherking’ and it instantly sounds more traditional celtic-punk fare with a nice Irish tune flowing through the more restrained punk sound but with plenty banjo and mandolin driving it along. ‘Drunken Man’s Curse’ is the first of the three songs from their previous EP that have been re-recorded for Alcoholic Rhapsody. Not a huge amount of difference I have to say except a crisper sound and much more rounder production. This is followed by the other two songs ‘Humongous Tattooed Arms’ and ‘That Kiss’ which was the first single released from Alcoholic Rhapsody and needless to say is one of the album’s highlights.

An absolute stormer of a classic rock number and with some real profound and meaningful lyrics. As someone whose Grandad was his hero they really struck a chord with me. The sound here reminded me of Mick O’Toole and their heavy banjo/mando sound.

“It’s your friends, your mates, your comrades
But mostly your wife you’ll miss
Now i sit here, thinking of them
How they all came to pass
It’s the nights we would drink,
The nights of fun
But mostly I miss that kiss
I miss that kiss”

We are steaming towards the end at breakneck speed and ‘Stop’ drops us by the beach in Southern California again and catchy is the word as we stroll into ‘Beat Up Good Johnny’. It’s another old song from an early Demo that has benefited from a re-fit and a better production. So we reach the end and it’s time for the album’s theme song ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ and for the Bhoys to go out on a high. It’s fast paced tale of alcoholic woes and tribulations is the main theme throughout the album and brings the curtain down on this fine album.

The celtic-punk scene in the Netherlands is both a lively and active one with several bands all working closely together rather than competing with each other. The great thing is that they all manage to come from different directions of the scene and none are more different than Drunken Dolly. Their pop-punk sound is pretty original and that fast and furious celtic-punk is super catchy and the perfect accompaniment for a beer or two. Or alcoholic rhapsody if you will!

(you can listen to ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ for *FREE* before you buy it by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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The Drunken Dolly Team

Michael Stoel – Mandolin/Vocals
Kevin Snoey – Bass/Vocals
Gydo Stalenberg – Banjo/Vocals
Scott Merts – Drums/Vocals
Randy van Soest – Electric-Guitar/Vocals

EP REVIEW: THE McMINERS- ‘Tales of Betrayal and Deceit’ (2017)

Irish style celtic-punk from Brazilian band The McMiners.

Yet another example of the international status of celtic-punk for you now with a great band hailing from Belo Horizonte in Brazil. It’s the sixth largest city in the country and in a country the size of Brazil that means its bigger than most counties over here! With over 2,500,000 in the city and over 5,000,000 in the surrounding area it stands to reason that their must be a bunch of celtic-punk fans with the talents to start a band and so in early 2012 The McMiners were born.

The McMiners left to right: Luciano Alvim- tin Whistle, accordion, backing vocals * Nathan Augusto- electric and acoustic guitar, backing vocals * Nicolas Ramos- bagpipes * Gabriel Finnegan Leão- bass, bodhrán, mandolin, lead vocals * Marianna Gray- violin * Guilherme H. Silva- drums, percussion. Special Guests- (not pictured) special guests on the album: Karl Malachy Mooney and Rafael Salobreña.

My previous knowledge of celtic-punk in Brazil has been confined to the absolutely brilliant band Lugh, who are in fact one of my favourites in the entire scene. To check them out why not go here and treat yourself! Both the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly take in Brazil whenever they set sail to south America so the interest is there and seems to be growing. Their is a large Celtic diaspora of mainly Welsh and Irish in neighbouring Argentina and Uruguay that is well documented and Irish soldiers like William Brown in Argentina, Bernado Higgins in Chile and the St Patrick’s Brigade in Mexico played major roles in freeing their respective adopted countries from colonialism and gaining independence. Che Guevara, whose grandmother’s surname was Lynch, was another famous member of this diaspora. Guevara’s father, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, said of him

“The first thing to note is that in my son’s veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels”

Whether or not the interest in celtic-punk is linked to any of this is debatable and it’s more likely the love of a good auld time and a few beers plays its part as well. It is safe to say though the Irish in South America are very proud of their roots and their history is one that should be known by all.

The first McMiners release was the County Cross EP which came out in April last year.  It has passed me by completely until I came to write this review so I revisited it and have to say I expected it to be a bit on the rough and ready side but it was actually very good. It’s four tracks included a extremely well played instrumental, a celtic-punk version of ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew You’ and a couple of their own compositions, one slow and a fast sea shanty that would befit any ship!

So after having a couple of listens to that debut EP I sat down with a big mug of tea and a packet of biscuits to have a listen to their new release, Tales of Betrayal and Deceit. It’s taken a while to cross the oceans as it came out in April earlier this year but man am I glad that it did do! The EP kicks off with the instrumental ‘No Deal’ and if you were expecting something slow and traditional then you were as wrong as i was! It’s fast and manic and dominated by Nícolas great bagpipes. This is the kind of trad music to wake up the masses!

(here’s a acoustic version of ‘Left Behind’ rather than the one on the EP)

In ‘Left Behind’ McMiners bring out both accordion and fiddle and the pace is still right up there. The lyrics speak of the poverty in their country and the ones left behind while obscene wealth is being made by some.

“We are the ones
They don’t care
We are the ones
They forgot about
We are the ones
Hopeless and f’-d up
We are the ones
Left behind”

The first release from the EP was ‘Behead The Captain’ for which they put out a great video and the pipes and fiddle are out again in force for this really catchy number.

Great lyrics as they are throughout the EP with no sign whatsoever that English isn’t their first language. Like Lugh they sing in English and while this no doubt helps reviewers like me I really don’t think it matters. Ironically last week we reviewed the new album from London band The Babes where Mao the Singer/bagpiper sings several songs in Spanish! The next song ‘A Prologue / The Jack and the Black’ begins with the sound of the ocean and seagulls and Karl Mooney, accompanied only by a distant acoustic guitar, the Dublin born native and singer of fellow local celtic band The Celtas (here) reads a short piece about two brothers one of whom becomes a priest and the other a soldier before suddenly the band storm in kicking down the door and launch into a lovely big slice of celtic metal with chugging guitar and vocals that would put the fear of God into you. Again intelligent and interesting lyrics and an obvious step above the usual ones about drinking. The EP ends with another instrumental ‘The Clauss’ and while the opening instrumental was classic celtic-punk this is much more of a traditional Irish folk number. The song was originally an improvised session recorded on a phone with Luciano on tin Whistle and the band’s former piper Ernst on the accordion when Ernst left Brazil and moved to Ireland. Still close the band decided to record the song as a way to tell him they missed him. At the very end you can actually hear the original phone recording of the song! Two bodhráns are joined by accordion and tin whistle and shows the folk purist snobs that they can both play their instrument and write an exceptional traditional song too. Here is another band that Brazilians can be proud of and believe you and me a triumph of quality over quantity!

(you can have a listen to Tales of Betrayal and Deceit before you buy it for free below on the Bandcamp player)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE BABES- ‘Greetings From London’ (2017)

The Babes are a trio of London celtic-punk misfits that play fast and punky Poguesy type music… and with just drums, bass and bagpipes!

In a small scene such as ours over here in Blighty it’s always brilliant news to hear of another celtic-punk band joining the fold and we were over the moon earlier this year to get The Babes on board the London Celtic Punk scene. Announcing their arrival with a series of gigs around London it took a while for us to catch them live but we did sit up and take notice of a bunch of well made and edited You Tube videos that impressed us straight away so we roped them into supporting Headsticks and Under A Banner at The Water Rats. There they blew the crowd away with what can only be described as celtic-crust music! Snotty, two fingers in the air, DIY punk rock with bagpipes and a massive stage presence. Having your guitarist leave just before a big gig the easiest decision would be to cancel but The Babes said hell no and instead went on to play half an hour of fast as hell with only drums, bass and pipes!

The Babes- Matt Ren Ex: Bass, Vocals * Mao Holiday: Bagpipes, Vocals * Marvin Pedro: Drums

The guys met at the IMW sound engineering school in East London and soon via a garage in Twickenham, South West London it wasn’t long before The Babes were delivered. Bringing together Colombian, American and English backgrounds and featuring ex-members of punk legends Total Chaos and Blitz they have already played more gigs than most band who have been together much longer and have embarked on two extensive tours of Europe as well. They are literally just back from their most recent Euro tour promoting this album which took them to Brittany, France, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium and with no let up they hit the boards again in London straight after and head off again next month to Catalonia and Spain for a few dates.

Greetings From London has been self produced and funded by the band and is a real achievement for them. The physical CD comes in a rather nifty jewel case with a beautiful huge full colour booklet with lyrics and photos and all sorts of stuff. Very nice it is too. But what about the music? Well the album kicks off with ‘The Awakening’ an instrumental that starts with very much a traditional Gaelic feel to it before the band slowly join in and take it up to the end and for once are a bit restrained and the album gets off to a fantastic start. The next track, ‘Gold Star’ again begins with the pipes loud and proud and Mao’s voice and strong accent driving it along but no sign so far as yet of what The Babes are best known for. I have to say at this point so that I don’t repeat myself throughout the review after each song that the bagpipes on this album by Mao are absolutely fantastic. A native of Colombia he has certainly learnt well and the pipes are a great addition to the solid punk rock fare. By the way the band have given up ‘Gold Star’ as a free download so simply click below to get the track for free.

FOR ‘GOLD STAR’ CLICK HERE

A couple of short ninety second songs follow in ‘Down Here’ and ‘Do Something’ and the band that springs to mind here are definitely the Bristol based drunken crusty punk band Disorder, who John Peel once famously described as “sounding like Triumph Bonneville motorbikes”. I came across Disorder as a ten year old Sham 69 fan who use to spend his weekly pocket money on punk singles but was so impressed one day by the sheer number of songs on one single in particular (and the cheap price!) that he bought it without listening took it home and got shouted at my his Mam and Dad when he put it on. To say it made Sham look like the Bay City Rollers would be an understatement! Best song so far is up next and ‘Lima Limon’ has plenty of energy and fire in the belly and even when you listen to it you completely forget that there’s no electric guitar here. For a three piece band they certainly fill out the space extremely well and are all great musicians in their own right. When I saw The Babes recently play Matt the bassist explained the significance of the song ‘Song of Finola’ and it was very interesting but beer has clouded my memory and all I can remember is that it was an Irish story. The pipes drive the tune along and Matts vocals seem distant while the song floats along. A superb track and here I find myself having to say that sure I don’t think that Greetings From London will appeal to everyone in the celtic-punk scene but then this is not yer typical celtic-punk album and The Babes are not yer typical celtic-punk band either. Next up is ‘Rampton Song’ originally written by and the lead song on that EP I bought thirty odd years ago by Disorder. Fast and over in a flash of ninety three seconds and The Babes have chopped and changed the song making it their own.

Thundering bass dominates here and live I can tell you it’s bloody crowd pleaser. ‘Kids’ doesn’t last much longer before ‘Dandelion’ and Mao and Matt share vocals and lyrics in Spanish and English. Next up it’s the album’s highlight which is without doubt ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away’. Released as the first single from Greetings From London and on hearing it I straight away knew they were onto a winner.

Promoting ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away’ took them on their first tour ‘The Babes Invade Mainland Europe’ where they had the opportunity to visit France, Germany, Belgium and Holland. Positive lyrics and a killer tune with stunning piping and that thundering bass thundering away it’s a complete tune and if you like this song then you are going to fecking love the rest of them.

“Tomorrow seems so far away,

why don’t we live for today?

When yesterday is all said and done,

why don’t we just have some fun?”

We nearing up to the end now with just two songs left and the short ‘The Choice Is Up To You’ takes us through to ‘Chia Sue’ and the album ends on a high with a punk rock masterpiece taking all the things that The Babes are good at and throwing them back to us.

As you can imagine for a band that met at sound engineering school the sound here is immaculate with plenty of power and oomft without being over produced at all. A really good job by Mao who engineered, produced, mixed and mastered the whole thing ably assisted by Colin Smith, David Clark Allen and Sean Bartle. As said The Babes may not be everyone’s cup of tea as they are most firmly planted on the punk rock side of the celtic-punk scene and they aint a lot of folk music going on here after that first song! Though as an old and greying punk rock misfit myself I blooming loved it. The energy is boundless and infectious and if maybe The Babes are best experienced live they have done as good a job as could ever be done in transferring that live sound onto disc. Greetings From London is a refreshingly raw album that goes to show that their is still plenty of room in the celtic-punk scene and it’s not all played out. Just as you think the scene has got stale and there’s never going to be another band coming along that doesn’t instantly remind you of something else then one appears and this time it’s The Babes.  

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  • The Babes are constantly playing somewhere and have even begun to venture beyond London too so have a look on their web site or you can subscribe to their Facebook events (here) and be sent a invite every time they play near you.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE POURMEN- ‘Rise & Shine’ (2017)

A bunch of hedonistic, lapsed-Catholic, Dorchester-Irish cowboys and whalefisher men, pissed on cheap whiskey with a soundtrack of punk, Irish, sea-shanties, outlaw country and Americana.

The Pourmen formed in January 2013 and played their first gig not long after on St Patrick’s Day and have in a short time become one of the bands to watch out for in the celtic-punk world. They hail from the famous town of New Bedford in the state of Massachusetts. The town is nicknamed ‘The Whaling City’ due to it’s prominence in the 19th century as one of the most important, if not the most important, whaling ports in the world. Up until the time of the Great Hunger in Ireland the town of new Bedford, not unlike the rest of America, was largely a town of Protestant origin with communities of English, Scottish, Welsh, and Dutch origin. It was around this time that the first waves of Irish Catholic immigration began with the first of many Irish churches, St. Mary’s built in 1918 and the Irish Aid Society was formed to help those who were down on their luck. Later immigrants from Portugal began to arrive, attracted by jobs in the whaling industry. With the industries decline New Bedford continues to be the leading fishing port in the USA. The seminal event in Irish-American history was the Great Hunger. Now you may know that as the Irish Famine brought on by a disease causing blight to wipe out the potato crop that the poor Irish almost entirely existed on. Well over a million people died of hunger in the late 1840s, on the doorstep of the world’s richest nation. The truth though are ever is much darker and was more akin to genocide. Comparison with other modern and contemporary famines establishes beyond any doubt that the Great Hunger which killed nearly one-eighth of the entire population and sent two million into exile, was proportionally much more destructive of human life than any in modern times. An attempt to wipe out the troublesome Irish Catholic was the ideology that saw food exported from Ireland at gunpoint while the starving lay dying in the streets. The people of New Bedford rallied to the aid of the starving irish and in 1847 alone, 118 ships loaded with provisions sailed to Ireland, led by the USS Jamestown, which made it across the Atlantic in just 15 days. Those that fled a Ireland of poverty and death has resulted in 22% of the population of Massachusetts being of Irish ancestry.

The Pourmen come from that community that has strong firm against the years and still today revels in its culture and traditions and Irish flags still litter the rows of little old houses in the outskirts of the state. Today’s modern Irish-American community still harks back to the old ways but is in no way confined to them. The community has taken to ‘celtic-punk’ as an expression of it’s identity but the music has always blended in influences from country and Americana as well as punk to produce the perfect immigrant music. The band has played countless pubs, festivals and other venues across New England from Boston to Portland, Maine and Providence, Rhode Island, encouraging folks to sing along to their tall tales and have shared a stage with all the best bands in the scene.

The Pourmen’s debut release was the album Too Old To Die Young which came out in July 2014. Thirteen tracks of uptempo Irish folk-rock with a smattering of self penned numbers and folk covers. Elements of trad Irish and Celtic, country, bluegrass and even rockabilly, as on the album highlight ‘Irish Girl’, combine with the energy of punk and rock’n’roll to make for a heady mix. Their humour shines throughout the album and cemented their place as one of the most promising bands in the USA celtic-punk scene.

They followed this album up the following year with Pour Another and yes it pretty much follows the same alcohol soaked path as before with the music soaking up influences from everywhere but that Irish backbone a constant throughout. As on their debut album The Pourmen show they can compete with any trad band with a couple of instrumentals of absolute fantastic Irish folk as well as some well chosen and well played covers. The album made the Top Ten of Paddyrock’s Top 30 Celtic Punk Albums of 2015 and

And so we are now in 2017 and the release of their brand new album on St Patrick’s Day, when else!, Rise & Shine. Here we get only seven songs and with a running time of 22 minutes Rise & Shine it’s debateable whether what we have here is either a long EP or a short LP. Nevertheless it’s an outstanding release and has been coming out my speakers since I got it a fortnight ago. The album kicks off with ‘Day Drinking’ a short, less than two minutes, blast of fast and furious Irish folk-punk with electric guitar buzzsaw and brilliant piping and and mandolin. Over before you know it and we are into ‘I Got Nothing’ and Rick’s voice fits perfectly with the just about of punk rock sneer and ‘croon’! Catchy as hell (if anyone knows a better word for ‘catchy’ then please leave it in the comments!) and those elements of country at play here though the songs Irish roots are clear for all to hear. This time its the fiddle that stands out and The Pourmen certainly have a wealth of talent at their disposal. We are back soaked in alcohol again next with the country ‘Sober Heart’. A broken relationship and it’s perfect county material with a laid back tune with a cracking guitar solo towards the end, not often you hear an auld punk rocker saying that. ‘The Rising’ begins with Sluggo piping the chorus of ‘Rising of the Moon’ before the band jump in and turn the whole thing into a celtic-punk racket of Irish punk rock with updated lyrics and a tribute to their friends and their home of New Bedford. Now i may be an auld punk rocker’ but it’s no surprise to me that my favourite track is ‘Cultivator’. The longest song here at just over four minutes and by Christ it’s (sorry) catchy. The country and bluegrass here takes over and is simply brilliant. The song tells of the tale of poor Billy whose tongue gets him into trouble and makes him pay the ultimate price. The fiddle again is outstanding and a real story told in song in the old Irish way. Coming up to the end and finally we have a song about the local industry with ‘Ice On The River’. Again it’s country tinged and (groan!) catchy. Folky and acoustic, I think, and a superb foot tapper for those of us who are a bit shy without a few pint’s in us leading us into the final track ‘Prodigal Son’. Sluggo again gives us some great piping with the tune from ‘Kelly The Boy From Killane’ before the music takes a swerve and we are in classic celtic-punk territory with the band turning it on and leaving us with an absolutely brilliant story of setting out on your own two feet and it’s all over far too quickly and if this was a gig I’d be shouting myself hoarse yelling “MORE”.

Rise & Shine saw the light of day in March of this year and though it took a while to reach us we are certainly glad that it did. The album was produced and arranged by The Pourmen themselves and vocalist Rick was behind the music and lyrics with contributions from all the band members. This is a fantastic release with the only criticism that I can offer up that it wasn’t even longer so as you can see not really a criticism at all!! Seven songs that more than make up for its brevity with some absolute brilliant (last time i promise) catchy and extremely well played Irish folk-punk that would soften the heart of the greatest punk rocker in town. The crossover appeal of bands like The Pourmen explains celtic-punk’s success at capturing the heart of Irish-America. While the music appeals to all whether young or old, or punk or folk the values its extols are the values that made the Irish the Irish. Love, friendship, faith, loyalty and the love of a glass or two of something strong!

(listen to Rise & Shine for free before you purchase on the Bandcamp player below)

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(The Pourmen getting in the mood for St. Patrick’s Day 2017 on their local TV station)

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: DICK GAUGHAN- ‘Handful Of Earth’ (1981)

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Considered one of the great folk voices of our time and acknowledged as one of Scotland’s most outstanding musicians. Handful Of Earth is renowned as not only his best album but also as one of the best folk album’s of all time.

Dick 1

Though steeped in the traditions of folk and Celtic music, Scottish singer/songwriter Dick Gaughan has enjoyed a lengthy and far-reaching career in a variety of pursuits. The eldest of three children, he grew up surrounded by the music of both Scotland and Ireland. His mother, a Highland Scot who spoke Gaelic, had as a child won a silver medal for singing at a Gaelic Mòd and his Leith-born dad played guitar while his Irish grandad the fiddle and his Glaswegian grannie played button accordion.

The family experienced considerable poverty, but the area they lived in possessed a strong community and many of Gaughan’s songs celebrate his working-class roots. In his teens Gaughan served an apprenticeship at a local paper mill, but had wanted to be a musician since he first started playing guitar at the age of seven. Born in 1948, he first picked up the guitar at the age of seven, and released his debut solo album, No More Forever, in 1972. He then joined the Scots folk-rock group the Boys Of The Lough before returning to his solo career with 1976’s Kist o Gold. However, he soon formed a band named Five Hand Reel. Over the next two years, Gaughan issued four more records – two solo releases (1977’s Copper and Brass and 1978’s Gaughan) as well as two more Five Hand Reel outings (1977’s For a’ That and 1978’s Earl o’ Moray).

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, he worked as a writer and in a theatre company but after a three-year absence from the studio, Dick returned to regular musical duty with the release of 1981’s Handful of Earth. The album has gone onto become one of the greatest recordings of traditional folk song’s ever made. His guitar playing is innovative, expressive and powerful and his voice is by turns tender, angry and passionate and even old songs sound new in his hands. The mixture of love songs, odes of parting and political commentaries such as ‘Worker’s Song’ and ‘World Turned Upside Down’ is Gaughan’s most complex and emotional work, and has come to be recognised as a masterpiece being named as Album of the Decade by Folk Roots magazine.

His version of ‘Song For Ireland’ is the album’s highlight capturing the sadness of emigration and evokes perfectly the feelings that those poor Irish must have felt when forced to leave their homes. Handful Of Earth is a brilliant album and features Brian McNeill, Phil Cunningham, and Stewart Isbister and is, without doubt, Gaughan’s best blend of traditional and contemporary songs.

In Dick Gaughan’s own words on Handful Of Earth

“This was the first album I had recorded in Scotland. For some reason, it seemed to strike a chord with people and it is the most successful recording I have made in terms of acclaim and sales.

It was Melody Maker’s Album of the Year in 1981 and in 1989 it was voted in the Critics’ Poll, and more important to me, the Readers’ Poll, in Folk Roots as Album of the Decade. I have had hundreds of reviews, good and bad, and I pay little attention to them. But when the actual people you’re playing to confer an honour like that upon you, you shed the odd tear of thanks that you’ve been privileged to be able to do something which means something to them.

Why they voted it such was a complete mystery to me then and still is today. As a friend of mine says, “Never ask one of the actors what they thought of the play”

A Different Kind of Love Song followed in 1983, and in 1985 he released a live album and a year later True and Bold. After 1988’s Call It Freedom, Gaughan again retreated from view devoting much of his time to his increasing interest in computer technology. In the mid-90’s he formed a new band, the short-lived Clan Alba, who disbanded after releasing a 1995 self-titled debut and he returned to making solo album’s and began to tour the country regularly to packed audiences everywhere. That was sadly until September 2016 when he announced that he was cancelling all public performances until further notice. This was because he believed that he had had a stroke, which was affecting his ability to perform. 

Statement from Dick Gaughan’s management

‘”This statement about Dick Gaughan’s health should be read before reading or believing anything else. Dick has now stated publicly at two recent gigs that, “In order to prevent rumours spreading, I think I have had a stroke”. It is untrue to say that he cannot sing or play guitar. However in saying what he has said, Dick is acknowledging that ‘something’, as yet unconfirmed, is not right. Dick has an appointment with a neurologist in early October 2016 when the situation will, it is hoped, be clarified. Until then “I think I have had stroke” is not an opinion based on medical fact”

London Celtic Punks send our best wishes to Dick wherever he may be laid up and look forward to seeing him performing again down here in the smoke. Get well soon Dick the scene needs you.

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Password: folkyourself.blogspot.com

Track-Listing
1 – Erin-Go-Bragh
2 – Now Westlin Winds
3 – Craigie Hill
4 – World Turned Upside Down
5 – The Snows They Melt the Soonest
6 – Lough Erne-First Kiss at Parting
7 – Scojun Waltz-Randers Hopsa
8 – Song for Ireland
9 – Workers’ Song
10 – Both Sides the Tweed

Dick Gaughan: Vocal, Guitars, Brian McNeill: Fiddle, acoustic bass, Stuart Isbister: Bass, Phil Cunningham: Keyboard, Whistle

All tracks trad. arr. Dick Gaughan except Track 4 Leon Rosselson; Tracks 6b, 7a Dick Gaughan; Track 8 Phil & June Colclough; Track 9 Ed Pickford

THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ‘STEPPING STONES’ CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW SERIES

This album was brought to you as part of our regular series where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re maybe use to. Lost or hidden and sometimes forgotten gems from the legends and also unknowns that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern age celtic-punk music. The albums are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

You can find our Steppin’ Stones page here with the full list of albums to choose from.

(if the links are broken please leave a comment and we will fix)

NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO FROM JOSHUA McCLURG FROM NAYMEDICI

I had wondered after not hearing from them for a bit but sad to say that Manchester-Irish celtic-punk band Naymedici are no more. Now that name probably means more to our Irish readers than anyone else as at the height of their popularity they upsticks and moved across the sea (wrong way surely?!?!) to a lovely beachside cottage near Clonakilty on the coast of West Cork. Described as

“the bastard child of The Pogues and Gogol Bordello”

in one review, and Scots writer Irvine Welsh said they were ‘f***ing on it!’ which is probably one of the best reviews anyone could ever get! They played all over Ireland and Britain and were regular’s on the festival circuit too and even did undertook a tour of Europe, playing in cities such as Berlin and Prague among others. They released a few singles during this time, including ‘Paddy McGee’, ‘Koo Koo The Bird Girl’, ‘Whack Fol The Diddle’ and ‘Men and Women’ and were featured on BBC 6 Music, E4, MTV UK, MTV Europe and MTV International. Not bad for a DIY Band with no management!

Well three years ago the band went on their different ways and Josh the bands singer moved back to Manchester and began his next project The Lucky 15’s, an Irish Party Band, with a great bunch of talented musicians I knew from various other bands in Manchester. It was during this time that Joshua began writing material for a solo album, You Can’t Take It With You, set for release next month.

So here’s a wee taster with the video for ‘If You’re Gone’ the first single release from Joshua McClurg’s debut album, ‘You Can’t Take It With You’.

One cold winter’s evening I sat by the stairs,
In the doorway I huddled while the cruel millionaires
Turned up all their noses as I held out my cup
Hard to keep your chin up when your down on your luck
So I felt in my pockets, had nothing to show
And I thought back to the old days how quickly they’d go
When I first held you close and you promised the world
And I saw my true love through my darling young girl
If you’re gone, don’t leave me falling
The night it is cold now
The leaves are falling
And we were young then
Still had our dreams babe
But now I’m alone
I’ve still got me dreams
I’ve still got me dreams
Well these horses and whores, cruel mistresses all
And I gambled my money and I gambled my home
And for all my sins I was condemned to roam
With nowt but the clothes on my rowdy-dow-dow
And life it is hard and gets harder each day,
Haven’t eaten since 8 and it’s started to rain
But I swear by the Christ’s blood that flows through me veins
That I never will whistle that old tune again
Well I’ve made some mistakes and I’ve not been too good
And my life’s in the gutter with the rats and the mud
And it’s thicker than wine and it’s colder than blood
Yes it’s hard to look up when your down on your luck
If’re gone, don’t leave me falling
The night it is cold now
The leaves are falling
And we were young then
Still had our dreams babe
But now I’m alone
I’ve still got me dreams
They can’t take me dreams

Now it may not be the raucous celtic-gypsy-Irish folk we were use to with Naymedici but even better there’s an unmistakable Poguesy air to it from the land of ‘Dirty Old Town’. The piano, backing vocals and marvellous lyrics straight remind me of If I Should Fall From Grace With God era Shane. If you like this then you can pre-order Joshua’s album from his Bandcamp page below and keep an eye out for a review coming to these pages soon.

Contact Joshua McClurg

WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

EP REVIEW: ShamRocks- ‘ Ye Olde Chariot’ (2017)

Founding fathers of Ukraine’s celtic-punk movement and the originators of ‘Stout Rock’. A blend of Irish, Scottish, Breton and Finnish folk with a variety of rock and metal styles.

Born in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev only a few years back in 2009 Ye Olde Chariot is the second release from ShamRocks and combines all the parts that made their first release so enjoyable. We waxed lyrical at how much we loved Captain’s Log. A mutual love of traditional Irish and Scottish music, Finnish polkas, ancient sea shanties and good old fashioned punk rock and metal that has introduced the people of Ukraine to some out of the best modern adaptations of classic folk songs out there. Taking traditional melodies played on the violin, mandolin, flute and accordion and mixing them up with head-banging riffs that are both heavy and danceable at the same time. That debut album was a collection of the best of ShamRocks songs since they were formed from their first demo to their last studio sessions mastered brilliantly to give it that ‘crowded pub’ feel. It was voted into 4th place in our end of year London Celtic Punks Top Ten Folk/Trad releases but could just have easily made the celtic-punk Top Ten as well!

(listen to their first release Captain’s Log below)

What we had to say then stands the test of time

“There is plenty here to upset the folk purists (or snobs as I prefer to call them) but these people would like to keep the folk music of our people locked up in a box. Put away and kept out of the hands of people who (in their opinion) don’t respect or cherish them as much as they do. Their way is noble yes but is also a surefire way to kill off folk music. They attacked the Dubliners and then The Pogues in their time and now fawn longingly over the bands they once called sacrilegious. ShamRocks have taken a bunch of songs and added so much more to them than by simply folking it along. That they are Ukrainian adds another dimension to them. An absolutely stunning album with the only tiny criticism I may have is that their’s not enough ShamRocks own self-penned songs and to that end they have already began work on a EP that may or may not develop into a LP and I for one can’t wait to hear it!”

Well a full album is still in the works so in the meantime ShamRocks offer up this five track EP for us and again to say it is very good would be a massive understatement.

Ye Olde Chariot begins with the sound of an ocean before morphing into, appropriately, an olde sea-shanty, ‘Roll The Old Chariot’. Originated as an African-American spiritual it was used as a ‘stamp-and-go’ or ‘walk away’ meaning the sailors would hold on to the line and walk with it creating a steady pull. The song starts off in an acapella style before the mandolin is introduced and just as you are lulled into the gentleness of the song BANG ShamRocks launch into the celtic-punk version and the cobwebs are well and truly blown away!

Fast and carefree the song still maintains, as is ShamRocks style, very much the original folk song despite some great touches like a ska ‘ish’ beat at the beginning and the trumpet towards the end. Simply breath taking and easily the best version I have ever heard. Can’t tell you much about the next song titled ‘Пияка-Гультяй’ ‘cept it’s in Ukrainian and is fast and has a Eastern European sound. No matter how fast  they play or how much punk or metal they inject into it it’s amazing that so much of the original folk songs survives. We are only three songs in and ‘Der Stern Der Grafschaft Daun’ is yet again a real eye opener and when I say that I’m a little jaded after hearing yet another celtic-punk version of ‘The Girl From The County Down’ I mean it. But this is different and as the band say themselves it’s

” an all-time favorite folk song frankensteined into an industrial metal number”

Well that was until I heard ShamRocks version. I thought I’d heard it played every which way imaginable but I was wrong! Yeah a metal version but once again never straying too far from that original.

Next up we have a instrumental called ‘Topor Polka’ and it’s extremely well played with great fiddle work and accordion alongside the driving electric guitar, bass and drums. I daresay this is a real fans favourite live and it may steer more towards their own side of the world rather than Celtic but we don’t hold a monopoly on the best music and I love to see bands adding their own influences into the mix. Ye Olde Chariot comes to an end with ‘Kiltartan Cross’ and it’s a beautifully ballad based on the poem ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’ by the famous Irish writer and nationalist W.B.Yeats. The words are worth repeating so here they are.

“I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death”

Though he may be fighting for Britain the airman’s heart is at home in his Irish village of Kiltartan. Written not long after the end of the First World War where many Irishmen died fighting for the British Empire their lives would have been better served fighting at home. Serge’s vocals are mournful and timeless. They convey the emotion of the words perfectly and the band’s backing is perfection too with the flute taking the lead through most of the song and so the EP ends very much on a high note.

Now there are many bands out there who steer clear of the usual well worn covers and prefer to do some research or delve back into their childhoods for inspiration and we always love that but most of the time these bands hail from within the Irish/Celtic diaspora. The amazing thing about ShamRocks is that they don’t. They don’t and yet the respect and affinity they have for Irish music is clear to anyone. As mentioned no matter how hard they rock out there is still the unmistakable sound of traditional folk music behind them. They have produced here eighteen minutes of exactly what I think of when I think of celtic-punk. Modern music but with both feet firmly planted in the past and there are many many modern Irish bands who could do well to learn from ShamRocks example.

(have a free listen to Ye Olde Chariot on the Bandcamp player below before you purchase. It’s only $3 which is super good value believe me!)

Buy Ye Olde Chariot

FromTheBand

Contact The Band

Facebook  Soundcloud  VK.com  YouTube Bandcamp

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

Vinyl  CompactDisc  Download  Bundles

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

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 as well.

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Bandcamp  Spotify

HOW THE IRISH BECAME THE POGUES

by Jack Hamilton

The Pogues

Last March I enjoyed the pleasure (and attendant hangover) of partaking in the annual ritual of alcoholic commerce that is St. Patrick’s Day in Boston.  Although I had grown up in the area, and in a decidedly Irish-American household at that, I had spent the past seven such holidays as a resident of New York City, and while St. Patrick is certainly heartily toasted in New York things haven’t reached the pathological extremes of Boston, where they’ve even gone so far as to cook up a bogus holiday in its honour.  After managing to find a bar which, while crowded, was thankfully free of either a gratuitous cover or any sort of neon leprechauns, my small group of friends and I settled in for an evening of friendly imbibing and spirited conversation, surely two of the more distinguished aspects of the Irish national character.  All night we listened to the Celtic-infused rock ‘n’ roll of the Pogues.  This was not by choice—the bar had no jukebox, merely a bartender’s iPod—yet the selection seemed so obvious that I doubt any objections were raised.  In fact, I doubt many objections were raised in any of the numerous bars throughout the city that most likely played a considerable dose of the Pogues on St. Patrick’s Day, or for that matter in any of the countless establishments around the world who presumably engage their patrons in similar entertainment come March 17.  As the old cliché goes, everyone becomes Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and a good deal of those busying themselves with “becoming Irish” will find themselves at some point listening to the music of the Pogues.

The issue of how the Irish became the Pogues—or, for that matter, how the Pogues became Irish—is an interesting one that makes their emergence as progenitors of Irish authenticity all the more complex.  Outside of Dublin-born guitarist Phil Chevron, none of the members of the Pogues’ primary line up were Irish by birth: refugees of the dying British punk movement with an affinity for traditional Irish music, singer-songwriter Shane MacGowan¹, tin whistle player Spider Stacy and accordionist James Fearnley formed the Pogues in the early 1980s in North London.  Furthermore, while their music often proudly employs ‘trad’ instrumentation—whistles, pipes, banjo, accordion—the Pogues also prominently feature two crucial pieces you’d be loath to hear while trolling trad sessions in Galway or Cork: namely, an electric bass and drum kit.  Indeed, when one couples their rhythm section—clearly more schooled in American R&B and rockabilly than reels, jigs or hornpipes—with their ragged lead singer, the Pogues have always at their heart been a rock band, closer to the Clash than Turlough O’Carolan.  I bring up these points neither to challenge the Pogues’ claim to Irishness nor slander their authenticity, but rather to point out that the band represents a fascinating example of transnational mobility in which a British band aggressively appropriates Irish musical traditions, imbues them with a punk sensibility then exports the sound around the world, where the result is deemed ‘Irish’. Noel McLaughlin and Martin McLoone have argued that the Pogues’ musical hybridity speaks to diasporic qualities central to Irish cultural identity, noting that

“the Pogues address the Irish emigrant through song narratives that offer an ‘in-betweenness’”

While surely compelling, such an assessment fails to address the Pogues’ massive popularity in Ireland itself, where the band’s frequent touring and Republican political leanings have elevated MacGowan and company to folk-hero status.  It would seem that the Pogues’ greatest musical legacy lies not in their commitment to Celtic musical traditions but rather the affectionate and wilful dragging of these traditions into the foreboding present, and it is through this gesture that the Pogues most effectively lay their claim to a far more meaningful Irish tradition than the sort celebrated with green beer and shamrock tattoos.

Nowhere is this impulse so thoroughly manifested as in the complicated talents of Shane MacGowan.  A gifted melodist and the sort of writer that inspires websites devoted to interpretations of his lyrics, MacGowan holds a place among the finest rock songwriters of his generation.  As a singer MacGowan’s voice is tattered yet full of conviction, reminiscent of Seamus Heaney’s memorable writing that ‘the voice of sanity is growing hoarse’. Of course, it is also with MacGowan that the Pogues’ more problematic notions of Irishness are cultivated.  MacGowan’s infamous alcoholic tirades, run-ins with the law and glorification of the Irish Republican Army have surely re-inforced as many negative Irish stereotypes as his prodigious musical output and knack for verse have brought out positive ones.  While MacGowan has frequently drawn comparisons to the late Irish poet Brendan Behan (a comparison MacGowan himself invokes in the sublime ‘Streams of Whiskey’), there is another, albeit fictional, figure from Irish literature with whom MacGowan shares a resemblance: James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus, the irascible protagonist of ‘Portrait of the Artist’ who must turn his back on Ireland in order escape the spiral of his homeland’s tormented past.  Whereas Stephen ultimately flees Ireland for Paris, MacGowan and the Pogues sought to flee London to a particular Ireland of their own imagining.  It is this Ireland, one that exists via North London and rock ‘n’ roll, that so many of us visit every St. Patrick’s Day, when the Pogues songs flow from jukeboxes like so many streams of whiskey and we all try a little too hard to become a little more Irish than we probably should.

¹ A common misconception is that Shane was born here but he was in fact born in the Premier County and moved to England as a child.

further reading: Noel McLaughlin and Martin McLoone, ‘Hybridity and National Musics: The Case of Irish Rock Music’ (Apr. 2000)

if you’re interested in The Pogues we have a stack of great articles on them:

‘From Oppression To Celebration- The Pogues And The Dropkick Murphys And Celtic Punk’ here 

‘A Wee Biography Of Shane MacGowan’  here 

‘The Pogues And Irish Cultural Continuity’  here

‘Film Review: If I Should Fall From Grace With God- The Shane MacGowan Story’  here

‘Book Review: Irish Blood, English Heart- Second Generation Irish Musicians In England’  here

‘Red Roses For Me And Me’  here

‘Film Review: I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day’  here

‘Book Review: Rum, Sodomy And The Lash’ by Jeffrey T. Roesgen’  here

‘The Pogues On Mastermind- The Questions’  here

The Best Pogues Related Sites

In The Wake Of The Medusa  Paddy Rolling Stone  The Parting Glass  Pogues Facebook Page

AUSSIE CELT’S FOX n FIRKIN NEW SINGLE AND VIDEO

Fox n Firkin are a celtic punk rock band from Brisbane which formed in early 2012. Here is their brand new video for their single ‘Bastard Brigade’The single is taken from Fox n Firkin’s last album, No Vacancy which is out on Folk Til Ya Punk Records.

“fusing traditional Irish instrumentation and melodies into blistering catchy punk rock”

is how they describe themselves and you know what? I couldn’t put it better myself! The video was shot in Tasmania on a recent tour, while waiting to soundcheck and features their Folk Til Ya Punk record label mates, The Dead Maggies, who they were playing a show with that night.

Please feel free to share it around. We hope you like it!
Formed in early 2012 in the Australian capital city of Brisbane Fox n Firkin have taken the harder edged route into celtic-punk and though they would probably be nearer to the Dropkick Murphys than Flogging Molly but they don’t sound much like the Murphys either. One of the things about the Aussie celtic-punk scene is how they manage to find new approaches in what you would think is quite a narrow genre and make it really original. Fox n Firkin are no different to their peers and have a fresh original sound that fuses those celtic and folk instruments like mandolin and banjo to quality punk rock melodies. Fiercely independent they released a couple of DIY EP’s but have recently joined up, and have found the perfect label to support them in, Folk Till Ya Punk Records. They produced their first independently released EP To Hell And Back in May, 2013 and was produced By Fox n Firkin and Greg Arnott and is available as a ‘name your price’ download on Bandcamp below.
They followed this up with another brilliant 4-track EP ‘Roppongi’ release on December 1st, 2013 which if you buy the CD contains the best version of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ you will ever hear I fecking promise you.
Released on April Fools Day last year their debut album No Vacancy is ten quality punky celtic-punk tracks with that unmistakeable Aussie sound that we go absolute ape shit for here at London Celtic Punks. Ten songs that clock in at just over half an hour and includes nine original F n F compositions and only one cover. So after their first two EP’s I have got to say that Fox’n’Firkin have really hit the jackpot here with No Vacancy. A quality debut album that from beginning to end is just catchy as hell celtic-punk rock with great vocals and lyrics. On the punkier side of things but refreshing to these ears that they are doing their own thing and not aping any band I have heard recently. from the first few bars of mandolin you know you are in for a treat. Catchy and tuneful punk rock with a load of folk influences chucked in as well.

Contact The Band

Facebook  Bandcamp  Soundcloud  YouTube

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: SONS OF O’FLAHERTY- ‘The Road Not Taken’ (2017)

Who are Sons Of O’Flaherty? Six good friends who grew up in the Celtic nation of Brittany in love with punk rock, folk and traditional Celtic music.

Yec’hed Mad and see you soon !

Now the history of the celtic nations and their people and culture and their languages has never been a particularly happy one with each nation experiencing waves of repression ever since they were taken over and with none of them free this repression continues but out of adversity springs hope and what I love above all else is to hear a band out of the Celtic nations embrace celtic-punk as a way to promote their identity and culture. The Sons Of O’Flaherty hail from Vannes in the north-western tip of Brittany, an area where almost 10% of children are brought up in Breton speaking schooling so were definitely talking about that rare thing here. A Celtic celtic-punk band!!
Now the Celtic League, the main body incorporating all the Celtic nations, identifies only Brittany, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Wales as being Celtic nations. What is left of the once mighty Celtic peoples who stretched from Ireland to Turkey and tied by language and culture and traditions. There are of large Celtic connections to all of Britain and present day France and parts of Belgium (the Gaulic tribes) and Spain (Galicia) but these are not considered to be “Celtic” by some. The Celtic League classifies only the 6 nations as countries where their native Celtic language is spoken into modern times. I’m not alone in thinking this a rather closed mind classification and anyone visiting Galicia for example is struck by how similar it is to the Celtic nations rather than Spain. Every Celtic nation has suffered war and plunder as well as suffering attempts to destroy their culture and languages. The British governments crimes in this regard are well documented but the French have also long tried to suppress any cultural and lingual distinctions of the Celtic Bretons. Like the other five nations this has led to massive emigration and Celtic Breton communities all over the world especially in Canada and America.
Now, like me, you may remember Asterix the Gaul and his band of merry men and their exploits fighting against the Roman invader. Originally as a comic and then a cartoon that featured on the TV all through my childhood and it was it is in the northwest tip of France, in Brittany, that the famous stories were set. Asterix and his tribe were Gauls taking on the ‘Latin’ invaders who had spread across a large part of western Europe, establishing their towns and villas and changing for ever the history of Europe. Pushed westward it was only in the furthest northwestern extremity of France that the ancient Gauls, with their Celtic language and culture, managed to survive; and they have done so to this day, leaving Brittany – the land of the Bretons – as the largest outstanding stronghold of Celtic heritage on the continent of Europe. The Breton people are proud of their identity, and many think of themselves as Bretons not French. Throughout Brittany, small festivals and other events strongly stress the region’s distinct Celtic heritage and cultural identity. The most important event in the annual calendar is however the massive annual InterCeltique festival. Taking place every year in early August, in the port of Lorient. Founded in 1971 it has now become one of the biggest festivals in Brittany and France with well over 600,000 visitors attending each year.
The flag of the Bretons may be a modern design but is now recognized and accepted as a representation of the Breton folk. The nine horizontal stripes represent the traditional dioceses of Brittany. The five black stripes indicate the French speaking areas, while the four white stripes represent the Breton speaking regions. The flag has a canton in the upper left corner, indicating an ancient Breton coat of arms. Speaking and teaching Breton was prohibited til 1951 but ever since the French government have tried to chip away at the Celtic speaking inhabitants. 
Successive French governments, left and right, have consistently refused to sign the European Charter of Minority Languages and to recognize the linguistic rights of the Bretons. Despite the large amount of speakers and the interest in learning the language there are little to none radio and television broadcasts. The use of the Breton language in legal and commercial documents, as well as in publicity, is against French law and are therefore illegal. It remarkable then that the language has survived to the extant that it has and has been expanding for over a decade with more and more young people taking it up and Breton nurseries and children’s schools opening up across the region.

Alan Stivell

In the world of celtic-rock Breton music has played a major role with the Breton cultural revival of the 1960’s exemplified by Alan Stivell who became the leading proponent of the Breton harp and other instruments from about 1960, he also adopted elements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional music in an attempt to create pan-Celtic folk music. This had considerable impact elsewhere, particularly in Wales and Cornwall. From 1972 he began to play electric folk with a band including guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub. Yacoub went on to form Malicorne in 1974 one of the most successful electric folk band in France. After an extensive career that included a stint playing as part of Fairport Convention in 1976, Ar Braz formed the pan-Celtic band Heritage Des Celts, who managed to achieve mainstream success in France in the 1990s. Probably the best known and most certainly the most enduring electric folk band in France were Tri Yann formed in 1971 and still recording and performing today. As is often the case the Breton’s have embraced the celtic-punk revolution with open arms and bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs, The Maggie Whackers and Sons Of O’Flaherty use their Celtic heritage to push for more civil rights and recognition for their language. The Breton’s have often looked to the Irish for influence when organising resistance to this oppression with several armed groups going back to the 1930’s with Gwenn Ha Du (Breton for “white and black”) to the Breton Liberation Front (Talbenn Dieubiñ Breizh) which was active in the 1960’s up to the 1990’s which in turn led to the militant Breton Revolutionary Army (Armée Révolutionnaire Bretonne, ARBwhich is still active to this day. The ARB, unlike its counterparts in Corsica with the (FLNC) and the Basque country (ETA) does not seek to hurt any individuals but instead to cause economic damage. Support for the ARB may be smaller than at it’s hayday in the 70’s when it attracted thousands to its demonstrations but its non-lethal attacks and policies still attract widespread tolerance and a certain level of support.
Sons Of O’Flaherty debut record was a self-titled five track EP released back in 2010. Clearly influenced by trad Irish ballad groups like The Wolfe Tones and that is reflected in the choice of songs with two Irish folk covers and a song titled ‘Bobby’ about legendary Irish hero and rebel Bobby Sands. It has since been made available as a Free/Name Your Price download so follow the link below.

Though not a ‘proper’ release they also gathered a few random tracks and released them as a 3 track EP titled Misc Songs last year and have also made them free to download.

The Road Not Taken was released at the end of last month and from the first couple of bars you know you are in for a good time here! I don’t know how much content their is of Breton music here as the Bhoys sound soooo fecking Irish they could be from Ballylooby! From the first song onwards I am simply astounded (and extremely, extremely jealous) at the quality of the lyrics here. ‘Dead And Gone’ opens the album and is a fast and furious pipes’n’punk tune about the day we die and then party/wake we want in our honour that name checks “the sweet hoarse voice of” Mike Ness, the Dropkicks and Sick Of It All.
“Have one last drink, one last laugh and maybe one last song
The last one for the road, the funeral’s upbeat
We’ll see you soon, we’ll miss you and please keep us a warm seat”
What a start. Ticking all the required boxes to get a great review after just one song the Sons Of O’Flaherty confirm it next with the Dubliners favoured ‘Sam Hall’. An old English folk song about a bitterly unrepentant criminal condemned to death. The song was known originally as ‘Jack Hall’ an infamous thief who was hanged in 1707 at Tyburn. Jack Hall’s parents sold him as a climbing boy for one guinea, which is why he is identified as a chimney sweep. The celtic-punk is flowing out and ‘The Lucky Ones’ tells about how lucky the Bhoys feel to be in a band and their determination to keep going.
“I don’t care how hard it will be, my songs I’ll always stammer out”
The harmonica is out for this and I always love hearing it. It may finally be finding its rightful place in the celtic-punk world judging by recent album’s I have heard.

We hit our first drinking song next with ‘Once Upon A Binge’, a straight forward punk rock tune garnished with mandolin and tin whistle while ‘Saint or Sinner’ tells of a bartender’s guilty conscience while the punk is turned up even louder with mandolin standing out proudest above the thrashing guitar.
“I don’t care what they think or say it’s death I’m selling”
The wonderful of pipes take the song out into ‘Red Wine Teeth’ and it’s more of the same. The Sons Of O’Flaherty could stand on their own feet as a punk band but the Celtic instruments add so much more. They are not just played over the top of the rock music but you the impression if anything it’s the other way round. 

Now any band who records ‘Fields Of Athenry’ in this day and age better be prepared to have it savaged unless they have managed to find a way to record it that takes it out of Irish ‘showband’ territory. They play a solid punk rock version with gang vocals and I always love to hear the “Let the free bird fly” add on. Gang chorus and the whole band having a go on vocals give the song a nice touch even though its pretty much influenced by the Dropkicks version.

The DKM’s influence pops up again on next song ‘The Better Claim’ with male/female vocals about the break up of a love affair that was never meant to be with some wickedly hilarious lines
“I met you, I loved you, you were all I hoped for
I gave you all I had, everything I had in store
I met you, I loved you, and your loss I’ll deplore
But things changed, now this can’t go on anymore”
that of course has the fella as the villain and rightly so in my experience! Rolling towards the end and ‘Glory Days’ starts off with a country vibe before the band rock out. A class song with the band playing magnificently here. Slow and epic sounding with a great chorus and clever and meaningful lyrics about a old mans life and what he has left to show for them. 
“I am now facing an old wrinkled man, his life has come and passed and his skin’s there to show
That even though his glory days might be far behind, there’s no regrets to have and no will to let go”

This is the album standout for me and though English may not be their first language, or even their second, by Christ you wouldn’t know that reading through their lyrics. Luckily for you they are included on the Bandcamp page so follow the link below and have a good read of them. ‘Love Me’ returns us to fast paced punk and then ‘The Townspeople’ brings the curtain down on an album with a gentle country folk number that is the perfect ending.

Those expecting a band from a Celtic nation to provide a purely folk album will be sorely disappointed here as Sons Of O’Flaherty are as equally influenced by Social Distortion as they are by Soldat Louis! Here is eleven songs with two covers lasting near forty minutes that keeps your interest up right until the very end. If we ever needed evidence that celtic-punk has begun to make inroads into celtic music we need look no further than Brittany and Sons Of O’Flaherty.

(have a listen to The Road Not Taken before you buy at the Bandcamp link below)

Buy The Road Not Taken

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Contact The Sons Of O’Flaherty

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You should also check out THE FOLK’N’PUNK BRIGADE which is a local celtic-punk collective similar to London Celtic Punks. A group of friends and musicians from French bands The Moorings and Saints and Sinners and Breton bands The Maggie Whackers and Sons Of O’Flaherty- Facebook

The Celtic League is an inter-Celtic political organisation, which campaigns for the political, language, cultural and social rights, affecting one or more of the Celtic nations- Facebook  WebSite

ALBUM REVIEW: THE DISTILLERY RATS- ‘Tales From County Whiskey’ (2017)

You can hear drunks in the streets singing Irish folk songs? The peaty scent of whiskey is crawling up your nose? The maidens wear their best clothes? Be sure, the County Whiskey Folk Punk Crew is near.

Lock up your liquor and hold back your daughters the Distillery Rats are back in town

Formed in the German wine making area of Heilbronn the Distillery Rats have been celebrating their own successful brand of Irish folk punk since 2005. We have mentioned before our theories of why in Germany celtic-punk and Irish music are so widely celebrated but they love all things Irish over there and the Rats are another in a long line of bands who have managed to take punk rock and Irish folk and unify them together into what we all know to be the ultimate good time music.

(compilation of snippets from each song on the album)

Since forming as 4-piece originally called Commerzpank in  2005, The Distillery Rats have played all over Germany in pubs,clubs and festivals large and small. From that original 4 piece the band has grown to include two vocalists, guitars, drums and bass and the folk side of the band banjos, mandolin, accordion, piano, bouzouki, whistles and uilleann pipes. Before this release their only release has been a now sold out five-track EP Back On The Road in 2010. So a full lengther has been a long time coming and widely anticipated within the scene.

The Distillery Rats left to right: left to right: Marcy Mahoney- Vocals, Acoustic Guitar * Mr. Firebeard- Accordion, Drums * Matt O’Killian- Banjo, Mandolin, Whistles, Pipes * Phil McMorning- Vocals, Bass, Accordion, Banjo, Guitars * Josey DiCilento- Accordion, Piano * Toby McWire- Electric Guitar * Mike McMorning- Drums, Percussion * George McGorgeous- Guitars, Backing Vocals

While here in England the celtic part of celtic-punk is often underplayed in countries like Germany and Hungary they completely go for the Irish/Celtic part and here on their debut album The Distillery Rats are no different. This is full on Irish folk played with pace when needed but not afraid to slow it down too either. Fifty minutes, fourteen songs, eleven of which are originals with a range of songs about whiskey, beer, porter and even cider. They also play some drinking songs as well! The whole thing kicks off, appropriately,  with ‘County Whiskey’ and as catchy a tune as you’ll find on here with a more rock’n’roll thing going on led by accordion before the pipes kick in. The first thing you notice here though is the sheer amount of instruments playing. With eight band members and pretty much all of them playing at least two instruments the whole thing is crystal clear and you can hear everything going on, even in the punkier numbers.As second song ‘Poor Old Paddy O’ kicks in you can’t help but notice that they seem to be inhabiting the middle ground between the DKM’s and Flogging Molly. The accordion lends more to FM but the punky guitar is dead on DKM. A song that bridges the gap between celtic-punk’s two biggest bands. Quite an achievement but can they keep it up? The album’s first traditional cover is a brilliant song in its own right, ‘Johnny Jump Up’. An Irish drinking song written by Tadhg Jordan and first popularized by Jimmy Crowley, before being brought to a wider audience by Christy Moore. Johnny Jump Up was a strong cider, apparently made stronger by being stored in old whiskey barrels brewed in county Cork. The bhoys play it with typical gusto and keep the pace up nicely. A cool mostly acoustic punk number that is still as loud as hell! Country’n’folk combine with Phil’s great and deep vocals for ‘The Angel’s Share’ a lovely dark ballad with just acoustic guitar and faint mandolin in the background that builds up without speeding up. Next is the lead single for the album, ‘Shannon River Lady. They released a class video and the song itself also borrows a little from rock’n’roll, in both sound and for the video, without abandoning The Distillery Rats formula too much.

Follows is another cover and again it’s one that has been regularly done over the years but if that is true then their is always a reason. ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ is one of the best Irish folk songs ever written and ripe for speeding up and playing celtic-punk stylee. Fast and punky but with the guitar giving it a bit of a ska beat at times. An Irish rebel song written by Dominic Behan, brother of famed Irish writer Brendan Behan that will get your Irish blood pumping! The song tells the story of Irish resistance and ties Irish nationalism to the struggles of other peoples against the British Empire across the world. As much as I love this kind of ‘fire in the belly’ rabble rousing I also love the slower stuff, especially when it’s done well and ‘Anchor, Harbour, Home’ hits the spot nicely. Slow and if they were aiming for the classic sea shanty sound then well done to them. Nothing too serious lyric wise on Tales From County Whiskey and I can tell you after watching the news of the last few days then that’s a massive relief. I’m a bit bored of punk bands radical sound bites and have long come to the conclusion we’d be better off singing a song like ‘Singin 1, 2, 3’ then about nuclear war!

Fast and upbeat and more about real life than any punk song I have heard recently.

“1, 2, 3 pretty girl come dance with me”

I wasn’t expecting ‘Chicks For The Rooster’ next and have to say it blew me away. Totally accordion led and could easily pass for a Pogues instrumental or even a Brendan Shine show band tune. A real Irish knees up song and proving, if you needed it, that these bhoys know how to play Irish music… and play it well. When I saw ‘The Foggy Jew’ on the track listing I had a little nod to myself and thought oh no spelling mistake but instead it’s possibly my favourite song here. Slipping into klezmer slightly with great accordion and subdued backing from the rest of the band with a fancy pants brilliant celtic-punk chorus and even time for a banjo led ska/reggae section leading us out. We back in the pub again for ‘Henry Won’t Be Sober’ about going to see The Distillery Rats play and ending up somewhat on the merry side. We’re speeding to the end and ‘How To Spend It’ keeps up both the pace and the humour about a man with the awful problem of having too much money! The addition of uileann pipes here is always a great thing and any band who uses them is always guaranteed a great welcome by the London Celtic Punks. ‘Nothing Else Matters’ reiterates the Distillery Rats philosophy and, increasingly mine too, with talk of all the world’s problems and the only solution!

“I’m drunk, I’m drunk, I’m drunk but what should I rather be?

A bottle of whiskey and some pints of beer and nothing matters to me”

Tales From County Whiskey comes to an end with one of the most popular (and it has to be said overdone) songs in celtic-punk with ‘Drunken Sailor’. Now if you gonna record this song you need to make it every bit special as while it may be a great song to play live and a real crowd favourite it has been recorded by pretty much everyone and not too many version’s of it stand out. Luckily for this reviewer The Distillery Rats manage it. The longest song on the album they open it as part ballad before punking it up before then drifting into ska and back into celtic-punk again. Again it’s the amount of instruments an that lifts it out of the ordinary and makes it that bit special and with the chugging guitar and clear and crisp it’s a solid end to a grand album.

Sometimes its fast and sometimes its slow, sometimes its sentimental and sometimes its  in-yer-face. The Distillery Rats don’t let the ‘issues’ of the world get in the way of what they do, fantastically well, which is to play a great set of songs that would have even the grumpiest of folk music traditionalists (better known as snobs) on their sandalled feet and bouncing around the dance floor spilling their real ale. As we mentioned before they somehow manage to sound like both Flogging Molly and the Dropkick’s at the same time while never aping either. This is pure unadulterated good time excellently played Irish music with both a nod to the present and a loving referential tip of the hat to to the past. 

Buy Tales From County Whiskey

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ALBUM REVIEW: KILMAINE SAINTS- ‘Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos’ (2017)

High-energy celtic-punk from a bunch of Irish-Americans that will lift your hearts and your spirit…
as well your pint when you’re not looking!
Several hundred gigs in The Kilmaine Saints have made perhaps their breakthrough album with Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos. Plenty bands have seen critical success that perhaps don’t merit it but I’ve been delighted over the last few years to see that the Saints have also achieved that success around the celtic-punk media and what must surely follow now is to get more noticed among those DKM/FM fans who think the scene only revolves around them. The Saints come from a place that has an actual living Irish community. They may not be living ten to a room or ghettoised like their ancestors were but they are a community nevertheless. Beyond the leprachaun hats, shamrocks and green Guinness and other symbols of that hated phrase, ‘Plastic Paddy’, the Irish community is still very much alive. Brendan Behan couldn’t have put it better when he said

“Most people have a nationality, but the Irish and the Jews have a psychosis”

The Kilmaine Saints are a part of that community. A community that shares a deep love between people who share the same values of family, heritage, music and Ireland. They share that vision with an ever-expanding and loyal fan base singing, stomping and lifting their pints and shouting for more.

The Kilmaine Saints formed in 2009 when a couple of members of the Harrisburg Pipe And Drum Band (Pennsylvania) saw a gap in the market for a local celtic-punk band. With a large local Irish population shows were guaranteed and they thought it would be a good way to get free beer! Recruiting a couple of friends and a couple more Pipe band members The Kilmaine Saints began their journey on a road that would lead to hundreds of gigs and pile of recordings and would see them become one of the most popular celtic-punk bands in America. Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos is the bands fourth album after the critically acclaimed The Good, The Plaid And The Ugly in 2010, Drunken Redemption in 2012 and a live album Live At The Abbey in 2015 (which we reviewed here) as well as a mini-album unTraditonal from 2014. Each release has trod the well worn, and successful, path of solid, turned up to eleven celtic and Irish traditional ballads and rebel songs and some extremely good compositions of their own. Being a good covers band will only get you so far and the Kilmaine Saints haven’t got where they are from purely getting by on banging out ‘The Fields Of Athenry’ in Irish bars.

I could end this review right here by simply saying that Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos is fecking fantastic and is a must have for anyone who likes celtic-punk. It’s an extraordinary seventeen songs and over an hour of music that simply soars out the speaker from the first sound of bagpipes in ‘Idiom’. The pipes soon develop into Oi!-ish tune with plenty of gang vocals and shouty bits. A great chorus and fast and furious but still folky as f*ck and we are only on track one! This is followed by the title track ‘Whiskey Blues And Faded Tattoos’ and is without a doubt one of the best celtic-punk tracks of the year. Chugging guitar and a real catchy tune with the Mayo born Brendan showing that theirs a lot more to his vocals than just shouting!

There’s fiddle and pipes and the rest of the band do their bit with what originally I thought could be a saxophone in there as well. ‘Pennsylvania’s Finest’ is a fast Irish banjo led tune about the War Of Independence while the slow ‘Tiocfaidh Ar La’ leaves you with no confusion where the Saints stand. A real stormer of a song and nice that it’s not played in an angry way. The upbeat-ness of the song may belie what they are singing about but I bloody love it. The next few songs show the bands range with ‘Long Shot Nag’,a mental fast punked up Irish reel while ‘Memories Fade Away’ is a song for those Irish ancestors with a superb tune and accessible for all from seven to seventy.

“You’re going to Americay, your memories start to fade away
Wayo, Heyo, Your memories start to fade away, Wayo, Heyo
Row, ya bastards row you got more than one line to tow
Your roots you
ll plant in our soil the whips will keep you loyal
Seven years in servitude will earn your place in our new
world but don’t think that you’re not a slave, you’re Irish, poor and quite depraved
You’ll learn right quick that freedom comes when we’ve shred
your body to the bone
Welcome to Americay, your memories start to fade away”

They follow this up a selection of Irish and Scottish covers beginning with ‘The Foggy Dew’ about the 1916 Easter Rising. Recorded by far too many to mention it has become popular in the celtic-punk scene of late due to its celtic-punk friendly air. Good then that The Kilmaine Saints take a far more traditional route. Slow yes but with crashing guitar and Brendan’s crystal clear voice reciting the amazing lyrics of this song, originally written by Canon Charles O’Neill (1887–1963), a parish priest of Kilcoo, Ulster sometime after 1919. This is followed by another cover song, the Scots trad folk ‘Mingulay Boat Song’ and here they don’t follow the more traditional route and the song, written by Sir Hugh S. Roberton (1874–1952) in the 1930s. The song is again fast and with fantastic piping while punk rock guitar keeps up with it. The covers section ends with ‘No Awa Tae Bide Awa’, originally a drinking song, the archetypal ‘farewell’ song, played by pipers on the quayside as ships leave port.

“So whenever friendly friens may meet,
Wherever Scots foregather,
We’ll raise our gless, we’ll shout
Hurroo,
It’s Carnwath Mill for ever”

Played as a completely traditional folk track with minimal backing on the mandolin. Again a superb and reverential song that shows the respect The Kilmaine Saints have for their music. I say their music as it is in their blood. The second half of the album is dedicated to self penned tracks and songs like ‘2nd And Locust’ show a more mature side to the band and again i reach for that word accessible.

“The pipes on the street belted an old rebel tune
That familiar sound of the rising of the moon
Many years later as the city constrained
Despite the struggle one pub still remained
And one day every March the streets pack with green
To create one hell of an Irish love scene”

‘Long Walk To Sonnagh’ and ‘Innocent Hand’ showcase some wonderful Irish folk wrapped around a punk rock tune while ‘Wild Kolleen’ is bagpipe heaven for me. Brilliantly played pipes by both Jon and Billy certainly give them an edge on many other bands. We rolling into the last few songs of the album and it has become the custom these days to include a acapello song and ‘Golden Pen’ is beyond beautiful. The shortest song on the album but up there with the best. Stunning. This is followed by a return to raucous
Irish folk-punk with ‘Raise My Glass’ and ‘Ride Like Hell’ before ‘Last Call’ brings down the curtain on this brilliant album.

“This is the last call
don’t forget to tip before you go
We’re almost done now, time to call a cab
This is the last call one more shot before you’re out in the cold
Please buy some merch so we can pay our tab”
The fiddle rules on the last couple of songs and the fiddling from Liz is absolutely exemplary throughout the album. The Kilmaine Saints are equal parts Irish swagger, Scottish pride and a whole lot of whiskey and have risen to being one of the most popular and certainly one of the best American bands in the scene and with music the quality of this that rise is set to continue.

(listen to Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos for *free* before you buy it by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE CROOK AND THE DYLAN’S- ‘Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead’ (2017)

The Crook and The Dylan’s draw their roots from the land of St. Patrick while mixing influences from rock and country with all the energy of an evening in an Irish pub.

Before I start to wax lyrical about this great album I have to explain something first about celtic-punk. Like all music genre’s its boundaries are vast and along the edges extremely blurred. For instance the two major bands in the scene Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys are clearly miles apart yet inhabit the same space and share the same fans. Also with a scene that encompasses so much traditional folk music some of the most popular bands in celtic-punk aren’t even punk at all with the best examples being the trad folk/ballad bands The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers. Even The Pogues couldn’t be really called a punk band but the punk ethos and ‘spirit’ they had in spades. I only mention this as not every band we feature here are strictly celtic-punk and we are, and have been, happy to feature bands from the Celtic diaspora who play hip-hop or metal as well as bands who not have Celtic roots but love the music and traditions. The Crook And The Dylan’s then are a perfect example of what I mean. Formed in 2010 in the French region of Cergy-Pontoise, northwest of Paris they have taken Irish music and fused it with French folk music to make something that is both very interesting and extremely good!

from left to right : Benjamin (guitars), Lulho (bass), Jude (drums), Patrick (lead voice), Djé (electric guitar, harmonica), Cédric (violin, mandolin, guitar)

French celtic-punk bands have never been shy about introducing their own sounds into the mix and influences from bands like the aforementioned Irish ones as well as better known French bands like Mano Negra or Les Négresses Vertes combine to give The Crook & The Dylan’s quite the unique sound. Their first release, a self-titled four track EP, came out in early 2011 and shows a band in its early development. A stripped back folky feel good record that includes the brilliant track ‘Ireland’.

Not much sign of their later celtic-ness but worthy of at least a listen. They followed this up with another EP the following year. Not For Me is five songs that show them following the same route of polished folk. Much in the vein of the folk music popular at that time of Mumford’s and Noah And his Whale. Nothing wrong with that at all but the expansion of the band gives it a much more fuller sound. The songs are catchy and forays into Americana and country sound brilliant while ‘Premier Rendez-Vous’ goes full country’n’western.

These two EP’s were recorded with four musicians and this grew to six in April, 2014 saw the release of their debut album Home At Last and they continued their trajectory incorporating fiddle, bass and mandolin into the band and a much more upbeat sound. The same feel good folkyness is there but with the fiddle giving it much more focus and steering the music away from the county folk of previous releases though sometimes teetering on bluegrass. Fifteen tracks all composed by the band members themselves including an update of ‘Ireland’ from that debut EP that kicks real celtic-punk arse!

So we now come to Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead and the transformation to celtic-punk is complete. The music is a mash-up of Franco-Irish styles with heaps of country influences seeping in. Patrick, the vocalist is half-Irish and his voice is similar to a lot of (maybe stereotyped?) French singers I have heard in that he sounds like he smokes sixty Gauloises a day! Gruff and growling and deep in both emotion and sound. His voice is perfect for what comes next with the band giving him the accompanying him with guitars, violin, mandolin, drums, percussion and bass.

(interview with the band in French but with loads of very good live clips of them performing songs from the album)

The album starts with ‘Morning Miss’ beginning with acoustic guitar and Patrick’s voice it soon envelopes the whole band and if one artist has been missing from this review so far then it’s time to bring out Tom Waits. Pat’s voice conveys much the same feeling. Slow and ponderous this is the sort of song I’m use to hearing at the end of album’s rather than kicking them off. The mandolin leads ‘Evening Prayer’ until the band kick life into the song with a real celtic-punk sound. As much as I liked them already The Crook & The Dylan’s evolution has seriously impressed me. They turn it on their head next with ‘Tales of Little Brat’ a real catchy country number with a great southern-rock guitar sound and Pat’s voice never better than on this track. We are back in celtic territory next with ‘Dance Johnny Dance’ a real infectious song that flits from acoustic folk to full on folk with ease. They slow it down with ‘A Pick of the Other Side’ and an image of a smoke filled bar fills my mind while again Patrick shows his range just isn’t restricted to more rocky numbers. All the songs here are very clearly sung in English making them very easy to understand. The bhoys really celt it up for ‘A Drink with the Devil’ and unsurprisingly the first single from the album is also the standout song on Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead.

The band sound great and the perfect production sees all the various instruments sitting nicely side by side. ‘Among The Waves’ and ‘Dear Mary’ see a return to the country-folk of old while the former speed through the latter is slow but loud and brilliant! ‘Sometimes In The Afternoon’ is the longest track here at just over five minutes and is slow and beautifully written again with Patrick’s voice soaring at the sam time as showing a delicate side. This is celtic-punk in a nutshell that your favourite songs on an album can be both the fastest and the slowest songs on it (and sometimes even in the same song!). After that epic it’s time to get busy and ‘How’s Your Mind?’ does just that slow before it explodes into some real catchy celtic-punk with a guitar solo that slots in nicely. The catchy as feck county tinged ‘Sick Of the Cold’ leads us into the fast and punk as feck ‘Finish Him’ about the weekend alcoholocaust that goes on around us. The Crook & The Dylan’s rock out, with my beloved harmonica too, before the album comes to an exhaustive end with the slow and exquisite ‘Black Torn Ballad’.

An album that flits from fast to slow from song to song but still manages to have that perfect pace is a real achievement. The songs flow into each other in a way that I don’t often hear and really made me sit up and listen. Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead is full of stories of lost love with emotion flowing all the way through it. On listening to this you get the feel that The Crook & The Dylan’s would be better experienced in the small intimate setting of a pub and I am sure they would agree but this album captures them perfectly and their Irish-French country/Americana sound is pretty unique and I must say is a breath of fresh air and after playing a good mood is guaranteed and what more could you ever ask from music?

Buy Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

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REMEMBERING WILLIAM WALLACE RALLY IN LONDON AUGUST 20th 2017

“I have brought you to the ring, now dance the best you can!”
Words shouted by William Wallace to the Scottish army at the Battle of Falkirk on the 22nd of July 1298 as the English cavalry began to charge.

REMEMBER THE SCOTTISH PATRIOT AND MARTYR WILLIAM WALLACE EXECUTED AT SMITHFIELD IN LONDON AUGUST 1305

SUNDAY 20th AUGUST 2017

ASSEMBLE 2pm BY THE WILLIAM WALLACE PLAQUE ON THE NORTH OUTSIDE WALL OF ST BARTHOLOMEW’S HOSPITAL, WEST SMITHFIELD, LONDON EC1A 7BE.

(TUBE: ST PAULS/ BARBICAN/ FARRINGDON/ BLACKFRIARS ALL BETWEEN 5 AND 10 MINUTES WALK. RAIL: BLACKFRIARS/ CANNON STREET/ CITY THAMESLINK/ FARRINGDON. BUS: 4/ 8/ 25/ 56/ 172/ 242)

To the immortal memory of Sir William Wallace, Scottish patriot, born at Elderslie Renfrewshire circa 1270 AD, who from the year 1296 fought dauntlessly in defence of his country’s liberty and independence in the face of fearful odds and great hardship, being eventually betrayed and captured. Brought to London and put to death near this spot on the 23rd August 1305.

His example heroism and devotion inspired those who came after him to win victory from defeat and his memory remains for all time a source of pride, honour and inspiration to his countrymen.

Dico tibi verum libertas optima rerum nunqual servili sub nexu vivito fili.
{Latin: I tell you the truth. Freedom is what is best. Sons, never live life like slaves.}

Bas Agus Buaidh
{An old Scottish battle-cry in Gaelic: Death and Victory}

SIR WILLIAM WALLACE – A BIOGRAPHY

Blind Harry. Blind Harry was a wandering minstrel in Scotland in the 1400’s, and he told tales of William Wallace on his journeying round Scotland. This book is the second biggest selling book ever in Scotland, outsold only by the Bible. This work gives us much detail of Wallace’s early life, but as there is no other source to back any of the tales up, it must be looked at critically from an academic viewpoint.

It was Blind Harry’s work that was used as the basis for the motion picture ‘Braveheart’ -it is still in print, but it is in the form of an epic poem and may seem dated to modern sensibilities.
William Wallace jumps onto the pages of our history books in 1297, when he stabs the English governor of Lanark to death. It is said this was in retaliation for the slaying of his sweetheart. We do not know the exact year of William’s birth, but educated guesses put it between 1270 and 1275, so he was still a young man.

Little known plaque to William Wallace in the Mitchell Arcade in Rutherglen. It was in Rutherglen that Menteith agreed to betray wallace to the English.

From this point on, young men in Scotland, dismayed at the English occupation of their native soil, flock to join Wallace’s banner.

By mid 1297, Wallace has a rag tag army. He joins forces with Andrew Murray, (sometimes spelt Moray, but the pronunciation is Murray) a young man who has started a similar rising in the north of Scotland.

While these two are besieging the castle of Dundee, word comes that the English have sent a great army against them. The two armies come to battle at the bridge over the River Forth at Stirling on September 11, 1297. Wallace’s base at this battle was a huge rocky outcrop named the Abbey Craig, so called because of its proximity to Cambuskenneth Abbey, and today this rock is crowned by The National Wallace Monument, a 220ft tower celebrating the life of Wallace, and containing as its prime exhibit, what is believed to be the sword of our hero.

The Scots routed the English with much slaughter, but unfortunately Murray received wounds, which were to prove fatal, and he was taken north to Fortrose Cathedral to be buried.The Scots went on to invade northern England to bring back much needed supplies, and on return from this invasion Wallace was made “Guardian of Scotland” at the Kirk of the Forest, the remains of which stand in the town of Selkirk. He was also knighted, as from this time on he is referred to as “Sir” William Wallace.

Looking toward the great window of Westminster Hall, the oldest part of England’s Houses of Parliament. It was in this hall that Wallace’s sham trial took place.

The English king, Edward I, commonly known as “Longshanks” returned from his continental wars, and gathered another great army and marched north to deal with Wallace. These two armies came face to face at Falkirk in July 1298, and this time the English longbow was to prove the undoing of the Scots spearmen.

The Scots fled, and Wallace resigned the guardianship, preferring to fight the overwhelming might of England with guerrilla tactics.

In late 1299, Wallace decided to travel abroad and try and enlist foreign help. He travelled to France, and to Rome, hoping that the Pope would exert influence to try and curtail English deprivations in Scotland.

He returned to Scotland in 1303, only to find that the English had tightened their grip and that he must start from scratch to try and regain his countries liberty. The fight back began, but the odds were very much stacked against him. Wallace was eventually betrayed and captured at Robroyston near Glasgow, on 3rd August 1305. He was taken first to Dumbarton Castle, where his sword was left behind, and then he was taken south to London. He arrived in London on the 22nd August. The crowds were so great, so eager to see this Scottish “murderer” that he had to be kept the night in a house in Fenchurch Street. The next morning he was taken to Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the Houses of Parliament, where his sham trial took place. He was allowed no defence, but he managed to shout above his accusers that he was “ A Scot, born in Scotland, and did not recognise England as his sovereign nation”.

He was tied to the tails of horses, and dragged through the streets of London for 6 miles, eventually arriving at Smithfield Elms. Here he was hung, then cut down while still alive. His stomach was opened and his entrails were pulled out and burnt before him. His heart was then ripped out, ending his life. His body was cut to pieces, his head stuck on a spike on old London Bridge. The parts of his body were sent north to dishonour the Scots. Longshanks thought by giving him such an ignoble death that the Scots would forget Wallace, and there were religious connotations too. Wallace would have no body to rise on Judgement Day, and so be damned forever.

But Sir William Wallace needs no tomb. His memory lives on in the heart and souls of Scots, every generation recognising his devotion to his native soil, and he will be remembered by Scots men and women till the end of time.

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)

DANNY DIATRIBE AND D’LYFA REILLY REPPIN IRISH IMMIGRANT HIP-HOP

Irish immigrant hip-hop from Derry born Danny Diatribe and Manchester Irish rapper D’Lyfa Reilly showing the Irish in England are still here and we’re still fighting!

took a drop of the pure to keep my heart from sinking, that’s the Paddy’s Cure

Diatribe, drowning in the infinite, fiat currency and copy written birth certificates, born to war with devils, my spirit never settles, Irish blood it flows with the rage of a thousand rebels, I walk disheveled, drunken through the city streets, Let bottles of whiskey sleep, I disappear for 50 weeks, the drifter speaks, abandoned factories and textiles, I roll with vagabonds that bear the scars of exile, lost in the wilderness, natural born survivor, set your mind on fire, keep it living in the cypher, our rhymes are wiser, we spit the light of hope, struggle till the end till colours blend in out kaleidoscope, I’ve got my iris soaked in paragraphs of knowledge, smash your flashing boxes that have kept your brains in bondage, don’t be astonished, the people pay us homage, discussing economics, educated alcoholics.

We face the world with the freedom of a bird, speech slurred, drop of the pure to calm my nerves, The Paddy’s Cure for the worst that we observed, the devils thirst, drinking till the curse has been reversed.

Living the life of the modern day, urban seanchaí, herdsman with the words on my tongue aren’t lacklustre, got the same heart as the rebels in Ulster, in Leinster, in Connaught, in Munster, did I mumble? I must-a, cos I swear down you aint listening to my pissed up wisdom, two fingers to the system, a backwards piece of my mind what you’ll find inside this ting, set distance between me and you, cos between me and you you’re a cunt, and you can’t critique this alcoholic, physique. Belly of the beast, drinking devil juice with diatribe, Irish lions pride, saliva cyanide, rhyming right inside, sharp like a pain in my side, the bane of my life, Rome wasn’t built in a day and Hadrian’s wall wasn’t built in a night, so me and worries just pass like ships that sail in the night, I’m elevating the grind I drown my sorrow say hello to a hollow tomorrow

We face the world with the freedom of a bird, speech slurred, drop of the pure to calm my nerves. The Paddy’s Cure for the worst that we observed, the devils thirst, drinking till the curse has been reversed.

Bright lights of the city blinding, find them in the shadows rhyming, drunk off the wine their buying sliding through their stomach lining, the Irish traveled tides to find them, pints to keep the light from dying, in the cities of the world residing, drinking to stop the demons rising drinking to stop the demons rising drinking to stop the demons rising and you’ll find them….

(A behind the scenes look at the making of the Paddys Cure video shot in Manchester)

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Contact Danny Diatribe

Danny Lynch better known as Danny Diatribe hails from Derry City but is now based in Manchester. He has released a couple of fantastic album’s including Elevation Illustrations which is reviewed here and you can hear below on the Bandcamp player.

Danny has a new album, Tales From the Down and Outs: The Irish Art of Story Telling, almost ready for delivery and is looking for help finding a Euro and North American release so if you can help one of own please get in touch with Danny at one of the links below.

Facebook  Bandcamp  Soundcloud  YouTube  Google+  Twitter

Contact D’lfa Reilly  

Creating his own mark in the hip hop scene, D’Lyfa Reilly is a modern day urban Seanchaí (storyteller) from Manchester. Other than being a dab hand at picking a pun ridden alias, he has been perfecting his art of relaying tales untainted by sugar-coated commercialism. D’Lyfa Reilly is a real gem, an emerald if you will.

Facebook  Soundcloud  Bandcamp  YouTube

(Danny Diatribe joins House of Pain on their UK tour. This documentary was shot at the Manchester show at the O2 Ritz in June 2017. Behind the scenes footage of Danny’s soundcheck, backstage and performing ‘Jimmys Bets’, ‘Paddys Cure’ and House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around’ live)

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)

BEYOND THE FIELDS NEW VIDEO AND TRIBUTE TO ALISTAIR HULETT

The new video from Swiss band Beyond The Fields is a fantastic cover of the Alistair Hulett penned classic ‘Blue Murder’.  Their fine homage to one of Scotland’s finest folk musicians was recorded live at this year’s traditional Grabenhalle Irish Night in St. Gallen, Switzerland on March 18th, 2017. Mixed by Eddy Sloof and filmed by Metunar.
By kind permission of The Alistair Hulett Memorial Trust.

They say it’s easy money
A full page ad in the local rag,
Always nice and sunny.
Come on lad, and pack your bag.
It’s off to West Australia.
Leave the old hometown behind.
Be a winner, not a failure.
There’s money to be made in the Wittenoom Mine.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

They took me to my quarters,
A stinking bed in an old tin shed.
Got my working orders,
With a lamp, and tin hat on my head.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

My girl she’s a cook and a cleaner.
Works all day in the canteen hall.
Six days since I’ve seen her.
Some don’t have no girl at all.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

Sweeps the fine blue dust up.
Tips it into an old wool pack.
Never had a check-up.
If she did she’d get the sack

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

I feel my health is failing
Working down in the thick blue dust.
The kids play in the tailings.
The boss says work, and work I must.

Day in, day out, everyday they drive us harder.
Day in, day out, they’re getting away with blue murder.

For those who aren’t too familiar with Alistair Hulett’s (1951 – 2010) life and work, he was born and raised in Scotland but spent half of his life in Australia. He made a name for himself both as a solo artist and as the lead singer of legendary Australian folk rock band Roaring Jack. Apart from being a gifted singer/songwriter, Alistair was a committed socialist and a dedicated political and community activist. He was indeed one of those artists who consequently used his art trying to make a difference, to fight injustice and exploitation wherever and whenever he could. Alistair wrote songs about crimes against indigenous people, whether it was the British nuclear tests in Australia (‘Plains of Maralinga’) or human rights violations in Papua New Guinea (‘Good Morning Bougainville’). He wrote songs about the Highland Clearances (‘Destitution Road’), detention centres (‘Behind Barbed Wire’), the mistreatment of workers, you name it. ‘Blue Murder’ was one of two songs he wrote about the suffering of those who worked in the blue asbestos mine in Wittenoom, Western Australia. Countless miners and their families who paid with their health and lives after being exposed to lethal asbestos fibres, a health hazard well known to those who ran the mine.
Alistair originally wrote the song for a play while still in Roaring Jack. He eventually recorded it for his third solo album “Saturday Johnny & Jimmy the Rat”, together with folk legend Dave Swarbrick on fiddle!
To find out more about Alistair Hulett and his amazing body of work, visit
http://www.alistairhulett.com

BEYOND THE FIELDS

Eva Wey (Fiddle) * André Bollier (Vocals and Acoustic Guitar) * Marcel Bollier (Bass) * Uwe Schaefer (Mandolin) * Eddy Sloof (Drums and Percussion)

A Celtic folk rock band from the Lake Constance area, playing both acoustic and electric shows. Founded by singer/songwriter Andre Bollier, and featuring classical, folk, jazz and rock musicians from both Switzerland and Germany, the band offers its own distinctive mix of Irish and American folk traditions with rock, punk and other elements.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE GOBSHITES- ‘All The Best’ (2017)

The Only Folk’n’Irish Band That Matters!

 

The Gobshites hail from Foxboro in Massachusetts which is about 22 miles south of Boston and is part of the Greater Boston area making them part of celtic-punk folklore. Let’s face it everything Boston is worshipped in the scene and The Gobshites have certainly played their part in making Boston so. We have waxed lyrical about Boston before when we have reviewed albums form the Dropkick Murphys and Mickey Rickshaw but the story of Irish migration to the Boston area begins with those who were brought over unwillingly as indentured servants in the mid-17th Century.  The first real migration of the Irish began in 1718 with the arrival of the Scot-Irish or the ‘Ulster Irish’. The Irish continued to arrive throughout with the slow pre-‘famine’ trickle of the 1820’s onward of Irish Catholic immigrants as well as the corresponding increase in anti-Irish/Catholic sentiment within Boston beginning with the notorious Pope’s Day celebrations and the burning of the Ursuline Convent in 1834 in Charlestown and the Broad Street Riot of 1837. Finally the massive wave of immigration into Boston after the so-called ‘Famine’ and the rise of the Irish from poverty and discrimination into their assimilation into Boston culture. Mind you, The Gobshites ignore all that and sing about boozing it up!

Way back inn 2002 Irish-American punk rocker Pete Walsh, then the lead singer and rhythm guitar player for punk band Meat Depressed, decided he wanted to start up an Irish band and within less than a month later The Gobshites were supporting New York Irish legends Black 47 in their first gig. The band have been through many many line up changes but have been lucky to have had several periods of stability through their career where they have been able to release some of the best records in celtic-punk history. Their debut album, When The Shite Hits The Fans, hit the streets running and instantly gained them a legion of fans and led to them playing all over  the northeastern United States as well as the renowned Shamrockfest in Washington DC and having a float playing along the route of the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade. 2007 was a busy year with two albums released with Get Bombed and Another Round before 2011’s Songs Me Da Got Pissed To and the official live bootleg Poitin. It may have been six years without any new material but the lads had not disappeared and continued to play regularly around their home and further afield leading to The Whistle Before the Snap late last year which featured Ritchie Ramone on drums and for the first time consisted of solely Gobshites penned songs.

All The Best is their new release and is typical of The Gobshites wicked sense of humour. The band are famed for taking unusual punk rock songs and turning them into Irish folk trad classics. In a scene where we are more used to folk songs being given a punk rock edge The Gobshites happened on something both really good and highly original. Transforming songs like Black Flag’s ‘Six Pack’ into good auld Irish Singalongs with The Ramones ‘Long Way Back to Germany’ becoming ‘Long Way Back to Ireland’ with fiddle jig incorporated.

All The Best was released on June 1, 2017 and is sixteen of the best songs from The Gobshites back catalogue and is an absolutely fantastic album and the perfect introduction to the band if you have been unlucky not to have heard them yet! Beginning with a superbly ramshackle trad Irish folk tune ‘Anderson’s Reel’ showing that the lads can really play their instruments. A great version of celtic-punk fave ‘Star Of The Country Down’ follows and then ‘Cheers (Raise A Pint)’ which was the first song I ever heard by The Gobshites. It appeared on the famous celtic-punk compilation series What the Shite? Volume Two from 2006 which introduced the world to a whole load of new bands. Catchy is The Gobshites byword and though acoustic and folk its also punk as feck as well!

The Gobshites left to right: Stephen Feeney- Accordion * Corey Jobeau- Mandolin * Nina Ross- Fiddle * Peter (Peadar) Walsh- Vocals/ Guitar * Paddy O’Hare- Drums * Amanda McCue- Guitar/Vocals * Dave Vittone- Accordion/ Keyboards/ Hello Kitty Piano * Tom Hughes- Bass (various folk fill in on Whistle and Banjo but looking for full time applicants for both!)

Booze features heavily on the Gobshites play list and would come as no surprise seeing as they follow the two most beer friendly music scenes in Irish and punk. ’12 Steps’ has a “drink, drink. drink, drink, drink etc.,” chorus that must make it VERY popular at live gigs and again is a brilliantly catchy tune and has a Hello Kitty toy piano solo to boot! ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ is a cover of the song banned by pretty much everyone on it’s release in 1972. Penned by Irish-scouser ex-Beatle Paul McCartney it was banned so thoroughly that its pretty much unknown in the UK despite it reaching number 16 in the Official Singles Chart.

“Tell me how would you like it
If on your way to work
You were stopped by Irish soldiers
Would you lie down do nothing
Would you give in or go berserk”

Written in response to Bloody Sunday when British soldiers ran amok in Derry in the north of Ireland murdering sixteen unarmed Catholic civilians. It’s a great song and we can’t imagine the bravery of McCartney to release it at that time. Again a brilliant version here with Pete’s voice giving it the right amount of emotion and The Gobshites stamp is all over it. Next up is possibly the album standout for me, ‘Friggin’ In The Riggin’. The Sex Pistols risque double-A side that reached No. 3 in the UK singles chart in 1979 and was actually the band’s biggest selling single and being three quarters sea shanty anyway it was ripe for covering. Over in a flash the celtic instruments rule and turn the Pistols song into the Irish standard it was always meant to be.

“It was on the good ship Venus
By Christ, ya shoulda seen us
The figurehead was a whore in bed
And the mast, a mammoth penis”

Not for the faint-hearted, or your Nan, but great fun. Two great drinking songs next with ‘I Only Drink Stout’, a piss take version of The Queers ‘I Only Drink Bud’, and the simply titled, and apt!, Gang Green song ‘Alcohol’ keep up the tempo until a good and solid ‘Dirty Old Town’ hits the decks and yeah I know you’ve heard it a million times but a good version is still a good version and even a shite one can still have you belting out your lungs! Has a very good Clash tribute at the end to ‘London Calling’. ‘Pubcrawling’ name checks the local bars of Foxboro (be interesting to know how many have survived the yuppie invasion) while ‘Pirates Life For Me’ begins with the sound of the ocean and sample galore as The Gobshites ham the theme tune to Pirates Of The Caribbean right up.

‘Trouble With Women’ is a funny wee ditty which slots in nicely with its slow and (yes!) catchy chorus. Another favourite of mine here is The Ramones track ‘Somebody Put Something In My Drink’, though this live version owes as much to The Meteors psychobilly version as The Ramones.

Pete is joined on vocals by Ritchie Ramone and what sounds like a massive crowd. The aforementioned ‘Long Way Back’ features another Ramone in Tommy and begins with uileann pipes and is another bloody corker. Boston based musician and sometime actor Lenny Lashley of The Street Dogs gives us a song simply called ‘Irish’ and its as good a homage to the homeland as any. Written by Lenny for his old band Darkbuster we are nearing the end and its time for the abso-fecking-lutely hilarious ‘Shane’s Dentist’. Written by country/punkabilly legend Mojo Nixon just watch the video for the story but yes it’s about you know who. For the final song we leave where we came in with a short and extremely well played Irish traditional tune ‘The Sally Gardens’.

So there you have it and there can be no surprise when I say that every song on this album is Premier League. The Gobshites have been at the forefront of the celtic-punk scene ever since they started and with a back catalogue to die for they could have made this Best Of thirty-two (or sixty-four!) tracks and the quality would still shine right through. They may not have toured Europe or even across America (yet!) but they have still managed to make quite the name for themselves. I haven’t played The Gobshites in quite a while but this is surely one of the most catchiest and cool as fk records I have heard in ages and not only that but they have made it a ‘Pay What You Want’ download meaning that it’s available for free if you so wish but get the Bhoys at least a Guinness won’t you? So drop what you doing, get downloading, get the beers in, only stout of course, sit back and relax and turn up the volume!

(listen to Some Of The Best for free below on the Bandcamp player)

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gob·shite  (gŏb′shīt′)

n. Chiefly Irish Slang  person regarded as mean or contemptible.

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.

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

THE HISTORY OF CELTIC-ROCK MUSIC

Today the 30492- London Celtic Punks web zine is four years old today so what better way to celebrate our birthday than to give you this small but perfectly formed potted history of Celtic-Rock. We have never just wanted to be a place that only reviews new records we want to celebrate everything that makes us celtic-punks. Our love of our roots and our history and our traditions and the love that those with no Celtic ancestry have as well. Celtic-Punk is for all that share our common values of friendship and solidarity and the love of a good time. Music cannot change the world but it can certainly make it a better place to live in and in these uncertain times that is something we all need. The roots of celtic-punk should be important to us as that is where we come from and we must never forget that.

The London Celtic Punks Admin Team

Celtic rock is a genre of folk rock, as well as a form of Celtic fusion which incorporates Celtic music, instrumentation and themes into a rock music context. It has been extremely prolific since the early 1970’s and can be seen as a key foundation of the development of highly successful mainstream Celtic bands and popular musical performers, as well as creating important derivatives through further fusions. It has played a major role in the maintenance and definition of regional and national identities and in fostering a pan-Celtic culture. It has also helped to communicate those cultures to external audiences.

Definition

The style of music is the hybrid of traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton musical forms with rock music. This has been achieved by the playing of traditional music, particularly ballads, jigs and reels with rock instrumentation; by the addition of traditional Celtic instruments, including the Celtic harp, tin whistle, uilleann pipes (or Irish Bagpipes), fiddle, bodhrán, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and bagpipes (highland) to conventional rock formats; by the use of lyrics in Celtic languages and by the use of traditional rhythms and cadences in otherwise conventional rock music. Just as the validity of the term Celtic in general and as a musical label is disputed, the term Celtic rock cannot be taken to mean there was a unified Celtic musical culture between the Celtic nations. However, the term has remained useful as a means of describing the spread, adaptation and further development of the musical form in different but related contexts.

History

Origins

Celtic rock developed out of the (originally English) electric folk scene at the beginning of the 1970’s. The first recorded use of the term may have been by the Scottish singer Donovan to describe the folk rock he created for his Open Road album in 1970, which itself featured a song named ‘Celtic Rock’. However, the lack of a clear Celtic elements to the self-penned tracks mean that even if the name was taken from here, this is not the first example of the genre that was to develop.

Ireland

It was in Ireland that Celtic rock was first clearly evident as musicians attempted to apply the use of traditional and electric music to their own cultural context. By the end of the 1960’s Ireland already had perhaps the most flourishing folk music tradition and a growing blues and pop scene, which provided a basis for Irish rock. Perhaps the most successful product of this scene was the band Thin Lizzy. Formed in 1969 their first two albums were recognisably influenced by traditional Irish music and their first hit single ‘Whisky in the Jar’ in 1972, was a rock version of a traditional Irish song. From this point they began to move towards the hard rock that allowed them to gain a series of hit singles and albums, but retained some occasional elements of Celtic rock on later albums such as Jailbreak (1976). Formed in 1970, Horslips were the first Irish group to have the terms ‘Celtic rock’ applied to them, produced work that included traditional Irish/Celtic music and instrumentation, Celtic themes and imagery, concept albums based on Irish mythology in a way that entered the territory of progressive rock all powered by a hard rock sound. Horslips are considered important in the history of Irish rock as they were the first major band to enjoy success without having to leave their native country and can be seen as providing a template for Celtic rock in Ireland and elsewhere. These developments ran in parallel with the burgeoning folk revival in Ireland that included groups such as Planxty and the Bothy Band. It was from this tradition that Clannad, whose first album was released in 1973, adopted electric instruments and a more ‘new age’ sound at the beginning of the 1980s. Moving Hearts, formed in 1981 by former Planxty members Christy Moore and Donal Lunny, followed the pattern set by Horslips in combining Irish traditional music with rock, and also added elements of jazz to their sound.

  • THE POGUES AND IRISH CULTURAL CONTINUITY (here)

Scotland

There were already strong links between Irish and Scottish music by the 1960s, with Irish bands like the Chieftains touring and outselling the native artists in Scotland. The adoption of electric folk produced groups including the JSD Band and Spencer’s Feat. Out of the wreckage of the latter in 1974, was formed probably the most successful band in this genre, combining Irish and Scottish personnel to form Five Hand Reel. Two of the most successful groups of the 1980s emerged from the dance band circuit in Scotland. From 1978, when they began to release original albums, Runrig produced highly polished Scottish electric folk, including the first commercially successful album with the all Gaelic Play Gaelic in 1978. From the 1980s Capercaillie combined Scottish folk music, electric instruments and haunting vocals to considerable success. While bagpipes had become an essential element in Scottish folk bands they were much rarer in electric folk outfits, but were successfully integrated into their sound by Wolfstone from 1989, who focused on a combination of highland music and rock.

  • HOW THE IRISH AND THE SCOTS INFLUENCED AMERICAN MUSIC (here)

Brittany

Brittany also made a major contribution to Celtic rock. The Breton cultural revival of the 1960s was exemplified by Alan Stivell who became the leading proponent of the Breton harp and other instruments from about 1960, he then adopted elements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional music in an attempt to create a pan-Celtic folk music, which had considerable impact elsewhere, particularly in Wales and Cornwall. From 1972 he began to play electric folk with a band including guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub. Yacoub went on to form Malicorne in 1974 one of the most successful electric folk band in France. After an extensive career that included a stint playing as part of Fairport Convention in 1976, Ar Braz formed the pan-Celtic band Heritage des Celtes, who managed to achieve mainstream success in France in the 1990’s. Probably the best known and most certainly the most enduring electric folk band in France were Tri Yann formed in 1971 and still recording and performing today. In 2017 celtic-punk band Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs fly the flag for Brittany singing in their native language and playing regularly and often accompanied on stage by Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Tan Ar Bobl’ (here)

Wales

By the end of the 1960’s Wales had produced some important individuals and bands that emerged as major British or international artists, this included power pop outfit Badfinger, psychedelic rockers Elastic Band and proto-heavy metal trio Budgie. But although folk groupings formed in the early 1970’s, including Y Tebot Piws, Ac Eraill, and Mynediad am Ddim, it was not until 1973 that the first significant Welsh language rock band Edward H Dafis, originally a belated rock n’ roll outfit, caused a sensation by electrifying and attempting to use rock instrumentation while retaining Welsh language lyrics. As a result, for one generation listening to Welsh language rock music could now become a statement of national identity. This opened the door for a new rock culture but inevitably most Welsh language acts were unable to breakthrough into the Anglophone dominated music industry. Anhrefn became the best known of these acts taking their pop-punk rock sound across Europe from the early-80’s to mid-90’s.

  • TRIBUTE TO WELSH PUNK ROCK LEGENDS ANHREFN (here)

Cornwall and the Isle of Man

Whereas other Celtic nations already had existing folk music cultures before the end of the 1960s this was less true in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, which were also relatively small in population and more integrated into English culture and (in the case of Cornwall) the British State. As a result, there was relatively little impact from the initial wave of folk electrification in the 1970’s. However, the pan-Celtic movement, with its musical and cultural festivals helped foster some reflections in Cornwall where a few bands from the 1980s onwards utilised the traditions of Cornish music with rock, including Moondragon and its successor Lordryk. More recently the bands Sacred Turf, Skwardya and Krena, have been performing in the Cornish language.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: BARRULE- ‘Manannans Cloak’ (here)

Subgenres

Celtic Punk

Ireland proved particularly fertile ground for punk bands in the mid-1970s, including Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, The Radiators From Space, The Boomtown Rats and The Virgin Prunes. As with electric folk in England, the advent of punk and other musical trends undermined the folk element of Celtic rock, but in the early 1980s London based Irish band The Pogues created the subgenre Celtic punk by combining structural elements of folk music with a punk attitude and delivery. The Pogues’ style of punked-up Irish music spawned and influenced a number of Celtic punk bands, including fellow London-Irish band Neck, Nyah Fearties from Scotland, Australia’s Roaring Jack and Norway’s Greenland Whalefishers.

  • FROM OPPRESSION TO CELEBRATION- THE POGUES TO THE DROPKICK MURPHYS AND CELTIC PUNK (here)

Diaspora Celtic Punk

One by-product of the Celtic diaspora has been the existence of large communities across the world that looked for their cultural roots and identity to their origins in the Celtic nations. While it seems young musicians from these communities usually chose between their folk culture and mainstream forms of music such as rock or pop, after the advent of Celtic punk large numbers of bands began to emerge styling themselves as Celtic rock. This is particularly noticeable in the USA and Canada, where there are large communities descended from Irish and Scottish immigrants. From the USA this includes the Irish bands Flogging Molly, The Tossers, Dropkick Murphys, The Young Dubliners, Black 47, The Killdares, The Drovers and Jackdaw, and for Scottish bands Prydein, Seven Nations and Flatfoot 56. From Canada are bands like The Mahones, Enter the Haggis, Great Big Sea, The Real McKenzies and Spirit of the West. These groups were naturally influenced by American forms of music, some containing members with no Celtic ancestry and commonly singing in English. In England we have The BibleCode Sundays, The Lagan and others.

  • THE EFFECTS OF NEW DIASPORA CELTIC PUNK: THE CREATION OF A PAN-CELTIC CULTURE (here)

Celtic Metal

Like Celtic rock in the 1970s, Celtic metal resulted from the application of a development in English music, when in the 1990s thrash metal band Skyclad added violins, and with them jigs and folk voicings, to their music on the album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth (1990). This inspired the Dublin based band Cruachan to mix traditional Irish music with black metal and to create the subgenre of Celtic metal. They were soon followed by bands such as Primordial and Waylander. Like Celtic punk, Celtic metal fuses the Celtic folk tradition with contemporary forms of music.

  • CELTIC-METAL’S TOP FIVE BANDS (here)

Influence

Whereas in England electric folk, after initial mainstream recognition, subsided into the status of a sub-cultural soundtrack, in many Celtic communities and nations it has remained at the forefront of musical production. The initial wave of Celtic rock in Ireland, although ultimately feeding into Anglo-American dominated progressive rock and hard rock provided a basis for Irish bands that would enjoy international success, including the Pogues and U2: one making use of the tradition of Celtic music in a new context and the other eschewing it for a distinctive but mainstream sound. Similar circumstances can be seen in Scotland albeit with a delay in time while Celtic rock culture developed, before bands like Runrig could achieve international recognition. Widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding voices in Celtic/rock is the Glasgow born Brian McCombe of The Brian McCombe Band, a pan Celtic group based in Brittany.

In other Celtic communities, and particularly where Celtic speakers or descendants are a minority, the function of Celtic rock has been less to create mainstream success, than to bolster cultural identity. A consequence of this has been the reinforcement of pan-Celtic culture and of particular national or regional identities between those with a shared heritage, but who are widely dispersed. However, the most significant consequence of Celtic rock has simply been as a general spur to immense musical and cultural creativity.

ALBUM REVIEW: CHEERS!- ‘Daily Bread’ (2017)

Snarling, swirling, raging, roaring Celtic folk-punk brewed in Pilsen and tempered by accordion, whistles and flutes!
Cheers! are a band I have heard about for a few years now but bar a couple of tracks on compilations and the odd video here and there I hadn’t yet got round to properly listening to them till Daily Bread popped through my letter box the other day. They released their first single back in 2011 and their debut album Wrong and Right in 2013 and since then have toured extensively across their home country and throughout mainland Europe. They hail from the city of Pilsen in western Bohemia in the Czech Republic which is about 50 miles from the capital city of Prague. Of course the city is most known worldwide for Pilsner beer created in the city in 1842.  The combination of Pilsen’s famously soft water, Saaz noble hops from nearby Žatec and Bavarian-style brewing produced a clear, golden (and delicious!) beer which was regarded as a sensation and is still a big hit today among aficionados of the odd drink or two.
(have a listen to the debut Cheers! album Wrong And Right below)
There have been a handful of Czech celtic-punk bands kicking up a storm with the most famous being the excellent bagpipe punk band Pipes And Pints, celtic rockers Benjaming’s Clan and the relatively new Pirates Of The Pub. The scene over there may not be massive but is in a very healthy state with many touring bands choosing to stopover and play, especially in Prague. That all these bands have proved popular outside their home country proves they all are doing something right and on listening to Daily Bread I can see why.

Cheers! left to right. Top: Pisek- Electric guitar * Mates- Accordion. Middle: Kata- Tin Whistle Maty- Drums * Fifa- Fiddle. Bottom: Laska- Bass * Pafka- Acoustic Guitar/ Vocals

I’ve noticed a trend recently of bands releasing videos for the opening song on their album’s. Maybe they always have and it just hadn’t clicked before but it does makes sense to kick your album off with one of your strongest songs and here Cheers! are no different opening with the great track ‘Chances’.

Fiddle and tin whistle provide the celtic side of foot-tapping and melodic punk rock. Celtic-punk is best suited to a pub environment and make a perfect place to film your videos and ‘Chances’ is no exception. The punk takes a back seat to some exceptional Irish folk music next in ‘London Days’. The story is of the many who come to London and fall through the gaps. The ones who don’t become rich and live their lives solely surviving. In my day it was the Irish, the Scots and the northern English and these days they come from across the world. A catchy, gang chorus and strong fiddle keep the song ticking over till the heartfelt ending.

“For life is quite short you know and to fall is not wrong at all”

This leads into ‘Misery’ and the accordion stands out here in an angry song about the faceless workers everywhere toiling away. The chugging guitar keeps it tuneful and ‘Dagger’ takes us down a different path with its upbeat Flogging Molly-esque Irish folk. Pafka’s vocals are strong and clearly sung in English. The CD has the lyrics but they are clear enough just from listening. ‘Here We Are’ is kind of Bad Religion meets Irish folk. Fast rapid drumming and accordion keep it going before next song, ‘Standard’, returns us to Molly’s territory and a song that starts acapello before familiar sounding fiddle takes over. Brilliant lyrics next in ‘Pie Of Shame’. Not about pie as you may think but the wish for a better and more peaceful world. It could be a bit cloying but isn’t at all especially as it lasts just a few seconds short of five minutes. I’m well jealous of songwriters with the ability to write like this. We haven’t had a slow one yet and ‘Saint Of The Scene’ comes at the perfect time. Poguesy accordion and a swirling sound surrounded by gang vocals and tin whistle and fiddle give it a perfect pint in the air feel. ‘Mr. Batter’ is a fast and furious tune with great funny story about a copper stealing bum who ends up on the wrong side of the law. Again Cheers! turn it on its head as just as your settling in they pull out something different to rouse you. ‘Hey Devil’ is next and the band this is most reminiscent of would be The Dreadnoughts fast as hell and completely led by Filip’s glorious fiddle playing.

They slow it down again next with ‘Land Where Nobody Lives’ which suddenly erupts into life and the tale of the prodigal son returning home ends with a Flogging Molly burst of life. We are rolling up to the end of Daily Bread and ‘Once We Reach The Ireland’s Bay’ takes the album to premier league status. The wonderful sound of uileann pipes from album guest Zdeněk Bugoš blaze a trail through this fantastic ballad. The sort of song I would love to push down the throats of the folk purists (snobs!) who say celtic-punk bands have no folk tradition or feeling. Cheers! nail it here with this song. Daily Bread comes to an end with the short and sweet and punky ‘Only Thing’. Seventy seconds of Dubliners style punk rock wraps things up nicely.

Thirteen songs clocking it at an impressive near fifty minutes! The music is of a solid punk rock backdrop with fantastic celtic musicians driving it along and Pafka’s great vocals atop. Very hard to pigeonhole Cheers! as they change tempo and their sound quite regularly on this album but despite that they have still managed to make a album that flows along very nicely. On this showing it’s easy to see why they have become so popular already and with only one album behind them that is is even more of an achievement.

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  • A very nice review of the album and an interesting interview with singer/guitarist Pavel here on the Celtic Music Fan site.

EP REVIEW: BLACK RAWK DOG- ‘Suburban’s Folk Stories’ (2017)

Another top quality Indonesian celtic-punk band belt it out of the ball park with their new EP! Black Rawk Dog continue the Indonesia love in…

Just a couple of days ago we reviewed a great EP from an Indonesian celtic-punk band (here) and low and behold just like buses up rolls another one five minutes behind! As with Rain In Summer we first came across Black Rawk Dog on the absolutely superb Indonesian celtic-punk compilation ‘Wind From The Foreign Land’ from 2014. Fourteen tracks from fourteen different celtic-punk bands from across Indonesia and from right across the whole celtic-punk spectrum from folky traditional folk to celtic-Oi! and hardcore it’s all there and is definitely one of the best album’s I have ever heard. We described Black Rawk Dog then as

“fast paced fiddle and mando punk played at breakneck speed with gang vocals”

and on the basis of Surburban’s Folk Stories I can see no reason to change that!

(The EP teaser a collection of videos by friends of the bands showing them hanging)

The Black Rawk Dog story begins at the end of 2010 when a group of Sidoarjo friends become interested in and decide to take up an unlikely form of music for youths in their country. It takes a while to get going and in November, 2011 they begin their journey playing with another of Indonesia’s celtic-punk greats Skarockoi! They began to invite some of the other great bands from around the country to play in Sidoarjo and soon enough they were being invited to play around the country as well leading to their performance at the Jogja Celtic Punk Night. BY now the band had set out to find more about traditional Irish music and the wider celtic music scene in Indonesia and Black Rawk Dog were now firmly on their way to transform from a punk band with folk instruments to a fully fledged celtic-punk band. A skinhead mate suggested ‘Black Dog Conspiracy’ as a band name and somewhere along discussions they ended up as Black Rawk Dog and set out to take Indonesian celtic-punk to the masses!

Surburban’s Folk Stories was sent to me by an old mate on Facebook Jr Miko from the record label that released this and pretty much everything Indonesian celtic-punk related. The first thing that strikes you on listening to this EP is how much energy the band has. If it’s possible to tell how much fun a band has through listening to them on record then here is the best example I have heard it quite a while. They roll out all the celtic instruments to kick start ‘Brand New Day’ the opening track.

Tin whistle, bango, fiddle all leading the song with vocals shared among the band and a real Dropkick Murphys singalong going on. Now the band sound more like Flogging Molly than the Murphys but the songs do remind me of them more somehow. A fantastic start to the EP and the sound of quality Irish folk music fills the air on the second track too. ‘Work Proud’ is again sung in English and is nice and clear and just on the right side of punky gruffness. Again its fast but without losing the folky sound and the ‘Woah Woah’ gang chorus is great. The celtic instruments are out in force again but the whole band is on top form here with nice drumming and guitar. Now regular readers will know how i wax lyrical about the most under-rated instrument in celtic-punk, the harmonica. My uncle Pat bought me a mouth organ when I was a kid and though I never did quite master it I still love the sound. ‘Still One’ slows it all down a little and the harmonica kicks it off until more gang ‘Woah Woah’s come in and beautiful guest female vocals take the song slowly up in tempo into a fast and frantic hardcore celtic folk punk number. The song ends with a high kicking blast that comes with a tinge of country included. More than half way through the EP and I am absolutely loving it. Play this in a bar in Dublin, London or NYC and tell the regulars these are a local band and you’ll get no argument I am sure. In fact the way that Black Rawk Dog have taken to Irish music would put most Irish bands on the island of Ireland to shame. Indonesia is a 80% majority Muslim country so great to hear ‘Rumble In The Bar’. Celtic-punk as our header states is music of rebellion and resistance and great to hear Indonesian’s playing it as well as anyone else, and sometimes better. Starting off with banjo it all turns into a massive ceilidh and like some sort of Irish-punk-celtic-hoedown with more gang vocal chorus and fiddle to die for. Super production here on all the songs and the music is flowing as the beer is flowing out and sadly the EP comes to an end with ‘The Old Man Stands Alone’. Expecting a slow maudlin ballad Black Rawk Dog kick out the best song on the record that takes me right back to to the days of The Pogues. Whoever is sharing their record collection with these guys is doing a fantastic job and I’m left wanting to hear more from this great band.

All the songs here are penned by the band themselves and if I had any criticism it would be that it’s only twenty minutes as I am now desperately wanting to hear more from them. This EP is a perfect example of what can be done with a bunch of extremely talented musicians and a wish to move beyond playing bog standard punk music. This is easily as good as anything I have heard this year and I only wish that bands like Flogging Molly or The Murphys would put their hands in their pockets and get some of the bands from Indonesia over to the States for some exposure. How about getting them on the next Salty Dog cruise Flogging Molly?

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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.

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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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.

ALBUM REVIEW: FLOGGING MOLLY- ‘Life Is Good’ (2017)

“The one thing we are is a positive band. When people come and see our shows, it’s a celebration of life, of the good and of the bad. And we have to take the good and the bad for it to be a life”- Dave King

Life is Good!

It certainly is good for Celtic Punk fans around the globe. Here we have the release of yet another quality album in 2017. It comes from the third branch of the Holy Trinity of Celtic Punk, Flogging Molly. It follows on from outstanding albums from the other two branches this year, namely The Dropkick Murphys and Flatfoot 56. We really have been spoiled this year, especially when you consider that we’ve also had new albums from The Tossers, Damien Dempsey, Paddy and the Rats and so many more Celtic bands. Too many to mention here, especially as this meant to be a review of Flogging Molly’s Life is Good. So maybe just take a minute to think how lucky we all are to be part of such a dynamic and productive “scene”!!

Life is Good is the eighth album to have been released by Celtic Punk premier leaguers, Flogging Molly, and its class! That’s one of the things that went through my mind while I was listening to it, the class just stands out! It’s made up of 12 tracks and runs for three quarters of an hour.

That “class” is evident throughout all the tracks here, it shows how well the band works as a unit, complimenting each other. I suppose twenty years of performing together is going to give us that polished sound. Their last album “The Speed of Darkness” consisted of a, what some people might claim, more mainstream rock sound. I must admit it was one that grew on me, rather than hit me straight away, although now it is one of my favourites. Life is Good definitely sounds more Celtic influenced, with some beautiful fiddle work from Bridget and some rousing banjo from Bob. It is not as raw as Drunken Lullabies or Swagger, but the same feeling is still there, it’s just a bit more professionally produced.

It kicks off with There’s Nothing Left, setting a jaunty pace that is kept up throughout. The Hand of John L Sullivan is next. Many of you will have heard this one as it was a video released a few months ago. It shows how Dave King still has the knack for writing punchy and interesting songs to go along with his ballads and anthem like offerings. Welcome to Adamstown incorporates a great brass section to give some “oomph” to the baseline. It’s a tale of unfinished suburbia in King’s native Dublin. Next comes Reptiles (We Woke Up). Now this is one of those aforementioned anthems, I can picture the crowd at The Forum, at the end of June, having a great time with this one. A bit like the All of Our Boys / Oliver Boy singalong from Speed of Darkness.

Here it is:

The Days We’ve Yet To Meet is the next track, a good up tempo rock number. Then we have the title track, Life is Good. A bittersweet song dealing with death and illness, but also impressing upon us to live our lives and enjoy them. The Last Serenade comes next, it’s one that resonates with me, dealing with ailing fisheries that most of us who live on the coast have witnessed. It’s a slow tempoed ballad and might not really sit well with a Punk audience, but I love it! The slow pace continues with the intro to The Guns of Jericho which soon livens up to a foot stomper though!

Crushed (Hostile Nations) also starts slowly with some lovely pipes accompanying Dave’s opening lines, but it soon turns into a deep almost hypnotic heavy beat. There’s electric guitar solos and a pounding rhythm, I’m reminded of Horslips, but different! There seems to be a darkness to it, probably part of the “Hostility”. A great track!!After the angst of Crushed, we move into the optimism of Hope! Another one that will have the fans up and singing along to the chorus. The Bride Wore Black is a fine pacy tune that you could dance to. I don’t know who it’s about, but she sounds like a bit of craic anyway!! We finish with Until We Meet Again, another ballad with some lovely fiddle and accordion playing, that rounds off the album perfectly.

Flogging Molly have been together for twenty years now, having formed in 1997. Dave King, Bridget Regan, Bob Schmit, Denis Casey, Nathan Maxwell, Matt Hensley and Mike Alonso have combined to bring us six exceptional studio albums and two sublime live recordings. They have played some of the best live gigs that I’ve been to and I hope to see many more! What they bring to the music scene in general and the Celtic Punk scene in particular is an authenticity and intelligence. Let’s hope they (and me!) are around in another twenty years! Slainte.

Ger Mellon 2017.

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  • On Thursday you lucky folk Flogging Molly play at The Forum in Kentish Town, north London. Ticket information here.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE SCARLET- ‘Hardfolk Shanties’ (2017)

It’s been five minutes so must be time for another amazing Hungarian celtic-punk release from another amazing Hungarian celtic-punk band!

2015 was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band with a seemingly never ending succession of celtic-punk releases throughout the year that filled the end of year Best Of polls for not just ourselves but for all the other celtic-punk media. Well last year was a bit on the quiet side but the Hungarians are back in 2017 with a bang and already this year we have had Hungarian Celtic-Punk week when we reviewed three releases by bands old and new to the scene in Firkin, Crazy Rogues and The O’Neills plus as well as finding space for the excellent Jolly Jackers album and a new Paddy And The Rats release due any day soon its shaping up to be a repeat of two years back. The Scarlet’s singer/songwriter Dániel also plays in The O’Neills and while they are a much more traditional Irish folk band it seems he has chosen The Scarlet to take out his aggression on and their music has a much harder edge to it than previously. Which brings us to this release which came out in March (when else!) and is the debut long player from Budapest based band The Scarlet. They have previously released a Demo (available for free download from here) in late 2012 and in January, 2015 they released their first official record in Midnight Avenue. That was six tracks and twenty minutes of, mostly Dropkick Murphys style, quality celtic-punk that introduced them both to the celtic-punk scene and the world (here). A combination of pirate ‘Yo-Ho’s’ and metal guitar riffs accompanying the celtic instruments it left us itching to hear more and we were jumping for joy on the news that an album was coming out.

Now as is the case with music genre’s many overlap and while to the casual listener it may all sound the same but to those that like to label things this is probably more towards the pirate punk end of celtic-punk and maybe even celtic-metal as well.

The album kicks off with ‘Heroes of Our Future’ and even though it’s the shortest song on the album it’s still one of the high points. The Hungarians love the flute and The Scarlet are no different with Júlia’s flute competing with fiddle and metally punk electric guitar riffs. Dániel’s vocals as on that earlier EP are clear and even with his slight accent the English lyrics are easy to understand though sung in a more rock style than before.

The music has a urgent feel to it and ‘The Darker Shade of Red’ doesn’t let the pace slip while the sea theme continues with ‘We Plunder’. The heavy guitar and thundering bass, which sounds particularly good, give the song a hard feel but all the time the flute and fiddle keep it celtic. ‘Monday Morning’ is another album standout and one of the more ‘trad’ celtic-punk moments on the album. Gang vocals on the track are a nice touch and keep it interesting. We are halfway through Hardfolk Shanties and ‘Son of a Pirate’ keeps the pace up. I am a new convert to the use of flute in celtic-punk. I was never one for it but on seeing the mighty Firkin here in London on NYE 2015 I have to say I was totally won over. The Scarlet and Firkin share a lot of similarities except in sound and once again it’s pleasing that bands have managed to tread separate paths in a, sometimes, one dimensional scene.

Saying that if there was one song on the album that has a Firkin shadow looming over it then it is ‘Take the Wheel’. In a album of high points it’s not hard hard to pick out songs worthy of attention and ‘Heading to South’ is one. Great fiddle work and chugging guitar and a real catchy tune too. We coming up to the end of the album and ‘Battlefield Requiem’ keeps up the good work and another mention here for Dániel’s tortured vocals which fit perfectly with the sound the band are producing. ‘Runaway’ has a punk feel to it with that thundering bass back again and finally Hardfolk Shanties comes to an end with ‘Long Live the Dead’. The song begins folky acoustic style before moving into celtic-punk territory. Another class song and that The Scarlet can pack so much into their songs when the longest here is only just over three minutes long is remarkable.

So the album is over and you get ten songs all penned by the band themselves that comes in at literally just over half an hour long. If you like your celtic-punk a bit different then Hardfolk Shanties will be right up your street. More punk than most and with metal influences that keep it on the harder side side of things but thanks to the addictive flute and fiddle here it is firmly within the celtic-punk scene. Fiddler Dominika can be thanked for the superb pirate themed album artwork and the album was mixed by Zoltán Cs.Szabó, of the Hungarian garage rock band The Trousers, who has done a grand job and got the maximum out of The Scarlet. A great album and as already stated it sits proudly on the harder edged side of things but it is nevertheless still a fine concoction of both old time folk and more modern punk and metal. Heartily recommended ship mates!

(you can hear Hardfolk Shanties by pressing play on the Soundcloud player below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: Всё Crazy- ‘Мокрые слухи’ (2017)

no nonsense no frills just straight up fantastic celtic-punk from Belarus.

We been big fans of Всё_CRAZY (in English- ‘All Crazy’) for a while and Мокрые слухи is their second album and comes only a year and a couple of months after the release of their debut album По Морям. That album was reviewed on these pages here and we had this to say back then

“They have taken celtic music and added their take on it and made something really interesting. We have waxed lyrically before about how wonderful we find it that celtic-punk has gone international over the last few years. Gone are the days when celtic-punk was solely played in the places where the Irish or other Celts settled and these days some of the best bands in the scene are not only from Canada or Australia or the USA but place like Belarus or Indonesia or Brazil. They deserve a fair hearing and we really hope you give them a try you won’t be disappointed.”

The album also landed in the London Celtic Punks Best Album Of 2015 and received favourable mentions across the worldwide celtic-punk media.

left to right: Aliaksandr Hliakau – bass/vocals; Nikalai Kavalikhin – drums; Liudmila Navakouskaya – mandolin; Aliaksandra Halkouskaya – vocals; Sergey Lesnevskiy – accordion; Eugene Rakhanski – guitars; Anton Sirotin – guitar/vocals; Alexey Voryvodsky – sound engineering

Всё Crazy hail from Belarus which up until 1991 was part of the Soviet Union and is bordered by Russia to the north east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the north west. They come from the capital city Minsk and has a tragic past. During WWII Belarus was devastated losing about a third of its population and more than half of its economic resources. Of course after the war came occupation by the Russians but the government and people remain on friendly terms with many speaking both Russian and Belarusian.

(Brand new concert video. Great quality and contains a good few songs from the album)

So why then have these band of merry souls decided to take up the music and culture of another country with a tragic past on the other side of the continent? Well Alex from the band told me

“We began celebrating St. Patrick’s day in our country about 10 years ago, it was a new experience for us. We found that Irish people have a lot in common with Belarusians, for instance, drinking a lot and eating potatoes! The same similarity we found between Celtic and Slavic folk tunes. Altogether, it resulted in the music we play today”

Belarus is a land locked country and again as on that debut album there is an inescapable longing both for the sea and alcohol as the two driving forces of the Belarusian people. No wonder they feel at home singing Irish tunes! The title of the album translates as Wet Rumors which is a local phrase for telling someone what they want to hear. Released just a couple of weeks ago it’s not been plain sailing for the band with the inevitable loss of band members as you get more popular and get offered more gigs and touring becomes a necessity. The mandolin player went on maternity leave but can still be heard on this album and two new instruments (violin and flute) appeared as one musician as Inna Perasetskaya-Malakovich joined the ship.

The album launches with ‘Liudmila’ which is a cover of a song by American folk-punk band Harley Poe. Never having heard of them I thought I would check them out and they were OK I suppose but not a fecking patch on Всё_CRAZY!! Hard as nails folk with the punk kept slightly in check and heavy on the accordion. A right knees up of a song with vocals, as on the entire album, sung in Russian but have a real nice sound to them. if you are the kind of person that is put off my celtic-punk not being sung in English then you in the wrong place. Next up is ‘The Factory’ and the first self-penned number. Have to say there is a nice balance of covers here among the bands own material and some interesting ventures within the song and all done with a great deal of style. One thing is for certain these are definitly not straight covers. ‘The Factory’ is about the limitations of man and his attempt to escape his problems through alcohol. A vicious circle. Most of the music here is joyful but there’s a slight menace here. ‘Wet Whores’ is really part one of a song where the second part follows later on in the album. The songs are getting faster and more and more punk is slipping in all time. ‘Mom’ follows and is a cover of a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club song but never having been a fan of them I can’t tell you much except I don’t think they were a folk-punk band and so it seems to me that Всё_CRAZY’s version walks all over there’s. The band have stamped their brand all over it as the song begins as a dirge, Slow and mournful before changing halfway into a upbeat tune with lovely male/female vocals and a gang chorus to die for. The familiar sound of ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ makes an appearance and takes us into the albums first traditional celtic-punk tune ‘Over the Mountains (Bugger Off!)’. They do a grand version of The Real McKenzies song and the trad elements are a mixture of Slav and Celt and sound brilliant. Another trad song next and ‘Tired Me Out, Bastards!’ originates from the bleak lives of prisoners in the harsh existence in Siberia. We first became of Всё_CRAZY on the release of the fantastic Tribute To The Pogues compilation that came out in 2015. with twenty-seven bands from over a dozen countries it was hard to spot the standout tracks but their cover of the Jem Finer and Andrew Ranken penned ‘My Baby’s Gone’ was easily among the best tracks on the album. Taken from the underwhelming post-Shane album Waiting for Herb it was a brave choice of Всё_CRAZY to go with one of The Pogues lesser known songs but it completely worked. (Follow the link here to get a free download of Tribute To The Pogues)

(Всё_CRAZY re-recorded the song for the album but here’s the sweary version!)

Unsurprisingly it’s my favourite song of the album. Great m/f vocals again and mandolin and guitars work perfectly together. The unsuccessful search for the road to the sea is next in ‘Road To The Sea’ and is a reference to the topic of death and frailty of all things. You can hear the bones of a sea shanty here in a song that lasts over five minutes. Rather surprisingly the band actually formed in 2002 playing all sorts, from reggae to blues rock. Multiple lineup changes saw the band not settle until the release of an album ‘Телипыч’ (‘Telipych’) which became a turning point for the band. The end of that chapter and they changed course, lucky for us, to celtic-punk. The next track ‘Motorped’ was written back in 2002 but unexpectedly suited the concept of the album, and therefore got a place here. Another corker and another knees up with a hint of bluegrass/country wrapped inside. Nearing the end of the album and ‘Babe On The Shore’ keeps the catchiness and gang vocals going with flute taking the lead here. The final song here is another cover but ‘Some Day (When the Saints…)’ is anything BUT a straight cover and I would bet my house on it being a fan’s live favourite. The song lasts over six minutes and takes in several genres in a kind of well played mayhem.

So I can only give you my opinion on the music and what I have managed to piece together regarding the meaning of the songs. The upbeat sound here belies that many of the songs are permeated with a sorrow. Something else the Belarussians have in common with the Irish so. The violin, whistle/flute and accordion feature strongly here but is well balanced by the guitar. A very interesting album and the mix of folk styles from their home country and ours added to good ol’ fashioned punk rock makes for some absolutely great music.

( you can hear Мокрые слухи below by pressing play on the Bandcamp player before you buy. It’s only $3 so go on and splash the cash!)

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ALBUM REVIEW: ‘THE HANGMAN’S BLUES: Prison Songs In Country Music 1956-1972 (2016)

Grim tales of jailbirds, cutthroats, cuckolds, executioners, murderers and escapees.  Prison ballads form part of the historic lifeblood of Country Music and saw a resurgence after the 1960 execution of controversial convict Caryl Chessman. Here are some of the very best, seldom heard since their original release. Running the gamut from smooth balladeers of woe to ramshackle and plaintive backyard rockabilly.

While these days your more likely to find your folk music heroes went to Eton with Prince William or all met at Cambridge/Oxford/insert other posh university it’s not always been so. While it’s always been true that the music of the working classes has always been adopted by the well-heeled and the image of the bearded Green Party, Real Ale drinking, middle class ‘leftie’ singing away with his finger in his ear still rings true around the folk clubs. This also explains their reluctance to accept other genre’s like celtic-punk as part of the folk scene as at it’s heart is a snobbery to keep others out at all costs. Folk music was never a static thing with bands and singers always finding ways to keep the music alive and relevant though always with a healthy respect for the past. That the celtic-punk scene can be said to be partly responsible for the popularity of bands long gone like The Dubliners, Clancy Brothers and The Pogues butters no onions with these people who just want to keep things as they were at all costs. Happy to be big fish in small pools! What the artists on this album would make of four faux-ploughboy, waistcoat wearing members of the aristocracy representing folk music I don’t know (have to admit here I DO actually love Mumford And Sons!) but one thing is for sure they wouldn’t last five minutes in the company of people featured here and long to be be forgotten while these days be writ high.

One things for sure it has always been, and always will be, the poor that go to jail. Whether for a crime they freely admit (or not!) or through bigotry and lack of decent representation the jails of the world are full of the poorest of our society. Folk and country music has never been a stranger to the inside of prison walls right from the very start and this stunning compilation covers just about every country music offshoot musically as well as covering just about every reason why you could end up inside. The album opens strongly with ‘The Wall’, written by Harlan Howard, given a powerful performance here by Freddie Hart. Born to a sharecropper family in Alabama Hart left school at 12 but still managed to become one of country music’s biggest stars of the 70’s. I love the sound of the harmonica and there’s plenty of it’s woeful sound to be found here to keep me happy.

“The years gone by since he made his try
But I can still recall how hard he tried and the way he died
But he never made that, wall he never made that wall”

All the tracks were recorded between 1956 and 1972 and although I have heard several prison -themed album’s in the past I seriously cannot remember one that came anywhere remotely close to the quality found here. I could wax lyrical about every artist but this review would then run for pages and pages. Suffice to say that all the artists here know what it means to be hungry and many indeed did cross swords with authorities and some others saw the other side of a prison gate. Tennessee born, early rockabilly star Jaycee Hill’s  fantastic ‘Crash-Out’, is typical of many here with the acceptance and regret of a life of crime. Most of the artists here are American but one of the album highlights is the London born Marty Robbins with his intense performance of ‘The Chair’. Inspired by the controversial execution of Caryl Chessman in 1960.

Chessman was an unsavoury character that much is true and something he was intelligent enough to recognise within himself but he was convicted and charged on a law that was later repealed though not retroactively meaning his death sentence still stood. He became the poster child for the anti-capital punishment cause and the most recognizable face on death row. In May 1960 Chessman choked to death in San Quentin Prison’s gas chamber while the phone outside rang, just too late, with his stay of execution. His story is also dealt with in songs on this album by Country Johnny Mathis, one of the album highlights with its sheer, haunting poetry, Ronnie Hawkins and Jimmy Minor. The full story of Caryl Chessman is also told in a fine performance from Hoyle Miller notable for the last line of his song

“you see I too Hoyle Miller was once too on death row”

Dirt farmer’s son Porter Wagoner gives us a compelling version of the Hank Williams penned ‘(I Heard That) Lonesome Whistle’. Known for his flashy suits and for giving Dolly Parton her big break Wagoner never forgot his working class roots often touring in rural areas where many would not perform and was also famous for his friendly relationship with his fans mingly before, during and after gigs with them. The jauntyness of ‘I Always Did Like Leavenworth’ belies the subject George Kent is singing of. Eddie Noack was a honky tonk singer influenced by Hank Williams and his superb version of ‘Invisible Stripes’ tells of the stigma that jail carries throughout  the rest of your days. Named from the stripes of the uniform prisoners were made to wear. A subject also visited here by Howard Crockett who turned to singing after a shoulder injury ended a promising baseball career. He performs a excellent cover of the famous Johnny Cash penned song ‘I Got Stripes’. Artist jailbirds like Johnny Cash, David Allen Coe and Merle Haggard are notable by their absence but the music that inspired them more than makes up for it. There are simply too many great songs and artists here to give justice to and the album comes to an end with ‘A Prisoner’s Dream’ by Charles Lee Guy III. When he was 16 he was convicted of manslaughter and sent to jail. During his imprisonment he learnt to play guitar and started writing songs. He sent a tape to Capitol Records who were sufficiently impressed to bring their studio equipment to Vacaville Prison in December 1962 to record him. Charles’ album, The Prisoner’s Dream, was well-received and in October, 1963 Time Magazine reviewed the album:

“Charles Lee Guy III has been an inmate of California State Prison since he was 16. The songs he has learned to sing there all reflect his sorry circumstance – and among them is the latest composition of a prison chum, country music’s Spade Cooley [himself a wife killer]. Guy’s woeful voice and guitar accompaniment fit the spirit of his music, and in this remarkable album he has the power of a young white Leadbelly.”

One of the songs on that album was titled ‘Wishin’ She Was Here (Instead of Me)’ thought to refer to his mother who many thought had committed the murder that Charles had been found guilty of. A moving, emotional and chilling way for this album to close.

All the tracks here were first issued on long forgotten 45’s often on obscure, tiny or private-press labels. All are incredibly rare and many are reissued here for the first time since release and are remastered from the original master tapes giving the album a sound that is as clear as crystal. Their are twenty-eight tracks here and just under eighty minutes of music. Pretty much all of the songs come in around the two minute mark and the pacing on the album is also well thought out. Available on vinyl and CD the amount of care put into this album is to be applauded including the incredibly handsome twenty page, full colour booklet that comes with informative liner notes by Alvin Lucia and rare photos and label shots. This amazing package has been put together by Bear Family Records who also gave us Hillbillies In Hell- Country Music’s Tormented Testament, another timeless compilation telling of Satan, drugs, murder, suicide, demonic visions, infanticide and redemption. Their were plenty of prison songs before the era (1956-1972) chosen here on The Hangman’s Blues but these songs begin from the early days of rock’n’roll and though most are straight up country songs all have a dark edge to them, of course, and some have that raw rock’n’roll sound that many of you will love I am sure.

Declarations of innocence, profound diatribes on capital punishment and mournful odes to the Last Mile. The Hangman’s Blues will chill, thrill and bedevil the dreams of all who hear it. Feel the penal pain. Like the album liner notes say…we are all prisoners in one way or another.

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ALBUM REVIEW: RESTLESS FEET- ‘Homeward Bound’ (2017)

German celtic-punk band Restless Feet’s second studio album playing fast Irish folk from Traditionals to more asskickin‘ stuff about sailing far away and returning home.

In a genre that most music fans would probably think of as being extremely small its heartening when you come across a band that you think is new only to find out they have been around a while and this is not their debut album as originally thought. That after all is a sign of a very healthy scene and long may it continue that I don’t know every band out there!

Restless Feet originate from the beautiful old town of Freiburg in the south-west of Germany and were in fact formed back in November, 2011. Their debut album Almost Irish contained seven tracks of which but two were covers but did contain the amazing track ‘Empire Of Gold’. If I had come across this song back then then I can tell you with all certainty that I would have been following them ever since.

The mini-album also contained a couple of Breton songs showing that Restless Feet know their onions and were not content to just rattle out the old favourites. That’s not to say they can’t play the old faves as it also contained a couple of Irish folk standards but it set the pace for their following album, which was about to hit the streets over three years later, just in time for St Patrick’s Day 2017.

I have mentioned on this site before the special affinity that German’s hold for the Irish. 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 has got to be between us and the Mexicans aint it? Here Restless Feet offer up six self penned tracks and seven carefully chosen covers that go to show that the German love for Erin still shines strong and shows no signs of abating either.

Homeward Bound begins with ‘I Hold Sway’ and gets proceedings off to a great start. All acoustic but with a real punk rock feel. The Irish/celtic sound is supplied by the energetic fiddling of Marcy and Kai on tin whistle and banjo while the rest of the lads, Maggu, Arthur and Alex, supply a steady and sturdy back drop.

(the first single and official video released from Homeward Bound)

Fast and over in a flash and leads into ‘The Cabin’ a very short accordion number used as the intro to the following song ‘Wake’s Souvenir’. Slowish but still tuneful and catchy that speeds up in the middle and its not often you will hear an acoustic guitar being thrashed so loudly! Many Euro celtic-punk bands include flute and I was a late convert to the idea but here, as it usually does, it sounds fantastic.The first cover is ‘The Shores Of Botany Bay. First time I ever heard this was by the legendary Irish folk band The Wolfe Tones and Restless Feet do it justice with a wee Irish trad tune slapped into the middle making it extra bit special. Restless Feet have two main vocalists and they slip from song to song so forgive me for not which is Kai and which is Maggu. They both sing in a distinct German style with the accent strong but at the same time absolutely clear as crystal and while the CD does come with the lyrics included you don’t need them at all. ‘Sailor’s Yarn’ is a great tune with superb fiddle and backing gang vocals. In the search for the song that represents celtic-punk the following, ‘Waste My Throat (On Irish Folk)’, song is a worthy contender. A real footstomper and one for the crowd to join in with cries of “yeah” peppered throughout. Would have maybe perhaps benefited from some driving electric guitar but still a album high point. Restless Feet next show us that their is more to their band than just punked up folk songs with ‘Tuneset’ which is in fact two and a half minutes of full on Irish trad folk with three superb reels- ‘Irish Washerwoman’, ‘Cooley’s Reel’ and ‘Maid behind the Bar’. Banjo, fiddle and flute giving the impression that what you got here is a trad band not an actual celtic-punk one. Next we have ‘Greenland Whale Fisheries’ which I am sure most of you will know as it has been covered by most bands between The Dubliners and The Pogues and has even been taken as a name for one of the celtic-punk scene’s most popular bands. Now I love this song but would have preferred something a little more off the map but we have to remember that to audiences not accustomed to Irish music this is a song that will get people off their bar stools and up jigging. On that first album Restless Feet showed they weren’t adverse to playing the odd rebel song and here they serve up the glorious ‘The Boys Of Wexford’. The song commemorates the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and, more specifically, the rebellion in Wexford.

“We are the Boys from Wexford
Who fought with heart and hand
To burst in twain the galling chain
and free our native land”

Made famous by The Clancy Brothers and The Wolfe Tones its a great version and sure to get the blood pumping of any freedom loving patriot. The last self penned number is ‘The Ballad Of Johnny Doran’ and bejaysus it’s an absolute corker. Loved it. Slowish and catchy with the backing minimal and the fecking brilliant chorus telling of a traveller’s life.

“I’m the Everywhere Man, slán and I’m gone”

The album standout and not just for me either (see the review on Celtic Folk punk here). We are back in Pogues/Dubliners territory again next with version of ‘The Irish Rover’ and not much to add but its as good as you will hear and the Bhoys stick fairly close to that most famous version. We are shipping up to shore and I feel I really must take off my hat and salute Restless Feet for including ‘By Memory Inspired’ here. Growing up with Irish music I thought I had heard just about every rebel song but this had passed me by. Again it’s a song commemorating the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Slow and quiet and beautifully played and sung from the heart.

“By Memory inspired And love of country fired, The deeds of Men I love to dwell upon”

The tragic defeat of that rebellion is remembered and the brave men who gave their lives names are sung with a poignancy that many Irish bands could learn from. Daniel O’Connell, William Orr, John Mitchel, John McCann, John and Henry Sheares, Fr Thomas Maguire, Robert Emmet, and others are recalled. Homeward Bound comes to an end with ‘Rolling Down To Old Maui’ and I was actually dreading another acapello version of this but the Bhoys turn it into a great tune with brass instruments and superb fiddle turning it into one of the best versions I have heard straight up!

So forty minutes of class acoustic Irish folk punk from a bunch of Germans with a real feel for what they are playing. Whether it’s playing their own material, classic Irish standards or even lost and forgotten gems of Irish folk, Restless Legs are a great addition to the celtic-punk scene and to landlubbers everywhere. With recent gigs supporting some of the scene’s biggest bands, including our own Ferocious Dog, the future is looking very bright for them.

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ALBUM REVIEW: McSCALLYWAG- ‘Dirty Water’ (2017)

Celebrate the good life with Dutch celtic-punkers McScallywags. Influenced by traditional Irish folk music, sea-shanties and good ol’ drinking songs McScallywag are on a mission to put a smile on everyone’s face!

Got this album in the post from Waldo over at Celtic Folk Punk And More web-site (always worth checking out here) but with such a backlog of reviews its taken me till now to have a listen and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long!

McScallywag describe their sound as “Dropkick Murphys meets The Pogues” and while live they they provide a healthy mix of classic traditional Irish folk songs and McScallywag originals here on Dirty Water they gone for the originals approach with every song one they have penned themselves. The band are based in the Dutch city of Groningen, an area of the Netherlands renowned for its music and arts. Formed in 2013 when local hardcore punk band De Klootviolen parted ways with their vocalist and the rest of the band decided to continue but in a completely different direction. Armed with new instruments they continue to blaze their way through life celebrating their love for that life through alcohol and folk music. The Dutch scene is particularly strong at the moment with such great bands as Circle J and Bunch Of Bastards , who have both featured on these pages extensively as well as touring these shores, as well as the likes of LQR, Drunken Dolly and The Royal Spuds who we are hoping to catch up with at LQR’s ’10 Pinter’ festival next January.

McScallywag left to right: Tom Kootstra– Guitar, Vocals * Frodo Bosma– Accordion *  Ruud Platje– Drums, Vocals *  Arian Sikkens– Banjo, Mandolin, Vocals * Peter Janssen – Bass Guitar * Talitha Barelds– Cello, Vocals * Ashley Buitenwerf– Guitar, Vocals. Not in picture Sebastiaan Hidding– Violin

So what do we get here. As I say its nine original songs so that is already a plus in my eyes and the whole album comes in just shy of half an hour. the album starts with ‘Billy’s Curse’ and you not sure which way the album’s going with acoustic guitar and accordion swirling round while Arian’s voice sings out both tunefully and strong. The song doesn’t get much faster but does get louder and you can hear the cello here and it sounds great. Not yer typical celtic-punk instrument but all the better for that. Needless to say of course that Billy’s curse was in fact alcohol! ‘Days of Travel’ is up next and the band start to show what they can do here. Fast and furious acoustic celtic-punk party music. Stop and start fast music that owes much to hardcore punk in many ways.

The video gives you a great example of what McScallywag do. That they are acoustic, except for bass guitar, is incredible and reminds me of what was said about The Pogues that they were louder than any punk band! next up is ‘The Road’ and a real Poguesy feel to this. A slow ballad that speeds up near the end with gang vocals and is a real catchy foot-tapper. Some great positive lyrics here too that had me belting out the words in me living room.

So get up while you can, stand up and be a man.
Cuz there’s no such a thing as getting old,
you’ve got to live it up while you can.
So even when this world is at its darkest,
And your just clinging and holding on to that light.
You’ll find again and again that when your drinking with friends,
you’re gonna make it through the night,
shining bright”

Definitely one of the album highlights without a doubt. ‘Letter to Megan’ is about a subject that crops up quite often in celtic-punk. Hopefully as a warning to others? Screwing up your life and hurting the ones you love. The song starts off slow before bursting into life and ending in typical celtic-punk fashion and while the video below shows the song done to perfection it is annoying hearing people talking throughout BUT…

this is music for the live setting and McScallywag come into their own live from what I can see. That’s not to say that they haven’t managed to transfer that sound onto disc as they have done a brilliant job here and the production is perfect. ‘St. Paddy’s Anthem’ is up now and McScallywag’s tribute to that day where indeed

“It’s Saint Paddy’s anthem keep singing along,
as loud as you can, cuz tonight, everybody is an Irishman!”

Great vocals here and as loud a song as any on Dirty Water. Close your eyes and you can forget your not still listening to De Klootviolen and a band containing banjo, accordion, cello and mandolin.

“And the pubs around the corner there,
said: open all night.
There was Dropkick Murphys on the jukebox,
shouting, drinking what a sight.
They passed me down a bottle, and I bought a round of beer.
We raised our glass to the drinking class,
and we all sang and cheered”

This is hardcore punk-folk! Then  we have ‘Eye of the Storm’ and a dramatic shift in style with cello-player Talitha taking over vocal duties for a slow ballad about losing your love at sea. The mandolin accompanies her beautiful voice in a very under stated song where you can smell the salt air. ‘Ashes to Ashes’ is another stand out track for me. As I often say man cannot live on punk rock alone and he needs to slow down occasionally. It’s good for the soul. Vocals are shared again by Talitha and Arian and this is the moment on the album where you must raise your pint to the air. Every half decent celtic-punk album must have one and this is it. Love this song. We nearing the end of Dirty Water and ‘Whiskey I Love You’ is a singalong/clappalong folky number with gang vocals and a catchy chorus. Think Dropkicks ‘Boys On The Docks’ and you’ve got it. The album wraps up with ‘Johnny Went Away’ and it’s more of that stop and start hardcore folk that I love. The mandolin is in overdrive and the band all join in on vocals and bring the curtain down leaving me out of breath!

Having always been a fan of punk music it’s really refreshing to hear a folk band play as though they were a punk band. Its mostly very fast but incredibly tuneful and still folky despite the speed it’s played. They don’t sound like any of the scene’s favoured bands which is something I have said before about Dutch celtic-punk groups and that is something special. A great debut album and a band to watch out for. All the lyrics are on the bands web site (here) and are well worth a look while you listen to the album.

(have a free listen to Dirty Water below)

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(not quite a full length concert but great video with good sound)

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK IRISH TEXAS- ‘The Good, The Bad And The Indifferent’ (2017)

Black Irish Texas are not just another Irish punk band. They may be influenced by the giants of the scene but this seven piece brings plenty more to set them apart. With Guinness fueled lyricism Black Irish Texas navigate you between psychobilly and Texas two-step all in one show. With a new album to promote they are touring Europe later this year so I hope you’ll be lucky to catch them.

Now long, long ago before there was Facebook existed a thing called My Space. It was similar in many ways and took off in a way that nothing before it had ever done before. Music orientated it introduced us to bands across the globe who you would never knew even existed. Sadly it was bought by Rupert Murdoch and his massive media empire who from the go set about messing around with the format and ended up destroying it and so everyone left in dribs and drabs and migrated to Facebook which had stolen all the best bits of My Space and well the rest is history. I mention this because the first band I found on my first ever computer on my first visit onto My Space was Black Irish Texas. A bunch of songs that took in all my favourite genres of music and chewed them up and spat back out some of the best music I had ever heard. Psychobilly, punk, Irish, Americana, country all flow through their music and combined with the intelligent and thoughtful and often hilarious lyrics I knew this band was going to be a favourite of mine for a LONG time.

The band hail from the fastest growing city in the Unites States, Austin in Texas. It’s an area famed for it’s vibrant and exciting music scene that has spawned such luminaries as Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison in the 50’s and 60’s through to the hippie days and then punk bands like The Dicks and MDC in the 70’s. More recently it’s been mainly college rock and indie being churned out. In fact the official Austin slogan is ‘The Live Music Capital of the World’ and emerging out of that highly competitive music scene comes Black Irish Texas.

Formed in 2004 and with untold amount of line up changes and trials and tribulations. So many in fact that I have often thought the band were no more but again and again they kept cheering me up with their return. Their debut album To Hell With The King released in 2009 was just about the most perfect celtic-punk album I had heard at the time. Spaghetti western/Americana/punk infused Irish American music that still now feels completely fresh and original. A mixture of brilliant originals and some choice covers of The Pogues and a couple of trad songs, ‘Rocky Road To Dublin’ and an outstanding ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans showed they were a force to be reckoned with. With a welcome (hic!) sponsorship from Jameson Irish whiskey and growing local support Black Irish Texas began to play further afield and within a few years they had covered most of America gaining devout followers everywhere they ventured.

To Hell With The King was followed by the six track EP An Ode To Saint Cecilia in 2013 and again was received with tremendous reviews. St Cecilia is of course the patron saint of musicians so who better to have on your side in the world’s most competitive music city. Another album followed with Lifetime Problems and Short Term Solutions but as i haven’t heard that one (hint hint) I cannot tell you anything about it!

(here’s the title track from An Ode To St. Cecilia)

Now with a settled line up of some of Austin’s best musicians and with a European tour on the horizon which will take them across Europe as well as back to their ancestral home in Ireland (but alas won’t see them coming to play here in the belly of the beast) things have never looked rosier.

So the new album hits the floor running and shows Black Irish Texas have lost none of their flair for interesting and original Irish music. After all it is Irish music that underpins everything they do. Whatever they throw in that mix at the base of it all is the music of Ireland but distilled through a bunch of Irish-Americans with a list of influences as long as your arm. The Good, The Bad And The Indifferent (great title by the way) begins with ‘G.B.U. Theme’ and is the Black Irish Texas take on the unofficial anthem of their home state. A spaghetti western tune played nice and slow but with tin whistle. They up the tempo next with ‘Ain’t Gonna Last’ and vocalist/guitarist James has a natural voice for celtic-punk and veers nicely between singing and shouting.

(the official video for ‘Ain’t Gonna Last’)

Over in a flash of just 102 seconds it’s fast and furious with the band going at full pelt. Black Irish Texas have never shied away from playing the odd rebel song and it’s no different here with one of the best appearing. ‘Join The British Army’ is a old trad Irish folk song dating right back to Victorian times and concerns a young Irishman who regrets his decision to volunteer for the British army.

“Too-ra loo-ra loo-ra loo,
Me curse upon the Labour blue,
That took me darlin’ boy from me,
To join the British army.

Corporal Sheen’s a turn o’ the ’bout,
Just give him a couple o’ jars o’ stout,
He’ll bate the enemy with his mouth,
And save the British army.

Too-ra loo-ra loo-ra loo,
I’ve made me mind up what to do,
Now I’ll work me ticket home to you,
And fuck the British army”

Now regular readers will know that as much as I love it speedy I’m now getting on a bit and slowing down. Those 8-hour gardening sessions are a thing of the past without a few days recovery so I loved ‘Richcreek’. A slow and ponderous celtic/country instrumental led by the banjo with very nice backing from the rest of the band until the fiddle comes in late on. I love this song, right up my street. The Bhoys turn it on its head next with ‘Yates’. Another top notch song, great guitar and thundering double bass and dynamite banjo and fiddle. One of only a few bands in celtic-punk who use a double bass and boy (or should that be Bhoy) does it work well. The sound is incredible and when played well as it is here by Shannon McMillan then it can make a mediocre song brilliant. Not that Black Irish Texas have to worry about that. James comes in at the end with some vocals but by then the Irish tune has got hold and it is flying. ‘No One’s Having Any Fun’ starts slow with that western feel to it again but soon speeds up and sets Trump in their sights. Most of the anti-Trump protest’s we see are usually of very rich people whining about white privilege (sorry idiots it doesn’t exist) but these guys are actually working class and their protest is sincere and real and not designed to upset their parents or assuage their guilt at being rich. They cover the famous anti-war track ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ next and play it with a gusto that I haven’t heard with this song before. Eric Bogle’s legendary tune takes in folk and rockabilly and while it does seem strange to hear this song in a way you could mosh to it’s still very respectful and James reciting of the lyrics are very clear throughout. The album ends with the imaginatively titled ‘Don’t Too Ra Li To Me’ and they save the best for last with every influence they ever picked up layered on top of an Irish/country tune. The bands famous sense of humour has been missing up till now and they more than make up for it here. Imagine a Irish folk punk  hoe down with James spitting out line upon line that will make you smile and/or shout yourself hoarse!

(here’s a stripped down concert at The Hideaway, Johnson City, Tennessee Aug 2016 of the band playing some old faves and some new album tracks)

So there you are. Eight songs that come in just short of a half hour and every single one a bona fide winner! Black Irish Texas are dead right when they say we should NOT try and pigeonhole them as an Irish pub band. And while it may be (!) possible you will hear them singing ‘Danny Boy’ one day i can guarantee it will be the best fecking version you will ever hear of it. In these times of uncertainty the Irish-American community is safe with bands like this at it’s forefront. Some of the most original celtic-punk music I have heard this year and as 2017 is shaping up as the scene’s busiest ever year that is some compliment.

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ALBUM REVIEW: IN FOR A PENNY- ‘One More Last Hurrah’ (2017)

The new album from the hottest band in celtic-punk at the moment. All the way from Georgia, USA and recorded live in the back room at The Sand Bar on Tybee Island, GA in about seven hours including lunch break!

The last few months have seen the American band In For A Penny making waves right across the celtic-punk/Irish folk music scene and deservedly so. We have featured them a couple of times recently reviewing this year’s EP (here) and the lead single from One More Last Hurrah! (here). Plenty about them clicked with me and the plaudits have rolled in since with praise from the various celtic punk media and a support slot with The Rumjacks on their recent US tour.

(This year’s EP release ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’)

This is In For A Penny’s second album after 2016’s The Guardian Angel Sessions and all the releases have trod pretty much the same path since. A smattering of Irish standards butting up against self -penned songs. Needless to say I much prefer their own songs. Now there is nothing quite like a song like ‘The Foggy Dew’ to get the blood pumping and the ales flowing but it’s in their own songs that In For A Penny’s talents shine through. It’s been an age old problem for Irish/Celtic-punk bands since the first time someone pulled out a fiddle in a pub and got given a beer for it . Many bands are quite happy to keep singing the standards and let the bookings roll in keeping everyone happy but every musician must have the urge to get some of their own material out there and when it’s as good as In For A Penny’s then I’m afraid it is a necessity!

Sean McNally is the visionary behind In For A Penny. An Irish-American with both the words, the voice and the abilities to take this band far. Amazingly he only began playing the mandolin in 2014 but after only a few open mic performances Sean realised something. The response he was getting to stripped down cover’s of The Dubliners and The Dropkick Murphys on just mando and vocals was so great it seemed the only logical next step was to form a band. Roping in old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums and Jeremy Riddle on guitar and Sean’s son Bryce on bass In For A Penny have certainly taken their home state by storm and are now making waves everywhere.

Here on One Last Hurrah! its again the same pattern with nine tracks that include both bold covers as well as a couple of standards that they have stamped the In For A Penny brand onto. The album clocks in at an impressive thirty-two minutes. The album begins with ‘On The Dole’ and their great sense of humour shines through. Straight away Sean’s raspy Irish-American accent is what hits you square in the jaw. Fast paced and punky with mandolin that could have been perhaps turned up a wee bit louder. Blue collar Irish working class rock’n’roll from the very off. A tale of getting your cards as we call it here or made redundant and not letting it get you down. We all been there! ‘Tattletale’ follows and begins all folky before the drums kick in and we’re off. It’s rough and ready and feels like a live gig and no surprise as the Bhoys simply recorded themselves playing in the back room of a local bar. There’s no audience so not sure if you could call this a live gig or a practise but anyway the sound is easily passable and the passion and feeling is through the roof so don’t start whining about the sound quality ok! Here a tattletale is an informer whether at school or to the fuzz. Made me remember our wee gang’s mantra at school

“The kid that tells on another kid is a dead kid”

here it seems to just mean some bar-room loudmouth who won’t shut up. ‘Here We Go’ is an album highlight. Again it’s superb with a real catchy tune and like with all the best celtic bands it’s a song you can imagine yourself leaping round to like a right fecking eejit spilling your pint doing that strange can-can dance to that is so popular at celtic-punk gigs! Of course drink features heavily and so f**king what. I don’t hold with all that bollocks about drinking and stereotyping the Irish. It’s part of our culture and if you don’t get it then fair enough. I have plenty of relatives who never touched a drop and many more who touched too much but the pub made the Irish of my generation and listening to this I think Sean’s too. And anyway if you listen to the lyrics of 90% of these songs its clear that us drinkers are in the main losers and these are warnings to others to not become like us! ‘Derry’ is next and if you like what came before then this cover proves what I been saying about them has been right. Written as a poem by the legendary Irish revolutionary Bobby Sands while in prison it has since been covered by such illuminaries as Christy Moore, Neck and Damien Dempsey and others but i don’t think I ever heard it played better than this.

“In the rusty iron chains we sighed for our wains
As our good wives we left in sorrow.
As the mainsails unfurled our curses we hurled
On the English and thoughts of tomorrow”

As moving and passionate version of this song as you will ever hear I tells you and proof that these lads wear their hearts firmly on their sleeves.

(not the album version but still well worth a listen)

Bobby was a member of the IRA jailed for possession of a handgun and jailed in the infamous H-Blocks where he would die on hunger strike in 1981. A terrorist for some but for others worldwide and for ever more an iconic rebel and inspiration. While imprisoned he wrote many articles, poems, letters and songs. One of these was ‘Back Home in Derry’ telling of the forced deportation of Irish people to Australia by the British between 1791 and 1853, when the sentence of penal transportation was commuted to a prison sentence in Ireland.

“A beautiful ballad shouts a vivid and modern sentiment of sorrow for losing freedom and fierce rebellion at the same time: a rebellion not bent by imprisonment or raw conditions which will continue after the death of many” – Marco Principia

You may recognise the tune to ‘Jimmy’n’Jenny’ but all the best bands(and not so great) in Irish music have been recycling the melodies of each others songs for decades. Half the time listening to a Dubliners album you never knew what song it was till the vocals started! Time for some Irish standards next and blimey they couldn’t have picked any better if that was what you are after. It’s a 10 (yes ten!) minute mash up of the two most widely covered songs in celtic-punk  with ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and ‘Black Velvet Band’ but with a extra bonus bit tacked onto the end I won’t tell you much about except it again is fecking brilliant. Catchy as hell but they save the best for last with ‘Easter Mourn’. A simply superb song that deserves to lift In For A Penny to superstar status. Released as the lead single for the album just a few weeks ago it so impressed us here that we even did a feature on it. About the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 when a band of Irish volunteers fought the might of the Empire beginning the road that led to full on war with the British. A beautiful song that evokes the spirit of rebellion and the band never sound better.

One Last Hurrah! is an utterly fantastic album and the spirit of Ireland flows right through it. When people mock us foreign born Irish in the future I’m going to give them a copy of this album as proof of the passion and commitment the foreign born Irish have to our ‘home’. So good is it. The Bhoys have made the album available as a Pay What You Want download meaning that it is free for all and sundry but if you got a few quid don’t be a mean bastard and send them a couple of bucks/quid/Euro so they can continue their good work or even just to have a beer on you.

(you can have a listen to One Last Hurrah! by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below before downloading!)

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EP REVIEW: FOLLOW THE CROWS- ‘West is East’ (2017)

London based Celtic folk rock/Irish/bluegrass band with hard-driven vocals fused with guitar and mandolin mayhem, underpinned by riotous folk rhythms of rebellion, redemption and downright recklessness!

Formed in August, 2012 Follow The Crows are the latest in a growing line of bands playing in the London Irish-folk scene that have embraced some of celtic-punk’s harder edges. They have been playing regularly around London for a good while but so far apart from coming across them on Facebook we haven’t had the opportunity to check them out live in person as it were. Then this arrived on the doorstep, their new EP released last January and after just a couple of listens they have swiftly risen to the top of the list of bands I want to see.

Follow The Crows (left to right): James Cannon- Vocals, Guitar * Ben Sumner- Mandolin, Banjo, Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals * Dan Ferguson- Fiddle * Lawrence McNamara- Bass, Backing Vocals * Karl Hussey- Drums, Percussion

East Is West is Follow The Crows debut release and begins with the kind of song that our description at the top of this review fits exactly. ‘Lay It Down’ starts with the sounds of the ocean before slowing morphing into a song combining elements of trad Irish, bluegrass and Americana that makes this EP a real winner. Catchy as hell and a real foot tapper.

Extremely well played by very good musicians and while there are no thrashy guitars, or even drums, it’s given that bit of edge by singer, James raspy vocals.

“Freedom songs don’t say anything
When you’re out on you’re own
With those big wheels turning
Those bridges burning
West is east high is low”

They follow this with the soft rock edged ‘As The Night Comes Falling’. Threatening at any minute to go flat out, and part of me does wish they would, but they reign it in and keep it nicely subdued. Coming off here as part Tom Waits- part Mumford with a dash of rock’n’roll it’s another great number. Third track here is ‘Black For The Crows’ and if you’ve ever heard the Murder Ballads album by Nick Cave then that’s the territory we are in here. Great song and though underpinned by Irish/celtic music influences seep in from everywhere.

“They rose up their banners for glory on high
Sounded the bugle beneath the blue sky
‘Freedom will follow when the day is o’er”

The EP comes to an end with ‘Quiet Land Of Erin II’ and for me they save the best for last. Ever so reminiscent of The Waterboys here I think. With James sounding a real ringer for Mike Scott. The vocals are almost whispered while the Crows get plenty of guests in to give the song a real full band sound once it gets going. More proof that Follow The Crows are fantastic musicians and with the songs to match to bring the curtain down.

“Oh father now she said
The curlew and the cuckoo’s fled
Troubled is the heart that you’re hearin’
Oh father now she said
They buried you among the dead
On the quiet, quiet land of Erin”

At the moment East Is West is only available as a digital download for now and priced at a very reasonable £3. It’s a great introduction to the band and if they want to stray away from the London pub circuit then a follow up album of more like this is a necessity and will surely achieve it.

(listen to East Is West by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below)

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ALBUM REVIEW: JAMIE CLARKE’S PERFECT- ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ (2017)

New album from German based ex-member of The Pogues Jamie Clarke’s Perfect.

Pioneers and purveyors of Folkabilly Rock- rockabilly and punk mixed with a dash of Irish folk and a belly full of beer!

The name Jamie Clarke will be known to many of you due to his membership of a certain band in the 1990’s. Yes he was only a member of the bloody Pogues!!! Londoner Jamie grew up in London and happened to be in the right place at the right time being a teenager at the time of the original punk rock explosion in the capital sparking off a lifetime interest and involvement in music. Passing through many bands until he became Philip Chevron’s guitar technician while The Pogues were literally touring and conquering the world. In 1994 ill health forced Phil to leave the band and in the spirit of The Pogues they chose Jamie to replace him. Sadly this was also the time of Shane’s most wild excess and he soon left the band as well. Jamie played on the final Pogues album Pogue Mahone and wrote, what was always for me, the best song on the album ‘The Sun And The Moon’. On the break up of the band Jamie moved to Germany and formed Jamie Clarke’s Perfect, the band he’s been playing and recording with ever since.

Jamie Clarke’s Perfect left to right: Johnny Rebel- Bass * Pierre Lavendel- Banjo/ Mandolin * Jamie Clarke- Vocals/ Guitar * El Diablo- Drums. Accordion on the album- Andy Schnapps (not pictured)

With a slew of album releases behind them I have to make the confession that this is the first LP I have ever heard and I have been suitably impressed to want to check out the back catalogue as well. The last couple of years I have got bored with the seriousness of punk and started to listen to more and more rockabilly/psychobilly so I was more than pleasantly surprised to find Hell Hath No Fury laced with more than a little rockabilly alongside the folk, or as the band themselves call it- ‘folkabillie rock’.

The album begins with ‘Back From Hell’ and straight away one band popped into my head. With a very distinctive banjo and accordion sound it was early Blood Or Whiskey that leapt out the speakers at me. Even Jamie’s vocals reminded me of the original BOW vocalist Barney. Needless to say this ain’t a band that’s copying them as their sound is still incredibly original. Incredibly catchy opener and it don’t change throughout. This band got some real good tunes and considering how long they been going/how many releases they have that is some achievement. ‘Monster’ and the album’s first single ‘Change The World’ keep up the foot stamping and again excellent accordion/banjo stand out as well as Jamie himself.

The first sign of that Folkabilly Rock start to appear next in ‘On Your Feet’. I literally could not keep me feet still listening to this. Catchy (there’s that word again…) as hell with a great chorus and some great rock’n’roll banjo from ex-Frantic Flintstones guitarist Pierre. Several songs here also take in The Pogues and ‘Waking Down The Road’ is one of them while title track ‘Hell Hath No Fury’ nails their sound completely. One of the album highlights and a word here for Jamie and his vocals. As I already said he may sound like he has a sore throat and I do wonder how many fags a day he’s on! He sings with a real passion that while not overstating does in fact stand right out without you really noticing. In the old Irish traditional the voice as an instrument. His lyrics help of course as they tend to take up most of the length of the song. I Would have liked to have seen the lyrics as even though they are clear it is hard to keep up. ‘Eve Champagne’leads us up to the first cover and ‘La Bamba’ the old Mexican folk song made famous first by Ritchie Valens in 1958 and Los Lobos in the summer of 1987. Another solid number ‘Gun In My Hand’ leads us into a great Irish trad/rockabilly instrumental ‘Un Hoyo Es Un Hoyo’. We coming up to the end of the LP and the final three songs fly past in a flash of brilliance starting with the frantic ‘Rollercoaster’ while ‘Rockabilly’, not surprisingly, takes that rock’n’roll sound and plays it right up before Hell Hath No Fury ends with another album high point, ‘Protest Song’.

Thirteen great songs. Unlucky for some but not for us! The album clocks in at a very healthy forty minutes and shows enough individuality and originality to make sure it never drags or sounds jaded. Germany has a real love of alternative music and has produced many many great celtic-punk band psychobilly bands so it should come as no surprise that they have embraced a mixture of the two. After all it was only a few weeks ago we reviewed the new album from another German  band, Pitmen (here) who mix both genre’s to great acclaim. So with over twenty years behind them and thousand’s of gigs well done to them for putting out such a consistently great album that may veer off from celtic-punk in several directions but always keeps at it’s core the sound of celtic folk. Punk, rockabilly, psychobilly, celtic-punk and country all raise their heads here on an album I was completely taken aback from and I can’t understand why more isn’t known about this great band even within the celtic-punk scene.

Discography

Perfect Liar (1997) * Perfect Live (1998) * Sickly Men Of Thirty Or So (1999) * Live Too (2000) * Nobody’s Perfect (2002) * Live Free (20004) * Psychic TV- Single (2006) * You Drove Me To It (2007) * Fucking Folkabillie Rock (2010) * Beatboys (2011)

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REVIEW: THE MOORINGS- ‘Unbowed’ (2017)

The Moorings. As recommended by The Dubliners!

An ultra-energetic French quintet delivering a fantastic mix somewhere in the middle between celtic folk and alternative rock.

So I was always told my auld fella that you should judge a man by the company he keeps. He used to say this to try and get me to stop hanging about with some rather unsavoury characters in my home town. If you can apply the same to bands then The Moorings are a band that any parent would be happy to see you associating with. They are basically the first port of call for any of the celtic-punk scenes major bands when they arrive in France and  are looking for supports. They have played with just about every decent sized band going and as says above recommended by The Dubliners. They have toured with just about all the greats of Irish punk from The Pogues to the Murphys to The Dubliners. Their last EP even had guest vocals from Frankie of The Rumjacks.

The Moorings (from left to right) : Anne Darrieumerlou- Violin/Vocal * Renaudet Matthieu- Bass/Vocal * D. Phil Jelly- Lead Vocal/Guitar * Didier Strub- (Ex-Drummer) * Nicky Sickboy- Banjo / Guitar / Vocal

Formed in 2011 in the small town of Sélestat in the north-west of France on the border with Germany The Moorings assent has been spectacularly quick and without even having released an album. Their debut EP ‘Pints And Pins’ from July 2011 introduced them to the wider celtic-punk world and received praise from all and sundry. Five mostly self penned tracks including the brilliant ‘Working Class’ which gave up plenty but promised so much more as well.

This was followed up with a live album La Cigale Unplugged. Again mainly self penned its eight tracks that show how good The Moorings are as both a band and as individual musicians as well. The superb production helps and on hearing the album it’s easy to see why they chose to release it. Their third and final release was another EP. This time ‘Nicky’s Detox’ EP from December 2014 really showed what they could do. Five tracks all written by the band that again received glowing tributes from all the regular celtic-punk press including ourselves here. The song that really raised interest in the band, ‘Shandon Bells’ features Frankie McLaughlin of The Rumjacks on guest vocals and made it onto just every celtic-punk podcast in existance.

So Unbowed is the band’s first proper studio album but will it live up to all the hype? The answer is of course most certainly. Twelve tracks that last over forty minutes and show The Moorings haven’t rested on their laurels and continue to make utterly brilliant music. The album kicks off with the hilarious ‘Another Drinking Wound’ and anyone whose ever had a, what we Irish call, a “very good night” can attest to waking up the next morning with unspecified bruising and a lack of memory of how you got them.

“Where does the pain in my butt come from?”

The song starts with some great rock’n’roll guitar and a brilliant catchy start. D.Phil.Jelly sounds just like our Shane even including his cockney sneer! It’s fast and not particularly folky but ‘Captain Watson’s Gang’ introduces the first of that quieter numbers. Be moaning the turn of the world to the worship of money. I say quiet but not really. Great drumming here that keeps the song flowing along. They enter a world unbeknown to me next with ‘Amsterdam’. Originally recorded by the Belgian singer, songwriter, actor and director Jacques Brel. The song is in French and has that ‘Parisian’ feel to it due to the style of accordion playing. A lovely song and picked wisely as it would please both their audience at home and abroad who are jaded at hearing the same old covers over and over again. Delivered with The Moorings stamp it’s a great song and builds to a crescendo before the banjo slows it all down and takes us into a instrumental, ‘The Dancy Cargo Hold’s Dance/ Mermaid’s Jig’. As was showed with that live album the y can certainly turn their hand to a traditional folk song and I’m sure live this is a guarantee to get the audience on their feet. Both part’s are fiddle led with subdued quiet backing except for military style drumming. Great stuff! The Moorings like the name suggests like a sea bound song and here’s the first one, The Mariner I Used To Be’ begins with tin whistle and it’s a slow’ish’ ballad telling of a sailor whose had enough of the hardships of the sea and decides to settle down with his new love. Another song in French follows with ‘Les Bras Piqués’. Can’t tell you what it’s about but it’s a fair corker of a song moving at a fair old pace once it gets going. ‘Drink Up Fast’ was the first release from Unbowed and came accompanied by the brilliant video below.

It’s no wonder that celtic-punk gigs are so beloved and greedily anticipated by landlords with this amount of drinking going on! Shouty vocals and fiddle led folk-punk that’s a real thigh slapper.

“The road to destiny is just as empty
As the days passing by sloggin’ in a fact’ry
Turning around mostly going nowhere
Leaving the dreams for someone else to have
So as boredom sets in and wears me out
I cannot help but stand my ground
By filling up my glass to the very top
And drawn the little bastard in one single shot”
Most of the words here are written by banjo/guitarist Nicky Sickboy and they are clever, thoughtful and often hilarious and often within the same song so it’s good that the CD comes with lyrics included though the singing is very clear and easy to understand. ‘Brandy Bell’ is the highlight of the album for me. Not quite sure what the song is about. Honest. Sung half in English , half in French it’s a real catchy banjo number with the fiddle in the background exactly right. We are slowed right down again for ‘Posy Of Lily’ which is basically just D.Phil and acoustic guitar with fiddle. A lovely interlude between the punkier stuff and the words of a man desperate to make things right with his true love only add to the beauty of the song. Luca from the ever amazing Italian celtic-punk band Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards takes up whistle duties next in ‘Mutins’ and it’s another French song and I have to say it never bothers me that bands play in their native language I think more should do it. What an amazing musician this man is and even greater to see two band helping each out this way. The chugging guitar is back and accompanied by lovely fiddle too and of course Luca’s top whistling! The pace is back up for ‘Ice Cold Jar Of Whiskey’
“Some people need to fight to let their anger out
Some might need to bribe to find an easy way out
Some people might get thrilled with anything crazy
When all it really takes is a ice cold jar of whiskey”

and then we are finally at the end and Unbowed comes to end with the album’s longest track ‘Invictus’, starring Marikala on guest vocals. A great song with positive life affirming lyrics that begins with tin whistle this time supplied by Lolc from fellow French celtic-punkers Celkilt. Mainly accordion led but as has been the way throughout D.Phil’s voice stands out in particular. Another album highlight here and a simply fantastic way to bring down the curtain on Unbowed. If this album has one lighter/ pint in the air moment then this it is.

Singer/guitarist D.Phil Jelly has done a great job on this album overseeing just about everything here and the sound is crisp and never once over produced. The biggest danger in celtic-punk is that the folk instruments are completely submerged or else turned up so high to compensate that all you can hear is the tin whistle. No danger of that here as the balance is perfect between the punk and the folk. the songs are never straight forward celtic-punk and there is plenty influence of their home countries indigenous music also. The Moorings have always been one of the more interesting bands in celtic-punk with their appeal overlapping several genre’s I am sure. This is a great album and one that will further cement there place as one of the best, and more innovative, bands in the scene.

(you can have a free listen to Unbowed by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. Before you buy it of course!)

Buy The EP

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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)
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2017 LONDON MEMORIAL TO THE GREAT HUNGER

On Sunday 14th May 2017, it will be 170 years since the beginning of An Gorta Mor (The Great Hunger) in Ireland. This year there will be a memorial event outside TUC Congress House. This location has been chosen because the Parish of St. Giles was the first recorded ‘Little Ireland’ in London. Many Irish people who lived in this parish endured overcrowding, poverty and squalor and many died of typhus. For this reason, a number of us will be campaigning for a memorial statue to ‘An Gorta Mor’ in this part of London. Unlike Liverpool, no other such statue exists in the capital city. We like to seen the statue dedicated to all the Irish and other migrant workers who made Britain, the most industrialised nation in the world through their concentration of cheap labour!

LONDON REMEMBERS THE GREAT HUNGER

SUNDAY 14th MAY- 1pm SHARP

OUTSIDE TUC, CONGRESS HOUSE, GREAT RUSSELL STREET, LONDON WC1B 3LS

(nearest tube- Tottenham Court Road) 

The event will last for about 40 minutes. Invited speakers are as follows: Austin Harney will speak on the callous administration of Lord Trevelyan who was Head of the Treasury in 1847. This administration under its prime minister, Lord John Russell, denied the vital imports of grain supplies to Ireland, thus causing many Irish people to die of starvation. Niall Mulholland will speak on how An Gorta Mor devastated the people of the North of Ireland and Mick Gilgunn will speak on how the poverty stricken Irish immigrants in London built the British Trade Union movement and the prosperity of the capital of Britain since the days of An Gorta Mor! After the speakers, we will have a minute’s silence for all the Irish people who died and forced to flee from Ireland as a result of this “Great Hunger”.

THE GREAT FAMINE LIE

When I was a kid I grew up taught that the Irish famine was a natural catastrophe caused by crop failure. That I was taught this at a school in England where I’d guess well over 50 % of the children had Irish parents or Grandparents is quite simply wrong. The books I was given in History class of course didn’t tally with the accounts I was hearing at home and as has been the way with the Irish abroad it was that passed on history that won the day. While it is true that the main crop for the Irish and especially the working class Irish was the potatoes the truth as ever is far more startling.

Failure of the potato crop began in 1845 and this impacted on the Irish population as other crops had to be purchased at a very high price or forfeited to their landlords. Hence, the starvation took effect in 1846. During the following year, it was the beginning of more than a million deaths as Britain refused to supply grain to the starving Irish population. In addition, many workers on the roads contracted typhus and it led to the ‘Road Fever’, that spread as far as Belfast, killing many workers. It is estimated that of the British Empires 130 army regiments a staggering 67 were in Ireland during the time of The Great Hunger. Over 100,000 soldiers at any one time. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these soldiers were there on a charitable mission to help the poor beleagued Irish. they were there with only one purpose. Their job was to subdue any Irish resistance and to remove food by force. AT any one point forty shiploads of food, rising to double that some days, were removed from the island of Ireland at gunpoint. Ireland starved as its food was confiscated. The British police and soldiers seized tens of millions head of livestock, tens of millions of tons flour, grain and poultry and protected these shipments from the starving and dying Irish. All the while those in charge knew full well that these huge quantities were more than enough to feed those dying of starvation. When the quantity of exports leaving Ireland could no longer be concealed, George Bernard Shaw wrote in Man and Superman 1897:

“The Famine? No, the Starvation. When a country is full of food and exporting it, there can be no famine.”‘

In the best book ever written on the subject, The Great Hunger, British Historian Cecil-Woodham Smith exposed the removal of food to Britain and became a pariah in academia for the next 30 years. Historians and their books maintain the lie that only potato’s were cultivated and anyone bringing the genocide out in the open is smeared as a “republican sympathiser”.

While it is no surprise of an Irish politician it is still to her eternal shame that former Irish President Mary Robinson referred to the genocide as

“Ireland’s largest natural disaster”.

In 2005 while Prime Minister Tony Blair said,

“Britain stood by while the Irish starved to death”

but again did not acknowledge role of the British Army in forced food confiscations.

The official figures posit a two million drop from 1841-51 due to famine and emigration but it is believed the 1841 census wildly underestimated the real population of over Ireland meaning the figures for both the dead and emigration would be much much higher. The genocide was a deliberate attempt to exterminate the Irish people and their cultural and national identity. Queen Victoria’s economist, Nassau Senior, voiced his fear that existing policies

“will not kill more than one million Irish in 1848 and that will scarcely be enough to do much good”.

During the “famine” years, Irish foodstuff received high prices on the agricultural and commodity markets of the world. The British Empire covered half the globe; why else would it keep half its armies in Ireland at great expense? The Irish were an obstacle to Britain’s world power. They were Celtic, Catholic with their own rich culture and traditions, namely strong: National identity, Family, Culture and faith. The Irish have a strong Celtic consciousness giving the people the ability to think critically, morally and be self-sufficient. It’s in our DNA no one can ever extinguish it.

Further Recommended Reading:

Let Ireland Remember  Irish National Famine Memorial Day

but the most extensive resource on Facebook about this period is to be found at

Irish Holocaust –Not Famine: The Push To Educate In Facts

IN FOR A PENNY RELEASE NEW SONG ‘EASTER MOURN’ AND VIDEO

A new song and video from Irish-American celtic-punk band In For A Penny from Tybee Island, Georgia in the southeastern United States. We don’t often feature videos. In fact I can only remember us doing it a handful of times but as soon as I heard ‘Easter Mourn’ I knew it was worthy and on what better day than the Bobby Sands anniversary. It’s a taster from their upcoming album ‘One More Last Hurrah!’ to be released soon.

 EASTER MOURN

05-05-2017

“Easter mourn in the early light of Spring April 1916
Did a proclamation ring o’er Dublin town
From the GPO came the charge to go
Right proudly flew the flag of war o’er Dublin town
There’ll be no resurrection on this Easter mourn
The poets and the teachers, soldiers and the speaker
Pledged their lives to free her,
Oh Dublin town in the rubble fought the rabble,
Bravely to the battle while the long range guns did pound and rattle,
O’er Dublin town
Locked up by the foreigner in Kilmainham gaol”
Singer/ bouzouki player and songwriter Sean McNally was kind enough to write a few words about the track so without further ado over to him.
“The song was inspired by a story I read about Canon O’Neill who wrote the modern lyrics to Foggy Dew. Came up with my own arrangement for the upcoming release and read about how he wrote it after he attended the first sitting of the new Irish Parliament, known as the Dail. The names of the elected members were called out, but many were absent. Their names were answered by the reply “faoi ghlas ag na Gaill” which means “locked up by the foreigner”. the line just hit me and it call came from there… it’s an homage to Foggy Dew basically”

Contact In For A Penny

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In For A Penny left to right: Jeremy Riddle- Guitar * Special Guest Appearance Ricardo Ochoa- violin * Sean McNally- Vocals and Bouzouki * Henny ‘Da Butcha’- Drums * Bryce McNally- Bass

you can support this great band by getting their latest EP ‘Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day’ for only $5 from here on CD or here on download. Read our review here.

Bobby Sands died in prison following a 66 day hunger strike on this day back in 1981. Bobby Sands would be the first of ten men to die in an effort to gain political status in a very public battle with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Born in 1954, Bobby Sands grew up in Belfast under the cloud of nationalist and loyalist divisions. He joined the Republican Movement when he was 18 and was soon arrested and imprisoned for possessing a firearm. A second arrest in 1976 led to a 14-year-sentence. In prison, Sands embarked on a 66 day hunger strike that led to his death. During the strike he was elected a Member of Parliament.

A hero among Irish nationalists, Robert Gerard ‘Bobby’ Sands was born in Belfast, 9 March 1954. Bobby was the oldest of four children born to John and Rosaleen Sands, and the couple’s first son. At an early age, Sands’s life was affected by the sharp divisions that shaped Northern Ireland. At the age of 10, he was forced to move with his family out of their neighborhood due to repeated intimidation by loyalists.

“I was only a working-class boy from a Nationalist ghetto, but it is repression that creates the revolutionary spirit of freedom.”

Loyalist intimidation proved to be a theme in Sands’s life. At the age of 18, he was forced out of his job as an apprentice car builder by a group of British supporters. Not long after, he and his family had to move again. Thatcher’s view of the prisoners and the IRA was that they were murderous thugs. Nationalist Ireland’s view the complete opposite.

The IRA played a very astute international campaign during the hunger strikes gaining widespread support and attention for their cause. The deaths of Sands and his colleagues boosted IRA recruitment. The support for the strike was evidenced by Sands winning the vacant House of Commons seat for MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone in a by-election necessitated by the death of sitting MP Frank Maguire. In a hugely emotional campaign, Sands defeated Unionist candidate Harry West.

The demands of the prisoners included:

1. The right not to wear a prison uniform;

2. The right not to do prison work;

3. The right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits;

4. The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week;

5. Full restoration of remission lost through the protest.

Britain never formally acceded to the strikers’ demands but three days after the hunger strikes finally came to an end on 3 October, Ulster Secretary James Prior announced a number of concessions including the right to wear civilian clothes and the restoration of partial remission for those who obeyed prison rules for three months.

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

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Bandcamp  Soundcloud  Instagram

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.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Steady As She Goes. Songs And Chanties From The Days of Commercial Sail’ (1976)

FREE DOWNLOAD
As performed by Louis Killen, Jeff Warner, Gerret Warner and John Benson
We’ve done it again for you. Here’s another in our Classic Album Reviews- Celtic-Punk Steppin’ Stones series of olde-timey records that deserve another spin in our modern age. Now celtic-punk has several distinct theme’s that every band sing about and one of those is the sea and  Steady as She Goes is an album dedicated to the workers on the sea. That work was undoubtedly hard and very often tyrannical under many a vicious Captain’s rule. The workers said
“a song is as good as ten men”
The songs were used in the manner of field work song’s in the fields and these shanties tell the tales of loneliness, the families these men left behind and the daily hardships of an unkind sea and nautical life. There is some hope though but also about raising anchor with raising anchor with the certain knowledge that you’re heading home. Now read on and download and then sit back and smell the salt air!
In keeping with the ethos of the series here are some raw and evocative recordings of sea shanties whose roots are as obscure as the men who originally sung them. All we can say it that we are lucky that people wrote them down and recorded them otherwise they may have been lost forever. Most of the songs here are recorded a capella without backing but a few feature Louis Killen and his concertina.
There is some harmony and what we know would call gang vocals, but there is no classically-arranged stuff. Some of the songs here I first heard at Primary school when the teachers bored of trying to get the boys to sing hymns would let us sing songs that didn’t require so much of a decent singing voice as a big pair of lungs! These were of course the sanitised versions and I certainly don’t remember singing of whores and wenches much…

1- Paddy Lay Back, (Benson)
2 – Bold Riley, (Jeff Warner)
3 – Rolling Down To Old Maui, (Jeff Warner)
4 – Jolly Roving Tar, (Garret Warner)
5 – Topman And The Afterguard, (Killen)
6 – Off To Sea Once More, (Killen)
7 – Strike The Bell, (Jeff Warner)
8 – Ship In Distress, (Killen)
9 – Blow The Man Down, (Benson)
10 – The Coast Of Peru, (Garret Warner)
11 – All For Me Grog, (ALL)
12 – Shallow Brown, (Garret Warner)
13 – Bring ‘Em Down, (Killen)
14 – Away Rio, (Jeff Warner)

ALBUM SLEEVE NOTES

PADDY LAY BACK: A capstan shanty (used for hauling up the anchor) describing the feelings of a sailor towards his shipmates when landing on a new ship. There are, as well, some terse words concerning the Captain, the Mate, and the agent who got him the job.

BOLD RILEY: A halyard (literally haul on the yardarm) shanty. According to A.L. Lloyd, it got its start in ships carrying sugar and rum from the West Indies to Bristol and Liverpool. “White stocking day” refers to the days when wives would put on their most attractive attire to make their trips to the shipping office for their allotment pay.

ROLLING DOWN TO OLD MAUI: Stan Hugill of Liverpool says that as early as 1820 Maui, one of the Hawaiian Islands (then the Sandwich Islands), was considered “home” by the Yankee sailors who hunted the northern grounds of the Behring Straits for right and bowhead whales. This is an off-watch song, as distinct from a working song, of whalermen longing for the women and weather of better latitudes.

JOLLY ROVING TAR: Frank and Anne Warner collected this song from Mrs. Lena Bourne Fish of East Jaffrey, N.H. in 1941. The vitality of the melody doesn’t hide the feelings of Jack Tar towards the shoreman who loved the sailor when he had money and despised him when he didn’t.

TOPMAN AND THE AFTERGUARD: Conditions in the navies of the world were always bad in the days of sail. Here is the story of the British Royal Navy as told by the afterguard or Marine who worked in the topmast and by the topman or sailor who worked in the ship.

OFF TO SEA ONCE MORE: The most realistic of all songs about the conditions of seafarers under sail. This is what life was like both ashore and at sea.

STRIKE THE BELL: Four hours on watch and four hours off, day and night, was a hard life aboard ship. Eight bells marked the end of the watch, as well as the time, and answered the plea of the sailor for a few moments rest in his bunk, even if the call would soon be “all hands on deck” to weather the storm. The “glass” referred to in the chorus is the barometer.

SHIP IN DISTRESS: One of a number of traditional songs dealing with the terror of a sailor adrift in an unsellable vessel.

BLOW THE MAN DOWN: A halyard shanty with a story line favored by all sailors who had to spend much time away from the ladies.

THE COAST OF PERU: A nearly step-by-step account of the hunting and killing of a whale. The song was collected by Gale Huntington of Martha’s Vineyard, and is thought to date back to the last quarter of the 18th century.

ALL FOR ME GROG: Another off-watch song describing both of the major pleasures of Jack Tar ashore.

SHALLOW BROWN: Another halyard shanty from the West Indies, this one collected by English folklorist Cecil Sharp in the early part of the twentieth century. Some versions of this song indicate that Shallow Brown might have been a slave who was sold to a Yankee shipowner. Free man or slave, he is jumping ship “… to cross them Chili mountains” and seek a better life.

BRING ‘EM DOWN: One of the shanties used for “bracing” the ship when short, sharp pulls of the line were needed. Bracing turned the yards when the ship was being tacked or changing course.

AWAY RIO: A capstan shanty used to ease the work of “heaving a pawl” and raising the anchor. A favorite song of the day, it would have been known by old hands and green recruits alike, and was most often used as the first song of a voyage when outward bound from home port.

The work songs of the sailing ships were “chanteys” or shanties”-both spellings are used, but the pronunciation is always with the soft “sh”. That’s why some experts believe the origin is French from “chanter”, but no one knows for certain.

FOR YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD PRESS

HERE

 THE PLAYERS

Louis

Louis Killen. (1934 – 9 August 2013) Lou was a Geordie, born and bred in Gateshead, Tyneside and raised in a Irish-Catholic home where singing was a part of everyday life. From Irish ballads to native songs of the area about working class life in the coalfields and stockyards. An accomplished folk singer and concertina player he formed one of Britain’s first folk clubs in 1958 in Newcastle at a time when folk clubs were numbered in the tens. Emigrating to the USA in 1967 he worked with folk legend Pete Seeger before joining The Clancy Brothers. They recorded four albums before he left in the mid 1970’s. He resumed his solo career and a major English tour in 1991 drew large audiences which confirmed that his fine singing had not been forgotten. In 2003 he finally returned to England and passed away still performing to the end ten years later. Towards the end of his life Louis decided to fulfill an almost lifelong desire and came out as a woman called Louisa Jo.

Gerret and Jeff

Gerret and Jeff Warner. Brothers who grew up listening to the songs and stories of his father Frank and the traditional singers his parents met during their folk song collecting trips through rural America and they often accompanied their parents on their field trips throughout rural working class America. Jeff has performed widely, from large festivals in the UK, to clubs, festivals and schools across America while Gerret began a career as an award winning filmmaker before joining his brother on stage to perform.

Fud

John ‘Fud’ Benson. Born in Newport on Rhode Island he grew up sailing the waters of Narragansett Bay. Again from a musical family his interest in sail and song found expression in the traditional music of the sea and this is one of the rare recordings he made. Also very well known as a stone carver and mason who has carve the inscriptions for such iconic monuments such as the John F. Kennedy memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. In 2007, he received a National Heritage Fellowship the nation’s highest award for excellence in the traditional arts. He is still hard at work in his studio in his home town of Newport.

THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS ‘STEPPING STONES’ CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW SERIES

This album was brought to you as part of our regular series where we bring you something a little bit different to what you’re maybe use to. Lost or hidden and sometimes forgotten gems from the legends and also unknowns that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern age celtic-punk music. The albums are usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

You can find our Steppin’ Stones page here with the full list of albums to choose from.

ALBUM REVIEW: CELKILT- ‘Stand’ (2017)

” …Then the Great Alchemist gathered Water, Air, Earth and Fire around the Muse.
He gave them the High Voltage Energy of Rock and the cheerful power of the Irish Jigs, gave them fiddle, drums, guitar, bass, whistles and bagpipes, and then told them:
” You shall be embodied, you shall live, you shall play and you shall discover the great power of the Kilt.”
And it was so, and so was CelKilt born, serving a bouncy, joyful and energetic music.
The Alchemist contemplated the Greatness of his Work and thought “This kicks ass “, then he went to the pub for a good old pint of Guinness”

Celkilt are a bloody brilliant five piece celtic-punk band from Roanne, near to Lyon, which is almost splat bang in the middle of France and have been together for it would seem about seven years. I say it would seem as all their web site is in French so if you speak French then good for you. I have come across them before but to be honest hadn’t given them much of a chance. Various YouTube videos and the odd song but until their On The Table album that was it and even then it had to be squeezed in as part of our end of year review round up’s. Silly really as on listening to Stand I have really been missing out on something good.

Stand is Celkilt’s sixth release and their third studio album but they began their recording history with a self-titled mini-album back in 2011 and have had pretty much a record release per year ever since. They followed Celkilt with another mini-album called Hey What’s Under your Kilt? in 2012, then their debut full lengther, Everyday’s St Patrick’s Day in 2013 and it’s follow up, On The Table in 2014. A year off in 2015 and their last release was the ten track Kiltmas Songs of spoofed up celtic-punk versions of Christmas carols and Christmas themed originals. In common with all their releases it was served up in only twenty five minutes. Fast, frantic and furious Celkilt are the ultimate good time band but, and I am glad to say, here they have taken a slightly more relaxed approach and have put out a record that, amazingly for them, even has two songs that last over five minutes!

Celkilt left to right: Ana- Fiddle * Titou- Guitar/Vocals * Loic- Bagpipes/Whistles * Rems- Drums * Drik- Bass

Stand begins with ‘Sometimes I Care’ and is as good an album kick-off as I have heard in years. The sound of pipes blasts straight out the speakers at you. First impression is of the legendary AC/DC track ‘Thunderstruck’ but is followed up with a great tune with an absolutely wonderful arrangement. Superb! This is a loud album and designed to be played LOUD so kick up the sound and get right into it. ‘Kilt Up!’ follows with more great piping and some fast paced melodic punk packed with celtic fiddle and pipes.

One thing we reviewers don’t like to be short of in any review is good videos and Celkilt have tonnes of them. Be sure to subscribe to their You Tube channel and put a hour or two away to one side to check them out you won’t be disappointed. ‘I Don’t Have a Brain’ is another celtic-pop punk blast with Titou’s voice leading us through. He may be French but sounds almost perfect American and is completely clear. You can make out everything he is singing despite the punky background to it. As we said before Celkilt are not a band for hanging about. Usually they like to get through things super fast but it’s good they have decided to take their time even if it didn’t mean slowing down. ‘Fall in Place’ may be five minutes plus but  certainly never drags and brings in plenty of Celkilt’s famous Breton influences. Here they also sound like one of my all-time favourite bands Seven Nations and believe me that is only a compliment.

So just as you are all relaxed and settling in they then bring out ‘Lost and Found’ and they step completely away from what we are expecting. A slow rock ballad number with a small fiddle part until the end when it begins to sound more like the Celkilt we know. Fear not though as we are back in classic celtic territory next with the amazing instrumental ‘Gavotte Party / Whipping Reel / Motherjigger’. Three tunes combined that show simply what top musicians they are. While I was expecting them to keep it trad’ they couldn’t help themselves and its more of the fast, frantic and furious style that they are famous for. Completely respectful of the tune but updated for the modern era. If anyone ever thought folk music was boring then play them this bugger and they will soon change their minds! A real change of pace next with the acapello sea shanty ‘All the Way’. All the band share vocals and the gang chorus makes this a good choice of song despite its brevity. My album highlight is up next and ‘I Gotta Run’ has it all. Fast, tuneful, celtic-punk that is so catchy you’ll be humming it for days I warns you. My only complaint is it’s too bloody short!!

The album’s second and last instrumental is up next and ‘Hornjig’ is done trad style this time. Nothing added, just the music of our forefathers. The song leads into ‘Superpower’ and has a much more traditional Irish punk sound to my ears. We back in Cali next and some more of their trademark celtic-pop-punk sound with ‘Better’. Catchy as hell and a real foot stomper. It may not sound exactly like a celtic version Of Green Day or NOFX but Celkilt have this sound absolutely nailed. We are coming up to the final bend and ‘The Last Day of My Life’ returns the LP to a more traditional folky sound. Stepping away from their usual style it still doesn’t sound out of place at all. Another great song.

The album ends with the outstanding ‘Stand’. Plenty of gang vocal “Woo Hooo Hooo’s” bring to mind the best tracks of the new Murphys album but once again Celkilt know exactly when to step it up and take their songs to another level. The fantastic production here manages to capture perfectly the various musicians at their best and though it is certainly well polished it is never overdone at all.

So there you go and I have to say on listening to Stand I’ve had to promote Celkilt up to the Premier League of top celtic-punk bands. As one of only a handful of European bands to tour the United States they surely deserve that place at the top table and this stunning album easily gives the likes of the Murphys, Mollys, Flatfoot, Tossers, Mahones, MacKenzies a run for their money. This album has it all. Both the folk and the punk sides of Celkilts music are good enough to keep either sides purists happy and the combination of the two will I am sure be converting many of them to celtic-punk. An absolute stunner of an album that I cannot recommend enough. Don’t be a fool like me and let this band pass you by for a moment longer.

Buy Stand

FromTheBand (available on CD, Download and Double Album)  iTunes  Amazon  GooglePlay

Contact Celkilt

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  Google+

  • you can check out Celtic Folk Punk And More’s review of Stand here which also links you to reviews of all Celkilt’s previous releases.

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

ALBUM REVIEW: JOLLY JACKERS- ‘Blood Sweat and Beer’ (2017)

Let’s drink whiskey!

The new album from the fantastic six piece Hungarian band Jolly Jackers playing Irish-Celtic folk punk rock.

Things are said to go in cycles and the evidence is clear. They do. If 2015 was the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band then 2017 is going to be as well. This year we have already had Hungarian Celtic-Punk Week with reviews from Firkin, The Crazy Rogues and The O’Neills. Three great records all released within a few days of each other. Well I can safely tell you that Jolly Jackers have kept up this incredible high standard with the release of their second long player Blood, Sweat And Beer. Not only that but while I was writing this review the new album, Hardfolk Shanties, by yet another Hungarian celtic-punk band, The Scarlet, popped through the letter box so expect a review of that any day soon.

Jolly Jackers: Guitar/Vocal- István ‘Sztivi’ Faragó * Flute- Andrea Boncz Bass- Enikő Papp * Drums, Percussion- Viktor Szepesi * Lead Guitar- Márk Fenyves Violin (on Blood Sweat And Beer)- Krisztina Ujházy

Jolly Jackers are a six piece band with three lasses and three lads that hail from Dunaújváros a working class city in central Hungary famed for its steelworks, which is the largest in the country. They were only formed on New Years Day 2013 and have risen in popularity and critical acclaim every year and show no sign of letting up. Their debut release was the five track EP Call The Captain which came out just in time for St Patrick’s Day 2014 and is available for free download at the link below.

They followed this up with their debut album Sobriety in January 2015 which again was mostly penned by the band themselves. Sobriety made the Top Twenty of the London Celtic Punks album of the year (here) back in 2015 with its fast paced original brand of celtic-punk going down a storm here at LCP Towers. Again Jolly Jackers have made it available for free download so again follow the link below to get your free copy.

So where does that leave us now in April 2017. Well the Bhoys and Ghirls have been hard at work to deliver another utterly brilliant album to their adoring fans. Blood, Sweat And Beer (and what a fantastic album title!) begins with ‘Back at Home’ and the sort of celtic intro that pops up to start many celtic-punk albums but it’s done with real style here. A nice pirate song that leads nicely into the title song ‘Blood Sweat And Beer’ and it does not disappoint. Sztivi’s vocals are all sung in English and even though his accent is quite pronounced it’s still very easy to understand. A really great drinkin’n’fightin’ song with great fiddle and flute pushing it along.

‘Devil’ is up next and begins with rather nifty guitar making you think you heading off in a completely different musical direction before the band pull it back into celtic-punk territory.

“Just please don’t let the devil dance on my grave!”

As seems quite in vogue among the European celtic-punk scene they throw in a whole load of ska into ‘Drive’ and again something tells me Jolly Jackers will be heading into that Top Twenty again come the end of the year. Catchy as hell and completely original. No two songs here have sound anything alike!

The first single release from Blood, Sweat And Beer was the standout track from the entire album, ‘Hymn for the Gang’, which was accompanied by an outstanding video that perfectly captures I am sure the live experience and the energy of a Jolly Jackers live show.

“One, two, three, four, five…
SIX days passed with troubles of life oh…
One, two, three, four, five…
Six rats helping us to survive oh…
This life is better together
This gang is here forever
It’s time to clink full glass”
It’s a loving tribute to being in a band and the camaraderie you get through the trials and tribulations that happen on the road. Led throughout by tin whistle and fiddle combined with the thrashy guitars, bass and drums keeping the song on track to glory. Nearing the end of the album and its all flying past at a frantic pace with ‘John Not the Silver’ is no different. A back track of punk rock but with an unmistakable Irish tune flowing throughout it. ‘Let It Rain’ finally slows it down for the album’s longest song. As I have said countless times before even the most hardcore punk bands in the celtic-punk scene benefit from a slow song to wave your arms (and pints) in the air.

Except though Jolly Jackers take no notice of me though, fortunately, and speed it right up again! The album ends with ‘Epilogue’ and I finally at the end get that slow song I have been whining on about.
Well what can I say except its another blinder and I can report also that they haven’t slowed down any either! Twenty-six minutes was the length of Sobriety and twenty-six minutes is the length here as well. The album flows ceaselessly and leaves you only wanting more. At home in both seedy punk venues as well as massive arena’s Jolly Jackers are living proof that it’s songs that get you places as well as good old fashioned things like touring and record releases. You can play as often as you like but if you don’t master your songs then you’ll go nowhere in the long run. They are yet another in a long line, and growing rapidly, of excellent releases from Hungary. Absolutely superb and recommended to anyone who likes their celtic-punk both folky AND punky.

Get Blood, Sweat And Beer

Here or iTunes for only £3.99!!!

Contact Jolly Jackers

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and if you are on Facebook then I am afraid I have to insist you trot along right now to the ‘Celtic Punk/Irish Folk Hungary’ group page here where a warm welcome and Hungarian celtic-punk galore awaits you!

(a full concert from Jolly Jackers recorded at the Triskell Festival in Italy last summer, Not perfect sound quality but who expects that all the time?)

ALBUM REVIEW: PITMEN- ‘Back To The Pit’ (2017)

 As we strive to introduce you to new music you must check out the German psychobilly band Pitmen. A real melting pot of influences. In amongst the classic psychobilly fare, you can also hear Irish folk with banjo and fiddle giving things a nice céilíbilly twist and all blended together in original Pitmen style!

When I was a young one the music that reverberated through my house growing up were the sound of Irish folk and American rockabilly. My Mammy was a bit of a one in her younger days and from photo’s I’ve seen had the most incredible beehive haircut and saw every decent band of her generation from The Kinks to the Rolling Stones to The Beatles and even Johnny Cash. So no surprise then that both me and the brother grew up with a love of both Irish folk and rock’n’roll and while he became a Goth and I found myself living off chips, lager and punk and living in a squat we never lost that love. So when this album from German band Pitmen landed on my doorstep I was well excited. All I knew of them was a live You tube video of the band performing an old Irish rebel song ‘Roddy McCorley’ at a Psychobilly festival and it stirred me enough to order their new album, Back To The Pit, that had just come out.

Pitmen were founded in the spring of 1995 and the following summer of 1996 they recorded a demo which led Crazy Love Records to release it as Pitmen’s debut EP Misfits. They followed this in 1997 with their debut album Listen To The Engine and in 2001 their follow up album Welcome To The Show. Then back in 2003 at the top of the game and headline appearances around Europe at all the major Psychobilly festivals they decided to take a break. The members of the band went on to form and join other bands of many different genres with front-man Christian even forming a Irish folk outfit called airím with Susanne Böhler. So it was after six years Pitmen began to rehearse again and the following year they played their first live show since 2003.

So it is that after a several-year recording hiatus, Pitmen are back and Back To The Pit is the result. Fourteen tracks of

“Equal parts psychobilly, folk from both sides of the Atlantic, hard-as-fuck neo rockabilly and Celtabilly”

as O’Prez of the Dublin based psychobilly Hellacious Harmonies, here, site called it.

Long time fans are sure to be joined by new recruits on hearing this album and Back to The Pit kicks off with some western style guitar that thundering double bass and Christian ‘s clear as a bell vocals for  ‘Always On The Run’. Great start to proceedings and from the very off you can tell this is an absolutely spotless production with the sound as perfect as it could possibly be. The music speeds up for the psychobilly anthem ‘Grab Life By the Balls’ but still sounds perfectly accessible.

‘You Are Not My Friend’ is next and even though the CD booklet is sparse to say the least it doesn’t matter too much as regards the lyrics as Christian’s vocals are very easy to understand. I guess that playing Irish folk songs has helped that and every now and then you can detect a slight Irish twang to his voice as in the catchy as hell ‘Fifteen Dead’ with its fantastic singalong chorus.

Now anyone with a slight interest in psychobilly will know that there is a zombie fixation throughout the scene and following song the rockin’ instrumental ‘Zombie Rumble’ keeps that going nicely. A right foot tapper and thigh-slapper which takes us nicely onto ‘Please Don’t Call Me Baby’, one of the album highlights which if it weren’t for the electric guitar harks back to the genre’s 50’s roots. The first sign of that Irish folk influence comes rolling in next with ‘Hot Rod Hotel’ which features the wonderful voice of Nina Heinrich on backing vocals and only whets the appetite for a bit more folk and a bit of her too. There’s more horror themed catchiness to follow in ‘Roadkill’ and they follow this up with the hilarious ‘You’re The Reason Mommy’s Drinks’ which is some sort of country-psychobilly mash up lullaby from a disappointed father to his stepchild! The banjo and fiddle are out and proud courtesy of Fran Urton on fiddle and Eduardo Ribeiro on banjo. Great sense of humour there lads. Love it. Next up now is the song I have been waiting for. With the Dropkick Murphys adopting of Finbar Furey’s legendary song ‘The Lonesome Boatman’ and their recording of it on this years new album 11 Short Stories Of Pain And Glory. I would even go so far to say it was the album highlight but how well would Pitmen stand up to it and would they be able to do it justice. Well I can report it is amazing. Simply amazing. It’s unlike any version you will have heard before I can guarantee and yet is still unmistakable. All the songs here are sang in English except for ‘Schnitzel mit Kartoffelsalat’ which is in German and from what I can gather a drinking song about a food fight! Singer and guitarist Christian has written the majority of the songs here albeit with help from both his wife and guitarist Holger so they take a break with a superb cover of The Animals ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’. Again its done in their own style and is yet unmistakable and as we near the end they follow it up with another cover, ‘Baltimore Fire’, of an old song about the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 which was originally recorded by Charlie Poole (1892-1931) and The North Carolina Ramblers. Nina Heinrich is back on backing vocals and you can find more of her great voice by checking out Christian and hers folk trio Sackville Street here. The fire raged for over thirty hours, spanning seventy city blocks, and destroying 1,545 buildings, doing an estimated $3.84 billion in damage in today’s money. A great choice of cover and shows the band know their onions and have plenty respect for the music that has influenced them. We are at the end of the album and another album highlight with the romantic ‘One More Day’. A real fifties feel here with the vocals accompanied by whistling, which you don’t hear much these days. The banjo is back and a really outstanding way to bring down the curtain on Back In The Pit.

Christian

So sixteen years on from their last album Pitmen are back with an almighty bang and I was gutted to find out that they played here only last month at the famed Bedlam Breakout festival where they went down a storm. Now as much as I love psychobilly it has to be said, and the same too could be said about celtic-punk, that many bands do sound the same so when you do hear something that you can say is unique its worth taking notice of. Twenty-two years on from getting together in their working class coal-mining home town of Essen Pitmen are still bringing something to the table that no other psychobilly bands can manage. This is a fine album of mainly foot stompin’ originals and a selection of instrumentals and covers that just enhance what they do. Be sure to keep an eye on Pitmen as they will be featured here again soon!!

Buy Back To The Pit

JungleRecords  CrazyLoveRecords  iTunes

Contact the Pitmen

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