The second full length studio album from Celtic-Rockers Ogras from western Norway.
Their distinct sound mixes trad Irish music with rock and punk and a twist of Balkan with superb tales of the macabre and the best songwriting I’ve heard in a long time.
Of all the countries in the world famous for their Celtic-Punk output one of the more surprisingly famous ones is Norway. This is thanks to the legendary Greenland Whalefishers who have taken their particular brand of Pogues influenced Irish-Punk across the globe to every continent in their 25+ year history. It was bound to have an effect on the locals and back in 2009 the seeds were sown for the band that would become Ogras. The band hails from the Romsdal area of Norway, and have just one album behind them, the promising Compadre in 2018. Celtic-Punk can be different to a lot of other genres in that with a few tweaks to the set and the addition of a few covers most bands can find live work every week of the year thanks to the massive Irish pub world. This can mean that bands tend to concentrate less on recording than maybe straight up punk bands do who play live a lot less. Even so two albums in eleven years is pretty slow but admittedly then again two in three is very impressive!
Ogras left to right: Filip Eidsvåg- Drums * Knut Voldset- Electric Guitars, Banjo, Harmonica * Paul Solåt- Vocals, Guitar, Main Songwriter * Pål Elnan- Trumpet/ Keyboards/ Mandolin * Aleksander Eidsvåg- Fiddle * Thomas Dahle- Bass *
Based where they are they get to play in just about every conceivable kind of venue, especially barns! Starting off as a three piece they soon gathered more members and now their are six of them who can handle up to twelve instruments on stage whilst performing a combination of circus show, revival meeting and drunken Irish-pub night! here on their new full length album, No Love In The City the band have recorded nine original tracks, showing a range of influences from catchy, Celtic and Balkan inspired Punk-Rock, to smoldering folk-ballads and full blown party anthems.
I was going to just do a straight forward review of the album but just as i was about to start the band began releasing a track-by-track description of the history behind each song so I’ll try and incorporate those here as well. The album begins with the title track ‘No Love In The City’ and while we may be looking for a Greenland Whalefishers connection Ogras have much more in common with bands like The Fighting Jamesons or The Young Dubliners and their Irish-American rock sound. This is a band that would go down a storm at Get Shamrocked! Paul’s vocals are spot on and capture that perfect space between ‘Tom Waits’ and showman crooning! No Love In The City tells of the wandered. We weren’t all born to exist in the city and the song is dedicated to travelers everywhere. The next song ‘Showmen’s Rest’ was the third song released here as a single. A fast paced Punk tribute to entertainers long gone and the deadly Hammond Circus Train Wreck of 1918. In a quiet cemetery outside Chicago called Showmen’s Rest lies a mass grave of clowns, strongmen, and acrobats who died in one of the worst circus tragedies in history when 86 circus performers were killed. I love songs like this that tell us of long forgotten history and I’m kind of surprised Chicago folklore extraordinaire Kevin Flynn hasn’t told this fascinating story before. ‘Children of Dust’ carries on in the same vein a catchy foot-tapper telling of the children of those who travel. Ogras love of the macabre and circus life continues in ‘Running Wild’. A wonderful song telling the story of twins, one of whom dies at birth while the other blamed by his mother for his death. A never ending feeling of guilt keeps him running till he eventually finds circus ringmaster Darius, a recurring character throughout the album, but will it be enough for him to stop running. A upbeat rocker with great fiddlework followed by ‘The Mighty Atom’. The Mighty Atom appeared on the cover of Ogras debut album and became a world famous strongman in the early 20th century. Born Joe Greenstein he was small and sickly as a child but he trained and trained to become one of the world’s best known strongmen, bending horseshoes with his bare hands and biting the heads off nails. The song is heavily influenced this time by Balkan music with a Eastern flavoured fiddle and brass.
We slow down a tad for ‘The Devils Dance’, a swirling eastern-ish electric ballad about a women who finally breaks free from her manipulative and violent lover. He continues to hunt for her determined to make her dance the devil’s dance again? Half way through the song speeds up and really comes into its own. ‘Black River Falls’ is the shortest song and possibly the fastest and yet still manages to fit in a well told story into its two and a half minutes! The song is based on the 1973 book ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ by Michael Lesy based on a collection of late 19th century photos and clippings from gruesome times in Black River Falls (Jackson, Wisconsin) in the late 1800′ where unemployment and illness had lead to crime, depression and a high number of unpleasant incidents. Needless to say its a high octane Celtic-Punk romp that leads us nicely into ‘Torture King’ about the current craze for tattoos.
Beginning as a maudlin sad ballad Gaelic fiddle is the catalyst for the band to step it up and go a bit crazy! The album ends with the powerful ‘For Gloria’ the bands tribute to the strong women who spread joy, take care and protect their families. We raise our glasses to you, ladies! A great way to wrap things up and their is something great about hearing a trumpet pop up in the middle of a Celtic-Punk album! A punch bowl of hard hitting Irish folk mixed with electric guitars and that trumpet!
The album was released on St. Valentines day- 14th February and was recorded in the renowned Norwegian recording studio of Ocean Sound Recordings. Though originally on CD and download No Love In The City will be released on vinyl at the beginning of April. No Love In The City came as a complete surprise to me. Expecting wild Poguesy style Irish Folk what we actually get is on of the most imaginative and novel Celtic-Punk records of recent years. With it’s tales of circus strong men and disasters and bleak dark themes all wrapped in music that stays firmly in its own lane with influences from the American scene that we don’t often hear in Europe and from the East that Ogras incorporate into their own sound. A truly magnificent record and one that be can already be guaranteed to be one of the albums of the year.
Buy No Love In The CityHere (iTunes, Apple, Spotify etc.,)
The hardest hitting Irish rock band this side of Dublin city!
With the sun about to set on 2015 and the end of year ‘Best Of’ polls pretty much settled no-one in the London Celtic Punks camp expected another album worthy of the list to come along. Let alone one to come along that would hit you so instantly in the gut that it would rocket up to be voted the third best Celtic Punk Album Of 2015 (here) by the LCP team. That album was by a band called 1916 from New York and was about to make BIG BIG waves in the celtic-punk scene. The roots of 1916 had been around for a few years now starting off as a duo back in 2006 before deciding to take things to another level with the addition of electric guitars, drums and traditional folk instruments. Soon they had become a staple of the celtic-punk/ Irish rock scene in New York and it wasn’t long before they released their debut album A Drop Of The Pure in 2012 and the follow up, Stand Up And Fight, released the following year. These were both great albums but, and I’m sure the Bhoys won’t mind me saying, it was all solid but still pretty standard celtic-punk rock fare. That debut album was full of the passion and wild fire of a bunch of young Irish-Americans while the follow up shared much the same path but was a much more polished version. Their new album Last Call For Heroes hit the streets in the USA at the beginning of December just gone but took a couple of weeks to reach us here across the broad Atlantic and it is fair to say that it blew everybody’s bloody brains out over here at London Celtic Punks and has since been causing quite a scene across the worldwide celtic-punk community!
Over the years their have been several celtic punk bands who have included a double bass and combined Irish folk, punk rock and rock’n’roll/rockabilly to create something pretty amazing. Craic Haus are without doubt the kings of, what they term themselves, ‘shamrockabilly’ but other notable bands like Black Irish Texas, Black Water County and Kevin Flynn And The Avondale Ramblers also have a double bass player rather than a electric bass guitar to create that rocking sound you just don’t get from a normal bass guitar. The sound that Chris Van Cleve brings to 1916 is quite simply amazing and will leave you gobsmacked. If you thought that pretty much all celtic-punk bands sound alike then get your lug holes around this album and prepare to eat some humble pie as this band will blow any perceptions you may have of celtic-punk music out of the water.
Coming out of the once solidly Irish area of Rochester in New York, 1916 may have seen the Irish population of their home town shrink somewhat but it has only hardened their determination to both sing loud and sing proud about the NY Irish community and their noble history! The Irish are still here and they are still fighting!!
The album starts with an absolute cracker of a song with ‘Tear The Pub Down’. Thrashy guitars and singer Bill dives straight into in a song that deserves to be played while the Ireland team (only one team in Ireland!) walk out on the pitch at the European Championships in the summer. If this song wouldn’t swell their hearts and heads we’ve no chance. Next up is ‘For Whiskey’ which was the first release from the album and is clearly the band’s favourite track. Certainly it shows the band at their most rocking and if there’s one song on this album that could be the 1916 signature tune then this is the one.
Smuggling whiskey into America during prohibition made many a Irishman plenty of money and even better for the Irish community at large it gave the Irish a taste of power that they learnt to hang onto.
“It’s row, ye bastards row
We can see the beach and the pickup harbor
It’s go ye bastards go
To the speakeasies with your whiskey cargo
And now we’re headed back
For the smuggling life we’re living now
It’s whiskey we’re on our way”
This is followed by ‘Long Street Bop’ and is more than a passing nod towards Shane MacGowan’s first band The Nipple Erectors (later The Nips) with a short but sweet blast of rockabilly. 1916 are certainly no covers band belting out Danny Boy and their wonderful choice of covers proves they have both a great taste in music and a good knowledge of their Irish roots. ‘Hot Asphalt’ is up next and is as good a version as I have heard in my entire life. 1916 bounce along with a tonne of energy and turn this well known song into their very own.
“You may talk about yer sailor lads, ballad singers and the rest
Your shoemakers and your tailors but we please the ladies best
The only ones who know the way their flinty hearts to melt
Are the lads around the boiler making hot asphalt
With rubbing and with scrubbing, sure I caught me death of cold
For scientific purposes, me body it was sold
In the Kelvin grove museum, me boys, I’m hangin’ in me pelt
As a monument to the Irish, making hot asphalt”
Made famous by The Dubliners and for once we have a classic traditional folk song not written by Ewan MacColl… I jest of course as yet again its another in Ewan’s armoury of amazing songs that celebrate working class life. This time about Irishmen digging the roads in England. One of those men was my Grandad incidentally. Ewan was a genius pure and simple (check back in a few days time for a review of the recently released Ewan MacColl tribute double album ‘The Joy Of Living’). It’s quite hard to describe how 1916 breath new life into this classic song but by God they do so. I love this version and hats off for achieving something more than just a simple cover version. ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ is one of the albums slower tracks but still kicks it up with the chorus while ‘The Traveller’ has a country/rockabilly feel while still rooted firmly in Ireland. ‘Ordinary Man’ is not the famed Christy Moore song but does travel much the same road lyrically and is dedicated to all those
“worker bees who are buzzing around with you and me”
‘Tomorrow’ is classic celtic-punk territory. Guitar and banjo clash producing yet another fantastic song but with front man Bill and his sometimes gravelly and sometimes almost crooning vocals 1916 prove they can rattle out top class song after top class song. Another great cover that the band properly claim is ‘Mursheen Durkin’. It tells the story of an Irish emigrant who goes to mine for gold during the Californian gold rush during the 1840’s and unusually in tales of Irish emigration for once it’s an upbeat song where yer man revels in leaving.
“Goodbye to all the boys at home, l’m sailing far across the foam
To try to make me fortune in far America,
For there’s s gold and money plenty for the poor and gentry
And when I come back again I never more will stray”
Again it’s a song made famous by the band that influenced The Pogues like no other The Dubliners. If by chance you are one of those rare souls that has never checked out The Dubliners do so immediately. It has to said that if celtic-punk wouldn’t exist without The Pogues then The Pogues would not exist without The Dubliners.
‘Last Call For The Heroes’ is the last self-penned number and again the boys nail it. A swirling tribute to their Irish ancestors in New York. Again its a superb song and one of many fist/pint in the air moments on this album and sadly we come to an end with the final track, ‘The Parting Glass’. Again a Dubliners favourite and though this is the third song on the album popularised by this great band 1916 do something incredible and breathe new life into each song and make it their own. ‘The Parting Glass’ is sung wherever the Irish are throughout the world. First appearing in the 1770’s it is sung wherever Irish friends gather at the end of the night.
“Oh, all the comrades that e’er I had
They’re sorry for my going away
And all the sweethearts that e’er I had
They’d wish me one more day to stay
But since it falls unto my lot
That I should rise and you should not
I’ll gently rise and softly call
Good night and joy be with you all”
Bill sings with the very barest of accompaniment and comes out with something both beautiful and poignant. I can see this song being played at a good few funerals in the future!!
So here’s a blend of rockabilly with Irish punk rock that will leave you reeling while Bill spits out the songs with a venom that will have you belting your lung’s out while bouncing off the walls. Following 1916 through their three albums its clear to see how this talented bunch have continued to grow and evolve as musicians and artists and you get the feeling that they will only continue to get better and better as well. I can honestly say that their has been no better album in celtic-punk since The Rumjacks debut album kicked our teeth out back in 2010. What we are looking at here is the early days of a band that is destined for the top table of celtic-punk and who knows where after that…
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!
SAINT BUSHMILLS CHOIR- ‘S/T’ (2004)
Attending 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!
THE GENTLEMEN- ‘Stick To Your Guns’ (2009)
First 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.
CHARM CITY SAINTS- ‘Hooligans And Saints’ (2009)
Emerging 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.
KEVIN FLYNN AND THE AVONDALE RAMBLERS- Live At the Double Door 09-15-09
Till 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.
BETWEEN THE WARS- ‘Carried Away’ (2010)
Melbourne 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.
CRAIC HAUS- ‘Whose Yer Paddy Now?’ (2009)
Now 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!
THE MEN THEY COULDNT HANG- ‘How Green Is The Valley’ (1986)
The 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.
JASPER COAL- ‘Thousand Feet Closer To Hell’ (2010)
My 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.
FLATFOOT 56- ‘Jungle Of The Mid West Sea’ (2007)
Saw 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.
BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS- ‘Boots Or No Boots’ (2010)
The 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…
SHANE MacGOWAN AND THE POPES- ‘Crock Of Gold’ (1997)
With 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.
BLOOD OR WHISKEY- ‘Cashed Out On Culture’ (2005)
Straddling 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.
THE MAHONES- ‘Irish Punk Collection’ (2007)
Catchy 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.
DROPKICK MURPHYS- ‘Do Or Die’ (1998)
Seems 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!
FLOGGING MOLLY- ‘Drunken Lullabies’ (2002)
Their 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.
THE TOSSERS- ‘The Valley Of The Shadow Of Death’ (2005)
A 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.
CUTTHROAT SHAMROCK- ‘Dark Luck’ (2011)
Coming 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.
THE POGUES- ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’ (1988)
You 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.
NECK- ‘Sod `Em & Begorrah!’ (2005)
Neck 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.
THE RUMJACKS- ‘Gangs Of New Holland’ (2010)
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’ Frankie McLaughlin’s 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 hereand 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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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!
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.
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’.