Tag Archives: Dropkick Murphys

ALBUM REVIEW: THE KILLIGANS- ‘Dance on Your Grave’ (2018)

The Killigans are a Celtic-Punk band from Lincoln, Nebraska. Now over a decade young, they are honed and steeled for action. Glass-raising anthems for tenacious underdogs, lonely vagabonds and anyone who’s just trying to make it in this world. 

Born in a filthy garage in 2004 The Killigans have gone through various personel changes in their time together but have kept at their core a set of foot-stomping beer-loving raucous anthemic numbers drawing from traditional Celtic music along with streetpunk, gritty rock’n’roll and working class country music. Having become one of the most popular bands in the Nebraskan music scene they have gained a rapidly growing army of fans across the States and overseas as well. One of the highlights of their early career came in 2010 when their song ‘Lessons from the Empty Glass’ was used on the soundtrack to the big budget Universal Studios hit move Robin Hood. Dance On Your Grave is The Killigans fifth album and their development over the years is plain for all to see. From the rough and ready Irish folk-punk of 2006’s Brown Bottle Hymnal to 2010’s Honor which saw them shift towards a more stripped down punk sound and then to their last album Another Round For The Strong Of Heart from October 2012 which saw them raise the bar with their best release to date with a collection of songs that took the catchy Irish Celtic-Punk of their early days and the anthemic punk of Honor and combined the two for something particularly special that will go down as one of the best album’s that the Celtic-Punk genre has ever produced. Not bad for a bunch of working-class blokes from flyover country!
Dance On Your Grave was five years in the making with some of these songs three or four years old. The Bhoys admit to having lost motivation and to having run of steam. After all their lives had changed from young raggamuffins to being middle aged family guys 
“We never meant for the music to stop, and it has shaped us and our families along the way.  Its just been a lot more difficult for us to make new music happen.  I like to think we have a lot more to offer in the way of songwriting than a couple 22 year old punks who have been on their own for a couple years.”
The Killigans have endured a lot of life and one thing that has always shone through with their releases is their utter honesty. A straight up band that has always played a straight deal. Dance On Your Grave carries on from where Another Round for the Strong of Heart left off. Hardly surprising as that era is from when many of the songs here were written or first imagined with old drummer Ben Swift starting the writing process that new drummer Mikey Elfers would help finish by coaxing the band into actually finishing the album! 

The Killigans left to right: Trevor- Bass * Brad- Vocals, Accoustic Guitar * Mikey- Drums * Pat-  Accordion, Mandolin, Trumpet, Organ * Greg- Guitar * Chris- Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin, Harmonica, Trombone *

The album saw the light of day on  April 28th this year and kicks off with Throw It Away’ and shows a maturity that comes with middle age but the Bhoys still play with a wild abandon that brings to mind early Flogging Molly. The era when they combined folk and punk perfectly and had their audiences both slam dancing and jigging away. It’s fast and furious and with lyrics that show The Killigans may not have stayed still but know what we love in the Celtic-Punk scene and are more than willing to give it us! Second song ‘Peducah’ was the first release of the album and begins with an accordion gypsy flourish before trumpet and trombone come in adding a somewhat ska’ish sound while the pace never slows. Even more surprising is that they are not guest musicians but brothers Chris and Pat who play a multitude of instruments for the band including mandolin and accordion. Third brother Trevor plays bass in the band. Its trad Celtic-Punk and it don’t get any better!

The songs are short and snappy and played at breakneck speed like ‘One Angry Voice’ which could easily fit in any punk rock play list. The words decry the way has become a fashion and the values and spirit of why it exists are fading. When punks would rather spend £30 to go to a gig or £100 to go to a festival rather than a local pub down the road then I’m afraid punk has a terminal disease. Putting on gigs here in London it is something I noticed get worse over the years as promoters and bands struggle to get people to come a gig for £3 or a fiver when everyone is up the road watching some reformed old fogie punks at £30+ a ticket.

“Fact is I’m getting older but if the honest truth be told

There’s something changed about punk rock

What does it stand for?

Is it a t-shirt and a drug scene? A hairdo and a piercing?

We think it’s more!

It’s the kid awake at midnight, living life how it feels right

Though his parents are concerned and think him strange

And at school the students shun him, and the teachers make fun of him

But he knows in the end he’s gonna make a change!”

The album takes a folky turn with ‘Burn It Down’ and I’m a bit of an old fogie myself as these days its the folkier songs that i like more than the punky ones. Not to say it don’t have a punk edge and it speeds up nicely mid-way. The accordion and brass instruments make for a great combination and Brad’s vocals fit perfectly beside the music. The Dropkicks rear their ugly heads for ‘Fight Today (Knock Them Down)’ with a killer chorus the Bostonians would die for. Over far too quickly its a beaut of a song loud and proud and aggressive. We back in Molly territory for the next bunch of songs with ‘The Best Words’ played like FM on speed and with ‘Bartender’ you get another song that plays like fast FM but are in fact two quite different songs. I don’t like to compare a band too much to others and you would be wrong to take away from this review that The Killigans are just a Flogging Molly band as their sound is completely their own and if you go back and trace their trajectory from their early days its easy to see where they have come to. For ‘Particle Board’ the band put their heads down and plough through a fast punk number and on ‘All Good Men’ they play to their strengths with fast paced Celtic influenced punk with Brads voice strong and clear. ‘Cracked Rear View’ is one of the songs they began after last album way back in 2012 and begins with a thundering bass before the band join in and we soon end up with my album favourite. Elements of pop-punk and it sure is catchy enough to call it that. A cracking song and the Celtic takes a back seat for a couple of minutes. We are nearing the end of the album and ‘Realty Bites’ is a right proper anthem for the American working class.

“This gentrification is necessary good

A complete revitalization of your neighbourhood

A lonely puddle in  a cracked brickmavenue

Throw up a LED street light it’s as good as new”

and ends with

“This district

You’re no longer part of it”

At a time when the American left have turned their backs on the working classes by adopting the poison of identity politics its a timely reminder that they are still here and still fighting. Its another speedy song and leads into ‘Artificial Hip’ where we get thirty-six seconds of punk rock oompf before we arrive at the final and title track ‘Dance on Your Grave’. This is the bands big sound with accordion and brass coming together to wrap things up wonderfully for a sure fire dance floor filler about everyone who wronged Brad including school bullies and ex-girlfriends getting their just deserts!

So The Killigans are back with a bang and maybe not one for the more folk inclined it certainly rocks along and if you miss the early days of Flogging Molly then this is the album for you. Sometimes maturity doesn’t make you a better band but here The Killigans have soaked in influences from all over and come up with something that will have you wearing out your shoe leather while also giving your heart and (Celtic) soul a workout too.

(you can have a *FREE* listen to Dance On Your Grave on the Bandcamp player below before you buy it!)

Buy Dance On Your Grave

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if you live in Europe then please check out MacSlons shop here for their new CD, back catalogue and other merchandise.

Contact The KIlligans

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LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS THE BEST OF 2017!

Yes I know it only seems like five minutes since the last one but it’s that time of year again when we give you, for what it’s worth, our opinion on who made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over 2017. It’s been another outstanding year for the music that we all love and some truly fantastic records came out in the last twelve months. So read on to find out who came #1! Remember though this is only our opinion and these thirty album’s are only the tip of the iceberg of what was released last year. Feel free to comment, slag off or dissect our lists. We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…

1. FLATFOOT 56 (Chicago)- ‘Odd Boat’  here

2. THE TOSSERS (Chicago)- ‘Smash The Windows’  here

3. THE BIBLECODE SUNDAYS (London) – ‘Walk Like Kings’  here
4. THE PEELERS (Canada)- ‘Palace Of The Fiend’ here
5. FEROCIOUS DOG (England)- ‘Red’  here

6. BLACK WATER COUNTY (England)- ‘Taking Chances’  here

7. THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS (Germany)- ‘Sign of the Fighter’  here

8. IN FOR A PENNY (USA)- ‘One More Last Hurrah’ here

9. LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS (Brittany)- ‘Breizh Anok’  here

10. MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS (England)- ‘As The Tide Turns’  here

11. KILMAINE SAINTS (USA)- ‘Whiskey Blues & Faded Tattoos’  here

12. ORTHODOX CELTS (Serbia)- ‘Many Mouths Shut’  here

13. UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS (Italy)- ‘Handmade’  here

14. THE SILK ROAD (England)- ‘S/T’ here 

15. FLOGGING MOLLY (USA)- ‘Life Is Good’  here

16. THE LUCKY PISTOLS (USA)- ‘Where The Orioles Fly’  here

17. THE REAL McKENZIES (Canada)- ‘Two Devils Will Talk’  here

18. DRUNKEN DOLLY (Netherlands)- ‘Alcoholic Rhapsody’ here

19. CASSIDY’S BREWERY (Serbia)- ‘One Brew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’  here

20. CRAIC (USA)- ‘Sounds Of Vandemark’  here

21. THE MOORINGS (France)- ‘Unbowed’ here

22. JOLLY JACKERS (Hungary)- ‘Blood Sweat and Beer’ here

23. THE SCARLET (Hungary)- ‘Hardfolk Shanties’ here

24. THE DISTILLERY RATS (Germany)- ‘Tales From County Whiskey’ here

25. CELKILT (France)- ‘Stand’ here

26. DROPKICK MURPHYS (Boston)- ’11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’  here

27. O’HAMSTERS (Ukraine)- ‘Где бы мы ни бывали’  here

28. SONS OF O’FLAHERTY (Brittany)- ‘The Road Not Taken’  here

29. THE BABES (London)- ‘Greetings From London’  here

30. CHEERS! (Czech Republic)- ‘Daily Bread’ here

Just bubbling under:

THE TEMPLARS OF DOOM (USA), GHOSTTOWN COMPANY (Germany) McSCALLYWAG (Netherlands)

No surprise here at all as all four admins voted #1 for Flatfoot 56 and their utterly brilliant ninth album. Not only that but we also all gave second spot to The Tossers, making it a Chicago #1 and #2! The year began with news of two new Dropkick Murphys albums coming but we only got the one and it met with, well quite a muted response to be honest. Saying that they were fantastic live and they certainly added a new dimension to these new songs when played in the flesh. The list leans heavy towards the bands from these shores it has to be said but it was always going to be with bands we get to see live regularly. It’s especially fitting to see The Bible Code Sundays in there too. In a year when every ‘big’ celtic-punk band released an album the competition was great so well done to all. Keep them coming. If you are not here then it just means we didn’t all agree or even all hear it and maybe we didn’t receive it too. The amount of debut albums from loads of these bodes well for both the scene here and internationally with a great mix of bands from thirteen countries.

BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Taking Chances’

This was a very hard category to fill with so many new bands arriving on the celtic-punk scene this past year. Soooo many to choose from but in the end we pumped for our very own Black Water County who just pipped Cassidy’s Brewery and In For A Penny to the title!

1. BLACK ANEMONE (Sweden)- ‘In It For Life’  here

2. RAIN IN SUMMER (Indonesia)- ‘Discordant Anthem From The Gutter’  here

3. IN FOR A PENNY (USA)- ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’  here

4. THE BOTTLERS (Australia)- ‘The Bottlers’  (here)

5. BLACK RAWK DOG (Indonesia)- ‘Suburban’s Folk Stories’  here

6. BogZH CELTIC CATS! (Brittany)- ‘Kazh al Lagenn’  here

7. THE CRAZY ROGUES (Hungary)- ‘Rebels’ Shanties’  here

8. THE McMINERS (Brazil)- ‘Tales of Betrayal and Deceit’  here

9. BORN AGAIN HEATHENS (USA)- ‘Born Again Heathens’  here

10. THE DEAD MAGGIES (Australia)- ‘Wild Dogs And Flannies’  here

Stand out winner here from Sweden’s Black Anemone which none of us were sure was either a big EP or a small album so we gave it the benefit of the doubt and placed it in here. Outstanding! Two representatives of Indonesia’s fantastic celtic-punk scene made up for no album releases from there last year and one band from a Celtic nation with the BogZH Celtic Cats! The Bottlers sneak in as they only sent it to us the week before Christmas. Glad they did though.

1. DECLAN O’ROURKE- ‘Chronicles Of The Great Irish Famine’  (here)

2. ShamROCKS- ‘Ye Ould Chariot’ EP  (here)

3. CRIKWATER- ‘Crikwater’  (here)

4. BEOGA- ‘Before We Change Our Mind’

5. FOLLOW THE CROWS- ‘West is East’ EP  (here)

6. PLASTIC PADDY- ‘Lucky Enough’  (here)

7. DAMIEN DEMPSEY- ‘Soulson’

8. GALLEY BEGGAR- ‘Heathen Hymns’  (here)

9. I DRAW SLOW- ‘Turn Your Face To The Sun’

10. ANTO MORRA- ‘From The Vaults’

Absolutely no question who romped home here. from the first time I ever heard Declan O’Rourke’s monumental album Chronicles Of The Great Irish Famine I was simply blown away. I simply cannot recommend it enough. Go and acquire a copy now. A mix of folk and trad makes up the rest of the list with a special mention for Ukrainian band ShamROCKS who play Irish folk as if they were naturals! We would like to feature more trad and folk on these pages in the future hopefully. Also Vince Cayo had a fecking brilliant album but was neither celtic-punk nor folk. Was tempted to make a separate list just for him!

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

This use to be the Celtic Folk Punk And More Best Celtic Punk Web-Site award so often did they use to win but last year it went to the new kid on the block, our good mates over at Mersey Celt Punks. Well we were in a bit of a quandary about who would win this week but then in the last few weeks of the year the Mersey Bhoys upped their game and won a unanimous vote. They finally started to use their Web-Site (here) and published a whole host of great reviews and things like a events/gig section. You can also join in their fun and games at Twitter and Facebook and we heartily recommend you do.

So there you go. Remember we don’t pretend to be the final word on things in fact if you check the other celtic-punk media I’m sure we’ve all come up with relatively different lists. Our Best Of’s are cajoled and bullied out of the four admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up over several pints of Guinness in Mannions. Not all of us heard the same albums so like all Best Of’s ours is subjective.

CARLTON HUNT

Of course we cannot go any further without mention of the saddest news of the year. That of the passing of Carlton , the drummer of The Bible Code Sundays. A friend of London Celtic Punks and an absolute diamond stand up guy he will be forever sadly missed by all who met him. We are grateful To Ronan for penning a few words for him.

We lost Carlton on 3rd November 2017 unexpectedly and it has left a massive hole in our family. Carlton joined The BibleCode Sundays some twelve years ago when we were still called Slainte.

His work ethic was second to none, he even dragged us into the studio to record our first CD, he did a lot of pushing in the early days and the Lord knows we needed it!

He was always the first to say yes to any gig, whether it was a small Irish pub like The Old Crown in Hayes or The Shawl or whether it was some of our bigger gigs. Over the years we played some fantastic gigs and venues, such as The Royal Albert Hall, New York’s Beacon Theatre, The House of Blues in Boston, Shepherds Bush Empire, The Roundhouse, Glasgow Barrowlands, Indigo at The O2, Glastonbury Festival, Finsbury Park, London Irish, on the pitch at Twickenham Stadium and at Celtic Park (the night Celtic beat Barcelona). We’ve played with Elvis Costello, The Dropkick Murphys, The Wolfetones, John Lydon’s Public Image Ltd, the Saw Doctors and he even got to realise a dream when we shared a stage with Thin Lizzy. They were minus legends Phil Linnot and Gary Moore but this mattered not to Carlton, his hero Brian Downey was still behind the drums. Carlton got to meet his idol and even got some Thin Lizzy drumsticks as souvenir, he was like an excited little kid that night. We did TV appearances on Sky Sports, BT Sport and even a live St Patrick’s Day performance on BBC’s The One Show.

We got to travel around on trips and tours all around the UK and Ireland as well as Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA to mention a few. This was all just topping up the stamps on his passport that he had accrued in his days with Bad Manners, Feast of Fiddles and The Melody Fakers and many more as he spent so many years on the London Irish music scene.

Not many would know that he also wrote poetry and song lyrics, they are very clever with pun-tastic wordplay and generally came out sounding like Bernard Cribbins songs with titles like ‘Breakfast Epiphanies’ or the Brighton-themed song ‘All Things Brighton Beautiful’. He used to always say

“I try to be serious but the humour always takes over”

He did, however, manage to pen two of the best songs on our latest album, he was very proud of his songs ‘Disorganised Crime’ and the beautiful ‘Clouds’. Drummers writing songs?! Whatever next?! He truly was the engine room of the band, a quiet and gentle man off stage who turned into a one man wrecking ball when he was sat behind his drum kit.

Things will never be the same without him but he would want us to and we will carry on making music and playing his songs.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on drums.. Mr Carlton Hunt

This is the 5th year of us making these lists so if you would like to check out out who was where in our previous Best Of’s then just click on the link below the relevant year.

We are not alone in doing these Best Of lists in fact all the major players in celtic-punk do them so click below to check out what they thought.

CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE

FOLK’N’ROCK

PADDYROCK

MERSEY CELT PUNKS

SHITE’n’ONIONS

MacSLONS IRISH RADIO

CELTICPUNK.PL

remember any views or comments we would love to hear them…

 Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- January, 2018

INTERVIEW WITH GARETH OLVER FROM THE AUSTRALIAN RADIO SHOW ‘THE CELTIC PUNKCAST’

We never shut the feck up about how brilliant Australian celtic-punk is so we are pleased as punch to present to you this interview with Gareth from the Celtic Punkcast radio show. He gives the lowdown on who the movers and shakers are over there, what its like living in the bush and a whole lot more.

“The best Celtic punk, Celtic rock & folk punk from around the world on this podcast”

Right we have always said that the Australian celtic-punk scene is the best in the world and that the bands in it are as well. When any idea how the celtic-punk scene started in Oz? Who were the first bands, the first concerts or festivals. Who from overseas made the biggest impact?  It’s a pretty good scene over here that’s for sure. We definitely have some world class acts here in Australia. When it comes to Celtic Punk I guess it’d be artists like Roaring Jack who got the scene going here, they were contemporaries of bands like The Pogues and The Men They Couldn’t Hang. There’s always been a strong folk and celtic scene here, bands such as Claymore who wouldn’t necessarily slot into that Celtic punk pigeonhole have been playing trad influenced music at places like the Port Fairy Folk Festival for years and they help introduce Celtic music to larger audiences. As for overseas bands that have made big impacts, obviously The Pogues were and still are really well known and popular and bands like the Dropkick Murphys are massive worldwide. The Murphys have had a couple of tunes used by the Australian Football League as well. Most people know Flogging Molly as well. In terms of influence, I’d say The Dubliners had just as bigger influence as anyone though, especially when it came to people staying in touch with their roots via music.

(We asked Gareth to pick the three best videos to represent Aussie celtic-punk and his first choice was ‘Riot On Race Day by Shambolics)

Who are the main players in the scene at the moment? Are you all missing The Rumjacks?  Oh yeah, we definitely are missing them! Honestly I didn’t realise how big The Rumjacks are outside of Australia. Probably after them would be The Go Set, The Ramshackle Army and even artists like The Dead Maggies do a great job holding down their part of the world. It’s been great to see some Oz bands get over to the states in recent years as well as over here too. In fact we see more of you then we do American bands!

The massive distances between cities in Australia must cause lots of problems for touring and networking but does this also mean that you have developed a certain sound or way for each area independent of each other?  Interesting question and one I probably don’t have the knowledge to answer. I think that social media and the internet in general makes networking so much easier. Anyone can find bands in any part of the world which is very cool. As for touring, I don’t really know, might have to ask Benny Mayhem about that one, he’s a Perth lad! Funny enough it was Benny himself who told me that when he was over in the summer!

You run a Celtic-punk radio show? Whats the deal behind that? How does it work? Give us an idiot proof way to listen to it.  Well the easiest way to listen is to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or follow on Podbean. Most podcast catchers have it on there though. Podcasts are great because of the convenience of them, you can listen whenever and wherever you want. The other way to catch the show is the weekly show on Blues & Roots Radio, which is a fairly large online radio network. Putting together a one hour podcast/weekly radio show usually takes me a couple of hours, between getting music sorted, the actual recording, editing and post production. Once I’ve done all that the podcast gets uploaded which can take about 30 minutes to an hour depending on whether Podbean is being cooperative or not. The weekly radio show when it’s done gets sent to Stevie Conner, who’s the head of BRR in Toronto and he slots it into the schedule. My show is meant to merely be a showcase for the bands who make such great music and there was a bit of an opening for another Celtic punk podcast. There was already some awesome shows like Paddy Rock, Irish Power Hour and the Shite’n’Onions podcast, so if I could complement them I’d be stoked. 

How did you get into celtic-punk? Do you have Celtic ancestors. A hell of a lot of Aussies do so do they make up the bulk of your audience?  Like most people my age it was probably the Dropkick Murphys who were my gateway band to the genre. First song I heard was The Warriors Code on a compilation CD and it just pumped me right up. From there I discovered bands like Flogging Molly, Flatfoot 56, Blood Or Whiskey and The Tossers who are probably my favourite band. I do have Celtic ancestry, my family came to Australia from Kernow (Cornwall) and I also have Welsh in there too. My wife’s heritage is Irish and Scottish so my kids almost have the Celtic crescent covered! As for the audience, it’s really a mixed bag, some from Australia, a lot in North America and some from the UK & Europe. Anyone who wants to listen is more than welcome wherever they’re from.

You’re based in Victoria but is there much of an Irish community there? People say that the Irish diaspora is smaller but has there been a noticeable decline, especially with emigration from Ireland still at peak levels? It does seem to me that here in London the new arrivals are not interested in Irish music. They seem to be wealthier and emigrating for ‘fun’ and in their gaps year rather than to escape poverty like in the past.  I am a Victorian, I live on a property about 200km west of Melbourne, in the Grampians. Spectacular part of the world. Where I live has a population of between 350-500 people, so only a wee place. Some parts of the state like the south west you really notice the Irish influence, especially in towns like Koroit, Casterton and Killarney. Koroit and Killarney both have yearly Irish festivals. We still see a lot of Irish people come to Australia, but mainly backpackers or students. The Irish mates I have for the most part are fans of Celtic punk, and they all still have that appreciation for the trad stuff too which is cool. It’s when it comes to shite like Ed Sheeran I call them out!

Gareth’s back garden!

I would like to think so but does it follow that celtic-punk fans also listen to folk from the past or present?  Honestly, I reckon it depends on the individual. If they come from families that played that sort of music when they were growing up then they probably do, but perhaps people who were punk fans first may not necessarily listen to folk or trad. But if they don’t then I’d encourage them to give it a go, there’s some great bands out there playing folk and trad.

Which figures or bands do you think have been the important links between the past and the present and folk/celtic/traditional music and punk/rock music?  I think the standard answer would be The Pogues, who no doubt have been extremely influential on a number of bands, but I’d say you’d be looking at bands like The Dubliners, The Wolfe Tones etc who were the ones that bands like The Pogues were listening to. Even bands like The Clash that embraced different styles of music and had success with it. There’s probably plenty of unsung heroes as well, like the venues that gave some of the bands that become legends in the Celtic Punk scene starts when they were just beginning.

(Gareth’s second Aussie celt-punk BIG hitter is a new song from The Bottlers)

There’s always been a big debate about celtic-punk and whether or not it is cultural appropriation and politically correct for non-Irish bands singing about the Irish getting pissed and fighting and pubs and what have you. Personally I love it. The idea of the likes of Indonesian or Brazilian bands getting into The Dubliners and The Wolfe Tones after listening to the Dropkick Murphys. I mean its not like The Dubliners ever wrote a song about getting pissed is it? I think its just a case of snobbery but do you think it’s ok?  It doesn’t bother me too much at all, especially if it teaches people a bit about the history of the Celtic nations and Celtic people. It also helps keep the culture alive, if people from South America or Eastern Europe for example are inspired to take up the pipes or tin whistle after listening to the Murphys or Flogging Molly then that’s great. I get some people’s issues if all they see is the drink and fight stereotypes getting perpetuated or if it comes off like that faux Celtic Irish pub stuff that The Rumjacks described so perfectly but for me if people are respectful of the music and culture and they learn a thing or two then great. Honestly I’d love more people to know the Celtic history of my Cornish heritage, so if people dive in further and expand their knowledge how could that be a bad thing? Totally agree. The ideas behind ‘cultural appropriation is bad’ can be dangerous. That people cannot share cultures or even haircuts is absurd or maybe it’s just that we Celts have thicker skins?

Gareth with Jimmy from Shambolics

As we said many times we really love the Aussie take on celtic-punk. What do you think sets it apart from the celtic-punk of say the North America or Britain? It seems to have a very strong working class ethos and a Aussie slant that I can’t quite put my finger on but involves having fun and being serious at the same time, being full of mischief and after all any country that calls mates cunts and cunts mates is not half bad!  Interestingly enough I spoke a bit about this with Jimmy from the Shambolics not too long ago, he’s an Irishman who has lived in Australia for a long time and played in bush bands when he was living in rural areas. Australia has a long Celtic history, we the Celts were the ones brought out here after English colonisation and built the framework of what became Australia. They didn’t have the musical instruments from home, so they had to make do and create instruments like the bottle cap stick. They created a fusion of traditional style music with instruments created from necessity which became the bush bands that still survive in a small way today. The Australian way was we were a people who always kind of thumbed our nose at authority, enjoyed a laugh but would stand up for our mates and believed in the fair go. That spirit lives on in in the Celtic and folk punk music that comes out of this country. We as Australian people have had different experiences to people in North America and Europe and it shows in the music. When my wife was in Australia in her teens she said that she saw parliament on the TV and the MP’s were swearing at each other. That tells you what kind of place it is. My kind of place!

Celtic-punk nowadays. It seems to us that the scene over there is massive. There does seem to be more bands than before. Is this right is the scene bigger? If it is bigger has that made it more commercial/mainstream?  No I don’t think it has. Outside a couple of bands like the Dropkick Murphys and The Pogues you get blank responses to other bands. Outside the Celtic Punk scene in Australia a band like The Rumjacks are pretty well unheard of by the mainstream. Although I did hear a Go Set song on an ad the other night during the cricket so who knows?

the friendly neighbourhood wallaby

Who do you think are the best Australian bands and their best records? The ‘essential’ place to start in Aussie celtic-punk?  Well for me, I really like The Rumjacks, The Go Set, Shambolics, The Currency, The Bottlers, The Ramshackle Army, The Dead Maggies and Benny Mayhem. If people were looking for some Australian Celtic Punk albums I’d start with the Rumjacks debut ‘Gangs Of New Holland’, man that is a fecking fantastic album. Also, ‘Rising’ by The Go Set, ‘Riot On Raceday’ by The Shambolics and the new album from The Bottlers. My three year old daughter also told me to mention the Pogue Mahone album by the Shambos too, she has a meltdown if that CD gets changed in the car!

Any Aussie links you would recommend?  Honestly the best thing to do would be to check out the websites, twitter feeds and Facebook pages of some of the bands. The Triple J Unearthed site also has some good unsigned artists, just search for Celtic Punk on there and discover something new.

(Gareth’s third video this time from The Go Set who have darkened these shores many a time and each time with a growing fan base)

We are just about to publish our Best Of list for 2017 so what were your favourite releases of the year? Any you looking forward to in the coming months?  Man last year was a great year for albums in these genres, any year you have new albums from most of the big guns like the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, The Tossers, The Real Mackenzies, Flatfoot 56 etc is a bloody good year, but my  favourite release for 2017 was ‘In It For Life’ by Black Anemone. That was a kick arse album. Loved the new Tossers album as well as the ones released by The Kilmaine Saints, The Peelers, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Craic, Dreadnoughts and The Bottlers. The new Real McKenzies album was great too. For 2018 I’m looking forward to the new album from 1916 and the new stuff The Mahones are releasing. Four new albums this year apparently! Yeah plenty of bands there that feature in our Best Of 2017. Stay tuned!

Thanks for taking time out of your schedule so all that’s left is for you to plug plug plug the Radio show and is there anything else you want to add or anyone you want to thank? Been my pleasure chatting to you guys, thanks for your support of the show, I really appreciate it. So subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave a review or hit me up on Twitter, Facebook or email me. Check out the schedule on Blues And Roots Radio as well to see the weekly shows schedule. I’d love to thank anyone who’s listened, chatted, shared the show and supported it, especially the bands who’ve supported the show as well as Stevie, Annie and Neil from BRR for giving the show a bigger audience and of course London Celtic Punks, Waldo from the Celtic & Folk Punk blog, the Mersey Celtic Punks, shout out to big fans Peter, Erin and Jennie and to anyone I’ve forgotten sorry. Oh and of course my wife and two girls. Can’t forget them.

You can listen to the latest January edition of the Celtic Punkcast at the link below. Simply cli for just over an hour of the best Celtic-Punk of the past and the present.

To find previous editions visit the web-site click the link

CELTIC PUNKCAST

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If you as interested as I am in Australian celtic-punk then two sites worth checking out on Facebook are Aussie Celtic Punks and Australian Folk Punk Scene.

GET IN THE FESTIVE SPIRIT WITH THIS CHRISTMAS CELTIC PUNK TOP-TWENTY!

It’s the first of December so let your pint glass be half full for a change and get into the festive spirit with what started as a Top Ten but but soon became the London Celtic Punk’s Top Twenty of the best kick-arse Christmas celtic-punk tunes ever written and absolutely no surprises at #1.

20. THE PRIESTS FEATURING SHANE MacGOWAN-  ‘Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth’

Yeah you read that right. It may not quite reach the heights of Bing’n’Bowie but feck it nothing this man does is anything short of brilliant!

19. THE RUFFIANS- ‘Christmas In Killarney’

The Ruffians cover the holiday classic Christmas in Killarney on their 2005 Christmas EP Together at Christmas.

18. REILLY- ‘Paddy’s Christmas’

Milwaukee Celtic punk band Reilly’s version of Snoopy’s Christmas, now called Paddy’s Christmas on their 2008 album Kick Ass Celtic Christmas.

17. THE GOBSHITES- ‘Christmas Eve in the Boozer’

Boston Celtic punk band The Gobshites’ cover of the Yobs’ Christmas Eve in the Boozer. On The Gobshites’ album When the Shite Hits the Fan.

16. IRISH ROVER – ‘Christmas Time In Hells’

Performed entirely by  Rover MacChroi and one for the miserablists out there. This guys glass is definitly half empty!

15. DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘AK47 [All I Want For Christmas Is An]’

Proof the Murphs can do no wrong…

14. THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Auld Lang Syne’

Now not strictly a Christmas song but I’ve met Scots who actually enjoy Hogmaney (New Years Eve) more than Christmas!

13. THE MAHONES- ‘Angels Without Wings/Merry Christmas Baby’

From The Mahones 2012 album Angels & Devils here is their awesome Christmas song featuring Felicity Hamer.

12. SHANE MacGOWAN- ‘Christmas Lullaby’

Gotta love this tune. Irish blues with a punk rock edge. McGowan nails it again.

11. STIFF LITTLE FINGERS- ‘White Christmas’

Belfast punk rock legends, and still going from strength to strength, cause Bing to rotate in his grave with this which appeared on the B-side of ‘The Edge’ 7″ in 1979.

10. SHILELAGH LAW- ‘Christmas in New York’

Christmas is many things to many people. I will always remember that a good mate Steve died on Christmas Eve and so it’s also a good time to think of those who have passed and raise a glass to them. Here’s a tribute to the victims of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001, by NY’ers Shilelagh Law.

9. MALASAÑERS- ‘Xmas Tree’

Rousing celtic-punk from Spain and available to download for free at: malasaners.bandcamp.com. Watch out for their new album due any day soon.

8. FINNEGAN’S HELL- ‘Drunken Christmas’

Sweden’s Finnegan’s Hell deliver an unorthodox Christmas anthem and yeah, yeah, yeah some Irish stereotyping sure but get over yourselves. What is it you think The Dubliners sang about? My house at Christmas was more like this than what you see on the BBC I can tell you. Anyway judge for yourself!

7. CelKILT- ‘Santa Santa!’

CeltKilt from France even released a full album of Christmas themed songs Kiltmas Songs! in 2015 and as they say themselves, and it sounds better in French I think, “festive celtic rock celtique festif”.

6. THE WAGES OF SIN- ‘Merry Christmas from the Wages’

Enjoy the festive sights, sounds, and smells of the season with Wages Of Sin and their first, and possibly last, holiday single!

5. DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE- ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’

Possibly a bit much for this Catholic Bhoy to bare so if you of a delicate disposition skip to #6. It is hilarious though from this Oregon band from their 2007 album Christmas Songs for Drunken Atheists.

4. THE GENTLEMEN- ‘Oi! To The World’

Oi to the world! so said old punkers The Vandals and this cover by The Gentlemen from West Virginia captures perfectly. One of the celtic-punk scenes most under rated bands does anyone know what became them? Any family opening up Christmas presents to this album is an top one in my book.

3. THE NARROWBACKS- Prodigal Son(I’ll be home for Christmas)

Part filmed at Paddy Reilly’s in New York this song actually brought a tear to my eye when I first heard it. After a couple of years of not speaking to my Mammy after a stupid argument we had only just made up. Kids look after your family. Keep them close and love them lots.

2. THE DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘The Seasons Upon Us’ (2016)

Unfortunate to go up against The Pogues this is The Murphys superb Christmas epic. Hilarious video of Irish-American life. Sure to lift the spirits.

1. THE POGUES FEATURING KIRSTY MacCOLL- Fairytale Of New York

When you see other Christmas best of list’s they always put ‘Arguably the greatest Christmas song of all time’ well we’ve no time for that bollocks. It is without a doubt THE greatest Christmas song of all time so there! R.I.P Kirsty

so there’s our Top Twenty. If you think we missed any post in the comments as is usually the way with these things we couldn’t stop there so bubbling under here’s one to play loud and proud!

…and so we end with some great words “let’s not fight tonight”. Just listen to The Ramones instead.

TEN YEARS WAITING FOR FLATFOOT 56 AND NEARLY OVER!

I can’t believe it but yes it’s been a decade since they first stepped foot on our shores and Chicago’s Flatfoot 56 are back! That gig inspired the setting up of the London Celtic Punks so we are as happy as Larry to be able to present their gigs in North and South London at the end of this month. This is a band with severe crossover appeal from the most hardcore of punk rockers to all lovers of fiddly-diddly and trad. With a support bill of the best in celtic and folk-punk that this island has to offer be sure not to miss them on their tour.

By Gerard Mellon

They say good things come to those who wait. Well this time that saying has proved true, because, after a 10 year wait, Flatfoot 56 are returning to these shores. Regarded by experts as being true heavyweights of the Celtic Punk scene, these gigs are not to be missed. They come, showcasing their ‘Album of the Year’ contender “Odd Boat”, along with a back catalogue of truly awesome proportions. These fellas are the real deal.

Formed in 2000 on the South Side of Chicago, FF56 was originally a three-piece family punk band featuring the Bawinkel brothers, Tobin (Vocals Guitar), Justin (Drums), and Kyle (Bass). A year later it was the addition of Josh Robieson (Pipes, Mandolin & Guitar), that gave the band it’s distinct Celtic flavour. The following year saw their first album released, “Rumble of 56”, a raw mix of punk and spirituality that displays some fantastic musicianship. It is clear to see that these guys were brought up in very musical surroundings! The pipes play an integral part in making the overall sound of the album quite unique. Their second release “Waves of War” followed in 2003. Very similar to “Rumble”, it still has that raw edge mixed with spiritual lyrics and dynamic rhythms. 2006 brought us “Knuckles Up”, with some rousing tracks that seem to make you want to join in. The dynamic rhythm of drums and bass is still there, joined by some wonderful mandolin and guitar playing and of course the pipes still sounding out a clarion call. It would be great if we got to hear some of these tracks while they’re here!

2007 saw the release of “Jungle of the Midwest Sea” and I don’t know if it was a change of record label or if their own personal circumstances changed, but this album, for me anyway, marked a change for the band. It is a subtle change, but noticeable all the same. The raw edge seems to be polished a bit, the song writing appeals to a broader audience. Maybe it was just a natural growth, but it took the guys up a notch or two. The classic “Warriors” is on this disc along with a dozen other gems! It wasn’t until 2010 that we got another album, but like I said at the beginning, good things are worth waiting for! “Blackthorn” is an absolute powerhouse of an album, there isn’t a duff track on it! From the anthemic ‘Born for This’ to the ballad ‘Shiny Eyes’, it is a masterpiece. If they just performed this album live at the end of the month, we would be the luckiest punters out there!! 2012’s “Toil” comes along and it is equally as good, more outstanding music from a band that has become a five-piece. Josh Robieson departing with Brandon Good (Mandolin, Harmonica, Guitar & Vocals) and Eric McMahon (Bagpipes, Guitar & Vocals) joining. Perhaps these additions improved upon an already outstanding formula. I am so looking forward to ‘Winter in Chicago’ being performed live.

And so, we come to 2017’s “Odd Boat”, and it is superb, sublime and sensational. In a year when Flogging Molly, Dropkick Murphys and The Tossers all brought out albums, this one stands head and shoulders above them all. If only to hear ‘Ty Cobb’ performed, you should go to see them. There was another personnel change for this album, with Justin departing and Conrad Allsworth (Drums) joining. Take a look at some of the FF56 You Tube vids from the Cornerstone festival in America if you want to see why everyone is so excited about this band arriving here. I, along with others, am travelling from the west coast of Ireland specifically to see them. Because not only are they one of the most original and exciting bands producing records at the moment, they are also one of the top live acts performing right now. Spurs are playing at Wembley and FF56 are playing in Tottenham, surely that should be the other way around!! We are so lucky to be able to see them perform live and hopefully, if everything goes well, it won’t be another 10 years before we see them again.

FLATFOOT 56

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(you can have a listen to the new album Odd Boat in it’s entirety by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below you luck sods)

LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS FLATFOOT 56 LIVE IN KINGSTON AND LONDON

Yes a decade after their only London show stars of the Celtic-Punk scene FLATFOOT 56 are back in London. All the way from South Chicago, Illinois they are comparable to the Dropkick Murphys or Flogging Molly in the same breadth! Will we see the awe-inspiring crowd participation “wall of death” mosh pit? Who knows but their grab bag of musical influences from Oi! and punk to folk and traditional Irish Celtic sounds is sure to stir the emotions and get your feet moving.
Support acts for the Kingston and London gigs are THE LAGAN and MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS and two solo acts ANDREW PALEY from PAPER AND PLASTICK and WARSHY from CRAZY ARM with DJ GREENFORD BHOY taking us into the night playing all yer favourite Irish, rock, rebel and folk. For the running order for each night check the Facebook event page below.

Sunday 26th November 2017

Flatfoot 56 arrive in Heathrow from Chicago and hightail across to Kingston in sorta South London (but don’t say that to anyone in K-Town!) to grace the stage at one of our favourite venues The Cricketers in Kingston. Doors at 7pm sharp. The Cricketers, 20 Fairfield South, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2UL. Tel. 0208 549 4394. Venue web site here. Plenty of parking in front of the venue and it’s only a short walk from the rail station. The music venue is upstairs and the sound here is quite simply superb! It’s £6 in and it’s PAY ON THE DOOR so we recommend an early arrival. Join the Facebook event here.

Monday 27th November 2017

Yeah I know it’s a bloody school night but you gonna miss it so you don’t feel a bit knackered at work on the Tuesday? Don’t be mental! Live at TChances in North London, 399 Tottenham High Road, London, N17 6QN it’s just a short walk from Seven Sisters tube on the Victoria line or White Hart Lane/ Tottenham Hale rail stations. Buses galore. The venue is opposite Tottenham Police Station if you get lost and has ample free parking. Facebook event here. Tickets are £7 in advance more on the door and

LONDON TICKET’S AVAILABLE FROM HERE

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

FromTheBand

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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: 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.

Buy Life Is Good

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Contact Flogging Molly

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

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

FromTheBand

Contact The Moorings

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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

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  • 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.

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

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Contact the Pitmen

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EP REVIEW: UNION BLOOD- ‘Working Class Pride’ (2017)

From the land of pipes and drunx comes this new EP of streetpunk and Oi! from Galician band Union Blood.

union-blood-ep
Bit of a departure for London Celtic Punks with this EP from the newly formed Street punk band Union Blood. Formed last Summer in A Coruña in Galicia now that city may ring a bell for celtic-punk fans as it is the home town of famous celtic celtic-punk band Bastards On Parades. As it goes Union Blood began last year as a side project but as Bastards On Parade announced on their Facebook page
“Hey! We wanted to let you all know that we are taking a break for a while. Different circumstances don’t let us keep the rhythm of traveling and tours we used to, so we will wait for the right time to come back as this band deserves.
See you soon you bastards!! Cheers”
Now Bastards On Parade, who took their name from the Dropkick Murphys song and played with them numerous times, worked their collective arses off over the years with their touring and even washed up over here a couple of times including a short and not particularly well organised tour (by us!) with The Lagan. So they are deserving of a break but what has stepped into the breach in the meantime you ask? Well what we have here is Union Blood’s first release and it has all the influences of Oi! bands past and present that you would expect flowing through it. Now I never been a skinhead but use to be a big fan of Oi! and one of the things about Oi! is that it was/is the British sound that completely dominates. Bands like The 4-Skins, Cock Sparrer and the Rejects seem to influence every band no matter where they come from and Union Blood are no different.

from left to right: Ruper, Arenga, Dopi, David

The EP begins with ‘Working Class Pride’ and its straight forward skinhead rock with David’s welcome, and familiar, voice rasping his way through a fast and catchy as hell number about having pride in your background. In a world where the working classes are hated by the elites (to be fair they always have been) for not voting the way they are told or being coarse or unruly and for simply not doing as we are told we only have each other. With the left around the world hellbent on destroying itself by the adoption of lunatic and poisonous identity politics a new left is needed that in the words of someone who should know is a new left that is
“from the class, for the class, of the class”

‘Reckless And Bones’ is up next and the chugging guitars are still evident but also the catchy gang chorus and “whoa whoa” too. Traces of Bastards On Parade here and with a piper in there we would be away!
The best song on the EP for me is the anti-fascist anthem ‘Blood On The Streets’ and cor blimey guv’nor it is a cracker. I won’t stray in cockney rhyming slang I promise but this song is an almighty foot tapper and fist shaker. Slightly slower and a lot heavier than previous tracks but by God it’s a class song.

The EP ends with the song ‘Brawlers’ which is another great song and dedicated to the Bhoys football team Deportivo de La Coruña. So there you have it songs about brotherhood, football, drinking and fighting the good fight. All played in such a way that if you were a fan of Bastards On Parade you would love this too. Great songs with interesting and well thought out lyrics and, most importantly of all, extremely good and catchy songs!
(you can have a listen to the EP below but only two songs feature so to get the whole four tracks you will have to buy the vinyl single)
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ALBUM REVIEW: THE TOSSERS- ‘Smash The Windows’ (2017)

From the predominantly Irish neighborhoods of Southside Chicago The Tossers have been expanding the boundaries of contemporary Irish music since before much better known bands had even begun and have become one of the most popular and successful bands in the worldwide celtic-punk scene.

By Shane O’Neill

tossers

Only a few weeks into 2017 and we have already seen a whole host of fantastic album’s being released onto the scene. The Tossers are celtic-punk heavyweights and they hail from Chicago, Illinois. To be exact they hail from the South of Chicago. This is the part of Chicago that has housed the cities Irish Catholic community ever since they first started arriving from the ‘auld country’. The immigrant history of Chicago is rooted among untold amount of countries and people whose struggles and adversities have led them to the Midwest and to Chicago. From the cities founding in the 1830’s, Chicago has been the final destination for people journeying from all over the world looking for the famed land of opportunity that is the US of A.  It may surprise people to know that in a city known as ‘Chicago Polonia’, and also ‘Poletown’, that it is the Irish that constitute the city’s biggest ethnic community. While most Irish-American families in Chicago are three or four generations deep, plenty of Chicago’s Irish have landed fairly recently. Ireland’s economy in the 1980’s and 1990’s prompted many of its young people to go where many others had gone before them and Chicago with it’s strong Irish links was if not top of the list then very close to it.

tossers-erin

It’s hard to believe that the self-proclaimed ‘World’s Loudest Folk Band’ have been around for twenty-four years now, forming as they did in July, 1993. The six piece from south Chicago have been unleashing their brand of Celtic folk punk even before Dropkick Murphy’s (1996) and Flogging Molly (1997) hit the scene. Steeped in Irish tradition, The Tossers take their place as one of the finest Celtic punk bands on the planet. Like most bands of this genre you can clearly hear the influences of The Pogues and Tony Duggins style of delivering the vocals is frighteningly close to Shane McGowan. That said, The Tossers are not a tribute act – far from it. They have a very unique way of delivering a fine but hooligan like take on folk music. The band’s name though for us here in Britland is an unusual one and would I think effect their t-shirt sales here. Saying that one of the blog editor’s wears his Tossers t-shirt with pride and I must say it suits him fine! Rest assured though it’s not the rude meaning you lot think it is as it actually dates back to Shakespeare, and depending who you ask it also means commode, drunk, to agitate, disturb, or disquiet but the band chose their name for its meaning to “throw away”.

tossers-band

Smash The Windows is due for release early March 2017 and comes four years after their last album hit the streets, the astounding The Emerald City back in March 2013. You can read our review of The Emerald City here and I suggest you do as it is a fantastic album that i still play regularly. Smash The Windows is certainly value for money with a total of seventeen songs that clock in at just under one hour in length. That is definitely a well packed album and there’s something in there for everyone. The album pays tribute to the bands Irish roots and what it meant to be an Irish American.

The album begins with ‘Erin Ga Bragh’ which is of course Irish for Ireland For Ever and The Tossers nail their colours to the mast from the very off. Fast and furious Irish punk rock played on mainly acoustic instruments that would equally please the most devout punk or folky! ‘Smash The Windows’ and ‘The Horses’ are both full of energy and I can imagine them being a real hit live. There is a cracking cover of ‘The Foggy Dew’ which is always a crowd pleaser. I have never really been a fan of the song ‘Danny Boy’ (not sure why) but I must say I really like The Tossers version. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Celtic Punk without a tribute to our beloved alcohol. ‘Drinking All The Day’, ‘Whiskey’ and ‘Lots Of Drops Of Brandy’ ticks this box on the new album. ‘1969’ brings us back to a darker time in Ireland’s history during the Civil Rights campaign and serves as a reminder that we should never forget what the brave people of the time fought for on our behalf. In today’s world, we take too much for granted and forget that without the sacrifices of many back in the 60’s and 70’s things could have been very different today. There are too many good tunes on this album to pick a favourite. Not one of them have disappointed. The album is being released by Victory Records and will be a big hit.

The Tossers Logo

Again on this album one of the things that amazes me is the way that The Tossers can change tempo and go from a raucous Irish punk rock number to a solemn reflective Irish ballad or a full on trad folk piece without you even noticing. The Tossers are more than just a band to their fans. They inspire and promote a love in your roots that is sadly missing for most people. They tell the tale of both Chicago and America’s Irish communities. Serious and piss-taking and joyful and sad and upbeat and maudlin The Tossers do it all and yes we Irish are all of these things… and The Tossers celebrate it all.

Discography

The Pint of No Return (1994) * We’ll Never Be Sober Again (1996) * The Tossers/The Arrivals- split (1998) * Long Dim Road (2000) * Citizen Fish/The Tossers- split (2001) * The First League Out From Land-EP (2001) * Communication & Conviction: Last Seven Years (2001) * Purgatory (2003) * Live At The Metro ’04 (2004) * The Valley of the Shadow of Death (2005) * Agony (2007) Gloatin’ and Showboatin’: Live on St. Patrick’s Day (2008) On a Fine Spring Evening (2008) The Emerald City (2013)

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HUNGARIAN CELTIC PUNK WEEK! EP REVIEW: FIRKIN- ‘Into The Night’ (2017)

Our Hungarian Celtic Punk week continues with the second of our three reviews and this time it stars the wonderful Firkin. As they say on their press “Firkin should not be seen, Firkin must be experienced! Firkin is good, firkin’ good!” and for once when talking about European celtic punk I can agree! For the final installment check back in a couple of days.

firkin-into-ep

Well here’s the second part of our Hungarian triple header. An EP released by one of the more prominent and internationally well known of the Hungarian celtic-punk bands. Firkin’s appeal doesn’t just stop with celtic-punk fans and they are one of the biggest bands in Hungary full stop and these days quite a draw across Europe too. Formed in 2008 in the Hungarian capital of Budapest they have released a bunch of albums and toured numerous times including playing an absolutely stunning one-off show in London on New Years Eve 2015. The gig drew in equal numbers of Hungarian ex-pats and London celtic punks that raised the bloody roof off the Dublin Castle! Certainly if putting in the hard work gets you the glory then Firkin have been working overtime to get the attention they deserve. Their original vocalist Barna left since recording their last album, which we reviewed here, but new singer Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin have carried on without pause or even catching breath!

firkin-band

Into The Night starts off with the title song ‘Into the Night’ and you can spot from the very off the different approach Firkin have to celtic-punk than The Crazy Rogues, who we reviewed the other day here. A far heavier sound erupts from the speakers and they manage to have both a trad Irish and punk sound going on at the same time. Their are some similarities though. The fiddle leads the way and also flute which is used a lot here to great effect. One of my favourite memories of that London NYE gig was PJ’s playing. You just couldn’t take your eyes off him so amazing was he to watch. For an instrument that sounds so Irish it does surprise me that not more bands use in it the scene especially when you hear bands like Firkin utilising it so well. Andy also sings in English and has a very strong and clear voice and again there is a very clear story telling way of writing song lyrics going on here. If they get off to a storming start to the EP they follow it up with the more Irish trad folk based ‘Flowers’. A beautiful song that shows Andy’s voice can easily manage both the folk and punk side to Firkin. Hey I tells you if your mammy wouldn’t like this this song then she got no taste! A song that swirls around Andy’s voice which is used another instrument alongside the flute here. Originally known as ‘The Flower of Magherally’ it has been recorded in the past mainly by the Irish trad community so was unknown to me but what a bloody good version this is I straight away thought.

We have a much more widely known cover up next with ‘Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye’. Mainly famous in these circles I would have thought for the Dropkick Murphys recording that Firkin stick fairly close to. A fast paced punky song with shouty chorus and fiddle lead. First published in 1867 and written by Joseph B. Geoghegan it remained popular in Britain and Ireland and the United States into the early years of the 20th century but it was when it was recorded by The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem in 1961 that lead to a renewal of its popularity. An anti-war song that was used to great effect to stop Irishmen joining the British Army the story tells of an Irish woman who bumps into her former lover near Athy, Co. Kildare, Ireland. He is badly disfigured, losing his legs, his arms, his eyes and his nose and is now begging. The woman though is happy to see him and the implication is that she looks after him so for once a happy ending in an Irish song! The EP comes to an end with a bonus song that I have heard before. ‘Focimese’ was the song that Firkin wrote for the European Football Championship last year to support the Hungarian football team. It’s a rollicking great tune with plenty “La, La, La, La La’s” to keep the fans happy and a chugging guitar that accompanies the fiddle. A song that inspired the team to top their initial group before sadly losing to Belgium 4-0 in the Round Of 16. Four great tunes that show exactly why Firkin are so sought after across Europe. A absolutely perfect mix of Irish and punk rock with a real story telling way to them and on top of that a really good live show as well.

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So all in all our Hungarian celtic-punk week gets another thumbs up. Don’t forget to check back in a couple of days for our final installment. If you are interested in finding out more about the great celtic-punk scene in Hungary (and you better be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here.

ALBUM REVIEW: BLACK WATER COUNTY- ‘Taking Chances’ (2017)

Dorset based six-piece celtic-punk band Black Water County’s debut album for this reviewer is as good as ANYTHING to be released this year.  Music to proper “beat up the floor to” !!

bwc-chances

Sandwiched between album releases by such celtic-punk greats such as the Dropkick Murphys, The Real McKenzies, The Tossers and Flatfoot 56 is this wonderful album by one of the best bands in the English scene Black Water County. Truly it’s no exaggeration to say that Taking Chances will be neck and neck with the aforementioned bands come the end of the year Best Of poll’s. Formed in Dorset, on the English south-coast, back on St Patrick’s Day in 2013 they celebrate only their 4th anniversary this year and in that time they have the folk/celtic-punk scene here alight and with this album hopefully their popularity will spread beyond these shores. Dorset and the surrounding area has been a mecca for celtic style punk bands for well over a decade with a whole host of bands plying their trade. People may think that London is some hot bed of celtic-punk activity but truth be told the real powerhouse is down there on the south coast of England! Most of them are gone now but several fantastic bands are still playing in each others backyards and all support each other with a friendly rivalry that most music scene’s could only dream of.

(debut EP Welcome To The Black County)

With basically the same line up since day one it’s not just the music that holds these Bhoys and Ghirl together but also the bonds of friendship. Famed for their energetic live show and their stout quaffing, banjo breaking, tin whistle mangling music Black Water County ‘s busy schedule seems them gigging away all over the south of England and building up an army of fans that sees many sold out and packed out shows along the way. They have two releases under their belts thus far with their debut EP Welcome To The Black Water County coming out in 2013 and following it up in 2014 with The Fellowship Of The Craic. Both achieved a high level of critical success from the celtic-punk media and around Dorset and has left us all eagerly awaiting Taking Chances to see if it’s as good as we are hoping.

(follow up EP The Fellowship Of The Craic)

The album kicks off with ‘Start Something New’ and right from the very first seconds you know it’s Black Water County. Released as the second single from the album a couple of weeks ago it’s fast, it’s furious, it’s fun and it’s f’ing brilliant as well. Everyone in the band gets a chance to showcase what they do and they do in every single song. Tim’s vocals suit the music perfectly with a voice that can easily switch between the punkier tunes to the more subtle celtic songs with ease.

(video filmed and edited by Marriane Harris)

Andy’s drumming is loud but not obtrusive and keeps the music flowing while the rest of the band swirl around and in between it. ‘The Painful Truth’ is slower but still the drumming gives it that punky edge without being over the top. A track that on the face of it owes much to Flogging Molly but when i really listened to it sounds nothing like them but a whole lot like Black Water County. They definitely inhabit the Molly’s side of celtic-punk rather than the Dropkick Murphys but they have managed to carve out a sound of their own within a scene that does sometimes lack in originality. What have been the Irish musical influences that have seen them get here is a question for another day but BWC haven’t just downed the Flogging Molly songbook and regurgitated it that’s for sure. Shan gets her first chance on the album to shine vocally sharing vocals with Tim on ‘Way Down Low’ and Gavin’s mandolin is the other star of this song. Expertly played and one of the features of this band live is watching his fingers as he plays with steam coming off them!

They don’t let the speed drop off for a second and I can attest that they are like this live as well. No time to breathe as they sweep through. On ‘If Only You Were Here’ Shan sings alone while Bradley and Tim hammer their guitar and bass in the album’s punkest song. Well you think they gonna follow this up with a ballad but the slow start is just a con and before long their thrashing away again with tin whistle dominating ‘Rise and Fall’. We at the half way point now and no sign of ‘The Irish Rover’ either. ‘One More Beer Won’t Hurt’ was the first song to be released from Taking Chances and quite rightly takes it’s place as the standout track of the whole album. Not to say there is much in it as every song here could take that title at one time or another.

Again this is classic Black Water County and they are doing in without sounding like anyone else. Tim’s voice again stands out in this joyful song and the bands lyrics are told in that story telling way we love here in London Celtic Punks. The right mix of humour and seriousness certainly belies Tim’s youth though that beard does make him look older! Re-recorded from the single version I do think it misses Shan on backing vocals but that’s only a minor gripe. Finally we get a ballad with ‘Memories from Another Life’ and it’s long been established that the older celtic-punk fans get the more we like the ballads! Shan is back on lead vocals on the longest song here of five and a half minutes. A country tinged ballad of love and pain and loss. They can’t help themselves and the song speeds up at the end making it something you could imagine Bruce Springsteen 2017 singing. We get a brass section on following song ‘Rambling Johnny’ which chucks in an unexpected ska beat and we are away with what must be a live favourite I’m sure. Had me nodding the head listening to it anyway! ‘No Regrets’ continues with the brass section and the album is getting more and more rockier with a song that could easily get in the set of ska-punk legend’s the Voodoo Glow Skulls.

(not the album version but still great)

We are nearing the end of Taking Chances and it’s been one hell of a ride I can tells you. Penultimate song ‘Under Skies of Black and Blue’ slows it down for about five seconds and they seem to determined to go out fighting with another fast as hell country tinged celtic-punk song. The only band member here who so far hasn’t received a mention is fiddle player Russell and I hope I don’t embarrass him now by heaping ten tonnes of praise onto his shoulders. Simply fantastic playing all the way through this album. Where required the fiddle comes through loud and clear and those other times when it needs to step back again and let other instruments and voices shine it is just perfect. Taking Chances ends with ‘Seeing Is Believing’ and finally the auld fogies among us get that ballad we awaiting. Just Tim and acoustic guitar and some great positive lyrics about picking yourself up and carrying on. Some tin-whistle and understated fiddle joins in but its Tim here who leads.

BWC

Well what to say. Eleven songs that comes in at a very healthy forty-three minutes of original tunes played by a band who haven’t copied or aped anyone to get where they are. Coupled with the fact that these are some of the nicest people I have ever met through the music scene what we have here is the first installment of a band set to go onto legendary status. Yes this album is that good. From beginning to end not a bum note or a tiresome song. Each track is superb and shows a band that works together to achieve such a great sound. There are no leaders here just a bunch of friends working together to bring some of the best Irish/celtic-punk rock to your ears as is possible, despite that competition, in 2017!

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EP REVIEW: IN FOR A PENNY- ‘Every Day Should be Saint Paddy’s Day’ (2016)

Rowdy Irish folk punk from Tybee Island, Georgia in the southeastern United States
everyday-cover
The first Irish may have rowed ashore in Savannah (Georgia’s largest city) way way back in 1734 but it has taken over 280 years for an Irish band to pop up. Fortunately the wait was worth it. There’s a rich and deeply held Irish-American heritage in the Savannah with the area holding one of the oldest, and second largest in the world!, St Patrick’s Day celebrations but until 2014 it was nigh on impossible to find some local rowdy live Irish music… that was until In For A Penny came around. 

savannah-irishThe original Irish that arrived in Georgia were descendants of the Calvinist Scots who had been planted in Ulster in the 1600’s. These Irish made their living trading, trapping and soldiering. They included Sergeant William Jasper who was mortally wounded leading the charge to retake Savannah from the British in 1779 but the main chapter in local Irish history began in the 1830’s like it did with so many other Irish towns across America. With the arrival of the railway the owners needed a plentiful supply of workers willing to do the back breaking hard labour required, and that is where the Irish came in. According to ‘Irish History in Savannah, Georgia’ here

“The story goes that Irish were employed on the railroad because, unlike slaves, their bodies had no commercial value and could be worked to exhaustion with impunity. A second wave of Irish immigration followed two decades later when the ‘potato famine’ in the old country forced many to seek new shores.”

savannah-irish-festThese Irish on arrival suffered prejudice and discrimination but it was that willingness to do the dirty, dangerous and low-paid work that made them important to Savannah’s economy. As in other parts of America the Irish soon realised the best way to raise their collective lot was with political clout and they soon became, and remain still, major players in Savannah society.

Sean McNally only began playing the mandolin in 2014 after taking a few years away from the music scene but a few open mic performances and a regular solo spot which was dubbed ‘Monday Mandolin Mayhem’ and after responding to an audience request to play the Dropkick Murphys Sean realised something. If he can get such a great audience reaction to a stripped down cover song on just mando and vocals the next step was to form a band. Gathering around him old friends in Henny ‘da butcha’ on drums and Jeremy Riddle on guitar and like a celtic-punk Van Halen the last member of the band is Sean’s son Bryce on bass.

in-for-a-penny
This is In For A Penny’s second release after last years debut album, The Guardian Angel Sessions. We missed that but the good folk at Celtic Folk Punk And More never miss anything so you can read their review of that here. This EP follows pretty much the same route as the album with a handful of Irish standards butting up against a handful of self -penned songs. Needless to say I much prefer their own songs though there is nothing like a song like ‘The Rare Auld Mountain Dew’ to get the blood pumping and the ales flowing. In For A Penny have that age old problem for Irish/Celtic-punk bands. They could quite easily just keep singing the standards and the bookings would still roll in and they would keep everyone happy but every musician must have the urge to get some of their own material out and when it’s as good as In For A Penny’s then I’m afraid it is a necessity!

in-for-a-penny-skullOn Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day you get five tracks, two covers and three originals that clock in at a very healthy sixteen minutes. Its basically a collection of drinking songs with a shed load of energy all done with enough of their own approach to stand it out. The EP begins with ‘The Rare Auld Mountain Dew’ which was around for years before The Pogues and The Dubliners collaborated back in 1987 for a Top Ten hit in Britain and re-introduced it to future generations. Dating from 1882 it has become fairly popular but you’ll not hear a pumped up version like this one too often. Sean has a real strong voice that suits the style of the band completely and errs more towards to the Drew/MacGowan style of singing than the O’Donnells! Another original Whiskey in Heaven’ is up next and Sean introduces the song to his Dad and Bryce’s Grandad who sadly passed away last year. He must be well proud sitting up there with a Jameson’s in hand looking down.

“I’m not ready to go / I’m having too much fun, I’m having too much fun / When it’s my time to go /I hope there’s whiskey in heaven”
The last time he saw the band play they played ‘Whiskey In Heaven’ so seems apt to dedicate this to him. Great songwriting and  I recently heard the phrase (from a non-Irish person) about drinking songs and “racial stereotyping”. Well I can think of no better words to reply than what a load of fecking bollocks. The Irish drink. Obviously not all but it is part of our culture and if you don’t get it then keep your opinions to yourself rather than try and score points off the celtic-punk scene.
(here’s a live version with the sound quite low so get it turned up!)

Another original up next which was the first release from the EP. ‘Stumblin’ Home’ is the standout for me here with a seriously great singalong chorus and the addition of some great fiddle from one of the bands mates. You need to get this fella signed up Sean. It’s the slowest of the songs so far, or so it seems, but Sean’s vocals keep the energy right up there.

The band released the class video for ‘Stumblin’ Home’ above, which was filmed over the course of two days at various pubs, Sean’s flat and on their home streets of Tybee Island, Georgia. Have a watch and tell me you not been there too… Love the tricolour and The Rumjacks t-shirt by the way Sean!
in-for-a-pennyNext up is the bhoys St Patrick’s Day anthem ‘Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day’ and you can breathe a sigh of relief as these guys know full on well it’s not St Patty’s! Now can you just tell the rest of America for us. A bit of tin whistle comes in here and adds to the sound and as anthems go its a good ‘un. We’d all love it to be true but our livers would disagree but whens the last time we gave them a word edgeways. A great riproaring trek through Irish-America’s good and bad bits about our patron Saints feast day in which they reveal the major reason they think ‘Every Day Should Be Saint Paddy’s Day’ is that they would never be short of a place to play! The EP comes to an end with the other standout for me. ‘The Parting Glass’ was made famous by The Clancy Brothers and is the perfect way to end any record. Sean plays mandolin and sings along and I don’t know why but I find it absolutely brilliant. We all have our own reasons to like this song and usually it’s to do with someone close to us and I’m no different. Sean’s reigns in the energy and instead lets emotion come out and his hoarse raspy vocals do indeed do the song perfect justice.
If I was local to these boys then I just know we would be great mates and no doubt great drinking buddies too. In For A Penny are not pretending to be anything they’re not it’s just good old fashioned Irish music with an injection of punk rock spirit that will keep the flames alive for the next generation of Irish down Savannah way.
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ALBUM REVIEW: DROPKICK MURPHYS- ’11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’ (2017)

as reviewed by special guest writer

Frankie MacLaughlin from The Rumjacks

11-short-stories-of-pain-glory

When I was tasked with reviewing the new offering from Dropkick Murphys ’11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory’, I thought ‘shit!.. I wonder if I shouldn’t be half steamin’ in a pub with couple o’ pals in tow, instead of cooking dinner in preparation for a quiet night in, pet sitting for friends. Perhaps then I’d better appreciate the raucous, sudsy, barrage that has long been standard fare, down among its natural habitat.

I admit I was less than enthused by their early offerings, the singles ‘Blood’, ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Paying My Way’. I don’t think I’m all that alone in saying I’d been disappointed in the past, so I decided I’d need to listen with fresh ears and not hold their finest moments against them as a yardstick.

It might surprise some to learn that I dont habitually listen to a great deal of Celt-Punk, whatever music finds its way in and out of my day does so of its own accord and on its own merits. This helped make listening to ’11 Short Stories’ as impartially as I could, a hell of a lot easier, and I’ll tell you now… I like it.
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I think its safe by now to say that the Murphy’s weren’t about to come kicking in doors and changing the world, but that’s fine, they already did that, arguably several times over. After first steaming in with some proper street punk clout, they went on to spearhead the modern age of Celtic punk rock. While many of us were still busy trying to be The Pogues, these guys gave us a whole new benchmark to work to.

While the album lacks some of the punch that we’ve been treated to previously, it still has its decent share of moments. Tunes like the lead single ‘Blood’ and ‘Paying My Way’ are unashamedly crafted to get everyone in on a singalong, big rolling chants with easy to latch onto lyrics sees them at their most accessible. So too with the albums opener ‘The Lonesome Boatman’, first recorded by The Fureys in ’69, its huge atmosphere & ‘whoa-oh-whoa’ vocals would make a great set opener in the big arena.

‘Rebels with a Cause’ is just a good, solid, punk rock tune that could sit just as easily with Al Barrs efforts as part of The Bruisers, for all its rapid fire delivery. ‘Kicked to the Curb’ strikes me as a ‘fun as f#%k classic rock & roll tune, that you could take the piss & do the twist to… without feeling like you’re taking the piss.

‘Sandlot’ is as nostalgic as it gets, its acoustic guitars and almost Motown beat are refreshing. I’m sure that no matter who we are we could relate pretty easily to the sentiments on show here, particularly…

“we were rich but no one told us, we didn’t know..”
‘4.15.13’ really stands out to me as a seriously honest moment from the band. Minus all the usual bells and flashing lights that normally draw us to a Murphys tune, its a humble and very human song, which I cant help think would’ve been right at home in a Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros set.

‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ similarly rocks a little of that Motown rhythm, and I like it a lot more than when I first heard it released. Though when you’ve been to Celtic Park a bunch of times to hear 70 odd thousand heads singing the classic tune, it was always going to be a tough comparison for me… it chugs away admirably enough nonetheless. ‘First Class Loser’ is folkie singalong Murphys at their best, while ‘I Had a Hat’ is a wild old calamitous affair. Here the tune written by James Mooney and made famous by the likes of Ray Perkins and The Andrews Sisters, sounds like the fight scene in a dodgy western,.. the kind where the barman expertly ducks a flying chair and carries on polishing the glassware.

All in all what I’m hearing on this record is a band enjoying what they do, making the music they feel like making right now. I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest it was an exercise in ‘karaoke’ or ‘Dad-Rock’, although if they were to lean a little more that way, who’s going to hold it against ’em? It goes with the territory, these guys aren’t hungry young punks anymore, they’re family men, who work tirelessly and humbly in their community, a community they clearly love. I think they can be forgiven for being a little more nostalgic, or wanting to do their bit to lessen the impact of serious drugs, violence and hatred on that community. Something they’ve been particularly vocal about, especially of late, and very especially on this album.
When they finish the record with ‘Until Next Time’, singing
“We all had a good time and we’re sad to see it end…”
its nothing if not entirely believable. I think the Dropkick Murphys had a lot of fun making this record, they were as true to us all as they could be, and more importantly they were true to themselves. I for one wouldn’t be too offended if they stuck around and kept making music with that approach…
But that’s just my opinion. 
dkm-stpauliGet The Album

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frankieMajor thanks for Frankie to taking the time out to write this review and for those of you been living under a rock then that can be the only possible excuse to not know that Frankie is the singer/songwriter for Sydney celtic-punk legends THE RUMJACKS. Later this year they will be heading to the USA for a series of shows and they are intending to get back to Europe too so do yourselves a favour celtic-punk fans and get on board with The Rumjacks. It’s been one hell of a ride so far and there is no sign of it slowing down for a good while yet!

Read up on what we have had to say about The Rumjacks here. Our panel of pissheads experts even awarded them Best Celtic-Punk Album Of All Time here! Hunt them down at these- WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube  Soundcloud

SHIPPING UP TO LONDON! MICKEY RICKSHAW ON TOUR. 7th-9th JANUARY IN LONDON

Heading to these shores for the first time ever in January 2017. Ten days and counting! These awesome Boston celtic-punkers are coming to London, Kingston and Woking as part of their European tour.

We need your help in spreading the news of these gigs to anyone you know. Join the Events on Facebook and share and invite your mates. We know it’s hard trying to get people to watch relatively unknown bands but with your help lets make this tour a success for the Boston Bhoys!

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Well well well we all know that The Dropkick Murphys can’t go on for ever and with Boston’s place secured in celtic-punk folklore then who then will take on their mantle when they have retired to the great celtic-punk in the sky? Well I know a band that is more than capable and are ready and waiting in the wings to take over. That band are fellow Bostonians Mickey Rickshaw. A team of young fired up, blue collar, Irish Americans in touch with both their working class American lives and their roots back in the auld country. With Boston’s revered place in the history of punk, especially of the hardcore variety, and its massive, and vocal, Irish population its only natural that celtic-punk should have caught on so well among the Boston Irish community like nowhere else. Traditional celtic folk and punk rock aggression equals the 100% perfect sound for the Boston Irish and if the Murphys invented celtic-punk post Pogues then they have done their job well to hand the baton on to bands like Mickey Rickshaw that will take the sound on for the next generation.

With an Demo EP behind them from 2013, 16 Down and Back Again, it was their critically successful album, No Heaven For Heroes, from last year that saw Mickey Rickshaw’s name explode onto the celtic-punk scene with universal great reviews and plaudits heaped upon them from all corners of the globe. Reaching the top echelons of all the major celtic-punk Best Of lists, including #9 in the London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Of 2015 here.

So this brings onto that new album,  Behind The Eight Ball, again Mickey Rickshaw have hit the jackpot. Eleven tracks of blistering celtic-punk rock that I can’t honestly imagine anyone from yer finger in the ear folkie to yer crustie auld punk not loving the hell out of it. Whizzing past at you at just under half an hour it’s a frenetic sprint to the finish and bar a couple of moments is fast as hell celtic punk rock to be mentioned in the same breath as the Dropkick Murphys so good is this album. Celtic Folk Punk And More web site seem to have already crowned it album of the year here!

And so it is that Wild Atlantic lands across our desk. Indeed the Bhoys from Mickey Rickshaw will be crossing the said ‘wild’Atlantic’ very shortly and bringing their original and brand of celtic-punk to several cities across Europe during January 2016. With four songs, two taken from No Heaven for Heroes, one from Behind The Eight Ball and a new track all done in the stripped down acoustic style they shall be touring with it certainly loses none of its power by being acoustic and if anything proves the old adage right about you know a band is loud when they out punk an electric band with a banjo and a accordion! It’s available for free download at the link below but be warned. Once listened to you will not want to miss their gig/s I can guarantee it!!

MICKEY RICKSHAW TOUR 2017

rickshaw-stagsheadSaturday 7th January 2017 Opening night of the tour at The Stags Head, 55 Orsman Rd, Hoxton, London N1 5RA. Local bus routes include 149, 242, 243, 67. The pub borders Hoxton, Shoreditch, Dalston and Islington. 7-30pm start and admission is £5. Supports from Hastings folk-punkers MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, local female fronted Anarcho’s REFUSE/ALL, that man again COMRADE X and GREENFORD BHOY- DJ  Venue here Facebook event here

lcp-kingstonSunday 8th January 2017 at The Cricketers, 20 Fairfield South, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2UL. An absolutely fantastic venue that is only ten minutes walk from the rail station and the music venue is upstairs. Support comes from MATILDA’S SCOUNDRELS, post-punk band with a Celtic twist PHOENIX CHROI, a solo set from BRENDAN O’PREY from local celtic-punk legends The Lagan and GREENFORD BHOY- DJ. It’s a 7-30pm start and admission is just a paltry fiver. Venue here Facebook event here

lcp-wokingMonday 9th January 2016 at The Phoenix Cultural Centre, 27 Goldsworth Road, Woking, Surrey, GU21 6JT. Just a very short walk from Woking bus and rail stations. Come and say goodbye to the Bhoys and send them on their way to Europe with a smile in their hearts and with raging hangover’s! No bar in the centre only tea and coffee. Only joking it’s BYOB. Yes that’s right it’s BRING YOUR OWN BOOZE… and on a school night too! Support from COMRADE X and one more to be confirmed as well as GREENFORD BHOY- DJ. Live music from 7-30 until 10-30pm and admission is £4. Venue here Facebook Event here

Contact the band on Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE O’REILLYS AND THE PADDYHATS- ‘Seven Hearts One Soul’ (2016)

Imagine the foggy streets of long ago Dublin, crowded pubs ringing with laughter and singing, a time of sailing fishermen and people with stalwart beliefs. The past wrapped up in songs that make you want to dance and sing along till your throat demands another pint. This is what it’s like to listen to The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats!

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The O’Reillys and the Paddyhats played their debut gig at a wedding near Dortmund back in only June 2011 and since then have quickly shot to the top branches of the European celtic-punk tree. Germany has has always had a big love affair with Ireland. As a child it never ceased to amaze me that when i was over in the ‘auld country’ on my school holidays every other person seemed to be a German and their love of Ireland was clear. I remember well a conversation with some German tourist at a train station about The Wolfe Tones as a young teen while getting disapproving looks from my Grandad who though special branch were listening to every word anyone said! These Bhoys and Ghirl from the small town of Gevelsberg, just down the road from the city of Dortmund, are no different. Their love of Ireland is palpable and you can can feel it throughout this wonderful album that is sure to only improve their standing. The German celtic-punk scene is among the best in the world with bands such as Mr. Irish Bastard, Fiddler’s Green, The Porters, In Search of A Rose, The Ceili Family and the sadly deceased Auld Corn Brigade entertaining the world!

the oreillysThis is the bands follow up to their debut album Sound of Narrow Streets from September 2012 and they raised the funds for the release of Seven Hearts One Soul themselves and with the help of their loyal fans raised an incredible E8000 on crowdfunding to pay for its production in full. Recording the album in the famed Principal Studios home of legendary German punk band Die Toten Hosen just up the road from them the album is not simply your typical Irish folk punk record. All the elements are there sure and they straddle nicely the middle ground between scene giants The Murphys and the Mollys between the more folky and the more punky sides of celtic-punk but The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats have found their own niche within the scene and boy does it work well.

Seven Hearts One Soul begins with a short intro set aboard a sailing ship before ‘Black Sails’ bursts into your eardrums and we are off. Chugging guitar and great fiddle work with touches of country but firmly within the pirate tradition with a outstandingly catchy chorus. One of the things that the German celtic-punk bands don’t shy away from is Irish republicanism and I would even go so far as to say it’s one of the reasons why the Germans love us so much. ‘We All Know’ is not your standard rebel but the band give it plenty of oompf and its drives along at a great auld pace. Next is ‘Black and White’ and the banjo stands out here with a slightly slower song without losing any of the bands power. They return to pirate territory with ‘Chief of the Sea’ which starts slow before turning into a real thigh slapper. A solid backline accompanying the celtic instruments in this song about wanting rum!

The video is not the version from the album but if anything I much prefer it. Next up is the fantastic song ‘Barrels of Whiskey’ for which The Paddyhats put out a fecking brilliant video, below. Amazing fiddle here in this song, about illegally making whiskey, as throughout the album.

Follows is ‘Hey You’ and catchy as hell until the chorus kicks in and it manages to get a whole lot better and even has the tiniest bit of a ska beat chucked in there too. ‘Fair Old Lady’ is an ode to their home town of Gevelsberg and begins with acoustic guitar and has some great lyrics. ‘What I Am’ shows The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats in reflective mood with a slow ballad start that soon speeds up but could still be classed as a ballad. They have managed to record an album that captures their live sound well and if I ever get to see this band I expect to be on the receiving end of a sore throat screaming for an encore. ‘Hang By the Neck’ continues the catchyness of this album with more than a wee trace of country. The album ends with the only cover version here and ‘Black and Tans’ is a faithful version of the Dominic Behan penned Irish rebel song that is sure to get anyone’s blood pumping every time you hear it coming on!

“I was born on a Dublin street where the Royal drums do beat
And the loving English feet they tramped all over us,
And each and every night when me father’d come home tight
He’d invite the neighbors outside with this chorus

Oh, come out you black and tans,
Come out and fight me like a man
Show your wives how you won medals down in Flanders
Tell them how the IRA made you run like hell away,
From the green and lovely lanes in Killashandra”

Tin whistle leads us into this song tells of the brutal paramilitary force the British government sent to Ireland in 1919 to smash resistance and the quell the rebellion that sought to end British rule and links that fight for freedom to others around the world. The nickname ‘Black and Tans’ came from the colours of their hastily put together uniform of mixed khaki of the British Army and rifle green from the Police. With the Irish leading the way and providing inspiration others took up the mantle and fought the British Empire across the world for their own independence. Due to their murderous activities and the atrocities they committed, feelings continue to run high and a ‘Black and Tan’ or just simply a ‘Tan’ remains a term of abuse and their very mention shows they are still despised by many in Ireland. It rocks out and has the best shouty chorus of any rebel song ever written.

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left to right: Fitzgerald O’Brien (Bass) ; Sean O’Reilly (Acoustic Guitar, Flutes, Lead Vocals) ; Emily O’Farrel (Fiddle) ; Dr. Bones (Drums) ; Ian Mac Fannigan (Backing Vocals, Washboard, Chain) ; Dwight O’Reilly (Banjo, Mandolin, Accordion, Backing Vocals) ; Ryan O Leary (Step Dancer) ; Connor O’Sullivan (Electric Guitar)

Released on the 9th of April earlier this year it has been slow in reaching us and then we were a bit late in getting this review done but it has been well worth the wait. Of the eleven songs all have been written by the band with the only exception that one excellently played cover. The CD comes with an excellent 16 page booklet with all song lyrics and any other information you could possibly need. The CD also comes in a special limited edition box-set with a whole host of goodies so check out the band web-site for that. Clocking in at 35 minutes the album is a quick and highly enjoyable blast that simply bursts with energy and atmosphere. Transporting you out of your living room and into the one place this kind of music was supposed to be heard. Yes, the pub! The O’Reillys And The Paddyhats play with an passion and pride in Irish music and culture that is a joy to behold. They take us on a journey (by sea of course!) full of tales of love and loss, of rebellion and comrades and friendship and, of course, drinking. The Paddyhats show what is possible in the celtic-punk scene. That it is still possible to come up with something fresh and unique and entertaining from beginning to end.

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ALBUM REVIEW: MICKEY RICKSHAW- ‘Behind The Eight Ball’ (2016)

BOSTON CELTIC-PUNK RULES OK!

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Well well well we all know that The Dropkick Murphys can’t go on for ever and with Boston’s place secured in celtic-punk folklore then who then will take on their mantle when they have retired to the great celtic-punk guest house in the sky? Well I know a band that is more than capable and are ready and waiting in the wings to take over. That band are fellow Bostonians Mickey Rickshaw. A team of young fired up, blue collar, Irish Americans in touch with both their working class American lives and their roots back in the auld country. With Boston’s revered place in the history of punk, especially of the hardcore variety, and its massive, and vocal, Irish population its only natural that celtic-punk should have caught on so well among the Boston Irish community like nowhere else. Traditional celtic folk and punk rock aggression equals the 100% perfect sound for the Boston Irish and if the Murphys invented celtic-punk post Pogues then they have done their job well to hand the baton on to bands like Mickey Rickshaw that will take the sound on for the next generation.

(follow the link to listen to their debut album and download as ‘Pay What You Want’)

With an Demo EP behind them from 2013, 16 Down and Back Again, it was their critically successful album, No Heaven For Heroes, from last year that saw Mickey Rickshaw’s name explode onto the celtic-punk scene with universal great reviews and plaudits heaped upon them from all corners of the globe. Reaching the top echelons of all the major celtic-punk Best Of lists, including #9 in the London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Of 2015 here.

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Behind The Eight Ball was released just the other week on October 13, 2016 and was recorded and mixed and all that other malarkey in their home state of Massachusetts. Now the first thing to say about Behind The Eight Ball is that it seems to be over in a flash. Whizzing past at you at just under half an hour it’s a frenetic sprint to the finish and bar a couple of moments is fast as hell celtic punk rock to be mentioned in the same breath as the Dropkick Murphys so good is this album. Celtic Folk Punk And More web site seem to have already crowned it album of the year here!

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Mickey Rickshaw left to right: Kyle Goyette- Mandolin * Jay Tea Marchant- Bass * Shane Welch- Whistle * Jake Sullivan- Fiddle * Mike Rivkees- Guitar/Vocals * Chris Campbell- Drums * Jimmy Donovan- Guitar * Tom Donnely- Guitar

The first song out of the bag is ‘Rats in Allston’ and is a ode to Allston a neighborhood in western Boston. To say the album starts with a bang would be to put it mildly with a multitude of instruments all bursting out the speakers at you. With shades of the Murphys and also The Rumjacks this is celtic-PUNK and not for the faint hearted.

“When the sun goes down on the west in a cold cold world that we’re lost in,
You’ll be sleeping in the gutter, face down with the rats in Allston”

Great lyrics and top vocals from singer Mike Rivkees and an absolutely superb production that manages to get all the folky instruments and all the punky instruments and manages to mix them up and yet get everything crystal clear even when they are all at it at the same time.

‘Robbed in Mariscal’ begins as a ska song before mutating into hardcore punk and then flamenco and then gypsy before ending with a flourish while all the time not straying too far from the celtic-punk Mickey Rickshaw blueprint. All the songs here are self penned except for two, the first of which is modern day Scottish rebel song ‘Destitution Road’. Written by the sadly missed Alistair Hulett of Australian celtic-punk legends Roaring Jack it’s a grand version that does the song and Alistair justice. You can check out the Roaring Jack version here. Comparing the two songs it’s pretty obvious that celtic-punk has evolved in the eighteen years since the song was written. Mickey Rickshaw steam through the song in just two and a half minutes barely pausing for breathe.

“The land was cleared and the deal was made
Now an English Lord in a tartan plaid
Struts and stares as the memories fade
Of the Gaels of Caledonia
And he hunts the deer in the lonely glen
That once was home to a thousand men
And the wind on the moor sings a sad refrain
For the Gaels of Caledonia”

The band must have some clever mates as one thing they are becoming famous for is their videos. All done with great lashings of humour and self depreciation and ‘Grey Water’ is no different. A cracking video that makes you want to be right there in the crowd spilling your drink and having someone spill their drink on you. A definite standout track so get listening.

‘Monday Warning’ is another sure fire hit and although I keep mentioning the Murphys the Bhoys have developed their own sound and even though they play tribute to the Murphys here they manage to do it without aping them. ‘Ivy’ is a fast punk number but with accordion blaring out as loud as the electric guitar. The quickest song on here is ’18 Minutes Down’ about the sinking of the Lusitania during the 1st World War and is ran through in just 1:52 minutes and again they punk it up and leave you breathless just listening to it. ‘Non-Profit Warfare’ slows it down just slightly and if anything is a great example of standard celtic-punk while ‘One Life’ ramps up the speed again and is another album highlight.

“Some fall too early, some fall too hard.
Some fall together, and some fall apart.
Some fall from the top, and some fall for heart.
Some have it unfair and fall from the start”

‘Albatross’ begins ala Dreadnoughts before slowly building into a hardcore finish that belies its short length! Behind The Eight Ball comes to an end with the second of the album’s cover versions with ‘The Gael’. Written by ex-Silly Wizard member and Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean, the original by Dougie can be viewed here. You may recognise this from the movie The Last Of The Mohicans and Mickey Rickshaw give it the celtic-punk treatment with pipes, crashing drums and thrashing guitars a simply brilliant way to end the album and the perfect reverential nod back to the past. 

LONG LIVE BOSTON CELTIC-PUNK!!!!

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(listen to Behind The Eight Ball for free on the Bandcamp player below)

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  • Mickey Rickshaw will be in London from 7-9th January and we are booking the dates as we type so keep in touch with all the details as they are released by joining the Facebook event here.

ALBUM REVIEW: SMZB- ‘The Chinese are Coming’ (2016)

The new album celebrating the twentieth anniversary of SMZB.

One of the scene’s best bands and the only celtic-punk band in China!

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yes.. look again!

Celtic-punk in 2016 is truly a global music genre. Gone are the days when it was the preserve of spotty second, third or fourth generation Irish kids and welcome now to the World Of Celtic-Punk! SMZB hail from Wuhan in mainland China and were one of the first original Chinese punk bands forming in 1996. The name SMZB means Sheng Ming Zhi Bing and in English is literally, ‘Bread of Life’. Unsurprisingly when you hear their music the Chinese authorities have never taken kindly to them and so three of their albums have been banned at home. Sometime around the mid-noughties they made the decision to move away from their original raw sound of early British punk, ska and ’80s hardcore and add bagpipes, flutes and fiddles to their sound. Sounding like a combination of The Pogues, the Murphy’s and Rancid they have deservedly become absolutely huge in their native country and their fame is growing outside China too. They have toured Europe a few times, including earlier this year though sadly never visiting these shores, as well as recording several acclaimed albums including a split with Norwegian celtic-punk legends Greenland Whalefishers.

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The Chinese Are Coming was released on Maybe Mars Records on September 30 this year and begins with the drone of bagpipes through the ‘Intro’ with pounding drums joining in and soon enough the album explodes in your earholes with some quality celtic-punk. SMZB may have been the first and still are arguably the best Chinese punk band but the video to the album’s real opener ‘Ten Thousand Ways To Rebel’ shows they are not alone and features several other local punk bands and is a tribute to Lei Jun China’s first skinhead and Beijing’s punk godfather, who passed away a year previous to this video being premiered this year on the 6th of May.

Reading through the lyrics and knowing the conditions they live in you can only marvel at how brave the band are for singing what they do. It certainly shows up some of the ‘revolutionary’ bands in the west who seem more concerned with getting on the bill at Rebellion festival and getting a huge payday.

“You cannot change anyone in the world,
The only one you can change is yourself.
When you find out the truth and their lies,
That’s when you should do something”

The band to be referenced most here is of course The Dropkick Murphys and SMZB have nailed their sound perfectly. It is all bagpipes and catchy as hell punk rock. Up next is ‘The Chinese Are Coming’ which was the first single off the album and begins with a Ramones-ish

“Hey, Ho! Where shall we go?”

and while on the accompanying video the lyrics are sung in English on the album its in their native language but the words show SMZB’s great sense of humour as well as adding in a great bit of Irish folk thanks to some expert tin whistle playing.

‘Born In The PRC’ is not a celtic-punk version of The Bosses song but an angry and vitriolic response to the nationalism of their government and what punk means to those who face real oppression on a daily basis not like the pampered students here in the west whose oppression is only inside their own imaginations.

“I was born in the P.R.C., it’s such a tragedy,
It’s a so-called nation, but really a fake nation.
I don’t want to living here, I don’t have any choice,
There’s only one party here, I want to be their enemy.
I was born in the P.R.C., the nation with autocracy,
Punx Rebellion of China, is what it means to me.
I was born in the P.R.C., in 2 years I’ll be 40,
Still can’t live freely, that’s why I’m still on stage”

SMZB keep up the pace with ‘Road To Petition’ which brings in the banjo to great effect while ‘Generation’ has a much more traditional folky feel to it showing that the lads can turn it up and down when required. The next song is ‘Flower Of The Socialism’ and is fast heads down, balls out, two fingers to the world, punk rock which slows down only briefly for a few seconds of tin whistle while band founder Wu Wei spits out the words that obviously come straight from his heart.

“You have to try to play your role well, or choose to be a bastard.
You have to try to forget your dream, and then into the arm of reality.
You can’t to extricate yourself from here, you are the one of scars.
Socialism already in bloomed here, you have also sprouted in this land”

smzb-logo-2The next couple of songs, ‘Sunny Speculation’ and ‘One Night In Prison’ are sung in their native language again. Fast tuneful Murphyesque punk is the order of the day. They may have started as a straight up punk band but its thanks to the fantastic abilities of Tang on bagpipes and tin whistle and Tu Dou on banjo that that transition has been so successful. ‘Welcome To China’ sees a return to English in a song that bites back against tourism and the attitude of tourists when they visit China. Now if you have heard ‘White Noise’ on the Stiff Little Fingers album Inflammable Material then you will get what the breakneck ‘The Chinese Are Coming Again’ is about. If you haven’t heard it then give it a quick blast here. Its fair to say their still enormous mistrust of Chinese immigrants and here SMZB expose the bigots that would treat people as a mass rather than individuals. ‘Colonial Trip’ features a guest female vocalist and is reminescent of The Dubliners/Pogues until an electric guitar bursts in and we are brought up to the present day. A great song that nicely straddles both the past and present and even ends with some trumpet playing thrown in to the mix. ‘Tattoo The Earth’ again is more Poguesy while ‘Redemption Song’ takes Bob Marley’s original song and turns it into a celtic-punk classic with the pipes playing loud and proud. The Chinese Are Coming comes to an end with the absolutely stunning ‘Song Of The Seagull’. The longest track on the album, at well over seven minutes, its a tribute to Lin Zhao. A Chinese student from Peking University who was jailed in 1960 for pro-democracy activities. The song is based on a poem she wrote in prison where, forbidden to use pens, she composed countless articles and poems using a hairpin dipped in her own blood. In 1968 she was executed and in 1981 Lin was officially exonerated though the Chinese government still to this day are reluctant to allow any mention of her or her writings. Find out more about the tragic life of Lin Zhao here.

Beginning with just piano, acoustic guitar and the beautiful voice of their guest vocalist (sorry but I couldn’t find her name anywhere) before the full band kicks in with their tribute and some angry celtic-punk rock brings the curtain down on the song and the album. I simply cannot imagine a better way to end this album. A song dripping with emotion and meaning and that symbolises everything that SMZB stand for.

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Fifteen tracks and over fifty minutes to boot that gives you more than enough for your money and if there is ever a band in the celtic-punk scene that demands your support than it is SMZB. Being the only celtic-punk band in your state or city can be a lonely experience but SMZB have become an icon of Chinese music that deserve to be heard far beyond their own country. What they have to say is important and we can be grateful that they have chosen to wrap it some of the best celtic-punk music you will hear.

(listen to The Chinese Are Coming for free by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below before splashing out your $10 on buying it and supporting this awesome band!)

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(full concert of SMZB from their 15th Anniversary show back in 2011)

EP REVIEW: SLAINE- ‘Slaine Is Dead’ (2016)

Irish-American hip-hop artist, lyricist, famous actor, gambler, Bostonian and professional asshole!

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Life is hard for some. That much is clear. The story of Irish-America is one of success and how after years of toil and racism and bigotry against them the Irish finally lifted them selves from the ghetto’s and universal success became the order of the day. Well there are two Irish-America’s and Slaine’s, real name George Carroll, is definitly the most interesting. After all it is working class Irish-American life that Hollywood likes to make TV and movies about.

slaineSlaine’s life reads like a novel. Born in Dorchester, home of several past and present members of The Dropkick Murphys and a large Irish community, Slaine got into hip-hop at a early age

“I started writing rhymes when I was nine years old, I use to record on my boom box with a pair of headphones plugged into the microphone jack. I felt they were just words on a page because I didn’t have an outlet to perform them”

and recognising the path to stardom lay in a move to New York he later packed his bags and moved to New York City and enrolled in school. After only seven months, an unfortunate altercation between Slaine and a school employee resulted in his expulsion. He didn’t let this set him back and he remained determined and focused. Surviving on the hard lonely streets of New York City by doing anything he could lay his hand to and eventually it paid dividend and he was introduced to Danny Boy O’Connor of House of Pain. This led to him being signed to a production deal with DJ Lethal of House of Pain which led to the release of ‘The White Man is the Devil’ (‘white man’ being a reference to cocaine, not a declaration of self hate) and touring world-wide. In a very short time he had gone from living in absolute poverty with a drug habit to traveling the globe and working with hip-hop icons such as House of Pain, Cypress Hill and a whole host of others. He became part of the mostly Irish-American hip-hop collective La Coka Nostra alongside Ill Bill and all three members of House of Pain – Everlast, DJ Lethal and Danny Boy. La Coka Nostra’s debut album, A Brand You Can Trust went straight in at #84 in the American Top 200 showing that the group’s brand of blue collar hip-hop was exactly what fans were waiting for. Slaine’s name continued to grow far past his hometown of Boston due to the exposure he was receiving but as his music career grew, so did his personal battle with drugs. Overdoses, hospital visits and a spiral of drugs and violence, continued until he finally checked himself into rehab.

“Everybody had a story to tell. That was where the idea and the hunger for ‘The White Man is the Devil’ was born”

On conquering his addiction, fellow Bostonian Ben Affleck presented Slaine with the chance of a lifetime to make his acting debut playing Bubba Rogowski in the gritty portrayal of Boston-Irish life in Gone Baby Gone. Both a critical and financial success this led to Slaine going on to star in, among others, The Town, The Crack Down and Bad Blood alongside such famed actors as  Affleck, Jeremy Renner, Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta and James Gandolfini. While scaling the heights in the acting world he returned again and again to his hip-hop roots releasing several album’s of hard hitting lyrical content and vicious delivery. His last official release was The King Of Everything Else album back in 2014 so we have have awaiting his return with baited breathe.
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The EP kicks off with ‘Slaine Is Dead (Intro)’ which is in fact part of the beautiful ‘The Ballad Of Mairead Farrell’ which tells of an IRA volunteer gunned down on active service in Gibralter in 1988. One of the saddest of all rebel songs and nails Slaine’s colours to the mast from the first few seconds. I first heard this song as played by Irish-American band Seanchai and The Unity Squad and you can find their great version here . Slaine Is Dead really starts with the title song next and Slaine’s lyrics come busting straight out of his heart into the speakers at you.

“So many dark days they have ruptured my patience
I’d like to part ways but I’m stuck in the matrix
See I’ve been out of luck, so corrupted and faithless
And now without a buck I’m like fuck it I hate this
So many close calls, all these brushes with greatness
But not enough to power my spaceship
Not enough to persuade the gods right and face where they sit
As they parade the dogs of war off fake cliff
And that’s how It felt from grace, through the winds of sin
I had to go and find my wings again
While the angel of death goes and sings the hymn
As he strangle my breath, tore me limb from limb
Well you let your soul slip to the other side
Will the caterpillar turn into the butterfly?
I can see the pain falling from my mothers eyes
But I keep on falling for these fucking lies
So my mind holding on to the liquor and coke
In my fire room it’s out but there’s a flicker of hope
In these institution walls where they kickin’ the dope
I’m reminded of the power of that shit that I wrote
I walk with the devil, talking to God
Murder stories in this purgatory, coughing up blood
But I will not break, I will not fall
This is just another rhyme that I wrote on my wall

It’s been so long, you see my face
While I come back to plead my case
When I’m gone and time comes to make a leap of faith
There’s no way to keep the secret safe
That Slaine is dead”

In a career where Slaine has achieved heights that others can only dream of his music career has been mostly based on confronting both his demons and his failures. The EP sleeve features the dates 1977-2014. That is the year he was born and the year Slaine finally threw the monkey of addiction off his back and went sober. After years of dependency he was free and music and acting became his way of ensuring he was never going to return to those days. That Slaine is dead.

His life as an addict is depicted further on ‘Nobody Prays For Me’ which features Demrick and this lyrical masterpiece continues. The dictionary definition of an ‘seanchaí’ is of a storyteller

“…were servants to the chiefs of the tribe and kept track of important information for their clan. They were very well respected and they made use of a range of storytelling conventions, styles of speech and gestures that were peculiar to the Irish folk tradition and characterized them as practitioners of their art”

and Slaine is certainly a modern age equivalent of that ancient art. In the first single from the EP ‘Pusher’ Slaine takes us into the dark and dangerous world of the drug dealer. These weren’t the times that he is proud of but he’s presenting them here as a warning to others not to follow the path he trod.

‘Just The Way You Are’ features guest vocals from fellow Mass. rapper Termanology and chronicles both his battles with addiction and the effect it had upon his family and friends. ‘Knocked Down’ features Rite Hook guesting. Rite Hook is a lost son of Massachusetts himself. Years of hard living defined his early career and in 2012, he overdosed and died. His heart stopped completely, and paramedics had to revive him. A survivor in the truest sense of the word he returned to music and like Slaine it came with a newfound focus. On ‘Legendary’ (featuring Ill Bill, Vinnie Paz and Jared Evan) we can begin to see the light, for want of a better word. He’s been to rock bottom and is starting to fight back. His drive to become ‘Legendary’ has been finally achieved so we can witness his salvation on the final track ‘Coming Home’.

slaine-is-dead3

Slaine’s music is hard, dark and aggressive. It always has been. Irish-American life is not always ‘Shamrocks And Shenanigans’. Sometimes its hard. We Irish come from a complicated race and it’s always been true that our worse enemy is within ourselves. Our struggles with alcoholism and drugs are well documented and often are hidden behind closed doors and though the working class life that Slaine and others come from may not be one you are familiar with but it exists. Slaine has fought hard but has never walked away from his roots. He deserves his salvation.

“I love making music that means something to me, I am grateful for all the experiences that I have had- good and bad. I am lucky to be alive, but my past also made me who I am today”

Buy The EP

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Contact Slaine

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SINGLE REVIEW: THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY- ‘Foreign Soil’ (2106)

The new release from The Ramshackle Army proves again the high quality of Aussie celtic-punk. Influenced by the punk they grew up with, the Celtic traditions of their families history and the colonial heritage of Australia the band come up trumps again.

ramshackle

With The Rumjacks just landing back home in Australia after a God alone knows how many months European tour which saw them ship up in London twice and The Go-Set set to follow them into town a week today Australian celtic-punk is spreading across the globe like cane-toads (remember The Simpsons versus Australia?). Anyhow last Wednesday saw the first new release from The Ramshackle Army since their early 2014 album Letters From The Road Less Travelled hit the shops to great applause and its another belter.

ramshackle3

The Ramshackle Army began plying their trade in the pubs and bars of their home town Melbourne before making the leap to a wider Australian punk and celtic-punk audience and then they were handpicked by The Dropkick Murphys themselves to support them on their 2011 Australian tour. After this the Murphys asked the Army to join them for their 2012 St Patricks Tour of the USA. So in March they embarked on their first tour of the US playing a handful of warm up shows with some of the best American celtic-punk bands going before joining the Murphys for a run of shows which ended with the massive 6,000 Tsongas Arena on St Patrick’s Day. Their adventures in America ended with the Ramshackle Army headlining the Guinness stage at the Shamrock Fest in Washington before 15,000 eager celtic-punk fans.

ramshackle2In 2014 the band joined the prestigious independent record company East Grand and released Life Lessons And Drunken Sessions following it up with their first full length release Letters From The Road Less Travelled. In 2015 and with the band on the verge of world domination they were hampered by line up changes but ended the year in the USA again in September and October of 2015, playing California’s Get Shamrocked festival and going on to join scene legends The Tossers for their Halfway To St Patricks Day tour. This year has seen them playing across Australia and seen their welcome return to the studio with the new EP Whitewashed Grave set for release later in the year.

ramshackle-1As with all their previous recordings Foreign Soil is heavily influenced by the story-telling style in the old folk tradition but comes wrapped up with a boatload of high energy punk rock that does the sometimes impossible act of transferring the live energy of an Ramshackle Army live gig onto disc. So after just six years and countless shows across two continents The Ramshackle Army are back and for just a lousy American dollar (that’s only about 75p or 89c!) you can own their new single and give the bhoys and ghirl a hand up in taking over the world!

In search of solace land of hopes and dreams was sought.
In waters treacherous and in storms that we were caught,
A 9 to 5 with pride and life for sons and daughters.Though through tales of hope and what awaits on foreign shore,
No those broken dreams can’t mend when greeted by closed doors.Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh, When will you heed my plea.
Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh, Will someone rescue me
Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh, I’ll never ask for more than peace on foreign shore.Imprisoned by our plight and desperate acts faith,
They enter battles in our name and battle cry our pain,
Just keep me sane and welcome my escape.Though through tales of hope and what awaits on foreign shore,
No those broken dreams can’t mend when greeted by closed doors.

Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh
Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh
Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh
Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh

Though through tales of hope and what awaits on foreign shore,
No those broken dreams can’t mend when greeted by closed doors.

Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh, When will you heed my plea.
Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh, Will someone rescue me
Whoah oh oh whoah oh oh, I’ll never ask for more than peace on foreign shore.

When will you heed my plea
Will someone rescue me
I’ll never ask for more than peace on foreign…

Buy The Single

FromTheBand (for a buck!)

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube  Twitter  Bandcamp  

go-set

If you fancy a spot of live Australian celtic-punk then you are in luck! Fellow Melbourne celtic-punkers The Go-Set sail into London town a week today Friday 30th September at The Veg Bar in South London. Playing alongside London Irish favourites The Lagan and Hastings folk-punkers Matilda’s Scoundrels, fresh from supporting The Levellers last week. Kicking off the night is internet sensation (look up ‘I’ll Dance On Your Grave Mrs. Thatcher’) John McCullagh who may, or may not, be joined on the night by some extra special guests from South London’s favourite band Alabama 3. It’s an expensive business touring from Oz so tickets are £8 and available from WeGotTickets. You can keep up with the gig at the Facebook event here. The rest of the tour takes in Brighton 29th September, Derby 1st October and Leicester 2nd. Details from their Facebook page here.

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW: THE DUBLINERS- ‘A Best Of The Dubliners’

FREE DOWNLOAD!

The Dubliners are without doubt the best known band in the Celtic music world. Formed in 1962 their first hit single ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ launched them into international stardom. Non stop touring and a stint with The Pogues ensured that the popularity of their music never ebbed. Without them it is highly debatable whether or not celtic-punk would have ever come about as Shane McGowan himself has said.  The Dubliners- The first and original celtic-punk band.

dubs

The Dubliners, now one of the most legendary bands in the world, started off in O’Donoghue’s pub in Dublin in 1962 under the name of The Ronnie Drew Folk Group. Then they were four, Ronnie Drew (vocals and guitar), Luke Kelly (vocals and 5-string banjo), Barney McKenna (tenor banjo, mandolin, melodeon and vocals) and Ciaran Bourke (vocals, guitar, tin whistle and harmonica). In 1963, they played a gig in Edinburgh where they met the head of Transatlantic Records, Nathan Joseph, for whom they started recording. In 1964, Luke Kelly left, and Bobby Lynch (vocals and guitar) and John Sheahan (fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin, concertina, guitar and vocals) were added. When Luke Kelly returned and Bobby Lynch left in 1965, we have what is considered as the original Dubliners, five individualists, five men whose talents were mixed together in a superb blend and just wanted to play and have a good craic. If they only knew what was awaiting them!

In 1967 their major breakthrough came as a result of a coincidence. Their song, ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ which was recorded in one take, was snapped up by a pirate radio station which started playing it along with the Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, the Who, Kinks and Jimi Hendrix. Suddenly, The Dubliners were a major band, playing all over the world, getting into the charts, and receiving gold discs. Not what you expected from a bunch of hairy people who as Colin Irwin in the reissue of Live at the Albert Hall says

“looked like they’d just been dragged out of a seedy bar via a hedge (backwards) and dropped on London from a very great height”

The seventies started like the sixties ended – wilder touring, drinking and playing. They started doing regular tours, and they were still recording, of course. Then, in 1974, Ciaran Bourke collapsed on stage with a brain hemorrhage, which eventually led to his death. He first, though, recovered remarkably and was back on stage with The Dubliners, but collapsed again. At the same time, Ronnie decided to take a break, and Jim McCann took his and Ciaran’s place in the group.

dubliners

In 1979, Ronnie decided to make a comeback as a member of the group, although he probably never really left it. In the five years, he had recorded two solo albums, and The Dubliners three albums. With Ronnie returning, Jim left, and The Dubs were almost back where they started. Then Luke Kelly became ill, he collapsed on stage with a brain tumor, for which he received surgery several times. He too, made remarkable recoveries, and went on touring with the Dubliners, at the same time continuing his wild and unhealthy lifestyle. Sean Cannon, a long time friend, stepped in for Luke, when he couldn’t be on stage. Sean’s appearance wasn’t that well received by the audiences at the beginning, but he has later turned out to be an important addition to The Dubliners, and their repertoire. In 1984, Luke Kelly died, but The Dubliners, now with Sean Cannon as a member, decided to keep on.

1987 turned out to be one of the best – and busiest – years for the Dubliners. Their long time friend, and guest musician, Eamonn Campbell, brought the group together with the Pogues on the hit single ‘The Irish Rover’. This single took the Dubliners back to the charts, and also gave them a completely new audience; people who weren’t even born when The Dubliners started off. And with Dublin celebrating its millennium in 1988, The Dubliners also received more attention than for years. Eamonn Campbell joined them on regular basis, a move that has turned out to be one of the most important in their history. In 1988 Ciaran Bourke died, after years of pain and difficulties. He always was, and still is very much remembered by The Dubliners, just like Luke Kelly is.

The eighties finished off with rumours that The Dubliners were to retire, probably something that’s always been following the group. However, they didn’t, and celebrated their 30th anniversary in 1992, with a double CD and extensive tour. The nineties brought a tour video from the German tour 1995, and the “shock” news that Ronnie Drew was leaving. He left in December 1995, after releasing a superb album, Dirty Rotten Shame a few months earlier.

dubliners2Now, even the most optimistic Dubliners fans thought it was the end, but the lads decided to convince Paddy Reilly to join them, and they continued their busy touring and recording schedule. This move has also turned out to be excellent. Paddy, not very well known in Europe, had never been touring there, so he too enjoyed the experience, as well as being part of a band. He still, though, does tours in the USA in the winter and summer months. In 2002, they temporarily reunited with Ronnie Drew and Jim McCann, for their 40th anniversary tour but sadly after the tour, Jim McCann was diagnosed with throat cancer and, though he fully recovered, his voice was severely damaged, and has not been able to peform since his illness. Despite this, he regularly acts as MC at folk gigs, notably at The Dubliners reunion shows, and at the 2006 ‘Legends of Irish Folk’ shows (where he also played guitar in the finale).

Leader and legend Ronnie Drew passed away in 2008 meaning the end of the original Dubliners. Before he passed though he recorded with The Dropkick Murphys in a memorable version of ‘Flannigan’s Ball’ therefore passing on the baton to the only group comparable to them in what they mean to the Irish diaspora.

It was The Dubliners (and The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem who will be next in our series) pioneered the way for untold number of bands from Ireland and for Celtic music, like the Chieftains, the Pogues, U2, the Fureys and so on. The artists that list The Dubliners as one of their major influences and idols is endless. They brought folk music to millions of people all over the world, people who never otherwise have been interested at all. That isn’t only because of the music, it’s because of The Dubliners, their astonishing voices, their indescribable instrumentals, the wild life style and drinking, late sessions, their enormous beards, their extensive touring, their charisma and their characters. It was, and still is to a certain extent, a blend the world will never see again. The Dubliners brought Ireland to the world in a way that emigration hadn’t, they have brought the world to Ireland, and they have brought people all over the world closer together. When it ended, the world was never going to be the same again.

The Dubliners 1962-2012
Over the 50 years there were 12 people in The Dubliners.  Ronnie Drew (’62-2008), Luke Kelly (’62-84) , Barney McKenna (’62-2012), Ciaran Bourke (’62-74), John Sheahan (’64-2012), Bobby Lynch (’62-65), Jim McCann (’74-79), Sean Cannon (’82-2012), Eamonn Campbell (’88-2012), Paddy Reilly (’96-2005), Patsy Watchorn (2005-12) and Gerry O’Connor (2012).

The surviving members of the group – Sean Cannon, Eamonn Campbell, Patsy Watchorn and Gerry O’Connor, except John Sheahan, are still touring in 2014 under the name The Dublin Legends.

The Dublin Legends 2012-

After the departure of John Sheahan and the official retirement of the name The Dubliners in late 2012, the remaining members of the group – Seán Cannon, Eamonn Campbell, Patsy Watchorn and guest musician Gerry O’Connor – formed a folk band called The Dublin Legends to keep The Dubliners’ legacy alive. The band released their first live album entitled An Evening With The Dublin Legends: Live In Vienna in January 2014. They continue to perform extensively and you can find their web site here.

Tracklist:

1. The Wild Rover (2:50)
2. Medley: Doherty’s Reel / Down The Broom / The Honeymoon Reel (3:36)
3. The Holy Ground (2:26)
4. A Parcel Of Rogues (4:21)
5. God Save Ireland (1:57)
6. A Nation Once Again (1:31)
7. Spancil Hill (4:03)
8. Molly McGuires (2:01)
9. The Old Triangle (2:55)
10. And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (6:16)
11. Johnston’s Motorcar (1:50)
12. Seven Drunken Nights (3:23)
13. Black Velvet Band (3:18)
14. Free The People (3:08)
15. Van Diemen’s Land (2:15)
16. Dirty Old Town (2:59)
17. Medley: The Maid Behind The Bar / Toss The Feathers (2:18)
18. Lord Of The Dance (2:27)
19. All For Me Grog (2:24)
20. Whiskey In The Jar (2:47)

(listen to the album below and follow the instructions to download for free)

The Dubliners On The Internet

OfficialDublinersSite  TheDubliners  It’sTheDubliners

“They brought folk music to millions of people all over the world, people who were converted to their charm. That isn’t only because of the music, the instrumentals or the stories, it’s because of The Dubliners, their astonishing voices, their indescribable instrumentals, the wild life style, the drinking, late sessions, their enormous beards (I even tried to copy them in the 70’s), their extensive touring, their charisma and the enigmatic characters. It was a blend the world will never see again.  It was an entire package that invented the word unique. How do you top that?Every artist in the world is trying to achieve success by getting their ‘sound’ and being unique.  The Dubliners did it”  –Robert Tallent

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 and hidden and sometimes forgotten gems from the legends that have inspired and provoked folk music and musicians right up to modern celtic-punk music. Usually out of print so we can provide a free download link for you.

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘People Take Warning! Murder Ballads And Disaster Songs 1913-1938’ (2007)  here

EWAN MacCOLL -‘Bad Lads And Hard Cases: British Ballads Of Crime And Criminals’ (1959) here

EWAN MacCOLL AND PEGGY SEEGER – ‘The Jacobite Rebellions’ (1962)  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Don’t Mourn. Organize!- Songs Of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill’ (1990)  here

LEADBELLY- ‘Easy Rider’ (1999)  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘The Little Red Box Of Protest Songs’ (2000)  here

GIL SCOTT-HERON- ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ (1974)  here

EWAN MacCOLL- ‘Scots Drinking Songs’ (1956)  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Protest! American Protest Songs 1928-1953’  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘Women Folk- Iconic Women Of American Folk’  here

VARIOUS ARTISTS- ‘The Greatest Songs Of Woody Guthrie’ (1972)  here

THE POGUES AND IRISH CULTURAL CONTINUITY

BY PÁDRAIC GRANT

Shane MacGowan’s awareness and adaptation of trends in the literary world, along with the narrative quality and structural experimentation of his work, should cement his status as both a musical and literary figure.

The Pogues Continuity Splash

The Pogues (formerly Pogue Mahone, Irish Gaelic for ‘kiss my arse’) were formed in 1982 by a group of London Irish musicians eager to drag Irish folk into a musical world that had been changed and redefined by the advent of punk. This mission was to be marked by success and failure, but by 1996 when they officially disbanded, they had permanently left their mark on both folk and mainstream music.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the band through those years was the extensive influence literature had on their lyrics. Rather than simply drawing on certain works for inspiration, almost every lyric in the Pogues extensive repertoire can be traced to a certain area of the written word.

Shane

Leading this literary charge was main songwriter and ideologue Shane MacGowan, who’d come through punk emboldened by its ideals, but distraught by its mainstream assimilation. The catalogue of songs penned by MacGowan regularly evokes previous writers and styles, often twisted and placed in new frameworks. Indeed, most of his lyrics are as intellectually stimulating when read as poems and stories as when performed as full songs.

From the moment he began penning songs, MacGowan was artistically indebted to his Irish homeland, a fact reflected in both music and lyrics. Literary touchstones spanned the Irish spectrum—Brendan Behan, James Joyce, Edna O’Brien, Flann O’Brien, Sean O’Casey, Frank O’Connor, and James Stephens were drawn from and their influence incorporated into his burgeoning songbook. While the idea of the songwriter-as-poet is often evoked in a clichéd (even insulting) manner to give certain artists ‘credibility’, MacGowan’s awareness and adaptation of trends in the literary world, along with the narrative quality and structural experimentation of his work, should cement his status as both a musical and literary figure.

As the band gained further success and the other members began to substantially contribute to the lyrics, concerted attempts were made to avoid stagnancy. Eventually, the collective focus fundamentally changed in ways that would have massive effects on the group. Extraneous reference points began to dominate, with the music switching to a menagerie of world music styles, and the lyrics drawing from non-Irish, less literary sources. This fragmentation would afterwards be cited by MacGowan as one of the biggest reasons for his estrangement from the other members of the band.

TRADITION REANIMATED

Going back to the band’s formative years, an important reason for the band’s very existence was a fervent desire to reiterate the aspects of Irish folk music that ran contrary to the sophisticate persona espoused by the dominant elements of ‘80s music. From the stale by-products of 70’s AOR who had somehow got through the post-punk safety net (Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel) to the New Romantics with their synthetic music and lifestyle, the Pogues sought to challenge the status quo by injecting a sense of danger into Irish folk, thereby returning Irish folk to the mainstream. This was to be achieved through a heady mix of punk and folk, filtered through a coarse, unrefined aesthetic. And with virtually no electric instruments (Cait O’Riordan’s bass guitar was a notable exception) and a minimalist bass/snare drum kit, the contrast with mainstream instrumentation was glaring.

Despite this, perhaps the freshest aspect of the re-named Pogues was the literary quality of their original songs. Amongst volatile renditions of traditional standards nestled originals composed in the same style, infused with a punk-derived radicalism that brought the band beyond mere rehashed folk. The London-Irish composition of the group meant that its Irish influences were viewed through the lens of cosmopolitan London, and the city would go on to be the focus of numerous songs by the band.

Red Roses For Me

Gaining a reputation through relentless touring, they signed to the independent Stiff Records in 1984. The first album, ‘Red Roses For Me’, was released in October of that year, and was an underground success despite its poor mainstream showing. Critical attention focused on the burgeoning lyrical talents of Shane MacGowan as much as on the music. Taking its title from a late-era Sean O’Casey play, the album offered a demonstration of MacGowan’s continuity with Irish writers past. The Irish identification was even carried onto the album art: A portrait of the band members seated around a painting of John F. Kennedy, a symbol of solidarity with the Irish diaspora across the world.

O’CASEY AND SOCIALISM

Aside from bestowing the album with a name, O’Casey was influential stylistically. The lyrics on ‘Red Roses for Me’ focused on the lives of the 1980s working class in the same way O’Casey portrayed the proletariat of the early 1900’s. A lifelong communist and Republican dissident, his portrayals were combined with his socialist beliefs to demonstrate the inherently political nature of working class life. Similarly, the debut Pogues LP illustrates the impact of wider political processes on mundane reality.

Sean O'Casey

Sean O’Casey

While avoiding overt left-wing sloganeering, the anti-authoritarian approach evident in certain tracks was intensified by the experience of Thatcherite Britain, where harsh monetarism had led to the working class feeling persecuted by the ruling Conservative Party. This sense of injustice was given credence by the Miner’s Strike occurring the same year the album was released, an event that embodied opposition to the implementation of profit-driven neo-liberalism. Under such circumstances, the sense of anger present in ‘Red Roses for Me’ is easily read as a reflection of the labour class’s embittered undercurrent, manifesting itself in several songs on the album.

The opening song, ‘Transmetropolitan’, is a conspicuous example of this attitude. Both tribute to and attack on the city of London, the composition is a contradiction. The music is frenetically gleeful, while the lyrics veer from a celebration of London life to a bitter attack on the pillars of the British establishment:

There’s leechers up in Whitehall
And queers in the GLC
And when we’ve done those bastards in
We’ll storm the BBC.

Whitehall (the home of the British government, the GLC (Greater London Council), and the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) represented the stale powers-that-be, a focus for bitter resentment. That the enemy was the suitably vague “establishment” was a by-product of the band’s punk roots, a recurring and pervasive influence that sat comfortably alongside the anti-authority stance of the writers inspiring the group.

BEHAN AND BLACK COMEDY

Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan

Despite the O’Casey reference in the title and the similarities shared in the portrayal of working class existence, it is clear that Brendan Behan is the dominant influence on ‘Red Roses for Me’. ‘The Auld Triangle’, an Irish standard adapted from the introduction to the Behan play ‘The Quare Fellow’, is the third track on the album and a marked contrast to the rest of what is an ultimately raucous record.  It’s stark, skeletal, and relies primarily on MacGowan’s vocals. The mood is despondent and the lyrics wistful, but lightened by occasionally humourous lines (a literary technique MacGowan adopted in his own writing, which often includes comedic moments in the midst of squalor). This aspect of his songcraft would later be explored and refined on ‘Rum, Sodomy & the Lash’.

‘The Boys from the County Hell’ is the most precise example of punk’s influence on the album. Upping the ante on ‘Transmetropolitan’, it’s a vicious exploration of the alcohol-fuelled violence of the urban London lifestyle (the city termed ‘County Hell’ in a translation bearing the mark of Irish geographical terminology), and a further fleshing out of MacGowan’s songwriting, recalling the unflinching portrayal of violence in Irish tradition. Coming from that lineage, it contains one of his most blackly humourous couplets:

My daddy was a Blueshirt and my mother a madam.
My brother earned his medals at My Lai in Vietnam.

‘Streams of Whiskey’ carries the Behan obsession to new heights, encapsulating MacGowan’s adoration of the man in one song. The lyrics depict a conversation held with Behan in a dream. When asked about his views on the “crux of life’s philosophies”, he answers: “I am going where streams of whiskey are flowing”. This ‘philosophy’ manages to make alcoholism sound almost idealistic—after all, it concerns a person who once quipped

“I’m a drinker with a writing problem”

Flann O'Brien

Flann O’Brien

‘Streams of Whiskey’ is also a buried reference to Flann O’Brien—a pseudonym for Brian O’Nolan, who MacGowan cited as one of his favourite authors in ‘A Drink with Shane MacGowan’.  O’Brien’s ‘The Poor Mouth’ (originally published in Gaelic as ‘An Beal Bocht’) includes a story regarding a mountain with two streams of whiskey flowing at its summit. A brilliant satire of Ireland’s victim mentality, the novel is built on, as with most of O’Brien’s works, an absurdly funny plot and writing style that Shane MacGowan emulated throughout his time in the Pogues.

NEW STRUCTURES

‘Red Roses for Me’ may have received praise for its literate lyrics, but the following year’s ‘Rum, Sodomy And the Lash’ was the moment where the Pogues songcraft truly blossomed. From post-modern character realignment to minutely-detailed narratives, the many facets of Irish literature are explored and amalgamated into a work that reads like an overview of the canon.

Depiction of Cúchulainn by John Duncan

Depiction of Cúchulainn by John Duncan

As the opening track for the album, ‘Sickbed of Cúchulainn’ is a significant song in more than one respect. Not only does it demonstrate the cleaner production and more thought-out arrangements of the record as a whole, but most importantly the progression of MacGowan’s songwriting. As a character, Cúchulainn (a legendary Celtic warrior and son of the god Lugh) was a towering figure in Irish storytelling, regularly recurring in stories up to and including the Celtic Revival of the late 19th century. While The Pogues stick to this tradition, the song that bears his name is a sober modernisation of the monolith; a demonstration of the continuity held with preceding Irish literature, but a strong statement of realist rather than mythic characterisation.

This approach to the protagonist is similar to the proto-postmodernism of Flann O’Brien in novels such as ‘The Third Policeman’ and ‘At Swim-Two-Birds’, which dragged characters such as the mythic Fionn MacCumhaill into a contemporary setting. Thus ‘Sickbed of Cúchulainn’ styles the character not as a demi-god, but in the flawed guise of the socialist IRA leader Frank Ryan. Appearing alongside the singers John McCormack and Richard Tauber, Cuchulainn is an unacknowledged hero, a participant on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War (as was Frank Ryan in reality.) Cuchulainn’s illustrious status in Celtic folklore is contrasted with the more human heroism of the unacknowledged Ryan, an anti-fascist who later faced the ignominy of death in a Nazi submarine. “You decked some fucking blackshirt who was cursing all the Yids” and “We’ll sing a song of liberty for blacks and paks and jocks” serve as MacGowan’s tribute to a man whose heroism was to stand against the fascist tide in an Irish nation still in thrall to the Catholic Church.

That this depiction is in complete contrast to the Cúchulainn of William Butler Yeats may not be coincidental. MacGowan’s opinion of Yeats is derisory at best: “[Yeats wrote] a few classics…but there’s a mammoth amount of work…there’s like books and books and books of his stuff, and there’s about three or four good poems.” (A Drink with Shane MacGowan) The negative sentiments might also be inspired by Yeats’s championing of aristocratic ideas and (later retracted, as the Second World War approached) support for Irish and European fascism, something that was later also criticised by George Orwell.

FIRST PERSON NARRATIVE

Eerily slow-burning after the preceding frenzy, ‘The Old Main Drag’ is a torrid narrative recounting the struggles of a male prostitute in seedy London. MacGowan’s evolution as a lyricist may have been obvious on ‘The Sickbed of Cúchulainn’, but only a truly adept wordsmith could forge the themes of drugs, prostitution, and police brutality into such an easily engrossing story. Accompanied by almost hypnotic musical repetitions, ‘The Old Main Drag’ is replete with characteristic attention to detail:

One evening as I was lying down by Leicester Square
I was picked up by the coppers and kicked in the balls
Between the metal doors at Vine Street I was beaten and mauled
And they ruined my good looks for the old main drag.

In later years, this song would be offered as ‘evidence’ that MacGowan had worked as a hustler. Although it may be a common assumption that realist first person narratives must be based on something experienced by the author, in MacGowan’s case the supposition could have been caused by the debt his style owed to writers like Frank O’Connor. A short story author of great magnitude, O’Connor wrote essentially autobiographical stories in the guise of characters like Larry Delaney, recounting childhood events rich in detail and evocative of the conservative Ireland of the early 20th century.

Frank O'Connor

Frank O’Connor

MacGowan similarly recounted stories heavy on minutia, but as far removed from bucolic rural Ireland as could be possible. When people read the lyrics of songs like “The Old Main Drag”, the easy interpretation was that due to the attention to detail inherited from writers like O’Connor, MacGowan was channelling his real life experiences through the characters in his writing. As with many issues surrounding the Pogues, though, there is no firm answer regarding the truth of these rumours. The sheer number of contradictions is similar to the fog around MacGowan’s eventual dismissal by the group.

BUILDING AN IDENTITY

Another highlight from the album is the quixotic ballad ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’, one of the more sentimental songs performed by the band. However, like everything MacGowan wrote in this period, it is laced with the typical dark elements that prevent it from becoming merely saccharine. Therefore, while the song laments the “streams, the rolling hills, where his brown eyes were waiting” or “The birds whistling in the trees / Where the wind was gently laughing”, the protagonist is also “drunk to hell”, the setting filled with men who “prayed, cursed, and bled some more”.

In this moment, Shane MacGowan established an identity—one adapted from past writers (the contrast between sweet sentimentality and darker elements, humour intercepting both, a hallmark of Irish writing from Behan to Beckett), but an identity nonetheless. This proved a blessing and a curse, for while the positive comparisons were no doubt welcome, others were beginning to wonder if the Pogues, and Shane MacGowan in particular, had inherited the predisposition for alcohol held by the writers they admired. Press attention would lead to the stereotyping of the band as alcoholic Irishmen (particularly in an infamous Sounds’ article written around the release of ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’ as a single), a perception made even more believable by other songs, including ‘Sally MacLennane’.  Similar to older folk songs about the return of a person to their hometown (a theme also touched upon in ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’, written by the Irish literature-influenced Phil Lynott), the song is an ode to the joys of alcohol with nearly every verse containing a reference to drinking.

Much of the band’s catalogue is the same, and with their love for writers who also enjoyed a drink (not forgetting their Irish background), it was inevitable that they would be included in the ‘drunken Irish artist’ stratum. In the ‘Sounds’ article mentioned above, Spider Stacy remarked, “I drink to blot out drunkenness”. A quick retort to an over-bearing journalist it may have been, but in the years to come such excesses would prove to be the undoing of the band. But before that point, there was much glory and still more ignominy to come.

‘Rum, Sodomy And The Lash’ was a crucial step forward for the group. Moving on from the lyrically-constrained ‘Red Roses for Me’, which had been somewhat straightforward in its subject matter, the incorporation of differing stylistic approaches made this album a milestone for the incorporation of literary methods into modern Irish folk music. Over the coming years, the subjects would become more expansive, the music more extravagant. Here, the Pogues would achieve the perfect balance of tradition and innovation in their songwriting, the democratic ideal prominent since the beginning would finally flourish, and commercial success would be assured.

NEW DEPARTURES

This phase began with the release of the ‘Poguetry in Motion’ EP in 1986. Comprised of four wildly varying tracks, the EP worked as a bridge between the boisterous folk of before and a new, heavily-orchestrated style embodied by ‘A Rainy Night in Soho’ (significantly, in all respects a masterpiece). Both styles would be followed up on proceeding albums, but the EP is interesting as a microcosm of the band’s musical past and future, and their sense of humour, with the instrumental ‘Planxty Noel Hill’ a swipe at the eponymous musician and member of the folk aristocracy in Ireland.

Taking part in a radio debate with the Pogues, Hill had referred to their music as a “terrible abortion” and as disrespectful to traditional norms. The ‘planxty’ in the title is a traditionally honourific prefix dating back to the 1600s, and serves as a rejoinder to Hill, a tongue-in-cheek espousal of the ultimate traditionalist form. ‘London Girl’ and ‘Body Of An American’ rounded off the release and are notable because of their respective connotations of ‘Red Roses For Me’ and ‘Rum, Sodomy And The Lash’-era material. Clamorous, intelligent, romantic, iconoclastic, the EP was a bookend for what had come before, and a torch-bearer for what was to come next.

Two years later, 1988 saw the release of ‘If I Should Fall from Grace with God’, a new departure in several areas. The lyrics are more far-reaching than ‘Rum, Sodomy And The Lash’, yet remain within the realms of Irish tradition. From the pleasures of a win at the dog tracks to the laments of the Irish diaspora in America, and even the first overtly political songs of the band’s discography, the subjects expand far beyond the character studies and narratives of the first two releases. It even sounds more sprawling, the appearance of a full drum kit and session accompaniment seeming like sheer opulence compared to the thriftiness of before. Two new members make their debuts: multi-instrumentalist Terry Woods (formerly of the legendary folk-rock bands Sweeney’s Men and Steeleye Span) and Daryl Hunt (replacing the outgoing Cait O’Riordan). The inclusion of jazz and indigenous Spanish and Middle-Eastern folk would sound more shocking had they not been woven so brilliantly into Irish music forms, the mock-sitars of ‘Turkish Song of the Damned’ countered by ‘The Lark in the Morning’, a traditional jig that ended the song, and the faux-jazz ‘Metropolis’ and its prominent horns disarmed by mid-tempo folk verses.

J.P. Donleavy

J.P. Donleavy

Commercial success was confirmed with the release of ‘Fairytale of New York’. Written by MacGowan and Jem Finer, it shares both a title and subject with J.P. Donleavy’s novel ‘A Fairytale of New York’, both works regarding the pursuit of the American dream and, tentatively, the experiences of the Irish diaspora. The merits of the song lie in its exploration of relationships and their intricacies, how they span place and era and how external bickering can mask deep affection. MacGowan is accompanied on the track by Kirsty MacColl, in the guise of a woman whose hopes for a life of prosperity lie dead, shattered by the very person who embodied them. The duet examines the dreams, the shattering, and finally the redemption, like a short story where a monumental topic is condensed, and benefits as a result. A technicolour version of ‘A Pair of Brown Eyes’, a romantic song that remains solidly realist (as the input of MacGowan ensured), the song was only kept off the top spot by the poor ‘Always on My Mind’ cover by the Pet Shop Boys. It has since become a Christmas standard, and the most well-known demonstration of the Pogues’ songwriting skill.

POLITICAL MILITANCY

The subject of Irish Republicanism and the conflict in Ireland was a popular focus for folk groups during the ‘80s, a contemporary issue of great importance socially and culturally. The Pogues explicitly explored this for the first time on ‘If I Should Fall’. Grounded in personal conviction and a long literary tradition, the Pogues were unashamedly Republican, and indeed at an early stage held the moniker the New Republicans. These beliefs manifest themselves in the medley ‘Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six’. Musically, little links the two songs, but the subject matter is related through its exploration of the ongoing war between the IRA and British forces in Ireland.

‘Streets of Sorrow’, a stark, emotional lament for the war-torn streets of cities like Belfast and Derry, urban areas scarred by the trauma of ongoing war, is immediately followed by the passionate anger of ‘Birmingham Six’, despondency exploding into rage against a Government viewed as oppressive and racist:

There were six men in Birmingham
In Guildford there’s four,
They were picked up and tortured
And framed by the law.
And the filth got promotion,
But they’re still doing time
For being Irish in the wrong place
And at the wrong time.

The Loughgall Martyrs

The Loughgall Martyrs

Naturally enough, the song was banned by the BBC, continuing a torrid relationship between the band and the corporation. As a medley, the song works perfectly: A distillation of the anguish caused by the Irish conflict and the unbridled anger at a British Government the Republicans viewed as the cause of their problems. That the Pogues held controversial opinions was not in doubt. At the time, the only mainstream voices were those of outright condemnation of the IRA on the one hand, or outright silence on the other. In that spirit, there is more than mere protest in ‘Birmingham Six’, with the final verse containing a reference to the Loughgall Martyrs, eight IRA volunteers killed while attacking a Royal Ulster Constabulary police barracks:

May the whores of the empire lie awake in their beds
And sweat as they count out the sins on their heads,
While over in Ireland eight more men lie dead
Kicked down and shot in the back of the head.

Again, there was a literary precedent for the group’s political views, with Brendan Behan, Frank O’Connor, and Ernie O’Malley among the writers who had actively participated in the IRA and expounded upon their views in writing. The theme would be taken up again in later songs like ‘Young Ned of the Hill’ and ‘Rainbow Man’.

POSTMODERN MYTHOLOGY

Another new topic for the band was the role of mythology in Irish life. ‘Sit Down by the Fire’ is a comic take on this tradition:

Sit down by the fire, and I’ll tell you a story
To send you away to your bed.
Of the things you hear creeping
When everyone’s sleeping
And you wish you were out here instead.

The Riders of the Sidhe, by John Duncan

‘The Riders of the Sidhe’ by John Duncan

Lyrically, the focus is on the fairies, or ‘sidhe’, that haunted Irish imagination for centuries, and still persist in popular superstition. MacGowan has long found the idea of parents telling these terrifying stories to children at bedtime as comical, an absurdity built into Irish life for centuries.

The song’s subject matter is interesting because it shows the group exploring the area of folklore (despite its monolithic status pre-20th century, folklore had never been a big concern for the band) while also stepping back from it. This separates such an exploration from the misty-eyed renderings of other more literal folk-rock acts like The Horslips, who had created concept albums based around Celtic mythology. It also continues the motif of postmodernism from MacGowan, the song being a meta-narrative about the telling of a folk tale rather than a simple rendition.

BEYOND IRELAND

While it may have been expected that the band would bask in the critical acclaim of ‘If I Should Fall from Grace with God’, this wasn’t to be the case. MacGowan’s alcoholism had progressed beyond being a mere nuisance, and the other members were becoming disgruntled. Worried that MacGowan was hitting the gutter, just as Behan had before, and more willing to take advantage of the democratic songwriting ideals the band had been founded upon, the songwriting representation from the rest of the band would increase on future albums.

This process was immediately visible on 1989’s ‘Peace And Love’. MacGowan’s declining influence was indicated by the (comparatively) paltry six songs he contributed to the 14-track record. The new songwriting arrangements made for instant change, the first surprise coming with the introductory instrumental ‘Gridlock’. An exploration of hard bop jazz and an uncompromising repudiation of folk, the song differs thematically from anything performed by the band before. However, the song that defines the negative side of this experimentation best is the bizarre Celtic-Caribbean fusion of ‘Blue Heaven’, a reprehensible song with the Calypso pretensions suffocating any melodic inventiveness; a situation that occurs with saddening periodicity in the band’s later catalogue. Even the Irish folk songs sound bland and enervated, an alarming regression from the band’s original desire to invigorate the style.

Despite portraying himself as the arch traditionalist during this era, Shane MacGowan was not, in fact, conducting a one man crusade against the pretentious designs of his fellow band members. He had likewise introduced extraneous influences into the pure folk of before. As noted by Simon Reynolds in ‘Generation Ecstasy’, rumours abound that, having become immersed in the acid house scene, he wished to include a 20-minute appropriation of the genre (titled ‘You’ve Got to Contact Yourself’) onto ‘Peace And Love’. Whether there is any truth to this is again unknown, but what is audible fact is the bizarre Motown stomp of ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah’, released as an EP following ‘Peace And Love. While two collaborations with the legendary Dubliners are included, this appears to be an almost apologetic move. Unfortunately, the cover of ‘Honky Tonk Women’ would require much greater atonement than that.

ENGROSSED IN EUROPE

‘Hell’s Ditch’ seemed like the final break with the Pogues of before. Although containing some fine songs grounded in the same folk stylings (‘Sunnyside of the Street’, ‘Hell’s Ditch’), it sounds uninspiring and even conventional in parts—as pedestrian as the ‘celtic fusion’ peddled by acts like the Saw Doctors or The Waterboys, and not helped by the sterile production courtesy of Joe Strummer. Most substantially, the Irish element was downplayed massively; it was simply another amongst the other myriad styles of ‘world music’.

Jean Genet

Jean Genet

Jean Genet

This extended to the lyrical elements, too, but in a vastly more positive way. MacGowan’s contributions were fresh and informed by a different aesthetic from the Irish folk of before, transporting the narrative style to exotic characters and locales from further afield on the European continent. The title track’s debt to Jean Genet manifested itself in a snapshot narrative, stark prison imagery wrapped in an overtly-sexual veneer:

The killer’s hands are bound with chains
At six o’clock it starts to rain
He’ll never see the dawn again
Our lady of the flowers

Verses describing death and squalor (like those above) are juxtaposed with others like:

Genet’s feeling Ramon’s dick
The guy in the bunk above gets sick

This is a structural trick that jars the listener and underlines the debt to the novel ‘Our Lady Of The Flowers’. In common with the Irish influences of before, Genet celebrated the lowlife, the disenfranchised, and those who refused to conform to societal norms, but in a more explicit manner that questioned the values society encouraged and celebrated.

Federico Garcia Lorca

Federico Garcia Lorca

Aside from Jean Genet, the spectre of Federico Garcia Lorca also informed the album. Like ‘Sickbed of Cuchulainn’, ‘Lorca’s Novena’ deals with modern heroism against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War. Backed by an eerie, dread-inducing combination of heavy bass and martial drums, the song tells of how the homosexual poet met his death at the hands of Franco’s nationalists. It’s not only the horrific circumstances of the poet’s death that justify the sinister vibes, but the wider context of a fascist victory that would ensure the legitimisation of such reprehensible deeds.

The final song of ‘Hell’s Ditch’, ‘Six to Go’, is an aural tombstone to the MacGowan Pogues, a condensed form of all the musical and conceptual contradictions that would contribute to its demise. Concerned with the six counties of Ireland which remain under the political control of Britain, it includes what sounds alarmingly like clichéd tribal chanting, an Africa found by way of ‘The Lion King’ rather than anti-colonial solidarity. In common with other songs of this era (‘Blue Heaven’, ‘Summer in Siam’, ‘Five Green Queens And Jean’), the solid core ends up ruined rather than enhanced by its exotic trappings.

The positive impact of the international influences on ‘Hell’s Ditch’ is confined solely to the lyrics, which flourish and give the Hibernian focus of the first three albums a sense of context, placing Ireland amongst the other great literary nations of the world, rather than resorting to the Irish chauvinism jokingly played up (particularly by MacGowan) in interviews. If the music had gone the same way, perhaps the culmination of stylistic disparity and substance abuse wouldn’t have led to the decision to kick MacGowan from the band as a whole.

After the disintegration of the original line up, the remaining members regrouped to make two further albums: 1993’s ‘Waiting for Herb’ and 1996’s ‘Pogue Mahone’). Yet without MacGowan at the lyrical helm, the collective lacked the cutting edge they had once possessed. Hence, while the two discs have their moments, they lack charisma and the sense of energy that defines the earlier albums, not to mention that they continue the terrible world music flirtations that marred the last two MacGowan albums. However, by the time of the band’s official demise in 1996, their influence was beginning to be felt in a big way.

LANGUAGE AND CLASS

When evaluating their overall influence, the Pogues use of language cannot be ignored, and it betrayed more than a small debt to Irish literature. In his essay regarding Yeats, George Orwell points out the difficulty of equating ideology with a writer’s style. He notes that Yeats’s attempts at simplistic writing appear convoluted, giving the example of the following verse from ‘An Acre of Grass’

Grant me an old man’s frenzy,
Myself must I remake
Till I am Timon and Lear
Or that William Blake
Who beat upon the wall
Till Truth obeyed his call.

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats

Orwell calls attention to the word ‘that’ before William Blake’s name as an attempt at conveying familiarity by utilising forced prosody, a co-option of the language of the lower classes negated by the poet’s aristocratic tendencies. When the Pogues lyrics are analysed in a similar way, the opposite conclusion is clear: the lyrics are unforced and authentic, intelligent but unpretentious. ‘Dark Streets of London’ is an effortlessly figurative example of this

“I like to walk in the summer breeze
Down Dalling Road by the dead old trees
And drink with my friends
In the Hammersmith Broadway
Dear dirty delightful old drunken old days”

The quality of such writing is that it makes the quotidian seem otherworldly through common poetic methods like alliteration. The tongue-twisting last line reads like something written by Gerard Manley Hopkins rather than an extract from a popular music song. Coming at the dawn of their career, such examples would become commonplace for the band, a musical fulfilment of Orwell’s proletarian artistic vision.

IRISH POST-COLONIALISM

Interpreted through the lens of post-colonialism, the band offer an intriguing range of interpretations, and indeed contradictions. Firstly, the very fact that they were composed primarily of London-born musicians would seem to render their status as Irish music icons quite hollow, an easy target as ‘musical imperialists’ plundering the vaults of a rich tradition. This allegation is easily refuted, however, the band’s members were all of Irish heritage, some even born there and with strong connections to the island.

In a more elaborate sense, the very foundations of the group immunise them from such attacks. By attempting to modernise folk, adhering to its roots but emphasising areas neglected by other artists, such as attitude and literary merit, the Pogues (in their early stages at least) helped save Irish folk from becoming a marginal strand of the ‘world music’ scene. This was in marked contrast to other groups, such as Moving Hearts, who from the beginning merged folk with jazz and rock styles. If this interpretation is accepted, then consequently Shane MacGowan’s criticism of the post-‘If I Should Fall’ immersion in world music becomes easier to accept as well. After all, when the theoretical grounding they had started with began to dissolve, the songs became less distinguished and more conventional, consumed within the quagmire of the cultural buffet of world music and generic folk-rock.

The Pogues And The Dubliners

The Pogues And The Dubliners

Another barrier against such attacks is to take the opposite conclusion: the Pogues as the products of an Ireland that has throughout its history assimilated invaders and immigrants into the native society. While historically there had been fierce resistance to such absorption, at certain points the cultures of the native and colonial Irish inevitably coalesced. The greatest manifestation of this was in the Celtic dawn of the late 19th century, when a vast re-discovery of Gaelic Ireland was expressed through modern literary and performance techniques. Writers like Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory (despite the mockery afforded them from MacGowan) worked to create a distinctly Irish literature, not dependant on wider developments within Britain for inspiration.

Important as an explicitly nationalist rejection of cultural imperialism, the Irish literary revival’s reverberations continued throughout the 20th century. As the 21st century approached, there were intimations that the cultural dependency had been reversed to a certain extent. The post-colonial literary theorist Declan Kiberd writes:

“When Daniel Day-Lewis pronounced his win at the Oscars [for his portrayal of Christy Brown in ‘My Left Foot’] a triumph for Ireland, he effectively dismantled the English-when-they-win, Irish-when-they-lose equation. But he chose Irishness just as much as the Anglo-Normans did before him: in neither case was it forced upon a hapless victim”

This was but one example of the increasing prevalence of Irish (or faux-Irish) content in popular culture in the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s, alongside films like ‘The Commitments’ and productions including ‘Riverdance’. The Pogues’ role in this reversal is interesting, because while in terms of location they were primarily English, they were possibly the most fervent purveyors of ‘Irishness’ amongst their Celtic cultural contemporaries, musically and in content. That it took a band located in England to re-assert Irish music’s place in popular music (rather than confined to the folk sidelines) says a lot about Ireland’s unusual place along the path of post-colonialism, the mass emigration that occurred mainly as a consequence of colonial exploitation has rendered its culture stronger in areas other than its origin. Following their artistic forebears, the Pogues contribution to post-colonialism has been to re-establish Irish identity (in the form of music and text) as having something to offer beyond novelty or the margins, as a vibrant player on the international stage.

CELTIC PUNK AND A WIDER INFLUENCE

Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly

The mid-90’s saw the emergence of a host of (primarily American) bands largely influenced by The Pogues musical, lyrical and conceptual qualities. The fact that this scene has grown so vast as to require an article (or a book) of its own is testament to the inspiration legions of acts have taken from the band, but the two most popular acts, critically and commercially, are undoubtedly Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys.

The former takes their cue from all eras of the Pogues, while including conventional instrumentation like the electric guitar (‘Another Bag of Bricks’ even usurps the Middle-Eastern influences of ‘Turkish Song of the Damned’ in a garishly conspicuous way.) Albums including ‘Swagger’ and ‘Drunken Lullabies’ share thematic subjects with the Pogues, abundant in references to Irish history and politics, including the important role of the Catholic Church. Dropkick Murphys differ from Flogging Molly by mixing their folk with prominent ‘Oi!’ influences. This has led to a blatant espousal of working class socialism more explicit than that ever referred to in Pogues songs. Making visible their debt to the Pogues, the band even had MacGowan appear as a guest vocalist on ‘Good Rats’ from 2001’s ‘Sing Loud, Sing Proud’.

Dropkick Murphys

Dropkick Murphys

While Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys may be the most important bands deriving stylistic influences from the Pogues, they’re only the tip of the iceberg. The celtic punk scene has spread from its main base in America all around the world, a common motif of the hybrid being Pogues covers, homages, and references, a musical movement equivalent to the Irish diaspora’s diffusion on a global scale. Beyond this scene, the group’s influence has extended to areas more mainstream than the largely underground punk circuit.

On a global level, Irish folk became a visible presence in popular culture by the early 90’s, albeit in watered-down forms like ‘Riverdance’ and ‘The Corrs’, which bore scant relation to the music or ethos of the Pogues. It’s hard to say whether such acts can even be considered as musically influenced by the Pogues, but it is certain that the Pogues chart success the laid the foundations for mainstream assimilation of Celtic music by popularising it in the first place. So while songs like ‘Fairytale of New York’ and ‘The Irish Rover’ can’t be counted as direct influences upon mainstream exports, they can be considered torch bearers for their cultural phenomena.

MacGOWAN’S CURRENT STANDING

So where do the Pogues stand today? While other members of the band made vast contributions to the group and Irish folk, it is MacGowan who remains famous in the mainstream. Portrayed in the press as a stereotypical drunken Irish poet, a boozed-up bohemian associated with other artists known for their excesses (especially Pete Doherty of the Libertines and Babyshambles), he is also increasingly lauded as a genius songwriter by sources as mainstream as the NME and The Guardian.

Since the full reformation of the band in 2001, these laudatory sentiments have only increased, a result of the now-legendary status afforded to the band’s performances. Inevitably, the media has commented on the continuity between his ‘literary drunk’ status and artists of the same vintage who preceded him. MacGowan even doggedly champions Coleridge over Wordsworth, believing the latter’s work to be inferior on an artistic level, but his fondness for Coleridge also lies in the Romantic’s famous use of opium.

It’s a pattern that remains a constant through all the Pogues albums, the championing of the underdog cast aside by society, and that is the role MacGowan has taken for himself. Whether writing in the guise of a person experiencing the euphoria of winning a bet, the solitary child terrified by ghouls of their parent’s making, or the railway workers toiling and dying without recognition, he imparts a personal touch that is ultimately the real affinity he shares with the writers he admires. Frank O’Connor, Brendan Behan, Flann O’Brien, Edna O’Brien, Mannix Flynn, authors MacGowan maintains have lived; the same underclass he immortalises in his own writing. Ultimately, he has emulated them in his own life and gained similar recognition, hailed not only as a musician, but as a legitimate and important contributor to the continuing evolution of Irish writing.

PopMatters

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*originally published on the marvellous Pop Matters web site.

PopMatters is an international magazine of cultural criticism. Our scope is broadly cast on all things pop culture, and our content is updated daily. We provide intelligent reviews, engaging interviews, and in-depth essays on most cultural products and expressions in areas such as music, television, films, books, video games, sports, theatre, the visual arts, travel, and the Internet.

* 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 

‘30492-London Celtic Punks Top Twenty Celtic-Punk Albums Of All Time’ 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

ALBUM REVIEW: 13KRAUSS- TheEnd Is Nigh’ (2016)

Part Dropkicks, a wee part Molly’s but always 100% celtic-folk-punk!

13Krauss

The End is Nigh is the follow up album from 13Krauss  to their excellent debut album, Seguir En Pie, which was released to great acclaim back in 2014. For our review of that grand album then check out here. Originally forming up as a straight up, no frills punk rock band but after a Real McKenzies show in their home town they were inspired to change direction and take the celtic-punk high road. So the boys went on to add an accordion player and a bagpiper and 13Krauss the celtic punk band were born! Hailing from Zaragoza in what is basically the dead centre of Spain they have become firm favourites on the Spanish scene, and further afield as well, and on the basis of these two albums it is no surprise why either.

The album begins with ‘Reza Por Tu Vida’ and the sound of an ocean and a toiling bell adds some nice touches to this blistering slab of fast and furious celtic-punk. One of only three songs sung in Spanish, the rest are in English, except for the one instrumental. Its a brilliant start with shouty gang vocals atop of acoustic guitar and bagpipes and its very Dropkicks sounding indeed. ‘Doomsday’ follows and reminds me of my current scene fave’s Ferocious Dog with the fiddle looming large and cranked up electric guitar and mandolin. Bodi vocal style is excellent. Shouty and strained but never unintelligible and you know that if pushed he could give it a real ‘croon’ with the best of them. The bagpipes are back out for ‘Flying Broken Chairs’, a catchy as hell track telling of a wicked and wild night down the boozer. They literally just released the video for ‘Flying Broken Chairs’ just yesterday featuring footage from this years St Patrick’s Day gig in Sala López in their home town of Zaragoza.

The best celtic-punk bands have the ability to slow it down and with the aptly named ‘Slow Down’ 13Krauss prove they can do it too. The story is of looking for leprauchauns and has quite the polka sound to it. Much like The Dreadnoughts use to play. Another thing a lot of non-celtic in origin celtic-punk bands are very good at is bringing new sounds and influences into their music and again ‘En Mi Ataúd’ has a sort of polka /Russian thing going on and its great. ‘Don’t Feed The Goblin’ is the only instrumental here and instrumental by name MENTAL by nature. A fast as hell ride through Dropkick Murphy’s style bagpipe punk rock. 13Krauss switch it up again and ‘Miserable Bridges’ has a skate-punk feel to it while again David’s bagpiping is absolutely superb. We are nearing the end now and ‘The Smitting Blow’ changes it up again with a country folk punk number that is unlike anything else here but equally as good and then finally we have ‘El Mañana No Espera’ and the end of the album. The bagpipes are loud and proud and the curtain comes down on this fantastic album with another piece of Murphy’s influenced celtic-punk rock.

The album was recorded and mixed in their home town and the nine tracks clock in at a very healthy thirty minutes. It was released just after St Patrick’s Day earlier in the year and is available for download as ‘name your price’ and only €9 for the actual physical compact disc which comes in a rather nice jewel case with all the song lyrics, credits and pictures in a extensive twelve page booklet. That there’s not a single cover version here is the first thing that struck me on hearing The End is Nigh. Just nine great slabs of celtic-punk that show the influence of other bands in the scene but always with the 13Krauss stamp of individuality on it. They have a great knack of switching it up and just as you feel your in for a ride of Dropkick Murphys expectations your off in another completely different direction. There are some outstanding celtic-punk bands from the region with Catalan bands The Drink Hunters and Sigelpa due to release new albums very soon, Bastards from Galicia still touring Europe relentlessly and The Fatty Farmers having also recently released a excellent new album too. 13Krauss deserve to be heard beyond Spain but also beyond Dropkick Murphys fans too as this album will appeal to all fans of the genre whether you prefer the punky or the folkier side of celtic-punk. 

(You can have a free listen to The End Is Nigh by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below. Follow the link below to buy)

13Krauss logo (2)

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* the guys from 13Krauss have also set up the ZARAGOZA CELTIC PUNKS group on Facebook so trot along there and join up here

(Check out this full concert from 13Krauss. a unusual camera angle but you can see how much the crowd gets into as the gig goes along. Brilliant!)

THE RUMJACKS TOUR IRELAND, SCOTLAND, WALES AND ENGLAND

no Cornwall though…what happened there lads?

RumjackTour

Woohoo I am in clover and guess why? Yes the best celtic-punk band in the entire world THE RUMJACKS are bringing their raucous and spellbinding celtic-punk road show back to these shores for their biggest tour here yet. Taking in twelve cites across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England and including two shows in London at the beginning and end of the tour. We are surely blessed!

(the first single off The Rumjacks 3rd full length album due later this year)

For those who are unaware of The Rumjacks I pity you but here is your chance to make amends and catch up with the rest of the celtic-punk scene. We are firm believers here that the best celtic-punk bands anywhere in the world are in Australia. Can’t put my finger on exactly why. It could be the brutal birth of the country under Britain’s glorious rule or the large celtic populations that left for there (some forced, some of their own accord) but Australia has always had a sort of outlaw rep to it and the celtic-punk they play is steeped in the bloody history of their land. Needless to say at the forefront of these bands are The Rumjacks from Sydney in New South Wales.

Born of a desire to make music in general and celtic-flavoured punk in particular, The Rumjacks are an entity rather askew, cast adrift of the mainstream and the industry as a whole, these five musical misfits from the cobbled streets of old Sydney town, a group unto themselves and the music they’ve made their own.

“Of the current line up, it’s only myself and Johnny (McKelvey, bass) who were there at the start,” muses frontman Frankie McLaughlin on the origins of the group. “He and I met and quickly realised we were after the very same thing”

This was towards the end of 2008, and the ‘same thing’ of which McLaughlin speaks was so strong, that the group’s debut release, the Hung, Drawn & Ported EP, was released not three months later. After some early line up changes, the group quickly settled to how we see them now: McLaughlin, McKelvey, drummer Anthony Matters, guitarist Gabriel Whitbourne and banjo / mandolin / bouzouki player Adam Kenny; as ragtag a group of virtuosi players as you’ll find in this day and age, milling about sticky-carpeted pubs across the land.

(17,000,000 (aye seventeen million) views and still counting!!!!!!!!)

Since the group’s inception, they’ve come to embrace the oddball world they’ve found themselves in, becoming part of the gnarled, handmade furniture you might say, drawing from a solid base and pushing, stretching, bullying it to their every whim, creating something of their own. You may make comparison to The Pogues, Billy Bragg, The Dropkick Murphys et al, and you’d be right to, but you’d be well advised to acknowledge the twist these five have put to their music themselves, making it something unique.

“Well it’s absolutely vital,” concurs McLaughlin on putting their own stamp on this music, something that has led to the band cultivating a marvellous versatility which sees them comfortable on any number of stages, in any number of situations. “And it means we can jump in on any line up in front of any crowd, and we’ve proven that. I think there are elements of what we do that appeal to everyone”

Indeed there are – from their heavy celtic roots to the driving punk rock rhythms, the cheeky lyrics and rampant, greased up bonhomie that drips from the stage whenever these five step up, this is what The Rumjacks bring. It’s been this versatility, not to mention the flat-out talent and drive they exude, that’s seen the band share stages with artists diverse artists from folk to 77 punk. It’s seen all their releases stand up as solid works, finding places amongst the collections of fans of rock, punk, folk, reggae, Irish and God knows what else.

“We could run mad with it, musically speaking” McLaughlin confides on what’s next – a new Rumjacks record, being pieced together as we speak for release later this year. “We draw on so many influences, but its important for us to force the bounds of what we already do, play good solid Punk rock with a fat smear of Celtic folk right through it, Hopefully contributing something substantial & new before the genre dies out as a novelty. There’s so much more energy this time around”

It almost seems impossible to suggest there’ll be more energy, for this isn’t something The Rumjacks have ever lacked before, either on stage or in the music itself. But these are five who have nothing to hide, they have no limit and there’s nothing to it but to make this music and make it loud, make it proud, add the extra energy and to hell with the consequences, for The Rumjacks and their slavering hordes will not be denied. They politely, but firmly, suggest you get on board.

(from second album Sober & Godless)

After last year when they managed to bring the house down at the Boomtown festival and even managed to take our minds off the £5 pints of water and early 9-30pm finish at the Garage I can heartily say to you all DO NOT MISS THEM ON THIS TOUR! Aye move heaven and earth to get to one of the gigs it will NOT disappoint I promises you. To find out more about the tour go to The Rumjacks web site here or the official Facebook event here or feel free to contact us at London Celtic Punks. 

(left to right) Anthony- drums Adam: banjo/mandolin Frankie: vocals/tin whistle/ Gabriel: guitars Johnny: bass

(left to right) Anthony- drums * Adam: banjo/mandolin * Frankie: vocals/tin whistle/guitar * Gabriel: guitars * Johnny: bass

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  YouTube  Bandcamp  Soundcloud

Discography

Hung Drawn And Ported (EP) 2009 * Sound As A Pound (EP) 2009 * Gangs Of New Holland (Album) 2010 * Crosses For Eyes (Single) 2012 * Blows & Unkind Words (Single) 2014 * Plenty (Single) 2014 * Sober & Godless (Album) 2015

* the boys are not just coming here they are spreading their wings around Europe and will also be touring around most of Europe in Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Slovenia, Spain, Serbia, Austria, Czech Republic and the Netherlands so get over to their web site here to find a show near you!

Rumjacks Gig At The Garage 2015

PS- Watch out for some awesome support bands playing on this tour, the cream of our scene. The Cundeez, The Lagan, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Black Water County, East Town Pirates, Mick O’Toole. Many more to come as well!

 

ALBUM REVIEW: LUGH- ‘Histórias Do Mar’ (2016)

Football, carnival, the Amazon, the ladies and samba music. Well add to that list celtic-punk as Brazil is coming for us!!

Lugh

Well who would have thought a Brazilian celtic-punk band? Well we would! For a start we loved their debut album ‘Quandos Os Canecos Batem’ so much it was voted in at #12 in the London Celtic Punks Best Of Poll of 2014. A short, fast and bombastic debut album that left all of us who heard it reeling. A great LP that has much in common with their recently released full lengther ‘Histórias Do Mar’. Formed in 2008 Lugh started off as a Bad Religion covers band but when they heard the Dropkick Murphys it was all to change suddenly. So it was with the addition of Leo, who had been playing accordion since he was five years old, and a set list of covers from our old friends, and yours, The Murphy’s and The Molly’s they began writing their own material. Before too long the new stuff outweighed the old and a new force in celtic-punk had been born. Hailing from Rio Grande Do Sul in the southernmost state in Brazil Lugh are following in the Brazilian celtic-punk footsteps of bands like Ketamina and The Leprachauns and there’s a small but thriving (and growing) celtic-punk scene in the country.

Lugh3

As I have said ‘Histórias Do Mar’ has much in common with that debut album the main thing being the absolute speed at which Lugh plough through it. Ten songs in just over twenty five minutes with the average song lasting just a wee bit over two minutes. Lugh are very much on the Dropkick Murphys wing of celtic-punk and their folky punk rock blasts make a refreshing change at the moment as it seems to be that the folkier side of celtic-punk is in the ascendency at the moment.

Lugh4

The album starts with ‘Marujo Perdido’ and the sound of an ocean and then the music jumps in and we’re away. Accordion led celtic-punk with the emphasis on punk is the best way I can describe it. I can’t add much more about the songs as Lugh sing entirely in Portuguese, the national language of Brazil. The various ten songs veer from straight forward celtic-punk with Latin influences to also influences from the likes of Rancid and Bad Religion as well as ska, metal or punky-country sounds like that of Social Distortion. Overall the length of the songs works perfectly for ‘Histórias Do Mar’ and even though it flies by so fast it never ever drags even on a slower (though not by much at all) track like ‘Nova Fase’. ‘Lutando em Vão’ and the final track ‘Todos por Um’ are probably my favourite tracks both with fantastic shouty vocals and pumped up electric guitar and some absolutely amazing accordion from Leo.

Lugh2

With their original vocalist Biaque ‘Pincel’ Santos back at the microphone backed up by Daniel ‘Makako’ Jardim, Lucas Bala, George Polidoro and Leo, on that accordion,then one listen is enough to confirm that Lugh have delivered an album equally as good, if not better, than their debut. Lugh take their name from an Irish deity represented in mythology as a hero and an ancient High King honoured for his skills and gifts as a craftsman. Love and respect for Irish culture and Irish music shines through everything that Lugh do. In  a time when its oh-so-trendy to bang on about ‘cultural appropriation’ I personally think its absolutely brilliant that bands like Lugh and others across the world take inspiration from the fights and lives and struggles and (occasional) wins and defeats of the Irish race. That my Grandad would still be around to see how across the globe how popular Irish music, and the Irish, has become would be as pleased as punch!

 

(have a listen to ‘Histórias do Mar’ by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below before you buy…go on its only $5!)

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* For an alternative view of the album go here and check out the review posted on the Celtic Folk Punk And More web-site.
* There is an excellent Facebook group we can’t recommend enough so hightail it over to Irish Punk Brazil here and join the clan!

ALBUM REVIEW: TRIBUTE TO THE POGUES- Various Artists (2016)

A huge compilation of songs written by the world’s #1 celtic-punk band as covered by today’s generation of modern celtic-punk bands from every single corner of the world!

FREE DOWNLOAD!

Tribute To The Pogues

We were sent this brilliant album by our good mate Vladimir, who also did the fantastic artwork and also seems to do the artwork for most celtic-punk releases in Russia, just before St Patrick’s Day. I had to warn him that we wouldn’t be able to do it justice in time to put a review up on release day as we would all be in the pub busy celebrating our Irish ancestry so here a few days late is our opinion on this years must hear compilation album.

As far as I know this is the first international tribute to the Godfathers of celtic-punk – THE POGUES! Everything we hold dear in celtic-punk comes out of the influence of The Pogues and their seminal and legendary front man Shane MacGowan. What they mean to celtic-punk is unmeasurable and the only question you must ask of this album is whether or not this is a worthy tribute to them or not and the answer is of course is that it most definitely, certainly  is!!! The whole thing clocks in at nearly ninety minutes and has 27 bands from right across the entire globe with just about every corner covered. The list of countries here goes from the obvious ones like the USA, Norway, England, Italy, to some ones that may surprise you like Poland, Slovenia, Czech Republic,  and Russia to some that will downright shock you like Indonesia, Ukraine or Belarus. They have all combined to bring you The Pogues most popular London Irish ballads from the era of safety pins, ripped jeans and dishevelled hair!

Now this has been put together by our mucker and artist Vladimir from Novosibirsk in Russia and has a whole host of bands that are both new to us as well as some that are already firm favourites. It would be pointless here to go too far into the history of the songs as they are surely known to even the slightest fan of The Pogues. The whole thing kicks off with one of The Pogues least known songs ‘Curse Of Love’, which was a bonus track on the Hell’s Ditch re-issue album, by Indonesian band The Cloves And The Tobacco. They recently released a new album and it has been making huge waves across the international celtic punk scene and it is a fantastic start and swiftly followed by ShamRocks from the Ukraine and Dzieciuki from Belarus before the London Irish very own The Craicheads weigh in with ‘Sally MacLennane’. They give it plenty of oompf and one of The Pogues fastest ever songs is delivered more than safely with a hint of country and bluegrass. Next up is easily one of the most inventive bands in the whole scene, and one of my own personal favourites, from California are Craic Haus playing ‘A Pair Of Brown Eyes’. You won’t have heard another band like them in the world of celtic-punk I can guarantee it. They have even invented their own genre called ‘Shamrockabilly’ and though their rock’n’roll may be a little lacking on this track it is still outstanding and worthy of you checking out the rest of their back catalogue. Another bunch of my favourite bands roll up next playing some of my fave Pogues songs. A good combination indeed. Happy Ol’ McWeasel from Slovenia doing ‘Sunny Side of the Street’ with the band I once described as being a cross between The Exploited and The Chieftains Middle Class Bastards from Russia next with ‘Big City’, Ukrainian band O’Hamsters sing ‘The Sick Bed of Cuchulain’ before possibly the album’s biggest band The Greenland Whalefishers from Norway chipping in with a brilliant version of ‘Birmingham Six’. A couple of bands I don’t know follow with Kelush and the Bastards (feat. Chris Dutchak) from the Ukraine with an absolutely fantastic skate punk ‘Fairytale of New York’ before Harley McQuinn from Russia nails it with ‘London Girl’. Keeping just enough of the originals rock’n’roll sound before adding some great guitars and gang vocals. Czech’s Benjaming’s Clan and Italians Dirty Artichokes are both bands that have impressed us here over the years and you could almost call them celtic-punk veterans compared to some of the groups here! Russian band The Real Blackbeards I don’t know but they present a great fun pirate version of ‘Sea Shanty’. Americans CRAIC are another big hitter here and they also do a Hell’s Ditch classic ‘Sayonara’ and is one of the many album highlights. Troty hail from Poland and are one of the few bands with a female vocalist. They give us a faultless Polish version of Bottle of Smoke while Hell’s Ditch is revisited again by another Indonesian band Forgotten Generation with ‘Rain Street’ and again it is absolutely superb. Amach  I don’t know but they offer up ‘Transmetropolitan’ and bloody great in its simplicity it is too. They come from the Crimea and like the best bands here they don’t over complicate things but just add a twist to add their own stamp to the songs. Yet another Indonesian band pops up next and The Working Class Symphony give it plenty in their cover of ‘Fiesta’. Never one of my favourite songs but this version bloody rocks and I have fallen for it big time. Like all the Indonesian bands here they play traditional Irish folk influenced punk and is so well played you would think they were all Irish if heard them on the radio! БНД I can’t even pronounce their name but ‘Boys From County Hell’ keeps up the high standard while The Humble Hooligans are a band I only got into recently and these Californians give Turkish Song of the Damned a right auld kicking complete with proper authentic moans and wails. Great accordion leads and Troy’s perfect vocals mark them out as a band to watch out for. Red Box from Russia again I don’t know but offer up a decent ‘If I Should Fall from Grace with God’ before Rum Rebellion from Portland, USA serve up an epic ‘Boat Train’. Been fans of these for a long time and they do not disappoint. Всё_CRAZY are from Belarus and their ‘My Baby’s Gone’ is another album highlight. Taken from the first post-Shane Pogues album Waiting For Herb it’s a brave choice and fits in and works perfectly. We are nearing the end of the album and the last band I know here is the marvellous Moscow Celtic Punks group Drunken Fairy Tales. Keep an eye out soon for the review of their new EP it’s both fantastic and free to download! Crow Dog Clan have another brave choice with ‘Oretown’ from the final (non-Shane) Pogues album Pogue Mahone. They take the song and give it a real shake to come up with something outstanding. Almost gothic country its actually great to hear something not so celtic. Finally the album comes to a sad end with Kozlobar from Russia bringing down the curtain on this amazing tribute with the mental instrumental ‘Battle of Brisbane’.

Well what to say now in summing up. With 27 bands you’d think their would at least be a few duffers here but you’d be mistaken. I’m sure if their were any they ended up on the cutting floor as from beginning to end the whole thing is simply fantastic. From the selection of bands to the bands own selection of songs this is as good as it could have possibly have mine. Yes this is kinda dominated by eastern European groups but it has been put together by a Russian guy and I for one am glad its not dominated by American bands. If celtic-punk exists and is to prosper beyond The Pogues/Dropkicks/Molly’s then it must also exist outside the countries of the Irish/celtic diaspora like the States, Canada, Australia or England. Compilations serve a purpose in introducing you to new bands and if there was a problem in celtic-punk it is that far too many people think the scene these days revolves solely around the Dropkicks or The Molly’s. I am sure this album will introduce everyone hearing it to today’s generation of bands that are carrying the torch for Shane and his buddies and not only that but will inspire another generation of fans as well.

Tracklist

1. The Cloves and The Tobacco feat. Cathy Shannon – Curse of Love
2. ShamRocks – Wild Unicorns of Kilkenny (Wild Cats of Kilkenny)
3. Dzieciuki – Не Саскочу! (Streams Of Whiskey)
4. Craicheads – Sally MacLennane
5. Craic Haus – A Pair of Brown Eyes
6. Happy Ol’ McWeasel – Sunny Side of the Street
7. Middle Class Bastards – Big City
8. O’Hamsters – Лiжко Кухулiна (The Sick Bed of Cuchulain)
9. Greenland Whalefishers – Birmingham Six
10. Kelush and the Bastards feat. Chris Dutchak – Fairytale of New York
11. Harley McQuinn – London Girl
12. Benjaming’s Clan – The House of Gods
13. Dirty Artichokes – The Rake at the Gates of Hell
14. Real Blackbeards – Пират и Колдун (Sea Shanty)
15. CRAIC – Sayonora
16. Troty – Butelka Smoke (Bottle of Smoke)
17. Forgotten Generation – Rain Street
18. Amach – Transmetropolitan
19. The Working Class Symphony – Fiesta
20. БНД – Boys From County Hell
21. The Humble Hooligans – Turkish Song of the Damned
22. Red Box – If I Should Fall from Grace with God
23. Rum Rebellion – Boat Train
24. Всё_CRAZY – Ты Ушла (My Baby’s Gone)
25. Drunken Fairy Tales – Плот “Медузы” (The Wake of the Medusa)
26. Crow Dog Clan – Oretown
27. Kozlobar – The Battle of Brisbane
So there you have it. Don’t forget to tell all your friends about it now! Share it with all you know and let the world enjoy this superb free compilation! And a happy (belated) St. Patrick’s Day to you!!!
(you can listen to the entire record here for free by pressing play on the Bandcamp player below and follow the link below that to get the download)

Download The Album- Bandcamp

any problem with Bandcamp then you should try here)

ALBUM REVIEW: THE OGHAM STONES- ‘One, Two Feck You’ (2016)

A bunch of fun-lovin’, hard-drinkin’ lovers of Irish music that are gonna inspire you to have a good time. You’ll sing and dance and, if not careful, you just might learn something too…

The Ogham Stones

The Ogham Stones formed back in 2010 in Lancaster in South Central Pennsylvania one of the oldest towns in the United States when a local Irish-American bartender finally had enough of Lancaster being the only town in the USA not to have a kick ass celtic-punk band. Like most of the East Coast of America the Irish are in plenty of supply and Irish culture flourishes among a people extremely proud of where their roots are from. Notable for its large rural Amish community (those people from the movie ‘Witness’) the urban areas were largely settled by Irish, German, Dutch, Italian and the English. So it was with the town crying out for a local celtic-punk band they could wear the t-shirt of! John the eventual singer of The Ogham Stones approached a piper he knew from playing out in the towns bars and asked if she wanted to start a band and the foundation’s were now laid to rope in a few more local Lancaster musicians and here we now are.
Numerous live shows later all over the East Coast and further afield it was time to get something down on record and so One,Two Feck You arrived on our doorstep and very pleased it did we are too. Taking their name from standing stones that contain the earliest known form of writing in Ireland. Thought to date from before the 4th century AD the Ogham alphabet is made up of a series of strokes along or across a line. The Ogham alphabet was read from the left hand side bottom up, across the top and if need be down the other side. It is important as it shows that the Irish and their fellow Celt’s were far advanced of others in Europe in their use of language.

Ogham copy

The Ogham alphabet.

So you got a seven-piece Irish American celtic rock and punk band with a keen sense of history but the thing is are they any good and the answer by friend is not blowing in the wind it is that they are F**KING brilliant! From the first bars of wonderfully played bagpipes on the opening track ‘Minstrel Boy/Cadence To Arms’ you get the feeling that this band are in it to enjoy themselves. You’ll recognise it of course from The Dropkick Murphys debut album Do Or Die but The Ogham Stones give it their own treatment and superb it is too.

They follow this up with their own version of the traditional Irish song ‘Star Of The County Down’. Now this has been covered by a LOT of bands but lucky for us they don’t take the easy route and inject enough of themselves into it to stop it being just another bland cover. Something I don’t think would be possible for them to do. It reminds me mostly of The Lagan’s version with fiddle , tin whistle and electric guitar driving it along with a few metal rockouts!

The only fault I could find with One, Two F**k You is that their is not enough of The Ogham Stones original material. I say that as the best songs here are the ones not part of the ‘traditional’ scene and ‘The World Is Full Of Bastards’ is a fine example of this. Hilarious lyrics, great female vocals and superb musicians with a song guaranteed to get you singing and jigging along.

“Eh, the lad was oh-so-generous
Much more than you would think
He didn’t have a license
But he still drove me to drink

And I had no insecurities
So he gave me some of his
But I didn’t need his sorrow, man
I’m Irish as it is”

Written and performed by local novelty act Mary Prankster it sure gets the album moving and this is swiftly followed by another non-trad song and again ‘Wild Winds Of Misfortune’ is another cracker. By fellow ‘Lancky’ band Vinegar Creek Constituency they again mix it up and give it the Stones treatment. John’s vocals give it a real celtic feel and its the fiddle that dominates again before they lay their cards on the table and give us a couple of songs from the heart.

‘The Foggy Dew/Come Out Ye Black’n’Tans’ come straight from the massive book of Irish rebel songs and are well known in every corner of the globe among the Irish diaspora. ‘The Foggy Dew’ is the most famous song about the Easter Rising of 1916 and this year is of course the 100th anniversary of the rising where a small band of Irishman rose up to take on the British empire. The Rising was smashed and the leaders executed but it ignited a spark that just three years later would see the entire Irish nation rise up to take up the fight for freedom. This soon morphs into ‘Come out Ye’ and if ever their was a trad song that was suited to celtic-punk then this is it. Fast as feck and with a brilliant chorus that is impossible to sing without your fist waving in the air. They return to be standard fare next with a live version of ‘The Wild Rover’ recorded last Christmas in McCleary’s Public House in Lancaster. John’s vocals sound great and its lovely and clear and leads us nicely onto the album’s final track ‘The Mermaid Song’. The band get together and give it their all in a acapella style.

TheOghamStones.McClearys.2014.01

The Ogham Sones at McClearys. L to R: Flavor- vocals, vibraslap, bodhran. Mollie- violin, vocals. Amanda- bagpipes, accordion, tin whistle, vocals. James- acoustic and electric guitars. Shawn- drums, vocals. Neal- bass. Matt- mandolin, banjo, guitars.

So much to recommend here but also a couple of things I would like to add. With such an amazing piper I would have liked to hear a lot more of them also you’re a fantastic band so you shouldn’t be afraid to give your own material a chance. Overall a fantastic album only seven tracks listed and clocking in at just under 25 minutes they have certainly captured the energy and passion of a live set here. A fantastic bunch of talented musicians with a knowledge of the history of both Irish music and culture The Ogham Stones have nailed their own sound and with a few more of their own songs have got the ability to get into the top tier of the celtic punk scene.

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  • For more on the history of The Ogham Stones and the ancient alphabet visit here.

 

ALBUM REVIEW: BRYAN McPHERSON- ‘Street Lights’ (2016)

Calling out the bullshit.

A fusion of Americana, folk, alternative and punk this Irish-American guy is a lot more than even this.

Bryan MacPherson-City Lights

Any new release from London Celtic Punks favourite Bryan McPherson is more than welcomed and so we are happy to get our mitts on Street Lights released just last week. Recorded live at the Right-Turn which is a drug and alcohol rehab centre in Bryan’s home town of Boston. Completely un-mastered and delivered as rough and raw and ready as it was heard first hand on that night back in 2009 it was recorded. Now this isn’t an album of completely new material as several of the songs eventually made it onto Bryan’s 2012 album American Boy / American Girl. Others were not so fortunate and fell by the wayside so its great to hear them now played in this way in a intimate show in a place that is obviously very close to his heart. When you buy Street Lights, as I’m sure you will, part of your hard earned will go to the centre to help them continue their great work. Right Turn describes itself as “a creative place for recovery” helping people to recover from the devastating effects of addiction.

The entire concert is included here and you can hear a pin drop throughout as Bryan shares his life with us. What can I say as I am a massive fan of Bryan and find myself when listening to his music feeling like I’m on a emotional roller coaster. His lyrics grab at you and shake you into a reaction. We were lucky to have had Bryan over in London last year and his performance, despite some initial sound problems, was every bit as intense and captivating as here. As Bryan says himself

“I see music as a means for change. It’s a powerful and beautiful force, and it’s my life”

Street Lights was engineered and mixed by Steve Friedman and all the songs were written and performed by Bryan. The last song is a special bonus studio track, a beautiful intimate acoustic version of ‘O.F.D. (Originally from Dorchester)’. Bryan’s birthplace and home to countless Irish-Americans including the original members, and lifelong friends of Bryan, The Dropkick Murphys. Here’s an idea maybe the Irish Government could fund the work that Right Turn do? As a thank you for all the money sent home by those Irish-Americans throughout the years. Maybe their children and grand-children deserve some payback for having helped keep Ireland afloat during the tough years?

With just a guitar and a harmonica and his voice it is passionate and heartfelt and emotional and frail and powerful and uplifting all at the same time. Bryan’s music is a very real journey through his own personal hell and is altogether mesmerising. Sometimes his words can chill you to the bone as he dissects American working class life and when those pampered and privileged members of the middle classes want to lecture us about so-called ‘white privilege’ then maybe they ought to have lived a moment in Bryan McPherson’s shoes. Just a moment. Street life, politics, addiction, the prison system, class disparity and the plight of the working class, broken dreams, and discrimination litter the alleys of McPherson’s songs. Their are also moments of beauty and clarity as this modern day  folk-punk troubadour hits the heights and even though it may not be a fun roller coaster ride the words are as honest as they are urgent. Come on every second counts!

(listen to the whole of City Lights on the Bandcamp player below . When you’ve done click the link below that to own a copy!)

Bryan MacPhersonBuy The Album

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For more on the work Right Turn do please check their web-site here

 

2015 REVIEWS ROUND UP PART THREE- THE CHERRY COKE$, SMZB, THE GO SET, LEXINGTON FIELD, MICKEY RICKSHAW

2015 has been another exciting year for celtic-punk releases but sadly we haven’t had a chance to review everything we received or heard so here’s the last of our ‘Round-Up’s’ catching up with some of of the more obscure records we missed first time round as well as a couple of the scene’s major celtic-punk hitters. These releases prove that celtic-punk has gone global!

THE CHERRY COKE$- ‘Self Titled’

Cherry Coke$Now The Cherry Coke$ won’t win any awards for Best Name but when it comes to celtic-punk then that is more than possible. Formed in 1999 in Tokyo in Japan they play extremely tight and fast traditional Irish music. Absolutely huge at home, they regularly appear on TV, and this is their ninth release since forming. I have only heard two of their previous records but I can tell you that this self titled album is at least as good as what I have heard before. As mentioned they are tight and powerful and as clear an example of what James Stephens said back in the 1840’s that “it is not blood that makes you Irish but a willingness to be part of the Irish nation”. Easily as good as anything in celtic-punk this is proper party music and a perfect example of what the album has in store is the opening track ‘Rise Again’ for which they and Japan MTV produced this great video.

Ten songs coming in just shy of forty-five minutes so the songs gets plenty of time to develop and like all the best bands in celtic-punk they know how to play a ballad or a traditional folk number as well as punk it up to the high hills! The quality of the playing is amazing, especially the folk instruments. To be put in the same bracket as Flogging Molly but having grown up in different continents its hard to say who is following who here. Absolutely brilliant and well worth checking them out. Couldn’t find a link for you to buy the album but have a look round and see if you can.

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SMZB- ‘A Letter From China’  (BUY)

SMZBNow for something well out of ours (and yours too no doubt) comfort zone. Its one thing to review a Japanese band in The Cherry Coke$ but they been around for years and most celtic-punk ‘knowitalls’ would have heard of them but SMZB are the real underground celtic-punk band… from China. Yes China and they have been playing punk rock since 1996. Their lyrics and music are not appreciated much by the Chinese authorities so three of their albums have been banned. They toured Europe in 2005 and around this time took the decision to move away from their original raw sound of early British punk, ska and ’80s hardcore and add bagpipes, flutes and fiddles to their sound. How or why they decided this is unknown as the internet don’t have an awful lot on them. They have though received plaudits galore from the various celtic-punk sites and sounding like a combination of The Pogues, the Murphy’s and Rancid they have gone on to be absolutely huge in their native country. Previous releases include a split LP with celtic-punk legends The Greenland Whalefishers. A Letter From China makes the bands intentions clear. The cover features a red tank with the caption ‘1989-2014 25th Anniversary’ as well as their rather interesting band logo (have another look!!) Its basically well played melodic punk sung partly in English but with bagpipes chucked into the mix. Its all very very catchy and opener ‘A Song for Chen Huaimen’ seems to be about the singers grandfather where he compares himself to a Chinese fighter pilot who fought against the Japanese. Fourteen songs in just under a hour and some real beauties especially in ‘Smash His Statue’ SMZB hit the real celtic-punk highlights and its songs like this that get them into trouble and long may they rebel! There’s an oldish interview with Wu Wei from SMZB here from The Guardian in England

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THE GO SET- ‘Rolling Sound’  (BUY)

The Go SetIf there was an award for most hard working on the other hand then I think it is The Go Set who would deserve it. Yeah I know The Mahones never stop touring but for an independent DIY band to be able to finance themselves to be able to tour quite as much as The Go Set do is quite an amazing achievement. This year not only did they play a pretty long tour of the USA but they also made in over here to Europe including Blighty to play a few gigs around the big Rebellion punk festival. Formed in 2003 in Melbourne in Australia we have long been big fans of the Aussie celtic-punk scene and The Go Set are one of the biggest and best bands among them. With a bunch of first rate and critically acclaimed albums The Go Set released seventh album Rolling Sound to a helluva lot of expectation and it didn’t disappoint at all. The album begins with a bagpipe dirge that grows in sound before exploding into ‘Bones’

which has all the trademarks of The Go Set’s fantastic sound. Justin’s clear and distinctive Aussie accented vocals atop of catchy tuneful punk rock accompanied by great bagpiping and mandolin from Lachlan and Ben. Politics is never too far away and the lyrics deal with the social and political plights of the working classes, speaking out both for them and with them. The music doesn’t stand still for a second but the boys spread their wings beyond celtic-punk and as is the way for a typical Go Set album it’s their slower stuff I actually prefer more than their full on punk. Stand out punky tracks include the title song, ‘Bones’, ‘The Struggle And The Fight’ but its the working class celtic ballad ‘In The Streets’ that gets me. Yet another blinder from The Go Set and further cements their place as one of the best bands in the celtic-punk scene.

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LEXINGTON FIELD- ‘Greenwood’  (BUY)

Lexington Field

Lexington Field formed in 2009 in San Diego, CA and Greenwood is the bands fourth album so they have been pretty prolific in their short existence. They describe themselves as ‘Fiddle Rock’ and while it is true that the fiddle does loom large in Lexington Fields sound it by no means dominates and when its quite hard to pigeonhole a band then it makes sense to invent your own genre! Having followed the band since their early days I am again happy to say that Greenwood has hit the spot nicely. Thirteen tracks and forty minutes gives the songs plenty of time to develop and Beau’s great vocals and lyrics stand out as usual giving Lexington Field that extra bit more. Their has been a fair amount of personnel change in the last couple of years but finally the band are settled down and Greenwood is the result. The more celtic-punk days are behind them and Lexington Field are another band who have spread beyond the genre while at the same time keeping one foot firmly in place. The album starts with the furious ‘Ghostwriter’ and the rest of Greenwood keeps up the place with ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide Out of Suburbia’ following.

The catchy, fist in the air music coupled with the dark lyrics is sometimes at odds with the almost jolly sometimes music. The fiddle and the banjo keep them in folk-punk land and they are signed to folk-punk friendly East Grand Records who have no end of great bands on their roster, including more than a couple excellent celtic-punk bands. From the pounding and metalesque ‘Target Rich Environment’ to the slow punk rock ballad ‘Calarity Jane’ this is a fantastic album and Beau further shows his talents as one of the best lyricist’s in celtic-punk.

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East Grand Records

MICKEY RICKSHAW- ‘No Heaven For Heroes’  (BUY)

Well well well we all know The Dropkick Murphys can’t go on for ever and with Boston’s place secured in celtic-punk folklore who then will take on their mantle when they have gone? Well fellow Bostonians Mickey Rickshaw are up for the job. A team of young fired up blue collar Irish Americans in touch with both their working class American lives and their roots back in the auld country. With Boston’s massive Irish population as well as its place in the history of punk then traditional celtic folk and punk rock aggression equals the 100% perfect sound for the Boston Irish and if the Murphys invented celtic punk post Pogues then its bands like Mickey Rickshaw that will carry for the flame for the next generation. The EP ’16 Down and Back Again’ came out in 2013 but it has been No Heaven For Heroes that has seen their name explode onto the celtic-punk scene with universal great reviews and plaudits heaped upon them from all corners of the globe. The first of the album’s twelve tracks starts with an eastern European flavour before ‘Sapphire Hills’ hits you in the jaw. The album flows mercilessly at at breakneck speed with no let up and the few times you think a ballad is on its way you are resoundly proved wrong!

‘Sapphire Hills’ is an early standout as is ‘I’m Sorry Mrs Mahoney’ but after a few listens you begin to realise that the whole album is one big standout. The album takes in some nice touches of ska as well as hardcore and will leave you out of breath and ready to swop all your Dropkick t-shirts for Mickey Rickshaw ones. Unbelievably the album is available to download for just a single dollar so get on there as quick as you can and make haste to get it into your earholes! LONG LIVE BOSTON CELTIC-PUNK!!!!

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So ends Part 3 and again apologies to all the bands that we weren’t able to give each album the full London Celtic Punks treatment but was just not possible with time on our backs. If you missed Parts One and Two check them out (Part One here and Part Two here)but if you don’t want to miss any of our posts in future 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.

2015 REVIEWS ROUND UP PART TWO- WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS, SKONTRA, LOUISE DISTRAS, HAPPY OL McWEASEL, THE CUNDEEZ, ANTO MORRA

This year has been quite brilliant for celtic-punk releases. In fact it has been far the best year since we began doing this here thingy. Good news surely but it also sadly means we didn’t get a chance to review everything we received or heard. So after catching up with our North American cousins (here) last time in Part 1 this time round we catch up with some a wee bit closer to home.

WILL TUN AND THE WASTERS- ‘The Anachronist’s Handbook’  (BUY)

Will Tun And The WastersThis album release came accompanied with the sad news that lead singer Will Tun was leaving the band. An amicable split and the rest of The Wasters have decided to carry on without him and so this is the swansong of Will Tun’s Wasters. Formed in 2010 by a gang of students based all over southern England Will Tun And The Wasters released a smattering of EP’s and singles and managed to get pretty popular so it was only a matter of time before an album was due. I suppose losing your lead singer would also also help lose a big slice of momentum as this album sneaked out rather than be unleashed and that was a mighty shame as this is a album deserving of being unleashed! Impossible to pigeonhole they were a hard working bunch ready to arrive from several starting points to play gigs at a drop of a hat. Though starting off more as a folk/celtic/ska-punk band they never stopped evolving and traces of hip-hop, Balkan and Latin found a home and nowhere more so than on The Anachronist’s Handbook. Twelve songs and over fifty minutes long the album takes you on a roller-coaster ride of musical styles but its the accordion and fiddle that stand out for me as well as Will’s great distinctive vocals. The energy is infectious and ‘Red & Black’ and ‘A Criminal’s Waltz’ could be The Pogues but whatever genre they turn their hand to they master it. The album ends with ‘Downtime’ another album highlight but this time a reggae/ska beat dominates. I really hope The Wasters can regroup and carry on (as they do intend to) as they would be sorely missed.

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SKONTRA- ‘Foguera’  (DONATE/FREE DOWNLOAD)

SkontraHere’s some authentic celtic-punk for you played by Skontra from the city of Gijón in the celtic region of Asturias currently under Spanish control. There is a school of thought amongst celtic scholars that to be a true authentic celtic nation you must have your own language but if to be truly celtic is based on culture then we must instead expand our thinking to include both Asturias and their neighbours Galicia as well. Celtic culture is alive and kicking and the people are especially proud of their celtic roots. Formed in 1991 Skontra this is their fourth full length album and the thirteen songs are mingled with elements of punk, hardcore, ska and reggae but always with a celtic base and with the traditional Asturian bagpipes leading the way. Seven of Foguera’s songs are in their native Asturian and the rest in Spanish so can’t tell you what the songs are about but its all dead catchy and if you’re looking for a comparison then this would please all you Real McKenzies fans but its very well played celtic-punk that ought to get you all moving your feet. Typical of Skontra is the fantastic title track which includes just about everything that makes them tick. They have made the album available for free for download so you’d be a mug not to get this fantastic album.

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LOUISE DISTRAS- ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’  (BUY)

Louise DistrasMaybe not a celtic-punk album but Louise has popped up supporting both The Mahones and Bryan McPherson in the last year and her folky-punk solo set is right up our alley. She has been called the next Frank Turner but as I don’t think she went to the poshest most exclusive school in Britain I reckon we can ignore that. There’s no style over substance here, what you see and what you hear is what you get. ‘Dreams From The Factory Floor’ is twelve songs of over half an hour of folky punk that sometimes veer into almost poppy tunes like the great ‘Bullets’ but then the album goes in a direction that (very) early Bragg or Springsteen at his best would approve of. Plenty of harmonica (I love that) and great politics too. The politics of the working class and its struggles in every day. The spoken word title song is amazing and delivered in Louise’s broad Yorkshire accent sounds about as authentic as some others don’t. The use of both acoustic and electric guitar and the poetic lyrics and every song is both catchy and meaningful. No filler or fluff here and though not as punk rock as Louise is with her full band this album certainly shows an artist who is on her way to stardom.

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HAPPY OL’ McWEASEL- ‘Heard Ya Say!’  (BUY)

Happy Ol McWeaselFrom the first moment I heard this album I fell in love with Happy Ol’ McWeasel’s brand of joyous uplifting celtic punk rawk! Formed in 2007 in the Slovenian town of Maribor this is their second album and while on No Offence they relied maybe a little too much on traditional folk covers on this album they decided to take the more risky route and play only their own songs and I tells you it works… and it works well! All the usual instruments are here as well as accordion, fiddle, and banjo making as authentic a celtic sound as you are likely to hear in celtic-punk in 2015. Most important of all through the album’s twelve tracks you get the feeling that the band really love doing what they are doing. Their is a real sense of enjoyment running through this album and though you could bracket it with Flogging Molly style celtic punk it certainly ploughs its own trough too though it certainly could compare with bands like Rancid as well. Well played instruments, clear vocals and these fun-loving tunes are a definite hit. Its criminal that bands like Happy Ol’ McWeasel don’t get the applause they deserve but they are definitely one of the scenes best bands. They have given us an album that doesn’t just pump out standard celtic-punk rock but something with a whole lot more substance. One of the best productions on a album I have heard helps a lot but this innovative band will go far I am sure.

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THE CUNDEEZ- ‘Sehturday Night Weaver’  (BUY)

The CundeezIf their was a prize for best pun in a album title then Dundee band The Cundeez would walk it. Do you get it? Anyway this is their third album and with each one the band have got more polished and accomplished. Saying that it’s still ramshackle punk rock in all its glory. The lyrics are mostly either political or a bit daft and shouted in a raw Dundee dialect and combined with the punching guitars, pounding drums and occasional bagpipe The Cundeez certainly offer something well different to yer usual punk rock fare. The opening song is pure bagpipes and well played they are too but with the next song ‘Scaffie Radio’ the album steers away from celtic-punk into more standard (but still very good) punk. Elements of ska too especially on the brilliant ‘Rooota’ The pipes return occasionally and the album ends with a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’ where the pipes return again to great effect. The rest of the album rocks by and can’t wait to catch them live from what I have heard they put on a great show.

The Cundeez unashamedly Dundonian working class band promotin the culture an havin a laugh!

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ANTO MORRA- ‘Patriotism Is Not Enough’ EP  (BUY)

Anto MorraNow this EP from London Celtic Punks favourite Anto Morra sticks out like the proverbial sore thumb here. I can say that freely as it was Anto himself who said it first! Those coming along to this EP expecting more of the same as Anto’s previous releases will get a shock as what you get here is hardcore ‘finger in the ear’ folk music that brings back reminiscences of people like Ewan MacColl and Pete Seeger. Famed for his wordplay and the way he somehow manages to inject the spirit of punk  rock into his London Irish acoustic folk Anto has come up here with something very novel and you can listen to the whole EP below on the Bandcamp player first before you buy. Again the amazing fellow London Irishman and artist Brian Whelan has provided the artwork and the whole EP is a tribute to Edith Cavell. Edith was a nurse and is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers from both sides during the First World War. She aided some 200 Allied soldiers to escape from German occupied Belguim and it was for this that she was arrested and accused of treason. Edith was found guilty and sentenced to death and despite international calls for mercy, she was executed by firing squad with her execution receiving worldwide condemnation. She is well known for her statement that “patriotism is not enough” and it was her strong Anglican beliefs that compelled her to help all those who needed it. She was quoted as saying, “I can’t stop while there are lives to be saved”. Edith, who was 49 at the time of her execution, was already notable as a pioneer of modern nursing in Belgium and this EP tells of her glorious life. Five tracks of Anto recorded in a church in Norfolk last Summer including ‘Edith Louise Cavell’ which was performed and broadcast live at the Edith Cavell’s centenary memorial service on BBC Radio 4. So a lot different to what Anto has previously done and I doubt we’ll get to hear any of these songs at a London Celtic Punks gig but full marks for producing this beautiful tribute to Edith and I do hope you will give it a chance.

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So ends Part 2 and again we’re sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full-on London Celtic Punks treatment but it was just not possible with work and family commitments. Soooo only one more part to come and in Part 3 we will checking out some cracking releases from across the other side of the world. Yes from Japan, China and Australia. 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.

EP REVIEW: THE NARROWBACKS- ‘After Hours’ (2015)

New York Irish music.
THE NARROWBACKS- 'After Hours' (2015)

(left to right) Seamus Keane- Vocals, Barry Walsh- Banjo/Mandolin, Pat Keane- Button Accordion, Chris Moran- Drums, Fionn Mcelligott- Guitar. Anthony Chen Bass

nar·row·back /ˈnæroʊˌbæk/ [nar-oh-bak]
–noun Slang.
1. Disparaging. an Irish-American.
2. a person of slight build who is unfit for hard labour
I’ve had the chance to go into the history of the American Irish plenty of times and in a country built on immigration it is the Irish in particular that built the foundations of that great country in spite of racism, intimidation and oppression. In the years following the Irish community stayed true to their roots and still exist in numerous pockets (though you would be hard pressed to call them ghettos these days!) and in every city, town and village in the United States. Just like the Irish elsewhere one of the main things that has kept the community strong has been the role of the pub and the most important aspect of the pub after the obvious one is of course music. It has been music that has kept our traditions flowing from generation to generation. The Irish in America have never felt the need to apologise for their beliefs and what they believe and The Narrowbacks are the latest in a long line of bands that have contributed to passing on those traditions to the next generation. Lead singer Seamus Keane explains the bands heritage.
“My father is one of 11 from Connemara, from the Irish speaking section, My mom was born in Queens and moved back to Clare. They met in the Bronx, moved up to Pearl River, and had six kids, including my brother Pat on the button accordion. Chris Moran on drums and Mike Moran (since left the band) on bass are Irish American brothers as well”
Formed in 2010 The Narrowbacks were the brainchild of a bartender and banker who wanted to inject a punk rock attitude into an old-time Irish folk group. They released a stand out album back in 2013 called ‘Fire It Up’ which contained a host of original compositions and a smattering of covers. Their choice of covers ranged from the popular to the less than well known and show a band in touch with their and their communities history. Like so many of us it was Shane and The Pogues that inspired us to dig into our family’s record collections and find the original recordings of those Pogues songs.
“Obviously, we come from the tradition of the Pogues. So many of us hated Irish music growing up until you hear Shane, and it creates this gateway to Irish music. Then you reach back into things like The Clancy Brothers and Luke Kelly to see what influenced Shane.”
Having shared the stage with just about al the big hitters in celtic-punk, the Molly’s, the Murphy’s, Black 47, Gogol Bordello, Mahones, Tossers and even The Rubberbandits when they washed up in New York!
IrishAmerica
In a music scene where its not uncommon for celtic-punk bands to include All-Ireland medal winners in their ranks those early days must have been intimidating for The Narrowbacks but over the years they have matured into a band that can comfortably take its place on any stage and in front of any audience. Currently on tour promoting their recently released EP ‘After Hours’ and in preparation to begin recording for their follow up album due out in the next few months. The EP’s five songs were recorded at Audio Pilot Studios in Boonton, NJ with Rob Freeman and a quick glance at the list of musicians who guested on the EP speaks volumes for how highly thought off they are. Joe Mulvanerty of the sadly missed NYC legends Black 47 on uilleann pipes, Andrew McCarrick of Jamesons Revenge on tin whistle and flute and Katie Linnane of Broken Banjo Strings on fiddle all contribute greatly to proceedings.

What you get is four punked up takes of Irish ballads and one recording of a pissed up drunken after hours sing song in a bar in the Bronx. The EP begins with ‘Star of the County Down’ one of the more common trad covers you are likely to hear but given The Narrowbacks superb treatment it comes up shiny and fresh. Simply brilliant from the first note and I’m sitting here listening to it imagining myself going off my head in some New York hostelry. The band have nailed a sound that is as home in the pub or the home. There is simply not enough uilleann piping in celtic punk and Joe is on fire here with his superb playing. This is followed swiftly by the ‘Rising of the Moon’. The song recounts a battle between the United Irishmen and the British Army in the rebellion of 1798.
“Death to every foe and traitor
Whistle loud the marching tune
And hurrah, me boys for freedom
‘Tis the rising of the moon”
Following is perhaps the most famous song in Irish history the ‘Fields of Athenry’. It wasn’t always so and I remember this song most for being on an album called ‘Irish Songs Of Freedom’ belonging to the auld fella. Over the years this beautiful song has been adopted by Irish sports fans as well as Celtic supporters and if I tell you that the version The Narrowbacks play is the one you’re most likely to hear at Celtic Park then I am sure there’s a good few of you will know what I mean!!
“By a lonely prison wall
I heard a young man calling
Nothing matters Mary when you’re free,
Against the Famine and the Crown
I rebelled they ran me down
Now you must raise our child with dignity”
The song tells of a young man transported to Australia for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. It is only fitting that this song should become a national treasure but what does come as a suprise to most people is that it was written in the 1970’s by Pete St.John. The last ‘proper’ song is ‘The Patriot Game’ and is sang as a rousing ballad rather than the bands usual fired up celtic-punk. The history of Ireland in song and the heroic death of Fergal O’Hanlon. Written by Dominic Behan and made popular by The Dubliners.
“And now as I lie here, my body all holes,
I think of those traitors who bargained in souls,
And I wish that my rifle had given the same,
To those Quislings who sold out the patriot game”
Certainly one of the most hitting rebel songs ever wrote. The EP ends with ‘Aqueduct, 4:15am’ which is the band and their mates raving it up after a night on the lash. The sort of track you’d give your wages to get on! Can’t wait to hear the new album and if it continues in the same vein as ‘Fire It Up’ and ‘After Hours’ then the bhoys will have a surefire hit on their hands. With the sad retirement of Black 47 it certainly looks like the NYC Irish have found the band to represent them.
The Narrowbacks: American First, Irish Always.
(you can have a listen to the bhoys official bootleg ‘Live At The Stone Pony’ in New York city below by pressing play on the Bandcamp player)
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ALBUM REVIEW: STRAWDAZE- ‘Sei’ (2015)

Italian celtic-punk with influences of Ireland, heavy metal and ska!

Strawdaze- Sei (2015)

It’s pretty unusual to come across an album in the world of celtic-punk where the songs are in any other language than English so it makes a pleasant change to hear a band that doesn’t seem to mind whether north Americans like them or not! Strawdaze come from Mantua in the province of Lombardy in northern Italy. A survey in 2005 declared Mantua the most ‘liveable’ city in the whole of italy, based on levels of pollution, quality of life, traffic and public transport. They began playing as a covers band in 2008 before making the switch to playing their own material in 2011. Strawdaze released their first record ‘Senza Rotta’ in March 2012 to much acclaim and in December that year they began to work with Dublin based Irish independent record label Nemeton Records which specialises in mainly folk-metal. The new album ‘Sei’ came out on July 2015 and was recorded in Parma by Carlo Izzo.

Strawdaze Folk PunkEleven tracks that last just shy of forty minutes that encompass traditional Irish folk as well as metal, punk and ska influences on this grand album. ‘Sei’ begins with ‘Tu Chi Sei?’ and the banjo starts the song off and soon its all gone celtic-punk and catchy as hell it is too. Its a shame I can’t tell what the lyrics are about as I always find that’s an important element in celtic-punk but I’m positive that they tell of more than just pirates, drinking and fighting! ‘Diritto di Plagio’ is the shortest track on ‘Sei’ a punk rock classic with nice understated banjo and a real catchy chorus. That understated banjo is turned up to 11 on the next song on ‘Immobili’ and along with the whistle we are back in familiar territory with a song the Dropkicks would be proud of. ‘Scegli’ has them with a kind of ska thing going on before the guitars come in. Celtic punk bands have always dabbled in reggae and ska from The Pogues to The Rumjacks and ‘La Rivolta Del Cammello’ is the latest addition. Catchy as ever and with the nice addition of saxaphone this song really works and speeds up nicely towards the end. ‘La Tua Ultima Dose’ is the albums stand out track for me. Fast as hell and pure celtic-punk. The mandolin is working overtime and the great production doesn’t drown out it’s sound despite the loud guitars.

‘LA TUA ULTIMA DOSE’

‘In Una Vetrina’ is a bit of a ska-punk number with tin whistle and reminds me a wee bit of The Offspring. Again great vocals and the band playing very tight together. ‘Esplodi’ begins with tin whistle before, after a couple of false starts, flying off into a fast paced punky number. ‘Sei’ ends with ‘Un Altro Autunno’ and is I am sure one of the reasons that Nemeton Records picked them up. One of the least celtic songs on the album it is nevertheless one of the best tracks. A sort of folk-metal ballad that speeds up in the middle before slowing right down again.

Poster

STRAWDAZE (left to the right): Mirko (voice, whistle), Marco (banjo, mandolin, backing vocals), Stefano (guitars), Gabrile ‘Benji’ (guitars), Carlo (bass, back vocals), Stefano ‘Bolo’ (drums)

All in all a fantastic album that will have instant appeal to all that hear it. Don’t you dare be put off by the fact that it’s not sung in English as the vocals both by Mirko and the gang vocals where the band join in are superb. All instruments are expertly played and even though this is Dropkicks territory I am sure anyone with a interest in celtic-punk or even just celtic music will enjoy them. They have great songs and will I am sure will go on to be adored by both punks and celtic music fans alike.

(to listen to the whole of ‘Sei’ for free press play on the Bandcamp player below)

Strawdaze 2008 Folk PunkBuy The Album

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE FATTY FARMERS- ‘Escape From The Dirty Pigs’ (2015)

Spanish Flogging Molly style Celtic punk rock orchestra!

Fatty Farmers- Escape

The Fatty Farmers were formed in 2009 and having now listened to all three of their albums I can honestly say they are one of the most infectiously fun bands knocking around in the celtic-punk scene. From the very first sound of the very first song what you get here is a joyful romp that must be surely a joy to behold to catch live as if their live shows contain a tenth of the energy as this album then that is more than enough! The Fatty Farmers hail from Toledo in central España, 70 km south of Madrid. The city is famed for its socialist values as well as its religious tolerance with Christian, Jew and Muslim communities existing peacefully side by side for centuries. It is perhaps that tolerance for other views and cultures that led eight young Spanish friends to form The Fatty Farmers and become one of the celtic punk scenes hidden delights.

Fatty Farmers logo

The first thing you notice as the album plays is that the band are firmly from the Flogging Molly camp of celtic-punk and with the Molly’s showing no sign of releasing anything now for a couple of years I tells you this is very welcome. Lately its been the Dropkicks style that has dominated my stereo but I like my trad music and you get plenty of that here. The second thing you notice is how similar Rodrigo’s vocal style is to Dave King. Sung in perfect English it is at times uncanny. Now I must add at this point that I do not want you to think that The Fatty Farmers are some clone or covers band of Flogging Molly in fact they do sound like The Mollys if they had continued in the same vein as ‘Within A Mile Of Home’ but there’s more to their fiddle than that. They have released two previous albums, ‘Down In The Streets’ and ‘Refarmatory’, and have toured extensively at home as well as in Italy and Portugal and hopefully this album will deservedly get them plenty more recognition.

The first of the album’s 16, yes sixteen!, tracks is ‘Carrot Man’ and straight away you know you are in for a great ride. The accordion leads the song along and the fiddle adds a bit of a country feel and just a few seconds in and you feel like leaping about the place.

‘Dirty Tricks’ is next and with female backing vocals, by friend of the band Bea, the country-punk has it sounding a somewhat  like The Rumjacks and everyone knows how much I love them! With ‘Freddy’ we are in proper celtic-punk territory for the first time on the album and the boys ramp it right up with fiddle and accordion and mandolin all together with the entertaining tale of murder in a circus.

“What´s going on? All of this is so real. What´s going on? One kill list? Could it be sinister ventriloquist´s dummy?”

‘The Kings of Our Farm’ could be the bands anthem and the hilarious story of winning the lottery and turning their farm into a strip club.

“We´ll miss the races with our pigs now live at full speed,we hired some girls who cleaned our farm”

Eventually they tire of the life and wish to return to the simple pleasures of farming. The Molly sound is complete with added tin whistle and one of the albums stand out tracks. ‘Gafitaeh’ is the only instrumental and has a Greenland Whalefishers sound to it I suppose because of the tin whistle and The Poguesy feel too. The song rattles along at a grand old pace and shows they can really put a tune together. On ‘Grandma’s Drug Lab’ the band never sound so like Flogging Molly again I can promise you.

Without a doubt another of the album highlights and followed by ‘A Doubt in My Heart’, one of the slower album tracks, which has a cool acoustic sound before ‘A Letter to Beth’ explodes in yer ear holes and we’re settling in nicely but then we are thrown a curve ball and ‘Invictus’ shows the band get the bagpipes out and Javato’s piping is brilliant in the punkiest song of the album and the one that would be guaranteed to see me hit the dance floor. Superb both lyrically and musically proving their is much more going on here than the influence of The Mollys.

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit From pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed”

Based on a poem by the English Victorian poet William Ernest Henley. ‘Invictus’ was written in 1875 and published in 1888. Henley wrote the poem while recovering from life threatening surgery. Their is a lot more to The Fatty Farmers then their ‘fun’ persona would have you believe.

Don’t worry though ‘There’s a Treasure Everywhere’ sees the boys chuck out a pirate song before ‘Under Our Kilts’ the oddest song on the album comes on. The words are gibberish and a in-joke from the band while the music begins with the mandolin before again they take The Rumjacks sound a little further and a ska song wrapped round the accordion. The song develops making you think its going to turn punk rock any second but they stop just short and when the rest of the band join in the sound is actually really good. Just wish I could tell what they are on about!! ‘Drunk Fighters’ again shows how versatile The Fatty Farmers are and they turn their hand to this punk number and its a testament to them that even when they put songs in like ‘Drunk Fighters’ they don’t stick out uncomfortably and in fact seem perfectly at home.

“We’re the drunk fighters. These are our lives we chose and we know, ready to fight and ready for the show”

The Molly influence is back with both ‘Fanegas T.V. Show’ and ‘Queen of Drag Queens’ and to say they are catchy tunes would be a fecking massive understatement. We are getting to the end of the album. An hour’s worth of top notch celtic punk that will surely be challenging for the years best album if their is any justice. The bagpipes are back in ‘When Our River Was a Beach’ which begins slowly lulling you into thinking your in for an easy ride and then the whistle kicks in and we are off again. All great things come to an end and ‘Dancing Duels’ brings one of the best records I have heard this year to an end. A short song, only 71 seconds long, but stuffed to the gills in a live battle between the fiddle and the tin whistle.

FF

The Fatty Farmers left to right: Javier (whistle, bagpipe) Juancar (drums) Javi (fiddle) Rodri (banjo, mandolin, lead vocals) Josemi (electric guitar) Lalo (acoustic guitar) Lamber (bass) Goyo (accordion)

With such a fantastic album under their belts I am sure that The Fatty Farmers will get the recognition they deserve. Fans of the band funded the making of the album so they do have a hardcore of support but they need to get around a whole lot more and introduce the rest of Europe to the glorious sound of The Fatty Farmers. They are of course indebted to Flogging Molly as their influence is clear on ‘Escape From The Dirty Pigs’ but to think they are just copying them couldn’t be further from the truth. The Fatty Farmers are definitely one of the best and original bands in the celtic-punk scene and deserve to be heard. A superb combination of traditional folk music and modern influences. Be sure to watch this band.

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for another opinion on the album check out ‘Celtic Folk Punk And More’ (here) but they seem to have liked it just as much as we did!

ALBUM REVIEW: PADDY AND THE RATS- ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’ (2015)

“Hungary’s most famous Irish folk punk band”

Paddy And The Rats- Lonely Hearts Boulevard

Looking back on 2015 it will be forever known as the year of the Hungarian celtic-punk band! Already this year we have reviewed releases by Loch Nesz, The Jolly Jackers, The Scarlet and The Crazy Rogues and we still haven’t got round to reviewing the new album by Firkin either!

PATR2Paddy And The Rats are probably the best known of all the Hungarian celtic-punk bands and deservedly so. Hard work and constant touring have paid dividends for the band and these days they are known throughout Europe for their superb records and great live shows. With three albums behind them- ‘Rats On Board’, ‘Hymns For Bastards’ and ‘Tales From The Docks’- I awaited this new album with bated breath and I am very glad to report I was not disappointed at all.

Formed in 2008 it was their love of Irish music, pirates and punk rock that inspired them to start a band up and they have been going strong and getting stronger ever since. The original celtic-punk sound is still evident on Lonely Hearts Boulevard but it is also clear that the band are moving slightly away from it too. No harm in that. Its called progression and I’d rather they did that than just stick to playing ‘The Wild Rover’ for evermore.

Lonely Hearts Boulevard begins with ‘Keep The Devil Down In The Hole’ but is not the famous Tom Waits/ The Wire song but classic celtic punk rock with great banjo playing and the closest you’ll get to a country and western fiddle being played in a punk rock band. Reminds me of Flogging Molly somewhat and that is never a bad thing. Following is the the title track and ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’ follows much the same formula and is my favourite album track. Catchy as hell and a real toe tapper. On first listen you would take this album to be a real uplifting experience. The songs certainly bounce along with tons of energy but lyrically it’s a dark journey through pain, loneliness and struggle.

“Coz there’s a lot of pain
While we’re marching
Down through the life
And there’s a lot of fear
As we walk through the dark
On the Lonely Hearts Boulevard”

Bagpipes come in towards the end and complete the celtic sound. ‘My Sharona’ has a Sparks feel to it and is the first track without any sort of ‘celticness’. Still it rocks my boat and I am not complaining. Paddy And The Rats enter proper anthem territory with ‘Rogue’, a song that will I am sure get the audience on their feet at gigs.

Their first trip across the sea with a number about trying to keep one ahead of the navy while a bounty is placed on your head.

“Hold again
For the last sea and the friends
Take away my heart from this dusty land
They call me the rogue
But I’ll keep on looting, my friend
Let’s haul the rope again”

‘That’s My Nature’ is also one of the album stand out tracks and comes with a cracking video too. There’s a slight metal edge to the guitars and even though the ‘celtic-ness’ is toned down a bit here it’s still a great song. As with all the great celtic-punk premier league groups, to become one of the scene’s truly treasured bands it’s not just 110 mph fast fast fast you have to be master of the ballad too. Or at least for a minute or two before cranking it back up to 110 mph again. ‘Sleeping With The Winter’ is the former and is a welcome change after the previous five tracks. Very American sounding and the sort of track you could imagine any of the scene’s greats playing. Slow acoustic and with great heartfelt lyrics. ‘Drunker Than You’ is the closest on this album to Paddy And The Rats and their first album. A shitload of swearing accompanied by frantic fiddle, accordion and banjo and all the while Paddy O’Reilly shouting tunefully over the top. Paddy is a great front man and his voice fits perfectly.  ‘Captain Of My Soul’ continues with the celtic feel and begins with piano before fiddle jumps in and so begins a cracking song. Exactly what celtic-punk should be. A real punked up Irish tune with great lyrics too.

“I follow my lush heart
There’s immortal, lamp flame
I slunk like a wise wolf
Between lust and shame
If I let myself tempted
By the killing snake eyes
I forget my greedy vice”

The country/celtic of ‘Blue Eyes’ is a welcome slow down and the banjo picking is superb and leads us into a tale of debauchery in ‘Rock This City’ that any pirate would be proud of. The city is Budapest and with Paddy And The Rats in town I’m sure it is rocked to the max. Bagpipes give the song a nice Dropkick Murphys sound and if you close your eyes you could be in Boston.

“I outshined the sun
And I stole the moon
I fucked with the stars
On sunday afternoon
All of your dreams are made
If you wanna believe
I’ll put a smile on you
Before I leave”

Frantic punk rock drumming and electric guitar on ‘Time Is In My Hands’ can’t hide the celtic tune it’s wrapped around while ‘Without You (I Don’t Wanna Dance)’ is one of the more radio friendly album tracks and comes accompanied by a video with the band frollicking at the beach with a host of young maidens. This summery song sure is catchy enough but give me celtic-punk any day!

‘Junkyard Girl’ is a straight up punk tune with daft lyrics and Lonely Hearts Boulevard’s fourteen tracks comes to an end with ‘What We Are’. Again outstanding lyrics and a slower song building up and up. The ‘fist in the air’ song of the album by a long way. The song ends abruptly with the whole band singing along in a song that I would imagine means a lot to them personally.

 “Sometimes it’s hard to have the courage
To start all over again
But never be afraid to fight for yourself, my friend
Time is the longest distance
Between now and your dreams
Let’s find for you
A different point of view”

So there you have it. Don’t come along to ‘Lonely Hearts Boulevard’ expecting the full on Irish/ celtic tunes of previous albums but instead expect a band not happy just to rest on their laurels, that continues to play celtic-punk but with more and more influences flooding in. That a lot of these songs were originally intended for a solo album explains a lot to me. Paddy And The Rats are going places and they won’t be confined to any genre just for the sake of it. Onwards and upwards but don’t worry just yet they are in no hurry to forget their celtic punk roots any time soon.

PATR1

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a couple more interesting sites are the ‘Paddy And The Rats Fan Group’ here and the ‘Celtic Punk/irish Folk Hungary’ Facebook group here is a great community of like minded people.

here

INTERVIEW WITH JOHNNY CAMPBELL

A fast, ruthless, uncompromising sound with influences from far and wide. Material that embraces traditional music and sometimes frantic Bluegrass style picking with self penned songs of protest and debauchery.

Johnny2We are extremely happy that Johnny took time out from megabussing it around the country from gig to gig to do a little interview for us.

The obvious one to get us started so can you tell us how long you’ve been playing music and what bands you have been in before?

Johnny- I’ve been performing live for a decade now, and for the last couple of years as a solo performer. Before those ten years I was playing a battered classical guitar to Bad Religion live albums pretending I was in Bad Religion.

You have played in a celtic-punk band before with Three Sheets T’Wind so how do you see the celtic-punk scene here and abroad?

Johnny- I haven’t performed in other bands to any full-on level of commitment, apart from numerous and humorous side projects and filling in space for musicians who couldn’t make shows…and once trialing for The Popes as a fiddle player but that was a long time ago… I personally feel the scene in the UK is much broader, encompassing Anti-Folk, Alt-Folk and other offshoots. Though across the underground in The Netherlands for example, there are a number of fantastic ‘Folk-Punk’ bands using Banjos, Mandolins, Accordions that you couldn’t label as ‘Celtic-Punk’. It is great to see people’s horizons to ‘Punk’ don’t just start and end with an Electric Guitar.

I would like to think so but does it follow that celtic-punk fans also listen to folk from the past or present?

Johnny- For me yes. Right back to Planxty, Hank Williams or even contemporary folk like Julie Fowlis. The ‘Celtic-Punk’ fans I’ve come across like their fair share of Tom Waits and other artists that are hard to define by genre. I think if you’re into niche music, as in ‘Celtic-Punk’, you’re probably going to be listening to some other interesting styles!

Which figures or bands do you think have been the important links between the past and the present and folk/celtic/traditional music and punk/rock music?

Johnny- Obviously The Pogues…but I think we all know that. The Tossers are in my opinion, the logical progression from The Pogues taking influence from Behan and Joyce and managing to create it in their own American sound. Silly Wizard (possibly Scotland’s Planxty) manage to create an equally ‘rocky’ feel to their sound which leads neatly onto artists like The Horslips, Thin Lizzy and Moving Hearts.

Bit of an odd question this but how would you describe what you do on stage?

Johnny- I describe myself in my write up as an ‘Alt-folk’ musician. This is about as broad as I could make it. It isn’t a musical ‘style’ it is simply a way of saying ‘It is folk music…but a bit different.’ Some have said that shows can differentiate from stand-up comedy to thoughtful political song. I’ll do traditional Irish Anti-war songs like Arthur McBride to A Cappella songs about getting blind drunk and catching STDs from ladies of the night.

It has been said (and I am in agreement) that being a solo artist is the hardest thing to do. Just yourself on the stage and nowhere to hide. What does it take to be a solo performer. I would say big nuts and a big ego but obviously that’s not right for everyone!

Johnny- There’s a certain amount of balls/ego in there to get up and ask people to listen to what you’ve got to say for an hour, definitely. If you manage to fuck up the set, then it really is your own fault. That’s something that is pretty daunting but a challenge to relish I suppose, as the credit (if there is any to give out) is all yours.

At the moment there is a big ‘folk-punk’ thing happening in the UK that seems to have a lot in common with celtic-punk like the politics and aspirations but without major celtic influences. Have you noticed this at all?

Johnny- Because the genres are getting broader and ‘Folk-Punk’ is the easiest umbrella to put yourself under if you perform anti-authoritarian/alternative Folk music… I think that is how it is coming about. Celtic/Irish music has transported well as there is a mythology built up around the Irish. But also the way we can consume music nowadays, we can search for Mongolian Political Folk Punk on Youtube and get an instant response. Which is broadening our intake very quickly. I speak for myself here when I say 10 years ago, when I was 18, the only Folk-Punk you could really find was Dropkick Murphys, The Pogues, and anything else on a major label as you had to go to the local (if you had one) independent record shop. Now we are blessed with so much choice, which is generally free which brings its own negative impacts like de-valuing a product and other factors.

It would seem sometimes, and there is certainly a history of it in England (the band that must never be mentioned!), that bands who play Irish/celtic tunes won’t label the tunes as Irish/celtic and would instead categorise it as English folk (so as to not be seen as Irish I suppose) but do you see this as cultural appropriation or not? it sometimes reminds me of Prince Charles roaming round his billion acre estate in Kernow/ Cornwall wearing a kilt!

Johnny- Hmm, it is an interesting one. I don’t think anyone would get offended if you said a tune was English when it was an Irish tune if you believed it was initially. I think it is important to try and research a song or a tune and find out its origins and to recognise it. I can also see some cultural appropriation in there as it is a small way of denying heritage by simply taking is as your ‘own’. I think we must be more concerned with things like the far-right using traditional folk music and making a patriotic gesture with the songs.

Johnny CampbellYou have a new album due out soon I hear. What’s the latest on that? Is it purely yourself or will you be aided and abetted?

Johnny- It’s been a long process, I haven’t released something with new material for about three years. I’ve had writer’s block for a while and since I’ve been on the road the last couple of years I’ve picked up new influences which has come out on the record. I am aided by Kieran O’Malley, a violin player from Leeds who performs with Spirit of John and many other acts..he’s also performed on a Shane MacGowan’s release ‘Rockier Road To Poland’ and backing vocals from Exeter singer/songwriter Rosie Eade. http://www.rosieeade.co.uk/ It will be released early October.

You seem to be on a non-stop tour of anywhere and everywhere so where does the future take you and do you think you will be able to keep it up more importantly?

Johnny- I’m sure I’ll be able to carry on for a few more years as long as my legs still carry me. I only use public transport and we managed to get from Istanbul from Yorkshire in 28 days on public transport on the Summer European tour with James Bar Bowen and Cosmo. We hit squats and social centres through eight countries and the final show in Istanbul got cancelled as the promoter had left to go and fight against fascist ISIS and didn’t tell us! We had about five days to waste in Istanbul because of the cancellation. This was during Ramadan which is an amazing spectacle. We decided to imbibe the culture by visiting mosques, walking the streets and eating kebabs. As long as the gigs keep being interesting, I still have some life left!

Thanks Johnny for taking time out of your busy touring schedule (where are you as you write this?) so all that’s left is for you to plug plug plug and is there anything else you want to add or anyone you want to thank?

Johnny- I’m currently in the South West for a week between shows and getting ready for the release of my album ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’ which will be released on my website and Bandcamp in early October! I will be doing a UK and USA East Coast tour in March 2016 with Tim Holehouse www.timholehouse.com (UK tour) and James Bar Bowen https://jamesbarbowen2014.wordpress.com/ (USA tour) but in the meantime I have shows across the UK and The Netherlands with Rob Galloway http://www.theyallayallas.com/rob-galloway which can all be found on my website! Cheers and beers! x

(you can listen to Johnny Campbell’s debut solo EP below)

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  • keep your eyes peeled for a review in the next couple of weeks of ‘Hook, Line & Sinker’. I’m lucky to have had a sneak preview and can guarantee its an excellent debut record!