We might have invented Celtic-Punk in London but the true home of the genre in 2022 is in North America. Here’s four diverse albums from across the broad Atlantic showing the breadth of the scene over there.
Christmas is well out of the way now and we’re all looking forward to the New Year. After everything we’ve all endured (politicians excepted!) it’s been a great year for Celtic-Punk. After the drought of recent years we’ve been caught in a deluge of music we tried our best but found hard to keep up with. Any regular reader know we prefer to do detailed reviews and even though we can’t do these the justice they deserve here are some notable releases we had to get in before the end of 2022. Each impressed us immensely and are worthy of your time so go ahead and check them out. We follow our last post of artists from Britain and Ireland with today’s all from North America.
HOIST THE COLOURS – When Daylight Breaks
On first play this album reminded me of a Celtic-Punk version of Bad Religion and now several months later I can confirm that’s exactly what it is! One of the better known of the North American Celtic-Punk bands Hoist The Colors come from the urban metropolis Los Angeles and formed in 2008 when they realised they could get free drinks for bashing out a few songs in their local dive. Eventually they would grow into a six piece and become a staple of the US Celtic-Punk scene having played with all the big hitters several times and festivals galore. With a crossover appeal to both Celts and Punks their brand of fast, catchy, Punk and Folk mixed with Working Class American roots and politics has made them one of the top bands around. With three albums behind them, the last being Mourners back in 2016, When Daylight Breaks sees them continue their success.
Eleven songs and whereas I’ve always found Bad Religion incredibly samey Hoist The Colors are anything but. Not a band it’s very easy to find out much about they seem to operate in the here and now rather than harping on about past glories. Of particular interest on the album are the amazing ‘American Street’, the opening track ‘Letter To Alex’ and the title track that closes proceedings. The Celtic instruments don’t take away any of the power and only add to the emotional pull, especially as you can understand every word sung. Only one video was produced ‘Animals’ above and while it’s a great song again no other information comes with it. So if you like Hoist The Colors it may be a trifle hard to find out much about them but it will be worth it.
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TEMPLARS OF DOOM – Rising Of The Doom!
For the review of their last album fellow American Irish accordion maestro TC Costello mused that as most Celtic-Punk band members are extremely talented they cannot help but let this shine through on their recordings giving them a polished feel even when to the intention isn’t to do so. That the Templars Of Doom play homage to the racket of early Brit Punk-Rock from the era known as UK82 comes through loud and very very clear on Rising Of The Doom. This is the bands third album and all have followed a similar style with wailing vocals and thrashy guitar, bass and drums. Chuck in the sound of extremely well played bagpipes and Irish republicanism and you have the sound that has seen the Templars become known and respected across the Celtic-Punk scene. During the lockdown we were privileged to have them play a live stream from their home in the aptly named Ulster Couty, New York onto our Facebook page that was watched live by over 2000 Folk-Punk folk.
Most bands say of themselves they are combination of The Clash and The Pogues but the Templars owe much to the Pistols or even Blitz or Chaos UK but that’s not to say that it’s all loud and raucous. Their are some tender moments, though they are few, and coupled with the tales of Irish-American and Irish history it’s a utterly fantastic romp. Unashamedly Irish-American Celtic-Punk the band have re-recorded a couple of older tracks giving them a bit more bite. Opening track ‘Riot In The Roundout’ kicks off the album in great style and lets you know exactly what you’re in for. Live they must be something else the energy is turned up to 11 so if they ever pass through your way be sure to check them out.
I was saddened that this album only came out a couple of weeks back not giving me the time to give it a proper review especially as the band have been great supporters of the blog and over the years have become great friends. It’s just a few bucks in American parlance from the link below where you can also stream the album too.
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BODH’AKTAN – Valcourt Sessions
Formed in 2011 this band from Quebec this prolific band have appeared on these pages throughout our existence. Five studio albums in as well as a bunch of other releases have shown them to be among the continents most innovative and original Celtic-Punk bands. Unafraid to take on traditional Folk music one minute and then rock proper hard the next Bodh’aktan answered the call of the Covid pandemic meeting in September, 2021 and over the weekend locked themselves into studio B-12, in the small town of Valcourt, to record an acoustic session. All of the the ten songs here have already been recorded by the band and appeared on album already but the style and radical interpretations of these songs lift them into another space completely. Sounding like they were recorded in a bar in one take a lot of the session has already been released on You Tube and from watching them it is self evident that the joyful and energetic music we’re listening to comes from the fact that the band are really enjoying themselves.
Sung almost entirely in French the mix of songs is great and had me revisiting the earlier of Bodh’aktan’s albums where the bulk of these songs are taken from. This was such a great idea that I would have loved to have seen more bands give it a go coming out of the lock down. Perhaps signalling a new start for Bodh’aktan Valcourt Sessions shows that the talent in the Celtic-Punk is incredible and while
snobs purists may write off bands like this they constantly show how utterly brilliant they are.
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LENNY LASHLEY’S GANG OF ONE – Five Great Egrets
Dyed-in-the-wool Boston-area blue collar Punk-Rock legend and icon Lenny Lashley has some CV having been a long time member and guitarist of both the Street Dogs and Dropkick Murphys as well as several other bands including the respected Darkbuster. 2022 sees him return under the moniker of Lenny Lashley’s Gang Of One for the the release of debut single ‘It Got So Dark’ which was taken from Five Great Egrets. This is his third solo album and having missed the first two I can’t say if they were indeed solo but here Lenny comes bursting out the blocks with ‘Not Sorry’ backed by a full band. His band includes members of Joe Sirios of The Mighty Mighty BossToneS, Tim Brennan of the Dropkick Murphys, Johnny Rioux from the Street Dogs), C.J. Ramone, Pete Steinkopf of The Bouncing Souls and together they certainly deliver the goods. The message is no regrets (or even no egrets!) and never look back.
The positive feeling you get on listening to this album is tempered with the heartfelt deeply personal lyrics. From a tense relationship ‘Heart Of Stone’, to a song of hope and guidance ‘It Got So Dark’, to integrity ‘Joe’, to humanity ‘Mexico’ the album sheds light on Lashley’s straightforward and optimistic outlook on life.
“I’m coming off 7 years of sobriety and that’s something very important to me. With sobriety, I’m slowly learning how to get rid of my inner critic because it doesn’t serve any positive purpose. When you struggle to earn sobriety you have that shame and guilt and you also beat yourself up. I was also doing that while being trying to be creative, but it didn’t help my recovery. Letting go of the inner critic translated to learning to love myself more and that was helping me creatively while I was also healing.”
These are the kind of songs that Bruce Springsteen once perfected to sell to the American working classes but he’s gone off the boil decades ago. Five Great Egrets places him at the centre of the Folk-Punk scene and it’s where he belongs.