Tag Archives: Finny McConnell

EP REVIEW: TOXIC FROGS – ‘My Lucky Own’ (2021)

From France it’s the Toxic Frogs. 5 girls and 2 Fiddles. Six fantastic new original songs with the Mahones Finny McConnell guesting on lead single ‘Thank You Humanity’.

The last thing we were expecting was a flurry of new releases to land at London Celtic Punk Towers in the first couple of weeks of 2021. With releases down to the bare minimum during the latter part of last year we were surprised and delighted to receive them and will be giving them all the LCP treatment in the following weeks! So far we have 1916, The Feelgood McLouds, Jason Stirling and Tir Nan Og to catch up with but first this six-track EP from the French band Toxic Frogs.

The most obvious place to start with the review is that they are Celtic-Punks only all female band (I had quite a good rant about the idea of segregating bands into female/male ones when we reviewed their last release The Mermaids Song so I will spare you that this time!) and with an EP and an album, Kill The Devils, behind them they have kept up a steady stream of well produced videos to keep them in the Celtic-Punk public’s eye. As I say to bands all the time a good way to keep your profile up when you are not actually recording is to put out videos. Toxic Frogs ones are always entertaining and well produced and they have become one of the better known Celtic-Punk bands through them. Formed in the east-central French city of Lyon in September 2014 it was Ella who came up with the idea of an all girl Celtic-Punk band so started to advertise and soon enough a team of girls was ready. Having already played fiddle for the excellent French Celtic-Punk legends Celkilt she already knew the scene well and as soon as they hit the practice rooms something gelled. The name is an obvious dig at the friendly nickname the English give to French people (well don’t they call the English “rostbif”!!) and within a few years they had made quite the name for themselves with their energetic and passionate live performances and soon developed their own musical style as well.

My Lucky Own is released today and the EP starts with ‘Beginning’. A short intro of wailing eastern style fiddle soon giving way to the EP’s first single the superb ‘Thank You Humanity’. Chugging guitars and I’ve always been a big fan of dual vocals and they are used expertly hear with Ella dueling with no other than Mr. Mahones himself Finny McConnell. Finny has been as busy as pretty much any musician alive during the various lockdowns and it’s really nice to see him helping out other bands. The vocals are quiet, almost whispered in parts and it fits perfect the song and it’s story of leaving your homeland to go on an adventure.

The lyrics are all in English here and Ella certainly has a great voice and you can barely hear her French accent at times. The two fiddles give them a pretty unique powerful sound and having added banjo to the groups sound giving them a more ‘gaelic’ sound than before especially on ‘My Lucky Own’. Tribal drumming and again rather subdued musically and not the raucous free-for-all we have been use to with previous Toxic Frogs releases but that is soon sorted out with ‘The Shamrock’s Jig’ instrumental and a full throttle Irish throwdown with fiddles flying and smoking I am sure! These girls can certainly play and top marks for making it all themselves. No ‘I’ll tell Me Ma’ here you know! The EP really gets into its stride with the final two songs and they Punk it up with ‘Bestie Life’ while ‘Go Back Again’, for me the album’s standout track, is about as close as they come to a Celtic-Punk ‘standard’. Tuneful and catchy with great vocals and them fiddles and banjo with gang “Hey Hey’s” and a brilliant chorus and a great way to end proceedings.

The EP is sadly only sixteen minutes long but I’m afraid we will have to get use to the idea that at the moment bands will find it much easier to record shorter releases and full length albums will I fear be thin on the ground throughout 2021. On top of all that is the much reduced opportunity to promote anything via live gigs and tours. Thankfully though new music is coming out albeit sporadically and we are lucky to receive My Lucky Life. The girls have recently signed to Otbox Productions ( a French record label and tour promoting agency) so hopefully those of us further afield will have a chance to see them play live at some point in the future. This EP shows Toxic Frogs are much much more than just a ‘all girl band’ and can quite rightly take their place among the continents best Celtic-Punk bands.

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE PEELERS- ‘Palace Of The Fiend’ (2017)

Formed way back in 1999 in a small farmhouse kitchen in North Glengarry County in Eastern Ontario and now based in Montreal The Peelers have long become one of the more famous and popular celtic-punk bands in Canada. Glengarry holds a special place in Canadian Irish history being separated from New York State by the St. Lawrence river it was originally settled by Irish immigrants who chose the name Glengarry in memory of their home. It was the place that the coffin ships during Án Gorta Mór, otherwise known as the Irish ‘famine’, sailed when turned away from America. The major quarantine station for immigrant ships was on the St. Lawrence river and it is thought up to 15,000 Irish people are buried on the small island of Grosse Île where a huge Celtic cross now stands as a memorial to their souls. We recently covered this subject on our review Of Declan O’Rourke’s new album Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine here.

The Peelers have, over their long existence, played at just about everywhere you can think of right across North America. From your small town dive to snowboarding championships,  cocktail lounges, festivals and just about every other kind of place a bunch of guys can fit a drum kit. Their debut album, Boots And Suits, hit the streets in 2002 before second album Liquordale a couple of years later. That release was named as Album Of The Year by the Boston based Shite n’ Onions web-site.

They started recording the new album in 2013 but like they say ‘good things come to those who wait’. For me this album is one of the best releases of 2017 and there has been some cracking albums released this year. It has thirteen songs and features guest performances by Finny McConnell (The Mahones) on the third track ‘Going Down Swingin’. Palace Of The Fiend was recorded in five different studios, located in Montreal, Toronto and Casablanca, Morocco and was one of the first releases of 2017, coming out on January 3rd so apologies to the band for taking so long to get the review done.

(The first video released from Palace of the Fiend)

This is a great upbeat tune to put you in the mood for a pint or two. The album opens with ‘New York’ which sets the scene nicely for the fifty+ minutes that follow. Stand out tune for me are ‘Five Roses’, ‘A1a Fla’, ‘Stand Down Clearly’ and ‘The Black Eye Blonde’. The curtain comes down with an amazing version of ‘Cúnla’ and illustrates the link to the past that The Peelers are so proud of. A ‘sean-nós’ (style of unaccompanied traditional Irish singing) children’s song believed written in the 14th century. The album is definitely more in The Flogging Molly school of celtic punk than Dropkick Murphys. I’d highly recommend Palace of the fiend to anyone who likes their Irish music with a twist of punk. – Shane

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