Tag Archives: Between The Wars

ALBUM REVIEW: JAY WARS AND THE HOWARD YOUTH- ‘Love In The Time Of Fear’ (2016)

simple acoustic music. passion, anger, heart and a sense of humour and absolutely nothing at all like James Blunt

Jay Wars

Love In The Time of Fear is the second release from Jay Wars And The Howard Youth. Jay was the lead singer of the sadly missed Australian celtic-punk band Between The Wars who split up in 2012 after a string of highly rated albums and singles. Among the things that stood out the most from their various recordings was Jay’s lyrical output so it was with relief that we heard he was going to carry on and keep recording. Last years first album Carry Me Home was pretty much Jay recording a solo version of a Between The Wars album but with guest appearances from half his old band giving the album that unmistakeable BTW sound. On Love In The Time of Fear Jay has expanded on that sound somewhat and though the album is much less celtic-punk it still has that BTW thing about it. The music may be less celtic and more punky but its still an absolute knockout and more than deserving of being our very first review of 2016.

Jay WarsThe album begins with ‘Pyne In The Closet’ and Jays chugging guitar and Hayley’s amazing fiddle work along with a more than solid backline with Dan on drums and Crow on bass give it a real foot tapping feel right from the off. The BTW sound is there but now mixed up and blended with the English punk sound of bands like the Newtown Neurotics. Jay wears his politics on his chest and its working class struggle that interests him. Not the pampered politics of the middle class left but the blood and guts of life at the bottom of the ladder. ‘Don’t Cross The Line’ is the eleventh commitment of the international working classes. The line in question being the picket line and a very special contempt is reserved for those that strike break and cross picket lines stabbing their fellow workers in the backs. In the words of this ancient Irish saying (curse!)

“May the lamb of God stir his hoof through the roof of heaven and kick you in the arse down to hell”

The song features special guest vocals from Ronan MacManus the lead singer of the London Irish celtic rockers The Bible Code Sundays. Fast and furious and fecking angry and quite rightly so. One to play before you leave the house to right a wrong I’d say… Another of the album’s highlights is the next track ‘A Girl Called Hope’ with Jays words like poetry to this ear, easily understood and crystal clear. The track has a kind of a frantic country feel to it with great wailing backing vocals and the story is classic Jay with a tale of love gone murderously wrong.

By now you can get a feel for where this album is going and ‘Done And Dusted’ continues in much the same vein with a catchy tune and more of Jay’s unmistakable lyrics. It really is worth getting the headphones on to catch it all. ‘Alive!’ brings out the banjo and is a simply effective punk song again with Hayley’s fiddle giving it that bit extra. ‘Let Me Start Again’ is the fastest song on the album though still keeping it acoustic. ‘The Ballad Of 1846’ is a story of a young Irishman arriving in Melbourne in 1846 and finding the promised land contained the same prejudice that he had left behind in Ireland. This prejudice is that of the Orange kind. The extreme Protestant anti-Catholic and anti-Irish bigotry that the British transported across the globe in order to keep the Irish down. Fascism under any other name the Orange bigots (named after the colours of a bisexual Dutch king who defeated the British king James II in 1690… yeah go figure!!) still strut their stuff around the north of Ireland as well as Scotland and a few dwindling places left in England. Around July 12 every year they demand the right to pass triumphantly through Catholic areas and every they are quite rightly resisted “by any means possible”.

“when I see you wave that Orange flag I see red instead”

The following song ‘Abraham Brown’ was a collaboration between Jay and Kevin Prested, an Englishman now based in Melbourne and is the tale of a young man transported to Australia back in the 1830’s. Social history told through the eyes of Jay who is a real master of songs like these. Beautiful and evocative you close your eyes and the image of Abraham’s voyage fills your mind. ‘Play Another Song’ keeps it upbeat and ‘One Last Love Song’ brings the album to an end. Jay’s songs range from stories of the sea and love gone wrong as well as heartfelt political songs that steer clear of browbeating and lecturing. His writing seems simple but is in way simple. I would say genius but knowing Jay I also know he is a humble and generous soul who would blush at such a epitaph chucked in his direction. Simply to say Jay is as good a writer that celtic-punk has and his music is truly soul music.

Over a year ago in November 2014 we wrote

“It may be another chapter but its not the end of the book for Jay and we look forward to hearing much more from him”

Well Love In The Time of Fear is a great 2nd chapter in Jay Wars history and we love the evolution of the sound into a full on band while keeping a toe firmly in the acoustic-celtic-folk of what has been before. The great news for us is that Jay will soon be joining us on these shores. What on earth has possessed him to leave Australia to come here to the doom and gloom and rain of northern England is anyone’s guess but we can count ourselves lucky that we will get to see a lot more of Jay in the near future. The album is out in just under a month on Whisk And Key Records in Australia and is available for pre-order at the link below. When more links come in we will add them.

Contact Jay

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WhiskAndKeyRecords (out February 5th 2016)

Between The Wars

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We got a load of related stuff here including an interview with Jay herea review of the first Jay Wars album Carry Me Home here and a review of the final Between The Wars album ‘Wont Go Quietly’ here.

ALBUM REVIEW: JAY WARS- ‘Carry Me Home’ (2014)

simple acoustic music. passion, anger, heart and a sense of humour and absolutely nothing at all like James Blunt

Jay Wars- 'Carry Me Home' (2014)

Here we go again I hear you all groan and say “oh no not another bloody Australian celtic-punk album. Any minute now he’s gonna start banging on about The Rumjacks and Aussie celtic-punk being the best in the world”… well surprise surprise you’re right and you’re right for a good reason. Aussie celtic-punk has the best scene in the world and it didn’t get that way from just writing songs about drinking either. For whatever reason, and we’ve touched on it in this interview with Jay before (here), the Australian bands just seem to be better story tellers than most. Their songs have an uncanny ability to uplift and educate and inspire you. I mean even the average bands are brilliant! We were enormous fans of Jay’s previous band Between The Wars and it broke our hearts when we heard they’d split up earlier in the year. Luckily for us though Jay has returned with an outstanding album of acoustic celtic folk punk that keeps much of the spirit of Between The Wars but adds just enough of a new feel to it to stop it being another BTW record.

Jay Wars

His new album ‘Carry Me Home’ came out on last month on Australian-based record label Slippery Slope Records which specialises in celtic punk, folk punk,  folk and celtic sounds. Between The Wars were very much on the celtic folkier side of celtic-punk and this album continues in that vein. From the start with the slow instrumental ‘Prologue’ its unmistakable where the roots of this album lay. The first proper track is  ‘Pints Of Guinness Make Me Weak’ a slow ballad with just acoustic guitar and ex-BTW’er Hayley Anderson’s great fiddle and Jays voice. One of the things BTW were most famed for was their storytelling lyrics and on Carry Me Home that tradition continues.

“We stood at the bar and sang useless songs. We stood at the bar and we sang Black Is The Colour”

Another thing they were famous for was their perfect mix of light hearted and dark material. ‘Give Me A Drink!’ is the first visit to celtic-punk territory and doesn’t disappoint with the drums clashing away and the fiddle on fire. A great song.

“that night I walked alone but at least it was fucking better than going home. I crept back homeward on my hands and my knees. The wife was at the door with a bottle of brown ale for me”

Jay Wars

it’s a London Celtic Punker!

‘Souvenirs’ is a love story set to lovely Irish fiddle and Jays guitar. Joe Guiton, from Melbourne folk punkers Suicide Tuesdays, guests on backing vocals.

“I’m in love with who we’ve been. Now I’ve got to make it last before I fuck it up (and I’m gonna fuck it up). You and I will fly for the rest of our lives. We’re souvenirs”

‘The Irish Boys Of Old’ is a modern day classic Irish celtic-punk rebel song. BTW never shied away from mentioning the war in Ireland and never flinched from taking sides either and this song leaves you in no doubt where they stand.

“The King and the Crown have tried to take our land and no matter how hard we fight, they’re the stronger man. We take to the hills and we take to the lanes. There’s no higher calling than to fight for Ireland”

Again great fiddle playing and lyrics but five songs in and I’ve a feeling that I could be saying that about every song! And I haven’t even said the word catchy yet! no Jay album wouldn’t be complete without a sea shanty but as is his way ‘The Cruel Sea’ is punked up to eleven and sails past at full pace, accompanied on the mando by Joel Stibbard, its one of the album’s standout tracks.

“The water kept on flowing inwards taking all the rum away; no chance to drink our fears away. We are the disaster of the open sea, take another hit. We are the disaster of the open sea, take another life, take another life, take another worthless life”

The drums on ‘If You’re Not, Don’t’ are typical of this album. Even though the song is not particularly fast Dan Scalpelli’s drums drive the song along and combined with Jay’s voice give the album a proper celtic-punk in yer face feel.

“Looking back at my history, it’s pretty clear that I am not the safest bet. You can breathe in as long as you breathe out. If you’re not in love then don’t come home”

‘Oh Penny’ is yer classic working class love ballad of lost love best to be listened to crying into a beer of course.

“I joined the union when I turned of age just like my daddy did. Building the buildings, giving Melbourne a face, but I was still just a kid. I vowed to continue to raise the money because Penny’s worth her weight in gold”

Hayley and Jay

Hayley and Jay

‘The Number Of The Worker’ is a union promoting working man and womans street anthem chock full of class pride. As someone who does twelve hour shifts its long bugged me that it should be

“Eight hours to work, Eight hours to play, Eight hours to sleep”

they let fly no holds barred

“I tell you I’d rather die than not raise my banner high so let’s up and tell the big knobs to take heed and its 8-8-8, the number of the worker with hours for everything we need, we’ll stand our ground and we’ll raise our flags. For the eight hour day, the working man will bleed”

‘Linoleum’ is the NOFX classic but Jay plays it as a simple song sounding just how Jay would. Opening his heart for us. ‘A Derry Girl And A Whiskey Chaser’ is Jay and Hayley again and once again is just a plain great song. It has an old fashioned feel to it with wonderful lyrics about the death of a friend.

“Johnny boy we miss you, cry out your oldest friends. Where’s our man of jokes and tales, will he ever be seen again? Here’s a song for our mate, a pint for his loss and a chorus for his love. May his Derry girl and a whiskey chaser await him up above. A final word for all you poets, artists and the strums. Take your hearts and hopes and dreams and rise up from the slums and if you happen to get lucky and find yourself some gold, give a thought to Johnny, let his memory not get old”

‘I Wont Die Digging’ sounds like it could have been on the ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ soundtrack with Jay and friends singing about back breaking work, drinking and graves with the sound of wind whistling in their ears.

“I’m digging my grave, knee deep in the soil. I’ve broken my back from a month of toil. I’m going to hell for the rest of my days. Until that moment comes, I’m digging my grave”

Next up is ‘Sleepy’ featuring backing vocals from Teer, Jays partner and light of his life.

“and it feels like it’s been too long since I’ve seen you. Yes, it feels like every minute’s too long since I’ve seen you so sleep again”

Jay again spills his heart for us and is the perfect way to drift into the albums last track ‘Epilogue’. Backed by the Australian-Irish band Saoirse, Jay tells of living and fighting in Derry in your youth and leaving your girl and Ireland behind to go to Australia.

“I haven’t made a life here. What use is a life without you? I’m either drunk or fighting, sometimes both, but I don’t care”

A sad song but the history of the Irish away from Ireland has never been a particularly good one. Many fell through the cracks of society damaged by drink and drugs or just hard work. Not many fortunes were made its sad to say.

Jay Wars

Overall this is a superb album and one of my favourites of 2014. I was a massive fan of Between The Wars and I’m extremely happy that Jay is continuing what they began but as i said earlier its not just another BTW record you’re listening to but the next chapter. Lyrically its as good as anything I’ve ever heard in celtic/folk-punk. Jay’s words have always resonated with me. Maybe its his long distance Yorkshire roots! The musicians on this album are all top notch as well. Throughout ‘Carry Me Home’ Hayleys fiddle playing is just downright brilliant. Never over complicated and never over dominating it simply accompanies. It may be another chapter but its not the end of the book for Jay and we look forward to hearing much more from him.

Contact Jay

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Here  Don’t bother getting it from anywhere else as if you buy from Jay he’s donated all proceeds to several charities. good man! He’s taking NO money for the digital version of the record and $4 to go towards production costs of the physical copy.

Slippery Slope Records

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Between The Wars

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We got a load of related stuff here including an interview with Jay here and a review of the last Between The Wars album ‘Wont Go Quietly’ here.

30492-LONDON CELTIC PUNK’S TOP TWENTY CELTIC-PUNK ALBUM’s OF ALL TIME‏

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

Where We Going?

Today we celebrate the blog’s first anniversary so, in a case of obvious self-indulgence, we thought we’d share with you our TOP TWENTY CELTIC-PUNK ALBUM’s OF ALL TIME. The last year has flown by and, even better, feedback for the site seems to have been universally good. As long we’re appreciated it’s all well worth doing. The celtic-punk scene has gone from strength to strength over the last twelve months and hopefully we’ve helped toward that in a small way. Big thanx to all who sent in stuff for review and also to our wee gang of reviewers and contributors.

Now before we get going thought I’d chuck in a couple of things. We’ve only chosen one album per band as let’s face it otherwise it would be dominated by 3, maybe 4, bands at best. There’s no time limit on it although it does tend to be the older rather than the newer albums chosen and their picked not just on music on the albums themselves but sometimes on the circumstances around hearing them for the first time, which I’m sure your all dying to hear!

 NUMBER 20

SAINT BUSHMILLS CHOIR- ‘S/T’ (2004)

Saint Bushmill's ChoirAttending the Anarchist Bookfair back in 2004 an old mate Booksie sez get yourself to the Active stall and get this album. So off I trot and I find it and its got a lovely celtic design on the front and a even lovelier Irish tricolour on the back. Not the sort of thing you’d expect to find at a Anarchist event! The song titles were all known to me and mostly Dubliners songs. Problem is its the last one so I have to buy it and lump it around for the rest of the day, and night!, trying not to lose it/break it/cover it in Skol Super. Any road I gets it home and play it and its f’king brilliant. Extremely well played Irish folk punk with great left politics and the only Anarchist celtic-punk song I’ve ever heard. I find out later that Saint Bushmills Choir are a kind of punk-crusty supergroup and that’s why the label Profane Existence released it. I did wonder why as everything I’d ever heard from the label before was an unlistenable racket! And it’s on very nice green vinyl!

 NUMBER 19

THE GENTLEMEN- ‘Stick To Your Guns’ (2009)

The GentlemenFirst time I came across these was a video on YouTube of them at a West Virginia American Football game racing around with a Irish flag to ‘Country Roads’ so when their album popped up on the now defunct Paddy Punx web-site i downloaded it immediately. For such a young band they really were very very good but nothing has been heard from them in a long time and there’s not much to be found on them on the internet either. Aggressive celtic-punk but plenty of emphasis on traditional instruments too. ‘War Time In North London’ and ‘Under The Rowan Tree’ show their style at either end of the celtic-punk spectrum.

 NUMBER 18

CHARM CITY SAINTS- ‘Hooligans And Saints’ (2009)

Charm City SaintsEmerging from the seedy punk rock clubs of Baltimore the Charm City Saints were one of a bunch of American celtic-punk bands inspired by the Dropkick Murphys. The LP begins with ‘Egans Polka’ which wouldn’t be out of place on one of your nanna’s records before blasting into the blistering ‘Night Paddy Murphy Died’. Catchy hooks and fist in the air choruses ensure the LP whizzes past as fast as anything. Blue-collar working class Irish American pride aplenty! Chuck in a couple of rebel songs and more trad punked up to 11 and you got yerself a classic of American celtic-punk. Far from the polish of the Murphys and the Mollys and all the better for it.

 NUMBER 17

KEVIN FLYNN AND THE AVONDALE RAMBLERS- Live At the Double Door 09-15-09

Kevin Flynn And The Avondale RamblersTill they released ‘Broken Pavements Of Avondale’ last year all anyone had of these was a couple of EP’s and this fantastic live album, which consists only of the songs on the EP’s. Once again I came across it on the Paddy Punx blog and despite the name sounding like a old fogies band i thought i’d take a chance, and boy was i was not disappointed. I’m not normally a fan of live recordings but this is one of those rare occasions where the sound and music is immaculate. The bands mix of celtic-Irish-Americana and Chicago folklore plus solid working class roots and politics really hit the spot with me. Great sense of humour, as evident on crowd favourite ‘You Don’t Want Me’.

We reviewed their new album earlier this year here.

NUMBER 16

BETWEEN THE WARS- ‘Carried Away’ (2010)

Between The WarsMelbourne based celtic-folk-punk band who have now sadly broken up. They’ve left us a discography of great records of which this, for me, is the pick of the crop. Great story-telling from lead singer Jay with dark and light themes battling it out with understated humour! A few trad songs ‘Ride On’ and ‘Come Out Ye Black And Tans’ are in turn beautiful and uplifting but its when Between the Wars play their own songs they come into their own. ‘Ciaran’ about the love of a father for his son and the son for his father is heart achingly good while ‘Superherosong’ and ‘You Were The One’ raise the roof with that distinct Aussie celtic-punk sound but with a tinge of country.

Plenty more on the blog including a review of their last LP here and a interview with Jay, the lead singer, here.

NUMBER 15

CRAIC HAUS- ‘Whose Yer Paddy Now?’ (2009)

Craic HausNow this was a first for me and for anyone else whose ever come across Craic Haus too I bet. What you get is a album of ‘shamrockabilly’ that’s right 12 songs of celtic-rock’n’roll. They ought to be Imelda May’s backing band truth be told. Mostly self-penned titles like ‘Bottom Of A Guinness’ and ‘Shilleagh Bop’ show the bands great sense of humour plus theirs two incredible covers of The Wild Rover and Danny Boy with the original words but to the tune of something equally as famous. Hard to explain. Great production too and quite incredible work considering that their only a trio!

 NUMBER 14

THE MEN THEY COULDNT HANG- ‘How Green Is The Valley’ (1986)

The Men They Couldn't HangThe day this came out I legged it back with the LP under me arm to me Nanna’s house in town. She had an old record player encased in a big massive cabinet about 5 foot long. The sound that came out was crystal clear but it was only ever use to playing country’n’western so how was it gonna handle ‘The Men’? Putting it on and the first song ‘Gold Strike’ came out and the guitar and mandolin giving it the impression of a folky LP she relaxed and then nearly fainted as it kicked into ‘Gold Rush’ a punky folky celt rocker. Things got worse for her as anti-fascist anthem ‘Ghosts Of Cable Street’ advocated hitting fascists and then miners strike song ‘Shirt Of Blue’ advocated attacking the police…she also found some of the language appalling!! Looking back it was nowhere near as punk as I thought it was at the time but The Men are still rocking out and recently celebrated their 30th anniversary with a grand sell-out big London gig. Definitely one of the early pioneers of the celtic-punk scene.

 NUMBER 13

JASPER COAL- ‘Thousand Feet Closer To Hell’ (2010)

Jasper CoalMy dad was a coal-miner and so was his dad and his granddad too so coal-mining is in my blood you could say. Another album I came across via the Paddy Punx blog and it had a massive impact on me. Coming from the coalfields of Alabama these Irish-American lads sing a variety of mostly old standards and a few of their own songs. With very strong vocals and a banjo leading the way its a incredibly ‘full’ LP despite being acoustic and having no drums just the bodhran keeping the beat. Its also notable for having a song, O Caide Sin, in gaelic too.

 NUMBER 12

FLATFOOT 56- ‘Jungle Of The Mid West Sea’ (2007)

Flatfoot 56Saw these the night after the only time I ever saw Blood Or Whiskey. Can’t remember how I came across it as the London celtic-punk scene was non-existent back then, but I did, and it was a weekend that went onto change my life forever! At the BorW gig I made a great friend without whom I doubt the whole London Celtic Punks thing would even exist and the following day at Flatfoot 56 i had my first date with the lady that was to become my future wife! The gig itself was outstanding. Fuck all people in a tiny wee cellar venue but great sound and those that were there were a enthusiastic lot. First on and all over before 9pm, we legged it when they finished playing and the rest is history. A short while after I got the album off another pal with ‘Knuckles Up’ on the same CD. I played it so damn much i cannot bear to put it on anymore but if it comes up on my I-Pod shuffle then i’m instantly reminded of why i love it!

There’s a review of the album of the Flatfoot 56 off-shoot 6’10 here.

 NUMBER 11

BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS- ‘Boots Or No Boots’ (2010)

The Bible Code SundaysThe Bible Code’s are to London what The Tossers are to Chicago or The Murphy’s are to Boston. Probably more celtic-rock than punk they gig relentlessly across London and have a massive and loyal fan base. Reading about them in The Irish Post every week I first saw them play at one of their fortnightly resident shows in London’s west end. Starting off with their own stuff and then returning after a break to play ‘Irish-ed’ up pop hits they certainly had the crowd in the palm of their hands. I got the album that night and bugger me but on listening to it it seemed like it was auto-biographical!! The perfect album for the second- generation Irishman. ‘Maybe Its Because I’m A Irish Londoner’ is by far the fans stand out track but i prefer ‘Paddy Devil’ telling the story of the evil influence that makes us go on the lash instead of staying in and behaving ourselves…

 NUMBER 10

SHANE MacGOWAN AND THE POPES- ‘Crock Of Gold’ (1997)

Shane MacGowan And The PopesWith Shane kicked out of The Pogues and supposedly spiraling off into oblivion he shocked us all by teaming up with County Holloway celtic-rockers The Popes. Their first album together was ‘The Snake’ and was only so-so i thought but this album was something else. Freed from the confines of The Pogues Shane could let his pen do the talking. He calls it the Pogues fifth album. He doesn’t count anything The Pogues did after ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’. While hinting at nationalism with The Pogues for years this LP is defiantly pro-republican with stories of “burning London to the ground” and shooting coppers and soldiers. Received with glee by his fans and horror by the middle-class press both here and in Ireland. Dominated by jigs and reels The Popes prove themselves able to fill The Pogues shoes and even fit in a reggae song reminiscent of The Clash.

“The years they go by quickly/ I know I can’t remain here/ Where each day brings me closer/ To that final misery/ My kids will never scrape shit ’round here/ And I won’t die crying in a pint of beer/ I’m going back to Ireland/ And me Mother Mo Chroi.”

More on Shane from the blog here and The Popes here.

 NUMBER 9

BLOOD OR WHISKEY- ‘Cashed Out On Culture’ (2005)

Blood Or WhiskeyStraddling the celtic-punk fence nicely between the Molly’s folk and the Murphy’s punk is Ireland’s Blood Or Whiskey. This is their third album and they’re best one yet. Fourteen tracks of pure Irish folk ska punk. This was the first recording’s with new singer Dugs taking over from Barney and guest vocals from Cait O’Riordan of The Pogues add that special touch. Blood Or Whiskey have a instantly recognizable sound but don’t be thinking they’re stuck in a rut as they stand out in the celtic punk scene as a constantly evolving band. They are also the only band actually from a celtic nation on our list. ‘They Say No’ ends the album and is the standout track with all the BorW elements coming together perfectly!

This years new album from Blood Or Whiskey was reviewed on the blog earlier in the year, read it here.

 NUMBER 8

THE MAHONES- ‘Irish Punk Collection’ (2007)

The MahonesCatchy and upbeat this is the must have album of Irish-Canadian band The Mahones. They’ve been around for twenty years and are one of the innovators and movers and shakers of the celtic-punk world. Their is plenty here for all fans of celtic or punk music and the songs flow seamlessly from raucous punk to reflective ballad with ease. Dublin born singer Finny leads The Mahones and they are easily the hardest working band in the scene. ‘Queen And Tequila’ and ‘Drunken Lazy Bastard’ are still solid staples of the bands live set. Fourteen tracks and well over a hour long  and not a single bad track. Scruffy from the Dropkicks pops up to show exactly how widely regarded The Mahones are.

NUMBER 7

DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘Do Or Die’ (1998)

Dropkick MurphysSeems like an age ago now (and it bloody is too) that a old skinhead mate from Belfast put me onto these and I got to see them on their first London gig before I’d actually heard anything by them. To say they blew me away is a understatement and my love affair with them only got worse on hearing this album. Yeah the Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang were there first but the Dropkicks were a proper punk band. Our families all liked what passed for celtic-punk before this lot but the Dropkick Murphys? NO FACKING WAY! My mams heard them and thinks there awful racket! I use to call this album ‘celtic-Oi!’ and if you’re a recent convert to the DKM’s there’s not a lot of what passes for the band now. For a start Mike McColgan, from the Street Dogs, was the bands original singer and there’s very little celtic tunes and no instruments but plenty of references in the lyrics for those of us looking for them. By the time Finnegans Wake came on that was it for me!

 NUMBER 6

FLOGGING MOLLY- ‘Drunken Lullabies’ (2002)

Flogging MollyTheir second album and easily their best yet. After ‘Swagger’ the band realised they didn’t need a new approach. Slow songs, fast songs and combinations of both was good enough to last them right up until their last album ‘Speed Of Darkness’ when they changed it around a bit. Formed in a LA pub by Dublin native Dave King their sound is as authentic as it comes. Full on Irish folk played with the spirit of punk that captured the imagination of untold numbers of punk rock kids across the globe. Despite their success it’s as a live band Flogging Molly are at their best and they’ve released a handful of excellent live releases. The title track and the heart aching ‘The Sun Never Shines (On Closed Doors)’ show them at their fast and slow best. Listen side by side with the Murphy’s and you’ll see these are the celtic side of celtic-punk while the Murphy’s are more punk but both compliment each other enormously.

 NUMBER 5

THE TOSSERS- ‘The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death’ (2005)

The TossersA mate worked in Reckless Records in the West End and one day down the pub he announced to me “you like all that Irish folk shit, here have these” and presented me with a 1960’s LP of rebel songs, a Wolfe Tones CD and this by The Tossers. Maybe not their best album (I actually prefer ‘Emerald City’) but this has The Tossers greatest song ‘Good Mornin Da’ and a host of other Chicago South Side Irish folk-punk classics. Older than the Murphy’s and the Molly’s they well deserve their place at the top table of celtic-punk. More like the Pogues than the before mentioned bands they have The Pogues knack of playing lengthy songs that don’t bore the arse off you or go off into decadent meandering and keep your interest till the end! Saw them play once in London and they were every bit as good as i thought they would be.

You can find a review of the excellent new album from The Tossers, ‘Emerald City, here.

 NUMBER 4

CUTTHROAT SHAMROCK- ‘Dark Luck’ (2011)

Cutthroat ShamrockComing from the hills of Tennessee they mix Irish and Scots folk with their native Appalachian music. Dark themes abound on this all the way through and the vocals and music really capture the emotions of the lyrics.  Completely acoustic with superb banjo playing to the fore they would in fact go down well absolutely anywhere and with anyone I’d say. ‘Rich Insteada Pretty’ is a brief interlude of humour before ‘Dark Hallow’ takes us back to some more misery. A superb album with all the best bits of celtic-punk but with enough of Cutthroat Shamrock’s own definitive stamp to single them out as real innovators of the scene. ‘Fly Away’ would easily make my Top Ten Songs of all time.

 NUMBER 3

THE POGUES- ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’ (1988)

The PoguesYou simply cannot underestimate the influence The Pogues had on this nation when they came racing out of the blocks in the mid-80’s. To put it simply the amount of Irish born people in Britain was massive but few of their offspring felt in anyway Irish. Hardly surprising when the rest of the nation was stacked up against them and to be Irish meant to be either a bomber or be thick or an alkie or feckless or violent or many other number of racist epitaphs. Who then could find pride in those roots when it was something we ought to be ashamed of? Well The Pogues could. Their first two albums were met with amazement and relief that we could actually be proud of our backgrounds and shout it out as well. By the time of this their third album The Pogues had started to agitate and their song ‘The Birmingham 6’, while only reinforcing what our families had already told us, brought the issue of the many innocent Irish jailed in Britain to a wider audience. That to be in possession of an Irish accent could land you in jail for a very long time. This is the record that saw them move away from being a band only Irish people could like and includes their mega-mega hit ‘Fairytale Of New York’. Though I cant stand ‘Fiesta’ the rest are pure brilliance and Shane’s lyrics are sublime. I especially loved the Tipperary themed ‘The Broad Majestic Shannon’. But even despite all of Shane’s brilliance its the late Phil Chevron song ‘Thousands Are Sailing’ that stands out and gets you on every single level. Possibly the best song about Irish emigration of all time…and that’s a pretty congested subject. More from us on The Pogues here.

 NUMBER 2

NECK- ‘Sod `Em & Begorrah!’ (2005)

NeckNeck have been a solid fixture on the London punk scene for donkeys years now and this LP is their masterpiece. All 12 tracks are fully imbibed with the spirit of the two London bands that have inspired them the most- The Pogues and The Clash. I’ve been a major fan of Neck since the very beginning and no matter how often I’ve seen them play they never fail to give it their all and put on a great show. Lead singer and lyricist Leeson is up there with yer Shane’s and yer Christy’s and your Luke’s in the songwriting stakes and portrays perfectly what it feels to be a, so called, ‘plastic paddy’ or as Neck put it, much better, ‘PLASTIC AND PROUD’. The album has two expertly played trad songs and the rest are pure self-penned celtic-punk Neck classics. As impossible as it is to pick out a standout track, ‘Blood On The Streets’ about the racist murders of two young men in Ireland and London deserves a nod. The CD comes with a huge booklet with the lyrics and background story to each song which alone makes this a must have. More from us on Neck here.

NUMBER 1

THE RUMJACKS- ‘Gangs Of New Holland’ (2010)

The Rumjacks

Bejaysus I really wish I had heard this when I was a young gun, i would have definitely picked up a mandolin instead of untold tinnies and done something with me life! From start to finish this debut album from Sydney, Australia’s The Rumjacks kicks you squarely in the teeth. Whether its the full on celtic-punk rock of ‘Green Ginger Wine’ or the sadness of, nearly a ballad, ‘Bar The Door Casey’ The Rumjacks blue-collar stories of working class immigrant life really hits home. It isn’t without humour mind, check out their enormous (5,500,000 hits and counting!) internet hit ‘An Irish Pub’ which puts the boot firmly into fake plastic Irish pubs. The band is a mix of Scottish immigrants and others from descended from the various celtic nations which gives them a very definite authentic feel. This knocked the flaming socks off me when I first heard it and its still doing it now. Australian celtic-punk bands rule the planet and The Rumjacks rule Australian celtic-punk…that should tell you all you need to know. Plenty more on The Rumjacks here and the wonderful world of Aussie celtic-punk here.

well there you have it. hope you liked and if you like feel free to leave a comment below if you agree or disagree…maybe even leave your best ofs!

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ALBUM REVIEW: BETWEEN THE WARS- ‘Won’t Go Quietly’ (2013)

BETWEN THE WARS- Wont Go Quietly

Another superb release from one of the best bands from one of the best and brightest celtic-punk scenes in the world from Melbourne band Between The Wars. Released on the bands own label ‘Slippery Slope Records’ and we can surely say it will not disappoint! We had the pleasure of putting on Jay Stevens, BTW’s vocalist, London gig when he came over to play a few gigs in October. To celebrate that we interviewed Jay and he spoke about the band and his song writing style.

celtic bands that tell stories – and not just stories of drinking. The difference between listening to the Wolfe Tones rather than the Dropkick Murphys means perhaps a little bit more storytelling in the writing

and that is one of the huge differences between Between The Wars and most celtic-punk bands. Theirs a real sense of history and yes, story telling in their songs akin to those old Irish folk bands we love so much like the Tones and The Dubliners.

BTW

The music is acoustic led with not that many electric instruments popping up but still sits proudly in celtic-punk! We’ve often talked about the difference between ‘folk-punk’ and ‘punk-folk’ and I’d say this is the latter with acoustic guitar, ukulele, mandolin and violin dominating proceedings. The album kick’s off with ‘Worst Enemy’ and straight away its the recognisable BTW sound we know and love “my worst enemy is me” Jay spits out over one of LPs fastest and catchiest tunes. Like a lot of BTW releases the ocean features strongly, understandable given Australia’s history and those celtic people who washed up on the shores there. The standout track though is also the most serious ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’ tells the story of the blitz in the east-end of London. The jauntiness of the song belies the subject matter like a lot of their material its layered in a way to make you think and there’s not enough of that in music. The fiddle work throughout is simply breathtaking and carries you along while Jay tells the tales. As well as the ocean theirs also a obsession with bittersweet tales of love like the beautiful ‘First Train Out’ which has you until the last few lines and then drops you like a ton of bricks! Theirs influences here of country as on ‘I Won’t Ever Get Between My Woman and Her Whiskey Anymore’ and punk as on ‘I’ll Dance On Your Grave Maggie Thatcher’ which was written by John McCullagh and tells the story of his dad who was a coal-miner and fought a year long battle against the state on strike to stop pit closures. My dad worked alongside Johns on that pit face so this song hits a real nerve. There’s plenty of anti-Thatcher songs out there now but none quite capture the hatred for her like this one. Let this song be her legacy.

The album ends with another ‘ocean’ song ‘A Sailor’s Lament’ that begins with a acapello intro before sliding into a slow and soft tune and then bursting out into more recognisable BTW territory.

Each Between The Wars release shows their development as one of the top acts in the scene today. That they refuse to stand still and rely on their trademark sound is to their credit and though you never know exactly where their going with their next song you know it’s going to be a great one!
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Buy The Album

Slippery Slope Recordings    (and listen to it too!)

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‘THE LAGAN’S DEN’ PODCAST 18/10/2013

Last week The Lagan began a free weekly series of podcasts where they drank beer and talked shite sorry…I mean talked about life in the band. They intend to have musical guests performing and first guest was Jay Stevens from the amazing Aussie celtic-punk band Between the Wars. Click on The Lagan logo below to hear the episode, and enter the competition on their Facebook page to win a signed Lagan CD and the entire BTW back catalogue!

the lagan

Watch this space for further podcasts and upcoming guests including London-Irish legend and Biblecode Sundays frontman Ronan McManus!

INTERVIEW WITH JAY STEVENS FROM AUSTRALIAN BAND ‘BETWEEN THE WARS’

gig flyer
When we heard that Jay Stevens from the fantastic Aussie celtic-folk-punk band BETWEEN THE WARS was coming over to these shores to play a few solo shows we jumped at the chance to do the London leg of his tour. so we thought we’d ask him some stuff so we did and he answered it all and here it is now for you…
BTW
How long have you been playing with BTW? have you played with other bands previous? Between The Wars is a four year old band that I started, along with (ukulele player) Jason. He and I have played in plenty of bands before this one, but this is the longest I’ve ever been in a band. So many lineup changes, but we’ve been pretty solid for the last couple years. I started this band after hearing “Irish Londoner” by the Bible Code Sundays, who I get to play with on this upcoming tour!
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Looks like the tour is shaping up into something special now. Who are you looking forward to playing with and any places youre looking forward to going? Being a Aussie have you been over here before? As I said before, Bible Code Sundays are a massive influence on me and our band, so I’m keen as hell to see them. Have also been a huge Neck fan for years so I’m excited to play a show with Leeson! Over the years I’ve made some good “internet” friends in England so with that in mind, I’m stoked to be playing a few shows with my boys from the Lagan and Three Sheets T’Wind – and swapping Office quotes in real life with Brendan O’Prey. I’ve been to England before, but not as an adult. Really excited to see London, watch a Blades game in Sheffield (lifelong Sheffield United fan) and to also see the Scottish villages of Stranraer & Portpatrick, where I will also be attending my cousin’s wedding! If you’re looking for a decent League One side to watch you should get along to Leyton Orient. At time of writing we’re top of the league! If I was looking for a decent League One side to watch, I wouldn’t be a Blades fan.

As the singer and main songwriter of the excellent Between The Wars how did you get into celtic-punk music? Was it through family or other music? I have to hand it to old mate John McCullagh, actually. I was in a bit of a hole, musically. After having kids and whilst I was watching my marriage go down the drain, I didn’t know what to do, I just knew I wanted to be in a band again. I was teaching John’s son (John Lennon McCullagh, now signed to Alan McGee’s label 359 Music in the UK) to play guitar, and John and I would always have banter about Bob Dylan, Celtic, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis etc after the lessons. He showed me a few songs he’d written and we got together a few times and played them. One of those songs was Ride On by Christy Moore. I hadn’t heard Christy before but I am in love with him now. From there, I looked up as much celtic folk, and then celtic folk punk, as I could – I’d been a fan of the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly for ages but never looked outside of that. I came across the Biblecode Sundays, and my musical life changed.
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I’ve always thought that Australian celtic-punk has been a cut above, both musically and lyrically, bands from Europe and the States. I cant put me finger on it but does the Oz celtic diaspora experience contribute to this or are you all just better writers and musicians? I think we bring our own style to it. There have been a bunch of amazing Australian artists over the years, both in folk, punk and rock music. Personally I’m a huge fan of an old Aussie band called Weddings Parties Anything. I’ve always looked to them for influence, as well as celtic bands that tell stories – and not just stories of drinking. The difference between listening to the Wolfe Tones rather than the Dropkick Murphys means perhaps a little bit more storytelling in the writing. I suppose any country with the legendary Ned Kelly as its symbol of resistance is gonna produce cracking music! Who are the Aussie celtic/folk-punk bands we should look out for? Heard any news on The Rumjacks getting back together? Yep, that’s definitely happening. Caught up with Johnny McKelvey at a show we played with the Real McKenzies and it looks like the album that was made at the start of last year will show its head. As for Aussie bands, you can never go past our good mates the Ramshackle Army. They are just finishing up their new record which should be a cracker. Also a fan of Paddy McHugh and the Goldminers, Handsome Young Strangers and our old mates in Mutiny who have just released a twenty year retrospective.
jay2Theres always been a lot of debate in celtic punk circles about so-called ‘foreign’ bands playing (stealing?) traditional folk music without respecting where it comes from. Do you think it matters much or at all? I don’t know too much about bands that steal or play traditional folk without the respect. We try to pay respect as much as we can to those that have come before – we’ve played the traditional folk song Barbara Allen, for example. I think ultimately music belongs to everyone – the more people that play or listen has got to be a good thing for music in general. No-one has any right to claim music as their own personal property. Providing you know where it comes from, I can’t see an issue – i’m well aware that our music represents bands that have come before like the Wolfe Tones, Dubliners and the Pogues. I know the stories behind most of the songs I listen to, in regards to rebel songs and the like. There is a lot of snobbery around especially about the drinking songs. I mean its not like The Dubliners ever wrote a song about getting pissed is it? i think celtic-punk reflects the good and bad things in the lives of ordinary people. This could be both getting pissed and being a alcoholic and lets face it it very much part of celtic culture whether we approve of it or not.

Without giving the game away too much what can we expect to look forward to on this tour? who are your influences as both a solo artist and as BTWs frontman? I’ve sat down with all of our songs and played around with them acoustically. Expect some songs to be a lot softer, and some songs to remain that raucous way that we’re known for. Influences – hmm, this is a tough one. I have a huge list of influences ranging from the Wolfe Tones, Dubliners and Christy Moore, through to Frank Turner, Matt Pryor, The Boy Least Likely To. Of course, Bruce Springsteen is probably one of my bigger influences – but more in lyrics than anything else. Too many bands these days try to ape Springsteen’s voice and it kind of shits me. I take a lot of influence from literature as well as stories of war. Anything where I can be on the side of the underdog makes me write.
 When you get back home after the tour what you going to be up to with the band? Any plans to keep up the solo stuff? The solo stuff is actually my priority at the moment, I’m in the studio recording a solo record, which will be a collection of songs – some originals, some covers, and a Between The Wars song. I’m really looking forward to that being released early next year. When I get back from the UK, I’m going to sit down with Jason and we’re going to write the next batch of Between The Wars songs. I’m keen on getting back to the roots of our sound after the last record. There’s a band from Melbourne that has actually just got back together called Catgut Mary and I think I’m looking to them as well as mates like the Lagan and Three Sheets T’Wind to give me some influence on the next lot. I’d like the band to get back into the studio early to mid-next year, with a view to a late 2014 release. Looking forward to meeting friends that I only know via facebook, and making new friends. Can’t wait to teach you all the shoey!
jayDiscography:
Carried Away- 2010
The Rats- 2011
The Aces Are Coming- 2011
New Ruins- 2012
Won’t Go Quietly-2013
Tour Details Here:
The ‘I Hear You’re In For A Cold One…’ Tour traverses the land from London to Glasgow throughout October providing solo acoustic  re-imaginings of Between The Wars songs.
Come along for a night of fun folk music about drinking, heartbreak, regret, drinking, drinking and drinking…
Between The Wars:
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