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2018 REVIEW ROUND-UP’S. PART TWO: EUROPE- SIGELPA, EAST TOWN PIRATES, LOCKS, IRISH STEW OF SINDIDUN,

Here is Part 2 of our 2018 Round Up’s where we catch up with some of the releases that we missed first time round. Here are four bands and a whole load of music to take in all at once so make yourself a cuppa and relax. Their is something here that anyone can enjoy I’m not kidding. From Celtic-PUNK to Irish trad and Nick Cave-esque Murder Ballads-ish folk-noir all these releases are highly recommended. We prefer to do more detailed reviews but we just couldn’t keep up with everything so a few slipped the net and ended up here as we didn’t want them to be missed out completely. After doing bands from the Celtic nations last week (here) today we are in Europe. Check up again soon where we will be featuring bands from across the world

SIGELPA- ‘País De Titellaires’ EP (FREE DOWNLOAD)

Sad to say this is the final release from one of the Celtic-Punk scene’s most innovative bands. Formed in Barcelona in 2010 this Catalan band are named after the acronym of the initials of the seven deadly sins in the Catalonian language. Superbia/ Pride, Ira/ Wrath, Gula/ Gluttony, Enveja/ Envy, Luxuria/ Lust, Peresa/ Sloth and Avaricia/ Greed making up the letters in their name. With several great releases behind them (all available for *FREE* from the bands Bandcamp page) Sigelpa have sadly thrown in the towel and bow out with this fabulous three track EP which is also available for *FREE*! In the Sigelpa tradition its over in a flash in only seven minutes. Iits all played at a frantic pace with accordion and fiddle leading the way but the standout thing about Sigelpa has always been the dual female/male vocals used to such great effect on the opening song ‘Oda A l’Odi’ which flashes by in a superb 100 seconds.

Not a bad song here with the single ‘País De Titellaires’ a high point but the final track for me cannot be beaten. Slow(ish) but catchy as feck with great rock guitar and fiddle and those gang vocals working brilliantly together. Sigelpa were always a brilliant band and one of my favourites in the scene. Everything they did had a great deal of thought put into it. With great politics, great musicians, great songs and a great spirit too they will be sorely missed. R.I.P. Sigelpa.

Contact Sigelpa- Soundcloud YouTube Facebook Twitter Bandcamp YouTube

EAST TOWN PIRATES- ‘Ship Of Fools’ (BUY)

A home grown band now hailing from the smugglers dens along the East Suffolk coastline of ye Olde Ipswich Towne they have come. With two critically acclaimed album’s behind them, 2011’s self-titled debut album on their own Rumrunner Records label and the follow up, 2013’s Seven Seas Of Sin they have been labelled quite appropriately as ‘Motorhead meets The Pogues’! A regular feature on the UK’s punk circuit and with regular headline appearances they are rapidly becoming one of this island’s better known punk bands. Similar in style to Pirate Copy from Kernow, who we featured in Part One of our Round-Up’s, in that while they have no Celtic instrumentation they do play in that style that is probably best known as Pirate-Punk that crosses into Celtic-Punk quite easily. So has the five year wait since the release of Seven Seas Of Sin been kind to them? Well you bet you last doubloon it has!!

We have twelve songs here clocking in at thirty six minutes and it is as catchy as hell throughout. It’s most definitely punk ROCK but has that accessible feel to it without compromising on their sound at all. At times it has the bluesy hard rock of AC/DC or The Quireboys and others the simple three chord majesty of vocalist Rikki’s last band Red Flag 77 who played just about every square inch of this fair isle in their time together. It’s not all fast as feck though and, it must be my old age, but I really loved ‘Dead Man’s Cove’ and ‘Betrayal’ which even though are the slowest songs here could hardly be described as ballads!! They even slip in a reggae tinged track ‘I, Hedonist’ which I’m not a big fan of but then I’ve always been in the minority there. Otherwise it’s the fast songs that dominate with the title track, the appropriately titled ‘Fast Track’ and ‘Voodoo Pirate Rock ‘N’ Roll’. The album ends with the standout track a re-working of ‘Prisoner’s Lament’ which appeared originally on Seven Seas Of Sin showcasing Rikki’s great punk rock vocals with just acoustic guitar backing before the song erupts and the rest of the band join in and leave the album on a real high. It’s all great stuff and just recently they have even been venturing to London a bit more so keep you eyes peeled for their next visit dust your waistcoat off, get your ‘Arrrghs’ in gear, shake your booty, and join in the fun with the motliest of motley crews around.

Contact East Town Pirates- WebSite Facebook Soundcloud ReverbNation YouTube

LOCKS- ‘Skeletal Blues’ (BUY)

Now this is not the sort of release that features on these pages much but I’ve loved this record from the moment I first heard it. LOCKS are a four piece band from North London comprising singer-guitarist Locks Geary-Griffin, Andy Marvell on drums, Marian McClenaghan on fiddle and Mike Byrne on double bass. Together the band have dabbled in various musical genres prior to LOCKS including blues, rockabilly, trad Irish, indie, nu-folk and our very own Celtic-Punk as well. So the Celtic connections are high and on this basis they would easily qualify for the Irish football team! Having known Mike for more years than I care to remember since his days in one of the original London Celtic-Punk bands Pitful Of Ugly who later became Skibbereen and his rockabilly band The Obscuritones it’s nice to see him continuing to play in really interesting bands. LOCKS have been described as smoky, cinematic, and ghostly and the band themselves play up the comparisons to Tom Waits and Nick Cave and on hearing their debut album Skeletal Blues it is a comparison well worthy of them.

Locks voice is dominant throughout the album and its perfectly pitched accompanied by the fiddle, double bass and rattling drums which on album opener ‘Bones’ sound just like… well bones. The tone is set on ‘Bones’ with a song about burying dead bodies on the moors and be sure to check out the utterly fantastic video above written, produced and starring Abigail Hardingham. While it is ‘Bones’ that steals the show for me they also come close with ‘The Chase’, ‘Toes’ and ‘Skin’.

Back in 1996 Nice Cave brought out a CD Murder Ballads which comprised of him singing songs (old, new and traditional) of death and violence. It’s to that tradition that LOCKS come from with their tales of dead bodies, strange creatures and dark family secrets and like Murder Ballads is complete with both morbid humor and sobering horror. Dark lyrically the music veers from straight up gently played folk into eastern European at times while even finding time to pay the first couple of bars of The Pink Panther theme tune. Skeletal Blues ends with ‘Laveau’ about the voodoo Queen of New Orleans Marie Laveau. Though she died in 1881 it’s still a title she still holds today with people still visiting her grave to leave tokens in exchange for small requests. The longest song here at well over five minutes it gives LOCKS the chance to shine with Mike’s bass rumbling away fantastically and Marion’s fiddle drifting in and out of Celtic airs.

On first play I had assumed it was all fairly similar fair, due mainly to the hypnotic drumming style and Locks laid back vocals but upon a few more plays it became clear there’s a lot more to the songs than I had given credit. It’s a fascinating album and as I have said before man cannot live on Celtic-Punk alone so stretch your horizons beyond the Dropkick Murphys and be prepared to get into someone new and imaginative.

Contact LOCKS- WebSite Facebook Bandcamp YouTube Soundcloud

IRISH STEW OF SINDIDUN- ‘City Of Grigs’ (BUY)

We end Part Two with easily the most blatant Celtic of our releases today, the fourth album from Irish Stew Of Sindidun. Born in Belgrade, Serbia back in 2003 it’s been six years since their last album, New Tomorrow, was released so it’s been quite a long wait but worth it! On City Of Grigs they have never sounded so Irish! With ten songs and three traditional Irish covers, ‘Paddy’s Lamentation’, ‘Step It Out Mary’ and ‘Down By The Glenside’, that are well chosen and show the bands connection with Irish music goes well beyond that of just a covers band. These songs topics feature the three most important subjects in Irish music, emigration, rebellion and romantic tragedy! It’s indeed a shame we don’t more folk like Sindidun vocalist Bojan Petrovic back at home when he explains

“these songs are not included merely to be album fillers, but because they speak of themes which are still actual. Irish music is much more than quick melodies, dance and fun; through traditional folklore Irish songs we keep remembrance of values of one culture, which are still worthy of reverence.”

City of Grigs is their most ‘trad’ sounding album so far and it really cannot be faulted. Besides the three fantastic covers are the bands original songs which are equally as good and they don’t get any better than the album’s lead single ‘Heavier Than Sin’. Absolutely amazing banjo from Ivan giving it a ‘Wild-Western’ feel but based firmly you know where. Bojan’s vocals are smooth and deep and fit in perfectly with the upbeat Irish music and dark lyrics. The song ends with an Irish reel and shows exactly what Irish Stew Of Sindidun are capable of. How these guys aren’t touring Ireland teaching the Irish to re-connect with their culture I don’t know!

All the songs here are great and as catchy as hell to boot but the standout tracks for me are the uptempo opening song ‘Strangers’, the jolly short’n’sweet ‘Drink And Sing’ and, the closest they get to a ballad here, ‘Holiday’. They even find time to mix in a bit of reggae alongside trad Irish on the superb instrumental ‘The Old City Keeper’ where Nemanja and her utterly amazing fiddle playing shines. Irish Stew Of Sindidun are one hell of a band and are absolutely massive at home in Serbia. That they aren’t as well known outside is criminal. Over half an hour of traditional Irish music with folk and rock not just welded on but added with care and love. It may have been six years since their last album but the band have spent it wisely improving on their sound when I didn’t even think it would be possible!

Contact Irish Stew Of Sindidun- WebSite  Facebook  YouTube

So ends the second part of our 2018 Round-Up’s and apologies again to all the bands as each and every release deserved that full London Celtic Punks treatment. I can guarantee we have probably still missed more fantastic music so all the more reason to send us your releases to review. Get in touch via the Contact Us page to find out how. We are also 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.

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS 2018. MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS FAMILY

Each December we pick the best Christmas themed song we’ve heard that year to showcase in our end of year message. This year we went with something a little different. LOCKS come from North London and while they may not be your typical Celtic-Punk band they have plenty of pedigree within their ranks. Their debut album Skeletal Blues came out earlier this year which we will be featuring in the second of our 2018 Review Round-Up’s due after Christmas Day. Subscribe to the London Celtic Punks web-zine and receive notification of every post by filling in the box on the right or below depending on how you are viewing this article. ‘The Hangover Song’ came out today and is available from here.

You can catch LOCKS live in concert next at The Bedford in Balham, South London on 8th January.

Contact LOCKS-  WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube  Soundcloud

CELEBRATING A CELTIC CHRISTMAS

According to long standing theory, the origins of Christmas stems from pagan winter festivals. One main reason early Christians were able to spread their religion across Europe so quickly came from their willingness to embrace celebrations already common among regional populations. One such example is the Celtic ‘Alban Arthuan’, a Druidic festival that took place around December 21st. the Winter Solstice. This traditional fire festival celebrated the re-birth of the Sun. Although a celebration of the Son’s birth replaced that of the Sun’s, still a number of ancient Celtic Christmas traditions remain today.

Christmas

As we look across the Celtic nations, it is interesting to note some similarities among Christmas traditions that cross geographic boundaries. They include, for example: Holly (a symbol of rebirth among Pagan Celts, but also of hospitality—it was believed fairies sought shelter inside the evergreen leaves to escape the cold); Mistletoe (believed to have healing powers so strong that it warded off evil spirits, cured illnesses and even facilitated a truce between enemies); fire and light (most notably the Yule log or candles placed in windows to light the way for strangers and symbolically welcoming Mary and Joseph); and door-to-door processions, from wassailing to Wren Hunts.

Each of the seven nations possesses its own variations of Celtic Christmas customs. Surrounding cultures and local identify shape theses practices as well.

SCOTLAND

Flag ScotlandChristmas was not officially recognized in Scotland for nearly four centuries. The Puritan English Parliament banned Christmas in 1647 and it did not become a recognized public holiday in Scotland until 1958. However, according to Andrew Halliday, in his 1833 piece Christmas in Scotland, Scots were not discouraged from celebrating Christmas. Halliday wrote

“We remember it stated in a popular periodical, one Christmas season not long ago, that Christmas-day was not kept at all in Scotland. Such is not the case; the Scots do keep Christmas-day, and in the same kindly Christian spirit that we do, though the Presbyterian austerity of their church does not acknowledge it as a religious festival”

Halliday’s 19th century account went on to describe festive sowens (sweetened oat gruel) ceremonies, “beggars” (actually “strapping fellows”) singing yule song, dances and card parties and children’s teetotum games. Despite Puritan rule, some long-time Christmas traditions are preserved. These include burning the Cailleach (a piece of wood carved to look like an old woman’s face or the Spirit of Winter) to start the new year fresh; or on Christmas Eve burning rowan tree branches to signify the resolution of any disputes. The Celtic tradition of placing candles in windows was also done in Scotland to welcome “first footers” (strangers, bearing a small gift) into the home. Traditional dishes also continue to be featured at Christmas lunch and throughout the holidays, including Cock-a-Leekie soup, smoked salmon, beef or duck, Clootie dumplings, black buns, sun cakes, Christmas pudding and Crannachan.

Because Christmas was not an official holiday until the late ‘50s it is no surprise that today, for some Scots, Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) is the most important event of the season. Arguably, locals ring in the new year with much more gusto than any other place on the planet.

IRELAND

flagAn Autumn clean up was a common practice in Irish homes to prepare for Christmas. Women looked after cleaning the interior, while men took care of the outdoors, including whitewashing all exterior surfaces. Then holly, grown wild in Ireland, was spread throughout the house with cheer. Contemporary Ireland also highlights this clean-up ritual; once complete, fresh Christmas linens are taken out of storage.

Other customs include the Bloc na Nollaig or Christmas Block (the Irish version of the Yule log), candles in the window (perhaps one for each family member), and leading up to Christmas, ‘Calling the Waites’ where musicians would wake up townspeople through serenades and shouting out the morning hour. Christmas Eve Mass is still a grand affair; a time for friends and family to reconnect. It is not uncommon for churchgoers to end up at the local pub after service to ring in Christmas morn. On Christmas Day, traditional dishes include roast goose or ham and sausages, potatoes (such as champ), vegetables (such as cabbage with bacon) and plum pudding, whiskey, Christmas cake and barmbrack (currant loaf) for sweets. Traditionally on December 26th, St. Stephen’s Day, Wren Boys with blackened faces, carrying a pole with a dead bird pierced at the top, tramped from house to house. Today the custom sometimes sees children caroling throughout the neighbourhood to raise money for charity. It is also quite common to go out visiting on this day.

WALES

Flag WalesMusic was and still is a major part of Welsh holidays. Plygain is a Christmas day church service, traditionally held between three and six in the morning featuring males singing acapella in three or four-part harmonies. While today this may be mainly practised in rural areas, Eisteddfodde (caroling) is abundantly popular in homes, door-to-door and as part of annual song-writing competitions.

Dylan Thomas’ story ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’ is renowned around the world. An excerpt offers a glimpse of a traditional Welsh festive season:

“Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang ‘Cherry Ripe’ and another uncle sang ‘Drake’s Drum’… Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-coloured snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night”

Other intriguing Welsh traditions include toffee making; drinking from a communal wassail bowl of fruit, spices, sugar and beer; children visiting homes on New Year’s Day looking for their Callenig gift; and Mary Lwyd (Grey Mare) featuring wassail singers going door-to-door carrying a horse’s skull and challenging residents in a contest of mocking rhymes.

ISLE OF MAN

Flag Isle Of ManCarolling also holds a special place in Manx Christmas celebrations, but traditionally an unconventional twist characterized it. On Christmas Eve, large numbers attended church for Carval. While the congregation sang, all of a sudden women would begin the traditional food fight, having peas on hand to throw at their male counterparts! Accounts from the 1700s and 1800s describe 12 days of non-stop Christmas celebrations where every barn was filled with dancers accompanied by fiddlers the local parish hired. The Reverend John Entick recorded in 1774

“On the twelfth day the fiddler lays his head on one of the women’s laps, which posture they look upon as a kind of oracle. For one of the company coming up and naming every maiden in the company, asks the fiddler, who shall this or that girl marry? And whatever he answers it is absolutely depended on as an oracle”

As in Celtic fashion, Hunting the Wren processions occurred on the Isle of Man and today the practice is going through a revival, characterized by costumes, singing and dancing.

Other Manx customs include Mollag Bands, wearing eccentric clothing, swinging a mollag (fishing float) and demanding money (a practice since outlawed); the kissing bush (a more elaborate ornament than a sprig of mistletoe); and Cammag, a sport that originated on the Isle of Man traditionally played on December 26th and/or Easter Monday. In older times but even as recently as the early 20th century, Christmas decorations were not taken down until Pancake Tuesday (when they were burnt under the pancake pan). Now holiday décor tends to be packed away on Old Christmas (January 6th).

CORNWALL

Flag CornwallAs a result of Oliver Cromwell banning Christmas, authentic holiday carols began to fade through much of Britain. However, throughout the 1800’s, Cornish composers and collectors sparked a revival of local Christmas song.Certain carols well-known around the world, such as Hark the Herald Angels and While Shepherds, are credited to Cornish origins.

“Contrary to the effect Methodism might have had on the English carollers, in Cornwall its impact was to stimulate song,” states the Cornwall Council (Cornish Christmas Carols – Or Curls, 2011). “In those areas where Methodism was strongest, music and signing had their greatest appeal, and notably so at Christmas. The singers would practice in chapels and school-rooms, some of them walking miles to be there”

Today, Cornwall erupts in festivals, fairs and markets during the holidays. The Montol Festival in Penzance (named for Montol Eve on December 21st) is a six-day celebration highlighting many Cornish traditions. These include Mummers plays, lantern processions, Guise dancing (participants dress in masks and costume, such as mock formal dress, to play music and dance).

Montol is also the time for burning the Mock (yule log). A stickman or woman is drawn on the block of wood with chalk. When the log burns, it symbolizes the death of the old year and birth of the year to come.

BRITTANY

Flag BrittanyBrittany boasts a wealth of folklore and supernatural beliefs around Christmas time. Christmas Eve was known as a night of miraculous apparitions from fairies to Korrigans, and at midnight, for just a brief moment, waters in the wells would turn into the most sweet-tasting wine. It was also at midnight, when families were either at mass or in bed, that ghosts would surface; traditionally food was left out for deceased loved ones just in case they visited.

During the holidays, Christmas markets come alive in many Breton towns vending hand-made crafts and toys, baked cakes and bread and ingredients for Christmas dinner. You can also buy Gallette des Rois at stalls, as well as bakeries, which is traditionally eaten on January 6th (Epiphany). A tiny figurine (the fève) is hidden inside the puff pastry cake; the person who finds the figurine in their piece gets to be king or queen for the day and wear a crown. Another special tradition through all of France is a meal after Christmas Eve’s midnight mass, called Réveillon. Specifically in Britany, the traditional dish for this occasion is buckwheat crêpes with cream.

GALICIA

Flag GaliciaGalicia has its own unique Christmas gift-bearer that pre-dates Christianity. He is called Apalpador, a giant who lives in the mountains. For Christmas, he descends into the villages below to make sure each child has a full belly. He brings treats, such as chestnuts, and well wishes for a year full of delicious sustenance. While Apalpador may not be widely observed in Galicia, his legend is seeing a revival.

Food is very important during the Galician holidays, featuring at least two feasts (on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). Not surprisingly, seafood is on the menu, including lobster, prawns, shrimp, sea bass, and cod with garlic and paprika sauce. Other culinary delights consist of cured meat, cheese and bread, roast beef with vegetables and for dessert tarta de Santiago (almond cake), filloas (stuffed pancakes) and turrones (nougats). The children of anticipate the coming of the Three Kings or Magis by filling their shoes and leaving them outside on Epiphany Eve, January 5th. Many Galician’s communities also parade on the 5th.

So there you have it the old traditions just like the traditional music we all love live on…

Nollick Ghennal as Blein Vie Noa (Manx Gaelic)

Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath ùr (Scottish Gaelic)

Nollaig Shona Dhuit agus Bliain Nua Fe Mhaise (Irish Gaelic)

Nedeleg Laouen na Bloavezh Mat  (Breton)

Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda (Welsh)

Nadelik Lowen ha Bledhen Nowyth Da (Cornish)

Further Christmas themed fun with this London Celtic Punks Top Twenty

GET IN THE FESTIVE SPIRIT WITH THE LONDON CELTIC PUNKS CHRISTMAS CELTIC PUNK TOP-TWENTY!

CLICK HERE

Now go have a drink…

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