One of 2021’s best Celtic-Punk releases so far The Black Clover are an innovative and somewhat unusual band that may take a listen or two before you fall for them… but I promise fall you will do!
This is the second appearance The Black Clover have made on these pages. Back in 2017 they released an excellent five track EP, From Sailor To Hobo, and they return four years later with another five tracker to thrill us. Founded in 2016 from the ashes of the short lived (but bloomin’ brilliant!) Seagulls Are Drunk who released one excellent EP before disbanding. The Black Clover hail from Grand Est in France and have, like their predecessors, a very unique take on Celtic-Punk. Their debut release touched on all the various wings of Celtic-Punk from Folk to trad to Punk while all fitting seamlessly together …and all with a really nice Tom Waits-y twang.
Veterans now of hundreds of shows playing every conceivable kind of venue they bring that ‘live’ sound to this recording and you can sense the enjoyment in the air as they play. Just Another Pub kicks off with a classic drinking song ‘We Drink So Much’ and the much missed sound of a pint glass filling up before fiddle and chugging guitar fills the air. Seb chimes in with that Waits-ish (perhaps not as pronounced as before but still there) voice before organ unexpectedly joins in and we’ve a right catchy wee number. A really enjoyable thigh slapper!! ‘El Poco’ takes another turn and I have to say I’m finding the organ here really great fun. A western style Tex-Mex rocker that sounds much better in French than it would in English I wager. The halfway point in the EP is reached with ‘Tonight In Dublin’ and a sort of laid back Jazzy, Folky, Poppy mash-up that once again stretches the boundaries of what The Black Clover play. These lot could give us ‘I’ll Tell Me Ma’ and we’d fail to recognise it. ‘Tonight In Dublin’ was the lead single for the EP and the video, released at the height of the ‘clampdown’, consists of the guys playing in their own homes ‘isolating’ from each other.
‘Sloggy Trip’ whisks us back to the Celtic lands and again Seb’s vocals are in French and have a lot more bite to them in what sounds remarkably like a battle song. It’s a slowish swirling number with trademark brilliant fiddle playing from Nicolas who quite rightly is pushed to the fore throughout this EP. We end where we came in on a classy, pure thorough-bred Celtic-Punk drinking song! ‘Pure Whisky’ hits the spot but this time it is Olivier’s accordion taking the lead and the sort of song to get even the most reluctant of dancers to slap that thigh and be punching the air.
All in all a fantastic release my only disappointment being that it is only eighteen minutes long which while that isn’t bad for a EP I do find myself wanting to hear an whole album from the guys. lust like on that debut release they have a canny knack for bringing in lots of different influences but still managing to make it sound like a Black Clover song. This may have been a thin year for Celtic-Punk releases so far but this is definitely one of the very best of 2021. Now for them to get writing that album!
(You can stream and download Just Another Pub on the Bandcamp player below)
Every year that we have been doing this has got better and better for celtic-punk releases. As happy as we are that this is so it also means that we just simply cannot keep up with everything out there. We haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 2 of our 2017 Round Up where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but there’s been no way we could keep up so here’s a few quick ones just to get 2017 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out and apologies to the band’s concerned that we had to squeeze them in. This week we concentrate on European bands while last time we visited North America (here) and next time we will review bands from the Celtic regions so join us in a few days.
CASSIDY’S BREWERY- ‘One Brew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ (Free Download)
The lads from Cassidy’s Brewery sent me the link to their debut album just a couple of weeks ago so they sneak into our round-up’s but they are one of many featured here that I would have liked to do a full review of. They are a six-piece band hailing from Belgrade, Serbia. Formed in 2008 the current line-up has been together now for a couple of years. The band started like most European celtic-punk bands I suspect playing covers from the mainstays of celtic-punk plus local legends, in their case the awesome Orthodox Celts, before setting out with their own material. Here they give us a ten track album split 50/50 with covers and originals and while the covers are faithful punked up versions of Irish standards like ‘Raggle Taggle Gypsy’ and ‘Drunken Sailor’ it is their own songs that really shine on this album. Lyrically they are very strong with the words to album opener ‘Sail Away’ particularly sticking in my head. If you going to play celtic-punk and have no celtic roots then you need to know your history and this is where Cassidy’s Brewery come over well. With a accent that is easy to understand in fact you don’t need the lyrics as Uroš vocals are as clear as a bell throughout. Irish and Scottish history is covered and no better than on ‘Heroes’ where William Wallace and Finn MacCool go for a beer and end up meeting Prince Edward!
“We’ll slap you silly, so please come out!”
“This one’s for Culloden, and this one’s for Boyne, and this one’s for the pissy-ass stout!”
Absolutely brilliant and I love my celtic-punk with a sense of humour and Cassidy’s Brewery give it us. Musically it’s pretty damn good as well. Fiddle, tin whistle and accordion supply the folk instrumentation and the rest is yer basic punk rock quintet of two guitars, drums and bass. Its melodic punk with metally overtones but it never strays too far away from celtic-punk and they mix it up with folk songs and a superb version of ‘Rolling Down To Old Maui’ that is as good as any I have heard. It may say above that is free but that just means it is available as a ‘Name Your Price’ so it’s free if you like but if you value the celtic-punk scene and bands like Cassidy’s Brewery then stick them enough for a Guinness in there!
Here’s a band that you wouldn’t categorise as celtic-punk at all. Or folk-punk either but they certainly do have some crossover appeal to fans of London Celtic Punks I am sure. Heathen Hymns is their fourth album after Reformation House (2010), Galley Beggar (2012) and Silence & Tears (2014) and the band have got stronger with each release. Hailing from Kent and London Galley Beggar are a band of six musicians that grew up obsessed with an old sound. You could I suppose pigeonhole them among bands like Fairport Convention, Pentangle or Steeleye Span and while their may have been a time in my spikey haired punk rock youth I would have scoffed at that I can say that the sheer quality of their music has won me over. With their folk-rock sound quite in vogue at the moment they have been steadily building a huge fan-base and even huger reputation and they have successfully merged the traditional folk sound of England with the psychedelic folk rock sound of the 70’s and nowhere better than on the hypnotic ‘Moon & Tide’ and its fantastic video.
Of course it’s the originals here that are the real jewels but the way they handle the covers of traditional standards ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’, first heard in 1689!, and featuring guest vocals from Celia Drummond of UK acid folk legends Trees, and ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’ also impresses. Having recently signed to Rise Above Records they are set to kick on and move beyond their ‘festival fame’ and with bands like Ferocious Dog already on the way up its bands liken Galley Beggar who are set to join them.
Hungary, Hungary, Hungary bloody Hungary. That’s how it seems this site goes sometimes. I won’t bore you with another list of absolutely brilliant Hungarian celtic-punk bands but will just say that I would swap all ours for theirs in a shot! Formed in June 2015 in Veszprém Mad Man’s Crew mix up a variety of styles with folk and punk colliding with ska via some rather nifty trumpet that slots in super nice. Kicking off with the brilliant ‘Leave Behind’ that takes melodic punk and throws in tin whistle and accordion and some band Oi! Oi!’s to great effect. As with Cassidy’s Brewery above the production here is superb and again the vocals are clear and Molnár is perfectly understandable. Eleven songs clocking in at forty minutes that very rarely strays from celtic-punk but when it does it explodes in your ears like a bomb going off. Fast paced punk rock with accordion is how I would best describe this. They have taken a different approach from the majority of Hungarian celtic-punk bands by concentrating more on the punk side of things though not to say the folk side is neglected it’s just that you wouldn’t automatically think of Irish folk music when you hear them. Other highlights here are the amazing ‘Anthem Of The Anarchists’ which takes all the elements and strands that make up celtic-punk and injects real life into them. I love this song so much it would make my Top Ten songs of the year!
Far as I can tell theirs no covers here but there is one song in Hungarian so maybe that’s one but a great debut album and yet another Hungarian band to go doolally about!
YE BANISHED PRIVATEERS- ‘First Night Back in Port’ (Buy)
Hoist the Jolly Roger Ye Banished Privateers take no prisoners since launching in September 2012 and have a list of crew mates longer than yer arm with over thirty (!) members of the band and over a dozen on stage at gigs it makes for a rum do indeed. First Night Back In Port is the band/collective’s third album and is a staggering seventy-five minutes and fifteen songs of pure unabashed bastardized Irish folk an’ 17th century sea-shanty punk rock. The music takes you back to the 18th century a rough time when pirates dominated the seven seas and Ye Banished Privateers while they could easily become parody they mange to steer well clear of that thanks to great songs. At times it sounds like Tom Waits on the lash with fiddle, banjo and accordion while at others times its soft and gentle.
The album opener the emotional ‘Annabel’ is for me the best track here, a gentle introduction of a harrowing tale before plenty of opportunities galore to
“Let’s drink, let’s fight! Let’s fornicate by the harbour lights! Let’s fuck, let’s bite! Let’s dance away the night!”
leap out at you. The music is all acoustic and the vocals are shared around the band and while the music is strictly folk the spirit of punk is stamped throughout. One thing I did notice is that it is so full, with thirty members all battling for your attention, that it’s hard to pick out any elements in particular that impress. The sound is very authentic and not at all what I am use to listening to but i really enjoyed this wee time travel back to simple, honest and moving music.
Another release that sneaked in at the last minute this time from France and the debut release from a band that came from the ashes of Seagulls Are Drunk who featured on these pages a long, long time ago. The Black Clover celebrate their first anniversary with the release of this EP and again like with SAD it has a very particular French sound to it while also incorporating celtic-punk and traditional French folk music. Beginning with ‘A Road To Galway’ the song builds up and up and while not quite hitting punk rock levels it certainly rocks along and has a very catchy feel to it. Driving bass and drums and all the time fiddle and accordion keep it moving. They mix it up with ‘Black Tot Day’ a slightly jazzy sound but losing none of the celtic-punk bite and catchiness. Slowing it down for the saddest song you’ll hear today ‘The Lost Beer’, the tragic ballad of a lost love. As with Seagulls Are Drunk I thought then they had a real Tom Waits thing about them and the same here and not just because of Seb and his low and gruffled vocals. Imagine Tom fronting a celtic-punk band and you basically got it but then they go and throw out ‘La Baffe’ a Celtic/Breton bastard of a punk rocker and you realise that all four songs here are all different and then the EP ends with ‘The Sea Is Behind Me’ a beautiful ballad. Great release and bodes well for the future from a band who sound both innovative and fresh while having their roots planted firmly in the past.
So ends Part 2 of our Round-Up’s and apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.