Tag Archives: Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs

ALBUM REVIEW: SONS OF O’FLAHERTY- ‘The Road Not Taken’ (2017)

Who are Sons Of O’Flaherty? Six good friends who grew up in the Celtic nation of Brittany in love with punk rock, folk and traditional Celtic music.

Yec’hed Mad and see you soon !

Now the history of the celtic nations and their people and culture and their languages has never been a particularly happy one with each nation experiencing waves of repression ever since they were taken over and with none of them free this repression continues but out of adversity springs hope and what I love above all else is to hear a band out of the Celtic nations embrace celtic-punk as a way to promote their identity and culture. The Sons Of O’Flaherty hail from Vannes in the north-western tip of Brittany, an area where almost 10% of children are brought up in Breton speaking schooling so were definitely talking about that rare thing here. A Celtic celtic-punk band!!
Now the Celtic League, the main body incorporating all the Celtic nations, identifies only Brittany, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Wales as being Celtic nations. What is left of the once mighty Celtic peoples who stretched from Ireland to Turkey and tied by language and culture and traditions. There are of large Celtic connections to all of Britain and present day France and parts of Belgium (the Gaulic tribes) and Spain (Galicia) but these are not considered to be “Celtic” by some. The Celtic League classifies only the 6 nations as countries where their native Celtic language is spoken into modern times. I’m not alone in thinking this a rather closed mind classification and anyone visiting Galicia for example is struck by how similar it is to the Celtic nations rather than Spain. Every Celtic nation has suffered war and plunder as well as suffering attempts to destroy their culture and languages. The British governments crimes in this regard are well documented but the French have also long tried to suppress any cultural and lingual distinctions of the Celtic Bretons. Like the other five nations this has led to massive emigration and Celtic Breton communities all over the world especially in Canada and America.
Now, like me, you may remember Asterix the Gaul and his band of merry men and their exploits fighting against the Roman invader. Originally as a comic and then a cartoon that featured on the TV all through my childhood and it was it is in the northwest tip of France, in Brittany, that the famous stories were set. Asterix and his tribe were Gauls taking on the ‘Latin’ invaders who had spread across a large part of western Europe, establishing their towns and villas and changing for ever the history of Europe. Pushed westward it was only in the furthest northwestern extremity of France that the ancient Gauls, with their Celtic language and culture, managed to survive; and they have done so to this day, leaving Brittany – the land of the Bretons – as the largest outstanding stronghold of Celtic heritage on the continent of Europe. The Breton people are proud of their identity, and many think of themselves as Bretons not French. Throughout Brittany, small festivals and other events strongly stress the region’s distinct Celtic heritage and cultural identity. The most important event in the annual calendar is however the massive annual InterCeltique festival. Taking place every year in early August, in the port of Lorient. Founded in 1971 it has now become one of the biggest festivals in Brittany and France with well over 600,000 visitors attending each year.
The flag of the Bretons may be a modern design but is now recognized and accepted as a representation of the Breton folk. The nine horizontal stripes represent the traditional dioceses of Brittany. The five black stripes indicate the French speaking areas, while the four white stripes represent the Breton speaking regions. The flag has a canton in the upper left corner, indicating an ancient Breton coat of arms. Speaking and teaching Breton was prohibited til 1951 but ever since the French government have tried to chip away at the Celtic speaking inhabitants. 
Successive French governments, left and right, have consistently refused to sign the European Charter of Minority Languages and to recognize the linguistic rights of the Bretons. Despite the large amount of speakers and the interest in learning the language there are little to none radio and television broadcasts. The use of the Breton language in legal and commercial documents, as well as in publicity, is against French law and are therefore illegal. It remarkable then that the language has survived to the extant that it has and has been expanding for over a decade with more and more young people taking it up and Breton nurseries and children’s schools opening up across the region.

Alan Stivell

In the world of celtic-rock Breton music has played a major role with the Breton cultural revival of the 1960’s exemplified by Alan Stivell who became the leading proponent of the Breton harp and other instruments from about 1960, he also adopted elements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional music in an attempt to create pan-Celtic folk music. This had considerable impact elsewhere, particularly in Wales and Cornwall. From 1972 he began to play electric folk with a band including guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub. Yacoub went on to form Malicorne in 1974 one of the most successful electric folk band in France. After an extensive career that included a stint playing as part of Fairport Convention in 1976, Ar Braz formed the pan-Celtic band Heritage Des Celts, who managed to achieve mainstream success in France in the 1990s. Probably the best known and most certainly the most enduring electric folk band in France were Tri Yann formed in 1971 and still recording and performing today. As is often the case the Breton’s have embraced the celtic-punk revolution with open arms and bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs, The Maggie Whackers and Sons Of O’Flaherty use their Celtic heritage to push for more civil rights and recognition for their language. The Breton’s have often looked to the Irish for influence when organising resistance to this oppression with several armed groups going back to the 1930’s with Gwenn Ha Du (Breton for “white and black”) to the Breton Liberation Front (Talbenn Dieubiñ Breizh) which was active in the 1960’s up to the 1990’s which in turn led to the militant Breton Revolutionary Army (Armée Révolutionnaire Bretonne, ARBwhich is still active to this day. The ARB, unlike its counterparts in Corsica with the (FLNC) and the Basque country (ETA) does not seek to hurt any individuals but instead to cause economic damage. Support for the ARB may be smaller than at it’s hayday in the 70’s when it attracted thousands to its demonstrations but its non-lethal attacks and policies still attract widespread tolerance and a certain level of support.
Sons Of O’Flaherty debut record was a self-titled five track EP released back in 2010. Clearly influenced by trad Irish ballad groups like The Wolfe Tones and that is reflected in the choice of songs with two Irish folk covers and a song titled ‘Bobby’ about legendary Irish hero and rebel Bobby Sands. It has since been made available as a Free/Name Your Price download so follow the link below.

Though not a ‘proper’ release they also gathered a few random tracks and released them as a 3 track EP titled Misc Songs last year and have also made them free to download.

The Road Not Taken was released at the end of last month and from the first couple of bars you know you are in for a good time here! I don’t know how much content their is of Breton music here as the Bhoys sound soooo fecking Irish they could be from Ballylooby! From the first song onwards I am simply astounded (and extremely, extremely jealous) at the quality of the lyrics here. ‘Dead And Gone’ opens the album and is a fast and furious pipes’n’punk tune about the day we die and then party/wake we want in our honour that name checks “the sweet hoarse voice of” Mike Ness, the Dropkicks and Sick Of It All.
“Have one last drink, one last laugh and maybe one last song
The last one for the road, the funeral’s upbeat
We’ll see you soon, we’ll miss you and please keep us a warm seat”
What a start. Ticking all the required boxes to get a great review after just one song the Sons Of O’Flaherty confirm it next with the Dubliners favoured ‘Sam Hall’. An old English folk song about a bitterly unrepentant criminal condemned to death. The song was known originally as ‘Jack Hall’ an infamous thief who was hanged in 1707 at Tyburn. Jack Hall’s parents sold him as a climbing boy for one guinea, which is why he is identified as a chimney sweep. The celtic-punk is flowing out and ‘The Lucky Ones’ tells about how lucky the Bhoys feel to be in a band and their determination to keep going.
“I don’t care how hard it will be, my songs I’ll always stammer out”
The harmonica is out for this and I always love hearing it. It may finally be finding its rightful place in the celtic-punk world judging by recent album’s I have heard.

We hit our first drinking song next with ‘Once Upon A Binge’, a straight forward punk rock tune garnished with mandolin and tin whistle while ‘Saint or Sinner’ tells of a bartender’s guilty conscience while the punk is turned up even louder with mandolin standing out proudest above the thrashing guitar.
“I don’t care what they think or say it’s death I’m selling”
The wonderful of pipes take the song out into ‘Red Wine Teeth’ and it’s more of the same. The Sons Of O’Flaherty could stand on their own feet as a punk band but the Celtic instruments add so much more. They are not just played over the top of the rock music but you the impression if anything it’s the other way round. 

Now any band who records ‘Fields Of Athenry’ in this day and age better be prepared to have it savaged unless they have managed to find a way to record it that takes it out of Irish ‘showband’ territory. They play a solid punk rock version with gang vocals and I always love to hear the “Let the free bird fly” add on. Gang chorus and the whole band having a go on vocals give the song a nice touch even though its pretty much influenced by the Dropkicks version.

The DKM’s influence pops up again on next song ‘The Better Claim’ with male/female vocals about the break up of a love affair that was never meant to be with some wickedly hilarious lines
“I met you, I loved you, you were all I hoped for
I gave you all I had, everything I had in store
I met you, I loved you, and your loss I’ll deplore
But things changed, now this can’t go on anymore”
that of course has the fella as the villain and rightly so in my experience! Rolling towards the end and ‘Glory Days’ starts off with a country vibe before the band rock out. A class song with the band playing magnificently here. Slow and epic sounding with a great chorus and clever and meaningful lyrics about a old mans life and what he has left to show for them. 
“I am now facing an old wrinkled man, his life has come and passed and his skin’s there to show
That even though his glory days might be far behind, there’s no regrets to have and no will to let go”

This is the album standout for me and though English may not be their first language, or even their second, by Christ you wouldn’t know that reading through their lyrics. Luckily for you they are included on the Bandcamp page so follow the link below and have a good read of them. ‘Love Me’ returns us to fast paced punk and then ‘The Townspeople’ brings the curtain down on an album with a gentle country folk number that is the perfect ending.

Those expecting a band from a Celtic nation to provide a purely folk album will be sorely disappointed here as Sons Of O’Flaherty are as equally influenced by Social Distortion as they are by Soldat Louis! Here is eleven songs with two covers lasting near forty minutes that keeps your interest up right until the very end. If we ever needed evidence that celtic-punk has begun to make inroads into celtic music we need look no further than Brittany and Sons Of O’Flaherty.

(have a listen to The Road Not Taken before you buy at the Bandcamp link below)

Buy The Road Not Taken

FromTheBand  iTunes

Contact The Sons Of O’Flaherty

WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube

You should also check out THE FOLK’N’PUNK BRIGADE which is a local celtic-punk collective similar to London Celtic Punks. A group of friends and musicians from French bands The Moorings and Saints and Sinners and Breton bands The Maggie Whackers and Sons Of O’Flaherty- Facebook

The Celtic League is an inter-Celtic political organisation, which campaigns for the political, language, cultural and social rights, affecting one or more of the Celtic nations- Facebook  WebSite

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THE HISTORY OF CELTIC-ROCK MUSIC

Today the 30492- London Celtic Punks web zine is four years old today so what better way to celebrate our birthday than to give you this small but perfectly formed potted history of Celtic-Rock. We have never just wanted to be a place that only reviews new records we want to celebrate everything that makes us celtic-punks. Our love of our roots and our history and our traditions and the love that those with no Celtic ancestry have as well. Celtic-Punk is for all that share our common values of friendship and solidarity and the love of a good time. Music cannot change the world but it can certainly make it a better place to live in and in these uncertain times that is something we all need. The roots of celtic-punk should be important to us as that is where we come from and we must never forget that.

The London Celtic Punks Admin Team

Celtic rock is a genre of folk rock, as well as a form of Celtic fusion which incorporates Celtic music, instrumentation and themes into a rock music context. It has been extremely prolific since the early 1970’s and can be seen as a key foundation of the development of highly successful mainstream Celtic bands and popular musical performers, as well as creating important derivatives through further fusions. It has played a major role in the maintenance and definition of regional and national identities and in fostering a pan-Celtic culture. It has also helped to communicate those cultures to external audiences.

Definition

The style of music is the hybrid of traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton musical forms with rock music. This has been achieved by the playing of traditional music, particularly ballads, jigs and reels with rock instrumentation; by the addition of traditional Celtic instruments, including the Celtic harp, tin whistle, uilleann pipes (or Irish Bagpipes), fiddle, bodhrán, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and bagpipes (highland) to conventional rock formats; by the use of lyrics in Celtic languages and by the use of traditional rhythms and cadences in otherwise conventional rock music. Just as the validity of the term Celtic in general and as a musical label is disputed, the term Celtic rock cannot be taken to mean there was a unified Celtic musical culture between the Celtic nations. However, the term has remained useful as a means of describing the spread, adaptation and further development of the musical form in different but related contexts.

History

Origins

Celtic rock developed out of the (originally English) electric folk scene at the beginning of the 1970’s. The first recorded use of the term may have been by the Scottish singer Donovan to describe the folk rock he created for his Open Road album in 1970, which itself featured a song named ‘Celtic Rock’. However, the lack of a clear Celtic elements to the self-penned tracks mean that even if the name was taken from here, this is not the first example of the genre that was to develop.

Ireland

It was in Ireland that Celtic rock was first clearly evident as musicians attempted to apply the use of traditional and electric music to their own cultural context. By the end of the 1960’s Ireland already had perhaps the most flourishing folk music tradition and a growing blues and pop scene, which provided a basis for Irish rock. Perhaps the most successful product of this scene was the band Thin Lizzy. Formed in 1969 their first two albums were recognisably influenced by traditional Irish music and their first hit single ‘Whisky in the Jar’ in 1972, was a rock version of a traditional Irish song. From this point they began to move towards the hard rock that allowed them to gain a series of hit singles and albums, but retained some occasional elements of Celtic rock on later albums such as Jailbreak (1976). Formed in 1970, Horslips were the first Irish group to have the terms ‘Celtic rock’ applied to them, produced work that included traditional Irish/Celtic music and instrumentation, Celtic themes and imagery, concept albums based on Irish mythology in a way that entered the territory of progressive rock all powered by a hard rock sound. Horslips are considered important in the history of Irish rock as they were the first major band to enjoy success without having to leave their native country and can be seen as providing a template for Celtic rock in Ireland and elsewhere. These developments ran in parallel with the burgeoning folk revival in Ireland that included groups such as Planxty and the Bothy Band. It was from this tradition that Clannad, whose first album was released in 1973, adopted electric instruments and a more ‘new age’ sound at the beginning of the 1980s. Moving Hearts, formed in 1981 by former Planxty members Christy Moore and Donal Lunny, followed the pattern set by Horslips in combining Irish traditional music with rock, and also added elements of jazz to their sound.

  • THE POGUES AND IRISH CULTURAL CONTINUITY (here)

Scotland

There were already strong links between Irish and Scottish music by the 1960s, with Irish bands like the Chieftains touring and outselling the native artists in Scotland. The adoption of electric folk produced groups including the JSD Band and Spencer’s Feat. Out of the wreckage of the latter in 1974, was formed probably the most successful band in this genre, combining Irish and Scottish personnel to form Five Hand Reel. Two of the most successful groups of the 1980s emerged from the dance band circuit in Scotland. From 1978, when they began to release original albums, Runrig produced highly polished Scottish electric folk, including the first commercially successful album with the all Gaelic Play Gaelic in 1978. From the 1980s Capercaillie combined Scottish folk music, electric instruments and haunting vocals to considerable success. While bagpipes had become an essential element in Scottish folk bands they were much rarer in electric folk outfits, but were successfully integrated into their sound by Wolfstone from 1989, who focused on a combination of highland music and rock.

  • HOW THE IRISH AND THE SCOTS INFLUENCED AMERICAN MUSIC (here)

Brittany

Brittany also made a major contribution to Celtic rock. The Breton cultural revival of the 1960s was exemplified by Alan Stivell who became the leading proponent of the Breton harp and other instruments from about 1960, he then adopted elements of Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional music in an attempt to create a pan-Celtic folk music, which had considerable impact elsewhere, particularly in Wales and Cornwall. From 1972 he began to play electric folk with a band including guitarists Dan Ar Braz and Gabriel Yacoub. Yacoub went on to form Malicorne in 1974 one of the most successful electric folk band in France. After an extensive career that included a stint playing as part of Fairport Convention in 1976, Ar Braz formed the pan-Celtic band Heritage des Celtes, who managed to achieve mainstream success in France in the 1990’s. Probably the best known and most certainly the most enduring electric folk band in France were Tri Yann formed in 1971 and still recording and performing today. In 2017 celtic-punk band Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs fly the flag for Brittany singing in their native language and playing regularly and often accompanied on stage by Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Tan Ar Bobl’ (here)

Wales

By the end of the 1960’s Wales had produced some important individuals and bands that emerged as major British or international artists, this included power pop outfit Badfinger, psychedelic rockers Elastic Band and proto-heavy metal trio Budgie. But although folk groupings formed in the early 1970’s, including Y Tebot Piws, Ac Eraill, and Mynediad am Ddim, it was not until 1973 that the first significant Welsh language rock band Edward H Dafis, originally a belated rock n’ roll outfit, caused a sensation by electrifying and attempting to use rock instrumentation while retaining Welsh language lyrics. As a result, for one generation listening to Welsh language rock music could now become a statement of national identity. This opened the door for a new rock culture but inevitably most Welsh language acts were unable to breakthrough into the Anglophone dominated music industry. Anhrefn became the best known of these acts taking their pop-punk rock sound across Europe from the early-80’s to mid-90’s.

  • TRIBUTE TO WELSH PUNK ROCK LEGENDS ANHREFN (here)

Cornwall and the Isle of Man

Whereas other Celtic nations already had existing folk music cultures before the end of the 1960s this was less true in Cornwall and the Isle of Man, which were also relatively small in population and more integrated into English culture and (in the case of Cornwall) the British State. As a result, there was relatively little impact from the initial wave of folk electrification in the 1970’s. However, the pan-Celtic movement, with its musical and cultural festivals helped foster some reflections in Cornwall where a few bands from the 1980s onwards utilised the traditions of Cornish music with rock, including Moondragon and its successor Lordryk. More recently the bands Sacred Turf, Skwardya and Krena, have been performing in the Cornish language.

  • ALBUM REVIEW: BARRULE- ‘Manannans Cloak’ (here)

Subgenres

Celtic Punk

Ireland proved particularly fertile ground for punk bands in the mid-1970s, including Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, The Radiators From Space, The Boomtown Rats and The Virgin Prunes. As with electric folk in England, the advent of punk and other musical trends undermined the folk element of Celtic rock, but in the early 1980s London based Irish band The Pogues created the subgenre Celtic punk by combining structural elements of folk music with a punk attitude and delivery. The Pogues’ style of punked-up Irish music spawned and influenced a number of Celtic punk bands, including fellow London-Irish band Neck, Nyah Fearties from Scotland, Australia’s Roaring Jack and Norway’s Greenland Whalefishers.

  • FROM OPPRESSION TO CELEBRATION- THE POGUES TO THE DROPKICK MURPHYS AND CELTIC PUNK (here)

Diaspora Celtic Punk

One by-product of the Celtic diaspora has been the existence of large communities across the world that looked for their cultural roots and identity to their origins in the Celtic nations. While it seems young musicians from these communities usually chose between their folk culture and mainstream forms of music such as rock or pop, after the advent of Celtic punk large numbers of bands began to emerge styling themselves as Celtic rock. This is particularly noticeable in the USA and Canada, where there are large communities descended from Irish and Scottish immigrants. From the USA this includes the Irish bands Flogging Molly, The Tossers, Dropkick Murphys, The Young Dubliners, Black 47, The Killdares, The Drovers and Jackdaw, and for Scottish bands Prydein, Seven Nations and Flatfoot 56. From Canada are bands like The Mahones, Enter the Haggis, Great Big Sea, The Real McKenzies and Spirit of the West. These groups were naturally influenced by American forms of music, some containing members with no Celtic ancestry and commonly singing in English. In England we have The BibleCode Sundays, The Lagan and others.

  • THE EFFECTS OF NEW DIASPORA CELTIC PUNK: THE CREATION OF A PAN-CELTIC CULTURE (here)

Celtic Metal

Like Celtic rock in the 1970s, Celtic metal resulted from the application of a development in English music, when in the 1990s thrash metal band Skyclad added violins, and with them jigs and folk voicings, to their music on the album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth (1990). This inspired the Dublin based band Cruachan to mix traditional Irish music with black metal and to create the subgenre of Celtic metal. They were soon followed by bands such as Primordial and Waylander. Like Celtic punk, Celtic metal fuses the Celtic folk tradition with contemporary forms of music.

  • CELTIC-METAL’S TOP FIVE BANDS (here)

Influence

Whereas in England electric folk, after initial mainstream recognition, subsided into the status of a sub-cultural soundtrack, in many Celtic communities and nations it has remained at the forefront of musical production. The initial wave of Celtic rock in Ireland, although ultimately feeding into Anglo-American dominated progressive rock and hard rock provided a basis for Irish bands that would enjoy international success, including the Pogues and U2: one making use of the tradition of Celtic music in a new context and the other eschewing it for a distinctive but mainstream sound. Similar circumstances can be seen in Scotland albeit with a delay in time while Celtic rock culture developed, before bands like Runrig could achieve international recognition. Widely acknowledged as one of the outstanding voices in Celtic/rock is the Glasgow born Brian McCombe of The Brian McCombe Band, a pan Celtic group based in Brittany.

In other Celtic communities, and particularly where Celtic speakers or descendants are a minority, the function of Celtic rock has been less to create mainstream success, than to bolster cultural identity. A consequence of this has been the reinforcement of pan-Celtic culture and of particular national or regional identities between those with a shared heritage, but who are widely dispersed. However, the most significant consequence of Celtic rock has simply been as a general spur to immense musical and cultural creativity.

ALBUM REVIEW: O’HAMSTERS- ‘Где бы мы ни бывали’ (2017)

More masterful celtic-punk from Eastern Europe with O’Hamsters from Kyiv Ukraine showing us all how its done”

ohamsters

Now we love celtic-punk music that much must be obvious as the nose on my face. The people who write for the London Celtic Punks are lucky (or unlucky considering all our ‘issues’ ahem) to be Irish but when it comes to our music we never discriminate and it’s a good job too as we would miss out on some great music if we ever bought into such ridiculous notions as ‘cultural appropriation’ or that folk/trad snobbiness that saw legendary bands like The Dubliners and The Pogues castigated as ‘un-Irish’ in their time.

This brings us nicely onto today’s band O’Hamsters (their is no ‘The’ just O’Hamsters) who have featured on these pages several times in the past including reviews of their last two EP’s (here) and (here). O’Hamsters hail from the capital city of Ukraine, Kiev, and have been playing together in a band since 2009 and Где бы мы ни бывали/ Gde By My Ni Byvali is their third album release. Now we are in a music scene that is truly worldwide but does tends to sing in English. Even bands from the celtic nations tend to sing in English, with the odd notable exception of bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs from Brittany, and even bands from further afield and well away from the Celtic diaspora nations tend to sing in English. Now this makes it easier for my job as a reviewer but I do worry about the effect this has on the music scene of the country the band comes from. Therefore I do find it refreshing when bands sing in their native language but it does mean I miss out on what the band are singing about. Going on what I know of O’Hamsters it will be the things we love here at London Celtic Punks. Folk, punk, football, Ireland and drinking and some other things we couldn’t print on a family blog!

Где бы мы ни бывали kicks off with ‘Истинный Ирландец’ and all I really want to say here is that the album is fourteen f**king brilliant songs that clock in just over forty minutes so just get to that download button below and get downloading. The opening song gives you the perfect taste of what is to come. Slow and soft accordion gives way to thrashing guitars, rapid punky drumming, quality mandolin and raspy vocals. As is the way with a lot of celtic-punk bands at the moment there’s a brief foray into celtic-ska before we are back again. Great country style intro for ‘Winter Hill’ before its celtic-punk all the way. I hear the word Massachusetts so can only guess that the song is about the home of famous ex-on the run Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger and his notorious Winter Hill Gang. It’s pretty much the same story right through to the end. This is fast and furious celtic-punk of the hardcore kind. Much like their neighbours from Russia, Middle Class Bastards, its’s unmistakable celtic-punk but with a much harder edge to it than we are use to in the soft west. They keep up the pace, and the quality, and it’s not until ‘Где бы мы ни бывали’ that we are treated to a cover version and its the brilliant sound of ‘Come To The Bower’. Having opened the album with their own compositions we are treated to a wonderful set of Irish songs that you never thought you hear in Ukrainian! Gang vocals kick it off and them thrashing guitars and furious accordion give it a sound that would shake the cobwebs from yer average Dubliners fan. This is also the name of the album and suits it perfectly as the song is written to reach out to Irish people exiled to escape political persecution or for financial reasons. A bower is a leafy seated area found in country gardens and often used by lovers but in the song, however, the bower refers to Ireland itself. We back in Irish history again next with ‘Храни, Боже, остров Эрин’ which goes to the tune of ‘God Save Ireland’ though not sure if it’s the same lyrics or not. Vera Brenner guests on Bagpipes and she is simply amazing and her playing adds so much. guys you need to persuade her to join the band full time I’m telling you! ‘Батальон Святого Патрика/ Batal’on Svyatogo Patrikais’ a cover of the David Rovics penned classic ‘Saint Patrick’s Battalion’  which was a Mexican army unit comprised of Irish Catholics who defected from the US army during the Mexican-American War. The St. Patrick’s Battalion was an elite artillery unit which inflicted great damage on the Americans during the battles of Buena Vista and Churubusco. After the battle most members were killed or captured and most taken prisoner were hanged. They are still celebrated widely in Mexico. The boys borrow the tune next from ‘The Wearing Of The Green’ for ‘Странный союз/ Strannyy soyuzand its classic celtic withthe tin whistle moving it along at a swift pace. ‘Cath Sulchuait’ is my album standout track. All the elements combine to make a song that at times could spill into the Dropkick Murphys but each time O’Hamsters steer it back into their own world. A great chorus and the band are never better here though it is close several times. We steering near the end and ‘Рыжий Айриш Бой/ Ryzhiy Ayrish Boy’ or in English ‘Auburn Irish’ takes us back firmly into the celtic ska-punk of earlier and is another standout. ‘Я из Коннахта/ I’m From Connaught)’ is officially the end of the album and ends with the ballad I have been waiting for. Joined by Anna Vasil’chenko from fellow Ukrainian band Kings & Beggars it brings the curtain down momentarily on a great album. I say momentarily as O’Hamsters have added two bonus tracks for you lucky people

(Lyrics in English!! Directed by Andrey Ganzevich and Artem Brin)

‘Стакан/ Glass’ came out in 2015 and is a frantic fast as hell celtic-punk classic that is all over and done within just eighty seconds. The final song here is ‘Ліжко Кухуліна/ The Sickbed of Cuchulainn’ abelter of a song which was one of the absolute highlights of the fantastic mainly Eastern European compilation album from last year The Tribute To The Pogues which is still available for free from here.

so in this year of our Lord two thousand and seventeen that has already gone down in history as the best year of celtic-punk album releases we have another to add to our growing list. A superb album from a superb band and you can listen to this and most of O’Hamsters back catalogue through their Bandcamp page below but it’s bands like this that make it celtic-punk a worldwide scene and if any band deserves a few pounds/ dollars/euro’s chucked their way then its them.
(you can have a listen to the whole of Где бы мы ни бывали before you download it)
Download The Album
Contact The Band
For another review from our comrades over at Celtic Folk Punk And More read here.

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: O’HAMSTERS- ‘Kiss My Irish Ass’ (2015)

Drink, Feck, Fight, Ireland!

O'Hamsters

With the London Celtic Punks gang on tour in Dublin for this last St Patricks Day we missed the bunch of releases that all came out on the glorious 17th so we are now slowly slowly working our way through them for you. One of the best of the bunch is this four track EP from the Ukrainian celtic-punk band O’Hamsters, hailing from Kiev. With a bunch of solid releases, both albums and EP’s, behind them they have risen to the top of their scene and have been recognised by those in the know as one of the best bands around.

O'Hamsters1

The EP starts off with ‘Kiss My Irish Ass’ a cover of the classic celtic-punk standard written by Frank Mackey of the American band The Keltic Cowboys. Starting off slowly before thrashy guitars and celtic instruments, a wee ska bit and growly lead vocals and shouty gang choruses storm in and set the pace for rest of the EP.

“We’re stubborn as mules, with our blood on fire,
When we ain’t at Sunday mass
We’ll look any man straight in his eyes
and say “kiss my Irish ass,
you better kiss my Irish ass”

but don’t expect to be able to follow any of the song’s as its all sang in Ukrainian. Not that I mind and I for one applaud them for that. Too many bands sing in English including ones from the celtic nations so it makes for a refreshing change to hear a band singing in their native language. So with it impossible to judge them from their lyrics we have to judge them on their music and luckily for us the rest of the EP is just as worthy with much the same formula as ‘Kiss My Irish Ass’ with tin whistles, fiddles and accordion competing but never smothered by the sometimes loud electric guitars. The final track sounds reminiscent somewhat to me of the great Breton celtic-punk band Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs with a Breton sounding fiddle dominating and female vocals.

O'Hamsters

All in all yet another great record from a great band and, like a lot of Eastern European bands, they have made it available for free download. You can also go to their Bandcamp page and download all their previous records as well. O’Hamsters have gone a long way with their music but it would be a awful shame if they didn’t get the popularity they deserve simply because they sing in a language other than English for they deserve to be fecking massive!!

(click play below to hear the entire record)

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LONDON CELTIC PUNKS PRESENTS OUR BEST OF 2014!

TOP TWENTY CELTIC PUNK ALBUMS OF 2014

Last year our ‘Best Of’ list was completely dominated by bands from these shores but this time there’s a much more international flavour to 2014’s Best Album’s list. Again Irish influenced bands dominate but the absolute standout album for me was without a doubt Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards from Italy who nailed their fusion of punk rock and traditional music completely. With their own roots and influences included along with some amazing uilleann piping they are deserved winners of the Best Album spot. Kitchen Implosion join them in what has been a great year for Italian bands. Sure not all of these twenty bands are celtic-punk in the dictionary definition of the phrase but sod that anyway. These are what we liked and they all fit in in some way. Twenty bands from thirteen countries (Italy, England, Sweden, Brittany, Canada, Ireland, USA, Australia, Brazil, Catalonia, Germany, Switzerland and Belguim) which only goes to show the international appeal of the celtic-punk scene these days. A special mention for London Irish band Creeds Cross superb debut album. Only just caught them live and they were awesome so hoping to see much more of them around town in 2015.
As ever we have reviewed some, though not all of these albums, so click (here) after the title and you will be re-directed to our review.
We compiled the ‘Best Of’ lists together from the scraps of paper handed to me by the various admins from the London Celtic Punks facebook page.
1. UNCLE BARD AND THE DIRTY BASTARDS- ‘Get The Folk Out!’ (here)
2. CREEDS CROSS- ‘Gods And Fighting Men (here)
3. ROVERS AHEAD- Always The Sinner, Never The Saint (here)
4. LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- Tan Ar Bobl (here)
5. THE MAHONES- The Hunger And The Fight
6. BLOOD OR WHISKEY- Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil (here)
7. THE ROUGHNECK RIOT- Out Of Anger
8. BASTARD BEARDED IRISHMEN- Rise Of The Bastard (here)
9. JAY WARS- Carry Me Home (here)
10. THE RAMSHACKLE ARMY- Letters from the Road Less Travelled
11. 6’10- The Humble Beginnings Of A Rovin’ Soul (here)
12. LUGH- Quando Os Canecos Batem (here)
13. SIGELPA- TerraMorte (here)
14. KITCHEN IMPLOSION- Pretty Work Brave Boys! (here)
15. THE KILKENNY KNIGHTS- Bradys Pub Tales (here)
16. BEYOND THE FIELDS- The Falcon Lives (here)
17. THE YOUNG DUBLINERS- ‘Nine (here)
18. KELTIKON- Agenbite Of Inwit (here)
19. FM 359- Truth, Love And Liberty (here)
20. THE BLACK TARTAN CLAN – Scotland in Our Hearts
a special special mention for three absolutely brilliant compilation albums too. Can’t really include them in the Best of charts so heres all three in no particular order at all as they are all 11 out of 10!
a class album with 4 songs per band and an absolutely beautifully put together record. THE PORTERS/ THE JUDAS BUNCH/ THE MAHONES/ MALASANERS 4-WAY SPLIT DOUBLE ALBUM- ‘Welcome To The Folk Punk Show’ (2014)  here
a mostly Russian compilation paying tribute to all (lets just face it they are!) our favourite celtic-punk band- ‘Ex-USSR Tribute To The Dropkick Murphys’ (2014)  here
this ought to be the number one album of the year to be honest. a fecking amazing compilation of Indonesian celtic-punk bands.the quality is amazing throughout.absolutely stunning. I cannot recommend enough!! ‘Wind From The Foreign Land- Indonesian Celtic-Punk Compilation’ (2014)  here

TOP FIVE CELTIC PUNK EP’S OF 2015

No question which EP deserved this and Russia’s Middle Class Bastards just blasted us away with their follow up to their 2013 album. Superb use of bagpipes and brass instruments combined with fast but tuneful punk rock. A bit unfortunate for Black Water County who looked nailed on to win this for most of the year with their fantastic 2nd EP. The Breton band The Maggie Whackers released their EP back at the start of the year while The South Sea Ramblers from South Africa literally released theirs just a couple of weeks ago while LQR from Holland slipped theirs out in time for St Patricks Day… ooh err missus! So spread out across the year but these are the ones that left their mark. Looking forward to hearing more from them all and long players must be arriving soon I hope.
1. MIDDLE CLASS BASTARD- Rebel To The Core (here)
2. BLACK WATER COUNTY- Fellowship Of the Craic (here)
3. THE MAGGIE WHACKERS- Naoned Whisky (here)
4. LQR- A Touch Of Liquor (here)
5. SOUTH SHORE RAMBLERS- Bare Knuckle Blackout

TOP FIVE TRAD ALBUMS OF 2014

As the blog is for (mostly) celtic punk so it is that we only review stuff that isn’t celtic punk if we really really (really!!) like it. All these rocked our boat and we loved them all to bits. Hard to decide which order they should go in but this is how we ended up. Turned out to be an all Irish list with I DRAW SLOW from Dublin with beautiful alternative country sounds and both Cork’s THE BUACHAILLS and London’s THE CRAICHEADS going head to head with both bands playing similar styles of music while Irish-American supergroup THE ALT’s debut album was a worthy runner-up to fellow Irish-Americans RUNA’s brillliant fourth album.
1. RUNA- Current Affairs (here)
2. THE ALT- ‘The Alt (here)
3. THE CRAICHEADS- Brewed in London (here) 
3. THE BUACHAILLS- At Your Call (here)
5. I DRAW SLOW- ‘WhiteWave Chapel (here)

BEST CELTIC PUNK WEB-SITE OF 2014

Celtic Folk Punk And More Blogonce again there is no question who gets this
CELTIC FOLK PUNK AND MORE
 keeping the whole wide world up to date with what’s going on and who is doing who within celtic punk (and more!) while also supplying us with regular free downloads and free compilations. Waldo you’re great. Keep it up mate!

BEST GIGS

Apart from the ones we put on which were all amazing and showcased some amazing performances from JAY WARS and THE DEAD MAGGIES from Aus, THE GREENLAND WHALEFISHERS from Norway, a couple of benefit gigs for Mad Dog out The Popes (hope youre back on your guitar highkicking soon pal!), BLACK WATER COUNTY played their London debut and went down a fecking storm, me O’s mates STEVE WHITE AND THE PROTEST FAMILY were as superb as ever and released a fantastic album. One of the major highlights was discovering the quintessential London Celtic Punk in ANTO MORRA and we look forward to working with him again in the future. We teamed up with fellow Londoners of Urbankelt and will be doing so again too.

I also saw DAVID ROVICS for the first time, THE MEN THEY COULDN’T HANG’s amazing 30th anniversary show was incredible, NECK and their sadly ended residency at TChances which had us all pissed on Polish lager on Sunday afternoons for the first 6 months of the year, FLOGGING MOLLY in Reading in June which showed they havent lost a thing and are as great as ever, THE POGUE TRADERS were the best Pogues tribute band I ever seen. Disappointing was missing so many gigs where I just didnt have the cash especially The Pogues various outings. THE STANFIELDS from Canada seemed like a decent bunch of lads but their London gig was a total rip-off. The pre-gig ticket price was £7-50 which more than doubled to £15 on the door on the night. Oi bands watch out for charlaten promoters won’t you? Rebellion music fest brings loads of decent bands over to play but that means that they all end up playing in the same week so I had to forgo THE GO-SET’s return to London. Missed out on THE WOLFE TONES London gigs too due to work. All three of them! THE LAGAN have been brilliant. Far far too many of their gigs to go into detail so we have choosen the whole of St Patricks Weekend as our Number One! With NECK playing three gigs over the weekend and both THE BIBLE CODE SUNDAYS and THE LAGAN playing on the same day as well it seen a clean sweep of all the London bands done. Afterwards sick days were phoned in, headache pills were taken and the best St Patricks in donkeys was had.
Now were just looking forward to catching THE DROPKICK MURPHYS ‘Celtic Invasion ‘ Tour in Dublin and London this year round St Patricks Day.
Sláinte, The London Celtic Punks Crew- 2015
 London Celtic Punks
Of course all these things are very subjective so don’t be dismayed if your album ain’t here. What appeals to one don’t neccessarily appeal to another. It would be impossible to keep up with the multitude of celtic-punk related releases so these are the best of of what we actually did get to hear. All the various sites in the celtic-punk family had different winners so to see what they thought check out the Best Of lists of the following sites…
click on the blog logo at the top of the page to find more of this kind of stuff…

ALBUM REVIEW: LES RAMONEURS DE MENHIRS- ‘Tan Ar Bobl’ (2014)

Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs

We here at London Celtic Punks love our celtic-punk and as much as we love our celtic-punk we really really love celtic celtic-punk!By that I mean there’s some fantastic bands from the States or Canada or Indonesia and Italy or Australia, in fact there’s some amazing bands from all over the world truly making celtic-punk an international thing. Saying that though there is something extra special about a band from one of the celtic nations taking up the gauntlet. In Ireland there’s Blood Or Whiskey, Wales has Kilnaboy and in Galicia there’s Bastards On Parade and The Falperry’s but no celtic nation has as many, and are as good, as those from Brittany.

We’ve touched previously on the blog on the history of Brittany as a celtic nation, in this review (here) of the Breton band The Maggie Whackers latest EP, so click there to stop us repeating ourselves! Suffice to say there’s a massive resurgence in both Breton feeling and the Breton language. Through centuries of oppression France has failed to absorb Brittany or kill off the Breton language and Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs are a perfect example of what’s happening in Brittany.

Formed in 2006 its members include Éric Gorce on the bombardon, Richard Bévillon on the bagpipes, the traditional vannetais singer Maurice Jouanno and Loran, guitarist from the the group Bérurier Noir. The most amazing thing though about Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs is that they sing in Breton, the ancient language of Brittany which is closely linked to both Cornish and Welsh. Their first album, ‘Dañs an Diaoul’ (The Dance of the devil) was released in 2007 by the former label of Bérurier Noir, Folklore De La Zone Mondiale. The singer Louise Ebrel, daughter of Eugénie Goadec, a famous traditional Breton musician, guests on several songs on the album. Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs participated at the massive celtic festival ‘Festival Interceltique de Lorient’ in 2007, having performed outside the official programme. Back in 2008 they toured Scotland with the only band comparable to them Scot’s punkers Oi Polloi. Second album ‘Amzer An Dispac’h’ followed in 2010 and featured more of the same with  hardcore punk accompanied by celtic instruments and shouty  gang choruses and vocals. Guests from across the musical spectrum were asked to perform and did freely showing the lack of snobbery within the Breton folk/language scene. They choose to embrace Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs (not that it’s always been plain sailing) while Oi Polloi are put down and, even worse, ignored by their Scots compatriots despite all the positive work they are doing to promote gaelic in Scotland.

As its impossible to comment on the lyrics I have to talk about the music and the feelings that the album gives me. Knowing a little about the band through a Breton friend the first thing that strikes you when looking up the band is how they have managed to cross generational boundaries and I must admit to a tear in the eye at one video where in front of the stage is a huge crowd of young punks moshing about while at the back a huge crowd of, ahem, more elderly fans are performing traditional dance to the same song. Its this link to the past that makes them so special. The ability to connect the struggles of the past to the struggles of the here and now and even of the future. In an age when there is a revival in celtic awareness its in the language movement and especially in celtic music that people are finding their roots and their pride. Celtic-punk is but a tiny part of that but in Brittany, thanks to bands like Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs, The Maggie Whackers and the Sons Of O’Flaherty, its helping to lead the way.
Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs
Musically the album doesn’t break any new ground from the first two LP’s but as they were both bloody brilliant that doesn’t really matter! They’ve a new singer in tow but the same chugging guitar, metal riffs, industrial style drum machine drumming and all with clear shouty hoarse vocals and no bassist that keep the toe tapping going while the celtic instruments are played with absolute gusto by champions in their fields. Eleven explosive songs clocking in at just under 45 minutes and all originals except a fun cover of The Adicts 1980’s punk classic ‘Viva La Revolution’. The best way to describe the music I think would be to say you’d find it impossible to stand still listening to this. Within a minute or two you’ll be be slapping yer thigh and a-tappin them toes. Catchy just doesn’t come into it. Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs are not just a celtic punk band they are a movement and one of which in everyone with a interest in celtic affairs should keep abreast of. Who said music cannot change the world?
Contact The Band
email- contact@ramoneursdemenhirs.fr
Buy The Album

here’s a list of YouTube videos here mostly from 2014 well worth trawling through on a quiet night accompanied by a few beers!

for easily the best english language web site concerning Brittany then check out THE BRETON CONNECTION “a portal to the Breton movement for self-determination and cultural rights”.

EP REVIEW: THE MAGGIE WHACKERS- ‘Naoned Whisky’ (2014)

Sans Regrets Sans Remords

The Maggie Whackers- 'Naoned Whisky' (2014)

This great celtic-punk band were formed in the city of Nantes in 2009 and are at the forefront of an amazing Breton celtic-punk scene along with Les Ramoneurs De Menhirs and the Sons Of O’Flaherty. We noticed recently that our pages were starting to become a little dominated by solely Irish music so we’ve tried to rectify that by trying to cover more about the other celtic nations and their influences so recently we’ve had articles on Scotland and Wales.Brittany national flag

Sadly one of the lesser known celtic nations is Brittany. Occupied by France since the 15th century it is simply incredible and a remarkable testament to the people that despite, in common with all the other celtic nations, centuries of repression, discrimination and emigration that Brittany has clung so solidly to its celtic roots. Their language is very closely related to both Cornish and Welsh and despite the French government being able to show the British a few things in how to suppress native languages more than a quarter million people still speak Breton fluently! Today estimates suggest over 20% of the population have a knowledge of Breton and with the language and independence movement stronger than it has been for decades things are looking good for Brittany and whose to say it wont follow Scotland and Catalonia into independence. The sooner the better say we!

This release follows the path of their 2011 self titled release in that it also has 5 songs, also has a couple of traditional covers and the rest of the EP is made up of funny, drinking and political songs. That first release got them plenty of critical acclaim but this was followed by a period of silence that led me to believe they had split up. I was delighted then to recently come across a video of them playing with hip-hop world superstar Macklemore (here) at a gig last year and that was followed by news of a St Patrick’s 2014 tour of Brittany with the aforementioned Sons Of O’Flaherty…that would surely have been a set of gigs to die for!

The Maggie Whackers

So what do you get here. First track is the celtic-punk standard ‘Drunken Sailor’ which starts off as you’d expect but soon speeds up and the fiddle, mandolin and tin-whistle are soon working overtime to keep up with the vocals. Track 2 is ‘Sans Regrets Sans Remords’ which translates as ‘Without Regrets Without Remorse’ and is the only song not in English and is also the EP’s most punk rock song though the Breton bagpipes stand out enormously. ‘Fucking Goblins’ makes use of the electric guitar and mandolin again in a song about drinking too much whiskey! The fourth track is ‘I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Everyday’, a trad Irish song made famous by the Godfathers of celtic-punk The Pogues and would I’m sure make them as pleased as punch to hear it. The final song is my favourite and I could be a bit biased here as the chorus to it is

“Burn in hell Maggie Thatcher”

ska, celt and punk collide in a real fist in the air singalong and brings this fantastic EP to a end. Don’t come along to the Maggie Whackers expecting to hear ‘Irish’ celtic-punk as Brittany has its own celtic ways and traditions and sounds and this is evident in everything the band do and ought to ensure they are heard far and wide.

map of Brittany

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Buy The Record

Bandcamp

*By the way the title of the record is in Breton and simply means Nantes Whisky!

For everything you need to know about Brittany and its drive to independence The Breton Connection is an absolutely fantastic place to look so click here and find out more.

 

FROM OPPRESSION TO CELEBRATION- THE POGUES TO THE DROPKICK MURPHYS AND CELTIC PUNK

AGAINST MODERN FOOTBALL - AGAINST MODERN MUSIC

The history of all of the various celtic nations is one made up of oppression, intimidation and emigration. Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany (north west France), Asturias (north west Spain), Galicia (north west Spain) have all been for generations occupied by foreign countries who have tried everything to crush the culture, language and spirit of their people.

But first lets go back in time to the 17th century when the English invaded Ireland. The Irish rebelled against them but are finally subjected after many wars and battles and atrocities are committed. They never fully integrate into the English system of government in the same way the Scots and Welsh did, and rebellions carried on and with every generation their have been major uprisings against English rule.

Music was a continual form of expression which made it very important to the culture of the Celts. With the prohibition of native languages and songs just speaking or singing could see you exiled or worse.  Misrule and a deliberate policy of starvation forced millions to emigrate away from Ireland while at least another million died while hundreds of tons of food a day was shipped out, under British Army guard, to England. In Scotland the forced clearances for land to give to rich barons to exploit for cattle and sheep farming sent tens of thousands of Scots to a new life in Canada. Other celts, for example many Cornish left when the tin mining industry went into decline, emigrate to the Americas in the 19th and 20th centuries and right up to the present day it remains high. Why the Americas? Despite those early settlers facing exactly the same kind of oppression, racism and bigotry that they had escaped from, it gave the little guy a new beginning. A sense that anyone could make it in this new world with hard graft and a little luck…plus it was away from the Empire that had held them down for so long, and even in the Irish case even tried to murder them!  Later revolts in Ireland established a republic separate from England, yet the north is still in English control. This was never accepted by all and so began a bloody war to unite Ireland that continues to this day.

Just like the original Irish music pub sessions didn’t originate in Ireland neither did celtic punk. The Pogues formed in post ’77 era London during the ‘troubles’. Bombs going off in the streets of England and shootings were common, anti-Irish racism was a fact of life for many. Many Irish lived together in the same areas of London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham etc., creating, for want of a better word ‘ghettos’ where Irish life carried on despite being in a foreign and unwelcoming land. Punk music started by posh art school kids rebelling against their parents soon spread out to the working class communities and the 2nd and 3rd generation Irish youth of those communities were no different from their english counterparts in lapping it up. The idea of fighting against authority made celtic music highly compatible with punk. Many of those original english punk bands had Irish members but punk bands in Ireland didn’t want to sound Irish they were just trying to sound punk (i.e. Radiators From Space, Stiff Little Fingers). Punk music was able to gain popularity from the people with celtic roots because it represented something unique to their heritage. Punk reminded them of what it is to be celtic to stand against authority, independent and defiant.

The Pogues were the original celtic-punk band. Made up of 2nd generation Irish, Irish and English members they were the first to combine the two genres of punk and traditional Irish music together creating a totally new sound. They had plenty of plaudits and recognition and even managed to break out of the ‘Irish scene’ and became a genuinely popular band here in Europe and the USA. Shane MacGowan, their iconic lead singer and writer of the critically acclaimed Fairytale of New York, is now considered one of the best songwriters of his generation! At the time though many folk ‘traditionalists’ scoffed at them as being just a bunch of ignorant English pissheads out to ruin Irish music but this was before anyone realised there was about to be a massive outpouring of ‘Irish pride’ from thousands upon thousands of second and third generation Irish from outside the isle of Ireland. The Pogues spearheaded this and along with Celtic F.C and the Irish football team (itself packed to the rafters with 2nd and 3rd generation Irish players) came to represent us in our Irishness. The thing the traditionalists didn’t understand was that even though we were into modern music we’d grown up listening to The Wolfe Tones, Dubliners, Clancy Brothers etc., (even Country’n’Irish!) as children so a band like the Pogues coming along wasn’t a shock to us but the folk establishment sure as hell didn’t like it!

Jump to today and its the Dropkick Murphys who are the worlds celtic-punks most popular and famous band. They started off as a Oi!/punk band with no Irish/celtic music only some Irish imagery on their record sleeves and merchandise. They kind of, in their own words, “started out as a joke” and didn’t seek out acclaim, but they rapidly grew in popularity due in no small part to the many, many people in the US who have celtic heritage and celebrate it. Over the years they’ve adapted Irish music and instruments and songs into the mix to create today’s celtic-punk. The Dropkick’s represent what it is to be celtic/Irish in modern day America (being working class, the fight against oppression, overcoming adversity, toughness, family bonds, religion/ Catholicism etc.,) but overall its still The Pogues that best embody celtic-punk. They were the first band of the scene and their music and lyrics are closer to the source. The Dropkick Murphys put more of an Irish-American spin on their songs, The Pogues are more about the history therefore, especially to those of us outside North America, the songs of The Pogues are more authentic with more Irish themes and fewer American ones.

The globalization of celtic music through emigration, in which oppression and poverty were the main reasons people left, has spread the influence of celtic music across the globe, even outside of the usual haunts of the Americas, Australia, NZ and here. Celtic-punk bands exist in pretty much every country where a son or daughter of a celt has set foot. It has also spread to the land of origin of the other celtic nations, with very healthy scenes in Brittany and Galicia helping to rejuvenate the native languages. Use of traditional instruments- fiddle, tin whistle, banjo, accordion, bagpipes is higher now than it has been in decades, again due in no small part to the popularity of celtic-punk.

Celtic-punk reflects the heritage of celtic people and the fight against oppression. It embodies the history of what it is to be celtic and what it is to overcome hardships and to finally come out on top.

It is where we come from but don’t you worry this is no exclusive club… everybody’s welcome to the hooley.

This isn’t meant as an introduction to celtic-punk or even a potted history it’s just one man’s small attempt to unravel what it is that makes the music so appealing to himself and countless others. If you agree or disagree we’d love to hear your comments…

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