Tag Archives: Flatfoot 56

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

FromTheBand (available on CD, Download and Double Album)  iTunes  Amazon  GooglePlay

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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: FLATFOOT 56- ‘Odd Boat’ (2017)

Playing positive-natured hardcore-tinged celtic-punk Chicago heavyweights Flatfoot 56 released their new album, Odd Boat, last week with Sailor’s Grave Records. Produced by Matt Allison in Chicago and featuring twelve songs that blend their unique blend of traditional Irish folk music and surging punk rock.

by  Gerard Mellon, 03/2017.

flatfoot-56-odd-boat

So, it’s been five long years since we had a new album from Flatfoot 56, although in that period we had an acoustic album from 6’10, a punk/oi album from Brick Assassin (both bands featuring members of Flatfoot 56), and an EP, featuring a couple of new tracks, split between 6’10 and Flatfoot 56. But a new release from the Chicago Celtic punkers, has been a long time coming! It is called Odd Boat, and comprises a dozen tracks, it runs for 37 minutes.

(Justin has since been replaced on drums by Conrad)

And what a cracking half an hour or so it is! The punk and folk factions in the band blend so well together, giving us a sound so unique to Flatfoot 56 that places them right at the heart of Celtic Punk. These lads get it, they really do! Their last offering Toil was a superb album and this follow up is equally as good. Although it’s not a clone of Toil, far from it! The production on Odd Boat gives it a rawer sound, maybe it’s a bit more punk influenced. There is still the musicality and excellent instrumentation there, but it’s a bit like aggression or power has been added. Perhaps this disc is more related to the wonderful Jungle of the Midwest Sea album from 2007. Anyway, whatever tweaks that have been made over the past five years, they work very well.

Flatfoot 56 formed in the summer of 2000 as a three-piece punk band. The three original members, who are brothers (Tobin, Justin and Kyle), started writing songs in mid-2000 and by the Christmas they were playing their first gig. The following January they band added Josh Robieson to the lineup and the band began including the Highland bagpipes into its sound and Flatfoot 56 had began their rise as one of America’s most popular celtic-punk bands. Countless TV appearances and remember that series of Sons Of Anarchy involving the IRA that played them throughout the whole series! We even had the pleasure of seeing them live in London back in 2010 I think it was. They were first band on at 8pm and maybe twenty people tops there in the Hope And Anchor basement. Didn’t realise it at the time but this gig was the direct inspiration to start the London Celtic Punks! 

f56-band

Flatfoot 56 from left to right: Kyle Bawinkel – Bass, Vocals * Brandon Good – Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals * Conrad – Drums, Vocals * Eric McMahon – Bagpipes, Guitar, Bass Drum * Tobin Bawinkel – Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar

The opening ‘Ty Cobb’, is about a famous Detroit baseball player who was renowned for diving in (“studs up” in our London parlance!) at the bases, is a fast paced, up-beat intro that draws you in and lets you know that you’re in for something special. From the following track ‘Stutter’ through ‘Penny,’ ‘Odd Boat’, ‘Englewood’, ‘Forward’, ‘The Crippled’, ‘Curtains’, ‘KPM’, ‘PS’, ‘The Trap’ to the final track, ‘A Voice’, you feel that you have heard something special! ‘KPM’ is a ballad like track that leans toward acoustic. ‘The Trap’ goes the other way and is a much more punk/oi sounding track. Many people will have heard ‘Penny’ already and so will know just how good this new material is. The final track ‘A Voice’ is a mid-tempo spiritual song that signs off the album beautifully.

(the first single off Odd Boat featuring guest vocals from an artist named IL Neige)

I honestly could have sat here and gone through each track individually and told you all how good they are, but that would be crazy and still wouldn’t do the album justice. The only way you’ll be able to see how right I am is by going out and buying it! Then if you’re anything like me you’ll play it, then play it again and again. It’s an absolute pleasure having to review albums like this, but what I’d like to do and what many more people would like, would be an opportunity to review a live show! It must be time for the band to come over and play a few gigs in the Ireland and Britain!! I mean, even if they have to sail over in an Odd Boat!!!

Buy Odd Boat

SailorsGraveRecords  iTunes

Contact Flatfoot 56

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Discography

Rumble of 56– 2002 * Waves of War– 2003 * Knuckles Up– 2006 * Jungle of the Midwest Sea– 2007 * Black Thorn– 2010 * Toil– 2012

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!

Buy The Album

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2016 REVIEWS ROUND-UP PART TWO. KORRIGAN’S CELTIC ROCK, MICK FLANNERY, ACROSS THE BORDER, TENHOLES, THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY, KING OF THE TRAVELLERS

Every year we have been doing this has got better and better for celtic-punk releases. As happy as we are that this is so it also means that we just cannot keep up with everything out there. We haven’t had the chance to review everything we received or heard so here is Part 2 of our 2016 Round Up where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here at 30492- LONDON CELTIC PUNKS blog we much prefer to do really detailed reviews but it has been impossible to keep up so here’s a few quick ones just to catch up and get 2016 out of the way. Each and every one are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. Last week we featured releases from the America’s (here) so this time we will try to fit in the entire rest of the world taking in Ireland, Indonesia, Germany, France and good auld Australia!

KORRIGAN’S CELTIC ROCK- ‘Tournée Générale!’ EP  (Bandcamp)

korrigansThere is quite a strong and vibrant celtic-punk scene happening in France at the moment and by France I mean France and not Brittany which as you should know is a completely different country! One of these bands are Korrigan’s Celtic Rock who were formed in 2007 in Franche-Comté in eastern France and released their debut EP, Tournée Générale!, earlier this year. They take their name from the mythical creatures who were opposed to Christianity when the Apostles came to convert Brittany. The EP kicks off with a rocking start with tin whistle that AC/DC would be proud of. Next up is ‘Hypocrisie’ with more of a ska beat and the bombarde is introduced. I love the sound of this instrument and will be familiar to fans of the Breton legends Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs. They add bagpipes too into ‘Putain De…’  and this is my favourite track of the EP. The title track ends the EP and is straight up celtic-punk rock. A quarter of a hour well spent. These guys cover all the angles and we are destined to hear much more from them in 2017.

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MICK FLANNERY- ‘I Own You’ LP (iTunes  TowerRecords)

mick-flannery-2016Mick Flannery comes from county Cork in the south of Ireland and funnily enough the artist he reminds me of the most is also from Cork, Cathal Coughlan of the excellent Microdisney/Fatima Mansions. This is Mick’s fifth album and the first I’ve heard properly. There may not be much here for the traditional celtic-punk fan except that if you love good music then you will also love this. From what I have read this album is much darker than his previous releases and the excellent Tom Wait-esque title track is based on the idea of class inequality and told as a poor man breaking into a rich man’s house. Dark and foreboding and downright bloody brilliant!

Thought you heard something on the way home, was that a rustle, was that my belly rumblin?”

Elements of rap and dance music alongside the dark folk and even darker pop here and the songwriting is compelling and worthy of hearing just on it’s own. On ‘Cameo’ Mick’s famous introspection comes out.

But if I’m so happy/ why do I lie awake at night?/ Why am I angry all the time?”

Though often found with an electric guitar its still very much based on folk melodies and the comparison to Bob Dylan and his change to electric guitar himself is not so odd.

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ACROSS THE BORDER- ‘Calling 999’ EP  (Bandcamp)
acrosstheborder
Formed in Remchingen in the South of Germany not far from the French border Calling 999 is their first release since they reformed having split up back in 2012 having been together since 1991! It sure is good to have them back as on the basis of this EP they right are back on form. With a stack of LP’s and EP’s behind them this stands up there with the best of them. A mainly accordion led band, very popular in their home country, this EP begins with the title track and its catchy punk folk throughout with distinctive vocals from Jochen with the lyrics sung in English. ‘Rob, The Man’ is a hilarious romp showing a good sense of humour with a good auld Irish twist with plenty of fiddle this time. The EP ends with the sad but lovely ‘Sometimes’ and your nine minutes is up with a real Tom Waits-esque bar-room ballad accompanied with piano and accordion. This is the song it would be worth getting your lighter out for! A great release but far too short. We want more!
TENHOLES- ‘Loyalty’  (Juno)
tenholesFormed in 2004 in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta Tenholes are a working class Oi! band with celtic music influences. Loyalty is their second album and their best yet. ten songs and thirty-five minutes of punk rock’n’roll from the streets that reminds me of those first couple of Flatfoot 56 albums for energy. An absolute stunner of an album. Great production and comes bursting out the speakers at you from Track One. We have featured Indonesian bands several times before when we reviewed Dirty Glass (here), the great Indonesian celtic-punk compilation Wind From The Foreign Land (here) and the review of The Cloves And The Tobacco last album (here) so go there to find out more about this fantastic scene. So much to recommend here but for certain if you favour the Dropkicks/Flatfoot then this album is for you. I give you a guarantee you WILL love it! You can hear plenty of music at their Facebook page under the Band Profile tab including some songs from Loyalty. Anthems for the working class with stories of urban life, stories about them and us!

KING OF THE TRAVELLERS- ‘Pros & Cons’  (Soundcloud)
king-of-the-travellers-2The third release from Fremantle seven-piece King of the Travellers. Blending elements of folk, punk, ska and gypsy music to create a hoe-down of epic proportions! With instruments as diverse as the French horn and clarinet they are not your run-of-the-mill folk punk band but there experimentation does remind me of fellow Aussies the Dead Maggies even if their music aint too similar. With a reputation as a raucous live music act how well did they manage to transfer their sound to disc? Well the answer is pretty damn well. First track ‘Another Day’ has brass and a catchy ska-ish beat to it and kicks off these six songs in style. They speed it up for ‘Travel Away’ and then slow it down for ‘First Thought’ and again its all catchy as hell with the many instruments blending very well together thanks to the spotless production. Gypsy/Eastern Europe flavours the next song ‘Curly’ and on ‘Trenches’ the mando is back in charge for this anti-war song which sounds to me like something Stiff Records may have come out back in the day.

The EP comes to an end with ‘Curly Reprise’ which is of course the earlier track ‘Curly’ slowed down but with extra flourish. The clarinet works surprisingly well and could maybe have done with popping up a bit more often. Overall a solid EP. Not a weak song here just catchy punky folk music with a stack of influences from all over the place and spat back out by a bunch of Aussie’s. Now that is recommendation enough surely!
THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY- ‘Whitewashed Graves’ (Bandcamp)
ramshackleAnd our final review of 2016 is also one of the best we reviewed and no surprises that it’s another Australian release! Just released earlier this month this is the first new record from The Ramshackle Army since the beginning of 2014 but they have certainly been busy if not recording then touring right across the globe! The band began in the pubs and bars of their home town Melbourne but The Ramshackle Army have gone on to become one of the leading lights in the Australian celtic-punk scene and in a scene that is chock-a-block with great bands then that ought to be recommendation enough. Hampered by line up changes they have now got a settled team so lets hope it leads to a new album soon. Here we get six songs and just under twenty minutes of high tempo, catchy as feck traditional celtic-punk. The standout track gotta be the single ‘Foreign Soil’ but it could easily have been any of them such is the quality of this fine EP.
“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”
All the songs are self penned and its an absolute stunning return to the scene from one of the best bands in it. Heavily influenced by the story-telling style of the Aussie folk/celtic-punk tradition that bursts with  the live energy of an Ramshackle Army live gig. Highly recommended!

So ends Part 2 of our Round-Up’s and we are sorry we weren’t able to give each album the full on London Celtic Punks treatment. Apologies to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full treatment. We have still probably missed some fantastic music so all the more reason to send in your stuff to us to review. We are always looking for people to join the reviews team so don’t be shy if you fancy giving it a go. If you don’t want to miss any of our posts then you can follow us by simply filling in your e-mail address in the box that is either below or to the left depending how you are viewing and you will receive every post to your in-box.

EP REVIEW: FLATFOOT 56/ 6’10 ‘Split EP’ (2015)

Americana Folk meets Celtic Punk

The amazing new EP from Chicago premier league Celtic punkers Flatfoot 56 is a special split EP with front man Tobin Bawinkel’s excellent folk-punk side-project 6’10.

Flatfoot 56 & 6'10 - Split EP

Well we keep hearing winter is coming and we can see the nights closing in, but don’t worry the guys from Flatfoot 56 and 6’10 have brought out a split EP to cheer even the saddest amongst us! It’s 7 tracks long with one new one from Flatfoot 56 and two new ones from 6’10. It kicks off with the old standard ‘Cotton Fields’ but given the punk treatment from the Flatfoot 56 lads.

Next we have a new (or at least un-released) track ‘Picciolini’, it’s an instrumental with a mandolin led Russian flavour to it. Very good it is too! We then have two tracks taken from their last album ‘Toil’, ‘First The Rich The Strong And The Poor’ and then ‘This Time’.

Both excellent, like nearly every track on Toil!

6’10 then bring us a warm up-tempo style ballad called Seeing Light.

They follow this with their take on the standout track (for me!!) from Toil , Winter In Chicago. It’s an acoustic version with a guitar and drum style that has an almost calypso flavour to it. Another cracking track!

Finally we have Protest, a pleasant number although the recorder (or pan pipe, I really don’t know!) solo takes a bit of getting used to. All in all we have an excellent (if a little too short) release, that showcases the power and energy of Flatfoot 56 coupled with the more mellow , thoughtful acoustic sound of 6’10. Well worth getting to brighten up these long dark nights.

Tracklist
01. Flatfoot 56 – Cotton Fields
02. Flatfoot 56 – Picciolini
03. Flatfoot 56 – The Rich, The Strong And The Poor
04. Flatfoot 56 – This Time
05. 6’10 – Seeing Light
06. 6’10 – Winter In Chicago
07. 6’10 – Protest

Released 2015 on Flix Records and limited to only 500 copies.

by Gerard Mellon

Buy The EP

FlixRecords 

Contact The Band

Flatfoot 56- WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube  

6 ’10-  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

ALBUM REVIEW: THE REAL McKENZIES- ‘Rats In The Burlap’ (2015)

The original celtic-punk band!

The Real McKenzies- 'Rats In The Burlap' (2015)

In the crazy world of celtic-punk we have to admit that their are two levels when it comes to bands. The top level of course belongs to by far the two most famous bands in celtic-punk, The Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly. Their appeal has outgrown the scene and most people would name them when asked about celtic-punk music. After them is level two where you would find bands who work their arses off releasing records, touring like mad and keeping the flag flying. At the very, very top of this level I would put bands like The Mahones, Flatfoot56, The Tossers and, of course, The Real McKenzies. Each of them probably spend the majority of their year on the road playing shows from across North America to every corner of Europe. What sets The Real McKenzies apart from the rest of the bands I have just mentioned, is that while the others have embraced their Irish heritage the McKenzies are a Scottish band and play Scots style celtic-punk that even though not a million miles away from their Irish celtic-punk brothers is certainly different enough to stand out like a haggis in a fridge full of Clonakilty puddings!

Real McKenzies

It all began sometime around 1992 in Vancouver when Scots-Canadian Paul McKenzie’s band split up and looking for something new he came up with the idea of combining the classic punk rock sound of his old band with the music of his Scots background and lo and behold, what we think of as modern post-Pogues celtic-punk was born. Bagpipes had of course been used by all sorts of bands throughout rock history but a proper punk band with a piper was a first and The Real McKenzies showed the world that it was no novelty either. Pre-dating The Dropkick Murphys by a handful of years, they perfectly combined the glorious soaring of the pipes with ferocious electric guitars and frantic drumming. These were not a band that wrote punk songs and just had a piper playing along with them, they were written with the pipes as an integral and important part of the band. Now having achieved legendary status they haven’t taken their foot of the pedal and still tour the world relentlessly and, even better still, release great album after great album and ‘Rats In The Burlap’ is another in a long line of classic albums from The Real McKenzies. Their eighth studio release and out on the infamous ‘FatWreck’ Record label it took only a second listen to know that this would rank among their best.

Real McKenzies The album kicks off with ‘Wha Saw The 42nd’ and its all pipes and rocking out. The Real McKenzies have long been acknowledged to be the best pipe-punk band and the quality of the piping is amazing, so hats off to their pipers Aspy Luison and Gord Taylor. ‘Up On A Motorbike’ carries on with a more folky tune about riding through Ontario. ‘Who’d A Thought’ starts off with crashing guitars and is the story of the downtrodded man fighting back. Not much celtic going on here till the chorus and then you realise just how perfect the pipes and punk do work together.

“we wrote ‘Who’d a Thought’ for the political/social climate that people just like you and I are facing today and, even more so, in the future. One of my favorite all-time bands, the MC5, were the ones who first awakened political awareness within me at a very early age. That was back when tha ‘boil’ was already infected, but just coming to a head. Now that the ‘boil’ has burst, who is expected to clean it up? Who’d a thought? Know your opponent. Here’s to the MC5 and to the awakening of all individuals in terms of worldwide political awareness. Don’t be caught with your kilt up”

Straight up punk rock dominates the story of touring,’Midnight Train To Moscow’, with  the pipes coming in again to help the chorus along. ‘Lilacs In The Alleyway’ is almost reminscent of modern day Murphys but as one of the slower songs on the album. Totally dominated by brilliant piping the song steams ahead with a great chorus. The huge disappointment of the defeat of the Scottish independence Bill last September hits home on ‘Yes’. As Paul has stated

“It’s painfully apparent the skulduggery and cheap tricks that once again played out. We as the Real McKenzies wish to let our fans and the world know how we stand on this. Scotland belongs to the Scottish….period.”

and he doesn’t mince his words in the song either evoking visions of a past filled with enforced emigration and poverty and of a future where Scots finally control their own destiny. The bright light at the end of the tunnel though is that many who voted no in the Bill have since seen the light and have embraced the idea of a Scottish republic. Its now only a matter of time before the Scots kick the empire out… the clock is ticking! Absolutely classic McKenzies with the pipes leading the way. Catchy just doesn’t describe quite how… err, well err…how catchy it is!

There’s more than a nod to Irish punk on ‘You Wanna Know What’ with the tin whistle bringing things along nicely while ‘What Have You Done’ takes on those that have irked the band and earned their wrath. The hilarious ‘Bootsy The Haggis-Eating Cat’ brings some of the bands well known humour to the fore with the brilliant jazzy/ old timey story of a cat who stole Paul McKenzie’s haggis on Robbie Burns Day. True or not it gives the listener a welcome rest before they dive head first back in with ‘Spinning Wheels’. More tales of international touring and for a band that play so many gigs, it is not suprising that they have got plenty of stories. ‘Stephen’s Green’ tells of a man facing execution. Up until the 1770s, most public hangings and executions took place in St. Stephens Green in Dublin. Great lyrics and Pauls vocals sound especially good, it is definitley one of the album’s standouts songs for me. ‘The Fields Of Inverness’ brings them back to land of their hearts. ‘Catch Me’ could be the most radio friendly track on the album and the brilliant video ought to get the Bhoys some airplay but without losing any of their appeal and sound.

“My legs are bending at the knees
I’m seeing things nobody sees
Don’t know my name perhaps it’s may be ‘Paul’
Trapped in a drunken travesty
Battling with gravity and
Feeling like I’m standing ten feet tall”

‘Rats In The Burlap’ comes to an end with ‘Dead Or Alive’ and a better pint/fist in the air song you’ll never hear. Death looms large in celtic-punk lyrics and no larger than in this. A story of loss that may well relate to the sad death of long-time Real McKenzies member Dave Gregg who passed away in 2014. Just Paul and a slow strumming acoustic guitar builds up but never takes off and I mean that in a good way. Gradually the rest of the band join in and the song soars to the heavens and back before the final sounds of a fading banjo are heard and its gone. These guys can certainly do serious too when they need it. Fourteen songs and over thirty five minutes long and not a single filler among them.

Real1The Real McKenzies like the Dropkick Murphys have been accused by the folk purist snobs of being a ‘cartoon’ band or, worse than that, of being ‘Plastic-Scots’. What they are though and what they represent is a Scotland for the diaspora of foreign born Scots who see no positive representation of themselves in the media. What these snobs should realise is that Scotland is more than shortbread and Scotty dogs and its bands like The Real McKenzies who have evolved Scots music into the modern age while still showing the utmost respect for what went before.

The Real McKenzies have been travelling the globe now for twenty three years spreading their high-octane, booze-fuelled brand of celtic-punk rock fun and thank heavens they show absolutely no sign of letting up for years yet!

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  Twitter  YouTube

Buy The Record

 Union Label-Canada  FatWreckRecords-RestOfTheWorld    iTunes

ALBUM REVIEW: 6’10- ‘The Humble Beginnings Of A Roving Soul’ (2014)

journey through the mind of a man who has overcome betrayal, unforgiveness and pain. how a soul in agony was able to find peace and strength through difficult times
6’10- ‘The Humble Beginnings Of A Roving Soul’
It would seem at the moment that over half the celtic-punk scene has gone off to make folk or country side projects at the moment. One of the first to do so was Tobin Bawinkel of the fantastic Chicago based band Flatfoot 56. If you’ve not heard of Flatfoot 56 then take yourself immediatly to the bottom of this review and look up their web site. One of the top bands in celtic-punk they are truly one of the scenes trailblazers and innovators. But if you do know of them then read on!
‘The Humble Beginnings Of A Roving Soul’ is a follow up to last years six track EP ‘The Humble Beginnings’ and continues in much the same style just don’t expect the wild, loud and sometimes brutal sound of Flatfoot 56, as with these songs Tobin has gone back to his musical roots. Laid back American folk with definite celtic influences with thought provoking lyrics and a sometimes relaxed style that shows Tobin’s talents off in every way possible.
6'10
The album was funded by a ‘Kickstarter’ campaign where fans pledged money to finance the production of the album in return for various rewards like advance copies of the album or signed merchandise. They easily surpassed their target so this is truly a DIY effort without a sniff of any interference from outside. Not only that but the CD itself is like a wee piece of art coming in an 8 panel digipack format that displays the full albums lyrics and images. A stunning cover that would happily adorn any wall, it has had time and care lavished on it so do yourselves a favour and forget the download if you can and get the physical copy.
Aided by fellow band members Josh Robieson, Mike Pettus and Keith Perez the album includes a deluge of instruments and traditional influences. Tobin explains
“When I was growing up, I remember playing folk and bluegrass music with my family in our living room. I always loved the story telling aspect of this style and the joy of playing with close friends and family. I loved it when songs would have a quirky and playful tone and theme. All of the pretentious elements that can sometimes find their way into music, were absent during these sessions with my family and friends. You would find seasoned players, playing right next to children who were just learning. This culture is what I wanted again. The idea was to return to a simpler and more earthy feel”
This they have done. Recently we have added a new feature to the blog ‘Classic Album Reviews’ (here) where we intend to take you right back to the roots of folk music, sometimes with albums over sixty year old sometimes or music from before the 2nd World War. Music that has inspired and motivated and helped create what we are listening to today. It is to 6’10 credit that they could easily be filed into that section too. The music is lovingly crafted and expertly played and if Tobin can get his mellower side out here then I’m sure fans will be happy that Flatfoot 56 will show no signs of slowing it down themselves.

The first of the album’s twelve tracks starts with ‘Cannon Ball’,one of four tracks that also appeared on that debut EP. Strumming guitar, picking mando and Tobin’s raspy cool as feck voice combine for an absolute classic. The sound of F56 is of course still in there and if anything this is Flatfoot56 stripped right down to the basics. F56 never ever shied away from their working class roots and ‘Da Boss’ is an ode to the blue collar worker. This could have made the Wobblies ‘Little Red Song Book’ way back in 1909! ‘Peach Farmer’ shows a happier and uplifting side to the album. It’s not always about back breaking toil when you love what your doing. In the great ‘Timothy’ Tobin again surpasses himself with a story of a man sharing his knowledge and foresight from a hard and tough life to the Timothy of the title. A superb song that in the best of folk tradition helps you to understand yourself just that little bit more. Next is ‘Hurricaine’ one of the albums faster tracks and certain to get your foot tapping along. This must surely be a live favourite I’d say.

Though we dont like using the word Hun here on this blog Tobin isn’t to know so we will forgive him and ‘Someday Hun’ is not a ballad celebrating the demise of our much despised zombie neighbours but rather setting off on the road to perform and looking forward to your return home to your true love. ‘Where Did you Go?’ is a slow and tragic ballad of lost love and the suffering that comes with it. ‘Tuesday’ and ‘It Is Well’ continue in the same vein with guest vocalists and tinges of country in there as well before ‘Burning Ships’ tells of true love and a simple life together. In ‘Backpack’ Tobin tells the heart breaking tale of of the collapse of a mans life before he finds joy in moving on and eventualy finding happiness.
“the backpack is calling my name”
The album ends with the sad but beautiful ‘The Travellers’. More brilliant story writing that takes you into the conversation between two sad dreamers who while their lives away telling each other stories trying to escape the banal day to day existence they are trapped in. The story of working class dreamers everywhere that I’m sure renowned artists like Pete Seeger or Woody would have been proud to have written.

The album clocks in at over 45 minutes and is worth every penny to buy the CD. 6’10 are heading over on a European tour in the Autumn so be sure to keep checking them out so as not to miss the tour. This is truly a great album and I simply cannot recommend it enough to you. The musicianship is first rate but as ever its the lyrics and the stories within the songs that sell it for me.
“The main goal of this band is to be able to inspire and relate to people who want something more then the typical things that the world we live in tries to force us to live for. I want it to encourage those who have gone through tough times, to realize that there is always gold to be found in the mud that life sometimes bogs us down in. The trials and difficulties we face can either make us bitter or they can make us better. This band offers an entertaining evening to those who just want to reflect on stories from the past and hopefully be inspired by the ramblings of a seasoned traveling musician”
At home Tobin is a teacher right in the area of Chicago where he grew up, as well as a church leader and its his concern for the bodies and minds and souls of working people that shines through. Tobin exposes his innermost feelings for us and for that we can be grateful. The album itself has the feel of something unpolished and rootsy but rest assured everything to do with this record is first class. A superb debut album and I simply cannot wait for the tour. Congratulations for all involved we are in love with ‘The Humble Beginnnings Of A Roving Soul’ and I’m sure once you’ve heard it you will be too. You will laugh, you will cry and you will be moved.
Buy The Album
Contact The Band
great interview with Tobin here from Idiotek.
Contact Flatfoot 56

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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US!

Where We Going?

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

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

 NUMBER 20

SAINT BUSHMILLS CHOIR- ‘S/T’ (2004)

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

 NUMBER 19

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

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

 NUMBER 18

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

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

 NUMBER 17

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

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

We reviewed their new album earlier this year here.

NUMBER 16

BETWEEN THE WARS- ‘Carried Away’ (2010)

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

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

NUMBER 15

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

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

 NUMBER 14

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

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

 NUMBER 13

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

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

 NUMBER 12

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

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

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

 NUMBER 11

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

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

 NUMBER 10

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

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

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

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

 NUMBER 9

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

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

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

 NUMBER 8

THE MAHONES- ‘Irish Punk Collection’ (2007)

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

NUMBER 7

DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘Do Or Die’ (1998)

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

 NUMBER 6

FLOGGING MOLLY- ‘Drunken Lullabies’ (2002)

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

 NUMBER 5

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

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

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

 NUMBER 4

CUTTHROAT SHAMROCK- ‘Dark Luck’ (2011)

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

 NUMBER 3

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

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

 NUMBER 2

NECK- ‘Sod `Em & Begorrah!’ (2005)

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

NUMBER 1

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

The Rumjacks

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

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

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ALBUM REVIEW: KEVIN FLYNN AND THE AVONDALE RAMBLERS- “The Broken Pavement of Avondale” (2013)

“we’re a Chicago-Irish band”

Kevin Flynn

A few years ago a website suddenly appeared out of nowhere called Paddy Punx. It was basically a download site and the poor guy doing it must have been a drug addict or something as he put up scores and scores of albums everyday at all hours of the day and night. The site is long gone now unfortunately thanks to one of the great many site culls the US government has every now and then.  I mention this because at the time you didn’t know how long it was going to last so you basically downloaded at every opportunity you had. Luckily (!) I was unemployed at the time so could do a bit more than most people. One of the bands I downloaded, amongst the many, was Kevin Flynn And The Avondale Ramblers. Never having heard of them and with a name that makes them sound like a Nashville country band I cant say why but I was certainly glad I did!

Paddy Punx

Their previous releases are two mini-albums and a live album, made up from songs from the two mini LPs, released in 2010. I was blown away by their distinctive sound and incredible lyrics and stories about their home town of Chicago and Irish-America. I thought, like many, that was it and they’d fallen by the wayside but then I heard they were bringing out a new album and my appetite was surely wetted. Chicago has an amazing musical reputation with music as diverse as Sam Cooke to Rise Against to Muddy Waters to err…Chicago, but nowhere has Chicago’s influence been more inspiring than with celtic-punk and bands like The Tossers, Flatfoot56, The Fisticuffs, Ballydowse have led the way in moulding American celtic-punk.

The Broken Pavement Of Avondale honours the Windy City, as Chicago is also known, in a way that makes you want to upsticks and move there(…if it wasn’t called the Windy City for nothing that is!)

The music itself is a superb mix of Americana, country, pop, rock, punk, and celtic/Irish folk put together in a totally accessible way that will appeal to all but, as is the way with the best celtic-punk bands, its the lyrics that stand out here. Kevin Flynn is like a historian putting the history of Chicago to music and passing it along or down to other generations. I defy you not to listen to this and not learn something new of interest.

The album kicks off with ‘The Road I Walk’,

“the road I walk is less than often travelled, never paved in gold- its always dirt or gravel, although its on the byway, it always will be my way, another road just aint for me”

If you get sick of me using the word catchy then don’t blame me as there’s no better word to describe the music here.

Kevin Flynn And The Avondale Ramblers

This is followed by the title song, probably the punkiest on the album, a catchy instrumental with chugging guitar backbone and mandolin and tin whistle driving it along. Subjects covered here include songs about the working-class, Catholicism and the drunken, sometimes violent aspects of their city. A forgotten maritime disaster is one of the stand out tracks, ‘The Eastland’, and the memories of those 844 poor souls will surely never be forgotten again once you’ve heard it. ‘The Pope Of The Windy City’ is the story of the infamous Richard J. Daley who ruled Chicago as Mayor from the 50’s through to 1976 and a listen to this song tells you a whole lot more than the Wikipedia entry will do!!!

“he was raised on the working class Southside, blue-collar Catholic Irish pride, workin’ for the town, he learned about it Holy See”

a beautiful love song ‘I Love Whiskey’ and a hilarious ride through the trials and tribulations of Lent called ‘5 Weeks 5 Days’ and finally the album comes to a end with ‘Don’t Bury Me Outside Chicago’ another magnificent ode to their home city. Kevin is joined by Tony Duggins of The Tossers and he and Tony have much in common in the way their lyrics are much more than just words accompanying a song.  Though the band’s sound is steeped in the influence of traditional Irish music, their songs are anything but traditional. When asked about this Kevin said in a interview

“There was no particular method. They were just the people and events whose stories we felt needed to be told if you’re going to be a true Chicago folk band. Mayor Daley? – that’s a no-brainer. The Daleys are to Chicago what the Kennedys are to Massachusetts. The Eastland? – more passengers died on that trip than on the Titanic.  It didn’t get a big movie made about it, but it got a great song”

You want this LP. You want this if you love your hometown or your family, your class or your religion or your Irish background or even your non-Irish background! Its twelve anthems that will inspire and affect you as well as raising a smile and a glass or two, whiskey of course, to those that this record remembers. quite simply easily one of the best releases of 2013 and I’m only sad that I heard it too late to vote for it in our ‘Top Five Albums Of 2013’.

Contact The Band

WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

Buy The Album

CD Baby  Amazon

Discography

Double Door 9-15-09 (2010)  The Murderer, The Thief, The Minstrels & The Rest (2009)  Don’t Count Me Out (2008)

click on the blog logo at the top of the page to find out more…

ALBUM REVIEW- 6’10 ‘The Humble Beginnings’ (2013)

A bit of a departure from our usual celtic-punk fare with this record. Its basically the side project of Tobin Bawinkle, lead singer of Chicago celtic-punk band FLATFOOT 56, and ex-Flatfoot member Josh Robieson. Those expecting the raucous ‘celtic-oi!’ of F56 are gonna be well disappointed as what you actually get is 6 tracks of thoughtful country tinged Americano folk music. Just yer men with a guitar a mandolin and a voice…

6'10

Every part of the record has been hand produced with the production, design and actual manufacture all being done in Tobin’s house. All was painstakingly stamped, written, recorded, stencilled, cut, burned, and numbered to DIY perfection by the band and friends of 6’10.

Which also happens to be Tobin’s height if you’re wondering…

You can listen to all the tracks here before you buy it-

*as a interesting aside it was in fact FLATFOOT 56 that inspired us to do all this. a few year back we heard about some young band of celtic-punkers coming over to play the Hope And Anchor in Islington. we didn’t know much about them but turned up early as we didn’t know what time they were on. well was a good job as they were first band on at 8 and only got 30 minutes. the gig was awesome even though every band after F56 were shit. God knows how much they got paid as the crowd was tiny and we decided then we’d try and offer a alternative to bands coming over rather them leave them in the hands of unscrupulous promoters who don’t give 2 shits for the music!

ALBUM REVIEW- JOHNNY RIOUX ‘CowbOi!’ (2013)

many of us who come from Irish backgrounds will have had the misfortune to have heard a quite a lot of country’n’western music…and when I say a lot I mean a LOT. although what we grew up listening to was not strictly country’n’western it was country’n’Irish a hybrid of the worse in country music AND the worse in Irish music! names like Big Tom, Margo and that giant of c’n’I Daniel O’Donnell an still bring me out in cold sweats and nightmares of sitting in our local Irish club with a coke and crisps being forced to listen to 4 middle aged Irishmen from Derby wearing cowboy hats singing Take Me Home Country Roads!

well what a surprise I got this morning…

I had’nt heard of Johnny Rioux until very recently and it turns out that not only is the Boston based musician in The Street Dogs but he’s also part of Texan celtic-punk band Murder the Stout (along with fellow Street Dogs guitarist Marcus Hollar) and he’s been in and also worked with a shed load of other bands including record producing for Flatfoot 56, the Street Dogs and Roger Miret and the Disasters.

Cowboi!

The album itself is a mix of ‘country-fied’ punk and Oi! standards (and a few less so) but more in keeping of Johnny Cash than Jim Reeves! This fits in easily with the recent wave of alternative (punk?) country bands like Old Man Markley and Banjoey Ramone. As a offshoot of celtic-punk its great to hear old fashioned music given a new twist and like celtic-punk it may hopefully inspire people to delve into the back catalogues of some of the best country artists…just as long as they stay the hell away from country’n’Irish!!

Here’s a 30 minute set from YouTube to whet your appetite for buying the album!

Johnny Rioux’s Facebook page is here

Track Listings:

01 – Working (Cock Sparrer)
02 – If The Kids Are United (Sham 69)
03 – Voice Of Generation (Blitz)
04 – Someones Gonna Die (Blitz)
05 – Societies Fools (The Bruisers)
06 – Crucified (Iron Cross)
07 – A.C.A.B (The 4Skins)
08 – Oi! Oi! Oi! (Cockney Rejects)
09 – Police Oppression (Angelic Upstarts)
10 – Evil In Brain (Blood For Blood)

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