“we’re a Chicago-Irish band”
A few years ago a website suddenly appeared out of nowhere called Paddy Punx. It was basically a download site and the poor guy doing it must have been a drug addict or something as he put up scores and scores of albums everyday at all hours of the day and night. The site is long gone now unfortunately thanks to one of the great many site culls the US government has every now and then. I mention this because at the time you didn’t know how long it was going to last so you basically downloaded at every opportunity you had. Luckily (!) I was unemployed at the time so could do a bit more than most people. One of the bands I downloaded, amongst the many, was Kevin Flynn And The Avondale Ramblers. Never having heard of them and with a name that makes them sound like a Nashville country band I cant say why but I was certainly glad I did!
Their previous releases are two mini-albums and a live album, made up from songs from the two mini LPs, released in 2010. I was blown away by their distinctive sound and incredible lyrics and stories about their home town of Chicago and Irish-America. I thought, like many, that was it and they’d fallen by the wayside but then I heard they were bringing out a new album and my appetite was surely wetted. Chicago has an amazing musical reputation with music as diverse as Sam Cooke to Rise Against to Muddy Waters to err…Chicago, but nowhere has Chicago’s influence been more inspiring than with celtic-punk and bands like The Tossers, Flatfoot56, The Fisticuffs, Ballydowse have led the way in moulding American celtic-punk.
The Broken Pavement Of Avondale honours the Windy City, as Chicago is also known, in a way that makes you want to upsticks and move there(…if it wasn’t called the Windy City for nothing that is!)
The music itself is a superb mix of Americana, country, pop, rock, punk, and celtic/Irish folk put together in a totally accessible way that will appeal to all but, as is the way with the best celtic-punk bands, its the lyrics that stand out here. Kevin Flynn is like a historian putting the history of Chicago to music and passing it along or down to other generations. I defy you not to listen to this and not learn something new of interest.
The album kicks off with ‘The Road I Walk’,
“the road I walk is less than often travelled, never paved in gold- its always dirt or gravel, although its on the byway, it always will be my way, another road just aint for me”
If you get sick of me using the word catchy then don’t blame me as there’s no better word to describe the music here.
This is followed by the title song, probably the punkiest on the album, a catchy instrumental with chugging guitar backbone and mandolin and tin whistle driving it along. Subjects covered here include songs about the working-class, Catholicism and the drunken, sometimes violent aspects of their city. A forgotten maritime disaster is one of the stand out tracks, ‘The Eastland’, and the memories of those 844 poor souls will surely never be forgotten again once you’ve heard it. ‘The Pope Of The Windy City’ is the story of the infamous Richard J. Daley who ruled Chicago as Mayor from the 50’s through to 1976 and a listen to this song tells you a whole lot more than the Wikipedia entry will do!!!
“he was raised on the working class Southside, blue-collar Catholic Irish pride, workin’ for the town, he learned about it Holy See”
a beautiful love song ‘I Love Whiskey’ and a hilarious ride through the trials and tribulations of Lent called ‘5 Weeks 5 Days’ and finally the album comes to a end with ‘Don’t Bury Me Outside Chicago’ another magnificent ode to their home city. Kevin is joined by Tony Duggins of The Tossers and he and Tony have much in common in the way their lyrics are much more than just words accompanying a song. Though the band’s sound is steeped in the influence of traditional Irish music, their songs are anything but traditional. When asked about this Kevin said in a interview
“There was no particular method. They were just the people and events whose stories we felt needed to be told if you’re going to be a true Chicago folk band. Mayor Daley? – that’s a no-brainer. The Daleys are to Chicago what the Kennedys are to Massachusetts. The Eastland? – more passengers died on that trip than on the Titanic. It didn’t get a big movie made about it, but it got a great song”
You want this LP. You want this if you love your hometown or your family, your class or your religion or your Irish background or even your non-Irish background! Its twelve anthems that will inspire and affect you as well as raising a smile and a glass or two, whiskey of course, to those that this record remembers. quite simply easily one of the best releases of 2013 and I’m only sad that I heard it too late to vote for it in our ‘Top Five Albums Of 2013’.
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Double Door 9-15-09 (2010) The Murderer, The Thief, The Minstrels & The Rest (2009) Don’t Count Me Out (2008)
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