Bagpipe strangling, vocal chord mangling, gormandizer uplifting, Riot Brew imbibing, Vancouver Island Celtic-Punk Rock.
“It’s as if their music was a horde of Irish warriors from the 1800’s running at you in black studded jackets and mohawk hair”
A new 4-track EP released for St. Patrick’s Day just gone it appears here in a rather disjointed way as the band uploaded the tracks individually to Bandcamp. Having released two well received EP’s back in 2018 that would both feature in that year’s Top Ten Celtic-Punk EP’s and they have gone on to release new music sporadically over the following few years. Formed in 2016 in the town of Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, an area renowned for coal mining in the early decades of the twentieth century. The area was famed for it’s militancy with many strikes and unrest as the areas miners battled the mine owners for better conditions and more pay in the most dangerous coal mines in the entire world. The mines are now gone (coal is now dug by children and modern day slaves in the 3rd world) but the communities and closely knit towns still exist.
Out of the ashes of local ska bands The Kiltlifters and Street Prophets Union, Scot and Pat decided after a decade away from playing live music that the time was ripe and the area was in need of a kick-arse Celtic-Punk band so after roping in recruits from the local Pacific Gael Pipes And Drums as well as from the local rock scene The Grinning Barretts hit the stages around Ladysmith. After going through several line up changes have finally settled upon a steady line up. The St. Padraigs EP saw the light of day on St. Patrick’s Day 2018 and a couple of months later The Riot EP.
‘Hope Like Hell’
‘Star Of The County Down’
‘The Foggy Dew’
Four tracks, two originals and two covers. The EP’s title track leads things off and for the standout track of the EP catchy bagpipe heavy Punk Rock is the order of the day. Includes the word “metastasizing” and this is followed by ’10 Teraohm’ and like “metastasizing” I had to look up what it meant! Teraohm is a unit of electricity apparently. Lots more big words and then the covers, starting with a pretty decent and straight forward ‘Star Of The County Down’ and the EP’s finale the famed Irish rebel song ‘The Foggy Dew’ telling of the Dublin Easter Rising of 1916. Done fast, loud, aggressive and shouty. The EP is over in a flash… well in less than ten minutes anyway which is how The Grinning Barretts do things. All their releases are all still available with many as ‘name your price’ downloads from Bandcamp meaning you pay as much as you like (or can afford!).
That time of the month again! Odds’n’Sods our regular monthly feature of all the Celtic-Punk news that’s fit to print. Band news, record releases, videos, tours (not individual gigs though yet sadly), live streams, crowd funders etc., send it into us at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Contact Us page. All will get a mention but I need YOU to help if it’s going to work.
We kick off this month with some sad news that THE MAHONES are retiring from touring. Easily the busiest band in the Celtic-Punk world they’ve been just about everywhere there is to go… and several times too! I think for many out there they are the only out of town Celtic-Punk band people will have seen. They will pop up for the occasional local gig or festival but that’s yer lot.
“After 30 years, it’s time for The Mighty Mahones to stop touring. There will be no farewell or reunion cash grab tours. We are done the big tours. If you didn’t come in the last 30 years, ya snooze ya lose, but we still love you! “
Other Mahones news leads man Finny has his debut solo album out soon on TrueNorth Recordstitled The Dark Streets Of Love and is booking now for a solo acoustic World Tour in 2021 / 2022.
Justin Sullivan of Brit Folk-Rockers NEW MODEL ARMY releases his 2nd solo album Surrounded at the end of May released on earMUSIC. Sixteen original songs written through the lockdown. Pre-order the album(s) here: https://JustinSullivan.lnk.to/Surrounded
You lot must have heard the new DROPKICK MURPHYS album by now and personally I think it’s bloody brilliant! Been playing it non-stop and boucing off the walls here in LCP Towers for the last fortnight. New video from the boys landed in the month and as usual top quality! Turn Up The Dial is out now and we are letting the hoo-har die down before our review which we are very lucky to be able to have a stalwart member of the American-Irish community and the American-Irish Celtic-Punk scene to write it so expect a perspective you won’t see anywhere else.
LONAN are a Folk trio from Leeds and have just released their debut release a beautiful new song with the proceeds going to St. George’s Crypt who do excellent work in Leeds providing shelter, food and support to the homeless and vulnerable.
Formerly of The Dead 60s and a recent live guitarist for The Specials, MATT McMANAMON has spent a decade putting out his debut album Scally Punk. It is released May 28, 2021 and you can hear a couple of songs on the Bandcamp player below. It is available now for pre-order from Fretsore Records.
The collaboration between NICK BURBRIDGE and DAN BOOTH of Ferocious Dog now has a confirmed release date at the end of May 2021, with pre-orders (including a t-shirt and signed print option) available now from www.nickanddan.co.uk
THE REAL McCOYS – Outlive Death
TEUFELSTANZ – Decennium
UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS – The Cellar Tapes
BODH’AKTAN – Live From Both Sides Of The Atlantic
One of the more interesting bands around are TEUFELSTANZ. They hail from Russia and have put out a new live album, Decennium. Recorded at their 10th anniversary concert at The Glastonberry in Moscow. Their unique sound, they call ‘Alternative Medieval Music; is well worth hearing.
THE SCALLY CAP BRATS formed in Ottawa in the summer of 2010 out of a chance meeting between Mike Pusiak and Mike Franey. They quickly discovered a mutual love for Punk, Oi! and Celtic music which led to talk about starting a band. Take A Shot was their debut release a powerful 5 track EP that first introduced me to this excellent bands. Check out their Bandcamp page for more ‘name your price’ downloads and some very cheap albums. One of the best Celtic-Punkbands of the last decade.
More Canadian Celtic-Punk from THE GRINNING BARRETTS from Ladysmith, British Columbia. They put out a couple of bloody awesome EP’s back in 2018 but have been a bit on the quiet side since but they have put out a couple of songs already this year. Divided By A Negative is also available as a ‘name your price’ download below.
Yet more from Canada and BODH’AKTAN have a live album out now – De Part Et D’autre De l’Atlantique. Eleven songs recorded at different venues throughout 2019. It is, of course, an absolute belter and watch this space for a upcoming review very soon.
UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS enjoyed live streaming so much that they have gone and recorded an album in the same acoustic style. The Cellar Tapes Vol.1 is out on platforms on May 7th.
Facebook has become an unlikeable monster with more and more good folk leaving. Can’t say I blames you. So we have set up a Telegram group. Similar but better (and easier to use) than Whats App and free from Facebook control. Join us on Telegram and dont miss a beat!https://t.me/londoncelticpunks/
All we need to do now is for you to help fill this page with news and remember if you are new to the London Celtic Punks blog it is easy to subscribe / follow and never miss a post. Also if anyone is interested in helping out on the reviews front then let us know via the Contact Us page.
Well it seems like only yesterday that I was sitting in Mannions in north London totting up the votes for the Best Album Of 2017 over a couple of pints and so here we are again. Everyone loves to give out there opinions and we are no different so for what it’s worth, here’s who we think made the best music in the celtic-punk scene over the last year. 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. 2017 saw just about every major player in the scene release an album while in 2018 they left it to many of the lesser known bands to dominate! 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. As a bonus we figured out how to attach a poll at the end so you can even vote on your favourite release of 2018 yourself. If it’s not listed then simply add your choice.
We don’t pretend to be the final word as that my friends is for you…
So absolutely no surprises here at all. In fact The Rumjacks have pretty much swept the board across the Celtic-Punk scene with what we even thought was their best release since their groundbreaking debut album Gangs Of New Holland. The Bhoys are going from strength to strength and are set to go through the roof in 2019. They remain as humble as ever and downright lovely folk to know which reminds me, congrats from us all here to Frankie and LCP’er Anna on their engagement. Other notables were Sir Reg who even flew over to London to premier their new album The Underdogs before later returning to embark on a successful nationwide tour… while I was on holiday! London-Irish band Clan Of Celts, despite a few teething problems, delivered a fantastic debut album as well as, my personal favourite of the year, Belgium’s Krakin’ Kellys. A dual release of an album and a EP on the same day is a novel approach but it paid dividends for Lexington Field as they were both brilliant. Sinful Maggie have just been getting bigger and bigger all year and we expect this to continue into 2019. Three albums from the Celtic nations with two from Galicia from Falperrys and Bastards On Parade and Cornwall’s Pirate Copy. All together we have bands from twelve countries with Germany with the most placings alongside Australia, USA, England, Belgium, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, Italy, Galicia, Cornwall and Japan.
I was not the only one at London Celtic Punks Towers to be abso-fecking-lutely blown away by the Krakin’ Kellys debut album. Fast and melodic skater style punk rock with bagpipes that will blow the cobwebs away off off anyone! They made quite a wave in the scene thanks to their brilliant videos so go check them outhere. This section was the easiest one to award by far!
MOSCHE DI VELLUTO GRIGIO- Of Pain And Glory hereand RAISE MY KILT- A New Tartan here
At one point this was heading towards being an Australian #1, #2 and #3 but at the last minute our local favourites The Lagan released Let’s Do It Again at the end of December and wrestled it away from Medusa’s Wake. Their first studio release in a hell of a long time it came out too late to trouble many of our friends ‘Best Of’ lists but their loss is our gain! Besides them and our Aussie friends the list was made up from bands from the USA, Holland, Italy and Austria which goes to show the international nature of the scene. As an aside you can get the brilliant bagpipe punk debut EP from Scotch for free by following the link to their review. For lovers of the McKenzies you’ll not be disappointed!
bubbling under: THE BRANDY THIEVES- The Devil’s Wine here
Always the hardest to do this section as our scope has become fairly wide over the years and gone beyond Celtic-Punk but Irish-American’s Marys Lane managed at once to be a record both me and my Mammy love! Even better the Cleveland based band have made it available to download for free/donation so follow the link above. Scot Louis Rive’s debut album really impressed me and was one of my most played albums of the year and The Craicheads capped a great year with a fantastic single and their lead singer Mick making the papers and the telly for saving a Mum and her babies lives (here). Good on yer Mick. It’s a privilege to know you. More local talent at #4 which ended a year where Man The Lifeboats have gone from first band on to headline shows and a mention for the amazing Finbar Furey who put a most excellent LP at the tender age of only 72.
MERSEY CELT PUNKS
We may be a wee bit biased here but last years winners take it again this year too. 2018 saw them continue to develop the site into an all-round resource for Liverpudlians and further afield. Yeah these guys are always blowing our trumpet we know and we have shared a good few scoops with them, and will again not long after this is published, but we enjoy what they write and it’s all done with an enthusiasm that us auld hacks are constantly jealous of. Plus you are not a major player in the Celtic-Punk scene unless you had your picture took with Elliot! You can also join in their fun and games on their Twitterand Facebookand their Web-Zine. Be sure to subscribe.
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 admins from the London Celtic Punks Facebook page. The assorted scraps of paper and beer mats were then tallied up please remember not all of us heard the same albums so like all the various Best Of’s ours is also subjective.
This is our 6th 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.
The second EP release in less than six months from the beer and whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rockers The Grinning Barretts. Delivering more of the same with a range of floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk originals, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems that will sure blow the cobwebs out your ears!
Though formed in 2015 this year has been a very busy one for Vancouver Island Celt-Punk upstarts The Grinning Barretts with the release of The Riot EP quickly following their debut EP from last St. Patrick’s Day. To say we rated it highly is a bit of an understatement and we are also pleased to report that The Riot hits the high spots too.
The Grinning Barrett’s left to right: Bern- Bass * Aaron- Bagpipes, Whistles, Vocals * Dylan-Guitar, Banjo, Vocals * Jeremy- Drums * Lydia- Riot Brewing bartender * Jimmy- badass fan * Pat- Guitar, Mandolin, Lead Vocals. Not in the pic: Kevin- Bagpipes
Hailing from the small ex-mining town of Ladysmith in British Columbia, Canada that debut release saw seven song, including two covers, of pounding anthemic Irish influenced punk rock. Simply played but with a passion missing from many a signed band The Grinning Barretts have a pride in their ancestry as well as their class which shone through in songs like ‘UFS’ (-Union Fight Song) and covers like ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’. Rather than repeat ourselves head over to our review of The St. Padraigs EPhereand find out a bit more about the rich (not in money!) history of where The Grinning Barretts ancestors washed up and the individuals involved in the group.
The Riot EP was released last week and is another step in the right direction for this class band. Kicking off with ‘Armstrong Ave’ and with two pipers they waste no time in getting them involved in a Real McKenzies-ish, who even get a mention, fast paced punk rocker.
“I hear evolution, Fire get’s passed along, I hear the tried and true.
Who still soldier on Good Riddance, McKenzies, Strung Out, NoFX. I listen to Rancid.
I will until I’m deaf”
Punk lives on and each band carries the torch and whose to say there’s not a group of young guns out there listening to The Grinning Barrett’s who will take the torch from them… but not just yet. ‘At The Altar Of Saint Ayn’ is more Irish with vocalist Pat Barrett’s mandolin getting a good work out. The music is fast and punky with the occasional break for some trad folk and it’s all done with a style you wouldn’t often associate with a straight forward punk band. The song is interspersed throughout with chat from England’s own Christopher Hitchens. Look him up if you like and make your own minds up on what he says is all I will say. The song is about the Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand.
“The apostles of St Ayn. Blue blooded time and time again profess the virtues of toil and sacrifice. From offices so high. Bestowed as a birthright and baptized on the altar of St Ayn”
Next up is ‘Last Call’ and is that most dreaded words for any Celtic-Punk fan. We may hate it but what about the poor bar staff trying to shoe horn us out the bleeding door! This song is for them. We have our first and only cover next up with the old and beloved ‘The Rising Of The Moon’. Picked up and sung on occasion by Celtic-Punk bands but by no means common i can only remember it played by US band The Kilmaine Saints and Ukrainians ShamRocks it’s played to the max here and coming in at under two minutes its fast and most unlike any version you ever heard before. Pat’s voice is harsh and gruff and adds plenty punk rock bite to the rest of the proceedings. Aaron and Kevin’s pipes are out again in force and it takes us nicely into ‘IBLD’ a straight up punk number with a nice guitar break from Dylan. No Celticness to admire here just a catchy as hell punk rock number. We are nearing the end and again The Grinning Barrett’s mine (!) their local history for its rich source of material and ‘King Of Scabs’ is without doubt the #1 song on The Riot EP for me. Beginning with the pipes and one hell of a catchy tune and Pat reins in his voice a little and even sings along at times. Its a cracker of a song and for those that don’t know a Scab is the word used to describe a ‘person’ who betrays his brothers and sisters and crosses a picket line. Take some advice from The Grinning Barrett’s and London Celtic Punks- Don’t ever cross a picket line. The song tells the story of miners strike and is important enough I’ll reprint it all here.
“Across a picket line a man with no loyalty walked. Into the mines because his honor had been bought and over bodies he would step to line his bank account. While other men’s families learned to go without.
1887 at Nanaimo #1 an explosion killed 148 Men. Condemned to die by conditions in the mines trying to put food on their plates. On broken strikes and broken backs the King built his castle and he paid a pittance for the lives lost deep down below. The men got locked out of the mines for talk of a better wage.
Roberts greed and Roberts pride would see them all as spaces. He hired thugs and police to harass picket lines until men accepted starvation wages in collapsing mines
(Chorus) Halfway to hell at the morning bell into the mines for coal. While the king of scabs clawed wages back from high in his castle”
The King of scabs in the song is Robert Dunsmuir, a Scottish immigrant to Vancouver island. He was a union coal miner, but crossed a picket line to scab his fellow workers becoming a wealthy coal baron as a result. He exploited Chinese workers willing to work for less to drive down wages, and was active in keeping safety laws lax. He built Craigdarroch Castle in Victoria that is still there today. The Riot EP ends, appropriately, with ‘Riot Crew’ and its all over in sixty-five seconds of fast Oi!/Streetpunk and we can finally catch our breath. The EP was recorded at the Riot Brewing Co. in Chemainus British Columbia and while it may not be everyone’s cup of tea it sure is mine! Fast and agressive Celtic-Punk with the emphasis on PUNK that is played with passion and pride. A great EP and now all they need to do is knock out a Long Player otherwise they going to dominate the Best Of Year EP charts for 2018!
(listen to The Riot EP for free before you buy here on Bandcamp)
Beer and Whisky fuelled bagpipe Celtic punk rock from Vancouver Island 5 piece The Grinning Barretts who deliver a range of originals from floor stompin’, table poundin’ trad Irish folk, to catchy, ‘waketheFup’ Irish punk anthems!
The Grinning Barretts hail from the town of Ladysmith on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The area was renowned for coal mining in the early decades of the twentieth century. As would seem to be the way with industrial workers it is coal-miners who have been traditionally the most militant and the area was famed for it’s militancy with many strikes and unrest as the areas miners battled the mine owners in an area at the time thought to be the most dangerous in the entire world. As around the world the bosses realised it is cheaper to import coal dug by children and modern day slaves and so the mines eventually closed but the ides that were forged miles underground by those miners still live on in the closely knit town where Pamela Anderson was born! The band formed in 2015 and after going through several line up changes have finally settled upon a steady line up. The St. Padraigs EP saw the light of day on St. Patrick’s Day just passed and the Bhoys already have a follow up release planned any day soon and a third release for later in the year. Out of the ashes of local ska bands The Kiltlifters and Street Prophets Union, Scot and Pat decided after a decade away from playing live music that the time was ripe and the area was in need of a kick-arse Celtic-Punk band so after roping in recruits from the local Pacific Gael Pipes and Drums corp. as well as from the local rock scene The Grinning Barretts hit the stages around Ladysmith and the rest is history!
The Grinning Barrettts left to right: Jeremy Fiddy- Drums * Bern Kinnear- Bass * Aaron Bergen- Bagpipes/Whistles * Dylan Wickham- Guitar/Banjo/Vocals * Pat Westmacott- Guitar/Mandolin/Vocals * Kevin Dougan- Bagpipes/Whistles
The EP begins with the pounding blue-collar working class anthem ‘Plutocrass’ and it’s hard and fast bagpipe punk from the get go. The sound is in the same vein as Yank bands Templars Of Doom and Alternative Ulster. Yer basic standard catchy as hell punk rock played with superb bagpipes as an integral part of the music rather than just tacked on as an afterthought. The band call it “A shot at the rich bastards who own news outlets, and pay them to lie so they can get richer.”
“Billionaires paying millionaires to tell the middle class to blame the poor
To keep them from our guillotines, torches and pitchforks
Billionaires paying millionaires to lie right thru their teeth
Filling empty heads with ignorance to justify their greed”
I likes it a lot! ‘W&B’ carries on in the same vein with a story of friendship but told in The Grinning Barretts own indeterminable way
“When the pot is getting hotter or you’re only treading water
I’ll be a life boat and ferry you home
Fuck your fair-weather friends I’ll be there till the end
Drinking whisky and pissing on their bones”
It’s great stuff and again catchy as hell and with a real foot slappin’ beat to it. There are no namby-pamby lyrics or feelings here just words as normal working folk would speak them. This is NOT a safe space!! Pat’s growl fits the bill and the chugging guitar accompanies the pipes perfectly here. Next is ‘Kudatah’ and there’s the slightest ever tinge of a ska beat going on. Obviously these guys can’t leave it all behind. It works as well as it so often does in Celtic-Punk.
The only Celtic instrument on display are the pipes but these Grinning Barretts are definitely an Celtic-Punk band. The use of the pipes is so entwined with the music how could they be anything else. Check out their full concert video at the end of the review for further proof. Another great example is their first cover with ‘The Wild Mountain Thyme’ as it’s never been played before. Something about this traditional Scots folk ballad just lends itself to Celtic-Punk and quite a few bands have covered it but The Grinning Barretts give it the full on punk rock treatment. They follow this up with a visit to Ireland and another, perhaps overdone, Celtic-punk standard with ‘Black Velvet Band’. The Bhoys adapt it to their own home and give it plenty of oompf and you may suspect a ballad is coming till the cobwebs are well and truly blown away and the song almost veers into metal but its the unmistakable tune of the original that shines through. We coming up to the final bend and its time for my favourite song and its an anthem dedicated to workers everywhere. A union song that would give The Dropkick Murphys a run for their money! ‘UFS’ is not just a union song though its a Join Your Union song. I come from a long line of militant trade unionists myself so love the sentiments here. If only we as workers understood our power is when we are together and that being in a union is a necessity these days. When you buy home insurance you don’t think your house is going to burn down and the same with joining the union you may think the bosses will always treat you fairly but history says your wrong. Do as The Grinning Beggars say and join a trade union today. Beers and cheers go from the band to Brooks Jamison for the superb guitar solo who delivered the goods in only three takes and asked only for beers for the pleasure. Finally The St Padraig’s EP ends with ‘To Your Name’. It’s the longest song here due mainly in part to Aaron Bergen’s fantastic bagpipe solo at the end of a classy punk rock number about always remembering you lost friends and comrades.
“To your name, we raise a glass
To the miles that we walked together”
As I stated these are words from the heart and from the street not the coddled university’s where the pampered offspring of the middle classes turn their fury away from the real enemies and onto the working class who have never profited from anything but have always lost everything.
All together we have seven songs with five originals and some novel takes on a couple of standards that you will never have heard played like that! Not a band for the faint hearted folkie but if you love your Celtic-Punk played with passion and pride in their class and their music then this EP is for you. The Grinning Barretts will drink your beer, and you will like it.
(listen to the whole of The St. Padraigs EP below on the Bandcamp link)